My birth family left me at a hospital in China. Like most babies I had an instinctive bond with my mother. So she left an empty hole I filled with hope that one day we would connect again. Her love for me and mine for her was forever engrained in my blood.
The hospital took me to an orphanage where I would be cared for until I was adopted. I was surrounded by other kids whose stories all had one chapter that was the same as mine. Our parents’ love wasn’t powerful enough to overcome the challenges to keep us with them but they wanted us to be part of a family. My mother’s love tore the two of us apart and yet bound our souls forever.
At 16 months, I was adopted. The loneliness both grew and dimmed. I had lost the nurses that had taken me in but gained a new family that could endlessly love and care for me. In daycare, preschool and kindergarten I had the hardest time watching my adoptive mother go. Some days I cried for hours, afraid she, too, was leaving me forever. Then at the end of each day she would return and whisk me up in a gigantic motherly hug. Finally by second grade I knew that Mom would never leave me, for the binding energy of love between us was too strong.
In second and third grade I had a teacher that had a fiery passion for every student to succeed. She cried tears of joy when I learned to multiply. Lovingly, she taught me that it’s okay to be myself. Then she was diagnosed with breast cancer that spread to her brain. Her death hit the fragile spot my birthmother left empty. Even though the reopened wound overwhelmed me I remembered all the valuable lessons she had taught me and this helped the pain slowly ease away. Her love was just as strong inside me as if she were here physically.
Then in fifth grade my aunt died. I remember playing with her and her dolls by the fire. Her death was equally hard as that of my teacher because it also reopened the wound of my previous loss. My mother and I leaned on each other and talked openly about our feelings and memories. We came out of our grief stronger because of our love for Aunt Jackie and for each other. Even through those horrible moments of loss, people who loved me were always there to help me through the rapids.
Losing my birth family has made me love family and friends, hard. This strong, binding love is what makes my friends seem like family and my family a big chunk of my heart. By loving hard I’m filling up the empty space my birthmother left. Love can wound and love can heal. Love is also a strong binding power that allows me to make deep connections with others that will last for more than a lifetime.
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