Could it simply be overwhelming feelings…

27 Oct

One of the never-ending conversations adoptive parents have is when the child’s mother of birth cancels, or just doesn’t show for an arranged get-together, despite having promised to be there.  I can’t say with any certainty, but I do wonder if it’s more the overwhelming feelings that keeps them from keeping the commitment.

I say that because adoption is complicated, it seeks to create what shouldn’t ever need to be created.  It separates the most fundamental of all, the mother/child bond and position within a larger family unit.  Coming to reunion well into middle-age when I should be able to handle most things, I get over overwhelmed with unknown, unnameable feelings about getting together with my family of birth.  I suspect there are others like me on both sides that have this happen, and, I can see why a mother would not be able to get together with the family that adopted her child when it’s planned in advance.

Below is my attempt at explaining what happens and the feeling evoked in me.

I’ve held off on accepting invitations more often than I’m comfortable admitting when it comes to getting together with my family of birth, I’ve also canceled ones I’ve accepted.  Sometimes it’s my health that gets in the way, sometimes it’s the waves of big emotions that come out of nowhere, that slowly grow more frequent as the date gets that much closer to where I just shut down.

I’m much more comfortable keeping in touch than getting together unless it’s spontaneous, then I’m good.  But plans allow time for all my uncertainties to bubble up to the surface.  I’ve tried my form of meditation, staying busy, doing self-talk to breakdown the ridiculousness of the feelings.  None of it works very well for long, the moment I stop trying to override my fears and feelings, they envelop me again.

Digging deep to find the words that explain the feelings that come over me in waves isn’t easy, nor will they be complete here either, as I don’t think there are words to explain what happens, what lies underneath.  They don’t have to do with jealousy, but they do have a component that’s somewhat similar; knowing you’re going to be with your family members that grew up within the family, that they have shared memories that date back to childhood, they know each other in a way you only do when it’s a life-long relationship.  It’s the pain and feelings of loss knowing you should have been part of that collective, but weren’t, and yet, you’re part of them, and not, all at the same time.  When you’re with them all those longings are there to be part of the family, along with the knowledge that you really aren’t, and never will be in the way you should have been.  Those emotions are big for me, overwhelmingly big, combined with all the other normal insecurities when you desperately want to be accepted for who you are, things like whether they’ll think you’re good enough, all that fear swirls inside you in the days leading up to whatever event you’ve been invited to.  You don’t even have to consciously think those thoughts, the underlying feelings and fears just bubble inside by themselves.

Adoption severed the bond, the connection you should have always had, but didn’t, it leaves you with this unexplainable feelings of a likeness with your family by birth in many ways, but unlike in other ways.  It’s the same, but in reverse that you can feel within your family by adoption.  Leaving you at the end of the day feeling you were never fully in either one.

Perhaps the saying you can never go home again applies to some of us in adoption more than we’d like it too.

So, words of wisdom to anyone trying to make plans to get together with your child’s family of birth and experiencing no shows – don’t make plans, try being spontaneous instead.





Posted by on October 27, 2017 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

18 responses to “Could it simply be overwhelming feelings…

  1. Lara/Trace

    October 27, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    I am sure you have heard the phrase “reunion pullback” and you explained it so well.


  2. Laksh

    October 27, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    Hugs! Each post of yours gives me a peek into what my children could experience as they grow older. Open adoption notwithstanding, these fears and insecurities exist no matter what.


    • TAO

      October 27, 2017 at 3:01 pm

      Thanks Laksh – hopefully openness makes it better.


      • Laksh

        October 27, 2017 at 4:44 pm

        I just think openness makes it different. They have access to information and the ability to know their family but the constant contact also reinforces that split between biology and nurture. I see my children hurt especially surrounding conversations/gift giving events/milestones. I am hoping the one thing they will realize is that they are loved wholly from both sides.

