Adoptee Pain


The views and opinions expressed in this blog are purely and entirely my own.  I do not claim to, nor make an effort to speak for all adoptees. – p.k. 


“I want you to be healed in Jesus Name!”

“Will the pain every go away?”

“Will the pain get easier?”

“You have to let go, and let God!”

“Oh she just had a bad adoption experience!”

“Adoption is a gift from God, sorry you had a bad experience!”

“Aren’t you thankful you weren’t aborted? You got life!”

The list could go on and on of things I’ve heard people say, and even things I’ve said myself. Over the last 8 years of coming out of the fog, I have learned so much and God has shown me so much about my personal experience and journey. I felt I needed to share some of it with my followers.


2010 I started the healing process. Healing from what? A lifetime of brokenness, heartbreak, grief, loss and trauma some of which is from my adoption experience, some is from other things that have happened in my life. Back in 2010 I was still drinking to numb my pain. I was a functional drinker, I went to work everyday and loved my career. I raised 3 kids, paid my bills, had fun and enjoyed my life to the best of my abilities.

I quickly learned that alcohol and the healing process didn’t work well together, and actually it was pretty catastrophic if I’m being honest. Mixing alcohol with trauma?  I learned that alcohol had actually stalled my healing, it made me not process my pain. It was my great escape. I was a runner, alcohol was my magic carpet and for 27 years I rode it ducking and dodging anything remotely painful. One thing I wasn’t doing was FEELING ADOPTION GRIEF, LOSS & TRAUMA.

When August 13, 2012 came rolling around I had enough of myself. At this point I spent 27 years running from the pain from my past and my adoption experience. August 13, 2012 was also my birthday. The day I came into this world, and the day my birth mother abandoned me and left me. It doesn’t matter who else was around to substitute HER. No one ever has, nor will they ever replace HER. They tried, but didn’t succeed!

I soon started a recovery ministry called Celebrate Recovery and spent the next 4 years working the 12 steps, mentoring other women, leading a women’s chemical dependency group and processing my pain! You read that right. Processing my pain. How do I do this? I never learned how to process my pain. Adoptee pain is ignored and denied to us by the entire WORLD!

Adoption is wonderful!

Adoption saved you!

Adoption gave you LIFE!

If I left it up to this world to help me, I would be dead right now. This world has never had any help for broken, hurting adult adoptees. We don’t fit the narrative of how adoption is perceived by society. Not only do many of us not fit in with our adoptive families, but many of us don’t fit in with our birth families. We don’t fit in with the world which leaves us more isolated and alone than you could ever imagine.

One by one, I started working on my adoptee issues. Triggers, memories, grief, loss, trauma, C-PTSD, abandonment, rejection, mother wound, father wound, sadness, depression, anxiety, aloneness, isolation, and the list could go on. ADOPTION IMPACTS EVERY AREA OF OUR LIVES. As my drinking came to a screeching halt my adoptee reality came rolling in like a ton of bricks. Smacked me straight in the face. Knocked me dead in my tracks.

The fog began to lift, and things got real and fast. Celebrate Recovery was somewhat of a safe space for me, but no one understood me. They didn’t get what I was saying, and they too had the idea that adoption was all wonderful so I was some ungrateful little brat for not appreciating the fact I wasn’t aborted. I had a small handful of close friends who were always there to listen and support me, but they didn’t understand it because they aren’t adopted. I was still isolated and alone in many ways and because Celebrate Recovery was a ministry the goal was to BE HEALED IN JESUS NAME!

Well, I showed up and I did the work. Day after day, week after week and year after year I kept going back and guess what? I still have the pain I did when I walked through the doors. I still am broken. I still have a broken heart, and I still have MAJOR ADOPTEE ISSUES. I remember feeling like I was doing something wrong and like I had to hide like I really felt because this healing everyone was talking about just wasn’t working for me!

“You are choosing to hang onto the pain!”

“You aren’t praying enough!”

“I think you need to fast!”

“Stop thinking of the negative and think of the positive!”

All of these things only made me feel worse about my situation and myself. It made me feel like I was the exception. I was the one that was never going to get the healing. I was the one God was punishing because I’m one ungrateful little b**ch and I’m not thankful I’m adopted. I hate being adopted. I heard people say, “There are reasons people don’t get there healing!”

