Do adoptees potentially experience the death of their adoptive parents differently because of their adoption? This is the latest question rolling around in my head. We've all got baggage and adoptees in particular get strapped with 'abandonment issues'. Not every adoptee will identify as feeling abandoned. For most of my life, I did not. But somewhere in the recesses of my mind this thread lingers. Does the death of adoptive parents represent, in its own way, a second abandonment to adoptees?
The first time this thought occurred to me was after watching the documentary Adopted. Jennifer Fero, an adult Korean adoptee featured, was dealing not only with issues related to being transracially adopted, but also the scary situation of her mother being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Towards the end of the documentary, it was revealed that her father had a late stage form of cancer as well. I wish I could remember if Jennifer had said anything specifically about losing both of her parents. I can't remember now, but I wondered what was going through her head being so young (only in her thirties I think) with the prospect of both parents leaving her. The whole situation was haunting to me.
There are two times in my life that there was a distinct possibility my mom could die. And both times were hell. The nightmares of my life. My dad died unexpectedly when I was one and I'm an only child. The thought of losing my mom was too much to bear. How could I possibly afford to lose another set of parents? What was so incredibly wrong with the universe that my fate was to be left alone again? Abandoned again? There is no worse feeling. The dominant culture says that we all need a permanent, loving, immediate family. They're your world, your lens through which you learn and navigate life. What becomes of you when you lose that context?
I think the death of a parent for anyone can be unspeakably painful. It's a tremendous loss. It changes your world. And if you're an adoptee, it may compound on top of an existing loss of your first family and first culture. I'm not sure what it all means, but it's a fascinating albeit heavy topic to think about. I've tried to look up articles, books, anything on adoptees and the death of adoptive parents, but I haven't come up with much at all. If anyone reading this knows of any resources, please let me know. And thanks for sticking with me through a morbid subject. I know that talking about death makes many if not most people uncomfortable. I recently found out that a fellow KAD's parent is terminally ill with possibly only weeks left to live. What a heartbreaking experience. It's something I've had just a small taste of, but, wow, is it ever hard to get that taste out of your mouth.