Chapter 17. New Beginnings – Finding Purpose in the Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 17.

New Beginnings

While I had no biological or adoptive family in Kentucky, my twin’s grandmother lived there. She was always supportive and involved in the twin’s life as much as she could be states away and before we moved to Utah.

On one occasion, she came to Salt Lake City to visit us through Greyhound Bus and spent several days. When contemplating my great escape to move back to Kentucky, she would be a critical lifeline in making this decision. If it weren’t for her, we never would have made it. She agreed to let us stay with her until we got on our feet which was an extension of her kindness and care for my kids and me.

I had to plan expenses on what it would cost to move across the country. I had to rent a 22 Foot U-Haul truck for five days, calculate paying for gas and food along the way, purchase six airplane tickets and come up with a plan on how the move would happen. My best friend volunteered to help me drive the U-Haul across the country, and she also was the only person who showed up with her little brother to help us pack the truck.

In March of 2005, I started conversing with Keila, Damia, and Damond about moving back to Kentucky, so they knew what would happen in the coming months. I broke the news to Patricia and Melanie, who were not supportive of my move or decision. I experienced the opposite from them: discouragement and lack of support. I decided I wouldn’t talk to them anymore about the move details until I had to.

The move date was July 2nd, 2005. I packed, reserved the U-Haul, and purchased six one-way airplane tickets for this move. First, Kelli and I would need two plane tickets to fly back to Salt Lake City after driving all of our belongings across the country to Kentucky. Then, I would need four more airplane tickets for the kids and me to fly back to Kentucky. It was a lot of money and a lot to plan to be all by myself, but I knew I had to get away from Patricia in my heart of hearts.

Because of my fear that Patricia would try to take my kids from me, I printed up a document and made her sign it before I started my trip to Kentucky. It went something like this,

“I, Pamela, am writing this letter to verify that I am temporarily leaving my kids with Patricia until July 6th, 2005, when I will return to pick them up. This is a temporary arrangement, and Patricia is fully aware of this.”

So Patricia signed this form, but she wasn’t happy about it. So I kept it tucked away because I didn’t trust her not to do something to interfere with me moving and taking my three kids. I hoped she would keep her word on it, but I had a lot of fears about this.

Once I started spending large amounts of money on plane tickets, it all started to get real. As the days got closer to July 2nd, my anxiety was through the roof, but my desire to want to get away from Patricia and her unhealthy ways was more significant. Not just for me but for my kids. Don’t get me wrong, I was unhealthy also and had my own issues clearly. However, I would never get better as long as I was in close contact with Patricia, so moving away from her was the first step.

It was possible to have a relationship with Patricia from a distance because I saw other people do it. I contemplated the hope that after some time, this decision to move away would shift a dynamic change in my relationship with Patricia. I hoped she would also want to make some changes for herself in her own life. Maybe she would want to get healthy also? I could only hope.

But finally, at 31 years old, for the first time in my life, I made myself and my happiness a priority. I put myself first and could no longer worry about Patricia or make her my responsibility. She was in charge of her happiness, and I was in charge of mine. It was time for this toxic co-dependent relationship to end and for me to grow up.

July 1st arrived, and it was the day to start loading the 22-Foot-U-Haul. We spent all day July 1st packing all of our belongings up. Keila, Damia, and Damond would stay with Patricia until we returned to Utah after delivering our belongings to the twin’s granny’s house. Kelli and I would fly back to Salt Lake City on July 6th. The kids and I would fly back to Kentucky, all of us together, on July 8th.

Once the truck was filled to the brim, on July 2nd, around 8 am, we drove by Patricia’s so I could explain to my kids one last time how everything was planned. I wanted them to know I promised I would call to talk to them every day, and I promised I would be back to get them in less than one week! I wanted to make sure they knew I was coming back, so I emphasized many times that Kelli and I would be back on July 6th, and we would fly back to Kentucky together. Finally, they understood, and I gave each of them big hugs telling them I loved them, and we parted ways.

This was when shit got real, real. I will never forget driving off in the U-Haul and making our way to Park City, Utah, coming around the mountain and leaving my kids behind. I had so many emotions that came over me it is hard to put into words. I was worried about them thinking I wouldn’t come back for them, and it made me feel conflicted, but I knew I was coming back. But what if Patricia tried to take them from me? That was my biggest worry.

But then, we looked at the map and realized that Lexington, Kentucky was 1655 miles away, and I think reality set in for Kelli also. We had a long, long trip ahead of us. We also had Pookie Brown, Keila’s cat, with us.

When she agreed to help, Kelli had no idea Kentucky was so far away, and as a wonderful best friend, she agreed to help me regardless of the distance! I will always be eternally grateful for her help and friendship all these years. Without her, I would never have been able to make this great escape away from Patricia. We kept one another laughing, and hour by hour, we were closer to Kentucky.

After twelve hours of driving, I called Patricia’s landline phone to speak to the kids. I wanted to talk to each of them to see how they were, give them an update and let them know how the drive was going. I also wanted to remind them that I would be back to get them on July 6th, and we would fly to Kentucky together. I never wanted them to feel for even a second that I was abandoning them or not coming back to get them!

However, Patricia had games to play. So she decided to turn her ringer off so I couldn’t reach her or my kids. I called and called and called. Once I couldn’t reach my kids and knew she turned her ringer off on purpose, I lost my shit. Finally, the sun started to set, and we had made our way to North Platte, Nebraska.

The drive across this state was just awful, but my anxiety about not being able to reach my kids set in, and I had a full-blown panic attack. I started to hyperventilate, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t seem to calm myself down and didn’t know what was happening. I had never experienced this range of emotions before. But, it was true; Patricia was trying to take my kids from me and her not answering my calls was only the beginning.

We were literally in the middle of nowhere, and Kelli found an exit and took me to the emergency room in North Platte. I remember feeling an overwhelming amount of feelings. I kept calling Patricia only to get no answer every single time. If I could have talked to my kids like I promised them I would, none of this would have happened.

