The Gift of a Grandmother

“And one day she discovered that she was fierce, and strong and full of fire, and that not even she could hold herself back because her passion burned brighter than her fears” – Mark Anthony

I wonder if anyone who has their grandmother in their life ever wonders what it’s like to never have one? Are they thankful for her? Same for a grandfather…

I’ve lived with many types of fear in my life, as we all have but I’ve also been working at freeing myself from fear so I can live a happier more prosperous life. Some people say FEAR stands for “FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL” but my reasons for FEAR are real.

There has been nothing false about them.

FEARan unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

I always had a dream of meeting my biological grandmother who resides in Leon, Iowa. I found out she was alive and well in 2010 and during that time my mind has been tormented on wishing I could go see her and meet her at least one time.

I have never met a biological grandparent and she is the only one who is still living. I made 2 attempts to go see her in the past and both failed at the hands of my biological father.  He made the choice for himself to reject me after 2 meetings. At one point he promised me he would take me to meet her in 2011. I drove all the way to Leon, Iowa from Kentucky and arrived only for Him to tell me he changed His mind. He said he thought it would “Kill Her”. I was crushed, and the words “Kill Her” stuck with me all these years which has kept me away from trying to meet her on my own accord. Reality is, he didn’t want his secret from 1974 of infidelity to his wife to get out. He was ashamed and it was easier for him to reject me than face His mistakes. He wasn’t letting the cat out of the bag. I was still a dirty little secret. After all I was conceived out of an affair while he was married.

After this huge disappointment in my life I had some years to think longer and harder about Him making this choice for my grandmother. It never settled well with my spirit, which is quite fierce by the way. People can make choices for themselves but I find it totally unfair when someone makes a choice for another person, only thinking of themselves. Does anyone who does this understand they are robbing other’s of memories that can never be replaced? This has caused me more grief & anger in my entire lifetime than you could imagine, not to mention the pain from THIS played a HUGE part in my addiction issues for 27 years of my life.

Perhaps this is why TIME is so important to me?

Time Spent is more valuable than anything.

Visiting my grandmother continued to nag at my spirit.

I have felt like all these years God was whispering, Just GO, Just GO“…

But FEAR.

Another attempt I was able to call my grandmother and speak to her about coming to visit her. She was okay with the idea, and I told her I would come around Easter 2014. I suspect my birth father stood in the way of that visit because she stopped answering my phone calls and the phone number ended up disconnected soon after. It’s hard to tell if he did it out of spite, or if it was when she had to move from independent living at her own apartment to assisted living. Either way my 2nd attempt had failed.

A few more years passed.

During this time I would check Google at least once a month, sometimes weekly to see if she was still alive all the while searching for her obituary. This is something many adoptees do, especially when we’ve been shut out.  My mind would wander about how I would respond if she had passed  away and I never got to meet her. I would visualize being really angry, filled with rage, crying and screaming, even falling into a deep depression.

CLOSED ADOPTION stood in the way of me knowing this woman who I shared DNA with. Not our choice, but the choice made for us by others.  I visualized myself having a complete mental and emotional breakdown if she had passed and I found her obituary on Google. My birth father didn’t even know I existed because of the lies my birth mother told- “FATHER UNKNOWN”. I was given up for adoption without my birth fathers consent and because of this my grandmother didn’t know I existed for most of my life.

Why should we be robbed of knowing one another because of other peoples actions?

LIES AND SECRETS ARE NEVER OKAY- EVEN IN ADOPTION

LIES HURT

THIS HURTING IS LIFELONG FOR ADOPTEES

I’m almost 43 and the pain continues.

See here- When a birthmother lies & keeps secrets.

Non-adoptees wouldn’t have a clue about understanding this.

Adoptees, I know you get it.

They always say the 3rd time is a charm, so here it is. After much praying, seeking advice and counsel from those close to me and from adoptees near and far I decided to make the trip to see and meet my grandmother for the first, and possibly last time. I knew if I didn’t just pick a date I would never do it so June 24, 2017 was the day I was driving to meet her and lay eyes on her.

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A Road Trip I Would Never Forget…

I must admit my fear was still so great. I need to share I work with elderly for a living and I have been working with them for 12+ years. I see how they sit and wait on their loved ones to come visit them. Most of them never get the visits they wait for, but they keep waiting. I knew in my heart of hearts I was going to bring nothing but love to my grandmother, but what if something more was waiting for me?

