Adoptees, Pseudonyms & Identities

The topic of identity can be a lifelong paradox and struggle for many adoptees. It’s much easier for adopted individuals to tap into their true identity when they have the truth to guide them along the way. However, for many of us, we experience secrecy, lies, and half-truths as soon as we’re born and passed over to strangers. It’s challenging for some and impossible for others to gain a true sense of identity when we have no idea who we are or where we come from. No one looks like us, and we don’t see anyone’s face looking back at us when we look in the mirror. We all experience different variations of complexities when it comes to identity. 

It’s widespread for adopted individuals to have many names and identities in person and on the internet in the adoptee community. In the 11 years I’ve been present in this community, I’ve had my own experiences with my legal name, changing my legal name, and having several different identities on the internet in those 11 years.

There are many layers as to why.  

It can be confusing to many and downright annoying and concerning to others. Therefore, I wanted to take a few minutes to share my experience with this topic to hopefully help others who might not relate be able to understand better. 

For many adoptees, we’re forced to split between two worlds when we are born, surrendered for adoption and adopted by strangers. We’re parts of two worlds, yet usually denied one of them. Our DNA will always be a part of our first families, even when adoption tries to erase that part of our life. We are very much our first families DNA, and even with adoption legally changing our names to our new families. Many of us feel divided between two worlds. For some of us it’s internal and subconscious. For some of us, it’s like critical pieces are always missing. We create a split to protect the people around us, and to protect ourselves.

For most of my life, my legal name was Pamela L e e p e r. That’s right, L E E P E R. What does this name symbolize to me? A legal tie to my previous life, one I didn’t sign up for. It’s a legally binding piece of my life I had no choice in, that I wanted to divorce. It’s a tie to my painful past, the one where I didn’t sign any adoption paperwork. It’s a reminder of my abusive adoptive homes and the people who abused me in those homes. It’s a tie and reminder to an awful and painful childhood, teen life, and history. And let’s be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever felt a connection to this name, well, really because it’s only my name on paper, not via DNA. The Leeper family tree is not my family tree.

It can be if I pretend as I did in kindergarten for that family tree project.  

No one on earth will ever know the depths of it all, but I know it, and this name L E E P E R was a constant reminder of it all. I hated how it sounded, and I hated writing it. I hated having the life sentence of being attached to it. No disrespect to the Leeper family; however, this isn’t about them. It’s about me, my name, and why I chose to change it legally as well as seasons in my life where I used pseudonym names to protect myself. 

What did that process look like for me? 

How many years did it take? 

Who supported me? 

Who was against me?

In 2010, I started writing under a pseudonym, “Adoptee in Recovery,” which was a way to share my journey and protect my real legal identity. Some people refer to this as a “Pen Name.” Writing under a pseudonym name for me was fear-based. First, I was afraid of people I was close to learning how I felt about adoption because if they knew how I felt, they might just leave me too. Just like my birth mother did. I was afraid of judgment and ridicule. I was fearful of being shamed because if I felt these ways, I must not be praying enough or spending enough time with God. But, I didn’t just “Let it go,” so I chose to hang onto the pain. It was clear I had to create two separate identities and keep things separate, and my life depended on it.  

The idea of bringing these identities together caused me great anguish far deeper than someone not adopted could imagine. I lived in constant fear of “What If” my adoptive parents found my writings and disowned me for feeling the way I do? What if my adopted siblings learned how I felt? What if my biological family finds me and reads my writings? Will they all leave me? Will they be angry with me? How will it make them feel, knowing adoption has wholly wrecked me? What would they say if I wasn’t grateful for being adopted and I hated it with every fiber in my being?

Adoptees are professionals at putting others first, before our wants and needs. But, unfortunately, so many of us are groomed from a very early age that our adoptive parent’s feelings are more important than ours, so we tend to be hypersensitive to how they would feel from childhood. After all, shouldn’t we be thankful someone took us in when our own biological families didn’t want us?  Would they send us back or abandon us if they knew how we felt? It hung over my head constantly, and I knew WHY I was creating a dual identity. Almost everyone else had no idea. Likewise, I have learned that many people have no idea of the complexities of WHY adoptees have dual identities. Sometimes fellow adoptees don’t even understand it. 

I get it! 

The pseudonym name did a great job at protecting my legal identity. However, it was one more veil of deception because I hid behind a pseudonym; people didn’t know who I was or the real me. Nevertheless, the pseudonym name served an excellent purpose for that time in my life because I wanted to be protected from others who might look at my feelings as an insult or attack on them. 

I did what I had to do to protect myself. 

However, things change.  

It was clear when I made this decision that I was still hiding from many things, and if I’m entirely transparent, I did not have the inner strength or courage to share my true identity, not for many years to come. However, my courage and strength were building behind the veil using the pseudonym name little by little.

In 2012, I decided I wanted to be identified online as Pamela Jones. 

One more step towards genuine authenticity.

Pamela Jones was one step closer to me identifying the real true me. Jones was my biological father’s surname, and I had the chance to see his face in person in 2010. So I created a Facebook identity under this name and disguised behind it for about two years. I made many friends online under this pseudo name. I knew why I was using this pseudonym name, but reality hit me that I still wasn’t being true to myself.

Another dynamic to Pamela Jones was claiming this piece of my history and DNA, but that part didn’t claim me back. My biological father rejected a relationship with me because I have bi-racial children. His loss, I know, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less. This puzzle piece made me want to divorce from the Jones name because I didn’t truly fit in with that family, although we share DNA. We have no shared history or memories together. It was a paradox non adopted individuals can’t even comprehend. I wanted so badly to be wanted by my birth father, but the reality was even after finding him and meeting him, he doesn’t want anything to do with me. 

It was time I let go of Pamela Jones

*Disclosure Statement: I support the idea of adoptees or anyone using a pseudonym name, however I do not support anyone using a pseudonym name to hide behind an account that bullies, torments, stalks, starts cyber mobbing attacks, or is vile and cruel on the internet. They are flat out cowards!

In 2014, two years after I stopped drinking alcohol, I decided I had gained enough strength that I was going to get my last name changed. I had started coming out of the fog in 2009-2010, and in that time, I became empowered by connecting with other adoptees online and sharing my story. As a result, I had a new level of strength I had never had when sharing my Adoptee in Recovery journey. 

First, I decided to ask my adoptive dad if he would mind if I changed it. He expressed his thoughts and let me choose for myself. The next step was to find a new last name. I live in America, and it’s relatively easy and cheap to change your name legally.  I wrote an entire article called Pamela Karanova: Welcoming The Real True Me!. You guessed it, K A R A N O V A was the new name I legally chose to get changed on my 40th birthday. At this time in my life, I was consumed with the church, religion, and Christianity. 

KARA was another word for PURE. 

Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is PURE, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

NOVA was another word for NEW. 

2 Corinthians 5:17, “17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the NEW creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!”

It was one of the most unique gifts I gave myself, a new name for a fresh start in my life. Part of me felt like it was divorcing the painful past that hung so tight by carrying the last name L E E P E R. This piece of me was dead and gone on to a new page and a new chapter.  The other part felt like I was finally controlling something in my life when other people controlled most of it. It was liberating, freeing, and exhilarating. Although I am no longer a believer, this new name was and is very special to me. 

I can honestly say that changing my last name legally was one of the most healing things I’ve ever done for myself. It was stepping into a new freedom of making a choice for myself that no one else had any say in. I wear this name so proud, and I love everything about it. It fits me. It is the new me. Today the “what if’s” that used to torment me have vanished into nothingness. I personally care more about being true to myself, than I do about offending others. I made a promise to myself several years ago, to always be true to myself and I will honor that until the day I die.

K A R A N O V A

I received 100% support from everyone in my life with whom I have relationships when I legally changed my last name to Karanova. The only person I heard disapproved of is name change is an aunt by adoption, who gave her baby away by adoption, and she talked down about my decision to get rid of her surname, L E E P E R. I do not have a relationship with her, nor do I care about her opinion. 

It’s currently 2021, and my only regret is not changing my first and middle name when I legally changed my last name. However, I know that in 2014 I didn’t have the strength to change my full name. My kids were still in school at that time, and I didn’t want to put them through the process of their mom changing her first name. 

One day, I desire to legally change my first and middle name, but I’m not sure yet what it will be, but I have a few ideas. Maybe for my 50th birthday? Maybe next week? I’m not sure yet, but I worry more about how other people will respond to this change and don’t want to inconvenience people to try to remember a new name for another chapter of a new me. Finally, one day I will get up enough strength to “Just Do It,” and at that moment, I will have reached another milestone of stepping into genuine authenticity.

I think it’s important to remember that all adopted people are transitioning to a new person every step of the way. Every time we get a piece of the puzzle, it changes us in some way. Although most people have the truth handed to them when they are born, they can’t comprehend what it’s like to fight for your truth your entire life and be spoon-fed pieces of the puzzle over a lifespan. It’s a different kind of life, and one only other adoptees will understand. 

I have learned from my journey of discovery that all of my names have been very symbolic to me and my healing journey. They have each served a great purpose to help me feel safe, depending on whatever space I was in at that time. I can’t speak for all adoptees, but when I see adoptees change names, and hide behind a pseudonym name, I can say from the bottom of my heart, “I GET IT AND I UNDERSTAND.” Sometimes these extremes go with the territory of being an adoptee and finding ourselves when our truth has been kept captive for so long. I’ve seen adoptees attach four and five last names to their names as a way to honor their birth mother, birth father, adoptive mother, and adoptive father. I’ve seen them change their names more times than I can count.

Being adopted is complex! 

As you can see, identity plays such an essential part in the dynamics of the adoptee experience, and this is directly reflected in how we represent ourselves in the names we are assigned at birth, changed by adoption and the ones we choose for ourselves. 

If you are a non-adopted individual, hopefully, this article sheds a little light on why names and identity go hand in hand with the adoptee experience. Hopefully, you understand a little better. Be easy on the adoptees in your life, and accept whatever places they are in regarding names and identity. We weren’t offered the privilege non-adoptees are given. Many of us have to fight the world for our truth, and every clue we get to who we are and where we came from opens a new door of self-discovery. Change is going to happen—identity matters. 

If you are an adoptee who’s considering changing your name, legally or online, I am cheering you on. With every fiber of my being, I understand how we can spend our entire lives getting to the point of finding strength from within ourselves and the courage to push forth with an outward expression of legally changing our names or even creating pseudonym names for ourselves. 

Every step of the way, healing is happening. 

For any adoptees who have changed their names legally or created pseudonym identities online, I would love to hear your stories on how you navigated this piece of your journey? Why did you pick the name you chose? Have you wanted to change your name but haven’t done it yet? Why or why not? 

Whatever you do, be true to yourself and follow your heart. 

Put yourself first. 

You deserve it. 

Don’t forget this article along with all my other articles are available in audio for your convenience, just look up Pamela A. Karanova Podcast on Google Podcasts, iTunes , Spotify. and Amazon Music. Interested in treating me with a coffee, to add fuel to my fire? Click here. Many thanks in advance to my supporters!

Love, Love

*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

Adoptees, Mental Health & Daily Self-Care

Once again, I’m noticing a significant amount of changes in the adoptee community, and it’s helped me reevaluate and reorganize my commitments on where I stand within this community. We all have the abilities to make these choices for ourselves.

Back in 2010, when I started to emerge from the fog, Adopteeland (the online adoptee community) was a welcoming place to be in. It was a light to not only me but hundreds of thousands of fellow adoptees. We made online friends, we built online relationships, and we helped one another online when the other was down. 

I remember all of the “aha” moments I experienced in hearing other adoptees share their stories, and little by little, my story started to come out just like the adoptees I knew that shared their stories before me. It was empowering. I was finally able to tap into my deep-rooted issues that stem from being relinquished by my birth mother and being adopted into an abusive adoptive home. I started to share my feelings little by little, and it was validating and freeing in many ways. Eleven years of being completely consumed in Adopteeland has passed, and I’ve learned many things in that time. 

Part of sharing my feelings on my website has been for my healing, but it’s also to help my fellow adoptees who might be reading from afar so they know they aren’t crazy for feeling the way they feel. Our feelings are expected for a not normal situation. Nothing is normal about being separated from your biological mothers at the beginning of life. 

As years have passed, I saw the recognizable need for adoptee-centric spaces that meet in person, in our neighborhoods, and our communities. After a close call with my contemplation of ending my life in 2017, I decided I wanted to take all the pain I was carrying from my adoption experience and do something positive with it. For me, I describe it as finding purpose in the pain. It’s saved my life to create Adoptees Connect, Inc. In return, the resource itself has saved the lives of many adoptees around the USA and beyond who attend our in-person groups. 

Around 2018, I noticed an overwhelming and alarming amount of cyberbullying and cyber mobbing in Adopteeland. It was disturbing in every regard. I have seen fellow adoptees bully other adoptees to the point of attempting to take their own lives. It was so disturbing to see, and I created an Adoptees Connect Social Disclaimer because of this activity. I decided that any of the platforms I am a part of cannot and will not turn a blind eye to this type of behavior.  All of our volunteers and facilitators must agree to abide by this disclaimer to join our organization. 

