Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Tide of Emotions in the Face of a Friend's Pain

I'm feeling incredibly sad today. Someone I consider a good friend (although, this is more because I read her blog religiously and less because I chat with her frequently. In fact, the chatting is rare and she has her comments turned off, so I'm not even sure if she realizes I visit) is going through quite a rough time. It may be that this situation turns out wonderfully for my friend; then again, it could mean that she experiences a kind of pain that is akin to losing a part of yourself. A kind of pain I am intimately familiar with, having gone through it earlier this year.

The pain of a failed adoption is unlike any other. It's not even something that is easy to describe to someone unless they have experienced it themselves. It's not like losing a child you already have, because this child is not yet your's and therefore the people surrounding you who are removed from the situation (i.e. not the friends and family who are standing by you and feel the loss themselves) are unwilling to allow you time to grieve. They do not see it as your right. In fact, it is almost as if they are threatened that you dare feel loss over a child who was "never yours".

The pain is also unlike that of a miscarriage. Although mother's who have suffered a miscarriage also find themselves the target of such ignorant people as those indicated above who expect them not to grieve or find offense that they do, a failed adoptive mother often herself feels she has no right to grieve the loss of the child. In this situation, the fact that the child still lives, albeit with someone other than the adoptive parent - the birth parent or another adoptive parent - limits the adoptive parents own acceptance of the need to grieve. We still feel the hurt and pain, but we feel as though we should be happy! After all, the baby is thriving! It's healthy and is surrounded by people who love it! How could I be so selfish as to feel pity for myself for not being the one to parent this child?

We often don't give ourselves enough of a break to understand that we have suffered a loss. We are allowed to grieve that loss. We are allowed to feel bitter and resentful that all the hopes and dreams we put into that tiny life have been revoked due to the choice of another human. Although it may not seem fair to the birthmother, we are allowed to privately feel an ounce of anger. I'm not advocating that we say or do anything to the birth mother, but simply that we do not have to feel guilty for feeling the anger. It's natural. Over time, yes, it's possible to come to an acceptance that God had other plans, that the birthmother was entitled to enjoy her right to raise her own child. But remember that we are also humans, we mothers-who-almost-were, and that we are entitled to feel our own grief and to nurture our own hurts. We can't always be the strong one or the one others turn to when things need smoothing over or feelings need soothing. Sometimes we need to flash that bit of selfishness and tend to ourselves; just back away from life like a damaged kitten and lick our wounds. It is okay.

To wind up this post, please join me in saying a prayer for Her Womb, Our Hearts. Pray that the right decision for everyone involved will be made and that God's Will will be done. That's all J is asking for. She's such a better human than me. She's thinking more of the birthmother than herself. I was so caught up in my bitterness that I never had time for that. Please think of her during this tough, tough time.

Cross-posted with Excuse Me While I Cry and BlogHer


J said...

Thank you my sweet, dear friend. I love you and this post more than you will ever know.

fuzzandfuzzlet said...

You are right, the pain of a failed adoption is very unique, one that you can`t understand unless you have been there. I am sorry for your friend, but I must say she has a remarkable attitude right now.

Heather said...

It is really hard. And no one understands that pain until they go through it. Will be praying.

a Tonggu Momma said...

Here from the Creme... Such wise, wise words. We have never experienced the pain of a failed adoption, but dear friends of ours have. And experiencing a tremendously long wait to adopt (China - over 4.5 years now) has its own pain that is different, but also not understood. Thank you for this post.

Lut C. said...

When I think of adopting, this has to be one of my top fears, having to give a baby back.
There is every reason to grieve a loss, after all you lose the opportunity to be a family with this child.
I agree with you that it isn't tactful, to share the grief with the birthmother or with the other adoptive family. In practice that can be hard, I suppose.

I'm sorry for your loss.

(Arrived here from the Crème de la Crème list.)

J said...

Oh made this your Creme de la creme blog! I love you!

Amber said...

Found this post at Creme de la Creme. I love this post! I have been through three failed (or as I like to call them, 'disrupted') adoptions myself and you hit the nail on the head. Completely. It's so hard to express. I look forward to reading more from you!

Sara said...

This is really powerful. I haven't experienced adoption, so I can only imagine what it entails, but a disrupted adoption is one of my top fears about it as well. I can only imagine how painful it must be. I had never thought about how difficult it must be to permit yourself to feel the anger and loss. But humans need to grieve their losses, and the loss of your hope to parent a specific child is a huge loss.

(here from creme)

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