Abandoned in Adrian

  • Posted on June 27, 2016 at 5:13 pm

Dear Christine,

I was with my partner for 7 years. We had a child together with her as the birth mother in our 2nd year together by a Donor we choose together.  The plan was to have another child with the same donor and me as the birth mother.  I’m devastated  that two years ago the love of my life cheated on me and left me. What has become even harder is the fact that now she won’t let me see our son. At first she agreed to shared parenting.  I haven’t seen my son in a year now and she doesn’t seem to care that it’s killing me. I’m hoping to convince her that allowing our son to continue to see me is in his best interest.  I don’t want him to think I abandoned him but I’m afraid by now he is forgetting me. Can you speak to the effects it may have on a child when one parent denies another visitation. Also, should I let go or continue to fight?  As much as it hurts, I want to do what’s best for my child.

Thanks, Abandoned in Adrian

PS my next question is, how can I ever trust anyone with my heart again?

Dear Abandoned,
I am so sorry for the break-up of your relationship with your partner and most of all, for her keeping your son from you.  It sounds like he must have been about 4 years old when you disappeared from being a mom in his day-to-day life. It’s horrible for you, but it is destructive to his mental health and emotional development.

Toddlers don’t understand relationships, but they do rely on their parents to be there and not just disappear.  They learn object permanence by having mom go away to work which feels like she’s leaving forever.  And then they learn she always comes back.  Except you never got the chance to come back.  It has to be tremendously confusing and scary for him.

For a child younger than 11 years old to experience parental absence for a year or more, but not from death, puts him at risk for depression and anxiety.  Parental death is less devastating to children.

Of course, it has just been a year since the Supreme Court legally permitted gays and lesbians to marry, so I’m sure you were not able to take advantage of the rights of married parents.  And you are not the birth mother, and if you were not the adoptive mother, then your rights are very slim.  Now, what to do is difficult:  you don’t want to have regrets that you didn’t do something that would have helped reunite you with your son.  But you also don’t want to harm yourself even more, financially, emotionally and spiritually.  Only you can monitor how much is best for you to do.  Listen to the advice of lawyers who have your best interests in mind.  Get several opinions.  Then do whatever you have to do to live with yourself.

I encourage you to check out your legal options  with Lambda Legal, The American Civil Liberties Union, perhaps local attorneys who are experienced in similar cases.  Also check out if your ex might be willing to do some mediation.  Trained mediators can help you both communicate and negotiate for what is best for your son in maintaining relationships with both of his moms, keeping him the focus.

Meanwhile, get some support for yourself.  Find good friends and family you can lean on, cry with and get it all out with.  If you are spiritual, seek prayer and guidance from a spiritual leader, minister, rabbi or imam.  Also, consider individual psychotherapy to help you deal with the rejection, pain, confusion and bitterness.  You have been shattered and your family has been destroyed, but you are still here.  You don’t know if your son will surface one day, looking for you.  Meanwhile, start writing to him, probably not a public blog, but some way of recording your feelings and thoughts about him, and creating evidence that you did not abandon him, no matter how this looks to him.  One day, he may get to read those thoughts and know you.  As an adult one day, I hope he will be able to receive your never-ending love and the two of you might reconnect.

But there are no guarantees.  I have seen these situations  in many gay and lesbian couples who have not had the benefit of marriage, and in straight couples where one came out as gay or lesbian, so the straight parent retaliated by keeping the biological children from their other legal parent.

You must figure out, over time, what you need to do to live with yourself.  This pain is worse than death because there is no closure and you never get to realize it’s all over and try to move on.  Every day, you know your son is out there, and you wonder if he remembers you, misses you and if one day you might get to see him, hug him again.

It is easy to stay in bitterness.  It is easy to become hard.  Trust has been broken and the one who broke it has little interest in regaining any trust with you again.  The truth here is that you have to learn to trust yourself.  You have to decided if, one day, you are willing to enter that vulnerable land of love and relationship again.  I don’t know what your decision is.  If you do return to love again, I can guarantee that you will be hurt again.  Hopefully never this badly again, but when you open yourself up, you can and will be hurt, even if it is accidental or coincidental and not deliberate.  Take the time you need to love yourself, trust yourself and do your best to take good care of you.  I wish you the best.  Please write again. I care.

I leave you with two quotes that came to mind as I first read your letter.  They are both quotes of hope in the midst of pain.  Love in the midst of hate.  You have to be who you are, and who you are is not the same as what has been done to you.  None of this is your fault in any way, and when you are able, I hope these quotes bring some hope to you in rebuilding yourself.

Christine Cantrell, PhD

Licensed Psychologist

Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.


The Paradoxical Commandments

by Dr. Kent M. Keith

  • People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
    Love them anyway.
  • If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
    Do good anyway.
  • If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
    Succeed anyway.
  • The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
    Do good anyway.
  • Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
    Be honest and frank anyway.
  • The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
    Think big anyway.
  • People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
    Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
  • What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
    Build anyway.
  • People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
    Help people anyway.
  • Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
    Give the world the best you have anyway.

Pasted from <http://prayerfoundation.org/mother_teresa_do_it_anyway.htm

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