Sage Advice

"Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts." – Buddhist saying

Shared with a friend:

When you, as first mother in reunion, are viciously attacked by your child’s adoptive mother, don’t attack back. Be the stronger person. Do not stoop to their level. Realize nasty adoptive parents often speak from a place of fear and anger and insecurity. To retain their perceived position they need to push you back down and keep you in yours.

Do not become hostile towards the adoptive parent and leave your child with two nasty parents.

Be the better person. Do it for you and for your child. Trust that your child will be able to see that nasty adoptive parent behavior and will appreciate that you do not engage. The only person the adoptive parent makes look bad when they behave like that is themselves.

As a wise mother once told me, trust the connection.

Treat your child like an adult human being and not like property to be fought over.

I have to believe they will appreciate it.

16 Thoughts.

  1. Suz,
    Maybe you can give me some advice on how to deal with a passive-agressive adoptive mother who insists that I “run everything by her first” in regards to dealing with my 19 year old son. This includes plans for his visiting us, us visiting him, vacation time spent together ect. The one time I did ask her permission first (to attend his high school graduation) she said “NO”, and then I was left with how to explain to him that his dad and sister and I would not be there for his graduation without implicating her in anyway. I did so, but I do not feel good about it. The way I look at is this, he is a grown man, he is going to college in September and should be allowed to make his own decisions. She does not see it that way at all and I am so torn. I never, ever want my son to feel he must divide his loyalties, but on the other hand I cannot be the person she takes her agression and insecurities out on either. Lord knows I have enough of my own. My son and I speak numerous times per day, he just spent 19 glorious days with us, including his birthday for the first time since his actual “birth day”. He loves us and we love him, we all want to be as close and as loving as we are. I know that she was not prepared in anyway for the depth of the connection between my son and I and I try to cut her some slack, but sooner or later she is just plain mean again, and I am at a loss. We have only been in reunion since December and I cannot imagine having to deal with this woman for the rest of my life.
    Your thoughts would be more than appreciated Suz.

  2. I guess you mean the subtle put downs and innuendo as well? Sigh. The outwardly vocal attacks would be easier to handle with grace.
    I get it that I do not own my adult child. I will never undestand how aparents can feel sole ownership when they always knew that their child came from somewhere. The concept of share seems to be lost.
    So like the “happy” adoptee I need to be the “happy” first mother. Of course I will be, that is who I am. But it isnÒ€ℒt always easy.

  3. Denise – Write me privately. I could hook you up with some other moms to talk to. This situation is not mine (though could likely be someday) but I do empathize. I would also love it if some of the adoptive moms who read her could speak up and offer you advice.

  4. I would like to respond to Denise. I hope Suz will not mind. So, I am saying this from the perspective of the adoptive mom. First, I am sorry that she is not very nice to you. Second, my son is not quite four so I know nothing about having an adult child. However, if my son’s first mom were to show up I would take the front seat on contact. I would not allow anything that made him uncomfortable (obviously, if your son is visiting you he is not uncomfortable that is not what I am implying). What I would want (and I realize that your son is an adult and therefor what he wants is more important than what she wants but I am just giving it to you for consideration) is for her and her family to become apart of my family as well. Meaning I would want my child to be around for holidays and special occasions and I would hope that his first mom would come as well. From what you have written it sounds like you live far away so maybe that is not possible. My point is maybe she feels that she is losing her child and doesn’t know how to include you. Maybe she is just mean – it is just a possibility.

  5. I too would like to talk about the more subtle forms of coercion, put downs etc.
    What do you do when you suspect that is what is happening? Things will be fine and then there is a big reversal. For example I told my son I wanted to write something about a happy positive aspect of adoption reunion. He was very enthusiastic, said it was a great idea,provided me with further examples etc. but then the next time I spoke to him I got you are exploiting others for my own personal gain. I just don’t think it is coming from him but what can I say. I sometimes feel we are like the mothers in that story about King Solomon. We want to do nothing to hurt our child ie make them feel like they are caught in the middle of something, even it we are the ones who pay the price for taking the high road.

