Saturday, November 28, 2009

Adoption and Loss (I know, how original.)

I've been thinking a lot about the things I want to write about, but I've been blocked on how to formulate a post. I feel like there has been a lack of the emotional-happy-squishy component in my posts. (It's probably because I read many newly adopted blogs, in which the emotional-happy-squishy index is incredibly high ;) )It's not that my situation is not happy, I suppose it's that the things that I am processing are some of the flip sides. I'm really happy; I guess that part is sufficiently processed for now.

I've been thinking a lot about the adoptee's sense of loss. We all know about how each member of the triad feels loss, but the adoptee's feels especially hard because they were the only member not making any decisions. Please, don't get me wrong, this is so not going to be anti-adoption. The logistics are what they are, no newborn has much say in much of anything. But I feel really shitty about the fact that originally I hadn't given much thought, at all, to what C might feel in terms of loss. I started giving it some thought when he was around 5. And even then, I always thought: yeah, but we'll explain why I couldn't parent and he'll get it, and thank us all profusely while we ride off into the sunset!

Well, my son feels loss. I've explained to him why I couldn't parent, and he gets it as much as he can without being a pregnant teenager; but he is still really, really sad about it. All of our fantastic intentions, support, and love haven't neutralized his sense of missing and wanting to be with his first family. I can see in his eyes that when he asks "why?" he doesn't want to hear about teen single parenting, he's asking the much bigger, sadder, harder to answer "WHY?!" as in "why did this have to be my story?". He feels the injustice of not having something so basic --- the experience of staying in his first mama's arms. My boy struggles with it. A baby's future temperament is an unknown at the time of newborn adoptions, but oh, I wish it were the one thing we could see with a crystal ball. Some adoptees feel the loss more acutely, some roll with it effortlessly. I do not mean to totally negate parenting, or support from the birthfamily, but I am learning that temperament/personality have much to do with it. My situation is a prefect example of that fact.

I spent the first couple of years post-placement in a very Black and White place, mentally. C was better off, aparents were thrilled, I was going to be able redirect my life, ect. Everything was great, we were all very kumbaya. It was an important part of the grief process, it was my own version of the denial stage. I remember the day my post-adopt counselor said to me "You can be happy for C, but simultaneously sad. You can feel both at once." I was floored. Getting to a place of being able to see both sides, the grey, was not only an important part of being emotionally healthy re: adoption, but it was an important part of moving through adolescence into adulthood.

So, I now revisit that lesson learned. It is incredibly hard to watch your kid struggle, at your hand. The flip side is that I know I made the best decision I knew how, with love and pure intentions. The grey is there in the middle; I find it by sitting with both truths.

My job now, is to acknowledge my son's loss, and show him the relationship we can have, even though it is not that of mama/son. My job is to teach him the lessons I have learned. My job is to help him appreciate the Grey.

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