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  #1  
Old 02-22-2012, 12:15 PM
Cocoab415 Cocoab415 is offline
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Reunion Gone Astray - Advice Needed

My husband has been blessed with the opportunity to reunite with his 30 year old daughter who was adopted by her mother's husband at 8 years old. Long story made short, E's mother developed breast cancer when E was 8 years old. Through much deception on my husband's ex-wife's part she was able to file adoption papers and since my husband had not had contact with E for 12 months (We were living in a different state and his ex-wife had stated that E's physician had asked that he stop visiting for a while due to some issues E was experiencing with throwing up every time we visited with her.) Any way the laws in Ohio at the time were either no child support payments or no visitation with the child for 12 months so unfortunately the adoption went through and there was nothing my husband could do. His ex-wife stated that she could not accept the fact that E would have to come and live with her birth father's family if she were to pass away from her illness. That did not happen. She is now 64 years old and quite alive. E contacted her birth father 3 and half years ago via an email at his place of employment. This led to a wonderful loving reunion. Our entire family was extremely accepting of E and we learned that we had 4 grandchildren. Over the past 3 years we have had many wonderful visits and fun excursions. We've been camping, visited a haunted house, sled riding, visited theme parks, roller skating, among other activities. Suddenly one evenng I received a call from E. I'm not quite sure why she did not contact her birth father but I was slammed with all the frustrations and anger that had apparently been building up inside her. It was a 2 and half hours of unpleasant conversation. It appeared that she was taking on her mother's anger toward her birth father and their divorce 29 years ago. I did not become angry but stayed calm and focused telling her we would always love her and had never stopped loving her. However, from that point forward the relationship has not been the same. She did eventually call her birth father (my husband) and explained that her mother has been threatening suicide if she continues to have a relationship with her birth father and his family and she did not want to be responsible for her mother hurting herself. She stated that she has lived with this situation her entire life (her mother threatening to commit suicide when she did not get her way). My husband fully understands where she is coming from as his ex-wife threatened suicide many times during their marraige. E stated that her mother has tried to get help but nothing works. We now have 4 grandchildren that ask when we are coming to visit and when they can come to visit us. We have not seen them since August of 2011. My husband is hurt and angry that E continues to allow her mother to manipulate her. Does anyone have any advise as to how we should proceed with this relationship. E stated to us that she wants to have a relationship with us but it has to be kept from her mother. She lives 4 hours away from us and we are no longer allowed to spend the weekend at her house because she is afraid that either her mom or adopted father will drive by and see our vehicle there. E has stated in the past that her mother supported her having a relationship with her birth family but apparently she has changed her mind. Her adopted father is very angry with her that she contacted her birth father and E continues to feel that she is always being pulled in the middle between both sets of parents. We have 2 daughters so E has half-sisters but due to the way she has treated us they are not very happy with her behavior at the present time and quite frankly feel that she came into our lives just to hurt us. This is such a sad development. E expressed that we are so much fun and her entire family loves to spend time with us. We are a very generous family and have celebrated every holiday and birthday with nice gifts. E stated that she felt that we were trying to buy their love that they appreciated the gifts but they were not expected. Any advice?

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  #2  
Old 02-23-2012, 02:43 AM
murphymalone murphymalone is offline
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This girl is being held emotionally hostage by her mother. There are some indicators that seem to point toward some narcissistic behaviour on the part of her mother. It seems she is being used as a "pawn" somehow.

I wouldn't blame her for the situation she finds herself in.

It sounds as though your husband has a handle on the situation given he was exposed to this woman. Threatening suicide is a cry for help and can become a habit. As an adult he was able to remove himself from the trap. As a child this girl did not have that choice and whether she knows it or not the effects are malingering.

Expecting her to be able to see all of this; while she is still immersed is not logical. The web is very strong when it comes to this type of behaviour. Abandonment sometimes means that people cling to someone out of familiarity despite the unhealthy factors.

I would not suggest that you attempt to challenge her regarding her attachments to the mother until she has had some form of counseling. It will only serve to further abandon her.