I was hoping many of the other organizations in Adopteeland would follow suit, but sadly I have been greatly disappointed in that area. 

Let me be honest, aside from the adoptee vs. adoptee discord, the internet, in general, isn’t a safe space for anyone. Adopteeland is filled with triggers for adopted individuals, and time and time again, I see the fallout from these events. Someone is always getting hurt, and that’s never a good feeling. Adopteeland, just like the internet in general, is a breeding ground for keyboard warriors to flex their muscles and mistreat people disrespectfully and downright awful. Many people have big balls on the internet, even women. I have seen adoptees turn on other adoptees or adoptee-centric organizations and the drop of a dime. It doesn’t matter how much good they have done in the adoption community. This is the same community they wish to protect and care for. No one can be trusted on the internet. All of my real adoptee friends are ones I connect with offline, off the internet. There is a small group of them, and they know who they are. 

Because of the increasing toxicity of Adopteeland and the internet in general, I have decided to make some very significant changes for myself, and I hope you consider doing the same. First, I had to self-reflect and ask myself how these interactions with other adoptees and organizations made me feel? Do I feel consciously good about them, or do they leave me feeling drained, sad, depressed, isolated, and alone? Do they trigger me? How do I respond to the triggers? Are they interfering with my quality of life?

A lot of the time, I had so many fires in the oven all over Adopteeland, I sacrificed my time as if my commitments to Adopteeland were a full-time job. I knew the commitments created needed resources, and they were areas that had never been touched in the adoptee community before. I held my commitment to Adopteeland as one of the primary and most significant commitments of my life. This is 11 years of time I can never get back. 

I can’t lie; it’s taken a toll. 

I woke up one day and learned I had been misled by this community I put so much trust in because I saw what they would do to others. I knew they could do the same to me. Adopteeland can and will turn on you in a heartbeat, stab you in the back, and LITERALLY leave you for dead. Most of them don’t care about you. You are just another adoptee on the internet. I have seen adoptees set up cyber mob attacks towards other adoptees or organizations and not think twice about the person they are cyberbullying or what they might be going through in their personal lives. After many years of seeing my fellow adoptees get dragged through the mud, I realized I could no longer witness such travesties. My heart hurts and hurts deeply when I see these interactions online, and it aches me to the core to see adoptees harm fellow adoptees. This is not the community I want to put my hope, trust, and time into. This is one of the main reasons Adoptees Connect groups meet in person in real life. To bypass the internet and build genuine in-person relationships.

It’s life or death for many of us. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are adoptees worldwide whom I have built relationships with online and who mean the world to me, and I will never meet many of them in person. They aren’t included in the Adopteeland problematic scene. They are kind, loving, compassionate, and would do anything for the adoptee community. I would do anything for them. They know who they are. 

Adoptees are tender individuals, and no matter what anyone does that I don’t agree with or dislike, I don’t have a right to cyberbully them or set up cyber mobbing attacks on that adoptee or an adoptee-centric organization. If I was to lower myself to that type of activity, it’s CLEAR that Adopteeland isn’t a place for me. 

I think it is safe to say the old days of Adopteeland back in 2010 are dead and gone, and for my mental health, I have had to disconnect and release myself from 99.9% of adoptee-centric spaces on the internet. Let me be honest; I don’t give my time too much on the internet these days. I have a beautiful life to live, and I don’t like the primary bloodsucker (internet) stealing the most valuable thing I have, my time.

Another dynamic to my mental health is not over-committing myself to adoptee/adoption-centric responsibilities. I sometimes think, as adoptees, when we find the online community, we get so excited we jump all in headfirst. But the kicker for many of us is that we forget to swim back to shore and find life again. It’s sometimes tough, if not impossible, to find a happy balance between life outside of adoption commitments and to be adopted and finding happiness in the world. 

For me, Adopteeland and adoptee-centric activities have drained the life out of me. I think it’s so important that we listen to our bodies and make changes when things aren’t bringing us solitude and happiness. It’s essential that we learn that many things are for a season, and we’re not supposed to sit in Adopteeland or the Adoption arena FOREVER. It will keep us stuck, and I am a prime example that it’s kept me stuck for a long time. 

I don’t regret a minute of my time in Adopteeland, and I am not disappearing. However, I have to put my mental health first because my mental health suffering was impacting my physical health. I encourage anyone reading this to listen to your bodies and what they are telling you. It’s okay to back out of commitments and also prioritize them. 

Adoption and Adoptee related topics are draining AF. The internet and Adopteeland are draining AF. Self-care is an essential dynamic to being knee-deep in something as heavy as adoption. I have developed a very effective self-care routine, and most of the things I do to take care of myself have nothing to do with adoption other than writing. For me, this means removing myself from ALL THINGS ADOPTEE/ADOPTION at times. My self-care routine are the things I’ve found that re-energize me and allow me to stay grounded and centered. Hiking, walking, writing, reading, bonfires, sunrises, sunsets, outdoors, spending time with my kids and loved ones, my dogs, arts and crafts, kayaking, tending to my plant addiction, etc.

Staying in something so heavy so much of the time can and will impact our quality of life. 

I challenge you, if you are an adoptee in Adopteeland spaces, to be mindful of your emotional, mental, and physical health being challenged. Be aware of your interactions on the internet, with others and how you treat people, and how you allow them to treat you. Be mindful of the triggers you experience and how your body responds to the triggers. Adopteeland can be an unhealthy place to be involved in. In the beginning, it’s like you finally found your tribe, a euphoric feeling. It has a lot of pros to it, but all of a sudden, you get sucked into something, and your whole life is consumed into it, from the minute you wake up to the minute you lay your head down at night. Nothing as heavy as adoption can be healthy without consistent and committed self-care and a healthy balance.

Every. Single. Day. 

If anyone on the internet has mistreated you, adopted or not, I encourage you to report them if possible and block and ban them from all of your platforms. However, if you are the creator of a platform and allow this behavior to occur on your platform, I would like to ask you why you let abuse happen? Turning a blind eye, you are no better than the cyberbully or emotional abuser. I used to have a loyalty to the adoptees in Adopteeland, but that ship has sailed and sunk to the bottom of the ocean. Unfortunately, there are many problematic adoptees in Adopteeland, and I will not tolerate anyone’s bullshit. Period. 

We have to realize that sometimes people make mistakes in person and online. We’re all human beings, and we don’t always get it right. If you make a mistake and have tried to right your wrong, and someone won’t allow for an honest, professional, and open dialog to find a solution for the mishap, you can walk away. If someone drains the life out of you, you can walk away. If anyone is bullying you and cyber mobbing you, you do not have to tolerate this behavior. I wonder what the online cyber bullies would do if they pushed another human being over the edge to end their lives? Would they still advocate for adoptee suicide?

WALK AWAY. 

REPORT ABUSIVE BEHAVIOR. 

BLOCK. 

BAN. 

DELETE. 

Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th is approaching. I picked one day on behalf of Adoptees Connect, Inc. to be a day we highlight Adoptee Suicide and all the other dynamics ARD symbolizes. I thought long and hard about this. One day was picked (over a week or month) because of the sensitive nature and focus of the day and how it can impact the adoptee community long term. One day seemed like a better idea than a week or a month because I worry about the mental health of anyone participating in such sensitive topics for a longer duration than a day. 

I am noticing the rise of a three-month highlight, starting with September being Adoptee Suicide Awareness Month, followed by October and November trailing on with some of the same highlights. I commend all adoptees who are pouring their hearts and souls into bringing awareness on such an important topic for the adoptee community. I support each of you!

First, of course, November is National Adoption Awareness Month, and it’s heavy and triggering for adoptees in its own way.  I worry significantly and even gravely for the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of all the adoptees participating in these topics for up to three months in a row. Do they have the resources they need? Are people spreading love and light during a difficult time? Who’s on standby when someone is on overload with emotions piling up during such a lengthy focus on such a excruciatingly painful topic?

I know for sure, my emotional and mental well-being can only take one day of it, and I am dedicating that day to Adoptee Remembrance Day. After that, I can not and will not be able to participate in more. It’s just too heavy. I would die committing to more, and I am not saying this lightly. 

One of the main points of me writing this article is that I’m worried about the adoptee community, and I see some awful interactions happening that are harmful and hurtful to the productivity of so many amazing causes. I’ve witnessed dark sides of adoptees I have known online and loved for years that I never thought I would see. In experiencing and seeing these things, I will continue to take steps back away from the same community I have poured my heart and soul into for 11+ years. My main focus is Adoptees Connect, Inc., and that’s the only commitment I have time for these days. Keep in mind, while Adoptees Connect does have a social media account on Facebook and Instagram, the root and main focus of the entire vision of the organization is creating OFFLINE adoptee-centric spaces that meet in person, in real life for many of these reasons. That’s where I choose to put my focus, time, and energy. I can’t get sucked into online drama, and I avoid it to the fullest at all costs. 

Please be careful with your online interactions and the amount of trust you put into Adopteeland. Please give yourself the gift of walking away from anything, anyone, and everything that doesn’t serve your emotional, mental and physical health positively. If Adopteeland is too triggering for you, either walk away entirely or set yourself boundaries and participate in small microdoses. Understand and recognize when your time’s up, and you can cross over to finding other fulfilling things in life. If you don’t do it on your own, your body will do it for you!  

Take care of yourself, and above all things, please put your Mental Health first. 

For any adoptees struggling right now, here are some Recommended Resources we have listed on the Adoptees Connect website. Please share them in your online communities.

Don’t forget this article along with all my other articles are available in audio for your convenience, just look up Pamela A. Karanova Podcast on Google Podcasts, iTunes , Spotify. and Amazon Music. Interested in treating me with a coffee, to add fuel to my fire? Click here. Many thanks in advance to my supporters!

Love, Love. 

*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

Launching the Pamela A. Karanova Podcast – Finding Purpose in the Pain – One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing

I’m excited and honored to share a project I’ve been working on for a long while now, months to be exact. I consider this project a gift to the adoption community, and I hope somewhere along the path of life, it helps others. I know convenience usually wins, so my goal is to offer something that might otherwise be inconvenient specifically to my fellow adoptees.

I want to share a little backstory on how I got here. I’ve been working on a memoir for many years, but every time I start it, something happens, and I have to set it to the side. So after 10+ years of trying to write a memoir, I have concluded that memoir writing is not for me.

To be completely transparent, my life is busy and very active. The last place I seem to want to be these days is sitting in front of the computer, spending a lot of time on it. So small doses for short amounts of time seem to work better for me at this stage of my life.

My website has always been a place of freedom because I can share feelings here without anyone interrupting me and telling me how to feel. So many years of my journey are written and shared on my website in chronological order, back to an open letter to my birth mother I wrote in 2012.

It recently dawned on me that my website is my memoir. So I decided to spend some time transferring all of my old articles to audio via the Anchor FM platform via the Spotify platform. Talk about a time-consuming task! I have written over 200 articles since 2012.

This way, my friends, family, and supporters can tune into several mainstream platforms like Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Radio Public to listen to my articles. My words can reach adoptees and people in the adoption community all around the world. I know time is of the essence these days, and people don’t have time to sit and read as they used to. Listening to books on audio and podcasts has become increasingly popular with almost everyone because our lives are so busy we can fit them into the hustle and bustle of life and keep it moving.

One of the most excellent parts about this transition is the growth I can see in myself and my journey over time. In 2012 I wasn’t as seasoned as I am now, and I was beginning to articulate my feelings about being adopted. I was a baby finding my voice. You can tell I was transitioning out of the fog, and over time I’ve learned to spread my wings like a butterfly and continue to share my story. It’s not been easy, but I know I have reached adoptees all over the world, and they are the reason I keep writing. In healing myself by sharing my story, I am helping others heal and gain courage in sharing their voices and stories.

While I wholly support all the memoir writers out there, my dreams of writing a memoir have dissipated into nothingness. It’s not a sad thing or a bad thing. It’s the reality for me and where I am in my life. So I’m celebrating releasing this task from my plate. I hope you celebrate with me.

As I move forward with a new phase of creating the life I want to live, I hope to spend less and less time in front of electronics and more time out in nature, running wild and chasing waterfalls. Instead of writing a memoir, I want to live my future days filled with adventures and spending time with those I love. I want to take road trips and be living my life.

As a self-care technique, I have chosen to leave almost all online adoptee spaces as they aren’t healthy for me, and I am eliminating as many unnecessary commitments and responsibilities from my life as I can. Not just in the adoption community, but everywhere. As a result, you might see less of me online in adoptee-centric spaces, and you might hear less from me in the days to come. If you follow my social media, that will be the best way to keep in touch, but please understand as I distance myself from the online world, I might take longer than expected to respond, and sometimes I might not respond at all. It’s nothing personal.

