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Adoptive Grandmother wants to be Facebook friends with Birthmother?
My husband and I are in a beautiful, loving open adoption with our daughter’s birthmother & her parents. The birth family has always been very supportive of us & grateful to us for being so open with them (3-4 visits per year, emails/pictures all the time, facebook friends, etc.). We, in turn, could never have hoped or dreamed for such a wonderful birthfamily - so comfortable it is fun & easy to meet with them. That’s the background.
What I need help with - asking for feedback - is wondering about my mother’s desire to be Facebook friends with the birthmother. I need give you the backstory before anyone can help me with this question… My own parents were married as teenagers because they had just become parents. Before they decided to marry, though, my mother had already placed my oldest brother for adoption for about a month. Then they decided to marry & my mom was able to get my brother back. They NEVER talk about this, it was a shameful secret at the time & my mom has never let go of the shame. All of her children (my brothers & sisters and our spouses) know, but none of even her best friends know. Fast forward 35 years. My husband and I were so blessed to have been chosen to adopt our daughter almost 5 years ago. Since that time it has become evident that my mother loves our daughter, but she feels a strong connection to the rights, the emotional protection, of the birthmother of our daughter. She identifies with her, and in my own perspective as her daughter, it is borderline too much. She & my father (who always supports mom no matter if he began by agreeing with her or not) have always been the type of parents to ask me “Why didn’t you get an A+?” in a subject when I brought home an A. Similarly, though my husband & I have an extremely open adoption, are incredibly grateful to our birthmother, love her, never fail to send/give gifts, cards, notes to connect with her in all points of her life & our lives, & even though we celebrate our daughter’s birthdays together, and invite her to our daughter’s special performances, etc….even though we feel we are doing really, really well in this open adoption relationship, my parents do not acknowledge that and instead push us to be exactly like family instead of almost like family. Usually whatever they are pushing for (“have you invited ____ (the birthmother) to Bella’s (changed the name of our daughter for privacy) birthday party? Did you get ____ (the birthmother) a gift - her birthday is coming up?!” ) we have already taken care of, already thought of and they don’t need to tell remind us to be grateful all the time, but they do anyway even when we always reinforce that we have thought of all that, that we are extremely grateful, etc. They remind us, very unnecessarily, that the birthmother gave us the biggest gift of our lives & that she is so unselfish. Unnecessary I assure you! Another problem that we have with our parents being too intrusive in our adoption triad is my mother’s concern/interest in the emotional well-being of the birthmother. I feel like a jealous teenager (and maybe that is the problem, I don’t know) because her concern is never for me & how hard it is for me to be so open. We do it anyway because we ARE so grateful, because we do KNOW how much our daughter needs her birthmother, knowledge of her birthmother, and the contact & love of her birthmother. But sometimes it is still emotionally a little bit hard for us as adoptive parents. When I tell my parents this, they tell us that we are selfish & offer no empathy with the point that we are & do actively overcome what is, yes, a selfishness to want to have our daughter be just our daughter. Last year I began to not trust my mother regarding her supporting my husband & I emotionally. Last year I invited our daughter’s birthmother & birthgrandparents to a special stage performance as the finale to a year of lessons. My camera battery died right after the performance, and we still wanted pictures of our daughter with all the family that came that day (her cousins, aunts, uncles, us - her parents, etc.), so I asked my mom to take pictures. First on her agenda was to take photos of our daughter’s birthmom with our daughter. Which she did. And kept taking. Even after I told her “okay mom now please take some of us with her”. And then my mom remembered she had an appointment across town & left taking her new camera (which she would not entrust to me) with her. Later, when I got the photos, there were 12 photos of the birthmother & our daughter. There were a couple of our daughter with a cousin & an aunt. There was not one of my husband and I with our daughter in her cute little costume. Thankfully I did get one of us in a group from my brother-in-law on my husband’s side, but I was unbearably hurt by the fact that my own mother’s first priority was not to get me & my husband with our daughter at her very first stage performance. Her priority was the birthmother. I compare that behavior with the birthgrandmother - at our visits, she takes a million photos of her daughter (the birthmother) with our daughter. I am also a camera hound & I take a million photos of my daughter with her birthmother every time we’re together. To capture the love, so she’ll understand that she was always loved so very