Finding time to write in my own blog has been nonexistent lately. WHY? Because I’m putting everyone and everything in my life ahead of myself. Writing has always been EXTREMELY therapeutic for me for so… More
We’ve heard it all for centuries, especially in the adoption community.
“ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE”
Well I’m here to express my desire to not only have love but my truth. Love wasn’t all I needed.
I needed my truth
THE TRUTH MEANS NOTHING HIDDEN
Yes, you guessed it. I’m an adult adoptee who has grown into my own woman. I have developed my own opinion, and I have been on a healing journey for 3 years now, attempting to heal from the lifelong struggles being adopted have brought my way. When I was growing up you weren’t supposed to talk about it. The less adoptive parents talked about it the better. Well, that was probably the worst advice that could have ever been given to adoptive parents.
I don’t have to be quiet, because it’s not a secret anymore. It might have been in the 1970’s but those days are over.
John 8:32 Says, “We shall know our TRUTH, and our TRUTH shall set us free”.
This scripture is what I stand on for all adoptees all over the world that are fighting to find their truths.
Love is good. Love is great. Love isn’t everything. Love definitely wins. But Love isn’t all I needed.
I believe all adoptees are different. Some are perfectly content with not knowing who they look like or where they come from. They don’t need to know their answers. A lot of times adoptive parents come to me and say, “Jonny is fine with being adopted, I ask him how he feels and he says “Fine”, and he never brings it up. He appears to be happy.”
I think parents, adopted or not naturally want to protect their kids. I find this to come natural as a parent of 3 children. I would never want my poor kid’s hearts broken, but the truth is when you adopt a child, you adopt their broken, tainted, tore history while you adopt them. You also adopt the beautiful history some of us have. It’s a part of them. I believe when you adopt a child, you have to accept this as a part of the child, and learn that there will be a day that child will start asking questions about their first family. They deserve to know their truth.
If LOVE was all I needed I would have been in great shape growing up. I believe with my entire heart that my adoptive parents and family LOVED me with everything they knew how. I have always been closer to my adoptive dad, yet he has always been so far away. But he’s been amazing. His wife, my step mother of over 35 years has also loved me the best way she knew how. We’ve all had a roller coaster ride over the years, but at the end of the day I know they have loved me, and they haven’t lied to me to gain anything. I respect them for that.
I still needed all the answers to my history. I needed my truth. I needed to know who my siblings were. I wanted to meet my biological grandparents. I have searched for every clue to WHO I AM and learned that I’m not like anyone of them! I’m the child God created me to be, but I needed to know and see this for myself. I needed to make the choices on my own, without everyone telling me and making the choice for me.
Saying “Love is all we need” is like putting a band-aide on our wounds. They are still deep down there and will surface as root issues later on in life.
THE TRUTH HAS HURT MORE THAN ANYTHING ON THIS PLANET.
I experienced failed reunions and rejection from both birth parents, yet I am happy every day I got one AMAZING brother out of the deal, and his AWESOME siblings have accepted me as their own. I will always be grateful for them, and their relationships. ALTHOUGH THE TRUTH HURT, I WOULD RATHER KNOW IT, ACCEPT IT, AND BE ABLE TO HEAL THROUGH JESUS AND MOVE FORWARD WITH MY LIFE!!!!
We can’t heal if we don’t know our truth.
If I can share something with all my fellow adoptees out there, I would like to say to never give up hope in finding your truth and as much as it hurts to say, be prepared for anything. Most of the time relinquishment isn’t a “Pretty Story”. I most certainly don’t want to discourage anyone from searching, but reach out to another adoptee that can pray for you, or help walk you through the emotions of the reunion and search experience.
My reunion doesn’t define me. My biological parents don’t define me. My adoptive parents don’t define me. My history doesn’t define me.
They are indeed a part of my Her [Story] – History!
WHO I AM IN JESUS DEFINES ME!
I learned I’m really not like anyone, yet God made me (and YOU) special and unique in his own way. After learning what I know about my birth parents, TODAY I’m extremely thankful I’m not like any of them. The difference is, I know JESUS and neither of them did/do. I have his peace. I don’t have to drink today to handle these emotions, and the pain that goes along with this journey. Being adopted is a lifelong thing, it doesn’t just go away. This is something I will be working through for the rest of my life.
LOVE IS GREAT & LOVE WINS
But LOVE isn’t all I needed.
I needed my TRUTH
I thank GOD today, I’m no longer fighting for my truth.
How do my fellow adoptees feel?
Is love all you need?
Pamela A. Karanova,
Adult Adoptee Reunited
Please read “About” section of both pages
Twitter: @pamelakaranova<– FOLLOW ME!
Photo By: Salvatore Vuono @freedigitalphoto.net
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are purely and entirely my own. I do not claim to, nor make an effort to speak for all adoptees. – p.k.
“I want you to be healed in Jesus Name!”
“Will the pain every go away?”
“Will the pain get easier?”
“You have to let go, and let God!”
“Oh she just had a bad adoption experience!”
“Adoption is a gift from God, sorry you had a bad experience!”
“Aren’t you thankful you weren’t aborted? You got life!”
The list could go on and on of things I’ve heard people say, and even things I’ve said myself. Over the last 8 years of coming out of the fog, I have learned so much and God has shown me so much about my personal experience and journey. I felt I needed to share some of it with my followers.
2010 I started the healing process. Healing from what? A lifetime of brokenness, heartbreak, grief, loss and trauma some of which is from my adoption experience, some is from other things that have happened in my life. Back in 2010 I was still drinking to numb my pain. I was a functional drinker, I went to work everyday and loved my career. I raised 3 kids, paid my bills, had fun and enjoyed my life to the best of my abilities.
