Preparing for Reunion  

Friday, May 15, 2009

Recently on a popular board that my daughter and I frequent, there was a comment made about surrendering mothers that sparked a private conversation between myself and another surrendering mother. It started off simple enough, she felt the sting of bad jokes made at our expense. I understood that feeling, I myself felt like she did for many years. Somewhere along the line I just got tired. I got tired of feeling bad on command. Some one would take a shot at me for surrendering my daughter and I would immediately feel bad, just like they wanted me to. I would love to say I don't know how it happened or when but that would be a lie. I know exactly how it happened and when. Like Pinocchio I got rid of my strings.

One day as my older brother, (I'm being covert here, I have two older brothers and in case you know me, you still don't know which brother it is) and I got into a heated discussion about how screwed up I really am, because I wasn't acting the way he wanted me to, I wasn't giving in the way I usually do, and he once again threw in my face that I needed a fucking psychiatrist. Before he could finish that sentence I had spun around and for the first time in my life I screamed in his face (spit included) "How did I get that way". It was the last conversation I remember having with my brother. So I know how. I remember almost every detail of the day I set myself free from other peoples power.

So this woman who is offended is trying to get recognition for her feelings and as much as I sympathized with her, I'm not there anymore. I don't let those comments bother me any more. Do they sting? A little, but not enough to ruin my day, not enough to make me want revenge, or even an apology. Besides the context of the comment was said in a group that I knew didn't include me, and probably not her either. It was an in general statement said in fun, bad taste maybe but hey, I'm just as guilty at times. Bad jokes and dark humor are the only things that get me through some times.

So this conversation goes on and starts to take a different twist. We went from bad joke, to being grouped together, to being re-abused by our children, to preparing for reunion. Well the grouped together stuff didn't get much attention from me either. People are going to group other people together from now till eternity. It's just the way we're wired. Blacks, whites, Asians. Christians, gays, "you people", hell I'm a crack whore at 53 because the current stereotype for surrendering mothers is skinny as hell (I wish) and all methed out. CRACK WASN'T EVEN INVENTED when I was pregnant, but that's okay, I'm a crack-whore.

The abuse part got a lot of attention from me but it wasn't what she was looking for, obviously. She wants to be prepared, she wants the details from other peoples experiences as to how they handled their situations to store in the back of her brain as reserve in case it happens to her. I don't understand this at all. My mind reels with questions, "how are you going to know that its abuse and not just reunion garbage that needs to be gotten out and dealt with then put to rest"? We talked about drawing a line in the sand. My question was " How can you draw your line of enough based on other peoples experiences"? "How are you going to know when you have had enough based on the stories of others"? "Why are you so sure this is going to happen"? The concept of boundaries is all fine and well, but why run imaginary scenarios through your head like war strategies?

So when we get to the part about preparing for reunion, I envision two people standing facing each other. Each has a handbook, maybe labeled reunion for dummies or something. A sentence is said by one person, then the other person flips through their hand book for an appropriate response, that person responds and it's now the first persons turn to flip through their handbook and see what it is they are supposed to say in return to the comment made by the other person. This to me is where reunion has been taken too far. Without posting exactly what this other mother said, I will say that if you feel the need to study for this, you're going to fail.

There are books,TONS of books, there are web sites, hang outs, blogs, forums, places you can go and discuss reunion, adoption, what it feels like, what it "was" like for someone else, but in the end no two reunions are alike. Having resources stored in your head isn't going to do you any good because they were someone else's experiences. Besides, as I tried to point out to her, in my oh so eloquent manner, it takes up valuable space.

I understand not being able to shut this shit off, I lived it for 28 years. I drank to make it go away, (smooth move on my part, I ended up with a drinking problem) that's what bothers me about this whole conversation. Instead of working on herself, instead of forgiving herself, and understanding that on her child's part there is simply more wait time required, HE'S NOT READY, she wants to continue to beat herself up, hold herself down, and read other peoples reunion stories, in order to prepare for her own.

If you want to know how this "might" pan out for you, it cost me many relationships, a few weeks in the hospital, a lot of money, therapy, jobs and friends, and I didn't even do the strategy thing. Sound like something you aspire to? keep it up, you'll get there.

