A Plea to Pregnant Moms Considering Adoption, From A Single Mom & Adoptee

img_0551I have no idea your circumstances, or what has led you to this place in your life, or this article but I have some information to share with you before you make your final decision that could possibly impact you and your unborn baby for the rest of your life. I know it might be a scary time, and you have no idea what your next steps are. You are not alone. Times are changing and there are much more resources for you to make an informed decision. That’s what this article is written for.

I would love to take a moment to share a little about my personal journey, which has given me the perspective that has inspired me to write this article. First, I want to say THANK YOU for even taking the time to read this article and open your heart to new possibilities regarding what you have been told about adoption. I commend you.

A little of my story, I was surrendered for adoption by my biological mother, with my biological father never knowing of my existence. I was conceived out of an affair as my biological father was married at the time of my conception. I was adopted in a closed adoption and I was never supposed to learn of my beginnings.

I ended up being adopted by a couple who could not have kids of their own, however the marriage crumbled after a year and they divorced not long after. I was sexually abused in this home, and my adoptive mom was mentally ill, and she was unable to parent me. Somehow, I remained in this house, under very toxic, abusive, and harmful conditions. Although it was all I knew, I was raised on public housing, food stamps and welfare.

This was not the “better life” that was promised to my birth mother.

As I grew up, I learned of my adoption status, and my confusion and feelings of isolation and loneliness set in. Instead of being a kid like everyone else, I was set on finding my birth mother and I was obsessed with finding her. My teen years approached and my anger and rage set in. I started using substances at 12 years old and was in drug & alcohol treatment by 15. I was also pregnant at 15. I lost the baby due to an abusive relationship, and I was devastated. I was in and out of jail constantly, and most days I wished I would be taken out of this world. My pain was so great and all I needed and was missing was her. I tried to commit suicide at 17 but failed and no one ever noticed. I wanted the pain to go away, and I had no tools, resources or help in aiding in this process.

I was in and out of abusive relationships because I was lacking self-love, and in my mind, love was pain. If a mother loves her child so much, she passes them over to strangers then love must be pain because nothing feels good about being abandoned by your biological mother. It does not matter how the adoption industry paints the picture or dresses it up, it is abandonment and adoptees can be riddled with the aftermath of this for our entire lives. The agencies, or adoption attorneys are not going to tell you this. They are not going to tell you the lifelong trauma you and your baby will experience due to the separation from one another.

I have suffered from abandonment, trauma, rejection, C-PTSD, grief, loss of connectedness, feelings of aloneness, loss, anger, rage, and emotional, physical, and psychological damage due to being relinquished for adoption, compacted by adoption trauma. I was addicted to substances for 27 years due to these issues; I could not feel the pain because it was too much to bear. For most of my life on earth, I wanted to die because I knew that was the only way the pain would go away. It was like a hole in my heart, with a dark cloud following me around for 43 years of my life.

6f99137b-e869-4d35-a150-bae3774cd43aI am 45 now, and it has taken me 45 years to come to a place of peace regarding my adoption. You will never know the depts of the self-work I have had to do in the lifetime I have lived to get to this place. It has been a lot of blood, sweat and tears to undo the lifelong damage and trauma relinquishment and adoption has done. It has been 45 years of fighting to get here and I truly feel like I have never lived my life until now because it was so consumed with relinquishment and adoption related trauma. It has taken me all these years to recover, and I know I will have implications regarding being adopted for the rest of my life. The wounds are too deep to disappear, and I have accepted certain areas of painful experiences and feelings are here to stay. They come and go like waves, grief and loss is going to be something I process for the rest of my life.

You might have heard that an open adoption is better because many of these issues will not be present. I would like to encourage you to read Is Open Adoption The Answer? This article is a collaboration of 22 adult adoptees sharing their insights on how they feel regarding open adoption being better or worse than closed adoption. This is a great resource and tool to help you gain a better understanding of the lifelong trauma caused by relinquishment.

You might think you are in no shape to take care of a baby, possibly for financial reasons or you just are not ready yet. You might feel like a two-parent household would be the selfless choice for your baby, because two parents are always better than one, right? I’m not sure where exactly you are in your life and your situation, but what I do know is that giving your baby up for adoption is a decision that will impact you for the rest of your life and I truly feel you are likely not prepared for the aftermath of a decision like this will have on you and your unborn baby.

