Finally, Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30, 2020

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You can find the original posting of this article at Adoptees Connect, Inc by clicking here.

What is Adoptee Remembrance Day? 

Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30, 2020 serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of crimes against adoptees by adoptive parents, an action that current media does not recognize. It also allows us to publicly mourn and honor the lives of our brothers and sisters who we have lost who might otherwise be forgotten. It raises awareness about adoptee suicide, shining a light on a difficult topic. Through these actions, we express love and respect for the adoptee community. Adoptee Remembrance Day reminds others that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends, and lovers. Adoptee Remembrance Day gives our allies a chance to step forward with us, memorializing those who have died too soon, and it also recognizing the loss all adopted people experience, before they’re actually adopted.

While this topic remains sensitive in nature, adoptees who are murdered by their adoptive parents is increasing around the world. It is a time to honor their legacy by setting aside a day just for them. While those who have passed away before us, are no longer able to speak and share their stories or voices, there are many adoptees today who are paving the way for the voiceless to become strong enough to share their voices and stories. We are the voice of the voiceless.

We also recognize that there are international adoptees who are living without citizenship and/or have been deported due to mistakes by adoptive parents, adoption agencies, attorneys, and ultimately, the U.S. adoption system. Some international adoptees must survive abuse and neglect, including in regards to their citizenship, from their adoptive parents. We honor the adoptees who did not survive or are struggling to survive their deportations to countries they left as children where they have no support network and limited access to support services, including mental health care, clothing, food and shelter. Lack of citizenship is a tragic and often unacknowledged issue facing the adoptee community. Please visit Adoptees for Justice to learn more.

Adoptee Remembrance Day is starting in 2020 by Adoptees Connect founder, Pamela Karanova.

“Adoptee Remembrance Day is a day to recognize all of our brothers & sisters who are adopted, that didn’t survive adoption. It’s also a day that signifies an acknowledgement of loss for adoptees because before we’re ever adopted we experience the biggest loss of our lives that’s continuously ignored by our world today. Over the years, the adoptee community has had multiple conversations on creating a day set aside for adoptees, but we’re ready to bring this to life as a way to raise awareness and honor those adoptees who are no longer with us. It’s important that we don’t forget them and after all we’ve lost, adoptees deserve a day just for them.” – Pamela Karanova

This is what Adoptee Remembrance Day is all about.

You might be an adoptee, an adoptive parent, a biological parent, a friend, or a sibling of an adoptee? Whatever side of the constellation you are on, you are invited to participate in Adoptee Remembrance Day.

Let us also include this day is for the families and friends who have lost a loved one to adoption. Maybe you have been searching for them, but you cannot find them? Maybe you had an open adoption and it was suddenly closed? Maybe you are a birth parent who lost a child to adoption. We see you. This day is for you too.

We’re working our hardest at sharing our resources with others so we have more groups available all over the world. Adoptees Connect groups are changing the narrative of the adoptee experience from that of isolation and loneliness to one of community and validation. Adopted people are, in fact, four times more likely to attempt suicide than non-adoptees: Risk of Suicide Attempt in Adopted and Nonadopted Offspring Adoptees are over represented in prisons, jails, treatment facilities and mental health facilities. Adoptee Remembrance Day is for them. We haven’t forgotten about them. 

I shared an article many years ago titled, “Love is not all we need”, yet society as a whole continues to fall short at giving adoptees what they need. While adoptee advocacy and adoptee voices are raising up and sharing the truth in how adoption has made them feel, many people are still not listening. While we create a space dedicating October 30th to this much needed topic, we hope it will ignite conversations of awareness of the adoptee experience by those who have lived it, the adoptees. 

Remembering the voiceless and honoring those we’ve lost way too soon. 

Since the beginning of time, adoptees have never had a space to go to share their hearts, and conversations about the adoptee experience and these experiences have rarely been welcomed by society at large. Things are changing for the better and our hope is, as we highlight this very important day we will continue to bring light to the other side of adoption that almost always goes unrecognized by our world today. 

Things are changing but what about all that’s been lost in the meantime? 

What about the adoptees that didn’t make it? What about all the memories lost, never to be found? What about the adoptees that haven’t found a community of their own? What about those who haven’t made it to the other side of healing? What if healing isn’t possible? What if you lost an adoptee? You might be an adoptive parent, a biological parent, a friend or a sibling of an adoptee? 

While our aim is to lift up the legacy of those who are no longer with us, we’re also wanting to share the truth of how adoption has impacted each of us. We’re opening October 30th up to be our day of truth,  transparency and remembrance for adoptees all over the world. We’re also remembering the heartbreaking loss that all adoptees experience, which deserves to be acknowledged.

Let’s also include this day is for the families and friends who have lost a loved one to adoption. Maybe you’ve been searching for them, but you can’t find them? Maybe you had an open adoption and it was suddenly closed? Maybe your a birth parent who lost a child to adoption? This day is for adoptive parents, friends, family and loved ones who acknowledge an adoptees loss, before they gain. We see you. This day is for you too.

All adoptions begin with extremely complex multi layered loss FIRST.   

Adoptee Remembrance Day is a day where each person has a chance to share their hearts on this very difficult and sensitive topic. We hope you will consider joining us to honor and remember those who we love and  lost who didn’t survive adoption, as well as acknowledging the loss each adoptee experiences. 

Things you can do to for Adoptee Remembrance Day

Wear YELLOW – We’re dedicating the color YELLOW to this day as a way to honor those adoptees we’ve lost. Please consider wearing yellow to honor them. Spark conversationsimg_2132 why you are wearing yellow in your workplace, home and among friends & family. 

Use Hashtags – We’re using hashtag #adopteesconnect  #adopteeremembranceday and #adopteesweremember so please share all photos, articles, poems, online using this hashtag so we can share with our community. 

