Without a trace may seem a funny title for my latest blog, but it is inspired by a programme we have here on TV. It is a programme called ‘Spoorloos’ (so literal translation is: Without a Trace). In this programme, which has been going for years now, the presenter tries to find missing family members for people.
The thing that strikes me the most about this, is that more than 90% of the people who make requests are adopted children. Often from countries far away, like South America and such like. Despite the fact that they left the country as babies and were adopted by Dutch parents, there is a certain moment in their lives that there is an enormous desire to go back to their roots. Even though they have had a wonderful childhood here and grown up with loving parents in a country which is basically economically sound, they long to know more about their background, where they came from and more important why their mother or father gave them away for adoption.
The programme it a real tearjerker every week, such sad stories about mothers finding themselves in impossible situations for numerous reasons, who have no other choice than to give their babies away. The thought itself I find very difficult. Being a mother myself and having brought two babies into this world I would hated to have to give my baby away and never even see it in some cases.
Now we all agree (I hope) that the stigma about being unmarried and pregnant has changed dramatically over the years, but a lot has to do with either religion or economic situations. In other words people were just too poor to feed another mouth or too ashamed for religious reasons and the agencies that handled adoptions were only pleased to take the newborns into their care and then when suitable parents in spé were found, pass the baby on. Often small babies merely a few weeks old, left their roots and travelled half across the world, to their new families and homes.
Now don’t get me wrong I make no judgement at all. Living in Europe and the economic climates here is totally different than say, for example in poorer countries in South and Central America or Asia.
The thing that strikes me the most in these programmes is that despite the fact that the adopted children actually grow up here in The Netherlands (or other European counties) and have a good life, an education and the possibility to go into adulthood with not only a roof over their head, but the prospect of a good job. But at a certain moment, there is a craving to know more.
It must be hard actually for the adoptive parents who were so enthralled to have a baby, when perhaps they could not have one themselves, or maybe just from the goodness of their heart, they welcomed such adoptive babies and small children, to actually give them a better start in life. I always feel a bit sorry for these parents when they are confronted with the fact that the child they have looked after for many many years, suddenly wants nothing more than to find out about where they came from and who their biological parents actually were and more importantly the big question: how could their parent(s) have given them away?
I don’t know a lot about the rules and regulations for adoption to be honest but I know they are very strict and it takes absolutely ages for everything to be put in place and a decision made if you are deemed to be a fit parent or not. Strange actually that any other normal person can make the choice to get pregnant and have a child, whatever the circumstances.
It is amazing to see how the presenter of this programme manages to trace the families. Sometimes in the most remote areas, in the middle of mountainous regions, or in other words either in big busy cities or in the back of beyond. But they manage it somehow; despite the fact that these days there is such a fuss about our rights on privacy and often it is hard to convince people why they are actually searching for someone in the first place. Often it is not allowed to film such moments, for instance visiting an official record office, which is understandable.
Then when they find the person in question, mother, father, perhaps even siblings who remained with the biological parents, the thing that is similar in each and every case is that mothers have had their hearts broken having to give up their babies and are over the moon when they find out that their baby, maybe 20 years later or so, is desperate to find them. This is when the real tearjerker stuff starts!
The pain and suffering the mother or father have been through giving up their child, not knowing where they are, how they are doing, or even what they look like many years later. It must be awful to just not know. How happy and emotional and often completely overwhelmed they become when the presenter tells them that their son or daughter wants to meet them and shows them a photo. The gratitude is amazing. Finally all the questions they have been asking themselves for many years are answered.
When the actual meet up takes place, it is incredibly emotional as you can imagine. Often despite language barriers, mother and child are reunited and that is all that matters. All is well and peace returns. It is a hard wrench when the child leaves again and goes back to the adoptive family and more often than not, that there is just not a possibility to remain there. Of course they can visit and with current social media (Skype, facetime and such like) they can keep in contact. I just wonder how the adoptive parents feel at this moment? Are they glad or do they feel disappointed deep down in their hearts, feeling that they have done their utmost to give this child a new start in life and then it comes down to the crux that the child longs for contact with the biological parents.
I know that becoming a parent is one of the biggest things that happens in your life, it certainly was in my case and I would have never been able to give away my child whatever the reason. Again no judgement from my side as I live, as I said, in Europe in good economic climes and things have changed so much over the years anyway.
The reason that I was inspired to write this blog, was not only watching the programme yesterday evening but also the fact that whatever happens in your lifetime, you always remain connected to your roots.
I have to agree on this score having been born in the UK and moved to The Netherlands more than 44 years ago, but I still feel that my roots are really on England’s ‘green and pleasant land’. Don’t ask my why, because I don’t know and I really cannot give a reason, but when I go back and that is not often these days, there is just some inexplicable connection that always makes me feel that I have come home.
Often when I write stories, blogs or columns, I talk about places I know well in England and then my memory is reminded of the fact that this is where my roots lie. Strange when you think I have lived longer in The Netherlands than I actually did in England.
I know that people who emigrate all over the world and believe me the Dutch go everywhere but the one thing they all have in common is that they always miss their homeland.
For those of you who are reading this blog and find yourself in a similar situation, an adoptive child, or someone who has left the land of your birth, it might be nice to try and strike up a discussion with one another. I notice that some of you are asking for this in the feedback and my conclusion is that this subject is so huge; the programme on the Dutch TV is just the tip of the iceberg. One thing that is also interesting is that siblings are delighted when they find out that they have other siblings elsewhere. These connections are extremely strong. They have longed for it all their life whatever the age.
So is the conclusion to this blog that you always remain attached to your roots whatever the circumstances?
Look forward to receiving your comments in the feed!
Image copyright Wikimedia Commons (Google Images)
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