Why do I cry on my birthday?

Nearly every year, on my birthday, I cry. Despite the huge efforts by my husband to “cover all the bases” and “to meet all expectations”, I still cry.

This year was no different. My gorgeous husband gave me beautiful yellow lilies, chocolates, a huge glazed pot for the garden and took me out for a beautiful dinner. And still I cried!

My youngest son, cooked me breakfast (bacon, eggs, tomato and croissant, and coffee) and brought it to me beautifully decorated on a white tray with a flowers in a vase. And still I cried!

All of my children (bar one, who always forgets!) contacted me by phone, video (thank you to the crazy ones), text and Facebook, and still I cried!

Why? It is because I am adopted!

Pure and simple. I have recognised this adoption grief for over 20 years and yet I still find birthdays difficult. Not every year, but most years I find myself crying.

The day of my birth reminds me that something happened that changed my life forever. After spending 9 months in the womb of a woman, listening to her heart-beat, to her voice, knowing the nurture and security of her, I suddenly lost her. She was no longer there. A grief so profound and deep overtook me, and yet, I had no way of expressing it. And there was no way of bringing back that which was lost.

56 years later the grief still hit when I no longer expected it. When I know the reason. When I think I am “over it”. When I know I am a child of God who is loved and securely His forever. When I am loved by a husband who goes above and beyond to show his love for me. When I am surrounded by loving children. When I have loving brothers and sisters (both familial and through Christ). Yes, even with all that, grief still manages to take me by surprise.

But you know what? I’m ok!

It’s ok that I still cry! Grief does that to a person. I see my friends who have lost a daughter or a husband or a parent and guess what? They still cry sometimes. So it is with me. Like when my (adopted) mum died.  At times grief for her would hit me when I least expected it, because I was suddenly reminded that I missed her. After 9 years those times are becoming less. Adoption grief is similar.(Except that I could rationalise her death. She was old and sick with cancer, yet her death still shocked me.)

I know the reason I cry on my birthdays, I’m ok with it and it is part of the healing process.

This unexplainable (adoption) grief hits many adoptees, often on their birthday. It is a perpetual, annual reminder of a grief that was never acknowledged or expressed (nor could it be). But armed with this knowledge, I accept it, and thank the Lord for the many good things that have come because of my adoption (like being brought up in a Christian home). I may still have birthdays when I cry but that’s ok too. Grief is part of who I am, and it has helped to shape me into the person I am today. For those of us who have experienced deep loss know its ok to cry at times. For those who haven’t, don’t expect us to “get over it” because, I tell you, the loss never goes away. Our lives may become filled with other things/people and we seem to move on, but the loss remains. Don’t be patronising or offer platitudes or try to fix us. Be patient with us, sit with us, listen to us, hug us and pass the tissues. Oh and a cup of tea would be nice too.

So to those who asked if I had a “good” birthday, I can honestly say, “yes” but I still cried!





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