Adoption—Harbor Lights

“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

Portofino is an Italian fishing village and holiday resort on the Italian Riviera. It is famous for its large number of celebrity visitors and picturesque harbor with colorfully painted buildings that line the shore.

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.

Judith Land

About Judith Land

Judith Land lives in Colorado and Arizona with husband and coauthor Martin Land. Judith is a former nurse, retail shop owner, college instructor and avid outdoor person. Her book "Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child" is a true story detailing the journey of Judith Romano, foster child and adoptee, as she discovers fragments of her background, and then sets out to solve the mystery as an adult. She has reached readers in 192 countries. "Mothers and fathers everywhere in the world need to understand that children are forever and always." --Judith Land
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4 Responses to Adoption—Harbor Lights

  1. Mary Wolfe says:

    As a 5 year old adoptee, I didn’t have the longing, or dreaming, or fantasies baby adoptees have. I eventually blocked out memories of my parents, my siblings because they cast me aside, or that must be what I felt and it wsa helped by stories my adoptive mother told me.. Much of my childhood is blacked out either due to emotional and or physical trauma (abuse emotional, physical, sexual, by adoptive parents). Having met 3 of my sisters, and learning of my family life, I understand my fear of rejection all my life, my living my life according to whom I was with, spending my life trying to please and heal everyone else not realizing that I was the one needing healing. Now at 68 I am trying to learn who I really am, who I want to be, and how to heal myself.

    • Judith Land says:

      Dear Mary,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. The bond between a mother and her child is the strongest bond found in all of nature. All infants have an instinctive need to stay near their mothers for survival. Scientific studies prove that separation induces severe psychological stress, causes deviations from normal behavior that is predictable, and provides scientific evidence that show the negative effect on the well being of mothers and children. Primal separation fears are a survival instinct that encourages humans to form close family relationships—the reason why we experience emotional pain when those connections are lost. The intense emotional pain and stress resulting from unrequited love, disassociation, severance, rejection, adoption, divorce, and the death of a loved one have always been associated with broken hearts. World literature, songs, and poems in every language are filled with proclamations about the distressingly painful effects of separation.

      Finding an easy passage through life’s labyrinth to solve the riddle of the maze to discover one’s true self-identity, is a daunting task many adoptees must undertake in solitude. The state of being isolated and sequestered leads to lonesomeness when the soul is sadly overwhelmed by negative feelings of separation from significant others who are missing. Many adoptees feel the pain of the refugee, disconnected, alienated and separated from their roots. Seeking only mercy on an intrinsic and primal level, regardless of the depths of humiliation they may find, they long to pierce the surface reflection to see what lies in the depths below.

      Adoptees suffering from the stress of genealogical bewilderment may have difficulty knowing who they really are because they have no basis for assessing their true self-identity. Their struggle to achieve a comprehensible and consistent backstory that makes sense of a disrupted life is often a daunting task for them. In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle deprived individuals experiencing a profound absence due to an adoption must learn to take care of themselves by protecting their mental and physical health; acknowledging their inner pain; expressing their feelings in creative ways; knowing that it is okay to cry and let go of their feelings when the time is right; and anticipate the effects of life events that rekindle memories of the past.

      Most things of value in life take time and commitment to complete. Every great story on the planet happens when someone decides not to give up, but to keep going no matter what. We must learn to do what is right, not what is acceptable, because life is very good when we make the right choices. Happiness does not depend on material wealth or world traveling. It comes from following our own free will, finding the beauty of the environment and building positive relationships with significant others. If only reality could account for itself, many adoptees would gladly launch a vision quest to comprehend with empowered insight a surreal vision from God that empirically solves the riddles of the labyrinth and the reasons for their birth.

      Judith Land

  2. Judith, I just recently discovered your blog and I really love your posts. This one was very special. Loved it!

  3. The Ravelling Thread says:

    Beautifully written Judith

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