Is Adoption The Problem OR is Relinquishment The Problem?

I received a comment on the How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? page a few days ago. I had shared a post from my friend & fellow adoptee Anne Heffron and someone commented,

“Is Adoption the problem – or – relinquishment? Think about it, please.”

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I feel this comment was probably made by an adoptive parent, but I can’t 100% guarantee it. Adotpee’s don’t usually say things like that. We understand the dynamics of how it feels to be adopted. After my friend shares a blog post sharing her pain someone  felt the need to negate her real raw feelings and flip the coin and make it something totally different than what it really is.

This is what inspired this blog post.

RELINQUISHMENT = To renounce or surrender, a possession, right, etc. To give up; put aside or desist from; to relinquish a plan. To let go; to release; to relinquish one’s hold. Relinquishment is voluntary consent to the termination of one’s parental rights to a child.

ADOPTION = To choose or take as one’s own; to take and rear as one’s own child, specifically by a formal legal act. Adoption is a process whereby a person assumes the parenting of another, usually a child, from that person’s biological or legal parent or parents, and, in so doing, permanently transfers all rights and responsibilities, from the biological parent or parents.

I think there are many people out there who would like to think adoptees have complex issues because of the relinquishment, but they couldn’t  possibly have all these issues with the adoption, right?

I mean what is there to fuss about, really?

Let’s talk about “RELINQUISHMENT”

For those of us who have done the research, and/or who have lived with being adopted most of us know that every time a mother and a child is separated a trauma occurs.  See The Adopted Child: Trauma and It’s Impact. and Nancy Verrier’s Website. Pick up a copy of The Primal Wound. Do the research yourself and you will see RELINQUISHMENT has it’s own set of issues.  For adoptees who might be reading this, you might not even understand that many of your issues could very well be linked to being adopted.

The only way I was able to come to a place of understanding about myself and my issues was to do the work in researching trauma from relinquishment, attachment disorder, addiction in adoptees, abandonment & rejection issues, separation of mother and baby, prenatal bonding and what happens when that bond is broken with the woman who carried us for 9 months. I researched postnatal bonding issues,  Complex-PTSD, Reactive Detachment Disorder, disenfranchised grief & loss for adoptees. Many of us struggle with depression, low self-esteem, worthlessness, anxiety and fear of being abandoned again. We have unwantedness attached to us because when our own families didn’t want us who else would want us? The list could go on and on. It’s taken me years to research all these areas, but each time I did it was “Aha” moments back to back.

If you are reading this I challenge you to do the same.

As well as researching all these areas, I started connecting with other adoptees online and I realized I’m not alone. RELINQUISHMENT has some severe issues attached to it and the relinquishment happens before the child is ever adopted. This is why I think many in adoption land want to think relinquishment is the problem, not the adoption. Please keep reading. Some of these issues are life and death for many of us adoptees.

Another avenue I explored is researching how birth mothers felt before and after relinquishment. I wanted to take myself from my shoes and put myself in hers so I could TRY to gain empathy and understanding of what she went through. This helped me with my healing and forgiveness towards her. I would be blind to not take these things into consideration while researching all the dynamics of relinquishment & adoption.

I could go into detail about each area listed above but it would take me all day to describe all the issues attached to each of these areas. If you do the research and read adult adoptee blogs you will be able to connect the dots yourself and see how relinquishment impacts us.

When I share in my writings I’m not speaking for all adoptees. I’m speaking from a place of my own experience and the fact I’m in contact with hundreds of adoptees all over the world and our stories line up with more similarities than you could ever imagine. I founded the “How Does It Feel To Be Adopted” Facebook page, as well as the “Ask An Adoptee” Facebook page. I see thousands of comments weekly from adoptees who are sharing the same stories in different context. I can’t UN KNOW what I know. I can’t turn a blind eye to all the heartache and pain that adoptees share on these pages.

Let’s talk about “ADOPTION”

The word “ADOPTION” is simply a cover up for the REALITY and TRUTH of what adoption really is. The WORD ADOPTION is glamorized in the world, agencies, churches, the institutions, etc and glossed over to be highlighted as something “Wonderful”. The truth is rarely recognized by the world, and the adoptee lives with the truth deep inside our entire lives. One day the fog will start to lift and the word “ADOPTION” isn’t seen as something wonderful, but it’s replaced with the reality and TRUTH of what adoption really is to us, the adoptee.

Some of us are hit with this reality sooner than the others, but it usually comes out in certain places of our lives, and sometimes we don’t even know our issues are tied to being adopted, but most of the time they are. They are intertwined, tight and deep in our souls. I’ve done the research and I know hundreds of adoptees all over the world who all agree, adoption has impacted every area of our lives.

For the adoptee, if we are going to be truthful adoption is rooted and grounded in loss & trauma. Loss of our identity, medical history, genetic mirroring, ancestry, relationships, memories, connection to our roots, and the list could go on. The word ADOPTION is simply a cover up for all our pain. If the world removed the word, and took a look at what it costs for adoptees to be adopted, they would recognize our trauma, grief and loss much earlier on so we would get help much sooner. They would ACKNOWLEDGE we have every right to feel the way we do.

The WORD ADOPTION is filled with secrecy, lies, hidden agendas, corruption, and put in place to simply avoid the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the TRUTH.  Half-truths seem to spin webs of lies in the adoption industry, and this causes many issues when adoptees search for their truth.

Adoption causes countless issues for adoptees and we are talking about things that happen AFTER relinquishment takes place. We’re handed over the genetic strangers, whom we share no DNA with. We don’t mirror anyone. Expectations are set HIGH as to how we are supposed to be, depending on what our adoptive parents have in mind for the child they want. We come with countless differences than the adoptive family we are raised in, yet many times our differences are dismissed because it might not line up with what our adopters want. We don’t blend in, yet we’re expected to act as if we do. Our feelings are silenced with sentiments of gratitude for our adoptive parents for “Saving Us” from the life we would have had before being adopted. We’re expected to be grateful someone wanted us when our own biological families didn’t want us. We never become NOT ADOPTED and these negative impacts are things that reoccur at different times in our lives. Our trigger list are a mile long, holidays and birthdays never stop coming. Searching is a daunting task filled with highs and lows, followed for some of us reunions that bring the same impact.