I quickly learned that alcohol and the healing process didn’t work well together, and actually it was pretty catastrophic if I’m being honest. Mixing alcohol with trauma? I learned that alcohol had actually stalled my healing, it made me not process my pain. It was my great escape. I was a runner, alcohol was my magic carpet and for 27 years I rode it ducking and dodging anything remotely painful. One thing I wasn’t doing was FEELING ADOPTION GRIEF, LOSS & TRAUMA.
When August 13, 2012 came rolling around I had enough of myself. At this point I spent 27 years running from the pain from my past and my adoption experience. August 13, 2012 was also my birthday. The day I came into this world, and the day my birth mother abandoned me and left me. It doesn’t matter who else was around to substitute HER. No one ever has, nor will they ever replace HER. They tried, but didn’t succeed!
I soon started a recovery ministry called Celebrate Recovery and spent the next 4 years working the 12 steps, mentoring other women, leading a women’s chemical dependency group and processing my pain! You read that right. Processing my pain. How do I do this? I never learned how to process my pain. Adoptee pain is ignored and denied to us by the entire WORLD!
Adoption is wonderful!
Adoption saved you!
Adoption gave you LIFE!
If I left it up to this world to help me, I would be dead right now. This world has never had any help for broken, hurting adult adoptees. We don’t fit the narrative of how adoption is perceived by society. Not only do many of us not fit in with our adoptive families, but many of us don’t fit in with our birth families. We don’t fit in with the world which leaves us more isolated and alone than you could ever imagine.
One by one, I started working on my adoptee issues. Triggers, memories, grief, loss, trauma, C-PTSD, abandonment, rejection, mother wound, father wound, sadness, depression, anxiety, aloneness, isolation, and the list could go on. ADOPTION IMPACTS EVERY AREA OF OUR LIVES. As my drinking came to a screeching halt my adoptee reality came rolling in like a ton of bricks. Smacked me straight in the face. Knocked me dead in my tracks.
The fog began to lift, and things got real and fast. Celebrate Recovery was somewhat of a safe space for me, but no one understood me. They didn’t get what I was saying, and they too had the idea that adoption was all wonderful so I was some ungrateful little brat for not appreciating the fact I wasn’t aborted. I had a small handful of close friends who were always there to listen and support me, but they didn’t understand it because they aren’t adopted. I was still isolated and alone in many ways and because Celebrate Recovery was a ministry the goal was to BE HEALED IN JESUS NAME!
Well, I showed up and I did the work. Day after day, week after week and year after year I kept going back and guess what? I still have the pain I did when I walked through the doors. I still am broken. I still have a broken heart, and I still have MAJOR ADOPTEE ISSUES. I remember feeling like I was doing something wrong and like I had to hide like I really felt because this healing everyone was talking about just wasn’t working for me!
“You are choosing to hang onto the pain!”
“You aren’t praying enough!”
“I think you need to fast!”
“Stop thinking of the negative and think of the positive!”
All of these things only made me feel worse about my situation and myself. It made me feel like I was the exception. I was the one that was never going to get the healing. I was the one God was punishing because I’m one ungrateful little b**ch and I’m not thankful I’m adopted. I hate being adopted. I heard people say, “There are reasons people don’t get there healing!”
What in the actual F*CK does that even mean?
*pardon the curse words, but I’ve come to the realization from some close friends that cursing can be therapeutic and it’s not all that bad. It feels really good to say a curse word every now and then and as part of my unconditioning out of the church, I’m allowing myself to say a curse word when I want. 🙂
Do the people who say these things know how damaging this can be to people? I found myself running a rat race trying to BE HEALED in Jesus name and it never worked! What did work is the moment I left out of the church and began to process my REAL PAIN away from all the HOOPLA that the church pushed on me, I became much more free than I had ever been! I found healing in that freedom more than I ever did inside the doors of the church or inside Celebrate Recovery.
Now that I’m an outsider looking in I’ve learned so much in gaining a better understanding in my truth, the truth and God’s truth. Let’s dissect that for a moment. What does that even look like?
The more I share my truth, the more uncomfortable it is for non-adoptees to hear, read and learn about the damage adoption causes an adoptee. They want me to be healed so I shut up. They want me to “get over it” so they stop hearing about it. They want me to move on with my life, because they are done hearing the truth. Reality is adoption is damage and some of the damage can never be undone.
I’ve learned many times the truth hurts, and it’s hard to swallow. Of all the adoptee activism I’ve done in my 8 years of coming out of the fog, I’ve heard HUNDREDS of adoptee stories! If not thousands. I have put in the time, energy and work to learn from so many adoptees from all over the world and guess what. The MAJORITY of them have heartbreaking stories where adoption has negatively impacted every area of their lives, for an entire lifetime. I wouldn’t make this stuff up! I can’t unknow what I know.
If God is the way, the truth and the life, then GOD IS TRUTH. Let’s be truthful for a moment. What about the broken, hurting and lost adoptees? Who is looking out for them? Who is speaking for them when they don’t feel strong enough to speak for themselves? Where are the resources for them?
Because being a broken, hurting and lost adoptee myself I have only found that for myself in creating it for not only myself, but other adoptees in Adoptees Connect.
Do you think my fire and passion for this Adoptee “thing” came from nothing? No, it came from a very dark and painful place where I have had no choice but to reside for most of my life because of no resources for adoptees.
What if I become “Healed in Jesus Name”?
What does that look like?
Will my spark die?
Will my purpose dissolve?
Will my fire die for Adoptee City?
