Tuesday, February 5, 2013

People are irreplaceable

Jennifer Fulwiler linked to this beautiful piece by Dana at "Death by Great Wall" about how her infant daughter's death 11 years ago helped her to understand the grief of her adopted son over the loss of his birth mother and foster mother. 
Wenxin is well-adjusted and happy in our family. Maybe he will never look back, but I won't be surprised if someday in the future, grief sneaks up and hits him with the realization of what he lost. He may grieve the loss of one or both of his other mothers. It won’t mean that I’m a bad mom or that he doesn’t love me. It will just be grief – a normal and healthy response to loss. I refuse to add baggage by making him feel guilty for loving or missing them. They play an important role in his story. So do I.

If that day comes, I’ll say to him what my pastor said to me, “People are irreplaceable. That's why this is hard." I'll support him if he wants to search for his birth family or reconnect with his foster mom. Any relationship he might re-establish with them does not negate his relationship with me. They can't replace me, just like I can't replace them.

Adoption is beautiful, and I fully support it. But I think we often forget that adopted children may experience some sort of grieving process over the parents they are no longer with each day. Rather than asking them to stuff this grief, ignore it or destroy it and "be grateful for what you have," it seems helpful and healing to allow them to grieve what Dana refers to as an "irreplaceable person" in their lives. It doesn't take away from the beauty of adoption. It gives them more clarity to understand.

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