Advice to a Hurting Adoptive Mom

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Advice to a Heartbroken Adoptive Parent
This is an email exchange . . . email from adoptive mom whose child has been reunited with his birthmother and is feeling left out.
Responses are from Carol Bird, a birthmom in reunion and an adoptive mom who has been through the reunion of her child.

Addendum received later from another adoptive mom

Email from a Hurting Adoptive Mom:

How do we find support for grown children who have found the Birthmother {which I am happy for them} but am heartbroken for us, as now we don't even get called.
Heartbroken MOM

Response from Carol Bird (Birthmom in reunion):

Sometimes, during the beginning of a Reunion the participants are in a sort of DAZE. Adoptees, no matter how well loved by their families, almost always harbor fantasies about their "birthparents. " (B-parents have their own fantasies! ). Remember, there's a long separation and our "baby" has been someone else's beloved child throughout those years.

NOTHING seems real. You are walking on a cloud wanting to pinch yourself to remind yourself that this is REAL, not a fantasy.

Unfortunately the Parents are neglected (after all, the child has grown up with them and in most cases is secure in the knowledge that they love him/her; they are "there" for her/him; they love her/him enough to try to understand their need right now ("because they've always been so supportive! " maybe).

Reuniting with a Birthparent doesn't mean "replacement. " That just can't happen, unless you are an "abusive parent. " This is an "identity" thing.

As a Birthmom in Reunion 13 years, I can tell you that my Daughter has the deepest, most enduring love for her parents, even more-so since the Reunion. Her Parents are loving and supportive and very caring. I adore them and we get along very well. Susan is OUR daughter, but I'm "Carol", not Mom. Sylvia is her Mom and well deserves the honor.

Fortunately, Susan was 32 at reunion and really had it "all together" thanks to a psychology degree and a couple of years of practice. We had a shaky, sometimes stressful first couple of years, nonetheless.

We have a wonderful story of a Reunion occurring early this year. The Birthparents eventually married and had two sons, but could never put the daughter they gave up behind them. On New Years Day, 1999, the Birthfather posted info on our Free Search Registry and when he ran a search, discovered a "match. " It turned out to be their daughter, who was also searching for them . . . with the FULL support and encouragement of her parents, as I understand it.

The early contacts in the reunion were done via e-mail, before the actual meeting. But the contact wasn't just with their birthdaughter, in fact, it was quite heavy on the part of the girl's parents. When they met in person her Parents guided them. They ALL met at the same time. Later the birth siblings (sons) were added.

Now, eight months later, the two families have gotten together frequently and seem to have become fast friends.

Don't worry! Tell your "heart" that all's well. Your child will always be YOUR child; there's another place -- a special "other" place for us Birthparents. For example, I'm the "other" mother-in-law to Jon, "My Birthmom" to Sue and "GRANDMA CAROL" to my granddaughters, who proudly boast of having THREE GRANDMAS. (Aren't they lucky! ).

Sylvia is "MY MOM" to Susan and will always be! I'm thrilled that I have the opportunity to be a part of their lives . . . ALL OF THEM.

Hang in there. Just let your child know you understand and that you are there for him/her and are happy for him/her. Okay?

Hugs, Carol Bird, Birthfamily Support Forum, adopting. org EXPERTS Forums

Email from an Adoptive Mom whose Child Reunited with her Birthmother Recently:

Dear Heartbroken Mom,
You have been very much in our thoughts since we returned home last night at an hour far too late to respond. . . . and then there was work today and a prior commitment this evening. . . . all this to say that we CARE about the difficult feelings you are dealing with right now! ! ! ! Sometimes it just helps to know that you really aren't alone and that there are good and happy times ahead of you! ! !

Since we know very little about you and your son and the relationship you have built over these years, it is difficult to know the appropriate thoughts to share. Therefore it seems best to me to just share some thoughts with you about being the parents dealing with your child and the discovery of a birth parent and all that can mean in his life, yours, hers, the grandchildren (which we are just so anxious to add to the family).

Each situation is unique and there is certainly no "right" answer. We knew that our daughter had always considered looking for her birth parents, our son had not. . . . just one more example of how we are all different. Our children have always known they were adopted and that fact has never been a problem to any of us. We always told them that when and if they ever wanted to find their birth parents, we would support them in that decision. When our daughter told us that she had made that decision we talked together about all sorts of issues involved with the decision. . . . . the difficult issues as well as the happiest issues. I think my husband's following comment is what put my heart and mind at ease as well as our daughters, and (when we met), her birth parents. . . . he just said something to the effect that: "There was no reason for anyone to be threatened. If our daughter and her birth parents became re-united and a good relationship developed, there would just be that much more love in the world! " and that is exactly how it has worked out! I don't mean that there aren't difficult emotions or that any of us haven't had a lot with which to deal at times. . . . but it TRULY HAS HAPPENED IN ALL OF OUR HEARTS. . . THERE IS THAT MUCH MORE LOVE IN THE WORLD!

