The Beauty in Pain
This week I received an email from an adoptive parent asking for my adoptee perspective. I was honored and touched that this woman had reached out to me. I was a stranger after all, and it meant a lot that she valued my opinion as I know the heart of an adoptee. Many of our stories vary, our backgrounds as wide as the sun is from the moon, but many of our feelings are universal. We carry an imaginary members only card stamped ADOPTEE. Some of us let that label define us more than others, but never the less we were given this definition. Many of us are now speaking out much like the #metoo movement, because one was brave, we are finding our courage also.
She told me about her experience with infertility and that her husband and herself were traveling down the path of diving into adoption. She said she started to follow several adoptive mommy bloggers on Instagram and she noticed so many of these mothers were placing a large emphasis on worry that their child will experience pain, loss, and trauma. She went on to let me know that both her mother and her father in law were adopted and they never experienced anything but joy and happiness to be adopted. She said she understood that there might be some that had a bad experience, but that most do not struggle. She said she is confused why adoptees advocate " their position" and feel the need to share their story. She is also confused to why these adoptive moms assuming these feelings their children might never have. She had a lot more to say about how she skimmed through parts of The Primal Wound and didn't really agree with it.
I wrote back with my opinion and understanding of adoption and trauma. I gave her statistics and research and I spoke from the heart about my own experiences. As I was writing her I couldn't stop thinking about FEAR. What is she afraid of by facing the truth of pain? Why are we so afraid of pain? I told her a story I had heard of a mother trying to shield her child from pain and heartache. What are qualities we would like to see in our children? I'd like my children to be loving and kind. I'd like them to be wise. I want them to be resilient. If everything were easy they might not know how to be so caring. What if the one thing we are trying to help them avoid is the thing that will help them become the people we are praying they become. Maybe my job as a mom isn't to bubble wrap my kid, but to help guide them through the pain. Yes, I wish abandonment wasn't my story, but if it weren't my story I probably wouldn't be the loyal, loving, friend who is instinctively aware of others feelings. My adoption story has hurt like hell at times, but it has also been where I have connected in the most beautiful ways with others who can say the pain in me sees the pain in you and we are beautiful and better together. I think God our Father does this also. He doesn't shield us from the pain, but He uses it to mold us, shape us and help us grow.
This is My Story
Born in 1976, in Manhattan, Kansas to a 19 year old girl my story began and would unfold in ways I could never dream for myself. An adoption plan was made and it took me 40 years to discover anything about those hard decisions, anything about my roots, anything because it was a closed adoption. My adoptive family never talked about adoption like it was black mist hovering above us, always there and always present, but if you uttered its words we might all be infected....broken. That sounds dark, but I think they lived in fear. Fear if we talked about my first family I might love them more. If we brought it up, it might make me sad and we wouldn't want that. Fear of scarcity....that they wouldn't be enough. I was told I was gift from God and that seemed so confusing to me as a little girl. Was I not a gift to my first mother? Had God made a mistake? It made me feel broken and the return policy had flaws to say the least.
I grew up with two loving parents and a sister, six years older who is my mothers biological daughter from a previous marriage. My mother says she was not present in our growing up years. I recently asked her why she thought that was and she grew quiet and couldn't really give an answer other than she's always been that way. My favorite memories with my mother were singing in the car together. My mother had a beautiful voice, and although we were very different physically and characteristically, we shared the love for music. This makes me cry thinking of this memory, because I realize how deeply I wanted to connect with her. I wanted that mother daughter relationship I have with my daughter. We laugh together, we love to spend time together, go shopping, she tells me I'm her best friend. I don't know what went wrong or what I did wrong with my mother, but that kind of relationship never came natural between us. The same for my sister, so this time we cannot place blame on adoption, but I cannot help but think dang it.... you wanted a child so badly, right?
I always, always, always thought of my first family. I wondered what they looked like. I wondered if they were searching for me. I made up stories in my head. They were perfect, beautiful, heartbroken because we were separated. I was certain that Madonna was my mother and she written Promise To Try for me. I would put my cassette tape in my Fisher Price tape recorder and play the song over and over, tears streaming down my face, while I silently prayed and asked God why me?
Little Girl don't forget her face
laughing away your tears
when she was the one who felt all the pain
Little girl- never forget her eyes
keep them alive inside
I promise to try- but its not the same
Keep your head held high- ride like the wind
never look behind, life isn't fair
that's what you said, so I try not to care
Little girl don't run away so fast
I think you forgot to kiss her goodbye
Through the years I had a happy childhood. I did gymnastics, played the piano, had many friends, but I also encountered the inevitable situations that adoptees encounter. Friends innocently asked me who my real parents were as if I had some fake ones raising me. Relatives labeled me as NOT blood, which there is only one reason you point that out right? Blood is thicker than water after all, right? Ugh! There was the Christmas all of the women in my family took a generational photo. My great grandmother, my grandmother, my mom, and my sister and I was not invited to be in the photo. I slipped into a back bedroom at my grandmothers home, never feeling more like I didn't belong, and bawled my eyes out. I returned with red, puffy eyes and no one even noticed. I'm not sure which offense bothered me more.
It wasn't until I became a mother myself, unwed and only 21 that I really became to question and become angry with my story. I looked at his sweet face and I couldn't imagine ever giving him away. When I rationally think about it I understand that the times were different back then and shame held a huge part in my story, I understand that my babies father was loving and supportive and I didn't know my story, I knew my parents were supportive. My heart doesn't always think rationally, and so something hit me and I realized I need to release this anger. I needed to find my truths, and rewrite the ending. The truth will set you free, and I wanted so badly to be free.
I began my search in March of 2016 and in a few short months was reunited with my birthmother. A year later I found my birthfather. I am among the lucky ones who has been welcomed with eager, loving, open arms on both ends. That doesn't mean it's been easy. I have felt like I am having a nervous break down. Like I have returned to my child self and I am self soothing her precious wounded soul. What would I tell her? We are going to be ok. Adoption is going to bring us through valleys and mountain tops. A wise person once said that of course we all want to be on top of the mountain, but the air is so thin, and all you can do is try to avoid falling. In the valley is where you will find your strength and power. That's where the river flows. Wow!