Adoptees: It's Not Your Imagination! Loss IS Harder the Older You Get.

Loss is profoundly worse for adoptees as we age, and by stating this I am not pessimistic nor dramatic. I speak reality.

Last weekend was one of our two yearly conferences that I lead for the ministry I serve with. I was talking with one of our speakers and mentioned a missionary who recently died and asked if she knew him. She said yes and then noted that the older she gets, she hears of more friends she knows who have died, and it’s hard. The comment she made triggered a thought for me. Here goes…

One reason loss never gets easier for adoptees is that it gets worse the longer we live. This is not supposition, but fact. The longer you live, the more people you meet and the more experiences you have.  Therefore the more opportunity you have for loss, as well as blessing.

When we are relinquished, we face the biggest and worse loss most of us will ever face. But from there, we experience losses for the rest of our lives with greater quantity and intensity because our circle of people expands as well as our experiences.    

I wish I could say that the blessings always out number the losses, but in any given season that may not be true.  Some seasons are just full of loss and this is entirely out of our control. If we could control it, we surely would. But we can't.

Kay Warren in her book, Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn’tEnough, says:
"We tend to think that life comes in hills and valleys. In reality, it’s much more like train tracks. Every day of your life, wonderful, good things happen that bring pleasure and contentment and beauty to you. At the exact same time, painful things happen to you or those you love that disappoint you, hurt you, and fill you with sorrow. These two tracks — both joy and sorrow — run parallel to each other every single moment of your life."
I am grateful for the blessings in my life and at the same time I deeply feel the pain of loss. Sometimes losses momentarily slay me. And adopting a happy-go-lucky mindset of, “I’m so blessed I won't even think about anything I've lost" doesn't work. (That’s called denial.) In order to move forward after a loss we do have to actually acknowledge it. Consider the Five Stages of Grief. Until we go through all of the stages, we can't overcome a profound loss.

The losses in my life are increased as I become acquainted with more individuals. One day I remarked to my husband, “Everyone is getting cancer!” I was really freaked out about it and thought it was inevitable that everyone I know will get cancer based on the number of people I now know with it. Larry wisely pointed out to me that everyone I know is not getting cancer but my circle of influence has grown where I know so many more people. I am not just leading a church but a ministry that is state wide. At our office, it's a rare day when we don't hear the news of someone who is sick or some other kind of tragedy has happened. I also now know many more people on a national and international level and that brings more opportunity for both loss and gain. Those of you who are reading this who have more people in your circle of acquaintance will experience more losses simply because you are meeting more people and expanding your circle.

As I grow older, more people I know are passing away. Some of my friends from high school and college have died. Many of my friends in ministry have passed away or fallen away from faith. I am going through changes in my life as a result of life transitions of those around me.  People move away, people resign. Children go to college or they get married and move out. DNA results come back and they are not a match. I know this is "just life" however LIFE for us is different. It is observed and lived through the lens of one who faced profound loss from DAY ONE and is highly sensitive to it, for what should be obvious reasons. Everyone faces loss, but adoptees can be triggered by loss in such a way that takes us to a dark place none of us wants to be in. We would do anything not to be in it.  So many times I have asked God, "Why have you allowed me to be in it?" Thankfully God isn't afraid of questions.

The changes and disappointments in my life over the past six months have been many and profound. They have brought me to a dark place.

I took this photo a few years ago when we were on a cruise. A storm was brewing and the clouds hovered right above our boat right before the torrential downpour. When I look at this picture, it's how my life feels right now.  I could almost reach up and touch the dark clouds that hover over me. 

In just three months time, I’ve gained fifteen more pounds when I was already overweight to begin with. My doctor started me on a wellness program and I go on Thursday nights.  I don't sit here accepting this darkness as a final reality. I want to take steps to move forward with any challenge I face. So far I have had an appointment with my doctor, decided aside from my job to not expect so much of myself (being extra kind to me), gotten extra rest, and I've started walking outside an hour a day. 

Waking up is when things feel the worst. I usually start my day in tears and end it the same. Yesterday I busted out crying when I got out of bed and put my feet in my slippers. As my feet slid into the shoes I said to myself, “I don’t want to walk in my own shoes anymore…” and started bawling. But I know I won’t always feel this way…it’s a season.

I keep telling myself, as Janet Paschal sings, “It won’t rain always…”

I feel like I’m trying to run through peanut butter. My goals for the day are to connect with Jesus, do my job and do it well. That’s it. It’s all I have the energy for. 

 Kay Warren goes on to say:

“One day, our parallel tracks of joy and sorrow will merge into one. The day we meet Jesus Christ in person and see the brightness of who he is, it will all come together for us. Then it will all make complete sense.”

That day isn’t here for me yet. And it’s not here for you either.

Losses sometimes they bring me to a place where the black clouds above my head are almost so tangible I can reach out and touch them. BUT I refuse to give up on the life God has destined me to live.  I refuse to quit.  I will continue to pursue even when everything in my cries out to just stay in my bed. I will move forward even when I have fantasies of selling my house and buying a little shack in the middle of Appalachia and losing contact with the world.

I will keep moving forward even if it’s slower than I would like.
I will press on through the black clouds to find clarity and peace.

I will learn.
I will grow.
I will become a stronger woman.

I can do this through God’s help, and so can you.

As I connect with Jesus today, I also say a prayer for any of you who find yourself in this place of darkness. For some of us, darkness may be our present reality but it is not our future.

I love you all.

Photo credits: Deanna Doss Shrodes