Bio/Adopto interface?

Back on May 16 a blog conversation got started that I didn’t find out about until now. By the time I discovered it, it had been closed.  And I really wanted to see where it might go, so I’m hopefully moving it on over here via summarizing and paraphrasing. (If I’ve got it wrong, please correct me.)
It was sparked by a comment by a first mother, that first mothers get a lot more respect in the abstract than in concrete face to face reality. That comment was acknowledged by an adoptee, who was then mocked elicited a mildly ironic comment by a woman who is apparently successfully navigating being both a relinquishing and an adoptive mom.
The next commenter took a pragmatic approach remarking that reunion happens even in transnational adoptions and advised aparents to check their expectations of  how their children will deal with it.
Then the question of whether the exception proves the rule was raised. As the first bio/adoptive mother claims a cordial relationship with her relinquished child’s adoptive parents. She may not want her experience to be discounted as an anomaly.
The adoptee replied that she couldn’t imagine the awkwardness of having both her biological and adoptive parents in the same room. ( My own DD has expressed a similar thought, as have others.) She explained that there was interest only on the biological side and she was(*understandably*) reluctant to deal with the pressure it would put her under.
Then due to other issues the conversation stopped. And I really thought it was just getting interesting. It’s interesting to me anyway. Two things come to mind for me.
  1. First mothers in Open Adoption seem to get sold a bill of goods about the joys of being involved, watching their relinquished children grow up, from the wings. Then the reality hits that watching someone else raise your kids can hurt like hell. It tears them up when it goes well. And then there’s when it gets closed down in their faces.
  2. I’ve heard murmurs/rumors that it is extremely rare for adoptees to be able to maintain good relationships with both their bio and adoptive families. The best reunions seem to  result in major breaches with adoptive families.  Adoptees in warm loving relationships with their adoptive parents tend not to enjoy such relations with their bios.

I would really like to hear from others about this stuff.

And now just because I love to shake that thing, a little Blues Project! Yeah!


37 responses to “Bio/Adopto interface?

  1. “By the time I discovered it, it had been closed. ”
    You posted on it on May 15th:

    jmomma says:
    May 15, 2010 at 6:08 pm

  2. I think the person who noted that it is easy to be generous in the abstract was correct. Of course, some individuals are not so limited, others will rise to the occasion even though difficult and many others will do what they feel is required and not a bit more.

    As far as the adoptee *having* to choose on or the other, I think things are split herofamily/villan family are certainly easier but rarely is it that straightforward.

    I certainly don’ think that dynamic is what has made our relationship difficult. At least not from my side.

  3. A friend sent me this page. My situation is far from typical, but my surrendered son cut off all contact with his adoptive mother and family years ago, and has only minimal contact with me, and none with other birthfamily members, by his choice. So it is not always either/or, but sometimes, neither.

    I know some cases where the adoptee has a good relationship with both families, some where they have chosen one and rejected the other. I think there are a variety of scenarios depending on individual circumstances. One size never fits all.

  4. Eh, I wouldn’t say that in order for an adoptee to have a good relationship on one side, it means they can’t have a good relationship on the other side.

    I can’t speak for this idea, obviously, as one set of my parents lives on the other side of the globe. But I think it’d definitely be possible. If one brings in the issue of having the bio parents and adoptive parents in the same room, then that’s a whole other story.

    But as far as approaching the idea that the adoptee can have good relationship happening simultaneously, yeah, I believe that could work.

  5. Personally I think to describe my response to a comment that was itself ambiguous and layered, as “mocking” is something of an overstatement.
    It’s not as if a strong element of sarcasm hadn’t already been injected into the discussion by the person who made the comment about how there is a lot of generosity in the abstract that doesn’t fulfill its promise when confronted with a real life situation.

    In fact I’m unclear on why the f to f issue was brought up there in the first place, but since it was and has since been brought over here, I can only agree with Maryanne that there many different kinds of post reunion family situations, each one dependent on many variables.

    • I do tend to overstate things in haste. It’s a bad habit. How would you characterize your comment?

      The f to f issue was definitely a change of direction which is why I brought it up here.

