Placed on Life Support

A mom friend, in a reunion similar to mine, had a difficult weekend. Through our exchanges via facebook status updates, message and more, she said many insightful things to me. Amazes me when that happens. The drama of the day was hers and I was intending to be supportive and yet she taught me something.

One of the most profound sentiments she expressed to me was the concept of her putting her reunion on life support.

We were discussing how difficult it is to be in limbo.  Mothers (like me and like my friend) often seek black and white answers. We need, desperately, for our children to give us a hard and fast answer – yes, we will someday want to know you or no, we don’t EVVAH want to know you.  We don’t want this answer really…at least not the negative answer. We don’t really want to push our children into a decision or be difficult with them. We understand they need space, and time, and maturity and love.

What we really want when something inside us begs for an either/or answer is some insight into how we manage the overwhelming feelings of limbo psychosis that can surface at any moment.

How does one EXACTLY put their heart on hold? How do you hold out hope for a child you may never ever get to meet or talk to again? How do you go on with your life and have a productive, fulfilling marriage to your partner and motherhood to your parented children when part of your heart is out there, on a shelf, beating ever so slowly. How can you ever be completely THERE for those in your life that DO want to know and love you when part of you is so drastically fragmented and focusing on the ones that don’t?

The what-ifs and the maybes and the coulda’s and the wouldas and shouldas rise up from the depths of our hearts like those black oogey evil things rose from the ground in the movie Ghost. As with creatures in the movie Ghost, these demons take us away, take our thoughts, our breath, our tears and our energy. They take us away from the here and now and leave us aching in a field of maybes.  And while we do that, our loved ones stand around anxious and angry and resentful that we are wasting our time on a someone who doesn’t want to know us.

How do you manage that?

It was at this point in our conversation my friend said the following.

“…putting a relationship on life support — maybe someday he’ll wake up, but then again, he could remain in the adoption coma and all I can do is sneak in the room and squeeze his hand once in a while.”

OMG. What a visual and how true it is. That is exactly what I feel like. I have a relationship on life support. I am giving it just enough time and energy to keep it alive in my heart. I sneak away when no one is looking and I visit my daughter. I notice she is still breathing. I visit her twitter, her blog, her personal website. I, in effect, squeeze her hand once in a while but she doesn’t know it anymore than a coma patient would. I talk to her, read to her and fantasize that one day she will awake. Others tell me I am wasting my time, they have no faith, they tell me to let her go. Let her die. Slip away. But I cannot. Mothers like me don’t give up. I get angry at the naysayers. How dare they! How dare they give up on my daughter, their sister, their grand daughter.   I, me, mothers like me..we hang on. We believe.  We carry around that silly thing called hope. And still we hold the hand even if it never squeezes back and never wiggles a finger.

Some day she might.

Really? Will she? And while I squeeze that hand and make those visits, how much am I taking from others in my life?  Am I prolonging the pain? Torturing myself?  Believing in something that will never be?

I have no answers for my friend. I have no answers for myself. I really have no point in the post other than to state I adore the metaphor.

Adoption Reunion:  A Relationship on Life Support.

20 Thoughts.

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  2. Don’t ever let go of her hand Suz…. I have hope for all of you. ((((SUZ))))

  3. I’m glad you will never give up, although in a weird way I feel terrible for saying it. How can an a-mom suggest to a mother that she keep herself in a limbo of pain on purpose?

    But I am glad you will never give up, because it helps me believe my kids’ mothers won’t either.


  4. Wow. I can totally relate. Except, that instead of watching my daughter on life support, I am watching the people raising her kill her every day, preparing her for life support.

    It is so sad and frustrating. I am like you…. I need a yes or no answer. Sometimes I am afraid that I’ll ultimately push her away if there is any hesitation on the answer… cause I can’t stand being in limbo. In relationships that I’ve been in, limbo has become a point that hovers over me, and I end it in that moment, because I just can’t stand it. Yet, until my daughter is of age where she can contact me, or respond to me herself, I just wait and do everything you and your friend do… squeeze her hand, read her stories. Yet, it strips away part of my soul. I am never present in my life, because part of me is always with her. I wish I could separate myself. I wish I could live in my own life. But, I just can’t, because I am waiting for her.

    But, then, as I read this through your account, it made me really concerned…. because this limbo state is what abusers do. (Especially the long term limbo). Because, it makes them have power over us, as we continue to support their life in this state (switching around the words was intentional). There seems to be a difference between giving up on our children, and giving up on the way our children are living (or dying). Visiting them in their comatose state allows them to ignore us. It allows them to continue the lies about us.

    But at the same time, I know that I can’t Do anything. It’s so frustrating. Somehow, in reading this, I realize, Somehow, Somehow, I have to stop feeding the machine that is keeping my daughter from being on life support, so her own body can kick in and bring her back to life.

    • HeatherRainbow – I am glad you mentioned the control issue/power over us as this is something I also wanted to mention in my post. I do agree with you that we mothers are also at odds with the limbo in this regard. We feel (at least I do) that our children control our happiness or destiny. That they hold the power for us to be happy or sad. My personal opinion (and something I am working on privately) is that this is completely and utterly wrong. We cannot give them that power. It is too much of a burden on them not to mention it can be easily abused (as you note). We must take it back. We must find a way to be content/happy/whatever WITHOUT our children. That seems odd or backwards, I know. I will draft a separate post on this for clarity. I am guessing this short reply is not clear.

