I'm still figuring out how it is. In a way I have her back now. When she first called me I shook while talking to her. That lasted most of the next 13-14 years. And a lot of that time I had a fear of losing her again. I wasn't prepared to meet her needs. I expected her to have had a happy fulfilled doted on childhood.
I thought of my adopted cousin, an only child and doted on by his adopted parents and his (our) grandparents in Michigan. He seemed happy enough to be in the family he was raised in. My brother and I were very aware that he was completely different than the rest of the family, foreign. By not talking about it we convinced ourselves that he was unaware of it. I felt like we were wrong for noticing. And I thought my aunt and uncle were remarkably accepting and tolerant about the differences. I didn't realize the loss involved in the adoptive parents regarding their infertility. I blocked out the loss my cousin had experienced in being taken from his first family.
Anyway it wasn't what I had expected. She was not happy and hadn't been for a long time. The weird thing was we both went back to the state we were in when we'd parted. I was a teenage emotional betrayed grieving "mom" and she was an abandoned infant emotionally. There were now seventeen intervening years and family members that had needs, complications. I had thought finding each other would be only good. I would love her and she would feel loved. Not that simple.
The way the fear of loss seems to have motivated me is still being revealed. I was afraid of losing her again and tried to fulfill her needs to prevent that. I felt horrible that I was unable to do that, that I was failing her. I was equally fearful of endangering my marriage and B&G in any way. And I wanted to protect my parents who were trying to protect me. I felt that I didn't have any right to be her mother. When I signed the adoption papers, I believed I was freeing her from me, from failure, from disgrace. I wanted her life to be good. When she found me I was torn between desire and feeling unworthy. No right to contact with her, no right to disturb my husband or raised children with my desire and confusion. And then out of her grief she was asking me how I could be so cold as to give my own flesh and blood away. Pretty messy. I was withholding myself from my spouse because I didn't have the right to be so fucked up. I withheld myself from Joy because I wanted to hold myself "together". I withheld B&G from their elder sister because it would be messy. All this time it was chewing inside me.
About 18+ months ago I just let go and said forget it. I'm not going to keep trying to be a good mother to her. I quit trying to fix her or myself. Things have been steadily improving. I recently considered that maybe what she really wants is me, the way I am, not the way I think I should be for her. I mean she'd probably like an upgraded version, but what-who I am, her mother, is what's most important. Acceptance. So she can stop trying to be a good adoptee too.
There's always been a kind of melting happiness in knowing her, talking to her, hearing her voice. Her sense of humor and wit and intelligence scare me when I try to live up to my fantasy, to be the mom I think she deserves. And the part of her that reminds me of her father is still a bit raw. But she is part of my life now and I love that. So the grief part is different. I'd like to integrate her into my family, to spend time together, for her brother and sister to get to know her. But the years of hesitation on my part, the lingering fears, have created a gulf that others have less interest in bridging. It's weird. Another thing I feel is my “fault”. I've got a lot more to learn here obviously.
A lot of my behavior around the issues has been unconscious. I just couldn't face the conflicts for fear of losing anything more.