In Search of the Third

“As a principle-centered person you try to stand apart from the emotion of the situation and from other factors that would act on you, and evaluate the options. Looking at the balanced whole–the work needs, the family needs, the other needs that may be involved, and the possible implications of the various alternatives — you'll try to come up with the best solution taking all factors into consideration. We are limited but we can push back the borders of our limitations.” – Stephen R. Covey 

I have recently been presented with a number of opportunities to partake in more public displays of adoption lack of affection. What I mean is that I have been asked to speak more publicly at a few events and even partake in a project that will likely end up being a very professional documentary on the horrors of adoption and what it does to mothers.

I haven't agreed to do so.

This may be shocking to some considering my views and outspoken nature. It is somewhat shocking to me yet, to me, also understandable.

Again, I am not hiding my status as a mother scarred by the loss of her child from anyone in my family, on the Net, and in most forums.

Yet I hesitate to take the next step and open the door a bit wider.

And I hesitate due to my daughter.

It feels to me that she dislikes my involvement in all things adoption. She dislikes that she is part of my "social campaign" for justice. (Oddly, if she did not exist I wouldn't be in this campaign. It is rather hard to "not" involve her in some way if even by reference only.) I feel as though she would prefer if I was one of those silent types that would just grin and bear it and behave like a "proper" birth mother.

I feel she is ashamed of me and wishes I was someone other than who I am.

It is very important to note that just because I FEEL it does not make it fact. My truths do not necessarily equate to hers. I feel these things based on the very limited dialog she and I have had and that dialog has been through email only. As a communications professional, I know all too well that written communication is likely the worst form of communication, no matter how good a writer you are. (And she and I are both good writers).

Just because I feel something does not make it true from her perspective. I could be totally off base. However, lacking the ability to ask her, communicate with her, truly know her, I am left to my own devices, that is, my feelings.

And I feel afraid.

I am afraid to be more "out there" for fear of once again ticking her off and alienating her further.

I want her to like me.

I want her to be interested in me.

I want her to think I am neat and cool and to say "Hey, great hair color".

I am afraid if I am true to me and my desire she wont like me.


I have issues.

Yes. I am still battling the issues that were fertilized over twenty years ago when I was pregnant with her. Those issues are rooted in sentiments like "not good enough" and "not proper" and "inappropriate behavior".

I have gotten past these issues where the rest of the world is concerned but I am still battling them with her and I cannot even discuss them with her.

I see two options:

  1. I could sit still and avoid these activities that could benefit from my involvement with the hopes that doing so would benefit me in some way in a future relationship with her.

  2. I could be true to me and the activities and risk that she wont approve and it will indeed alienate her further.

Neither of these options is particularly appealing to me and as such I search in the spirit of Steven Covey for the third alternative.

I am still searching.

22 Thoughts.

  1. You know I feel ya! What do you do? You want to scream it so loud that people will have to stop and look at what is being done to mothers & children, but at the same time, can our children separate it? They live in a happy adoption place (fog, maybe) if someone speaks out against adoption they may feel they are speaking out against their a-family and/or their adoptive lives. You said:
    “My truths do not necessarily equate to hers” and I think all our lost children have to realize that their truth, their “happy happy” adoption place doesn’t equate to our adoption experience.
    Hugs and Love,
    Yep and that’s why I password protect my blog, because I am afraid of that confrontation and rejection. 🙁

  2. Be true to yourself. I pray that someday you will know what it is to live your life for yourself instead of others. This life is not a dress rehearsal.

  3. Patty – Indeed, it is not a dress rehearsal but I wonder, does any mother, any female truly live for herself? Doesnt a “good” mother put her child before herself? Slippery slopes. If I live for me, then I am not living for her. If I live for her, then I am not living for me. Her feeilngs have always mattered more than my own. Is that wrong or just problematic due to challenges caused by closed adoption?

  4. You said, “I feel she is ashamed of me and wishes I was someone other than who I am.”
    I think my bmom feels that way too – I will make sure that I email her today, and remind her that I love her. I don’t blame her.
    I’ve had the same dilemma, in that I want to be outspoken from an adoptee’s point of view, but I don’t want to hurt my bmom. I know she feels guilty. I don’t want to rub salt into her wound. I think both of us were victims of a very flawed system.
    I hope someday your daughter can face her “stuff” Suz. For her sake, and for yours.
    She’s lucky to have you in her life, no matter what she thinks….

  5. Suz, Patty makes sense to me. My pov — Living for others is false. Truly caring for our children comes from the truth within us. We can’t control our childrens feelings. We can’t fix anything. The most we can do is love them and true loving is something that overflows, not something we control.

  6. Sue you have the opportunity to shed light on a topic that is rarely spoken about. Use your gift of words and your speaking ability to reach out to those who need guidance and education.
    As natural mothers, we are stereotyped yet at the same time rendered invisible by various dominant forces. Consider speaking the truth as a gift to your daughter. Tell the world what adoption does to mothers. Share how losing your daughter has impacted every part of your life. Be the voice for the voiceless.
    I know that it is easier said than done. Whatever you choose to do, please know that you have helped me immensely.

