My Birth Mothers Shoes

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?”

CLICK.

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…

24 hours

48 hours

1 week

3 weeks

5 weeks

I met the mailman at the mailbox daily.

Waiting

Waiting

Anticipating

2 months

4 months

5 months

Did I mention I hate WAITING on people to this day?

This is why.

I called her.

No answer.

I called her again.

No answer.

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.

Love, Love

Wishing I Was Aborted & Wanting to Die…

I’m glad I was able to get your attention for a few moments…

Over the years, I have written a bit regarding certain times in my life where I wished my birth mother aborted me. I’ve also written other times about wishing I would die or wishing I was dead.

This doesn’t mean I promote abortion.

This doesn’t mean I promote suicide.

This means, this is how I have felt at certain times of my life and I have had enough courage to share my feelings with the world. Sometimes it might be in this blog or in online communities, or in real life.

It’s hard to have value for “life” when every day of my life has felt like I’m in a living nightmare in my mind regarding my adoption journey. How do you live everyday of your life with a broken heart? It’s hard to value LIFE when the woman that should love you the most not only abandons you but rejects you when you find her. It’s hard to value life when you feel like your entire existence on earth was to fill a void in someones life, but they never really cared about me. I was purchased for a price to the next adoptive parents in line. It was never about me. It’s hard to value life when no one on earth has ever given a shit about my feelings about the trauma, grief, loss and all the issues adoption has brought my way.

IT’S A EVERYDAY STRUGGLE FOR SOME OF US!

“Oh you just had a bad adoption experience!”

My views are, If we’re completely honest, every adoption experience is rooted as a bad experience because what any adoptee has to go through to get adopted is grounded in trauma and loss.  The fact we are severed from our roots, history, medical history, ethnicity, birth parents, siblings, etc. is enough reason for us to say it’s a bad experience.

If you can view adoption as “beautiful” you aren’t acknowledging the trauma that comes with it, and that is a problem. I’ll save that for my next blog post.

Trauma is not beautiful, it’s hard and complicating, and painful.

Do all adoptees feel like their adoption constitutes as a “Bad Experience?” Absolutely not. I can’t speak for all adoptees, I can only speak for myself and knowing hundreds of adoptees all over the world, I know MANY of us feel this way.

If I dig a little deeper and share why at times I’ve felt like I wanted to die I can assure you I was at a very dark place regarding my adoption journey. More than likely if I shared something like this online or in my blog it’s because I didn’t have any “safe space” in my real life to share these feelings. It’s because not only did I feel like I wanted to die, but I have always carried the burden for feeling this way on top of feeling how I felt.

As if feeling like I wanted to die wasn’t enough…

The feelings of wanting to die are usually triggered by different seasons of my adoptee experience. It comes in waves, and when feelings associated with abandonment, rejection, trauma, complicated grief & loss come flooding in it can easily take me out. What does take me out mean? I can slide into a depression, and during this time things are dark and grim. There has never been any help for me, (for many of us adoptees) so it can feel like a dark cloud is hanging over my head and there is nowhere to turn.

ALONE.

HELPLESS.

On occasion I’ve shared how I was angry at my birth mother for choosing life. It’s the truth and if you can’t understand it or grasp it consider yourself one of the fortunate ones. You also might be someone who doesn’t have the willingness to TRY to want to learn why I have felt this way or to try to learn why other adoptees might feel this way? Either way, I had to go through the emotions I was feeling. A few years back I worked on some areas of healing as I continue to do. One of the areas I was mad as hell about was wishing my birth mother aborted me.

THE PAIN HAS BEEN THAT GREAT!

Writing about it was one of the biggest healing tools I have yet to discover. Sharing it with others is also another healing tool. It takes it from a deep hidden secret of feeling this way,  to a release by sharing my feelings that are very real with others who can hopefully understand, validate and let me know I’m not alone. In no way sharing these feelings was I ever advocating for abortion and I don’t appreciate anyone saying otherwise.