I drove to Iowa on June 23rd and was able to see and hang out with one of my favorite cousins from my adoptive family. She was definitely a light for me at this emotional time. She took me to her dads flower farm and he helped me hand pick a special bouquet of flowers to take to my grandmother the next morning. It was beautiful to be able to do this. As the evening of June 23rd hit and I was ready to go to sleep the racing increased and thoughts of “What if…” took over my mind. I actually ended up taking something to help me sleep because I knew if I didn’t I wouldn’t sleep at all. My mind was racing with thoughts like, “What if they have me on the block list and I can’t see her?” or “What if my birth father is there and he throws me out?”. The fear wasn’t from God. I know this but it took over and it was extremely difficult for me to move through the fear and do this anyway.

At 6:15AM on Saturday June 24th my alarm went off. 

Today was the day I had waited for for YEARS!

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I was all the way across the country and I was going to meet my biological grandmother for the first time. No, she didn’t know I was coming. I woke up and started to get ready. My anxiety was through the roof, and more fear was setting in. My stomach started to hurt and it felt like it was in knots.

The FEAR was so great at one point I almost said “Forget it”.  I almost didn’t go, even after I drove all the way to Iowa FOR THIS. This might sound crazy but it was like God was giving me the PUSH to just do it and push through my fear and go anyway. I seriously couldn’t have done it without God in my life.

My cousin said, “There is no way I would do what you are about to do!”.

“Her soul is fierce, her heart is brave, her mind is strong” – R.H. Sin

I continued on, packed up my car and left Iowa City, Iowa about 7:30AM. Leon, IA was 3 hours south of Iowa City< IA so I had another 3 hour drive to get to the nursing home my grandmother was at. That drive seemed like a 100 hour drive. My mind was racing on what I was going to do if my birth father was there, or another family member. Not one of them has been accepting to me. I’ve only received rejection from my birth fathers entire family so what would be different about my grandmother? Would she reject me too? Had my birth father ever talked to her about me? I actually talked to her on the phone 2x over the years and shared with her who I was but it’s hard to tell if she really understood what I was saying, but if I was to guess she received a pretty big clue I was her granddaughter.

The closer I got to Leon, Iowa the the more nervous I became. At one point I almost vomited when I stopped to use the restroom. The feeling I had is hard to describe but I was able to make a connection to this feeling is the same way I felt as a child when I was in and out of the hospital for stomach aches. SAME EXACT FEELING! I’ve heard lots of adoptees have had stomach issues! I was honestly taken back by this. The fear, anxiety and nervousness is the exact feeling I had growing up in my adoptive home which landed me in the hospital many times. I couldn’t believe that I was feeling this same way going to meet my grandmother. It was triggering to be feeling the feeling that took me back to my childhood but…

 I continued on.

I felt like God was saying “GO SEE HER! GO SEE HER!”

Lord knows I couldn’t do something like this on my own strength and will.

I was a HOT MESS!

I pulled up at the nursing home, I grabbed the items I was taking into her, hand picked

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Uncle Ed- Cardinal Flower Farm. Iowa City, IA

flowers, a card and a letter, a photo album with pictures of me all the way back to my baby years. I prepared these things because if I was turned away at least I would have something to leave her. I had been praying all morning, Jesus take the wheel of this dream of mine and guide my steps.

I walked to the doors which took me straight to the dining room. I was greeted by some nursing assistant aides as well as many of the residents. I asked politely if they could tell me which way Tenie James room was and they pointed down the hallway and off I went.

The closer I got to finding her room, the more anxious I felt.

What if my birth father was there? What if one of my uncles was there? What if they threw me out? What if she didn’t want to see me?

Mind Racing.

Nauseous.

Fear.

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I quickly found her room with her name on the door. There was no turning back now. I knocked softly, then I turned the door knob and slowly opened the door. I peeked my head inside and saw the sweetest little lady who was relaxing in her automated recliner. I smiled big, and she smiled back. She saw the flowers and my smile and I’m pretty sure it was a comfort to her. Lord knows, all I wanted to do was bring her peace, love and comfort. As I opened the door further, I realized she was all alone and no one else was in the room with her. All the fear that has tormented me all these years and up until this moment lifted off me, and God’s presence was all over that place. I continued to walk slowly towards her.  I shut the door behind me so we could have some privacy and let her know I brought her some flowers and wanted to introduce myself.

