11 May 2014

Motherless Daughters & Childless Mothers

Two days sting me … the day of my mother’s death (February 2) and Mother’s Day (May).

Another Mother’s Day. Adoptees struggle with this day. Some feel only loosely connected to their adoptive mothers; some feel the opposite and shun the idea of a first mother. Those who are connected with their first families must dance that delicate loyalty dance. Two mothers … two cards.

First mothers must struggle too. Like Philomena, they may grieve for their lost child. They are the childless mothers, the ones who gave birth but have no child to call or cuddle on that day. It’s just a day, but notice the cards, the brunches, the flowers, the jewelry commercials.

The years since my mother’s death have caused anxiety and grief on a day I would prefer to celebrate with my own children. The grief from her death has consumed me, but this year is different.

If you have followed my path this year, you must understand. My grief is doubled. Finally, I grieve the loss of another mother, and I question myself.

“Why did it take me 46 years to acknowledge the loss?”

“Why did I never want to return to Korea?”

“Why did I push my first mother back into the recesses of my mind?”

“Why did I not grieve for my first mother and the loss I must have felt here?”

“Why do I cling to the grief over the loss of my adoptive mother?”

Perhaps the latter can be answered. My adoptive mother was tangible. She was known, and she loved me. When we lose, we grasp tightly to what is left. Yet now, she is gone too.

So, I am left with sparse papers that tell me how little is “known.”

I am left with the words “no record.”

I am left with a photograph of a one-year-old in her element.

That said, I am also left with two beautiful children who share my DNA and a deep connection. We are still connected by an invisible umbilical cord that I suspect is also connected somewhere with another family in Korea. Perhaps that family has a childless mother who silently sits and wonders about the little girl she lost 46 years ago on a day in May.

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