Now they would feel abandoned, and now they would wonder why I didn’t keep my promise. I became infuriated at Patricia. The ER gave me some meds to calm me down and an albuterol treatment to help my breathing. Even calling from the emergency room in Nebraska, Patricia still wouldn’t answer her phone. This wasn’t a new thing. She was notorious for turning her ringer off and making Melanie and I worry about her. But this was different. She did this out of spite because she knew I was moving away with my kids, and she saw it was me calling.

Slowly, I started to calm down and was discharged from the ER. We found a cheap motel room in North Platte to stay all night, and I had an idea. I asked Kelli to call Patricia’s landline phone from her cell phone. But, of course, Patricia answered her call on the first ring because it wasn’t my cell number calling. So Kelli handed me the phone, and I went in on Patricia. I was so triggered by her doing this to my kids and me that I went completely off on her! It’s a good thing I was at a distance, or I would have likely ended up in jail, and I don’t say that lightly.

She didn’t have to support me or this move, but she was NOT going to come between my kids and me, and I let her know if she doesn’t answer my calls moving forward so I could speak to my kids EVERY SINGLE DAY, she would be sorry. I was not playing either. This situation made me hate Patricia, and I still have not forgiven her. This only added to the list of reasons I was moving away from her and confirmed I had made the right choice. I was fed up with her emotional and mental mind games and manipulation.

I spoke to my kids several more times during the trip, and this eased my mind that they knew I was coming back for them, and that was always the plan. As we continued our journey across the country, we stayed another night in Kansas City, Missouri. Kelli had a friend there who said we could stay with them, which would save us a night at a hotel. It was a fantastic time to hang out for the evening after we finally arrived. It was blazing hot in the middle of the summer, so there were lots of outdoor happenings going on. We were exhausted, but now things seemed like more of an adventure.

The following day at the crack of dawn, we woke up and had one final day to drive from KC, MO, to Lexington, KY, which was 582 miles until we reached our final destination, the twin’s grandmother’s house. That last eight hours seemed like an eternity, but on The 4th of July 2005, we pulled up in the 22 Foot U-Haul, and after a three-day drive, we had to unpack all of our belongings and store them in the twin’s grannies garage, which took hours.

Thankfully the twin’s dad was present to help, as well as their uncle. So after three days of driving, we took the help. I could see the bedroom that my three kids and I would soon occupy, and while it was going to be a tight fit, we were going to make it work. So I called the kids and spoke to each of them to let them know we made it, and on the 6th, just two short days away, I would be on my way back to Utah with Kelli, and we would be flying back to Kentucky TOGETHER.

Part of me could hardly believe that I had finally come to this place of independence for myself and my kids. It was surreal, but I wouldn’t be able to truly celebrate until I was back on Kentucky soil with all three of my kids, far away from Patricia.

If you might wonder why I would call this move my “great escape,” it’s easy. The burden I carried my whole life as Patricia’s caretaker was a heavy weight to carry. The cards stacked up against me being adopted into an abusive adoptive home was a life of grief, loss, heartache, and heartbreak. In addition, having little self-love at the time or the ability to stand up for myself created a very long and drawn-out process of me being independent that no one in my family supported. So it felt like a great escape in all regards.

Melanie talked trash about me always depending on Patricia, but when I finally decided I wanted to cut the cord and be independent, she didn’t support that either. Same with Patricia. I felt like my life was sucked dry trying to make everyone else happy, but finally, the day had come when I decided I wanted to be happy. So it was time for me to pass the 31-year baton I carried as Patricia’s caretaker over to Melanie. It was her turn.

Moving away from everyone was the hardest thing I ever did in my entire life because I knew I didn’t have any cushion to fall back on in the “family” area. I knew it was just the kids and me, which was a scary thought at times. But one thing is sure about me, I’m a doer, and I was going to do whatever I had to do so that my kids would have a better life than I did.

Kelli and I rested on July 5th and headed to the airport on July 6th as planned. We arrived in Salt Lake City, and I returned to Patricia’s house. We would spend a little over 24-Hours before we made our final destination to the airport on July 8th to ascend to Lexington, Kentucky.

It couldn’t get here quick enough, and I was ready to start a new life. But, to be completely transparent, I was exhausted. The emotional and mental anxiety I felt about the whole move took a toll, and I couldn’t wait to get back to Lexington to our final destination of the twin’s granny’s house.

On July 8th, 2005, we said our final “goodbyes” to Patricia and Melanie and boarded our airplane Kentucky bound. I had all my three kids with me, and we were together. As our airplane lifted in the air and the kids got settled for the fight across the country, the weight I had carried my whole life from caretaking for Patricia started to lift off me. The closer we got to Kentucky, the freer I felt and the lighter life became. The burden of Patricia disappeared into nothingness. I had never felt so free in my entire life.

After 31 years on earth, I could finally work on myself, find myself, and be a better version of myself for my kids and future grandkids. But unfortunately, I could never do this with Patricia in my life.

We landed in Lexington, KY, on July 8th, 2005, and we got a ride from the airport to the twin’s granny’s house. We settled in a small bedroom with twin bunk beds and one twin bed. I slept on the floor in the middle of the beds in a small space just for me. We slowly got used to our new surroundings.

I didn’t have a bank account, a car, keys to anything, our own home, or a job. I only had about $300.00 to my name and some food stamps, but we had each other, and my kids had me. Welcome to Kentucky, where new beginnings are born, and a new chapter is about to begin. I had no idea what was in store, but I knew the next 31 years of my life would be better than the first 31 years.

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

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*The views and opinions expressed in this article, memoir, and podcast 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

Chapter 6. Twisted Love – Finding Purpose in The Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 6.

Twisted Love

Trigger Warning // Physical Assault // Violence // Suicide

Now that I was no longer visiting the Rodriguez’s house, I had more free time on my hands most days. At this stage of my life, Patricia was still working the night shift, and when she was home, she slept all day. We rarely saw one another, but when we did, we fought consistently. My feelings of annoyance and unhappiness around her only increased. I was repulsed by her. I continued to ask her when I could find my birth mother, only to get the same response, “We don’t have enough money for an attorney, but when we do, we will try to get the closed records opened.” The less I had to be in Patricia’s presence, the better.