Let me be transparent; being in the adoption community for over ten years it’s taken a toll on me. However, as I come to a healthier place as each day passes, I have to set new boundaries for myself. In that, I’m stepping away from many activities I have been a part of, and I’m writing a new life for myself. Adoption has taken so much, and it’s time I take it back and enjoy my life with my friends and family. I still plan on writing but that will be the main place you will hear from me so be sure to follow along if you are interested in keeping in touch.

While I share the launching of the Pamela A. Karanova podcast with you, please be advised that this article is my first recorded podcast in my unique voice. To pull this migration off semi-timely, I had to convert the first 200 articles over with a digital voice that is NOT mine. You would be surprised how long this took by itself. I knew there was no way possible I could record the last ten years of articles in my voice and get it done anytime soon. That would be dead, just like the memoir.

Moving forward, I hope to have all my articles uploaded to the podcast in real-time so they will be available in my voice for you to take a listen while you are on your way to work or working out at the gym.

Be sure to follow along on Spotify and share this gift with your friends, family, and followers. You never know who might be impacted by a country girl from Iowa sharing her story!

Thank you to each of you who has supported me this far! I thank you and appreciate you more than words can express.

To visit my podcast, visit here- Pamela A. Karanova Podcast

Don’t forget this article along with all my other articles are available in audio for your convenience, just look up Pamela A. Karanova Podcast on Google Podcasts, iTunes , Spotify. and Amazon Music. Interested in treating me with a coffee, to add fuel to my fire? Click here. Many thanks in advance to my supporters!

Here’s my most recent article on my Podcast.

Earth Day, Mother’s Day and My Adoptee Epiphany

Today is Earth Day, and Mother’s Day is right around the corner. What does each of these days mean to me, being an adult adoptee? 

Let me back things up a bit and explain what my experience was like with my earthly mothers.

My first chance at a mother did not want to mother me.

My biological mother didn’t want me, so she passed me over to strangers. After a lifetime of searching for her, dreaming, and wishing we would cross paths one day, my one true dream of finding her and having a relationship with her was shattered all over the ground. We met one time briefly in 1995, and that was the last time I ever saw her. What felt like a cold-hearted rejection was her not being able to navigate the pain of her decision and hearing how my life turned out. The better life promised wasn’t better at all. Only different. She felt a deep sadness over learning this reality.

That didn’t change how this rejection has made me feel and the truth that it’s impacted every area of my life. She abandoned me not once but twice. The ultimate betrayal from my biological mother has been the most significant wound I have ever carried, even compared to what other people would consider major traumatic events.

This deep mother wound and disappointment has been impossible to shake, and it will be with me for life. I’ve accepted the pain was here to stay, and that was one of the most healing things I have done for myself. Nothing on earth and no amount of pain I have ever felt compares to this wound. She died in 2010, and I hadn’t had contact with her in over 25 years.

It’s deep. It’s raw. It hurts.

My second chance at a mother could not mother me.

My adoptive mother wanted to be a mother so bad, but the reality was she was so mentally ill, she couldn’t parent me. Instead, I suffered greatly because of her mental health issues. She should have never been allowed to adopt a child, let alone two. My adoptive dad divorced her when I was one years old, and knowing she couldn’t care for us be left and moved over an hour away to remarry, and raise three stepsons as his own. My childhood in my adoptive parent’s homes was filled with traumatic experiences that have impacted every area of my life. I’ve spent years recovering from these experiences and a lifetime of seeing how things shouldn’t be. I never bonded with my adoptive mom, and I despise the facts that I was forced to pretend she was my mother.

The lengths of trauma I experienced in these homes have riddled me with anxiety, fear, and the loss of what so many of us deserve and need, and that’s an opportunity at decent mother and a safe place to live. I didn’t need perfect. I didn’t need a big house, fancy cars, and all the material things money could buy.

I just needed one halfway normal, decent mother.

She was suicidal, manic-depressive, and had severe issues that stemmed back to her childhood. She tried to commit suicide by lying in the street, and she would consistently lock herself in her room and take all her pills and the phone with her letting us know as children she’s about to end her life. We would bang outside her bedroom door, for hours begging her not to die.

She was hurting, and instead of work on her hurt, she adopted two daughters to take care of her. Her main goal was to have two daughters to care for her so she wouldn’t have to go to a nursing home. How do I know? Because back to my early childhood, she talked about not wanting to go to a nursing home, more than she talked about just about anything. Because of the toxicity she brought to my life and because she would not abide by common courtesy boundaries I tried to put into play, we were estranged for several years before she died. I don’t regret choosing to separate, as my recovery and being alive depended on it. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard. It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make.

I am sad I had to make such a decision but I did it for myself and my kids.

My third chance at a mother figure, I call my Step Monster.

My adoptive stepmother is no one I consider a mother. She has protected her pedophile son over believing me for 46 years. She has turned a blind eye and has chosen to defend him repeatedly. I won’t go into all the details, but she has never been and never will be anyone I consider a mother figure. We have never been close or had a relationship. For my peace of mind, after being ignored for 46 years about the pain her son has caused me and countless others, I have had to sever ties with her too.

Three chances in the mother area, and I struck out.

Every.

Single.

Time.

While my heartache as a child and teenager is hard to put into words, my experiences in my adoptive home and the abandonment from my birth mother lead me to some dark places. I spent most of my juvenile life as a runaway and locked up in detention, drug and alcohol rehab, and group homes for most of my teen years. I was hurting and hurt people hurt people.

Mother’s Day has always been painful for me as it is for so many people, adopted or not. Some people are sad at the loss of a mother they spent a lifetime getting to know, where they have thousands of memories to hang onto forever. Pictures to reminisce and remember. I get sad because I didn’t get that, and there are no memories to hang on to, to keep forever. I have emptiness, sadness, and abandonment issues that continue to revisit me. Processing grief & loss are going to be with me for life.

I’ve accepted it.

I’ve also accepted these were the cards I was dealt. For the last 11 years, I have been on a healing journey. If you read back over my website, you can see the changes and growth that have transpired over the years. In that time, you will see that nature is something I gravitate towards, and if you follow any of my social media, you will see waterfalls and Mother Nature have a considerable space in my life.

You see, nature, aka Mother Nature, has been a sacred space for me since my early childhood, growing up in the country in Iowa. Inside any of the homes, I was in was chaos and trauma. So outside, running wild in the forest was the only freedom I had as a child. It was healing for me, and it was an escape. It was one of my first loves, along with the sky. Read “The Sky & I” to learn more about my tie to the sky.

As I circle back around and will soon be celebrating nine years of living a life free from alcohol, I’ve been reacquainted with my first love, Mother Nature. Of all the areas I’ve been incorporating into my life for self-care reasons, nature has always been the only one always to be dependable and always there. It wasn’t my birth mother, or my adopted mother, or my step monster.

It was and is MOTHER NATURE.

Bucket list Adventure, Pine Island Double Falls – Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky

As Earth Day is here and Mother’s Day is to follow, I am making a conscious choice to redirect myself to focus on the mother who’s always been there – Mother Earth.

As I discover who I am, I have found joy in adventures in the Kentucky forest by chasing and finding waterfalls. Kentucky is filled with over 700 waterfalls, and exploring nature and taking as many people as I can is one of the most powerful healing tools I have yet to find. Trust me when I tell you, I have tried it all. Between 27 years of alcohol dependency, church hopping, religion, other people, places, and things, nothing has provided me with what mother nature has.

Many aren’t aware, but there are healing dynamics to being close to, in, or near bodies of water. I always felt it, but I never knew it was an actual thing. I have a friend and fellow adoptee in recovery named David B. Bohl, and David is an advocate of BLUE MIND.

Q. What is Blue Mind?

A. Blue Mind: A mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peace, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment.

It’s also described in the book Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do

David shares, “As many of you know, I am a student of Blue Mind science, an advocate for Blue Mind methods, and a practitioner of Blue Mind daily living techniques.  There is no doubt in my mind and experience that proximity to, and engagement in, water provides physical health, mental health, and spiritual/relational benefits that have been scientifically identified – and are essential in today’s stressful world.”

Please check out David’s full article here – Blue Mind and Addiction Recovery

Coming to know David as a friend and fellow adoptee in recovery, we have discovered that we have many things in common, but our love for being near water is one of them. David shares online his outdoor trips in and near water, and I do as well. Mine are usually running off into the forest to chase waterfalls all over the state of Kentucky. We aren’t too far from our next adventure close to a body of water, whatever we are doing. Thank you, David for your continued inspiration over the years!

Surprisingly, after reading the beginning of the Blue Mind book from David’s recommendation, I learned that the author of Blue Mind, Wallace J. Nichols is also an adoptee. I will not lie; something about that shook me up! I had no idea he was an adoptee, but I was so excited to now know of 3 adoptees who have found the healing and therapeutic benefits of being close to water. I can’t wait to read the rest of his amazing book! I’m sure there are many more adoptees who find healing around bodies of water.

While 2021 is moving swiftly and Earth Day is here, I’ve been thinking of ways to connect to Mother Earth and give back to her and to give to others in the process. I can reflect on my childhood up to my current days. I no longer drink alcohol to cope with adoptee pain, and I celebrate nine years of sobriety in August 2021.  This is a massive milestone for me, especially finding both birth parents and learning they are both alcoholics.

One of the things I’ve learned about recovery is that you need to replace it with something else when you remove something. My connection to mother nature has become exceptionally strong in the last nine years. I consider my nature adventures as one of the most effective self-care practices I have yet to discover.

While I think of all Mother Nature is to me, and how she’s been there over my earthly mothers, and she’s never let me down, I get emotional. My truth that no one can come between that connection or take it away is something I think about a lot. Even back to my childhood, she’s been there for me and continues to be there. I call it wilderness wellness, and it’s FREE.

Top of the falls, ya’ll.

I like to combine my mother nature adventures with not only seeking waterfalls, but getting wet and dirty and not thinking twice about it. I think many times we’re groomed from childhood to not get wet or dirty. I see countless people never want to get their feet wet, or get dirty and it pains me to see. Water and dirt have never hurt anyone. Take your shoes and socks off, get in the water and get dirty. I promise you, you won’t regret allowing yourself to be free in this way.

It could mean putting your bare feet in the grass (grounding) or taking a walk outside at your closest park. One of my main goals in life is to encourage people to seek wilderness wellness in their backyards because we all have endless adventures in our state, and most of the time, they are free. You might need a tank of gas and a few snacks. My discovery of how Mother Nature fills me up has been rejuvenating to my mind, body, and spirit in many ways. My adventures are a combination of forest bathing, hiking, nature play, blue mind, grounding, walking, and doing everything in my power to be a kid again. I feel like I’ve been searching for home my entire life, and finding Mother Nature has brought me back home.

As Mother’s Day can be perplexing for adopted people at best, I have decided I’m going to honor Mother Nature for Mother’s Day moving forward. I’m a firm believer that we can all write our stories to suit what fits us the best. Focusing on the mothers that failed me is agonizing. I believe each Mother’s Day will still feel a sense of sadness when it comes to them, and I’ve accepted I always will. I will save space for processing that pain; however I need to process it.

I want to try to shift my focus on how much Mother Nature has done for me and Earth Day – today is HER DAY. I wanted to write this article dedicated to her, to share how much she means to me. It’s not all about what she does for me, but what can I do for her? I salute HER and will do all I can to take care of her moving forward.

I’m not sure where you are with your healing routine and your self-care regimen, but I encourage you to add some wilderness wellness to your self-care toolbox and share it with your friends & family. I love taking elderly people to nature because they are a population that is lacking that resource due to mobility limitations and many other roadblocks.

For me, when so much is lost, never to be seen again because of adoption, I get comfort in knowing that Mother Nature something no one can take away from me. Today I celebrate Earth Day for so many reasons! Mother’s Day I will celebrate being a mother to three incredible humans and Mother Nature because she’s always been there for me. If you feel like following along on my Into the Wild: Kentucky Wilderness & Waterfall Adventures please like my Facebook page today by clicking here. You can also find me on Instagram under @intothewildky.

 Here are a few of my outdoor adventures shared with some of my friends & family. I encourage you to escape for some nature play and wilderness wellness. You might find what you have been searching for all along.

Do you like to get outside in mother nature?

Do you find it to be healing and theraputic around bodies of water?

If so, what are your favorite nature things to do?

How are you celebrating Earth Day and Mother’s Day this year?

What do you do to cope with Mother’s Day if it’s a hard day for you?

Don’t forget this article along with all my other articles are available in audio for your convenience, just look up Pamela A. Karanova Podcast on Google Podcasts, iTunes , Spotify. and Amazon Music. Interested in treating me with a coffee, to add fuel to my fire? Click here. Many thanks in advance to my supporters!

Thanks for reading,

The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author, Pamela A. Karanova. Reproduction of the material contained in this publication may be made only with the written permission of Pamela A. Karanova

Ignorance is Bliss, My Experience with Therapying the Therapist

At 5 years old I remember the first time I sat in a therapist office. It was my adoptive mom, my adoptive sister and me. She used triangulation tactics to turn my adoptive sister and I against one another. It was a regular scene at our home that all hell would break loose and things were chaotic on the regular. I’m not sure who directed the therapist visits, but if I were to make a guess it would have been my adoptive mom. It should have been social services or the courts but somehow, they never were called.  