  7. “Living for others is false. Truly caring for our children comes from the truth within us. We can’t control our childrens feelings. We can’t fix anything. The most we can do is love them and true loving is something that overflows, not something we control”
    I’m sorry but WHAT??????? Living for others is false???? We do it every day. I live for my children’s happiness. That’s what mother’s do. We can’t fix anything???? That IS what a mother TRIES to do! True loving is something that overflows, not something we control???? I just gotta say it…
    Sorry Justice, but I disagree, wholeheartedly!

  8. I can relate to your dilemma. Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.
    “Living for others” isn’t the same as being considerate of others’ feelings and trying to contribute to their happiness and well-being. I applaud your concern for your daughter’s feelings. On the other hand, the things you do on the adoption front help so many moms and adoptees, you shouldn’t have to give that up.
    It’s not like you’re going to parade in front of her house or announce her name in public, right?
    I say trust your heart and your gut. You’ll arrive at the right decision.

  9. Hey Suz,
    I guess it’s a catch-22, but I say live for yourself, risk trusting your intuition (it feels like a risk for me anyway since I’ve not respected it in the past). I’ve only been in reunion for a couple of years and it’s been pretty on-again, off-again, and you know, I just think it could be like this for the next 20 years or for the rest of my life. I don’t think that what I do or say in my daily life is going to change that. I don’t know I just think that being who you are, doing what you need/want to do is only going to make you stronger. You can’t know what might make your child happy/angry/sad/etc if they you’re not in communication with them anyway, and even then, do they really know what would make them happy/angry/sad/etc? I mean, yes, if you’re talking about the basics of an intimate relationship, but it seems that you are not talking about that so much as about personal endeavors, challenges in your life based on your life experiences. No one should be in position to hinder our personal goals.
    Follow your instincts, be true to yourself, be a strong woman (and wish me the same? 😉

  10. Just a thought… all these feelings and decisions centre on who your daughter is now, or at least what you know of who she is now.
    But there’s no way of knowing who she’ll be in the future or what insights she’ll have during the course of her life.
    While she may become further alienated, she may also come to deeply respect you for living your truth. Just as she’s living her truth at the moment- no matter how much that hurts you.
    I guess there’s no way of knowing.

  11. SUZ: I think it comes down to this: How much of me do I give up? You have shown you are talented, a gifted writer, a thinker,you have a passion for the truths of adoption crimonolgy. Your writings, opinions posted for years that I have read tell me you should never hold your silence for any reason! A mom who thinks of her children first, sure we all do. But children must also respect the ideals of their parents. The great talents of past generations who possied their beliefs to make change did not falter in their decisions or their dreams!
    You can not lose yourself with the projection that if you stop!! this will make a huge difference in your relationship with your daughter. Even if one day she comes into the fold or not, you can feel challenged that you have made a difference just as those before you who did not falter or were frightened into silence. I dont think this is a selfish act on your part. You have been given a gift and to think of giving up on yourself to the falsehood that perhaps one day it may backfire how could anyone disregard truths. I would have to think that you would be acknowledged and respected and that relinquishment does not mean “GIVE AWAY”.

  12. i think it was as i began to speak out about what was done to me, and about the industry, that my son opened up himself to the possibility that I was right … because he also has a huge sense of right and wrong, justice vs. injustice.
    your daughter may be confused and not knowing what logic we use to dissect the process we were put through and the adoption machine in general. educating others may open her eyes as well. good luck.
    and to put it another way, right now, the current situation is not working to open her heart to having you in her life. maybe a different path would work?
    we were told to be quiet, to be silenced, to be defined as being uteri, “amputated at the waist.” and uteri do not have voices. to speak out shows that we are more than this, that we have not happily accepted what was done to us. maybe sometimes our children will honour and respect us more if we do speak out, whether or not they immediately agree with us.

  13. You said it honey and it just became so clear. What do we have to lose and how many years have we already been seperated?
    Your own words may be your own answer!
    Thanks again for being there for me today.
    Love ya,

  14. I know that I have been much happier by not looking to others to give me peace of mind. I find it only within myself. I am stronger when I am comfortable with myself. I don’t have to lie about the pictures in my office. I don’t lower my voice or look around when I talk about my son. I am not a puppet to my son’s or anyone’s attitudes about what I do or say. I’ve learned I’m a pretty nice person in spite of everything and don’t have to second-guess myself all the time. Some people love me just the way I am. I still get my feelings hurt when I am misunderstood, or worse, when others don’t want to understand, or seem purposefully rude. I am happy with what I have and what I am, and it does overflow into all my relationships.
    I have a wonderful reunion experience. My son told me that I’ve helped him be happier with himself and his decisions (and likewise). I contacted him wanting only to give him medical information. It has become so much more. I would like to think I would be as happy if he didn’t want me in his life or if his life had not been so great but I guess I can’t say for sure. My life is so much richer knowing him.