Read Adoptee Books – Read adoptee centric books, The Adoptee Survival Guide: Adoptees Share Their Wisdom and Tools, Parallel Universes: The Story of Rebirth, You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are: An Adoptee’s Journey Through The American Adoption Experience You can find a comprehensive list of adoptee centric books at Adoptee Reading. Share which book you are reading on October 30th. 

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A Moment of Silence – Pause for 4 minutes of silence to reflect, honor and remember our fellow adoptees who didn’t survive adoption at 12:00PM EST on October 30th.(Adoptees are 4x more likely to attempt suicide than non-adopted individuals)  

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Keep Memories Alive – Keep memories alive & e-mail a paragraph, poem, art or short story with a photo and tribute about the special adoptee you know that didn’t survive adoption, or an adoptee who’s incarcerated. Paint a memory rock, decorating it with your loved ones name, favorite thing or quote. We will share it on our Facebook October 30th in their honor. Email: adopteeremembranceday@gmail.com 

Wear A Yellow Flower – Wear a yellow flower and spark conversations of what the yellow flower represents in your work, home and with friends & family. 

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Share A Tribute – Email a paragraph with your photo if you’re an adoptee who would like to share a tribute to honor the lost adoptees, and/or all you have lost in adoption.  Email: adopteeremembranceday@gmail.com 

Have A Ceremonial Bonfire- Gather with others who support Adoptee Remembrance Day and at dusk light a bonfire in memory of the lost adoptees, and all that’s lost in adoption. Everyone can receive a piece of paper on which to write the message they would like to share. They can read them together, or keep them private. Then they can take turns placing their messages into the fire. As the notes burn, the rising flames and the sparks spiraling upward will offer the effects of sending the messages to the heavens.

Events – Schedule and dedicate an event on Facebook for a walk, hike,  dinner, lunch, sit in the park for October 30th in your community or with your Adoptees Connect group or others as a way to honor those who didn’t survive adoption and to recognize adoption loss. Do you have a special place or a reminder of someone you lost to adoption? Visit this place and set aside some time to remember your loved one. Be sure to tag our official Adoptee Remembrance Day – Oct 30th  page on Facebook, as well as add us to co-host your events. 

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Order A T-Shirt or Hoodie – Wear our exclusive T-Shirts or Hoodies dedicate to this significant day and take photos and share them with us. Wear them leading up to October 30th so you can be a walking billboard for this day. We’re the only ones that will get the word out about the significance of this day, so use this as an opportunity to spark conversations. You can find these items available at www.adopteemerch.com with 100% of the proceeds going directly towards our Adoptees Connect Scholarship Fund. This fund helps adoptees receive a scholarship to be able to receive the materials they need to plant an Adoptees Connect group in their area. We have a growing list of individuals who need scholarships and sponsors. The more groups we plant, the more adoptees will have a safe space to share their journeys.  Learn more: Sponsor Program.  If we see a need for youth & kid sizes, let us know! We will consider adding them to our website. If you can get the whole family involved, that will raise more awareness. 

Tribute Donations – Make a tribute donation or start a fundraiser to Adoptees Connect, Inc. to honor the memory of a loved one who didn’t survive adoption. The more groups we plant, the less isolation and loneliness adoptees will feel which are directly impacting adoptees all over the world. 

Make A Meme – Make a viral memorial meme in honor of any adoptees that didn’t survive adoption. Share it on October 30th in their memory. 

Write a Song – Write and record a song dedicated to the remembrance of the adoptees that didn’t survive adoption and the adoptee loss experience. 

Write an Article – Consider writing an article about adoptees who didn’t survive adoption or those who died at the hands of their adopters. How has this impacted you and the world of adoption?  Share the link with us, we will share it on our Facebook page on October 30th.

 Candle-lite Remembrance – Shine a light or a candle at 9:00PM EST on October 30th which we feel would be a powerful way to remember adoptees who didn’t surviveimg_2131 adoption and to recognize adoption begins with loss. When multiple people are involved in the lighting it can be a powerful recognition but being alone works just as well. 

Living Reminders – Create a living reminder like planting a flower, a tree or an entire garden in memory of adoptees who didn’t survive adoption and acknowledging loss in adoption. Pick up some yellow flowers from the store. 

Memorial Video – Create a memorial video dedicated to all of our lost brothers and sisters in adoption sharing your voice advocating for change in adoption policies and practices today. Tag us so we can share. 

Blow Bubbles – Instead of release balloons, blow bubbles. One person blowing bubbles is fun, but get a group together all blowing bubbles, and you can create a magical experience. For even more impact, add a few giant bubble wands to the mix.

Float flowers – Choose locally-grown flowers rather than imported ones. Friends & Family can drop the flowers into the water from the shore or from a boat in memory and remembrance of adoptee loss & suicide. Add an extra layer of meaning by writing notes to our loved ones, on quick- dissolve paper (such as rice paper) and releasing the notes into the water along with the flowers. They’ll float along for a bit before harmlessly dissolving. To be truly eco-friendly, you should use fully biodegradable ink, such as an ink made from algae, to write the messages.

Write in the Sand – Take a stick and write in the wet sand on the shore of a lake, river or ocean. This can be a prat of a larger remembrance service, or private. Anyone that attends can write their words of love to the departed and all that’s lost in adoption. The waves will wash them away, symbolically sending the message along.

Be Creative – Start a new tradition on October 30th for Adoptee Remembrance Day. Express how you have been advocating for change in adoption by sharing your voice on how adoption has impacted you. Share why this day is important to you. Encourage friends, family and loved ones to do the same. 

