Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Ripple Effect

photo credit: tried to find the original artist who posted this but could only trace it back to deviant art. If anyone knows who created it please let me know.

It's a new year. It's 2014 and I reunited with my daughter in 2002. That's a pretty good amount of time. Much has happened since then. Reunion continues to be an interesting journey. Sometimes good, sometimes painful, sometimes ecstatically joyous, all the time better than the years before when I was left hanging in the limbo of not knowing anything. The good times are the visits, the phone calls, the Facebook messages that say "love you too momma" or "Happy Birthday momma" or "Happy Mother's Day momma". Those are the times cherished. The painful times are the silent times. Times when she can't talk to me. Times when I know she's going through something but she's too far away for me to know exactly what that is and too far for me to do anything to help her.

The effects of adoption don't stop with reunion, they just change. The ripple continues. Everything shifts from the "not knowing" pain to the "this is what I lost" pain to the "I'm so freaking pissed off at the adoption industry" pain to the "my daughter suffered because of the industry" pain to the "my other 2 children also lost because of the industry" pain which brings me back to the "I'm so freaking pissed off at the adoption industry" pain.

So now.... me and my mother are in therapy. The ripple continues. I've talked about it before. It's been a very long road with her but I do have to say..... things are improving. She's understanding me better. I'm understanding her better. We're a little more comfortable around each other. Things are relaxing. She's coming to grips with her history and why she reacted to my pregnancy the way she did and has even asked for forgiveness and I'm working on the "forgiving her" end of it. These are very good things. I know for many of my mothers of adoption loss friends, this is a road that couldn't be traveled for a variety of reasons - some reasons they could control and some they couldn't. There was a time I nearly divorced myself from my parents because of my daughter's adoption. At times I wondered why I didn't or thought maybe I should have. Now I'm glad I didn't walk away from my family.

I didn't walk away because I wanted my "raised" children to have grandparents. My grandparents were incredibly important to me. I adored them and the feeling was mutual. Of course it helped that I was the only grandchild for 7 years. Can you say spoiled? I wanted my children to have that experience and my parents HAVE been really wonderful grandparents. I couldn't deprive my children of their grandparents because of what I had been through with them. It wouldn't be fair to them. They've already lost enough in losing their sister and losing the mother I could've been to them if I hadn't been through the adoption experience- there's that ripple thing again - the effect adoption had on my mothering of my other children. And of course, my oldest daughter lost the experience of these grandparents. Yes, she had her adoptive grandparents but how would her life have been different had she been raised in her own tribe, with her original family? Huge "what if" ripple.

Ok, where was I.... reasons I'm glad I didn't walk away.... the other big reason was because I didn't want to lose my little sister. How would I see her again? I couldn't walk away from her. My sister is 7 years younger than me. When I got pregnant with my oldest child my sister was only 12 years old. When my parents found out about my pregnancy they said I was the one who had to tell her. So I did. Of course she reacted like any 12 year old would - she said ok and then asked me about something else. I don't remember what it was exactly but it was probably something like - what's for dinner? 12 year olds don't grasp what's happening in a situation like that. They're completely self-absorbed and that's ok because that's how they're supposed to be at that age. Even so.... I knew I couldn't walk away from her. We may have grown up feeling like we had separate lives because of the age difference. We may have fought like siblings do. We may not have had much in common when we were growing up but she's my sister.

When she grew up and became a mom herself she questioned why things happened the way they did. The ripple effect continues. It did have an effect on her. She's seen the tension between me and our mother. She's been there for the reunion, supported me, listened to me cry. And now she's here supporting me and our mother through therapy. I'm so glad I didn't walk away. She's my little sis and I can't imagine my life without her.

Fast forward to the present. It's the holidays and my children are visiting. My youngest daughter is a new mom. Her son will celebrate his very first birthday this weekend. We had some quiet time to talk a couple of nights ago. We talked about what it was like for her to be raised by me in the aftermath of her sister's adoption. At one point she said that after finding out about her sister being adopted out she decided she wanted to adopt. The first thing my heart felt was horror. How could she want to do something like that considering what I went through and what her sister has gone through. The ripple effect continues.

Then she explained. What she knew at the time as a teenager was that her sister wasn't with us and she was part of another family. Her sister couldn't be with us so she was glad someone was out there taking care of her for us. She wanted to be that someone for another child who couldn't be cared for by their own mother. That's understandable. My girl has a big heart. Then she got older and learned more. She saw the effect that adoption had on me. She learned more about how the industry works. She learned about the supply and demand end of the business. She learned about price lists and profits. She became a mother and then the pain of adoption became unfathomable. She hurt for me. The ripple effect continues.

I see the same pain in my son's eyes. I know he hurts for me too. When I first told him about his sister and what happened, he cried. My boy as a young teen, felt the pain. He was hurt by adoption. His sister was taken from him. He felt that loss and he saw the effect it had on me. Now as a father of two girls he can't fathom how people can take babies away from their parents in the name of adoption. The ripple effect continues.

I don't want my children to hurt for me. It's not supposed to be that way. I don't want to see pain in their eyes because of something done to me so many years ago. It hurts my heart to see my children in pain but the legacy of adoption continues. The ripple effect goes on and on.

It's not only parents losing children and children losing parents. Grandparents lose grandchildren. Children lose grandparents. Aunts lose nieces and nephews. Children lose their history. Siblings lose each other. Adult adoptees lose their voices and origins.

Infant adoption. It's not what the industry wants you to believe it to be. Pay attention to the ripple effect. There is no such thing as "normal" after adoption. You don't return to a normal life. There is no normal family life after adoption. Everyone in the family is affected. Every. Single. Person. Not just the adoptee. Not just the mother who lost a child. Not just the father who lost a child. It affects the grandparents. It affects the siblings. It affects the spouses of the people who lost their family member. It affects the children of the people who lost their family member. It affects the relationship between all of these people who lost someone to the adoption industry. It's an insidious industry and the ripple effect goes on for generations.