Life in Limbo

My last personal update was in the middle of January so I figured it was time to write again. I’ve been struggling a bit more with things, in regards to adoption, and I think that getting it all out would be helpful. I am almost finished writing a memoir novella about the time of my pregnancy, birth and the following weeks. I know this has taken its toll on my emotional health as revisiting that time period is always difficult, let alone writing about it. At the same time, it is healing to get it all out. I plan to self publish on Kindle with the majority of the proceeds going to our new organization “Saving Our Sisters” for family preservation efforts.

So where am I now? I feel as though my life is in a perpetual state of limbo. I am always waiting for the next communication, the next picture, the next update. As of lately my thoughts have obsessively gone to everything adoption. I play out endless amounts of scenarios in my head. In some scenarios IKL comes to visit with her adoptive parents and we all have a great time and continue to grow closer and closer over time and are just one big happy family. In another, IKL decides she doesn’t like the intrusion of her privacy and tells her adoptive parents to stop giving us updates. In yet another scenario, IKL hasn’t said anything at all but we have overstepped boundaries by writing and sending pictures every three months and they have decided to cut off contact altogether.

These are all extreme possibilities. I know that, rationally. I still can’t keep my mind from going there and to countless other places that are similar. I feel as if I am living in this fantasy world that I cannot escape. My parented children have surely suffered for it, as my attention is not 100% on them, as well as my friends and family.

If you may recall, from my last personal update, my husband had received our first direct communication, ever, from IKL. We were, and continue to be, overjoyed. She had asked him to please write to her, as he never had before, and he did. We all did. I emailed IKL’s adoptive mother and let her know we had sent the letters off. She responded that IKL would be happy to know J would be writing this time. I tracked our letter and it was delivered. And I haven’t heard anything since.

No email, no letters, no nothing. For all I know that package is still sitting in the special PO Box that is set up for us to send things. I hate wondering, questioning, not knowing. Did we cross the line? Did we say something wrong? Did she get the letters? Is everything okay? I don’t think its purposeful. I doubt that IKL’s family obsesses about this adoption stuff like I do. But still, it hurts to wait for crumbs.

Easter is just around the corner so today I sent off another “package.” It included lighthearted letters from myself, J, and our youngest daughter. I also made a DVD compilation of our home videos over the years for IKL to “see us in action” so to speak. Since she has no memory or recollection of seeing us in person, or hearing our voices, I thought it would be nice to further complete her picture of who we are. I am wondering if that, in and of itself, will be enough to cross the imaginary line that may or may not exist within our adoption relationship. Will her adoptive parents be upset about this? Will they let her watch it? Will they feel like we are communicating TOO much? I’m sure I’ll fret over this package being mailed until I hear a response, if that’s any time soon. I will probably torture myself with more outlandish (yet possible) scenarios. I don’t know what to do to escape it. I can’t stop writing and sending things to IKL. She enjoys it, needs it, wants it. I have to keep doing it.

I need to learn to relax. I need to trust that if I’ve stepped over the line that I will be politely told with no hard feelings.

Easier said than done. I am powerless. Really, IKL is powerless. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know our last names and I would bet that her adoptive parents determine when she can look at pictures we’ve sent and which things she is to have now versus later. I remember, at the beginning, sending a letter along with her right after TPR. I told her all the reasons I was doing what I was doing. I’m sure there was a lot of “adoption positive” speak. I have no copy of the letter but I remember the general gist of it. I poured my heart out with love. I also gave pictures of my other children and family members to her parents-to-be and the first letter they ever wrote talked about her “birth family box” and how things were being stored in there for her. I wonder if she’s ever seen any of this or if they don’t feel it’s the right time yet.

Yes, we have no control. Neither does IKL. Even as a teenager.

My oldest daughter, M, did not write this time. When I informed everyone we were sending off another package in time for the Easter holiday she said, “Do I have to write her?” My heart broke. I asked her why she wouldn’t want to and she replied, “I don’t know what to say. She never writes back.” I think the withholding of a letter (the first time for M) is a way for her to have some control over things. She is hurt that IKL has never written back and is upset that J received the first letter when he had never written at all. Her reasoning is probably, “Dad didn’t write at all and she wrote him. If I don’t write then maybe she’ll write me.”