With Patricia working the night shift, I occasionally had friends over to party when she was at work. I would kick everyone out before she was supposed to get off, and sometimes I would leave myself. I was clearly out of control, and at 15 years old, I only had a few things on my mind, finding my birth mother, living up to the expectations of being bad, and partying hard.

I would make copies of Patricia’s car keys, hide them, and when I needed to get somewhere or wanted to joy ride, I would steal her car, sometimes even stealing it from her job in the middle of the night. She would get off work at 7 AM, and her car would be gone from the hospital parking lot. I taught myself how to drive and had endless keys made so I could escape by wheels when I wanted to. I acquired several grand theft auto charges along the way and only added these charges to the wall of shame, adding to the list of reasons for my badness. I definitely won the heathen of the year award every single year.

I was also a liar and a thief, and I didn’t care who I hurt. Did these traits come from my experiences being groomed by the Rodriguez family? Or did they come from the profound reality that my life was built on a bed of lies, normalizing the very concept of lying? Were they rooted in me acting out from separation trauma, compacted by the trauma I witnessed in my adoptive homes? Was I really just an awful and bad person? Could it be a combination of them all? The good adoptee was nowhere in sight; she was dead and gone, never to return.

I was invincible and entirely out of touch with my body, mind, and soul. It’s almost as if I was hollow inside, soulless. Feeling feelings were out of the question. But, on the other hand, I was a runner and always kept it moving. 99.9% of the time, no adult in my life knew where I was or could keep up with me. I wholeheartedly believe that not having a birth story, or roots planted anywhere made me feel like I wasn’t alive, which flipped a switch on the reality that dying was no big deal. It’s impossible to feel alive, when you feel like you were never born.

No birth story can impact adoptees significantly, but the world never listens to us. There were times in my teenage years that I just wanted to die. I wanted someone to kill me, and I would instigate fights in hopes that my heartache and pain would all be gone. Rage continued to build up, and I hated the world and damn near everyone in it.

I remember walking down the street on the S.E. side of town in Cedar Rapids, and at 15 years old, I found the boy’s home, where teenage boys lived who had been removed from their own homes for various reasons. Some broke the law, and some were abandoned by their parents. They would sneak other girls in and out the windows and me occasionally. I always felt connected to them, even if it was just friends. We shared some of the same wounds, specifically the mother wound. It could have been a trauma bond, but we never talked about it. We just knew we were kindred spirits of sorts.

I would also hang out with my friend Shante’, who lived on 5th Avenue on the S.E. Side. She had a fully present and welcoming mom, two sisters, and five brothers who felt like the closest thing to a family I would ever experience. I was drawn to them, especially now I wasn’t going to the Rodriguez home. We could sit on Shante’s front porch and be smack dab in the middle of all drama and the happenings on the S.E. side of Cedar Rapids.

One particular day, I was approached by a girl named Renee, who physically attacked me because she heard Johnson gave me a ride home from the Rodriguez home back when I was being physically attacked. She obviously didn’t understand he helped me and thought it was more. We started fighting, throwing blows tumbling on the ground, and a few minutes into it, she got up and walked away while blood was everywhere.

Where was the blood coming from? I didn’t feel anything, and that’s because she had a razor blade in her hand. She sliced my face, forehead, and my neck. To say blood was gushing everywhere would be an understatement. I didn’t feel anything, but I knew I needed to get to the hospital ASAP. One of the many razor cuts was within a few centimeters from my carotid artery. Shante went with me to the hospital and stayed with me until Patricia arrived. I had over 100 stitches and lacerations everywhere and still have hidden scars to this day. The doctor said I was lucky to be alive.

Unfortunately, the South East side was the wrong side of town, but it was the side of town Metro High School was on, so I would take the city bus, get dropped off, and make an appearance at Metro so I could say I went. Typically, I never stayed for an hour, no one noticed, and I never did a damn bit of work. Instead, I walked through like some celebrity, said “Hi” to my friends, and walked out the back door. After, I would walk the streets until I found someone I knew to hang out with. It didn’t matter what time it was or what day; at 15 years old, I felt like I was born to get the party started.

Soon I would run into a guy named Giovanni Rockwell, aka Big Rocky. Giovanni was just released from Juvenile Jail because he had reached 18 years of age, legally an adult at the time, and he aged out of the system. I had no idea what he did to get locked up in the first place, but I did know we had a spark between us that I had never experienced before. We took a liking to one another and started to spend time together.

After learning more about Big Rocky, I learned his nickname came from his last name, but it was also after the Movie Rocky because, in Cedar Rapids, Big Rocky was well known for never losing a fight. Instead, he was unforgettably known for knocking anyone out who crossed him in any way. No one wanted to be on the wrong side of Big Rocky.

I was young and naïve, and when Big Rocky took an interest in me, I bit on to the attention he gave me, and before long, we were in a relationship. We would meet at his friend’s houses and sneak into our homes, frequent parks, or Lyndale Mall. The more time we spent together, I learned about the jealous streak he had, but at the time, I didn’t recognize it as jealousy. Instead, the 15-year-old me recognized it as LOVE.

The first time Giovonni appeared to be jealous was when we were at the mall, and some other guy looked at me, and Giovanni thought I was looking at him. He insisted we knew each other, and I had no clue who the guy was. It was a random glance because we happened to be in the same place—nothing more, nothing less. He took me outside, pushed me up against a brick wall, pulled my hair, and tried to force me to admit I knew the guy. I promised him I didn’t know him! He let go of my hair and threatened that if I ever looked at another guy again, I was going to get it.

I had no idea what would come of my relationship with Giovanni, but sadly I didn’t need to look at another guy to “get it.” But unfortunately, that was only the beginning of years of emotional, mental, and sexual abuse. Giovanni had anger issues, and I was among the many receivers of his anger and rage. Nevertheless, I was willing to overlook all the usual “red flags” to be loyal to him for loving me.

