I wrote this piece a while ago, but thought it would make a great first blog post.
My husband and I are currently in the process of swapping rooms around in our house. Of course, with moving things around, comes the process of going through and throwing things away. My husband is very much a “thrower” and I am very much a “saver”. I am also an adoptee.
As I was watching my husband toss handfuls of things into the garbage without blinking an eye, I could literally feel my heart breaking. When he was finished, I quietly went through the bags and boxes piece by piece and rescued the items that meant something to me. My husband understood and left me to do what I needed to do to get through this process.
After I had gone through everything, we had a conversation about it. He told me that he wasn’t a sentimental person and never had the same attachment to things that I always have. I told him that adoptees view “things” differently than those who haven’t had that experience.
I was left abandoned in a subway station in Korea when I was one. I was left with absolutely no identifying information–no name, no birthdate…nothing. I was adopted at age two, and all I have of my life in Korea are “things”. I have no memories of the life I lived before I came to America.
I told my husband that I have a greater attachment to “things” because of those earlier losses I experienced in life. These things include baby items, some papers, pictures, and other items that have memories attached to them. I reminded him that his mom has his things from when he was a baby. I have nothing from when I was a baby. I hold very dear the “things” from when my sons were babies. They may never mean much to them, but they are incredibly important to me and they will always be here should my sons ever want to keep them or pass them along to their own children someday.
I was mulling over the events from this weekend, and I realized how important it might be to share this experience with foster, adoptive and kinship parents.
When you are getting ready to move or when you are tired of the clutter and are in the mood to throw things away, please be sure to give your adopted or foster child time to process the change and go through their belongings. It might take longer than you’d like for this to happen. If it means putting things into boxes and storing them in the garage or attic until your son or daughter is ready to go through them, then make this accommodation for them. Never spring something like this on your child and expect him or her to get over it and make it happen within a day or an hour. Getting rid of things can be a painful process for anyone, and even moreso for a foster or adopted child.
Please remember that the items you view as just “things” might mean the world to your child.