Juggling Mothers

I’m one of those “first moms” that thought it would be peachy if everyone could just get along. At reunion’s first blush, the enormous gratitude towards Joy’s parents for clothing and feeding her and enabling her to contact me inspired me to write them a thank you note!  She was alive and she knew my name and I was thrilled. Their awesome ability to “have” her when I could not, gave them a special glow.

Joy pointed out it would have been more meaningful if I actually knew how they had raised her, starting to reveal my naivete. That she had been given her original birth certificate, tempted me to anticipate more good and open things in reuniting.

Meeting her parents early in our long distance reunion was  a-w-k-w-a-r-d.  Apparently I had intimated that I wanted to meet them.  It was December. I remember wearing my cute red plaid Xmas jumper and thinking I looked wholesome.  Her amom and adad and I sat in their family room, forming a triangle; me in an upholstered chair, amom on a small sofa (?) and adad on a barstool.  Joy slipped through the sliding glass door (to smoke on the patio) where she could likely still here our conversation, mostly me talking.  Her amom was polite and showed me her recent craftwork and hugged me goodbye.  I don’t think her adad said a  word.

Wow.  If I knew then… Mmmm- I would have shut my mouth sooner.

Well that was our one and likely only meeting.

I followed the thank you note up with a Christmas card our that first  year.  I was  looking up to them as the ones that were graced with the responsibility of raising my daughter, the ones that had experience and knowledge and success in the world. They made no response to my cards.  I think they wished I would go away and acted as if I had.

Fantasizing that our common interest in Joy and her well being would lead naturally to an interest in each other — just so that we could be supportive of Joy and her family was my personal delusion, that we could share in doing our best for our daughter.  I was interested in everything about her and I thought they would be too. I thought that would include me since Joy was interested in me.

18 years later, I have finally become disabused of that notion.

Any discomfort Joy has with us individually is magnified with us in proximity to each other.  Our visit last spring illustrated that.  At first I felt hurt that Joy hadn’t told me her amom was coming the day after me– I should have been warned.   If I had known I probably would have excused myself and taken the pressure off.  Instead I got the pleasure and wonder of Joy juggling  way too much mothers. I got to witness some of the hurt that accompanied our convergence.

Unaware I was the opening act to her amom’s visit, I was baffled at Joy’s ambivalence about seeing me.  I thought we had planned it to accomodate her work and family schedule.  But, oops we did it again…

What a fiasco.

The adoptee situation of two mothers is more powerful than having a stepmother and a mother — or than having your mother die and getting a step mother– or even being raised by an overbearing grandmother with your mom in the background. An amom that is there for you (or not) through your growing and developing. Later, adding an original mom that mirrors your physical reality is a lot to integrate.

I wish the two moms could ease the way instead of putting more thorns in the passage.

How did things go so wrong?  Wrong? Idk. Maybe not.  Definitely provocative, provoking examination.

Is my value of openness real?  Am I really open with Joy? I don’t need to know why her aparents don’t want anything to do with me. I know insuring we don’t overlap puts a greater strain on Joy. Where is the source of that strain? What can I do to ease it?

Openness, willingness on the part of the parents, all the parents, to put loving their child first still seems like the appropriate approach. But I suppose what that looks like differs from each perspective.

I am learning about loving Joy in the midst of her dilemmas instead of trying to change them.  They are out of my control.  I don’t need to limit or define our relationship by them either.

Together we are building a new and unique experience, a tremendous blessing.

Thanks to God, not anyone else.


9 responses to “Juggling Mothers

  1. They gave me my OBC because they were pressured into it by another amom.

    They gave it to me because it was the ethical thing to do. They value doing the right thing. I appreciate that about them. Just like they chose an agency that had a long wait time for the mothers relinquishing to sign the TPR. To make sure you really wanted to give me away.

    There is a difference between doing the ethical thing and doing what one wants to do.

    I was supposed to get questions answered and move on.

