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Adult adoptee questioning everything.

(20 Posts)
bsmirched Sun 24-Apr-16 18:39:21

I am 44 and was adopted at ten days old. I have a sister, who's 50 and was adopted at six weeks. I've always thought I was part of a successful adoption story and that I was very well adjusted about it all. My adoptive dad was a lovely, lovely man (he died 5 years ago). My adoptive mum is a far more complicated person. She was a good mum, growing up. She mopped our tears brought us up as polite, well-mannered children.
BUT she's not a warm or emotional woman, has no real empathy with others and life generally revolves around her. I've always assumed that that was just who she is and that, if she'd had birth children, she'd have been the same.
Over the past few months, my sister has been fighting cancer. We now know that it's terminal and that we are probably looking at months rather than years. Everyone is heartbroken, and thinking of how to help etc. My mum SAYS how awful it is but beyond that, there's nothing. Various uncles have said they'll chip in for a last family holiday for my sister, BIL and niece and nephew. Mum acknowledges this as lovely and kind, but makes no mention of contributing herself, which she could easily afford to do.
All this has got me thinking, is it simply that she adopted us so just doesn't feel the same as if we were her BC? I read threads by other adoptive mums on here which make me think that's probably not the case! Or is she just a fairly cold, selfish person? Sorry, I've rambled on!

ChocolateJam Sun 24-Apr-16 19:41:14

Hi bsmirched. I'm so sorry about your sister, wishing much strength to your family in this difficult time. I'm an adoptive mum. I don't have any birth dc so can't make a personal comparison but judging by people I know on here and personally there is no difference between how they love their bc and ac. I think it's more likely that your mum is just someone who finds it difficult to connect emotionally with other people, and you being adopted has nothing to do with it. I suggest you focus on what your sister needs now and leave your mum to her own conscience.

MypocketsarelikeNarnia Sun 24-Apr-16 19:48:35

I'm sorry op. I can assure you that this is about her, not about you or the circumstances of how your family came into being. I have both a bc and an ac and love them both truly madly deeply.


jellyfishschool Sun 24-Apr-16 20:05:10

bsmirched, I am really sorry to hear about your sister. I think every adoption is different, but in my case I would most definitely say that I was not loved by my adoptive parents so I can empathise a bit if this is the case. However, unless you feel as certain of this as I am it might be worth talking to your adoptive mother to try to find out what is going on with her? She might still feel numb from your father's death and not be coping generally with the idea of losing your sister, as this may appear that she is unfeeling?

bsmirched Sun 24-Apr-16 20:27:22

Thank you all for your responses. I'm pretty certain, on reflection, that it is just her being her. In a way, I've always been more realistic about her and have many times told my sister to stop expecting her to be the mum we'd like her to be, but I guess I'd hoped that this would bring about a change.

Italiangreyhound Wed 27-Apr-16 10:35:05

bsmirched I am so very sorrt about your sister.

I totally agree with ChocolateJam and Narnia.

I've got a birth dd and an adopted son. they are my world. I love them both.

Re "My mum SAYS how awful it is but beyond that, there's nothing. Various uncles have said they'll chip in for a last family holiday for my sister, BIL and niece and nephew. Mum acknowledges this as lovely and kind, but makes no mention of contributing herself, which she could easily afford to do.
All this has got me thinking, is it simply that she adopted us so just doesn't feel the same as if we were her BC? I read threads by other adoptive mums on here which make me think that's probably not the case! Or is she just a fairly cold, selfish person? Sorry, I've rambled on!"

This is beyond tragic but please, please do not torture yourself further at this terrible time. Your mum may or may not want to contribute to a holiday, but she may be feeling in utter turmoil at the loss of your sister.

Jellyfish I am so sorry for your situation and I think your words are wise. Not only are all adoptions different but all birth child scenarios different. My world revolves around my kids, one birth child one adopted child. no one would know to look at them which is which. Sometimes people assume they are both birth children and occasionally, when they know of our fertility issues they assume they are both adopted.

My mum was also quite cold at times, quite negative. But she tried to very fair and even with us always. Right at the end of life she lost my dad and turned into an emotional wreck after years and years of holding it in. Finally when she died aged 80 something she had a warmth that had not always been there. She was a child in the war and very shaped by the loss of numerous deaths, siblings, family, late miscarriage, and her husband. She was my birth mum but I really feel that she was just who she was and I feel sure this is the case for your mum.

Maybe talk to her, and see if she can respond to that need in you but be aware she may be fighting to keep it all in. If she is 70 or 80 odd she is of a generation who would fight to keep things in and that might be what you are seeing.

jellyfishschool Wed 27-Apr-16 13:45:35

Italian I appreciate that you mean well, but please note that I didn't ask for (or indeed need, or want) your sympathy, or for any sympathy at all. I hope that you can try to understand. This wasn't about me, I was just responding to what the OP had said. However, thank you for telling me that your children are your world, that sounds lovely and as it should be grin

Kewcumber Wed 27-Apr-16 15:18:01

I'm so sorry about your sister OP, so sorry for you and her and all her loved ones.

You can't ever be sure but IMVHO anyone who raises two children for years and years and remains cold and unempathetic is most likely a cold, unempathetic person. I'm sorry that sounds a bit blunt but I do wonder why people like this think they want children confused

To be honest my friends mum is very like this and my friend often says she had children because she was expected to and that she would have been so much happier without a husband and children and becoming a librarian instead.

