Missing Persons

Missing persons no closure

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared on March 8th with 239 people on board.  The search for this plane has been going on for 2 weeks now.  It is a great tragedy and all of those on board and their families are in my prayers. Recently, a Chinese satellite has spotted some debris. Reporters keep reporting the same information and hoping that, for the family’s sake, this debris is the plane. I would think that if this is the plane, it would mean that there are no survivors. Is knowing that they are dead better than living a lifetime of not knowing, a chance that they are okay?

 Understanding and Sympathy for Families of Missing Persons

This raises some obvious observations. Why is it that they hope there are no survivors? The families have lived this horror for two whole weeks now without knowing where their loved ones are, if they are dead or alive. One can only imagine the questions running through the families’ minds: ‘Are they ill or in pain?’ ‘Are they alone and scared?’ ‘Are they held captive somewhere?’ ‘Are they okay?’ ‘Are they suffering?’ The questions are endless. These poor families are living the nightmare of not knowing and their loved one is simply missing. I feel deeply for the families and their tremendous grief.  The reporters relay that these families are not sleeping. Many are having nightmares and find it difficult to go about their ‘normal’ lives, but how can they go on? Can they continue their lives as if nothing happened?

The family’s pain seems to be accepted and understood with no question. They ‘hope’ this is the plane so that the families can cease wondering and they will have closure about the disappearing plane and comfort in knowing.  They can grieve their loved ones death instead of spending 20, 40, 50, 80 years of their lifetime wondering. They will know that they have passed on if this debris is the remains of flight 370. They want these families to find some peace in knowing where their loved ones are.

What’s the Difference? Family of the Missing Plane or Mother from Adoption

I personally find it difficult to understand why our society in general can grasp these families grief, yet they can’t understand or even acknowledge a mother of adoption loss’ grief. Do mothers not warrant the same compassion and empathy as those that lose a loved one in another fashion? Loss is loss. Grief has no rules as to which situation grants the right to grieve.

Is it because they just can’t recognize her as the child’s mother?

With any pregnancy, the mother is also born. She doesn’t ever cease to be the mother.  No piece of paper or sum of neither money, nor any judge or all the powerful prayers will make her cease to be the mother.  It doesn’t matter how much society doesn’t want her to be the child’s mother, she still is. Even after she is dead, she is still the mother. She may not be the only mother, but she is still the child’s mother.

A mother of adoption loss lives a lifetime of grief. A lifetime of not knowing whether her child is dead or alive. The nightmares and worrying just don’t seem to end. It doesn’t matter that society tries to convince them that they are not their child’s mother, it just doesn’t make it so.

In Abraham Lincoln’s words, “If you call a tail a leg, how many legs has a dog? Five? No, calling a tail a leg don’t make it a leg.” 

A mother that gives birth to her child is forever that child’s mother despite what you call her or deny her.

Is It The “Choice” Tin Adoption that Damns Her?

Is it because she ‘chose’ adoption?

Whether one believes a mother has no right to grieve her child because they believe she ‘chose’ adoption does not mean that she doesn’t. She needs to grieve whether she is deemed worthy or not. Let’s say that in the best of circumstances, a mother had a true choice and ‘chose’ adoption. She would still be a mother living with a missing child and all that it entails. ‘Choice’ does not change that fact. Does the illusion of choice create an illusion of peace?

Living with adoption trauma is difficult enough. It can be highly escalated by how the mother is treated. She is expected to move on and forget. Many mothers are told to keep her child a secret and to pretend that she isn’t her child’s mother. From what I’ve observed, society, and many times her own family, do not recognize her loss or grief nor have they any empathy. They may just pretend the adoption didn’t happen and ignore the subject all together. Mothers live their lives not knowing where their child is, not knowing if they are dead or alive, or if they are ill or in pain, or if they are alone and scared. They live without their missing child most often in silence and they are expected to go about their lives as if nothing happened. Isn’t it quite cruel to expect a mother to pretend she is happy that her child is gone, or to condemn her for grieving her loss?

Should We Tell the Families of the Missing Plane Victims to “Move On”?

Would anyone tell the families of flight 370 to just forget about it and to go about their lives as if the plane didn’t crash and lose their loved ones? I admit that I did the pretending thing for years that everyone expected of me and I’ve learned that it is soul crushing to do so.

Most importantly, I want to add that if you are thinking about adoption for your baby and you are told that an ‘open adoption’ will prevent the heartache of ‘not knowing’ because you will have pictures and updates, please do not go into adoption believing that myth. Most ‘open adoptions’ close within the first five years. They are not legally enforceable in most states and you are forgotten. ‘Open adoption’ will not eliminate adoption grief or the heartache. It’s just a façade.

Sadly, it’s a lesson that far too many mothers have learned the hard way.

The reporters hope this debris is the missing plane for the family’s sake so that they will know where/how their loved ones are. If people can recognize their pain of not knowing, will we ever recognize a mothers’ pain of not knowing? Missing is always there, deceased is something from which one can move on.



Share on Facebook

1 Comment on "Missing Persons"

  1. Vicki Stuart | March 30, 2014 at 6:15 pm |

    Laurie Garland’s article is so very, very true. The day after my baby was stolen for adoption (Australian Forced Adoption era – my son was born in 1972) I was angrily told by the matron to “stop blubbering and get over it, I was upsetting her nurses, and the other patients”.

    When I tried to talk to counsellor after counsellor, they would listen then say “but you chose to do that!” Did they hear nothing – there is none so deaf as those that will not listen!

    Thank you for putting into words how I feel and no doubt how many other readers of this wonderful website feel.

    Vicki Stuart

Comments are closed.

Want to Change the World?

Sign Up for the Adoption Army! "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead