Complicated relationships create complicated situations I’ve found. You?

Posted on February 26, 2008. Filed under: Adoption emotions, Eli & me |

By Joy A. Kennelly

Finally had my conversation with the therapist who is planning to adopt that my friend thought I might enjoy speaking to. My friend was right. A very interesting two-hour long conversation actually.

I didn’t realize I had so much to say about my adoption experience to a complete stranger no less, but then again, I’m writing for you too right? HA! When I had been interviewed by the LA Times Journalist a few years back we talked for a long time too.

However, she chose to cover a birthmother who had real issues with her adoption while I am fairly content and not a tragic story. That’s what bugs me about the media, it’s always the poor, down-and-out birthmother who’s highlighted, not those of us who have achieved life goals and lived fairly normal lives after our adoptions. (The journalist is really a nice lady and wrote a beautiful article, but…)

What had prompted my friend to refer me to her friend Maureen is because Maureen has been taking adoption classes in preparation for her own upcoming adoption from O.C. County Social Services.

What Maureen had learned in a class was that it was normal for birthmothers in open adoptions to end contact after a few years rather than keep the relationship ongoing like I have. Maureen said it gave birthmothers closure and allowed them to move on with their lives.

I had never heard it happening as early as she mentioned in all the research and conferences I had attended, but you can always learn something new. I gave her a call and after a few mis-connects we hit it off over the phone.

Being a therapist, she’s extremely intuitive and as I was sharing my experience she would bring out different things she recognized that perhaps I hadn’t acknowledged. Although I’ve never publicly acknowledged this, it is something I’ve always thought secretly.

My middle sister has been estranged from me for over ten years. Every so often she decides to be nice and let me in her life, but immediately after she pulls back leaving me more confused than ever. She also does this with my relationship with my niece, her daughter, as well which is even more hurtful.

I’ve apologized, I’ve given her gifts, I’ve ignored her for a year, I’ve done everything I can to repair and restore this relationship. She’s actually the reason I started going to Al-Anon in the first place because the back-and-forth and push-and-pull was driving me crazy.

There’s only so much you can do and then you have to detach with love I’ve learned.

Now I just let her do her thing and accept the fact that I will never please her or repair this relationship. It’s been one of the more painful relationships in my life. My parents consistently siding with her over me is one of the others, but they’re becoming clearer on the true realities of this dynamic which is encouraging.

When I shared this with Maureen she was surprised at how much I’ve got going on in my life and how much hurt I’ve had over the years.

I’ve never really thought about it before and kind of assumed everyone else had similar life experiences. I guess not, since she’s a therapist and has counseled a lot of people. Interesting, but also comforting to be heard and understood on one of the deepest issues affecting my life.

What we both came to agree upon is that perhaps the reason I’ve clung to my open adoption relationship with my son so long is because it’s one of the few sweet relationships in my life that brings me unconditional love, as only a child can give. Especially one from your womb. I can only hope we’ll have a real relationship when he’s older and can communicate independently. If he wants.

Also, perhaps, as a result of the loss of the relationship with my niece. Although now that my niece is 16 she’s reaching out a little more. I can only hope that in a few years when she’s more independent she and I will actually have a real relationship apart from her mother.

I’ve given up on my sister. Only God can heal that one. And that has more than one meaning. I give up.

So, as you can see, my relationship with my son is complicated. So are my family relationships. What was really sweet is when Maureen said she hoped that 2008 was the year I stopped experiencing hurt and was loved like I deserved. I’ve never even met her and really appreciated her kind words.

She just raved about Orange County’s program for adoption and after hearing her experiences and education from them I can see why. I only wish my adoptive couple had had similar training. Actually all adoptive couples to be honest.

It was very interesting to hear how birthmothers are explained in that training. Nice actually. That’s what is so unfortunate in the entire adoption world. Birthmothers sometimes are the last ones considered or acknowledged even though we’re the ones making such a huge sacrifice. Generally, it’s all about the adoptive couple’s needs.

I’m tired and my movie’s almost over. I’ll just leave you with that. Oh, and I finished Eat, Pray, Love the other night. I feel like I’ve stopped hearing from a good friend. Does make me hope that all the work I’m doing on myself will result in the wonderful love she found after her quest.

Maybe my quest is simply here in Hermosa Beach, CA. Wouldn’t that be ironic if I had to come home to find myself and true love?

Now, I leave you…


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