Ten years ago, I was swollen, pregnant, and wondering when my son would make his way into the world. In May, I would go to the hospital at least half a dozen times thinking it was time, until it really was time. I would spend three short days there- three of the most vivid days to date, and three of the saddest days I have yet to survive.
Here I am, ten years later, in the same city. You see, after the adoption, I tried to erase my past. The days before I had my son. I didn’t want to deal with the idea that life existed before him, so I numbed myself, and I moved out of the city. I got married in a markedly chaotic fashion and pretended that my heart was not broken. I had been told that it would all get better. That I would forget, and that I would get over it because I had made the “right” choice. No one explained, not even the birthmother I spoke to during my pregnancy, that this was the sort of grief that doesn’t fully go away. She couldn’t have known, I guess, because she was only a handful of months out of her own adoption.
So three years ago, when I found myself facing the same situation, with girls who were pregnant and considering adoption, I was honest. Brutally honest.
“Don’t be fooled by the happy parts of the stories. There is so much sadness that goes along with adoption. It doesn’t go away. You get used to it, and you find a place for it, but when it surfaces, and it does, it’s as though it’s the very day you watched your child walk away in the arms of another person. It doesn’t matter how prepared or sure you were about your decision. Sometimes, it’s going to hurt like hell.”
I wasn’t asked to do another forum like that again. I suppose the agency wanted me to tell these people, prospective adoptive parents too, that adoption was easy, that it was without pain, without regret, and without issue. Even in the happiest open adoption there is still grief and obstacles to overcome. The reality is that adoption isn’t as easy as some would like to believe it is.
Ten years later, there are still moments like the days after I relinquished my son where I have to just move silently through the moments, where I have to remember that some minutes will feel like a mountain, and there will be months where it feels like I’ve been traveling on a flat highway for years. We shouldn’t be afraid of this grief; adoptive parents, birthparents, adoptees, none of us should be ashamed to be grieving. Our individual grief doesn’t erase one another, or negate the role we all play in this adoption constellation. It’s just part of the process of adoption, and adoption is a life time journey. It doesn’t end when a woman makes the choice to sign away her parental rights, and it doesn’t end when an adoptee turns eighteen. It’s one of those things that we will live with, good and bad, forever.
Don’t be scared by the twists and turns your grief takes or if you don’t feel it sometimes. There is no right or wrong way to feel all of the big feelings that come along with adoption.