When an adoption has already occurred and given the importance of identity issues, what is an adoptive mother to do when the original mother doesn’t respond very much to efforts to reach out and keep that mother connected with her natural children ?
This was a question in a group I belong to this morning.
Some good advice that came from another adoptive mother was this –
Educate yourself on issues of generational poverty vs privilege and learn to identify what pushback actually indicates.
Get out of your bubble and be willing to have genuine relationships with people who are not like you. (All of us in this polarized society could actually benefit from that advice.)
I remember an issue that came up. My youngest sister gave up her son for adoption. She gave me a lock-box full of mementos that illustrated her experiences and thinking at that time to deliver to her son someday as I was the contact in a registry somewhere.
It did come to pass. As he read some letters out loud to his adoptive mom on their way home from our first meeting in person, she was startled to hear that she had some attitudes towards my sister. She admitted later that she probably was projecting feelings of superiority.
Not to dismiss that the woman has done a fine job of nurturing my nephew. She was very supportive of him when he was seeking to know who his true father was (turns out my sister lied about that one but indications from certain post-birth contacts indicate that she actually did know the truth).
Definitely, class differences can be intimidating. In fact, this was mirrored to me growing up by my two sets of adoptive grandparents (yes, both of my parents were adoptees). One set was well-off, socially prominent. The other set lived in capable poverty. I say it that way because they seemed to manage the situation without complaining.
When this class difference exists between the adoptive parents and the original parents (which is quite common or else the original parents would raise their own child 99% of the time) subtle messages are transmitted such as –
We are better than you and we know it.
Which can leave the original parents feeling they have to walk on egg shells. They know the adoptive parents have all the power and money to do what they want including withhold information and contact if they so choose.