ADOPTION HURTS!

ADOPTION IS TRAUMA!

Many times our adoptive parents greatest joy is a result of our biggest loss. How do we disappoint them and let them know how we really feel?

We don’t…

This leads to internalized feelings of shame, guilt, grief, loss, trauma, abandonment and rejection issues. As children we learn to internalize everything and all our pain stays deep inside until we reach adult hood. Many of us start acting out in our teen years because our hormones are raging, and we have no healing outlet or tools to work through our issues. Anger, rage, anxiety, depression are all issues adoptees face AFTER RELINQUISHMENT. 

If anyone wants to read up on the statistics of adoptees over populating the prisons, jails, treatment facilities there is a lot of information out there. Adoptees are 4x more likely to attempt suicide than non-adoptees. Here are a few articles to read.

Toward Preventing Adoption Related Suicide By Mirah Riben

We Need To Talk About Adoptee Suicide By Angela Barra

Keep in mind these issues happen AFTER THE RELINQUISHMENT…

Adoptees can have the most wonderful adoptive parents and adoptive homes and many times still have severe issues. Help is lacking for adoptees, and therapist seem to be oblivious to the fact that ADOPTION is the ROOT cause of most of our issues. Adoptive parents are not prepared to handle all our issues and most of the time the adoption industry hides the TRUTH about what adoptees face, because they are in denial themselves and because adoption is a multi-billion dollar industry. Selling babies is their paycheck. That’s the TRUTH.

I’m not saying adoption is 100% the ONLY issue but it is the root cause of many areas of our struggles. The sad part is adoptees most of the time don’t even understand adoption has played such a significant role in all these areas. When they finally figure it out is when the connect with other adoptees. Then and only then do they know they aren’t alone in feeling the way they do.

Don’t think for a moment we haven’t already thought about THIS. We wake up with the realities of adoption and go to bed with them. We can try to escape this TRUTH but it’s part of who we are. What I would like to ask the readers to do is THINK ABOUT listening to adult adoptees next time they share their heart with you. THINK ABOUT acknowledging their pain when they share their pain. THINK ABOUT the reality to this thing is a reality you really can’t understand because you aren’t adopted. THINK ABOUT gaining the WILLINGNESS to want to learn and try to understand adult adoptees. THINK ABOUT reading adult adoptee Blogs and Adoptee Stories.

We’re the ones who have lived being adopted, yet we’re the most silenced in the adoption equation.

So here you see, ADOPTION & RELINQUISHMENT are very much intertwined in the fabric of an adoptees experience. To say one or the other hasn’t impacted us is not acknowledging a very critical part of our stories. ADOPTION comes with it’s own set of issues and so does RELINQUISHMENT. TOGETHER they make life extremely difficult for adoptees, especially when non-adoptees want to assume the issue is really with relinquishment and adoption is just a wonderful thing!

I haven’t even talked about adoptees who have HORRIBLE adoption experiences piled on top of relinquishment. I haven’t mentioned adoptees who have had HORRIBLE reunions on top of HORRIBLE adoptions. For us, it’s a life sentence filled with grief, loss, trauma and no acknowledgement in the real world from most non-adoptees that we should have any issues at all with adoption or relinquishment which is a trauma in itself. How would you feel if you had cancer and the world all around you celebrated that cancer? Well that’s how adoption is for us.

The world has no problems GLORIFYING the act of ADOPTION, yet the FAIL time and time again to address the real root issues of what adoptees experience before and after the adoption takes place.

This is a HUGE part of why the adoptee attempted suicide rate is 4x more likely than non-adoptees. This is why I keep writing. This is why many adoptees keep sharing. We have a moral obligation to think of our brothers and sisters who are adopted and who are stuck in a hopeless and helpless place.

If you are a non-adoptee reading, or someone who is impacted by adoption in some way please understand RELINQUISHMENT and ADOPTION go hand in hand with their own set of issues. ADOPTION is simply a WORD that masks the TRUTH of what ADOPTION really for adoptees. The SOONER we can remove this glorified word and be HONEST about what the realities are THE SOONER ADOPTEES will begin to share their real raw feelings of the damage adoption has caused, and the sooner they will begin to heal.

Half-truths, secrecy and lies stall our healing.

Hopefully this cleared up some confusion regarding adoption, relinquishment and how both of these areas impact adoptees. Please never think for a moment we aren’t already THINKING about these things. We think of them every single day all day long. I challenge the non-adoptees reading to THINK about learning from adult adoptees. We have lived adoption. We hold the most valuable experiences, yet for many years we have been silenced by the world.

Not today.

Today I share.

Today WE share.

I WILL NEVER BE SILENT.

Thanks for reading!

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Pamela believes all adoptees deserve to know their truth. She writes, blogs, and she reaches out to other adoptees so they know they aren’t alone. Thanks for reading Pamela’s blog and please let her know you were here.

Blessings,

Pamela Karanova, Lexington, KY

You can look her up by email pamlakaranova@gmail.com

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Twitter: @pamelakaranova

Article About Pamela Featured on Adoption.com

Adoptee in Recovery Blog Post Featured on Huffington Post

Pamela Was Nominated for the Best Articles for Adoptees 2015 Check this link out!

 

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Being Born a Burden

The Weight

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Some days I can float through life, and carry it like a light weight backpack.

Other days, I can’t even crawl with the weight from this burden.

It’s heavy.

It hurts.

It’s hard for non-adoptees to perceive.

They will never understand.

The weight of being a burden just from being born is a hard pill to swallow. It’s hard to fathom that just being born into this world has caused so many people so much pain.

Including myself.

Some days I’m fine.

I’m a professional at stuffing my feelings, putting my mask on so everyone around me doesn’t see the real pain. After all, they should stay comfortable because I want to do everything in my power to not be a burden.

I wouldn’t want to burden anyone with my problems.

Some days I’m not fine.

The pain.

It’s unbearable at times.

My heart gets heavy.

It’s hard to breathe.

I wish I could flip the switch and turn my brain off.

If anyone knew what was going on in my brain they would not want to be bothered with me. They would leave me and I wouldn’t blame them.

