When I was pregnant I was told by the Adoption Counselor about these parents. She carried on about how wonderful they were and how perfect they were for my unborn child. I was told about how the PAM was the most infertile woman the Counselor had ever come across. Back then these little comments gave me hope that Ashley would be loved and have the most wonderful childhood. Now I realize these were tactics used to manipulate me.
After Ashley turned 18 and I was starting to gather information (yes, I'm an information gatherer). Everything I was seeing showed that Ashley had everything her heart desired. She was a cheerleader, was an honor student, had tons of friends and was getting ready to go to a very good private university. It appeared she had the perfect wonderful life. When I use to be on adoption .com an Adoptee commented on one of my posts, "she hit the adoptee lotto".
Ashley had gotten into a sorority, I'm guessing the same one her Adoptive Mother was in. All responses I received from the agency rejecting any reunion were emails forwarded to me, signed by "Her Dad". Okay, she's not 21 yet and the Agency's policy requires parental permission until the child reaches 21. So I let that slide.
I would stumble across blogs written by Ashley. Most of the postings made me smile. A few had me a little confused. She would talk about how she had this problem and she would go to her Dad to have him solve it for her. My concern is; these problems were simple...a 5 year old could come up with their own conclusion. I began to wonder if she was so sheltered that she never had to figure things out on her own, someone always did it for her. I understand getting advice or getting a different perspective on things, but I can't understand allowing someone else to actually solve your problems for you. Again, I let it slide.
In the few references she made about contacting me she always said her boyfriend was going to do it for her, her boyfriend would write the letter, her boyfriend would include pictures, her boyfriend would send this little package to me...her boyfriend. It was never "I", it was always "her boyfriend". Even the MySpace profile I had, after I had to lock it down it was her boyfriend who friended me (using a fake name) so he could get access to the little stories I wrote. She always had someone else doing this for her. I'm guessing it is because she could honestly say she wasn't the one looking this up. At the time I thought this was how she felt comfortable...so I let it slide.
Ashley's boyfriend (now ex-boyfriend) had an open social media profile. Sometimes I would check it. Ashley had posted a question asking the boyfriend what should she do. It was odd...it was another simple solution she could have figured out on her own. I'm starting to wonder if she can solve simple problems on her own. I let it slide.
My former HR Manager brought in her daughter's yearbooks, she let me scan the pictures of Ashley. In the back of the Senior yearbook were ads that parents put in for their graduating children. The ads were 1/4 - 1/2 page ads and they were predominantly sweet and funny. I came across a full page ad, there was a picture of Ashley when she was a baby, another picture of her with a friend on a boat when she was about 6 or 7 years old and two cheerleading pictures. I loved the pictures, but it was the message that I thought was strange.
(I rubbed out the obvious names...in case you couldn't figure that out)
Am I reading the message wrong?
"You made us a family"...this I understand, but to me it sounds like a guilt trip.
"You should never forget the special story"...okay, it's their story about how she came to them. (I am curious about what she was told, but in time I know I will find out.) This also sounded like another guilt trip.
"You became a great big sis"...the adoptive parents finally conceived and gave birth to their very first biological child. This I already knew and I was always so happy for them and I had hoped that the Adoptive Mother would know how much I love Ashley. Were they reminding her this was the only sister she would ever have?
"You made the house a delight with your friends"...I was glad to see that she was fun and had fun friends.
"Your achievements made all of us proud"...well of course, who wouldn't be proud? I was very proud and I was kept out of her life. Was this another guilt trip? Reminding her of what they did for her?
"You will feel our love forever as we do yours"...WHOA! Hold the phone! I thought this was a little weird. Are they trying to say that only they can love her? This sounded a little controlling to me and why on earth would you put that in a High School yearbook? It's normal for people to assume the parents love their children, was it necessary to put it in an ad for her Senior yearbook for everyone to see?
"YOU ARE ***** ********* *****"...seriously, was it necessary to scream out her name? Was she doubting this name? Was she questioning who she was and the family had to keep drilling in her head that she belonged to them? I'm sure she knows what her legal name is and actually, I like the name they gave her!! Were they concerned she would find out what her birth name was and start using that? Seriously, the girl knows her name I don't see the need in screaming it out in a full page ad in a High School yearbook.
This ad did not sit well with me. It found it to be very bizarre and unnecessary when compared to the other ads. It was like some competition and Ashley's family wanted to make sure that everyone who went through that yearbook for years to come saw that ad! To me it looked like a sick, twisted reminder that they own her. My HR Manager thought it was really weird too. She told me about the things the Adoptive Mother had said about me...you name it, she said it. I let those comments roll off of me, they don't know me and they are feeling insecure and hopefully one day they will realize that I can not step in and be Mom because Ashley already has a Mom who deserves that title more than me. So I let the yearbook and the comments made about me slide off.
Last week I was wanting to reach out to Ashley, this need was overpowering. Sure, I have always wanted to reach out to her, but this time I had this strange sense of urgency. So, I was weighing out my options. If I'm going to reach out I want to do it in a way that will not cause anyone to feel threatened or freak anyone out. I don't want Ashley's Adoptive Mom to feel insecure, I can not or will not try to take her place. I just want to get to know Ashley! A client at the salon/spa I work at is a Private Investigator. I asked her how much would it cost to get a mailing address, just a mailing address, nothing more. The Investigator told me to email the info to her and she will see what she can find. So I did and I explained a little bit to her about the situation. She checked, kept sending me emails wanting to clarify what she was finding. By Friday she sent me an email telling me everything was pointing to the adoptive parents, she can tell Ashley lives about 300 miles south, but EVERYTHING has the parents names and address on it. She said it looked like they were maintaining control of her by taking care of everything financially.
The last couple of years I had this feeling that the reason Ashley didn't want to make contact was out of fear that her Adoptive family would cut her off financially. Last month when I was driving and I ended up behind the truck that belonged to the Adoptive Dad I was wondering what this could mean. Now I think I know...it was a reminder that they stood in the way of me and Ashley getting to know one another. I am starting to believe that Ashley is just a possession to them, I really do hope I am wrong!!
So here I am today. There is a roadblock in front of me. As I have mentioned before, I am a stubborn, inquisitive little thing and if I feel in my heart that it is important for me to proceed I will...with caution if need be. So here is this roadblock and I need to figure out the best way to proceed.
I can just stand there staring at the roadblock and throw my hands up in the air, but that is so not like me.
I can go around the roadblock by reaching out to Ashley's friend (who I don't think would be completely honest with me) or even reaching out to the now ex-boyfriend (the one who was suppose to be handling contact with me for Ashley).
I could jump over the roadblock and proceed with making direct contact, but if the Adoptive parents are still controlling this 23 year old who graduated college over a year ago then I would think it would be safe to guess that they are monitoring her mail and all forms of electronic communications.
I could just blow right through that roadblock by reaching out to the Adoptive Mother. I know this is a bad idea and would make the situation worse, but that would be her own insecurity and not mine...I have always been willing to embrace the Adoptive Mother and I have always carried her in my heart too!
So now to decide the best way to handle this roadblock that is before me...