Dear Annie: When I was a teenager I gave up a child for adoption. Eighteen years later, “Doris” came looking for me, and we formed a very cordial relationship. By then, I was married and had three other children. Doris was also married, with children, and she and I visited often. I attended funerals, weddings, births, birthdays, dance recitals and holiday gatherings with her family for some 25 years.
When my husband died and Doris divorced, things changed, and I don’t know why. She became distant. When she eventually remarried, I was happy for her. But when I married again six years after my husband died, she agreed to be in the wedding and then told me neither she nor her children would attend.
Apparently, she had a disagreement with my daughter and couldn’t apologize. It has been three years, and there has been no attempt on either side to reconcile. Doris repeatedly told me not to contact her or her children, so I haven’t. Her children want nothing to do with me, and I was not invited to her oldest child’s wedding.
Doris is a troubled woman and lies constantly. I suspect she has told her children – my grandchildren – all kinds of untrue things about our estrangement. She lied to her adoptive mother that I hadn’t invited her to my wedding, and when I said I had her message recorded on my answering machine, she went ballistic.
Is this genetic or environmental? She has been in counseling since childhood and admits to manipulating the counselors. I’m not sure what to do. – Confused
Dear Confused: We wouldn’t attempt to diagnose Doris. It simply seems that whatever argument she had with your daughter precipitated a more complicated estrangement. You can try to get to the bottom of it, but you’d have to be very gentle and patient, and we cannot promise results. Frankly, we are surprised you had 25 good years. Many adoptee reunions don’t work out nearly so well.
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