About Cheerio

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In general I am a cheery and energetic person. But I am enshrouded in a cloak of iron. That cloak is the weight of greiving my son, whom I've lost to adoption.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Where there are boundaries, there is safety?

My last blog post was end of May – over three months ago.  There have been so many situations since then I’ve wanted to blog about.   But as a full-time student working a full-time job, blogging time is very limited (to non-existent).  Perhaps it would be faster to record an audio file than it would be to type, which would allow me to share more of what is swirling around in my brain. 

The post in May was about my son’s high school graduation. It seems that the well is dry so often these days.  I was really hurting and originally posted because I was hoping for encouragement.  Instead I was caught off guard by the responses I got on FB. 

Now, let me make it clear that I am not upset with anyone who commented to that post.  I am just taking that discussion and blogging it, because I feel the subject of boundaries that surfaced is very important.  I have read MANY discussions about adoptive parents “setting boundaries” against the original parent(s).  But don’t recall boundaries being discussed between original mothers relating to our children when they are older. 

Healthy boundaries are different for every one of us, whether we are original parents, adoptees, or adoptive parents.  We all need to figure out our own healthy boundary lines – even with relationships having nothing to do with adoption.  Sometimes we move or change those boundaries as we grow personally.

So, back to the graduation thread …

Several responses had to do with the idea that I should “just go to his graduation.”  I tried to explain that around here, you don’t “just go” to a graduation.  Seating is limited and they give out tickets in advance.  You do not get in the door without a ticket.  Apparently not all High School Graduation ceremonies are like this across the country, but here it is not open to the public.

*Even with this information one response was that I could go to the graduation anyway and just sit out in the parking lot in my car. 

I know the woman who suggested this is hurting very much and gets very little information about her young son, and that makes me sad for her.  At the same time the suggestion was out of the question for me.  My own boundary is that I will not do anything to cause me to hide and duck from police/security.  Where is the honor in that? 

Think too for a few moments about the violence we’ve seen this past year on school grounds.  I imagine any one responsible for security would be more vigilant than ever to look for anything “out of place.” 

Imagine, had I gone, and was asked or leave or arrested, imagine if my son witnessed that?  He would be mortified!  Imagine if one of his classmates saw it – my son would be embarrassed.  Imagine if it would have ended up in the local paper!  None of those situations would bring about positive results.

*Another was asking that if I did go and sit out in the parking lot, wouldn’t it make me feel good just knowing he was in that building?

Quite frankly, no, it would not. If anything, it would have made me feel WORSE – knowing that he was in there and I was not invited, but excluded.

That was his big day.  I did not want to do anything to take the spotlight off him.  Knowing full well that his adoptive family is there, I did not want to do anything to put him in an awkward situation.  Even if deep inside he would have wanted to invite me, it would have likely caused too much turmoil for him. 

The reality is that I am second fiddle right now, and sitting in a parking lot would have only been a stark reminder of how incredibly true this is.

 *Another push-back I got was asking how showing up at his graduation would be different from going to any of his sporting events over the past two years.

Regular readers here know that we (my husband/his father and I) have gone to see our son at a few track/cross country events.  We went to the larger events that would have a larger crowd and each one was a public event.  There have been some events I found out about, such as one that was not sports related.  But I did not know if it was open to the public, therefore I did not go.

To me there is a very clear distinction between public and private space.  This is actually my first test to determine if something is within a healthy boundary or not.  I believe it is crucial to respect his private space.  He is not a seven year old boy, and I need to allow him to have privacy and I must respect his private space.   His adoptive parents do not “own” him and neither do I. 

*One last comment I want to mention was the input “But he has not told you to stay away.”

My thought on this is – Exactly!  Nor do I want to provoke him to the point that he would have to tell me to stay away.  I feel that I must weigh all of my actions carefully to avoid this kind of negative confrontation.

If I were to continue acting with the frame of mind “he didn’t tell me no” – and I do that over and over again.  If it finally gets to a point that he would actually tell me no, then I have already crossed one of his boundaries and it would then be much harder trying to repair the damage.

I hope that restraint will be worth something someday.  I have known his last name for almost three years.  In that time I have not been to his high school, his hometown, or driven by his home. 

All opportunities to watch at public events are over now as he went off to college last month – eight hours away in another state.  That will be his territory.  We won’t be able to watch, unless he opens the door and invites us into his space.

So those are my self-imposed boundaries.  I am not ashamed of any actions I have or have not taken.  I also think these boundaries keep us from falling into a stalker category.

Open for discussion, ideas, or thoughts. . . How did you approach finding healthy boundaries with your adult adopted son or daughter?



  1. Hi Cheerio. I've been reading here for a while, but I don't think Ive ever commented. I know you asked about adopted children, and here I am maybe crossing boundaries (ironic huh?) by commenting on a parent/child relationship that is biological.
    My MIL is an adoptee and had a great deal of involvement in our daughter relinquishing her daughter. I believe the fact that my MIL is adopted had a great deal to do with her actions when my daughter relinquished. Her actions hurt us deeply and has caused her son, my husband, to withdraw from his relationship with his parents. He has asked for no contact, but his mother refuses to respect those boundaries. I know she is hurting, and I know the rejection of her son is probably magnified because of her own experiences of being adopted. My husband knows this, too. He does not act to hurt her but to guard himself against future offenses committed by her. Her refusing to respect the boundaries he has set only hardens his heart against her.
    I wish things were different for them. I know everyone is hurting over the situation, but if you don't respect the boundaries someone has set you risk those boundaries becoming set and immovable forever.
    I think you were right not to "crash" the graduation. I may have felt differently at one time but seeing my husbands pain over his own parents disregard for his wishes, I believe you were correct.

    1. Thank you KellyC for taking the time to comment. I'm sorry to read that your daughter has given up a child and the ripple affect on the entire family. I hope that your husband and his mother can find a way to work through their hurts.
      It sounds complicated but from the little you've shared here, it sounds like his situation is relevant to respecting boundaries.
      again, thank you for taking time to comment