The last time


April 21, 2014.  The last time I saw  my mother, outside of the hospital, where she died.

I was on a leave of absence from my job, because of health issues.  I was only allowed to communicate with my mother in person, at a place of her choosing.  I decided I would go see her, on her home turf.

We went to her apartment, for a few minutes then walked the Highline, down to 14th street.  We were hungry, so we decided to get a bite to eat.  I spotted the Gaslight Cafe, and thought, brilliant! I’ve been gaslighted, and so was Mom.  I tried to explain what gaslighting was, but I’m not sure if she understood.  She was smart, maybe she didn’t want to understand.  I made her very uncomfortable. We sat on one of the couches,  the furthest one, in the picture, or the one before it.   I paid for lunch.

We had a nice lunch.  As we were leaving, Mom got a phone call.  It was from her friend Greg.  She spoke for a few minutes.  She said, “oh, you need me to help you now?, OK”.

Greg needed her help with a drag costume.  On the day she met with her adopted out daughter, who she hadn’t seen in over a year.  I felt that the call was pre planned.  I could just tell by her voice, and attitude.  I didn’t know my mother very well, but some things came through loud and clear .

I think she told Greg to call her at a certain time, so she could have an excuse to get rid of me.  I’ll never know if that was true, but I could feel it in my bones.  I had a connection to Mom in a mysterious way.

I said, “sure Mom, OK”.  I got in a taxi and went home.  The next time I saw her, it was 15 months later and she was in Bellevue.  As soon as I saw her in that bed, I knew she was going to die.

I miss her, but she was scary, and mean.  I wish we had more time, and that she could have seen me as her daughter, not someone who was out to destroy her.




12 thoughts on “The last time”

  1. I’m so sorry you ended up feeling this way…This has to be a place to tell you to love the ones you are with…Adoption does so many bad things to people.

    You may have read how I ended up feeling so angry with my friend Yvonne, who I believe had a child she could not admit to, or deal with emotionally, so she railed about my work in adoption to the point where her other children ended up believing they have a sibling somewhere in France.

    As I said, adoption does bad things to so many, while it is touted as this warm and fuzzy thing. Well, it’s not.

  2. Thanks, I do love the ones I’m with, but i loved my mother too.

    Mother’s day is coming up, and I have nowhere to go to pay my respects. I think my mother’s ashes are in my brother’s house, and we are estranged.

    Adoption did not do anything warm and fuzzy to me. To me it was cold and jagged!

  3. Oh, I’ve been there. My b father stopped all contact 2 years ago…very similar letter to the one you posted. Listen, maybe you know, but many bparents DO NOT want to hear any critique of the institution of adoption. Even if they suffered terribly. After my b mom told me the grief made her nearly nuts at first and I said adoption is a very cruel institution, she looked confused. Cruel? Huh? I got smart and never said another word about adoption again, and we are growing a good relationship. With my birthfather unfortunately we emailed for months, leading to me writing what I actually felt and thought about adoption. Which got me rejected as a crazy, bitter loser who wants him to feel bad about a perfectly good decision. Forget the consciousness raising unless they bring it up themselves is my advice to all who would enter reunion. I think I was naive to think they would be any more sophisticated about adoption than my aparents. They are not. Look around our level of political discourse…most people don’t know what mysogyny or reproductive rights or infant bonding or social engineering mean AT ALL so any talk of social oppression just translates into ‘being a victim’ and ‘get over it’. Too late for me, but word to the wise.

    1. Yes, I was certainly naive also. i actually thought my family would think my relinquishment was a bad idea. They did not. I don’t know if I could have done things differently. I expressed my feelings, for better or worse. They may have rejected me, but they have to live with that, and justify cutting off one of their own.

      Keeping quiet may have gotten me more acceptance, but they would not be accepting the “real” me, but an illusion. Unfortunately, diplomacy is not my strong suit! I am blunt as a spoon, and cannot help myself.