We spent a lot of time together, and even when we weren’t 21, which was the legal age for drinking alcohol, we could get alcohol and weed, which were always available. So we got tipsy regularly, and the more time I spent in the streets with Giovanni, the more Patricia would stir, wondering where I was. Finally, she couldn’t control me anymore and couldn’t find me even if she tried. I would only go home long enough to shower, change clothes, and leave again.

At times, I had the police or detectives searching for me for fighting or breaking the law, which added a whole new layer to being a runner. I would hide in different friends’ attics and homes until, eventually, the law caught up with me. I woke up in Juvenile Jail more times than I could count, and it never stopped me from being a menace.

Spending so much time with Giovanni, my love and loyalty to him were intense. He was mine, and I was his, and at all costs, we weren’t going to let anyone break us up, but as soon as Patricia caught on that I had a boyfriend, she did everything in her power to try. Her famous words were, “Is he black?” which seemed to be all she cared about. When I expressed that “yes, he’s black,” she would go into the bible saying we aren’t supposed to date outside our race, and if we do, we are going to hell!

This only damaged my inner being more than it was already damaged because now that I knew I was going to hell for dating someone who was a different race than me, my feelings of badness only increased. She made me feel less than, lower than the low. Then, as if my feelings of low self-esteem and self-hate couldn’t get any worse, Patricia repeatedly threw scriptures at me and damned me to hell. I guess I was going to hell then because I wasn’t leaving Giovanni alone for anything.

Sadly, being an adoptee, I have discovered more profound thoughts about this topic. How was I dating someone outside my race when I didn’t even know what my race was? Being adopted, I always had this deep-rooted fear that I would date a biological brother or a cousin, which is something non-adoptees can’t comprehend. This taught me to tap into something that I couldn’t ignore.

I had to mentally look at everyone who looked a little like me as a biological family member because I didn’t know they weren’t! However, to bypass this, I learned that dating someone who looked NOTHING like I did was a safe zone to be in. Dealing with a lifetime beginning with secrecy and lies is much deeper than anyone thinks. It impacts every area of our lives and the choices we make all the way back to the beginning!

The flip side is that Patricia repeatedly pointed the finger at me and told me I was going to hell for dating outside my race, but she forgot she signed on the dotted line that cosigned me, never knowing my ethnicity or race! Talk about a mental mind fuck. It was apparent I was on the opposite side of the tracks from this God character, and no matter what I did, I was not going to be good enough! Ever! This wasn’t the least helpful to me; actually highly damaging. So I might as well pull up my bad bitch shoes even higher, and I decided to wear them proudly and didn’t care who I pissed off or hurt. Sadly, I didn’t even care about myself.

One afternoon in 1989, I decided to go home to take a shower and change clothes. However, Patricia insisted I go to turn myself into Drug and Alcohol Rehab at Mercy Hospital. So, at 15 years old, I went but resisted the entire way. I didn’t need drug or alcohol rehab or help, nor did I want the help, but just like Melanie being removed by the tough love people, now it was my turn. Patricia never once took accountability that her actions could have impacted Melanie and me in a traumatic way, nor did she ever acknowledge her part or the adoption component to my behavior.

I spent 30 days of strict routine by waking up at 5 AM daily, walking across the street to the track at McKinley School to start some laps to get the morning going. Then, for the rest of my time in rehab, I was in a locked facility and couldn’t get out if I wanted to. However, there was a warmness about the structure in rehab. A hot meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, no Patricia or her emotional outbursts, and no Mark to torment me and molest me. I made friends and embraced the 30 days. It was much more peaceful than being around Patricia or her outbursts or being sexually abused by Mark.

Not long after I arrived, I remember them handing me the Alcoholics Anonymous big book, and to get out in 30 days, I had to start reading and applying the 12 Steps to my life. In a nutshell, I had to find God.

“Oh, you mean I had to find the same God who was already sending me to hell for various reasons?” I said to myself. Ah, gotcha. Not one person or trained professional asked about my childhood, adoption, or how it felt to be adopted. No one talked about the childhood trauma of growing up in abusive homes. No one wanted to hear about the childhood sexual abuse I had repressed from Mark. Or the suicide attempts from Patricia. No one asked what it feels like to be lost, searching for clues to your beginnings. No one cared why I used drugs and alcohol; they just wanted me to stop using them, and, like this God character, they shamed me for using them.

The responsibility to “find God” was placed on me, along with forgiving all the people who had hurt me. This told me that my heartache and pain were irrelevant, and it didn’t matter. It told me I didn’t matter. It told me my traumatic experiences weren’t real, and my feelings about being adopted were insignificant.

No options, no choices, Just find God.

My experience with God goes much deeper and more profound than “Just having a bad church experience.” God was responsible for shame, punishment, belittlement, and religious trauma, which began in my childhood before I ever stepped foot inside the doors of a church. And my adoption experience goes much deeper than, “She just had a bad adoption experience.”

Where was God when I was being sexually abused by Mark? Where was God when I was watching Patricia lay in the street to try to kill herself and lock herself in her room trying to kill herself? Where was God when my birth mother decided to hand me over to strangers? Where was God when he knew the agony I felt searching for my birth mother every day of my life? Where was God when I was being physically and sexually abused by Diego and Giovanni?

He must have been sitting back watching the whole thing, which let me know God wasn’t looking out for me, but now I had to put everything I had into him to get out of this shit hole? Fake it till you make it was my new motto, especially if my freedom was involved. Finally, I found God all right, long enough to get out of drug and alcohol rehab to freedom.

I pretended I found God, graduated from the program, was released, and was drinking alcohol and using drugs again within the hour. I reached out to Giovanni, and we got together and made up for lost time from being separated for 30 days. Giovanni showed me love that I didn’t feel anywhere else; sometimes, it was because he showed up consistently. The other part was that he told me he loved me and spent time with me.

