Tonight I watched last nights episode of This is Us as I folded laundry by myself. The show in and of itself has replaced my need/want/craving for Parenthood (RIP Parenthood!!! I miss you!) and fulfilled that TV drama category I love so much. I knew from the very first preview that I was ALL IN. The characters, their complicated yet REAL life problems all woven masterfully together in the most intriguing and endearing way. I'm captivated.
But deeper than that, the story hits me in the gut in many places. Tonight, most specifically, adoption.
FYI, SPOILER alert! So come back and read this AFTER viewing the most recent episode (at the family cabin!).
Randall was adopted at birth. His adoptive mother sought out his birth father, knew who he was yet chose to keep them apart. Randall, being adopted, struggled with his identity his entire life and likely struggled with attachment and abandonment. In fact, he eluded to that in tonight's episode. Last week, Randall found out his mother knew about his birth Father. He was devastated, rightfully so. Not only does he have the issues of abandonment and all the feels of not fitting in, he now feels betrayed. Betrayed by the person he clearly loved and trusted very much.
I bet I have a lot of adopted friends out there who understand this kind of pain. I cannot claim to understand it but I can tell you that I TRY VERY HARD to understand it because I want to be there for my OWN adopted children who might feel this way. And let me tell you, every adopted person has their OWN unique set of feelings regarding the subject - all of which they are entitled too. I know MANY feel a sense of abandonment on some level (many times not even identifying it as such) and that then affects their lives in sometimes small & many times profound ways.
But my kids are my own race (well, they look like me although they are both Native American/Caucasian mix). Randall has the additional factor of being African American in a white world. That's a WHOLE other beast. Meaning, a whole set of issues, judgements, side glances, looks, stares, unnecessary comments, racism and more. Just even more for Randall AND his mother to deal with.
There was a part in the episode where they show the mom (Mandy Moore, whom I adore) going slightly CRAZY. The dad narrates that "she holds us all together, keeps it all in, takes care of everyone and is barely hanging on." She is the glue.
Being THE GLUE, is a LOT of pressure. Can you relate? I know I can. Being the glue in a "typically formed" family is hard, but adding in the profound nature of adoption & all of the pressure that brings really puts "the glue" to the test.
One of the most profound moments in my life, was when Bella's birth mother physically put Bella into my arms and said goodbye to her forever. Tears stained Bella's tiny onesie and her face smelled like a mix of kleenex & body lotion. Bella's birth mom was sobbing and physically crumbling. I too was dying inside. How could something so right also feel so horribly tragic? How can a RIGHT decision also be the most painful one to ever experience? I, as a new mother, was holding this child I DREAMT of - she was fulfilling a DREAM for me - yet I was dying inside for the mother that made MY DREAM a reality. One mother was born while the other virtually died.
I bear that daily. I bear her pain as my own in her honor.
In the episode the mom (Mandy Moore) made a decision out of fear to NOT let Randall know who his father was. She didn't want to lose Randall. She was so fearful of losing him that she couldn't offer him the opportunity to know his birth father. And that CRUSHED the 36 year old Randall that suddenly found that out.
As an adoptive mom, I totally understand what his mother was feeling & going through. I also realize that that was at a different time period where there were different pressures. I have two VERY different adoption experiences (as I've found no two are alike!) and two VERY different birth mothers that made an adoption plan for two VERY different reasons. But I can tell you with certainty I LOVE my children's birth mothers, VERY much. And, I've learned so much over these last five years about nature v. nurture that I VALUE their brith mother that much more. They hold a HUGE piece of their puzzle and to that, I owe huge respect & honor.
The episode is near & dear to me particularly right now because Bella is struggling. She is looking for her "missing piece." She keeps searching for it through ME and coming up short. I am not fulfilling this unconscious desire/need in her. I feel like there is a deep longing in her that she cannot fill, an empty spot. It is causing her anxiety as well. I truly believe that missing piece, is the connection with her birth mother. Her Birthmother LOVED her deeply. I know Bella felt that connection in utero. She was loved very very much. She still is, though they are separated.
But unlike Randall's mom, I will help my children find their missing pieces. I am not scared. I know that God chose me to be their mother ... but they are only ours for a very short time. And in that short time, I want to do right by them. I want them to thrive, succeed & flourish. Sometimes to flourish, you need to have all of your pieces. I have no idea what this looks like or what this will evolve into. I'm merely only scratching at the surface of this right now having "figured out" some of Bella's subconscious needs.
But what I CAN tell you is that I am open to helping her pursue what she (and Luke too) needs. I will not stand in the way. I will not let fear be my guiding light. I believe that eventually, our paths will all be intertwined and our love for Bella will be our guiding light. I know. It sounds kinda "hippie" and "Let love lead" but really what I feel is this ... she isn't MINE. She isn't her birth moms. She is a child of GOD, a daughter of the King. And more than anything in the world, I want to erase away any pain she might feel, no matter the cost to me.
Adoption is a selfless act, on all ends.
I hope Randall finds peace. I'm so interested in his journey and I really happy there is a show that can bring real issues, real struggles, real challenges and real characters to life.