How’s That Closure Going?

I wrote about needing closure not long ago.

So, how’s that closure going?

I did indeed take down all the pictures of my daughter. In fact, I only had one picture of my mother in the house, and have taken that down as well. It has helped tremendously. Not a cure for my unresolved grief, but there aren’t the constant reminders of pain. I placed them in a box in a basement closet. Certainly, I would attempt to rescue them in case of a fire. I guess I have literally and figuratively “compartmentalized” my  adoption experience.

I also decided that since adoption feels so much like experiencing a family death, I needed a place to mourn, like a grave site. I chose a place far back on our property near the lake. It is a peaceful clearing, but one that I have to go out of my way to reach. Again, I don’t want the unsolicited reminders. I created a “headstone” through an Amazon provider with the name I was going to give my daughter; Augusta Isabella. For those really tough days, I sit by her stone and talk to her.

I’ve come to realize over the last 8 months, without any communication with my daughter, that the baby I once held is not the young adult starting her own life. The baby I carried, placed so many hopes and dreams upon, and briefly cradled, would have been a vastly different person with different experiences than who she is in reality. I would have instilled a different set of morals. She would have experienced a different culture, faith, and social/political atmospheres. So in a sense, the child I birthed has indeed passed away.  I was never given validation to mourn the loss of that child. No family member sent a card of condolence. No memorial service was held. She was the dark secret that everyone knew about, but didn’t dare speak. I am taking this time for me now. I am allowing myself to mourn her loss. I am giving myself validation for being a perfectly normal mother who has felt the void in her heart for 17 years. I look back now and realize the perversion that my younger self was put through.

I could never make sense as to why I couldn’t just “move on.” What was wrong with me? Why did I obsess over the pain of losing a child? Nothing at all was wrong with me.

My husband and I lost our first child together. She was a stillborn who passed away from a rare chromosomal disorder. It took me years to bring myself to getting pregnant again. The guilt over my adopted daughter was so overwhelming. Then I do, and we lose her. Believe me, the “you deserve this” thoughts were fierce. Strange thing is, people came out of the woodwork to offer their condolences. Of course, they were appreciated, but this wasn’t my first time around at losing a child. But if felt no different. In fact, leaving one daughter to lie in her grave forever more, has somehow been easier than adoption. I know that probably sounds counterintuitive. My knees failed me. My husband had to catch me and carry me off to the car. The guilt and sorrow of leaving a deceased child in a cemetery is unfathomable. Somehow I felt like I was abandoning this lifeless little girl.

As hard as that was, over the last 6 years, I have come to a place of peace over her death. I will never be ok with her not living and breathing. But, I knew in that circumstance, that I was not at fault. She had a disease, it ran its course, and she succumbed to it. I did, as a mother, what I was supposed to have done. There is a closure with her death that I will never have with my eldest daughter’s adoption.

Adoption, to me, is far worse than death. There is no closure. Whether you keep in contact or not through the years, there is always a reminder of what in reality you are missing. It started with her firsts. First crawl, first steps, first booboo, first birthday. It progressed to dance classes, piano lessons, elementary graduations. Its now at the place for me of school dances, college prep, and driver’s licenses. I know to come there will be college graduation, first real job, engagement, marriage, grandchildren. There is always a reminder of what was taken away in that moment she was taken from my arms. There are always pictures and memories that have put one mother in place of another.

My daughter was cut out of my family tree and grafted onto another.

I have yet to experience another cut so deep. An open, fleshy wound that never heals. So, yeah, what was I saying about closure? graft

 

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10 thoughts on “How’s That Closure Going?

  1. This is heartbreaking and I relate so much to your pain. I am further along in my journey and I’m sorry to say (for me anyway) it doesn’t get easier…I thought reunion would make it better and though I am endlessly grateful to have my daughter back in my life and cherish every single minute, every new experience we share, I can’t help but mourn all that is lost. I sometimes long for the numbness and mercy of the fog but alas, once the veil has been lifted, one cannot “unsee”.
    I recently had the honour of attending her wedding. Her family were incredibly gracious and welcoming and did their best to make me feel at ease and included, but it did not escape me that I was a guest in a room of strangers. I thought about my daughter all morning, imagined her mother helping her into her gown, fastening with care the endless row of tiny buttons lining the back of her dress, living those special mother-daughter moments shared on a young woman’s wedding day. I watched with my heart in my throat as her parents, one on each arm walked her proudly down the aisle under the loving gaze of her extended family. I looked on as they took their official family photos: mother & father of the bride and groom on either side, grandparents, cousins, and listened, nodding dutifully through the stories of her “coming home to them” and the shared family memories during the speeches. I smiled genuinely and clapped and danced and ate and drank and then I went to bed that night and sobbed until I had no tears left. No matter how many times I will look through the photo album and of course will feel so incredibly lucky to have been invited, it will also drive a knife through my heart and eventually, it too will take it’s place in the closet, with the baby pictures, with the “memory books” her mother made for me, with the cards and the few dead, dried flowers I’ve kept from each bouquet my daughter has sent until something drives me back there again, to pick at scab that will never really heal.

