PAGE # 65
Approximately 3:00 am 

I was dreaming about sex.

I saw legs and arms.  Intertwined.  Bare skin.

There was no sound.

It must have been somewhat titillating, at least initially, because when I did finally wake, a layer of arousal was detectable beneath the crushing force of horror.

The sexual imagery, faint at first, had given way to a stark picture:  a man was penetrating a woman, with force, and when their heads turned, I saw Tom and Kendra.  I couldn't tell if they could see me or not; either way, they seemed too preoccupied to care.  

I woke up just after their faces were revealed to me.  

Baby Lily was still asleep--she slept for hours between bottles.  Tom was totally out too.  I could only blame my own brain for disturbing my slumber.  How rude!

I didn't move, my body paralyzed by competing needs:  I felt sexually frustrated on the one hand--my unconscious had teased me into a state of arousal--but had ultimately taunted me with this disturbing image of infidelity.  Tom and our baby's birthmother?

In total contrast to my physical state, was my cognitive one:  What the hell was that?

I could explain the physical response easily enough:  it's normal to have a sexual response to a sexual dream; on the other hand, I could not ignore the psychological implications of such a nightmare.

What did the dream mean?

My analysis then:

My brain was trying to explain the sudden appearance of a baby in our lives.  My body had not created this child, so how was she ours?  The dream, though primitive, created an explanation of how the baby could belong to us (at least to Tom) in an official, biological way.

A more disturbing element of the nightmare was the forcefulness Tom employed during his penetration of Kendra.  Although the dream did not indicate any protest from Kendra, there was an element of rape implicit in the nightmare.  For my unconscious, rape seemed to symbolize taking a baby away from its mother.     

My analysis now:

Although I never felt threatened by Kendra, I cannot ignore the obvious:  dreaming about one's husband with another woman is bound to be about jealousy, at least on some level.   

Since starting this blog, I have become a reader of other adoption related blogs.  I have now learned that many birthmothers, originally promised an open adoption, are later dumped by the adoptive family.  People often speculate that perhaps the adoptive parents are too intimidated by the birth mother; that they don't want to "share" their adopted child with the natural mother.

But, after rethinking this dream--this crazy dream--I offer a new explanation:  I think it is very likely that such adoptive mothers may not want their husbands around this other woman.  As an adoptive mother sees her husband grow to love their adopted child, I think it's entirely possible that she may also resent this other woman--likely younger, more attractive, more fertile--as a potential usurper of her own status as a wife.  I'm not suggesting this actually occurs on a conscious level (although that could also be possible in some cases), but I think it must be hard for an adoptive mother to "share" her husband.  It must be some territorial instinct to get away from this other woman.

Make no mistake:  I'm not condoning the behavior of adoptive parents who renege on their promise of an open adoption.  I think it is tragic for the child and the natural family.  I think it is downright selfish.  I'm merely using my own nightmare, and some analysis of it, to suggest a possible explanation for why some open adoptions turn otherwise.

Perhaps it's an entirely normal phenomenon for adoptive mothers to feel some jealousy toward the birth mother, even on a sexual level (after all, a baby does come from sex!); moreover, because such feelings are likely considered "taboo," it's probable that an adoptive mother never finds a safe place (i.e. good enough therapy) to acknowledge and work through any negative emotions one might be experiencing.  Instead, jealous rage gets acted out, open adoptions close, and birth mothers are denied any and all access to their biological children.

In the story of Baby Lily, our adoption experience ended before I experienced any conscious resentment of Kendra.  Maybe I never would have.  But the passage of time, coupled with the ambivalent nature of the human condition, and mixed in with the challenges inherent in any adoptive family--I'd bet jealously is a common experience in the adoption triad, albeit an unspoken one.

To Be Continued...


Samuela said...

Wow. I have thought many times my child's adoptive mother had these very same thoughts about me. Her treatment of me after I found my child (it was a supposed open adoption and I met and spent time with she and her husband before my child was born). They acted like I was some stranger they had never met in their life and avoided me at all costs.

I am now content with being the elephant in the room that no one wants to face because they are jealous, insecure and possessive of a child they know they are not responsible for being on this earth.

Actions speak more than a thousand words. It would have taken more courage and guts to face me, communicate with me and treat me as a human being who is deserving as just much respect as they are. They instead chose to act in fear and cowardice. I lost while they gained and they still felt it necessary to treat me like that. They have only proven what type of people they truly are. I know who I am and I rest easy.

Yes, I am very content.

Addison Cooper said...

Wow - what a powerful post. Thanks for writing what you write.

Lorraine Dusky said...

First mother here: An idea I've never had but makes sense.

Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy said...

I think you hit a nail on the head there. I have seen so much fear created about "the birthmother", an false expectation of power that is not there and that is from within Adoptionland.
The public, does not often take the PC path of false kindness and gratitude, but vilifies the relinquishing mother as a loose women, the whore, irresponsible, and of course a bad mother for thinking about adoption. Damned for her converted fertility and the most obviously product of her sexuality, the child.
Even under the guise of "adoption speak" I wonder at times. When I hear peole saying things about "we love our sons birthmother so much. She is so strong, selfless, blah blah", is it not just boxing her in some other stereotype that separates her, makes her somehow different, so "not like me".
And then there are the standard insults: anyone can give birth, but not everyone can be a parent. How many times have I held my fingers back from saying..really? Anyone can give birth? Well obviously you couldn't. Alas, I take the kind road, though I just admitted my own unkind thoughts here.
Shushhhh..don't tell!

LauraD said...

Wow, just wow. I totally applaud you for working out the subconscious meaning of your dream, and for sharing it. This definitely makes "perfect sense," although I put perfect sense in quotes--it makes sense that a woman would feel jealous. Of a younger, more fertile woman, who is the first mother to the baby you are raising.

I am so glad that you've been able to bring this notion out of your dream state, into your waking life, set it on the table, examine it and ... I hope, make peace with it. I'll keep on reading!

Dolores said...

In my situation, as a birthmom, I know this is not the case...I am older and definetely not more attractive than my daughters adoptive mom. Although I do think jealousy can be common in adoption. A birthmom could become jealous of the adoptive mom raising her child and being with her child everyday and an adoptive mom could be jealous that she is not the one that gave birth, of the bond that is there.