Will I walk off into the sunset as a “Healed Adoptee” feeling WHOLE and leaving all the broken adoptees behind to figure it all out on their own? Will I finally be happy inside and outside and the dark cloud be gone? Will I forget all about being adopted and how much it’s impacted every area of my life? Will my triggers be dissolved into none at all? Will my mother wound go away? Will my trauma disappear? Will my grief and loss be non-existent? Will my heart finally be WHOLE? Will my truth disappear?
If I answer all these questions, and if I’m REAL about it and if I share the TRUTH, if I let all these things go, what will I have? What will my purpose be?
If God heals, and he wants us to be whole, what about those of us who try that, and we don’t get our healing? How do you know it’s not for a good purpose or a God purpose instead of a punishment?
please be careful what you say to people!
What if I’m alive here today so I can share the pain of what it’s like growing up in an emotionally and mentally abusive adoptive home, so that hopefully other adoptees who have experience this won’t feel alone? What if I’m here to bring light (truth) to the reality of the damage that happens anytime a mother and a child is separated? How do we know that my story, my pain hasn’t gone away because God wants the world to know that adoption TODAY isn’t what he intended for it to be? How do we know if all the secrecy and lies in adoption that impacted me in negative ways, is something God wants brought to light because HE IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE?
Why is this so hard for some people to accept about ADOPTION? Adoption is rooted and grounded in grief, loss and division! Secrecy and lies follow suit. What if I’m not “Healed in Jesus Name” so I can share my truth that is the same TRUTH thousands and thousands of adoptees have all over the world?
What if my pain is here to stay because I have work to do?
Should I trade my pain for complicity?
I will continue to hold it, keep it tight so I can continue to share the truth about the jacked up adoption industry and how negatively adoption has and will continue to impact adoptees in a negative way all around the world.
What a hefty price to pay, to carry this burden that has been placed upon my shoulders. At least in the process I’m being true to me, who I am and my experience. I’m being true to my fellow adoptees who are all over the place hurting, some on the edge of suicide, isolated and all alone. At least I’m doing something positive with this pain. At least it won’t go in vein. At least I’m sharing my truth as I see it. I’m not drinking to numb my pain any longer. This is the reality of being an adult adoptee. This is my reality.
Another reason I’ve hung onto this pain so tight is because it’s all I have of my birth mother. That’s extremely hard to comprehend to some people but for me, meeting her once, and her slamming the door shut left me with a lifetime of questions, pain, hurt and more severe abandonment and rejection issues than anyone on this earth can imagine or comprehend. I wrote about the pain associated with my birth mother one time, and you can read that here; Mother May I but even after this writing it’s been impossible for me to let go of the pain associated with HER, my birth mother.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because it’s all I have of her. I don’t have the memories, I don’t have the lessons learned, I don’t have the relationship other people have or had with their mother. I have nothing of her, but the pain. The balloon at the top of this photo is a symbol for me that if I let go of the pain I will be sitting in an empty chair. I’ll disappear into a world of nothingness, more alone than before.
How do I let the pain (her) go?
For me, this has been one of the hardest things to do, that’s easier said than done. Mother’s Day I’m reminded of her, everyday I look in the mirror I’m reminded of her. I’m her daughter weather she wanted me or not. I have her fingers, her feet, her skin tone, her alcohol issues, her stubborn spirit. I am her. If I let her go, I let myself go.
Does this make sense to anyone?
Anyway, as the poem “Mother May I” says, “But if I let it go, what will I have? There are no memories to remember, no future, and no forever. I thought of saving a piece, folding it up and putting it away. Then I can take it out on a rainy day. Because then you will know I never forgot you. I never want you to think I forgot about you”
Who would have ever thought that out of the fog, into recovery being an adoptee this MOTHER WOUND would be so deep and a wound that is such a mixture of emotions filled with grief, loss and pain. Even if I try to let the pain go, and let her go the wound is still there.
MOTHER LESS is what I’ll always be.
That impacts every day of my life in it’s own way.
For me acceptance has been key, and that is acceptance of the pain as well. If I get on the bandwagon of “Being Healed” that will go against my acceptance of the pain and this journey and it will only hurt me more. Have I healed in some regards? Absolutely. I’ve grown and healed a lot over the years and I believe I will grow and heal some more. It’s taking out the expectation that one day I will be totally be healed is something that’s been extremely important in my journey. There is too much pain from all different angles to ever believe I will wake up healed one day. For me, learning how to navigate the triggers when they come and sharing my pain in my writings has been healing for me. Knowing I’m not alone by networking with my fellow adoptees has also been a important part of my journey. Validation has been critical to my acceptance and healing as well.
Because I have adoptee pain, it doesn’t mean I haven’t been able to find some beauty in my life. I have a million things I’m thankful for, and there are things I love about my life. There are things that bring me great joy, and comfort. Please don’t mistake my blog post as I’m someone sitting around mad, angry and mean all the time. That’s farthest from the truth. This happens to be part of my therapy, and part of my healing space. This is where I share my adoptee pain. #healingthroughwriting
Sharing my views on Adoptee Pain from my experience is something I’ve wanted to write about for some time now. For the adoptees reading, how have you handled your pain? How have you processed it? What has worked for you and what has that process been like for you?
Pamela Karanova | Adult Adoptee
That’s one thing that’s certain, LIFE sure doesn’t slow down for any of us. Over the last few months things have swirled like a whirlwind, but learning to embrace things as they come has been key.
My daughter graduated the University of Kentucky on May 6th and that was the highlight and excitement that we’ve been preparing for the last few months, years and then some. The only thing that’s as big as a college graduation is a birth of a child, or a wedding. On to celebrate whatever comes next! For the most part, things went wonderfully, and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. As a parent, I couldn’t be more proud!