“Be the light for all to see”- Matthew 5:16

I got down on the floor so I could be close to her, I held her hand and I said, “Hi there, I wanted to introduce myself, I’m Pam- Jimmie’s daughter. (Jimmie is her son) I’m your granddaughter. I have always wanted to come meet you. I’m so sorry it’s taken me so long but distance has kept me far away. (reality the secrets and lies in adoption have kept me away!)  I hope you don’t mind but seeing you has always been a dream of mine. I was in Iowa and wanted to swing by to visit on my way back to Kentucky.”

She had a smile on her face, almost as if she couldn’t believe it was anyone’s DREAM to meet HER. I pulled out a small photo album which had pictures of me when I was a baby, up until now. One by one she began to look at the pictures. She didn’t turn them fast, she was taking her time. She smiled at many of them and when she made it to the last page, she said “Where is this?”.  The photo was of me sitting by a waterfall in Kentucky and I let her know I had to hike many miles to reach it and that it was a hobby of mine. She said, “I love to hike too!”…

I smiled really big and I said, “It must be in our DNA” and she said “You’re right, it must”. I asked her a few questions and shared some about myself. She was a hard working woman and raised her family all while living off the land to survive. All my biological family on her side are gamers and hunters and loved nature. This makes total sense to me as to why I’ve always loved being outdoors more than anything in this world.

I held my grandmother’s hand and we compared our fingers. I began to take note of her condition, her characteristics and features. Her vision was so good, she is still reading small print books. She didn’t have any hearing aides and could hear all the words I shared because her responses were accurate most of the time. She was using a walker to walk, and seemed fairly independent. She will be 98 years old on August 10th, 2017. My birthday is 3 days after hers. She showed me a quilt she was in the process of making, bright squares of all different patterns and colors. Can you believe she’s still quilting at 97?

As I got down beside her in her chair I knew that this might be the only time I get to see her in this lifetime. After all 97 years erased off the map because of other peoples decision for my life, other peoples decisions for our relationship. I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone in the adoption equation thinks about the long term impacts about adoption trauma, separation, loss, etc. Adoption impacts every area of the adoptees life, for their entire life. Some days the grief and loss has been so great I didn’t think I could continue on.

My grandmother received my visit, it was one of the most amazing happiest moments of this lifetime. She shared about her life, and I shared about mine. She was a bit tearful in parts of what she was sharing but I just held her hand and listened to her words.

Here I was, meeting my biological grandmother for the first and only time. I’m 43, and I can’t help but share that God has always known my deep desire to lay eyes on this woman at least one time. It’s always something that has nagged at my spirit and it’s never stopped. My greatest HOPE was also my greatest FEAR.

BUT GOD…

I would like to share with my fellow adoptees reading that God knows our hurts, he knows our hearts, and to never give up HOPE in finding your family. Be persistent and don’t give up in reaching the people and places you believe are so far away. The fact I was able to meet my grandmother is nothing short of a miracle and dream come true for me. I urge you to take your own steps and making your dreams come true because no matter how it turns out it’s up to me and you. Action must follow our desires, and God knows our hearts.

If he did it for me, he can do it for you…

Dreams really do come true…

WISH

DO

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Pamela A. Karanova

Adult Adoptee

Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother…

That word.

M. O. T. H. E. R.

Appears everywhere all the time.

MOTHER-MOTHER-MOTHER-MOTHER

I’m so sick of that word.

I HATE THAT WORD!

How does an adoptee feel on that day?

Mother’s Day?

Well, I certainly can’t speak for all adoptees but I can speak for myself.

Mother’s Day & the days leading up to it,  is a time of mourning for me.

How do you mourn what never was?

It’s simple.

Just like mourning what was, I mourn what never was. But usually what was has some memories for someone to hang on to.

Mourning what never was is a much deeper grief & loss…

For me anyway…

I’m writing about it!

Remember I’m only speaking for myself.

