An adoptee writes – I went no contact with my adoptive mother about 18 years ago. She was always abusive and treated her biological daughter much better than me. My cousin contacted me the other day and said I should reach out and make amends because she is showing signs of dementia and on death’s doorstep. Am I in the wrong for not trying? I mean she did raise me when no one else wanted me after all. I’m so torn and need advice.
One foster parent replied with her own experience – Only you know what your heart needs and no one else can make that choice for you. Completely different situation, but my grandmother died of Alzheimer’s and I was guilted into coming to say goodbye the week before she died. I knew I didn’t want those memories and now my last memories of her are of her being cruel and racist to the nurses in her care unit. She didn’t know me and she didn’t care that we were there. I wish I’d listened to my heart and not gone. You don’t owe this trip to anyone. Only go if you think it will give you closure. If it’s for anyone else, it’s not worth your time or energy. Hugs. This is a hard thing to go through even in the best of circumstances. Sending you love and peace.
One woman who identifies herself as the aunt of adoptees said clearly – Children do not “owe” their parents or caregivers anything. Ever. Especially in cases of abuse. The people who raised you certainly weren’t “care givers”. Only consider what is best for you in the short and long term. I’m sorry you’re having to face this. Be kind to yourself.
An adoptee writes – I had no natural parents either, was abused by my adoptive parents too. I cared for one for twenty years, am divided now on how smart that was. In hindsight? I’d say spare yourself. Wishing you all health and happiness whichever choice you make.
Another foster parent wrote – toxic is toxic. Unfortunately that means family too. For me personally, it doesn’t matter if it’s birth family, adoptive family, chosen family or forced…. Toxic is toxic and you owe NO ONE a reason for removing that from your life. You do what works for YOU and do not allow others to manipulate you into feeling things that aren’t yours to carry.
A hospice nurse was quoted as saying – “no one is owed your forgiveness, your love or your physical presence. Impending death does not change that in the slightest”.
Another adoptee writes – You went no contact for a reason. Honor yourself and your feelings, and only do what you feel is the right thing to do, not what other people thing is the right thing. A diagnosis doesn’t suddenly absolve someone from the horrible things they’ve done. Being on death’s door doesn’t suddenly absolve someone from the horrible things they’ve done. No one owes anyone an apology for any reason if they don’t want to give one.
Another adoptee offered a good analogy – You don’t have to care and you don’t have to care that you don’t care. Would you make friends with a bee that stung you in the eye every once in a while?! Give it a home? A place in your heart? Dedicate time and energy to it’s well being? It only stings your eye every once in a while…
Another adoptee suggested these self examination questions – Consider why you went no contact and how you’ve been since. Have you been at peace or had serious regrets? Have you ever attempted/thought about attempting a reconciliation because it was something you ideally would want? Do you think it’s something that could reasonably happen? If the answer is yes, then maybe consider it. If this isn’t the case, it’s ok not to pursue this. Decisions have consequences. You aren’t responsible for relieving the consequences of someone else’s hurtful behavior just because their time is running out and it would make them feel better. Don’t let external attempts at manipulation influence you. If you’ll feel guilty for not attempting a reconciliation, that is completely different from attempting a reconciliation to prevent others from trying to make you feel guilty.
And this important point to consider from another adoptee – dementia takes the filters off. There’s a chance she may be even crueler than you remember. She might not be, but it’s not a risk worth taking. If you can’t be in contact with her when she’s coherent, you shouldn’t be guilted into contact when she’s got even less self-control.
This self-assessment had leapt out at me also – I hope you are in therapy and I really encourage you to challenge the concept that “no one else wanted you”. That phrase feels like a knife to the heart, you deserved better and whoever said that to you or instilled that belief was grooming you to accept crappy behavior from people who were supposed to love and protect you.
More than one adoptee admitted to being no contact and estranged from their adoptive parents due to reasons of perceived abuse – having feelings such as doubt, guilt, and obligation are common in estrangement situations, and especially in adopted people.