BGP

A couple of you asked about why Ruth and Nora have blocked my parents on Facebook, so it seems like an auspicious time to write about the adoptive parents and the birth grandparents.

I love my parents all the way up and down, and I really enjoy my relationship with them—they are funny, generous, clever people, and it makes me sad to realize that I won’t see them again this year. They are also a bit nuts, especially my mom: I know, nearly everyone says that about their parents, but I think I’ve got a pretty good case. There was some abuse in my childhood, which is one reason why I placed Cricket; my mom is not that person anymore, but I don’t know whether she could tap back into that scary place if she had to live with children again. We’ve had worse times and better times together over the decades, and my pregnancy with Cricket was definitely one of the low points. My mother said some pretty awful things, and the ones which involved threatening to kidnap Cricket I passed on to Ruth and Nora. I was trying to do the right thing, and I don’t know whether I guessed right—I do not now worry that she will get in the car and go try to steal that toddler child, but I was definitely not sure about that earlier on. She also made a “joke” about kidnapping him the one time she met Ruth and Nora (to Ruth and Nora), the day before my wedding. This was around the same time that she told me that the first of her daughters to have a baby “and keep it!” would get a whole bunch of presents for the child from the eager grandparents. She definitely got less stable and more mean when I was pregnant and then when Cricket was tiny, and Ruth and Nora definitely picked up from me that I was hurt and freaked out by her.

Since then, she has mellowed out a great deal. She asked very early on whether she could send him a birthday card, and I dutifully passed her request along. Ruth eventually sent her a letter with a return address, and while I have not read that letter,  my parents characterize it as a pretty clear “you should feel free to invest in him, but know that you will never get anything back—he will not visit, he will not write, you will not see him.” My mother sent a polite reply, then a birthday card and a book for Cricket. She never heard back—it’s been seven months now—and while that’s not unusual (Ruth is really not very good at letting you know that yes, she did receive that whatever, thank you!), my mom has gotten the message. I feel bad for her. Ruth is the kind of person who cuts people out of her life, even family, if they can’t maintain appropriate boundaries or consistently be good people; that’s not a bad policy, but it’s not what I’m like, and it would never allow a person to keep up a relationship with my mom. She is just going to say hateful things to you sometimes, not in a fight, just in a conversation.

I guess at the heart of it, I think that my mom is a good person and Ruth doesn’t. And I can see why she wouldn’t; Ruth saw my mom grab Cricket and start handing him to people, she heard my mom threaten to take him, ha! ha!, and I think she holds a grudge on my behalf for some of the things my mother has said about the adoption. I think everybody’s parents let them down sometimes—I have some really gory examples to share, but I don’t know how qualitatively different my experience is from anyone else’s. (I should add here, maybe, that my husband does think that they have done some extraordinarily bad things as parents; he thinks more about those things than I do, I suspect.) I did have to talk to a therapist for quite some time about the fact that I don’t have to be a mother like my mother, although Lord knows I will make my own terrible mistakes. I love my mother, and I want her to love my sons.

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12 thoughts on “BGP

  1. This reminds me of some of the stories people tell on Open Adoption Support where it’s hard to tell if their perceptions of the scariness of this or that event is as scary as they FEEL it is. By which I mean I believe in their fear but it is sometimes hard to know if part of talking to them should be trying to figure out WITH them if that fear is as justified as they first insist it is. No one is at his or her best in the middle of a crisis.

    • I forgot to mention that my mother is also homophobic, and certainly voted against Prop 8; she does now see Ruth and Nora as the parents, but I can certainly see holding on to some skepticism about that as an adoptive parent.

  2. I’d like to encourage you in believing we can be better parents than our parents were. Just being aware of the possibility of repeating our parent’s mistakes is a huge step in the right direction! As I say to my son, emulating the good and putting an end to the bad or learning from mistakes of parents is what kids should try and do. Also, it’s been most helpful to me as a mom to remember how it felt to be a kid and to always consider that when deciding how to parent my son.

