Eldercare: Caring for My Adoptive Mother

Written by on 1 May, 2015 in Adoption, Eldercare with 0 Comments

Rose“She’s on Hospice.”

That’s a telling statement. You don’t have to know much about Hospice to get an immediate feel for the mood. Death. Imminent.

I don’t mind talking about my mother and the years that she has lived with us as her health declined. She has lived in our home on and off for the last eight years: cantankerous, irritable, and in pain. We did not have a great mother daughter relationship. It was more troubling than most and during my childhood she did little to protect me from the people she knew were extremely evil; members of her genetic family. My mother always wanted to have children of her own, and when she and my father couldn’t my dad talked her into adoption.

My adoptive parents both worked blue collar jobs. Mom worked on an assembly line in a factory, and dad was a pipefitter. Financially, we lived better than most in our poor small town community, but it took both of them working to achieve that goal. On weekends, there was usually a party, wedding, or other gathering to attend. Some were fun, others were riddled with jealousy, gossip, and heavy drinking. Unfortunately, not being genetically related made me a target for the less morally minded members. If you want to make a child a major target for the family degenerates, start sexual rumors. Of course, when you target children with stories of perversion the degenerates already know you’re one of them just based upon your lips moving.

I wish my adoptive mother had been nearly as concerned with being my protector than what would happen if I found my birth family. In her mind, I would no longer be hers. Truth is, I never was.

Having a biological child myself, I never felt the desperate need for ownership I see among some infertile couples, especially my adoptive parents. As a teen my daughter and her friends referred to myself and several of the other mothers as “ma.” Hearing my daughter refer to a friend’s mother as such gave me a feel of comfort rather than a fear of loss. I prayed they took the name to heart and watched out for her when she was under their roof. Likewise I felt the same about their children. My adopted children refer to their own mother’s as they see fit. It does not diminish who I am since my word is final on who drive’s my car, curfew hour, and homework detail.

I’m convinced that my adoptive parent’s concerns about my birth family stemmed from my paternal grandmother’s adoption. Once grandma discovered her true identity, her adoptive parents diminished in their capacity. They lied to her by not telling her she was adopted; she endured the pain of learning her fate on the playground at school by cruel heckling children. The difference for her was that her adoptive parents were genetic cousins and she was a legitimate birth. After her death, her children, including my adoptive father, seldom if ever mentioned her adoptive family. In their final will and testament, her adoptive parents left her everything they owned. Her birth family left her nothing and by then they were no longer poor.

“She knew who she was.” My adoptive father said when placing his mother’s birth name on a document. Grandma grew up using the name of her adoptive family; she never officially used her birth family name. I was offended – extremely offended. I was the only one offended. I remember calling my daughter over and told my adoptive father to explain to her the exclusion of her adoptive families name. By then, “I knew who I was” too. Her birth name was now hyphenated with her adopted name. I could live with that. I could not live with erasing history, because in the mind of her children it made their family normal. Like their neighbors, they looked like their family and acted like them too. They no longer felt the discomfort of secrecy, abandonment, nor felt uncomfortable with their differences; they now personally fit-in like the overwhelming majority.

Adoption is a piece of my history; my adoptive family hold terrible memories in my childhood and I can never see being placed on their family tree. It is not necessary; they are part of my personal history, but not part of my genetic history. I’ve worked hard to overcome the deliberate mold they desperately worked to cement into my life. I’ve overcome the conservative religious hatred I found in their lineage and found a true peace with far more liberal Christians.

I’m proud to be a liberal Christian who believes in liberal forgiveness. To forgive those who saw nothing wrong with destroying my reputation so I could be repeatedly abused in terrible fashion. To forgive those who hated me for no other reason than that I was born a bastard. I understand Jesus getting upset with the extremely religious who are more concerned with rules, laws, and exclusion than the love He has to share. After all, the apostle Paul persecuted Christians and in many cases caused their harsh deaths, prior to his conversion, and he is the author of thirteen books of the Bible’s New Testament. Jesus is the supreme liberal when it comes to forgiveness.

My adoptive mother has little time left on this earth. None of us come with an expiration date stamped on our foot, so her life could end in days, weeks, or months. Even though physically present, she abandoned me as a child, but I will not abandon her in her final hours of need. My liberal Christian spirit will not allow that. She may or may not continue to live in my home, because her immediate needs are far greater than I can personally handle. But, she was my mom. As a teen, it was her car I drove and her curfew I ignored. There are other human beings who have experiences similar or even worse childhood traumas than mine. I have a choice to use my experiences for good or for bad. Maybe I can help others with similar experiences overcome their personal tragedy and grief and go on to enjoy a life of victory.

I refuse to pity myself. The adoption/foster care system in the USA is a bad one and needs serious change. Since my own adoption over sixty years ago, I’m told things have improved, and then I read stories like that of Rep. Justin T. Harris of Arkansas and Baby Veronica to know that only public opinion and the public relations budgets have improved.   Children are merely pawns in a larger political and financial landscape.

The next few days will determine where my mother spends her final days on earth. Wherever we choose, it will be loving, caring, and in pleasant surroundings. My mother may have lived much of her life in turmoil, but may her death be that of peace and love.

No one has promised any of us a rose garden without thorns or weeds, but compassion comes from walking a difficult trail of thorns and weeds while blindly smelling the sweet scent of the unseen roses. Today I bear the scars of the thorns, transplant the wildflowers (weeds), and water the roses.


“Image courtesy of antpkr/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Pinterest Connect on Google Plus Connect on LinkedIn

Jill would love to hear from you.