Do not assume when an adoptee finds their biological family, all their problems will be solved, and the case will be closed.

 

They say to prepare, but there is no real way to prepare for what some adoptees find when they make the choice to search for biological family.

Searching for and finding biological family as an adoptee is opening up Pandora’s box repeatedly. It is the beginning of a new era of uncovering the secrets that so many think they have protected us from. Even under the best of reunion stories, it is still the beginning of a new painful path that adoptees experience.

If we’re lucky, one door closes, and another door opens. And that’s just it if we’re lucky. Society says at least you have found your truth when so many other adoptees would die to find theirs. Even when the truth has been excruciatingly painful, society thinks we should still feel LUCKY. Even our fellow adoptees suggest this at times, and I understand why they feel this way, mainly when they haven’t found their biological families yet.

I think our friends, families and loved ones sense us in agony before we search and find and in all honestly they hope we will feel “better” after we find out truth. However, when they still see us in agony after we reunite, it hurts them to see us hurt. They want to take our pain away, and they have high hopes reunion will do that. Truth and reality is, it usually doesn’t. It brings on a new set of heartbreak, pain, grief and loss.

Searching and finding biological family, I like to describe it as trading one type of pain for another. Both types of pain are different but equally painful. The pain of the unknown for adopted individuals is like the feelings a parent might have who has a missing child somewhere out in the world. Imagine your 10-year-old child was abducted on the street, and they vanished with no trace ever to be found. The agony that parents must feel every waking moment of every day having their child missing.

Adoptees think similar to this, but it is not just one family member. It’s their very own mother, father, grandparents on both sides, siblings on both sides, and cousins on both sides. We’re on an island all alone, searching in our minds from the moment we find out we are adopted for our biological connections. This is painful from the very beginning. If you don’t think so, I would like to ask you how many adopted individuals you have gotten to know and listened to their stories over the years? I have gotten to know hundreds, if not over a thousand, and not one of them has said adoption has been 100% wonderful. It’s complex, emotional, and painful at best.

Can you imagine what it feels like to not know what your mother looks like?

Or her name?

I know you can’t because it’s unimaginable.

The big difference is, parents of missing children are expected to feel the feelings they feel having a missing child. Society saves space for them, their grief and loss. They have some memories to hang onto, and they have their child’s names and they know who they are. My heart goes out to these parents, because I know it’s a nightmare on every level but I wanted to describe the difference in what adopted individuals experience.

At all costs, we are just supposed to be grateful. If we aren’t, we are labeled as ungrateful, angry, and many other hurtful words.

This is not helpful to the adoptee experience.

To feel whole, complete, and like I was an actual living human being, I had to find this woman that gave birth to me. I had to see her face and know who she was. I fought the closed adoption laws in Iowa like HELL to find her. If I didn’t, I would be dead right now. In my mind, this would solve all the pain I experienced and the heartache I lived with my whole life all the way back to coming home from the hospital with strangers at a few days old.

Living in the unknown is a different type of pain. It was for me anyway. I describe it as agony. Every waking moment of every day for me was painful. I was sad, filled with anxiety, and as I grew into my pre-teen self, it turned into self-sabotage and self-hate. All I needed was HER.

During this time, I had anticipation and high hopes that one day I would be reunited with the woman who gave me away, but things would be different this time. If she “loved me so much,” she had to want to know me and have me back in her life, right?

WRONG

She never wanted to be found, she never wanted to meet me, and she was nothing like what I dreamed about finding my whole life. She was quite the opposite. She was a disappointment on every level and I am still 20+ years later, upset by this disappointment. She considered herself doing me a favor meeting me one time, and we had a 2-hour visit together. After this visit, she shut me out and never spoke to me again. During the visit, she asked me about my life and how my childhood was. I have always been an honest person, even when it hurts. I expressed to her I never bonded with my adoptive mom, and my adoptive parents divorced when I was a year old. I was raised on welfare, food stamps and experienced significant emotional, mental, and even sexual abuse in my adoptive home.

It crushed her, and it was too much for her to handle. Twenty years passed, and she shut me out, not being able to face HER DECISION. She assumed I would have the better life promised to her. I received a message she had passed away, and I traveled to Iowa to her funeral.

I was told by some of her closest friends at her funeral that she was distraught that my adoptive parents divorced, and if she had known that was going to happen, she would have kept me. They said this REALLY BOTHERED HER.

Knowing this truly helped me understand why she shut me out, but it didn’t take away the pain or lessen it. The pain of being rejected by a biological parent is indescribable. The pain of being rejected by your mother, the woman who brought you into the world, is a pain that never goes away. Check out The Primal Wound to learn more.

I’m trying to relay that we should never assume that just because an adoptee finds their biological family that it’s going to be the key that turns the page for them. Or imagine that their life will finally be complete and that they can eventually MOVE ON. Sometimes what we find is so devastating, moving on isn’t an option for many of us. For those of us who can, somewhere along the lines we’ve come to a place of acceptance.

Telling adoptees to MOVE ON or GET OVER IT is never helpful.

It’s actually quite the opposite. High hopes are shattered to the ground, and the disappointment of what was found sets in and rips our hearts to shreds. The grief and loss process continues and will remain a significant component of our lives for the rest of our lives. Adoptees are the kings and queens of adaption, and we do our best to put on a smile for the world to see. It takes everything in our power to pretend that everything is okay deep inside. But it’s usually far from it.

We also must remember that this adaption behavior and pretending is instilled into many of us from a very early age. When we learn that our greatest heartbreak is our adoptive parents’ greatest blessing, we discover our feelings aren’t important. This makes us feel like we aren’t important. We must keep them hidden for fear of upsetting our adoptive parents. Our heartache and heartbreak for the mystery woman we fantasize and dream about are insignificant compared to our adoptive parents’ feelings of finally becoming parents.

