On grief and moving on

I think the saying is true: Life does go on. At various times in my life I’ve been grateful or resentful that is the case. It’s like: You have this big thing that happens to you and to anyone else it’s just a normal day. You look at people going about their daily business and you want to scream at them: He is dead! Do you understand? My baby is dead!

And then you realise inside many of them there is a silent scream, just as there is in you. Because loss is part of the human condition. Every one of those people has their own silent thoughts, and maybe one of them has struggled more than others, and maybe that one who has struggled the most isn’t you. It probably isn’t you. I remind myself that when I’m screaming. Silently. 

And to most people and in most cases, I’m okay. I can forget about loss for most of my day. Of course it’s there in the background but it’s the same background grief that is a part of my being. 

Until this happened, this infertility, this thing that I never put a name to – this no, we don’t have any children – I don’t think I fully appreciated the Other Loss of my first family and culture, of kinship and of people who look like me. What this journey so far has taught me is that it’s not as separate as I might have thought. 

When I started this blog, it was purely to talk about my infertility and IVF treatment. That’s where I saw my loss as being greatest, and my feelings as being in greatest need of release. But it became something else… I somehow had all these thoughts swirling about that I’d never given words to – the thoughts on being adopted. 

I don’t campaign for or against adoption. I write about my feelings as a 30-something transracial adoptee, which aren’t as simple as for or against. (I hate that word; like amputee – some adoptees might say it’s apt.) I thought before it added context to my infertility story. Lately I think it maybe adds the context for my life. 

If you read adoptee literature you read that adoptees often feel the need to be the appeasers, to want to make people happy. In one way I’m like that: I always want to reassure people I’m perfectly okay with being adopted. I turned out okay. But on the other hand, I’m very much one of those “marmite” people. In real life, people seem to have a more extreme reaction to me than they do to others. I used to tell myself that was okay – the people who love me, love me intensely. My friends are awesome. But really I’d just rather people liked me. 

Why am I saying this? I don’t really know. I guess all this pondering on loss and the idea we might never have a bio child has made me feel much more aware of my genetic discreteness. As in, I am a genetic island. No bio parents [that I’ve ever met since 10 days old or at all] and no bio kids. It’s quite a weird feeling, but it’s one I’ve had all my life. 

Over the past few months, I’ve felt much more aware of my lost cultural heritage. As a child and adolescent and younger adult, I really didn’t care. I actually got sort of pitying about older adoptees who would tell me they suddenly got this urge to find out their roots. They’d say “I felt the same way you did at your age.” Maybe it’s just a thing: The same way that adults of a certain age want to have kids. Maybe adult adoptees feel more and more the loss of their first life. 

I’ve always been very laissez faire about being adopted. (My own adoption, not anyone else’s.) I felt relieved that I’m not one of those who feel a lot of grief about it. Of course I always knew I had some feelings locked up about it, but I could deal with them. (As children, my adopted sibling and I would enjoy watching movies about adoption. And as an adult, I’ve read countless books on adoption. I think you gravitate towards those feelings… I think of it as a cathartic poking of a nest, or something.)

Lately, some thoughts I’ve been having:

  • I wish that I had learned something of my birth language. I don’t even know what it is, for sure. How dumb is that? And I can’t blame my parents for this because they used to ask us a lot. They were very aware of not making us different than their bio kids. (Of course, we were… No amount of wishing would make it not so.) But I kind of wish they’d forced it on us. (They never forced anything on us like that, which is why I quit piano aged 5, whereas sibling #2 is now amazing at it.) Adoptive parent lesson: Don’t trust a 5 year old to make life changing decisions. 
  • As a child, I found the idea of open adoption really scary. I was just fine with never being in contact with my birth family. I didn’t want them to come and snatch me back. Whereas as an adult I kind of think, why wouldn’t you want to have a large extended family of people who love you? It’s not like love has to be limited. Too much love is an okay problem to have. And being transracially adopted, it really would have helped me to have some reference point of people who look like me. (Sibling #2 does, to the extent that we are from the same race. We don’t look the same at all, though, in the same way as you don’t look the same as a random person from your race. And we both have the same problem: lack of native race role models.) In my parents’ defence, they did at least live in our birth country for several years – but this was when we were too young to remember it. 
  • I feel like my birth culture is too far away from where I am now for me ever to go back as anything more than a tourist. Which is probably why I’ve never been back. Again, my parents offered to take me back. They took my sibling but I said no. This was a few years ago. I don’t know why I didn’t go. Maybe that I don’t want to see it through their eyes. I always told myself that I would only go myself if/when I have a baby. It’s like I don’t feel I can legitimately go back until I can close the circle. (Not sure what that means; blethering.)
  • I’ve always felt the loss of my first father more than is ever acknowledged in literature. Everything focuses on the mother, but for some reason I feel more connected to her. My parents met her. They never met my father. I wonder if he ever knew? I’ve thought of him ever time I’ve seen an older [my ethnicity] man. Every time. (I probably get the ethnicity wrong 80% of the time.) I somehow feel something different about him that I can’t put into words. All I know is that every time I see a man of a certain age from that race, I think that could be him. (I know it’s not him. I mean that there are very few reference points for men of my ethnicity in the UK. Even fewer than for women, who are exoticised/ fetishised to a degree.)
  • I kind of think it would be cool if people of our age, from our home culture but living in the adoptive country, could “adopt” adoptees. What I mean is: As an adult I’ve always felt envious of people who have their own cultural traditions. In the uk this is mainly black people. I’m not white but I’m not black, and it often feels in the western world that there’s this racial dichotomy and if you don’t fit in either then you don’t fit. It’s probably no coincidence that my BFF is mixed race (US: biracial). As an adoptee (me), and as someone brought up by her white parent in the UK when she looks black (my BFF), we have a lot of similar feelings and experiences. But in the UK, black people have an identity and she has black friends, whereas I have hardly any of my race and none from where I come from. And no easy way to find some. It almost feels like I would be like a white person culturally appropriating. “Ooh, I love your food.” (I don’t even like the food.)
  • This is going to sound waaaay like projection and anthropomorphism, but I feel even more of a kinship with my dog. I can’t help feeling that there’s something horrible about taking him away from his mother as a tiny puppy (fitted in the palm of my hand) and bringing him up in a human environment. I love him more than anything and I feel like I have given him a nice life, and he’s the absolute apple of our eyes, but when he sees another dog he’s like “OMG! OMG!” and I feel like maybe for all the love and toys we’ve given him, ultimately he’s a dog and he’d probably have liked to have grown up with his dog family. But also I think: If we hadn’t adopted him, someone else would have…  (Yes, that probably does sound like projection. It’s an interesting thought though.)

Anyway, I don’t know what I’m saying really. I think the time off Facebook has probably given me more time to think! I’m definitely coming out of the grief zone. I mean, I don’t want you to think that I sit around wrapped up in my grief. It’s not that bad at all. I feel like my blog is my place to explore those feelings, so if I seem overly introspective, it’s more to save my everyday from being weighed down by tears. (I picture myself in a house where the walls are crying… It’s not like that, I promise. I’m not living in some sort of gothic Victoriana.)

It really wasn’t too bad, this weekend. On Saturday, we went to see an apartment. (We had promised to stop doing it after the last one fell through, which lasted all of a week when this one in our desired area came on the market.) I really liked it! The main problem is that it’s more of a 1 bedroom than a 2 bedroom. And of course for longevity a 2 bedroom would be better. That doesn’t take into account how insane London is though. It’s nuts. I’m not kidding when I tell you that you’re looking at £500k for a normal small apartment. Realistically we could afford half a mill but who wants to go into that much debt? Anyway, we have found where we want to live – it’s just a case of finding a good place we can afford!

We went on a little boat trip and then we went to selfridges (as we had a rare dog free time, as we had been to see that flat) and we bought some food from the food hall, because austerity (ha!). 

Of course, this weekend was Valentine’s Day weekend. There have been many posts for and against, so I thought I’d chuck my hat in the ring. I’m for. 

Mainly because I am suspicious of anyone who doesn’t want to celebrate love. I love love! Of course, it kind of sucks a bit when you don’t have a valentine, but in valentines’ past I have been out for “unvalentines” with friends, and it’s super fun. I remember a night out with the girls many years ago where we went out for cocktails and dim sum (way before it was cool) and then went and danced stupidly in a terrible club. Other years I’ve been out with friends, or I’ve been in a relationship. And believe me, being in a relationship where you are lonely is the worst thing of all. 

The argument for not celebrating Valentine’s Day is one I’ve heard a lot. I’m totally fine with other people not wanting to celebrate it. I don’t think everyone has to be exactly like me. (Imagine how dreadful the world would be… It would be extremely messy, for starters.) That thing where people say “I don’t need a day to celebrate love because we celebrate it every day.” Yeah, I get it. But why not, if you can? I like to think we celebrate it every day. I will never take T’s love for granted. (In fact, I annoyingly ask him a lot whether he still loves me.) I like romance and I like everyday love. Actually I think everyday love is better than romance. It feels nicer, like worn in shoes you can actually walk in. 