How do I help her understand? I feel like the limbo of my life also extends to my children and juggling doing what is best for them and protecting them. But what is protecting one child may be hurting the other. I cannot force M to write to her sister but this means that IKL may get her feelings hurt with the absence of a letter from M for the first time. And I am powerless to get IKL to write to M. Even if I wasn’t, I would never want to force her to do something she wasn’t comfortable with either.

These are all the things I wasn’t told about. A successful reunion, in the future, relies on more than just me and IKL. There are so many outside factors to be included that could make or break it. My other parented children, my husband, IKL’s family. I worry that M not writing to IKL may hurt our chances of building a relationship in the future.

This all sounds so very self-centered, and maybe it is. I want nothing more in the world than to have a part, any part – even a tiny part, in IKL and her family’s life. My heart has been hurting for so many years.

This isn’t what I signed up for. I had no idea. I really didn’t know.

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8 thoughts on “Life in Limbo

  1. Pingback: Life in Limbo | Musings of the Lame

  2. I was a middle school teacher, and I can tell you that this age (I think you wrote your daughter is 14) is the WORST. It’s the time when they are struggling with their identity, adopted or no, and a time of massive confusion. She may very well be reading all letters and enjoying packages but just be so confused about who she “is” that silence is her best defense right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if you started hearing from her in the next year or so, as she gets older and becomes more comfortable with who she is becoming. Another thing to consider is that if her parents are screening her letters, that won’t stop her from contacting you. No one can compare to a motivated teenage girl and the Internet. As I am often told, and I hate it so much, patience is your best defense in this circumstance. She will resume contact when she’s ready, when crazy teenage changes and hormones ease up a little bit.

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    • I very much agree. Consciously I know her parents aren’t keeping anything from her but there is always that worry. Or the worry I’ve done something to offend them. We have a good relationship for what it is. There were broken promises but I attribute that to a lack of education and after a certain point it got to where visits couldn’t be started again with awkwardness. We have talked about reuniting in the future. No solid plans but it’s being talked about so that’s good. I just have a tough time squashing my fears as I know there are no guarantees about anything. And that is frightening.

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  3. Your daughter is very young, which means she’s all over the place and self-absorbed to the max. I’m afraid patience is the only recourse you have at this point. I found my son when he was 44, and I often think the timing was fortuitous. Even so, he has a lot of issues and is immature in many ways. I believe most adoptees are, no matter what age. I understand your gnawing need. I certainly felt it during the first couple of years of reunion, and I know I pretty much detached from the rest of my life (husband, kids, friends) and thought about my son 24/7. It was obsessional and very uncomfortable, to say the least. Once it finally sank in that we were never going to have a “regular” relationship like I have with my other children, I was able to let go of the fantasies. Letting go emotionally is the only way to stay sane, but you can’t just will it to happen. I had to go through a lot of pain before I was ready to calm down, and a good therapist is helping. I’ve found it best to feel what I feel. Let your emotions run through you. If you try to dam them up, you’ll drown. Eventually your mind and heart will have had enough and one day you’ll realize you’ve turned a corner. I still worry about my son, but I accept that he has a whole life (44 years) that doesn’t include me. That’s just how it is. I wish I could go back and mother him as a baby, child, and young man, but I can’t, and gnawing at that bone isn’t good for either of us. This is where I am, 3 1/2 years into reunion. Every reunion is different, but the one common denominator is that we love our kids and understand what it means to have lost one (or more). I would also add that you can’t orchestrate your kids’ relationships with each other. I’ve worried a lot about that too and wondered what I could do to facilitate things, but my kids are all grown ups. It’s up to them to work things out for themselves. So far, not a lot is happening in that department, and it perhaps never will, but at least now they all know about each other.

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  4. From my experience as an adoptee, contact with my birth family was a dream come true and also incredibly overwhelming. It’s a surreal experience that I describe as two worlds colliding, as though my cells rearranged with every connection (if that makes any sense). I remember when my brother first contacted me, though I was thrilled to hear from him, after the initial meeting I stopped taking his calls for a while and pulled back because I needed to give myself the space to process my emotions. I am happy for you that you have some contact with your daughter. She’s a lucky girl to have a mom like you.

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