Adoption Reunion Survivor Guilt

Dear Cyber-Mom-Friend-in-Reunion-That-Wrote-Me-an-Email-Late-Last-Week:

Hi Friend.  I hope you don’t mind if I respond to your email via a blog post. As I crafted my response to you I realized my thoughts might be shared by others, or useful to others. For that reason, I am responding here.

My take on your email to me is the following:

You don’t know what to say to my blog posts. You have a fabulous reunion with your adult child and you feel bad that I don’t with mine. You feel, what I call adoption reunion survivors guilt.  I have seen survivor guilt. My mother has had cancer, not once, but twice.  Both times the cancer was caught mind boggling early.  While she has done well, others, diagnosed with same have struggled with treatments or worse yet, passed away.  Mother avoided situations where she had to acknowledge she had it easier. She felt bad she was given such a good prognosis while others experienced excruciating pain.   I see the same in you. You look at me and see a good person, someone you like, someone you WANT to have what you have, yet I don’t. You survived my fate.

My reunion is not ideal and yours seems, at this point, to be utopia and you, as someone who cares for me, feels uncomfortable communicating with me, commenting on my blog for you fear you will hurt my feelings, rub it in my face, or other. You want to scream loudly and often, and to me, that your adoption reunion is so fabulous, you are thrilled, you are so happy. Yet you are compassionate and caring enough to know that might make me a wee bit envious.

While I would never tell anyone how to feel, I do wish I could tell you not to feel this. Your reunion is not my reunion.  Your child is not my child. Your child’s adoptive parents were not my child’s adoptive parents.  To suggest, to lightly imply, or infer, that our reunions should somehow mimic each other is to buy into something I strongly rail against.

Mothers, children, are not swappable. We are not all the same. One new adoptive mommy cannot do all that the original natural mother can.   They are not interchangeable (much as the industry would them to be so). My daughter is not the same as the child my daughters adoptive parents could not conceive on their own. All babies are not the same. They are not blank slates that can be shined up and molded to suit the whims of others. Nor are mothers, or reunions for that matter.

Enjoy your reunion. It may stay the way it is forever. It may get better. It may get worse (read the cycle of reunion).  But do not ever, for one second, hold back your joy on account of my lack of it.

Yours is not the first happy reunion I have encountered. Goodness, I actually facilitated over 40 for members of I sat on those initial calls, I participated in those flurries of emails, exchanged photos, and had mothers and children talk to me for hours about all they were experiencing that I was never permitted. I am still involved, peripherally, in many of those fabulous reunions.  I am happy for my other friends, as I am for you, while I am simultaneously sad for me.  I can see we are different, separate entities with our own present circumstances, pasts, and futures.

Please share yours. Openly, freely, randomly, unexpectedly. Dance, cheer, write songs, make scrapbooks, take pictures, stop strangers in the mall and tell them you were reunited with your child. Show them your child’s picture. Brag about him.

Closed records, the industry, the shame and stigma have kept that joy from you for too long. I want to see you foaming at the mouth with it, ya hear?

8 Thoughts.

  1. And do not assume that after five years or ten years or fifteen years of godd reunion that all is, and ever will be, well. Things can change in an instant even after many years of knowing each other.

  2. Agreed (regarding the post, and the fact that things don’t necessarily stay the same- good or bad).

  3. Oh Suz.. you know.. as much as we might joke that we lead paralelle lives, I DO wish we were at least somewhat closer when it comes to our reunions. But of course, you DO know that and I know you do.. and that’s the thing… to treat you with kid gloves would be insulting insinuates that you are not able to handle the very truth that you openingly discuss.
    Oh I do understand the guilt to a degree, because I think we do wish good tidings on fellow human beings.. let’s hope that goodness IS human nature! But in the same vein.. I can know my story is better than some, yet not as much as I would like.. and in friendship.. I know you understand that too as human nature and would never deny another the pleasure of sorrow that comes from their own truth.
    Gosh, I hope that makes sense.. it feels like it could be patronizing, but you know it’s not..

    • Claud – I absolutely understand what you mean. It is not patronzing at all. Thanks for your thoughts.

  4. Hi Suz, Thank you for understanding what I am going through. It does feel good to say I have three kids. I never thought it would be this way. He is coming home. I dont know for how long, but whatever the time is I will take it. Any time…. all the time! I do tell my friends and neighbors about my found son. They tell me that they have only seen stories on tv about birth-mothers finding their child. I see the true happiness they feel for me. Thanks to everyone for their comments, and past advice. Thanks Suz for being you. You have been a great influence in my life. I will keep you updated on everything that is going on. Hugs to you Suz <3

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