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Postby Alleycat Nextdoor » Thu Mar 21, 2013 1:36 pm

Hi All, I have a bit of a dilemma at the moment, not strictly an adoption issue but it is related to the situation. I hope someone can help me with this.

My mother-in-law was adopted as a baby in 1942 and is almost 71 years old now; I am convinced that the events surrounding her birth and subsequent adoption have resulted in her suffering a number of psychological problems throughout her life; I am also aware that there were mental-health issues in the family of her birth father. I first met her over 25 years ago when she came with her son to live nextdoor to me (in fact I mentioned in a previous post that my "handle" on this forum is the name by which she referred to me!) She made no secret of the fact that she disliked and disapproved of me because at the time I was newly-divorced with young children, but her opinion of me has always been the least of my worries. She was apparently quite vicious towards my husband during his upbringing; I found her to be intransigent and controlling, and it is no wonder that he was glad to be free of her. He and I have been together for 26 years now, and married for 20 of those. She never forgave me for "taking her son away from her" or later for making the discovery that he is illegitimate; she had masqueraded as a widow since he was born and presumably imagined her well-rehearsed cover story to be "water-tight" until I came on the scene. I was never proud of the fact that I had unwittingly exposed her.

Just before my husband and I moved away together I telephoned her and she said rather angrily, "I'm not interested; don't you get the message?" and hung up on me; I have not spoken to her since then. A few months later she turned up at our house, unexpectedly and uninvited, 100 miles from where she was living. My husband sent her packing with a flea in her ear and her parting remark to him was, "Oh yes, I've heard that you've got a gun held to your head..." From that day to this we have heard nothing from, or about, her.

Yesterday I had a message from someone who knows her, to tell me that she is a resident in a special home for people with dementia and all of a sudden I feel concerned and desperately sorry for her, particularly as she has no relatives apart from my husband and may be very bewildered and probably lonely. I told my husband of this discovery, and while he understands very well my caring and compassionate nature, he thinks we should "leave well alone". Obviously I would not do anything further without his prior knowledge or approval but this situation is hard to ignore and maybe a kind word or a visit to see her would not go amiss, in her declining years.

So, what would YOU do....?
There is good in everything and everybody
But you cannot always find it
Alleycat Nextdoor
Posts: 32
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2007 8:29 pm
Location: South Wales

Re: Dilemma

Postby cariad1 » Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:35 pm

Hi alleycat

It is a dilemma for you and your husband after being treated so badly in the past. My a.mum is in a nursing home with Alzheimer's. she was diagnosed in 2009 but now looking back she was showing signs of this at least 10 years earlier. Her behaviour at times was awful - now I see it was her illness which is not just a case of forgetting things. Frightened by what was happening to her she would blame other people for her behaviour, she would also try to keep me away from my a. Dad so we couldn't talk about her. She was paranoid, tell lies and became increasingly aggressive both physically and emotionally. In later years she would be very impatient and short tempered ironically as her illness has progressed and she deteriorates she was easier to handle. I used to feel hurt because I used to feel let down by her - she would forget babysitting duties, any information about my life and what I was doing. Knowing now that it was illness that has caused this has helped me to try and forget the hurt that I used to feel and try and remember her good points of which there were many. No one really knows when or how dementia starts so it is possible that your mother in law has had this illness for years hence her bad behaviour. Only you and your hubby can decide wether to go and visit her. I do know I had several hard years caring for my a.dad and a. Mum. My a. Mum had to go into a nursing home and two months later my a. Dad passed away I can look back knowing that I had done my utmost to look after them especially at times when I would have loved to walk away from it all. So yes if it was me I would go.

Good luck with whatever you decide it won't be easy either way.

Cariad x
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Re: Dilemma

Postby Donotunderstand » Fri Mar 22, 2013 8:07 am

i would encourage your husband to go. So many times you hear of people regretting that they ended a relationship with harsh words and didn't find the time to make things right . She probably won't know who you are but at least, if you try, you'll be at peace with yourself.
Aunt to a sibling group split up by Adoption and Residence Orders. Mum to birth children age 28 & 26, and adopted 14 year old (youngest of the sibling group)
Posts: 174
Joined: Sat Sep 01, 2012 7:07 pm

Re: Dilemma

Postby ladyarcher » Fri Mar 22, 2013 6:41 pm

I would agree with DonotU.........if your husband goes to see his mother, then he will know that he has done all he could do........if he doesn't go, then he will always feel guilty.........however don't let him go there thinking that he and she will fall into his arms and all will be lovely again, and all past imagined slights forgiven........almost certainly either she will go on being as she was, or possibly will not recognise him at all......or may even think that he is his father, particularly if he resembles his father and is still young enough to be mistaken for his father as a younger man.......

Basically your husband would be going in order to spare himself regrets and guilt in the future.......and in fact that is as good a reason as any really .....I would agree with Cariad that it is quite possible that her illness started a lot further back than now........and also agree with you that adoption, and also her eventual unmarried mother status herself will have had a profound effect on her........

I have to say also, that I was in a slightly similar position with my a.mother who was also very difficult but in a different way........she had been unable to live on her own after we moved up to Scotland, and her 'very good friends' were busy ringing me and writing to me about this.....plenty of guilt trips there........in fact she had refused to come with us at the time, but within a year it was obvious that she would have to live with us........so we had her with us for about three years.........the children hated it,....... but when I was a child, and young person I had promised her that I would look after her.....the conversation would go like this

mother.....'I don't want to be a burden to you......you must put me in a home '
me.........'of course I won't, I would never do that to anyone.........'

..it did our family life no good at all........eventually she was going into a home regularly to give us respite.......I was also caring for our new grandson so his mother and her partner could work, and they lived with us as well.........the respites were getting longer and when I visited her, she was frequently either not quite knowing who I was, mixed with hand wringing that I was leaving her there at the end of a visit...........so I was tending to go less and less.......there seemed little point as either she did not know me, or seeing me upset her...........the inevitable happened of course, she was in respite so we could go down to Wales to see our younger daughter's end of University exhibition, and I got a phone call from our minister's wife to say that mother had died.........no prizes for guessing the guilty feelings........and also, of course, one tends to then look back to 'good times' of which there were many when I was still a child........and forget the difficulties between us once I managed to get a mind of my own at around the age of 30 .........

So, yes, your husband should go.......but for his own sake .........for yourself, I would go with him if you can for support, but perhaps stay in the car, in case seeing you might get through her mental 'fog' and cause the visit to be even more stressful than it will be anyway.......

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Re: Dilemma

Postby Alleycat Nextdoor » Sat Mar 23, 2013 10:43 am

Thanks everyone for your kind and reassuring comments.

My husband is currently in his final year of a Degree at University, trying to complete his dissertation, so I don't want to bother him at the moment with further talk of this situation - but he finishes in June and hopefully then I can broach the subject again. I haven't contacted the Home where his mother is, but I may well do that in order to understand the state of play. Perhaps they are unaware that she has a son. I'll be sure to let you know how it all goes xx
There is good in everything and everybody
But you cannot always find it
Alleycat Nextdoor
Posts: 32
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2007 8:29 pm
Location: South Wales

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