Forty years into my life as an adoptee and three years into my life as an adoptee reunited with natural family, I have come to an interesting revelation. I’m not sure I’ve ever really understood the concept of forgiveness. Yes, I’ve experienced wrongs against me, and I’ve addressed those matters with people, and I’ve said “I fogive you” and I think I have forgiven them, but I’ve never had to forgive something really big in my life. Until now.
Here’s the thing about being adopted. Your story always begins with someone (in my case, two someones) giving you up. We use a ton of fancy words for it and provide lots of affirming explanations for why it happened, but the fact is your beginning is an end. And endings are painful, even if they are for the best. And for me, the pain was real. Often unspoken. Frequently ignored. Rarely understood. Always stuffed down. But real. Because no matter how much I believed that my natural parents loved me and did the best they could for me in allowing me to be raised by other people, I still felt abandoned. Not worth choosing. Not worth fighting for. Hurt. And those feelings don’t go away easily. Depsite the fact that my natural mom gave up her whole life in FL and moved to WV to build a relationship with me. And despite the fact that my natural dad has opened his heart/mind to a relationship with me. And despite the fact they both tell me and show me that they love me. The hurt fades, but it doesn’t disappear.
So, now I think I understand a little more about forgiveness. Because some days, I look at my mom (and my dad) and still feel the pain of a child relinquished. I still feel the hurt (though not as strongly) that has marked an internal struggle for my entire life. And I think how easy it could be to write her (and my dad) off as the source of all that hurt. But then I look in her eyes (and his too) and see the person who lives with the pain of having hurt me and I think about the relationship we have already forged, and the hope of that relationship growing. And I think forgiveness is the only way that I can get out of my own way to enjoy relationships with people that God gave me as family and has blessed me with an opportunity to make that mean more than just sharing genetics.