      • Given the ambiguous nature of the comment to which I was responding, IMO no more than mildly ironic.

  6. I can’t really gauge the relationship my son has with his parents since he moved half-way across the country. He tells me it’s good and that he had a happy childhood, so I take that at face value unless I learn otherwise. Our relationship seems to be okay and is hopefully growing, but I always have my fears about something disrupting it.

    On the AP front, they wanted to meet early into our reunion, which I declined out of a innate need for self-preservation. I didn’t have anyone to “run interference” for me if necessary and I didn’t want my son to feel like he would have to play that role. How strange that as a middle-aged women I felt so intimated by this proposed meeting. I really felt like a child being called to the principal’s office. (My son never told me how he felt about us meeting but he did seem relieved when I said it wasn’t the right time.)

    Will I ever be able to meet them? I hope so, but only if I have a biased advocate there to support me (biased in my favor, that is).

  7. “there is a lot of generosity in the abstract that doesn’t fulfill its promise when confronted with a real life situation”

    Well isn’t that always the truth in many situaitons? I know my son truly believed his mom was supportive of his finding me – until he did.

    I did the f2f thing with amom. She made some downright cruel comments to my face that I would NEVER have allowed in real life. I wanted to jump across the table and slap her.

    She has chosen this path. But I know better. You can’t sweep stuff under the rug because eventually it will come back to bite you. It always does.

    All of our situations are as different as we are people, it is just that we share a common thread called adoption.

  8. Adoptive mothers who are blogging and writing nonsense about “looking at the same moon” and composing odes to the birth mother they will never meet are are able to do that because they will not ever be face to face with them.
    Interesting that they actively sought out an adoption where there would never be any contact.

    Also the ones who do that and then write long pained posts about how they USED to be afraid of the big bad birth mother but now they have seen the light and would welcome a meeting – again that is not possible so it’s easy to say that.

    These same mothers who gush and go ga ga over the birth mothers (who look at the same moon heh) will close comments on their blogs or make sure yours end up in the spam section or just pay lip service to you. You will often find on other blogs how they respond to certain situations where you see they don’t really care.

    This was quite obvious in the way a lot of people responded to the mother who had an emotional outburst on mother’s day (going to stay vague since the whole posts here suggests we ought to)

    There was no sarcasm on my part, I am a straight shooter, that’s why I am always getting into trouble, but let’s hope it diminishes confusion about what was truly meant. No trying to be clever no hidden agenda here.

    • It’s part of human nature to imagine ourselves “better” or more magnanimus than we often prove ourselves to be. While I practice looking for the good in all people and situations, I also don’t trust anyone farther than I can throw them.

  9. On the internet you mean? I think that’s wise of you J. Yes it’s best not to trust.

    Total subject change, the more I read those open adoption blogs the more I can’t help but think they ought to give the children back to their real mothers. Especially the ones where the parents are actually married! And where there is a good relationship between the mothers. Why not reverse the situation. Let the adoptive mother visit and have access but place the child back with her real mother. Do it gradually but yes just do it.
    The other thing that irks me is the adoptive parents who are gun ho supportive of open records yet their children will NEVER have access to their OBC’s nor will they ever be able to meet their families. They are taken out of their countries so even if they did meet their families there would be a language barrier.
    These people actively sought out an adoption where there would be no possibility of any contact yet they are often the most vocally supportive of open records….

    • Oh it’s more in general with me. I take quite a while to trust most anyone.

      I don’t understand how OA works. Except that it has some similarities to reunion and reunion is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I can’t imagine how they work OA out. But it must be very individual for each situation.

      I am very grateful that my daughter’s amom provided her with her OBC. I wish that was more common.

  10. I often think that same as KimKim re: open adoptions where there is really no need to keep the child from the mother. Why not let the child live with her, indeed?

    Of course this is why OA is so feared, IMO. The kid might actually love and want to live with his mother; better to keep her at a controlled distance.

  11. Thanks Maybe! I felt a bit guilty writing those things like it sounded mean or something.

    I am sorry I waffled off from the subject J. What was the subject again?

    Anyway it’s good to focus on the positive, I’m glad you have had a positive experience (one at least) with the ap’s.