If she enjoys her time with your family that's solace in a very complicated situation. I wouldn't take the comment personally about "buying love". I have a very strong suspicion those are not her words. A narcissist will attempt to cut off any ties to other people that would eliminate the loyalty of a "feeder". That's what other people who the narcissist manipulates are called. There role is to attend to the narcissist's need 24/7 and if they don't there are rages and tantrums.

Ask your husband about what it was like and see if that rings true. There is help and resolution but it takes time to establish the boundaries needed. It's a very tight web this girl may be in.
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  #3  
Old 02-23-2012, 08:13 AM
wanttodoright wanttodoright is offline
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I like MurphyMalone's posts. She has a lot of insight. I would say love her through it without expectations. She has her hands full and maybe you will see little opportunities to help her but it looks like she's in a dynamic that she has lived with her entire life. From the outside it can look pretty cut and dry but from the inside it's a fog.
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  #4  
Old 02-24-2012, 05:33 AM
murphymalone murphymalone is offline
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Thanks. I deal with people every day who have been through some of the most horrendous experiences and I've been lucky enough not to have lost my marbles yet.

There are common themes that run through most people's stories. But one thing I've learned is that when you thought you've heard it all; you haven't.

Another thing I've learned is that their is no black and white when it comes to dealing with humanity. The human spirit or will to survive will withstand things that would crush many people.

What would crush one person is mere flea bite to another. You can't measure and compare pain. It's a very subjective thing.

People don't fit into categories neatly. There is lots of overlap and grey areas that defy labeling. I never liked the concept of establishing the DSM VI or whatever number it's is now. When you label a set of behaviours the interpretation often colours your ability to perceive that limiting a person by the label entraps them.
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  #5  
Old 02-28-2012, 11:50 AM
Cocoab415 Cocoab415 is offline
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Thank you murphymalone for your very informative response. You are so very correct in that E feels that her loyalties should lie with the people who raised her and she has stated that when we come to visit her mother gives her the cold shoulder for 3 weeks so although her mother tells her she is supportive of her need to get to know her birth father she follows up in a negative manner when E has contact with her birth father. Her mother has begun manipulating E's 7 year old daughter as well. During our last visit our granddaughter said to me that she only has 2 grandmothers. I very gently had her write down all 3 grandmothers' names and had her count them. She came to her own conclusion that she has 3 grandmothers. BTW, I did not ask to be called Grandma. E refers to us as Grandma and Grandpa. She wants to call her birth father Dad but I suspect that she has been threatened by her mother with more repercussions if she calls him Dad. This reminds me of the times that we picked up E for my husband's weekend visitation and as soon as E was strapped in her car seat (she was about 2 1/2 or 3 years old at the time) she would look at me and say "you're not my mama just my friend". Where do we go from here? Do I very gently provide E with articles regarding her mother's mental illness so she can realize for herself that her mother's behavior is unacceptable. Quite frankly I believe that she already knows there is a problem but doesn't know what to do. Her husband has told her many times that her mother is nuts. He was raised by a very loving family very similar to our family and easily sees the manipulative behavior displayed by her mother. Should we continue to make contact with her? Should I continue to send the holiday packages that the children so love to receive? I don't want to make her life any more complicated but I also don't want to give our new found family the impression that we are giving up on them or not wanting to have contact with them. It seems to be a very fine line we are walking. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge with me. It is most helpful in trying to find the best way to proceed.
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  #6  
Old 02-29-2012, 03:10 AM
murphymalone murphymalone is offline
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The key is not to react to this woman's attempt at puppetry.

It's absolutely wrong to manipulate children to sling arrows. This woman is only as strong as you let her be. If you continue to establish positive interaction and do so with an awareness that this woman has issues that will be her own undoing; you can't go wrong.

Your example about having your grand daughter write down exactly how things are is genuine and will resonate. The truth will sustain against all misguided attempts to destroy it.

