Leaving the Church, Quitting the Search

img_1536Finding time to write in my own blog has been nonexistent lately. WHY? Because I’m putting everyone and everything in my life ahead of myself. Writing has always been EXTREMELY therapeutic for me for so many reasons. You can see my blog goes all the way back to 2012 and I’ve been consistent until the last year or so.

I’ve decided for my own piece of mind, sanity, recovery, and self-care I need to keep writing in my blog! Writing is part of my recovery from life! Sometimes I might need to put it ahead of other things going on in my life. I really have allowed myself the grace and space to be okay with that. Hopefully everyone else will too.

This is something I’ve wanted to write about for a few years now. My family and I left the church a few years ago, and I have yet to share my experiences like I want too because anytime I mention anything about THE CHURCH, I have people come out of the wood works trying to silence me. This has only given me the opportunity to take a few steps back and gear myself up for sharing my truth as I see it here in my blog. I have so many thoughts and feelings and emotions about it that my mind is literally all over the place a lot of the time.

I’m so thankful for the very few close friends I have who don’t judge me, they don’t try to silence me, they just listen and hear me out. They have literally been my saving graces during this season of my life.  Thank you to each of you! You know who you are.

In this article I really want to touch base on the fact that I realize there are many wonderful and positive things that came from our previous church experience. You would expect this, because a church is supposed to the hospital for the hurting. I also want to share some things that have been very positive and exciting after leaving.  The church we belonged too was a place to belong, become, believe and build. Our family finally felt like we found our way home. We spent 4 years of attending, serving, leading, mentoring, dedicated wholeheartedly to this church. We put it above everything in our lives. Sometimes we would be at the church 4-5 times a week. WE WERE DEDICATED.

Being an adult adoptee, I’ve always felt like I was somewhere in the middle between 2 families. Abandoned and rejected by my biological parents, accepted by my adoptive parents, but I never was exactly what they had wished for when they adopted a child. I always felt like many adoptees feel. Like an outsider looking in, somewhere between lost and found trying to find my way in this world, feeling alone most of the time.

When we walked through the doors of this church, this changed. We were filled with this euphoric feeling being around a building of people who all seemed happy, fun, positive and wonderful to be around. Of course, there will always be those who you don’t jive with, which is to be expected. We started attending in February 2012 and after a few months of attending our lives were centered around church activities and commitments in serving in different ministries. At one period I was serving in 4 areas at one time.

August 13, 2012 was the day I had the last drink of alcohol. I’ve been living in sobriety ever since. I started Celebrate Recovery which is a Christ Centered recovery ministry which was one of the ministries at this church. Everything fell into place, so it seemed.

I found a new love for worshiping and from this moment forward, I became a worshiper at heart. My kids did as well. I had twins that were starting high school, and my oldest daughter was starting college. I loved hearing the word, and our pastor was on point! My kids became full time students in the youth ministry, and they were even serving in many areas themselves. We built relationships with countless amounts of people, served our hearts away, spent hundreds of hours dedicating our time to church activities, and for 4 years THIS WAS OUR LIFE.

When we walked out the doors as a family, it was around the time Donald Trump was elected. I know this was the same story-line for many people at many churches across the nation. My kids and I held on tight with one another and I knew that God was escorting us out the doors, not for one reason but for many.

Once again, I was back in the place where I was 4 years earlier. This “church family” I once clung so tight too, was no longer existent. Just like my biological family, and my adoptive families. I was on my own with my kids, and I knew it. I unfriended all the “church acquaintances” from my social media because I didn’t need the painful reminders of what we once had. I decided I no longer wanted relationships in my life that were conditional and dependent on if we went to the same spiritual place of worship.  This was okay with me because I prayed and asked God, if he intended for any of those people to TRULY be a part of my life, that he circle them back around organically and then I would know they were more than seasonal friends.

