Ladies of the Round Table

May 17, 2008

When it can’t be made “all better”

Filed under: Uncategorized — J @ 3:32 am

I wish I had a snarky, quipy post in me, to be honest, I have been waiting to write my free post until I felt some quip-i-ness, but I just don’t have it…..

So here goes, this is what’s on my mind…..

This month set me back.  On a Friday we all learned about the Embassy’s announcement concerning Vietnam adoptions.  I spent that weekend crying, praying, talking to my husband and getting mobilized mentally, and I was ready to fight, for our kids, for adoptions that make a difference, for keeping families together.  The next Thursday, six days later, we got another bombshell that ended what was left our relationship with my parents.

Crap.  I spent a week crying, grieving so much of what I lost.  So much of what I thought I knew, both with my parents and with adoption in general.  It sucked.  And you know what got me through, besides the prayers of those who love me, was the truth that many people have survived much worse and not lost their minds.  I actually told myself daily that if surviving the Holocaust could produce Elie Wiesel, then surely I could survive losing my parents and surviving the aftermath of their decisions.  I completely realize that I am no Elie Wiesel, and that this ain’t no Holocaust.  But it helped.

There has been so much that what I am going through has made me consider.  I am struggling, as an adult to grieve the loss of my parents.  I have no idea how to do this.  No one should have to go through what I have been through.  As an adult I *should* be able to sort out my emotions, release, forgive…. all that crap….but I struggle.  My parents are not dead, and as long as they are alive, their may be hope for restoration.  But right now, what I know is: death of relationships, death of hope. The people around me have no idea what to do with me, because it is not a “real” death, because there is so much shame attached to the situation.

So I am wading through, with support and love of the small group of those around me who know what is going on and can handle it.  But many people don’t know, and can’t know, and some of those who do know are simply overwhelmed by it all, so they ignore it, they pretend they don’t know that I was crying for a week, that I no longer have a family of origin.  Those who have helped the most have helped by simply acknowledging the pain, the loss and the truth of pain.  They gave me space to cry, to heave, to be silent.  They expected nothing from me, except the truth.  They cried out to God when I could not.  These people helped. 

As I have come through the cloud this weekend, my mind has gone a lot to Khai, to grief and loss in adoption.  To pain because of adoption. And as very much I would give almost anything to have parents back, to have the relationship I thought I had with them; I am grateful to have to be honest.  I am grateful that I know how it feels to have people around me act like I should be fine simply because they have no idea what to do with all that I am dealing with.  Am I going to be like so many of the people around me?  Will I, as his mom, pat-pat him on the arm, and blubber on and make him feel guilty for missing someone he never knew?  Man, I hope not.  There are so many times when I do want to forget about his first mom.  I don’t want to have to deal with the layer of adoption.  And I do have a choice, many a-parents do choose to not go there, because it is too hard for them, and it is awkward, and let’s just be honest, our children lost their first parents, that is part of what adoption means, and no one should ever lose their parents. 

I don’t know how to do this grieving stuff, but I am learning as I go.  And I am going to go there, I am not going to stuff it down.  I am going to feel, to cry when I need to, to pull the covers over my head when I need to, and yeah, when I have good days, like the last three in a row, I am going to laugh and play play-doh, and hold my babies tight.

And as I think about walking this journey with Khai(and any other kids we adopt) I guess I am going to do the same.  I will help him with a process that we adults, at best, simply struggle with. I will go there with him, I will sit with him when he cries, I will answer ALL of his questions the best I know how, I will tell him that I am sorry that he isn’t with his first momma, even when I am overwhelmed and want to pretend like adoption doesn’t have anything to do with loss, I will make a choice to not look away, to not pretend;  on the good days(which I know will far out number the bad) I will laugh with him, kiss his boo-boos and make it ALL better, I will just be his mamma, and that will be enough. 

Madeline L’Engle said it well in her bookOther Side of the Sun: 
“It’s a peculiar thing about pain. We can help each other bear it. Not just by caring, by making it bearable because we care – though that helps…Mado did it by prayer. She took people’s pain and she bore some of it for them. I don’t understand this, but I’ve seen it happen…It wasn’t just my imagination. Theron saw it too. He saw a wounded man who should have been in agony resting quitely because Mado was bearing part of his pain.”




  1. I’m sorry that you are going through this right now. I hope that getting it out in this format will help you to heal, even if just a little bit. It sounds like Khai has an amazing mamma, one that allows her life experiences to shape her approach to mothering for the better.

    Comment by Jen — May 18, 2008 @ 11:27 am | Reply

  2. Jena, I am sorry about the stuff with your parents. That has to be hard on so many levels, especially that most people don’t understand and therefore don’t know how to help you grieve.

    As for Khai and your other kids, they are in great hands!!

    Comment by Kelly — May 18, 2008 @ 1:16 pm | Reply

  3. Jena,

    I am sorry to hear about all the things happening in your life. I can only imagine how hard it is for you. Please know that I am prying for you and that that I hope this are better for you soon. And all of your kids are in wonderful hands!

    Comment by Carissa — May 18, 2008 @ 6:56 pm | Reply

  4. Jena, sure thinking of you as you wade through all of this with your family and work on figuring out how to move forward – I can only imagine how difficult it must be. I’m trying to come up with something far more insightful and inspiring, but am feeling very lame! But I am always so impressed with how thoughtful and thorough you are with things in your life, and I have no doubt you will find a way to come through all of this with strength and grace.

    Comment by Stacy — May 19, 2008 @ 3:48 am | Reply

  5. I can relate with the loss of you parent’s as I have not had a relationship (not talking, zip, nothing!) for over 6 years with my father and my mother died 5 years ago. My dad is dead in my eyes and nobody can fathem this…I don’t even explain it anymore, it’s too exhausting and know one “gets it.” Hugs to you as you find a way to deal with the loss.

    Comment by Michelle — May 19, 2008 @ 7:52 pm | Reply

  6. Michelle-
    I just wanted you to know how very much it has meant to me to know that there is someone out there who understands how I feel, it is amazing to realize how much of a difference that makes….

    Comment by Jena — May 22, 2008 @ 1:08 pm | Reply

  7. This is what I love about you Jena… that even in the midst of your pain you can step back and say “how can I use this grief, this painful knowledge, to help others?” Khai is blessed to have a mommy who cares enough to think about things from his perspective and want to be there for him, no matter how hard it might be. Thank you for sharing your hard-earned wisdom with the rest of us.

    Comment by Christina — May 31, 2008 @ 5:18 am | Reply

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