What in the actual F*CK does that even mean?

*pardon the curse words, but I’ve come to the realization from some close friends that cursing can be therapeutic and it’s not all that bad. It feels really good to say a curse word every now and then and as part of my unconditioning out of the church, I’m allowing myself to say a curse word when I want. 🙂 

Do the people who say these things know how damaging this can be to people? I found myself running a rat race trying to BE HEALED in Jesus name and it never worked! What did work is the moment I left out of the church and began to process my REAL PAIN away from all the HOOPLA that the church pushed on me, I became much more free than I had ever been! I found healing in that freedom more than I ever did inside the doors of the church or inside Celebrate Recovery.

Now that I’m an outsider looking in I’ve learned so much in gaining a better understanding in my truth, the truth and God’s truth. Let’s dissect that for a moment. What does that even look like?

The more I share my truth, the more uncomfortable it is for non-adoptees to hear, read and learn about the damage adoption causes an adoptee. They want me to be healed so I shut up. They want me to “get over it” so they stop hearing about it. They want me to move on with my life, because they are done hearing the truth. Reality is adoption is damage and some of the damage can never be undone.

I’ve learned many times the truth hurts, and it’s hard to swallow. Of all the adoptee activism I’ve done in my 8 years of coming out of the fog, I’ve heard HUNDREDS of adoptee stories! If not thousands. I have put in the time, energy and work to learn from so many adoptees from all over the world and guess what. The MAJORITY of them have heartbreaking stories where adoption has negatively impacted every area of their lives, for an entire lifetime. I wouldn’t make this stuff up! I can’t unknow what I know.

If God is the way, the truth and the life, then GOD IS TRUTH. Let’s be truthful for a moment. What about the broken, hurting and lost adoptees? Who is looking out for them? Who is speaking for them when they don’t feel strong enough to speak for themselves? Where are the resources for them?

Because being a broken, hurting and lost adoptee myself I have only found that for myself in creating it for not only myself, but other adoptees in Adoptees Connect.

Do you think my fire and passion for this Adoptee “thing” came from nothing? No, it came from a very dark and painful place where I have had no choice but to reside for most of my life because of no resources for adoptees.

What if I become “Healed in Jesus Name”?

What does that look like?

Will my spark die?

Will my purpose dissolve?

Will my fire die for Adoptee City?

Will I walk off into the sunset as a “Healed Adoptee” feeling WHOLE and leaving all the broken adoptees behind to figure it all out on their own? Will I finally be happy inside and outside and the dark cloud be gone? Will I forget all about being adopted and how much it’s impacted every area of my life? Will my triggers be dissolved into none at all? Will my mother wound go away? Will my trauma disappear? Will my grief and loss be non-existent? Will my heart finally be WHOLE? Will my truth disappear?

If I answer all these questions, and if I’m REAL about it and if I share the TRUTH, if I let all these things go, what will I have? What will my purpose be?

If God heals, and he wants us to be whole, what about those of us who try that, and we don’t get our healing? How do you know it’s not for a good purpose or a God purpose instead of a punishment? please be careful what you say to people!

What if I’m alive here today so I can share the pain of what it’s like growing up in an emotionally and mentally abusive adoptive home, so that hopefully other adoptees who have experience this won’t feel alone? What if I’m here to bring light (truth) to the reality of the damage that happens anytime a mother and a child is separated? How do we know that my story, my pain hasn’t gone away because God wants the world to know that adoption TODAY isn’t what he intended for it to be? How do we know if all the secrecy and lies in adoption that impacted me in negative ways, is something God wants brought to light because HE IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE?

Why is this so hard for some people to accept about ADOPTION? Adoption is rooted and grounded in grief, loss and division! Secrecy and lies follow suit. What if I’m not “Healed in Jesus Name” so I can share my truth that is the same TRUTH thousands and thousands of adoptees have all over the world?

What if my pain is here to stay because I have work to do?

Should I trade my pain for complicity?


Not me.