To celebrate Mother’s Day is a difficult task not only for me but for many people on earth. Many people didn’t get the mother’s they deserved or maybe they did and their mother’s have passed away and left them feeling hallow and empty with a loss they might never recover from.  We are each able to process our pain as we see fit.

Today I’m not drinking!

I’m WRITING!

It’s a mixed bag for me. I’ve tried to celebrate the fact that I’m a mother and I hope and pray I have been a better mother to my kids than what I was given in that area. For many reasons I don’t feel like I have given my kids what they have deserved because how can I give them something I don’t have? Something that was never given to me?

I try.

Everyday, I try.

But parts of me are hollow inside.

MOTHER LESS

I’m just floating through life doing the best I can with what I have.

I think most of us do that don’t we?

We make lemons out of lemonade and do the best we can with the cards we are dealt.

Deep down “Mother’s Day” is the 2nd most painful holiday aside from my “Birth Day”. From an adoptee perspective who was dealt a crap shot not only once in the mother area but twice I have nothing to celebrate on that day. If I’m completely honest I wish it never existed.

I hate it.

Oh I already said that didn’t I?

MOTHER- MOTHER-MOTHER-MOTHER!!

I just want it to be over!

“ACCEPT IT!”

Oh I have but because of Mother’s Day it never goes away!

MOTHER-MOTHER-MOTHER-MOTHER!

It’s like digging up the dead!

I don’t have a happy picture to put on my Facebook profile of my “Mother” and I. I don’t have a happy story to tell. I am sharing my story here, and then I will be moving on with my life.

One day at a time.

One foot ahead of the other.

I will always have that aching piece inside of me yearning for MY MOTHER.

But she’s not coming back.

She’s never coming back.

“Why are you so negative?”

I’m just keeping it real!

This is my reality!

Inside my head every single day!

**Smile for the camera!**

**Smile for the world**

Everyday I cry inside wishing I had my mother.

Maybe I will write her a letter and let her know how her leaving has hurt me so.

“Look on the bright side”- The World Says So!

Oh, of course.

THE BRIGHT SIDE.

I am a mother to 3 amazing children.

They are my life.

THEY ARE THE REASON I’M ALIVE!

What an honor it is to be a mother to them!

Do you not understand how hard it is to be a mother when you never had a mother?

Does anyone ever think of that?

I hope I’m half the mother they deserve.

I will let them celebrate “ME” because that’s what I’m supposed to do.

 I have some women in my life who are mother figures to me. I adore them to heaven and back again.

Deanie. Patsy. Jan.

They know who they are.

I thank God for them everyday.

But on the other hand.

MOTHER

MOTHER

MOTHER

MOTHER

I hate that word

but…

it feels so good to be h e a r d.

P. Karanova

Healing Through Writing

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Adoptees On Podcast-Pamela Karanova

Yesterday was an awesome day for me!

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I was interviewed for Adoptees On Podcast by friend, fellow adoptee AND Sister in Christ Haley Radke. I was honored and humbled to be able to share my story with the world.

You might ask my reasoning?

Well…

God gives us ALL a testimony, a story. It’s up to US to share it with those around us. I took this opportunity for many reasons, but the main reason was to share with my fellow adoptees and the WORLD what GOD has done in my life. How he’s transformed me and healed my broken heart. I was so stuck and in such a deep dark hole and I know many of my fellow adoptees are still stuck! I was stuck for 41 years!

God has literally saved me from myself.

I wanted to share this message of HOPE! 

Recovery is a huge part of my adoptee journey. I know there are tons of hurting adoptees who are either in recovery, or in addiction as a result of abandonment and rejection from their adoption experience. Grief, Loss & Trauma go along with this.

THERE ARE SO MANY HURTING ADOPTEES OUT THERE!

(i love you and you are NOT alone!)

God has given me a message of HOPE for them and this is why I decided to do the podcast. Less than 24 hours after the podcast aired I’ve received tons of positive feedback from many who were impacted by this. Many tears have been shared and I know crying is healing. I’m so glad those listening are healing by crying! That’s a good thing! 🙂

Thank you all for the love, support, prayers and encouragement!

I hope and pray anyone listening is inspired in some way.

Please let me know your thoughts?

Blessings and LOVE.

Pamela Karanova

adopteeson

Here is the link.

