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#1 of 19 Old 03-03-2012, 09:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Do any of you fear what will happen when your children turn 18? Do you worry that they will forget you as Mom and return to their biological family? I know that my case is different, as I adopted a teen and have a not good open adoption, but I often find myself worrying about when he turns 18 and whether he will put more stock into his relationship with her.

 

My big worry is because we will be moving at some point, across the country. There are more opportunities with moving for all of us, but it is very far from his biological family. He is fine with it, but I worry that later he will move back and leave me. I'm just not very confident in my role obviously, and he makes no hint that he would do that, I'm just insecure I guess.

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#2 of 19 Old 03-03-2012, 01:28 PM
 
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I think it's normal for many young adults (adopted or not) to want some separation from their parents/families.  I would be cautious about living your life in fear that he might choose to "leave" you because if he is healthy (IMO) then he will do so at least in part, as he becomes more independent.  If you get too fearful, will it be tempting to control and/or manipulate him?  This is something that I need to watch pretty constantly within myself, with my own kids (they are a lot younger than yours, but it reared it's ugly head during puberty and my sudden gut-level understanding that "my" kids were not mine, but belonged to themselves, and I wanted to clutch and claw them back to being always mine.  I think this may be just a personality trait of mine, but who knows, perhaps since they are my only known biological relatives and having that connection was more important than I thought it would be, there is an adoptee element in that for me.  Dunno, it doesn't really matter anyway.)

 

He may wish to try to put more effort in his relationship with her;  but I don't really see why that must have anything to do with you, unless you make it be about you, in which case both you and your kid will lose.  Sometimes people really have to invest a lot of time and energy into unhealthy people before they reach the point where they realize it's a bottomless pit and they need to invest more wisely--there's nothing you can really do to prevent that.  Except for be there for him during/after.  People do what they feel they need to do to try to heal themselves, and you can't heal any longing/need he might have for his birth family.  I would say it seems like it would be natural to be jealous/insecure if or when that happens but you're better served by doing your best to not act out on that and practicing as best you can to not take it personally.  Because it's just not about you if he feels the need to do this, it's something in HIM.  Just like I personally am really irrelevant to my aparent's disappointment and grief that adopting me would suddenly make their lives fulfilled and take away the pain they experienced with their infertility and family situations--that is 100 percent them, it's not at all personal to me (they would have treated any other person they adopted in my place the same way, IMO).  However, their constant acting on it certainly made me FEEL like it was personal for a long time and created personal damage.  So I think the more you can push through and try to let go of that fear, the better.  IMO.

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#3 of 19 Old 03-03-2012, 02:40 PM
 
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Very wise post Tigerchild.


 
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#4 of 19 Old 03-03-2012, 08:48 PM
 
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I do worry about that a little sometimes. I worry that if it happens I will be hurt. But I don't think it will be that bad. And I don't think it's wrong or anything like that. I kind of expect him to have a stage where he identifies more with his biological family than his adoptive family, but I think it will pass and he'll find a resolution where he accepts the best from each.

 

I worry more about him resenting me for failing to properly educate him about his cultural heritage. But even that I think won't be too big a deal because I think his personality is such that he won't be the kind of person to carry these huge chips on his shoulder. Who knows, he's so young, but I think he's pretty easy-going about everything.

 

Regaring his teen years, mostly I worry about the normal teen stuff: sex, violence, drugs. I worry that he might get caught up with the "bad kids" or that he might have a terrible accident (motorcycle, football, etc.). That sort of thing.

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#5 of 19 Old 03-04-2012, 05:56 AM
 
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I worry about this all of the time greensad.gif  My daughter makes really bad choices at age 7, so I wonder what the future will bring for bad choices and worry that once she turns 18, her bad choices will shape her life.

 

I try not to let myself think about it too much....

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#6 of 19 Old 03-04-2012, 01:03 PM
 
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Originally Posted by marsupial-mom View Post

 

I worry more about him resenting me for failing to properly educate him about his cultural heritage. But even that I think won't be too big a deal because I think his personality is such that he won't be the kind of person to carry these huge chips on his shoulder. Who knows, he's so young, but I think he's pretty easy-going about everything.


You know, I have to respond to this.

 

Grieving over the loss of connection to your cultural heritage does NOT mean that you're some prig with a chip on your shoulder about nothing.  For some people it IS a huge loss and has nothing to do with them being difficult.  I don't know if your son is biracial, but sometimes especially when you are biracial and were raised with no connection or very little connection to that part of your heritage it is gone.  Forever.  It has implications.