Just a few thoughts of the steps I would suggest you give considerable thought to toward paving the way for it to be that way. If I were you, I would open my heart to my son, telling him how much you love and care for him and you know he has shared that type of love with you over all these years. Within yourself, find the peace to be able to share with him that you honestly are happy for the relationship he has discovered and then find the courage to tell him that you are going through a very difficult time with this because you feel abandoned and left out of this new part of his life. . . . and that you know he doesn't want you to feel that way but you do and you NEED his understanding and love now more than ever. . . . not in a manner that is a road block toward the relationship he is trying to build with his birth mother but in a manner that is a bridge building between you and your son and just possibly as a bridge to a friendship with his birth mother who missed all the joy and the relationship building experiences you have had with your son all these years. This doesn't have to be a threatening experience for any of you. . . it CAN BE SO MUCH MORE if you are able to talk honestly with each other and be willing to share all the myriad of emotions you are all experiencing.

I would also suggest talking with a professional counselor. . . . . maybe even before you attempt talking to your son. It helps to talk things out with a person who can give you additional insight. I had made the decision to deal with some professional and personal issues in my life about a year prior to our daughter's decision to look for her birth parents. . . . none of the issues had anything to do with her adoption. . . . so it was very comfortable for me to visit that issue with my counselor. . . . . I recommend it highly.

And last of all, I don't know anything about your religious faith, so please forgive me if I am overstepping a line with you. Whatever your faith, this is the time that it can be such a source of strength. I am a Christian and so the first thing I did was to ask for God's wisdom, peace, and guidance as we dealt with such a wide variety of emotions. . . . there was such a reassurance in my heart from the moment I began that dialogue and the peace that it brought to me just isn't something I can attempt to express. The hardest thing for me to say to you is that I know it has to be harder for you because your son's dad isn't with you. . . if we're being honest with each other, I had to acknowledge that fact to you. However, in your life there are special, caring people who will be there to support and reassure you, and please try and open your heart to them and let them do that for you.

I hope so much for you that within the next few weeks and months you will begin to build these bridges and experience first hand the expanded love that is there when these new relationships begin to grow. I'd give my son the opportunity to "take care of me" and in the most loving manner possible let him know how much you miss and need him and your desire to be a part of this growing relationship in his life. . . . there is that much more love in the world and it can and should be part of your world too. Much love to you from an adoptive mom who cares about you and how you are hurting right now and who also believes that the potential for this to become a wonderful new adventure in all your lives is just around the corner.

Love, An Adoptive Mom Too

Addendum: Email from an Adoptive Mom in Arizona

Hi,
I too am an Adoptive mom of 8 adopted children. As they grew up and challenged everything that children do in life, I knew it was only a matter of time before we were all involved in the searching process. Our three daughters who are biological sisters waited until they were in their late 20's partly because one of them spent a lot of time in prison and wasn't available for a reunion. I paid for the search ($600), and birth mom's bus ticket to our home town and for the flowers and balloons we all took to meet her. I cried a lot privately the week before the big reunion. Despite an incredibly difficult time of rearing the girls I loved them and I had claimed them as mine from the beginning. They were 6, 8 and 9 when we got them. One worked in her teens as a prostitute, and a drug user. We spent lots and lots of money and time in therapy to try to help them work thru their pain. I remember sobbing to my husband about loosing my place in their hearts. I said. . . "Who will be the one the Police call when she shows up in a strange town, who will be the "Mother" on her visitation list when she's in jail and prison, who will be the guardian for their children. . . . . . " He laughed and said. . . . "Listen to yourself and be grateful we found her! "

The reunion was sour from the beginning because the girls and birth mom had unrealistic expectations. She wanted them to "be respectful" and not ask her any questions about the past and the abuse they remembered. They wanted her to "make up" for all those years somehow. The bliss ended in a couple days and all left vowing never to reconnect again. Was I happy? No! I love these "girls" and I wanted the empty spot they talked about to be filled. At least the unknown was known and they could go on. It has been three years and one of them reconnected casually. You never know how things will turn out. I always told them they could never have too many people love them. Take heart. If your child has known your love you will not loose your spot.
Thinking of you.
Sincerely, An Adoptive mom in Phoenix AZ.
Maryellen
maryes@earthlink. net

Visitor Comments (1)
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Patricia - 3 months ago
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I am an adoptive Mother of one 29y/o daughter who met her birthmother at age 21. I was with my daughter for the reunion and it all went well and was a happy time. My problem is my resentment of the fact my daughter will take time out of her busy schedule to go out of town to visit her BMom but never comes to my house. I need to add, her afather passed away when she was 13. I raised her alone from age 13 to adult. Got her through college. Now I live in an old house alone, I have very little to offer. BMom lives in a beautiful home with a pool and has more to entice them for a visit. My son in law is all into her BMom and pushes my daughter to spend more time with them. However, they never come to see me. I resent my grand baby spending time with them and never coming to see me. Am I just being silly. My feelings are hurt. I was ill ( I have MS) for 2months. Although my daughter did call often, she never bothered to visit me and help me with house chores, etc. #1
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