Erin E. McEndree
Adoption Trifecta: 3 Sets of Emotions
I am in the editing stage of my book. Different titles swirl in my head. I second guess where to put stories and content. It is like a big puzzle I am putting together in page form. Enjoy more of the introduction below and your comments are always welcome.
Adoption is a process of untangling all the logistics/emotions of three identities: adoptive parents, adoptees, birth mothers and fathers.Each one not only has to navigate their own feelings, but also the feelings of the others involved. There is a huge problem when one of these three elevates their needs and feelings above the others with no regard to another’s needs and feelings. It’s easy to think of yourself more important since you live in your own skin. It's a lot like the out of sight, out of mind concept. It is always a challenge to empathize with another’s situation when you yourself have not experienced it firsthand. Each one is traumatic in itself and cannot be elevated in importance above another.
Birth mothers don’t know the emptiness and despair of a woman unable to conceive. The shots and tests all hinge on anticipating and watching that slender stick. Adoptive parents have no idea the blanket of guilt and loneliness of going home empty-handed after their baby is surrendered. Adoptive parents never experience nausea and growing bellies that bond mother and baby. Adoptees can not understand the birth mothers’ immense outside pressures and inner guilt and loss. Those feelings don’t just go away when the baby does. Adoptees often struggle with identity issues and a struggle with rejection. Believing the birth mother had their best interest in mind seems a myth even with the most loving adoptive parents. Each has a different set of circumstances and experience. There are some exceptions like adoptees also being birth mothers. However, there is always a gap of personal experience and understanding somewhere. No two situations are the same and when feelings are involved, there are thousands of variables.
How would you feel if someone showed up through text, certified mail or phone call out of the blue and said, “Here I am! Love me! Put me first above all your other family!” Anyone with an adoption story whether adoptee, birth mother or adoptive mom would recoil from that kind of pressure. What do you do? What do you say? Are you prepared? What will your family do and say? Do you have their support before it happens? Have you ever talked about it? What if you are supported by only half your family? If someone showing up unannounced from your past would rock your world, be compassionate about rocking someone else’s world and try the following.
Be mindful of the other person’s feeling. Relationships on every level are a process. Did you love your spouse instantly or did it grow? If you are a Christian, did you love Jesus instantly or did it develop with more knowledge? Relationships take time, effort, moments, memories, benefit and understanding. Then trust develops organically. I just read a post that asked, “How long did it take you and your spouse to get married?” Some said 4 years. Some said 2 years. Some said 13 months. The point it, there is no set time limit for building relationships. And to tell the truth, the relationship follows along with the slowest person’s emotions in the relationship. Have you ever felt rushed or pressured to go to fast and then pulled away? Did you ever need to break off a relationship because it triggers too much stress and anxiety? Did you withdraw because the other person selfishly or abusively put their feelings above yours?
Adoption relationships are the same. The same relationship ‘rules’ apply. When one goes too fast, others back away or even disappear. When one person believes their situation is the most traumatic without being compassionate to the situation of the other, the relationship will not survive. No one wants to be in a relationship where they have no voice. It’s also difficult to be in a relationship when you think someone else could come along at any moment and replace years and years of memories.
If you are birth parents, an adoptee or a birth mother, as hard as it may be to accept, relationships go both ways. Your situation and emotions and fears are just as relevant and important as the others in adoption. Putting yourself first in the relationship because you’re hurt will ultimately result in an empty chat box, an empty mailbox and an empty text screen. Relationships cannot survive people who do not think of the other person. Each one has to believe they matter, they are worth listening to and their feelings are valid. This advice could work not only with adoption relationships, but with spouses and children and co-workers alike. Relationships are a fluid process that selfishness will cement if left to run amuck the mind. But if grace and patience accompany your action, beautiful relationships can be fostered.
If you are an adoptee, birth mother or adoptive mom and you are kind and compassionate, I would love to have you in my Adoption X Three Facebook group. It is different than any other group because I allow all three in the triad into the group to foster growth in understanding and compassion for all three scenarios. Search Adopt X Three and answer the questions for approval.