Brick Wall

April 4-27, 1999

Once upon a time there was an adoptee. As time passed, it became more and more important for this woman to locate her birth family. She had suffered many losses in her life, and felt desperate to reconnect to SOMEONE, and so, she searched.

As weeks turned into months turned into years, her need increased and her resources were stretched to the limit. Finally, as she was beginning to fear that she would never find what she was looking for, the laws in her state changed. A test case was needed, and she volunteered. After many gruelling months of court appearances and battles between the open records advocates and the judge, her attorney called her to say that her petition had been granted. The court contacted the woman’s birth mother, and she hesitantly agreed to meet the child she’d left behind so long ago.

As the two women met, there were many internal obstacles to overcome. Each had fears and hurts, and neither wanted to appear needy or vulnerable. Where each one wanted to be receptive, neither was able. The first visit ended with a stiff and uncomfortable agreement to “get together again sometime”.

Months passed before the adoptee could gather up the courage to contact the birth mother again, only to learn that she had been ill and wasn’t up to a visit “right then”. Several more months passed before another phone call was made, this time by the birth mother. This time, the adoptee was leaving for a long planned vacation to an exotic island. She promised to send a postcard. She didn’t follow through.

Four years passed in this manner. The birth mother’s husband passed away, and the children couldn’t deal with a shock. The adoptee’s husband was transferred to a new city and the move was devastating. Time passed.

Six years after the initial court decision, the adoptee found herself planning a trip to a resort area near where the birth mother lived. They agreed to spend an afternoon together. The day was sunny and warm. The sky a bright, clear blue. They met outside a nice Italian restaurant and entered it together. As the antipasto was served, they bumped knuckles reaching for the same item, and smiled nervously at each other. By the time the dessert arrived, however, they were laughing comfortably, and finding many shared interests and experiences. When it came time to leave, they embraced, and genuinely agreed to stay in closer touch.

Two more years passed during which time they called each other and wrote frequent letters. They grew more at ease with each other, and developed a comfortable affection for each other. The adoptee’s children learned that they had a “special friend” who spoke to them by phone and sent Christmas and birthday cards with crisp $20 bills enclosed. They knew her name, but not their relationship to her.

One day, the adoptee received a phone call from her birth mother’s daughter, her own sister. She was thrilled that her mother had finally told someone about her. But as the conversation progressed, it became clear that the sister was very unhappy about the reunion and felt the adoptee to be a blemish on an otherwise “perfect” family. “How can you bring this shame back to my mother? How do you dare to intrude where you obviously weren’t wanted to begin with? My mother doesn’t have any money, what do you want from her? You have a family. Go with them and leave ours alone!”

The adoptee was, first, crushed and, then, angry. She eventually reasoned that this “sister person” was only jealous that she was no longer the oldest child in a “perfect family”. However when a brother called to express a similar attitude, and her birth mother didn’t return her calls, a cold emptiness began to settle around her.

Months passed with no word from the birth family. Christmas came and went. The children asked about the “friend” and wondered why they didn’t hear from her. The adoptee evaded their questions, not wanting to explain it to her children. “She’ll call again someday...I don’t want to tell the children and have them be mad at her when she calls...” she justified to herself. Her husband and friends advised her to “get over it” and “face the truth” but they had no frame of reference...they weren’t adopted...they couldn’t understand. So she waited... And waited..................................................And waited....... ............................And wondered..........................And waited................................. And got angry..........................................And waited..............................And cried...................And waited.......................................And gave up..........................And waited.....................................And wanted.......................................And checked phone books...........................and obituaries................................And waited...

HINT: Adoption reunions are not all “happily ever after” affairs. While there might be answeres to long held questions, often the individuals carry too many hurts and too much fear to truly connect and find healing. When rejection occurs for the second time in the mother/child relationship, it can feel like hitting a brick wall at 50 MPH. Those who continue to draw breath wonder why and how they do so! They rage and cry and doubt their worth as human beings.

If you have experienced this trauma, KNOW that it is possible to survive. For help in doing so, please contact the Brick Wall Survivors. Share your story and learn from others who are survivors, too. Your pain is real and we won’t tell you to “get over it”, but we’ll share with you ways to go through it. Join us.


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