Thursday, April 21, 2011

Heartbreaking Rejection In Reunion

There have been some heartbreaking posts lately on some of the adoption related blogs that I follow.

A daughter rejected ~ with a half-piece of paper torn from a legal pad.

A daughter pondering how long the relationship with her father will be kept a secret.  Wondering if her mother ~ his wife ~ will ever accept her or tell her full siblings about her.

Another daughter wondering if pursuing a relationship with her father will jeopardize her relationship with her mother, while worrying about how and when to tell her adoptive parents that she is in contact with her natural parents.

A mother who has been fully rejected by her daughter ~ the mother was told to not call, write, communicate in any way.

I am so very, very, blessed to have a successful reunion with my firstborn son.  I am so very blessed that my son did indeed get the wonderful family and childhood I dreamed of for him. I am so very glad that Christopher went from only wanting medical and family history in the beginning to wanting to know me and his siblings. 

Even though our adoption journeys would probably be described as being great ones, it does not make up for the deep loss and grief that I have lived with for almost 32 years now.  I cannot imagine how much harder healing from the adoption loss would be, if my son had rejected me in reunion. My heart stops at the thought of it.

It absolutely breaks my heart when I read stories from the mothers, fathers, and adoptees who are rejected in reunion. 

I completely understand why some mothers are unable to fully embrace reunion.  At the same time ~ I will never understand how a mother could reject her child... for the second, or third, or final time. 

As hard as it was to do the work necessary to come out of the adoption closet, to come out of the fog, it would have been so much harder to lose precious contact with my son again.  I have loved my son since before he was born.  Denial kept me from knowing the full depth of the love I had for Christopher.  Reunion opened my heart, and I have only grown to love him more over these last couple of years.  I truly love him no less than the children I raised.  I am so blessed that I was able to open my heart, instead of closing it like some mothers have.  My heart breaks for those mothers and for their children.

When I read the words of adoptees rejected, I cannot help but feel I myself am to blame for a part of their grief.  (I just cannot get my thoughts on this into coherant written words ~ so frustrating.)  I don't mean responsible for one certain adoptee's personal grief, but in the general grief felt by any adoptee.    My part ~ in believing the sunshine and rainbows myths, in believing the "blank slate" theory,  in choosing adoption for my own firstborn son, and then by staying silent for decades about the truth of the depth of adoption loss, I feel that I was a part of the "adoption is wonderful" culture.  It is that culture that refuses to acknowledge the loss that adoption is built on.  It is that culture that keeps parents and children separated and unable to reunite. 

A mother unable to see that society was wrong for putting labels on her when she was young and pregnant.  A mother unable to face her past because of the stigma that society put on her.  A mother unable to tell her raised children, or husband, or parents, about the child she gave up because of the deep-seated shame she took onto herself as an unwed mother. Sadly, these stigmas are still put on unmarried mothers, on mother's deemed to be too young, or too poor.

The ones given up for adoption who are unable to embrace their natural family in reunion ~ out of anger, or fear, or loyalty...

As I was typing these last words, wondering where I am going with this rambling post.  Wondering why I have been thinking so often lately about those suffering in rejection, a song I haven't heard for a long time came on.  It speaks to the grief felt by those whose love is not returned...

Cause I can't make you love me
if you don't
You can't make your heart feel
something it won't
I will lay down my heart
And I'll feel the power
but you won't
No, you won't
Cause I can't make you love me
if you don't

 My heart goes out to all who have been rejected in reunion.  I pray that one day the closed hearts of those you love are able to be opened.   As this song so beautifully says, we can't make anyone love us.  All we can do is learn to love ourselves, and be true to our own hearts.  Even if that means loving someone who can't/won't love or show love in return.



  1. Reading blogs like this from you and some of the other first mothers helps me to cope. I wish my mother could be more like you and I have hope that someday maybe she will be. I'm so happy when I read about positive reunions because it gives me hope that maybe someday I can have that too. Rejection is awful, but knowing that there are mothers out there who do love their children turns my world right side up again. Not sure if that's makes sense, but I just wanted to say thank you. :-)

  2. I do understand feeling like I am partly to blame for adoptees grief when they are rejected. I can understand the mother's shame, not of the child, but of the circumstances. To admit that you abandoned your child is a very hard pill to swallow. I do consider placing my child and making an adoption plan abandoning her now. It wasn't my intention but I could understand if she felt that way. As mothers we are not really allowed to grieve. We are supposed to move on. Can you imagine telling a woman after her child dies that she should not grieve. That it was for the best. It's no wonder that reunion is so messy.

  3. Great post. I have mourned a lot for feeling like I just dumped my daughter with strangers and I didn't do my job as a Mother to her. I still deal with the guilt and shame but it's getting better.
    I don't know how a birthmom could reject her own child but the depths of the pain is really deep and I think a lot of it besides shame and guilt maybe the fear of losing their child another time. I am not sure I can handle that kind of loss and I do fear that.

  4. Thank you, Susie. Im so happy when I see successful reunions. That's the way they SHOULD be. For what it's worth- I don't hold anyone responsible for my Mother's rejection except my Mother....especially not myself.

  5. Heartbreaking. Where's the love? Seriously. I have an absent natural father and will never fully understand.

  6. I can't make you love me if you don' can't make your heart feel something it won't...

    Wow...these same lyrics have frequently played in my mind over the past 4.5 years since I reunited with my daughter lost to adoption. While she has never rejected us outright (I am married to her father and we have 2 additional children), she has distanced herself from us from the beginning. It is painful to experience the loss of her again. I long to see her, to hold her again. I wish it weren't so hard for her. I am trying to give her time and space. I let her know of my love for her. I am trying not to overwhelm her. Recently she did let me know she would like to see me again (though she does not feel ready to see her father and siblings). I am encouraged by this change...but a little scared, too. I hope she will not change her mind.

    I wish reunions were not so hard. I always imagined finding my daughter again, even from the time we lost her (against our wishes). I had no clue how hard it would be. I just imagined she would be pleased to know we stayed together, that we never forgot her, and we always have loved her. I hope it helps for her to know these things.

    Hugs to all the other mothers, fathers, and children out there trying to make sense of adoption. Hard to make sense of something that just does not make sense!

  7. *four and a half years (since reunion)...not forty-five

  8. ***As hard as it was to do the work necessary to come out of the adoption closet, to come out of the fog, it would have been so much harder to lose precious contact with my son again.***

    Exactly! Coming out of that fog and facing the true pain buried inside is so terrifying. It's been years since I've faced that battle and yet I can still feel that fear I struggled with. But the only thing that would have been worse than the fear would have been to not have the chance to see my son again, to hold him and freely be able to feel the love I had always carried for him.

    And, like you, when a mom turns away from her child, I feel the guilt of being a part of that rejection because of my silence for so long. Because I was part of that "culture" too and did and felt as I was told. I fed right into society's views of how adoption is "supposed to be" for so long that I am, nowadays, ashamed to admit my part in it.

  9. I too have a successful, loving reunion with my daughter and I feel like you when I read of all the rejection - it breaks my heart again and again. As a mother I have a hard time comprehending a mother rejecting her child. The fear and shame has to be so incredibly huge for it to overpower the instinct to go to your child. How awful it must be to feel that.