      • Actually Suz, it’s crystal clear(at least to me)…as your friend/partner/fiancee I agree one bajillion percent on the ‘must find a way to be content/happy without our children’…
        To quote something you’ve told me, ‘one should NOT source their happiness from another’…
        Hopefully I’m not misconstruing that quote, it’s so hard of course to do when it comes to one’s own children(god knows I struggle with this at times myself, can I get a big ol DIVORCE SUCKS from the congregation), and as I’ve said countless times I don’t pretend to have the slightest inkling when it comes to adoption/children and how that all plays into the ‘sourcing your fun from them’, etc…

      • As I was reading the comments…when I read what HeatherRainbow said…a lot came to mind, for me. And, Suz, you then commented and echoed what was going around in my mind.

        HR – I don’t personally know your story…but I do know the pain. (I’m an adoptee.) I can sense the pain your heart is in and I’m sorry for that. When you said, “Because, it makes them have power over us, as we continue to support their life in this state,” I guess what came to heart was that really…it is a choice to what/whom we give power to, especially as grown ups. Now, granted, sometimes it does not feel like a choice. But, truthfully…it is.

        I’m not saying the choice is easy, painless, healing, hopeful or what you want…but you have the choice to allow someone and/or some circumstance to rule your world. Maybe it did…maybe it has and maybe it still does…and I think that’s ok and that’s part of the process and journey of life. But there comes a point where you have to decide to make a better choice. To take responsibility for YOUR happiness and for YOUR own choices.

        It will never stop being somewhat painful…the reunion limbo, especially when it’s not a healing and positive reunion. I myself, am in it…as an adoptee. And yes, sometimes I make the choice to give them power and spiral right out of control and get in a rut…but I have learned…that the ruts will pass…and that I can then make the choice to continue living life. I miss my birthfamily…every single day. I just try to make the choice to not let it hurt me 24/7.

        Suz…you know, since I first found you floating around in blog land, I have believed from that moment that your girl WILL one day wake up. I’m believing for that. And I’m hoping right along with you. xo

        Oh, this is a good post and good comments. I just had a little light bulb moment!

  5. Thank you for writing this, Suz. I’m in the middle of trying to write a piece about this right now, about how my partner would say she didn’t care about her birthmother but then talk about her all the time, how her birthmother did the same about her own son (Lee’s bio half-brother) and how heartbreaking I found both the disavowals and the fact that they’re living with these forced absences. I love the metaphor and I love that you hold hope.

    • Thorn – Thanks ! I look forward to reading your post

      Rich – I think you are referencing Oriah’s line from The Invitiation…”And if you can source your own life from its presence.” Yes, it is what I am referring to. More to come. Mwah!

  6. It’s not necessarily our children who have the control and power, but it is (IMO) over me. I just can’t separate my daughter from my daily life with all of the reminders out there. I guess I just have no idea how to get that power back and how to not be sad and angry that my daughter was stolen from me and is being brainwashed against me every single day to hate me.

    I look forward to reading more on this Suz.

    • Heather – I’d LOVE to read your blog, if you share your story at all? My email address is and/or you can hop over to my blog by clicking on my name here. I’m really interested in hearing your story because I’m sure it would explain in greater detail, why you hurt the way you do. I know that I said it’s a choice re: the power stuff…but while I do say that, please know that I understand the pain of separation by adoption.

  7. Just a thought that comes to my mind while reading Heather’s post and Suz’s response…
    (if I can get my thoughts out clearly)
    With a child that we raise, we know it’s normal for them to grow up, move out, move on, yet, we keep that bond, most never doubt that mom is always there waiting in the wings.

    When there has been a separation, our child comes to us so damaged, by aparents, and all the lies told to him/her over the years, and then you toss in the loyalty and trust issues. It’s no wonder they get stuck. A lot of times as adoptees we don’t feel like grown ups, and we are completely and utterly at our adopters mercy.

    I myself can see in from both ways, I am an adoptee and a mom who lost her son.
    I can understand it, why my son does this, but again, I forget a lot of times, my heart gets in the way of my head.

    Like Rich said one should not source their happiness from another, no we should not. BUT… when that bond has been incomplete, and has never had a chance to be experienced, it makes things a bit schizophrenic. I do not want to source my happiness from my son, and him wanting me to be his mother, but we both know there is a giant separation there. I feel it and I know my son does too. I have been able to voice to my son that I know it exists, but, he is scared. He’s said to me, I wish things were not this way, I wish I had been kept.
    But I can’t fix it. Meanwhile, I’ll just keep sneaking in that room for a little hand squeeze every so often.

    I’m unsure if that makes any sense at all. I’m not good at getting my feelings down sometimes.

  8. Suz, this is one of the most helpful posts you’ve done! Thanks to your friend who got the “life support” analogy going. It is very appropriate. My reunion relationship might well die a lonely death, but I like to think there’s still hope, that it is just in a coma and might still come around.


  9. Hello… I haven’t read much of your blog. I just found it. I can relate to this post. I, found my daughter that was placed for adoption basically by force. I found her on a social network. She communicate but it’s nothing like I desire. Sometimes, I feel that I have to walk on egg shells not to scare her off. Also, that she will talk as long as I don’t remind her of who I am. Mostly, I just have to feel my way through and try not to over step my welcome because she doesn’t come forward and tell me how she feels. I think if I ask something that makes her uncomfortable… she just ignores the question. But she is only 18 years of age.

    • Cristy – I am sad to hear you experience same but I am glad you found me and likely others. Please know, please believe, it is not YOU. It is adoption and what it does to our children and the most natural, primal relationship they will ever have. Much love to you.

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