10 years ago I wouldn’t have understood this to the depth that I understand it now, and for that I am grateful. Ten years ago this would have hurt me tremendously and I probably would have withdrawn into a wall building adoptee hiding comfort zone and disappeared from my mother for a few months until I felt strong enough to say hello again. Today tho, the only part of it that weakens me is the reality of what she has to do to keep going on, and what a reflection that is of how she has had to do it her entire life after losing me.
In July my grandfather passed away. My mother has been taking care of him for the last 5 years of his life. I get mixed feelings from his passing, he was a crucial influence in me being left behind at the hospital 3 days after my birth and its hard for me to let go of that. I did meet him once however and it was a nice comforting visit. He was a very strong man, remembered for decapitating men in Vietnam war and eating raw liver, one of the last things I remember him telling me is the wise men say the least and listen most. He said this to me after I sat around him very quiet observing his every move.
Now that he has passed away my mother has come out to my area to plan his services and is here for a few weeks to make sure it all goes smoothly and to visit my children and me. We sat around the table at our visit that I blogged about yesterday and I noticed more than once my mother made reference to never experiencing a pain like that of losing her father since her brother died and then her…. and each time she got to “her” her eyes would meet mine and I “know” she was going to say “her daughter” but she would catch herself and stop. She doesn’t speak of her loss of me.
Ten years ago I would have felt like that meant my loss wasn’t significant enough to mention. That it didn’t impact her life in the way these other two deaths had, and that I wasn’t a big “loss” when we parted ways on my third day of life. Today however, I know that means something very different. I know that society doesn’t recognize a mother surrendering her child and continuing on with life as a painful experience. I know that that loss, when spoken of is often met with “what a selfless act, what a wonderful thing you’ve done, how incredible of you to have done that” which in return suppresses that pain even deeper.
I can relate to this. I did it for years when faced with adoption related topics or topics of loss, because my mother did all of that FOR me to have a better life, what a selfless thing for her to do and I must be so very grateful for that opportunity at a better life. It FEELS BETTER for outsiders to believe that. Hell it feels better for insiders to believe it until the truth finds its way out and eventually it always does. I mean that’s really the core of being in the Koolaid drinking happy adoptee land, you’re believing the happy myths…. that surrendering you was wonderful, well you might not be “believing them” because your soul doesn’t lie to you, deep down you know it hurts, but you’re saying them, maybe even convincing yourself of them or trying very hard to, because should you realize that reality isn’t reality at all, suddenly “reality” becomes very scary and vulnerable.
What would have happened if instead of pausing when my mother wanted to tell the waiter that she hasn’t experienced a loss like this since she lost her daughter, how would he have reacted? Would he have assumed I was dead? Would he have empathized with her? Would he have recognized it as a loss and told her how sorry he was for her loss? I believe these to be viable outcomes had this happened. Humor me for a moment and imagine what would have happened if she had then told him, she hasn’t felt a loss like this since she loss her daughter to adoption. Would she have been met with the same empathy? Maybe from you or me, because we’re reading adoption blogs and up to “par” on adoption loss but the average stranger… no, no I don’t believe she would have found that sympathy. Instead the suppressive rhetoric begins doesn’t it? Oh you gave a daughter up for adoption? How wonderful of you!! OMG you’re a birthmom how selfless!!!! What a heroic act of kindness you did!!! Immediately invalidating the tremendous loss that would follow a mother losing her child to adoption regardless of how that “choice” came to be…. pain is what it is.
It reminds me of growing up…often I would get depressed thinking about why my parents gave me up and I’d almost be ready to reach out to someone about it and as soon as I’d say how I was adopted i’d hear ” oh you’re so lucky I always wanted to be adopted! ” “how nice of your mom to give you a better life” “you must be so grateful you weren’t aborted” its the same kind of suppressive “support” I spoke of in reference to my mother above. It has to be societies way of not understanding this in-depth reality we find in adoption and their poor attempt to “get it.” I don’t feel like they have bad intentions in saying these things but they just do… because it’s all over the media, its in all the magazines, its in the adoption agencies this false propaganda of happiness following separation and loss its polluting reality.
I see it happening with people who have had miscarriages or found out they’re living a life with infertility. I personally have never been in that shoe, I have 3 natural children of my own, but I watch it happen to them. It happened to my adoptive parents, as SOON as infertility was discovered ADOPTION was pushed. Why? Adoption doesn’t cure infertility. Adoptees don’t “fix” the loss of not having children of your own. The two aren’t connected and yet society just doesn’t get it or want to hear it because they haven’t before and its easier to make all that “ugly” “uncomfy” “icky” feelings be portrayed as minor problems that can be fixed with adoption….and yet….they can’t be.
It’s okay to feel pain from loss, in fact it’s very healthy to, and it’s just as okay to own those feelings, talk about those feelings and correct people when they misinterpret those feelings, they are YOUR feelings. I know that for a long time I tried to drink that kooliad, I wanted that bullshit fake “omg you were so lucky to be adopted” to be true, I wanted to be lucky…but when you spend a lifetime trying to convince yourself that pain = happiness destructive patterns are bound to happen and that can be very dangerous. If you are one of these people who are having to hide your pain from the average Joe because you’d rather not “go there” with the ignorant…I get it…and I feel you. If you’re living a life where people are continually telling you to be grateful about something that hurts so bad you could scream in frustration from the highest mountain…I get it…I feel you…and I’m sorry. I’m here for you. Don’t be afraid to own your truth. Its yours and nobody can take it from you. The more you speak out about it, the more we can fix this broken part of the industry, the more we can make the road smoother for those who walk down it after us and the more we can help each other heal….god willing…we might even prevent it one day ❤
I “had” paragraphs in that when I hit send… Not sure where they went or what happened but i’ll try and edit them back in to make it easier on the eye… loll
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I am the adoptive parent of a 14-month-old. I adopted him from foster care. He was placed in my care the day after his birth.
I have always encouraged and enabled frequent visitation with his natural parents until they were recently incarcerated. Visitation will resume once they are released from jail.
I worry endlessly that he will feel an empty or void feeling as he grows up. This blog makes me worry more now than ever before.
I’m assuming that I’ve made the right choice by allowing visitation with his parents, but now, I feel like I need to do more. Should I let his parents move in with us? Should I build them a house next door? What? I just want my son to know that we all love him. What can I do? Please tell me.