The mental mind paradox that any adopted individual has to endure is enough to take us out of this world. It’s way too much for one person to bear. Non-adopted individuals can’t comprehend what the big fuss is all about. Accepting they never will understand because they don’t have the experience has been a critical component to my healing journey. Even when non-adoptees TRY to understand, they simply can’t. We do appreciate those who TRY.

Aside from the failed reunion with my biological mother and rejection from her, I experienced the same failed reunion and rejection from my biological father. Even after DNA confirmation that I am his daughter, he has no desire to know me or have a relationship with me. He said that he would have kept me if he would have known about me, but I was adopted without his consent, so he had no say so. In his eyes, it’s too late now. Double rejection and double heartbreak is a hard pill to swallow. It’s heavy to carry, and the pain surfaces in the grief and loss process for me, which I’ve accepted it will last a lifetime.

Aside from being rejected by my biological parents, I found a long-lost brother who was the best part of my search and reunion. We spent five years catching up for lost time, making new memories together, and being elated that we finally found one another after all these years apart. This reality turned into a shattered nightmare when DNA testing showed we shared no DNA. I can’t even put into words how this experience has made me feel. The heartbreak is accurate, and I have no words to describe it. Pain on top of pain.

After a lifetime of dreaming, I get to meet my biological grandmother at least one time, I succeeded. I can’t express how thankful I am that I had enough courage to drive across the country (even after being told by my biological father that I could not meet her) to meet her for one hour as she lived in a nursing home in Iowa. I stayed one hour, and was a dream come true. It opened the connection to my first cousin, who thought she was the only granddaughter. I was honored to be invited back to Iowa for a second visit to meet her and her family and see my biological grandmother a second time. She took me to the land where my grandparents lived, which she described her childhood memories as being like “heaven.” Even with this being a dream come true, when I returned home and the dust settled, this “reunion” became so emotional for me that it set me up for intense grieving I wasn’t prepared to experience. I became sad, depressed, and things spiraled out of control. My grief and sorrow for what was lost and what I missed out on being robbed of these relationships were all I could bear to handle. I was so sad. I just wanted my life to end because of all the pain, the grief, the loss I was feeling. Death seemed like the only way to escape the pain.

Learning to live with a broken heart has been a key component to my healing journey.

Even ten years post reunions with biological parents and all the pain I have experienced in that time from other dynamics to my adoption journey, I still wouldn’t change the fact that I chose to search and find my people. Even when they haven’t accepted me, knowing my truth has been healing in its own way. I don’t regret it, but handling the aftermath is something I will be navigating for the rest of my life.

Even when our loved ones might expect reunions and finding our TRUTH might be the answer for our healing and freedom, in some regards, it can be. Still, the other side is that we suffer in silence carrying the tremendous pain and sorrow of what should have been, what could have been, and all that was lost because of adoption. The difference for adoptees is that our world doesn’t acknowledge we should even be feeling this way; they do not leave space for us and don’t understand why.

Reunion is still just as messy as adoption, and it looks different for each of us. Even being embraced by one or both biological parents carries pain. It brings grief, and it brings loss. Instead of the outlook that when adopted individuals find their biological family, it will be the CURE ALL for the adoptee, let’s reframe things to help them embrace what they are about to experience. It could be happiness; it could be sadness; it could be a combination of both. It could be feelings that are so complex, they don’t even understand them themselves. It could be emotions so difficult that they withdraw; they use coping mechanisms to get through and become shut off.

There is no limits to what an adoptee might find when they search for their biological family. I think many of us are set up for the greatest disappointment of our lives when we assume our birth mother “loved us so much” but her actions of rejection show quite the opposite. Many of us find addicts, graves, happy homes without us, that our biological parents married and had more kids after us, or single women who never married or had more kids. Sometimes we find parents who are happy to be found, and others who want to slam us in jail for pursuing them. Sometimes we are received but only if we agree to remain a secret. Sometimes siblings embrace us, and sometimes they reject us. Some of us are told our biological parents are dead, but we later find that was a lie to discourage us for searching. This happened to me! (never believe what you have been told, until you prove it) I’ve heard it ALL over the years!

No matter how the adoptee responds, non-adopted individuals must meet them right where they are, and they should accept this is a lifelong journey for the adoptee. They should also accept that nothing they say or do, can take our pain away. Being adopted never goes away, so our feelings won’t go away either. The sooner non-adoptees can get this, the easier it will be on the adoptee.

We must remember that no matter how the adoptee feels, it’s normal for a not normal situation. There is nothing ordinary about being severed from your roots, abandoned by your biological mother, and fighting the world for your truth. To my fellow adoptees, I love you, I see you, I hear you. XOXO PK.

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

15 Significant Steps Towards Adoptee Healing

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I’ve had so many fundamental moments that have played key factors in my healing journey that I wanted to write an article about them in hopes to support my fellow adoptees on their healing journeys. Without these steps, I was stuck in agony and heartbreak. Most of these areas I had to figure out on my own, and reflecting back I WISH someone would have shared them with me. It might not have taken me 10+ years to get to this point of arrival into the next chapter of my life. That’s 10 years I can never get back.  I can only hope these things might help my fellow adoptees in some way. 

One aspect to keep in mind is that healing looks different for everyone. There is no cookie cutter design that is one size fits all. What works for me, might not work for you. What worked for you, might not work for me. I’ve made it this far by setting specific boundaries for myself and walking them out has allowed me the space I need to continue healing from the lifelong impacts of relinquishment and adoption trauma. 

Let me get straight to it because time lost, is time we can never get back! 