For the last 2.5 years my children and I have been in religious recovery from many aspects of our church experience. Religious trauma syndrome is a real thing! Spiritual Abuse is REAL!  Spiritual Bypassing is DAMAGING and happens in a lot of religious settings. It’s been an eye awakening experience to leave the church, and not only come out of the fog about adoption, but the church and religion as well. It’s left me with so many feelings and emotions I need to share. Just like adoption I’ve learned about 99% of the time if I share my feelings about church in a public setting, social media, etc. the norm is for others to want to silence me. They really don’t truly want to listen to what I have to say. This has left me extremely discouraged and aggravated on many levels.  Like any wound, if it’s not tended to it will manifest in many other ways in one’s life. For me, ANGER has permeated in many ways because of the lack of resources available for those who leave the church HURT. My anger has subsided, and I’ve prayed for grace so I’m able to share my views from a more compassionate space. It’s been 2.5 years of leaving, and it’s taken this long where I feel like I can write about it. Just like the lack of resources for adult adoptees to be able to process pain, the church hurt has only compacted due to no resources to help someone navigate what life looks like outside the church. Anger is a natural response to an experience like this. I know I’m not the first nor the last person to leave the church hurt. You might be asking, “What is the big fuss about?”.

I’m going to spend the next few months sharing my views on what my big fuss is all about. My experience is valid, and so are the experiences of my children. My views about Christianity, Church & Religion are also very valid. I’m going to spend some time interviewing them, asking them some questions as well as sharing some insight of my own. My overall goal is to heal through writing since it’s almost impossible I find the space in this world to share my feelings without others interrupting me. This is truly one of my favorite parts about writing. You can read, or not read what I have written, but no one will interrupt me.

I will add I’m no spiritual guru who claims to know the bible from front to back. I know some scriptures, I have read some of the bible and I’ve learned a lot from it. But I’m no longer speaking Christianese and I’m no longer interested in silencing people with the word of God. I’m not trying to control situations by manipulating people because I’m right and they are wrong based on what the bible says. Sadly, while I was in the church, I learned this to be a piece of the way of life. Even if they never intended for it to be this way, It was what we were taught. Here in this blog, I will be as transparent as possible, speaking from my heart as to what has impacted me in positive and negative ways, based on my experiences. I’m never going to say I’m right and they are wrong. All experiences are valid.

For privacy reasons, I won’t put the name of the church I attended, nor the names of those who we’re involved in the reasons we walked away. They already know who they are, and those close to me know who they are. My goal is not to cause them any harm, but to share my truth as I see it and to hopefully reach someone out there who’s left their church and religion and they find themselves in a dark place, confused and alone. That was once me.

I’m VERY disgruntled about how damaging the church and even Christianity has become, and at the end of the day I want to share WHY I FEEL THIS WAY. If you come across my blog, and you can’t relate to what I’m sharing here please understand that’s totally okay. I’m not sharing my views to try to convince others how to feel or what to believe. That’s the last thing I want to do. But what I am doing is digging deep down in my spirit and sharing legitimate situations, and things that do not sit well with my spirit. I don’t feel that keeping quiet about these things is helping anyone, especially myself. It’s only hurting me, and just like my adoption journey, I have a story to tell. Freedom and healing begins to happen the moment we feel heard and validated.

I know for certain there are people out there who will be able to relate to what I’m going to share. There are people who have left the church who feel isolated and alone. There are others who are trying to figure out what’s next after leaving the church. I’m sharing and writing for those people, the ones on the outside of the church.

As I begin to share about this very personal part of my life, and my family’s life, I ask you remain neutral and try to understand that church doesn’t work for everyone. It doesn’t mean those on the outside of the church are less than, or “bad”. With my experience I’ve learned to have an entirely new perspective of those who don’t attend church, which is opposite of how I felt when I was inside the church. Sadly, I’m ashamed of some of my thinking and thought process during the time I was in the church. Those are other things I want to share here.

Please also take note, because of our church experience and leaving it’s opened our lives up to some amazing and wonderful things. I also want to be transparent on where this has taken us, because at the end of the day an awakening process has happened. We no longer see things like we used to see them when we were inside the church. We’ve learned to love more, accept people more, and find God and our happiness outside the 4 walls of the church. I can promise you, IT IS POSSIBLE! It doesn’t make me bad, or my family bad. It doesn’t mean we’ve backslidden. We aren’t less than because we are no longer washed up in religion.

