What I want to talk about is what it feels like for me after I visit birth family in Guatemala. Not what it feels like for anyone else, because I’m not qualified to speak to that, but what it feels like for me.
And I don’t mean to imply that making contact with Olivia’s birth family is not the greatest thing I have done in my life. Because, really, it is. If I do nothing else in my life, I’ve done that. For my daughter, for her birth mother, for the rest of her biological family. And it feels huge.
But there is a sadness attached to it. The sadness of life’s realities. That circumstances are hard, that life is not fair. That situations are unstable. That some have so much while others have so little. Relationships end. People get sick. Wars happen, and people are killed. Illnesses wipe out entire families. Nine children are born, but only three survive.
When we go to Guatemala, when we insert ourselves into families’ lives, we change their perception of the world. We represent “elsewhere.” Another possibility. Someplace they’ve heard about, maybe from the man in another family who left and never came back. Who sent money for a while, then stopped sending it. Or the mother who sends it, but is still gone.
This is neither a good thing, nor a bad thing. Either way, it’s not simple. There is love, there is loss. There is longing. We each have something the other doesn’t.
We have changed the lives of Olivia’s birth family, as they have changed ours. I’m grateful and humbled.
Every visit brings back the emotions I felt the first time I held Olivia. Simply being in Guatemala triggers many memories of her adoption–good and bad. It takes a while to process the experience. Today, I give myself permission to be quiet and just feel.