Friday, July 4, 2008

Getting Over It

"Everybody has pain. You need to get over it. Move past it. Get on with the business of living your life. Quit dwelling on the past."

How many times do I hear that sentiment expressed to adoptees who express the pain of adoption? Would we tell a victim of a violent crime that? Why is it okay to tell adoptees who are hurting that? Why is hard-heartedness okay when it's directed at adoptees?

I don't understand.

But worse than that, there is a real puzzle for me. Whether or not I can ever really "get over it," moving on with life requires that I deal with the pain. Nothing good comes from burying your feelings and ignoring them. At best, you wind up with a flattened affect, which is not really conducive to leading a full and rich life. In order to deal with it, one needs to actually be allowed to deal with it. That means acknowledging and expressing that pain in order to come to some grips with it.

In order to grieve what has been lost, one must be permitted to actually grieve. Perhaps those who want to continue the illusion that adoption is wonderful would prefer that we grieve in private, so as to not destroy the illusion. But that helps no one. And I, for one, am tired of being silenced just to make others comfortable.

And grieving doesn't mean the pain has stopped or that there is no sorrow left. But successfully grieving simply means that you can focus on other things, that the source of sorrow is not all-consuming. But even after grieving has happened, it doesn't mean there is no pain. It doesn't mean the past isn't still the truth. It just means that you've found a way to make a future in spite of that past. It doesn't make that past okay.

Adoption hurts. If it hasn't hurt you, I'm glad. I don't want more people to be hurt by adoption. But why must you deny that it hurts others?

I don't think I will ever understand that.


maybe said...

I think we all try to internalize society's messages about adoption. Then, some of us discover those messages aren't necessarily true, but society can't hear us. To hear us they would have to confront their own preconceived notions about adoption, which is something few people will attempt. The prograganda is too great for most people to escape. Hence, "get over it, adoption is wonderful."

The Fuzzy Duck Daughter said...

Phil, this resonates with me right now more than you can imagine.

Thank you.