Stay tuned for more articles and I take you on the journey as to why we left the church in November 2016 and why we’re stopping the search. The firsIMG_1553t article will be about the vulnerability of the people who walk through the doors of the church, people like me.  I want to share how the overwhelming “LOVE” we experienced by walking through the doors grabbed a hold of us and reeled us in. Only to find out this “LOVE” wasn’t real love after all. It was built on a false reality, based on the CONDITIONS that we attend this church. I want to share how this has impacted our family.

If you feel a strong urgency to let me know “Not all churches are the same” or “You need the community” I would like to ask you to reconsider. That’s not what I want to hear at this present time. It will not help me at all. I ask you open your heart to understand the possibilities that maybe others can find God MORE outside the church. Maybe it’s possible that church doesn’t work for everyone. I would love to have a chance to share what’s changed for me, and what’s helped me greatly since leaving the church!

If you subscribe to my blog, you will receive these articles as I share them. If you don’t, feel free to do so now. If you can relate to any of what I’ve shared so far, please feel free to leave me a message!

Thank you!

Much Love,

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Deep Inside I’ve Lived My Life with Secret Heart Wrenching Cries…

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Baby cries, little girl cries, grown woman cries.

It’s always been a secret and it’s not safe with anyone.

It was always tucked so far down inside. I’m talking about the pain of adoption and how it festered and manifested in my life in ways that non-adoptees can’t even comprehend.

The realities for me have always been that my feelings weren’t welcomed growing up or for most of my adult life. My greatest heartbreak was a couples biggest blessing. In my advocacy and experience in networking with hundreds of adoptees all over the world, it’s not just me and my “bad adoption experience”. You can take it or leave it, but it’s been the majority of most of us who have felt this way. If you are one of the adoptees who doesn’t agree, I respect your views, but I would like to ask, “How many adult adoptees have you gotten to know one on one and how many stories have you listened to in your life?”

Can you imagine living your life with pain so big, yet there was no one to share it with? No one wanted to hear your heart. Imagine if your biggest pain was celebrated by the world… Can you even imagine that? Imagine that your pain was irrelevant, so your suffering became evident.  Imagine being born as an “Adopted Child” and being 44 years old still being treated as that same “Adopted Child”.

I’m not a child.

Imagine never being allowed to tap into the feelings hidden deep inside, because you don’t even have the language to express these cries. Our world glorifies the secrets and lies that are the root of my cries.

There has never been a place for me here on this earth. Those who promote, glorify and celebrate adoption haven’t given me that option.

January 2018 everything changed for me. Adoptees Connect was birthed out of a vision that God gave me and this vision to create a community of adult adoptees who gather together in real life to support one another, encourage one another and lift one another up RIGHT WHERE WE ARE AT IN LIFE.

It was evident to me that all adult adoptees needed a safe space and if we were going to have something like this we were going to have to be the one’s to create it.

This world has failed us miserably, so I ask if you are reading this have you looked in the mirror lately? What part have you played in this?

Silence? You have nothing to say? That’s exactly why adoption is corrupt even to this day. We all have a choice to pick and choose what we advocate for, but my days of being silent have gone out the door. I know too much, I’ve seen too much, and my experience weighs too much. I owe it to me, and my fellow adoptees to shine my light and shine it bright.

Adoption, I’m not a little girl anymore.

Do you hear me?

Once upon a time you kept me silent, you made a mess of me from the inside out but today I’m taking it all back without a doubt. Step by step, day by day someone is going to listen to what I have to say. You can tune me out but I’m not going anywhere, and I’ve committed to myself and my community and I’ll continue to share.

I’m not hiding my pain anymore because it has a place in this world. It’s my motivation behind the calling God has on my life.

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My prayer is that all my fellow adoptees who feel alone, defeated and isolated please remember you are never alone. Please believe that the way you feel is NORMAL for a not normal situation. ADOPTION IS NOT NORMAL. There is nothing wrong with you. What is wrong is the world that refuses to acknowledge your pain and meet you in the middle space of your heartache.

NOTHING IS WRONG WITH YOU!

NOTHING IS WRONG WITH YOU!

NOTHING IS WRONG WITH YOU!

You are not bad, and you did nothing to deserve this. You have many reasons to be sad. I’ve made it my life’s mission to meet my fellow adoptees in their sadness, because giving a voice to our sadness, grief and loss is just as important as our happiness.