  4. M, Adopted is right and Lorraine is right, but it’s clear that your mother had had serious problems well before your reunion, indeed all her life, from start to finish. I wish you were able to find a happier, more maternal and warm type at the end of the reunion rainbow. What your mother did (taking an “arranged” call to escape an awkward situation) was immature and not-nice. But she couldn’t be a role model, since she had none. She was not able to show much sensitivity to your feelings, as she had none as a child from her mother or family. Yet you loved her and held her in great regard – why? – because she was your birth mother. I wonder if she felt some guilt that kept her from being more comfortable around you.

    I like the look of the restaurant, and reading your paragraphs above it’s evident that this visit, or any time spent with your mother, was precious to you. You wanted to spend time and get to know her, no matter what.

    Having said that, I think it is not good to think about what she thought (?), maybe not. “out to destroy her”? Why would you want to? You had your own life, a good stable one, with husband and children in college. How could her life be “destroyed” at this point? She was very set in her ways, and there was nothing you could have done to help her. I suggest again, that maybe there was some guilt on her part which she could not face up to, as it would have been too painful.

    Having said that, I think adoptee anger or even rage is normal and understandable. Birth parents should not fear it as much as they do. My older son is so angry at me for placing him for adoption, that he doesn’t want to even hear anything about me, much less hear from me. I was not adopted, but was basically deserted by my family at the age of 5, and I grew up with much anger toward all my relatives, which was ignored and thought of as simply not acceptable. My mother was a violent bipolar, and everybody just took off when my parents got divorced, leaving me alone with her. She was now out of their lives, because they left me there so she would still have one child, although she lost the other 3. So therefore I understand being angry or not respecting one’s parents or siblings for what they have done. I can’t pretend that it is like being adopted, though, of course. But I hope someday that my son will want to get a load off his chest and will express his feelings to me, even if they are not good or will not make me feel good. I invited him to, but received no response. I hope to make the world look a little better for him, but understand it may not be possible. He has the right to his own feelings, they are well-founded from his perspective (and mine).

    I hope that your husband and children will make a happy Mother’s Day for you, you deserve it, especially after everything you have been through. I think that you have come far beyond your mother’s accomplishments in life – and even if it wasn’t expressed, she must have been proud of you. There’s a lot to be proud of – I say this, having read your writings as time goes on, and seeing the story unfold. I wish it were not such a sad story, and tragic for your mother. At least now she has some peace of mind (I know that doesn’t help much, but it sounds like although she had some happiness, true peace of mind would never be found for her).

    1. Thank you so much! The comments on my blog really help me. I’m happy to find a community of people who can understand the difficulties that infant adoption can bring to our lives.

      I loved my mother dearly, no matter what. I was am astounded by how much i loved her. i did not expect it. It was a wonderful miracle. I am happy that i got to know her. i grieve everyday when I realize that i will never see her again.

      I never felt the connection that i felt with my mother with another human being. It filled my heart up with joy.

      I’m sorry that your son is so angry and that you had such a bad time growing up. Childhood is often a terrifying place.

      i wish the modern “birth” mother of today could understand what adoption does to us, but sometimes experience is the only teacher.

      I hope all the mothers out there have a happy mother’s day.

  5. I have been thinking about the ‘out to destroy her’ fear of your bmother. I think shades of this haunt many adoption reunions where one of them is working with heavily repressed psychic materials…you also hear this fear from adoptees contacted by their bmothers. Destroy the person they have created without you, destroy the structures holding back their pain and denial I guess, which is experienced as total anhilation of the self. I’ve never been so ‘psychological’ until I had to figure out my reunion.
    My bmothers initial primal fear and revulsion (which she got over) when contacted by me made me think of legends of vampires, and of an a post civil war hysteria over ‘revenants’ , the uneasy dead who walk back into the world of the living, disoriented, wit no mEmory of what happend to them. Perhaps to right their own murders, perhaps out of rage and jealousy of the living who went on without them. You ever read Beloved by Toni Morrison? An ex slave woman who killed her infant daughter to save her from slavery (out of love…hence beloved) is visited by a mute naked young woman the same age as her daughter would be…the mother is bewitched and devotes all her love and energy to the mute presence until the revenant slowly drains her mothers soul and leads her to madness. The revenant is a black hole, a succubus, a shadow of a dark deed. A monster who must be burned alive, stake through the heart, normal death will not keep them in the grave.