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    1. Oh, wow. Yes, I have the closet of dried flowers from every bouquet as well. You brought me to tears. Life of a natural mother is an endless torture that no one should bare. Thank you for your comment. It is our reality.

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  2. I’m not sure what I’m actually going to write here, my first time sharing these thoughts. My story is a little different. At 63 years of age I have come to realize that I totally shut down on any feelings related to giving up my son in 1972. All those thoughts and hints at feelings, I put into this dark corner that no light and as little thought as possible ever touched. I was bad, had sinned, and deserved this punishment – this thanks to my Catholic upbringing.

    When his birth father had his first child in his marriage 16 years later and contacted me to get information on how to reach our son – I don’t have words to describe it – this was never supposed to happen, it was hidden in my dark place.
    When my son was 18, we – his birth-father and I – met him. I had such mixed feelings, guilt, excitement, hope, fear. He and his birth-father bonded immediately. He and I didn’t.

    Twenty-five years later, he sends me flowers on Mother’s Day, this year he sent me a text on my birthday, a first (thanks to facebook I believe). He came to my daughters wedding last year with his wife and beautiful daughter who is 10. He looks just like my brother. I so want to have a “real” relationship with him, but it doesn’t happen, I don’t know how to make it happen. Honestly I don’t even know what that would look like. It sends a thrill through me and every single time there is any contact, it gets my hopes up again, just to have months and months go by with little word. I see pictures of his family with his birth-father’s family, holidays – some in the same town that I live in, yet there’s not time for a phone call or for us to have a cup of coffee. It just kills me –

    And yes, I do see my attitude of feeling that I don’t “deserve” a relationship most likely affects all of this is some way. (Self-blame of course.) I have such anger and sadness and such a deep wound that I wonder if it will ever heal. Adoption is barbaric.

    Ugh, so much baggage …

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    1. My heart aches for you. Thank you for sharing. I’ve read stories from adoptees saying that they reached out to a birth parent and were answered with a shut door. My initial thought was “how could any parent do that to their child?”…But I think some of us get to a point that the loss is just so torturous, there is so much pain, that the human psyche simply can’t absorb it. Survival mode may perhaps mean turning it off, in turn, that means closing the door. Being a natural parent (I still flounder on which term I prefer- birth is recognized by everyone, but natural seems less offensive) feels like an ever-evolving state of being. It feels like we’re always playing defense. We have no power to make the shots, only the power to adapt to them. I wish I had advice to give. I wish I knew the answers. I am at a loss for both. Every day in adoptionland is a new experience for me. I agree, adoption is barbaric. I do know that I don’t want any other mother to carry this suffering.

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  3. Velvet. Your writing are excellent. You may want to consider putting them in book form if you haven’t already – because they are so powerful. Maybe we can turn this adoption thing around so it no longer exists as we now know it. And guardianship and family preservation becomes the wave of the future!

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    1. I will certainly consider it when my daughter is of age. If I’m going to go “rogue”, I want to wait until she is an adult (within the year). I’ll contact you at that time. I’ve seen you around the fb pages. I’ll find you.

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  4. Were you adopted too or just your daughter was adopted? I wish the world of children being adopted could hear and feel how much you mothers truly love and long for them. I hope you can find the strength to reach out to your children and tell them the truth about how you feel – like telling them that you did what you did because you thought it was the right thing to do at the time and that that was how you were loving them and taking care of them but it’s not what you wanted and this pain and grief you live with bc of the past. I hope and pray that they are open and y’all can go from here on out to have a relationship that you so desire, I bet your kids will feel the same…

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    1. I was not adopted. I wish the world would listen. There are plenty of natural moms and adoptees speaking, just not many outside of our circles listening. We are viewed as “ungrateful” and thereby marginalized by the fairytale campaigners of adoption.
      My daughter has been told, in great detail by me, about her adoption “decision”. I had hoped to keep it from her until she was of majority, but life happens, and it seemed necessary to explain to her before then. Thank you for listening. That means more to me (and any natural mom and/or adoptee) than you know.

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  5. I completely relate as after the loss,of my first son to adoption, my second,son was full term but stillborn. The loss of a child to death, however horrendous, was far easier for me to grieve over than the loss of my son to adoption. I went to buy flowers for my sins grave that I annually cleann, and the florist offered her condolences and I said my son died over forty years ago. She then held my hand and said time did not matter as we think of our children forever. Shortly after that, I was told to “get over” the loss of my son to adoption, as that was decades ago. I was lectured that I should be happy I know him today and “forget about the past”. Both are a loss to me yet I am not allowed to grieve for the loss of my son to adoption, by others.

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    1. It’s truly schizophrenic how mothers of loss are treated. I post on occasion about child loss on facebook. I got a message from my own aunt telling me to “get over it.” My daughters will never be “gotten over”. Aunts, on the other hand, are forgotten very easily.
      I’m so sorry. Mothers don’t deserve this insanity in our culture.

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