Friday, July 22, 2011


As we wait and wait to adopt little Jude (our application is currently under review by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and I got a letter from them yesterday which said that our social worker at Catholic Charites had forgotten to sign our home study, and could I please send another, signed copy), I have been thinking a lot about what it might be like for him to leave behind everything that he's ever known to join our family.  I have been considering the grief this rupture will engender in him, and how he won't be able to explain that grief to us in words.  And I think about all the other children who he will leave behind; do they grieve, too, for their companions of the orphanage?  And do the orphanage workers who care for the little ones grieve to see them go?

I think about the unimaginable Middle Passage, and the millions of Africans who perished on the journey to new, unsought-for lives as slaves in the Americas, lives that were foisted on them by force.  Does the sense of that sundering, that rupture, live on in subsequent generations?  Is there a shadowy cultural memory of a trauma shared by millions that resonates in the blood and the bones, that cannot be shaken or denied?

In a small and very different way, the break with the past, the rupture from all that is known and loved (even if to love it was a compromised kind of love), is an ethos familiar to me from long experience.  Does Jude love his friends, his caretakers, his orphanage?  They are family and homeland to him.  Will he have a better life in America with a family who will love him (and perhaps, in some small, particular way, with a mother who knows a little about rupture and grief), with people who can give him opportunities to form secure attachments and to learn how to trust?  Objectively speaking, yes, of course.  As for me, I have a better life now than I had when I was bereft, lonely, and overwhelmed by sin, but this doesn't mean that I don't sometimes grieve the provisional home, family, and friends I have left behind -- a leave-taking that is inseparable from my conversion.

My father often notes that life is loss, and, well, it is.  Real love is inextricably bound up with the painful losses and diminishments of every day.  I hope, in spite of all that little Jude will lose in joining our family, that, like me (and even if, like me, he is unable to forget), he will gain much more.


Mrs C said...

I can't believe they 'forgot' to sign the home-study. That is ridiculously incompetent. And yet I am not surprised.

I am amazed at how related our two posts are today - your concerns for Jude and mine on the role of the adoptive mother when there is trauma.

I am sure he will miss his orphanage etc but he will flourish - God willing (and in all probability - statistically speaking) with you.

Pentimento said...

Mrs. C, I know. As my husband said, "Welcome to the world of not-for-profit."

Thank you for posting the link to the Family Research Council report -- I'm going to download it and read it.