    Adoption reunion is truly a walk on the wild side.
    I get the dead baby potters field thing. I remember when it hit me. YOU KILLED ME was what hit me after a while in reunion. Truly baby scoop Era closed adoptions were modern humane substitutes for the ancient institution of infanticide. The baby( unapproved of by patriarchal order in both conception and birth) dissappears. An unmourned death not buried in hallowed ground, not in the family crypt, no offerings, no incense, no prayers.
    It’s spirit must be hungry. If it returns, it will be a monster. ****adoption is fun!!!!!*****

    1. I read Beloved, and saw the movie. It was haunting. The thing my mother feared so much was not me, but her own pain. I know it intellectually, but it still hurts. She had to bend her brain to live with what she did, and I threatened to unbend it.

      My mother seemed fine and welcoming at first, her behavior changed radically about 6 months into reunion. I’m not sure what triggered the change, but it was shocking to me. I was open to talking about anything, and mistakenly thought she was too.

      I also feel that adoption is modern infanticide. particularly “exposure” when one leaves a newborn outside to perish. We were placed outside our family, no one came to check if we lived or not.

      Yes, adoption is a real fun time.

      1. I wrote a fairy tale (just for myself) about being adopted, and what immediately came to mind was being exposed. I wrote that two peasants, terrified of the bad luck said to follow bastard babied and equally terrified of blood on their hands, left her exposed after birth on the crossroads at midnight, never looking back, never wanting anyone to know of their deed. It’s interesting that exposure was my go to image too. I guess it’s bc the baby might be found.

      2. Yes, that is interesting. I wish expectant mothers who are contemplating giving away their children knew how we felt about it.

        Maybe they do know, but they do it anyway. It’s pretty easy to find anything on the internet, and any woman can look up how adoptees feel. Maybe they just don’t want to know.

  6. M, Adoptee is onto something very close to the truth. Don’t forget guilt – that’s the most important thing in play in the mind of a birth mother, or any parent who leaves their child or gives them up for adoption. Guilt ALONE is the root of fears by the person who has “abandoned” someone in their mind, that the abandoned person (or adopted person) will want to harm them in some way. My good luck, if you can call it that, is that I have seen this phenomenon from both sides, due to my experience with my (birth) family, all of whom abandoned me to keep our mentally ill, abusive mother company, while they were able to escape when my father left my mother. Instead of apologizing and saying anything that would have been accepting and supportive of me as a person, they all – ALL – chose to just hide and act as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened, and I was wrong to question or feel anything negative about it, or them.

    It seems to me little known – that guilt can lead to great heroism, or it can lead to great, lifelong cowardice. With my family, the latter is certainly the case. However, they have been great role models in how not to behave, how not to treat somebody! And I am determined not to treat my children the way I was treated. (I’m a birth mother, for anyone else reading). This I truly believe is at the core of a lot of the behavior you have described from your mother, and some of the things I read above by other posters. It’s really sad and such a waste.

    Fear has its use, but cowardice has none.

    A quote from Mahatma Ghandi. (Easy to say, I know! But I think it fits in general, and I often think of it.)

  7. Yes,my mother’s guilt turned me into the enemy, in my mother’s mind. There was no way for us to get past it. I had to go,because having me around was too much for her to process. I made her look bad,and she needed her friends, to support her,emotionally and financially.

    I once said to her, “I’m trying as hard as I can!”,and she replied, “I am too”. I know she was telling the truth. We were both trying our best, but it just could not work.

    I’m glad you were able to learn from bad role models, It’s a lot better than repeating the mistakes others have made. I’m thankful that I got to meet my mother,yet furious that we were cheated out of our life together.Furious that Inever knew my own mother,for the first 48 years of my life.No one should have to live that way.

    Sometimes I wonder,though if we would have gotten along if she had raised me.Maybe she would have resented me for something else.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s