My main focus in “Adoptee City” or Adoptee Land as some call it has been Adoptees Connect. I’ve taken a focus of sharing the GOOD NEWS about what’s happening with Adoptees Connect around the USA and beyond. It’s my focus in pouring as much as humanly possible into networking with my fellow adoptees to get these groups planted! It’s a pretty amazing thing that’s happening. January 1, 2018 it all started and here today its May 18th, 2018 and so far we have 8 Adoptees Connect Groups Planted around the USA and 1 in Canada! They are growing! More are being planted.
It all started with a lifetime of pain, grief, loss, abandonment & rejection issues that are rooted and grounded in my adoption experience. I come from a story of pain and a lot of it. ALL ADOPTEES COME FROM A STORY OF PAIN! Adoption is rooted and grounded in GRIEF, LOSS & TRAUMA. There is no warm fuzzies regarding the separation between a mother and child. Living my life I’ve learned that there are no POST-ADOPTION services for Adult Adoptees. The closed adoption era started out as a experiment and being an adoptee from a closed adoption I can tell you that being a product of such an experiment with no POST-ADOPTION services for me, specifically an adoptee has been agonizing, depressing and catastrophic to say the least.
I grew up starting therapy as a very young child, 5-6ish. The home I grew up in was extremely emotionally and mentally toxic and abusive, yet ADOPTION was never talked about in these therapy sessions. I remember seeing countless amounts of therapists, and none of them addressed adoption/adoptee related issues. All the way up to my 40’s I’ve been in and out of therapy, and it was only recently ( 2 years ago) that I was able to bring up adoptee grief, loss, trauma, abandonment & rejection issues to a therapist. The only reason it was brought up was because I’m out of the FOG. I quickly learned that in order to work through some of these very deep issues, I had to explain all the dynamics of issues adoptees face to this therapist so she could understand better. It was clear she had no clue of what “The Primal Wound” was, and all the complexities that come along with being severed from my birth mother at the beginning of life.
I quickly became exhausted from therapying the therapist and when she gave a notice she was moving to another department our relationship was over. Once again, at 42 years old I was alone trying to work through this adoptee mess. Sadly, I didn’t have one more round in me to try to find a new therapist and go through this all over again. I threw in the towel. I gave up.
The following year, my adoptive mother died in April, we were estranged. I found out my new found brother was not actually my brother via DNA. After spending 6 years of building a relationship, DNA shared we share no DNA. You mean to tell me I celebrated my first Thanksgiving with biological family, and I was sitting around a table of strangers? Devastated and soon after this revelation he was killed in a motorcycle wreck. His family did call to let me say “Good Bye” to him before they took him off life support, although they left me out of his obituary which showed how they felt about me. That is NOT how he felt about me, because he never accepted the DNA results were factual, he wanted to redo them and he never accepted I wasn’t his sister. I think it’s because he felt sorry for me. He was the pot of gold for me. This was heart-wrenching to say the least. Not long after, I drove to Iowa to meet my biological grandmother which was a dream come true. A few months later a cousin found out I had visited, contacted me and wanted to meet! Soon I was back in Iowa for the very first time being accepted by my birth fathers brother and his children, my cousins. I looked across the country field and saw my birth fathers house. He rejected me, but I was standing in my uncles front yard wondering what he would do if he knew I was there visiting HIS family, MY family. I saw the land where my cousins went to visit my grandparents, where they were raised. So much of their memories were made there. It was an out of body experience for me. I can’t quiet describe it, other than I flipped through old photo albums at my uncles, and I felt like I should be in those albums. But I wasn’t. My birth mother made the choice for me, and for my birth father to give me up for adoption without his consent. To know this family, MY FAMILY was something that was STOLEN from me and from them!
I returned home after this trip which was Sept 2017 and after all the chain of events listed above, my mind was going crazy on me. I knew winter was upon us, which is my least favorite time of year, it’s the darkest season. I’m an outdoors person, so to be inside because it’s cold always takes a toll on me. Depression set in, and by October I was honestly scared of my own thoughts. Online Adoptee City wasn’t doing anything for me. I couldn’t even pull myself to the computer to write and it seemed to be SO MUCH anyway, I didn’t even know where to start or how to process all these things.
Therapy was a NO GO FOR ME. I didn’t have one round left in me to try to find another therapist and take the chance on having to therapy them about adoptee issues.
This was the time. This was it. It was during this darkest season of my life that Adoptees Connect was put into action. This was life or death for me. If I didn’t take this pain and turn it into something positive it was without a doubt going to kill me. ADOPTION WAS GOING TO KILL ME. With this pain, I began to create the layout and manual for Adoptees Connect groups that are being planted all over the USA and abroad. I had many people ask me, “Are you going to start a non-profit?” or “Are you going to make any money off this? How much time are you spending on this?”.
My answer always has been and always will be, No, I’m not going to start a non-profit and I’m not going to make any money off this. Why? For me, I’m an adoptee in recovery and TODAY I’m writing my own rules in this rule book of life. In the 12 steps, the 12th step is the step that highlights working with others and giving back. Adoptees Connect is just that for me. It’s my sowing seeds into my fellow adoptees, giving back to my adoptee community. It’s planting seeds of hope for adoptees all over the world who might be in the dark places like I have been off and on my entire life regarding my adoption experience. It’s a safe space, adoptee centric to share our pain, or excitement, or grief and loss.
Adoptees Connect has taken the highlight off me and my issues and turned them into something bigger, better and far more than I could have ever dreamed of for the adoptee community. There is nothing out there like this for Adult Adoptees. Adoptees Connect is the first, and only adoptee centered support group for adoptees only that is a POST ADOPTION support service for Adult Adoptees. This is HUGE! Times are changing! Groups are growing. Support for adoptees is becoming available!