When I was growing up, loyalty was everything. I remember thinking, “If my birth mother LOVED ME SO MUCH she handed me to strangers, and leaving was considered LOVE, then Giovanni must love me because he stayed.” This thinking also sparked me to prove my love to him because if love was leaving, I wanted to show Giovanni I loved him by staying.

It didn’t matter how abusive he became; he kept showing up. That was more than I got from my birth mother, who abandoned me and never showed up. Trying to make sense of my biological mother giving me away to strangers because she loved me will forever taint my view of love. This was twisted love at its finest and completely wrecked my ability to view what real true love is. It’s taken a lifetime to unravel the roots of my adoptee experience. Even today, at 47 years old, I’ve accepted love as a topic that isn’t for me.

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

Don’t forget that I’m streaming my articles on several audio platforms for your listening convenience! 👇🏼

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🌎 Google – https://bit.ly/3JP6NY0

🎧 Spotify – https://spoti.fi/3Ny6h35

📦 Amazon – https://amzn.to/3JScoga

☕️– Buy Me A Coffee https://bit.ly/3uBD8eI

*The views and opinions expressed in this article, memoir, and podcast 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

Chapter 1. Sneak Life – Finding Purpose in The Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 1.

Sneak Life By Pamela A. Karanova

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” – Anne Lamott.

I grew up in a small town in Iowa called Cedar Rapids otherwise known as “The City of Five Smells.” Burnt corn, stale, rotten garbage, and overcooked oatmeal are combined to make a nasty stench that covers the city. I will never forget that smell! It’s the home of the largest cereal plants in the world, General Mills and Quaker Oats. Cedar Rapids is also known for being the largest corn producing city in the world. I remember wonderful parks where I spent a lot of my childhood.

In the summer of 1979, on a hot and humid morning, my five-year-old self moped down the creaky wooden stairs somberly to the living room in the big grey house on 13th street. My hair was a sandy blonde, messy from just waking up. It was 7 AM on a Saturday, and everyone was still asleep. It was quite and peaceful for a change.

I always went to bed at night before everyone else and seemed to get sleepy earlier than your average kid. This allowed me to get up earlier most of the time while everyone else was sleeping soundly. This was a magnificent thing because I could watch a few minutes of Saturday morning cartoons, which was rare. If I was lucky, I could also sneak outside for a little bit of freedom.  

The living-room coffee table overflowed with papers, pill containers, magazines, and old and half-filled empty Pepsi cola bottles. Old newspapers, mail, coupons that needed cut, and magazines took up half the couch, and clutter surrounded the area allowing for a tiny sitting space—a full cigarette ashtray sat waiting to be emptied. Boston ferns hung in front of the windows, in desperate need of watering.

I walked into the kitchen to find the usual clutter, dirty dishes piled up and old food, and junk covering the countertops. The garbage was overflowing with a stinky odor filtrating the morning air coming through the windows. Full eight packs of Pepsi bottles lined the baseboard along one wall for my mom’s pleasure. On the other side of the wall sat the empty bottles of Pepsi that I would walk up to the 7-11 gas station to trade with a note from my mom. The gas station would return .10 cents for each empty bottle taken back. The note would say, “Please allow my daughter to trade two eight packs of empty Pepsi bottles for one pack of Marlboro Light 100s. Thank you!”  

I will never forget my five-year-old self walking up 13th street carrying two eight-backs of empty Pepsi bottles. They were heavy, and I was alone, but I was brave and didn’t scare easily. I would stop and take breaks when I needed to. It was about a five-block walk. I would get Patricia her pack of cigarettes with the note and walk back home. We didn’t have enough money for a car, so walking or taking the city bus was a regular event. 

To enjoy the rare luxury of watching Saturday morning cartoons, I managed to jump up on the counter to grab a bowl to enjoy some cereal before everyone else woke up. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the good kind with sugar; it was plain cheerios or wheat crisps. But, of course, I had no problems finding the sugar and pouring as much as I wanted into the bowl. 

The big grey house was where some of my first childhood memories were. I lived here with my mom, Patricia, and my sister, Melanie, until approximately 9. Both Patricia and Melanie were night owls, and I was the opposite. I was known as the sleepy head of the family and didn’t appreciate late nights and sleeping half the day away. It was a regular occurrence that dinner not be served until 9 or 10 PM if it was served at all. I got sleepy most of the time and wandered off to bed without eating dinner because it never seemed to be ready at the usual dinner time. It wasn’t odd to me because it was all I knew. This was just the way it was. 

I don’t have any memories of my parents being together, but I believe that’s because they divorced when I was one year old. My sister, Melanie, was 11 months older than me, so we were almost like having twins. I do have one photo of my parents being together before the divorce. When I look at the photo, it’s hard for me to believe that they would divorce less than a year after the photo was taken, and that was the end of their marriage. Why would a marriage only last a year or two?

After the divorce, my dad, Thomas, moved over an hour away to Dunkerton, Iowa. He remarried my stepmom, Laura. Laura had three sons of her own, named Mark, Max, and Mike. We saw them every other weekend, on some holidays, and for a summer vacation. My sister, Melanie, and I stayed with Patricia full time between the visits with our dad. 

Patricia was 33 years old, and she had brown hair and she stood about 5’1 tall. She was going to school to be a Registered Nurse and this was a lifelong dream of hers. She loved soap operas, watching figure skating, and lavender smells, and her favorite color was blue. She enjoyed baking holiday treats and having her family over for festivities. She also loved plants and flowers. She was single as long as I knew her. She would read us bible devotionals and take us to church on occasion. Patricia wanted to be the center of everything, and in all conversations she had with people, she was the dominator so she could be the center of attention. 

She didn’t work the earlier part of my life, but instead, we received public assistance, food stamps, welfare, and child support from my dad to make it by. Things were always tight, and we never had extra money for anything other than the basic needs. 

The house on 13th street was rented to us with Title-19, a program for families to receive assistance with their rent. I’m confident that’s the only way we could afford to live at this house because it was gigantic and it had to be expensive, especially for someone not working. However, even as big as the house was, it only had two bedrooms, so Melanie and I shared a room. 

