Connection. Something many of us take for granted. Life can be fleeting and full of unknowns and surprises. I don’t like to dwell on what if, but parenting children who have been adopted begs that I do, because often that connection—to birth families, birth history, and birth culture—has been permanently severed.
On a drive earlier this week, Mark and I were talking about family—how much he knows about his and how little I know of mine. My knowledge ended at the perimeters of my parents, both only children (can you believe that??). My mother had a lot of stories, up to a point. My father had nothing; it was if he was hatched. And I always wondered, not if he was hatched, because I had knew my grandparents through the age of nine (when they died), but why he didn’t want to know more or share what he knew.
I have reflected on this more and more as I’ve become older, especially after I found out that the little old woman with the delightful accent I visited whenever I was with my grandparents was indeed related to me. I discovered this decades after she died. My great grandmother, most likely ripe with stories of her native Scotland and extended family history, could have shared so much. Those stories died with her. I’ve always felt a deep sense of loss. If I had known… If I had asked…
Connection. You know, my kids ask—all of the time. “Why?” “Who?” “Where?”
Unlike my father, I have nothing to share with my kids because I don’t have the information they seek. I wish I did, because I know, in a very small way, how they yearn to reestablish at least some of what was lost to them. I wish I could be the balm to soothe their grief. I can’t because I can’t; and that is a difficult position to be in as a parent. I share what I do know, aware that it isn’t enough, that it never can be. I wish I could reconnect them, but I can’t and not because I choose not to. So, I help my kids process and grieve their rejection and losses as a mother who loves-them-to-infinity-and-beyond-and-back-a-gazillion-times-a-trillion-and-more, but doesn’t and never can walk in their shoes does.
Love isn’t enough. Connection is needed. Humans are wired to connect, attach. I wish that my father had chosen to share his family history with me, because it was mine too. But as sad as I am it pales in comparison to what I cannot share with my kids—their pasts, which are part of them. What they will never know because their pasts have been severed. They will likely never find those missing pieces.
I have always looked for the lesson and perhaps not knowing that Janie was my great grandmother until well after she died was it. The lesson of knowing and understanding, be it on a significantly smaller scale, what it is to ache, crave those missing parts, so that perhaps I can fully support my kiddos through this ongoing, lifelong process. The ties that bind…