Grief & Loss & Adoptees

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This picture kinda sums up my mood at this point in my life.

I was up late last night researching “Grief & Loss” and all the stages of this process.

It was amazing to me that if I inserted the word “ADOPTEES” into all of the areas that take you through the grief & loss process it describes how I have felt all of my life regarding my adoption experience.

Putting in some work and research I have identified that this process is the grief and loss process, vs. depression. I’ve compared the 2, and from what I’ve read and learned, the grief & loss process is like an emotional roller coaster, up and down. It’s said that you can still see the beauty in areas of your life, and the thankful for certain areas, but in this particular area (ADOPTION) I (and hundreds of thousands of other adoptees) are stuck in this grieving and loss process.

Why are so many of us stuck?

My opinion is based on living my life being an adoptee. I believe I am stuck at this point in my life because my grief & loss was never acknowledged growing up, ever. I’ve been 100% alone on this entire journey, until now. I know I have people who support me, especially my fellow adoptees. Growing up, no one ever told me it was okay to be sad about the biggest loss of my life, let alone cry about wanting to know who my birth mother was. Emotions, and sad feelings were tucked deep inside, with no way to come out.

I remember my adoptive mom telling me I was adopted, and how my birth mother loved me so much she “gave me away” to have a “better life”. She followed this by saying, how HAPPY she was, that her dreams finally came true to be a mother. She said she couldn’t have her own babies, so when she adopted me, God gave her the gift of being a mother, so I was so special to her.

Let me ask… I wonder how my feelings of sadness would fit into this equation? I remember being a little girl, thinking, “Wow.. She sure is happy I’m here, to be her daughter” and I knew at that moment, for her to keep her happiness I can’t share my sadness. Did anyone else experience this? In a way I feel like it was a form of gas lighting. But she was also someone who always made us feel like we were responsible for the way she felt, which is not true. I grew up with the mindset (because of her upbringing) her happiness and sadness depended on me. She would always say things like, “You made me feel this way, or you made me feel that way”… I always remember counselors always telling us, “You aren’t responsible for her feelings”. When we would say that to her, she insisted we made her “feel” a certain way.

It’s interesting to me to finally figure this all out and my attempts to do this research are to work towards healing, because truthfully although I’m on the other side of my healing journey, I still have a long way to go.

Let me share some of the top areas that society might consider areas we might grieve our losses over in our life:

  • Divorce/Relationship Breakup
  • Loss of health
  • Losing a job
  • Loss of financial stability
  • A miscarriage
  • Retirement
  • Death of a pet
  • Loss of a cherished dream
  • A loved one’s serious illness
  • Loss of a friendship
  • Loss of safety after a trauma
  • Selling the family home

Of course we can add to that list. It amazes me that losing ones mother at the beginning of life is no where on this list. Nor is losing an entire family in adoption.

What if, just what if the WORLD started opening their eyes to the adoptees side of view, and they stepped out of denial and we started to grieve our very VERY real loss at a very early age?  What if the world started treating adoption loss like they do other losses? What if the WORLD got educated on the grief & loss process, and adopees started sharing their feelings at a much earlier age? What if we saw adoptee therapists who specialized in complicated grief and loss at a early age?

The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief we experience.

Adoptee loss is complicated!

In adoption, our loss is so extremely great, yet it’s almost always ignored. We’re told the be thankful, to be grateful and to be happy we were given life when we could have been aborted. We’re told we were a GIFT FROM GOD and God knitted us in our mothers womb and we were planned before we were ever born. Scriptures are thrown at us to back it up.

How do these comments help us grieve our loss? To me, they have always been silencer statements as a way for someone to try to make me “FEEL” better. How about as a society we come to a place where we just can’t make adoptees feel better, we let them grieve their losses by acknowledging them and we listen to their feelings when they share them?

What if those close to us were to say, “It’s okay to be sad” or “It’s okay to want to know where/who your first mommy is. She’s your mommy and you have every right to love her and ask questions about her”. What if the world said “I’m so sorry for the pain adoption has caused you, and acknowledged our feelings of loss” instead of “Oh your adopted?! How wonderful!”.

There is nothing wonderful about losing our mothers and an entire family. I’m so sorry, but there just isn’t anything wonderful about that.

