I’ve been thinking about what closure is for a long time. Can you actually close the door on your past, or event, and walk into your future unscathed? I can’t. Every single event in my life that touched me so deeply that one would seek closure for – has molded and shaped me into who I am today.
The term closure for adoptees is misused by some in adoption, it’s too neat and tidy, a platitude to make others feel better about the challenges of being an adoptee. I see it in their words, ‘has worked through those feelings’ or ‘moved on’ and with search and reunion, it brought ‘closure’ so all is fine now type attitude, and yet, that is not the reality for some (many). In reality, those feelings can come back as other events happen in life, and being in reunion creates and brings up so many more feelings, challenges, and sometimes more pain from feelings they didn’t know they had deep down inside, because they never allowed themselves to go there before they reunited.
There is no such thing as closure as it is understood by some in adoption – you adjust your sails and continue on, but the mere fact that you had to adjust means you were changed. Whether that change gave you more self-preservation skills, made you less trusting, less willing to give of yourself – you changed. You can’t go back to the person you were before that event happened.
I can no more forget as a child going to my secret place, tears streaming unchecked, feeling that if my own mother didn’t want me or love me enough to keep me, then no one else could love me either. My solution was to not need anyone, I would take care of myself. Telling myself that I was strong because I survived that, so I could do what I needed to survive anything else. Memories of going to that secret place are forever etched in my memory and I can see the effect in my relationships throughout life, yet, still to this day, I struggle to let anyone else in to the point where I could be proven right, again. It didn’t matter what I had been told as why adoption happened, what mattered was that I wasn’t kept. Nor did it matter that up until then and after that point in my life – my family had proven time after time, that I was lovable, loved, wanted. I can no more forget that pain, than I can forget being attacked by a dog as a young child, or any of the other traumatic events that have happened throughout my life, talked about or not spoken of, all have permanently changed who I am.
To me there is no closure as defined by others who need it to mean; over and done with and things will go back to the way it was before, every single event whether it took place in childhood, teen years, young adult or middle-aged is forever part of who you are now. Traumatic events don’t go away, they change you, they become part of your soul. They affect in some way every decision made, action taken, thought, feeling and reaction from that point forward. Answers to why the event happened, don’t make the pain you felt, or still feel, go away, they are just answers to the questions that were gnawing away at your soul. They can offer a measure of peace so you stop wondering, searching for the why – but they can’t change you back to the person you were before, and even if you have worked hard to conquer your feelings and fears, they are still there, deep inside. So please don’t assume that adoptees are different from everyone else, and once they find “closure” it’s all over, and they have ‘moved on’ after ‘working through those feelings’…it doesn’t work that way…