 

It doesn't mean that you blame your aparents (I certainly don't, what the hell where they supposed to do, in an era where they were told to pretend I was theirs biologically, and nobody cares about heritage as long as you can pass for white anyway?).  But you can feel profound loss over that at times in your life even if you do not carry "these huge chips on your shoulder".  That makes it sound like you don't feel it's a valid loss.  Or that only some angry adoptee would feel that way.  I do not think that is true.

 

Though who knows, I guess I play the role of angry adoptee often enough here I guess.  Perhaps I'm being overly sensitive to that phrase.

 

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#7 of 19 Old 03-04-2012, 01:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Tigerchild, your response was wonderful. And I'm glad to see everyone else respond as well, to see that I'm not alone. 

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#8 of 19 Old 03-05-2012, 03:47 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Tigerchild View Post

 

Grieving over the loss of connection to your cultural heritage does NOT mean that you're some prig with a chip on your shoulder about nothing.  For some people it IS a huge loss and has nothing to do with them being difficult. 

 



That's not what I was trying to say. If you look, you'll see there was a first part of the sentence that you chose not to acknowledge. If my son resents me for losing his cultural heritage, then my failing won't be in the lack of role models of color and racial identity education (which isn't going to happen because regardless of what you think I'm actually a pretty good mom and I care a great deal about instilling confidence and cultural pride in my son), my failiing will be in making him think that I am somehow the person responsible for that loss. If he resents me, rather than the people who were actually responsible, then I will have failed in teaching him his adoption story.

 

In other words, grief is not the same as resentment.

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#9 of 19 Old 03-05-2012, 08:00 PM
 
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As a birth mom, I have a bit of a different take on this.  When I recently reunited with my daughter, who is now 22, I was so excited!  We have so much in common, down to career choices and turns of phrase.  But, I have tons of respect for her real parents and I have no desire to encroach on or damage their relationship in any way.  Quite the opposite, really, I"m thrilled that she is happy and comfortable, and I feel a great deal of gratitude towards them.  I did give her some genes that turned out to be a big part of her personality, but it in no way measures up to years of caring and agonizing.  It might be easy for a young person to forget how important parents are (as so many do, adopted or not, in their late teens and early 20s) but that bond will weather a reunion - and I'm sure in most cases, the birth mom will feel similar to how i do. 

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#10 of 19 Old 03-06-2012, 05:15 AM
 
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Originally Posted by pumpkingirl71 View Post

I worry about this all of the time greensad.gif  My daughter makes really bad choices at age 7, so I wonder what the future will bring for bad choices and worry that once she turns 18, her bad choices will shape her life.

 

I try not to let myself think about it too much....


I'm right there with you. I'm not at all sure how my daughter is going to navigate adulthood.

 

Right after my daughter came (at age 8, now she is 10), i was sure once she hit 16 she'd go right back to her bio mom. Now i'm not so sure, since much of the fantasy mom-worship has disappeared. But it wouldnt surprise me.

 

I dont worry about it, but i do think when you adopt a child at an older age its less a matter of worrying that the child will want to reconnect with birthfamily (which would be expected and natural) but more a worry that the child will leave you flat, go back to birthfamily and never talk to you again. I can totally imagine worrying about this if i adopted an older teen. What would prevent them from just thinking of you as some family he stayed with for a few years til he could get back to his "real family"? There isnt much you can do about THAT other than try to be a healthy resource for the child so that they have some place to come back to if they do leave.

 

An experienced mom on one of my lists did have her teen daughter move back with bio mom. She decided not to fight the move, and once the daughter lived with her addicted mother for awhile she did come home, and with a better understanding of the big picture. She needed to live it to let go of the fantasy she had about her birthmother. It was very scary for the adoptive mom to allow it (i dont think the girl was 18 yet, but not sure.) but in the end it worked out.

 

To the OP...whatever is going to happen is going to happen. All you can do is love your kid and try to be open with him.