I will continue to hold it, keep it tight so I can continue to share the truth about the jacked up adoption industry and how negatively adoption has and will continue to impact adoptees in a negative way all around the world.

What a hefty price to pay, to carry this burden that has been placed upon my shoulders. At least in the process I’m being true to me, who I am and my experience. I’m being true to my fellow adoptees who are all over the place hurting, some on the edge of suicide, isolated and all alone. At least I’m doing something positive with this pain. At least it won’t go in vein. At least I’m sharing my truth as I see it. I’m not drinking to numb my pain any longer. This is the reality of being an adult adoptee. This is my reality.

Another reason I’ve hung onto this pain so tight is because it’s all I have of my birth mother. That’s extremely hard to comprehend to some people but for me, meeting her once, and her slamming the door shut left me with a lifetime of questions, pain, hurt and more severe abandonment and rejection issues than anyone on this earth can imagine or comprehend.  I wrote about the pain associated with my birth mother one time, and you can read that here; Mother May I but even after this writing it’s been impossible for me to let go of the pain associated with HER, my birth mother.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because it’s all I have of her. I don’t have the memories, I don’t have the lessons learned, I don’t have the relationship other people have or had with their mother. I have nothing of her, but the pain. The balloon at the top of this photo is a symbol for me that if I let go of the pain I will be sitting in an empty chair. I’ll disappear into a world of nothingness, more alone than before.

How do I let the pain (her) go?

For me, this has been one of the hardest things to do, that’s easier said than done. Mother’s Day I’m reminded of her, everyday I look in the mirror I’m reminded of her.  I’m her daughter weather she wanted me or not. I have her fingers, her feet, her skin tone, her alcohol issues, her stubborn spirit. I am her. If I let her go, I let myself go.

Does this make sense to anyone?

Anyway, as the poem “Mother May I” says, “But if I let it go, what will I have? There are no memories to remember, no future, and no forever. I thought of saving a piece, folding it up and putting it away. Then I can take it out on a rainy day. Because then you will know I never forgot you. I never want you to think I forgot about you”

Who would have ever thought that out of the fog, into recovery being an adoptee this MOTHER WOUND would be so deep and a wound that is such a mixture of emotions filled with grief, loss and pain. Even if I try to let the pain go, and let her go the wound is still there.

MOTHER LESS is what I’ll always be.

That impacts every day of my life in it’s own way.

For me acceptance has been key, and that is acceptance of the pain as well. If I get on the bandwagon of “Being Healed” that will go against my acceptance of the pain and this journey and it will only hurt me more. Have I healed in some regards? Absolutely. I’ve grown and healed a lot over the years and I believe I will grow and heal some more. It’s taking out the expectation that one day I will be totally be healed is something that’s been extremely important in my journey. There is too much pain from all different angles to ever believe I will wake up healed one day. For me, learning how to navigate the triggers when they come and sharing my pain in my writings has been healing for me. Knowing I’m not alone by networking with my fellow adoptees has also been a important part of my journey.  Validation has been critical to my acceptance and healing as well.

Because I have adoptee pain, it doesn’t mean I haven’t been able to find some beauty in my life. I have a million things I’m thankful for, and there are things I love about my life. There are things that bring me great joy, and comfort. Please don’t mistake my blog post as I’m someone sitting around mad, angry and mean all the time. That’s farthest from the truth. This happens to be part of my therapy, and part of my healing space. This is where I share my adoptee pain. #healingthroughwriting

Sharing my views on Adoptee Pain from my experience is something I’ve wanted to write about for some time now. For the adoptees reading, how have you handled your pain? How have you processed it? What has worked for you and what has that process been like for you?

Many Blessings,


Pamela Karanova | Adult Adoptee

Living Life By My Own Rules, Time Waits On No One

That’s one thing that’s certain, LIFE sure doesn’t slow down for any of us. Over the last few months things have swirled like a whirlwind, but learning to embrace things as they come has been key.

My daughter graduated the University of Kentucky on May 6th and that was the highlight and excitement that we’ve been preparing for the last few months, years and then some. The only thing that’s as big as a college graduation is a birth of a child, or a wedding. On to celebrate whatever comes next! For the most part, things went wonderfully, and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. As a parent, I couldn’t be more proud!


