Hopes vs. Expectations?

Been thinking about Jmommas and others statements about expectations.

Specifically, wondering what is an expectation versus what is hope.

I am not sure I am clear on one versus the other..at least not as they pertain to my own situation and thought processes.

In the case of uncertainty, expectation is what is considered the most likely to happen. An expectation, which is a belief that is centred on the future, may or may not be realistic. A less advantageous result gives rise to the emotion of disappointment. If something happens that is not at all expected it is a surprise. An expectation about the behavior or performance of another person, expressed to that person, may have the nature of a strong request, or an order. – Wikipedia.org

Hope is a belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life. Hope is the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. [1] Hopefulness is somewhat different from optimism in that hope is an emotional state, whereas optimism is a conclusion reached through a deliberate thought pattern that leads to a positive attitude. – Wikipedia.org

I would love for Jmomma and others to talk about how their expectations got them into trouble in reunion for the only expectations that I can confidently come up with in regards to my own is the following.

I expected (erroneously) to be treated like a person, a human, even a stranger. I expected my daughter to say thank you, no thank you, please, happy birthday, merry christmas, go away, etc. In short, I expected her to give me at least the courtesy she would given a stranger. (Yes, this is where adoptees pipe in and say “but you are not a stranger”). I did not expect to be avoided, have presents refused without explanation, have emails go unanswered for years on end. I expected basic common courtesies to be extended. Even if those expressions were rude and hurtful. I expected to be communicated with. (And yes, yes, yes, I know why I might not have been. Just run with me here. This is not about defending her actions. It is about explaining me and my feelings. There is a difference).

For the longest time it boggled my mind why I couldnt get a response to an email. How they could just go into the ether and never be answered.

I expected some interest (or hoped?) in her medical history, in her brothers, in her family, in her story.

And this is where I cross the line and get fuzzy. Did I really expect those things or did I hope for them? Did my expectations get formed based on all the other adoptees I knew? Did I wrongly assume that my daughter, like hundreds, maybe millions of other adoptees, would care about her medical history? Did I have unrealistic expectations and if so, why?

  • I hoped I would find my daughter. I did.
  • I hoped she would be happy and have had a good life. I don’t know if she is or did. I continue to hope.
  • I hoped she would want to meet me. She doesn’t want to. I continue to hope.
  • I hoped we could formulate some sort of relationship, even if cyber only. I don’t think we have. I continue to hope.
  • I continue to hope she will consider getting to know her first family in the future.

Do I EXPECT those things? No. (Or do I?)

Does that then become some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy? Since I don’t expect, don’t really have much hope anymore, does that mean something negative? If she were to read this and see that I have little hope and even less expectations, would that be helpful or hurtful to her?  Would she say “Whoof, thank god the pressure is off. Now she will leave me alone” or would she feel left again?


9 Thoughts.

  1. I am not sure I believe in hope in situations like this. I can understand you wanting those things from her. I guess it is so hard for people to understand what adoption does to the child. I am quite sure I have been more curteous to strangers than my own mother. Again the strangers however did not leave me in the care of strangers at my most vulnerable.

    My body reacts before my mind does with my mother. The emotions have been strong enough to make me vomit. Coping with them, well there is not much of a roadmap.

    My only guess would be those kinds of feelings are keeping your daughter from being able to relate to you. I doubt it is anything you have done or not done.

    One day she may have enough maturity/support in her own life to confront and integrate these feelings. However with a very need adoptomom, that is a big hurdle. Adoptees tend to feel like they have adopted the parents and are responsible for their emotional well-being which seems to hinge on our devotion.

    I am sorry for both of you.

  2. Joy – When you say situations like this, do you mean my situation, reunions in general or something else? I fear that some readers may interpret your comment as “reunion is hopeless and dont expect anything so dont bother” Is that what you intend to convey or are you speaking from your own experience, or referencing what you think mine is?

