When your biggest blessing invalidates my greatest trauma it sets me up for a lifetime of pain, suffering and isolation. It facilitates a lifetime of suicidal ideation, because the pain is just too great to process. It makes me feel more isolated and alone than non-adopted individuals can ever imagine. It makes me wish I was aborted and feeling like I want to die for most of my life, because my pain is greater than my desire to want to live. It drives me to attempt to take my life as a teenager, because you fail to admit I have lost anything. It drives me to a place of addiction, because at the end of every day the only way to manage every day life is to numb the pain. When you use bible scriptures to defend your blessing, it makes me question the bible and the God you are speaking of. When your biggest blessing outshines my reality, it makes me feel unimportant and insignificant. When you refer to me as a blessing, it hurts because you are invalidating my adoptee and relinquishee reality.
My story went something like this:
Me: Mommy, did I come out of your tummy?
Adoptive Mom: No, you were adopted. Your birth mother’s choice to surrender you for adoption was my biggest blessing and a dream come true.
Me: What do you mean?
Adoptive Mom: She loved you so much she gave you to me to raise, and I will always love her and be thankful for her decision.
Me: Who is she? Where is she?
Adoptive Mom: We don’t know, honey.
Me: Experienced the most significant mental mind fu*k of my entire lifetime.
I was approximately five years old when this conversation took place, and it’s clear to me that my life was never the same. Every day, I was haunted every hour and every minute wondering, wishing, and dreaming about finding HER.
No matter what questions I had or what mental torment I experienced from this moment forward, my adoptive mom’s joy and happiness trumped everything. My feelings didn’t matter when I was her biggest blessing in life, and her joy of being a mother trumped my feelings of sadness every damn day.
If I’m transparent, my adoptive mom likely didn’t know the pain and heartache I was experiencing but if she did, her happiness was highlighted over my pain. I was adopted in August of 1974, and my adoptive parents were told to sweep the entire idea of adoption and what it meant under the rug. They were also told the less we talked about it; the better things would be. This is how many adoptions were back in those days, but today is a new day and a new year. It’s 2020, and when you know better, you do better.
However, I ask myself if my adoptive parents knew this, would it have changed anything for my five-year-old self, who was desperately searching for my REAL MOTHER?
I genuinely believe as a 46-year-old woman, if I were able to process my trauma at as early of an age as possible, my healing journey wouldn’t have started at 36+ years old. I wouldn’t have been addicted to substances for 27 years of my life. I recently celebrated 8 years sobriety, however I feel like I’ve spent my entire life not only suffering from the trauma of relinquishment and adoption but healing from the lifelong aftermath of these experiences.
I have barely started living my life yet, and if I’m lucky, it’s over half over. That’s a hard pill to swallow, but I try to remain grateful that I’m here and I’m alive because I know so many of my fellow adoptees are not. This is why I keep sharing and writing. Adoptees are dying!
Adoptions continue to happen all over the world. We cannot continue to fail to acknowledge that before the blessing of an adopted child is brought into a family, it is equally intertwined into the very beginnings of our life, which is a traumatic experience. We must also recognize that relinquishment is trauma, and so is adoption. These are two very different dynamics to the adoptee experience. The sooner society steps out of denial about these truths; the sooner adoptees will start to heal.
Better yet, if our adoptive parents knew these truths from the beginning, would they still choose to adopt anyway? In my experience spending the last ten years networking in the adoption community, most all adoptive parents I have talked to have expressed they TRULY had no idea what they were getting themselves into when they adopted. The adoption agencies and attorneys never shared the truth with them. When they learned what they were up against, it was too late, and they were stuck with this child who has come with deep-rooted relinquishment trauma, or they rehome them and send them back.
Let me be clear, we can have wonderful and loving adoptive homes and love our adoptive families greatly, but the original trauma of relinquishment still remains the same. Networking with adoptees for over 10+ years and hearing their stories, building relationships with them, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt most of us don’t get happy and loving adoptive homes! If you are that one adoptee or know that one adoptee who’s “Just fine” with being adopted, spend more time getting to know more adoptees. That one adoptee story doesn’t compare to the hundreds of thousands of adoptees who have nightmare adoption stories and adoptive homes. Remember, adoption trauma always compacts the original relinquishment trauma.
In what ways does relinquishment and adoption trauma surface in an adopted individual? It can be acting out at an early age or teen/adult years with anger, rage, self-harm, substance abuse, breaking the law, running away, testing the waters in every way possible. Depression, anxiety, abandonment, mental health issues, self love, self hate, rejection, and Complex – PTSD. Let’s not forget grief and loss. Grief and loss show up in more ways than non-adoptees can even imagine and it lasts a lifetime! We struggle with these things for our entire lifetimes and many adoptees never get the help they deserve, taking this pain to their graves. We don’t wake up one day and it’s gone. It follows us, like ball and chain. For many of us, it feels like we’re doing a life sentence for a crime we didn’t commit.