I remember having alone visits with the therapist, as well as visits with all of us together. Adoption was a topic that impacted our family in every way, however it was never talked about in the therapy sessions.

What was talked about is our adoptive moms parenting skills, and our responses to them as children. When we would share the experiences in this home, the therapist would encourage us all to do some different things to help calm the house down. One of those things was going to our rooms to allow time to calm down when all hell would break loose. We tried to keep our end of the bargain; however, our adoptive mom would constantly come banging on our door, manic demanding we open them.

I didn’t have the language for it then as a child, but now I do. My adoptive mom was narcissistic, she would have manic depressive and paranoid schizophrenic episodes, she was addicted to prescription pain pills, and she was suicidal. She battled major depression and would try to commit suicide on the regular.

Anytime the therapist would guide her to do something different as a parent, she felt targeted. She stopped going to that therapist soon after, and eventually she would find another one. I remember therapist my entire childhood, but adoption was never talked about.

I started to run away around 12-13 years old. I hated this home and found being in the streets a new freedom I had never experienced before. I started getting arrested at 13, and spent my juvenile life locked up in detention, drug and alcohol treatment and I also spent a lot of time in group homes.

Compared to the house I lived in, I always felt a peace in any of the places I was locked up at, over the home I was adopted into. Structure was something I wasn’t used too but I liked it. It was peaceful. But you would never believe of all the places I was, and all the therapist I saw throughout my juvenile years, Adoption was never talked about. It was very much on my mind looking back, I wonder why I didn’t say anything?

I wonder why they didn’t say anything.

I remember sitting in from of my probation officer, Kathy Lake. She was very stern, and by the book when it came to probation, but she never once asked me, “Why do you keep getting in so much trouble? What is making you angry? What’s happened to you in life that’s hurt you so bad you keep breaking the law?” I always wished someone got to the bottom of adoption issues, but at that time the outbursts in the home were at the forefront of all hell breaking loose. I took my anger and pain outside to the streets.

Part of me feels like I didn’t’ mention adoption being the root of my pain because I didn’t understand the links between the way I was behaving and feeling and adoption. I also feel I was gaslighted from an exceedingly early age to be thankful and grateful that a family took me in when my own family didn’t want me. I was my adoptive moms greatest joy because I gave her the title “Mother.” How could I share my real feelings, especially when they all tell me to be thankful? My true feelings would hurt them. I didn’t know how to process this as a child.

 I think one of the biggest issues I had was being told to feel a certain way, but inside I didn’t feel that way at all. I wasn’t thankful or grateful. I hated the home I lived in. I didn’t have the language as a child to come up with connecting the dots on these topics and no one else helped me find this language or open conversations to talk about it. My adoptive parents, therapists or adults in my life ever helped me gain an understanding that relinquishment trauma very well could be the root of my issues, compacted by adoption trauma. I feel they all failed me miserably even all the way to seeing a therapist at 18, because I was suicidal. They never brought adoption up, nor did I but most of these years of experiences with therapy I was a child.

I can’t help but wonder if it’s the same way for my fellow adoptees who are children sitting in the therapy rooms today? Has anything changed? Have the therapist failed them too? Is this a big reason why adoptees are 4x more likely to attempt suicide, as well as over representing prisons, jails, mental health, and treatment facilities? I can’t help but wonder.

Where does the real problem lie?

It was up to me to do the self-work as an adult and try to get to the root of my problems. No one was going to do it for me. After spending 27 years addicted to alcohol, angry and mad at the world, running a rat race trying to get to the bottom of what my problem was, let’s all share a drum roll please…

Relinquishment Trauma was the root, compacted by adoption trauma. Surprise, surprise.  I have tried many times to get therapy as an adult as I’ve emerged out of the fog, and into my truth. There have been times my pain was so great, I just wanted to end my life. But instead I have hung onto hope for many reasons. Mainly my children, and my fellow adoptees.

As my experiences with therapy as an adult have been significantly different than when I was a kid, at the end of the day they have still failed me. I have tried several times to find a new therapist, begin to build a relationship and I find myself explaining all the dynamics to the adoption experience so that they can understand the magnitude and depth of my root issues. Complex PTSD, Complex Grief, Loss, Abandonment, Rejection, The Primal Wound, Relinquishment & Adoption Trauma, Bonding, (or lack of) Identity Issues, Anger, Rage, and the list could go on. Each time I have found myself therapying the therapist. At that point, I feel like I should be the one getting paid. At what point do I realize this therapeutic relationship isn’t going to go anywhere because this person isn’t educated on all these levels of adoption and relinquishment trauma so they can help me? It’s more like I’m helping them.

I’m tired of therapying the therapist.

I recently had an experience that left me with no hope that I will ever be able to receive therapy ever again. I shared on my website an article called My Experience with Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART). At the end of the second session ( I committed to four) my new found therapist lets me know she’s an adoptive mom, and she asks me if she could share my information about Adoptees Connect, Inc. with some of her friends and colleagues. I won’t lie, it was a huge red flag learning she was an adoptive mom. However, due to my two ART sessions being great experiences I expressed that would be fine, and they could reach out to me if they had any questions.

A few days later, I get an email from my therapist as follows:

The message above was copied and pasted to me via email, from my therapist. She did not include the identity of the colleague/parent/therapist.

I can’t even begin to express how upset this made me. First of all, there is one adoptive mom on this entire earth that I have had a great relationship with and that’s because she’s my friend of over 25 years, and she is 100% receptive to learning the adoptee experience in hopes to understand her adopted children better. She’s it for me. The rest of the experiences I’ve had with them haven’t been great. I will add this experience to the list of them.

When I read this email, my stomach sank. It’s been said by a friend close to me that she likely thought “I could handle it.” I think she’s right, but that doesn’t excuse the message that was sent concealing her colleague/adoptive mom/friends’ identity, meanwhile mine is wide open for her to learn. In her defense, I agreed that would be fine to share my information, but this was taking it was too far IMHO. Her friend should have contacted me directly. I found this to be very unprofessional.

As soon as I read the email, I felt like I had two adoptive moms against me and that I was all of a sudden in a position where I not only had to defend myself, but my nonprofit and also every other adopted person on the planet. It was an awkward and uncomfortable situation to be in. I immediately had to put my Adoptees Connect, Inc. hat on and that made me even more upset.

As feelings started to boil over, I woke up early the next morning to craft the email I would soon send to my therapist and her friend who are both adoptive moms. After this, I sent an email to this new therapist letting her know I couldn’t keep a therapist relationship with her due to the conflict of interest of her being an adoptive mom. I had someone mention that I let her off the hook, which is true. I resent that, but one more time I had to put my Adoptees Connect hat on, and it overrode my own feelings and I was really angry that I was put in a position where I had to do this.  As I crafted this email to these two adoptive moms, here I was once again therapying the therapist/s.

This situation tainted and ruined the once trusted relationship that I was trying to build with this new therapist. It was over. This situation left me feeling so discouraged and upset, it was the beginning of a downward spiral of sadness and emotions I hadn’t felt in alone while. I’m still not over it. This was a last resort for me. Not to mention this experience tainting the two positive therapy sessions I had.

I realize there are many adoptee’s who are stepping up to become ADOPTEE COMPETENT therapist, but there are none in my entire state, and I’m sure that’s the same for many of my fellow adoptees. Major kudos to all those who are adoptees and therapists, and those who are in the process of becoming therapist. I personally know many of you, and I am so thankful for what you give our community!

 I will share the list that is a recommended resources on the Adoptees Connect website and that’s Adoptee Therapist Directory if by chance you are an adoptee in search of an adoptee therapist please feel free to check this website out.

I genuinely believe there is an incredibly significant inadequacy when it comes to therapist and their general knowledge regarding all the different dynamics to relinquishment and adoption trauma. So much missing data and information to be learned and it’s so needed for the adoptee population. From my experience in therapying the therapist and their lack of being able to help me, is one of the reasons Adoptees Connect, Inc. was created and founded as a nonprofit. Because the world has failed adoptees, and we’re truly all we have when it comes to being able to share our experiences with others who get it. And many days that doesn’t seem like enough. We can listen and be there which is what the Adoptees Connect groups are focused on but we aren’t equipped to counsel other people’s trauma.

If you are an adoptee and have had a great experience with therapy, or even an adoptee who is considering therapy please don’t take my article as a reason to discontinue or disconnect from therapy. You might have a better experience than me. If you do, I’m happy for you. I encourage therapy if the relationship is serving the adoptee in a positive way and I feel it’s very needed to be able to heal from the adoptee experience. Unfortunately, after 46 years of being on this earth, I have yet to find that relationship but I’m happy for those to have.

Maybe one day all the adoptee therapist can get together and write some adoptee centric literature for therapist and adoptive parents that can help teach non-adopted therapist about the truth about adoption? I know it’s a far fetch, but it needs to happen. We need adoptee therapist and more adoptee centric resources; our lives and survival depend on it.  

For my fellow adoptees, can you relate to any of what I have shared here? If you feel up to it, please share your experiences.

Don’t forget this article along with all my other articles are available in audio for your convenience, just look up Pamela A. Karanova Podcast on Google Podcasts, iTunes , Spotify. and Amazon Music. Interested in treating me with a coffee, to add fuel to my fire? Click here. Many thanks in advance to my supporters!

National Suicide Prevention Month, Mental Health Awareness Month & Positive Culture

September is National Suicide Prevention Month; October is Mental Health Awareness Month and I can’t help but put an emphasis on the adoptee community as these occasions approach. I’ve learned in my own personal journey, that one day I can be sitting on the mountains, living life to the fullest and the next day I can be navigating a downhill battle that last for hours, days, weeks and sometimes months.

Whatever I experience in life weather it be hardships, or things to celebrate I like to share them with people, especially the adoptee community. Let me be clear, I can’t even sit here and act like I have all my sh*t together. I don’t and the last 4-6 weeks of my life have been exceptionally difficult. I tend to stay to myself, I get quiet, I withdraw, and I embrace a season of solitude so I can “get myself together.”

As an adoptee, I can pour myself into areas where other people “need me” but when I need the same services, “Everything is fine.” I have no idea how to ask others for help when I’m down and out. I have learned by being adopted, suffering in silence is what feels natural and normal to me because I’ve been doing that my whole life.

It is my normal.

However, I recently am trying to change things to be an example to others. I know it will be easier said than done, because I’ve been isolating and embracing seasons of aloneness for 46 years when I have adoptee problems. It’s hard to just “step out of the boat” and say, “EVERYTHING IS NOT OKAY! I AM NOT OKAY.”

We’ll today I decided I want to be transparent with a few areas I have been struggling with, and it’s not easy for me to do. I just hope it will help another adoptee be “okay” with the space they are at, and embrace all the season in our lives, not just the upbeat, happy and positive ones. One way I’m working on changing things for myself, is I’m going to write about it but first things first.

I AM CURRENTLY NOT OKAY.

MORE THAN LIKELY, MANY OF US AREN’T OKAY.

It’s okay to not be okay…

I will write about it soon, but for now I want to touch on another topic.

When so many people are spinning “Positive Culture” narratives, it doesn’t leave room for anyone’s heartache, mental health issues, and pain. Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for the positive culture vibes, but we’re in the middle of a pandemic and all the racial tensions, and the elections coming. Covid-19 is here and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon, nor are the other circumstance so many are going through. We really must save space for others to sit at our table who are having real true struggles. Adoptee struggles and non-adoptee struggles. Let me be honest, most of the time people need a listening ear from someone who won’t cast judgement. Believe it or not, that’s so hard to find these days.

For those who don’t seem to be struggling like others, please, please, please don’t forget to save space for others who are having a hard time. We can’t fix other people, or their circumstances, but we can listen, be there and be an ear for them to share their hearts. It could be life or death.

I have significant struggles not wanting to be a burden to anyone and reaching out to other for help in a typical way is almost always nonexistent. I have a few select close people who I know I can be transparent with, but even then, it’s hard to actually “Ask for help.” What asking for help looks like to me is sharing with those I’m close too that we need to talk on the phone or in person so we can “TALK TRASH!” What does talk trash mean? Having a huge b*tch session. Whatever we are going through at that time, we save space to b*tch about it with no judgement. I need those kinds of friends in my life, and I have a hard time allowing anyone in my life where I can’t be myself. B*tching about our realities is a new way of life! Especially in the middle of a pandemic. I can assure you, that after you release all the things being held inside, you will feel better! It’s a matter of finding the right people to allow you to have a relationship where b*tching is welcome.

As National Suicide Awareness Month Approaches as well as National Mental Health Awareness, I want to start writing about some of my experiences and struggles I’ve been having over the last few months. I want to b*tch. I want to be real, raw, and transparent because I know so many of my fellow adoptees will be able to relate to these struggles, and non-adoptees as well. Sometimes writing is the easiest way for me to share my feelings, because no one can interrupt me, shut me down or try to tell me how to feel. This is something that’s happened to adoptees since the beginning.