I’ve written a few blog posts earlier about God healing my broken heart regarding my birth mother. Amazing, yes this did happen! What I’m continuing to experience is processing grief & loss regarding my adoptee experience. I have accepted that it is here to stay, and the more I feel it the more God will heal it. So this is my safe place to write about what I’m FEELING regarding my adoptee experience, and each time I write I’m healing.

I would like to encourage all adoptive parents to reach out for help on assisting your adoptive child in starting the grief and loss process as early as possible. I had to figure all this out on my own. I still have people that are close to me who think I should have “just gotten over it” by now. Don’t you think if I could I would? Who really wants to go through the grief and loss process their entire life? Sad thing is, sometimes it takes us an entire life to process this grief and loss especially when we aren’t starting until our 20’s-30’s-40’s & 50’s. If society would step out of denial, and begin to understand how great our loss truly is, by reading adoptee blogs, reading The Primal Wound-Understanding The Adopted Child and take off their rainbow colored glasses regarding adoption, we wouldn’t spend such a long time grieving our losses.

Let me say there is no write or wrong way to grieve, or a time we are limited to ID-100265464grieve. Some of us grieve pretty quickly, some of us are perfectly fine and don’t need to grieve at all. Some of us experience loss so great, we will be grieving for the rest of our lives. Each adoptee is different and unique in that aspect. The point I’m trying to make is that once the WORLD steps out  of denial and starts to acknowledge our loss as a real and valid reason to grieve adoptees will begin to heal. We need non-adoptees to TRY to understand this, especially those impacted by adoption. What if we start doing this at as young of an age as possible the adoptee suicide rate will begin to go down? The prisons, and treatment facilities filled with adoptees will be less and less. The crime rate for adoptees will be less and less.

Study the grief and loss process, and add ADOPTEE LOSS everywhere you can. You will learn that “ANGER” is one of the stages of grief, and as an adoptee who has lived being adopted we have much reason to be angry. The question is, what are we doing with our anger? Are we using it to hurt ourselves, and other people or are we using it in a positive way? Are we helping others with it?

So many adoptees don’t know what to do with the feelings they are having. Talk about a mixed up bag of emotions. Every day continues to be a struggle, but because of my kids, God and my close family and friends, and because of my fellow adoptees I’m still here.   Many days I don’t want to be here, the pain is just too great and at 41 years old it continues on. I know my fellow adoptees get it!

Could it be I will experience this pain from grief and loss for the rest of my life? 

I will never know the answer to that, until I reach the end of my life but I have experienced it for 41 years now. Each and every day there are always reminders and each day is a struggle. I don’t believe I’ve ever truly lived LIFE because so much has always been weighed down. I’ve spent my entire life trying to survive and make it through the realities of what adoption really is.  Today, I can get comfort in knowing I have a purpose on this earth to share my story so other adoptees know they aren’t alone. I have hope in Jesus my pain will get easier. I have hope that future generations of adoptees will have things easier, because adoptive parents are reading and listening.

I’ve learned that most people just don’t want to read or hear what adoptees have to say because the truth in how we feel is pretty uncomfortable. It’s not usually a happy topic and I can understand this might be the case for any “hot topics”. Yet society is failing to “tune in” to a very flawed system of sealed records, and adoptees hurting all over the world because no one will validate our grief and loss. Society can do something about this. They can chose to tune in and try to understand from an adult adoptees perspective. They can stop pretending that our loss isn’t real or we aren’t impacted by loosing our entire first family. They can face the truth, because the truth is the only way we will be set free. I challenge you, to start tuning in today.

I know the adult adoptees sharing their stories is causing a ripple effect in the adoption communities, so all the future generations of adoptees will be able to be heard and not silenced. They will understand their loss is real, and it’s okay to grieve it. Hopefully it will start as early as possible. I pray adoptive parents out there are equipped on how to handle these very sensitive subjects, so they can better help their adoptive children. ( search for an adoptee therapist who specializes in complicated grief & loss) No matter what our biological parents were, or they weren’t we all deserve to know our truth, so we can grieve that truth and move forward with healing.

John 8:32 “We shall know the truth, and the TRUTH shall set us free” 

For my fellow adoptees, what has helped you with grieving your losses during your journey? Do you have any suggestions for your fellow adoptees or those reading? What has your process been like? Has it gotten easier for you?

