The following comment on yesterday’s post has me doing more contemplating on loss, mulling the many ways life deals it out, and pondering the many practices of coping.
I think that is why many adoptees feel torn, as if they have to choose to feel either one way or the other, but not both. This seems dangerously similar to the idea of having to pick sides/loyalties, with feelings of loss and sadness and loyalty to birth parents on one side, and feelings of luck, happiness, rejoicing and loyalty to adoptive parents on the other side. Although many adoptees do make this choice and choose one or the other, it doesn’t seem like a particularly healthy one to have to make.
I have, of course, given much thought to adoption-related loss. My kids are reason enough to delve deeply into the issue, study the research, listen to voices of experience, read, discuss, question and more. Writing on adoption every day has presented a more academic motivation that has added a layer of understanding I may not have found otherwise.
Yes, years have been spent grasping for greater comprehension.
But is wasn’t until Sang-Shil posted the comment partly quoted above that I made a connection between loss in my own past and adoptee loss.
Here’s my reply:
What you describe sounds very much like the process for children of divorce. Since that also often manifests as loss, especially for the kids involved, it seems a fair comparison and is one I have experienced personally. Being placed in the middle of a sometimes rancorous situation is certainly not healthy, and children will always take on the pressure of feeling a need to side with one parent over the other. Issues of loyalty, concerns about the welfare of the absent parent, guilt over assumed responsibility for the turn of events, a sense of powerlessness over circumstances and such arise constantly.
My parents divorced when I was ten. My brothers were eight, five and one. All of us suffered, although the impact of the loss manifested differently in each of us.
We not only lost the wholeness of our family through an absent parent, we siblings were split up and my youngest brother grew up only knowing us older three through holiday visits.
Although I won’t assume to speak for my brothers or reveal the effects they experienced from the breakup, I would guess that my parents’ divorce had more than a little to do with my choice to become sexually active as a teen, a decision that led to me getting pregnant when I was seventeen.
So, having shared some of the meat of my own loss, I’m asking … How close have I come to feeling the same sort of loss adoption conveys, of knowing the pain? Am I miles away, or is there common ground?