Joy’s post got me thinking about this…..
I do agree that all adoptees must feel a loss. I too don’t why so many adoptive parents either completely dismiss this or just don’t want to focus on it.
I wonder if it has something to do with the way grief itself works. You know the whole stages of mourning thing. Anybody who has lost someone knows that grieving is a strange thing. First you are consumed, then it comes and goes. When you’ve lost somebody you do get to the point that you can function, you don’t think about all the time, life does go on to a degree. You appear to be normal, observers would tend to think that you are getting over it, whatever that means. But at any moment grief can grab you and it’s like you’ve just lost that person. That’s normal, it’s the way it works. Eventually you just get better at hiding it. And by doing that sometimes you can even convince yourself that you are over it.
But everyone who has ever lost anybody knows, you never really get over it. Pretending that you have only makes it worse. That grief is going to come back and bite you in the ass at some point.
Infants can’t express their grief. I’m certain that they can feel it and process it to some degree. I wonder if the time between experiencing the loss and being able to express that loss brings many adoptees to the point that they can appear to be functioning normally. Combine that with the message that everything is as it should be, and you’ve got a real problem.
Think of it this way, you’d never tell a person who had lost a close family member that everything is as it should be two years after their loss. You know that in their world, as good as it may be, they will still miss someone. You know they miss these people on holidays, you know they think about them on birthdays and anniversaries of their deaths. Most of us do the same thing. Once we reach a certain age, it’s something that we all sadly share.
So why would you deny that an adoptee feels a loss? Think that one can replace the ones that you have lost? I’m sure that you have lost someone. You have other relatives, other friends, but none of them are that relative or friend. Things will never be the same without them. The ones lost to you are unique. So are the ones that the adoptee has lost. As an adoptive parent you may fulfill a role, you may do it well, but you are not that person the adoptee lost. They, and you, are unique.
Loss doesn’t always show. Can you tell immediately if someone that you meet parents are living, can you tell that they are widowed? Would it be much harder to ever know if society told them that they had lost nothing?