I have God in my life, yet some days I still feel empty. I know he understands this pain, the lifelong grief and loss many adoptees experience. All I can do when it comes so heavy is cry and sleep and cry and sleep. I just woke up from sleeping for 12+ hours and all I want to do is go back to sleep. I don’t want to think.

Don’t forget hiding it from everyone possible.  This is exhausting in itself therefor the less people I’m around the better.

I went to Iowa over the weekend. I had an amazing experience meeting some biological family for the first time. My heart is so grateful for them opening their homes and lives up to me. Seems like it should be a dream come true, and it is.

The emotions that have gone along with this, and knowing my birth father has STILL rejected me has brought on loads of grief for me. I really wasn’t expecting it to be this heavy. I see why so many adoptees never search for their people. It’s painful and not many can even go there.

I was sitting at the dining room table of my aunt and uncles house looking at old photo albums. Photo albums I should be in, but I’m not. I began looking around while everyone is eating the amazing home cooked meal my aunt made. I was thinking about my birth fathers house being within a visible distance of where my uncle lived. He didn’t even know I was there, and trust me- he wouldn’t want to know I was there. How is it his family can embrace me, yet he can’t? It was a surreal experience and I was elated to finally be welcomed by part of my biological family on my birth fathers side. This is something I always dreamed of, but it’s still been extremely painful for many reasons.

 

While I was leaving my aunt and uncles house, I decided to ask my uncle if he knew of more children my birth father had that I didn’t know about?

He said, “There’s a half negro daughter out there somewhere”.

My mouth dropped, I said “Wow, do you know anything about her or where she is?”

He said, “No, I don’t know anything”

In shock I said, “Well thank you for sharing that with me. Hopefully I can find her”.

That was it.

The mixture of emotions I began to feel was overwhelming. I got silent. My cousins who was wonderful seemed like she was just as shocked as I was.

My mind began racing.

It’s never stopped.

SEARCHING AGAIN…

MENTAL TORMENT AGAIN…

I created a flyer and shared it all over social media in hopes to find my sister. All the emotions I’ve been feeling about searching again has literally caused me to emotionally break down on top of all the other dynamics of this trip. I was not expecting THIS.

I want to disappear. I want to run away. I don’t want to cause anyone else more pain. I want to take my pain and leave. My kids deserve more. Anyone close to me deserves more. I’m tired of hiding it. I’m tired of feeling like a burden. I’m just tired.

I’m tired of therapists that can’t help me. I’ve seen them my entire life and they haven’t done any good. Most of them don’t even understand the complexities of adoption, and most times make it worse. I give up on that.

I will keep writing. It’s the only healing tool I can depend on, aside from my fellow adoptees who can relate.

Many adoptees spend our entire lives searching. It’s exhausting, mentally, emotionally and physically. I never thought I would have to experience this again. For me, searching is extreme mental anguish. I don’t even know how to describe it. It triggers me back to my child hood and earlier life searching for my birth mother. Now I’m searching for a sister. Before the sister it was my birth father, and another brother and another sister.

It’s the unknown and that’s not a good place for me.

HALF-TRUTH

SECRETS

LIES

ADOPTION

 

Trying to find out the truth or someone elses secrets and lies is something I’ve done my entire life. If it wasn’t my birth mother, now it’s my birth father.

When I was leaving Iowa, I decided to call my birth father’s house, who is a raging alcoholic by the way. His wife answered, and she confirmed there was another daughter. She also let me know anytime I call there, my birth father is upset for MONTHS! Great to know.

I asked her if she knew she was half African-American and she said, “Jimmie is an extreme racist, I don’t think that’s possible!”. I told her I was given information she is half black and I told her I needed any information she had so I could search for her and find her. I told her I was going to go public with this search if I needed to find her, but I was hoping I didn’t need to go that route. We hung up the phone and she called me back within the hour.

She said she asked my birth father if the mother of the other daughter was black or white, and he became enraged and threw the remote control at her, got up and pushed her across the table. He started screaming at her saying, “I would never sleep with a black woman, her mother is white!”. He did confirm she was in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

His wife and I believe that because of his actions and the way he became enraged the mother was black. Period.

So now the search begins.

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Please Save This Flyer & Share on Your Social Media ❤

I want to know my sister. I want to know everything about her. I will never stop looking for her. I want her to know she’s not alone in this world.

Leaving Iowa things hadn’t hit me yet. I was more consumed with thinking of this new possible sister. Then over the last 48 hours everything else has hit me.

I saw where my grandparents lived and my aunts, uncles and cousins all grew up there. We pulled up and got out of the car, and she told me all about the area. It was in the country, and she told me stories about my grandma and all her flowers and her gardens. She showed me the water well that was used because they had no running water. They made molasses, and she told me my grandmother walked for hours in the fields every day. She was hardly ever inside and loved being outdoors. I saw old photos and it was almost as if I felt my spirit was tied to this place as if I had been there before. These were my people. This was my tribe, yet I was separated from them for my entire lifetime, until now. I wished I could have stayed longer. And walked around in the footsteps my grandparents once walked. I wished I could have sat on an old tree stump and just gazed around for hours or even days just to get a feel of what it was like to be there. Instead I was happy with the short few minute stop because that’s more than some adoptees will ever get.

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My cousin was amazing, so were her parents. She said she had a gift for me. She handed me her quilt our grandmother made her and said, “I want you to have this because I have all the memories with grandma and you don’t have any”. I hugged her as tight as I could. No amount of words can even explain how grateful I am for that blanket, and for her acknowledging the loss of a lifetime of memories I have experienced. I was elated.

I asked my cousin what our grandparents house was like, she said “Heaven”.

The sadness I feel because I missed that is something no one else aside from my fellow adoptees will understand.

I’m pretty sure the adoption agencies never mention all the grief, loss and trauma adoptees can and do experience when they are making a living off our pain. It’s a hard pill to swallow but I have accepted this pain will be here until I leave this earth.

I’ve already been a burden being born. The least I can do is spare others from the burden of seeing my pain. I will be happy when it’s all over, but for now I will process it by writing, sharing my feelings and keeping to myself. Everyone wants to hear happy stories, but with adoption comes a lot of pain.

