I am finally beginning to emerge from the fathomless nebula that has cloaked me since our return from Korea—my eyes still bewildered; my mind still besieged; my heart ever-confounded.
* * *
I feel as though I disappeared into this vast and secret world, to discover that what I had once thought existed only as fantasy had always been waiting for me—tangible and arresting.
I can only compare the wonder and amazement to that of a little girl who might have stumbled her way into the fantastical—gaping mouth and glimmering eyes. And while there, she gazed upon and grasped within her own hands all that she had only ever seen—and longed to touch—in a dream.
I feel as though I could remain in that world forever.
* * *
But I must return.
Yet I am troubled.
How does one return to daily life when everything has changed? When the world has changed? When you have changed?
Adoption is such a misunderstood experience fraught with misconceptions and misinformation due to often well meaning but ultimately wrongful ignorance and presumption.
Therefore, please understand that I mean no disrespect by making the upcoming comparisons, but they are the closest instances at which I can grasp to even attempt to foster understanding of the gravity and intensity of the process of reunion and post-reunion.
The emotional complexities may be somewhat akin to those who return from war.
Life is never the same.
And although, at times, you may feel relieved that the war is over, the loss and the grief remain. No matter what healing or restoration finds its way to you, the tragedy you have endured becomes a part of who you are and who you will become.
It will forever shape you.
* * *
This is not to say that opportunities will not arise that ultimately lead to a full life of new happiness and new dreams. It has been said before that suffering need not be an end, but rather it can be the beginning of a new and daring hope.
Yet, the truth is that no matter what sense you strive to make of it, no matter what happiness you find later, life can never be what it was before—some for worse, some for better.
In a similar way, after entering the reunion and post-reunion process, life will never return to what it was before. Not only so, but it will also continually be defined by the co-existence of the seemingly conflicting emotional experiences of loss and gain, tragedy and redemption, grief and joy.
Although reunion is for what I longed for years and years, although it has brought great relief and comfort, it is also a constant reminder of the pain and alienation that have also characterized the adoption experience for me.
I look into my birth mother’s face and feel joy and relief, while in the same moment a pang of grief and agony writhes within. I gaze into my birth father’s face and feel wonder and peace while at the same time I am reminded of the deep sorrow and angst that simultaneously tore us apart yet has ultimately brought us all here together again.
As those who return from war, they are expected to grieve and to mourn, but eventually they are expected to engage in daily life again, and for practical reasons, they must.
I know I must begin to return. I know I must begin to merge and assimilate these worlds.
Yet, in the same way that those who return from war begin to realize that what they have endured and experienced will never be fully understood by those who were not with them, I also realize that there is no telling of this story that will ever fully elucidate what has unfolded and what will continue to be revealed.