Writing changes the game for that.  As I wrap this up, I would love to challenge you to find a way to share your feelings regarding all we are going through in our current lives. It might be starting a blog, where you can pour your thoughts out or even starting a v-log. It might be creating a public Facebook page or website where you can share your thoughts. It might be finding that one friend you can call and TALK TRASH WITH!

Please believe that you aren’t alone in feeling the way you do, and you can and will inspire others when you share your struggles, strengths, and experiences. Especially now.

Let’s get to b*tching.

Adoptee Transparency, If no one else in your life is saving space for you to b*tch, I’m saving space for you to b*tch.

Ready, set, go…

Adoptee Love Forever,

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Adoptee Dreaming & The Island of Lost

[DREAM] – Indulge in daydreams or fantasies about something greatly desired.

[LOST] – Having gone astray or missed the way; bewildered as to place, direction, etc.

Dreaming – One more adoptee robbery to add to the list of LOST. The traditional concept of dreaming has been out-of-place for most of my life.

While other little girls were dreaming of what dolls they wanted for Christmas, I was dreaming of finding my birth mother, living in mental torment every day. She was nowhere to be found.

While other little girls were celebrating their birthdays, I was wishing my birth mother would come back to get me, feeling like an outsider on the island of LOST.

Being adopted comes with a heavy cost.

While other little girls were thinking about one day getting married and having children, I was obsessed with finding my birth family. Who were they? Where were they? Why haven’t they come back to find me?

While other little girls were dreaming about what college they wanted to go to, and what they wanted to be when they grew up, I was fighting the world to find out WHO I AM? Where did I come from? Who do I look like? Why am I so tall?

While other little girls were playing with barbies and baby dolls, I was searching for my people. Everywhere I went, I was looking for them. Who matches my hair and skin tone? Could they be my people? Is that my mother?  Is that my sister or my brother?

While other little girls excelled and enjoyed school, I was riddled with anxiety and fears about the previous nights traumatic experience in my home. Concentrating on school and school work was impossible.

While other little girls were playing outside with their friends, I was trying to escape the prison I was adopted into. Chore lists the size of poster boards was all I knew. The work was never done. Ever.

While other little girls were watching Saturday morning cartoons, I was searching in my adoptive moms filing cabinet looking for any clue as to who I really was.

While other little girls sit back in awe as they hear their birth story shared by their families, I had no birth story. When you have a birth story, you feel real. Feeling REAL has always been a struggle. Having no roots contributes to the magnitude of being on the island of LOST.

While other little girls were having sleepovers and telling their friends which boys they liked, I was rubbing my adoptive moms back, feet and legs. Brushing her hair and putting makeup on her. Running her bath water and scrubbing her back. Fetching her Pepsi’s and pills.

While other little girls were being spoiled by their grandparents, I was recovering from witnessing my adoptive mom trying to commit suicide. Over and over. Trauma wounds piled up.  

Mental torment was my constant companion, and I did not have time for typical little girl dreams. A childhood misplaced, but I have survived. It has taken me 46 years to feel even a little alive.

I must make up for all the lost little girl dreams, it seems.

I want to be free, with the sunshine all over me. I want to see the rainbows even on the darkest days and climb trees to the top. I want the teardrops to stop, to sit on the mountain tops and make new memories with those I love, nonstop.

I want to love and be loved with no agenda. I want to be surrounded by friends where I do not have to censor my thoughts. I want to connect with mother nature because we are one – This is just for starters.

I am not close to being done.

I must make up for whatever has been lost, no matter what the cost. The future belongs to me, but I must be the one to see. Brightness is all around, no more letting others let me down.

Smile. Be Free. The future is bright but only if you see that beauty surrounds us in everyday life. I have learned to embrace feeling LOST, because being adopted comes with a hefty cost.  I’ve learned that in feeling lost, I’ve actually been found.

Dream little, dream big, I must be true to me and do whatever it is I love to do. It is never too late to look myself in the mirror and embrace what I see, the key is learning to love ME.

This is my adoptee reality.

It’s time to take back what was stolen from me.

My Experience with Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART)

I  wrote an article not long ago titled “RIP RECOVERY” I recently was triggered by previous traumatic events in a current way. Gah! This has created some mixed emotions, many based in anger and sadness. I credit ADOPTION: The gift that keeps on giving! I’ve created a bench, a safe space to welcome these “episodes” as I call them to come and sit down with me. I allow myself the space to sit with them, and welcome them. Then the work begins. No more running. Here I am, writing about it.

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What is ART?

Accelerated Resolution Therapy works to directly reprogram the way in which distressing memories and images are stored in the brain so that they no longer trigger strong emotional and physical reactions. The word accelerated means that sometimes people can see significant results in 1-4 sessions. I liked this idea a lot, and I am not digging these episodes so I’m willing to try ANYTHING.

A few weeks ago, I had a total meltdown. Without going into all the details of what triggered it, I will say that I know it was linked to some specific terror & traumatic episodes I experienced in my childhood, although I wasn’t thinking anything about them at the time at all.  However, I did not need to be. They were stored in my brain and body and they caused my body to react even when the current situation had absolutely nothing to do with them. I truly had no control over it and although I was able to make the connections between the two, I could not bring myself out of the meltdown. It lasted almost the whole weekend.

What feelings were I having? I would describe it as an impending doom, a terror feeling that literally took over my entire body which paralyzed me. I could not function properly, like the “normal me.” I was in bed all weekend long and I felt horrible. My body was riddled with fear, I was overwhelmed and sad because as soon as I feel like I am 10 steps ahead of the game, something like this happens which I consider to be somewhat of a setback.

Is adoption ever not going to impact me in a negative way? Even 10+ years into SELF WORK, I am still dealing with this bs. It brought on a lot of emotions for me that were difficult to navigate through, on top of the traumatic memories being triggered. I have not felt this type of feeling in a long while. But here I was, back at what seemed to be square one. FML was all I could think. All I was thinking was that I would rather die than feel this way.

One of the best parts about this situation was the fact that I did not react to it. I have come far enough in my journey to learn a few things. One is that I was able to make the connections to the way I was feeling, to the way I felt as a little girl and a newborn baby being relinquished by my birth mother. I was also able to distinguish that the reaction I was having was something from the past, because the current situation that triggered the response was not “that big of a deal.”   The other is that I did not allow myself to react. I also knew that I had to move through this situation, until my brain was able to shake it off.  I just did my best to sleep it off until that happened, because that is the only way I can shut my brain off, and I did a little self-care in the middle. I will not lie; the self-care was not easy. The only thing I could force myself to do was to get out of bed, put clothes on, and drive to get one of my favorite salads on Sunday. Then I went and got a large blizzard from Dairy Queen.

As soon as I was done, I came back home and got right back in the bed. Slept until Monday morning. Work was the pushing factor that snapped me out of this deep, dark hole I was in. I had to get up and go to work.

One of the things I believe escalated this meltdown was that I did not have any weekend plans. It was supposed to rain Sunday, so I did not make any plans. The rain came for a short while, the rest of the day was sunny and beautiful. I do not do well with idol time, and it is not healthy for me. So here I was feeling worthless like I wasted my whole Saturday and Sunday away, which is time I can never get back on top of the emotional traumatic episode being triggered.

Over the years, I have learned of several therapy types that have been extremely effective for adoptees. One is EMDR therapy, and the other is Brainspotting. I had never tried either, but I have heard that they are wonderful for adoptees, if you have an adoptee competent therapist.

I knew I needed to get to the bottom of this, because as stated above – I would rather die than feel this way. It is the worst feeling in the whole world. Monday morning I started reaching out to some local therapists, on top of Brooke Randolph who I consider a friend. She is an adoptive mom, and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and she specializes in many areas, but one is brainspotting. We have had the chance to meet at several conferences over the years, and I respect her greatly. She lives in Indiana, and I am in Kentucky. She was able to offer some suggestions and guide me in the right direction on the next steps. I appreciate her kindness in taking the time to assist me during what I feel like was a crisis in my life.

I ended up finding a local therapist here in Lexington, KY. I read over her website and I was impressed by it. I reached out to her and we set up a consult appointment. I explained my issues, what triggered them and set up a plan to move forward. On Friday I had my first appointment with her, and I can share with you it was one of the most enlightening and amazing experiences of my lifetime!

I will not lie; I was nervous at first because I did not know what to expect. She has listed on her website many areas that she is experienced in regarding types of therapy she uses like brainspotting, EMDR, Daring Way, etc.  The key factor was that she will not use just one technique on me, she will use a combination of techniques, depending on what works best for me. I liked that idea because what works for someone else, might not work for me and each person is different.

Now to the good juice.

Between our consult and our first meeting I was able to trace back in my early days of 4 different experiences that I feel created terror and traumatic memories that have been stored in my memory, some of it subconsciously.

Here they are.

  1. Relinquishment Trauma – Being separated from my birth mother at the beginning of life. I have always had haunting visions of what the delivery room was like that day, and all the sorrow and sadness that was present. No one was welcoming me, no one was happy. I know I cried in terror, learning to self soothe as soon as I came out of the womb. How long did I cry? Likely until my spirit broke and I had no more energy to cry. I have visualized this over the years because I have no birth story. Most adoptees do not so we are left to create our own images.
  2. A Reoccurring Dream – Around 5 years old I learned I was adopted, and from that moment on I started having a reoccurring dream that lasted at least 21 years of my life. They stopped after I found my birth mother but are still very vivid memories. I was on the labor and delivery unit at St. Frances hospital where I was born. This was the last place I knew my birth mother was before I lost her. I was a 5-year-old little girl, in a small white hospital gown. I remember vividly there were no people in sight, but I was searching for her. I saw a long hallway; everything was cold and white. I remember running down the hallway barefoot, jerking every single curtain back searching for her. I saw a clock, and time was running out. I was hysterical, and the hallway went on forever. I never found her, and I never stopped running trying to find her. The terror I felt in this dream, being lost looking for her is like the terror I felt during my meltdown. It’s the same terror that frequents my life. I feel it when I get lost.
  3. Adoptive Mom Laying in the Street – My adoptive mom was manic depressive and suicidal most of my life. One episode of a lifetime of episodes, is something that I have never been able to remove from my brain. She had a manic-depressive episode where she went and laid in the street to try to kill herself while we watched from our 3rd floor apartment window. The terror and trauma this inflicted on me as an 8-9-year-old child is something I will never forget. The visions and memories are clear, and they have always haunted me. I specifically remember how I felt during this episode, and
  4. Adoptive Mom Locking Her Bedroom Door, Telling Us She’s Killing Herself – Another terror and traumatic situation as a child was the repeated actions of my adoptive mom taking her whole “box” of prescription pain pills to her bedroom, locking us out and telling her she’s going to kill herself. I WILL NEVER FORGET BEING HYSTERICAL OUTSIDE HER BEDROOM DOOR BEGGING HER TO NOT KILL HERSELF. This created lifelong traumatic memories I have never been able to shake. I remember being so tired from crying and begging that I could not cry anymore. I just slumped down by the door, fell asleep and eventually after some hours, she would open the door like everything was perfect. This happened many times.

So here we are, trying to piece things together and figure out which of these traumatic experiences still has a tight grip on my emotional and mental health. Which one is triggering an emotional response in my present life?

That is a good question, and the only way to figure out is to go through each one step by step. It could be a combination of them all. It could be related to preverbal and previsual trauma I experienced before birth.  I know that the only way out is through, so here I was getting a new therapist, making a commitment to get to the bottom of this so I could hopefully heal these wounds that seem to creep up at different times of my life. I knew I was the only one that could do this as no one else can fix our junk for us but us.

I decided to start with #1 because it goes back to the beginning. Although I feel the true beginning was being in my birth mother’s womb, but I don’t have any visual memories of that. It might be something I have to circle back around and work on later. For now, we are starting with the first memories which I describe in #1 and the second session I worked on #2.

This is what I remember of the first ART session, but I am fairly sure I might mix my words up, and maybe not describe things perfectly, but I will do the best I can from what I remember.

Traumatic memory #1.

As already shared, I was a little nervous because I did not know what to expect. However, Jessica made things amazingly comfortable. We set up our first video zoom call and got the ball rolling. Jessica, had me hook my two thumbs together, and hold them at the top of my chest and I tapped on my chest with my fingers. Kind of like a butterfly. I closed my eyes and I started to rock as I did this which came natural for me. We had a brief discussion on my needing to rock, and we were able to trace this back to the original separation from my birth mother and an adaption tool I automatically picked up as a newborn baby as a way to self soothe. She wanted me to go back to the very first vision which I concluded would be visions of the delivery room where I lost my birth mother.

