Insensitive or Conditioned?

Psychobabbler noted in her comment on my post My Mother and Steve Jobs that there is no excuse for that sort of insensitivity (meaning the kind my mother displayed). I would be inclined to agree if I thought for a second my mothers comment was intentionally insensitive, more so if I thought she was even aware of what she said.

I don’t think she is.  My mother likely views Steve Jobs/Jandali situation completely different from mine. Moreover, she is also likely to think Steve Jobs adoption was a good thing for she can easily cite how good he turned out and assume that was due to nurture not nature. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, my mother is a product of her environment. (Don’t forget that letter I wrote to her parish priest).

My mothers believes — even to this day — that infants are better off without their mothers when they are born to a young unwed mother. We have gone many rounds on this topic over the years. At this point in my life, and hers, I no longer bother attempting to convince her otherwise. She believes what she believes and she does so based on what she was raised with and what the God she worships tells her.

My mother is as much a product of her upbringing, her primary socialization, as I am of mine. Even if, and this is a whopper of an IF, I were to successfully illustrate to my mother the pain adoption causes to surrendering mothers (because apparently my own pain is not evident enough for her), I still do not believe she could connect the dots from that pain to mine and ultimately, her own.

Why do I believe this?

For my mother to see my pain, she must see what caused it and she had a large part in that cause. To see the pain of mothers like me is to see me is to see her contribution to what happened to me and my first-born and ultimately her own pain and loss of her first-born grandchild.

I believe it is too much for her. I state this based on my forty-four years of knowing my mother and her way of handling things. Her way?  Her familial way?

If we don’t talk about it, it does not exist. So here, have a spot of tea will you and lets forget that adoption nonsense, why don’t we? If you live in the past, you die in the present. She might even say something like no sense crying over spilt milk, even if in my case it was breast milk that my body created specifically for my child. She doesnt entirely believe these things but it what she has been taught to feel, say and do in response to emotional trauma. It is akin to whispering the word “cancer” when sharing a friends diagnosis with the big C. If it is not spoken very loud, you might be able to escape from it yourself.

In my mothers every day world, the world she functions best in, my daughter, my adoption trauma, does not exist.  We don’t talk about those things and it is poor manners for me to bring it up. For these reasons and many more, I believe she did not think for a millisecond about me, about my daughter, while she was commenting on Steve Jobs and his adoption reunions status.  I do believe it crossed her mind once I made my comment but I am quite confident it crossed very quickly. It was seen, felt, and quickly stuffed back under her rosary beads, missellette and Irish Catholic guilt. Her conditioning took over.

One might assume from the tone of this post that I am angry or bitter about this.  I am not, at least not hugely so.  My mothers beliefs no longer affect my daily life. Rather they effect the depth of our relationship.  I am okay with where it is now. Digging up the old dirty laundry will not bring my daughter back to me, will not give me back those lost years, will not even make my daughter want to meet me.  When it comes to relationships, the lack of one with my first-born child is the only one that still aches my heart. Demanding my mother see my POV is likely only to make her angry and even cry.  Who wants to make their 67-year-old mother cry? She has hurt enough, as have I.

My mother means well. She does the best she can given what she was given.  She may be insensitive at times but she is unintentionally insensitive, of that I am sure.

Let me state this in a more personal and succinct way, in what others call “I” language.

I surrendered my child to adoption because I believed what others told me. I knew on a cellular level that it was wrong and against my maternal instincts, but I believed what others told me, I trusted the authorities in my life and believed they knew better than I did, much like my mother believes Father Lynch and her Irish Catholic teachings.  I learned I was wrong.  My mother has never learned that. She believes what she has been conditioned to believe.  I have had the luxury of an education, experience, therapy that taught me that what I believed, what I was told, was wrong. I was taught how to think critically (albeit a few years too late).   I was able to resocialize myself and discard the values and norms my family taught me. My mother has not had that benefit.  If I want to be understood for my own mistakes (that of believing others and surrendering my child to strangers), my own shortcomings, my own negative conditioning, I feel I must grant my mother the same understanding.


Good Title, Jezebel [TRIGGER WARNING]

Have your read this article on Jezebel “16 & Pregnant: There Are Actually People Who Don’t “Believe In” Adoption”

If not, please do, go now and comment.

And if you come back here from Jezebel, please make a point of reading a few of  my posts here. For starters, I offer my most popular posts.

Just Sit There
Forgive You Father For You Have Sinned
White Flag Realities
Care to Play A Game
It Reigns Over Me
Sano, To Heal in Latin
Sad, Mad, Scared
The Nose
Telling Children

I commend Jezebel for this article and promoting intelligent dialogue about the sacred cow of adoption (even though the only comments I have seen approved are laced with serious adoption kool-aid.  I hope to see other views soon)

How to Break

The harder you fight to hold on to specific assumptions, the more likely there’s gold in letting go of them. — John Seely Brown

How does one take a “break” from adoption?

Susie and I were trading comments in a previous post about this topic and I find myself wondering what tactics, coping mechanisms, others employ to get away from adoption (and I mean tactics beyond outright denial of adoption trauma).

Do you practice yoga?
Immerse yourself in other parts of your life?
Work too much?
Take medication?
Stay away from known triggers (blogs like this?)

Can one really “take a break” from adoption?

I haven’t been successful myself — ever. For me, to me, adoption is part of my very being, tattooed on my heart and soul, pulsing through my veins merging with my platelets in attempts to stop further soul bleeds. It is not just the thoughts I conjure in my waking hours. It comes to me at night – in my dreams and in my nightmares.  It finds me in restaurants (as in last night while artist Rebecca Pidgeon and her band discussed the russian adoption scandal at the table next to me…or when the guy across the restaurant looked frighteningly like my daughters father). It is in the books on my bookshelf at home. It has branded my body (in the form of the logo used for the site) – although I did this willingly and with no regret.

While I have let up on the adoption throttle by speaking less often, giving up ownership and moderation of a yahoogroup, blogging less,  and many others things, I havent seen much of a decrease in the amount of pain/thoughts that goes into adoption. I have however stopped heaping more pain and punishment on myself.  Perhaps that is a good thing? Perhaps that is all that I can do? Perhaps this amount of thought and pain is here to stay?

How do I take a break?  How do you keep your child in your heart and NOT think of the fact that child is adopted? Doesnt want to know you? That your other children are effected?

Has anyone out there made progress? Found a way to NOT be in denial/avoidance but still “take a break“?

Open to suggestions.

What works for you? I would like to know.

And I am sure Susie would too.