 

    1. Acceptance – Coming to a place of acceptance that these were the cards I were dealt has been one of the main key aspects to my adoptee healing journey but it was really hard to accept something, when I didn’t have my truth to accept! We can’t accept a question mark hanging over our head. This is why ALL ADOPTIONS SHOULD be TRUTHFUL. The truth means NOTHING HIDDEN.  Once I received my truth,  I realized there is nothing I can do to change the fact that I’m adopted. I can’t roll the dice at another shot at parents in the adoptive or biological area. I get no “do-overs” even when I wish I did. I sat for most of my life in so much pain, hating the fact that I was adopted. My feelings were 100% legit, because I still hate the fact that I’m adopted. However, I’m no longer using my sacred energy being rage filled and mad at the world regarding something I have no control over. Yes, I still get angry and mad because adoption is rooted in relinquishment trauma and the system needs abolished but it’s not controlling my life like it once did. I used to sit in it, and wallow and I was stuck.  Now, when it comes I sit in it, process it and move forward. Acceptance brought me to a new space of elevation because as soon as I reached this point, new doors opened up and a new attitude followed suit. I’ve accepted it, now what? 
    2. Accepting the Pain is Here to Stay – This was a HUGE key in my healing. I’ve written about it several times but for those who haven’t read those articles please check out Saying “Hello” to Adoptee Grief & Loss & Adoptee Pain. Our world is set up instilling in us that there are  ways we can avoid dealing with painful situations by avoiding the pain all together. Check out Spiritual Bypassing and learn as much as you can about it. We’re told that anything that isn’t “positive” is “negative” and negativity has no place in our positive culture world. One of the main aspects in the last 10 years of my healing is learning to welcome the pain, and accepting that no matter what anyone says, the pain is here to stay. OUCH. That’s painful to accept. Running the rat race of trying to “BE HEALED” only prolonged my healing. The truth is, every single adoption is rooted in relinquishment trauma and until we treat that trauma like we treat all the other traumas, healing can’t happen. The sooner we accept that this pain is here to stay, the sooner we learn to sit with this pain and begin processing this pain instead of avoiding it and running from it. We must remember, our feelings are perfectly normal for a not normal situation. Nothing is normal about being separated from our biological families at the beginning of life. Saving space for the pain, when it comes is KEY. Understanding that NOTHING IS WRONG WITH YOU is also KEY. You didn’t ask for this, nor did you deserve it. Your feelings are VALID and your experiences are LEGIT.  
    3. Accept Non-Adoptees Will Never Understand You – This was so hard for me in the beginning and caused me so much anger and rage! I was so upset at the stupidity of non-adoptees and their lack of understanding regarding the adoptee experience! I mean pure anger and rage! My anger and rage was completely legit however, I learned as soon as another person felt my anger and rage it completely turned them off and the possibility of a teachable moment was thrown in the trash! I also learned that unless someone was an adoptee themselves, they truly can’t understand how it feels to be adopted, and all the dynamics that go along with it. I had to allow them GRACE in advance and this is the only way I was able to get through these relationships and experiences. If someone isn’t adopted, they have no idea what we go through. They can be adoptive parents, birth parents or friends and family members. The sooner I accepted this the sooner my relationships with them became easier. Those that love you, will listen, learn and TRY to understand you but unless someone is adopted they will never truly know! Expecting this from non-adoptees is a unrealistic expectation. 
    4. Stop Trying To Teach Others How It Feels To Be Adopted, When They Don’t Want To Learn – This is so big. I spent the first 1-2 years in coming out of the fog regarding my adoptee journey trying to do my best to EDUCATE THE WORLD on how adoption and relinquishment trauma impacted me. Not that there is anything wrong with this, but what was wrong was that I inserted my experiences into conversations with others who had no desire to want to learn or listen. I can’t even begin to tell you how much time I wasted, ESPECIALLY ON THE INTERNET with idiotic fools who have no willingness to LEARN. I learned early on that I made the choice to save my energy and my message for those who wanted to learn. Pouring out into pointless conversations with people who don’t seek out the knowledge and understanding I have and who don’t want to learn only hurt me in the long run. It took away from my emotional and mental health, and it also took away my valuable time that I can never get back. I decided moving forward many years ago, I’m no longer inserting my views, experiences and comments where they won’t be received. I’m no longer wasting my time on pointless encounters with random strangers on the internet that mean nothing to me who only want to discredit and devalue my experiences. I truly encourage you to do the same. 
    5. Accept Healing is a Lifelong ProcessThe world is going to tell you to  “get over it” and “move on” and most non adoptee competent therapists won’t understand the layers of the adoptee experience. The truth is, every single adoption is rooted and grounded in TRAUMA and this constitutes as a very bad experience regarding ALL ADOPTIONS TODAY because for all adoptions to happen, the adoptee experiences TRAUMA FIRST. For many of us, our adoptive homes were NOT SAFE OR LOVING. Understanding that the damage relinquishment and adoption has done is undoubtedly what could possibly be the biggest heartbreak and most painful experience an adoptee will have in their entire lifetimes. There is no quick fix or magic pill to make it all better and go away. Getting over it and moving on isn’t so simple for many of us and if we had that choice, don’t you think we would flip that switch? The truth is, we can run but we can’t hide from the lifelong implications that come about due to our adoption experiences. Allowing ourselves the rest of our lives to save the space for our pain is really important. I spent so many years wishing I would wake up and it would all be gone, because that’s what I was told would happen in the christian belief system I was a part of. I was led to believe if my pain didn’t “go away” then I wasn’t praying enough, or fasting enough, or even that I was being punished that this PAIN wasn’t going away for not being good enough. I was even led to believe that I was choosing to hang onto the pain. Being told these things and believing this way are some of the most damaging to my personal journey I have yet to experience. It’s extremely critical to the adoptee experience that we STOP putting any stipulations on our healing times.  How about we say to ourselves, “Adoption has hurt me deeply, and this pain is here to stay. I will allow myself the space to process and heal from this damage for the rest of my life because there is no time frame on healing.” Grief & loss are two of the main components to the adoptee experience. The more we research and understand the grief and loss process, the more we should apply it to our adoptee journeys. When someone dies in a car wreck or unexpectedly for any reason, we don’t put stipulations on how long the loved ones can grieve these losses. We need to stop putting this on ourselves as adoptees and letting others put them on us. There is no time frame on healing and the sooner we can accept that the damage relinquishment does could very well take a lifetime to heal from, the sooner we save space to start the healing. Most people don’t want to hear this, but what if some of us have areas we will never heal from? What if relinquishment trauma is so deep, it will carry its implications with us forever? Accept it. Stop running from it. Share it. Tell the world the damage adoption relinquishment has done and never stop!  