Katherine, single homeschooling mom to Boy Genius (17) geek.gif  Thing One (6) and Thing Two (6) fencing.gif and one outgoing Girl (12) bikenew.gif and hoping for more through foster care and adoption homebirth.jpgadoptionheart-1.gif 
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#11 of 19 Old 03-06-2012, 09:55 AM
 
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That's not what I was trying to say. If you look, you'll see there was a first part of the sentence that you chose not to acknowledge. If my son resents me for losing his cultural heritage, then my failing won't be in the lack of role models of color and racial identity education (which isn't going to happen because regardless of what you think I'm actually a pretty good mom and I care a great deal about instilling confidence and cultural pride in my son), my failiing will be in making him think that I am somehow the person responsible for that loss. If he resents me, rather than the people who were actually responsible, then I will have failed in teaching him his adoption story.

 

In other words, grief is not the same as resentment.

 

Resentment, though, can be a part of the grief process.  I do not think that is in invalid for someone to *resent* (at least for a time) the fact that they do not have the cultural connections that they *might* have had were they to be more integrated into their cultural community.  There are plenty of non-adopted people from immigrant/expat communities that can have similar feelings--even if they are not by and large chip-on-their-shoulder people.  Part of coming to terms with your identity can be to look at everyone's role (what it is and what it isn't) and one's understanding of that can shift over time.  Your son will be able to look and find things that you might have done that might have made him feel connected (if he doesn't, which of course, may not come to pass!).  As he works through that, if he feels resentment/anger towards you (safe) as well that does not make him one of those resentful type of people in general.  Don't most people have a period of time when they have to work through their own feelings about what coulda/shoulda/woulda done better?

 

If he feels those things then neither you NOR he is a failure or a bad person.  It is, IMO, a normal thing to feel (resentment/anger).  Even otherwise happy and good people feel it.  What disturbed me was the comment that of course he wouldn't resent things because he doesn't seem the "type" to have a chip on his shoulder about everything.  That seemed dismissive to me, or to imply that if he did feel resentment at some point then it was because of some personality thing and it wouldn't be a valid thing to feel.  I'm glad that is not what you meant.  However, I have heard that kind of thinking bandied about often enough (as well as personally directed at me by my own family);  and I did acknowledge in my post that this is a sensitive topic for me and that I could be overreacting to that turn of phrase.
 

 

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#12 of 19 Old 03-08-2012, 04:07 PM
 
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Resentment and anger are NOT the same thing. Resentment is withholding angry feelings from the person who you feel wronged you. It's about carrying around the anger without expressing it, without working through it, without converting it into something postive, without forgiving... as though it's a "chip on your shoulder." I think it's an unhealthy emotion. I think it's not good. And I do think it's related to personality. I say that because I am the kind of person prone to resentment, grudges, and regrets. My husband is not like me in that respect. He's very different.

 

Anger about loss (cultural identity loss, biological relative loss, whatever else might have been lost before - not because of - adoption) is totally normal and healthy. I expect some of that. But the utter vitriol I see spewed from the mouths of some adult adoptees... I doubt my son will feel that way. And if he does, I will have failed. Because my aim is to raise a child who is compassionate and understanding and who can see things from a variety of perspectives. I aim to raise a child who is empathetic and who can put things into perspective.

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#13 of 19 Old 03-08-2012, 06:43 PM
 
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I did not say they were the same thing.  I did say that resentment CAN be part of grieving.  Also that both CAN be normal feelings.  I guess we will have to agree to disagree about whether it's possible.  I feel that especially during the teen/young adult years, when there is quite a bit of maturity and life experience yet to be gained, that resentment is somewhat normal because people simply do not know how to deal with anger and other profound and strong emotions without a 'safe' place or convenient place to direct it.  Over time, and with some growing up, I think that the vast majority of people can learn how to deal with things in a more healthy way.  I am prone to resentment as well, but the way I deal with it and handle it *now* is so much different than I did at 16 or even 26.  (I am 37 now.)  I have a broader perspective, I have made my own mistakes in ways that my 16 year old self had not yet had the chance to.  It's pretty easy to condemn other people for their "mistakes" when you haven't been around long enough to really fuck things up.  Don't know about you, but at this point in my life, I have been humbled by my ability to do that--without even trying!--enough that I am more understanding about things being...complicated.

 

I get that you seem to be pretty angry with me, so perhaps you're interpreting what I say in the harshest way possible (though I could be wrong, I find it very hard to interpret tone in textual communication).  But what I am saying is that yes, you can try to equip your kiddo with compassion and show him different ways and that can still take and he could STILL go through a period of resentment and it would not reflect poorly on either you (since you seem to think that it would be your failure if he reacted this way) or him.  Being resentful about something at one point in time does not condemn someone to remaining there, as I have a feeling that we BOTH know.