    I’m not sure if there is anything else to say about adoption that I haven’t already said. It feels like I came full circle a long time ago. I don’t feel a connection to the blogs anymore.

    I also think that reading adoption blogs makes me feel worse rather than better, I want to see if it’s better not reading them. They are a bit addictive though, like eventually after looking at other things on the net I end up back looking at people’s posts. Usually just shaking my head or feeling disapproval – so – not -healthy!! Poor people should just be able to write their stuff without cencorship.

    Anyways I’m going to see how it feels not to be reading them.

  12. Well the subject keeps moving and changing. How do aparents in open adoption work it out in their heads? At what point are choices given to the children? How do they manage the tumultuous emotions as the child figures out who each of their parents are? How to integrate the wounded family members? The child that has two sets of parents that love him/her in different expressions and different time zones sometimes. It’s way to big a topic for this space.

    I am still discovering things concerning adoption via blogs and blogging. Learning about addiction too.

    It’s important to get away from them too and move and DO things.

    • “how to integrate wounded family members”

      Key to this would have been to stop wounding them, have compassion and treat them was though they were valued.

      It is not advanced math.

      • “It is not advanced math.” That’s the kind of remark your grandfather would make.

  13. there was a post I was working on for some time that wouldn’t quite gel. Must have gotten fed up with it because there are no drafts of it. It was inspired by the open adoption interview project and one of the questions was, what do you think when you watch the parents of your child go on to get married or partner and have more children. Don’t you look at your child and think, holy crap, this kid belongs with them. I have to give him back immediately. That was one of the questions I wanted to put out there, questions that could be characterized as naive or rude, but it seems like the same questions have occurred to others.

    Seriously, that would be a question of mine.

  14. When I was in my first year of reunion and so very much confronted by what had happend I kept seeing this group of alcoholics/bums in the park and one of them used to turn up with a little toddler who was in his stroller. It bugged me that he had his child and I had been encouraged to relinquish.

    So sometimes I see a child with their family and I think why aren’t they adopted…And I also have the involuntary thought when I see children from other countries here with their white adoptive parents that they are being robbed of their language and culture.

    I guess you can think the thought that would offend someone which ever way you look at it.

    The thing is if you get close to someone and they are respectful and kind and have empathy for you then you are more able to accept what they have done. Be that let themselves be brainwashed into giving up a child or they paid huge amounts of money to get a child from a disadvantaged situation/country.

    Adoption isn’t pretty if you look at it closely.

    This is why I don’t really want to give it energy anymore.

    If you are really honest and say what you think then someone gets upset and you end up with a blog war. Either you are offended or someone else is.

    Blogging and posting and talking about adoption isn’t going to have the result of me having gone home from the hospital with my baby.

    I’ve also not found that blogging or talking about reunion has been particularty helpful. Maybe in that I got a lot of angst out of my system?

    I don’t feel upset or angry or anxious anymore. I’ve gone into accepting that it’s a challenge, that I will never hear words of remorse from those who betrayed my trust, that I will never feel a certain way – I am wanting to just focus on what I do have and work with that.

    I also don’t want to upset other people there is no mileage in that.

    So dearest J. I wish you well, come and email me from time to time it’s lovely to hear from you.

    • I just can’t leave this alone. “The thing is if you get close to someone and they are respectful and kind and have empathy for you then you are more able to accept what they have done. ”
      That is important to me. It buoys me up that you share that.

      “Adoption isn’t pretty if you look at it closely.” I want to see it for what it is and hope others start looking closer too.

      Being offended is an opportunity to look closer. I treasure some of the comments on this post because I read them as people willing to be honest, looking for a safe place to explore inconsistencies and illusions.

      Blogs seem to thrive on conflict. All good stories have conflict. It gets our interest. Balancing it to be interesting and kind is a moving target.

  15. I know open adoption does work for some people, but it has to be awfully complicated for everyone involved. I would have the same question as O Solo Mama on this, especially where the mother has other kids later. I wonder if any of them, especially where the birthmother and adoptive mother and child are all really involved with each other, the child does eventually move in with the birthmother, or the adoptive mother gives the child back when they are a troublesome teen and no longer cute?

    After all, we hear more than enough about “disrupted” (terminated) adoptions where kids are given back into state care or to another adoptive family. If the adoption is open and there are problems, are those kids ever given back?

    Just speculating.

  16. @KimKim: “This was quite obvious in the way a lot of people responded to the mother who had an emotional outburst on mother’s day (going to stay vague since the whole posts here suggests we ought to)”

    Sometimes peoples’ reactions are not to the status or situation or experience of the individual, but to that individual’s behavior in a particular situation. That is what happened there. Please do not confuse anger at someone’s behavior with anger at their point of view. I continue to support Mirah on the issues.

    Sorry jmomma, just growing a little wearing of how that event continues to be brought up as some kind of change of heart on my part. It is not.

    A more topical comment: I can only speak as an adoptive parent whose children were adopted from another country and whose adoptions are closed. Joy’s comment about generosity being easy in the abstract is absolutely correct. When all you have is the abstract, in spite of trying to make it concrete, it’s the best you can do. But at the end of the day, everything you say about your children’s families is speculation.

    • Reactions are often troublesome regardless of what I’m reacting to. Sometimes I know I’d be better off counting to 100 than 10. Make the 100 backwards. In my view the only way hearts change is as they open and close. When we’re angry they’re usually not so open. But they’re usually changing. We can use anything we want to change direction.

  17. I hate adoption — it gives me a headache, a lifelong migraine…

  18. “Joy’s comment about generosity being easy in the abstract is absolutely correct.”

    I second this an infinity million times.

  19. My sister’s mother (from a closed adoption in 1959) came to our family home and we all met and had a very interesting visit. I’ve also met her sister, her sister’s husband and daughter, and I believe my mom has met her mom again and my sister’s sister and brother. Confusing? I’m not surprised. I thought I’d give it a go without the always so “triggering” labels.

    My sister maintains a relationship with both families, acknowledged and supported by all. It’s likely that all of us let her down at times, she’s got fairly high standards for communication and is, I think, disappointed in those of us who are not as diligent in sending thoughtful snail mails and gifts and in depth emails describing day to day life.

    As a whole, I’m quite proud of my family’s conduct when it came to my sister’s reunion. Nothing is ever perfect mind you, but respect , understanding, and civility can go a very long way in any difficult or awkward situation.

  20. unsignedmasterpiece

    I think adoptive parents attitudes have a whole lot to do with whether or not a reunion is a success. If they put the adoptee in a situation where they feel they have to make a choice that is very difficult.

    I think many adoptive parents support reunion until it happens. And let’s face it, they know these kids, they know how to push buttons and where the vulnerabilities are and so they can subtly undermine without directly saying they are opposed.

    I think it is also difficult for AP’s when the mother doesn’t fit the stereotype they’ve had in their mind all these years.

    In my son’s case, I think much of his behaviour had been blamed on his genes. Meeting the mother makes the AP’s question just what their role might have been in how things turned out.

    I don’t have a permanent migraine but adoption does feel like the gift that keeps on giving.

    • I would like to be so generous as to call it a gift rather than what comes more easily to me, the pain that keeps on giving.

  21. I have tried to be friends with my son’s AP but they want nothing to do with me which has disappointed my son. My son’s AP even went so far as to leave a message at a government reunion registry telling me that my son was lazy, irresponsible, stupid, not like them, etc. and that it was MY fault! Apparently, he has my “bad” genes (according to the AP, it is not nurture when it goes wrong).

    My son was not surprised at this when I told him how upsetting it was for me that she would speak this way about him and how I could not understand how she could be so mean.

    This attitude has actually driven my son closer to me and we are the best of friends now.

    To keep the peace, my son talks to me at different times to his AP’s (and never the twain shall meet).

    My son thought his AP were wonderful people until he saw the way they treated me.

    Now neither of us even mention the other at all.
    If they (the AP’s) want nothing to do with me, then so be it.

    That only strengthens the already strong bond between me and my son.

  22. I think one other thing bothers my son’s AP.

    In their care, he went completely off the rails.
    I helped my son to get his life back together.

