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.
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