The Big Grey House on 13th Street, The Porch Roof I Jumped Off Of at 5 years old.

Polk Elementary School was two blocks away. So if we came out of or front or side door and turned left, we walked straight down the alley two blocks and ran into the school playground. I was not too fond of school, and I never did well in it.   

If we came out of our front door and turned right, made another right at the stop sign, and walked about five blocks down, we ran into Helen and Leo’s house. Helen was an 81-year-old lady who used to babysit us while Patricia was in school to get her nursing degree. Leo was 92, and he was Helen’s husband. So we spent a lot of time at Helen and Leo’s. 

Their house was old, musty, and dark. However, the backyard did have a swing set, and we were on it as much as possible. The basement was better known as the “Dog house!” and we spent much time there. What would get us thrown in the dog house? Being rowdy, rambunctious, not listening, or misbehaving in some way. And sometimes, nothing would get us sent to the dog house; we were just ordered to go! 

The doghouse was filled with old books, unfinished rooms, and an old school laundry room, and it felt like doom. The floor was concrete and cold. Leo made a habit of seeing me and kicking me in my ass and shouting, “little bastard!” This was followed by a mumble of “get out of my way!” It was no secret that Leo was grumpy, and we needed to stay out of his way. He would send me straight to the dog house if I didn’t move quick enough or if I crossed his path. Thankfully he was just a mean old man and not a dirty, mean old man. 

Helen was about her business. She wasn’t warm or grandma-like, as you would think. Sometimes she would forget we were down in the dog house, so we would stay for a long time. We better not come out of the dog house without being excused first. And sometimes, Patricia would leave us at Leo and Helen’s overnight or for several days at a time. So Helen would put blankets on the living room floor, where we would sleep until Patricia eventually made the call for Helen to send us to walk home. Patricia was supposed to pay Helen for babysitting us, but she rarely gave her the money she was owed, and she still kept sending us anyway. 

We passed several houses with Dobermann Pinschers chained to the front porch as we walked back and forth. That was the primary way to secure your home and belongings when I was coming up. I will never forget walking the five blocks back home from Helen’s, and one particular day a man called us to his car window. We walked over, and he was sitting naked, masturbating himself. I was with a cousin at the time, and we both screamed and took off running all the way home to the big grey house on 13th street. We told Patricia and the cops were called to the car where the gross man was.

Patricia slept a lot, and she was always taking naps. I didn’t know what depression or mental illness was as a child, but I do now. She was severely depressed due to the divorce, and she felt like a failure as a parent. She would sleep late in the day most days because she stayed up late at night. During school days, I remember waking myself up and getting myself ready for school most days while she slept half of the day away. Anytime she took naps in the day or evening, it was a perfect opportunity for me to sneak off and run wild; it was my way of life!

My Saturday morning cereal and cartoons were an unusual treat in the big grey house. Sometimes I would put clothes on and sneak outside to play until I heard the dreaded yell. Being outside was a great escape for me, and I would try to sneak out as much as possible. I would do wild and crazy things because I was a daredevil. I would climb trees to the top and climb on the rooftops to hang out. I was a tomboy and grew up feeling invincible. 

I have memories of all the neighborhood kids daring me to jump off the roof of the big porch of the grey house and jump down to the ground when Patricia was gone one day. But, of course, I wasn’t scared, and I did it with great pride. I almost felt like I should have won an award for being so brave, but several claps followed by hemming and hawing from all my friends would do. 

Of course, I was not supposed to be outside when Patricia was gone; however, sneaking outside was a full-time job for me from a very early age. I was the queen of sneak. But it was all over as soon as she came back home, and I would hear her shout out the front door, “Pammy, get back in this house!” I knew I would get in trouble, but I didn’t care, so I pretended I didn’t hear her. I continued to sneak anyway, proudly. 

I would hear her yell again a short time later, but I would ride every second of freedom out to the fullest. I didn’t want to go back inside because I knew I would never be allowed to come back outside again. Sneaking was the only option for me. Finally, after hearing Patricia yell for me a second and sometimes a third time, I would mope back inside with a sorrowful aura about myself. The escape to freedom was over. But make no mistakes, I was already planning my next escape adventure!

But for now, onto the constant and never-ending task of catering to and caring for Patricia. “You know better than to go outside without permission!” yelled Patricia. The reality was that I could never go outside, even with permission. This is why I made a run for it any chance I could! Getting in trouble was worth it to get out of the house for a short time. 

I remember walking up to First Avenue to fetch Patricia’s medications from the pharmacy many times as a little girl. As young as six years old, I would cross the busiest street in the city. I guess Patricia’s medications were that important, and it was my job to make sure she didn’t run out of them. One particular day, I was walking home, and my classmate Manuel Gonzales came up to me and asked me what I was doing. I explained that I walked to the pharmacy to pick up my mom’s medication. He asked me to give him one of the pills, and I did. 

He wandered off, and I was stopped by a police car within a few minutes. The officer got out and asked me my name and where I lived. I told him my name was Pamela, and I pointed down the street, and he proceeded to ask me to get in his car so he could take me home. I didn’t understand why; however, Manual ran straight over to the fire department a block down the road and let them know I had given him a pill and that I was walking home with them now. 

We pulled up at the big grey house, and I knew I would get into trouble giving Manual one of Patricia’s pills. The police officer called Patricia to the door and handed her the medication bag. He scolded her for allowing me to cross the busiest street in the city at my age, and he strongly disagreed with her having me pick up her medications at that age. He also said I was carrying the narcotic diazepam, otherwise known as Valiums. The cops gave her a warning, and my ass was grass once they left. That was the last time I ever walked to pick up Patricia’s medications. 

