In kindergarten we are taught that friendships are strong bonds between two people who share the same interests, or like to play at the same play stations. When we are younger, we think that our friendships will last forever. My kindergarten days were full of shyness and challenges with being with other children but I found a friend who I stayed with a lot that year. Looking back, that friendship must have only been about a half a year before she moved to a different school but to me it felt like a lifetime. That is my first vivid memory when I think about loss, and how it is a bit different for me than the average person. I do not even think I could remember her name, but I do remember that I cried endlessly when she told me that she was leaving. Losing a friendship to me was like losing a bit of myself. I could not understand how she just accepted it as a way of life. Looking at the big picture now, I realize that my tendencies to be stubborn to change might have something to do with my deep fear of losing someone forever. And my fear of losing someone forever was proven, because I never saw this girl again.
If you think about it, it makes sense for someone who was adopted to fear loss. For some adoptees, they felt loss when they were separated from their family, those who were too young to remember feel it when they are older and a part of them is vacant. Dealing with loss is an integral part of who they are. Most other people will not have to deal with a memory or a thought about the day their birth parents put them up for adoption. Foster children must feel this, adopted children must feel this. Adoption loss could quite possibly be the most misunderstand of grievances. I recently read a quote written by an adoptee himself;
“Adoption Loss is the only trauma in the world where the victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful” – Keith C. Griffith
It is hard to explain to someone how you truly feel when they could not possibly relate. At the same time, it is as equally as hard to find someone who will listen. Not many people know how to handle something like this. I remember I was at a friend’s house and they had their family over, and the night was going amazingly well when suddenly I went upstairs and started crying. Basket-case, I know. For a while I knew that I was not feeling great mentally but I could not figure out why. But that night I did. As I sat up in the room I thought about how much I wished I could be with my biological family, laughing, talking about the strange cousins, something I could do with my adoptive family but it would not be the same. I thought about how ten years from now I might not even remember this person’s name (the friend I was staying with). I thought about how in our lifetime we will lose friendships faster than we will make them. I have never been one to make ten-second friendships; those who know me well know that I am cautious. I do not put forth enormous effort into a friendship unless I know that there is security and promise that it will last. All of these thoughts in one night. So, what do I do? I Skype with the only friend who could possibly help me feel better. I cried to her, expressed how it is so frustrating how others simply do not realize how precious friendships are, how precious family is. I told her that I could not understand why it was me who had to be put up for adoption and not someone else. I told her I missed my biological family, the ones I have never met. Despite her having no experience with me acting like this, or even anyone for that matter, she managed to pull something out (she has been pretty good at that):
“I do not understand what you are going through. So as far as helping you grieve I cannot help you. But what I will say is that you have family. Somewhere out there your biological parents probably think about you, and if chance has it, you will see them again when the time is right. But for now you have an amazing life; maybe there have been challenges but you have friends who are like siblings, and people who would catch you if you ever fell and could not get up. When you come home, we will all be here. Let your mind rest with that. Nothing is ever made to last forever, but you can get pretty close.”
On a typical Skype night, I would expect a few words of encouragement and the occasional “:P” but that night was different. Never in my life had I spilled out my frustrations to someone who was not my family. It all boiled up to this. I could not help but think about that friend in kindergarten. All I remember when I was younger was how caring she was and careful she was with her words, never trying to hurt anyone, similar to this friend’s words. That night all I thought was somehow life makes it so that if you lose something, if you are patient, you will eventually get it back. It might have taken ten years but I eventually found it in the form of my Skype night angel. My fear of losing someone close still exists, but it is a part of my life. My fear will constantly attack me and sometimes I may let it break me, but for the most part, if chance has it, things that were meant to be will be. For now I am grateful for those who share this common experience, grateful for those who listen, sometimes that is all we need.