Serious Q: What if…

The question that was not really a question did not surprise me.

I sensed the feeling, the confusion, and the angst surrounding it for years. Every time I spoke with her and got an update on her reunion it was there, hiding behind the uttered phrases, peeking out behind the “things are rough but I am lucky to have her in my life” word wall she had built.

I recall one particular challenging phone conversation where she cried a mixture of deeply sad and tremendously angry tears.  Her words, confused and conflicting, indicated she was tired of reunited daughters’ treatment of her and her kept children yet she feared stating such would end the reunion. Avoiding all conflict with daughter, she tolerated the vicious attacks, the nasty emails, the contrary gifts sent to relatives.  Much like a battered wife might state about an abusive husband, she felt having her daughter, even with the abuse, was better than not having her at all.

I rarely knew what to say.   I generally assumed she did not want me to say anything; she just needed someone to bear witness to the craziness she endured. In her presence, I would hold her hand and let her vent. Electronically I sent {{hugs}} and on the phone, I would “aww” or “hmm” or, as was often the case, lacking anything to say, sniffle to acknowledge I had heard and was still on the phone.

Thus, when the painful question finally passed her lips and made a sound that my ears could hear and my heart could understand, I was not at all shocked.

“What if…what if you do not like your child?” she asked.

The question was almost too much for her to utter.  I could hear her fear of judgment in the pause and repeat of the “what if”.  She felt like a terrible mother.  What kind of mother feels this way let alone utters the question for others to hear?

My friend does. My very good friend who happens to be a very good mother to her parented children feels like a terrible one to her surrendered and reunited child.

I did not say that. I really did not say anything. I had too many mixed feelings to safely answer her.  The words brought flashes of memory to my mind. My mother and my sister.  My own reunion.  My experiences with adoptee friends who tell me the reverse – they do not “like” the mother they found.  Such a situation does not qualify for a yes or no, right, or wrong answer. It is far more complex than that.

I still have yet to answer her, assuming she is even waiting for it.  Maybe it was enough that I listened and did not quickly respond with an answer, cast any judgment or ask her to explain herself more clearly.  Perhaps my silence was an acceptable response.

Or not.

Silence is sometimes construed as judgment. I think of all the years my family avoided the subject of my daughter.  They thought they were helping me. I thought they were ashamed of me.

Edmund Burke once said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”  When I did not respond to her did I contribute to some sort of evil? Even if that evil exists only in her mind?

More thoughts to come in my next post on same topic.

5 Thoughts.

  1. I’ve been there. It is one of the worst feelings in the world, to say or even think, “what if I don’t LIKE my son?” Although I love him. Ditto with thinking oneself a bad mother. Since I didn’t have more kids, my only parenting (or non-parenting) experience was with the son I surrendered to adoption, then reunited with. I don’t know if you have to respond. Perhaps just understanding is enough.

    • Thank you for your comment Denise. I know you can (or could relate). Hope you are well! Thanks for continued reading since my Facebook hiatus!

      • Suz, I was reading WMW long before FB. Have thought of you often during your hiatus and wondering if you miss it at all. I think everyone misses you!

  2. I think it would be very hard to like anyone who treated you with “nasty emails” and “vicious attacks” no matter how you are related. I hope your friend stops allowing herself to be abused. It is not healthy for her or her relinquished child to engage in a relationship in which emotional abuse exists. I do not think you have done anything “evil” by being a good listener because maybe that is what she needed at the time. But perhaps reminding her of her positive attributes, as well as the people who love her and are glad she is here will be a little bit of balm for her wounds.

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