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.