Motherhood in May / Part 3
As I’ve thrown myself into writing my book, I’ve shared less and less about adoption here. I kind of hate that even though it is a necessity as I am determined to manage my book content and keep it fresh. (for all previous posts on adoption, click here)
Today, however, I have a few things to say on the topic.
As I predicted, Mother’s Day was difficult for me. I felt the absence of my mom, I thought about the joys, strife, and complexities involved in the mother/daughter relationship, and I just missed her. This maze of thoughts led me to thinking about my Indian mom on a day I thought was reserved exclusively for the woman who raised me. I haven’t spent much of my life wondering about my biological parents in a conventional way. The grief from my adoption manifested in less obvious ways as I was growing up; I rarely asked questions about my birth parents, adoption, or culture. My grief presented itself more subtly; an overwhelming desire to be home with my family most of the time, fear of being separated from my parents, rejection of my culture, and a need to be perfect and impressive constantly.
My parents weren’t able to identify any of these obsessions as grief and I don’t fault them for that at all. Most adoption agencies failed to educate adoptive parents, at that time, of the many ways international adoptees were traumatized and how to address it. I wasn’t even able to recognize any of those things as grief until last year.
All of that to say, I never longed for my Indian mother; the woman whose body brought forth my life, who may have loved me or may have felt only bitterness for me, who possibly wished to keep me but had no choice or who attempted to will time to move more quickly so as to begin erasing my existence from her memory and body. On Mother’s Day, however, I thought about all of those things. I thought about how most adopted children long to have a connection to the woman whose womb once carried them; about how those longings may go unfulfilled.
Adoption is not natural. Adoption is traumatic and, while it can lead to a positive experience, grief is always lurking. As an adoptee who grew up in an ideal situation, I can tell you, I am torn every day of my life. I cannot fully describe the depths of guilt I felt on Mother’s Day as I bounced back and forth between missing the mother who raised me and the mother who gave birth to me. At the end of the day I even wondered who I thought about most and worried there was a wrong answer. And even now, the internal battle rages on. I’m grieving them both. And I’m allowed to grieve them both.
The expectations imposed on adoptees are sickening and unrealistic. Those of us separated from our biological parents and cultures at a young age do not have an obligation to be grateful more so than anyone ought to be grateful. Those of us who grew up in warm, loving homes should not be expected to forsake our longings for the life we were taken from simply because we had it “good”. And the many adoptees who were abused, neglected, and isolated should be more understood and welcomed without expectation.
I’ve spent time listening to countless adoptees over the course of the past year and I assure you, there are mountains and mountains of grief they are unwilling to share because so many are not willing to listen. In a society in which we are all expected to be tolerant of so much, whether we agree or not, I’m appalled at the lack of tolerance for the grief stricken, heart broken, hurting, lost, and isolated adoptees.
To those of you who grieved your birth mothers on Mother’s Day… Good for you.
To those of you who suppressed the emotional battle and quieted your longings… I understand.
Adoptees, we deserve an environment in which we are free to allow our grief to pour out; where we can weep for what was lost and long for it.
Mothers are irreplaceable. I long for both of mine.
I had an obsession with my moms hands for all of my life; holding them, looking at them. I love this photo and I miss her hands. I so often wonder if my hands and my Indian mothers hands are similar…
Motherhood in May