Perhaps there was more of an expectation in those days (your sister is about my age) that women did just get married and settle down with children whereas today, someone like your mum would not have them? I'm just speculating.

In your heart you must know that it's not adoption related because of your reaction to your sister's illness, and other family members (you mention uncles in your OP) reaction. You aren't detached from the situation because she's your "adoptive" sister, are you.

I'm afraid you and your sister deserved better.

(if it helps - I cried yesterday because DS told me that he just missed being hit by a van when riding his bike home. He was most confused, I'm really not the emotional type except when it comes to him)

MypocketsarelikeNarnia Wed 27-Apr-16 18:56:05

I think Italian's advice was aimed at the op? I can see how it looks as though it is for you jellyfish, and is therefore a bit assumptive, but I'm fairly sure, given that it's all about 'your mother' that it's answering the op's post.

jellyfishschool Wed 27-Apr-16 19:22:21

The paragraph started "jellyfish" so I assumed that paragraph was meant for me, the rest for the OP. It can be helpful to know that you are not alone in an experience, and that was the reason for my original post. No idea whether it was helpful or not though.

MypocketsarelikeNarnia Wed 27-Apr-16 21:18:10

Yea I think that paragraph was meant for you but not the remainder of the post.

Italiangreyhound Sun 01-May-16 19:55:21

Jellyfish I honestly can't remember exactly what I was thinking exactly when I posted and the words Jellyfish I am so sorry for your situation and your words are very wise were definitely for you, and my apologises if they caused offense. I just spoke from the heart.

But I am fairly sure the rest of my post was for the OP. But anyway, I was on my phone and it doesn't't always put the breaks in where needed. I was not attempting to give you advice since you didn''t ask for it but the OP did ask for some sort of insight and as mum to two children from birth and adoption I was trying to give it. But whatever I said I certainly did not mean to cause upset, so sorry. Have pmed you an apology.

bsmirched Mon 02-May-16 09:51:18

Thank you everyone for your thoughts. I had a long chat with Mum's best friend last night and she's as mystified by her as I am!

Lagodiatitlan Mon 02-May-16 14:05:37

OP. So sorry to hear about the difficult times you are going through. flowers

I honestly do not think you can compare today's adoptive parents with those of the 60s and 70s. It is a totally different process. Which is why we still need an adult adoptee board!

I am also an adult adoptee - from the 1960s. I also have an adoptive mother in her 80s who has always been emotionally distant. More so than my adoptive father. I have also agonised about whether she would have been different if I had been her biological child.

In the end I have come to the conclusion that she was a product of the war time generation. Keep calm and carry on, stiff upper lip, don't moan, don't show emotion, just get on with it. I think her own parents and teachers were like this so those would have been her role models. Showing emotion is weakness.

I think she and my father adopted because they did not conceive their own children and she wanted children to fill a void in her life and compete with her friends and relatives. At the time, she would have blamed herself for not getting pregnant and she would probably never have discussed any sexual/fertility issues with anybody. She would just have blocked out any feelings. The adopted children were all about fulfilling her expectations of motherhood and she would have felt a lot of pressure to bring them up in a way that reflected well on her. That bit certainly did not work out according to plan for my adoptive mother - but she has never stopped pretending that all is well.

So I think many adoptive mothers of that generation just developed in an emotionally stunted way. And probably by the time they get into their 70s they can no longer show any emotions. . Your adoptive mother will care deeply for you and your DSIS. She is probably just incapable of showing it.

bsmirched Mon 02-May-16 22:34:23

That all sounds very feasible, although I have non-adopted friends whose mothers are the same generation and are very warm and loving.
It was my Dad who was infertile due to mumps as a teenager. I'm not sure she ever really forgave him! Funnily enough, I was talking to a friend about my Mum and she remarked that despite everything I was saying, Mum had shown great selflessness and compassion in adopting us. I certainly don't think that had anything to do with it and your comments about keeping up with friends etc really do ring true.

Kewcumber Wed 04-May-16 16:16:53

Mum had shown great selflessness and compassion in adopting us

Bollocks to that, I'll bet she did it because she wanted to just the same as everyone else who has children (even though why she wanted to might not be immediately obvious at times!)

Lagodiatitlan Wed 04-May-16 16:58:48

Oh yes, the great selflessness and compassion point....

That comes round all the time when you are adopted. All the good things you achieve are a result of the wonderful environment provided by your wonderful adoptive parents. Anything that goes badly is the genes, the "bad blood". And nothing to do with them or the environment in which you were brought up.

The adoptive parents of the 50s, 60s and 70s were all Saints in disguise, selflessly providing a home for those poor orphaned and abandoned children begat by feckless sinners.


Kewcumber Wed 04-May-16 17:32:49

The reality I tell DS (on the occasions when people have told him how lucky he is hmm) is that the choice would probably have been some other perfectly decent people who would no doubt have loved him just as much as I do (hard though that is for either of us to believe!).

The option probably wasn't "rescued" by me or living in a skip which outsiders seem to think.

corythatwas Mon 09-May-16 00:21:06

What everybody else said. If she is cold and unemotional it is because she is cold and unemotional. My DM adopted at about the same time and she would literally give her life for her son; there is nothing she wouldn't do for him if he needed it, and anything bad happening to him would devastate her.

One thing that should perhaps be remembered is that there was far more pressure on women 50 years ago to be mothers, and far less emphasis on the hard work involved in being a parent.

bsmirched Mon 09-May-16 12:34:32

Thanks everyone.

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