Thursday, July 24, 2008

Birth Mom

I need to begin thinking about the letter I will send Birth Mom this year. After the county totally messed up the termination case, the judge was going to leave Daughter in county custody with the suggestion of considering setting up a guardianship. Birth Mom finally realized she would not be getting Daughter back, and agreed to voluntarily relinquish her. I promised I’d send her annual updates and allow contact once Daughter was an adult.

She turned 18 her junior year, so I told her she had to wait until she had graduated from high school. Graduation was very hard on her (she doesn’t deal well with change), so it was a year before she expressed interest in contact. Last June she requested contact. Her therapist and I discussed it, and couldn’t come up with a reason to deny her contact. To say it was a disaster would be an understatement.

Daughter was surprised at how young (and immature) Birth Mom sounded. “She didn’t sound like a 58 year old woman.” I patiently explained that that was part of the reason Daughter had been removed from that home. Birth Mom hadn’t been able to function as an adult woman and keep Daughter safe. Within a few days of their first phone conversation in 12 years, Daughter was psychotic and needed to be hospitalized. That was the first of 3 hospitalizations last summer.
During the third hospitalization, the issue of ongoing contact was raised. Psychiatrist told Daughter that she needed to go a year without hearing voices before we even considered more contact. At her last visit, it came up again, and Psychiatrist said we’d talk about it at her September appointment. I’m grateful that the Psychiatrist has set the rules and I’m off the hook on this one.

I think for Daughter, Birth Mom is like a tourist destination. She’s a site to visit and explore, and then her curiosity will be satisfied and she won’t need to visit again. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, as Daughter discovered last year. Birth Mom is a complex individual and she can’t be explored and abandoned, she wants a relationship, and to pretend that the family is still whole.

In their conversation, she shared with Daughter her worries about Birth Brothers. Birth Brothers were removed from the home around the time Daughter was, and placed in separate homes. There was no consideration to placing them together, as there had been serious violence and sexual acting out between all three siblings, Daughter was only 2 when she was removed, and had experienced sexual abuse. One Brother is obese and has serious health issues, and the other was serving in Iraq. Daughter was disturbed by this news.

While she is curious about Brothers, she doesn’t necessarily want a relationship. Somehow, though, after talking to Birth Mom, she felt their safety was her responsibility. I was reminded of an incident that had taken place when she was much younger. One day she told me about witnessing a knife fight between her brothers, and told me she had tried to make them stop, but she couldn’t. I had assured her that she was a baby, and it was the parents’ job to keep the children safe, not hers. She had been much relieved when I told her that.

There are times when I regret the promise I made to Daughter and Birth Mom. There are times when I wish I didn’t know how to get in touch with Birth Mom. I will sit down soon, though, and write that letter. I will mail it to a family member in another state, who will drop it in the mail to Birth Mom. I will pretend that Birth Mom can’t figure out where we live. I will try to be positive, and I will also seek once more to protect Daughter. I will gently explain that Daughter isn’t able to handle news of Brothers, and ask her to please not share her worries about them with Daughter. I will pray that when Daughter next makes contact with Birth Mom it will go more smoothly.

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