Adoptees On Season 1 Episode 11- Pamela Karanova

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Can I Cry Now?

When I searched for my birth mother I was all alone, with no support or guidance.

There was no help.

Can I cry now?

My adoptive mom told me my birth mother loved me “So Much. that’s why she gave me away ” but when I found her she didn’t want to know me.

Can I cry now?

Never in a million years would I expect the woman that loved me “SO MUCH” to reject me…

Can I cry now?

When my adoptive mother told me I made her dreams come true to be a mother, there was no room for my sadness or tears because for her dreams to come true, I lost an entire family and my mother.

I couldn’t ruin her dream come true by my sadness?

Can I cry now?

When my adoptive mother lied to me about finding my birth family, and told me when we had enough money we would get the sealed records opened I hung onto that hope. It was a lie.

Can I cry now?

When I saw a billion therapists, counselors, was put on medications, locked up in rehab, and juvenile jail.. No one ever asked me if my pain was from losing my first family or being separated from my biological mother. Not once.

Can I cry now?

When I contemplated suicide as a teenager, I kept it a secret because no one cared about my feelings.

Can I cry now?

No one has ever asked how it felt growing up not mirroring anyone and feeling alone and isolated.

Can I cry now?

Everyone told me how to feel, and that I should be thankful I wasn’t aborted.

Can I cry now?

When my birth father’s rights were stolen, and he wasn’t even told about my existence but did my adoptive parents ever wonder who my father was?

Can I cry now?

I had high hopes, but when I showed up at his door to introduce myself he knew nothing about me.

He denied I was his daughter.

He told me to “Go To Hell”.

Can I cry now?

Because of this I will never EVER have ONE MEMORY, NOT ONE WITH A BIOLOGICAL GRANDPARENT!

CAN I CRY NOW??!

Because of things I had no control over, I missed out on relationships with my siblings growing up.

Lost time never to return.

Can I cry now?

Someone else’s dream come true is my biggest loss, yet I’m supposed to be THANKFUL FOR THIS LIFE?

Can I cry now?

Stuck in the middle of 2 families, feeling torn between the 2 yet never really fitting into either…

Can I cry now?

My birthday is like dooms day. Yet I’m forced to put on a smile. It was the day I lost everything.

Can I cry now?

When I searched for my biological mother everywhere I went, no one cared that all I wanted was HER.

Can I cry now?

But her loving me “SO MUCH” was a lie too, because when I found her SHE DIDN’T EVEN WANT TO GET TO KNOW ME.

Can I cry now?

It’s been torture not knowing WHO I AM or WHERE I CAME FROM.

Can I cry now?

My broken heart is dismissed by everyone, because adoption is such a glorious thing.

Can I cry now?

For everyone that tells me I should just get over it, move on, or suck it up, or I’m just focused on the past and its negative…

Until you have walked one day in my shoes, you can’t judge me.

Can I cry now?

Because I feel like the WORLD is up against me

Can I cry now?

I will pretend when you see me, everything is OK because I’ve been conditioned to do that since I found out I was adopted.

But today I want to ask YOU if I can cry now?

When all my pain has been locked inside for over 40 years because the WORLD GLORIFIES ADOPTION AND THERE IS NO ROOM FOR MY PAIN…

Let me ask…

Can I cry now?

Answer me WORLD who glorifies ADOPTION…

Answer me WORLD who has no room for my PAIN.

CAN I CRY NOW?

I had to fight the WORLD and the CLOSED ADOPTION LAWS to find my TRUTH so I could move forward and HEAL

Can I cry now?

Now that I’m not running from the pain of my reality, and I’m 3 years into sobriety, not drinking or drugging to numb my pain

Can I cry now?

Since society, and the WORLD and everyone impacted by adoption denied me my right to grieve growing up, finally at 41 years old

Let me ask…

Can I cry now?

Remember crying is healing.

Sharing feelings is healing.

WORLD WHO GLORIFIES ADOPTION…

You have to FEEL it to HEAL it…

CAN I CRY NOW?

