Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Grieving Adopted Child

I've had the pleasure of getting to know a woman, who is my age, that was adopted from Korea when she was five months old. I've been enlightened by the wisdom that she brings from her experience.

Recently, we had a discussion about adoption-related grief. Her observation is that the American culture doesn't typically give people much time to grieve. This is so true when you think about it. Usually you only get about 3 days of bereavement leave from work; there are dozens of grief-numbing pills on the market; and therapists are a dime a dozen. The expectations, in our culture, seem to want to wrap up grief in a neat little box and quickly send it on its way.

As adoptive parents we've read that our children will likely be grieving upon their adoption or some time thereafter, grieving the losses that I discussed in an earlier post and here. It's inevitable. They have suffered devastating loss. It may be our tendency to want to distract our babies from this sorrow, but in some ways, by doing this we may be hurting our little ones more than helping. They need time to deal with their losses. And we as parents must remain patient. In fact, it may take much longer than we think. It may take them a lifetime to work through their grief. And we have to realize that that's okay. I have the tendency to want to "move on" and focus on the positives. Not that we shouldn't also offer this kind of support as well, but acknowledging our children's deep hurts is critical in order for them to gain healthy coping skills. Crying with them, having empathy for them, and allowing them to discuss these feelings will help them better cope with their primal losses.

This is a very poignant post that I recently read written by a mother who is also an adoptee from Korea. As an adult, she still wrestles with her losses and rightly so. She is a wonderful writer and her thoughts really help me to better understand how I may be a better support to our child through her difficult times.

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