That’s all I know to do.

Deep inside my heart there is a shattered space from adoption, a space that no one can fix and no one can heal. I’m learning to adapt to this thing called adoption but it’s caused me the most pain of my lifetime.

That’s my truth.

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You Don’t Own Me Just Because I’m Adopted

Adoptees are different and we come with special needs.

I can’t speak for every single adoptee, but I feel safe saying I know MANY adoptees all over the world and I know for certain many of us are offended and hurt when adoptive parents refer to us as “MINE“.

“She was placed in our home and raised by us and we are her REAL PARENTS! We might not share her DNA but she is OURS!” – Adoptive Parent.

Where does this attitude come from? It sends chills all through my body to hear this type of language from adoptive parents, not to mention having my own experience with it.

Let me share a little of my experience with this possessiveness from my adoptive mother.  I didn’t understand the dynamics as a child but as an adult I see how controlling and manipulative it was and how it impacted me. My adoptive mom would say things like “You’re MY daughter!” but put emphasis on the MY.  She said over and over “Your life is MY LIFE because I’m your mother!”

First of all, we are NOT a piece of property and many of us take offense to this because of the dynamics of adoption and how we came to be in our adoptive families to begin with. Let’s be honest, most of the time THERE WAS A CASH TRANSACTION. We were PAID FOR! Someone made some money off us being adopted. When adoptive parents use terms that refer to them having “Ownership” over us honestly it makes me feel totally disrespected, almost as if I am some form of modern day slavery.  I feel like I’m not even a live person. It’s disgusting and I honestly needed to share my feelings about it because it needs to STOP. I’m not saying all adoptive parents are meaning to come off this way, I am saying this is how many adoptees interpret it.

Please take note and consider changing the language you use towards us and while referring to us regarding adoption.

We are no more YOUR CHILD than we are our birth parents. Our birth parents will always be a part of us no matter what the circumstances, and no words of ownership can put any different spin on this. These are the facts. Take it or leave it. For whatever reason they are not raising us and we are adopted doesn’t change the fact that we have 2 mothers and 2 fathers.

NOTHING CAN CHANGE THE TRUTH.

Please stop using words of ownership regarding adoptees, it hurts us. We are our own person and we are tired of being treated like perpetual children. If you adopted us,  we know who you are. We know you took us in when our own families didn’t want us but you don’t own us.

Please stop acting like you do.

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Beauty from Ashes

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The scripture says, “God will give you beauty for ashes.” Ashes represent our broken dreams, our failures, our disappointments and our hurts. Here’s the key: you have to let go of the ashes before you can receive the beauty. If you won’t let go of the old, you can’t receive the new.

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It was 5 years ago today I decided I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. My adoptee issues were hitting me left and right and for 26 years alcohol numbed my pain. I ran from the painful reality of my beginnings and the trauma inflicted on me which I had no choice over.

I was an innocent baby torn from my mother.

ALL ADOPTIONS BEGIN WITH TRAUMA

I’ve lived a hard life.

Who’s hasn’t, right?

My adoptive parents divorced when I was a year old, my adoptive dad moved far away to raise his new family. I was left with my adoptive mother who was emotionally and mentally abusive. She tied us to chairs with dish towels, tried to commit suicide in front of us, and suffered from severe manic-depressive episodes. She was also addicted to prescription pain pills. You could say my upbringing was everything but “Normal”.

I grew up angry and started to act out as a teenager. I wasn’t the “Good Adoptee” that they had bargained for. I was the “BAD ADOPTEE”. I wished I was sent back home to my real family. I wanted to be anywhere than where I was. I dropped out of high school, got in fights A LOT. I ran away and was in the streets. I experienced more in the first 15 years of my life than most people do in their entire life on earth. I was in juvenile jail, detention, group homes and in therapy most of my childhood. I was sexually abused in my adoptive father’s home by an older step brother. I experienced a lot of traumatic situations out in the streets, rape, violence, breaking the law, etc.  At 12 years old running the streets was the beginning of my journey to find my way back home. I had no clue it would take me 26 years of searching, depending on alcohol to take the pain away, multiple abusive relationships to finally reach my destination. A lifetime of trauma, grief, pain and loss followed me everywhere I went. I never fit in anywhere and I was searching for my tribe, my people, my family.

I never stopped and it never left my mind.

I was broken & hurting.

Adoption was never talked about growing up but as a 43-year-old adoptee in recovery I am here to tell you ADOPTION IS THE ROOT of my issues and it always has been.

The pain of abandonment and rejection was impossible for me to tap into at an early age but as I grew up reality began to set in, and the fog began to lift. No one asked how it felt to be adopted.  I learned my greatest hurt in life, losing both of my birth mother and birth father and their families, and so much more was my adoptive families greatest gift. My greatest hurt was celebrated by society because adoption is such a beautiful thing, right?

How could I let anyone know I was brokenhearted inside and disappoint them?

My feelings didn’t matter.

I didn’t matter.

Anger and rage was simmering at the roots of my being. I began to hate who I was and looking in the mirror I hated what I saw. I was an ugly girl that nobody wanted. Every time I looked in the mirror I hated what was looking back. Year after year passed, and my hate for myself grew stronger and stronger. MY FACE WAS UGLY! The abusive relationships in my life just beat me down more and more.

WHO AM I?

WHERE THE HELL DID I COME FROM?

Was I even born or did I drop out of the sky like an alien?

Did I have a beginning?

WHO WERE MY BIRTH PARENTS?

WHERE WERE MY BIRTH PARENTS?

WHO ARE MY SIBLINGS?

WERE THEY LOOKING FOR ME?

WHO DO I LOOK LIKE?

 

My entire life, I wanted and NEEDED to know the TRUTH about these simple questions so many adoptees have that most of the world takes for granted. My mind was tortured every single day, wondering, fantasizing, dreaming, wishing, sad, hurt, angry, depressed, alone, isolated.  It’s impossible to know where we’re headed if we don’t know where we come from. The aching pain of the “UNKNOWN” plagued my life. It was all I could feel and all I wanted to know.

