death

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Another Dead Mother

Published May 17, 2017 by maryleesdream

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy co worker’s mother died a few days ago.  Some of us from work went to the wake.  Jill’s mother looked beautiful, laid out in the casket, in a smart red suit.  Her beloved Jelly beans and a deck of cards were tucked in beside her.

Jill’s mother was 95 when she died, in Jill’s house, where they had been living together for years.  Jill was by her side when she passed.  Jill’s daughter was there too.  It was a “good death”, if such a thing can be good.

Of course, seeing Jill and her mother brought back a lot of feelings about my own mother’s death.

I was there near the end, with Mom, but not at the end.  Mom was in hospice.  I was not really a welcome visitor in my mother’s room.  I did not go to Mom’s memorial service.  I did not view her body.  She was cremated immediately.  I longed for one last look, but it was not to be.

I had no choices regarding Mom’s care, her service or her remains.  I am her firstborn, and natural next of kin, but adoption erased all that.  I was merely an unwelcome stranger.

Someday I may bury my adoptive mother.  I’ll be the next of kin.  As an only child, I’ll make all the decisions.  But, she is not my mother.  My mother is dead.

The Shunning

Published January 2, 2017 by maryleesdream

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I had some trouble sleeping tonight, so I decided to come downstairs and write a little.  It always happens at night.  The thoughts get to be too much.  I still don’t know how to quiet them.

I think of my mother’s death.  The way it happened.  The way I was treated.  My mother died, and I had to mourn alone.  I did not attend my mother’s memorial service.  She has not been buried, to my knowledge, so I have nowhere to go and pay my respects.

My eldest daughter read something that said Christians must be buried, so that other Christians can visit the graves.  This is something else that’s been taken from me, against my will.

My Mother Has Died

grave

I also think about the Shunning.  My father’s family has shunned me.  I found out a few months ago, from a younger cousin.  I had always hoped that my cousins would not hold the same views regarding infant adoption as the older generation.  I had hoped that they would not be ruled by shame, as much as their parents were.  I was wrong.  This young woman told me that I deserved the shunning, for reasons she was not sure of, but she was sure that they were justified.

It’s interesting how each side of my family reacts differently to me.  My mother’s family was not traditional.  There are many half siblings, and non-traditional family structures.  This side has been more accepting of me.  My father’s family is very traditional, considered a model family by some, and they shun completely.  Not one family member will break the ban.

I did some research into the psychology of shunning.

Shunning

It’s a cruel form of psychological torture.

My fathers family is a cruel family.  They support and approve of my abandonment as a helpless infant, and have shunned me.

Social rejection occurs when a person or group deliberately avoids association with, and habitually keeps away from an individual or group. This can be a formal decision by a group, or a less formal group action which will spread to all members of the group as a form of solidarity. It is a sanction against association, often associated with religious groups and other tightly knit organizations and communities. Targets of shunning can include persons who have been labeled as apostates, whistleblowers, dissidents, strikebreakers, or anyone the group perceives as a threat or source of conflict. Social rejection has been established to cause psychological damage and has been categorized as torture[1] or punishment.[2] Mental rejection is a more individual action, where a person subconsciously or willfully ignores an idea, or a set of information related to a particular viewpoint. Some groups are made up of people who shun the same ideas.[3

Shunning causes pain to the shunned, as it is supposed to:

Shunning is often used as a pejorative term to describe any organizationally mandated disassociation, and has acquired a connotation of abuse and relational aggression. This is due to the sometimes extreme damage caused by its disruption to normal relationships between individuals, such as friendships and family relations. Disruption of established relationships certainly causes pain, which is at least an unintended consequence of the practices described here, though it may also in many cases be an intended, coercive consequence. This pain, especially when seen as unjustly inflicted, can have secondary general psychological effects on self-worth and self-confidence, trust and trustworthiness, and can, as with other types of trauma, impair psychological function.

Why so much pain and injustice in my life?  Sometimes I joke that I must have done something awful in a previous life, but it’s really not very funny.

I wake at night, and all this runs through my mind, and I can’t stop it.  I think about my mother, how much I loved her, how she betrayed me.  I have not seen nor spoken to my brother since he kicked me out of hospice.

At my job, when someone’s parent dies, they post an obituary on the company website.  When my mother died, they did not, because in society’s eyes, she was not my mother.  She was not my mother.  She was not my mother.  That makes no sense.  Why is it only in adoption that the woman who gives birth to you is not your mother?

victum

Shunning and victim blaming happen a lot in Adoptionland.  How did something that’s supposed to be for the good of a child, turn into the hell that I’m living in?

