Have You Ever Loved a Stranger?

The original anonymous question in the featured picture was posed to an adult adoptee panel by a child who was adopted.

Here’s my personal answer:

I’d been thinking about my birth parents for years. Decades. I romanticized the whole thing. Like, I knew that when we’d finally meet we’d have this visceral connection; there’d be some intangible shift or even an added birth in my heart that could only happen if we meet.

When we did meet, she was not a stranger, not in the sense we typically attach to the word. Here’s what I mean.

We were finally going to meet. After I arrived in Korea, she cancelled the meeting.

I had been imagining her. Wondering about her. I had been angry at her. I had felt hurt and abandoned by her. I had felt sorry for her. I felt thankful for her. Over the course of my 20s I’d accepted and embraced the particular life of joy and sorrow I had because of her.

While I was still in Korea, she changed her mind. Yes, we’ll meet.

Mom, I’m indecisive too, we have that in common. Takes me 20 minutes to choose a show on Netflix. Did I get that from you?

I wonder if you had these indecisive struggles when you were wrestling with adoption in the first place. You finally made your choice. And of course it has lasted longer than a Netflix movie.

Isn’t it so strange how we’ve not met since I was a child yet your decisions would continue to have such an impact on my life? Could “strangers” have that power?

It was a tough couple of days after the cancelled meeting. Then it felt like a dance party in my heart when I heard it was back on again.

Finally face to face, she was like a stranger. AND I loved her before I saw her.

I knew very little about her. And I had been praying for her. I had been hoping for all the ways I might be a blessing to her in this very moment. I had been crying for days, yet on this day I felt supernaturally empowered to sit with her as she cried.

My heart felt flat and full at the same time. Cold and connected. Anticlimactic during a pinnacle moment for an adoptee. Dead yet resurrected.

Hugs. Lots of handholding. More hugs. Food, smiles, laughs, more tears, and my hopes we would meet again someday.

Human relationship between one and another is a deep eternal well in the universe, in which we have the capacity to feel everything and anything and nothing at the same time. I’m still working that out in my heart.

She was like a stranger, the most loved stranger I’ve ever met.


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