What if the Whole World is Adopted and a Note on Cell Phones
In the adoptee retreats I co-lead with Pam Cordano, over and over I hear what a relief it is for adopted people to be with people who understand them, with people who are also adopted. No one is telling the other they are lucky to have the parents they have. No one is saying You are lucky you weren’t aborted. No one is saying You were adopted when you were a baby—you don’t remember any of it, anyhow, and can we please talk about something else? Something interesting? Like, maybe, the weather? No one is saying I wish I were adopted. My parents suck.
In many adopted people’s minds, a gap exists between them and “normal” people. “Normal” people didn’t lose their mothers. “Normal” people don’t struggle with abandonment issues, with PTSD, with ADD, ADHD because of motherloss. “Normal” people can see themselves reflected in the faces of their family. “Normal” people are surrounded by people who share their DNA. “Normal” people have roots that weren’t torn out early on in life. “Normal” people have the same name they were given at birth. “Normal” people have access to their original birth certificate, to all the facts of their early life.
The thing is, at least in my perception, “normal” people don’t see this gap. “Normal” people don’t see a difference between their lives and the lives of adopted people. “Normal” people don’t remember the first two or three years of their lives, anyway, so maybe, in their minds, they may as well have been adopted. What difference does it make, anyway, if you can’t remember being born, drinking your first meals, being held, rocked, gentled or maybe yelled to sleep. You survived, didn’t you? It couldn’t have been that bad. You’re here. Isn’t everything okay? Or, Isn’t everything hard for all of us? How did you suffer any more than I did? Have you seen my parents? They may look like me, but that’s just adding insult to injury. They are not like me at all. They are insane. You’re so lucky you’re adopted. You can be anyone you want. You can say your father is Mick Jagger. You can say your mother is the Queen of England. Ladeeda. My parents are the fucking idiots back in my childhood home. Help me, please. Adopt me. So what if I’m 40. Things could only get better if I had another chance. And by the way, I hate my name. Who names a kid Spinach? At least you can go back to your first name if you want. You’re so weird. Why are you crying?
I am beginning to wonder if one reason, the reason, “normal” people don’t see the difference between themselves and adopted people is because we are all, or most of us are, in one way or another, adopted.
When I think of the word adopted, I think of someone who, early on, lost a fundamental connection to the most important person in their life. But really the damage this loss causes happens whether you are an hour old, two weeks old, a year, seven years, twenty years, eighty years old. One key difference in age is the ability to verbalize what your body and mind are experiencing which allows you to perhaps talk about and process the situation better, but loss is loss, and motherloss is the shits.
When motherloss occurs, the eyes that were meant to love us more completely than any other eyes we will ever gaze into disappear, and we are without our most powerful mirror. We swim in a sea of Who am I now? Do I exist? Is the world still safe? Do I still want to be here if I have to be here without her? This can happen if your mother is drunk. This can happen if your mother beats you, if your mother is a narcissist and doesn’t see you when she is looking in your direction. This can happen if your mother disappears physically or mentally. There are so many ways for our mothers to leave us.
Fathers, too. But that is for another time.
What I am concluding with, at least for now, is how much we as human beings count on our mothers. Their gaze is our lifeline.
Mothers, consider putting down your cellphones. Your children’s eyes are starving.