The Trouble With Christmas

Published December 8, 2016 by maryleesdream

sad-dog-in-christmas-hat-dp

It’s almost here, again.  Christmas.  The most dreaded time of the year.

Another year of nothing from my natural family.  Another year of dealing with Ramona.  I shouldn’t complain.  I’ve been told by many people that my mother is the one who raised me.  I wonder why I just can’t go along with the script and believe it.

I can’t stand Ramona.  I never could.  The worst part is, she lives with me, and I don’t know how to get away.

Some background:  My adoptive father died in 1990. I am an only adopted child. Ramona was much too sickly to ever adopt again.   Ramona owned an apartment, and lived alone.  She never drove a car and was dependent on A dad for all her transportation.  In 1997, I gave birth to my 4th child.  My dear husband did not have a high paying job, and we were struggling.  Our house was in desperate need of repairs, the taxes were overdue, you get the picture.

Ramona sold her place and moved in with us.  I was reluctant, but my husband said, “keep your eye on the prize”.  I wanted my children to grow up in a nice house, so I gave in.  Ramona invested the money in the house, and we added an apartment for her,  more bedrooms and a bigger kitchen.  The house is great.

Cut to 20 years later.  My kids are grown, but three of them still live at home.  Ramona is still here.  In fact she’s hovering over me right now.  I took the day off from work, and promised to take her to the store, so she’s checking to see what time I’m going.  Once she starts a conversation, it’s very hard to stop her.  She asks question after question, until you want to tear your hair out.

She is 87 now, and in good health.  I wish for her death everyday.  My heart sinks when I hear the noises she makes when she gets up in the morning, because I know she lived through the night.  Once she did not answers her phone, and I hoped for the worst, but she was alive.  I feel like a monster.

She drives my daughters and husband crazy too.  This morning I had to lead her out of the kitchen where my 29 year old daughter was making herself breakfast before heading out for the day.  She just hovered, asking question after question, about Christmas gifts for her sister.  I felt bad for DD, so I stepped in and took Ramona out.

Giving Christmas gifts is very important to Ramona.  It’s one of the ways she earns her place.  She pays rent, and buys some groceries also.  We could live without her rent, but I can’t kick her out.  She has no place else to go.  We could sell the house, and move, but it would be expensive to find a place big enough for me and my family.  If my girls ever move out, I would love to get a smaller place with just me and my husband.  I wish Ramona would die already!

I left home at 19, because I could not stand Ramona, but I ended up back with her.  Between this,  my natural mother’s death, and my father’s family shunning me, my heart is in tatters.

I  shouldn’t complain……

Birthday #54

Published November 13, 2016 by maryleesdream

Today is my birthday.

It’s difficult, to be adopted, on your birthday.

I lost my only home today.  When I was born, my parents had big plans.  The plans included giving me away, ASAP.  They were in a hot rush.  They did not want me to be too old to adopt.  They wanted me to go to a good home..

free-to-good-home

I’m not sure if I was free.  My adoptive mother says I was, the agency says they never give newborns away for free.  I’d love to see some sort of receipt.  My adoptive home was poor.  They did not have money lying around to buy babies.  Who knows what’s true.

Maybe I was some kind of charity case.  I’m not sure why.  I was a healthy white female.  Maybe they knew Mom was really black.  Maybe they knew I had a birth defect.  Anyway, I went to a poor home.

So, my birthday again.  My mother’s gone, my father and his family have shunned me.

I can’t wait for this day to be over.  I’m painting my kitchen.

Summer

Published August 14, 2016 by maryleesdream

summer-beach-high-definition

 

It’s been really hot around here!  I’m lucky though, I have an above ground pool and air conditioning.  I don’t suffer much.

I made my home everything that I wanted as a child.  I grew up in a 1 bedroom apartment, but I knew early on that I wanted to live in a house.  I wanted a yard,a swing-set, and a pool.  I got them all, as an adult. I wanted my children to have the life that I never had.  We take family vacations.  They each have their own bedrooms.  I got it all, for them.  Everything that I wanted.

I never, ever considered giving any of them away, but I did once consider abortion.

