The feelings of loyalty I feel (and expect others feel to different degrees) can play a significant role in how we talk about our adoption experience. My feelings of loyalty exist outside of and within the feelings I have for mom and dad.
When I was young I often thought of my other mother but not so much my father. I also had the typical childhood fantasy dream of which I won’t bore you with, except to say one distinct landscape detail turned out to be true…strange because it was always the starting point of my childhood fantasy that never changed, and I must conclude it was part of my remembered experience inside my mother’s womb.
But I never shared my fantasy dream with mom or dad. I never brought it up. I never talked about the feelings of loss. The feelings of not being good enough. The feelings of being fatally flawed in a way others could see that I could not.
I never brought any of feelings up because of what I can now as an adult identify as feelings of loyalty. Loyalty to a mom and dad who were great parents. I knew or thought I knew that bringing any of those feelings up would hurt them and I never wanted to do that. I wasn’t willing to do that, ever.
Now I realize that they could have dealt with my feelings simply because they had the ability to look at the reality, that it would be normal for me to feel that way. They had the strength of character to recognise that those feelings of loss had no bearing on how I felt about them. They would not have been harmed if I had talked about it. To them my love for them was enough, and that they would have felt my feelings were valid and okay to have.
I don’t think they could have done anything different to get me to talk to them about my innermost feelings. I had simply decided not to go there and apparently I can be stubborn about things like that. I also think that although they never gave me any reason to feel that way, I felt the need to be good so I would not be sent away from this family too. That feeling of being abandoned once (no matter what the reality was) added to the unconscious feelings of loyalty, as the basis for my insistence that I wasn’t going to go there.
Anytime we talked about being an adoptee the questions I would ask would be phrased in words designed to imply simple benign curiosity, not from feelings of loss.
So, just because your child may not show any feelings of loss don’t pat yourself on the back about how you have helped your child grieve their loss and move on or that it really has never bothered your child to be adopted…they could simply just be like me…or perhaps any other adoptee you know in real life who tells you they are okay with being an adoptee (which is probably true)…unless you are actually in their head and soul you will not know the whole truth and nothing but the truth – only the portion of their truth that they want you to know.