Aside from Adoptees Connect and planting these groups, I still have a desire to write my memoir, and I’m racking my brain on how that is going to look. Writing is freeing, yet I’m taken back on where to start, how to write it but I know I need to just do it. How do I make a really sad story into a story of survival? I have so much information in my brain and a mighty story to tell about overcoming the odds of the closed adoption industry, about overcoming addiction, about building my own life how I see fit, breaking away from the “molds” of this world and finding my true self. I made it, we made it. I’m going to finish my memoir and stop talking about it!
I’ve found my one true love for hiking. I’m never going to stop hiking and chasing waterfalls. You know how everyone says they want to dance in the rain, yet nobody is dancing in the rain. Well I’m dancing in waterfalls and I’m taking as many people as possible with me. This is my escape, this is my healing place. This is my recovery and my therapy.
Last weekend I was able to go hike with a few of my fellow adoptees and it was a magnificent experience! Here are a few photos from our wild adventure into the wilderness.
I couldn’t have had more fun that day and I was in the amazing company of those who get me, my fellow adoptees. I’m hoping Adoptees Connect Small Groups will continue to grow and Adoptees all over will have that safe space to connect with one another. The feeling of aloneness for Adult Adoptees needs to end. Our isolation in feeling the way we do needs to end.
I will always be an adoptee in recovery but today my recovery isn’t how the world says it should be. It’s how I’ve made it to be. It’s me following my heart. You say I need community because I left the church? Well let me build my own community that speaks the same language I do. You say I shouldn’t isolate? Well let me be around those who understand me, instead of those who I speak a different language too. You say I have to go to a 12 step program. Well let me make my own 12 step program.
Life is what we make it, for each and every one of us. I’ve made the choice to take my heartbreak and pain and turn it into something positive. This was the only way to survive for me. My prayer is, all adoptees all over the world are able to make something good out of their pain. Something that helps others, something that is so magnificent that the pain sometimes seems worth it.
Online Drama? – Ain’t nobody got time for that! My time is the most valuable, precious thing I have to give anyone so when I smell drama, problematic people or situations I’m gone. It’s different if they want to receive what I have to say, but if they are loud, obnoxious, mean spirited or nasty I have nothing for them. NOTHING.
I’m going to write a blog post next about the pain. Carrying it, and why for me it’s been so hard to let go. Stay Tuned.
Thanks for reading.
Pamela A. Karanova
Founder | Adoptees Connect
I’ve experienced so many emotions when it comes to my birth mother, relinquishment, and rejection. Although I’m about 8 years into the “Coming out of the FOG” phase, I still grapple with emotions and feelings associated with my birth mother and her decision in relinquishment. I can say, without a doubt that with knowledge of some of the truth, hers and mine it’s allowed me to accept that truth to move forward with my life.
1994 I was a 21-year-old single mother of a beautiful daughter. This was the year I would find out who my birth mother was, where she was, and I heard her voice for the first time. Eventually I saw her face.
After spending 21 years being lied to by my adoptive mom, I finally found her. My adoptive mom held the key to this information my entire life. Did she think she was protecting me? Perhaps, but I don’t think I will ever “Get Over” the fact that every single time I asked about my birth mother, who she was, where she was, and how I could find her, she lied to me. That’s another blog post.
Spending a lifetime and childhood filled with fantasies about “HER” I had always hoped that one day she was going to come back to get me. I visualized a car pulling up in the front yard, a woman getting out walking up to me saying, “Hi Honey, it’s me, your momma… It’s time to go home now… This was all a big mistake”. Many of you already know about my obsession with THE SKY AND I. It was my baby blanket growing up, and a safety net for me because I knew she was under the same sky I was.
As you can guess, my fantasy turned to reality and she never showed up. I waited and waited and waited. Today, I am extremely triggered by waiting on anyone for anything. Something deep in my soul takes me back to waiting my entire childhood waiting on my birth mother to show up, and I panic. I do my best to plan things in my life where I don’t have to wait on people. It’s hard for me to separate my responses to waiting on people as a memory of waiting on my birth mother, yet I know it to be true. I do my best to acknowledge it, yet I believe it will be a piece of the little girl in me always wanting my birth mother.
I remember around the time I found out I was adopted, (5ish) I started to have dreams about searching for my birth mother. I was a little girl in a hospital gown around 5 years old, running up and down the hallways of the maternity ward at St. Francis Hospital in Waterloo, Iowa. There wasn’t a single person in sight, just me. I was LOST. Everything was white. I kept running down a hospital hallway, ripping the white curtains back one by one, searching for HER. The hallway went on forever and ever and ever… I kept running, and running, and running. This dream has come and gone many times in my life.
Today, if I feel left, or lost at all, I panic. The little girl in me associates the current with the past, and it’s extremely hard to navigate. It feels like a PTSD episode.
Adoption- The “beautiful gift” that keeps on giving.
Searching for her was an everyday part of my life all through my childhood, teen years and adult life. As you can imagine when I finally found HER, it was the best day of my life. I wrote a poem that day, “My dream finally came true, the day that I found you.” I still have it somewhere, in a box tucked away.
I made the call. The call I had been waiting to make my entire life, and I said, “Hi Eileen, my name is Pam, I was born Aug 13, 1974 – does that date mean anything to you?”
I said, “Hello? Hello?”
She hung up the phone.
I called back, I hear her answer and say “Hello, Yes I am the woman you are looking for”.
I said, “I can assure you I don’t want anything from you. I would love to learn more about you, your life and I have some questions for you if that’s okay?”
