Life is like riding a bicycle—maintain your balance and keep moving forward—but know that when fate hands us a flat tire or a unicycle life’s challenges are greatly increased. If we move too slowly our steadiness decreases. Our equilibrium wanes; we become less stable; it becomes increasingly difficult to keep our balance. As our knees begin to wobble our sense of style and grace disappear. We loose focus and forget about our planned destination. We panic. All that matters is self-protection. Events unfold in slow motion. Knowing the inevitable is about to happen, our survival instincts take over. Our eyes frantically scan the sidelines seeking the least harmful place to crash. “Wham!”
The phenomenon of loosing our balance and accidentally straying off-course is a reoccurring nightmare for adoptees seeking clarity and purpose in their lives, as well as, race car drivers, ski racers, athletes and risk-taking dare devils. Goal seeking individuals who challenge themselves have more work to do and more reasons to worry about straying off course. They must concentrate, stay focused, and continually adjust their speed and trajectory. What kind of person are you? Are you an adoptee challenged to find your true self-identity? What happens when you feel yourself hopelessly deviating from your primary goals and objectives in life? Do you dramatize the event by letting go of the handlebars and drawing attention to yourself by screaming obscenities and flailing about wildly with your arms in the air to create a theatrical moment worthy of an award winning America’s Funniest Home Video? Or, are you the strong silent type who suffers embarrassment from the ridicule of others, the torment of going off course under darkened skies in the cold and rain, endures the pain of injury and a sense of loss in your dreams, and suffers internally from emotional heartache in solitude?
I worry about adoptees who bottle up their feelings and lick their injuries in silence because there is nobody there to guide and support them. The child who hides his or her wounds in the darkest subconscious corners of their primal brain, where they remain hidden but never healed, automatically responds by saying, “I’m okay! Don’t worry about me. I’m tough! I can solve my own problems. I don’t want to rock the boat or cause problems. You wouldn’t understand how I feel anyway.” They internalize their feelings and reject offers of sympathy and conceal the depth of their emotional suffering from others. The sense of isolation they experience leaves them feeling unheralded and anonymous. They struggle to express their true feelings and depth of their emotions with words because they view the topic of adoption as an esoteric subject with a language of its own that can only be understood by other adoptees who share the same experiences. It is easier for them to internalize the pain of isolation and separation and conceal the depth of their emotional suffering from others who don’t understand them.
Providence does not shine equally on all adoptees—the lucky ones are handed a silver spoon, chocolates and ice cream, a comfortable bed to sleep in, a good education, and a wonderful loving family to support and care for them; while others receive nothing. I pity the adopted child who struggles to maintain a balance in their life and keep moving forward toward a positive and healthy future without the adequate support and unconditional love they need, and the care of others to comfort them. I encourage adoptees who say they have never experienced any of the negative feelings commonly associated with adoption to lend a helping hand to those who do, by being their mentors, spiritual guides, big brothers and sisters, foster parents, friends and the counselors they so desperately need.