Moving on

29th July 2010

Bouncer died just before Mother’s Day which was on the 22nd March 2009.  I had hated this day since 1982 as I could never celebrate it as a mother.  Nobody acknowledged me as a mother simply because I wasn’t raising my child although Rick always picked up on my mood.

The first two Mother’s Days into reunion I hadn’t expected anything from Anthony.  He was in Canada anyway where Mother’s Day is celebrated later than in the UK.  After he moved in the day filled me with dread as it was the first Mother’s Day that we would be together.  I still didn’t expect a card or anything else from him but I was curious to know whether he would remember what day it was.  I was quite shocked when I did receive a card and box of chocolates from Anthony in March 2007.  At the same time it felt weird but I really appreciated this.  Again in March 2008 I received a Mother’s Day card but this time with a film.  By this time I had got used to receiving cards and presents from Anthony on special days.

This year was lovely despite that we were missing Bouncer.  In the morning we went to a boot sale in Canterbury and had planned a barbeque for the afternoon. Anthony’s girlfriend was staying the weekend so it was like any normal family get together.  He bought me my favourite chocolates and a nice box collection with perfume and body lotions in it.  People who aren’t affected by adoption don’t understand how precious days like this are.  It will always be treasured by me as one of those special days.  Rick rang Anthony’s adoptive mum so he could wish her Happy Mother’s Day as we found out he had sent her an e-card. His girlfriend offered to give him the card she had bought for her mother which he accepted.  Her mother is in U.S.A living with her sister so she knew she could get another card.  Rick also arranged for all of us to meet up for a meal towards the end of April.

We have started making our own history and memories but I will always be aware of what I have missed out on.  Our reunion has been very intense in the early months, had periods of silence when we have fallen out yet we have also been through so much.  With Anthony I have also seen a side to him I really don’t like.  He is my son and I will always love him unconditionally but I don’t always have to like the things he does.  Anthony is a compulsive liar and is very good at twisting what’s been said and done in the past.  He has accused both myself and Rick of doing things he has done and said then won’t accept it when he is pulled up on it.  It has been suggested to me that he is a narsicist.  Anthony has always made me feel like I’m not good enough for him yet I would give my life for him.  I doubt he wouldn’t do the same for me.

Nature versus nurture is a subject that gets discussed occasionally by people affected by adoption.  Anthony and I share common interests which surprised me initially as his adoption was closed adoption.  We like the same music, books, films and cats are our favourite animal.  From the nurture point of view I can see how he was raised also influences him in other ways.  Rick and I have joked that he is a snob and shallow.  His adoptive parents are nice and have made an effort to get on with us although contact has been minimal.  To a certain extent I can understand his attitude as I was also raised in a middle class home.  A big difference between him and me is that I was taught the value of money and I have respect for other people whereas he doesn’t.  Anthony’s adoptive parents have worked for what they have yet they have spoilt him.  He behaves as if the world owes him a living and has expected others to find him work.  Since about Anthony has made an effort to find himself a job though.

Anthony’s adoptive parents blame themselves for the way he has turned out. They love him and only want the best for him but I do wonder if he would have been different if he hadn’t been so spoilt.  It is long overdue that Anthony started taking responsibility for his own behaviour.  He also needs to stop blaming others for his own mistakes.

It felt strange getting back to normal life again. It had reinforced my desire to get my voice heard that adoption isn’t black and white. There are many shades of grey in between. Although infant adoption has dropped dramatically in the UK attitudes are still the same as why it happens. However it has changed over the years particularly in the past 30 years due to changes in what help and support is available today. Older child adoption is being encouraged to get children out of foster care and keeping siblings together where possible.

It has been good to get feedback from what we have done as parents and partners fear the stigma if they talk openly. At times it has bothered me but I am the better person because I am determined to keep telling the truth of what happened to me. I cannot force anybody to believe me. On the other hand I won’t let anybody else make me feel that I am wrong to speak out. The only way to change attitudes is by speaking out.

The day of the meal with Anthony, his girlfriend and his adoptive parents was fast approaching. We were keeping busy which was a blessed relief. Part of me was cowardly so almost willing that something would crop up so it would be cancelled.

By this time Anthony had moved in with his girlfriend so that had eased pressure on us and our relationship.  Reunion has been stressful. It isn’t anybody’s fault it’s just part of how adoption affects relationships within families.

One of my fears has been that Anthony would just want information then not want to know. If he had I would have to accept it and then get on with my life knowing he is alive and well. Instead five years on I am completely confused whether he has just used me or whether he really does want contact. We went through the getting to know each other quickly and intensively. During that time I also gave him as much medical information I could. Our relationship swung between us getting on well with each other to not talking. When it has been good it’s been great, when it’s been bad it’s been painful. We went a few months of not talking in 2006 due to falling out because Anthony was angry. I had to suffer the usual accusation of being a liar and twisting things that had been said. Reality is Anthony is the one who is a compulsive liar and twists what’s been said and events. At times I have got annoyed with him out of sheer frustration.

When Anthony decided he wanted contact he acted as if nothing had happened. At the time it infuriated me but kept my thoughts to myself as I didn’t see the point of rocking the boat. I was polite but emotionally kept my distance as that’s my coping mechanism. It wasn’t long before Anthony started “talking” via msn messenger about having to come back to England. His reason was he had run out of money so needed to work to earn money so he could complete his course in Canada. I had no reason not to believe this as I had been told that Anthony had got grants to go there in the first place. He mentioned that he couldn’t go back to his adoptive parents as his adoptive dad had told him he couldn’t. Apparently they had fallen out over finances. I thought it was a bit odd but had no reason to question it. In my wisdom I suggested he could live with us while he was England. Anthony told me it would only be until the September of 2007. Again there was no reason to disbelieve him. Had I known the truth Rick and I would have made sure there were ground rules in place before he moved in with us.  It was a further three months before Anthony did move in which was just before Christmas 2006.

After Anthony moved in it didn’t take long before him to take advantage of our good nature. It took a few months for us to realize though how manipulative he can be. When Anthony is happy it’s great having him about and we get on well. The other side of him isn’t so pleasant nor did we like him trying to play us off against each other. I’ve lost count of the times we have argued about him despite agreeing what the problem is.

We have found out the extent of Anthony’s lies which is hurtful. Nothing seems to get through to him that I would rather he was honest even if it is hurtful. He can also be very arrogant, manipulative, patronising, never believes he is wrong and is very good twisting anything said or done. It has caused problems but unless Anthony accepts that at times his behaviour causes problems at times we are at a stalemate.

So when Anthony did finally move out we were quietly sighing with relief. He was surprised by our willingness to move out so quickly. We wanted his moving out as amicable as possible so didn’t tell him we needed our space. We really didn’t want him moving out on bad terms despite everything that has happened. However it didn’t take him long to be thoughtless and hurt my feelings. Anthony would keep in regular contact with Rick by msn messenger, phone and emails. We also knew he was keeping in touch with his adoptive parents yet he was “too busy” to keep in touch with me. It eventually left me feeling very exasperated by his behaviour. It is typical of him but it still hurt at the time. Now I can’t be bothered although the door is open, I will keep in touch and I still love him no matter what.

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About Philippa

I am married to Rick and we live in a small town in County Durham. We have two dogs, a cat and two budgies. I am also an adoption survivor. In 1981 my son was born and I was then forced to surrender him. It took 23 years and reunion for my to find out that my son's adoption was legally known as a forced adoption and illegal but social workers got away with it because mothers didn't know their rights.
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