So here’s our Valentine’s weekend in pictures… The few I remembered to take!

 The ferry. It was very cold and breezy. T insisted he wanted to go and investigate where the north circular (road) turns into the south circular. We went and watched the ferry and then walked under the river for what seemed like miles. It’s a fun experience! Though a bit chilly!

   
Valentine’s morning we took Dog and walked to one of our favourite spots which is a cafe by the Thames. Hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows is my favourite drink!


For a good start to the day, I recommend a full English breakfast. I’m sure you guys in the US and Canada aren’t into this, and I love American breakfasts too, but nothing quite compares to a full English. Dog sat on his own chair and had about half of mine (plus his own special dog sausages which they keep and provide for dogs, which are basically left over sausages from the previous day and perfectly edible). If Dog and T are happy, I’m happy. 

 
Happy Monday everyone! 🇬🇧
  

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30 comments

  1. libraryowl33

    I always assumed my feelings on adoption would simplify as I got older, but they really haven’t. I do think infertility has played a large part in this. It’s like, I know my parents provided me with a great light and I really am happy I was adopted, but I’m not ready to decide if I want to adopt myself if IVF doesn’t work. I really feel the need to have a genetic link to my child, even if that link never mattered to me growing up.
    I have also felt very compelled by my birth father. I know his story, but only through what we were told by my broken-hearted, 23 year old birth mom. I’ve actually gone in to marriage records and have found his second wife’s Facebook page (he does t have one). I visit the page every once in awhile, but I haven’t gotten the courage to contact them. The thought is there a lot though, and it is annoying. So, I get why your feelings on adoption have been particularly strong during your infertility treatment, because I’m going through the exact damn thing. *hugs*

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nara

      Thanks. I know you get it. And I don’t feel like I have to explain how it feels (like to patientsubfertility below, who I’m more and more convinced is a spambot!). Like you I love my family and am fine with being adopted, but I am not really sure I would adopt if IVF doesn’t work out. To me it isn’t that straightforward. I’ve had a mainly positive experience, and so has my partner – but I think that adoption isn’t that simple, and it definitely isn’t in the UK (mainly from care meaning significant loss through death, substance abuse or physical / other abuse – that is different than voluntary relinquishment to me, and I don’t know yet if I would be the best person to parent a child with significant additional needs).

      I’ve never been in touch with my birth family. I keep toying with trying 23andme or one of the genetic tests, but never got round to it yet. It kind of freaks me out that there might be a sibling of mine out there! But even more, that they might not be looking…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. patientsubfertility

    I find your perspective very interesting, probably because I live in a mega-diverse city where no one’s race matches their husband/sister/parent and everyone speaks something else or is “mixed.” Whatever your color or combo, there’s plenty of it here. It’s actually my family’s combo that I think makes me feel driven to have biological children. Maybe.

    The thing that stands out in this post is all the blame you are heaping on your parents. I have no idea if they deserve it or not. But I do know that you, as an adult, can learn whatever language you want, choose where you want to live, and make whatever friends you want, if that is really what you think the problem is.

    I thought age and infertility would make my thoughts on adoption clear, but they are only more muddled. This post was very interesting. A lot to chew, if you will.

    Like

    • Nara

      Okay, I’ll bite. Where in this post did I “heap blame” on my parents?

      If anything I’m defensive of them and I make allowances for the fact that they have always tried to do the best for us. In the first example (learning my birth language) I said that they often gave me the choice and that they (sensitively) didn’t want us to feel different from their bio kids, so didn’t force us to be familiar with our birth cultures. (I kind of wish they had. That’s not blaming my parents. That’s saying I wish they’d been tougher on us!)

      Likewise they took my adopted sibling back to our homeland and offered to take me – I didn’t want to. That’s not blaming my parents. That’s blaming myself.

      Also if you have read my blog (I’m guessing you haven’t or are deliberately interpreting it in a twisted way) I’ve always said that I love my family and I am understanding of the fact that things they do are borne out of love. Even things that may not help (eg pretending there is no difference between the experience of white people and non white people).

      I’ve read a few things you’ve written and I can only guess that either English isn’t your first language, or you have some sort of problem interpreting the written word. I’m also guessing you’re white and not adopted, as you don’t really seem to understand that writing about not coming from the same culture as the one you live in is not an indictment of anything other than an observation that there is a mismatch.

