Our newborn son is going on one month. As I learn to care for him, I am dumbfounded, startled, overwhelmed by how utterly helpless and dependent he is. I dare to observe that there was never a more vulnerable, more fragile little being than the human infant, and particularly the newborn.
How desperately he begins to whimper or wail as soon as he realizes he is no longer in my arms or on my lap...that there are no other warm embraces or soothing voices that seem able to comfort him as do mine or my husband's.
And yet, still it is commonplace for people to continue to presume that being adopted as an infant, or more accurately, being separated from one's own mother as an infant somehow diminishes or even nullifies the loss and grief of such an event and the ensuing lifetime consequences.
How anyone concludes that being an infant at the time of relinquishment and adoption indubitably prevents or somehow negates and neutralizes, some would even suggest, counteracts the consequences of such losses is even more perplexing and disturbing to me now than it was before--as I experience my own newborn firsthand.
How can any mother or father or fellow human who has ever cared for a newborn or infant so casually dismiss how profoundly consequential separation from one's mother would be, is?
My son knows me. Our bodies know one another. Our sounds and scents know each other. Our skin, our touch. And although if, God-forbid, he were to be separated from me now and forever (I can barely stand such a thought without going into tearful convulsions), it's true that he would have no tangible memories of me--and yet, I still have no doubt that he would feel the loss of such a premature and unnatural separation for the rest of his life...as have I, emotionally and physiologically.
And certainly, as his mother, I would be haunted by an insatiable emptiness and deep sorrow for the rest of my existence. How abysmal and vast the abyss of grief and angst would be. And yet, how often the consequences experienced by the mother who has lost her child in this way are ignored, denied, disregarded.
Sure, my assessment is emotional and subjective. Yet, are we not human beings? We are not quantities and statistics to be assessed and evaluated (although such measurements have their place and value, they cannot be our sole resource when it comes to the human experience).
There is indeed a place for emotion and subjectivity, and if not among and within the losses and griefs of humanity, then where?
To me, it should be obvious and even logical that a person separated from his or her mother and subsequently adopted as an infant would experience both undeniable short-term and long-term consequences. The fact that when I was a child and up through young adulthood, I, myself was someone that proclaimed I was unscathed by adoption should have been an indication of something askew rather than something aligned.
And yet, if I do not quote research and study upon study, my perspective, my experience is considered nothing but childish and inconsequential anecdote. Everything must bow down to science and its methods. Again, I love science and furthermore, my degree is in the science of psychology.
But it saddens me that the heart is no longer treated as worthy evidence.
Still, I cannot honestly look at my son as I hold him in my arms or watch him sleep or nurse, and coldly conclude that his life, his being would not be affected, changed, altered in profound ways were we to be torn apart...
And hopefully, he will never know such grief...