Thursday, February 4, 2016

One Year Later

Me and Kate Writing these blogs Sunday night, 1/31/16
Kate moved back to Portland last year, on January 27, after having left about five years ago. It's been exactly one year since she's been back.

Those who follow our blogs know that it hasn't been a smooth transition for us. It brought up a lot of negative feelings for me that I didn't understand. While we have been in reunion nearly 27 years, I have to say this has been one of the most challenging years of reunion for me. I still can't explain exactly why.

Maybe part of it was starting graduate school just before Kate moved back. With work, school and kids, I was at capacity and couldn't deal much more of anything, much less the complexity of reunion.

Part of it could have been that being involved in the writing collective of the Lost Daughters. Being part of that group brought up aspects of adoption and reunion that I hadn't thought about before; it challenged my beliefs and triggered deep feelings about the rights of the adoptee that I hadn't acknowledged before - like the rights of the adopted person, the needs of the child. It made me angry (and that's not a bad thing). It made me aware (and that's a good thing). It made me conflicted (and that's the hard thing).

But most of what made this past year so hard was about fighting the natural fight-or-flight I feel when I come face-to-face with my reunion. Because facing my reunion means facing my abandonment. Seems obvious enough as I write the words down, but I am so loathe to admit it. Although Kate was returning, not leaving, having her back here, and having that connection, is what stirred up the  furies in me.

Like many adoptees, I am fiercely independent. It's a fight to get close to me, as my husband will attest to. I can love someone, I just can't need them. I am resistant to admit needing anyone, much less the mother who relinquished me. I can, and will, make it on my own. And yes, it seems an obvious defense mechanism once you realize that an adoptee is the denied the one they need the most - their mother. Of course they would learn to defend themselves against needing that, or anyone.

I survived the first 18 years without my birthmother, so I was fine to survive without her again.

So, when Kate left, it was okay. Maybe I expected it on a subconscious level. We'd had many years living in the same town, being an active part of each other's lives, something that most adoptees in reunion don't get to experience, so I counted myself lucky for the time we'd had.

But then when she returned, I felt chaotic, like my world was shattering.

Because it was.

When she left Portland, I returned to a less connected reunion. One of phone calls and visits and emails.

But, LIVING in reunion is different. Living in the same town,  you can't compartmentalize and have adoption and reunion be just a part of who you are. Because all sides of your family are part of your life, you're always exposed. Being adopted and in reunion is revealed every time I introduce my birthmother or step-birthfather. I don't get to compartmentalize it, I don't get to just pretend adoption isn't a big glaring part of my life.

But, in a way, it's freeing. You have to live your full self.

And, sometimes that's complicated, and painful, and kind of sucks.

But, most of the time, it's good. To have our relationship, and reunion in general, be mostly good - with some crisis points of really bad - seems like a fair enough balance.

So that was a really long way of saying, we're doing okay now. Still edgy, still felling like we're on shaky ground, but mostly good.

And that's good enough.


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to view my birthmother's blog on the same topic, go to mothertone

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Thoughts? Reflections? Opinions?

Please comment!

2 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you posted an update, I've been thinking about your story a lot recently. This line resonated so strongly with me: "I can love someone, I just can't need them" -- you articulated everything I feel. Please keep posting when you can, I like to imagine that my journey with my birth mother would have been similar to yours had I no broken contact with her when I was 22. Sadly we were both too stubborn to reconnect and by the time we did in 2014 there was too little time left and she died a few months later. Yours and Kate's honesty is rare and a real gift to the rest of us.

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  2. My new book called "Separated Lives" is a true story about the adoption of a baby boy and years later a friend taking him on a fascinating but uncertain journey to search for his birth parents. It is available from Dorrance Publishing (in Pittsburgh, PA) www.DorranceBookstore.com, Barnes & Noble barnesandnoble.com and Amazon.com.
    Author: Lynn Assimacopoulos

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