Alone Time – Have a moment of alone time which can signify for you a special moment of recognizing adoptee loss. img_2133

Family Friendly – Make it a family affair. Explain the importance of recognizing this day and honor it and remember it with your family. 

Spread the Word – Invite as many people as possible to follow our Facebook page and share our events inviting everyone you know. The more people that learn about this day, the more will begin to recognize the many layers of adoption that are unrecognized by society as a whole.

RSVP to our Facebook event if you plan on participating to Adoptee Remembrance Day. Don’t forget to invite your friends & family. 

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Please don’t release balloons into the environment. Click here to learn why this is terrible for our environment. We have plenty of eco-friendly options listed here. Please choose them over polluting the environment.  

There’s no rule that says you can only remember or memorialize someone or something in one way. Feel free to use multiple suggestions above as you see fit or create something new. 

A few things to remember: 

  • You don’t have to be adopted to recognize Adoptee Remembrance Day. We recognize that many people are impacted by adoption each year. We encourage you to get involved no matter which part of the adoption constellation you might or might not be a part of. Your support means everything to the adoptee community. 
  • We have a main Facebook page for this day, but we are not setting up Instagram or Twitter for this purpose. Our main Adoptee Remembrance Day page will be sharing all posts we are tagged in, so make sure to tag us on October 30th. We will also share as many posts that use hashtags #adopteeremembranceday and #adopteesweremember as well as share as many as possible on our Adoptees Connect, Inc. Instagram & Twitter. 
  • We will need some volunteers to help with our social media, emails, and correspondence about the Adoptee Remembrance Day. If you have some free time and are interested, please email us: adopteerememberanceday@gmail.com 
  • Please be patient with correspondence as we’re 100% volunteer ran and most of us have full time jobs. 
  • Please direct all correspondence regarding Adoptee Remembrance Day to email: adopteerememberanceday@gmail.com and NOT our Adoptees Connect, Inc. email. Separating the two causes will be critical to the productivity of Oct 30th. 

Thank you for your support and understanding in these matters. If you have any more ideas we can add to our list of things we can do on October 30th for Adoptee Remembrance Day, feel free to email them to us. We will take them into consideration and possibly add them to our list.

Adoptee Remembrance Day serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of  crimes against adoptees by adoptive parents, an action that current media doesn’t recognize. It also allows us to publicly mourn and honor the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through these actions, we express love and respect for the adoptee community. Adoptee Remembrance day reminds others that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Adoptee Remembrance day gives our allies a chance to step forward with us, memorializing those who’ve died too soon, and it also recognizing the loss all adopted people experience, before they’re actually adopted.

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Adoptees Connect, Inc.   

My Birth Mothers Shoes

I’ve experienced so many emotions when it comes to my birth mother, relinquishment, and rejection. Although I’m about 8 years into the “Coming out of the FOG” phase, I still grapple with emotions and feelings associated with my birth mother and her decision in relinquishment. I can say, without a doubt that with knowledge of some of the truth, hers and mine it’s allowed me to accept that truth to move forward with my life.

1994 I was a 21-year-old single mother of a beautiful daughter. This was the year I would find out who my birth mother was, where she was, and I heard her voice for the first time. Eventually I saw her face.

After spending 21 years being lied to by my adoptive mom, I finally found her. My adoptive mom held the key to this information my entire life. Did she think she was protecting me? Perhaps, but I don’t think I will ever “Get Over” the fact that every single time I asked about my birth mother, who she was, where she was, and how I could find her, she lied to me. That’s another blog post.

Spending a lifetime and childhood filled with fantasies about “HER” I had always hoped that one day she was going to come back to get me. I visualized a car pulling up in the front yard, a woman getting out walking up to me saying, “Hi Honey, it’s me, your momma… It’s time to go home now… This was all a big mistake”. Many of you already know about my obsession with THE SKY AND I. It was my baby blanket growing up, and a safety net for me because I knew she was under the same sky I was.

As you can guess, my fantasy turned to reality and she never showed up. I waited and waited and waited. Today, I am extremely triggered by waiting on anyone for anything. Something deep in my soul takes me back to waiting my entire childhood waiting on my birth mother to show up, and I panic. I do my best to plan things in my life where I don’t have to wait on people. It’s hard for me to separate my responses to waiting on people as a memory of waiting on my birth mother, yet I know it to be true. I do my best to acknowledge it, yet I believe it will be a piece of the little girl in me always wanting my birth mother.

I remember around the time I found out I was adopted, (5ish) I started to have dreams about searching for my birth mother. I was a little girl in a hospital gown around 5 years old, running up and down the hallways of the maternity ward at St. Francis Hospital in Waterloo, Iowa. There wasn’t a single person in sight, just me. I was LOST. Everything was white. I kept running down a hospital hallway, ripping the white curtains back one by one, searching for HER. The hallway went on forever and ever and ever… I kept running, and running, and running. This dream has come and gone many times in my life.

Today, if I feel left, or lost at all, I panic. The little girl in me associates the current with the past, and it’s extremely hard to navigate. It feels like a PTSD episode.

Adoption- The “beautiful gift” that keeps on giving.

Searching for her was an everyday part of my life all through my childhood, teen years and adult life. As you can imagine when I finally found HER, it was the best day of my life. I wrote a poem that day, “My dream finally came true, the day that I found you.” I still have it somewhere, in a box tucked away.

I made the call. The call I had been waiting to make my entire life, and I said, “Hi Eileen, my name is Pam, I was born Aug 13, 1974 – does that date mean anything to you?”

CLICK.

I said, “Hello? Hello?”

She hung up the phone.

I called back, I hear her answer and say “Hello, Yes I am the woman you are looking for”.

I said, “I can assure you I don’t want anything from you. I would love to learn more about you, your life and I have some questions for you if that’s okay?”