I wouldn't attempt to address the situation related to the mother. There really is no need. You are heads and shoulders above that. I am a firm believer in Karma and I assure you if you maintain a stance of doing what you know in your heart is just and fair; Karma will take care of the rest.

Challenging this girl's opinions or position related to the woman who cared for her will only put her on the defensive. She will naturally gravitate to positive interaction. We all do. She likely knows subconsciously but out of loyalty to this woman however misguided she will defend her. How could she not do so?

As human beings we crave to belong and there are many examples of human behavior where the person imprints on the child they raise. The child is malleable and in development what they grew up with becomes the norm. It takes time to undo the web. Eventually when the person feels secure enough they are able to wipe the web away. A duck will follow the first person they lay eyes on. It happens across species and we are not so different.

A mother figure to a child is huge. I have heard situations where I am aghast that the child still feels loyalty but the dependency for survival sustains the loyalty when the child is vulnerable. That lasts a long time.

I suppose that with time she will be able to do so. In the mean time try to ignore the comments you know are from the puppeteer.

Remember that sometimes people become addicted to chaos and the illusion is that this chaos and emotional bondage is love. It's not the case.

Remember the monkeys in the experiment where the clinicians covered a dispenser with lamb's wool to simulate "cuddling". Those monkeys did much better than the one's who simply got the food dispensed. The brain has a hard time distinguishing. Children need someone to care. This woman for whatever reason; likely her own childhood is drawn to create turmoil to force those she loves to go to her for protection against demons of her own imagination. Because somewhere deep inside she doesn't feel worthy.

Sad but true in some cases.
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  #7  
Old 02-29-2012, 03:16 AM
murphymalone murphymalone is offline
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Unconditional love is the answer. It's tough letting people learn their life lessons but that's the only way they will stick. Trying to save the person from the trials necessary only manifests defensiveness. They will retreat to what is familiar. It's frustrating but you know you are doing the right thing.
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  #8  
Old 03-29-2012, 02:45 AM
NinaDear NinaDear is offline
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Hi murphymalone - readiing your words has helped me rethink a current family situation which has nothing to do with adoption. Thank you, thank you a LOT.
I've been losing myself in my own inadequacies and losing the vision. It's so easy to do sometimes....
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  #9  
Old 03-31-2012, 02:12 AM
murphymalone murphymalone is offline
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Glad I could help. Believe me....life throws us a curve ball sometimes and we get lost. I have moments of clarity but usually after I've been stumbling along caught up in blaming myself for something I have no control over.
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  #10  
Old 04-05-2012, 02:04 PM
Cocoab415 Cocoab415 is offline
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Hi Murphymalone. I just wanted to give you a quick update of our reunion progress. We have spoken with E several times recently. It appears that she really wants a relationship with her birth family but as you pointed out it is difficult for her to deal with her narcissistic mother. Our granddaughter's birthday was April 2nd. We sent her gifts via FedEx along with Easter gifts for each member of the family. We received a call from our granddaughter (she is 8) thanking us and telling us how much she liked her gifts. I spoke with E who also thanked us and wanted to know if it was alright to save the Easter gifts for Easter Day which is perfectly acceptable with us. Our conversation was a very warm conversation. Nothing controversial so I believe we are making progress in the right direction again. E spoke with my husband who suggested that we find a time to visit and we would get a room at a nice hotel that has a pool where the children could swim and we could visit thus making it less stressful for E who worries that her adopted father and/or mother will ride by her home and see that we are visiting which really stresses her out. I fear that her mother will still give her the cold shoulder for a few weeks even we do meet at a hotel but it seems E is willing to risk that happening. We have chosen to take your excellent advice and find ways to visit with her but not complicate her life if at all possible. She said she would call us on Easter Sunday so we will wait and see if we receive a call. This situation is so complicated but I'll continue to take the high road and do what is right for E and our grandchildren. I'll keep you updated as things progress. Once again, thank you so much for being a voice of reason for me.
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  #11  
Old 04-07-2012, 01:12 AM
murphymalone murphymalone is offline
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Good Luck. I am glad things are working out.
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