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Pamela A. Karanova

PamelaLee

Reunited Adult Adoptee

Lexington, KY

http://www.facebook.com/howdoesitfeeltobeadopted

**If you can’t acknowledge my feelings, please don’t silence me with your scriptures.

Just Listen… That is all…

Each day I wake up, I say a prayer and thank God for allowing me to see another day on earth. Even when it’s hell on earth. I get out of bed, and muzzle through the morning. I play my worship music, I have some time with God. If time permits I do some writing, or journaling. Writing seems to be my escape. I can share my real feelings here, when no one else in the world seems to want to know how I feel. Part of me doesn’t want to share my feelings with anyone in my “REAL” world. I’m afraid it would hurt them, then once again it would be about me worrying about others feelings before my own.  Being adopted, that’s how it’s been since day one.  I’m mentioning this because part of me wishes the people in my life close to me cared enough to want to read my feelings, and the other part feels like I need to protect them. People generally want to start giving unsolicited advice, and I’m just not ready to receive it from those who have no idea how it feels to be adopted. I wish more people would just LISTEN. That’s all I need.

Complicated, huh? I want people to understand me and if they try I will feel like they at least care. I also want to protect them from knowing how I really feel, so I don’t want to share it. I say “Protect them” because I have found that those close to me feel like because I have such deep rooted sadness due to my adoption experience (I have hope it will get better!) they feel as if they aren’t enough to make me happy. In reality, it has nothing to do with them, nothing at all. It has everything to do with losing so much by being adopted.

I’ve found most people who aren’t adopted can’t even comprehend how we feel. They might try, some of those close to me listen to me and I love them for that. That’s really all I need. But generally it’s on my mind every single day. Every single day I keep my feelings locked up in my mind, I pray and ask God for help to get through each day. It’s not easy. This holiday has been very trying. I’m so glad it’s over. I literally had to pull myself away from “Adoptee Land” and stay away from my computer, adoption sites, etc. It was extremely difficult to make it through each day aside from adding extra to it. Holiday’s are full of triggers. I hate the holidays. I found myself putting on a fake smile for everyone around me. If they only knew how I really felt, they would want to leave my like everyone else has. I think that’s a another reason I don’t really want them knowing my true feelings. They would never understand, and they would label me as an angry adoptee like the rest of society. Just so happens my story is one of heartbreak after heartbreak. There really is no happy ending for me. Not when it comes to my adoption story. I just have to learn to navigate through the emotions, even when they come souring like a tsunami. I must  continue to work on healing, sharing how I feel, and moving forward. The hardest for me, is acceptance. I have accepted a lot of my adoption experience. There are so many aspects to it. I kept thinking as I go through year after year of healing, that one day a light was going to click and my pain would be all gone. Or much less than it is now. It’s actually worse since I’ve been living in recovery. My feelings aren’t being masked by alcohol and drugs. They are very real & raw but it’s not getting easier. Treading through the unknown of working through past adoptee abandonment & rejection issues has been scary and some days I want to give up. It would be so much easier to just give up. But my inspiration is my kids, and future grand kids. I want to be a happy grandma for them, and a healthy mother for my kids. Not just on the outside but on the inside as well. Accepting this pain is here to stay was hard. I don’t think I will ever feel whole. Too much was lost, never to return. Too much was stolen, and the beginning of my life was just too messed up to be able to feel normal like everyone else might. What is normal anyway?  Who knows. I just know even after finding all my biological family, being rejected by my birth parents, and closing the door on that chapter of my life I am still a broken woman. Finding everyone was a HUGE success in my journey, but it didn’t end there. You never know what you will find, and you never know how the reunions will turn out. Mine failed. It’s been beyond difficult. I know other adoptees can feel my pain.

Next one up that’s difficult for many adoptees is Mother’s Day but thankfully I have a few months to even have to worry about it.

For those out there who aren’t adopted who might be reading this, if you can just listen when someone adopted is sharing their feelings to you, that’s the best thing you can do. Please don’t try to fix us, or say anything that could be taken the wrong way. We don’t need to hear things like, “Aren’t you glad you are alive and not aborted?” or “You were a gift from God”. Spare us… That only minimizes our pain, and we need our pain validated. The safest place you can be is to remain an active listener. That’s all I need anyway.

I will be writing more later.

Blessings,

Pamela AKA Adoptee In Recovery

http://www.facebook.com/howdoesitfeeltobeadopted

I pray God helps me find my purpose in this world.