She replied, “I have always thought about you each year on your birthday. You have a sister, she doesn’t know anything about you and I don’t want her too”.

We spoke a few more minutes and she agreed she would write me, and I said I would write her and send some photos. I was DYING inside not knowing what she looked like. We ended our conversation and said we would be in touch.

I prepared a photo album for her, and a letter with the poem in it. Mailed them off within 24 hours.

The wait began…

24 hours

48 hours

1 week

3 weeks

5 weeks

I met the mailman at the mailbox daily.

Waiting

Waiting

Anticipating

2 months

4 months

5 months

Did I mention I hate WAITING on people to this day?

This is why.

I called her.

No answer.

I called her again.

No answer.

I was totally in the fog and I had no idea what was really happening.

I decided after 6 months I had nothing to lose in contacting my biological half-sister. The one my birth mother said she didn’t want to know about me. I mailed her a letter, and within days I was on the phone with my half biological sister. This was also a dream come true. She was receptive and excited to speak to me and we ended up meeting not long after.

She spoke to my birth mother and convinced my birth mother she needed to meet me. Yes, I said that right. She CONVINCED my own biological mother to want to meet me. I still hadn’t accepted the truth.

A month later I pulled up in the driveway of my birth mothers house. A surreal experience. I remember her coming to the door and laying eyes on her for the first time. She looked nothing like I imagined but it was her, none the less. She gave me what I would describe as a “Distant Hug”. It wasn’t the real embrace I expected from the woman that gave me life after 21 years apart. She invited me in and we sat around her dining room table. It was my birth mother, her sister (my aunt), my birth mothers best friend, my sister and me. She got a drink, and I got a drink. (alcohol) No one else was drinking but us.  As soon as we sat down, the question started flying.

My birth mother said, “So, how was your life?”

I could have lied, or sugar-coated things but I chose to be honest.

“I’ve had a really hard life, I never bonded with my adoptive mom. My adoptive parents divorced when I was a year and the home I grew up in was extremely chaotic and abusive in many ways”

She got quiet.

I asked her if she could tell me who my birth father was.

She said, “He didn’t know about you and he wouldn’t want too”.

That was the end of that topic. She really didn’t share much about herself but a few details. We took a few pictures together and wrapped the visit up. I was there about 2 hours. I was later told my birth father was dead by my birth mothers x- husband, but that was a lie. 

In my mind this was the beginning of a hopeful relationship. I wrote her. I called her. She avoided me at all costs. My half-sister had even cut off all contact as well.

Year after year passed and I waited and waited for something, anything. What did I do wrong? I mean I only told her the truth.

What I did get was a Facebook message in 2010 from my half-sister 20 years later that my birth mother had passed away, and my birth sister NEEDED me to be there at the funeral to support her. I showed up. This was one of the hardest experiences of my life. Not only was I introduced multiple times as, “This is Pam, the daughter my mom gave up for adoption” but I was also totally omitted from the obituary. I was there, in real life but I didn’t exist to them.

I was able to speak to a few of my birth mother’s friends in attempts to understand her life, and to gain empathy for this woman that brought me into the world who abandoned me not once, but twice. I wanted to know more details on why she made these choices, so I began to ask her close friends some questions.

I learned that my birth mother was never seen without a drink in her hand, even throughout her pregnancy with me. She was considered an alcoholic by those close to her and they told me stories about her life that helped me gain a better understanding about her. During the 20 years of silence from her, I was angry. I was hurt. I was rage filled, and alcohol was the only thing that made a bit of a dent in navigating through this pain. It didn’t help me process anything, but it helped me not feel the truth.

It was fascinating to me that even though she didn’t raise me, I picked up this “alcohol thing” anyway.  Alcoholism was something I picked up on not only through my DNA but in utero, before I was even born I was exposed to alcohol in the womb. It’s no wonder I spent 27 years addicted to it.

While learning more about my birth mother, her best friend shared with me that she was pregnant at the same time as my birth mother although she kept her baby. August 13, 1974 I was born. My birth mothers best friend said she sent flowers to the hospital for my birth mother when she gave birth to me, but they were returned to her because my birth mother used an alias in the hospital. She did not want to be found or discovered. They were never able to be delivered because of this. She said my birth mother worked up until the day she had me and went back to work the next day and she hid the pregnancy from everyone around. Her best friend is who told me she never saw her without a drink in her hand, even throughout her pregnancy. I was startled by this truth. I wondered how this impacted me in utero, although I guess I will never know?

Another one of my birth mothers friend shared with me that after my birth mother met me that one time and shut me out forever back in 1995, had expressed to her how upset she was that my adoptive parents got a divorce when I was 1 year old. She told her she wanted me to have a “better life” like she was promised, yet I was raised on welfare, food stamps in a single parent household. Not to mention the abuse I experienced at the hands of my adoptive mother and adoptive step brother. She said my birth mother never “Got Over That” and said many times if she would have known that was going to happen she would have kept me.

Adoption can’t promise a better life, only a different one.

My birth mother’s sister, who was my biological aunt is the one who upped the information as to who my biological father was because my birth mother wasn’t going to tell me. She explained that he was a pall barrier in my grandfather’s funeral and a friend of the family. He was approximately 10 years older than my birth mother, and he was married at the time of my conception. I was supposedly conceived out of a drunken one-night stand, after my grandfather’s funeral.

My birth sister said it was traumatic growing up in a household with an alcoholic mother. She said she never attended her school events, and that she wasn’t a good mother at all. She suggested to me multiple times that she wished she was the one given up for adoption, in other words I should be thankful I was! If she knew all about my experience growing up in an abusive adoptive home, I don’t think she would have said that.

