After my last blog post, Adoption Reunions: Managing Expectations Assimilating Birth and Adoptive Families, I received a disturbing email from my birth mother Lana. In it she was very upset with many of my recollections of our reunion, to the point of accusing me of blatantly lying and being on a mission to hurt and embarrass her.
She asked me to share her comments with you as she is very concerned that the truth be accurately portrayed. I initially told her I would post it and was very tempted to do as she asked. I even created the post and was about to publish it, but something in my gut said ‘No.’ And after consulting with my wise-blogger daughter and few other wise women I know, I decided that because of the angry and defensive nature of the letter, and because this blog is about support and encouragement and NOT about “he said, she said” I have decided not to make those comments public.
I see this as a great opportunity to stress again that, in my opinion, in the triad – truth is not as important as validation. What I mean by that is HOW PEOPLE FEEL is HOW PEOPLE feel. What people RECALL is what they RECALL. Saying ‘oh that is not how it happened’ or ‘oh that’s not how you should feel’ only serves to re-injure or re-open old wounds, it invalidates rather than supports. We must remember that how people recall what they experienced, or how people remember their lives is their truth and while you can disagree, it is to be respected.
Most people in reunion are not purposefully lying, being vengeful, or doing things out of spite- they are relating their reality (one you can never know unless you have stood there in that moment in their shoes) – how you interpret others’ actions and reactions is the most important part of reunion, making defensive assumptions or accusations causes many problems and is not taking steps toward healing hearts. The ability to hear, accept and forgive (even if you disagree) is key.
With that said I would like to publicly address Lana’s main concerns, not because I feel the need to defend myself, but to try to show her I never meant any harm whatsoever and to validate and acknowledge her feelings:
Let me begin by saying I NEVER intended to poorly portray Lana, or her family, or her home, and I certainly did not mean to hurt her or embarrass her in any way. I only wanted to portray the problems that can arise when reunions are taken on too fast and too furious. When baby steps are replaced by leaps and bounds, people will fall on their faces in the process.
I did not intend to place or imply blame for the problems we experienced, it just was what it was. In exploring the difficulties we experienced and the mistakes we made during reunion I wrote things that Lana believes were false or misleading. While it is tempting to write a rebuttal to each of her statements, I will only comment on what seems her most pressing concerns:
THE FLIES/DOGS: I stated there were flies and that they came from her surrounding neighbor’s dogs. Looking back I realize I do not know who that day suggested to me that neighboring dog pens may have been the reason for the flies. The point of even mentioning the flies was to demonstrate that poor planning and poor communication between myself and Lana resulted in not anticipating flies or buying proper repellents like bug oil Tikki torches and candles. While I have heard dogs in her area and seen them in her neighborhood, I do not recall seeing any dogs adjacent to her backyard that day. I was not trying to put down her neighbors, or imply she has an unkempt yard. They live out in the country, of course there are dogs and flies. The thing about flies is that they can fly from other places nearby and spoil a good time, and that is nobody’s fault but the flies.
THE FOOD POISONING: It is important to Lana that I note that NO ONE else at the party got food poisoning. As she states in her response I probably got food poisoning because the turkey I brought home with me was stored in the outside refrigerator that was opened many times during the day as guests helped themselves to the fruit sangria. I believe the flies contributed to the contamination and again I only included this as example of our poor ability to plan a party together and to add a small element of levity to a rather serious subject. I never meant to portray her as a poor or unclean cook. Sometimes you just have to find a speck of humor in a difficult situation.
THE COMMENT: Lana says my statement about what I felt was an insensitive compliment on her part was not truthful and that she never said such a thing. I want to stress, and I believe my readers understand, that my blog is and can only be based on my own perceptions of events. I was not writing this to hurt Lana, we all say things we later wish we had not, but only to remind people that we must be especially careful with our words during such reunions.
IN SUM: This blog is going to hurt people’s feelings from time-to-time no matter how carefully I try to word things. At some point people on all sides of the Triad get their feelings hurt – it comes with the territory of adoption and reunion. I will use these and many more examples of mistakes I made, and mistakes I believe others made, ONLY to try to help others from making the same mistakes – THIS BLOG DOES NOT SEEK to hurt or humiliate anyone.
I want to acknowledge that Lana and her husband worked very hard preparing for the party and went out of their way to prepare lots of delicious food and host the party at their home and that has always been very much appreciated. Actually in light of this, the story of the difficulties of the day are that much more profound. Additionally a hand full of my family members, who stayed till after dark and were able to visit with Lana on the front porch under the ceiling fans, reported they had a good time.
Although Lana has “dared” me to post her upset response, and truly desires that I share her feelings publicly about this, I will not do so – as I truly believe that doing so will accomplish exactly what she fears I have done already and that is to put her in a negative light with my readers.
I hope in my coming posts I can delve into the history of Lana and I a bit more to give clarity to the situation between us without offending her again in the process. I also don’t plan to regularly apologize for simply sharing my perspective and feelings.
I am still struggling with how to move forward with Lana after the difficult reunion we have had. I don’t want this blog to be a tabloid take on adoption, I don’t want to rehash the past or paint false pictures. I really want to write about how adoption shapes my life today and share any experiences I have had on this journey that may help my fellow adoptees who are travelling a similar road.
I hope Lana is appeased and I pray she can understand I do not and will never use my blog to intentionally hurt her or her family or anyone. I am forever grateful to her for the choices she has made in her life, both today and yesterday, that have steered the course of my life and made me who I am today.
I asked Lana if she wanted me to remove her name from this blog and write about my birth mother anonymously, and she has stated that she wants me to continue to use her name.
If Lana feels that I am being untruthful or hurtful I encourage her to start a blog and share her experiences and opinions from her personal perspective. The world needs more birth mothers sharing their adoption and reunion experiences; and if she did create a blog, I would happily include a link to it from mine regardless of how much her memories or opinions may be different from my own.
If you would like to contact Lana for any reason, or to help her start a blog, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will gladly forward you her your email.