I was pregnant with my 4th child.  My husband didn’t make much money, and I had a job as a bank teller.  I couldn’t imagine taking care of another baby.  I went to planned parenthood, because they gave free pregnancy tests.  I knew that I was pregnant, but I wanted official confirmation.  They gave it to me.  I sat in a woman’s office, and she advised abortion.  She said it would be unfair to my other kids to have another.  She said that I should think of myself, and my job.  I felt guilty, because I wanted my baby, even if it was #4.  Even if things would be tight.  If I thought of myself, I wanted this baby very much.

I was torn.

Then I imagined meeting this unborn baby someday, and explaining why I did it.  What would I say?  I didn’t want to quit my bank teller job?  I didn’t have enough money?  None of the reasons seemed good enough for me to end my baby’s life.

None of those reasons were good enough, and I have 4 children.  I had my tubes tied after she was born, so I would never have to face that tough decision again.  I’m so glad that shes here!  She’s 19 now, and we did have enough money after all.  I got another job.  We all survived.

I am not anti abortion.  I think it’s a better choice than ISA, Infant Stranger Adoption.  It just wasn’t the right choice for me, at that time.  She will be starting her second year of college in a  few weeks, my last baby.

How did my mother give me away?  How could she tell people that I died?  Did she ever imagine that I would come back and ask why?  I did, and she did not have a good enough answer.  What reason is good enough to explain why you gave your newborn away?

There is so much I needed to learn from her, and shes’ gone forever.  The summer heat will always remind me of her last days, visiting her in the hospital as she lay dying.  Gone!  It still takes me by  surprise sometimes.

She has not been buried.  I don’t know where her ashes are.  Nowhere to visit, nowhere to mourn.

My adoptive mother, Ramona is losing her hearing.  She’s going to the ear doctor Monday, my eldest daughter will be taking her.  Her conversations are filled with her fears about the procedure the doctor may do, something to drain the fluid from her ears.  I feel sorry for her, but my mother is dead, and I don’t really love Ramona.

I was on vacation, with my family for 5 days, and had no internet or phone signal, and didn’t have any contact with Ramona.  It was heaven, but now I’m back.

 

 

 

One Year Ago

Published July 8, 2016 by maryleesdream

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One year ago I found out that my mother was dying.  I can’t sleep, and I’m filled with anger and thoughts of my family again.  I checked them out on facebook, again.  I found out that my Aunt Susan has retired after 41 years of teaching art in the public schools.  I found out that my half brother is becoming an uncle, again. I see their lives, 5 years after I  found them.  I see my father, wishing everyone a Happy 4th of July, adding that he’s feeling “happy”.

4th

He told me he was ill and miserable, and not up to contacting anyone. This was a few years ago.  I guess he’s recovered,while my healthy mother has died. I smell a rat.

Will I ever be able to accept that I will never be part of their lives?  I don’t see how.  Every thing I see reminds me of my loss, and how much I long for a connection that I am forever denied.

At times like these, nothing seems to help. I hope this passes soon.

My Adoptive Mother

Published May 14, 2016 by maryleesdream

scolding

 

I don’t know what to think about my adoptive mother. Sometimes she comes out with things that really upset me. They really make me think about our relationship,as mother and daughter.

It’s a relationship that has always had problems, as many relationships do.

My husband is from a family of 5 children. He is the youngest.  I’ve known his family for many years, and have been included in many family gatherings.  Ramona, my adoptive mother was sometimes included too.  I honestly don’t remember how many times, or to which gatherings.

As time has gone on,  we all get together less.  Our children are grown. The siblings that have grandchildren do most things with their kids and their extended families.  We don’t do Christmas together any more.  We do go to big things, like weddings and such, but the rest has changed over the years.  Don was never close to his family. We all live in the same area, and are friends. The relationship is fine, and we are happy with it.

Don’s Nephew Sam is getting married to a lovely girl in June.   I attended the bridal shower last week, with my daughters, who are the grooms first cousins.  Ramona,my adoptive mother was not invited.She was not invited to the wedding. Don’s sister usually does not include Ramona in her family gatherings, and has not for years.  I don’t know why she stopped, I think our kids just grew up and Don’s sister had more people to include,so for the sake of expenses,she only invites close relatives and friends.

One of Don’s siblings invites Ramona to his kids weddings and events.  His wife feels closer to Ramona, and likes to include her, even though my sister in law is one of 11 children!  Some people just think differently than others.  Ramona is not a very nice woman, and maybe some of Don’s siblings don’t care for her.  I really don’t know,but Ramona thinks she does. She told me this the other day.

“Don’s sister does not invite me to things since she found out that you are adopted”.