While our adoptive parents, their friends, and family are celebrating adoption blessings, the truth is that adoptees will continue to attempt suicide at 4x the rate of non-adopted individuals. We will continue to grieve our grief and process our loss alone for a lifetime. We will continue to feel helpless in a world that celebrates our relinquishment trauma and adoption trauma. We will continue to live a life riddled with anxiety, depression, and sadness. We will continue to feel isolated and alone. Many and most of us take these things to our graves, because there has never been any help for us.
Instead, you celebrate our trauma and normalize the separation of a mother and her baby. Nothing about relinquishment and adoption is normal, and all the feelings adoptees feel and how we respond to relinquishment and adoption trauma is normal considering the circumstances. What’s not normal is relinquishment and adoption trauma!
Back in 1974, adoptees weren’t baring their souls to share their stories in hopes of shining a light on the truth about adoption and how it’s made them feel. If they were, there might have been very few of them. Today they are, and it’s making a difference. One of the biggest things I have experienced that’s been a significant hurdle to overcome is that our world celebrates adoption the way they do. Can you imagine our world celebrating rape or child abuse? Can you imagine our world celebrating someone being held hostage at gunpoint? Can you imagine our world celebrating a mother and child dying in childbirth?
Only in adoption is our most tremendous trauma of relinquishment not acknowledged, but it’s celebrated. The mental mind fu*k this causes for relinquished and adopted individuals can’t even be explained. Let me be frank; it’s a big giant clusterfu*k.
While our adoptive parents and society are celebrating, they don’t equally acknowledge that we are being is severed from our roots before any adoption occurs. This is the most significant loss of our lifetimes. We lose genetic mirrors, biological connections, medical history, siblings, grandparents, ethnicity, homeland, and so much more on top of YOU CELEBRATING IT. Stop celebrating mothers and babies being separated!
If you’ve made it this far, I will encourage you to challenge yourself in stepping out of denial about the FACTS that what you were told and what you learned about adoption might not be accurate information. I ask you to open your eyes, ears, and hearts to the truth that relinquished and adopted individuals need you to equally acknowledge all we have lost before you consider celebrating it.
We’re not your blessing. Until you can do this vital step to help aid us in our healing process you have no business celebrating us or calling us a blessing. When our adoptive parents are our elders, we follow suit in what they acknowledge as we are children. If you recognize this, we will realize this. Conversations about grief, loss, relinquishment, abandonment, rejection, culture, genetic mirroring, searching, and reunion need to happen. As children, we will NOT be able or equipped to open these conversations on our own. Without the support of our adoptive parents, we will suffer, and we will suffer greatly.
I hate to shatter the fantasy that your adoption is a blessing, but the truth is before every adoption takes place, relinquishment trauma happens first. Adoptees are dying. Please stop celebrating our relinquishment trauma and adoption trauma, and if even after learning all this, you still choose to celebrate, at least equally share the truth by sharing the painful pieces as well. If you don’t, you will regret it, and please know you are assisting in the stalling of your adopted child’s healing. A lifetime of pain will follow no matter what, but if you choose to assist by opening these difficult conversations, it will help!
If you are the adoptive parent of an adult adoptee, you can still apply this information to your journey, life, and relationship with the adopted individual in your life. I don’t know your story, nor do I need to know it. Start talking about the TRUTH in adoption. Start talking about uncomfortable topics. It could save your relinquishee/adoptees life.
Don’t forget this article along with all my other articles are available in audio for your convenience, just look up Pamela A. Karanova Podcast on Google Podcasts, iTunes , Spotify. and Amazon Music. Interested in treating me with a coffee, to add fuel to my fire? Click here. Many thanks in advance to my supporters!
Thanks for reading.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author, Pamela A. Karanova. Reproduction of the material contained in this publication may be made only with the written permission of Pamela A. Karanova
11 thoughts on “When Your Biggest Blessing Invalidates My Greatest Trauma”
Do you feel your life would have been better if you had been institutionalized or maybe brought up in an abusive home? Most AP just want to be parents, and this is the avenue they were given. No doubt there is trauma and loss with adoption, but that is only one piece of the puzzle. I wish you luck in your recovery.
I feel my life would have been better not having a life at all. Abortion would have been far more kind and compassionate than the life sentence that adoption has brought. I simply wouldn’t be here, the pain wouldn’t exist.
