Friday, October 16, 2009

Apologies and Forgiveness

Writing about governmental apologies caused me to ponder issues closer to the bone.

  • Who do you most feel "owes" you an apology? 
  • To whom is your anger most focused?

Have your parents apologized to you for their role in your adoption loss, or their lack of support for a parenting option?

If they did apologize, did it change anything for you? Did you accept their apology? Could you? Would you?

Have you been able to forgive those involved in your loss? Could you? Would you?

My parents went to their graves (the same year as my daughter did) never accepting my daughter as their grandchild, never accepting my pain.  My sister and only sibling shared their feelings and never even sent a condolence card when Alicia died, stating that she never felt she was her niece.  A non acceptable answer since condolences are sent to the living and I surely have always been her full blood sister.  It is common practice to send condolence cards to neighbors, co-workers and many who ar enot related and whose love done we never met.

And yet I forgive them because they are simply ignorant people.  I forgive them and let go for me which does not mean that I condone anything they did in this regard or that I have much to do at all with the one living member of my immediate family (for this and other reasons) SADLY.  I am quite saddened by that because it is yet another loss for me and I have suffered so many...

I would WELCOME an apology from my sister but have accepted, with sadness and disappointment, that it is not to happen.

Acceptance of what cannot be changed and some forgiveness are the cornerstones of living in peace and contentment.

The anger I have not resolved is focused on my agency: Jewish Child Care Assocaition / Ametz of New York. I hold them totally responsible for pressuring me, lying to me and all that ensued to myself and more so to my daughter who has suffered far more than any of us still living.  They were not ignorant. They are culpable. And they continue to violate me to this day by refusing to give me - even redacted - copies of anything I signed prior to the adoption.

How about you?


maryanne said...

I think I have forgiven everyone who needed my forgiveness, and am not interested in nor do I care about apologies at this point. My feeling about apologies is never to expect them but if they are offered to accept graciously and move on.

What's done is done, very long ago, and can never be undone.Many of the people involved have passed on. I forgave my parents years ago. They were very sorry and supportive of my involvement in adoption reform. I forgive my son's father. When I looked him up again years ago he wrote me a letter saying the one thing he was most ashamed of as a man is how he treated me.

Other than that, there is nobody else to forgive or to look for apologies from. My brother was just a college kid at the time away from home, and he has always been fine about this topic, although there were problems with other issues. My best friends were newly married and had a lot going on in their own lives and had no idea how to help me. They have said they wished they could have done something.

The agency was just a bureaucracy staffed with bureaucrats unenthusiastically and ineptly doing their job. I'm sure they forgot me years ago, and I have forgotten them. I can't waste any emotional energy on them.

Hardest of all to forgive is myself. Sometimes I think I can, othertimes, not so much. But, again, what is done is done, and what helps is trying to live for today. My son is ok no matter what I did, or anyone else did. I am as ok as I am going to be. Life goes on. Let the past bury the past.

Since you asked:-)

Steve said...

I think of the cliche that "Living well is the best revenge" and think it applies to you, Mirah, in a better and deeper way than the original person who coined it meant. First, I don't think you are motivated by revenge! But you certainly are living the way Ralph Waldo meant in your side column, perhaps.

You are making a difference in countless lives, and facing the pain. Pain that is acknowledged and really felt is not the cancer that denied pain is. Denial is aspirin for a brain tumor, where acknowledging the pain is holistic and maybe better than surgery. Well, I kind of twisted the metaphor, but I hope you get my drift.

I have not experienced personally the exact pain you share in this blog, yet I love people who have felt it, on all three sides of the equation. Your words are healing for me, for my thoughts for them, but also for my own pains, and my own dealing with those who have betrayed me.

Again, Mirah, I gotta say it! I really see the work of the messiah, who came to bind up the brokenhearted (Isa 61) in your painful propitiation!

It is goodness at a level that many people cannot even see...even as they are bettered by it.

I am getting mushy here...sorry...but you draw it out of me!

AdoptAuthor said...

Aw shucks, You're way to kind.

I thin when we talk about denial we need to distinguish conscious from unconscious, the later is powerful. It's the brains' anesthetic from grave trauma.

As for self-forgiveness, I have debated with MaryAnne this issue for decades. I recognize a difference within myself between deserved and undeserved guilt. The line of demarcation for me is intent.

If I harm someone unintentionally I feel bad and regret it, but i do not feel guilty. Same is true for a situation like the loss of my daughter to adoption - a no-win situation I found myself in with no viable options. A situation where to fight is utterly futile, and in this case "selfish" and wrong. I did what I was told it was best. I feel no guilt for that. I feel tremendous regret that it happened, but no guilt and thus no issue of self-forgiveness for me.

Besides, I'm not religious but i figure if God can forgive the worst sinner on earth - who am I to disagree?

maryanne said...

I feel guilty about a lot of lousy things I have done, no matter what my intent was at the time, because the results hurt others. Hey, I'm Catholic, guilt comes with the territory:-)

We each deal with this in our own way, and we each had different circumstances, strengths, and weaknesses at the time we surrendered. None of us can really know the heart of another person.

For myself, although there are still some feelings of guilt, the more important part is taking responsibility for what I did, rather than looking for others to blame it on. They did what they did, and have to live with that, but I also have to live with my part in surrendering my son. I am not talking about any other mother here, just me.

I was never comforted by the kind of blanket absolution that surrender is never the responsibility of the surrendering mother because of a whole raft of mitigating circumstances. In my case, I know what I did, what others did, what the results have been. I feel better and more honest trying to see things clearly and taking responsibility for my own actions. I do not see guilt as wholly negative emotion unless one is overwhelmed by it. Guilt is a part of conscience, knowning when we have done wrong. For me it has been something to make peace with and live with, not something to deny or run away from.

AdoptAuthor said...

I am glad you find comfort in these rituals.

Not being Catholic, I do not understand the concept of confessing sins to mortal (and sometimes immoral) men or their ability to offer absolution especially to Sunday Catholics who repeat the same offenses over and over. And don't even get me started on sinful thoughts!

Nor do I ever feel the need to confess my sins and ask for forgiveness on Yom Kippur.

But if I did, I certainly do not the loss of my child a a sin committed by me that needs forgiveness. God knows I did my utter best to keep my child and fought signing papers for six months and only did so after extreme pressure to do so. I committed no sin and need no one's forgiveness except my daughter's and my self.

I agree TOTALLY that we need to take responsibility and to feel guilty about our WRONGS. But I do not feel I - or any of us - did wrong to do what we were told by ALL authority figures from our parents to our religious leaders was RIGHT! To defy them would also have been WRONG, would it not? Were we not in a no-win situation?

Of course many have turned off to their religious upbringing because of the involvement of the "church" in their loss and the lies they were told and were told to tell. But if it comforts you, I am truly happy for you. After al, that is the purpose of comfort us...and to to instill guilt to keep us in line. Our "sin" was in having sex outside of marriage (or in my case in an unrecognized marriage). our loss was our punishment for that sin. Nothing we can do now can erase any of that....adoption already has erased our connection to our children. that was its purpose and it suceeded.

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