It can't be helped. The music of redemption and joy is in the air, and the constant barrage of ads reminds us of those we can't send presents to. We may had a joyous reunion with a lost daughter a few weeks ago, only to find that she won't respond to our texts or emails. Or a son's girlfriend has given away a grandchild, and it is triggering all the remembrance of that awful time
of giving up our own son or daughter. A reunited (adopted) granddaughter with whom you may have had a wonderful reunion has told you that she's in a "good place now" and you should buzz off.
|Lorraine and Jane, 1983|
Readers know that my own daughter, after 26 years of reunion, died of her own hand in 2007. We certainly had our ups and downs, but of course she's on my mind. I take comfort in knowing that though her life was plenty troubled--and with more than being adopted--she is at peace now.
We've all got something. I know that may seem trite, and when someone not cursed with our particular trial says it we want to say: You can't possibly understand what it was like for us to give up our children. Or: You can't possibly know what it is like to feel abandoned and adopted by strangers, no matter if they were good and loving parents or not. I've been there, done that, but unless we are going to curl up in a ball and give up, we have to figure out how to go on.
No matter who we are, or how comfortable our life seems to an outsider, life is a series of problems. I was watching the reruns of Downton Abbey last night. In particular, it was the episode in which unmarried Edith reveals to her grandmother, the formidable Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham (portrayed by Maggie Smith), that she is pregnant and the father is missing somewhere in Germany. Unless she hides the pregnancy and birth, Edith will give birth to a bastard, and be ostracized from all polite society. Her class will turn their collective back on her. (Doesn't sound like it was much different in my day, either.)
You can see that the wheels are in motion for her to give her baby to a tenant farmer. Maggie Smith, in her indomitable way, says to her...Life is a series of problems. You solve Number One and then you go on to Number Two, and then Three...We conquer one and then the next one comes along.
Christmas is one of those problems. I can't tell you it will be easy, but it will be over.
In the meantime, make the most of who you have in your life. Smile when you don't feel like smiling, because the simple act of doing with your face will give you a slight lift.
Be generous with your time and empathy. In the act of doing good for someone else, you will reap a reward yourself.
Pretend to have good time with your family, and you will have a better time than if you give into moping. Enjoy the family, extended and near and in friendship, who do appreciate you.
Say a prayer for your missing loved ones, and hope they are having a good holiday. They may be doing the very same for you. If you are searching, never give up.
To those who have been rejected by their found son or daughter, remember that the people who want to be in your life, will be. You don't have to go chasing after them. And the same holds true for adoptees who searched and found, and are not welcomed into the bosom of their natural families.
Remind yourself that while it is a tragedy that you could not stop your grandchild from being given up for adoption, it is not your baby that came out of your body. You are not under the spell of oxycotin now. You can only control yourself, you can't control others. Though the act of losing a family member--especially a grandchild--is triggering all the negative emotions of your own relinquishment, cry and then accept. You cannot stop what another is determined to do.
To those who are waiting to hear once again from a reunited daughter or son, remember that they are roiling with emotions of "what if" she had kept me. Focus on the happiness of those few hours in that Starbucks when you were together.
In the end, no matter what is thrown at us, life is what we make of it. I know this is all advice you may have heard before, but that's because these nostrums just may help you get through the season. Jane and I wish everyone here the very best of holidays with love and sharing and family. You give us support and love as the years go by. In many ways, 2014 has been less than a good year for me, but we've all got something, right?--lorraine
The Adoption Reader: Birth Mothers, Adoptive Mothers, and Adopted Daughters Tell Their Stories
A stellar collection of essays that anyone touched by adoption would be happy to have during the holidays. Full disclosure: Lorraine has the first essay in the book.
THANK YOU FOR ORDERING ANYTHING THROUGH FMF--AND ESPECIALLY I THANK THE PERSON WHO ORDERS GUMMY BEARS!