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>Who Are We Mad At, Really?

March 8, 2011

>The hospital has a strange rhythm: 45 minutes of rest for Joy, then 15 minutes of upset because she’s been awakened yet again by a someone needing to take vitals and to make her toes spasm to be certain the epidural is working just enough, but not too well (so as to mask “something’s wrong”-level pain). The saddest part is the look in her eye when she wakes up and realizes she’s still here…. In those 45-minute lulls, I have been pondering this:

All this reflecting on the subject of situational anxiety in adoption lately has renewed my sympathy with my mom-friends who are waiting. It is impossible not to to hear the raw pain beneath their frustration and anger with the system and people in it.

It does no good to observe something rational like, “The world is peopled with humans, not saints. Has this system ever behaved differently? Why invest so much emotion in railing against something you cannot change?”

We may be enormously upset that the system has cracks and that our adoption case temporarily fell through one of them. But the feelings we experience in these circumstances are often disproportionate to the situation, aren’t they?

Could it be because the the actual objects of our greater frustration, our greater anger, our greater grief are the virtually nameless, faceless people whose decisions (knowing and not) make adoption necessary?

In the Korean adoption world, we have been schooled that it is not okay to be angry with those who might have loved our children themselves. Nor is it okay to be angry with others who put first mothers in the circumstances which made them feel they had no choice. Because those people are part of our children. And, the theory goes, to question one is to question the other.

So each of us bears the grief of our child’s story alone. After all, we are also schooled that the story belongs to the child, not to us, or to anyone else. So we don’t talk about it, even in private circles. I’m not saying that we should. Just recognizing the burden is greater because we cannot share it.

Knowing the multiplicity of losses we privately grieve for our children, is it any wonder we sometimes lash out at the lesser griefs that are “safe” to vent about?

People with names and faces become whipping boys for others who have wounded our children but who are oceans beyond the reach of our lash.

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