As I write, I’m already tearing up. That’s very like me, I am a crier and I naturally feel big feelings. I have struggled with depression and suicidal ideation on and off since I was ten. I made my first suicide plan when I was twelve.
What’s bringing emotions to the surface for me now though isn’t thinking of my younger self, it’s thinking of those who we’ve lost. I host a podcast (Adoptees On) that is all about giving a literal voice to the voiceless. I can’t count the number of times adoptees have shared with me on mic (and also after we stop recording) the pain they’ve experienced has lead them to consider suicide and even attempt suicide. Whose stories have I missed hearing? Whose voices have been cut short too soon?
Thinking of the shock in finding that the citizenship their parents must certainly have finalized for them was a phantom promise as they sit on the plane back to their country of origin, no money, no language, no one waiting at the airport. Thinking of the children who were promised their forever home, only to find out it’s at the bottom of an ocean. Thinking of the perfect two-parent household with the six-figure salaries who abused their adopted child to the point they could only find one way to run away forever. Thinking of the adult who has finally expressed their true feelings of loss to their adoptive parents and now finds themselves disowned and alone.
You know these stories are about real human beings? Real fleshly bodies with freckles on their nose more than cheeks and those pudgy rolls they can’t quite squeeze over the top of that pair of jeans anymore and the tattoo that was that cringey dolphin but it’s so faded now and the teeny little fingers who still can’t zip up their jacket by themselves and the few hairs that aren’t coming in quite the same colour anymore and the stretch marks on that one weird spot on their left thigh and those feet where the right one is always just a bit bigger and sizing up a pair seems silly and the scent of that perfume that you remember from when everyone was wearing it in high school and their hands always felt so cold but they never wanted gloves and the little scar on the forehead that made it welcome Harry Potter jokes and those eyes that just seemed to be an indescribable colour maybe hazel and that fingernail that always grew back a teeny bit crooked after that accident and the teeth that could have used a quick check in the mirror after the salad and the voice that sounded just like
I can’t summon up their voice any more. It just won’t come to me.
As we remember those we’ve lost, take the breath, take the pause, and by all means grieve. But as we rise the next day, may their memory encourage our revolution.
Haley Radke, Creator of Adoptees On – The podcast where adoptees discuss the adoption experience
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