My daughter and I read NONE of the books on the market about adoption, self discovery, reunion, or the effects of secrets and lies. Mostly because neither of us knew they existed. We talked to each other. We got to know each other slowly, we creeped into one an other's lives. It took time, it took understanding, it took not getting offended, or angry. It took having little to no expectations, and a lot of patience. It took doing it anyway even though we were both afraid. That's what worked for us. I'm not saying its the golden rule of reunion, I'm saying it took US, working at it, taking it in little chunks, quiting when it gets too overwhelming, picking back up when we both felt like we could do it again. But the main ingredient was US. Not some book, not someone else's memoirs, not a guide based on past reunions, just us.

"Be ready for anything" is a statement used in regard to reunion. It means you may be rejected again, it may not be how you expected it to go, you may be over whelmed with emotion, you may even feel like vomiting. It doesn't mean, study hard, have all the answers, be mentally prepared for any question. Reading is fine, talking to others and listening to their stories is okay, but trying to prepare for reunion based on others experiences, having your response to anything that may come up ready and waiting to be used is setting yourself up for failure. This isn't a battle ground, or a game show.

Reunion is fragile yet liberating. It requires honesty, respect and lots of space.
I'd hate to see anyone lose out in reunion because they didn't have the sense to be themselves, to give of themselves, and to allow the other person the space they need to make it work.

So in conclusion of this conversation. I wrote a short piece about how I'm not trying to disrespect her feelings, but instead trying to point out that she can reach a point of self respect that affords her the room to let a few bad jokes pass without taking them straight to heart and ruining her day. This was after she said that maybe that particular forum was not for her, that maybe it was time for her to move on. All I can think is that she wants to surround herself with people who feel the same pain, even though she strategizes against it. I probably shouldn't have but I told her that there is no way in hell I would base my reunion on incerpts from books, or let people who have spit on me my whole life stop me from having a relationship with my daughter just because they don't think I deserve one, and I reserve the right to draw my own line in the sand. I'll decide what is enough. Its been two days and there has been no response to the message I left.

No two reunions are a like, I hope she realizes that and finds what works for her.

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10 comments: to “ Preparing for Reunion

  • Anonymous
    Friday, May 15, 2009 at 6:09:00 PM PDT  

    Oddly enough I thought that reading two transracial adoptee reunion books would give me an answer for how to navigate my own.

    Of course not. How could they? They just did what worked for them. And then I became desperate because I thought, "Well if THOSE won't give me any answer, then what will?"

    My answer? My own reunion.

  • rachael
    Friday, May 15, 2009 at 11:51:00 PM PDT  

    exactly mei-ling. you hit it right on the head.

  • Lori A
    Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 10:00:00 AM PDT  

    sigh, Now its been three days and still no response to my message.
    Mei-Ling, thank you for supporting what I'm trying to say. It's all good to read and interact with those who have been there, but in the end, each of us has to insert something genuine, something personal, something that isn't found in any other story of reunion. We have to insert ourselves, and not be too afraid to say I need a break, I'm overwhelmed, and not resent the other person for saying it either.
    Hell, we sent emails back and forth with things we liked and disliked for months in an attempt to get to know one another better.It was fun, it was personal, and it worked out well for us. I still have the list somewhere. I printed it off and read it over and over. Not because I was studying, but because it was my daughter, it was who she was, and everything I missed out on knowing by not being there. It was comforting to me because of the uniqueness of it. It just makes me very sad that some people over do in an attempt to achieve and over look in the process.

  • Anonymous
    Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 2:44:00 PM PDT  

    I will say this though, it is much more difficult to foster a regulated and "patient/consistent" relationship overseas.

  • Lori A
    Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 11:48:00 AM PDT  

    Oh Mei-King, there is no doubt about that. International is its own ugly form of cruelty and I am so sorry you have to endure this type of relationship with your mother.

  • Anonymous
    Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 2:01:00 PM PDT  

    "I am her mother but not her mom."

    I wonder how that works in IA? I mean, yeah, my mother didn't raise me, but she might want to hold my hand, I might want to stay close to her all the time for fear of getting lost, I might want to hold onto her so that I don't end up on my own without the ability to write or even speak properly.