Yes, we all want happiness but until we uncover our sadness that’s deep down it will fester and manifest. Healing can happen, but we must meet people in the hurt and pain they carry. That’s a huge step of the healing process and without it happiness won’t be gained. So, when someone is sharing a painful experience please listen and learn from them. We all deserve the freedom that comes from being important enough that someone cares enough to listen to our hearts, especially the painful pieces.

Through Adoptees Connect, I’m committed to meeting adoptees in the places where the world rejects them.  We need one another and our stories matter. Or cries will be heard and hopefully you can be encouraged by this word. I have so many things on my heart to share but time is of the essence. I’ve finally found that this world has a place for me in finding purpose in my pain. My hidden tears will not go in vein.

I’m going to try to write more but always know I’m never very far. If you need a lifeline, REACH OUT TO ME! If you are thinking about planting an Adoptees Connect group in your city REACH OUT TO ME!

No More Hidden Tears!

I love you!

You are NOT Alone! 

p. karanova

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When Adoptive Parents Have the Willingness to Listen…

 

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Let me explain my recent change of heart on this topic.

I’ve discovered over the last few months I’ve been selling myself short in speaking to adoptive parents. For those who know me, they know I’ve always said my passion and gifting is for adult adoptees. The ones who are broken, hurting, isolated, and alone. They need someone who understands them, and they are my motivation, my reason to keep sharing and keep writing.

On the other hand, I’ve also backed it up on many occasions that my gifting is NOT in speaking with Adoptive Parents. I’ve shouted this loud and clear and let the adoption/adoptee community know that it’s just not my strong suit. It’s not my area of expertise.

Why you might ask?

Because I find them to be triggering to the max on many fronts. A lot of crossing paths with them have been in online settings, and it’s hard to tell if I was inserting my option when it was asked for or if I was simply sharing my views. Most all times it’s been triggering is when they refuse to listen, learn and acknowledge my truth, even if they don’t understand it or agree with it.

Over the last 7 years of sharing my journey, I’ve found that more times than not Adoptive Parents don’t have the willingness to LISTEN & LEARN from Adult Adoptees which defeats the purpose of sharing all my knowledge based on lived experiences being an adoptee. This has caused me to put my wall up with them and retreat solely with networking and focusing on my fellow adoptees. The wall has been up for years!

Something amazing happened a few months ago. I will leave names out for privacy, but a long-time friend reached out to me and said she would love if we could meet so we could talk about some things. She’s now an adoptive mom. At first, I was a little reluctant because in my mind, I don’t have a gifting for speaking to Adoptive Parents. But there was something different about her. Not only did I know her and have known her for along time but she actually WANTED TO LEARN AND LISTEN.

What I had based my views on regarding not having gifting to speak to adoptive parents is because so much of my experience is them wanting to talk over me, shut me down, silence me, or better yet have no intention to LISTEN, but always wanting to be heard. Sadly, these experiences outweigh the good experiences in interacting with adoptive parents in my world. Unfortunately, this is the reason I have excluded Adoptive Parents from my inner circle. They have only caused more damage to me by the attitude they have, and I can no longer allow those type of people to be inside my very valuable space.

My views have shifted after meeting with my friend who is now an Adoptive Parent. I love her. She loves me. We have a mutual respect for one another and have known one another for at least 25 years. She genuinely wanted some advice, and I was honored and elated she would seek me out to receive it.

RECEIVE IT.

Let’s say it again…

RECEIVE IT…

That’s right. It’s been highlighted to me that my friend wanted to receive what I had to share, and this is exactly what the difference is between her and so many other Adoptive Parents I’ve come across. So many of them don’t want to receive what Adult Adoptees have to say even when we hold the most valuable experience in the adoption equation. There is no therapist, or counselor who understands this thing like we do, unless they are adoptees themselves. I promise you this is the TRUTH!

In my 7 years of being out of the fog, networking in the adoption/adoptee community I have only come across a small handful of Adoptive Parents who have reached out to me and supported me, who have had the willingness to listen and learn. A VERY SMALL HANDFUL. If you are one of them, I will share I appreciate you more than you know and thank you for having the willingness to listen and learn to help understand your adoptive child better.