    6. Walk Away from Those Who Won’t Save Space for Your Pain – You’re not going to heal with those people in your life and their mindset inflicted on you will stall your healing! We live in a world that’s got positive pumpers on every corner, everywhere we turn! Motivational Speakers & Life Coaches are everywhere and the culture we’re exposed too a lot of times doesn’t save space for life’s painful experiences. Adopted or not, when people won’t sit with you in your pain, they aren’t your people. Some people don’t know how to do this, but if we express to them that we just need them to listen and try to learn the Adoptee perspective and they still don’t listen, just walk. Find your people who will listen. You deserve more and you deserve to be heard and validated! 
    7. Continue to Search for Your Truth – There is no healing from secrets, lies and half truths. Every little clue brings healing and anything less than 100% TRUTH is stalling our healing.  I’ve heard a MILLION stories from my fellow adoptees over the last 10 years and you would not believe how many have been lied to, told BS stories about who they are and where they came from that were LIES. LIES. LIES. LIES. I encourage everyone reading this to not give up, and keep pressing for your answers. Just because someone has said your biological parents are dead, don’t believe it! If it’s possible, do DNA testing to make sure they are your biological parents FIRST (yes you can do this without their DNA) and then if they are, insist you be allowed to see their grave before you accept they are dead. DO NOT BELIEVE WHAT YOU ARE TOLD until you do significant investigating on your own! There are so many lies and secrets told to adoptees, we have to SEE FOR OURSELVES. Never give up and follow that aching desire to LEARN YOUR TRUTH. You deserve it, and all of it. Your siblings deserve to know you, and you deserve to know them. You are NOT A SECRET AND YOU DIDN’T SIGN ANY ADOPTION PAPERWORK. My friend & fellow adoptee Lynn Grubb created Genetic Genealogy for Adoptees. Join her group. There are a lot of adoptees on standby to assist you in finding your TRUTH.
    8. Trauma Work – RELINQUISHMENT TRAUMA IS REAL! ADOPTION TRAUMA IS REAL!  If you have yet to accept and understand that all adoptions are rooted and grounded in relinquishment trauma I suggest you do some digging to discover the truth. This reality compacted with adoption trauma is a real significant setback for the adoptee population. Most of the time we’re conditioned to believe all things adoption related are beautiful but the TRUTH IS, our beginnings are painful. Without the acceptance of this truth, healing isn’t possible! I suggest you research pre & perinatal trauma and maternal bonding, as well as what happens when this bonding is interrupted and relinquishment separation happens. We experience preverbal trauma that is stored in our subconscious memories, which comes out and surfaces at different stages of our lives. It has a psychological, mental and emotional impact on us that can radiate our entire lives. These areas are triggered by various reasons. Some can be by the minute, some by the hour, some by the week, month or year. Holidays are big triggers as well as turning on the television.  Maybe when we have children, or we need our medical history? It might surface in our relationships with our children, friends, family and significant others in our lives? It can even surface in our careers and personal lives. RESEARCH IS KEY. The Mother Wound is another significant area that needs work. I can promise you, as adoptees we deal with a significant dynamic to this wound because it’s a double wound for many of us. This wound will impact every area of our lives, unless we work on it. How do I work on the mother wound? I’ve recently found a resource that I want to share with you all in finding a beautiful lady named Michelle Dowell – Vest AKA Rev. Chelle who understands the different dynamics of the mother wound, and is very aware how complex this is for adoptees. Her bio is, “I help women heal their Mother Wound, breaking generational cycles of pain between moms & daughters.” I’m sure men can also apply this to their wounds, and they can even research and do their own work on the mother wound. EMDR therapy has been another HUGE hit in the adoptee community for trauma work. I have heard countless positive stories from adoptees. Finding an adoptee competent therapist is really important, and you can start that process by visiting Adoptee Therapist Directory – Beyond Words. Art therapy and Nature Therapy are also huge. My main source of recovery and healing from my adoption experience has been MOTHER NATURE. Wilderness Wellness is what I call it, and I’ve been able to find healing in Mother Nature like nothing else. What works for some might not work for others. This is why we must explore all avenues, and apply what works for us. Drop the labels our society tries to attach to us. You are more than a label, and you don’t have to be confined to them to heal. 
    9. Legally Change Your Name – Yes I said it. LEGALLY CHANGE YOUR NAME! This was one of the most liberating and freeing experiences of my adoptee journey yet to date.  I share this experience here – Pamela Karanova, Welcoming the Real True Me! The coolest part for my USA followers is that we live in America and we can! For me this symbolized so much, you can read it in the article but it was also taking some power back. I didn’t sign any adoption paperwork and I never felt like I fit in with either family. It was taking some of the control back, of what others choose for me. It was liberating but my only regret is wishing I would have changed my first and middle name as well. As adoptees, we create our own path that is like no one elses! We’re already dancing to the beat of our own drums, why not create a name that is significant to our journeys that we feel in our hearts fits us? Do it! You won’t regret that you did! 
    10. Finding Purpose in the Pain-  When we experience very painful things in life, no matter what they are they all deserve our undivided attention until we’re able to come to a place of finding purpose. In order to get to that point the previous 3 steps deserve attention. I was stuck in a dark black hole until I made it to this point of finding purpose in the painful experience of being adopted. What that looked like for me is creating Adoptees Connect, Inc. which was a resource that I needed that was nonexistent. I knew in my heart ALL ADOPTEES would benefit from this resource, because so many of us have spent our entire lives suffering in silence. It was life or death for me, because the alternative of finding purpose was being stuck which I truly believe would have killed me eventually. Taking the most painful experience of my life, double rejection from both birth parents and abusive estranged relationships with 99.9% of my adoptive family has left me alone in this world. Although I’m thankful for my 3 beautiful children, my family beyond them is nonexistent besides 3 amazing cousins I have relationships with. Finding purpose in creating Adoptees Connect, Inc. for the adoptee community has changed everything for me. It’s added purpose beyond existing for my children. It’s added value to my life that was nonexistent before. I’m not sure what your “thing is” regarding areas you are passionate about but I suggest you do some soul searching, get by yourself and ask yourself what area you are passionate about. What do you wish was there, that’s not there for you or the adoptee community? What areas do you want to get involved in that help the adoptee community? It might be planting an Adoptees Connect group in your area or it might be getting involved in another way. Follow your heart in this process but whatever you do, finding a KEY PURPOSE is a HUGE STEP in the adoptee healing process.
