Limbo, or the Latin root word from which is comes, limbus, (literally an edge or boundary, as in the edge of hell… think about that when pondering adoption reunion limbo) is a Catholic theology concept. It is a concept I was taught at a very young age during my Sunday catechism classes at Holy Name of Jesus Christ This is a Conservative Catholic Church. Limbo of Infants, to me, at my young age, created an internal visual of naked babies with adorable pinchable dupas floating around in cloudy blue skies with no way to go up (heaven) or down (hell) just round and round, back and forth, slowly, repetitively, with no hope (hence the edge of hell part). There were hundreds, perhaps thousands of babies, floating in the skies of my head being slowly tortured by the repetitive floating and pointless movement beyond their power to control. Why?
It was my understanding (then and now) that you were sent to limbo because you had died prior to being baptized. Baptism “cured” you of the original sin you were born with. (Random side note: Even as a child I thought this original sin stuff was a crock. Why would God create something so perfect but then damn it with original sin before it has taken its first breath. Yeah, yeah, I know the biblical explanations. But let me tell you, as a precocious five-year old I found the Catholic God to be a bit of a dunce. Why wasn’t the omniscient one able to make us perfect? I later decided it was a pious insurance policy. Seems as long as we were born sinful, shameful and guilt full and never able to cease ourselves from falling prey to that, we were forever reliant on him to clean us up. God really needed a lesson from Deming in Total Quality Management. But I digress. Enough of my precocious five-year old behavior and please no preaching from my “saved” readers. Just tsk tsk me, say a prayer for me and please keep reading.)
If you happened to die before you were baptized well then you were sent to Limbo. You weren’t good enough to go to heaven yet not bad enough to go to hell.
In adoption limbo you are not good enough to be considered as part of your family members life but not bad enough to be told to book a ticket on the next train to Hades. Rather you are fated to float around and around, hither and yon, to and fro, on the edge of emotional hell. As is the case with religious limbo, you are excluded from the beatific vision, the immediate knowledge of Gods and spirits in Heaven or in the case of adoption reunion limbo – the immediate knowledge and beauty of your family member.
In the religious context, some believe that limbo is a state of maximum natural happiness, while others believe it to be the mildest punishment (for like, uh, what? Dying as an infant before some god fearing adult baptized you? How is that fair? Oops, digressing again.).
As a mother in adoption reunion limbo, I can confidently state if feels, to me, like the strongest of punishment. It feels worse than outright rejection. It feels like torture. Emotional waterboarding. It feels as if my daughter is continuing the work of my parents, the priest, the agency, the maternity home workers, even her own father. It feels as though I am bad, wrong, evil and I must be punished. It feels as though my daughter is God and I am at her mercy. I refused to be beat down by the others before her and she is here to finish the deed.
She controls this reunion and as such she controls my happiness.
Or does she? (I sense that precocious early agnostic five-year old coming to life again).
Intellectually I don’t believe she does. Getting my heart in line with my head is another matter.
In my next post, I will explain why.