Situations like this that happen it’s another layer of what adoptees have to go through. Not only do we feel the way we do which is hard enough in itself, but we’re shamed by society for feeling that way. Our words can be easily twisted by someone who has never thought twice about reaching out to us in a caring, humane and concerning way. To top it off, there is usually no help for us, or no safe spaces to share these feelings so a lot of time online is our only source to share. Thank God Adoptees Connect is popping up in many cities and other adoptee support groups as well. Things are changing for the good but it hasn’t always been this way.

There are those who don’t agree with with others say and they can’t just move along. They have to make sure they point out why they don’t feel that way and why it’s horrible we do. “My friend who’s adopted doesn’t feel that way at all!” or “My husband is adopted and he never has felt that way” – Or better yet, and the most damaging of all, a fellow adoptee saying, “I’m so sad and disappointed so many adoptees have no value for life, and talk about wishing they were aborted or dead. I have never felt that way and I have made the choice to make something of my life. I wish they would do the same”

Don’t you think if we could just turn the switch on to be one of the “Happy well-adjusted” adoptees, we would do it? Don’t you think we would rather feel happy all the time than deal with these emotions? I think most adoptees would rather not have these issues, but when we are dealing with so many complexities and layers of trauma it doesn’t happen that way for many of us.

TRAUMA TAKES TIME TO HEAL AND EVERYONE HEALS AT DIFFERENT STAGES

The fact of the matter is, when people share their feelings online or in real life, it’s really best to try to validate their feelings and listen to what they have to say. Just because you don’t feel this way and you never have doesn’t mean you need to point it out to someone and disregard how they are feeling because it doesn’t line up with how you feel.

When people process emotions about wishing they were aborted or having feelings of wanting to die, and you happen to be on the receiving end of hearing them share these words please consider yourself honored. If someone is actually sharing something like this they may have kept deep inside for what can be a very long time. Your response is critical!

Don’t silence them, and try to make them feel guilty for feeling this way. Shaming them and making them feel guilty because you have processed your adoption issues, and they haven’t isn’t going to help, only hurts them.

“It makes me so sad to see so many adoptees talk about wishing they were aborted and wishing they were dead!” – Well HELLO!

It seems to me this world we live in might want to take a wake up pill because if so many adoptees are saying these things IT’S FOR A REASON. Many reasons actually.

For me, I had to face the pain of the TRUTH of adoption, MY ADOPTION and come out of the FOG and acknowledge the realities of how my life played out. Some days the pain has been SO GREAT I would rather DIE than deal with another day of this pain. Does that mean I’m suicidal? NO, for me I wasn’t suicidal although I have been in the past when I was younger. It means that at that moment in my life, dying seems like a better plan than facing the pain of ADOPTION. That’s how great my pain was. I never had a suicide plan as an adult, but that doesn’t mean some adoptees don’t. For me, I have a ton of reason TO LIVE and there are so many areas in life I love, my kids mainly. But there is far more to it than me just saying I wanted to die.

Does that mean other adoptees aren’t suicidal when they say they want to die or they would rather die? I can’t comment on that but because adoptees attempt suicide 4x more than non adoptees.  I think it’s time society as a whole stop ignoring these staggering facts.

BE CAUTIOUS HOW YOU RESPOND TO HURTING ADOPTEES!

We really can’t afford to not listen to Adoptees.

If you are an adoptee and have been fortunate enough to move beyond your depression, and you’re wanting to die, and your issues with being adopted and you have come to a place of peace regarding your adoption journey that’s wonderful. But let me share, those adoptees who aren’t at that place yet don’t need YOU, their fellow adoptee telling them how sad and sorry you are they feel that way and minimize their feelings by sharing how you don’t feel that way at all. This only adds shame to how they already feel.

We don’t need it, especially from our fellow adoptees.

Never look down on someone unless you’re helping them up. – Jesse Jackson

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I have a question for anyone reading, adopted or not.