      I’d go so far as to say only a person coming from a place of privilege could honestly use the words “You, as an adult, can learn whatever language you want, choose where you want to live, and make whatever friends you want, if that is really what you think the problem is.”

      Sure… Life is really that simple.

      Liked by 3 people

      • EmilyMaine

        Beware of this blogger. She has a knack for turning up on blogs and picking out a negative that doesn’t exist in my experience. It says more about her than anything else and it just makes me very sad. You are always so loving toward your parents X

        Liked by 2 people

      • Courtney

        You said nothing in regards to blame about your parents. You defended them, that stuck out to me many times without having to even re read to make sure. Ignore this person – whoever it is doesn’t know you at all.

        Like

      • patientsubfertility

        I’m just an anonymous internet stranger working through the same things you are. And I’m not what the English would call white, but I live in such a diverse place, that I never perceived race like this.

        Your thoughts on adoption have been moving to me, and I think your perspective (and others) have really caused me to really examine my opinion on adoption.

        I do wonder if you had been adopted into a place where no one would bat an eye if your family has a bunch of colors, would change your experience? That would be the experience I would be bringing a child into, as an interracial family in a diverse city. I also know that as an adult you can seek a more diverse life, learn that language, and visit wherever. I bet you could even go to a bar and make a friend there. I believe we have more in common than not, especially as women on this road.

        Like

      • Nara

        There is a big difference between being a different colour as a parent that you’re related to genetically, and one that you are not. In one case you still have a genetic similarity (eg the younger version of your parent, whom you still resemble apart from in skin tone) versus a completely different race and no physical similarity because you’re not genetically related.

        If you can’t see that there is a difference then you’re probably one of those “melting pot / colour blind / colour doesn’t matter” folk. Who usually happen to be white. Maybe you’re not. Maybe race doesn’t matter to you, and you live in a lovely progressive society where everyone’s treated exactly the same regardless of skin colour. (It sounds lovely… Never heard of it though.)

        Only a very naive person who’s never experienced racism or adoption would presume to tell someone who’s experienced both that they’re just looking at it the wrong way.

        And as for your putative mixed race kid… Come back to me in 15 years when they’ve lived through adolescence and tell me about that experience. I’d really be interested to know how that goes.

        Like

      • Nara

        “I also know that as an adult you can seek a more diverse life, learn that language, and visit wherever. I bet you could even go to a bar and make a friend there. I believe we have more in common than not, especially as women on this road.”

        I. Can’t. Even.

        How’s your pet unicorn?!

        Like

      • patientsubfertility

        I guess that “mixed” kid is me? That seemed pretty normal, even in the 80s. I didn’t think I was a unicorn situation at all. Clearly, that’s not true everywhere.

        My husband is another race altogether and I’m mixed, so whatever situation will be interracial, if we ever manage to get a kid in some way. The only not “mixed” kid I could have would have to be adopted.

        And yes, I do think you could seek out your birth culture as an adult, which seems to be what this post is seeking.

        Like

  3. circumstance227

    Hey you.
    I love reading your thoughts on adoption. You manage to give me insights into what my own daughter may or may not be thinking without any feelings of blame or guilt for the lot life has thrown us all. All that stuff up there – that “heap” – I haven’t seen that at all in your writing. Glad you stuck up for yourself. Love your last two paragraphs.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nara

      Aaaaaah I think I’m going to lose it. But maybe things don’t come across right online? I’m going to keep telling myself that! *Breathe*

      Anyway, I’m glad you’re interested in reading my random thoughts! 🙂 I can’t speak for anyone else obviously… I think it’s great there is much more out there, easily accessible, so when your daughters are older they won’t have to look for stuff so hard. There is so much more knowledge sharing now!

      Like

  4. EmilyMaine

    Looks like a great day 🙂 I am pro V day as I like you think, why not celebrate love? The thing I have against the anti crew is that most of those people aren’t celebrating their love every day or making a big deal of it so V day passes and it is just another day they haven’t used to celebrate love and that is just sad! I am also not bothered if they don’t want to get into it, just don’t make a stupid phoney argument about it! Hehe

    I find all your adoption processing really fascinating but I am unable to offer insights at all. Just know that I am reading and interested and understand that this must be incredibly complex for you xxx

    Like

    • Nara

      I’m glad that someone else likes V day too! I really enjoy it and we didn’t even do anything too fancy. It’s fun just to hang out and be a bit loving… But obviously we do that every day without an excuse! 🙂

      The adoption stuff is just random musings really. I think a lot of the time I don’t think about it (even though it probably seems like I do on here as it’s my place to ponder on things!)… I think it’s interesting that I’ve thought of it more lately. Maybe because I’m in a similar position to the one my parents were in when they adopted me… I probably think of it more.