My main focus in “Adoptee City” or Adoptee Land as some call it has been Adoptees Connect. I’ve taken a focus of sharing the GOOD NEWS about what’s happening with Adoptees Connect around the USA and beyond. It’s my focus in pouring as much as humanly possible into networking with my fellow adoptees to get these groups planted! It’s a pretty amazing thing that’s happening. January 1, 2018 it all started and here today its May 18th, 2018 and so far we have 8 Adoptees Connect Groups Planted around the USA and 1 in Canada! They are growing! More are being planted.

It all started with a lifetime of pain, grief, loss, abandonment & rejection issues that are rooted and grounded in my adoption experience. I come from a story of pain and a lot of it. ALL ADOPTEES COME FROM A STORY OF PAIN! Adoption is rooted and grounded in GRIEF, LOSS & TRAUMA. There is no warm fuzzies regarding the separation between a mother and child. Living my life I’ve learned that there are no POST-ADOPTION services for Adult Adoptees. The closed adoption era started out as a experiment and being an adoptee from a closed adoption I can tell you that being a product of such an experiment with no POST-ADOPTION services for me, specifically an adoptee has been agonizing, depressing and catastrophic to say the least.

I grew up starting therapy as a very young child, 5-6ish. The home I grew up in was extremely emotionally and mentally toxic and abusive, yet ADOPTION was never talked about in these therapy sessions. I remember seeing countless amounts of therapists, and none of them addressed adoption/adoptee related issues. All the way up to my 40’s I’ve been in and out of therapy, and it was only recently ( 2 years ago)  that I was able to bring up adoptee grief, loss, trauma, abandonment & rejection issues to a therapist. The only reason it was brought up was because I’m out of the FOG. I quickly learned that in order to work through some of these very deep issues, I had to explain all the dynamics of issues adoptees face to this therapist so she could understand better. It was clear she had no clue of what “The Primal Wound” was, and all the complexities that come along with being severed from my birth mother at the beginning of life.

I quickly became exhausted from therapying the therapist and when she gave a notice she was moving to another department our relationship was over. Once again, at 42 years old I was alone trying to work through this adoptee mess. Sadly, I didn’t have one more round in me to try to find a new therapist and go through this all over again. I threw in the towel. I gave up.

The following year, my adoptive mother died in April, we were estranged.  I found out my new found brother was not actually my brother via DNA. After spending 6 years of building a relationship, DNA shared we share no DNA. You mean to tell me I celebrated my first Thanksgiving with biological family, and I was sitting around a table of strangers? Devastated and soon after this revelation he was killed in a motorcycle wreck. His family did call to let me say “Good Bye” to him before they took him off life support, although they left me out of his obituary which showed how they felt about me. That is NOT how he felt about me, because he never accepted the DNA results were factual, he wanted to redo them and he never accepted I wasn’t his sister. I think it’s because he felt sorry for me. He was the pot of gold for me. This was heart-wrenching to say the least. Not long after, I drove to Iowa to meet my biological grandmother which was a dream come true. A few months later a cousin found out I had visited, contacted me and wanted to meet! Soon I was back in Iowa for the very first time being accepted by my birth fathers brother and his children, my cousins. I looked across the country field and saw my birth fathers house. He rejected me, but I was standing in my uncles front yard wondering what he would do if he knew I was there visiting HIS family, MY family. I saw the land where my cousins went to visit my grandparents, where they were raised. So much of their memories were made there. It was an out of body experience for me. I can’t quiet describe it, other than I flipped through old photo albums at my uncles, and I felt like I should be in those albums. But I wasn’t. My birth mother made the choice for me, and for my birth father to give me up for adoption without his consent. To know this family, MY FAMILY was something that was STOLEN from me and from them!

I returned home after this trip which was Sept 2017 and after all the chain of events listed above, my mind was going crazy on me. I knew winter was upon us, which is my least favorite time of year, it’s the darkest season. I’m an outdoors person, so to be inside because it’s cold always takes a toll on me. Depression set in, and by October I was honestly scared of my own thoughts. Online Adoptee City wasn’t doing anything for me. I couldn’t even pull myself to the computer to write and it seemed to be SO MUCH anyway, I didn’t even know where to start or how to process all these things.