  6. Hi Denise~
    I am sooo sorry your dealing with what sounds like a very insecure adopted mother. It saddens me as I am an adopted mother myself and so very proud that I could burst at times, helping our daughter reunite with her natural mother, which was my intent from day one. As adopted parents, we have an obligation to make sure our children know their full heritage.
    This by no means has ever made me feel any less than her mother, nor threatened in any form whatsoever. Unfortunately, my husband felt differently, thinking we would lose
    her love, or her for that matter-reuniting her with her natural parents. To me, it only meant a bigger family for both sides; which is what happened.
    Denise, your son is an adult, he’s already decided, so I don’t feel it would hurt him in anyway if you let him in on what your dealing with regarding his adopted mother making all the calls first -his graduation, etc. He is the only one who can assure her that nothing’s changed, except an addition to her family. Plus, assure her that his love for her will never change, but that he can also share his love with his natural family as well.
    If I were you, I would write to your son’s mother and assure her that you are not coming back into his life to take him away from her, but to share your love and family with him and her family as well.
    Seems the more I hear and read, there are so many adopted parents out there who are not only paranoid, but totally insure and that truly saddens me. If they would just realize the sacrifices the birth mothers made and those that were forced upon and accept their roles as adoptive parents as a privilege and honor, instead of ownership, no one would have to deal with what you are now dealing with.
    If you feel you need to chat more, Suz’s has my information, I’d be glad to help you in anyway I can – even down to talking to this one myself. Wishing you the best!

  7. My son chose not to tell his adoptive parents about our reunion for 6 months.
    He is in his 30’s.
    He said that he did not want to be pressurised by anyone. He felt that he wanted to see how things went before he told them. He also did not want any outside influences interfering in our reunion.
    Our reunion continues to go well and has done for a number of years now – my son has since met his siblings and his father. He is still close to his adoptive parents.
    However, his adoptive parents have made it clear that they want nothing to do with us. This is the reaction my son was expecting from them, so he feels that he made the right choice in light of their actions.
    His adoptive parents have bio children of their own, so you would have thought they would be more understanding but they aren’t.

  8. She said NO ? Thats awful..That came from a place of worrying about what everyone else would think, and asserting her *place* as his mother over you. Denise thats awful she did that πŸ™
    It sounds to me like she is very scared that she is going to *lose* her son, sadly she does not understand that he is YOUR SON Too….She needs to go and have some counseling from a professional adoption counselor. To work through her own feelings..She should not place these feelings upon her son and you…her feelings are separate to the both of you. She needs to deal with them. Then and only then can she welcome you into *their* life
    The advice in Suz’s post is so true, do not allow yourself to be mean back. Take the high road. Hard as it may be. Im not sure that I would have avoided telling about the Graduation though. I think I would have point blank said “your mother doesnt want us there” Thats not being mean…thats telling the truth.
    As an adoptee can I give my advice from an adoptee POV ? Always be completely 100% Honest and Open with your Son. Adoptees get lied to all the time, since their birth…So please always tell him the truth.

  9. Ladies,
    Thank you all so much for your insight and unique perspectives as both adoptive and first moms. I have to believe that my sons a-mom really does want what is best for him, she and her husband encouraged both their sons to seek their first families and both have done so. My sons a-brother has sucessfully reunited with his first mom and his brother and sister (sadly first dad refuses contact with him though)as well. I honestly also believe that she was unprepared for the depth of connection that my son has with me. I have spoken to her at length on the phone and via e-mail and called her on it when i could take no more, she seems truly apologetic at the time, but then it happens again. The last time was an absolute kick in the head, but I am quite certain my response that time was more than she was prepared for. I am now on edge waiting for the next time. I have NEVER spoken a word of any of this to my son and would prefer to keep it that way, but it is awfully hard considering how deeply she wounds me over and over again. My husband and I have decided that we will NOT ask any kind of permission for anything going forward, our son is a grown man and is entitled to make his own decisions. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how that goes over!
    Thanks again to all of you, your support is more appreciated than you know.
    Be well,

  10. Jane,
    Honestly I did not ignore you. I was composing my response as you were posting and i saw it after. I greatly appreciate you comments even more so than the others simply because your opinion is the adoptee’s perspective. I assure you that I am always honest with my son, i am just so very, very afraid of hurting him. He is not only young, but exceptionally sensitive ( he is a writer and musician) and I cannot help but feel that i have caused him enough pain in his life without having to add the stark reality of what his a-mom is like with me to his already overflowing plate.
    Trust that you were not ignored by me, and i want you to know that I lurk on your blog almost daily. You have given me more to think about than you could ever imagine.
    Sorry Jane :<(

  11. Sorry Denise – Over reaction on my part πŸ™ My Mother does ignore me….sigh..Anyway I think if you do along the lines of what i said everything will be fine…and of course you do know him best so you know whats appropriate or not…
    The Amother is acting out of fear…that you will replace her..which I understand..My mum would be the same i feel sure if she were alive as that lady is, she was immensely over protective of me…
    But not that it would matter because my Mother isnt interested in a it would be a mute point !
    I hope the Amum gets some adoption guidance counseling to help her deal with your relationship with the both of yours – SON
    (ick horrible grammar but couldnt word it any other way lol) x

