Question: On social media, I posted a cute photo of my cute son doing a cute thing. My son’s mom commented:
It sucks to only see pix of him here. I wish you’d send me some. Oh, well, at least I get something.
I’m not really sure what to say? We’ve never had an agreement where I text her pics formally. But my relationship with birth mom includes connecting with her on social media so she can look at pix anytime and even screen shot them for herself.
I would love to text her every little moment but I just don’t have time. I understand that she is missing him. But the point of connecting on social media was for her to see him, like everyone else. I get a moment to upload a pic and everyone gets to see it, particularly her.
This Isn’t Really about the Photos
I can understand why it would be time-consuming to text her directly all the photos you’re already posting, Jacquie. And you’re right that she must be missing him terribly, living for the moments when she gets to see what he’s up to — moments she wishes desperately were hers to witness.
I think her message is more about how she feels than what she sees. She is articulating the symptom of the problem rather than the problem itself. Something else is behind her words.
Meeting Her Needs Also Meets Yours
My guess is that because of the special connection you share — your son — she’d like to be reassured once in awhile that she’s in your inner circle, someone who merits a private peek.
By giving her occasional reassurance of her special role and status, I bet she’ll get filled up more easily and more often and both your needs will be met.
This is the difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. Between imposing an agreement from the outside and embracing a relationship from the inside. This means building a meaningful connection with her and not just a perfunctory one.
Even if you follow an agreement and give pictures on schedule but don’t really build a connection with her, she will never get filled up. If you build a connection by valuing her and treating her as though you value her, she’s more likely to get filled up.
How do you show you value her? By actually valuing her (not saying you don’t). Otherwise you will be continually filling a bucket with a hole in the bottom.
This is called enlightened self-interest. So often the shortest route to meeting your own needs is to meet the other person’s.
- What Do I Do When She Lies to My Face?
- Setting and Patrolling Adoption Boundaries
- Reforming Adoption at the Hyperlocal (Heart) Level
About this Open Adoption Advice Column
- I am not trained as a therapist. Please do not rely on words in this space to make your own major or minor decisions.
- Readers are encouraged to weigh in thoughtfully and respectfully. Remember that this is a teaching endeavor rather than a shaming endeavor, and that we aim to bring light rather than heat. It’s my belief that people do the best they can with what they have to work with, and our goal is to give folks more to work with.
- Send in your own open adoption question. I’ll either offer an answer or find someone who can address your issue.
Lori Holden, mom of a teen son and a teen daughter, blogs from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life.