Pamela A. Karanova PamelaLee

Reunited Adult Adoptee

http://www.facebook.com/howdoesitfeeltobeadopted

http://www.facebook.com/askanadoptee1

Twitter: @freesimplyme & @adopteereality

Instagram: @pwishes & @howdoesitfeeltobeadopted

Add me to your Facebook & leave me a comment so I know you were here! ❤

Photo Credits By Witthaya Phonsawat  & Theeradech Sanin’s

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

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6 thoughts on “Grief & Loss & Adoptees

  1. My adoptive parents never told me and at 34 I found out when contacted by birth mom. But I always knew I didn’t fit. My parents were intolerant of my feelings of grief and anger. They always had been and are classic narcissistic personalities.

    Remaining in contact with them and doing the emotional work I needed to do became impossible. We’re now estranged and for the first time I can breathe.

    I have a good reunion with my birth family, but it still hurts a lot. I am so much like them and missed so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I found out In my thirtys tho I had always just known. I had so many issues and was seen as a late developer – when in fact I was frozen emotionally and on constant alert – hyper vigilant! I now know all this tho old habits die hard. Everyday is a struggle and I have to practice mindfulness at all times. Closed adoptions are cruel and a denial of a persons human right. If I had been in an open adoption it wld not have been poss to lie to me. My biggest fallout is it taught me to mistrust my own gut feeling, feeling lost inadequate disconnected.
    So as a child I frooze to the external lived a fantasy of what I wanted and became totally resistant to any influence to take away my fantasy world from fear and its fear that grows its onsiduous – FEAR!
    Flight or fight hyper vigilance it’s bloody exhausting 😕 and how can u know yourself when u don’t know where u came from or whom??

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Extracts from Gillard’s National Apology: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hVbokTpYeg
    “To each of you who were adopted or removed, who were led to believe your mother had  rejected you and who were denied the opportunity to grow up with your family and  community of origin and to connect with your culture, we say sorry. We apologise to the sons and daughters who grew up not knowing how much you were  wanted and loved.  We acknowledge that many of you still experience a constant struggle with identity,  uncertainty and loss, and feel a persistent tension between loyalty to one family and  yearning for another. “
    “For so many children of forced adoption, the scars remain in adult life. Phil Evans  described his life as a: rollercoaster ride of emotional trauma, indescribable fear,  uncertainty, anxiety and ‐es‐sabotage in so many ways. Many others identified the  paralysing effect of self‐doubt and a fear of abandonment: ‘It has held me back, stopped  me growing and ensured that I have lived a life frozen.’ I heard similar stories of disconnection and loss from Leigh Hubbard and Paul Howes  today, the challenges of reconnecting with family, the struggles with self‐identity and selfesteem, the difficulties with accessing records, challenges that even the highest levels of  professional success have not been able to assuage or heal.
    And to the children of forced adoption, we can say that you deserved so much better. You  deserved the chance to know, and love, your mother and father. We can promise you all  that no generation of Australians will suffer the same pain and trauma that you did—the  cruel, immoral practice of forced adoption that will have no place in this land anymore. We also pledge resources to match today’s words with actions.”

    Like

  4. Oh man do I relate to this.. I was brought up to think that my adoption was so wonderful and I have a better life because of it.. I’m not saying that my life isn’t great, my adoption is open so it’s not like it was a secret or that my birth mom was someone I didn’t have access to. my parents even told me that it was okay to feel sad, but then when I told them that I was sad and that I felt like I was missing something, they made me feel guilty for it, like how dare I not appreciate what they’ve done for me and don’t I know that “God picked you out just for us”. I’m sure that’s not how they meant for it to come across but i haven’t talked to them about my feeling about adoption since.
    I’m now 21 and moving to be closer to my birth mom. I feel like I’m catching up on lost time, I want to know her and my siblings and be a part of their family. I’m a little scared though because I know it hurts my parents feelings a little bit that I’m going.. But.. I have to.
    Sorry for rambling. Did that make any sense at all?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely made a lot of sense! I have heard tons of stories of where the adoptive parents shame and guilt the adoptee for feeling the way they do. So wrong on so many different levels. I’m so glad you are moving closer to your mom! I would have done that in a heart beat if given the chance. I can understand you being scared, about hurting their feelings but just remember they are in charge of their feelings, and you have every right to want to be closer to your birth mother and family. You don’t owe anyone an explanation either. I do think it’s wonderful that you care, and you have a great heart like that. It will all work itself out. You are in my prayers and I’m glad you came and shared! ❤

      Like

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