Tag Archives: loss and grief

The Ties That Bind

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…

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Filed under Adoption Issues, Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Epiphiany, Grief, Loss, Rejection, The International Mom

Birthdays

Man oh man, birthdays…

They should be full of joy. But sometimes, if your child has been adopted, they can be wrought full of buckets of tears and an ache so deep, that you can’t get to the bottom of it.  So you snuggle your child up to you, so close that nothing can fit in between the two of you, and listen, trying to absorb the pain. Then, when your child can control the sobbing, you begin to speak quietly, offering out a few “pebbles.” And then you shut your mouth and listen. Perhaps your child begins to speak or maybe the crying starts all over again until your child falls asleep in your arms, spent.

And then it’s your turn, to wipe the profuse tears that have soaked your clothing and your child’s hair. To say silent prayers for strength and wisdom and to thank God for this incredible miracle that has become your child. To ask for guidance in helping your child come to terms with the great loss and grief over that loss.

Some years are better than others. This was a tough one, but not as difficult has many that have passed.

I share this tidbit of “education” with you, my friends, who are not adoptive parents and those of you who are; a birthday is one of the key triggers for the child who as been adopted. What does that mean? It means that in order to have a birthday a child was born. And if that child was adopted he or she was born to someone else and perhaps, like in our family, another country and of a different culture. Upon being adopted that child lost those connections. Forever. The event of a birthday is a reminder of those profound losses.

In advocating for any child who has been adopted, I share this with you to help you be aware, in hopes that you will have compassion for him or her on their birthday. While you may not get the response you expect when them wishing them a “Happy Birthday!” please take it in stride and smile, wishing them well.

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Filed under Adoption Issues, Growing Tweens & Teens, Multicultural Families, The International Mom