I’m learning a whole new vocabulary in my weekly adoption group, coupled with all of the independent reading I’ve been doing lately. One new term I hear tossed around frequently is “trauma-versary”. As in, Trauma Anniversary. These are a sobering reality for many adoptees, since adoption, by nature, is always a result of grief and loss. Whether a child was tragically orphaned, forcibly removed from dangerous circumstances, or their parents made the sacrificial decision to relinquish their rights in hopes of a better life for their child– there is always, always loss.
No matter how young your adopted child is when you welcome them into your home, there will likely be ongoing seasons that they grieve. For some, their grief might manifest as an annual mourning that coincides with a specific memory. Children might act out irrationally, be especially blue or depressed, or even angry- and most often they do this subconsciously. Even children without a firm grasp of time or seasons have been observed to grieve in this way… they just KNOW.
I don’t believe “traumaversaries” are unique to adoptees. I know I can personally recall traumatic incidents from my life that trigger emotional responses in me upon their anniversary. For instance, while my small family makes it a point to celebrate and honor the life of our third daughter, who was still-born 4 1/2 years ago, on her birthday – I still find myself blindsided by grief on her original due date several weeks later, each year. One of my closest friends admittedly slips into an annual “funk” every fall as the anniversary of her father and sister’s tragic death from an automobile accident approaches. Do you have a similar experience?
What I love is when God redeems those traumaversaries. I’ve witnessed this repeatedly. Like when another dear friend found out her daughter was due to be born on her late sister’s birthday… and then actually delivered on her due date! (Anyone who has ever been pregnant knows that due dates are like closing dates on a real estate transaction: it may happen before or after the date but RARELY on the actual date.) Or yet another dear friend who was recently astonished to find herself pregnant after trying for over 2 years- only to find out she’s due on my sweet Angel-Baby’s birthday. Moments like this make me feel like God is whispering “I see you.”
I know God can redeem big hurts, and I know He wants us to trust Him with them. He instructs us to “number our days” (Psalm 90:12), but He also reminds us that “This is the day the Lord has made” and we are to “rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) I don’t say this to sound callous, as I have known deep hurts myself. But I do know that we can take heart, even in our despair, knowing that God is the “The-God-Who-Sees” (as He was for Hagar in her distress, Genesis 16) and that He will “wipe away every tear” from our eyes (Revelation 21:4) and surely for our adoptive children, as well.