    She didn't raise me but she'll get the chance to walk around with me as mother-and-daughter, in a way, because she hasn't seen me since I was a baby. And maybe she'll just have to "baby" me in order to communicate eg. talk to me in baby sentences, using childish body language, etc because she has no other means by which to communicate unless we stay at my sister's computer to translate 24/7.

    So maybe in a way she will be my "mom" again.

  • Unknown
    Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 5:30:00 PM PDT  

    That is an interesting post.

    I can't help but think that one of the reasons you all have been successful in your reconnecting is that Lori, you rejected the shame trip.

    I think that is very commendable and powerful. Many women are not able to do that and then the shame gets transferred onto the child, which of course can cause many problems and hurt feelings.

  • Lori A
    Monday, May 18, 2009 at 7:45:00 AM PDT  

    Again so different for you than for us. But don't think that we don't gravitate toward one another when we are in the same room, we do. We don't have to hang onto one another but we do require sitting close enough to touch. I hope that the language barrier gives you ample compassion and understanding with one another. It will force the situation to move slowly, and slow in reunion is not a bad thing. Neither is feeling like mother and daughter. Rachael and I just have a different situation than some, and her mom is very prominent in our relationship. She has a definate defined place, but then so do I. I can see where language could be frustrating, but I can also see where it might be really fun to have those basic sentances, and gestures. It means each word will carry so much more weight and meaning.

    Thank you. To say anything other than I chose adoption for Rach would be a lie. I didn't go without shame, I just didn't let it show. I'm stubborn that way. I was ridiculed, humiliated, and the brunt of a lot of bad jokes, but I refused to let any of them know they were getting to me. It was my revenge, and I was in fact called shameless. There were some coercion tactics, but they were after the face. After i had chose adoption. They simply wanted to make sure I didn't change my mind. Maybe you're right, maybe it's because I refused to hide, refused to go into a home, refused to be brow beaten by society, or at least let it show cause lord knows they tried. But I also refused to parent my child, sigh.

  • rachael
    Monday, May 18, 2009 at 10:11:00 PM PDT  

    i dont want to bash the books out there. i really don't. they seem to be very validating for some. no i didnt know they existed-but even after i did-i still had no interest in reading them. still dont to this day.

    yes i was the odd man out, i didnt fit in, i felt alone, isolated, weird, all of those things. i have issues with letting people get to know me, trust, bonding all the same things so many others have. but to sit and read a book, one that is supposed to validate my feelings and give me some insight-well-its not gonna happen.

    when lori and i started out, it was not a fairy tale. we didnt fall into each others arms in a hurricane of tears or collapse to the floor in heartfelt bliss.
    we stared. we hugged, lori cried, but i didnt. it was surreal, insane, odd and outright out of body.
    mei ling and i had a chat about this-i said to her i didnt feel out of body but now that i think more on it-i did. i was watching it through a camera lens, like it wasnt really me there, it was a lifetime movie.

    after the inital 2 minutes was over, we stepped back and stared some more. went to have a beer together (a love we both have) and stared some more.
    no deep conversations. no earth moving. no instant love and passionate mother/daughter puzzle pieces falling into place.
    we were just us, together.

    the next several years were spent on eggshells, mostly on lori's part. it made me insane. i could tell she was holding back. that she was not putting all of herself into it, she was hiding from me. just in case i didnt like her and i walked away.
    only after she dropped the front did we finally get to where we are now. completely intertwined and complete.

    no book could have given us that. and her refusal to brush her decisions onto someone else is exactly what gave us our fuel. when she finally stood up and gave me herself.
    yes there were times i looked at her and wondered 'what the hell?' but i guarantee you there have been plenty she has done the same about me. so be it. oh well, moving on.

    i truly thought a while we could come up with some common links to put together what works and what doesnt-but its impossible.
    the only common link is that you need to be honest-even at the cost of pain.

    i love you lori. not just because you are my mother, because you are my soul mate. you are the strongest person in my life and i can only hope one day that my shoulders are as broad as yours. i am proud to be your daughter.

  • Lori A
    Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 4:31:00 AM PDT  

    Thank you Rachael. Now do me a favor and talk to your brother's. They still think I suck.

    That's a joke for those who don't know.


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