Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Adoption and Loss

Today I read a couple of posts about adoption from the perspective of the other sides of the triad. I first read a post written by Third Mom in response to a recent study that suggested that more care should be taken with parents (mainly mothers) who place a child for adoption both before and after the adoption takes place. Third Mom is an adoptive mother with a heart for first mothers. They have no better advocate than her. Her blog lead me to an enlightening post written by Joy regarding her grief as an adoptee. It’s amazing how easily people negate the grief that an adopted child feels. It’s all very human. We want to say something to help another person feel better and we have a tendency to bury what is uncomfortable to us ~ even when it has nothing to do with us.

Both posts dealt with the common theme of loss and grief as part of the adoption experience. When one thinks about grief in terms of adoption, I’m sure that first mothers and adoptees come to mind quickly. The truth is that the whole adoption triad is rooted in loss. To the outside world, adoptive parents are seen as having gained the world. Adoption for them is the end of the grieving experienced before adoption, when they were unable to conceive or to carry a child to term. They’ve got a baby now, right? What’s there to grieve? There is an element of truth to this. I’ve never been as happy as I was during the first two years of Emma’s life. To me, that was an idyllic time. Still, I never forgot the grief that E and her family were in and continue to experience. A lot of the happiness I experience is in knowing that Danny and I made the right decision. E and her family will always in our lives – and most importantly in Emma’s. As much as it was tempting at first to pretend or imagine what it would have been like if Emma were my child by birth, E has never been far from my mind. I love her a great deal. I grieve along with her. My great love for Emma doesn’t stop me from wishing that E had been pregnant with her at a better time in E’s life. A time where she would have been able to make the decision to parent. Better yet, a time when a decision wasn’t needed at all.

What I read today ties in with something that is weighing a little heavily on my heart right now. I am just starting to recognize a sense of loss in my own heart now that my mental skies are so much clearer. As an adoptive mother, I am mourning the loss of an innate physical connection with Emma. Had I not had the opportunity to experience biological parenthood, I may have been inclined to blown this off as insignificant in the grand scheme of things. So what if I didn’t experience pregnancy and feel her kick and roll inside of me? So what if I never nursed her? The days contained within those regrets are so very few in comparison to the lifetime I have to be her mother. Trista touched upon this regret in August. I was too cynical about life to relate to her at the time. Little did I know that we shared the same ache.

With Allison, I have what feels like a primal connection. There is an intimacy that only the two of us share that is hard for me to put into words for fear of it sounding sick and twisted. It is a joy to cradle her in my arms as I once cradled her in my womb. When I’m cuddling with her, I feel like we are communicating without speaking. She is a complete mystery to me, yet there is a sense of knowing her from before time began. The depression and anxiety I experienced stole that from me and wouldn’t let go of it for a long time. Had I been able to feel that intensity during those early months, Allison’s colic might have been much more bearable. Maybe then I could have held her during those hours and days and somehow made sense out of what is beyond understanding. I might have felt as if we were riding that storm together instead of daydreaming of escaping to a world in which she didn’t exist.

I have always treasured the time I get to cuddle with Emma. Even though I jump at every chance I get to be physically close to her, it’s not the same. I have cared for her in every way any mother would from the evening of her second full day of life, but it’s not the same. As wonderful as my life became when my world began rotating around her, I can’t have that missing piece. I can’t force or morph our relationship into something it can never be. I grieve the loss of what E has with Emma just as E grieves the loss of what I have. Because of our Destiny, we are permanently connected in a most meaningful way.

I could choose to allow myself to believe that my heart is playing favorites. I could stew in never-ending guilt about it. I won’t. I won’t, because it is simply not true. I wouldn’t long for that intrinsic connection with Emma if that weren’t true. I wouldn’t have hugged her tight to me at four o’clock this morning willing myself to feel that same sense of timeless knowing. What is there, however, is just as significant and unique to the two of us. There are four years of memories, the beauty of the relationship we’ve built together, and the choice that I made freely with my husband on Friday, October 25, 2002 to love her unconditionally for all of eternity.

The sorrow over what never can be only intensifies the joy that already is. Loving Emma feels damn good.


Joy said...

This is an incredibly beautiful post. I love it.

Anonymous said...

very interesting, as i am writing a novel about precisely what you describe!