    11. Connect with Other Adoptees in Person- This is another huge dynamic step to the healing process for adoptees. I wish I could recommend online adoptee groups and spaces but sadly they have been taken over by paid trolls and cyber bullies that are only making the adoptee experience more traumatic than what it already is. Because of this I don’t recommend them. I recommend finding other adoptees in your community and meeting with them in person. One adoptee as a lifeline can change your life forever. To sit and talk for hours in person about your lives, and experiences is a connection that is one of the most valuable you will ever have. Look to see if we have an Adoptees Connect Group Locations – USA or Adoptees Connect Group Locations – International. If we don’t consider Starting an Affiliate. Connecting with adoptees in person will change your life! 
    12. Find Your Voice – As we connect with other adoptees in person, we collectively find our voices. What starts as a little whisper becomes louder and louder. Connecting with other adoptees in person is KEY! There are a lot of ways you can share your voice and experiences and I encourage you to find your area, and never stop sharing! Maybe start your own blog, or website or Adoptees Connect group. Maybe write a memoir, or share your story on a podcast. Maybe it’s getting involved with Adoptee Rights or Genealogy. You will be up against the world, because they still see us as little babies that never grow up but the more you start sharing your voice, the bigger your tribe will grow! Never stop! 
    13. Find YOURSELF,  Trust YOURSELF & Love YOURSELF – This is so hard being an adoptee, because our entire sense of self is shattered the minute we lose our birth mothers and the truth of our adoption can be rooted in secrecy and lies. We’re searching from the beginning. We might be searching for home, for our mothers, fathers, families, ethnicity, lost time, family history, and the list could go on. We spend so much time SEARCHING, that the entire process non-adoptees experience with discovering self, takes us 10x longer and many times adoptees never get there. They go to their graves never finding their truth. Screw everyone and everything standing in the way of us finding our truths! For those that are lucky enough to find our truth, once we find our truth, it’s so easy to spend an entire lifetime outsourcing our time and energy into other things. Might be belief systems, volunteering, advocating, and the list could go on. We put a heightened focus on everyone and everything outside of ourselves which can be beneficial at times, but it can also be depleting. I encourage you to get alone with yourself and learn what you like and love outside of adoption. Pull away from so many commitments and focus on YOU. Put yourself first for a change, and once you do this you will slowly learn to like and even love your own company. Adoption is such a HUGE dynamic to our lives, and something we have no control over. The root is based on trauma and loss, and our basic instincts to TRUST others, and ourselves is lost.  Others choose for us, but it’s time we take our power back and start living the life we deserved all along. Working through the pain (especially trauma work) is a key aspect to get to this point, so the other steps I have shared here are critical to this step. Understand that the person looking back at you in the mirror is a badass, and you are the one who survived this thing. You are the one who wakes up and makes the choice to not just survive daily, but to find joy in this lifetime. Look yourself in the mirror, and learn to like and love YOU. Only you can do this in this way, because you are the only person who knows you inside and out. Be true to you, follow your heart and don’t apologize when it’s not something others understand. They don’t need to understand because they aren’ in your shoes. 
    14. Understand All Adoptees Are At Different Spaces – Nothing has been more disturbing in the adoptee community than adoptees not saving space for their fellow adoptees because they are at different spaces than them. Recently one adoptee said to me about another adoptee, “I can’t stand how ______ Shares in the group, because I feel it’s attention seeking!” How is anyone supposed to heal from our experiences when this is the mindset of so many?  Another thing I have experienced a lot is adoptees who had wonderful experiences, who can see past their pain that are labeling their fellow adoptees as just angry, mad at the world and pointing out “Not all adoptees had that experiences, some of us are wonderfully adjusted adoptees and we’re thankful we’re adopted!” When did that help anyone? Kudos to you for being able to see past your pain, but know that not everyone has your story! Not everyone can see past their pain and not everyone has had the TOOLS to work on their pain! PLEASE STOP saying these things to adoptees! We all deserve to be in the space we are, without others telling us we’re wrong or bad for feeling the way we do. I expect more from adoptees! We’re the only ones who understand one another. We are killing one another, which leads me to the topic of tone policing and the abuse of this “excuse” in Adoptionland. I see continuously adoptees saying others are tone policing them, yet they are being ABUSIVE and have failed to realize that NO ONE HAS TO PUT UP WITH THEIR ABUSE! Almost all the adoptees in Adoptionland who are paid internet trolls and cyberbullies use this as their #1 defense to inflict abuse onto others and it’s not acceptable and will never be okay. Yes, anger and rage are NATURAL pieces to the adoptee experience, but when you take that anger and rage and hurt others with it, it’s not going to be tolerated. Just because I’m adopted and I have anger and rage, doesn’t mean I get to treat others like shit. We need to stop making excuses for this abuse! One adoptee has NO CLUE what another adoptee goes through and what it costs to be them. For some of us, it costs us EVERYTHING.
    15. Balance is KEY- I’ve noticed over the last 10 years that it’s so easy to get sucked into a million areas in the adoption arena that can consume our lives. For many adoptees, this would involve becoming active in Adoptionland in various areas, and our adoptee advocacy whatever that looks like to us. 10 years of my life has passed repairing the damage adoption relinquishment trauma has done and over the last 3 years I’ve been pulling away from a FULL TIME COMMITMENT and trying to set boundaries that work for me. Our mental health should come first, but so many times we’re in over our heads in commitments that it takes a toll on us, emotionally, mentally and then physically. I also notice as adoptees, we start things and a lot of the time we don’t finish them and we move along to the next project. I’m 100% guilty of this. I attribute it to an entire process of finding ME. What I’m good at, what areas I like and love and what areas aren’t going to work for me. I think it’s a natural process especially as we grow in our journeys. However, being so consumed that we aren’t seeing beyond adoption relinquishment and trauma is not healthy. Finding balance is KEY because even when adoption has been the most painful experience of our lives for many of us, we still deserve to find happiness in this lifetime. Hasn’t adoption taken enough? Wherever you are in your adoption journey right this minute, I would love to challenge you to step outside of this “hat” and explore other areas of your life that you enjoy. It’s up to each of us to find our own happiness. Yes, being adopted is a piece of who we are, but it isn’t all of who we are. We have to go find ourselves, and that process can and will be a magical yet painful experience. Our eyes will open up to things that no longer work for us, and we will walk away from a lot of people. Finding internal happiness only comes from within and we all deserve that happiness.