I was shocked.”Ma”, I said, “Don’s sister has always known that I was adopted.I never kept that a secret from anyone. Everyone knows.”.  Did she really think that I didn’t ell people that I was adopted?  Close relatives of my husband,and children?  They deserve to know that my kids have another family,and that Ramona is not blood kin to me, or my kids. I also never wanted anyone to think that Ramona was my mother, because in my mind, she is not.

Then Ramona changed her tune, “well,then since you found your mother,they stopped inviting me”.  My husband’s siblings know that I found my family,but they have never met any of them, and probably don’t think about it a whole lot.  And I’m fairly sure that is not the reason she is not invited to their family events.  I do not think that me finding my family has any bearing on how they treat Ramona.  I had no idea that she was harboring these ideas.

It just goes to show how my adoptive mother feels about me finding my family. I broke the rules,and she gets punished for it.  Fantastical thinking, but it hurts me.  I feel blamed for finding them, for the crime of wanting what Ramona,and most other people take for granted.  For wanting my mother.

I was also approached by my adoptive cousin a few months ago.  My adoptive cousin Marty was the first baby i was allowed to hold.  I was 11 when he was born,and baby crazy!  I loved him to pieces and liked to stay with my adoptive cousin, Deidra when baby Marty was around.

Deidra is Ramona’s late sister’s daughter, and they are pretty close.  Deidra and Ramona speak on the phone several times a day,and Deidra and Marty go to Atlantic City with Ramona every few months. Deidra can never get here to visit Ramona, or help me take care of her, but somehow Deidre and Marty always make it here when it’s time to take Ramona to Atlantic City, where Ramona gets comp rooms and food, because she gambles so much.

Marty approached me, after having a few cocktails,and asked me how I could not consider Ramona to be my mother.  He said “She’s like a grandmother to me,and you are so mean to her,she raised you,she is your mother”.  He said that once I found my family everything changed. I changed my feelings toward Ramona.  He added that Ramona could go live with him anytime.

Ramona lives with me,and my family.She has a full apartment that is part of our house.  I treat her with kindness and respect.  I actually, do not feel that she is my mother, and things did change once I found my family.  It was as if the blinders had fallen from my eyes,and I could finally see, far too clearly what had been done to me.

Marty has no right to tell me how to feel.  I have never told him how to feel,and never will.  His words came out of nowhere and really hurt me.  It also shows how he really feels about me,an adoptee.  I’m out of line, for wanting to know.  I’m wrong for waking up and seeing my truth.  I’m wrong for not following the script.

Ramona has spoken to Marty about how bad I treat her, about how I’ve changed.  Marty is addicted to painkillers and visits Ramona every few months when he has a doctors appointment in our area.  He takes Ramona to lunch.

Ramona has no desire to go live with Marty. He lives in a rural area a few hours away with his girlfriend and her two young children.  Marty has children from another relationship who live with their mother.  Ramona has it pretty good here with me. I cook dinner and clean up.She has my daughters to take her anywhere she wants to go, since Ramona does not drive.   Ramona worked until she was 80 and has few outside interests, apart from gambling.

Ramona is 86 now,and will be 87 in October.  She  has lived  with my family for 19 years, since my youngest was born.  She says she moved in to save us from financial ruin, since we had 4 kids and only 1 income.  She helped us make our house bigger,and we added the apartment at the same time.  She sold her Co op apartment and invested the money in my house.So I did take from her.  She says I asked her to come live with us, she didn’t want to.

I really don’t remember.  I remember my husband urging me to do it, to “keep my eye on the prize”,the bigger house.  I did it for my kids, so they could live in a nice, big house,even if it meant selling my soul and happiness to do it.

So,here she is, in good health.My daughters take her to the doctor, and the market.  She is rarely alone.

I can’t stand her.  Never could.  I left home at 19, with Don and never went back.  My concern for my children brought her back to live with me,and now she’s here until the end.  And I have to hear how terrible I am for finding my own family.  For not being what the agency promised. For wanting to know who i was.  I can never forget her screaming at me, “I am your only mother” when I was 4 years old. I thought to myself, “she is lying to me, I don’t like or trust her anymore”.  I hated her from that day on,though I had to depend on her.

We are there for her everyday,as she gets more and more feeble. I have to watch and take care of her as she ages, and my own mother is dead.  I think when she finally goes,the strongest feeling will be relief, freedom from this lifetime of servitude,  where I am never quite as good as blood.