It is all too common but still hard to understand why it can be this way – today’s story (not my own) from a 29 year old adoptee in reunion.
I was one of the fortunate ones who found my biological family this year in April. We’ve known each other for eight months and everything’s been going great with us. Unfortunately, my mother (adoptive mother who will always be referred to as my mom) is not handling it well. Unfortunately, she continues to use the fact that I want to build a relationship with my biological family against me. She continues to use my biological mother against me when she’s mad at me. She says things like “why don’t you go spend time with your real mom then” “and “you probably wish I was dead.” My adoptive father passed away four years ago and I know she is still struggling. But I’m not sure how to make sure she understands that I’m not trying to replace her. I just want to build a relationship with my biological family that I have a right to. Sometimes, I feel even more comfortable around my biological mother than I do my mother and it’s very confusing for me. I’m not sure how to process all this or how to not take what my mother says to heart, when she’s mad at me. Somebody please help with understanding how I can process all this and help my mom the best way I can, Thank you.
A first mother (one who gave up her child to adoption) answers – your mom’s feelings on this are NOT the most important, YOURS are.
Your mom needs to have therapy for her loss of her husband, she needs to have therapy for the insecurities she has that she is projecting onto you. Right now, your mom is being harmful and toxic towards you. This is emotional abuse. None of this is your fault. You have every right to know your first family, without someone making you feel like you’re a traitor.
It’s not your job to make her feel like you’re not replacing her, same with your first mother. Your mother adopted you and, at some level, she knew this day had to come. If she had been trauma informed and fostered a relationship with you regarding the reality that you have two mom’s throughout your whole life, this wouldn’t be an issue. Your mom has to deal with her own insecurities, same as us first mothers have to.
Absolutely none of this should fall on you, she needs to take care of her own mental health, so that you can freely process and heal from the trauma thrust upon you, instead of making you feel responsible for her own decisions. I am so so sorry that your mom is acting in this way, unfortunately it is extremely common, though it shouldn’t be. All of your feelings are valid. Both your first family and your adoptive family have to deal with their own insecurities and trauma and not drag you into it. Again, none of this is your fault! You need support and love in figuring out your life and who you want in it.
From another adoptee – What she is doing is extremely wrong, in any event. But she thought that you were completely hers and now she is jealous (again) after she proved she was the “better mother.” And of course she cannot understand why your biological family has any pull or interest for you. Of course, you’d be more comfortable with your genetic family. You need to process this by setting firm boundaries with her and telling her that it isn’t a contest or competition. If she says those things to you – she is actually pushing you away, so it benefits you both if she realizes that and simply enjoys what time she has with you. You need to decide how to persuade her to stop being childish and realize that you want to expand your family and knowledge of your own genetic roots/heritage. No matter how much she wants to pretend otherwise, hers are not yours but were grafted onto you by legal force.
From a kinship guardian – The only thing you can do is tell her that you’re not trying and will not replace her. And suggest therapy gently to her. All the rest is completely in her hands and you can’t jeopardize your reunion because of her insecurities. Losing a husband is a traumatic event. And I can only imagine that she is afraid of losing you as well. It must be a hard place to be. But even if that’s the case, you cannot be responsible for that. She needs to work on herself instead of making you responsible for her emotional well-being. If we agree to take on the care of other adult’s wellbeing, as our own responsibility, it will start a chain of mess that can be never ending. Big hugs to you. Just keep in mind that by respecting your own wishes, you are doing the right thing for you. You don’t owe either of your mothers their own happiness.