She replied, “I have always thought about you each year on your birthday. You have a sister, she doesn’t know anything about you and I don’t want her too”.
We spoke a few more minutes and she agreed she would write me, and I said I would write her and send some photos. I was DYING inside not knowing what she looked like. We ended our conversation and said we would be in touch.
I prepared a photo album for her, and a letter with the poem in it. Mailed them off within 24 hours.
The wait began…
I met the mailman at the mailbox daily.
Did I mention I hate WAITING on people to this day?
This is why.
I called her.
I called her again.
I was totally in the fog and I had no idea what was really happening.
I decided after 6 months I had nothing to lose in contacting my biological half-sister. The one my birth mother said she didn’t want to know about me. I mailed her a letter, and within days I was on the phone with my half biological sister. This was also a dream come true. She was receptive and excited to speak to me and we ended up meeting not long after.
She spoke to my birth mother and convinced my birth mother she needed to meet me. Yes, I said that right. She CONVINCED my own biological mother to want to meet me. I still hadn’t accepted the truth.
A month later I pulled up in the driveway of my birth mothers house. A surreal experience. I remember her coming to the door and laying eyes on her for the first time. She looked nothing like I imagined but it was her, none the less. She gave me what I would describe as a “Distant Hug”. It wasn’t the real embrace I expected from the woman that gave me life after 21 years apart. She invited me in and we sat around her dining room table. It was my birth mother, her sister (my aunt), my birth mothers best friend, my sister and me. She got a drink, and I got a drink. (alcohol) No one else was drinking but us. As soon as we sat down, the question started flying.
My birth mother said, “So, how was your life?”
I could have lied, or sugar-coated things but I chose to be honest.
“I’ve had a really hard life, I never bonded with my adoptive mom. My adoptive parents divorced when I was a year and the home I grew up in was extremely chaotic and abusive in many ways”
She got quiet.
I asked her if she could tell me who my birth father was.
She said, “He didn’t know about you and he wouldn’t want too”.
That was the end of that topic. She really didn’t share much about herself but a few details. We took a few pictures together and wrapped the visit up. I was there about 2 hours.
I was later told my birth father was dead by my birth mothers x- husband, but that was a lie.
In my mind this was the beginning of a hopeful relationship. I wrote her. I called her. She avoided me at all costs. My half-sister had even cut off all contact as well.
Year after year passed and I waited and waited for something, anything. What did I do wrong? I mean I only told her the truth.
What I did get was a Facebook message in 2010 from my half-sister 20 years later that my birth mother had passed away, and my birth sister NEEDED me to be there at the funeral to support her. I showed up. This was one of the hardest experiences of my life. Not only was I introduced multiple times as, “This is Pam, the daughter my mom gave up for adoption” but I was also totally omitted from the obituary. I was there, in real life but I didn’t exist to them.
I was able to speak to a few of my birth mother’s friends in attempts to understand her life, and to gain empathy for this woman that brought me into the world who abandoned me not once, but twice. I wanted to know more details on why she made these choices, so I began to ask her close friends some questions.
I learned that my birth mother was never seen without a drink in her hand, even throughout her pregnancy with me. She was considered an alcoholic by those close to her and they told me stories about her life that helped me gain a better understanding about her. During the 20 years of silence from her, I was angry. I was hurt. I was rage filled, and alcohol was the only thing that made a bit of a dent in navigating through this pain. It didn’t help me process anything, but it helped me not feel the truth.
It was fascinating to me that even though she didn’t raise me, I picked up this “alcohol thing” anyway. Alcoholism was something I picked up on not only through my DNA but in utero, before I was even born I was exposed to alcohol in the womb. It’s no wonder I spent 27 years addicted to it.
While learning more about my birth mother, her best friend shared with me that she was pregnant at the same time as my birth mother although she kept her baby. August 13, 1974 I was born. My birth mothers best friend said she sent flowers to the hospital for my birth mother when she gave birth to me, but they were returned to her because my birth mother used an alias in the hospital. She did not want to be found or discovered. They were never able to be delivered because of this. She said my birth mother worked up until the day she had me and went back to work the next day and she hid the pregnancy from everyone around. Her best friend is who told me she never saw her without a drink in her hand, even throughout her pregnancy. I was startled by this truth. I wondered how this impacted me in utero, although I guess I will never know?
Another one of my birth mothers friend shared with me that after my birth mother met me that one time and shut me out forever back in 1995, had expressed to her how upset she was that my adoptive parents got a divorce when I was 1 year old. She told her she wanted me to have a “better life” like she was promised, yet I was raised on welfare, food stamps in a single parent household. Not to mention the abuse I experienced at the hands of my adoptive mother and adoptive step brother. She said my birth mother never “Got Over That” and said many times if she would have known that was going to happen she would have kept me.
Adoption can’t promise a better life, only a different one.
My birth mother’s sister, who was my biological aunt is the one who upped the information as to who my biological father was because my birth mother wasn’t going to tell me. She explained that he was a pall barrier in my grandfather’s funeral and a friend of the family. He was approximately 10 years older than my birth mother, and he was married at the time of my conception. I was supposedly conceived out of a drunken one-night stand, after my grandfather’s funeral.
My birth sister said it was traumatic growing up in a household with an alcoholic mother. She said she never attended her school events, and that she wasn’t a good mother at all. She suggested to me multiple times that she wished she was the one given up for adoption, in other words I should be thankful I was! If she knew all about my experience growing up in an abusive adoptive home, I don’t think she would have said that.
I have sympathy for my birth sister, because of her upbringing. She’s expressed multiple times wishing that she was the one given up for adoption, and her views adoption was a “better life” so I automatically must have gotten the better life than her? Sadly, she too has surrendered a child for adoption, so her views are at the opposite end of the spectrum regarding adoption, and sadly because of our opposing viewpoints and a few other issues, we have no relationship today.