    I guess I would not want mothers to NOT have contact, search for, communicate with their children because of my situation and/or another adoptees opinion. Can you clarify?

  3. Suz, I read the definitions you posted several times. The difference between hopes and expectations is still fuzzy. I’ll give it a try…

    I hoped to find my son, but when it took so long I no longer expected to. I expected him to be angry and/or reject me (was I that down on myself and what I had done? yes), but he wasn’t (actually his anger surfaced years later). I expected that he would have had a better life without me (that’s what “they” said when I gave him up), so I was horribly disappointed when that wasn’t the case, that instead he had a very traumatic childhood and was virtually deserted by his aparents at age 13. Initially our reunion was so smooth and loving and joyful that I expected we would always have a good relationship. We don’t anymore. I hope that will change, but I don’t expect it will.

    The therapist I was seeing during the downside of my reunion recommended a book: “The Language of Letting Go” by Melody Beattie. It was a huge help to me.

  4. Denise – Your comment is laden with things I want to talk more about – specifically, where do those expectations come from.

    In my case, many of the seeds of my reunion were planted by others. Becuase the agency assured me at the time of surrender my daughter would want to know me, I believe them. I expected it to be true. Much like you expected your son to have a better life, cuz others told you it would be.

    More posts to come. Digging this thread.

  5. Me, too! Maybe I’ll start something on my blog, get input from those not “whacked by adoption.”

    What a difference a decade or two makes! I was “assured” that the records would be forever sealed, I would never see my son again and was forbidden to interfere in his life. I actually believed I could be arrested for it… until years later.

  6. Oh no Suz, sorry. I meant relationships where one person is not getting what they need. Adoption need not enter into it. You know I have a relationship with someone where their behavior disappoints me greatly.

    I don’t hope for him to change though, because well, I don’t think it is going to happen, and if he did not sure I want to forgive him.

    I guess I meant unsatisfactory relationships in general.

  7. I found my son very young, and in retrospect think I had a lot of expectations I did not recognize at such, the biggest being that he would feel like the adoptees I met in support groups who wanted very much to know their original mothers. This turned out to be not the case. The other side of hopes and expectations are fears, and I had plenty of those. Some of them turned out to be true, others not.

    As I was met by years and years of mostly silence, hope dwindled away, but so did expectations. I had to face reality, which was that my son was not at that time at all interested in me. Unbeknowst to me he was dealing with a lot of other hard stuff in his life having to do with his adoptive family and could not deal with what to him looked like more obligation and complication from me.

    I never really gave up hope, but came damn close. Eventually my son came around again, with email, one in person meeting at his request, and then back to sporadic email only. I have had to remind myself with each step forward he makes to be grateful for that, and to not spin it out into expectations of “more” which I tend to do.

    I do have hope now, but it is very cautious. I try not to have expectations, to accept what he is willing to give, to be open and understanding, not to be either greedy or disappointed. Sometimes that is very hard. I am comforted that he has a good life and appears to be a good person, and has shared some of his life with me. He is not rude, did not return things, even when he was not communicating. If he had returned anything or asked I not contact him again, I would have honored that.

    I don’t think we can second guess how our surrendered kids will react to anything we say or do. We each have to deal with the individual we are dealing with, and take what they say at face value. It is made extra hard when they say nothing.

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  9. Suz,
    I must say that i wish i had a mother like you. I can not tell you how disappointing it has been for me.. my life long dream of finding her. It has not been the worst reunion.. but it has been online only, i remain a secret, and now we are reduced to simple emails of weather, heat and being tired. Weekly or longer .. from twice a day and having IM’s.
    My dreams shattered.. even more so after i got to know her and how much we are alike.. that dream of finding some one like me.. it came true then it faded.
    So, looking back i can only say.. i wish i had a mom like you..
    Hopefully, in time.. your daughter will wake up and find it important .. might take a while and life circumstances .. but all things are possible.

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