On Ruining Things

The message from my younger sister arrived in my Facebook message box at 3:15.

“Weird. Had a dream about [my daughters’ amended name] last night. I was in a big old house, in the dining room and she walked in. She said hi, [my sisters name] and I burst into tears. She was wearing tan shorts and an olive green tank top, funky jewelry and was carrying a black backpack. Wth? Lol”

For the briefest of moments I winced.  I reflected momentarily on my own dreams I regularly have of my daughter and found myself wondering why my sister would suddenly start dreaming of her.

I remembered that a few months back I told my sister and mother that they were free to have a relationship with her outside of me. I said this for two reasons. My mother has sporadically talked about contacting my daughter. I realized that while I never told her she could NOT contact her I also never told her she could.  Very subtle difference there but one that I feel in adoption trauma needs to be stated.  I included my sister in on this message as well.  Second reason I said this to them is for me it was a bit of a relief, a letting go of sorts.  There was a time when I did feel the need to broker any relationship, to be a gatekeeper to my secret (or not so secret daughter).  I wanted her just for me. I wanted all contact and all-knowing to be filtered through me first. I wanted to experience what I dreamed to be her fabulousness first and share it second. Those days had long gone and I felt really good about it. So I told them they were allowed to contact her without me being involved.

I never knew if they did. They did not tell me. I assumed they didn’t.  If I am not brokering a relationship, it is not my place to pry.  I don’t want to be involved. Since my sister brought this dream to my Facebook doorstep I felt it was okay to ask.

“Did you ever write her?  Have you ever thought about it? I know Mom has. Perhaps you thinking about it has caused the idea to take root in your dreams.  It is interesting to me you dream of her showing up in a house. I also had a dream once of me and you sitting on the floor in Moms how when [daughters amended name] came to the screen door” I reply back via Facebook messaging.

Her response, also via Facebook message, is almost immediate.

“I would never do it. Wouldn’t want to freak her out and ruin any chance of a face to face reunion for you.”

I am immediately and rather forcefully struck by the choice of words.  Ruin?  Why would my sister think her contacting my daughter would “ruin” my chances?  My mind gets away with me for a few minutes and paranoia sets in. What would my sister say? What does she think she could say or do that would “ruin” things for me?  Reality is back and I laugh out loud at my desk.  Clearly my sister, perhaps my entire family, has some false idea about the state of my reunion, or my daughters’ state. Not having read the content of some of daughters messages they clearly have no idea how things are. I kept them (there goes that gate keeping) from them as they were both special to me yet in some way embarrassing. If I had shared them, there is a large chance they would not think fondly of her.  They don’t understand adoption or adoption reunion. While I understand where her words might come from, they don’t.  They have hope.  That is not to suggest I do not but rather I also have the brutal reality of my daughter words to anchor me in a more realistic place. I have also read far too many books, spoken at too many conferences, and listened to the angry hurt words of too many adoptees. I know and understand the pain. Then my analytical self takes over and I respond to my sister.

“Ruin? Why do you assume you would ruin it? Maybe you might actually unknowingly help things. Maybe [daughters amended name] feels like she is a dark dirty secret in the family close since no one but me has contacted her? Maybe she would actually like to know that other members of our family think about her and were wounded by the loss of her? Maybe she would feel safer talking to you or Mom.  You never can know.” I type.  I backspace and delete a few words.

“Ruin? Why do you assume you would ruin it? Maybe you might actually unknowingly help things. Maybe [daughters amended name] feels like she is a dark dirty secret in the family close since no one but me has contacted her?”

Her response is immediate and short.


The exchange ends there. We get back to our own busy lives filled with careers and parenting.  Despite that I still find myself flummoxed by my sisters’ assumption that she had the power to “ruin” something. I figure I ruined it all myself in 1986.  There really isn’t anything left to ruin.

Is there?