Sunday, May 3, 2009

Ode to the Hultbergs

Mom and Dad are here visiting. Mom was still worked up about our race conversation a few weeks ago, so we've had some long and deep conversations, with (surprisingly) more tears from her than from me. Dad was a blank slate, of course. But at least we've come to an understanding. 

We watched some documentaries on adoption. I described for them what I learned at the adoption conference, about cellular memory and grief and anger, and how psychologists are starting to understand adoption as child trauma. That even though the grief is there it doesn't take away from the love we have for our adoptive parents. And also that being told, as many adoptees including myself were, that "your birth mother loved you so much she gave you away" is psychologically confusing. The adoptee begins to automatically equate love with abandonment. 

Surprisingly, my parents have been really cool about all this. I haven't ever fully known how to talk to them about these things, nor had I the vocabulary to understand it myself, and plus I'd often shielded them from my pain (which I learned many adoptees do). Dad could connect with the emotional Jung-theory psychology because he had childhood trauma that he had only within the past few years fully dealt with. He remembers emotions that didn't make any sense. He remembers non-logical associations of pain. There was a tree in his backyard that he used to stare at and fantasize about when things got rough at home. Forty years later he drives by his childhood home and is doubled over in grief when discovering that the tree had been cut down. He began describing in detail the delicate leaves and branches and how beautiful the tree was.  Only later did he realize that he was not, in fact, grieving the silly tree. He was grieving for that little boy who hurt so bad inside that he wished to live in a tree.

Sometimes I envision that baby with new curls gripping the edge of her crib, screaming stiff-scared as Mom said I did those first few days.  That baby had been taken from her mother and given to a foster home. Two weeks later she had to break whatever bond formed with those foster parents and move to another foster home. This one lasted four months, during which time a potential family met her and rejected her, perhaps because they were told she was biracial. Then she finally moved into the arms of the people who would become her parents, and now she is in a crib they have built for her. Of course she is terrified. Who does she miss most? She does not have words yet, but she has a heart, and it is broken and scared. In my mind I hold her sweaty, quivering body and tell her that it is okay. These are people who will not abandon her. They won't always understand her hurts, and they will not be able to save her from life's sorrows, but they will love her and they will not leave. 

 

3 comments:

Erin said...

Wow, Libby. Thank you for sharing so openly. Your story is beautiful, and I love the delicate way you have of communicating it. I don't have words.

Ronni said...

Libby, I am blinking back tears here. Not only is your story amazing and heartbreaking, but it's so beautifully written. I'm learning so much--I really hope you continue with these blog posts. I love learning so much about you.

I miss you. A lot.

missingpiece said...

I really identify with the image of the baby you descibe. I am also a TRA and often wonder about myself as an infant. My mother says I cried inconsolably for months. Of course many infants do, but I wonder, does the adoptee mind/body ever really forget that separation from family?

Your writing is lovely.