 

I'm afraid we'll have to agree to disagree on whether or not adoption causes loss of connection.  I understand what you're saying (obviously, the disconnect started BEFORE anyone else entered the picture)--however, I do feel that adoption can add a layer of loss and awkwardness about connection onto the adoptee in particular.  There are so many conflicting things you're suppose to feel as an adoptee (or adoptive parent for that matter), if you are a person who acutely feels them all it can contribute to a sense of loss or fear that if you feel the 'wrong' things that you are going to be betraying someone no matter what.  You're supposed to be grateful, but not.  Curious but not overly so.  Love is supposed to conquer all (which means that your birthfamily either didn't love you or perhaps it doesn't...uh oh), ect.  Sometimes there is a very awkward and nervous dance, as an adoptee, between your two halves.  It can be isolating.  It can be confusing.  Sometimes it is its own source of loss.  And sometimes it doesn't matter at all.

 

I think because adoption is such a sensitive subject, there can be utter vitriol spewed from all sides.  I know I have certainly seen horrific things spewed from adoptive parents in pain (and birthparents, and adoptees).  We're all human, and when it comes to issues of fear, abandonment, identity, love, especially in something primal like family, I think it can provoke lashing out and anger.  It does not mean that is who that person is forevermore.  So I would say, even if your son were to become obnoxiously strident for awhile, it's actually not a reflection on you nor does it mean it has to be permanent--maybe that is just what he's going through at the time.  For some adoptees (and this may be part of what you have seen, I don't know, but I've seen it a time or two!) finding their 'voice' to express negativity/blame/anger is almost like becoming a new convert--and 'born again' anything can be really over the top and obnoxious for awhile until you settle down and become more comfortable.  I've also learned to take anything said on the 'net with a grain of salt, because it's too easy for everyone to get caught up in 'arguing with those people on the internet'.

 

I hope that you do not feel I've been vitriolic.  If you feel I have, I hope you will accept my apology, because it was not my intent at all.

Quote:
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Resentment and anger are NOT the same thing. Resentment is withholding angry feelings from the person who you feel wronged you. It's about carrying around the anger without expressing it, without working through it, without converting it into something postive, without forgiving... as though it's a "chip on your shoulder." I think it's an unhealthy emotion. I think it's not good. And I do think it's related to personality. I say that because I am the kind of person prone to resentment, grudges, and regrets. My husband is not like me in that respect. He's very different.

 

Anger about loss (cultural identity loss, biological relative loss, whatever else might have been lost before - not because of - adoption) is totally normal and healthy. I expect some of that. But the utter vitriol I see spewed from the mouths of some adult adoptees... I doubt my son will feel that way. And if he does, I will have failed. Because my aim is to raise a child who is compassionate and understanding and who can see things from a variety of perspectives. I aim to raise a child who is empathetic and who can put things into perspective.



 

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#14 of 19 Old 03-08-2012, 08:12 PM
 
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Tiger, Your experiences will not be my son's experiences. He is not biracial and he won't pass as my biological son, pass as white, or any of that. He is African American- it's obvious. His adoption cannot be concealed and there's no reason we would conceal it. He's also locally born (not internationally adopted, so he's not losing anything related to his country of origin, he's not even "losing" his city of birth). He sees members of his birth family often and knows them well, so he has that connection to family and culture that way. We live in a diverse part of the country and there are other people of color all around at all times. He's not isolated.

 

In my first post in this thread I wrote "I kind of expect him to have a stage where he identifies more with his biological family than his adoptive family, but I think it will pass and he'll find a resolution where he accepts the best from each." I mean that he will identify with them in a variety of aspects - race, culture, blood, etc. I expect that. I also know it will likely come with anger and/or sadness. I've never claimed that he won't feel anger or that everything will always be wonderful or else that means I'm bad or he's bad or something. You're attaching your own experiences to our lives. And it doesn't fit. Not at all.

 

Given what I've written in the first paragraph here, NOW do you see how if my child felt severe anger or resentment towards me for a perceived insufficient cultural education that it would clearly be a personality issue?

