Thursday, May 05, 2011

Family and Loss

My aparents are visiting this week, having just returned to California from a trip to the Midwest to see two of my mom's sibs. My mom's eldest brother passed away last week after a 30+ year valiant battle with Parkinson's. Sadly, we have discovered that his "caretaker" took advantage of my aunt, his wife, who appears to be in the early stages of Alzheimer's and tried to scam my aunt out of her money and her home.

It's possible that the "caretaker" hastened the death of my uncle. We know that my uncle was taken from his deathbed, against his wishes, to witness my aunt (who was likely drugged) give power of attorney and her assets to a man she had known fewer than two weeks.

I have seen stories like this on television and read about them, and they sickened me. It's absolutely horrific when violations of trust and crimes happen to people you love.

My aunt and uncle do not have children. I am sure that the "caretaker" who quit her job at the rehab center to follow my uncle home and "direct" hospice care took note of this. She also took note of my aunt's strained relationship with her brother, and worked hard to alienate my aunt from other family members, like my parents, and old friends who might be suspicious or could contradict the fabricated tales these lowlifes were spinning.

My aunt is fortunate that the police in her community and family have rallied to separate her from these new "friends" of hers who have stolen money from her; as the days go by, her mind is clearing and she and we believe that she probably was drugged to make her more docile and agreeable to their nefarious plans. She is a feisty Connecticut woman, and even the cloudiness of early Alzheimer's and her loss could not account for the dreamy laziness of her thinking. None of it made sense.

We hope that we can make a case to go after these assholes criminally. They are the lowest of the low, preying on the vulnerable in their time of greatest need, and it is becoming more clear by the hour that they laid their plans quickly to manipulate my aunt and leave her penniless and alone.

Their criminal ways remind me a great deal of those in the adoption industry who prey on pregnant women who are without financial means or family support to keep their children. "I'll be your friend! Let me help you! I can provide a better home for your child, and then your problems will be solved." Ugh.

Adoption is also inescapably and openly involved in the discussions we've been having with and about family. One of my aunt's nephews, J, recently married, and almost equally recently his wife was diagnosed with Stage III uterine cancer. She had to undergo a hysterectomy and is now getting chemotherapy to fight the cancer. She and J have no children. Apparently my aunt told him (as usual, without great tact or timing, given the cancer and loss of fertility), in the presence of my parents, that adoption is a wonderful, loving option and look how wonderfully it turned out for Kara and her parents.

In some ways what she says is true. I do not have an adoption horror story. I love my parents dearly and cannot at this point imagine a life without them. We understand each other and they support me unconditionally. Since this is the only life I've ever known, it is heartbreaking to imagine the loss of the pleasure of growing up with them and sharing the love of their families. As I have said elsewhere, all I know is that adoption guaranteed me a different life, not one better or worse. It did guarantee me the loss of my identity, and that has been hard.

Reunion is very new to me, and I don't think I've been in the same room with my aunt since my wedding day in 1999, when my adoption issues were very much on the back burner. She has no idea about my long-term feelings of loss. Those feelings don't negate the love I feel for my aparents, but they certainly complicate my lived experience as an adoptee. I am very careful about what and to whom I express about adoption because I don't need to be lectured about loyalties, gratitude, etc.

I may go visit my aunt in June to help arrange for long-term care, and when I do, I wonder if I will be able to open up to her about what's happened to me in the past couple of years related to reunion. Or if she will tacitly or explicitly declare loyalty to my aparents and turn a deaf ear. You never know.

I do know that I love her, and she has been one of the family members who has always accepted me, nerdy quirks and all. I want her to be safe, and we will all miss my uncle, who was one of the kindest, most wonderful people I have ever had the honor to know.


Jenn said...

I'm sorry for your loss, as well as the "caretaker" taking advantage of your aunt and uncle. Some people have no shame (while other's carry it all).

Cassi said...

I am so sorry for your loss.

It is terrible what they tried to take from your aunt. I'm glad there are ways to protect her from that now. I hope everything gets worked out.

Von said...

The unspeakably greedy are everywhere and will prey on anyone without comnpassion.I hope you nail this one.
How well you explain the adoptee's dilemma and hope you get a chance to clarify one aspect in June.

shannon said...

What a terrible story! I hope that your aunt will be understanding if you decide to talk to her.