Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Ultimate Abandonment

I was having one of those deep thought-provoking conversations with my mother the other day. It always seems to me that we are either having the gossip catch-up conversations or the “oh my gosh” you’re going to make me think conversations.

Anyhow, we know a Korean adoptee who has an almost irrational fear of people dying. In particular, she fears her parents dying. The sight of gray hair or an occasional lapse in memory makes her assume the onset of Alzheimer’s or death. I have my own hang-ups, but I was having a hard time understanding why she had gone this particular path. My mother wrapped it up in a nice neat package. Death is the ultimate abandonment.

Abandonment issues are something that many adoptees go through. For adoptees who have not come to terms with the loss of their birth family, the loss of their adopted family must seem that much more terrifying.

So, once again, I have been forced to wonder what makes me different. Will my son be like me or will my son have his own abandonment issues. Perhaps some of the difference lies in the information. I was truly a found baby, left in a public place with no note or history. Therefore, to me, my birth family has little substance…they lack the reality that I attribute to my parents, sister, husband, son… However, Korean adoptees today are coming with information about their birth families. They are real people, with names, occupations and dreams. I suspect that this is why I am much more interested in my son’s birth parents than I am in my own.

My mother used to tell me about my birth parents all the time. Though we didn't know anything about them, she made sure that they were a part of my life. She used to tell me that she knew in her heart that they loved me and that they had done what they thought was best for me because they loved me. Maybe that was the key to why I didn't have strong abandonment feelings?

Once again, I am back to wishing there was a magic handbook for parents with adopted children. I really don't know how my parents did it. I suspect that I can analyze why and why not forever and I will never have a definitive answer. It all comes down to the individual. All I can do is watch my son, do my best and wait for the answers to hit me on the head.

I’ve always believed that parents have to be careful about attributing every problem to adoption. Adoption brings its own problems, but often growing up brings just as many. We have to walk that fine line of watching for adoption-related issues, but not always assuming that adoption is the root of all problems.


Stephanie said...

Hello, I stumbled upon your blog while googling Korean adoption networks, etc...

I haven't gotten the chance to read through all of your entries, but from what I have seen so far, you had a similar upbringing... knowing little about your birth family and having such supportive adoptive parents that abandonment issues were not so prevalent.

I think it's beautiful that you have chosen to adopt. I always planned on adopting someday..wanting to go through the adoption agency I came from, sort of a poetic coming full circle, but know that the laws have changed drastically.

Your son is so fortunate that you will be able to relate with him on such a deep level. No matter what issues may come up in the course of his life, I think you will do fine without a magic handbook. Your experiences will guide you in a way that most adoptive parents are not able to comprehend.

Take care :)

Maureen said...

"I’ve always believed that parents have to be careful about attributing every problem to adoption."

This is what my parents did, and it hurts to know that they could justify anything that I did wrong not to their bad parents (and yes, every parent has their share of that), but to my adoption. It makes you resent the fact that you were adopted.

Flower Patch Farmgirl said...

I just found your blog and am enjoying reading through your posts. We adopted our son from Korea in '05 and our daughter (domestic) in '06. It's so nice to be able to "hear" from other parents who have adopted and I love reading your perspective, having been adopted yourself. I'll be sure to check in again!