Every little piece of information has been an extremely valuable piece to me completing my puzzle. Every clue helped me understand better. Spending so many years numbing my pain with alcohol, running from the TRUTH I wasn’t in a place to process anything. Alcohol didn’t do anything for me to process my pain in healthy ways, and I can say now I had no idea how to process emotions in a healthy way. There was no living example of someone I could mirror, growing up on how to process feelings in a healthy way.
One day in 2012 it all came tumbling down on me like a TON of BRICKS.
I was just like my birth mother.
I didn’t want to be like her in the alcoholic area!
This meant I was going to die like her if I didn’t make any changes. I wanted my kids to have a happy healthy mom because that’s something I never had. I wanted my future grandkids to have a happy healthy grandma which is something my kids never had.
I was still angry at my birth mother, so I did a lot of praying about my anger towards her. She was dead for God’s sake. My anger was only hurting me. I was angry she abandoned me 2x. I was angry she kept me a secret from my birth father which resulted in me being given up for adoption without his consent. I was just flat out angry!
I knew if I was ever going to get to a place of forgiveness, I needed to try to FEEL what she FELT when she decided to make the decision to surrender me for adoption. I had to have empathy for her during that time, and even the years to follow. Why did she make that decision? What happened to her in her childhood to make her the way she was? What did she reject me for the second time?
To do this, I had to put myself in MY BIRTH MOTHERS SHOES. I had to TRY to understand her position in all areas of our journey. I started to ask a few birth mothers some questions, to try to understand better. I read “The Girls that Went Away” at an attempt to try to understand her better. Each area I learned about what a birth mother goes through was healing to me. Every area I began to understand more about why she made the decision she did, and I tried to objectively see things from her view, from her shoes.
It would be incredibly inaccurate of me to lump all birth mothers in one category, saying they all feel this way or that way. On the other hand, I’ve had a ton of people try to speak on behalf of MY BIRTH MOTHER in attempts to make me “feel better”. I see a lot of people speak for adoptees as well. No adoptees or birth mothers, or even adoptive parents all have the same cookie cutter situations or experiences. I had birth mothers tell me, “I’m sure she was broken hearted just like you” and “I’m sure your birth mother loved you and wanted you in her life, it was the pain she was rejecting, not you”.
Bottom line is, no one can speak for her. NO ONE. I was told she was a very cold person. Her neighbors would come try to bring her food, or cookies, or shovel her sidewalk and driveway and she would tell them “Leave her alone” and they said she flat out didn’t want to be bothered. She had a mean spirit, and if she was anything like me as a drinker alcohol only made it worse.
After reading “The Girls that Went Away” I learned how relinquishment might impact birth mothers and this helped me understand this could have easily impacted my birth mother. They mentioned how things stood still, like everything remained the same as if frozen in time, around the time of relinquishment. It was interesting to learn this because when my birth mother passed away, I asked my sister to take me to her house. The same one I went to 20 years earlier and met her that one time. She said, “Oh, trust me you don’t want to go to mom’s house, it’s horrible”. I assured her that yes, yes, I did. I needed to see it. November 7, 2010, I pulled up in her driveway, and went inside. Everything was dark, curtains drawn with dark floral colored drapes almost looking like they were from the 70’s. It didn’t look like anything had changed from when I saw her the one and only time, although things were much darker and dirtier. Dust was extremely thick, she had oxygen tanks lined up in her living room. Darkness was everywhere. She died on her sofa, with COPD, smoking, on oxygen and an alcoholic who had shut everyone out. I needed to see this, so I could see what her last days were like. It broke my heart, but I was told that she didn’t only shut me out, but she had shut everyone else out too. Her closest friends hadn’t seen her in along while, neighbors said she wasn’t very friendly. My birth sister hadn’t seen her in many years, nor talked to her. She was estranged from everyone and died in that dark, sad, lonely place.
I wanted to know everything I could about my birth mother. I needed to know. Every piece of information about her and her life was like salve to my wounds. Healing to my spirit. It was hard to learn all these things, it wasn’t easy at all, but the truth is always better than secrecy and lies. I need to share that most of the information I found out about my birth mother was from other people who knew her, and experienced life with her. I didn’t get that privilege, but I hold all the information close to my heart from those who shared it with me.
You might say “privilege? She doesn’t sound like she was a privilege to know!” Anyone can easily say that, just like my adoptive mom told me one day, “You act like your life would have been so better with her!” I don’t care how mean she was, or how much of an alcoholic she was. I don’t care how many married men she slept with, or how many babies she surrendered for adoption – she was still my mother! I don’t care what she was or wasn’t. And it is entirely possible I feel this way about her because I sought her my entire life, searching, seeking, looking, dreaming, fantasizing about HER that it’s so hard for me to see the bad in her. I see a broken woman who was hurting. She was an alcoholic, and I know from my own experience alcohol is something people use to run from pain. To mask the pain, to not feel it. She was an alcoholic way before I was born, all her life from what I was told.
I learned this I wanted to learn about what her childhood was like, and what had happened to her in her younger days to make her the way she was. Instead of damn her for having sex with a married man, I wanted to learn what happened to her. I had to have the willingness to take myself out of my shoes and put them in her shoes. It was easy for me to have sympathy for her because her alcohol problem was a huge factor in the decisions she made. My alcohol problem was a huge problem in the decisions I made. If I threw her under the bus, I needed to throw myself under the bus and guess what? I did that most of my life. To forgiver her I had to forgive myself vice versa.
