Saudade – is a Portuguese word for a feeling of longing for something that one is fond of, which is gone, but might return in a distant future. It often carries a fatalist tone and a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might really never return. – Wikipedia
“I think you are making too big a deal about it. I don’t think meeting your daughter will make any difference to the way you feel”, she said.
I must admit I was startled at first.
I thought more about it and realized the member of the adoption plane that said this to me is not in reunion and has no desire to search. How can she really, truly, comment on what it is like to want to meet the child you have finally relocated? It’s like comparing apples to oranges.
I didn’t say this to her. I generally don’t react to things that bug me immediately. I tend to mull them over and wonder WHY it’s bugging me. Is there a shred of truth? Something I am denying?
I lay up in bed last night thinking about this.
I realize there are at least three factors that contribute greatly (positively or negatively) to my lack of meeting anxiety.
Intellectual Knowledge – Domain 1
I spend most of my time in this domain. It is all intellect and it is safe. I can use adoptee psychology to help me explain away daughter’s behavior. It hurts less. I take a daily helping of Lifton or Verrier and I can say “its not me” and thus my reunion status hurts less. I mix Saffian and Burns Robinson into my morning coffee and I am good to go.
I get chastised by friends for spending too much time here. I am told (rather curtly) that I understand the psychological side of adoption but I don’t have any comprehension of the “feelings”. (This intrigues me because if I did not feel, why do I hurt so much?). It’s not about me or her but adoption. She is not bad. I am not bad. Domestic, closed, infant adoption is The Beast. The Beast manifests itself in the Kurtz network of agencies.
I can project my feelings onto the system, the situation, and not take it as me or her. This domain allows me to put the need/desire/anxiety to meet her again to rest. It allows me to function from day to day.
This part of me is very useful in my reform efforts, my search and support work.
Mother Knowledge – Domain 2
I live here 24 x 7 but at times it harder than others. This is the part of me that physically feels the loss of my daughter. This is living with the Ghost child. My body knows my daughter is out there. My soul knows it. The mother in me expects her to be there. Daily it is emotional electrocution. You wake up thinking you should have three children in your house and you realize there are only two. This is the part of me that can set a dinner table and always feel like someone is missing.
Every morning I am zapped by the emotions into remembering my daughter is gone. This is the part of me that causes me to stay up late and stare at the stars and spend hours hurting. This is the part of me that shops for presents I cannot mail. The part of me that worries about her smoking, her weight, her emotions. This is the mother in me. This part of me aching to hold my child again. This is the part of me that has been denied for over twenty years.
When you give birth to a child your entire body changes. You senses are heightened. You hear babies cry when no one else does. If you are lactating, your breasts will leak at the sound of ANY child let alone your own. These physical changes remain even after your child is taken from you. You cannot suddenly become “unmothered”. Your entire physical makeup is now primed to feed, raise, comfort a child. Only the child is not there.
I am a mother. I think like a mother. Breathe like a mother. Feel like a mother whether my child is here or not.
This part of me allows me to have compassion for other mothers of loss. This is a deeply feeling part of me.
Self Esteem Knowledge – Domain 3
My daughters desire at this time to not meet me is interpreted (albeit wrongly) by me, at some level, even subconscious at times, as something being wrong with me. I counter this feeling with the intellectual knowledge in Domain 1 but it is often difficult. I might even counter with Domain 1 and 2 for as her mother I understand and don’t push and such.
For me, at a very primal level her lack of desire to meet me is another rejection. A replay of the movie of 21 years ago. Not good enough to be her mother. Not good enough to marry. Not good enough to be part of my family and certainly not good enough for her to take the time to meet. Not good enough to send an email to. Not good enough to thank for a gift. Not good enough to talk on the phone. Again, this domain is often countered with Domain 1 – but its still there.
Now I realize, strongly, it is NOT her job to fix me in this regard. It’s not her job in any regard at all to fix me. I don’t think for one second that meeting her will mean that my self esteem will be boosted and that POOF I will suddenly be invincible. For this reason, I keep myself in therapy working on my issues. For that is all I can really change and control — me.
With this knowledge, I still find myself thinking my friend was off base. The mother in me, raising child or not, cannot help but want to see that child again.
Is that so wrong?