  12. Wow, another good point, Suz. As an adoptee I have not had the fortune of a reunion, but I can tell you that my Amom is EXTREMELY threatened by the thought of a reunion. One time she thought I was looking for my Bmom (way before I even started) and she literally went nuts. It was so out of control I thought they were going to have to medicate her (I’m serious here, not kidding at all). She flipped out so badly.
    We’re four siblings, all adopted, and of course amongst ourselves we’ve talked about this. My Amom had 12 miscarriages and a stillborn before she began to adopt us. Her fear of child loss is so great, she would not even talk to me about my pregnancies until I passed the 6 month mark (when she had a stillborn son). Growing up, if we were late returning even by 20 minutes, she would freak. Several times she called the police and had them out hunting for us. Her fear is so great, and I don’t think she’s alone as an Amom.
    So while I don’t agree with Amom’s that are so cruel and lacking in empathy, I kind of understand where their behavior is coming from. And it must take a tremendous will to be the Bmom and have to let things unfold as they will and not get angry in return.
    Denise, I hope your son’s Amom comes around and finds a way to let you in without feeling threatened.

  13. ‘Maybe you can give me some advice on how to deal with a passive-agressive adoptive mother who insists that I “run everything by her first” in regards to dealing with my 19 year old son. This includes plans for his visiting us, us visiting him, vacation time spent together ect. ”
    Denise, my first question is, considering that he is 19 and a legal adult (likely older than you were in fact when you lost him to adoption — and you were considered “old enough” to deal with that event), she can only “insist” if you let her.
    Reunion should be between the two of you, your son and you, just as the original separation was between the two of you. You two need to rebuild your own relationship, and the rest of the family is secondary. It is the mother-child bond, the original relationship that adoption destroyed, that is the primary relationship affected in reunion. YOU were the one who lost your baby.
    I went thru having to deal with a psychotic and paranoid adoptive “mother” when i reunited. My advice is:
    – Document EVERYTHING. Every comment she makes, every incident where she demonstrates possessiveness, treats you like dirt, or makes you feel bad. Including that incident when she told you that you were not to come to his graduation.
    – Be HONEST with your son as to why this happened. Why protect her? You are only making yourself look bad and/or uninterested in him.
    – Why contact her at all? Would you phone your aunt to ask her if you could see your son? As your son is no longer a minor, he is able to make his own decisions and he likely wants to be in charge of these decisions. You can meet him and interact with him as two equal adults. Not ask permission of his keeper to see him.
    – And yes, when you feel ready, let him know about the incidents. It is being honest with him. Relationships are built on trust. Trust is built with honesty. As long as you cover up for a possessive and two-faced adoptress, you are not being honest with him.
    – Remember, she had him to herself for many years. The least she can do is SHARE. She expected you to surrender your baby so she could have him ALL to herself. It is not as though you are asking for your son back, all to yourself, with no contact for her or information given to her the same as you had to endure. No, you are willing to respect her as being “family” to him as well. She has the obligation to show you the same respect, especially if you did NOT surrender her by choice (willingly and freely “gave him away” with no regrets or second thoughts). She likely obtained motherhood at the expense of your pain. Your feelings and emotions matter, as much as hers do.
    The pressure she is putting on you to stay away from him likely equals the pressure she is putting on him to stay away from you. Except he may not know that he can be honest with you about that pressure — being honest with him about the treatment you are receiving could help your relationship, to get it to the point where you both are able to comfortably discuss sensitive and personal issues like this.

  14. “When you, as first mother in reunion, are viciously attacked by your child’s adoptive mother, don’t attack back. Be the stronger person.”
    Agreed. Do not attack back. At the same time, do not behave like a doormat or a cowering dog and let them get away with it and lead them think that they have the right to treat you like sh*t. The industry already treated you like sh*t by taking your baby — you were disposable.
    Remember, you are a person, and a mother, and NOT any less of a mother than the people fortunate enough to have had enough money to buy your baby.
    So, don’t “put up” with acts of emotional abuse, emotional blackmail, or being treated as dirt under their shoes. You can state, “I’m sorry, but this is verbal abuse and I do not have to listen to it. Please phone again when you can discuss this calmly.” Or “Thank you for your opinion, but I disagree.” or “I’m sorry that we do not see eye to eye, and I am not going to argue with you but I disagree with you.” Or “Thank you for your opinions, I will keep them in mind.” Or not responding at all.
    Writing a “love-letter” to the adopters expressing that you want to be one big happy family, or respect them as his parents, frankly will do little or nothing. It didn’t in my case. They don’t want us as part of “THEIR” family, or having any contact with “THEIR” child.
    BUT, document the incident, the words, the letters. Keep them on file. Your child may one day be glad to see what type of control his/her adopters were trying to impose, to keep him/her in a cage and keep you away.

  15. Cedar – Excellent advice. I agree. Stand up for yourself as well. Do not cower and suck up the abuse.

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