I never had any peace in my heart, because I was too busy searching for clues and information. I must have dug in my adoptive mother’s filing cabinet 100,000x searching for a clue growing up! Over and over, I searched through her papers as far back as I could remember.  If only I could find a clue, maybe I could find my birth mother and see this was all a big mistake and go back HOME.

I mean who gives their baby away and really means it?

ESPECIALLY WHEN SHE LOVES ME “SO MUCH?”

This must be some big mistake, right?

Fast forward to my adoptive mother coming “Clean” when I was 21 years old. She had the information I needed and wanted my entire life, she lied to me saying she didn’t know ANYTHING! Another devastating blow that the person I should trust the most. SHE LIED TO ME MY ENTIRE LIFE for her own personal gain. We’re raised to tell the truth, but somehow the truth is rarely brought to light regarding adoption.

Can someone explain that to me?

Am I nothing more than a piece of property?

Do my feelings not matter at all?

Over the next 16 years I meet both my birth parents. My high hopes in happy reunions turned into double rejection from both.

I waited my entire life for this?

I was crushed.

The aftermath was devastating.

It took me years to come to a place of acceptance of what was really happening. The pain was so great, I was running from the realities that the two people that created me and who I shared the same DNA with wanted nothing to do with me. This was and has been the biggest loss & heartache of my life.

Alcohol eased the pain.

If I take the original trauma or abandonment and add it to the trauma I experienced in my adoptive home and in the streets, with double rejection from my birth parents and failed reunions it equals a mixed bag of  ____________!!  < Fill in the blank.

My boxed wine was my best friend for 26 years but it was also standing in the way of me being who God created me to be…

ADOPTEE IN RECOVERY

But here we are August 13, 2017

It’s my “BIRTH”-DAY

I’m alive.

I’m physically well.

I have 3 amazing kids.

I have a wonderful career I love.

I have a place to live & a car to drive.

I’m generally extremely happy!

After finding both birth parents, I learned they were both alcoholics and it rocked me to my core.

HOW COULD I BE LIKE THEM BUT THEY DIDN’T EVEN RAISE ME?

WHAT IF I NEVER FOUND MY TRUTH, WOULD I STILL BE DRINKING?

Alcohol only made my problems worse. 5 years ago, today I had enough of myself and the way my life was going and I decided to throw in the towel on my drinking habit but I knew I couldn’t do it on my own.

My kids were my #1 motivation. They deserved a happy healthy mom, even if I didn’t feel I deserved to be happy and healthy myself.

I no longer wanted to run from the pain of my past abandonment, or the realities of rejection from my birth parents. I wanted to learn to process my pain in healthy ways.

I HAD NO IDEA HOW HARD THIS WAS GOING TO BE!

No longer drinking was the easy part, it was processing the adoptee pain I carried my entire life that was the hardest part. Feelings I had run from for an entire lifetime came flooding in and hit me like a ton of bricks.

Where was the manual on how to process this pain?

The FOG began to lift.

FEELINGS BECAME REAL

I started to view things in life from a distinct perspective. I cried a lot, I felt feelings like I had never felt them before, I isolated myself in many aspects because I didn’t want to burden anyone with my sadness. That’s been a huge struggle for me, GUILT for feeling the way I do so I do my best to hide it from the world and do a pretty good job most days.

Adoptees, we’re good at hiding our pain because we are expected to be thankful and if we’re not thankful we’re labeled ungrateful.

I realized that my running from processing my adoptee pain, drinking alcohol to cope not only hurt me, but it impacted my kids in many ways as well. If anything, I knew at that moment I not only needed recovery for myself, but for my kids. They deserved a happy healthy mom so I set out on a long journey of recovery to become happier, mind, body & spirit. I wanted to make amends with anyone I had hurt and those who hurt me.

This was not easy.

I put my faith in God, and God alone.

I knew he had been with me the entire way on my journey. People, not so much. Being an adoptee, disappointments come and many of us seem to be hypervidilant when they do. I don’t handle disappointments well, so at all costs I try to avoid being set up to get disappointed. I built a wall higher than the one that was already built. I became extremely selective as to who I let in, and I also let go of most of my old relationships and friendships.

Over the last 5 years I’ve set out on a pursuit to find myself.

You have heard the saying; “You have to change your playground & your playmates”. There were many people, places & things I let go of and I gave no explanations as to why I walked away in many cases. I don’t have to explain myself. That’s the thing I’ve learned is I am taking full responsibility as to who I allow in my life, and so much was always controlled for me regarding my adoption journey, it’s now time I take some of the control back.

I’m in charge.

I make the choices regarding my life.

I walk away from people, places & things that don’t serve a purpose.

I walked away from my church that was extremly controlling.

This control I have gained is healthy in my eyes.

FREE AT LAST!

So many aspects of being an adoptee between the C-PTSD, trauma, complicated grief & loss, abandonment, rejection and a lost sense of self. I could go on all day about the issues I have because of adoption, but the ones that impact me the most today seem to be that everyone is going to leave, so DON’T let them get too close! Always in my mind I’m waiting on the shoe to drop, and when people want to get too close to me I panic, and have anxiety. All of this is rooted and grounded in abandonment and fear. This is one example of many issues I’m working on but during my recovery I’ve could identify the triggers, such as ALL HOLIDAYS, the word “MOTHER” and seeing other people with their mother’s, Birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, I can acknowledge my pain, share it in my blog and use different techniques to make it through the episode. EMDR has been a good help. If you only knew how I process things and the triggers I experience every single day you would be in awe. They never end, but the sooner I accepted they were here to stay the sooner I started working on my responses to the triggers and how to process them. Connecting with my fellow adoptees has been my saving grace so many times! I love you all and wouldn’t be here where I am without you!

You know who you are!

 On a side note, for the life of me I can’t figure out how I can spend a lifetime in and out of therapy and not one therapist acknowledge ADOPTION as being a root issue, a trauma, and a huge part of my pain. This is one of the many reasons I keep sharing my journey because I know for certain adoptees all over this world are being let down, and no one truly seems to get the pain we carry unless it’s a fellow adoptee.