  3. oh susie, I’m so sorry you’ve been put in this position. what a tough situation.

    seems there has been permanent damage there. I agree with dawn that no one is their best in the midst of a crisis, so it’s unfortunate that we make life-altering decisions in those moments.

    hard to say under the circs what I would do as an adoptive parent. I believe so strongly that the birth grandparents should have a role. I’ve seen the benefits on all sides, even with just a 1yo. yet I am fiercely protective of our child and will try to shield her from anything or anyone that disrespects or threatens the sanctity of our family.

    we had one instance where a relative made a comment to K like, “don’t you want to just TAKE her?!” and we were pretty taken aback. yet we know from the person and context that it was a harmless comment. in your case, it sounds like they were less clear. because the comments were made more than once, and because they believe that your mom hurt you too, I think it’s a tough call.

    as far as not being the kind of mother yours was, remember that we learn from our parents mistakes. both M and I have learned SO much about the kind of parents we did NOT want to be. and it’s been wonderful to embrace exactly that.

    • I think that even a lot of the people who believe in open adoption think of some people in the adoption, uh, constellation as optional. And in a sense, I guess I think they/we are—I grew up without grandparental relationships, and while I’m perhaps no prize myself, it’s not something I have a lot of regret about. Then again, all my living grandparents are alcoholics—and I do want involved grandparents for the little bird. What can you do?

  4. After that story, I would not think it would be wise for you to ever comment on Ruth’s Facebook postings. One wrong move and you will easily be out too. From what you have said here, Ruth seems to have a very dictatorial style and her relationships are conditional on everyone conceding to her. Not the best traits to have a truly open relationship.
    It’s very sad that Ruth holds all the power in all dealings with Cricket.
    Do you feel like you are walking on eggshells all the time? How do you deal with that?

    • Yes and no—I think there are places on this blog where you can see me being very nervous about them. On the other hand, at this point, I think I’ve more or less figured out how I need to behave; I also think that at least with me, their first move would be to talk it out. Hopefully it will never come up.

  5. Oh dearie me. That is rough. I’m sorry about the bad things your mother has done and how they have affected you. I’m sorry that the good things she has done cannot rectify this situation. I’m sorry that Cricket will not get to know his birth-grandmother. I can see both sides of this: Ruth is protecting Cricket the best she knows how.

    When I was looking around at adoptive parents (and grilling T&V) my mother made sure I asked if they were the sort of people who will cut off family, or friends. I know that I am that sort of person (never with family, though). I hold grudges against people who have wronged me for years and years until I forget why I’m mad. I’m working on that. I am blessed with a wonderful family but not everybody is so lucky. My parents wanted to make sure T&V were the kind of people who will work through ugly situations with people close to them, instead of cutting them off. I agree with them there. But sometimes the line gets blurred – when does it stop being about hurt feelings and start being about safety? I had a pretty malicious friend that hurt me many many times. I tried to remain in the relationship for the sake of not burning bridges. But when MY parents said, “that bridge has burned, falled into the water, sunk and has been washed out to sea,” I knew I had to get away from that person; he was toxic. Perhaps that is where Ruth sees herself – and where you have worked past. Tricky tricky.

  6. You are a gracious woman & in knowing that about you I know you’ll be a generous parent in a way you weren’t parented. I say this with some experience (*sigh*). And all I can say is that during those moments, as you’ve already had, when you are more generous or giving or graceful or grateful, you’ll feel that much more appreciative of who you are turning out to be.

  7. How is that crazy that she wanted her grandson to be in her family?

    If my son were to give away one of his children, if he is lucky enough to have one, I would be very upset too.

    And you get all this sympathy for it, insane. Oh Susie, I am so sorry that your mom was upset that you gave your baby away, how really awful for you. She should have fully supported you in that.

    • I’ve been thinking about how to reply to this for awhile: should I point out the things that you don’t know or are ignoring, or say something equally snarky, or suggest that this comment comes out of your pain rather than an understanding of what’s going on in my world? I don’t feel quite right letting it sit naked, but I don’t plan on deleting it, and it seems like a bad idea to give you more personal information in explanation—so I guess this is what we’re left with.

  8. Also, Ruth and Nora sound like total neurotic creeps. I think it is very telling that they know that Cricket did have a family that wanted him, even if it wasn’t his parents, and they took him anyway.

    Talk about creepy…

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