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We Belong When We Connect with Each Other

“When you live on a round planet, there’s no choosing sides.” ~Wayne Dyer 

Te holiday season is a time to connect with others, to celebrate our common humanity, even if the holidays we celebrate are different.

Instead sadly people all over the world are still taking sides. They seek to identify with one “side” or another (tribe, culture, religion, politics, nationality). They seek to belong by being distinct from others.

They seek to belong by hating the other side, sometimes by killing the other side.

But finding identity in reinforcing our differences will never give us a true sense of belonging, a real sense of connection. We are already connected; we are already one. We are all just individual expressions of the same universal energy.

We need to work out how to stay united—connected in our diversity, rather than divided by our differences.

When my husband and I were suffering infertility (infertility is still there, we just choose not to suffer anymore), I desperately wanted to belong to the Mother’s club.

But instead of reaching out to friends and colleagues who were mothers (every woman around me, it seemed) I chose to disconnect. I let my insane jealousy drive a wedge in friendships, and my mom friends walked on eggshells around me.

As I put distance between us, it was easy for them to drift away.

We embarked on a long and arduous (and ultimately unsuccessful) IVF journey, and I remember walking out of our first information session feeling like I was already branded—infertile, guilty as charged.

I stared into the faces of the other couples in the room, but I chose not to see them. I didn’t want to identify with them. I didn’t want to join the IVF patients club.

So we became patients, but didn’t seek connection with other couples. We didn’t offer them compassion, nor seek solace in our own struggles. And running away from the shared sense of consolation we might have had only left us alone. 

In distancing myself from my mother friends, and in refusing to engage with other IVF patients, I choose neither side, so was left inconsolable in my own corner (with my husband, of course).

But as Wayne Dyer points out, the world is round. There are no corners to hide in.

Towards the end of our IVF journey we finally decided to connect with other couples going through fertility treatment and to spread awareness about infertility, to break down the stigmas that had left me feeling so branded. And it felt good.

Then as I struggled out from under the weight of depression and we chose to end fertility treatment and commit to adoption, I made efforts to reconnect with friends who were mothers (just about all of them by then). And that felt good too.

By the time we went through the rigorous social work assessment (your house is never as clean as for your first social worker visit), successfully argued that my depression was under control, underwent reference checks and medicals, and even had our fingerprints taken, we were ready to meet the other couples with whom we’d complete our journey to parenthood—in China.

When we all met for Chinese Dinner we instantly connected. The bond that grew between us was more than just in our common desperation to be parents. It was in a shared commitment to help our children grow up as “China Cousins.”

And that’s what has happened.

Adoption has connected us not only to our precious children in China, but also to the other families, forever. Adoption has bonded us to our children’s birth parents through loss and gain, just as it has cleaved us to the country of their birth and heritage. We have been richly blessed.

There is an ancient Chinese saying:

An Invisible Red Thread connects those who are destined to meet across time, place and circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break.

Before we met our children we were already connected, just as we were already joined by an invisible red thread to their birth parents, and always will be.

When you realize that we are all connected, across languages, cultures, countries, and beliefs, you realize that the “red thread” is in fact unconditional love; it does not bind or shackle, but unites us all in a circle of love. 

We welcomed our daughter in 2004 and then finally adopted our son in 2010, returning to China with two of the families we had originally traveled with. Our special bond grew even stronger.

Then we embarked on another adventure—moving from Australia to Canada for a year-long job exchange last year.

Our Aussie accents denoted our differences, and for a while I disappeared into myself—partly through fatigue from the long road to complete our family, partly through sheer infatuation with our new son, and partly due to cabin fever in the miserable weather.

I didn’t connect and I started to feel the cold creep of depression again.

As the weather warmed, we made more of an effort, and we were warmly welcomed. We’d been in Canada five months when the Vancouver riots erupted after the Canucks home team lost the final. Senseless violence (there’s no other kind) because people chose to take sides (so far removed from team loyalty).

We watched in disbelief and I sensed the shame Vancouver residents felt. As they came together to clean up the city and its tarnished reputation, I shared in their common humanity. And I started to feel like I belonged.

Belonging is never found in a gang mentality or tribal war, or in overblown patriotism, divisive politics, and religious superiority. It’s not found in intellectual snobbery, or following the latest fashions or relentless competitive materialism.

Belonging comes through empathy, compassion, non-judgment, and mostly through love.

It’s not found when we chose to identify with what sets us apart from anyone else. It’s found when we connect with those things that make us all the same.

Photo by Mysi

Avatar of Kathy Kruger

About Kathy Kruger

Kathy Kruger is an adoptive mother of two beautiful kids from China. She blogs about going with the flow, finding yin yang balance, embracing change, and being grateful at www.yinyangmother.com. A former journalist, Kathy shares insights from her long journey to motherhood.

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  • Lauren

    “It’s not found when we chose to identify with what sets us apart from anyone else. It’s found when we connect with those things that make us all the same.”

    I got the chills reading this line. Beautiful post.

  • lv2terp

    Truly inspiring and perfect timing, thank you for this post!!! :)

  • Kathy – www.yinyangmother.com

    Thanks – I wrote the post three or four weeks ago, but it feels all the more relevant now.

  • Kathy – www.yinyangmother.com

    Thanks Lauren – Finding our common humanity is so comforting – I always think that when we cry (tears of sadness and hopefully joy) that our tears are all wet and salty.

  • http://twitter.com/aLotusE Emily

    Thank you! What a concept :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/kkruger68 Kathy Kruger

    Thanks!!

  • Mahesh

    Kathy ! thanks . This concept is absolute truth of the world. I was seeing today the TV program and it was rhetorically explained how much weapon we have and how behind we are from our neighbor rival countries. This is so futile. Billions of citizen are in deprivation and we are collecting weapons and atom bombs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kkruger68 Kathy Kruger

    Mahesh – it is hard to understand spending on weapons instead of food for the hungry. If we all really and fully understood that we are ultimately the same then we wouldn’t be fighting each other and depriving each other. Maybe an idealist vision, but if only….

  • Tazchick

    I have not decided if I want kids of my own in the future. (I’m single right now and only 23, so I have some time to think about it!) I have, however, seriously considered adopting children from China. I absolutely love the Ancient Chinese quote you used, it makes me feel that if I’m meant to adopt, then no circumstances will stop me!

    And the message you have written here is really powerful. Absolutely love it. We are all connected! Time to stop letting ourselves be divided by religion, gender, sexuality, etc. We are all one!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kkruger68 Kathy Kruger

    Hi Tazchick – thanks for your comment. Adoption from China has changed in recent years with a lot fewer children needing adoption, a lot more domestic adoption. The children in the program now generally have a range of special needs. It is a long and complex process – with the rigorous process here in Australia and waiting times it took us 9 years to adopt our two children. It has been a wonderful blessing for us and we feel a real cultural link to China. The world is small through technology, it needs to be small through humanity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=30402995 Craig Finlay

    Hey, my wife is holding a globe on your article!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kkruger68 Kathy Kruger

    It’s a lovely photo!

  • Da Young

    Wow, I love this article. Thank you for spreading such an important message!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kkruger68 Kathy Kruger

    Thanks Da!