For anyone that is not an adoptee who might be reading, I would like to ask you to open your heart to the fact that not all adoptees are happy with being adopted, and to consider how you might feel if you were to lose 2 entire families, your ancestry, medical history, relationships with your siblings, the roots to WHO YOU ARE. It’s time people wake up and step out of denial about the damage adoption inflicts on adoptees, and address the very real trauma of the primal wound. With the adoptee attempted suicide rate 4x more likely than non-adoptees, we can’t afford to keep quiet.

TODAY I LIVE

After searching for an entire lifetime I’m still learning who I am. I know I operate best independently because I have control issues regarding my life because others controlled so much of it. I’m working on allowing others in, even if it’s just a little bit so I can attempt to have meaningful close relationships with a few people but I won’t lie, it’s a daily struggle for me. I run from needy & clingy people. I think growing up processing LIFE & ADOPTION all alone, I got used to it. No one was there for me, so I’ve learned how to adapt to being alone and I receive great solitude from it. Whatever I’m doing in life, I will always need my alone time.

FREEDOM

I’ve learned that I’m the happiest when I’m out in the woods, in nature. This is the closest thing I’ve found that feels like HOME. I remember being at my adoptive dads growing up and the woods being a safe place for me. I would run wild and free, pretend and fantasize I was a super hero and dream about my birth mother. I climbed trees, built forts, played in creeks, played hide and seek in the corn fields of Iowa and it was safe. Safer than any of the homes I grew up in. And a lot of the time I was alone. I love being alone.

BUCKET LIST

Naturally when I created my bucket list the beginning of the year, I decided I wanted to visit all the waterfalls in Kentucky. I must admit, the last 6 months of my life have been the best and happiest 6 months of my life. My mind is moving forward ready to explore NEW THINGS. My adoptee journey has played itself out and although so much of it has been extremely painful I would not change knowing my truth for the world. Knowing my truth has allowed me to accept it, and be able to move forward towards healing. Therefore, all adoptees need our TRUTH so we can heal. 43 years of carrying that pain and being weighed down with alcohol dependency has been nothing short of a bad dream in many aspects. Many days I feel guilty for feeling defective with attachments and feeling like people care about me or love me. I feel like I’m alone on an island most of the time, and I know people say they love me but I never feel it. I think this has to do with the primal wound and the bond with my birth mother being broken. It saddens me, but at my age I have come to terms with the fact that it’s just how I am hardwired and I’ve learned to adapt to this part of me. I had someone tell me once, “Well I think that makes you more genuine of a person because you aren’t doing things for love, you’re doing them out of the goodness of your own heart”. This might be a gift in many ways but the cost to have it is a high price to pay.

I feel something is still missing and the adoption trauma will always impact me in this way. I feel like I have a hole in my heart, and the sooner I came to a place of acceptance that IT JUST IS, the sooner I could move forward with healing. Not accepting this only stalled my healing.

I’VE LEARNED A LOT

Adoptees are some of the strongest people I know. To experience what we have and to be silenced by the world regarding our trauma- WE ARE SURVIVORS!

Every single one of us!

I believe I’m someone who will always hold a unique value of time and memories because so much was lost in adoption I’m able to cling tight to time and memories with those I’m close too. Objects of material gain mean nothing to me unless they have some symbolic aspect to them, and being adoptees usually we’re left out of receiving anything of meaning from our birth families, at least I have been anyway. I’ve learned to love people in a way that they hopefully always remember the person I was and how I treated them. I’ve always tried to treat people with the love and acceptance I always wished I received.

SOBRIETY & RECOVERY

I will always be in recovery because the moment I’m not I could very easily slip back into old patterns that I have broken free from and that won’t be good. My kids have been my number one fans on my journey and my biggest motivation. They inspire me to be better, to love others more, and to think outside the box. They keep me young and they are, and always will be the biggest joys of my life. They are the reason I’m still alive today and I’m certain if I didn’t have them I wouldn’t be here. Recovery isn’t easy at all, but it’s so worth it.

I don’t have a desire to drink anymore and don’t even think about it. It’s no longer a part of my life. Today is 5 years since I’ve drank my last drink of alcohol and that’s something to be proud of. While my “BIRTH” day brings pain, I am working on celebrating my life from a new perspective. Regardless of the trauma that happened the day I came into the world, I’m something to celebrate. It’s taken me 43 years to get to a place where I’m thankful for being alive but healing from knowing my TRUTH is the only thing that has gotten me this far.

I pray for the same truth and healing to be revealed to all my fellow adoptees. We all deserve to be able to heal from whatever we find, and we all deserve our truth.

Today I have a zest for life, I have someone special in my life who I have a lot in common with. We are enjoying getting to know one another and you never know what God has in store. My mind is crystal clear and I’m freed by the truth.

John 8:32 “Then you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free”.

Today I celebrate 43 years ALIVE on this planet, I celebrate 5 years sobriety, I celebrate being a MOM to 3 amazing kids, I celebrate my TRUTH no matter how painful it has been.  I celebrate all those who have supported me near and far. I celebrate all my fellow adoptees who I have built relationships with that I love very much! I celebrate the future. I celebrate having my voice among the adoptee community and the GRACE God has given me to share the TRUTH on how it feels to be adopted. I celebrate nature and all the healing it has brought my way. I celebrate all the waterfalls I’m going to see and all the ones I’ve already seen. I celebrate the future hikes and working out at the gym. I celebrate once being an angry, bitter, rage filled person to someone with compassion, love, understanding and forgiveness.

So today and the days to come I’m working on making new memories, with new & old friends, moving forward and resting in the fact that I’ve made it.

I’m alive.

I survived.

The beginning of MY STORY isn’t a happy one, but that doesn’t mean the rest of my days can’t be the best of my days.

To God be the GLORY.

Thanks for reading my adoptee in recovery story.

“If it wasn’t for the struggle than I wouldn’t be me” – 2 chainz

XOXO

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How Adoptees Feel About Birthday’s

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This blog post was inspired because I know first hand how hard birthday’s can be for adoptees. There is healing in sharing how we feel so I wanted to seek input from my fellow adoptees and find out how they felt about their birthdays.

I was blown away to see so many of us feel similar ways about this day and the days leading up to the “Birth” day. Many of us are impacted as the days lead up to the month as well.

