Monday, July 25, 2011

Smashing Fun House Mirrors

I often find myself identifying with the words of other first moms.  It used to be such a surprise to me that someone else felt the way I did about or because of adoption loss.  I am no longer surprised when I read the words of my heart and soul expressed by another mother.

I am often surprised though when I read the words of an adoptee and find myself identifying with something they have written regarding adoptions effects on them.  Kevin Hofmann's latest post "Smashing Fun House Mirrors" had me surprised again.  Kevin is speaking about his experience as a panel member at a camp for teen adoptees.

As another panel member was speaking, Kevin found his mind wandering ~
 I was still part of the conversation but preoccupied with other thoughts.
 About 10-12 beautiful adoptees sat in front of me ranging from ages 13-17,  and mostly female.  The thought that keep bouncing around in my head made me sad and very reflective.  I wondered if the kids knew just how beautiful and special they all were.  Churning over and over in my head was the thought of myself at their age.  That split from my first mother played itself out over and over and over in friendships and relationships in ways that I was blinded to at their age but in ways that are so clear to me today.  The fracture of the very first relationship I ever had tilted every other relationship since then.

After I gave birth to my firstborn son and walked out of that hospital alone, I felt as though I was a different person.  A broken and fractured person who would never be whole again.  The split from my son played itself out over and over again later in my own life as a parenting mother.  I was blinded to it when my children were young, but now that I have "come out of the fog" of my adoption loss, I see it.  I see many places where the fracture of the very first maternal relationship I ever had tilted my relationships with not only my raised children, but with most of the people in my life.
The subtle whispering that crept through my thoughts convinced me of a picture of myself far different than was actually there.  It was as if I stood in front of a fun house mirror everyday and the image that reflected back to me was distorted.  It was this image that I took with me everyday that told me I wasn’t good enough; I wasn’t worthy.  This image and subliminal understanding affected how I interacted with people.  It created an invisible line that I rarely would cross.  My relationships and friendships were superficial and kept at a safe distance.  This protected me from the rejection that I feared and came accustomed to expect.  If I only waded in to relationships, I couldn’t be drowned by the rejection that was sure to follow.  So I stood back, and watched as others formed deeper relationships and wondered why I couldn’t do the same.  I wondered why my emotional roots only went down so far and others had deep strong giant oak-like roots that drew people in and hugged them.  
From the very moment I gave birth, when my son was no longer "of me", I felt exactly as Kevin wrote above.  Kevin is speaking from the break with his mother, but his words also speak for me from the break with my firstborn child.

I did not realize how much the loss of Christopher effected my life until we were reunited.  The day I read the emails from the search angel and Christopher changed my life.  For the first time in almost 30 years my heart was flooded with love.  It was as though my heart opened wide and was finally able to fully accept love from others and also fully give my love to others.  I was finally able to acknowledge the deep and never ending love I felt for the child I gave up, the child that society told me I should have been able to forget.  I felt as though my heart was too big to stay contained within my chest.  I realized that I had even been holding myself back from fully loving or being loved by my husband and children.

This post by Kevin really hit me hard.  It has taken me several days of pondering to even attempt to write about.  Not only because of the parallels that it held for me in my life as a first mom, but also because of the raw emotions it brought to me regarding the children we gave up.

It is so hard to know that what I chose as the "best thing" for my son could have caused such deep problems instead.  It cuts me to the quick when I learn of an adoptee who has the deep wound of feeling unworthy because their mother gave them up for adoption.  For I am "one of them" ~ the mothers who caused those wounds.

As I continued to read, I became inspired by Kevin's words.  By his realization of the teens' altered self-images and the fact that he wanted to share with them the truth of their images.

The fun house mirror that I constantly struggle with is making house calls to generations behind me and I wanted to stand up and tell one adoptee at a time that the reduced image of themselves was altered.  The image that I see of them stands taller, is more capable, is funnier, kinder, more powerful, and their REAL potential is so bright it was burning my corneas.
I wanted to shout down the whispers that began at that initial separation from their first mother that says they are not good enough.  I wanted to summon all the strength I’ve gained from my own powerful introspection and use it to strangle the exterior coy messages that support those whispers.

“They are better than the image they see,” 
What a wonderful message Kevin.  I wish that all of the teens in your groups, that all adoptees struggling because of the loss of their natural families could know that.

I think this is also a great message for mothers considering adoption ~ if they could see their true image then perhaps it would keep an infant with their image intact. 

If you aren't a reader of Kevin's blog "My Mind On Paper", please go read this entire post, you won't be disappointed.



  1. Susie - you have said a lot of what i think too, when reading other adoptees blogs. However, I wonder you mention in your post that you 'gave him away', did you really do that? Or were you like me, and so many other mothers coersed into doing so? You also mention that you 'chose' adoption for you son, is that so? I hope you don't mind my asking but I am informed by adoptees who blog quite a lot and whom I am reading in order to better understand what they went through and not just what i went through, that they all feel that we chose to give them away. That is not the truth as far as I am concerned and I know many other mothers who would say the same thing. So that's why I ask these two questions.

  2. Sharon ~ I chose adoption in that nobody told me I had to give my son up for adoption, but at the same time I didn't choose adoption in that there was no other choice for me. I refused to raise my son in the life I was living at the time. It was 1979, adoption was expected when a teen became pregnant, and there was nobody looking out for the best interest of a 15 year old living in a home of hate. The "counselors" knew that the only reason I was choosing adoption was because I didn't want my child to suffer the life I was living. Unless someone would have offered me a better place to live and be able to raise my child while finishing school, I had no other options in order to not "choose" adoption. So the answers are both yes and no at the same time. I would have given anything to raise my son, but I was a 15 year old ~ alone ~ with no one looking out for my best interest or offering options to adoption.