adoptee, adoption, anger, birthmother, brainwashing, family, mother, pain, rejection, reunion, senior, Uncategorized

My Adoptive Mother



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.







20 thoughts on “My Adoptive Mother”

  1. In many cultures, and just about everywhere, people know NOT to say bad or unkind things to someone about their mother. But in adoption, it’s always open season to talk crap to someone about their mother, and the adoptee better agree. In non-adoption situations, hard-core fights would happen if you dissed someone else’s mother. We’re very well-restrained not to punch someone in the face for getting between us and our mothers over and over again.

    This woman sounds ungrateful for all the self-restraint you’ve had with her, considering. Thanks for writing.

  2. Thank you for your response. Ramona has said many things about my mother over the years. She always said, “I don’t understand how a married woman can just give away her baby”. The baby in question,being me. I don’t understand how she could do it either,but I sure hated to hear Ramona saying that.She said it often when I was growing up. i did want to punch her in the face!! Unfortunately I was too small, too dependent, too nice?

    I once asked Ramona if she loved her mother. She said, “yes,but my mother didn’t give me away”. I calmly said, “I know that,but did you love her?”. Ramona finally said yes,she did love her mother. I said, “why do you expect me to be any different?”. Ramona had no answer for that one.

    And this is the woman I’m supposed to love as a mother? I just never could,and never will. I feel like an ingrate sometimes, but that’s just who I am, I guess.

  3. I could never do what you’re doing, and I think my adopter knows that. She’s broken my heart more deeply and more times than anyone else. I’ve had to learn over and over again that I feel safer when I don’t try to trust, empathize with her, or prioritize her over myself. It’s because of my resilience, stubborness, and ability to critique and empathize that I’m still alive and able to put a smile on my own face and other people’s faces, and I do that much better when I’m not in contact with her or accommodating her narcissistic, energy-draining needs.

    My adopter would tell us kids that if we wanted something done differently, than we should do it ourselves. It was actually a good lesson. Perhaps Ramona needs some of that type of advice. If she’s so unhappy/disappointed with how she’s living at your house now, then she can go someplace else.

    I asked my other adopter why she/they chose to adopt (someone with my specifications). He said that she always believed that girls will return home when they get older, boys won’t. Ie, that I’ll take care of them/her in their old age. Uh, nope, life’s plans have been changed. Years later, I outlined why I thought they adopted (someone with my specifications), that it was because going this route was getting harder and harder, going that route was getting harder and harder, and going that way was getting harder and harder. Basically, that it had nothing to with me or anything pertaining to me, but that someone like me was “available”. He agreed. There wasn’t love for me in adopting me. There was love for chasing THEIR selfish dreams.

    I’ve told him that I don’t owe him love, loyalty, or explanations. When he told me that adoption is the saddest thing that’s happened to him, I cut him short, and corrected him that he CHOSE adoption. *I* had adoption happen to me; adoption didn’t just happen to him. *I* have to live with being adopted and everything that came with it, because of people like them.

    Thanks for letting me vent. It’s probably merciful of me that I have little contact with them.

    I also wanted to say that my adopter was quite horrible when it came to mentions of our other family (hence why we never talked about them). She, however, took a very deep interest and got TONS of delight in finding our more about her own genealogy, non-adopted. When I mentioned that to her, no comment from her. Complete double standards for her/them. What’s good for the goose is not good for the gander, in their books. That’s why I don’t pay either of them any heed in their preoccupations. They left me alone to deal with “my issues” that weren’t “their issues”. Reciprocity is how I deal.

    I hope that life with/without her becomes more bearable for you. It’s your life too. If you don’t want to live like this, then perhaps don’t. Or set the ground rules for her to abide by. I know it’s easier said than done coming from a virtual stranger. For me, in my shoes, I also see it as my aodpters’ adoption of me deprived my parents of having his/her/their child from looking after them in their twilight years. Good luck to you.

    1. I understand the venting,and it’s OK. We are the only ones who understand what it’s like to grow up surrounded by strangers. Strangers who have their own families, that we are supposed to accept as our own.

      It’s a life based on lies and make beleive that falls apart if you look too closely.

  4. Your concluding sentence, sums up my feelings better than I’ve ever been able to, on my own. Thank you.

  5. Why don’t you just kick Ramona out of the house? You don’t consider her your mother or family. You are only doing it out of obligation not because you care about her. Just be honest to her how you feel. No it isn’t easy but if you are truly being respectful just be honest that for you blood is family and she isn’t blood.

    1. It’s not that easy. Ramona is 86,and feeble. i cannot kick an elderly woman out of my house with nowhere to go. I don’t consider her my mother, but my children consider her their grandmother.

