“The sea inspires visions that are haunting and alluring, especially at sunset. When my adoptive father’s boat was leaving the port at dusk one moonlit evening and silver light was shimmering on the placid combers of the briny deep, I had a remarkably unexpected fantasy—a ghostly image of my first mother, like an apparition of the Virgin Mary. My eyes grew misty when I imagined her standing on the vanishing shore. I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing when I saw the harbor lights departing—I longed to hold her near and kiss her once more. It‘s hard to breath when your heart yearns so much for someone behind a closed a door.” —Judith Land
When responsibility for a child is renounced by the parents and supplanted by others, the path to the throne is abdicated and the outcomes of each successive significant event in life become less predictable. There is no remedy; the ship has sailed without you, and there is no hope of turning it back. Adoption is an event that creates a serious disruption of a person’s beliefs about human nature and the randomness and order of the universe; an emotional occurrence with enduring consequences that adoptees have no control over, yet the outcome has profound aftereffects and significant implications to one’s values and eternal life. There is much at stake, yet no child is able to act on his or her own self-interest in any definitive way whatsoever—most are essentially powerless to alter life’s circumstances.
Life is a struggle for adoptees who feel the plight of the refugee when there is no other recourse other than to quietly endure the interminable outcomes of the pivotal events in life over which they have no command. Trauma causes us to step back and re-evaluate our deepest motivations and convictions as we pass through each phase of the human life cycle. Each chapter of our life story has its own perception of humanity and at each subsequent stage we must learn that happiness is based more on internal, controllable values and less on the externalities of the ever-changing outside world. Regardless of the life phase you are in now, it really doesn’t take a full clinical analysis to correctly identify adoption as the underlying reason for—looking, longing, wishing, hoping, and dreaming—the same shared feelings and emotions that other adoptees experience. Flowers, sunshine, comraderie, world traveling and savory food can help the soul to heal but they are not the cure.
Sentience is the capacity to be finely sensitive in perception to subjective experience. To live a happy life we must learn to take ourselves out of harm’s way, avoid temptations and ground ourselves in deeply held values. Knowing what you stand for determines your behavior, especially when the going gets tough, and the temptation is to choose the easiest path. Just remember that life is like riding a bicycle—keep moving forward to maintain your balance. If you are clear about who you are in any given situation, and steadfastly unwilling to negotiate, the songs of the Sirens aren’t so alluring.