When I didn’t have school, as soon as Patricia was awake for the day, it was time for me to get busy. She created a chore chart the size of a 22×28-inch poster board. Each entry of a chore was a 1/4 of an inch, and the poster board was full of chores. From top to bottom! A few of the tasks were everyday chores most kids can relate to doing, like taking the trash out and making your bed up. Others were strange things like rubbing and massaging Patricia’s back, feet, and legs using lotion, running her bathwater, brushing her hair, and making her bed up. She made me give her enemas while she lay on the bathroom floor, and she would also make me pop all her pimples. Talk about disgusting. Were other kids doing this, I wondered?

In addition, she wanted us to cut coupons for days, file papers in her filing cabinet, and handle other miscellaneous tasks most kids don’t do. We were always in charge of helping her clean piles of clothes and trash off her bedroom floor, changing her bedding, and dusting her bedroom and the whole house. Cleaning and caretaking were embedded in me from a very young age.

The reward was the star sticker system. Each chore was a one-star sticker, and if we got 25 stars, we got a popsicle or a nickel or a dime. The chores were never done, and as soon as we thought we would be close to getting them done, it was a new week and time to start them all over again. Once it was time to give us the little bit of change that was owed to us, we never had the money and bills being due was the reason.

Patricia was a professional at getting people to feel sorry for her, especially churches. As far back as I could remember, we had churches helping us pay our bills and donating us food when we had little to eat. She knew how to turn on the tears at a second’s notice and did a great job telling the story of her husband leaving her for another woman, and she’s a single mother raising two kids with no help or assistance.

The basement was problematic; it was continuously flooded with water, and water bugs were everywhere. We cleaned up all the rotten wood from a failed attempt to create a floor. The wooden floor was created so we could put our toys on it to stay safe from the water, but the water rotted the wood in no time. Our toys were mixed with the mess, so we bagged most of it, hauling them off to the trash. 

If I ever thought my chores were almost done so I could go outside and play, Patricia would insist I entertain her wants and needs. “Pammy, go get me a Pepsi,” and “Pammy, go run my bathwater.” “Pammy, come watch figure skating with me, and you can work on your workbook.” It was never-ending all about her. If getting paid to fetch her Pepsis and massaging her body was a job, I would be a millionaire. 

Spending time with her wasn’t my kind of fun if I had any “fun.” It was her kind of fun. We would watch Lawrence Welk, old-timer television shows, and play Kings Corners. I would help her get her flower beds ready and pull weeds out. She would talk non-stop sharing stories about her life, her family and her childhood. She also spent a lot of time bashing my dad, Thomas and his new wife, Laura. It was clear she held a lot of resentment about the divorce and him and Laura.

I longed to be a regular child who could go outside and play with friends without sneaking and getting in trouble. I would have given anything to be able to have friends over to stay all night, but that was always out of the question. I don’t think I ever had one friend stay all night in all my life, and I can count on one hand the times I stayed at a friend’s house all night. 

One evening when I was five years old, I watched television with Patricia, and we saw a woman giving birth to a baby. “Did I come out of your tummy like that, Mommy?” Her answer would forever change the trajectory of my life. 

She said, “No, honey. You were adopted. That means you came out of another woman’s tummy. She loved you so much, but she couldn’t care for you. She made my dreams come true to be a parent. I will always love her because of her selfless decision.” 

I remember the feelings of total confusion that came over my life. I said, “Who is she, and where is she?” Patricia said, “I don’t know who she is or where she is. The adoption was closed, so all of that information was kept private. I know your birth mother loved you so much, and she wanted you to have a better life.”

After this, I didn’t ask any more questions, but my brain would not stop thinking about my “birth mother.” My thoughts were, “So you mean you aren’t my real parents and my real siblings?” I was blown away at the news of being adopted. I stuffed my feelings out of respect for Patricia’s dreams coming true, but my life would never be the same.

I wish I could share that Melanie and I had a close relationship growing up, but we didn’t. It seemed like Patricia and Melanie were constantly fighting, and with no choice of my own, I was stuck in the middle, left to be the comforter to Patricia. She had constant outbursts that created a living hell in the big grey house. This created an automatic wedge between Melanie and me for as long as I can remember. Things were manageable during the peaceful times in the big grey house, but when all hell broke loose, all hell broke loose. 

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

Don’t forget that I’m streaming my articles on several audio platforms for your listening convenience! 👇🏼

📱 iTunes – https://apple.co/3tKzT5f

🌎 Google – https://bit.ly/3JP6NY0

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*The views and opinions expressed in this article, memoir, and podcast 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

Introduction – Finding Purpose In The Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Introduction By Pamela A. Karanova

“We have to walk through all the adoptee layers, to make it to the light, but it won’t come overnight or without a lifelong fight!” – Finding Purpose in the Pain – One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

This is the story of my beginnings of how I was born and grew up, discovered I was adopted, and went on to find my biological family going against the grain of the closed adoption system. This is a story of searching and finding in a time when there was no internet, cell phones, or adoptee-centric connect groups. It’s a story of acceptance, acknowledgment, processing grief, loss, abandonment, rejection, and ultimately healing. It’s a story of never giving up hope that I would find my people and essentially my truth one day.

It’s taken me close to 48 years to finally come to a place where I am ready to share my story via an audible memoir. I have been writing for over a decade on my website, and I have attempted to write my story off and on over the last ten years, but one thing was sure. It wasn’t time yet. Timing is everything.

While most non-adopted people likely can’t relate, the adoptee experience isn’t your typical life experience. While other people were the ones who made this decision for my life, I have been the one to unravel all of the truths and tales to get to the bottom of why I am here and who I am. Like most adoptees, my story is complex, trauma-filled, messy, and ugly at times. But, it’s also an equal combination of triumph, healing, surviving, and overcoming the odds. I’m excited to share my story with you.

It’s only been the last 4 to 5 years that I have arrived at the space of healing where I feel confident in sharing pieces of my story that I have always left in the dark. While I have demanded the universe tell me my truth, I have had to kick, scream, and fight every step of the way to get it. As a result, I have made some mistakes and pissed many people off, and I am confident this audible memoir will piss more people off.