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

As I closed my eyes, my visuals of the deliver room were front and center. I was crying in terror for my birth mother to come back, but she never came.  It was like a scene from a movie. I was able to focus on 3 different clips (visions) for this one scene and drew out as many details as possible. As Jessica guided me through the process, I started to erase each clip one by one. After I erased the first clip, I picked a color and painted over it by a paint brush or spray paint. I picked yellow like the sun for the first clip, blue like the sky for the second and grassy green for the third.

Next, I moved on to create new visions for each clip. The first clip I painted a picture of one of my favorite waterfalls. The second I painted a picture of the sun. the third clip I painted a picture of the forest. All 3 of my favorite things on earth, that bring be great joy and comfort. I made sure I did not leave anything behind regarding the old clip. As the new “Conductor Scene” was created by me, I was not sharing all the details with Jessica. She asked a few little questions like what color did I pick and what new vision did I place over the old one. But I did not have to RELIVE each traumatic memory in her presence, which I really liked. That is the part I was most nervous about because I have been reliving those scenes my whole life in my head, I did not want to relive them again, especially in front of someone else.

Once I had the conductor scene created, it now took the front seat to any of the delivery room memories. It was a refreshing scene that made me happy just thinking about it. Not only that, but it is my real life. Most people that know me know my love for Mother Nature, waterfalls, and the sunshine.

Now what? We had to seal the deal. Eyes closed, still tapping – I was instructed to take any painful memories or pieces of the beginning of my life regarding my birth mother and I put them in a box. One by one, I tossed them in the box. Next, I created a bridge that took me to the new conductor scene, but my kids, pets, close friends, and family all walked with me to the other side of the bridge.

I got to decide what to do with the other side of the bridge that I was leaving behind. At first, I visualized setting it on fire, but then I decided I wanted to blow that bitch up. (sorry for the cursing) Up in flames it went, with an atomic bomb style boom…

Forward I walk, into my new destiny with all those I love. Waterfalls, sunshine, and the forest that is forever my sacred space.

Ending this exercise, I had a new spark about myself. I was incredibly pleased with the experience.

Fast forward to the next week and my ART therapy session.

Traumatic memory #2.

I applied the same concept that ART guides, with my eyes closed. Thumbs hooked like a butterfly on my chest while I tapped my fingers, and I rocked back, and forth which comes naturally to me.  I focused on two clips that I visually saw pertaining to this specific traumatic experience that I saw in a reoccurring dream. (please read #2 above for details) I erased them and covered them with pastel pink and yellow as the colors. Then I created the “Conductor Scene” that replaced this traumatic memory #2. I decided to apply a field of butterflies to the first one, and a rainbow on the other. I took all my feelings and memories that I thought about regarding this time in my life and piled them up in a box. Then I got to do what I wanted with the box. I decided to push the box off a cliff at the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Never to be seen again.

In the middle of this exercise as I searched for my birth mother in the dream, Jessica encouraged me to go to the Parent Store and pick out new parents. I decided I did not want to pick out a father, because the mother wound has always been much bigger to me, especially with it being compacted by two mothers! The father wound and mother wound/s do not even compare to me.

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I was on the hunt. I looked for the perfect mother in the parent store. She had all the things I needed as a little girl, she was beautiful and affirming. She was happy and healthy. She was encouraging, supportive and complimenting. She was 100% on my side. She loved me unconditionally, without any ulterior motive. After I found her, I got to name her.

The name WILLOW came to my mind, because Weeping Willow is my favorite tree because I feel like they are so welcoming and beautiful. I HAVE ALWAYS HAD A HEART TIE TO THESE TREES. I named my mother Willow after the tree, and after my love for nature.

I expressed to Jessica something I have shared many times. I feel Mother Nature has been much kinder and more compassionate to me than any of my appointed mothers on this earth. They also do not compare at all. I was also able to make a shift from Willow being an actual person to entertaining the thought that Willow could be all the trees in nature, specifically Weeping Willows. If I am honest, I feel a connection to all trees. However, I needed to put something specific to Willow, because she is my new mother figure, I have missed my whole life. I can vividly see her, but you cannot. The closest thing I can tell you is that she is a lot like mother nature or mother earth, with a possible twist of mixing an earthly mother with mother earth. She is designed specific for me, by me so she is not something many others will understand or comprehend.

I was able to create a scene where Willow gets to meet my kids and she shares some uplifting and encouraging words about my parenting these 3 amazing human beings.

img_1388At first, I was skeptical of these exercises because I am a person of TRUTH, especially being an adoptee. But adoptees are also professionals at fantasizing things because we have been left to do this our entire lives. In a small regard, I was thinking I am not down with these shenanigans of playing “make believe” and “pretend.” However, I am also a firm believer that we can all rewrite our lives and our stories. I feel if I have one chance to write it the way I WANT IT TO BE WRITTEN – I would like to have the chance to be creative and do it. I know I am writing the future, but this allowed me a chance to rewrite the past.

Gradually as I did these exercises, the entire process allowed me to rewire my brain replacing the traumatic memories with ones that are inspiring, beautiful, and designed by me specifically.

I still have 2 of the traumatic memories related to the mother wounds to work on, but I am hopeful they will go like the first two.

I want to draw the pictures I see in my head about #1 & #2 being replaced because I would love for others to see. I am fairly sure I will start working on this soon. I cannot wait to draw the conductor scenes, and I cannot wait to draw WILLOW.

If you have made it this far, I commend you. I know this has been a long-winded article. I wanted to share as much details as possible so my fellow adoptees can possibly gain a spark of HOPE in the traumatic memories they might deal with in their lives. This has given me hope like I never had before.

It might be EMDR or Brainspotting work for you, and when and if I try them, they might work for me too. Right now, I was 100% satisfied with my experiences with Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) I am excited to see how this exercise helps me in my daily life moving forward.

For my fellow adoptees, I am curious how you have been able to get healing from traumatic memories and what’s worked for you? As always, I love learning from others because I feel we can all learn so much from one another. Can you relate to this article in any way?  I would love to hear from you.

Sending Sunshine, Love & Light

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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 

Don’t forget this article along with all my other articles are available in audio for your convenience, just look up Pamela A. Karanova Podcast on Google Podcasts, iTunes , Spotify. and Amazon Music. Interested in treating me with a coffee, to add fuel to my fire? Click here. Many thanks in advance to my supporters!

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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.

Don’t forget this article along with all my other articles are available in audio for your convenience, just look up Pamela A. Karanova Podcast on Google Podcasts, iTunes , Spotify. and Amazon Music. Interested in treating me with a coffee, to add fuel to my fire? Click here. Many thanks in advance to my supporters!

Sending you Sunshine, Love & Light. 

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The Adoptee Expressway to Recovery Has More Than One Way 

img_7963I’ve learned the hard way, that the one way that’s usually presented as an express track to recovery and sobriety, isn’t the only way. I’ve also learned that there is nothing fast, quick or express about it. I’ve found that when one way is presented, this leaves one with absolutely no options to choose from in regards to making an informed choice regarding one’s very personal recovery journey. This is part of my life story. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again that someone’s recovery journey is as unique as their very own fingerprint and DNA. No two journeys are alike.  

I’ve been sharing my Adoptee in Recovery journey since August 13, 2012 and it’s no secret my main “addiction” was always alcohol. It was my “go to” to escape my adoptee reality. But the real question is, what was the reality I was running from? How long had I struggled with this addiction? What pathways to recovery did I try? What ways were presented to me? What were my root issues?

WHAT OPTIONS DID I HAVE? 

At 15 years old, I found myself locked in drug & alcohol treatment all alone. The only way out was to believe in God, a power higher than myself, and to work the 12 steps. I had no other options. By completing the 12 steps in 6 weeks, I graduated the program and it allowed me to go home. I had no knowledge of the AA Big Book before this, and I really didn’t fully understand the magnitude of the big book even after I worked the 12 steps. I was just “Going with the flow” because if I didn’t, I would never get to go home. Adoption was never talked about! 

If you read my previous article titled “Adoptee in Recovery, When Forged Forgiveness Becomes Fatal” you learned a little of my background of my drinking career. I don’t want to repeat everything from that article, so if interested, please read it and you can to get a little background. 

img_7964Today, I navigate my 2838th day living alcohol free, I’m just now coming to the head-space where I feel comfortable talking about this topic. After 7.5 years of a recovery process, If I’m completely transparent, my drinking started before I was ever born, in utero because I was told my birth mother was never seen without a drink in her hand, even through her pregnancies. It’s no wonder I started drinking so young.  

I’ve spent 45 years on this earth, my drinking career started at age 12 years old. That means I drank from 12 years old, to 38 years old. This is a 26 year drinking career! For an entire lifetime, I’ve been told I’m an alcoholic and I have always struggled with that thought. It’s made me feel “Bad” or “Defective.” Labeling myself an ALCOHOLIC for the rest of my life seems daunting, heavy, untrue and downright disgusting when I’ve been manipulated my whole life to believe this about myself. Being told I’m in DENIAL if I don’t label myself an alcoholic is abusive. I’m exceptionally happy I’m at such a healthy place in my own journey that I can recognize this as being unhealthy and toxic to my recovery. 

In the recovery world, I have never been able to verbally say, “My name’s Pam and I’m an alcoholic.” Those words have never set well with my spirit, even during the times in my life that I didn’t understand WHY. I remember a few times between 15 years old, and 38 years old I found myself in an AA room, because I knew I had a problem but the root of my problem was adoption, not alcohol. I know this now, but I didn’t know this as a 15 year old. If I was to share in an AA room about relinquishment trauma and how it’s impacted me, they would all look at me like I had lost my mind! I already know what they would be thinking, “What the HELL does this have to do with being an alcoholic?!” 

While spending the first few years of recovery in my late 30’s in and out of the AA rooms, this lets you know how much I took advantage of the open share of the AA rooms. ZERO. Because it was known that in order to share, I had to say “I’m Pam and I’m an alcoholic.” Me being stubborn is an understatement. I wasn’t going to say something that I didn’t feel in my heart was true just to be able to share, so I never shared. I just listened even after the first year. Even when I never verbally said I was an alcoholic, AA was known for alcoholics. I feel I was labeling myself as an alcoholic just by showing up at the meetings, even when I didn’t verbally say I was an alcoholic. Sharing is healing, and if I didn’t share at all in the meetings, it was stalling my healing. Period. 

I totally understand why AA/NA & Celebrate Recovery work for so many people. They provide community for others experiencing similar stages of life. They bring on new friendships, and a safe place to share. I think this provides amazing benefits for many people, and I’m happy about that if it works for you, or those you might know and love. My experience is different, but I have been able to take away some wonderful benefits from being a part of these groups, even if it was for a season. I learned a lot! 

Spending the last few years on the outside of any recovery organization or ministry, I’ve learned a lot as well. I’ve been able to take what I’ve learned, and use it for good and help others who might be where I once was. I had to walk away from everyone I knew and loved when I decided to get sober. I know I hurt some people doing this, but I didn’t have to explain myself. My life came first, and it was life or death. All I have to do is see the faces of my kids, and future grand-kids and I’m reminded alcohol no longer plays a role in my life. I don’t need the label of “alcoholic” to remind me. The world hasn’t been on my side in this discovery! 

In those 26 years, not only was I forced to admit in my mind, and publicly by showing up at meetings that I was an alcoholic, but it was necessary that I believe in God. I was told I needed to forgive all those who have hurt me, and I was encouraged to make amends with those who have traumatized and abused me. I was told if I didn’t admit I was an alcoholic, I was in denial and denial would only lead to death, failed recovery, relapse, among other things. 

Somehow I finagled my way through the 12 steps MANY times, without ever verbally saying I was an alcoholic. In 2012, I would say, “I’m Pam, I’m in recovery for alcohol abuse.” but that was the closest thing I have ever come to labeling myself an alcoholic. It seemed to fit me and my situation better at the current time. It was more TRUE to me to say that, than attach a label to myself for the rest of my life. I absolutely despise labels, and I find them to be a box of confinement of rules and regulations that I refuse to fit in. Currently, May 21, 2020 I say, “I’m in recovery from LIFE and relinquishment & adoption trauma!” This suits me at this present stage of my life. See how the labels can actually hinder us and trap us in a space we have the abilities to move beyond? Especially the phrase, “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic!” –  Dangerous! 

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It feels so wonderful to share this publicly, and not feel like I’m going to get thrown under the bus in the process. I feel labels only construct us and hold us back within the limits of those ideas and we deserve the freedom to go far beyond that. I know I have one friend who understands this and that’s David Bohl.  David is also a fellow adoptee in recovery, and we see things very similarly. He’s given me the inspiration to share my feelings about such a complex topic and he continues to share his on his website. 