I have sympathy for my birth sister, because of her upbringing. She’s expressed multiple times wishing that she was the one given up for adoption, and her views adoption was a “better life” so I automatically must have gotten the better life than her? Sadly, she too has surrendered a child for adoption, so her views are at the opposite end of the spectrum regarding adoption, and sadly because of our opposing viewpoints and a few other issues, we have no relationship today.

Every little piece of information has been an extremely valuable piece to me completing my puzzle. Every clue helped me understand better. Spending so many years numbing my pain with alcohol, running from the TRUTH I wasn’t in a place to process anything. Alcohol didn’t do anything for me to process my pain in healthy ways, and I can say now I had no idea how to process emotions in a healthy way. There was no living example of someone I could mirror, growing up on how to process feelings in a healthy way.

One day in 2012 it all came tumbling down on me like a TON of BRICKS.

I was just like my birth mother.

I didn’t want to be like her in the alcoholic area!

This meant I was going to die like her if I didn’t make any changes. I wanted my kids to have a happy healthy mom because that’s something I never had. I wanted my future grandkids to have a happy healthy grandma which is something my kids never had.

I was still angry at my birth mother, so I did a lot of praying about my anger towards her. She was dead for God’s sake. My anger was only hurting me. I was angry she abandoned me 2x. I was angry she kept me a secret from my birth father which resulted in me being given up for adoption without his consent. I was just flat out angry!

I knew if I was ever going to get to a place of forgiveness, I needed to try to FEEL what she FELT when she decided to make the decision to surrender me for adoption. I had to have empathy for her during that time, and even the years to follow. Why did she make that decision? What happened to her in her childhood to make her the way she was? What did she reject me for the second time?

To do this, I had to put myself in MY BIRTH MOTHERS SHOES. I had to TRY to understand her position in all areas of our journey. I started to ask a few birth mothers some questions, to try to understand better. I read “The Girls that Went Away” at an attempt to try to understand her better. Each area I learned about what a birth mother goes through was healing to me. Every area I began to understand more about why she made the decision she did, and I tried to objectively see things from her view, from her shoes.

It would be incredibly inaccurate of me to lump all birth mothers in one category, saying they all feel this way or that way. On the other hand, I’ve had a ton of people try to speak on behalf of MY BIRTH MOTHER in attempts to make me “feel better”. I see a lot of people speak for adoptees as well. No adoptees or birth mothers, or even adoptive parents all have the same cookie cutter situations or experiences. I had birth mothers tell me, “I’m sure she was broken hearted just like you” and “I’m sure your birth mother loved you and wanted you in her life, it was the pain she was rejecting, not you”.

Bottom line is, no one can speak for her. NO ONE. I was told she was a very cold person. Her neighbors would come try to bring her food, or cookies, or shovel her sidewalk and driveway and she would tell them “Leave her alone” and they said she flat out didn’t want to be bothered. She had a mean spirit, and if she was anything like me as a drinker alcohol only made it worse.

After reading “The Girls that Went Away” I learned how relinquishment might impact birth mothers and this helped me understand this could have easily impacted my birth mother. They mentioned how things stood still, like everything remained the same as if frozen in time, around the time of relinquishment. It was interesting to learn this because when my birth mother passed away, I asked my sister to take me to her house. The same one I went to 20 years earlier and met her that one time. She said, “Oh, trust me you don’t want to go to mom’s house, it’s horrible”. I assured her that yes, yes, I did. I needed to see it. November 7, 2010, I pulled up in her driveway, and went inside. Everything was dark, curtains drawn with dark floral colored drapes almost looking like they were from the 70’s. It didn’t look like anything had changed from when I saw her the one and only time, although things were much darker and dirtier. Dust was extremely thick, she had oxygen tanks lined up in her living room. Darkness was everywhere. She died on her sofa, with COPD, smoking, on oxygen and an alcoholic who had shut everyone out. I needed to see this, so I could see what her last days were like. It broke my heart, but I was told that she didn’t only shut me out, but she had shut everyone else out too. Her closest friends hadn’t seen her in along while, neighbors said she wasn’t very friendly. My birth sister hadn’t seen her in many years, nor talked to her. She was estranged from everyone and died in that dark, sad, lonely place.

I wanted to know everything I could about my birth mother. I needed to know. Every piece of information about her and her life was like salve to my wounds. Healing to my spirit. It was hard to learn all these things, it wasn’t easy at all, but the truth is always better than secrecy and lies. I need to share that most of the information I found out about my birth mother was from other people who knew her, and experienced life with her. I didn’t get that privilege, but I hold all the information close to my heart from those who shared it with me.

You might say “privilege? She doesn’t sound like she was a privilege to know!” Anyone can easily say that, just like my adoptive mom told me one day, “You act like your life would have been so better with her!” I don’t care how mean she was, or how much of an alcoholic she was. I don’t care how many married men she slept with, or how many babies she surrendered for adoption – she was still my mother! I don’t care what she was or wasn’t. And it is entirely possible I feel this way about her because I sought her my entire life, searching, seeking, looking, dreaming, fantasizing about HER that it’s so hard for me to see the bad in her. I see a broken woman who was hurting. She was an alcoholic, and I know from my own experience alcohol is something people use to run from pain. To mask the pain, to not feel it. She was an alcoholic way before I was born, all her life from what I was told.

I learned this I wanted to learn about what her childhood was like, and what had happened to her in her younger days to make her the way she was. Instead of damn her for having sex with a married man, I wanted to learn what happened to her. I had to have the willingness to take myself out of my shoes and put them in her shoes. It was easy for me to have sympathy for her because her alcohol problem was a huge factor in the decisions she made. My alcohol problem was a huge problem in the decisions I made. If I threw her under the bus, I needed to throw myself under the bus and guess what? I did that most of my life. To forgiver her I had to forgive myself vice versa.

