Lately I have found myself thinking a fair bit about the "Lucky or Loss" debate as it relates to International Adoption. Let me start with my conclusion....well technically it isn't my conclusion because it is what I have believed all along....although in the end it all comes back to it as far as I am concerned.
Anyhow, I don't think that it is a matter of "Lucky or Loss". I think that it is a matter of "Lucky and Loss".
While obviously I think that the situation is unique and holds its own complexities for each child, I also believe that there are elements of both of the Ls in every story. Some are more obvious than others, and the list of factors is endless.
The childs age at the time of adoption for example. I was talking to someone recently about a lucky little boy who has just become a member of an awesome family. A boy who I have absolutely no doubt will receive an incredible amount of love and care. Yes I think that he is a very lucky little boy. At the same time he is a little boy who has to be going through an incredible amount of loss right now. He is no longer in the country where he spent the first years of his life. He is no longer with the parents and family that he spent the first years of his life with. To say that his world has done a 180 is a massive understatement. How could there not be loss? However, while completely acknowledging this in the conversation...in fact I raised it.....I firmly maintained my opinion that he is a very lucky little boy. From everything that I know I believe that this little boy will grow up with enough of the love, care, and support to help him through his loss, and give him every opportunity.
The conversation then continued "but Clarissa was only 9 months old when you met her (ok, it was actually "got her"...but I am not going there...see two posts ago), at this point she probably doesn't remember anything but being with you, she can't have any sense of loss.". Well it is true that she has been with us for 27 months which is 3 times more than she spent in China, and she was still very young when she came to Canada. Does she have conscious memories of being in China? I don't know. Can she still have a sense of loss? Yes she certainly can, and while it may very well be on a sub-conscious level, I believe she does. To most I am sure that it doesn't seem like it. She is actually for the most part a very well adjusted, happy, smart, beautiful (ok "beautiful" is irrelevant to what I am talking about, but I thought that I would throw it in anyhow) little girl. However, Carolyn and I see subtle signs on a regular basis that are not evident to others.......things that only we would notice or be aware of. It can be a fine line between is that a "she's 3" thing or is that an "attachment" thing? We can only be conscious of attachment issue signs, watch for them as best we can, and take any steps that we feel necessary to look after our little girl.....and that is exactly what we will do.
I can speak from experience to say that a loss even at a young age can have long lasting impacts even if they are on a sub-conscious level. My Father died when I was 2 years old. I have no recollection of him whatsoever. Even looking at pictures...nothing. Growing up I remember being asked many times if I missed having a Father. My answer was always that I didn't because I had no idea what it was like to have one. How can you miss something that you can't even imagine having? Right? I mean I had seen all of my friends Dads....all kinds of Dads....loving, caring, mean, abusive, drunks, absent, rich, poor, supportive, friendly....and all kinds of combinations of these qualities....I saw them interact with my friends, their siblings, their spouse, neighbours, their friends.....you get the picture....but it still never gave me any kind of sense of what it was like to have my own Father. To be honest I never really even wondered what it was like. My life was what it was. It was normal. For me. My Mother saw to that. Even being left on her own at 46 years old with a 2 year old and a 14 year old, she always saw to it that I had everything I needed...and wanted. I always felt like I was the most important person in her world. She took very good care of me. She was awesome. I loved her very much. Anyhow, it was not until later in my life that I realized that I did experience loss. That as hard as she tried, there were some things that my Mother couldn't replace. I didn't know it, but there was loss.....but make no mistake about it....I was very, very lucky.
Well that was more than I had planned to say....but there you go. I don't think that I will even read it all because I will probably start editing and erasing.....there must be some reason that I typed it all right?
Let me get to the important stuff......