Therapy was a NO GO FOR ME. I didn’t have one round left in me to try to find another therapist and take the chance on having to therapy them about adoptee issues.

This was the time. This was it. It was during this darkest season of my life that Adoptees Connect was put into action. This was life or death for me. If I didn’t take this pain and turn it into something positive it was without a doubt going to kill me. ADOPTION WAS GOING TO KILL ME. With this pain, I began to create the layout and manual for Adoptees Connect groups that are being planted all over the USA and abroad. I had many people ask me, “Are you going to start a non-profit?” or “Are you going to make any money off this? How much time are you spending on this?”.

My answer always has been and always will be, No, I’m not going to start a non-profit and I’m not going to make any money off this. Why? For me, I’m an adoptee in recovery and TODAY I’m writing my own rules in this rule book of life. In the 12 steps, the 12th step is the step that highlights working with others and giving back.  Adoptees Connect is just that for me. It’s my sowing seeds into my fellow adoptees, giving back to my adoptee community. It’s planting seeds of hope for adoptees all over the world who might be in the dark places like I have been off and on my entire life regarding my adoption experience. It’s a safe space, adoptee centric to share our pain, or excitement, or grief and loss.

Adoptees Connect has taken the highlight off me and my issues and turned them into something bigger, better and far more than I could have ever dreamed of for the adoptee community. There is nothing out there like this for Adult Adoptees. Adoptees Connect is the first, and only adoptee centered support group for adoptees only that is a POST ADOPTION support service for Adult Adoptees. This is HUGE! Times are changing! Groups are growing. Support for adoptees is becoming available!

Aside from Adoptees Connect and planting these groups, I still have a desire to write my memoir, and I’m racking my brain on how that is going to look. Writing is freeing, yet I’m taken back on where to start, how to write it but I know I need to just do it. How do I make a really sad story into a story of survival? I have so much information in my brain and a mighty story to tell about overcoming the odds of the closed adoption industry, about overcoming addiction, about building my own life how I see fit, breaking away from the “molds” of this world and finding my true self. I made it, we made it. I’m going to finish my memoir and stop talking about it!

I’ve found my one true love for hiking. I’m never going to stop hiking and chasing waterfalls. You know how everyone says they want to dance in the rain, yet nobody is dancing in the rain. Well I’m dancing in waterfalls and I’m taking as many people as possible with me.  This is my escape, this is my healing place. This is my recovery and my therapy.

Last weekend I was able to go hike with a few of my fellow adoptees and it was a magnificent experience! Here are a few photos from our wild adventure into the wilderness.

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I couldn’t have had more fun that day and I was in the amazing company of those who get me, my fellow adoptees. I’m hoping Adoptees Connect Small Groups will continue to grow and Adoptees all over will have that safe space to connect with one another. The feeling of aloneness for Adult Adoptees needs to end. Our isolation in feeling the way we do needs to end.

I will always be an adoptee in recovery but today my recovery isn’t how the world says it should be. It’s how I’ve made it to be. It’s me following my heart. You say I need community because I left the church? Well let me build my own community that speaks the same language I do. You say I shouldn’t isolate? Well let me be around those who understand me, instead of those who I speak a different language too. You say I have to go to a 12 step program. Well let me make my own 12 step program.

Life is what we make it, for each and every one of us. I’ve made the choice to take my heartbreak and pain and turn it into something positive. This was the only way to survive for me. My prayer is, all adoptees all over the world are able to make something good out of their pain. Something that helps others, something that is so magnificent that the pain sometimes seems worth it.

Online Drama? – Ain’t nobody got time for that! My time is the most valuable, precious thing I have to give anyone so when I smell drama, problematic people or situations I’m gone. It’s different if they want to receive what I have to say, but if they are loud, obnoxious, mean spirited or nasty I have nothing for them.  NOTHING.

I’m going to write a blog post next about the pain. Carrying it, and why for me it’s been so hard to let go. Stay Tuned.

Thanks for reading.


Pamela A. Karanova

Founder | Adoptees Connect