To Walk A Fine Line

Today’s story is about finding one’s way in unusual situations without any role models or rules to guide you.

My husband and I divorced about 25 yrs ago and he basically disappeared and didn’t keep visitation or support our 4 children. About 15 yrs ago he just showed up with a 1 yr old, said he wanted to introduce his baby to his other siblings (our 4 were about grown by then). The baby was a sweet heart and well all adored him, met the mother and she was a sweetheart too.

Both of the parents were dealing with addiction issues and the baby ended up staying with me and my 2 children who were still living at home at the time. Once the baby was old enough for Prekindergarten, I went to court and got guardianship but wanted both parents to have extensive visitation rights. At first the dad, my ex, visited often. The mom kinda came and went depending on her own issues. However the visits kept getting less and less.

Neither has visited in the past 9 yrs. I send the mom updates on her Facebook messenger but she has never responded. I’ve always struggled with what to tell him. I usually just say, “your mom and dad loved you very much but sometimes adults just have issues that takes them away from the things they love and hopefully one day they’ll be able to get it all straightened out.”

He is 16 now and has social media and can reach out to them and I make sure to tell him every so often that he can reach out to them any time and I’ll help in anyway he feels comfortable with or I’ll refrain from being involved at all, if he’s more comfortable with that.

I’ve never adopted him nor terminated their parental rights and the first visitation order we did years ago still stands. I’ve fielded questions for years from people who said, “Why don’t you adopt?”, but it just never felt “right” for me to cut off their parental rights (even if at times I didn’t feel they deserved them).

He has called me mom for years, he asked if he could when he was about 5, I told him he could call me whatever he felt comfortable with. I’ve spent the last 14 yrs second guessing myself and I’m sure I’ve done stuff wrong and surely he has trauma. I just try to be honest without criticism toward his parents, although his older siblings will sometimes let a mouth full fly about their (and his) dad.

Sometimes I feel that he may think I don’t love him as a son because I didn’t adopt him. It’s just hard knowing what was right. He has a maternal uncle who he sees regularly and he gets to see all his maternal family at Christmas, birthdays, holidays , etc. But unfortunately his mom is not in contact with her family at all, so he still doesn’t see her.

I’d take any advice/ideas on how to make sure I’m not adding to his trauma.

One response was this –

I think you did everything perfectly. I would somehow bring up that you love him as a son though and that you just didn’t want to erase his past. Mention if he feels the need when he’s older, you two can discuss it then. If he is an adult and still wishes to be adopted by you, then it was his choice and that’s what matters most, giving him a voice, and loving him.

Sad Stories

Not just sometimes, many times, I hate what adoption does to families.  So today, yet another sad story of a mother separated from her child.  An open adoption agreement that turns into a lie.  This happens too often to not be expected going in but the ones who go in trust the agreement until it is broken – and many times it is.

A woman became pregnant at the age of 18 and was 19 when her daughter was born.  I can relate, that is what happened to me although I was married first – thankfully – it could have turned out differently . . .

She chose adoption because she really didn’t believe that she had another choice. She had never heard of an open adoption. The family she chose was the first and only family she looked at. They sounded great to her.  They were also adopted and had relationships with their biological parents. She believed that, if anyone could relate to anything her daughter might feel growing up, these people could. Upon meeting them, she was offered an open adoption.

So things were going great for 3 years. The agreement was for 2 visits a year. Aware that her vulnerability could risk a rupture, she was cautious in her behavior at these visits.  She didn’t want to over step her authority or make the adoptive parents uncomfortable. She never referred to her own daughter as that around them or in direct communication with them.

It appeared that all was well until the little girl turned 3.  A visit was scheduled and 2 hours before she was due to arrive, the adoptive parents asked if they could reschedule the visit to take place a few weeks later.  The woman waited 2 months for a date.  Finally, she tried calling them. The number was no longer in service.  I have encountered variations on this story more times than I might hope to believe happens.

Her adoption worker, from that day on, always said she had no idea where they were and hadn’t heard from them. Fast forward 14 years.  Her daughter turned 17 in April.  The original mother found her daughter on Facebook and sent a friend request. She didn’t really think it through and admits that maybe it was selfish of her but she understandably just wanted to see her daughter’s face and know she was okay.  When my own adoptee mom was searching, she said to me that as a mother herself, she would want to know what became of her child.  Unfortunately, by then, my maternal grandmother had already died.

Back to this sad story, the woman was immediately blocked.  The adoptive mother messaged her asking her not to reach out to her daughter again, at least not until she is an adult.  This woman is willing to respect their wishes, sadly to me adding, “she is THEIR daughter”. The adoptive mother claimed in receiving the friend request, the daughter thought that her original mother was a stalker.  The adoptive mother claims the daughter knows she is adopted and about her original mother.  She said the girl doesn’t have any questions and doesn’t want to know anything more.  She just wants things to go back to normal.

The whole exchange does not feel entirely believable to this woman.  The turnaround of 15 minutes was too fast.

This woman went on to give birth to a son who is 12 years old (he is 5 years younger than his sister). When the woman did speak to the adoptive mother, the adoptive mother shifted the blame, saying this woman was the cause of contact ending because it was too hard for the original mother to bear.  Yet the adoptive mother knew the original mother had had a son and believed this woman was now happy with her life as it had become.

The rub is – the only way they would have known that was by being in contact with adoption worker. All those years of the adoption worker saying she didn’t know where they were, it was a lie.