Tug Of War

I am the rope in a three-way tug of war: my adopted family, my biological Mom and my biological Dad. On one hand, they all want to spend time with me, talk with me, see me. On the other hand, the unspoken expectation is not to acknowledge the other family(s) exists and to act as if the past 40 years didn’t really happen acting as if today is a new day!

Let me give you an example. While I was at the beach with my biological Mom, I mentioned to one of my Hawaiian sister-in-laws I was at the beach with my Mom. I am fairly certain she mentioned that fact to my biological Dad who did not call me for a couple of days. He was rare for him not to call me on a Sunday. Also, while at the beach, my adopted Mom texted me wanting to talk to my daughter. I waged an internal debate. Do I tell her who I am with or just let her know my kiddo is busy and can’t talk? I chose the honest route. I shared I was at the beach with my biological Mom (of course calling her by her first name and not by the term Mom). No response. Silence that yet spoke volumes.

Now, in all fairness, my biological Mom is the most open and inquisitive about my adopted family and my biological Dad. Having said that, my suspicion is this motivation is not only to better understand and get to know me but that perhaps the curiosity comes from a place of guilt. She single-handedly chose to give me up for adoption. Therefore, I don’t think she feels she has a right to criticize, judge or even give a hint of possessiveness over me.

Unfortunately, there is no love lost with my adopted Mom. I don’t respect her decisions nor do I believe she truly understands or sees me. She has made it extremely clear her life would be easier and better when I move on and forget about what happened in my past. This has been the mantra growing up and the drum continues beating steadily to ignore the past. The more she pushes for ignoring what happened, the longer she stays with my abuser, the more distant I have become. I can see now she will never change. I can also see resentment and hurt on my daughters face when my adopted Mom’s name is mentioned. She’s smart, insightful and loyal. She’s wants me to know she stands with me. If only sides were not already formed.

This balance I’m trying to achieve among these families is beginning to wear on me. Last night my adopted Mom called and I heard my daughter say…”I have a new name!” Five words that should bring joy to me that my daughter is proud of this new Hawaiian heritage. Yet, my husband and I literally cringed. What should we say to our daughter? Encourage her to omit the things happening in her life that may cause hurt? We certainly don’t want to teach her to lie. So we choose to talk to her instead.

In my attempt to meet the needs of two biological parents, two step parents, one adopted mother, eight siblings, 4 sister-in-laws and 2 husband-in-laws I’m beat worrying about what they think and feel. Not to say I don’t care about them deeply. It’s just…this list doesn’t even include the family by marriage (which is a whole different post), family composed by love (or rather a different kind of adoption – also a different post) nor does it include my little family and their needs…

I’ll tell ya what I need…a vacation from all of these families and perhaps some boundary setting and expectation leveling!

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