If you learn of an adoptee or anyone for that matter share feelings in real life or online, about wishing they were aborted or wishing they would die have you reached out to them on a personal level? Have you said to them, “I’m so sorry you are feeling this way. My heart hurts for you. Can you tell me more about why you are feeling this way? How can I help you?” Do you have the willingness to reach out to these people and try to understand where they are coming from? Do you have the willingness to LISTEN without the intent to reply? Do you have the willingness to try to put yourself in this persons shoes, even when you can’t relate to what they are saying because “That wasn’t my experience!”

My reason for writing this blog post is to share I have had times in my life where I have felt anger towards my birth mother because she didn’t abort me, and I have felt like I wanted to die many times but this does not define who I am. It’s all been a part of my healing process. If I didn’t have so many deep-rooted adoptee issues, I honestly would be doing great in life. Just so happens, the pain from adoption has been the very same pain that has been my reason for starting Adoptees Connect and Adoptee Merch. It’s that same pain that God is going to turn around and use it for His good.

Are you meeting people where they are?

Pain and all?

Aside from adoption and the trauma it’s caused me I consider myself a survivor and I’m surviving daily. Adoption tried to kill me, but I’m here and alive. I have so many things to be thankful for. Some days I wonder why it’s so hard for me to be thankful for my life, which is something I feel guilty about daily. The best way I can describe it is that I’ve never until recently (out of the fog) ever felt like I was alive to begin with. I felt like the walking dead. I have no birth story. I have no roots grounded in anything. I don’t feel connected to anything other than my kids. I’ve spent my entire life grieving what should have been and what was lost. The same tears I cried in grief are the same tears the world celebrates because adoption is viewed as “beautiful”.

This adds more pain on pain on pain…

What has changed everything for me and given me a reason to live is my kids. They are the reason I’m thankful for my life because I’m thankful for them. They are the reason I get up daily because they are my motivation. They are the reason I’m still alive. It’s not for myself. If they weren’t here I wouldn’t be alive. I would have been dead many years ago. I would have no purpose and that’s MY TRUTH.

Now that I am processing through my pain, and I’m out of the fog, I’m at a place where I’ve learned my passion in life. Healing is happening, but it wouldn’t be happening if I could never share my feelings.

IN ORDER TO HEAL IT WE HAVE TO FEEL IT!

 Even those adoptees who are sharing online they want to die and wish they were aborted!

God has placed a calling on my life to do what I’m doing in the adoptee community. If I’m able to frame it this way, being adopted has been the hardest experience of my life, but I know God is going to do amazing things and my pain will be used for good. In order to frame it this way I had to feel validated, heard, listened too.

So my question is…

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ARE YOU LISTENING?

Because if you are inserting your opinion without ever asking a person why they feel the way they feel you really are out-of-order.

Do I still wish my birth mother aborted me? Sometimes those thoughts come over my mind, but they come and go like a vapor. Usually its the times when my pain is so great, I see no light and no way out. When I stay busy in life, the less time I have to think about the realities of adoption and the damage it has done in my life. Every day I can move forward towards healing is a new day I have to discover who I am and what I enjoy doing in life. There is more to me and my life than being an adoptee. I love being a mom. I love nature, hiking, chasing waterfalls. I enjoy the simple things in life-like sunrises, sunsets, bonfires, hot tea and coffee. I’m a caregiver by career and absolutely love what I do for a living. I have a small host of close friends and a few family members I am in touch with. Adoptee issues still surface and will always surface, for me it’s learning how to ride the waves.

So please, the next time you are around someone who is sharing their heart, no matter how your experience was or is, no matter who you know that was adopted who had a wonderful experience, know it doesn’t give you the right to tell us how we should feel. Also, please understand that just because you are at a peaceful place of your adoption, not all of us are. Let’s learn to embrace one another exactly as we are, not as you think we should be.

We’re already in a world that glorifies our trauma, we don’t need it from our fellow adoptees. Please, be kind and in that have compassion for others who are nothing like you. Try to understand them and put yourself in their shoes. Listen more.

Empathy goes along way.

Thanks for reading.

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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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