Thank you for reading 15 Significant Steps I’ve found that have helped me heal, and I hope they help you too! 

Adoptees, Have you used any of these areas to help you on your healing journey? Are there things that have been a significant piece of your healing journey that you are willing to share? We can all learn from one another. Please share if you are up for it.

Sending you Sunshine, Love & Light. 

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I Keep Walking, Learning to Live for Myself, Love Myself, & Honor Myself

img_6311It’s interesting that I’ve been experiencing a new layer of an awakening process recently, even before Covid-19 came about. I’m so thankful for all things NEW, because that means I’m not sitting in the same spot for eternity. Many people are fretting about the isolation and aloneness they are feeling due to the new social distancing guidelines, but for me personally, this is something I’ve felt my entire life. It’s nothing new to me being adopted, and feeling isolated and alone. I’ve adapted to that feeling way back to my early childhood, but I sympathize for all those who are experiencing this for the the first time.

I’ve made the choice to set more boundaries in my life, which have allowed me to have more room for JOY. This hasn’t been an easy thing to do because no one has guided me, or encouraged me to do this. I’ve figured it out on my own.

As an adoptee, I’m used to giving all of my self for others wants and needs, all the way back to my childhood and juvenile years. I didn’t have a typical adoption story, I had a heartbreaking one. Every single side I look at has been nothing but heartbreak and pain. I know so many of my fellow adoptees have the same story, it’s heart-wrenching.

I’ve written before about this BADNESS I’ve always felt, being attached to me from the beginning, as I was conceived in my birth mothers womb. I was conceived out of an affair with a married man, who was also a close friend of the family. So not only did my birth mother feel shame and guilt, she kept her pregnancy a secret, but she rejected the pregnancy, and drank alcohol the entire time.

I felt this as a baby, in utero and if you do the research and study this topic, you will learn that babies feel what the mother feels while we are in the womb. We can sense our biological mothers emotions, feelings and surroundings before we’re ever born.

Scientist Say, say, “They found something interesting: what mattered to the babies was if the environment was consistent before and after birth. That is, the babies who did best were those who either had mothers who were healthy both before and after birth, and those whose mothers were depressed before birth and stayed depressed afterward. What slowed the babies’ development was changing conditions — a mother who went from depressed before birth to healthy after or healthy before birth to depressed after. “We must admit, the strength of this finding surprised us,” Sandman says.

So much to unpack here, but my motive in sharing this is the more we research the entire concept of perinatal bonding, and our pre-birth conditions, the more we understand our selves. This is one of the MANY reasons why adoptees receiving our TRUTH is so critically important. I will say it now, and I’ve said it a million times before, we (adoptees) can’t heal from secrecy, lies or half truths. The conditions of our conception is very important for us to learn, so we can gain a better understanding of WHY.

This is the ONLY way to acceptance & healing

While the topic of our experiences is very important, so is the topic of being born into a world to serve others wants and needs. I can share from my story, I felt like I was “the help” when it came to my experience in my adoptive moms home. I was her caretaker from the very beginning, and lived my entire life catering to her wants, needs and demands. Not just her physical needs, but her emotional and psychological ones as well.

She suffered from severe emotional and mental illness, and her issues impacted my life greatly. One reason was because she was never officially diagnosed, or treated although she was given several pain medications, and mood stabilizing medications and was addicted to them until she died in 2015. She was consistent in over medicating herself, which only added issues to her mental illness.

