adoption loss

Adoption Loss: About “Closure”

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This post was inspired by Mei-Ling’s recent post on her blog, where she spoke of a person who adopted who hoped that Mei-Ling would “find closure.”   One more adoptee gets patronizingly fed this line, once more.

How many times have we heard that, over and over again?

This continual reiteration to adoptees and natural parents about closure, when i hear it, admittedly pisses me off.  it invariably is from someone who has never experienced adoption separation/trauma/loss.   someone whose only connection with adoption has been GAIN.

“Closure” is a word thrown around a lot in “adopto-land,” and I sometimes wonder if it is such for one reason:   Because if adoptees or natural moms get “closure” then maybe the two parties in the adoption transaction that “gain” from adoption do not have to feel guilty as they would feel if the “losers” in adoption are “still hurting”?   No-one with any conscience wants their joy to come at the lifelong expense/pain/torture of another person.   So, there is the hope out there that we will get “closure” somehow.

The problem that this ignores is that “closure” is closely tied to such factors as whether a loss is finite or ongoing, simple or complex, ambiguous or complete, sudden or expected, traumatic or voluntary, etc..   I held my father’s hand in the hospital as he died peacefully in his old age — that was a nontraumatic, unambiguous and completed loss with closure, finality, resolution, completeness.   But adoption loss is ONGOING and overwhelming.   If a loss is continually compounding, how can there be closure?  It hasn’t ended yet!   Every compounded loss of a day in life lived “elsewhere,”  every birthday apart, every moment separated, all the years and minutes apart … and the ties that are not ties, family that is not family, ambiguity of family boundaries in our society that only recognizes “what is on paper” as being valid … and always the hope/chance/dream of eventual “having my child/parent back again” because after all they are still breathing … no closure means unresolved grief, ongoing pain, ongoing loss.

But, if you’re not there in the middle of it, if you’ve never experienced it, then can you truly understand it?   That glib line about closure, I just wish they would stop trying to foist it onto us, and then imply that we’ve somehow got some psychopathology if we don’t achieve it. 

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