      Like

  5. Babyscienceproject

    I wonder what you could do to figure this out? I can’t imagine what it must feel like – it seems like you have a lot of unresolved issues. Where would you start and who could you talk to? I don’t know – perhaps it can’t all be ‘fixed ‘. I just feel sad to read this and wonder if there’s something you could do/steps you could take to ensure future peace of mind on this topic. I’m glad you’ve written about it because, as someone who is considering adoption, it’s important food for thought.

    Like

    • Nara

      Hi. I don’t think it’s unresolved issues that need to be “fixed” if you get what I mean. I think it just is… That’s what adoption is. You always have some unknowns – it’s just a part of being adopted. I think people who weren’t adopted feel like there is some magic panacea, but there isn’t. I’ll always have been adopted. And I am FINE. (Honestly!) I’m a perfectly normal functional human being. But everyone – everyone – who was adopted DOES think about it at some point, and does have something missing (whether racially the same as their adoptive parents or not). My partner was adopted as a baby too, but domestically. He doesn’t have the same experience as me – nobody asks him about being adopted, as he “matches” – but he has definitely thought about it. (Though not my story to tell.)

      Like

  6. stealingnectar

    I love your vulnerability and your honesty in this. It’s so nice to hear how you feel about everything or how you are processing your feelings. You are a huge influence in my learning about adoption…I say that hoping that doesn’t seem like an obligation or chore, but just wanting to say thank you for sharing with all of us. I admire and trust your perspective and think you are more than fair in your sorting out of feelings and situations. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nara

      Ah, thanks m’dear. I feel like it probably seems like I’m overly obsessed with adoption or something and maybe it makes me sound more “Woe is me!” than I actually am. (In real life: Not very much at all! Although I do whinge about work.) I definitely don’t feel like it’s a chore… It’s cathartic to write about it… But of course writing about it is always open to misinterpretation! I feel like I shouldn’t have to clarify that I’m relatively “normal” and not depressed, and a functioning human being who loves their family… But it does seem like something that needs to be clarified each time! 🙂 x

      Liked by 1 person

      • stealingnectar

        Actually, your writing makes you sound very human, which comes with a lot of feelings and other things that don’t come in a neat little box. 🙂 It makes you sound, intelligent, curious, and sound in reasoning! Xx

        Like

  7. Courtney

    I’ve been holding this post in my reader all day because I knew it would be a good one to read slowly. I really appreciate being able to read your thoughts on YOUR adoption and evolving experience. I think you nailed it with ‘i used to not think about it but now I do. Maybe that comes with age.’ I think so much comes with life phases, and we were just talking about this at breakfast about how we care so differently about things than we did 10 years ago. It’s weird! Anyway, you are so articulate and expressive and I think helpful to those of us outside of adoption.

    I blew it this valentines day and still need to make up for it. I was sick and miserable and still haven’t written in the card. I do think it’s nice to celebrate love, I just despite the commercial-ness of it.

    And I have to say, I’ve had many an English breakfast during my travels and I just can’t do it. We were at an authentic Austrian place for breakfast today and Brian asked, “do you want that?” in regards to their Austrian breakfast. God no. I’m too American (set in my ways) for soft eggs and unfamiliar meat products. 😉

    Terrific post on all fronts!

    Like

    • Nara

      Thanks Courtney. I think sometimes I come across more morose online because some stuff is quite introspective… I find it interesting to explore those thoughts but I do think it maybe makes me seem more depressive than I actually am! (Not very much! No time! Always at work!) I often draft posts on the tube so they’re just stream of consciousness of how I’m feeling that morning…

      Sorry you were sick! I have a cold right now, just a low level one, but it’s annoying enough that I’m dosing on Lemsip (do you have that?) and it’s doing me no good! It’s annoying not to breathe properly! I get that folk don’t like the commerciality of V-day but it does make things easier to find! 😉

      I am so WITH you on the eggs! I can’t do runny eggs at all. I do over easy (broken yolk) if I have to, but I do scrambled eggs as a preference. I don’t like runny yolk! And same with the unfamiliar meat products! I so get you! I grew up with US style bacon so I’m always happy to see that!

      Liked by 1 person

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