I learned that my birth mothers mother was mentally ill, and she tried to abort one of her first child on her own in 1942. Rumor has it that she (my grandmother) might have been pregnant by her father, but I don’t know this to be entirely true. I do know that the abortion attempt was a failed one, and my birth mother had a sibling that was born mentally handicapped who lived in a nursing facility her entire life who was 5 years older than her. She died in her 50’s. I always wonder how this impacted my birth mother? What other family secrets were there that I had no clue about. Whatever they were, I wonder how they impacted my birth mother? Was that what drove her to drink? Did she have some pain she was running from? Did something happen to her in her childhood?

Those questions remain questions today, but I can imagine she was drinking running from some pain just like I was for 27 years. The only difference is her drinking killed her. Mine is not going to kill me. She made mistakes, I made mistakes. I don’t have any hate in my heart for her, only hurt. I did hate her for many years, but it was only hurting me.

I’ve come to my own conclusion that many women who have children don’t have a maternal bond with that child, nor do they have the desire to be a mother. I personally believe based on the information that I know about my birth mother is that she rejected the pregnancy, and she was ashamed of her actions in having an affair with a married man. This was the reason she chose to give me up for adoption. Who would want to be reminded of such an event day in and day out?

I think about what if she would have kept me and what my life would have been like. A few years ago, I saw a lady on Dr. Phil and she was in bad shape on the show because she was conceived out of an affair with a married man who was her father, but her mom kept her. Her father and his wife divorced, her half siblings held grudges against her simply for being alive and being the product of her parents “affair” and this woman was a WRECK! She was hysterical at times crying and sobbing that she hates that she was born causing so many problems and ruining a family because of her parent’s actions. It was clearly a HUGE burden placed on her shoulders the minute she knew the truth. My heart ached for her, and I couldn’t help but realize that could have been me if my birth mother kept me.

Without the truth I wouldn’t be where I am today. Without the knowledge regarding my birth mother, especially her alcoholism I would have never made the choice to stop drinking. August 13, 2012 was my birthday, and the last drink I had. I was determined to NOT die like my birth mother. My kids deserve more, and I deserve more.

Learning all this information about my birth mother, has helped me form my own conclusion about her. Some days I feel like she just wanted to get rid of her problem, “ME” because I was a reminder of her irresponsible actions. Part of me believes she truly wanted me to have a better life, because that’s what the adoption industry and our society feeds birth mothers so they guilt them into making the choice to surrender. Part of me believes that she was destroyed after I met her that one time, learning the truth. The other part of me feels like she’s just a cold-hearted woman who’s in a lot of pain. I have done my best to take myself out of my shoes and put myself in her shoes to bring healing to my spirit and understand her decision better.

Her decision has impacted every area of my life.

Although I’ve gained a better understanding, I still hurt – daily. My “Mother Wound” is a very deep wound. Like many adoptees, I struck it out in the mother area not once, but twice. When I dreamed my entire life about this woman, for that reunion to fail it’s left me devastated. I don’t believe it’s something I will ever forget or get over. It’s something I am learning how to process the best I can while I live a sober life. I don’t run and go drink 5 glasses of wine anymore or a 12 pack of beer to NOT FEEL IT! I must feel it to heal it. Some days I ponder how much more fun life was when I was drinking. This handling “feelings” business when it comes to all this adoptee trauma is no damn joke! Before in my drinking life, I would skate through life with never processing anything.

Alcohol was only a band aide on my wounds. Knowing my birth mother was an alcoholic her entire life, helped me understand her coldness and decision making. Alcohol was a major factor in some terrible decisions I made in my days. How can I look down on her, when I am no different? Really none of us are, we all make mistakes and have issues.

I guess for me, being born and causing so many people so much pain in the process is something I have carried deep in my soul for 43 years. I’m working on finding my worth aside from causing so many people so much pain but it’s a struggle daily.

Once I was able to put myself in my birth mother’s shoes, I then was able to meet and find my birth father. I had more questions, needed more answers. I won’t go into all I learned about him at this time, but one thing I learned is that he’s a raging alcoholic which rocked me to my core. So, you mean BOTH my birth parents are alcoholics, and I picked this alcohol thing up and they didn’t even raise me? This was another aspect of the driving force behind my decision to stop drinking. I didn’t want to be anything like Him in the alcohol area.

I wanted to break the chains of this generational curse and the chains of this cycle of alcoholism because if I didn’t do it who was going to do it? That was an always has been one of the hardest yet best decisions I ever made for myself, my kids, and my future grandkids for generations to come.

As I end, I would like to share that I would never be able to put myself in my birth mother’s shoes, if I hadn’t learned the TRUTH about who she was. When we don’t have our truth, we can’t heal. No more secrets. No more lies. Every adoption person deserves to know their truth, because we all deserve the chance at being able to put ourselves in our birth parents shoes to gain a better understanding of WHY?

WHY DID THIS HAPPEN TO ME?

WHAT HAPPENED TO MY BIRTH MOTHER?

WHY WAS I ABANDONED BY THE WOMAN THAT SHOULD LOVE ME MOST?

NOT ONCE BUT TWICE?

Knowing all the above information has helped me make the choice to come to a place of acceptance. I have to be honest, as long as my birth mother was alive on this earth I always had a tiny piece of hope she would change her mind about me. It’s only after she died was when the reality set in and I knew there was no more hope at all in us having a relationship. Please don’t judge adoptees for feeling the way they do. You have no idea how much adoption hurts us, along with the secrecy and lies involved in most adoptions today.

Withholding the truth, no matter who it is, (birth parents, adoptive parents, etc.) is wrong. The truth is everything to adopted people.  It doesn’t mean it won’t hurt but it’s always better than living a lie.