I say to myself all the time, “If only ALL adoptive parents were that way, adoptees wouldn’t be 4x more likely to attempt suicide. Adoptees wouldn’t be over populated in the prisons, jails, treatment facilities and mental health facilities. If only more adoptive parents had the willingness to LISTEN AND LEARN from Adult Adoptees they could HELP US, adoptees all over the world wouldn’t be so broken” And yes, adoptees all over this world are broken, hurting and they have no where to turn. Some of them are in their 60’s and 70’s and they’ve lived their entire lives suffering in silence because our world won’t acknowledge the pain they have had to carry their entire lives.  I’ve seen too much, and I know too much. I can’t unsee what I’ve seen or unknow what I know.

If you don’t believe me visit my Facebook pages Ask an Adoptee and How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? You could also visit the website I created for adoptees to share their stories at How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? If you have networked with as many as adoptees as I have and heard their stories, listened to them and validated them you would see why the adoptee community is so important to me and my number one focus and cause in life. You would understand why we need Adoptive Parents to listen & learn.

Having many years of experience and my new turn of events in having the grace and willingness to share with my friend who is an adoptive parent, it’s helped me realize that I DO HAVE THE GIFT to talk to adoptive parents but there is a stipulation. It’s the adoptive parents who have the willingness to listen and learn.

I’ve found that it’s not my job to educate adoptive parents because I simply don’t owe anyone anything in that area. On the other hand, when an adoptive parent comes to me like my friend did, and they sincerely want to listen and learn I will do my best to share my experience with the utmost respect and truth and present it with the most understanding way possible. I appreciate my friend coming to me more than she will ever know, and she was so brave to have the willingness to listen and learn. I hope and pray the same for all Adoptive Parents all over the world. When the Adoptive Parents want to listen and learn, it helps their Adoptive Child because they begin to understand better.

In talking to my friend I learned she was very rare Adoptive Parent in wanting to listen and learn. Our time together was priceless, and we shared from our hearts our experiences and we both welcomed questions and had the willingness to speak gracefully about the unexpected situations that come from raising an adoptive child, especially the ones the Adoption Agencies don’t tell you about.

I’ve decided that I do have the grace and the gift, but each situation in me connecting with an adoptive parent will be unique in my choosing in who I want to engage with. Being an adoptee, I lost all choices for most of my life, and still losing some today so today I CHOOSE.

For the Adoptive Parents who don’t have the willingness to listen and learn, I have absolutely no time for them nor will I waste my time on trying to connect because they are EXTREMELY triggering to me. It’s simple.

In the future I have a vision of incorporating a discussion panel into our Adoptees Connect Small Groups (separate from our monthly meetings) where Adoptive Parents and Birth Parents would be able to come ask Adult Adoptees questions. The key is, they are coming to RECEIVE what we are willing to share. I feel this will be a game changer for the Adoption Communities all over the place. I hope to put this vision into action Spring 2019 and Adoptees Connect will have been planted for a little over a year. By then I will have some Adult Adoptees who are on board for being on the Discussion Panel. Lot’s in the works for Adoptees Connect!

I’ve had it on my heart to share this article for some time, but life has been crazy, but things are slowing down a bit.

My question is, if you are an Adoptive Parent do you have the willingness to listen and learn from Adult Adoptees? If you answered “YES” to that question I commend you. Every time I get questions from Adoptive Parents & Birth Parents on the “Ask an Adoptee” page on Facebook I commend them! They are seeking the valuable voices of Adult Adoptees who have the lived experiences to back it up.

Things are changing, and things are looking up, but we still have so much work to do!

If you answered “NO” to this question I would like to encourage you to seek deep in your heart and ask yourself “WHY?”. Is it fear? Fear of the truth? It will eventually come to surface as all truth does, and I would much rather you be prepared and ready for whatever is to come than to live in denial and your adoptive child live a life like I did and so many other adoptees. Isolated. Alone. Disconnected. Hurt. Traumatized. Many Adult Adoptees have the willingness to share our perspectives with you, but you must meet us half way and have the willingness to listen and learn.

For my fellow Adoptees, how do you feel about speaking to Adoptive Parents? As I shared, it’s not our responsibility but if you have chosen to navigate this into your adoption/adoptee advocacy, do the adoptive parents you are speaking to have the willingness to listen and learn? I would love to learn your experiences?

Thanks for reading!

Pamela Karanova | Adult Adoptee

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