(first posted Jan 2007)
More on Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self by Brodzinsky, Schechter, and Henig.
The book goes on to talk about intimacy. Intimacy, they say, hinges on a strong sense of identity, which adoptees can often lack. Some people run from relationships to remain “in control” – to leave before they get left. I personally don’t do that. But I *do* doubt dh’s and friends commitment to me – for no good reason, mind you. The only reason I believe my dh is committed to our relationship is his high moral character. He is a prince among men, and he wouldn’t do that. BUT, even as I say that, I keep thinking, “Surely *something* I might do would send him over the edge…or times will change, you’ll see.” Sigh. He deserves a wife with his head on much straighter than mine! LOL
Here’s something else I have a loooong way to go on:
Intimacy requires an ability to trust, to take the chance that your partner will not reject you or your feelings and ideas.(emphasis mine)
Dh will tell you – I rarely put an idea out there without it starting a fight. I say something, then get very defenisve about it. I tend to be a chameleon too – saying, “whatever you want is fine, I don’t care” Even when I really DO care. Especially when I really do care – if it’s a big deal I tend to hide it even more (hide being a relative term, I think it comes out in anxiety and arguments) because if he knew the REAL me, the one who HAS ideas and thoughts and feelings, I think he wouldn’t really like me anymore. I can couch it in all the “dying to self” talk I want – as in “I’m being a good Catholic about this and not caring about what *I* want” but really I do care a whole lot about what I want, and just deny others the benefit of being able to know my true thoughts and feelings. My friends will tell you too – I tend to make friends with “talkers” so I can just nod and smile and ask them questions and not get into what I think/want/feel. Everyone in my book club laughs (good naturedly – these are my best friends) that I am always so quiet there. 🙂 But talking at book club meetings means giving an OPINION that someone else might disagree with. Oh the horrors! LOL
On to parenting…
By the bearing and raising of children, people in a
sense renurture themselves. Parenting provides an opportunity to revisit
old issues in a new context, perhaps to undo the mistakes that have been made by
their own parents as they make decisions about how they will raise thier
I never thought about it this way. I’ve been tending to parent with an underlying “lack” philosophy – how can I give what I never got? When I could be trying harder to give EXACTLY what I never got so that my children can grow up “normal” LOL and I can experience an unconditionally loving relationship – if only from the parent side.
Having children brings up many issues – your lack of a past history is now not only YOUR problem but your children’s problem. With my children seeing so many specialists, do you know how many times in one year I have to say, “I don’t know my children’s family history on my side, I’m adopted.” It gets old. Fast. You also worry about what kind of genetic mix your kids are getting. It’s scary to have a “blank” on one side. It sounds horrible, but I get excited when I figure out that some things are in part DH’s genetic “malfunctionings” and not my own or not only my own – like my oldest’s eye drifting problem. Many of dh’s relatives had the same thing! Ha! I’m not the cause of all problems! 🙂
The book quotes a woman who said she was “surprised” at her “sense of jealousy” regarding her daughter. She resented the fact that her daughter had a biological mother who loved and kept her. Another woman went through a bad postpartum depression because of this. I wonder if my postpartum depressions have had anything to do with this? I don’t know. But I do know, I feel terrible terrible jealousy (or is it envy?) of my children sometimes. I keep thinking, “I would NEVER do that to my parents (i.e. disobey, not do what they ask, backtalk, etc). Who in the world do they think they are? They are SO LUCKY to have parents who would keep them if they do that.” I’m sure my parents *would* have kept me if I did that, but I never had the emotional freedom to try, I was too terrified that if I screwed up I’d be abandoned again. My adoptive parents did do too much “emotional abandonment” when I screwed up for my tastes though – i.e. not speaking to me for days if I got a bad grade or decided to go to a friends house for a holiday (when they had said it was OK, but apparently it was NOT OK). I knew if I wanted safety in lovingness, I had to tread a fine line. Later in the chapter the authors state:
For the adoptee, both envy and jealousy are inevitable, pervasive, and sometimes painful aspects of life with which he must contend throughout the life
To that I say, yes… and OH GOODY. 😦
The book has a section on searching, which I will skip for now other than to type this quote – for my own personal memory jog. 🙂
Even those searchers who have failed to find a happy ending tend to be satisfied
with the process of searching itself. The activated search provides and
important psychological function for some people: it allows them to gain control
over forces over which they previously had no control.
(i.e. being given up, barred from getting information, etc) Right now, I don’t think I want to search. My father would just die if he knew I was, and I don’t want to hurt them. I also don’t want to open a can of worms. What if my birth mother doesn’t want me – or worse, what if she is some horrible person or a really needy person that would never leave me alone??
One adoptee said they felt unreal, like a fictional character, the product of a writer’s imagination (searching is supposed to help remedy this, which is why it is showing up here). I definitely agree with this. I feal fake, unreal, dropped from the sky, inhuman (not in a moral way – just not like “other humans” who have biological relatives, lol). I wish the book would talk about how to fix this OTHER than searching.
That is the end of the chapter on young adulthood. Next is middle age (forties and fifties) – I haven’t read that one yet. 🙂