Have you ever come close to finishing a puzzle, only to discover there are a few pieces missing?
Have you ever read a mystery that has no resolution?
Have you ever forgotten a word or a name that sends you on a search for clues to help you remember?
Have you ever heard a song and felt it was missing a verse?
Have you ever become lost in a place that should be familiar to you?
What if those missing puzzle pieces were your family medical history?
What if the unresolved part of that mystery involved the names and information about your birth parents?
What if that forgotten word or name was actually a key to unlocking a past that you have forgotten or is entirely unknown to you?
What if that missing verse could reveal vital details of your birth and your life prior to your adoption?
What if that unfamiliar place is the racial or cultural community with which you identify?
Please do not ever tell an adoptee who is grieving their losses or searching for answers to get over it, or focus on living in the present, or to just leave their past behind them and move on.
By doing so, you are attempting to disenfranchise our grief.
It may help you feel better about the situation, but what you are actually doing is attempting to minimize or invalidate our pain and our feelings about our lived experiences.
And, that is not so much about us and what is in our best interests—that is about you.
Because you are uncomfortable allowing us to sit with our pain.
Because you are worried about what we might find and whether those answers will somehow reflect on you as a parent and your perceived importance in our lives.
Because you don’t understand how we can be stuck in a state of grief and emptiness when you feel you have given us the world.
Because you feel threatened by the fact that we could love someone who chose not to or was unable to parent us as much as we love you who adopted us.
Because you cannot fix our pain or fill the void in our lives—and it is heartbreaking to know your child is hurting and not have the ability to heal their wounds.
Please remember that this is not about you, nor is it a reflection of you as a parent.
It is about our need to grieve our losses,
to sit with and process our pain,
to work through our trauma histories,
to search for information that may be vital to our identity formation,
to reconnect with our roots,
to find a place to belong,
to find out who we are and where we came from,
and to work on healing the hurts from our past.
Support us and do your best to understand what we are going through.
If you don’t have the words that we need to hear in the moment, don’t say anything at all.
Just be there.
Sit with us in silence.
In those moments, your presence will speak louder than your words.
Because sometimes there are no words.
And, that is okay.
Walk this journey with us, but please don’t ever ask us to stray from or abandon it.
One thought on “Walk This Journey With Us”
Thank you very much for writing this. Too often, when adoptees share thoughts about wanting to know about their birth countries, or especially their birth parents, they are told that need is a sign of ungratefulness. I know because I’ve experienced it.