Yesterday, I introduced my friend, Kristy. If you didn’t read it, go back to the post below this and read it.
Without further ado, here’s what she wanted to share:
I am a 42-yr old adoptee who has felt many of these same emotions over the years. In high school, I went to a Pastoral Counselor to talk about other issues but he quickly realized that I needed to acknowledge that my adoption had affected me in a profound way. He had devoted much time into the care of working with adoptive families and he shared something that helped me get a grasp on this crazy beast. He said, “to understand adoption you first have to understand LOSS. The entire triad experiences loss: the birth family, including parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents etc LOSE this wonderful child from their lives; the adoptive family, often comes to adoption because they have LOST the ability to have their own biological child; and the adoptee LOSES their heritage. Until you come to grips with the loss you can never find the joy.”
I never had a moment when I learned that I was adopted, it was always discussed openly and freely. My parents always spoke about it in terms of CHOICE, that they had chosen me. Even though they grieved the loss of 3 children who died and one who survived but was severely disabled, they made me feel valued and loved. It wasn’t until I began to understand the losses they had endured, that I was able to deal with the losses I felt. After my pastor talked with me, I went to my mom and dad and for the first time asked them what it had been like to lose those children. Through the grief, tears, anger, and confusion as to why it happened, I was able to understand them BUT also my own grief. When I shared with them how I too felt those same emotions, but over the loss of my heritage and identity, we had an incredible break through. For the first time I felt at peace with being adopted and felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Simply because they too, understood MY LOSS and they grieved WITH ME.
Even though my parents and grandparents were incredible it was often other family members who would speak about how “lucky” I was to be in this family, as if I “owed” my parents something that I could never repay. Or when I became the family historian, others couldn’t understand why the adopted one was doing that.
Thankfully my grandma was incredibly wise. I will never forget in 4th grade when the dreaded family tree was a requirement and I stood up in class and threw my papers across the room and yelled, “I am NOT doing this! I have NO family tree!!!” When I went home crying, my grandma consoled me and in her matter of fact voice and a twinkle in her eye, said, “Well then, let’s make one up!” So we did. With my closed adoption, all I know about my birth parents is one small paragraph of info, which includes their age and ethnic origins, Italian and German. So we created a fantastical family tree that celebrated being Italian and German, even though my families heritage is 100% Dutch. Several months later, she gave me a gift, and it is still one of my most prized possessions. It says KISS ME I’M ITALIAN. That showed me that she loved me…loved ALL OF ME! She wasn’t trying to make me Dutch or ignore my heritage. She embraced my being Italian and loved ME.
Sorry this is so long but I feel so strongly about the enormous blessing I received when I finally understood that the loss I felt was real and ok. I didn’t have to feel “guilty” for having those feelings. AND that my parents ALSO FELT LOSS!! That was HUGE for me. Once we were able to talk about the loss that we both endured, we were able to celebrate the JOYS of being adopted into this family.
I know that each one of us has a unique story that needs to be celebrated. We don’t have the corner on loss nor is our loss more or less significant than others. Understanding, grace and forgiveness can go a long way to a happier life.