Not Sight, Not Sound, Not Touch

There’s one birthmother in my group therapy, a woman older than my mother, who is in reunion with her placed son and has never met his mother. She seems very angry at the adoptive mother, and says that she wouldn’t agree to meet her if asked. While I can’t condemn her for her pain, I’ve always been uncomfortable with her position; her son’s mother hasn’t done anything wrong, she just adopted a baby and mothered him. That’s a good thing. Yes, her gain was the birthmother’s loss, but that wasn’t the adoptive mother’s fault. I’ve heard prospective adoptive mothers say that they can’t reconcile themselves to the idea of causing the kind of grief they see in birthmothers, and my answer to that is pragmatic and maybe not great: If she’s going to place anyway and you’ve done everything in your power to facilitate an ethical adoption, maybe it’s better that you parent her child than someone who doesn’t give a hoot for her rights or her pain. I know there are problems with that answer, believe me, but it’s the best one I’ve got.

And. Sometimes, recently, I think I want him back, and I feel angry for a second. It doesn’t last, I don’t have any impulse to call a lawyer or hassle his moms. But at the moment, they are the people preventing me from seeing him. If that’s a source of my groupmate’s anger, I think I can understand. I don’t want to make the (in my opinion) mistake of going on to actually blame Ruth or Nora for my feelings, but I miss my son, and they have him. That’s hard. In my case, I also feel that I have to guard against resenting their control over me. They could make sure that I didn’t see Cricket again for seventeen years, and it wouldn’t even be difficult. I wish we had the kind of relationship where I didn’t think about that. I think I was working toward that when I asked whether I could talk about hard things: if I tell you that it’s really hard sometimes, or that I cry about him still, and you don’t close the adoption, you’ve just relieved me of a major worry. I am slightly paranoid about what I should and shouldn’t say. He still smells like my baby, which is the strangest thing, but I think hearing that would offend them. Can any birthmothers tell me when that stops? Because it is weird and hard, and I didn’t expect it.

When we were leaving at the end of our December visit, Ruth said that she’d send an email soon setting up the next one. I asked if we could sketch out the next few (which is what she did earlier this year), and she said that she liked that idea. Well, we’ve emailed a couple of times and visits have not been mentioned. And you know what? I’m not going to mention them. For the second half of this year, they asked for a visit each month; I don’t know what they’re thinking now. I don’t know long it would take before I asked about another visit. Maybe I never would.

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11 thoughts on “Not Sight, Not Sound, Not Touch

    • No way. I signed in a state with no revocation period, while I was lied to by the agency, it wasn’t about that, and the adoption has been finalized for better than six months now.

  1. I’m wondering if maybe talking to someone at your agency would be a good thing? To maybe ask them to help you navigate what’s next? Since they know Ruth and Nora and so presumably have useful insight? I just think it’s not fair that you have to chug through this without help especially since that agency (if it’s the agency I’m thinking) promotes themselves as having great post-adoption support. (Maybe they are sponsoring the support group, which is swell and all but I think help with mediating relationships is extremely important, too.)

    • Well, the problem is that there are two agencies–they used the good one that you have in mind, and I was served by a pretty crappy one. I am therefore not eligible for any services through the good one, and the bad one has no post-adoption services for me. =/

  2. Speaking as an adoptive mother who is now negotiating this same discussion from the other side, it is possible they are not bringing it up because they don’t want to push you into doing something you are not comfortable doing. You may want to wait until after the holidays, which are always complicated for everyone regardless if whether they have an adoption in their family, and then bring it up again.

    I sometimes feel as if I am bothering my children’s adoptive mother when I contact her because I am just not certain what she is comfortable with. There are times when she seems very open and other times when she seems to shut down and doesn’t want to hear from us or have anything to do with the children.

    Dawn has a great suggestion. You should go through the agency if possible. I wish we could, but our agency has not been helpful in this process.

    Good luck!

  3. That sounds so difficult. I don’t have any advice at all. Does Mr. Book have contact with them directly or does it all go through you? I know his relationship to them is different, but maybe this could be something you could delegate to him and see how that goes.