For the record, I was adopted in an abusive adoptive home. Sexually, emotionally and verbally. Adoption can’t guarantee a better life, only a different one.
Interesting read and not sure how to respond. Here is what I will say…I am an adoptee…I was told I was adopted at 5 in 1963…too young to really understand the meaning. I embraced being the gift to my adopted family, until my early teenage years and then things started to feel different. The whole ‘identity’ issue started to come alive.
My parents were not equipped to address my feelings and THAT WAS NOT THEIR FAULT…the psychology of adoption was not really understood or taught hence never educating the adoptive parents, so unfortunately adoptive parents did what they thought was right; albeit subjective to their own interpretation.
I am 63 and feel my generation is the beginning of the psychological understanding and impact on where we are now. I am fully connected with both sides of my biological family and have a wonderful relationship with everyone; they all make me feel like I have always been there.
Everyone’s adoption journey is unique and should never be judged nor should anyone be pigeonholed into believing they are predisposed to having addiction problems, depression or any other form of mental health related issues.
We need to do a better job of working with agencies, perspective parents and unfortunately government to provide appropriate resources to the full adoption triad on the psychological education of ‘adoption’.
Thanks so much for your replay and for sharing your thoughts here.
Your comment sparked a few thoughts of my own. I do agree that adoptive parents aren’t equipped to handle the realities of what adoptees go through, however if they did the research there is plenty of information around about perinatal and prenatal bonding and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to apply that to adoption, and acknowledge that the severance of our biological mothers causes trauma. It was a different time and a different era and no one has had the answers on how to help adoptees navigate the issues that come with being adopted.
From the research I have done, I have learned that adoptees are 4x more likely to attempt suicide than non adopted people, and they are also over represented in prisons, jails, mental and treatment facilities and these are based on truth. I have a list of articles that can be read to gain an understanding. I am saying this because of course not all adoptees struggle with these issues, however a great deal of them do. Scroll down to studies…
In my time networking with adoptees all over the world for well over a decade, more adoptees struggle than not and every single adoptee I have come into contact with struggles in some form or fashion.
Adoptees like yourself, who have the experience of being fully connected with both sides and have wonderful relationships with them all generally don’t seek out spaces like my website, or support groups. Why would they? They don’t need the validation, acknowledgement or to know they aren’t alone. The adoptees who are suicidal, broken hearted, depressed, experiencing significant grief, anger, rage, and loss are the adoptees I share my journey for and they are the reason Adoptees Connect, Inc was created. I completely agree we should never be judged because the way we feel is normal for a not normal situation. Nothing is normal about being separated from our biological parents at the beginning of life.
I am curious of how many adoptive parents or agencies you have attempted to speak to about the adoptee experience? I am also curious if you have played a part in creating resources for anyone in the adoption constellation?
My experience in this area runs wide and deep. 99.9% of the time adoptive parents do not want to receive any messages that share the truth from the adoptees lens. I have been silenced, judged and treated awful by them over the years. I have reached out to many adoption agencies and had communications only to be silenced and shut down every step of the way. The kicker with these two groups of individuals is that sometimes the reality is too much, and accepting their decisions fed into the pain adoptees experience is a hard pill to swallow. And lets just be honest, adoption agencies are for profit running unregulated multi-billion dollar industries of buying and selling babies. They do NOT want to hear from adoptees nor do they acknowledge relinquishment from our birth mothers is a traumatic experience.
Instead of talk the talk, I walk the walk and I get in where I fit in and that’s with the adoptee community because they are the ones who have been left high and dry this whole time. I have been in the trenches for over a decade creating http://www.adopteesconnect.com so they have a lifeline to stay alive when they no longer want to live. The time and energy I have spent pouring into the adoptee community essentially with nothing to gain in a financial way, is something I can’t measure. I do agree we need to do better, but some of us are doing the best we can and I would like to ask that same question to those who are sitting on the sidelines talking the talk.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO HELP THIS CRISIS? How many suicidal adoptees have you sat down with and spoke to and tried to help them out of the darkness? How many years of your life have you dedicated to creating resources for adoptees or anyone in the adoption constellation?
Also, most adoptees don’t use the word “triad” because it implies that everyone in the adoption constellation has a equal part between adoptive parents, birth parents and adoptees which is simply not accurate. Adoptees didn’t have a choice, we fight our whole lives for our truth, we suffer and suffer greatly for a million reasons and nothing is equal at all. Now that I know this, I use the term “Adoption Constellation” which is much more of an accurate description.
Again, thanks for chiming in!