I have plenty of my own stuff to deal with (just ask BrightSide) but being adopted is not one of those things, so all of my insight into an adoptee’s perspective comes secondhand.  I see lots of books out there about raising adopted children and I have my own observations about the kids, but that will only get me so far.

As I’ve often pointed out when it comes to my own baggage only one person truly understands the landscape, and that’s the person living the experience.

Which is why it was incredibly helpful for me to talk with someone who’d been adopted as a child.  She was able to speak so eloquently about what it’s like…that even when you’re part of a caring family, raised by parents who love you unconditionally, there’s still a part of you that’s lost.  That it will always feel like there’s a piece missing.

Even as an adult.

This truth came from a grown woman – happy, successful, someone enjoying the life she’d chosen.  To hear her say that even today she feels like something’s missing, like there’s a part of her missing, was eye-opening to say the least.  It sure made me sit up and pay attention.

The analytical side of my brain struggled to absorb the concept.  We love our children with a fierceness that’s frightening.  We tell them all the time that family is everything to us, and the thought of our life without them is unimaginable.  They are our kids, inside and out, through thick and thin – how can there be a void?

And yet I couldn’t deny the truth in her eyes.

BrightSide was tucking the kids in later that week when he spoke with each of them about this concept.  When he asked T-man and Bear to describe how they feel when they think about being adopted they both struggled to express it, but their reactions were identical when BrightSide specifically asked if it felt like “a piece was missing.”  Their eyes opened wide as they exclaimed, “Yes!”

What a relief it must have been to finally have words for the disquieting sensation that something’s not quite right, even if everyone tells you otherwise.  I’m sure they both felt better, not because BrightSide had eliminated the feeling but because he’d understood their experience from their perspective.  What a gift.

We could use more of that, I think.  As T-man and Bear get older they’ll be better able to express themselves, to help us understand how things look through their eyes.  Until that day comes, though, these moments with those who understand firsthand are invaluable.