      She knows how I feel, we’ve discussed it many times,but we are stuck with each other at this point. She has cried and begged me not to kick her out,and I won’t. If,by some unforeseen miracle my 3 adult daughters leave home,my husband and I would move to a smaller place,and she would have to make other arrangements.

      She is free to leave at any time,but she has nowhere to go.

      I made a mistake 19 years ago,and I can’t undo it now.

      1. Nothing in life is easy. If it’s something that will help you than take a chance. Life is too short to be unhappy if there are things within your control that you can change. You can’t undo the past but you can act now for a better future.

      2. I’m glad to hear that, Marylee. I’m glad the damage done by adoption has not caused you to lose your conscience or sense of right and wrong. We adoptees know how reprehensible it is when adoptive parents decide for one reason or another that they don’t like the child, choose to no longer consider him or her family and toss him out. It’s certainly a sign of a very shallow, if not sadistic, person who would simply say “I’ve changed my mind. I thought I could accept a non-blood relative as family but I’ve now decided I can’t, so get lost.” Anyone who could even think that way should never consider adopting.

    2. I am absolutely horrified that anyone would suggest throwing a frail 86 year old woman out of the house when she has nowhere else to go. For whatever reason, Marylee’s original parents gave her up for adoption and her adoptive mother is the one who raised her. Adoptive mothers of the BSE were told that they were the child’s “only” mother, that the natural mother was meaningless, and that the child would feel no connection to her. Of course we adoptees of the BSE know that is garbage, but we cannot entirely blame adoptive parents for buying into the brainwashing, especially when that brainwashing is exactly what they wanted to hear.

      Marylee accepted help from her adoptive mother and there is nothing wrong with that. It is commonplace and perfectly acceptable to expect and accept such help from one’s family. It is also the right thing to do to take care of one’s elderly parent(s) unless one’s life would be endangered by doing so. That doesn’t seem to be the case here.

      1. I’m glad to hear that, Marylee. I’m glad the damage done by adoption has not caused you to lose your conscience or sense of right and wrong. We adoptees know how reprehensible it is when adoptive parents decide for one reason or another that they don’t like the child, choose to no longer consider him or her family and toss him out. It’s certainly a sign of a very shallow, if not sadistic, person who would simply say “I’ve changed my mind. I thought I could accept a non-blood relative as family but I’ve now decided I can’t, so get lost.” Anyone who could even think that way should never consider adopting.

        Sorry, I posted this in the wrong location before.

  6. Some things in life are easy, some are not. Life is too short to be unhappy,but it also seems very long when you are suffering.

    I read a book once, I can’t remember the name, it said that anything is possible,if you are willing to pay the price. I can ask Ramona to move out,but I have to be willing to pay the price of living with guilt for kicking out a feeble elderly woman. I choose not to do that, even if doing it would make me happy. I am not willing to pay the price.

    I hope for a peaceful end for her, surrounded by the family she loves,my family. I hope it comes soon.

    1. Your feelings on Adoption make so much sense to me now. Honestly I don’t blame you at all for feeling the way you do. I’m so sorry that she treated you as she did and still does. No one deserves that.

      I hope this situation resolves itself as peacefully as possible for all involved.

  7. wishing you continued strength and fortitude, it seems as though you have plenty but it gets taxed, too. my adoptive parents freaked when my birth mom contacted me at 18… but after the first failed reunion i have not told them that i have since had a second reunion and i never plan to… based on that initial freak out. i have problems with amom, that will never be resolved, but her knowing that i’m in touch with bmom will just make it worse. i have considered telling my closest cousin, but, rethinking that decision based on reading your situation. it may not be the wisest thing to do and once it is done, i could never undo it. so i guess i will just keep those families forever separate from one another. you’re a good person for considering Ramona’s feelings and those of your kids, you’re a good Mom for doing that. Forget that Ramona gave you some financial assistance – plenty of moms and dads out there do that – you gave her access and opportunity to build wonderful relationships with her grandkids (which seem to be going along well ? i assume since they are involved in her daily life) and she has had all this time to work on her relationship with you too, but instead, cannot get over herself. pitiable, really. i can understand your frustration and i feel for you. best of luck.

  8. Thanks so much. Ramona would be alone, if not for us. I’m sorry it turned out this way for her.

    My cousin showed me just how much blood really means,when he stuck up for Ramona. The adopted one is always outside, even though they would never admit it.

    I kept my reunion a secret for awhile, but Ramona figured it out. i wish she never knew. You’re right, you can’t ever go back once they know.

    1. Blood connection can be an obligation at times rather than a genuine one. I know someone who only has a relationship with their narcissistic mom out of obligation despite being hurt by their mom time and time again. Yet they have an incredibly strong connection with their step mom that is truly love.

      To me it depends upon the two people involved in the relationship whether it’s one built on unconditional love or one out of obligation.

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