You might think giving your baby life is the best thing you have to offer your baby. I am here to share with you that yes, giving your baby life is important but you are the next very most important thing that your baby will ever need. You do not have to have a fancy house, or a nice car for your baby. You do not have to have two parents to feel qualified to parent your baby. You do not have to have a lot of money. Your baby just needs you!

Let me share another piece of my story with you. I became pregnant again at 20 years old. I had my daughter out of wedlock and raised her as a single parent all on my own. Although I had a little support from my adoptive mom at the time, the dynamics of that relationship always have been toxic. Not long after when I was 24 years old, I got pregnant with twins. I was still an unwed pregnant woman, and I already had a 4-year-old as a single parent.

My twins were born 29-week preemies at 2.5oz and 3.1oz and they were in the NICU for 6 weeks before they came home. I brought them home and had a 4-year-old to take care of. I can share with you those times were some of the hardest of my life. I did not have any sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, or grandparents to help me. I was truly alone but I did it and you can do it too.

It would take me all day to tell you about all the struggles I had raising these 3 kids alone, as a single parent. However, every struggle made us stronger as a family and my kids are truly the reason, I am alive today. They gave me a reason to live when I did not want to live for myself.

I did not have a car most of their lives as younger children, but I learned how to take the bus. I did not have much money, but I was able to get public housing assistance, food stamps and WIC. I could not work because I could not have the twins in daycare. I received state assistance temporarily, but they only gave me $328 a month that had to last the whole month to take care of these kids. I never got child support, although my kid’s fathers have always been ordered to pay.

Thankfully, my kids will never know what it feels like to have their mom abandon them and hand them over to strangers. I know that the loss of my mother, that I am all they ever needed, and they will never know the alternative. I had no clue how to be a mother, because mine we terrible examples but I did the best I could with the resources and tools I had. I would not change a thing about the last 27 years, but I wish adoption did not take so much of my life, so I could have been fully present with my kids. I always felt like a train wreck and I feel they deserved more.

When a pregnant woman learns of her pregnancy, they are usually led to believe they have 3 options. Parent, Abortion or Adoption. However, I do not rally for any of those aside from parenting. Is parenting easy? No way, but our children are so worth it and nothing in life is easy.

If I present Adoption and Abortion as options or choices that would mean I support them, and I support keeping mothers and babies together at all costs. We need more people encouraging mothers to KEEP THEIR BABIES, by offering them support than offering or encouraging Abortion or Adoption as options. I do not fit into the debate of the PRO-CHOICE vs PRO-LIFE. Why? Because my beliefs do not line up to fit in those boxes. I am a family preservationist all the way, so keeping mothers and babies together is my #1 choice and what I wholeheartedly support.

Most people might be judgmental towards my feelings about this, which is perfectly okay, but I feel abortion is much more compassionate than having a baby in the world unwanted and abandoning that baby. Why do I say this? Because I have experienced both. 45 years of deep-rooted relinquishment trauma is a long time to serve filled with unspeakable pain, all for giving my adoptive parents the beautiful baby they wanted. I had to do the time. I have had to pay the price! Please keep in mind I have also been in touch with hundreds of adoptees who feel the same way. Talk to adoptees! We carry the keys to the truth.

If I had to choose, abortion would be my #2 option over adoption any day! I am not interested in arguing with you, or hearing the PRO LIFE propaganda. These are my personal views, and this is my personal space to share them. I know countless adoptees who feel the same way. I can say this because I have lived being adopted and I know firsthand the pain it is caused and I don’t wish it on my worst enemy.  I live with it every day. It stole my quality of life for 43 years out of 45 and I am just now coming to a place of peace and fulfillment in my own personal life. If you don’t agree, that’s fine. We can defiantly agree to disagree.  Likely, if you haven’t been abandoned by your mother and passed over to strangers, you can’t grasp the magnitude. If you’re an adoptee that doesn’t agree, that’s fine too. Please understand that your pain isn’t everyone else’s pain. If you haven’t experienced the pain so deep that dying seemed like your only way out, consider yourself fortunate.

Let me also share, if anyone reading this is promoting adoption over abortion these two really have NOTHING to do with one another! On behalf of the adoptee community, we would like you to stop using us as your poster children for your PRO-LIFE motives. On a personal note, you should be ASHAMED OF YOURSELF for promoting the separation of mothers and babies over 100% keeping them together. Adoption should NEVER be an option, unless abuse or neglect are involved, and even then TRUTH & TRANSPARENCY is the ONLY way to go.