 

You're acting rather paternalistic here - as though you feel a need to enlighten me about all the challenges involved in a transracial adoption. Well, I'm well aware of them. I've done my reading, taken my classes. I'm actually pretty smart and empathetic so I'm not bad at figuring all this out. I don't need to be constantly reminded by you and other well-meaning people that my family is going to experience challenges related to race, culture, adoption... and that my son will feel a loss. I'm not an idiot. I'm living this, remember? I'm living these challenges now. I know he will feel the loss that he has experienced. It was drilled into my head on day one of foster parent training. I understood then. I got it.

 

Please stop projecting your issues onto my family.

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#15 of 19 Old 03-09-2012, 08:34 AM
 
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Quote:
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Given what I've written in the first paragraph here, NOW do you see how if my child felt severe anger or resentment towards me for a perceived insufficient cultural education that it would clearly be a personality issue?

 

You're acting rather paternalistic here - as though you feel a need to enlighten me about all the challenges involved in a transracial adoption. Well, I'm well aware of them. I've done my reading, taken my classes. I'm actually pretty smart and empathetic so I'm not bad at figuring all this out. I don't need to be constantly reminded by you and other well-meaning people that my family is going to experience challenges related to race, culture, adoption... and that my son will feel a loss. I'm not an idiot. I'm living this, remember? I'm living these challenges now. I know he will feel the loss that he has experienced. It was drilled into my head on day one of foster parent training. I understood then. I got it.

 

Please stop projecting your issues onto my family.


No, I really can see how even after all you've done, your child might have a period of severe anger or resentment.  I have seen it happen with transracial adoptees, with good parents where everyone knows they love each other.

 

It has nothing to do with you, or anyone else, being an idiot.  I am not projecting my issues onto your family when I bring up concerns (in general I might add, from the very beginning) with the concept that anger/resentment over cultural identity or identity in general=chip on one's shoulder.  This is not a personal conversation between you and me (at least not on my side) but a broader conversation *in the context of someone worrying that THEY could somehow cause or prevent their kid's issues*.  When you seem to imply that something can't possibly happen without someone else being a failure or bad personality, it is very difficult not to respond to that because just as you feel people pound you with how "hard" transracial parenting can be, believe me, I have people pounding me about how only mentally ill people feel anything negative about adoption (one of the reasons why now that I'm away from my family and it's not obvious, I don't even really talk about it face to face).  As I said before, I've meant nothing of this personally towards you.  But that sentiment ("If they feel resentful, I've failed") is fairly common, and I don't think it is a fair or realistic one for parents to heap on themselves *because they can't control that and everyone can still be a good person even if that happens*.  When I see something that seems to say that, I will speak up.

 

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#16 of 19 Old 03-09-2012, 02:49 PM
 
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I thank you both for remaining civil in this challenging conversation.

 

I think actually it is common for children who have not joined families through adoption to also go through a phase of resentment or anger for wrongs both real and imagined/perceived. I think it is kind of part of the older teen/young adult life stage, and not really a reflection of anyone's choices, failures or successes. It just.....is.


 
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#17 of 19 Old 03-10-2012, 09:06 AM
 
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You're both talking about a "period" or "phase". That's not what this conversation has ever been about. This conversation is about the child being angry, resentful, or just plain leaving the adoptive family for good. The very first post in this thread is asking if we adoptive moms wory that our children will "forget" us when they become adults. It's not about normal teen angst. Of course they will have periods of adjustment that involve anger, etc. Of course they will go through stages when they try on new identies and part of that will involve some rejection of the adoptive parents. But that's not what we're talking about here! We're talking about when the kid becomes an adult them leaving us and being resentful or totally forgeting us.

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#18 of 19 Old 03-10-2012, 12:15 PM
 
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I do worry about that a little sometimes. I worry that if it happens I will be hurt. But I don't think it will be that bad. And I don't think it's wrong or anything like that. I kind of expect him to have a stage where he identifies more with his biological family than his adoptive family, but I think it will pass and he'll find a resolution where he accepts the best from each.

I do think the conversation has been both about stages and about a more permanent rejection. My sense is that the transition to adulthood goes smoothly for some adopted children and quite roughly for others. For some there is a stage or a phase and for some it is more permanent. For some it is smooth all the way.
 

 


 
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#19 of 19 Old 03-10-2012, 08:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't think he has it in him to ever leave, leave me. He's very attached to me and we do a lot together. I think if he did "go back" to her, it would be very brief. I just worry about my feelings, which is selfish and really not all that important. He deserves to be able to explore that avenue in his life if he so wants to, I just know it would be very hurtful for me. 

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