One of the things that worried me when we first considered adoption was the emotional scar that adoption leaves on adoptees. I know adoptees feel a loss, even if adopted as infants, and that it’s natural and understandable for them to wonder why their birth families couldn’t raise them. If I was adopted, I would wonder that, too, and I’m sure it would hurt. But some of the stuff I’ve read online makes adoption seem like it’s a life sentence for misery. The notion of the “Primal Wound,” in particular–that a child is irreversibly damaged when separated from its mother at birth–is disturbing. At first, this really freaked me out. Is it a given that my child will grow up to be miserable just because he or she is adopted?
But then I realized I shouldn’t believe everything I read. I don’t agree with this at all. Yes, adoption involves loss and grief. But adopted children are not broken, irreversibly damaged, or hopeless. There are many other, perhaps far worse, hurts a child can experience in life and still remain resilient.
My parents went through an ugly divorce when I was nine and shortly afterwards, my mother, brother and I moved out of the small town we had always called home and away from all of our family and friends. Did I feel a tremendous sense of loss from that? You bet. I was a daddy’s girl and it was incredibly painful when he was suddenly no longer a part of my day-to-day life. And it was scary and difficult starting a brand new life at that age away from all that was familiar. But many wonderful things also came out of that divorce and move. I gained new family members and friends who I treasure, for example, and opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I learned to be brave and strong and independent and unafraid of change–all things that have served me quite well in life. Did the loss and pain from this experience determine who I have become and my happiness as an adult? Yes, but in some very positive ways.
Adopted or not, life is full of loss–for all of us. That’s just life. What matters is what you make of it.