I do not support adoption or consider it an option because I have had to live being adopted and I can tell you the pain is a pain that is lifelong, even with the most amazing and loving adoptive parents. I will never support adoption and I never present it as a choice of any kind when I speak to any pregnant women. It is NOT A CHOICE in my world. If that topic is brought up, I do everything in my power to educate the person if they are willing to receive the message.

Please understand…

 LOVE ISN’T ENOUGH OR A HOUSE FULL OF STUFF.

Please do not let anyone convince you that it is. Please read Considering Adoption? What Adoptees Want You to Know… and understand it is not just me that feels this way. This article is a plea from over 30 adult adoptees to their first mothers before they make the choice to surrender them for adoption.

There is not any amount of love or material things that will ever replace YOU. It will not take the pain away, no matter how hard our adoptive parents TRY. Maybe the father is not involved, and you are scared? Maybe you do not feel qualified to parent? Please understand that circumstances change, and a lot of the time financial situations are temporary. There are resources out there to help women in these situations.

Adoption is forever.

Please also be encouraged, I remember not having money for food, and a sick baby with no car to the doctors. I remember our electric getting cut off several times. I did what I had to do to survive.

27 YEARS LATER, WE MADE IT!

My twins just turned 22 years old, and my oldest daughter just turned 26. My oldest daughter graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2018 and my twins are both doing great.  Raising them into amazing and incredible human beings has been the biggest gift of my life. The struggles have been real, and it has never been easy, but the rewards have totally exceeded far beyond all our hard times. I always say, “We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.”

Please do not let anyone separate you from the most amazing part of your life, and that is your baby. You might be considering an open adoption but I am here to tell you that working in the adoption community over 10 years open adoptions seem to close more than they stay open leaving the birth parents in absolute heartbreak. I have learned of countless stories where the adoptive parents come up with many reasons to close the adoptions, and there is NOTHING legally binding to keep the adoptions open. Imaging being in the shoes of this happening. It seems they all want to sell a dream in the beginning, to get your baby but things change at the drop of the dime and that door slams shut and there is NOTHING you can do about it. It is too late. Do you really want to risk this? It is so not worth it when it comes to your baby.

The mother wound is one of the deepest wounds anyone on earth will ever experience. Many adoptees have this wound not once, but twice due to lack of connection and bonding with our adoptive mothers. It can take a lifetime to unravel and healing is not always possible.  Please do not inflict this wound onto your unborn baby along with the trauma that comes with relinquishment. Please research pre-natal and peri-natal bonding and what happens when this bond is interrupted. Did they tell you that it can cause lifelong damage in your baby? Did they tell you that your baby will cry for you until his/her spirit breaks? Did they tell you adoptees are 4x more likely to attempt suicide than non-adopted individuals and that our prisons, jails, and mental health facilities are overpopulated with adoptees?

If dire circumstances are present, drugs, homelessness, etc. then the next option should be keeping the child with a family member. At all costs, this child’s identity should not be erased, ever! No name changing, or altering birth certificates, no hiding ethnicity, medical history or removing children from their cultures. Adoption of the world today is legalized human trafficking and it needs to be abolished! If you do not believe me read the book “The Child Catchers” and see for yourself. And please understand I know that some adoptions must happen, but I still stand strong that adoption of the world today needs abolished as we know it and we need to focus on guardianship. It needs rebuilt where there are no secrets and lies, and identities are kept intact. Until this happens, I will never support adoption because morally I can not support secrecy and lies, and I know too many adoptees who struggle with everything in them. This was me and my story for 43 years, remember?

Let me also share there is no guarantee your baby is going to go to a home that is loving and can provide more than you can. They want to sell you a dream, but I can assure you adoptive parents divorce, and adopted kids are raised in poverty and on welfare, food stamps, & housing assistance like I was. I was also adopted into a home with a pedophile who has hurt countless innocent children, which is part of the reason I am estranged from this family I was sexually abused in. Do you think my birth mother planned this? No, she was sold the dream I would have two loving parents, and a “better life.” Let us also not forget the number of adoptees being murdered and killed in their adoptive homes is not declining. Please do the research on this.

THERE IS NO GUARANTEE YOUR BABY WILL HAVE A BETTER LIFE.

Only a different one.