Love, Love

Wishing I Was Aborted & Wanting to Die…

I’m glad I was able to get your attention for a few moments…

Over the years, I have written a bit regarding certain times in my life where I wished my birth mother aborted me. I’ve also written other times about wishing I would die or wishing I was dead.

This doesn’t mean I promote abortion.

This doesn’t mean I promote suicide.

This means, this is how I have felt at certain times of my life and I have had enough courage to share my feelings with the world. Sometimes it might be in this blog or in online communities, or in real life.

It’s hard to have value for “life” when every day of my life has felt like I’m in a living nightmare in my mind regarding my adoption journey. How do you live everyday of your life with a broken heart? It’s hard to value LIFE when the woman that should love you the most not only abandons you but rejects you when you find her. It’s hard to value life when you feel like your entire existence on earth was to fill a void in someones life, but they never really cared about me. I was purchased for a price to the next adoptive parents in line. It was never about me. It’s hard to value life when no one on earth has ever given a shit about my feelings about the trauma, grief, loss and all the issues adoption has brought my way.

IT’S A EVERYDAY STRUGGLE FOR SOME OF US!

“Oh you just had a bad adoption experience!”

My views are, If we’re completely honest, every adoption experience is rooted as a bad experience because what any adoptee has to go through to get adopted is grounded in trauma and loss.  The fact we are severed from our roots, history, medical history, ethnicity, birth parents, siblings, etc. is enough reason for us to say it’s a bad experience.

If you can view adoption as “beautiful” you aren’t acknowledging the trauma that comes with it, and that is a problem. I’ll save that for my next blog post.

Trauma is not beautiful, it’s hard and complicating, and painful.

Do all adoptees feel like their adoption constitutes as a “Bad Experience?” Absolutely not. I can’t speak for all adoptees, I can only speak for myself and knowing hundreds of adoptees all over the world, I know MANY of us feel this way.

If I dig a little deeper and share why at times I’ve felt like I wanted to die I can assure you I was at a very dark place regarding my adoption journey. More than likely if I shared something like this online or in my blog it’s because I didn’t have any “safe space” in my real life to share these feelings. It’s because not only did I feel like I wanted to die, but I have always carried the burden for feeling this way on top of feeling how I felt.

As if feeling like I wanted to die wasn’t enough…

The feelings of wanting to die are usually triggered by different seasons of my adoptee experience. It comes in waves, and when feelings associated with abandonment, rejection, trauma, complicated grief & loss come flooding in it can easily take me out. What does take me out mean? I can slide into a depression, and during this time things are dark and grim. There has never been any help for me, (for many of us adoptees) so it can feel like a dark cloud is hanging over my head and there is nowhere to turn.

ALONE.

HELPLESS.

On occasion I’ve shared how I was angry at my birth mother for choosing life. It’s the truth and if you can’t understand it or grasp it consider yourself one of the fortunate ones. You also might be someone who doesn’t have the willingness to TRY to want to learn why I have felt this way or to try to learn why other adoptees might feel this way? Either way, I had to go through the emotions I was feeling. A few years back I worked on some areas of healing as I continue to do. One of the areas I was mad as hell about was wishing my birth mother aborted me.

THE PAIN HAS BEEN THAT GREAT!

Writing about it was one of the biggest healing tools I have yet to discover. Sharing it with others is also another healing tool. It takes it from a deep hidden secret of feeling this way,  to a release by sharing my feelings that are very real with others who can hopefully understand, validate and let me know I’m not alone. In no way sharing these feelings was I ever advocating for abortion and I don’t appreciate anyone saying otherwise.

Situations like this that happen it’s another layer of what adoptees have to go through. Not only do we feel the way we do which is hard enough in itself, but we’re shamed by society for feeling that way. Our words can be easily twisted by someone who has never thought twice about reaching out to us in a caring, humane and concerning way. To top it off, there is usually no help for us, or no safe spaces to share these feelings so a lot of time online is our only source to share. Thank God Adoptees Connect is popping up in many cities and other adoptee support groups as well. Things are changing for the good but it hasn’t always been this way.

There are those who don’t agree with with others say and they can’t just move along. They have to make sure they point out why they don’t feel that way and why it’s horrible we do. “My friend who’s adopted doesn’t feel that way at all!” or “My husband is adopted and he never has felt that way” – Or better yet, and the most damaging of all, a fellow adoptee saying, “I’m so sad and disappointed so many adoptees have no value for life, and talk about wishing they were aborted or dead. I have never felt that way and I have made the choice to make something of my life. I wish they would do the same”

Don’t you think if we could just turn the switch on to be one of the “Happy well-adjusted” adoptees, we would do it? Don’t you think we would rather feel happy all the time than deal with these emotions? I think most adoptees would rather not have these issues, but when we are dealing with so many complexities and layers of trauma it doesn’t happen that way for many of us.

TRAUMA TAKES TIME TO HEAL AND EVERYONE HEALS AT DIFFERENT STAGES

The fact of the matter is, when people share their feelings online or in real life, it’s really best to try to validate their feelings and listen to what they have to say. Just because you don’t feel this way and you never have doesn’t mean you need to point it out to someone and disregard how they are feeling because it doesn’t line up with how you feel.

When people process emotions about wishing they were aborted or having feelings of wanting to die, and you happen to be on the receiving end of hearing them share these words please consider yourself honored. If someone is actually sharing something like this they may have kept deep inside for what can be a very long time. Your response is critical!

Don’t silence them, and try to make them feel guilty for feeling this way. Shaming them and making them feel guilty because you have processed your adoption issues, and they haven’t isn’t going to help, only hurts them.

“It makes me so sad to see so many adoptees talk about wishing they were aborted and wishing they were dead!” – Well HELLO!

