With the October 21, 2020 passing of my mother, I am beginning to feel what I’ve heard expressed so many times by adult children following the death of their last living parent. I am feeling the sentiment expressed by surviving children who say, “I feel like an orphan.”
For me, it’s been over six-weeks of “I feel like an orphan” but it is a very familiar feeling because as an adoptee I have known that feeling my entire life. The passing of the mother who adopted me, raised me, and nurtured me as her own has accentuated my “I feel like an orphan” but in some respects it’s a common issue for adoptees.
A psychologist once pointed out to me that the removal of an adoption bound child from the birth mother is an emotionally traumatic experience for the infant. The reasoning is a child grows in the security and familiarity of its mother’s womb, for up to 9-months the infant enjoyed the comfort of the mother’s sounds, smell, and touch, only to be removed forever upon birth.
That was my experience, and then after my birth I was immediately given to the care of a foster mother for three months until my mom traveled from Rossford, Ohio to Fargo, North Dakota to adopt me.
Perhaps the weirdest feeling for me in this “I feel like an orphan” experience, has been thinking to pick up the phone to call my mom before realizing I can’t. That happened to me this past Thanksgiving. Holidays use to be reminders to call my mom, so on Thanksgiving I found myself thinking about if I wanted to call my mom before we ate or wait until after we eat.
It also happened to me last year after the Ohio State – Michigan game in 2019 when I thought to call my dad before realizing that he had died some two-months earlier. Ohio State football was always the go-to conversation for me with my dad. We probably talked more during college football season than other times of the year.
I don’t know how to explain it, just as others before me didn’t know how to explain it, but now we all understand the weird feeling it is to know that your parents are no longer just a phone call away.
I think there is some good news in this “I feel like an orphan” and it is that we ought to be longing for our Lord’s return and the gift of immortality at the resurrection. For it will be after that day that we will have an endless eternity to enjoy our relationships with each other and with the Savior who redeems us.
In fact, Jesus likely had us in mind, those who feel like orphans in our own agedness, when He said “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18, NIV).