If you have made it this far, I commend you. I am honored you would have the willingness to read this article and take in all I have shared here. If you take away anything here, please remember that YOU are all your baby needs. Just you. If you would like assistance from an organization that is set up to guide you and help you through the process of KEEPING YOUR BABY, I wholeheartedly recommend Saving Our Sisters. This organization is founded by a personal friend of mine, Renee Gilin who I admire and love greatly. She has poured her heart and soul into creating this organization out of her own grief, loss, and trauma in losing her son to adoption. Please check her website out and reach out to her if you are still unsure about what you are going to do.

Suggested Resources

Please seek out adult adoptees FIRST before you do anything. We’re the experts in the adoption constellation and we’ve lived being adopted.

Please research adoptee blogs by visiting my Adoptee Blog Roll and also read adoptee centric memoirs and books at Adoptee Reading.

A platform that was created for you is called Ask an Adoptee. This platform has hundreds of adult adoptees on stand by to answer your questions regarding the adoption experience. They want to shed light on the side of things that the adoption agencies and adoption attorneys will not tell you. Please take advantage of this platform and use it as much as you can.

Visit How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? And read and learn from the hundreds of adoptees who have been brave enough to pour their heart and soul out in sharing their experiences on how it feels to be adopted.

Reach out to The Broken Birth Mom on Facebook and connect with her regarding her story of relinquishment.

Tune into Adoptees On and listed to this podcast filled with adoptee stories where you can get a true glimpse of the realities your baby might face if surrendered for adoption.

Connect with Adoption & Birth Mother Support by Musings of the Lame by visiting their website.

Another great resource is First Mother Forum by a friend, Lorraine Dusky who is a birth mother.

Read adoptee stories at Dear Adoption, who is founded by a great friend of mine, Reshma McClintock.

I hope you realize that no matter what story you are sold by the adoption industry, you are truly the best thing for your baby. Every human being has issues, and we are all a work in progress but never let anyone convince you that you aren’t capable of taking care of your baby and that the selfless thing to do is to hand it over to strangers to raise. The majority of adoptees I have been in contact with over the years do NOT feel their mother’s decision was selfless, yet they feel completely abandoned and traumatized by these actions. The adoption industry uses significant coercive tactics to convince you that you are not worthy.

YOU ARE WORTHY AND YOU CAN DO IT.

If you need someone talk too, please email me at: pamelakaranova@gmail.com 

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Learning to Just Be…

img_0319I’ve been working really hard at being okay with doing nothing, learning to JUST BE. I must be honest, It’s a new place for me. One more silver lining I give to Covid-19, but if I’m transparent,  it hasn’t been easy.

For 45 years of my life, I have been busy. Busy raising kids, busy finding my truth, busy working, busy with friends or family. I’ve been busy pouring my heart and soul into other things, a lot of the time being left empty. I’ve been busy with recovery and working on a million root issues. I’ve been busy over committing myself and over extending myself. I’ve been busy finding myself by learning who I am and what I like and don’t like. I’ve been busy creating resources and tools for the adult adoptee population and being an advocate for the community I hold very close to my heart.

Almost all of my commitments and life I’ve been taking care of other people. All the way to being born, and adopted into a family where my adoptive mom couldn’t care for me due to her own mental illness. She showed me that being still or resting was unhealthy, and I don’t want to be anything like her. I remember catering to her wants and needs from a very early age, (5ish). I took care of her, she didn’t take care of me. I was her caretaker.

At 21 I had my first child, and then I had twins at 24. They are all 3 the best part of me. I took care of and raised my 3 children 100% solo with no child support, and no help at all from their fathers. My kids are all adults now, and have turned out wonderfully considering they have come this far without their dads in their life. Not only was I their caretaker, I was mom and dad. I wouldn’t change a thing because they have been worth every bit of the struggle but I will never be able to make up for their dads being missing.

In 2005 I started taking care of a stroke patient for a living. This October I will be with her for 15 years. We’ve rode it out all these years, and she’s been the biggest inspiration of my life. The position I have is a Team Leader position where I’m on call 24/7, which is a significant responsibility. It’s kept me busy and has given me more rewards than you could ever imagine.

Being an advocate in the adoptee community has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my lifetime, however it’s been draining as hell! I am not lying and I have no way to sugar coat it. I wouldn’t change a thing, but I’m defiantly making changes for myself moving forward. I’m no longer always available like I always have been. I’m putting my mental health first and setting boundaries that work for me.

