When I look at my two children I see, unreserved joy, excitement for the today and for the tomorrow and I feel goodness flows from them to me. They nourish our family unit and make us whole.
When I look at my siblings however, I see nothing but broken glass, jagged edges and unreadable faces and I am touched beyond belief that the tragedy of our childhood is so apparent.
When we went through the adoption process, the social worker, held up her hands in horror at the baggage we had compiled between us in our 40 something lives. and wasn’t sure we would get past the triathlon process of panel. But we did and two kids later we feel like that was a lifetime ago. But when I peek back on that, I remember the insecurity, the doubt, the judgements and wonder how we got through it all.
When I think of my kids and their life story and our role to support them in the future and this on going journey I sometimes worry how we will fare in it all. Will our support be adequate? Better than they could hope for? How will they score us?
It’s a minefield and I feel trepidation as I watch my oldest mature and blossom and ask more and more questions.
I am still feeling upside down inside after a most recent sibling contact. The conversation went pretty much like this:
Him: my first memory of you is mum biting you to teach you a lesson
Me: oh yeah, that was in the car right?
Him: (laughs) and remember when we (my brothers) took the stamps off the envelopes and blamed you and you got locked in the cupboard under the stairs.
Me: oh yeah, that was a pretty horrible place to be.
Him: I remember eating my breakfast outside on the doorstep in the snow, because mum thought I ate too noisily.
Me: I remember that, it must have been cold out there.
My feelings are all awol. My stomach is in knots since it happened and I keep turning it over in my head. My children will have the same kind of conversations, the same kind of dialogues with their siblings. The history may not be identical, the language not the same but the intensity, the anguish, the shame and the trauma is like for like.
I know without a shadow of a doubt that I, we, need to be beacons of hope for our kids. To help guide them and navigate their way emotionally through the rest of their lives. We go forward armed with the knowledge that no matter how young they were when they were adopted, their life story immerses itself into the very fibre of their being. It doesn’t have to define them but we need to be able to demonstrate how we can overcome and comprehend these things. We don’t have to let the past overwhelm our future.
I have learnt a very big lesson from all this, and now realise just how fortunate I am to have my wife to support me, to hug me, to hold me and reinforce that my family is here In this house now; and I can finally slightly detach myself and feel secure enough to look back, a bit at a time.
This knowledge is definitely something I can impart to help my kids face their life story.