Adoptees In Reunion & Survivors Guilt
They ask: "How are you?"
My answer: I stare in silence for a few seconds too long. I wonder...are they asking as a social nicety? Or, do they truly want to know how I'm doing?
Cutting the awkward silence, they rephrase the question: "How are you since Closure was released?"
Still silent, my head buzzes with potential answers:
I'm struggling with the unanswerable questions about fairness and equality. Survivors guilt is a common feeling for anyone who has had personal traumatic experiences and simultaneously longs for our world to be fair, but the world is not fair. So, i'm trying to figure out how to live within such an unjust world. And, how are you?
I've been good. But my mind continues to explore the lives that I could've had, if I had stayed with my birthfamily, or my foster family, or adopted to a family within the state of Tennessee, or adopted to a family outside of the United States, or had been raised by black parents, or if my health hadn't improved, and I never learned how to walk, or if hearing aids hadn't been invented, and couldn't hear etc. I consider all the "what-if's" similar to how a cancer diagnosis is sometimes the first time one contemplates their own mortality. For adoptees, reuniting with birth family members can serve as the catalyst to contemplating the multiple avenues that life could've differently shaped us. The temptation to process the "what might've been" is inescapable. And, how are you?
I'm doing great! I just accepted a new job! But, am saddened by the reality that my new job is available to me because I was afforded a life where my needs were met, and I received all the benefits of white privilege, combined with the exoticism of being black/different. And, how are you?
I'm well. Just working hard to assimilate my jealousy towards my siblings and their jealousy of me. I envy their lifelong knowing who our mother is, and having the ability to get to know each other. They envy the opportunities, education, sense of hope that was instilled in me via my upbringing. I'm considering looking into the Tennessee State system to see if they've improved on making sure children don't fall through the cracks like my siblings did. And, how are you?
Sometimes, the answer to a simple question is quite complex.