All of these caretaker roles all the way back to the beginning of my life have taken up5c223d79-ea3c-4e69-8089-92a20d21ba4f ALL MY LIFE. It’s safe to say care taking is in my DNA which is interesting because I don’t feel like anyone has ever taken care of me. Crazy how that works…

Part of finding myself and what I love to do has been such a wonderful and freeing experience. It’s been a lot of fun, and I plan to continue on this amazing journey. However, for some reason I’ve felt for the last few years that I’m running out of time. I plan on writing about “Time” soon, but it’s way too complex for this article. Running out of time makes me feel like every minute of my life I need to be DOING SOMETHING and BEING STILL has never been in my forecast. Being still makes me feel like I’m wasting my life away, and when time is running out that’s a NO GO.

I’ve always been a “Go Getter” and I’m a doer. I don’t just talk about things, I do them. I hate relying on others, because I always seem to get let down so I try to do EVERYTHING on my own, and normally I do a pretty good job at it. I’m all about integrity and I’m a woman of my word. If I say I’m going to do something I do it. I hate being late, and I’m very proud that 99.9% of the time I’m always a little early or on time. I’m always going, taking advantage of every minute of time I’m given, because after all I’m running out of time.

Over the last 8 years of being in recovery, it’s been a shit ton of work. I’ve worked on more “Self Help” topics that I can even share here. 8 Whole years of my life I can’t ever get back, but all those things I worked on have helped me arrive at the destination I am today.

I’ve never been a napper, or someone that rests. The only time I will be still is if I’m sick or my busy life catches up to me and I wear myself out and I make myself sick. Cell phones don’t help this, but enable the havoc we experience in our everyday lives. Having hand held computers at our fingertips, along with social media our minds never stop running. Little by little I’m prying myself of all the ways of the world, finding what works best for me. One of the biggest hurdles I’ve had to experience is to learn to just be.

Be Still.

Be Quiet.

Just Be.

But how?

How do I do this when I’ve been running for 45 years? 

As you can see, learning to JUST BE hasn’t been easy for me! 

One of the biggest rewards Covid-19 has done for me, (among many) is allowed me the space to learn to JUST BE. What does “just be” look like to me? Doing nothing, reading a book, resting my body, relaxing, going to bed early, calling a friend, writing, unplugging, sitting in nature, watching something I want to watch, etc. To me, “Just Be” is being still for awhile.

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It’s a whole new thing for me but I can tell my body is enjoying a break, and I’m taking on the full time responsibility of whispering to myself that it’s okay to JUST BE. It’s okay to be still, it’s okay to rest. I truly feel the alternate of staying busy all the time, over committing, over booking, and over stimulating my mind, body and spirit was only taking a toll on my emotional, mental and physical health. If I didn’t make these changes, I’m sure I would end up in the hospital at some point, likely sooner than later.  I think a significant piece of this journey is learning to love yourself, by yourself. Embracing your own company.

I decided to share this because being an adoptee, staying busy was an escape for me. I didn’t have to think about my adoptee problems. I worked 3 jobs at one point last year, and also managed to pull of Adoptees Connect, Inc. I was always afraid to be by myself, for idol time and to be alone. But not anymore. I have so many things I like and love to do while I’m being STILL. Writing is one, and I’m doing a lot more of that lately. As well as making time to talk to my friends on the phone. I’m 100% certain if I didn’t get my truth regarding who I am, I wouldn’t even be alive right now let alone in the space of learning to enjoy to JUST BE.

Finding a healthy balance between all these things has been exceptionally challenging if not impossible. I have tried, but I still was way too over committed for it to make a difference. If you can prioritize your life, and then eliminate things that no longer serve you a purpose, then you can find the healthy balance between those things that you decide to keep.

Let me share that there is nothing on this planet worth your health. Nothing. If you feel like you are being spread thin, please reevaluate your commitments and put yourself first. Whatever you can discontinue in order to put your emotional, mental and physical health first please do it. It’s so easy to be that person who’s always there for everyone else, but become depleted because no ones pouring into you or your cup is bone dry empty. If you can no longer keep commitments you have made, communicate that to the reciprocating party/s. Sometimes we have to learn to slow our roll. Put yourself first.

Everything in my life has changed since Covid-19 and I hope you are taking this opportunity to make the changes you need to live a happier and healthier life. No one is going to do it for you.  It’s all on you!

**What changes have you made for yourself since Covid-19 hit? Have you been able to find any silver linings? Do you have trouble resting and being still? How does that impact your daily life?

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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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