Monday, April 26, 2010

Loss upon loss


"I wish I would have gone back earlier. At the same time having gone, you realize that you're never going to have the relationship that you lost and that is another loss too." Ethiopian Adult Adoptee

The above statement was made by an adult adoptee born in Ethiopia and adopted to Sweden.

I wanted to share it, not only because I personally relate to it, but because it also elucidates the reality of post-reunion.

The reality that I am never going to have the relationships with my Omma and Appa that could have been, sinks in more and more with each day that passes. And as the quoted adoptee states, that in and of itself is another loss.

It is easy to romanticize and idealize reunion. I know that I did before reuniting and even in post-reunion, there are times that I prefer to let the whole of the reality slip away so that I can focus on only those aspects of reunion thus far that have been idyllic.

But the truth always catches up with me, or rather always comes crashing down on me.

I have been somewhat caught off guard by the grief that has struck me since meeting my Korean parents. I am having all the more difficulty processing it, while I struggle with intense inner conflicts--the tension between what I feel and what I think I should feel.

Because it is so difficult to find others who understand, I often have trouble acknowledging my losses and my grief. I feel guilty for feeling sad at times and at other times, I feel angry that I must deal with such a confusing, messy predicament. I feel angry that I even have to manage such complex and seemingly irreconcilable and irrevocable differences.

I tell myself that I am one of the fortunate ones to have been able to find and meet my biological parents. I tell myself that it is wrong for me to feel what I am feeling. I tell myself that I am being ungrateful and insatiable for feeling overwhelmed and afraid. I begin to feel like a black hole.

But deep down, I know it is not wrong that I feel what I feel. I cannot help but feel sorrow and fear. As the quote above expresses, as much as reunion brings answers, it also comes with its own losses.

I discuss some of these realities of loss at Adoption Mosaic in the post, "Beyond the Reunion: Dealing with the Realities of Post-Reunion".

Unsigned Masterpiece responded to this post on Adoption Mosaic stating, "You will never get the relationship you might have had back for all the reasons that you mentioned but you will have a new relationship and you will always believe that to know is better than to not know."

To this comment, I replied:

"As you stated, perhaps to know certainly is better than to not know–at least in my particular situation (but not necessarily in all situations…). But with the knowing and the “new relationship” comes a new kind of pain and a new kind of suffering. Even the idea of a “new relationship” is not wholly accurate, simply because it does not feel new in any way. Rather it feels damaged and marked by tragedy and heartbreak. There is a shared history, but that history is defined by loss and grief, trauma and hardship. There is of course hope, but any relationship we are able to forge will require an amount of hard work, energy, and effort that at times feels overwhelming and elusive…"

As of late, I have been feeling particularly anxious and weepy. I think perhaps in part because of the aforementioned losses that accompany even reunion. I am realizing with increased intensity that the losses that accompany the experience of adoption, search, reunion, and post-reunion are deep and pervasive, and so often, indescribable--so much so that I wonder whether I will ever reach an end to its depths.

And thus far since "reunion," I have actually had the opportunity for ongoing contact with my Korean parents. There are adoptees who make contact but must deal with a biological mother who does not wish to have contact or a relationship, which truly is loss upon loss and of a devastation that I know would crush me completely.

To romanticize and idealize reunion can be hard not to do, particularly if you are standing on the outside looking in. But do not be deceived or fooled, there is a depth of loss that is felt even in post-reunion.

Yet certainly, I will not turn back now that I am here.

But I stay here not because reunion and post-reunion are everything that I could ever dream. I stay here not because it feels like a fairy tale.

I choose to remain here because it is simply who I am. I have nowhere else to go and no one else to be.


6 comments:

Von said...

Thanks for this post and revealing the truth of reunion.So few experience it, so many see programs on tv and think it's all roses. It's not and never will be. The losses are too great, too painful, too deep, too real but we are compelled because these are our kin, our blood relatives and that is an experience we may never have had before.Nothing makes up for our losses and what we've suffered but at least now we can all share those experiences and not feel so alone in our grappling with them.
I too experienced reunion but not until I was 50.I have now had the additional losses of the deaths of my adopters and my parents, not something most people have to cope with or understand.It doesn't get easier but at least the snow stops falling.Good wishes......

Melissa said...

Thanks, Von. I dread the day when my parents (all four of them...) will no longer be with me. Truly, it will be more loss upon loss and more grief upon grief. I know the emotion will overcome me...I have already shed many tears when fear of that inevitable time comes upon me...

Thank you for your comment--it helps to validate the emotions & experiences I have, and thus realize that I am not crazy or "wrong" for feeling like "it doesn't get easier..."

Best to you, and thank you again for stopping by.

The Byrd's Nest said...

I have read this post about four times, thinking I really want to say something but I just don't know what to say. I will just say that I love your openness and your ability to share your feelings with everyone on this very painful subject. Your heart must be so heavy....so....what I can do instead of using words is just keep you in my prayers. Big hugs my new friend.

Margie said...

"I feel angry that I even have to manage such complex and seemingly irreconcilable and irrevocable differences."

This is what I think a lot of adoptive parents never really consider. They are tied up with all the good things they believe their children obtain through adoption, and never stop to think that the simple fact of their losses means they will never live the straightforward lives people who have not been adopted are able to live.

I don't know how anyone could process what you're processing since meeting your Korean family, except with grief. It's incredibly sad that something as fundamental to a human being as knowing their parents should cause that.

Thanks, Melissa, for your incredibly honest writing.

Melissa said...

Thank you, Byrd's Nest for your kind words and thoughtfulness...

You wrote, "Your heart must be so heavy." Indeed.

Melissa said...

Margie, you wrote "...the simple fact of their [adoptees'] losses means they will never live the straightforward lives people who have not been adopted are able to live."

Well-stated, and SO TRUE. Thank you for your comment and for your understanding...