In "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff," by author Richard Carlson Ph.d (Hyperion Press) he writes, "Sometimes we demand that our children relax, or quiet down, but do so by raising our own voices in frustration. Or, we want our kids to grow up being independent, yet we clean their rooms out of personal frustration, or fail to allow our children to take appropriate risks. Perhaps we SAY we want our children to be calm, yet we are hyper, even frantic ourselves."
He goes on to say, "Be aware of the power of your hidden messages. Once you are, you can catch yourself when you are sending a message that is inconsistent with what you might actually desire."
How many of us birthmothers found ourselves questioning what we initially asked for? Does this sound familiar to you ... "well, I know in my heart I asked for ... and I know they agreed to ... but why is it that ...." How many of us would have asked for more had we known we could, instead of beating around the bush about it or waiting until it was too late? How many of us try to get visits, or more visits, even though that wasn't necessarily in the original agreement? What about our current actions reflect a current "reaction" to our relinquishment and the feelings it's left us with?
Many birthmothers have shared with me the symbolism of the above in ways that reflect their adoption situations. One birthmother told me, "One second they are saying that they want openness and are so glad to have it, but the next they are trying to maneuver our meetings around their family events so that their families don't have to see me." Regardless of how hard the adoptive parents could try to hide their fear or insecurity about birthmother involvement, their reaction to the issue seeps out. It's inevitable.
An adoptive mother shared this with me, "Our birthmother seemed to be doing fine and things were going well until I caught her in the baby's room whispering to him, "I'm your mommy, don't ever forget that I'm your mommy." It shocked me and made me angry. I felt like she was undermining me totally. I didn't know what to say. I was so furious! I felt like she was going behind my back or something!" This adoptive mother still hadn't dealt with her issues of "being the real mother." And the birthmother still hadn't deal with the relinquishment issues and had yet to begin her grieving process. All reactions to a situation and NOT reactions to one another.
In "Help Me, I'm Worried," by Joyce Meyer (Harrison House Inc.) she writes, "Where most of us get into trouble is getting out of balance. Either we move into a state of total passivity in which we do nothing, or we become hyperactive, operating most of the time in the flesh. We function best when we have a calm, well-balanced mind. When our mind is calm it is without fear, worry, or torment. When our mind is well-balanced, we are able to look the situation over and decide what to do or not to do about it."
It is so difficult to have a well-balanaced mind when so many emotions, needs, and expectations are on the line. To be able to discern the real meaning behind other's reactions in order to develop a reaction of our own is difficult. We are a quick-witted, fast action society. We react without thinking and we react on emotion. We bite back.
But all in all, when it is said and done, the greatest weapon we have against ill willed reactions or false testimony of others is to stay true to who we are, the commitments that we keep, and the promises we live by. To not allow outside influence to cause us to justify our betrayal of heart and mind is difficult, but possible.
If you are in an open adoption relationship and things are not going well right now, keep the above quotes in mind as you deal with the other triad members. Remember as you react and act with and towards them ... everything they do and say has a root reason for existing. Whether that is fear, pain, denial, sorrow, grief, or insecurity. Very rarely is a reaction based purely on the gift of compassion and well thought verse.
Train yourself to be a good parent of you. When you require calmness and order in your life, make sure you are reacting outwardly as such. When you request that your needs and demands be met, make sure that above all ... you are the first to meet them. Do not expect anything more from others than what you can or should be giving yourself.
Force others to react to the Whole you. Don't give them the easy way out ... don't allow them to react to an unmet need that you have been unable to define thus far.
Balance yourself. Mind, body, and spirit. And then ... you will be less likely to "re-act" and more likely to "act."
½ of what someone else says to you, in reaction to something you've said or done, isn't geared towards you as a person, but rather geared towards HOW what you said or what you did made them FEEL about themselves. Remember that. Have you felt that way lately? Has someone said something to you that triggered a nasty reaction in your life? Why was that? Have you perhaps said or done something to cause someone else to react negatively? Why do you think they did that? Was it you, as a person, per say? Reactive Power is amazing. Use it to your advantage.
Note: Our authors are dedicated to honest, engaged, informed, intelligent, and open conversation about adoption. The opinions expressed here may not reflect the views of Adoption.com.