Some adoptees have no issues with this day.

No matter what experiences are shared here, I’m excited so share the feelings of so many of my fellow adoptees no matter how they feel. Each and every one of you matters, your story matters and your voice matters.

If you would like to add how you feel about your birthday please reply to this thread and I’ll add it to this blog post. Feel free to share with your online communities to help raise awareness on how it feels to be adopted.

Adoptee Voice #1.

  • My birthday month is August. I wish the month could go away. My birthday is the 10th. I don’t ever recall looking forward to my birthday. It feels weird when people wish me happy birthday. I don’t even know what the normal feeling is supposed to be.

Adoptee Voice #2.

  • It’s not your birthday. It’s your cake day., eat cake.

Adoptee Voice #3.

  • August 21st is my birthday so in the back of my mind counting down to the day. Not sure what plans are. I usually try stay positive but by evening the mind tends to take over a bit. I used to think it was the one day she would be thinking of me but found out she never remembered my birth date.

Adoptee Voice #4.

  • My birthday is December 21. So I get the holiday blues wIthiBONUS birthday blues. My mom passed just over a year ago, my dad has had a super rough time (wrecked the tractor last fall, other medical problems, depression) and I’m already dreading this holiday season.

    I’m actually thinking about taking a road trip. I could use the solitude and the break and it just might be the perfect time and place for the crying jag I never seem to let myself have.

    Last year I turned 50 and my aunt (my mom’s only sibling) surprised me at work with a big cake. It was nice of her, but it was also sort of surreal.

Adoptee Voice #5

  • It’s the time of the year I can’t “not think” of my birth parents. (BF is deceased) My birth mother lives less than 15 miles from me and a mile away from where I was raised. She pretends I don’t exist. If there is one day a year she thinks about me, that should be it, right? I do write her letters and send them, even though I never get anything back.

Adoptee Voice #6

  • I have an August birthday (the 28th). I HATE my birthday… As a child, it was never a happy occasion. Adoptive father was a violent drunk, and his drinking never took a vacation, no matter the day.. holidays, birthdays, weddings…. Adoptive monster was an enabler, and fed into his violence and never protect myself or adoptive brother. Birthdays were “family” parties until I was 10. Every year less and less people came, and I finally realized it was due to him. I always wondered what I did wrong.. But why in the world would you subject yourself to that disaster if you didn’t have to? And since I wasn’t blood to them, they just stopped coming. The final straw was at 16. Adoptive monster talked up a Sweet 16 party for years. Told me we would rent a hall, get a DJ, I could invite anyone I wanted… When it came down to it, it didn’t happen. It was downgraded to a house party in my garage. The day of ,I spent HOURS getting ready. Sat outside waiting and waiting. Hours after start time, I heard the adoptive monsters arguing. Adoptive father admitted the night before he called the entire guest list and told them it was cancelled…. NO JOKE. This is the deranged behavior I lived with my entire childhood. That was the last birthday I spent with them. Shortly after this, I fled in the middle of the night and was emancipated.

Adoptee Voice #7

  • My birthday is Nov 1 and I always got depressed and angry as it got closer. I’m 53. A few years ago I decided to start making it about others. I’d invite a couple of good friends to go out to a really nice dinner just to celebrate the friendships I have.
    I have a loving husband and family who wanted to bless me so I quit being a stick in the mud & let them and chose to enjoy what I have now instead of what I don’t have. Gratitude and choosing to bless others changed how I anticipate my birthday now.

    This was before I met my sister this past spring, and learned a lot about my birth parents who have passed. I am now looking forward to this year’s birthday.
    It’s all in perspective – I am here, alive, and have many things to be thankful about.

Adoptee Voice #8

  • Birthdays are hard for me. I have spent more than one birthday listening to John Lennon’s song “Mother” on repeat…

Adoptee Voice #9

  • I know some adoptees hated this, but I loved it. It made me feel special. My Adoptive Mom celebrated my adoption Birthday by taking me out and often giving me a special gift.

Adoptee Voice #10

  • The older I got the more I dreaded it. I only want to hear it from my son who I know loves me. And my boyfriend who I know loves me also. Everyone else I still wonder what they really think of me. No matter their loyalty or not….I still question it. It took me awhile to believe my boyfriend really loved me.

Adoptee Voice #11

  • Birthday, the day of happiness from all… Ugh it’s just a dreaded day of wanting to be alone.

Adoptee Voice #12

  • My birthday is in May and I just think of it as the day I was given to the universe rather than the day I lost my whole family.

Adoptee Voice #13

  • I have hated every single birthday I can remember. Everyone always thought I should love them and celebrate them! It never felt like my day or my birthday. Long story short at the age of 38 I found my birth mother 1 week ago. The day I had always celebrated my birthday was not the day I was born! I have no idea how I will feel for the next one….Feb always thought, March actual!
    Life literally changed overnight and upside down. I thought being adopted was hard, at this stage being reunited is even harder. My birth mother seems lovely and kinda “gets me” more than my adoptive mother. Huge journey/roller coaster ride about to begin.

Adoptee Voice #14

  • Growing up my birthdays were a mixed deal. The birthday party or events my parents had lined up were always fun things I really liked. But there is just something about the day I was born and always feeling like my biological mom did not even love me enough to keep me. Once I got into what my parents had planed it was always a fun day. But the lead up was bad for years. After I became an late teen and adult the day got worse. For years I would just ignore it, spending the whole day doing yard work, even mowing a relatives or a neighbors yard just things to keep my super busy and my mind off my birthday. The last few years have been better. I have dealt with my life much more working through it instead of burying it. I am beginning to feel I deserve to be happy or at least not sad on my day. Like others have sad feelings I have put in the work to earn my day. Wanting to show my biological mom this stubborn, loud, fussy baby turned out just fine!!!!

Adoptee Voice #15

  • It didn’t really seem much different than any other non-adoptees birthday, until I found out last year that by birth mother and I share the same birthday. I must have been the worst birthday present ever.