much. In fact, when my daughter was 2 I told my mom that I realized that because I always take all the pictures, I actually had literally 100’s of photos of our daughter w/ her birthmother and about 4 total of me with my daughter. My mother replied that I should always make sure I’m in the photo. Then this happened not quite 2 years later with the performance photos. I got up the nerve to try to speak plainly with my mother about my feelings about this & I told her that I thought she unconsciously was identifying perhaps too much with the birthmother & not enough with me & the emotional complexity that it takes to always share our daughter. My mother flew off the handle, got very hostile & told me that I may not criticize my mother. I told her that she did not need “to have the birthmother’s “back” that we are very loving of the birthmother & take care of her. I told her that the birthgrandmother also takes care of the birthmother and that similarly I need my mother to have “my back” emotionally. She still pretends to not know what I mean and to infer that I am dumbing myself down when I use that analogy (“having my back”) - never recognizing my direct request for her emotional support. My mother also asked for the birthmother’s address. I asked why she needed it - I could tell she didn’t want to reply to what she would consider an intrusive question, but she did finally say that she wanted to send her a card. I said, I am about to send her a card, why don’t I include your envelope with mine? She wouldn’t give it to me (even sealed!) & said she guessed she didn’t need to send it and said that my husband & I are very controlling. We said, yes we guess we are in this relationship - that someday maybe we wouldn’t be so cautious, but that we still want to be the point of direct initial contact with the birthmother. My mother didn’t reply. One year later, I have recently found out that my mom friend- requested the birthmother on facebook. One part of my brain says (she probably just wants to be able to say thank you to the birthmom on behalf of our whole family for the incredible gift that is our daughter). Another wounded part of me says (why is she doing this? None of the rest of our entire family has felt the need to be in contact beyond our “great big family” get-togethers (which are usually centered on our daughter’s birthdays). I should also mention that anytime in my childhood that I had a fight or disagreement with my friends, that my mother would never reassure me & in fact would take the stand of my friend. My mother has always treated me as if I were a mean-spirited aggressor & empathized with the argument’s opponent. It is pretty awful to never have a mother on your “side.” It is perhaps also pertinent that I found out my Mom corresponded privately with my highschool best friend all through college & into our early 20’s without telling me. Why was it a secret??! Another defining incident that has led to my lack of confidence in my mother’s support is that a couple of years ago when my sister-in-law & I had quite an explosive, terrible blow-out one day (of which I am not proud, but that is a whole story on its own) my mother immediately assumed that I was in the wrong and that I had hurt my sister-in-law’s feelings. I couldn’t believe it - she never asked & didn’t want to hear about my feelings & about how the explosive argument came about due to my sister-in-law’s extreme behavior. My Mother immediately called me, was not interested how the argument happened, or if my feelings were hurt as well, but told me that I should apologize immediately. I was 36 years old at the time! It is a pretty skewed relationship that as I’m typing this makes me realize how much more damaging than I’d ever thought it has been to have a mother that I don’t trust to support me with love. My husband has come to witness this convoluted behavior over the years & now he is cautious as well about allowing my mother to be in contact with the birthmother. My mother, as of yesterday, when I asked her to please not private message the birthmother, told me that I was a control freak and to “go fly a kite” and that I want “Nazi Gestapo control” of her & her communications. She then went on to say that my husband (a computer whiz) should just install spyware on her computer or maybe a keystroke monitor. She definitely over-reacted. But because she is my mother, a part of me still thinks - AM I being too controlling? I don’t know. I just know I’ve never heard of other adoptive grandmothers pushing on behalf of a birthmother so much (especially when it is obviously so unnecessary). I’ve never heard of adoptive extended families wanting to contact the birthmother outside of the adoptive parents who are already in very frequent communication. And I should mention that I’ve been soul-searching about this and I have to say that I would trust almost any other family members to communicate openly & freely with the birthmother if they wanted to. It is only my mother & perhaps my sister-in-law (mentioned above) that I question their intent/their motivation.
So I guess the feedback I am looking for is: 1) has anyone ever experienced a situation like this?, and 2) am I being too controlling of communication with the birthmother?
Thanks for any help & I am sorry to bring up so much very personal & emotional back-history.
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