I learned that my birth mothers mother was mentally ill, and she tried to abort one of her first child on her own in 1942. Rumor has it that she (my grandmother) might have been pregnant by her father, but I don’t know this to be entirely true. I do know that the abortion attempt was a failed one, and my birth mother had a sibling that was born mentally handicapped who lived in a nursing facility her entire life who was 5 years older than her. She died in her 50’s. I always wonder how this impacted my birth mother? What other family secrets were there that I had no clue about. Whatever they were, I wonder how they impacted my birth mother? Was that what drove her to drink? Did she have some pain she was running from? Did something happen to her in her childhood?
Those questions remain questions today, but I can imagine she was drinking running from some pain just like I was for 27 years. The only difference is her drinking killed her. Mine is not going to kill me. She made mistakes, I made mistakes. I don’t have any hate in my heart for her, only hurt. I did hate her for many years, but it was only hurting me.
I’ve come to my own conclusion that many women who have children don’t have a maternal bond with that child, nor do they have the desire to be a mother. I personally believe based on the information that I know about my birth mother is that she rejected the pregnancy, and she was ashamed of her actions in having an affair with a married man. This was the reason she chose to give me up for adoption. Who would want to be reminded of such an event day in and day out?
I think about what if she would have kept me and what my life would have been like. A few years ago, I saw a lady on Dr. Phil and she was in bad shape on the show because she was conceived out of an affair with a married man who was her father, but her mom kept her. Her father and his wife divorced, her half siblings held grudges against her simply for being alive and being the product of her parents “affair” and this woman was a WRECK! She was hysterical at times crying and sobbing that she hates that she was born causing so many problems and ruining a family because of her parent’s actions. It was clearly a HUGE burden placed on her shoulders the minute she knew the truth. My heart ached for her, and I couldn’t help but realize that could have been me if my birth mother kept me.
Without the truth I wouldn’t be where I am today. Without the knowledge regarding my birth mother, especially her alcoholism I would have never made the choice to stop drinking. August 13, 2012 was my birthday, and the last drink I had. I was determined to NOT die like my birth mother. My kids deserve more, and I deserve more.
Learning all this information about my birth mother, has helped me form my own conclusion about her. Some days I feel like she just wanted to get rid of her problem, “ME” because I was a reminder of her irresponsible actions. Part of me believes she truly wanted me to have a better life, because that’s what the adoption industry and our society feeds birth mothers so they guilt them into making the choice to surrender. Part of me believes that she was destroyed after I met her that one time, learning the truth. The other part of me feels like she’s just a cold-hearted woman who’s in a lot of pain. I have done my best to take myself out of my shoes and put myself in her shoes to bring healing to my spirit and understand her decision better.
Her decision has impacted every area of my life.
Although I’ve gained a better understanding, I still hurt – daily. My “Mother Wound” is a very deep wound. Like many adoptees, I struck it out in the mother area not once, but twice. When I dreamed my entire life about this woman, for that reunion to fail it’s left me devastated. I don’t believe it’s something I will ever forget or get over. It’s something I am learning how to process the best I can while I live a sober life. I don’t run and go drink 5 glasses of wine anymore or a 12 pack of beer to NOT FEEL IT! I must feel it to heal it. Some days I ponder how much more fun life was when I was drinking. This handling “feelings” business when it comes to all this adoptee trauma is no damn joke! Before in my drinking life, I would skate through life with never processing anything.
Alcohol was only a band aide on my wounds. Knowing my birth mother was an alcoholic her entire life, helped me understand her coldness and decision making. Alcohol was a major factor in some terrible decisions I made in my days. How can I look down on her, when I am no different? Really none of us are, we all make mistakes and have issues.
I guess for me, being born and causing so many people so much pain in the process is something I have carried deep in my soul for 43 years. I’m working on finding my worth aside from causing so many people so much pain but it’s a struggle daily.
Once I was able to put myself in my birth mother’s shoes, I then was able to meet and find my birth father. I had more questions, needed more answers. I won’t go into all I learned about him at this time, but one thing I learned is that he’s a raging alcoholic which rocked me to my core. So, you mean BOTH my birth parents are alcoholics, and I picked this alcohol thing up and they didn’t even raise me? This was another aspect of the driving force behind my decision to stop drinking. I didn’t want to be anything like Him in the alcohol area.
I wanted to break the chains of this generational curse and the chains of this cycle of alcoholism because if I didn’t do it who was going to do it? That was an always has been one of the hardest yet best decisions I ever made for myself, my kids, and my future grandkids for generations to come.
As I end, I would like to share that I would never be able to put myself in my birth mother’s shoes, if I hadn’t learned the TRUTH about who she was. When we don’t have our truth, we can’t heal. No more secrets. No more lies. Every adoption person deserves to know their truth, because we all deserve the chance at being able to put ourselves in our birth parents shoes to gain a better understanding of WHY?
WHY DID THIS HAPPEN TO ME?
WHAT HAPPENED TO MY BIRTH MOTHER?
WHY WAS I ABANDONED BY THE WOMAN THAT SHOULD LOVE ME MOST?
NOT ONCE BUT TWICE?
Knowing all the above information has helped me make the choice to come to a place of acceptance. I have to be honest, as long as my birth mother was alive on this earth I always had a tiny piece of hope she would change her mind about me. It’s only after she died was when the reality set in and I knew there was no more hope at all in us having a relationship. Please don’t judge adoptees for feeling the way they do. You have no idea how much adoption hurts us, along with the secrecy and lies involved in most adoptions today.
Withholding the truth, no matter who it is, (birth parents, adoptive parents, etc.) is wrong. The truth is everything to adopted people. It doesn’t mean it won’t hurt but it’s always better than living a lie.