DavidBohl-headshot-740x1024David shares in his article called The World Post – AA,, “I’ve learned a lot from AA and I learned a lot from leaving it. The biggest lesson is the one that tells me I need to be kind with myself and that I need to stay as diligent about Reality as I’ve always been. I no longer live in the delusion that I can drink without some dire consequences and I don’t need meetings to tell me that. But just because I don’t go to meetings, it doesn’t mean that I’m off the hook from reminding myself every day and practicing what keeps me sober and happy.” –  David B. Bohl 

I can so agree with David about learning a lot from AA and also learning a lot from leaving it! Same with Celebrate Recovery. Today I asked myself, “Did I really have to admit I was an alcoholic in order to be in recovery, seek healing and wholeness in my life? Did I need to admit I was an alcoholic to stop drinking? How has this idea stalled my healing?”  What I’ve finally discovered is that, “NO, I don’t have to accept or admit I’m an alcoholic!” I can’t tell you how refreshing, freeing and wonderful this realization has been. If it’s true for me, it can be true for you too! We have to step into writing our own story, and stop letting others write it for us. 

Over a 20 year period, I learned that both my biological parents were alcoholics. I found out my biological mother was first, and it’s ultimately what killed her. Some years later I found my biological father, and I was told he was a raging alcoholic. He will likely die the way my birth mother did. Discovering these two very important pieces of my history is something that rocked me to my core. This is why ALL adopted people should receive 100% of their truth. It’s the KEY to healing!  You might ask, “How are both of your birth parents alcoholics and you are not when you drank for 26 years?” 

That’s easy for me. I don’t drink anymore, and I’m in recovery and I no longer have a desire to drink. I’ve put in the work to make changes. They, on the other hand are going to die from alcoholism as my birth mother already has, and my biological father is right behind her. If either of my birth parents put in the work to become sober, I wouldn’t label them alcoholics but they never got help, sadly. I broke the cycle and I’ve applied a lot of blood, sweat and tears to do this. I can not consciously attach being an alcoholic to my name and my legacy because of this. My kids are my motivation! 

I BROKE THE CYCLE NOT JUST FOR ME, BUT FOR THEM! 

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From my experience, in AA never admitting you are an alcoholic is denial. This thought process that influenced me kept me confined for a very long time! It’s very scary for a lot of people who are considering recovery or living an alcohol free life. From my experience, in AA, if you don’t label yourself an alcoholic, you will NOT make it. Relapse is inevitable and you will be told you are in denial. Let me be clear, I know AA, NA and Celebrate Recovery, and all the other recovery programs and ministries have saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. I can find goodness in all of these programs. But due to my experiences with them, I can also take some steps back and see how damaging they can be. I’m not knocking them, or those who believe in them or those that are faithful participants of any of them. I’m just saying what worked and didn’t work for me, along with my views being on the outside looking in. 

Besides my three amazing kids, knowing both my birth parents were alcoholics was my motivation to want to be nothing like them. I didn’t want to be like them, and I didn’t want to die like them. I have wasted 26 years of my life, with alcohol being at the center of almost everything I did and I didn’t want alcohol to take anymore from my life, or my kids lives.  

The older I get, the more wisdom I gain, and the more I begin to think for myself. I never understood how labeling myself an alcoholic for the rest of my life would help me? If I’m doing everything in my power to become happy, healthy, and recover from my previous life experiences, why do I have to call myself an alcoholic, yet be manipulated into doing this? I never fell for it, and I have never been comfortable with ADMITTING I’M AN ALCOHOLIC. 

Today I celebrate 2838 days of living alcohol free, and I’ve made it this far never claiming the label of being an alcoholic. Can I agree I had an alcohol problem? Definitely. Can I drink today even if I wanted to drink today? No sir. I can’t. I know this and I have way too much at risk. I can also agree that the root of my drinking, and alcohol problem was relinquishment trauma and adoption trauma from my adoption experience. That’s my truth and that’s where I needed to put my focus if I ever wanted to be a happy, healthy individual. 

So how did I get to where I am when I’ve never publicly admitted I’m an alcoholic? Being true to myself was KEY. In order to know what that looked like, I needed to be by myself. I know not everyone can do this, or wants to do this. That’s okay.  I spent years, single not dating at all in order to learn who I am and who I’m not. What were my likes and dislikes at this stage of my life? I had to leave all the systems that were presented to me like church,  AA & Celebrate Recovery and walk away.  I had to create my own program that works for me which has been Adoptees Connect, Inc.  I walked away from many of the reasons (people, places and things) I drank to begin with, I got real with myself and got honest. I’ve applied the tools that I’ve been given and aligned them with what works for me and I’ve thrown the rest in the trash. Some of these things, others inside and outside of recovery settings might not agree with. I’ve learned to be okay with that. I don’t need anyone’s approval. I’m no longer collecting CHIPS for my recovery milestones. I collect ROCKS which are symbolic to me. I’ve found more healing in nature, chasing waterfalls than I have inside any church, program or ministry. 

MY WAY. 

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There’s a lot of stigma attached to recovery, that it has to be done a certain way. I’m no longer buying into it. I’m now doing things my way. Going against the grain is in my DNA but it’s been a significantly difficult journey to always be the one “not listening” or “not following directions.”  Or better yet, “THE REBEL WITH A CAUSE” – This is what I prefer to be called. 🙂 But here I am, 2838 days into sobriety and I have a story to tell on how I got here. The instructions of finding god, labeling myself an alcoholic and demanding forgiveness in order to heal and be in recovery has not worked for me, and news flash…

I’M STILL IN RECOVERY! 

I’M STILL SOBER! 

I HAVE A NEW FOUND LOVE FOR LIFE THAT I NEVER HAD BEFORE. 

MY WAY ISN’T ANYONE ELSE’S WAY. 

I’M OKAY WITH THIS. 

I BROKE THE CYCLE! 

I AM NOT AN ALCOHOLIC! 

I would like to share a message of encouragement for all my fellow adoptees in recovery, and anyone else who might be reading this article. You don’t have to admit you’re an alcoholic to get help, nor do you have to admit it in private. You don’t have to forgive everyone, or anyone for that matter. You don’t have to believe in God to get the help you need. I encourage you to explore other options outside of the 12 steps of AA, and religious settings because as times change, recovery doesn’t fit in a box. It’s not a “One size fits all” method like it was when I was growing up, and entering the recovery 12 step world in 2012. There are so many other options out there now. Keep searching until you find what works for you and realize that your way isn’t anyone else’s way. 

 One of the people who I follow and admire greatly is my friend mentioned above, David Bohl. Follow his Facebook, get his memoir. Read his article, Blue Mind and Relinquishees/Adoptees. The idea of being close to water and the healing dynamics to it is a very powerful healing tool! I can wholeheartedly agree, because this is what I get when I chase waterfalls. This is one of the many things that’s worked for us, but the mainstream recovery outlets aren’t talking about it. We learned it on our own and have a lifetime of experiences to back it up. Research Blue Mind.  You will be happy you did! 

TNM_book-hand-mockup_jan_2018-400x386Another sober living tool I’ve been following and learning about is This Naked Mind.  This Naked Mind has helped me realize that many people struggle with alcohol, and we have many options to try to seek understanding on the WHY, so we can make an informed choice on getting help.  I also encourage building a support system of other adoptees in recovery. Consider starting an Adoptees in Recovery® group via Adoptees Connect, Inc.®  I suggest EMDR Therapy because it has been highly recommended for adoptees, trauma work and inner child work is also a great step in healing. If you can find a Adoptee Competent Therapist at Beyond Words Psychological Services, LLC. I highly recommend it. 

268x0wListen to the podcast, Adoptees On. This has been a major healing tool for adoptees all over the world. Haley is a personal friend of mine and her gift of this podcast has changed the lives of so many people. She’s exceptionally gifted on creating a safe space for adoptees to share their adoption experience. In this, the validation that adoptees receive by tuning in is a valuable tool in our healing. Check her out!

I can share from experience, HANDS DOWN – I COULD NOT WORK ON RELINQUISHMENT AND ADOPTION TRAUMA WHILE I WAS DRINKING ALCOHOL. I HAD TO STOP DRINKING COLD TURKEY TO DO THIS WORK! I became suicidal mixing the two, so if you are TRULY wanting to work on your adoptee problems, trauma, and issues I suggest getting sober FIRST. After-all, that’s a huge part of the reason many of us drink and use substances to begin with. If you haven’t made that connection yet, here is a helpful video for you. Paul Sunderland – Adoption & Addiction.

We all deserve to know the truth that there are more ways than the one way that might be presented to us as contemplate entering into a recovery journey. Your “thing”  might be drugs, alcohol, food, shopping, sex, divorce, anger, rage, self esteem, abandonment, rejection, C-PTSD, and the list could go on. Alcohol was the substance I used to run from processing abandonment, rejection, grief, loss and trauma regarding my adoption journey. Keep searching for what works for you and please know that this world is now full of possibilities  to living a life of happiness and wholeness beyond the confinement of any programs, rules and regulations of others telling you how it needs to be done.

Do not settle for one way. 

Your way isn’t anyone else’s way! 

Don’t forget this article along with all my other articles are available in audio for your convenience, just look up Pamela A. Karanova Podcast on Google Podcasts, iTunes , Spotify. and Amazon Music. Interested in treating me with a coffee, to add fuel to my fire? Click here. Many thanks in advance to my supporters!

Sending Love & Light,

Pamela Karanova

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Happy Mother’s Day to The Missing Mother

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Mother’s Day is approaching and it is a touchy day for so many people, especially adoptees. I seem to find words to write about how I feel about Mother’s Day each year, and I’m noticing the more I heal in my own personal journey, the less I have to say. The more I heal, the less intense my feelings are about the whole concept of a MOTHER. Things really started to change for me, when I started to mother MYSELF. 

What does mothering myself look like for me? Taking care of myself. Setting major boundaries in my personal and professional life. Not being so available, which is leading to less stress and anxiety.  Doing small and big things to feed my spirit. Surrounding myself with things I enjoy and love. Saying “No” when things don’t interest me. Saying “yes” to more adventures, and being outside. Making changes when things aren’t in healthy alignment with my mind, body and spirit. Telling myself that I’m wonderful and amazing. Accepting my flaws, and still providing myself with the love I deserve each day. Speaking kindly to myself, and about myself.

This isn’t always easy for me. It’s hard to see ourselves like others see us, especially like a mother sees her child. If I’ve never felt that from a mother, it’s challenging to see that in myself. But I do the best I can. Allowing myself the space to mother myself, as well as the inner child, the little girl that was abandoned has really helped me on my healing journey. 

Besides my role in being a mother to my kids, It’s interesting that the first time I saw what a mother was supposed to be like was 14 years ago in 2005, when I started taking care of a stroke patient. This is the same amazing lady I still take care of today. Going on 15 years, I will never forget the first time her daughter was visiting from out of state, and they went to say “Goodbye” to one another. The daughter and mother put their faces really close together, they touched each other’s faces, looked in each other’s eyes and told one another how much they loved one another. This lasted for a whole minute, which was a painstaking reality for me of something I never have had, and I never will have. I had never seen a mother and a daughter with the closeness they have, and still haven’t to this day. 

Is what they have a rarity in life?  I have no idea, but it was definitely a rarity in my life, for me to see. Never having a mother in my life, has really caused the biggest wound I have been working towards healing, and that’s the mother wound. When you are adopted, this wound is also understood as the primal wound. It’s a really deep wound, and for me personally nothing has caused me more pain in my lifetime x2 because of the adopted and biological mom dynamics. I didn’t strike it out once, but twice in the mother area. Sometimes I have a hard time believing this is real. 

Like many adoptees, the whole concept of a mother is a tough topic. Some of us were fortunate enough to have a close relationship with our adoptive moms. It’s possibly we reunited with our biological mothers and rekindled some of what was lost, having a good relationship. Other adoptees could have had a rejection experience with our biological mothers, and others we had strained relationships with our adoptive mothers. For others, like me, we had toxic relationships with our adoptive moms, and our birth mothers either rejected us, or things have gone sideways, leaving many of us with broken hearts. 

I had a broken heart from my adoption experience for most of my life. It was only over the last 10 years of me sharing my journey, and finding purpose in the pain that everything changed for me. It’s only been since leaving the church that things changed as well. I’ve ran away to find myself, and it’s worked for me. I’ve broken out of the systems set up to keep us confined, and I’m free to be me. I’ve eliminated all toxic relationships, and each day I’m working on self improvement. 

Little by little, my broken heart has been transformed to a heart that’s learning to love myself, mother myself. I’ve accepted I will never have a mother. I’ve accepted that triggers of this reality will plague my life every time I turn around. Between social media, holidays, television shows, others talking about their mothers, and the daily, hourly reminder that there is no mother’s love for me, I’m reminded. I’m reminded when something exciting happens and I have no mother to call. I’m reminded when I get a scary doctor’s diagnosis, and I have no mother to call. I sure could have used a mother in my life but that’s not the cards I was dealt. I have accepted it which has been a pivotal piece to my healing journey. It seems I’ve always been hyper focused on my mother LOSS, it wasn’t allowing me to celebrate GAINING the fact that I’m a MOTHER to celebrate. The pain was too great for me to shift focus for most of my life. 

Another very important step in this mother wound, as Mothers Day approaches is allowing my sadness to come and not running from it. I need to process it, however that looks for me. Usually when I wake up, or go to bed that night I have a really good cry! Like a sobbing, snot slinging cry. I sometimes write my feelings out as a way to release them. It’s likely I usually don’t share them with anyone, because who really wants to hear it? If you have someone you trust, you feel you can talk to, that’s a wonderful tool in sharing your feelings.  