Adoptee Voice #16

  • For me I used substances for 26 years, so I didn’t have to process the pain of the realities of adoption. Birthdays were always a dreaded day filled with pain, loss, unconscionable grief and having to celebrate it was possible but only with alcohol in my life. 8/13/12 I decided I wanted to live a sober lifestyle and all the REALITIES of adoption came flooded in. I truly wasn’t prepared for it all. When you run for so many years how can you prepare. In the last 5 years I’ve worked towards handling these emotions in a healthy way. I am not gonna lie, there were birthdays I just couldn’t even get out of bed and it goes the same for the weeks leading up to that day. It was a dreaded day for many years, but recently I’ve given myself permission (because no one else in the world has) to be sad on that day, cry and share my feelings in my blog. I’ve learned it’s perfectly normal to be sad on the day I was separated from my birth mother. I wanted to erase the entire day and erase myself in the process! Thank God it wasn’t possible but I would have done it 100x over if it was. Today after almost 5 years of recovery and sobriety, my sessions of the pain of my birthday is still there, but each year I process and share my feelings and others validate them (THIS IS CRITICAL FOR US!) things get easier. This year, I will wake up on my birthday (Aug 13) and prob play a song that reminds me of my birth mother (My Way- By Frank Sinatra) and cry awhile. Why? Because it’s okay to cry awhile. Once I get that out of the way I might write about what I’m feeling and share it with those who understand, and get on with the day. I plan to go hiking with my kids and go see a waterfall and enjoy the rest of the day. You see, it’s critical we are able to process the pain because leaving it inside only KILLS us inside! Adoptees grow up, and they don’t stay babies forever. I wish someone would have told me it was okay to be sad on this day. If you are an adoptee who struggles with your birthday please know you aren’t alone!

Adoptee Voice #17

  • Birthdays for me, are somewhat hollow. There is an entire person who has never been acknowledged, celebrating his birthday, but as a different person. There is sadness and pain in any holiday for me. I still enjoy it. Just is different for me.

Adoptee Voice #18

  • We didn’t make a big deal out of birthdays or holidays while growing up. So, it’s still just that…not a big deal. A few people wish me happy birthday, but other than that it’s just another day.

Adoptee Voice #19

  • I always thought that the day I was born was the ultimate irony. I came into this world on Mother’s Day. I could never wrap my head around how that must have felt for my birth mother. My feelings towards my birthday fluctuate with the feelings I have for my biological parents. When I was younger, I had deep anger & spent my birthday wondering if they were thinking of me, hoping they were & hoping that it hurt like hell. My anger morphed into depression and my birthday has since caused me a deep sense of sadness & it is the time when I feel the greatest sense of abandonment.

Adoptee Voice #20

  • As a kid, I never thought twice about it. In the last 20 years it weighs on me, heavily. I’m now 42. My adopted father left as soon as the adoption was finalized leaving my mom and I. She passed away 4 years ago and I always think she loved me when no one else did. The date before the actual birthday is the toughest. Now that I have my own family I can remember every nuance of that day leading to their birth. Every year seems to be harder than the previous.

Adoptee Voice #21

  • I would never think twice about my birthday until I turned 16. I don’t know whether It’s because it’s an important milestone in our culture, or whether it’s because I was finally mature enough to understand the implications of adoption. From then on, a pattern began to develop. Each birthday would start off happy..until it didn’t. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing but out of nowhere I suddenly become overwhelmed with thoughts of my birth mother. Is she thinking about me? Does she get as sad as I do on this day? Has she been longing for me as much as I have been? Etc. Unfortunately, this feeling of loss has only continued to grow with each birthday.

Adoptee Voice #21

  • It’s my birthday, that’s all there is to it. I don’t have huge blowout gatherings or what have you, but I’ll do something to enjoy it. I feel blessed that people contact me in whatever manner they do to wish me well on that day!

Adoptee Voice #22

  • I remind people who love me it is an anniversary loss day, my body is grieving. I noticed a pattern likely in my childhood, usually crying on my birthday at the end of the day and not knowing why, had a full panic attach at age 19, and generally feeling sad for about 4-6 weeks around my birthday despite the happy celebrations. I love getting older but the loss does not seem to lessen with time, now almost 50, even after a happy reunion.

Adoptee Voice #23

  • It’s supposed to be such a happy day and every one wants you to be happy. But for me there’s always been something, something that spoils it. Something underlying that prevented me. It was only when I grew old enough to relate that it was the day “she” gave me away and chose never to see me again. To severe that 9 month bond and drastically change the course of my life without my consent.

Adoptee Voice #24

  • Like always, going through the motions, pretending to be happy because that is what everyone expects. Now, I am older, I choose to spend it alone with as little fuss as possible. This was a hard lesson for my natural siblings to learn on my first birthday post-reunion, they staged a birthday bash which I did not attend. It was always a painful period leading up to the actual day but it feels worse now, post-reunion. I was 5 years too late to meet my Mother and now, it just feels like the anniversary of when I lost her.

Adoptee Voice #25

  • My birthday doesn’t really bother me. I get really irritable around it, but on the day it’s always the best day. I try to make that day as happy as I can.

Adoptee Voice #26

  • I wonder if my ” mother ” thinks about me on my birthday.

Adoptee Voice #27

  • I can go into a full blown PTSD episode just because it’s that anniversary.

Adoptee Voice #28

  • It is simply the worst day of the year. Nothing fits.

Adoptee Voice #29

  • A yearly reminder that I was brought into this world to be given away, nothing more.

Adoptee Voice #30

  • I hate my birthday.

Adoptee Voice #31

  • It’s the saddest day of the year for me.

 

As you can see many adoptees share similar feelings regarding our birthdays. If you are an adoptee reading, please know you aren’t alone.

You matter and your feelings matter.

To all the adoptees who were brave in sharing their voices, THANK YOU for helping the world understand how it feels to be adopted. Keep sharing, keep using your voice!

If you are a non-adoptee reading this, thank you for making it this far. Your courage in having the willingness to want to learn how we feel is amazing alone. Please share this post in our online communities to help us raise awareness of how it feels to be adopted.

If you are an adoptee and would like to add how you feel about your birthday, please reply to this post and I’ll add it for you.

Blessings to all & thanks for reading.

Pamela Karanova

Adult Adoptee

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