Adoptees must attempt to make sense of a complex, deep matrix of circumstances, emotions and thoughts. It's not easy, not only because it's not easy, but also because most folks don't realize that it's not easy.
There is an assumption that if an adoptee discusses or expresses the "not easy" experiences or feelings regarding his or her adoption that he or she is an ungrateful, angry, bitter, resentful adoptee who fails to recognize how fortunate he or she is to have been adopted by a family who loves him or her.
Do you tell a widow that she is being negative, ungrateful, angry, bitter, resentful if she still tears up or struggles with grief or sorrow over the loss of her first husband even after she has happily remarried? I would hope not.
Although adoptees--similar to a widow who has happily remarried--may have gained a family, you must keep in mind that the only reason they have so-called gained a family is that they first LOST everything. And when I say everything, I mean, everything.
They have lost their original father, mother, grandparents, siblings, extended family. They have lost their language, culture, and country of origin. They have lost any connection whatsoever to their beginnings, to their identity, to the most basic elements of who they are. They have lost any knowledge of what happened and why.
The love and trust that was supposed to be there has been broken and scorched. They have lost the inherent sense of security and stability that is often assumed between a child and a parent.
They have lost what most others take for granted: what it means to be a family.
And contrary to popular assumption, being adopted into a family, whether at six months old or at six years old does not somehow magically sweep away the repercussions of these profound and almost indescribable losses.
The story of adoption is not a fairy tale in which the adoptive parents star as the fairy godmother who can wave a magic wand of love and expect the sorrow and grief to vanish.
It's not that your love is not good enough. It's simply that such pain and loss cannot be instantaneously transformed by love. No doubt, love is always needed. It's just not a miracle drug.
Just as all the love in the world couldn't take away the pain when I flipped off the front of my bike at eight years old and ate asphalt with my chin, similarly, all the love in the world cannot instantaneously wipe away all the wounds that I've sustained since that irrevocable day of relinquishment and loss.
Yet for adoptees there is often a well-intentioned but grossly inaccurate assumption that still persists today that adoption is neutral--that it is without psychological, social or familial repercussions.
I would like to address some of these misinformed assumptions and discuss just a few of the reasons as to why being an adoptee is "not easy" nor without consequence. However, I will do so in a "Part 2" simply to prevent this post from being too long and too saturated.