    I know we were able to talk ourselves into adoption stuff with the “Well, better us than someone who doesn’t get it” but I’m not sure how effective that really is on a day-to-day level. I’m not sure how any of this works. But I’m also not in an emotional place where I should be giving anyone advice, and I definitely don’t want to do that with you!

    • All contact effectively goes through me. He has emailed them a couple of times, but the last time, Ruth assumed that I was just using him as a frontman and replied directly to me. Alas.

      I’m so sorry for the situation you’ve had over Christmas–I’m glad that Rowan has been found.

      • Susie, thanks so much for your support. I think a lot about how I read about adoptions that are very different from the one we’re trying to do and I’ve always wondered if it’s a bit presumptuous to want first moms like you to care about our piece of the puzzle. I’m grateful that you do.

  4. No advice from me but I wanted to let you know that shortly after reading your post about how Ruth didn’t want to talk about the tough stuff (and giving it some thought as to how I would deal with the same request), I received a video message from my daughters bfamily and I could see the pain in her bmom’s eyes, which were red from crying. It was tough for me to see but there hasn’t been one single second where I thought I would cut off contact because of it. As a matter of fact, they finally spoke up and asked me to keep the pics & info coming, which is the first time in 3+ years they have actually answered my repeatedly asked question of “is it too much? or not enough?” directly.

    I do like Dawn’s advice though. Perhaps worth investigating??

  5. Hi, I just stumbled on to your blog.
    I am an adoptive mother with a wonderful open adoption and friendship with our son’s birth mother.
    Our son’s bm has had issues with us wanting a lot of contact…sort of…
    Sometimes she needs to move forward…we talk at least once a week, text and have visited at least once a month since his birth. I love her so much and I know she loves us. A couple of times we have had to re-clarify what she is needing…as her grief and acceptance cycles her needs change. From the adoptive mother’s side I think it is really important that you are honest with the mothers. They can’t read your mind and are likely fearful to assume what you might be thinking. I would venture to guess that they haven’t brought up visit dates again because you haven’t and they are worried about if this is what you want or not. Our son’s bm jokes about how we made the openness happen as she initial wanted a closed adoption but we couldn’t say goodbye after 2.5 months. Our son’s birth mother does share with us her sadness of missing him…but it is (trying to find the right word) restrained… controlled… she knows that we aren’t her therapist, and wants us to know that she is so happy that she met us. Just as we didn’t go into the depths of our 7 year fertility struggles. I know it must have hurt to hear they didn’t want to hear about the depths of what you are experiencing but in parents this is what you want…they are there to be your son’s mothers part of this is keeping life positive for him. We have all worked to instill confidence in each other. She does this by giving us “permission” to be his parents through comments she makes about how he is happy and she loves us and so on…we do this for her by including her in his experiences, talking about how much she looks like him (sounds like you could use a little acknowledgment that he is a part of you too), letting her know how it isn’t just him we added to our family but her as well, and we honor the missing feelings she has. We went into the adoption journey saying we did not want to fear a birth mother. She found us and she took that fear away through honesty. There were never egg shells to walk on because we all were upfront and honest all around. The biggest thing that helped us establish this was a regular call/contact time. It just happened to be Thursdays. We both started looking forward to it. Perhaps you ask them about when the best time might be to e-mail/call/contact each month/week because you really enjoy seeing how happy they are being mothers (this may not be totally the case but it will help them take their guard down a little and fell safer in letting you in more.) I wish you the best of luck. Please give yourself the chance to grieve but also the chance to see the happiness in your decision to place. You created life, you gave him the family you most wanted for him, and you are working hard on coping so you can have a positive on going relationship with him and his mothers. Just my two cents. I really feel for you and the position you are in.
    Take care.

    • I really appreciate your position, but I think there are some details of our situation that make your suggestions not really applicable for us. I’ll try to write about that soon. But I do want to let you know that I made it clear to them that I’m not looking for a therapist, and that I didn’t want to tell them anything really grotesque. Still, always nice to hear about an open adoption that’s going great!

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