My life until I was 30 years old was centered and focused around HER. She had it planned out that she wanted to adopt 2 daughters, so she would have someone to take care of her in her old age, because her greatest fear of life was dying in a nursing home all alone. She adopted for us to take care of her, and that’s exactly what happened for 30 years of my life, until I broke free and escaped by moving across the country with my children. She created a very toxic and unhealthy codependent relationship, that was VERY hard for me to break away from, but I did it in 2005.

I’ve done a lot of research on codependency, and as complex as it is, it’s some real live issues that come with it. When I was a child, I had no way out and I had nothing to compare it too. What was a normal relationship with a mom, or a parent, and what did a healthy relationship look like? I have no idea.

Needless to say, when I spent 30 years catering to her wants and needs, it’s taken me the last 15 years to learn what taking care of myself looks like. When every waking moment of my childhood was to serve her, and the entire reasons for my existence was to take care of her, this hasn’t been an easy task to learn. As it turns out, I’ve been a private independent caregiver for a stroke patient for 15 years as my full time career.

It’s interesting how I leave a very toxic care taking and codependent relationship ends, but I once again pick up a career taking care of someone else, because it’s all I know. A big difference in the two situations is one is healthy, and a wonderful relationship as my career, and it’s something I enjoy with my whole heart. The other was something that was forced upon me I had no control over that was very toxic. I know for certain, that care taking responsibilities run deep in my veins, because of my childhood and my role in taking care of my adoptive mom all the way back to pre-verbal days.

Besides by life growing up in my toxic adoptive home, I’ve been a mom for 26 years, taking care of my kids. They have been my #1 motivation to keep going and taking care of them has been priority. Between being a mom, being a caregiver by career, and my history in the toxic adoptive home, how in the actual hell have I even learned how to take care of myself?

It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to learn to do. I didn’t start taking care of myself and actually enjoying MYSELF in the process until I walked away from the church. Walking away from the church, and religion is a whole different topic, article and discussion. I don’t care to share much here, but I will eventually. However, leaving the church has allowed me the time to serve, but instead of serve 4-5 days in the church, I’ve been serving 4-5 days a week at getting my life back, the one that was stolen from me.

I’ve learned that consistently, things come in our paths that will take our time and energy from us. Time is the most valuable thing any of us have, so the more commitments, the less time we have to use for ourselves. Just what if, we took all the energy we’ve been pouring out into systems, people, places and things outside of ourselves, and turned it back around and put it into ourselves? What would happen then?

I can tell you what will happen, because it’s my life, my story. I’ve spent a LIFETIME walking away, and escaping situations that don’t suite me well. At the end of the road, all I have left is myself, and my children. I say all the time I didn’t sign any adoption paperwork, so I’m not committed to anyone aside from MYSELF. I can no longer give all my time or energy to any family that doesn’t honor and respect the fact that I’m an adult and I can speak for myself. I can no longer pour my life into serving in a church, or slaving for my adoptive mother only to feel empty and depleted in the end. I have no more energy to put into relationships that have gone sour, for whatever reason. I have no time to explain myself, or try to “plead my case.”

I walk. And I keep walking. Those who are meant to stay will stay, and those who aren’t meant to stay will go along their way. Along the way, is the new path that I have chosen for myself. It’s a path that I CHOOSE, and it’s one I am learning to enjoy. The key has been, learning the TRUTH, and then REMOVING THINGS NO LONGER MEANT FOR ME. Doesn’t matter who or what it is, if it’s not healthy for me, it has to go.

This has left my life wide open for a choice. I can either sit around and feel sorry for myself, and live in misery or I can accept the truth, work toward healing for the rest of my life, and in the process get to know myself, which has allowed me the space to learn to love myself. In this, I’ve learned what I love, and what I don’t. I’ve learned what I stand for, and what I don’t. I’ve learned who I want in my life, who I should share my very valuable time with and who I shouldn’t.

I’ve learned out of all the experiences in life, and of all my attempts to fill the void and huge hole adoption has left, after I found my TRUTH, the very thing I was searching for was inside myself the entire time. And let me share, I’ve searched everywhere. Partying, drugs, alcohol, men, sweets, committing to serving and being present in the church FULL TIME. Nothing filled me up, nothing helped permanently.

I know, it’s hard to find ones self when we don’t have our truth, and if I’m completely honest, It’s impossible to do. This is why THE TRUTH is 110% critical for adoptees. But once I broke away from so many commitments, responsibilities, and systems, I found the time to look myself in the mirror, and find some time for myself. Little by little over the last few years, I’ve uncovered that life everyone talks about being beautiful, is something I can find beautiful too. But this isn’t easy to conclude. It’s hard work.

A few years ago, before Adoptees Connect, Inc. came about, I felt like I had no purpose, and I didn’t even want to be alive because I was in so much pain from my adoption experience. Finding PURPOSE in Adoptees Connect, has been a huge piece of my healing journey. Between finding purpose in the pain, and seeking outside fulfillment within myself, things have dramatically changed for me.

I still have bad days, and extreme days of sadness due to my adoption experience. The difference now is that I sit with it. It’s usually GRIEF that I’m feeling, and I allow myself to feel it and process it, whatever that looks like for me. It’s not even logical to say that I will be totally healed. That’s false, and not part of my reality. As soon as I accepted this, that’s actually when more healing began. Let me explain a little further.

As I continue my steps forward there is no doubt in my mind that I will never completely forget my past. No matter who says that’s possible, it’s not realistic for me to think like that. Adoption impacts so much, I deal with daily triggers, daily reminders of what was lost, sometimes hourly. One of the best things I did for myself is accepting that the pain from relinquishment and my adoption experience is here to stay. Once I accepted this, I learned to embrace my feelings, and I stopped trying to PRAY THEM AWAY or FILL THEM WITH OTHER THINGS. I sat with them, I cried with them and I learned to process them.