    They wanted a child of their own, adoption is “as if” anyone who wants an infant, well I mean really think about why you would want an infant—

    On the other hand, P.’s family has never met my adoptive family. They wanted to jump on a plane and meet all of us right away, his reunion is older than ours. It has somehow never happened. It just happened with you because I didn’t give them a choice. I told them you were coming over about 15 minutes before you got there. Bet you didn’t know that!

    I have heard from others that they had to witness big thank you fests. “Oh thank you for raising my child” countered by “no, thank you for giving us your child” I am glad I don’t have that memory. I can imagine how that would feel, and that would feel awful.

    I mean for one thing re: the thank you card. I am their daughter, I belong to them. Imagine if you received a card thanking you for raising Ezzy or Buster, it would be bizarre, because raising them is your job, because they are yours.

    I can’t even begin to describe what it was like for me, what it is like for me, how much it hurts.

    How very much it hurts to have two moms. That is the reason for my blog name, Joy’s division. I am divided, my inner compass, my heart is divided.

  2. The wait time was mandated by the state in my understanding.

    I do remember the spontaneity of our meeting, that they were somewhat caught off guard, and that we rushed right over to surprise your grandparents next!

    It was not “thank you fest”. I got that all out in the card I sent. In person I chattered and they watched. More stunned than grateful.

    Raising Buster and Ezzy was my privilege, not my job. I feel thanked by the kindnesses their friends extend to me and by the way they enrich my life. Gratitude is a form of connecting.

    Joy, I don’t know what it’s like for you to be divided by two moms. I imagine throwing both of them off and then trying to reconnect somehow, with two quite different women.

    My desire for information and contact with you may have contributed to that feeling of division. Does it have to do with ethics? Loyalty?

    I am grateful for all we have shared and for what we can share in the future. No rush. Inshallah.

  3. No, your desire for contact and info on me was not really expressed, so it had nothing to do with it.

    It is not like you were around. You were far away and I rarely saw you.

  4. oh and they could have used a private atty with a shorter wait time, that would have meant I wouldn’t have been fostered.

    They chose not to, to go through foster care because they wanted to make sure the mother was not strong-armed into giving away her little girl, had to be a girl.

  5. oops, except had they gone with a private atty, it wouldn’t have been me, I would have gone to someone else if there was someone else who would have wanted me.

  6. Joy, does your sense that your aparents do what’s ethical even when it differs from what they want to do contribute to your feelings of being divided?

    It’s been a stretch for me to accept the high minded presentation that they were “making sure the mother was not strong-armed”. I imagine it as similar to the stretch that I asked you to make — to believe your grandparents thought they were doing the right thing as well.

    IF (?)” there was someone else who would have wanted me(you)” seems a sad personal view — feelings rather than your knowledge of the situation. There was no question that your demographic was in high demand. Your aparents fit exactly the few requests I made for your family – non Catholic, religiously tolerant, financially comfortable. I was pleased when they told me there was a previously adopted older brother because I’d always thought I’d like an older brother.

  7. I knew my grandparents too. They made no pretensions with me about giving a rat’s ass about my well-being or my young child’s. I am sure they thought they were doing the right thing for themselves.

    I am sure it was the right thing for them. I mean how awful for them to have to fuss with me and Tomtom.

    I am surprised at what you think about the adoption process. It didn’t work like that, I wasn’t assigned to a family when I was born. They had to go through their own waiting period to make sure they wanted to take me.

    Or not surprised, I mean you never asked what happened to me, what would happen to me etc. Your attentions lay elsewhere.

    You have also said that you were shocked that I was in foster care, but what did you think? I was still in the hospital–or is that you just didn’t think about what happened to me at all- as I suspect?

  8. I mean my God, does the phrase, “we didn’t want the infant” seem ambiguous to you?

    Lovely people, I am sure.

  9. I was told:

    1) that as soon as I signed the papers you would be placed with the family they had described to me.
    2) that the only time I could see you was when I came to sign the papers.
    3) that the soonest I could sign the papers was 2 weeks after birth.

    It would have been smarter of me to ask a lot more questions at the time.

    Your grandparents were not perfect. That doesn’t change.

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