“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 (ESV)
I was 15 years old the first time I saw my mother break down in tears because of my behavior. It happened again. I got angry and acted out, yelled back and forth with her, and got big. At 6’1’’, I had the height and size to intimidate my way. Don’t get me wrong, my mother may be 5’2’’, but she is a fighter and incredibly resilient. But that day, I felt like I had broken her. After the chaos, I quickly recoiled, and a shiver went down my spine. I wanted to console her. She turned away with her hand up and said, “just leave me alone right now.” I went back to my room and wept. Flooded with shame and remorse, I sat back and thought, “why am I this way?”. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I felt a constant deep restlessness that I would spend years trying to discover and alleviate. What was it I was going through? Why was I so angry? And why was I hurting the people I loved?
I needed closure and healing; she needed support.
To clarify, I acted out for various reasons, including divorce, hormones, ethnic identity struggles, etc., but they all compounded on loss— my original loss. Closure can be extremely influential. But, what actually is closure, and how is it related to adoption? Growing up, I don’t think I knew what the word closure meant, let alone its application to adoption as a young boy. Closure can mean different things in the adoption triad, but it all centers around managing and making meaning of loss. For birth parents, closure in adoption can mean accepting their decision to place a child for adoption and finding peace with it. For adoptive parents, closure can mean understanding their child’s history and developing a positive relationship with their birth family. For adoptees, closure can mean resolving emotional conflicts surrounding their adoption and gaining a sense of identity and belonging. As an adoptee, loss left me with an underlying agitation, an itch that I couldn’t scratch. My emotional volatility was tied to the intensity of loss I felt.
Don’t get me wrong; adoption impacts everyone in the triad with a different level of intensity. My inability to develop strong attachments affected my social and emotional functioning, leading to difficulty overcoming relational challenges. Twenty-two years later, by God’s grace, I can confidently write that the measure of healing I have experienced has allowed me to develop positive adaptive coping mechanisms over the years. This has helped me manage the slowly diminishing impact of loss.
So what changed?
Firstly, I didn’t know that in that season, my mother had leaned so heavily into her support system for prayer. Secondly, peace and rest. But how did the rest of the story play out? How did I find closure despite my circumstances? Well, I learned pretty quickly that while there are no guarantees in life, there is HOPE in the promises of God.
How that all played out for me is a story for another day, Stay tuned for part 2.