Most people say, “Celebrate YOU and the mother you are!” This is such a good point! The img_7118part that brings me happiness on Mother’s Day is being a Mother to my 3 amazing kids. Once I started to try to reframe my thinking from being REALLY SAD about the loss of a mother, and the gigantic mother wound and try to think about how awesome it’s been to be a mom, things got a little easier for me. 

It’s been the hardest job I’ve ever had but definitely the most rewarding. Maybe some of us (adoptees) don’t have kids, and we aren’t parents? Maybe we have pets that have been our babies? I have that too, and I celebrate being a pet mom to them. Maybe we don’t have pets, but we have someone special in our lives that we’ve been able to be a mother type figure too? Maybe you have close relationships with your adoptive or biological moms, yet you can’t see them due to the Covid-19 situation? This is likely going to be a tough Mother’s Day for everyone, adopted or not. I’m sorry. It truly sucks. Just know you aren’t alone, and I’m sure this is heartbreaking and difficult for everyone. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to have some amazing women in my life who are like mothers to me. I would give anything for this to be true, in them TRULY being my mother by DNA, but obviously that’s not realistic thinking. I’m thankful for each of them and for our relationships over the years. Patsy, Jan, Cousin Linda – I love you! Thank you for being the closest things to a mother I will ever have! Thank you for accepting me and loving me through the storms & the celebrations. I love you right back. ❤ 

For my fellow adoptees, whatever this Mother’s Day brings you, I hope somewhere in the img_7120midst you are able to celebrate YOU, because you survived this thing and you are wading through the trenches to survive daily! I think we all are truly doing the best we can. I hope you allow yourself to feel the grief and loss, and you also allow yourself some space to bring yourself some happiness on this day. Maybe get your favorite ice cream, or go outside and sit in the sunshine for 30 minutes and put your feet in the grass? Take a walk outside, and watch your favorite television show. Whatever your “thing” is, don’t forget to take care of you! 

For my fellow adoptees, how does Mother’s Day impact you? How do you feel about it? Do you have a mom to celebrate? Do you celebrate yourself?  How do you make it through it?

For those who have minimal or no issues with it, how did you come to this place? We can learn so much from one another. I would love to hear how you are making it! 

Don’t forget this article along with all my other articles are available in audio for your convenience, just look up Pamela A. Karanova Podcast on Google Podcasts, iTunes , Spotify. and Amazon Music. Interested in treating me with a coffee, to add fuel to my fire? Click here. Many thanks in advance to my supporters!

Sending Love & Light 

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Finally, Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30, 2020

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

What is Adoptee Remembrance Day? 

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

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

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

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

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

This is what Adoptee Remembrance Day is all about.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All adoptions begin with extremely complex multi layered loss FIRST.   

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

Things you can do to for Adoptee Remembrance Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few things to remember: 

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

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

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

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Adoptees Connect, Inc.   

She’s Bad

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If only we could see ourselves as other people see us.

My feelings of being “bad” began in utero at the very beginning, at the moment of conception. These feelings are stored in my subconscious memory at a preverbal stage of life.  I was  born out-of-wedlock and I’m a product of a drunken one night stand, an affair with a married man.

BAD

The pregnancy was no joyous time for my birth mother. She knew she was going to give me up for adoption. I was told she was never seen without a drink in her hand, and she drank the entire pregnancy. Knowing these things, I believe my birth mother rejected the pregnancy, and I felt every bit of it in utero and I’m sure every day that passed she was eager to just get it over with, and move on with her life.

BAD

I was kept a secret from the world, even my own birth father. I would guess being conceived while he was married, my birth mother didn’t want to create any situation for him, and she was ashamed of her own actions as well. The less people who knew about this shame filled secret, the better.

Did my birth mother feel bad?

In my heart of hearts, I believe she might have felt bad, but her alcoholism ran the show. She didn’t allow herself to “feel”… It was December, 1973 and she was pregnant by a married man, unwed with a 4-year-old daughter of her own. Abortion was legal, but I don’t believe it was an option for her. She had a younger sibling that survived a botched abortion, which was attempted by her natural mother, my grandmother.  Her sibling survived, but lived mentally and physically disabled in a nursing home her entire life. This could have impacted her decision in giving me life, where her experience with abortion was a horrific one? It’s hard to tell. (yes, I’m aware many people consider any experience with abortion as horrific, but that isn’t what this blog post is about.)

In 1974 unplanned pregnancies were shamed, and it would most certainly be frowned upon to be pregnant by a married man. This married man was also a “friend of the family”. This was even more reason to keep things quiet. There certainly was no celebrating or excitement going on during the pregnancy.  I’m sure as I grew in her belly so did my feelings of unwantedness and rejection from the woman who should love me the most.  What happens when you are tied in a primal way to your mother, yet she rejects the pregnancy, rejects you, and she wants to get rid of the problem all together?

It’s easier to hand this problem over to strangers, and pretend it never existed.

That’s the easy way out but in “Adoption Land” they tell the mothers they are BRAVE. That’s a whole different blog post!Bad baby, bad pregnancy, bad day being born.

For me, the day I was born was the worst day of my life. It was the day I lost everything, and the beginning of a lifetime of trauma, grief, loss and heartbreak. I always think about that day, with great sadness in mind. I obsess about wondering if my birth mother held me, did she name me?

Did she look at me?

Was she sad?

Was it the worst day of her life, like it was for me?

All the feelings associated with my life at the beginning, are “bad”. Then I get adopted into a home where it was never about me. It was about filling the needs of a infertile woman who was never capable of being a mother to me. My greatest pain and loss in life was her biggest blessing. How in the world could I ever share my sadness in this home? I didn’t but I internalized every bit and it came out in self sabotaging ways.

Growing up, I was busy tending to my narcissistic adoptive moms emotional needs, I was never cared for as a child. My adoptive dad divorced my adoptive mom, because she was manic-depressive, suicidal and he admitted she couldn’t take care of the first daughter they adopted a year earlier, but somehow I was adopted anyway. He knew she couldn’t take care of the first daughter, yet HE adopted another daughter with her, divorces her within a year and moved over an hour away. He remarried, and had a new family to raise.

He left us with her.

What was the result?

A BAD CHILDHOOD.

A TRAUMA FILLED CHILDHOOD.

Lots of people have a bad childhood, and bad experiences in their childhood. But what about the “better life” that was promised to my birth mother? What about the 2 parent household that was so much better than she could provide, that was promised to her by the adoption industry? That’s another blog post as well.

Growing up in this home, my adoptive mom cried more than she served hot meals on the table. Her crying and manic-depressive episodes had an impact on me in many ways. I was the child that would console her and comfort her, and be there for her. I remember sitting next to her wherever she was crying, rubbing her back and saying “Im sorry mommy. I’m sorry” I must have been a bad child because she was always crying. I must have been the reason she was crying all the time. As an adult, I’ve realized her crying was in part due to mental illness, as well as a failed marriage and not coming to terms with being able to conceive her own children because of her infertility issues. None of it was my fault, and my memories comforting her go back as far as I can remember. It was my responsibility to make her “feel better”.

When I was a child, I had no idea about mental illness. I had no clue the chaos and total dysfunction in this home wasn’t “normal”. I had nothing of “normalcy” to compare it too. I had this feeling of being “bad” because I somehow as a child felt responsible for her behaving the way she did. She laid in the street while we watched, in horror as we waited on the next car to drive by and kill her. We must have been HORRIBLE kids for our “mommy” to want to die so bad that she would lay in the middle of the street in front of us…

BAD

BADY BABY

BAD KID

Turned into a bad juvenile!

Arrested for the first time at 12 years old, burglary. Followed by multiple arrests for assaulting others, in drug and alcohol treatment at 15. I was in group homes, detention, and spent a lot of time in the streets. I was pregnant at 15, and miscarried due to being in a physically abusive relationship at the time. I went to an alternative high school, and it was for the “BAD KIDS”.

Then that juvenile grew up into a bad woman.

A VERY BAD WOMAN

I really can’t describe the feeling of “being bad” that has been attached to me my entire life. It’s there, it’s always been there. It’s an every day feeling that is attached to me as I rise out of bed. It have to CONSTANTLY remind myself, I AM NOT BAD.

As a child I was never able to fully apply myself in school because I was dealing with so much anxiety and trauma in the home I grew up in. I honestly feel like I missed so much, because I wasn’t able to concentrate and learn properly. No one was looking out for me, or my education. They didn’t know what I learned or didn’t learn and they had no clue about my learning issues. This feeling has been something I struggle with my entire life, even more reason to feel bad because I am BAD! 

So here we have it… It’s February 11, 2018. I’ve carried this feeling of “BEING BAD” around with me every day for 43 years. I have no idea what it’s like to wake up and not feel it. It’s imbedded so deep that it is part of who I am.

All the way back to the womb…

If you think our birth mothers handing us over to strangers to raise doesn’t impact us in an extremely negative way, I encourage you to do the research of what happens when a mother and child are separated. Do the adoption agencies tell you we can be impacted for the rest of our lives?

How do you make a way when you have carried this heavy burden of being BAD your entire life? The burden from being born, unwanted by the woman who should love me most, and robbed of a childhood, never having a mother? I didn’t blow it in the “mother area” once, but TWICE! I cry silent tears every day of my life, and the sadness never leaves that the mother God gave me, didn’t want me and the woman that wanted me couldn’t take care of me. I’ve accepted it’s here to stay, but I do my best to hide it from the world. I don’t want to be more of a burden than I already have been but it never leaves my mind. Tears of what never was.For me, I have to constantly remind myself that I am not my past or the mistakes I have made or the mistakes my birth parents or adoptive parents have made. Who I am isn’t determined by being conceived out of a drunken one night stand with a married man. I have to be honest. It’s a constant everyday mind struggle. Self love has been a critical point to my internal happiness. I don’t care how many adoption agencies GLORIFY THE HELL OUT OF ADOPTION – I will never feel like my birth mother loved me so much – EVER! She took the easy way out, and because of it I’m left to do the “time” of this life sentence called ADOPTION.

I try to remind myself that although my life experiences have made me feel like a bad person internally, but I am not a “bad” person.

( this   is   a   constant    torment    in    my    mind   and   an everyday    struggle )

Can any adoptees relate?

In my heart of hearts, I know I’m a loving person, a loyal person, an honest person. I’m selective, cautious, reluctant and observant of others, and who I let in my space. I’m an introvert because I’m tired of other people inflicting hurt on me and my life. I’ve learned to be comfortable in my own skin, alone because no one knows me, like me. I have my guard up at all times, and I’ve learned to live my life and adapt to my hyper sensitive flight response. I smell trouble, drama or discontent – I’m gone.

Most of us work our entire lives to improve ourselves, mind-body and spirit. At least I’ve been working on this anyway. It seems if we aren’t in a constant state of “improvement” we would go stagnant in life, and what would we have to work towards?

For me, I’m working on taming the voices that have always told me “I’m BAD and My life is BAD” and I’m trying to remind myself daily of WHO I REALLY AM. I’m making a list of what other people say I am, but my big struggle is believing it. The voices of negativity are stronger, louder and more prominent and they always have been. I have so much that I am thankful for, but adoption isn’t one of them.

Here are a few things of what other people say I am, and even a few of what I know I am.

  • Creative
  • Adventurous
  • Caring
  • Selfless
  • Dependable
  • A woman of my word
  • Fierce
  • Strong
  • Protective
  • A go getter
  • Jesus Follower
  • Survivor

I think I’ll leave it at that for now.

Recently, I created a shirt via Adoptee Merch. I titled “I AM” which is dedicated to all the27655437_163783274257710_4729780367594661546_n adoptees in the world who have always had these negative voices about themselves. I wanted to create something that was a reminder of who we really are, who I really am. I think we all need that reminder every now and then. Click Here if you would like to see the women’s shirt and here if you are interested in checking the men’s out.

I don’t wake up feeling these things, but deep in my heart I know them to be true. Why is it that all the “negative” feelings, visions, memories have a way of overshadowing all the positive ones? Either way, viewing myself in a positive light is a full-time job. As I think many adoptees can relate to this.

I would like to ask you if you can relate to this at all and if you were to create a list of the positive things you think about yourself and what others say about you, what would that list say? Would you share it with me? I think I’m going to print mine, and put it on my mirror in my bathroom as a daily reminder. I can read it each morning and repeat daily.

Creative
Adventurous
Caring
Selfless
Dependable
A woman of my word
Fierce
Strong
Protective
A go getter
Jesus Follower
Survivor

Don’t forget this article along with all my other articles are available in audio for your convenience, just look up Pamela A. Karanova Podcast on Google PodcastsiTunes , Spotify. and Amazon Music. Interested in treating me with a coffee, to add fuel to my fire? Click here. Many thanks in advance to my supporters!

Thanks for reading

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