        Liked by 1 person

        • TAO

          October 27, 2017 at 4:55 pm

          I think there will never be a perfect response – which makes sense to me as I see adoption as an imperfect solution, that sometimes needs to happen.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. cb

    October 27, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    Wow, you described the feelings so well, that is how I feel too. I’ve often wondered the same thing about when bparents find it hard to turn up and I have read some blog posts by some bmoms where they say that about a week before visits, they feel nauseous and afterwards they just crash.

    As for the spontaneous bit, you might be right. I met up with a cousin a few months ago and even thought it is not a cousin I’d really talked to much before, it went quite well and was comfortable. Another cousin works in the same town my mum and sister lives so if I feel like lunch when I’m down there, I email her and again it feels comfortable. In a way also, meeting up with cousins isn’t so bad because they were all either so young or not even born when my bmother died and I sort of do feel like my own branch of the family. The only time recently I’ve felt a bit left out was when they were talking about Christmas at their grandmother’s farm (the family farm which was sold years ago after my grandmother died).

    With the uncles, it is probably a bit harder because they knew my bmom very well. I have found that I don’t tend to bring up my bmother that much any more when I’m with them, I let them bring her up naturally if the conversation goes that way. When they do talk about her, I sort of get this feeling of storing what they say but not processing at the time and then processing it all later – at the time of the conversation, I sort of sometimes feel that she is there on the other side of a piece of glass, i.e. sort of there but unreachable (a bit hard to explain).

    She died a very long time ago, she hardly even made it out of the 1970s. I do feel sad that she has missed out on so much in her family’s life over that time, as 4 cousins were born after her death. Even though her family have mourned her a long time ago, I know that she was special to all my uncles when alive and it can sometimes feel hard being her only living child, especially since my presence was a bit of a shock to them (my bmother was on a working holiday), so I am hoping that they now see me as “me”.

    Anyway, thank God for FB lol – I do quite often *like* what they all say so at least they know that I am thinking of them and not ignoring them. Still, I got a PM from my aunt “inviting me to messenger” and I’ve just ignored that (I’m not even sure why people do that?) but have just wondered whether she “invited me to messenger” because she wants to exchange emails (which we could do anyway). Perhaps I should send her an email anyway? I don’t want her to think I’m ignoring her. This particular aunt is one I get a long with very well as I do with her husband (my bio uncle) but I also sense that they sometimes feel a bit similar to what we’ve described above, there is just something in their eyes.


    • TAO

      October 27, 2017 at 7:50 pm

      Accept her message on messenger – it’s the easiest way for some to send a quick note. Love the analogy behind the glass – very good description.


      • cb

        October 27, 2017 at 9:22 pm

        It was more an “invitation to messenger” – i.e. it is a link which seems to be an App designed to be uploaded to phones. However, I’ve received “invitations” before from some other people who I think sent me the link because they felt they had to do that before we could correspond via PM (whereas Messenger is already the default via the computer anyway). I think I’ll send her an email anyway.


  4. L4R

    October 29, 2017 at 2:58 am

    Well said, as usual.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nara

    October 30, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    My partner’s birth mother has cancelled on us loads of times. We offered to meet up before and after her only grandchild was born. It’s making me really angry with her and tbh I don’t think I want to meet her any more.


    • TAO

      October 30, 2017 at 5:22 pm

      I’m so sorry Nara – that must really hurt.


      • Nara

        October 30, 2017 at 7:14 pm

        I don’t care about her personally but it feels like a rejection of my partner and our son. I don’t understand why she doesn’t want to meet up / keeps cancelling. We live close by.


        • TAO

          October 30, 2017 at 7:45 pm

          Have you tried spur of the moment? Ring her up and meet for coffee?


          • Nara

            October 31, 2017 at 6:17 pm

            We have tried similar but she just doesn’t seem interested. It’s not for me to push it… My partner doesn’t want to so I guess it’s a bit of a stalemate.


            • TAO

              October 31, 2017 at 6:33 pm

              That’s to bad – adoption is hard.



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