It seems to me this world we live in might want to take a wake up pill because if so many adoptees are saying these things IT’S FOR A REASON. Many reasons actually.

For me, I had to face the pain of the TRUTH of adoption, MY ADOPTION and come out of the FOG and acknowledge the realities of how my life played out. Some days the pain has been SO GREAT I would rather DIE than deal with another day of this pain. Does that mean I’m suicidal? NO, for me I wasn’t suicidal although I have been in the past when I was younger. It means that at that moment in my life, dying seems like a better plan than facing the pain of ADOPTION. That’s how great my pain was. I never had a suicide plan as an adult, but that doesn’t mean some adoptees don’t. For me, I have a ton of reason TO LIVE and there are so many areas in life I love, my kids mainly. But there is far more to it than me just saying I wanted to die.

Does that mean other adoptees aren’t suicidal when they say they want to die or they would rather die? I can’t comment on that but because adoptees attempt suicide 4x more than non adoptees.  I think it’s time society as a whole stop ignoring these staggering facts.

BE CAUTIOUS HOW YOU RESPOND TO HURTING ADOPTEES!

We really can’t afford to not listen to Adoptees.

If you are an adoptee and have been fortunate enough to move beyond your depression, and you’re wanting to die, and your issues with being adopted and you have come to a place of peace regarding your adoption journey that’s wonderful. But let me share, those adoptees who aren’t at that place yet don’t need YOU, their fellow adoptee telling them how sad and sorry you are they feel that way and minimize their feelings by sharing how you don’t feel that way at all. This only adds shame to how they already feel.

We don’t need it, especially from our fellow adoptees.

Never look down on someone unless you’re helping them up. – Jesse Jackson

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I have a question for anyone reading, adopted or not.

If you learn of an adoptee or anyone for that matter share feelings in real life or online, about wishing they were aborted or wishing they would die have you reached out to them on a personal level? Have you said to them, “I’m so sorry you are feeling this way. My heart hurts for you. Can you tell me more about why you are feeling this way? How can I help you?” Do you have the willingness to reach out to these people and try to understand where they are coming from? Do you have the willingness to LISTEN without the intent to reply? Do you have the willingness to try to put yourself in this persons shoes, even when you can’t relate to what they are saying because “That wasn’t my experience!”

My reason for writing this blog post is to share I have had times in my life where I have felt anger towards my birth mother because she didn’t abort me, and I have felt like I wanted to die many times but this does not define who I am. It’s all been a part of my healing process. If I didn’t have so many deep-rooted adoptee issues, I honestly would be doing great in life. Just so happens, the pain from adoption has been the very same pain that has been my reason for starting Adoptees Connect and Adoptee Merch. It’s that same pain that God is going to turn around and use it for His good.

Are you meeting people where they are?

Pain and all?

Aside from adoption and the trauma it’s caused me I consider myself a survivor and I’m surviving daily. Adoption tried to kill me, but I’m here and alive. I have so many things to be thankful for. Some days I wonder why it’s so hard for me to be thankful for my life, which is something I feel guilty about daily. The best way I can describe it is that I’ve never until recently (out of the fog) ever felt like I was alive to begin with. I felt like the walking dead. I have no birth story. I have no roots grounded in anything. I don’t feel connected to anything other than my kids. I’ve spent my entire life grieving what should have been and what was lost. The same tears I cried in grief are the same tears the world celebrates because adoption is viewed as “beautiful”.

This adds more pain on pain on pain…

What has changed everything for me and given me a reason to live is my kids. They are the reason I’m thankful for my life because I’m thankful for them. They are the reason I get up daily because they are my motivation. They are the reason I’m still alive. It’s not for myself. If they weren’t here I wouldn’t be alive. I would have been dead many years ago. I would have no purpose and that’s MY TRUTH.

Now that I am processing through my pain, and I’m out of the fog, I’m at a place where I’ve learned my passion in life. Healing is happening, but it wouldn’t be happening if I could never share my feelings.

IN ORDER TO HEAL IT WE HAVE TO FEEL IT!

 Even those adoptees who are sharing online they want to die and wish they were aborted!

God has placed a calling on my life to do what I’m doing in the adoptee community. If I’m able to frame it this way, being adopted has been the hardest experience of my life, but I know God is going to do amazing things and my pain will be used for good. In order to frame it this way I had to feel validated, heard, listened too.

So my question is…

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ARE YOU LISTENING?

Because if you are inserting your opinion without ever asking a person why they feel the way they feel you really are out-of-order.

Do I still wish my birth mother aborted me? Sometimes those thoughts come over my mind, but they come and go like a vapor. Usually its the times when my pain is so great, I see no light and no way out. When I stay busy in life, the less time I have to think about the realities of adoption and the damage it has done in my life. Every day I can move forward towards healing is a new day I have to discover who I am and what I enjoy doing in life. There is more to me and my life than being an adoptee. I love being a mom. I love nature, hiking, chasing waterfalls. I enjoy the simple things in life-like sunrises, sunsets, bonfires, hot tea and coffee. I’m a caregiver by career and absolutely love what I do for a living. I have a small host of close friends and a few family members I am in touch with. Adoptee issues still surface and will always surface, for me it’s learning how to ride the waves.

So please, the next time you are around someone who is sharing their heart, no matter how your experience was or is, no matter who you know that was adopted who had a wonderful experience, know it doesn’t give you the right to tell us how we should feel. Also, please understand that just because you are at a peaceful place of your adoption, not all of us are. Let’s learn to embrace one another exactly as we are, not as you think we should be.

We’re already in a world that glorifies our trauma, we don’t need it from our fellow adoptees. Please, be kind and in that have compassion for others who are nothing like you. Try to understand them and put yourself in their shoes. Listen more.

Empathy goes along way.

Thanks for reading.

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