    When I found him, he had dropped out of school
    (he is not academically gifted like the AP’s bio children who have PhD’s), he was drinking heavily and he was in debt. He was in a dead-end job that he was not happy with.

    When I asked him as to why he had not searched for me, his answer broke my heart.

    He said that I would be disappointed in him the same way that his APs were.

    He said that he had gone into debt in the hope that I would look for him. Debtors with bad credit are easier to find.

    I asked him if he had murdered anyone.
    He was surprised at this question – he answered no.
    I asked if he had ever been in jail or committed a crime. He said no.

    I then told him that I could never be disappointed in him as he was a good person and that we could sort out his problems together. It was like a light came on in his eyes.

    Since our reunion, my son has stopped drinking, paid off his debt with his own money and he went back to school . He is now in college, studying nursing (which I think his AP’S mocked him for before I found him).

    I told my son that I was very proud of him.

    Do you know what he said?

    That no one – not even his AP’s – had ever said that to him before. Ever.

    I think that is what irks his AP’s the most.
    I seem to have succeeded where they failed.
    I accept him as he is which is something his AP’s have never really done.

  23. Since, according to you, I am only ‘apparently’ navigating being both a first mother and adoptive mom (I have never used the word ‘successfully’. I just don’t think in such terms, especially when it comes to human relationships, though I can claim with some justification to have a decent and respectful relationship with my reunited son’s adoptive mother – much kudos to him and her, as well as to some others, for that) I think I can safely assume that you wouldn’t care for me to tell you what I believe are some of the reasons why we’ve been able to make things work thus far. So I won’t bother. The clear subtext of your invitation to people to write more about this stuff is that you only want to hear from those whose experience and opinions mirror your own. Really, you know, the lead-in to your questions was not necessary. Unless, contrary to your protestations, the questions were secondary to your intent.

    And your response to my response to Mei-Ling’s ‘THIS’ comment – well, really!
    Who the hell, other than those who spend all day on youtube or other community sites, knows what ‘THIS’ is supposed to mean? To the uninitiated (I was one) it could be THIS, it could be THAT, it could mean pretty much anything. Of course I’ve figured it out by now, but at the time the nearest thing to a meaning I could think of was that it was a snark directed towards Osolo and some of the other adopters commenting on her blog. Which I still think it may have been.
    Even for those who can translate from the Ish, it would really help to hear some of the whys and wherefores.
    Just hanging there, even tagged on to a quote, ‘THIS’ is ridiculous.

    Oh and lest I forget, KK *was* being sarcastic when she wrote “Let’s just drag this out some more then shall we? “.
    It’s a classic example of the kind of sarcasm that states the opposite of what it means in order to hammer home its real point.
    Amazingly, the fact that you are “dragging it out” further on your blog doesn’t seem to bother either of you.
    I guess it’s different when you do it.

    • Kippa, I’m sorry if my interpretation and summary of your relationship offended you and appreciate you clarifying it more to your satisfaction. Actually I would love to hear more about what you believe are the reasons you all are able to make things work.

      I just took ‘THIS’ to mean the quote she referred to held significance to her. The way I understand from her blog she may have some experience with that. I’m afraid I’m unfamiliar with Ish but guess it refers to slang? I may be missing some subtext.

      Sarcasm is quite familiar to me. I don’t admire it unless it’s done with more flair and fantasy and fun.
      Thanks for letting me know what’s going on with you.

    • Sorry. LiveJournal slang caught up with me. It occurred to me a few days after hitting the comment button that the blogosphere readers weren’t necessarily going to interpret what my “THIS” response was, as compared to what my LiveJournal slang readers would be able to comprehend.

      In other words, it occurred to me that the adoption regulars in this corner of the blogosphere may not (probably weren’t?) familiar with the term “THIS.”

      It was supposed to mean “I absolutely agree.” “THIS” just developed on LiveJournal communities as a shortened way to say it without having to go into long tangents about agreeing or disagreeing about issues.

      If I have offended anyone (because I haven’t even looked at the original thread for the past few weeks), please let me know either on here or through e-mail…

  24. “THIS,” “THAT,” and “Ish?”


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