No one on this earth can do this for me. No one told me this is what was going to work. I’ve learned it because I’ve literally tried everything under the sun to BE HEALED, and nothing worked for me until I made the choice to STOP TRYING TO BE HEALED and sit with the pain. For me, my pain has looked more like GRIEF than anything. No one on earth is going to tell adoptees this, but grief for us will likely be a grieving process we experience for the rest of our lives. For me, to just expect it to be gone, IN JESUS NAME is something that didn’t work for me. It actually hindered my healing process, and made things worse. It bypassed the trauma I experienced from relinquishment, that was compacted by a traumatic adoption experience.

Fighting like hell for my truth was the first step. Accepting the pain was here to stay, was the beginning of my healing process. Today I can see brighter days ahead, and I can see joy in life like I have never seen before because my pain was just too great. So many adoptees can’t see past the pain, and they are stuck. I understand it and get it because it was me for years, 43 to be exact.

The whole entire concept of taking my energy, confidence, feelings, and time and reality, and turning it over to an outside source, system or person is something I’ve found to be extremely dangerous and counterproductive to my healing.  It’s no wonder I’ve always felt empty, alone, isolated, like a walking dead woman. It’s impossible to look at yourself as a source of strength, when we’re continuously told to look for it in other people, places and things.

I challenge everyone, not just adoptees to seek inside themselves, because your strength is there. Your wisdom is there. Your happiness is there. You have the total power and control to shift your energy from seeking sources outside yourself, to that of seeking strength, wisdom and understanding deep in your own heart.

For adoptees, if you don’t have your truth and all of it, fight like hell to get it. Never give up. You deserve healing, wholeness, and happiness. My story has been heartbreaking all the way around, with double rejection from BOTH my birth parents, and I have no relationship with 95% of my adoptive family for MANY reasons. I’ve had to make the choice to put myself, my recovery and my happiness FIRST. They put their happiness first, when I was conceived out of an affair, handed over to strangers to raise. My adoptive parents only cared about being parents, they didn’t have the capabilities of caring for me, an adoptee, like I needed to be cared for. No one helped me, I was 100% on my own finding my truth. Once I received the truth, that I fought like hell to get ON MY OWN, I realized that I CARRIED ME THROUGH THAT. I HAD THE STRENGTH TO MAKE IT. MY HEART IS THE ONE THAT WAS LEFT BROKEN. I USED SUBSTANCES FOR 27 YEARS TO NUMB MY PAIN. I’M THE ONE WHO DID THE WORK IN RECOVERY. I’M THE ONE PERSON I COULD COUNT ON. I HAD THE FIGHT TO WANT TO HEAL, BE HEARD AND NOT STOP. I WANTED TO BE A BETTER MOTHER TO MY KIDS THAN WHAT I HAD. I LIVE EVERYDAY IN RECOVERY AND MAKE DAILY, SOMETIMES HOURLY DECISIONS THAT TAKE WISDOM SO I STAY IN RECOVERY. NO SOURCE OR SYSTEM OUTSIDE MYSELF DID THAT.

I DID THAT.

I walked and I’m still walking.

For the rest of my days on earth, I will not be confined to anyone or anything. I no loner believe in any belief systems or have any loyalty to any one person or families that have hurt me. I’m finally FREE, living for ME. I continue to set boundaries for myself, and I have many more I will be setting in the coming weeks, months, years. All the labels in the world can walk off into the sunset, because I no longer want to be a part of them either. They don’t define me, they don’t make me a better person, or different than anyone else. Just like adoption. It’s a piece of who I am, but it’s not all of who I am.

As I continue to walk, I’m making the choice to continue to put my happiness first, as this new stage of my life approaches I HAVE A LOT OF MAKING UP TO DO. Chances are you do too!. Adoption has stolen A LOT. I refuse to allow it to steal anymore of my beautiful life. I have a wonderful career, amazing kids, and things in life I want to do. I have hobbies, and I want to be a happy, healthy mom and individual. When the end of my life is near, I hope people remember my life, but I also hope they see I didn’t stay stuck until the end of my days. Adoption will snatch up all our time, memories and freedom as we slave away at trying to bring the truth to light, and help others. I will always have certain commitments to the adoption community, but other commitments are falling to the side, because I’ve missed enough of living life, I don’t want to miss anymore.

Every minute lost is a minute I can’t get back. I ask myself daily, as I look in the mirror, “If you were to die tomorrow, what would you want to do today, if it was your last time on earth?” What makes my heart happy and what makes me tick? Same to you… What creates your happiness, deep within your soul? Don’t let adoption suck your entire life away, weather it be getting unstuck, or serving your life away in the adoption community. Finding a happy balance is KEY.

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Today, I keep walking, learning to live for myself, love myself, & honor myself. I’m focused on seeking solace and serenity inside myself, because others just let me down. I’ve never been happier. No one is going to tell you to seek this route, you will be solo but for many adoptees, that’s nothing new.  I’ve always been alone, but I haven’t always been okay with being alone.

Today, I’m alone, but I’m finally okay with being alone.

 It’s actually the safest space for me, because it’s all I know. I’m my own safe space. 

I have my kids, my career, nature, sunrises, sunsets, trees, flowers, fresh air, books, writing, my animals, health, inner peace, hiking, waterfalls, road trips, exercise, bonfires, hot tea, coffee,  acceptance, sobriety, a small circle of friends, my story, and my continued recovery.

I have all I need.

I’ve let go of the rest. 

I’m a free bird. 

For my fellow adoptees, what have you found that makes you tick?

Where is your safe space?

What JOY have you been able to find in your life, despite your adoptee journey?

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