  15. I love my mom. I wish she weren’t so busy with her life to spend some time with us. I know she is awesome, fun, and kind. She was fun to be around except when she was pushing away. She said in past she doesn’t feel guilty about giving me away. She had my kids call her gramma and hasn’t communicated in three years. I still care about her and hope to spend time with her again but I am done trying. I’ve tried for three years.

  16. Maria – Have you told her what you said here? In the simple words you expressed here? If not, would you consider it? Does she have any idea how much you miss her and want her in your life?
    Hugs to you. I know the agony of being ignored and avoided (only from the other side).

  17. As an adult adoptee, I can say that when I was young, I would have also been confused and unsure about anything to do with my “birth” mother. But now that I am older and I realize the tremendous love my first mother had for me by searching and writing and doing all she could to be in my life, I am so thankful that she was outspoken. It is part of my healing as her daughter. She passed away before our reunion, but the legacy she left me was one of love and passion, and I know if she were alive she would be speaking out still. I’d say do what is in your heart and know that your daughter will someday understand and become whole by the identity and passion you use to speak about adoption separation.

  18. Authentic Self Expression: society teaches us to go against our own grain so often, we abandon the intuitive drive for authentic self expression. I myself have struggled for years to find my own authentic voice and not have fear to truly voice it. This post makes me realize that I do not speak out about adoption for fear of hurting my adoptive parents. Similar conundrum.
    I can hear that you fear your voicing out would alienate her further, but as others here have said, it may just be the thing that draws her closer.
    These kinds of decisions should be made with the heart, not the mind. I would suggest a visualization exercise. Visualize yourself giving those talks, writing those words, hearing the response from others. What do you feel when you visualize this? Now visualize the opposite. Visualize turning down offers to speak. Visualize storing your writings rather than publishing them. Visualize keeping it all away from your daughter. How does that feel?
    I know your heart will tell you the answer.
    Much love and hugs,

  19. I agree with others. Tell her what is going on. I hope she reads your blog – it’s very powerful!
    Then, go for it. It is past time for birth mothers to come out from under the rock where they were placed by the adoption machine.
    Adoptees have no voice. We are told “it is for the protection of the biological parents.” ACLU also claims that biological parents don’t want the children they gave up to contact them.
    SO…do it! Make your voice heard. Let the MSM (Main Stream Media) hear your voice.
    I would never be ashamed of my birth mom if she ever shouted to the world about the injustices! Never!
    And…not all adoptees had “happy, happy adoption” experiences. Just as I will never tell my b/mom about some of my experiences, your child may not be telling all of hers.

  20. Suz, for what it is worth:
    You are an exceptionally talented person. The gift you have for words and description is one that could make the very difference between keeping the change you seek under the surface of the mainstream’s consciousness or raising it to the level of an issue that gets into the national debate.
    Even if you feel you cannot take a public role, I hope you find a way to lend your voice to whatever this project is, because it’s needed.

  21. I feel exactly as you do about being more public and fearing my son will not like it. Not only the son I gave up, but the ones I raised as well have never been thrilled with my involvment in adoption reform. And this is painful. It is a long complicated story, but the basic thing is my son did not want to be found and it has taken several decades to get to even a minimal mutual relationship. I do not want to do anything to jeopardize what I have.
    Also like you it is not something I have discussed with him….at this point we have an email only relationship, and the subject of adoption does not come up. He has disappeared for years at time before with no explanation, so it is realistic for me to fear something I say may alienate him again. I also realize these fears are mine and may have nothing to do with how he really feels about any of it.
    The truth is what I really care about is the relationship with my surrendered son and my other children, not activism, even though I have been involved for many years. If my son asked me to drop all involvment I would do it, but he has not asked that. I guess what I fear is him googling something I wrote that annoys him or upsets him….so I do not want a blog or a great internet or public presence, mostly because my story is also his story and I do not feel right about splashing it all over the place if he would rather I not.
    I have not seen this addressed before, and we each have to find our own way to deal with it, so I have no advice for you but certainly can sympathize with your feelings and fears. My son is much older than your daughter, this is not really something time resolves if communication is limited.

  22. I don’t know about your daughter, but I know how I personally feel. I feel as though each time she tells her story, she tells my story. I feel as she gets published, it is my life spread out there for all to see, to assume and to pity me. To pity her. To pity us. Her story sort of belongs to me, although I’m aware that is probably not a popular theory amongst first mothers. But I was there. As you put it, I was the “issue conceived” 20 something years ago. I don’t want to hinder her expression of her own exprience, but I also don’t want mine plastered everywhere – everywhere for my friends, colleagues and family to take part in. To tear apart. To deny. Or to accept for that matter. It is our story, isn’t it? Ours to tell? If one isn’t ready- should the other care? Or not?

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