It’s early morning, here in England, and much is quiet except for the sounds of sheep in the field. I’m in the English countryside, where I was born, and enjoying the soothing melody of home.
It’s been nearly three years since I’ve been back here. Just as it always has, my birth country greets me and meets me with memories: a past and present intertwined with gratitude and grief; my journey as an international adoptee.
Adoption is a life-long journey. It is a never-ending experience, one that ebbs and flows along a migration of emotion—emotion that is sometimes tranquil and at other times filled with storm.
As a child, I once believed that I didn’t have the power to claim, for myself, what felt right and good for me. Identity and belonging had been taken from me, it seemed. A feeling of disempowerment consumed my days.
Being removed from one life and placed into another does that to a person. Somehow, you don’t feel as if you completely fit into either life, and that is a scary feeling. A sense of survival kicks in. Do I fight or do I flee? How can I stay safe? I lived between these two questions for quite some time. It impacted my relationship with others and with myself.
As a teen, I would return to England with hopes of re-entering my first life: a world that was unknowingly created by fantasy in my mind. A fantasy where I would be claimed by those who had rejected me and included in their lives unconditionally. It took time to understand that the fantasy served me for awhile, during my childhood, but that it was not a sustainable way to live.
One cannot move forward when their past is blocking the way; when fantasy takes priority over what is real.
One cannot love and value themselves when they are preoccupied with finding love and a sense of approval from others.
These are truths I have learned along the evolution of my adoption journey. And, I believe they are truths that serve all of us, adopted or not.
Finding the unsustainable places within me has required honesty, patience, and a whole lot of listening. Listening to the quiet whispers of God as He guides me, continually, along the path of healing.
The events of life can offer up confusion and uncertainty. But as one international adoptee recently wrote, “I am so thankful for my God who holds the future and the past and He knows what lies ahead even when I don’t.” ~my.adopted.life
I don’t live in a fight-or-flee way anymore. I live in a have faith-and-always pray way. No one can heal the past for me but God. No one can give me a future but the Father. No one can love or value me like God can. It is through Him that I have learned to love and value myself in a way that has shown me what sustainable life really looks like.
I’m not angry anymore. I’ve put down my fists. There is nothing in my life that I would have today if international adoption had not happened for me as a child. My husband and my children, they would not be here. God saw the puzzle as complete when I was still trying to force pieces together, not trusting in Him.
There is a beauty about being in the flow with God. Letting Him carry us through the difficult times and through the delightful ones. Surrendering and saying, “I don’t understand but I know that you, God, do.”
And, He does. God knows how the shattered pieces fit.
And, He will. God will put the broken and scattered pieces together.
And, He has. God provides and is providing in ways that you might not even see in this moment.
Today, England—for me—is not about forcing fantasy into reality. It’s not about searching for approval and inclusion from those who left. England for me, today, is about sharing my birth country with the family that God has graced me with: my children and my husband! The family that God saw long before I opened my eyes and lifted my gaze toward Him.
The chapters of earthly life will open and close. Two hours north of where I am my birth mother sits with dementia. The moments and memories of this life are slipping away from her. I once saw my birth mother as having the power to give me everything I lacked: self-esteem, self-love, self-worth. She couldn’t do that. Only God can do that. I now see my birth mother as I see myself, a child of God on the walk to eternity. From this place, all forgiveness and love is found.
As an adoptee, I have lived a life filled with both grief and gratitude; a life of loss and gain. Everyone has … or will. Life gives to us and life will take from us. We cannot go through this life without feeling the sting of losing. I used to think that if I didn’t talk about the loss, then it would go away. It doesn’t. I’ve learned the importance of transparency and vulnerability.
Talk about your loss.
Pray about your loss.
Give your loss to God.
He will transform the loss into gain.
A power and peace provided by God, a true identity in Him, and a belonging that is like no other kind of inclusion await you. They long to greet you.
Onward to this place,