Sunday, November 23, 2008

What I Was Looking For

When I started the process of searching for my first mom, the social worker at the agency asked me what I expected to find. I thought, very briefly, and gave the only answer I could. I told her that I expected to find out that she, my mom, was dead. The social worker seemed taken aback and said that she would hope for a better outcome. I told her that was good, one of us should be optimistic.

I was not looking for a mother. That much I was clear on in my own mind.

Why wasn't I looking for a mother? I think at earlier points in my life I would have been. I had such an odd relationship with my family. I spent much of my young adulthood distancing myself from them and replacing them with friends from school (in terms of who I relied on). It would have made sense to try to find another mother at that point in my life.

But I think it would have been unfair to her, my (first) mom, and I think it would have been dangerous for me. If I had been looking for a mother, and she had rejected me, I think that would have been devastating.

And that probably goes a long way towards explaining why I hadn't set out looking for a mother, and my response to the social worker's question. I was protecting myself. I'm sure there was some loyalty questions at issue. I never wanted to hurt my (adoptive) family. Whatever my issues are, I haven't wanted to hurt them. But I also didn't want to set myself up for pain and disappointment. Adoption has held enough of that for me.

By the time I did search, I had largely accepted my family situation. I didn't have to be happy with it, but I had made a peace (of sorts) with it. (I say of sorts because in the last six months or so, some of that peace seems to be undone.) So I thought I had achieved a certain dispassionate approach to my search. I was just looking for answers to questions about my origins.

But what surprised me was that I did find a mother. Maybe it shouldn't have surprised me. But it did. Our relationship may have been awkward at first, but that was as much as both of us trying not to step on each other's toes as anything else. The connection, familiarity, and even synchronicity was there right away. This woman was my mother; there was no doubt about that at all.

So I have two mothers. They both mean the world to me. They can both hurt me profoundly. But they also can both make me happy and feel loved. (I think those go hand-in-hand.)

I didn't start looking for a mother. Because I didn't want to hurt the one that raised me. But also because I didn't want to get hurt. Mostly, I didn't want to get hurt. I wanted to believe that it didn't matter what I found. I don't think that was true. (Not just because of my relationship with my mother, but because of how much my father's apparent rejection seems to have upset me.)

So it doesn't matter what I was looking for. What I found was so much more than I ever dared hope. Whatever the ups and downs that have followed, I wouldn't trade this relationship for the world.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

It’s good to hear personal interpretations on some of the phrases that seem inherent in adoption and specific to adoptees and first parents in reunion. I think it’s often difficult to get to any deeper discussions in (early) reunion because we are often trying to get to a point of trust, which is difficult to do without lots of healthy communication. Maybe a bigger part of this is being open to the possibility of interpretations changing. I guess for me this is part of the upheaval of reunion. I’ve learned a lot about myself over the past 3 years, and I’ve realized some pretty big changes in how I think and feel about myself and adoption in that time.

… and, I know what you mean, I wouldn’t trade my relationship with my son for the world either.