While most stories might start with the typical “beginning of life” theme, that place for me was null and void because it was kept a secret from me due to being adopted in a closed adoption in 1974. The beginning of my life was the state of Iowa’s best-kept secret.

One of the biggest struggles in getting my story out is that I never knew where to start with my life beginning non-traditionally. I thank the unnatural act of adoption for that. Thinking about my life and its complexities, my thoughts would overwhelm me when I started to write my story, and I would shut down in frustration. I would start a chapter and then stop, start another chapter and then stop again.

It’s no secret when someone is adopted; their beginnings aren’t usually a cute story, even when the world tries to cover it up and celebrate adoption in all God’s glory. The truth is, I didn’t know my beginnings, and if I let the world have its way, I would never know who I was or where I came from.

We all have a beginning, but adoptees often don’t know their beginning until the middle of their lives and sometimes the end. Sometimes they don’t know their truth at all. Not that they didn’t want to know it, but there are a million roadblocks that stand in the way. I plan to share some with you as I share my story.

While I share my story with you, I need to share that some names, locations, and minor details have been fictionalized to protect the people’s privacy discussed in this audible memoir. Otherwise, this memoir is true based on experiences that I remember with a few specific areas where I fill in the gaps with creative nonfiction. Some of the things I share are stories and facts that I have heard from other people who were close to my adoptive families and birth families.

This audible memoir should be considered a trigger warning to all who read and listen to it. I discuss suicide, religious trauma, spiritual bypassing, deconstructing from religion, drug and alcohol abuse, recovery, failed therapy attempts, emotional, mental, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. I will share my chapters by uploading them to my platforms one by one and writing them one by one because I find this a more manageable and less stressful load due to having a full-time career and Adoptees Connect, Inc. to manage. Beware, I use curse words to express my feelings, and I consider this an essential part of my healing and recovery process. If you have sensitive ears, do not proceed.

I will also consider the nature of the content I will share as sensitive, and practicing self-care between the chapters will be essential to share my story. Sharing my story is a tremendous labor of love and one that I have to go back in time to revisit. I will be reliving traumatic events from the past and revisiting experiences that scare me slightly. Chapter by chapter, discovering clue by clue, I invite you to join me as I release one chapter at a time and take breaks in between to pause to reflect on all my life has been.

This is a story about breaking out of the boxes that society has built around me and discovering who I am and who I’m not, regardless of my adoption status. It’s a story of constantly evolving to grow, heal and overcome the obstacles I had no choice over that many adoptees face.

Thank you for being on this journey with me, being patient with me, and understanding that I am sure I will make mistakes along the way. This will not be your traditional memoir because I am telling my story in the way that works the best for me. I will do the best I can to articulate events of my life to the best of my abilities. My entire life, I would look in the mirror and ask myself, who am I, and where did I come from? Who’s fingers and toes do I have? Why am I so tall?

Finally, after 48 years, I can be true to myself and share with you what it costs me to discover my truth.

Meet Little Pammy.

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

Don’t forget that I’m streaming my articles on several audio platforms for your listening convenience! 👇🏼

📱 iTunes – https://apple.co/3tKzT5f

🌎 Google – https://bit.ly/3JP6NY0

🎧 Spotify – https://spoti.fi/3Ny6h35

📦 Amazon – https://amzn.to/3JScoga

☕️– Buy Me A Coffee https://bit.ly/3uBD8eI

*The views and opinions expressed in this article, memoir and podcast 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

Being Rejected Before Being Born – An Adoptee’s Perspective

It’s no secret that adoption impacts every adopted person differently. When sharing my story, I describe my separation trauma and relinquishment experience before I was adopted as three separate layers of the primal wound and mother wound:

  1. The rejection from my birth mother before I was born.
  2. The abandonment and rejection I received from her at birth.
  3. The rejection and abandonment I experienced from her after I searched and found her. 

They all come with their own set of layered pain, and they all have impacted me immensely in every area of my life. We must distinguish the difference in all three, as they are different dynamics to the lived adoptee experience. 

I am so thankful I have arrived at a place of healing, and I have learned so many lifelong lessons along the way. While I believe all the articles I have written over the last decade are beneficial in many ways, it’s not until the last year that I feel my articles come from a more well-rounded space. My anger and rage have subsided. While I still feel those feelings and consider them natural feelings to the lifelong adoptee experience, my messages are better received and come across as more informative.

I’m not sure how much research you have done on the prenatal bonding experience that a mother and child experience before their baby is born? That was one of the many areas I wanted to dive into because I know this time in my pre-verbal and prenatal life didn’t go as planned. 

What do I mean? 

I was conceived out of an affair with a married man, and he was a close friend of the family, at least ten years older than my biological mother. Unfortunately, my biological mother chose to give me up for adoption. After spending a lifetime searching for clues to my story, I genuinely believe that she rejected the pregnancy, including me, before I ever entered the world. 

This is entirely different from being rejected and abandoned after entering the world. But, at the same time, they are all very significant dynamics to the adoptee experience. 

I wrote an article titled “My Birth Mother’s Shoes,” and in this article, I had to dissect my birth mother’s life and get to the bottom of her story. Why? Because I wanted to take my anger, rage, and pain and bring some understanding and compassion into the picture. This is one of the most powerful steps to healing for adoptees. 

I wrote:

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

One of the worst parts for an adopted individual is that we’re dealing with roadblocks to receiving our truth every step of the way. Some of us never find it at all, and others gather fragments of clues over a 40-50-60 year span, and we barely arrive at a place of understanding after our life is well over half over. (if we’re lucky) Some of us have spent every bit of our lives feeling incomplete, lost, and filled with mental torment because living in the unknown is a tremendous burden.  

What does this have to do with being rejected before being born?

Once we can assess the truth of our stories BEFORE THE GRAND ENTRANCE into the world, it helps us form conclusions on why things are the way they are and why our biological mothers chose to give us up for adoption. It gives a glimpse of her era and how things were in her life.

This information is critical to the healing of the adoptee experience. 

Every tiny clue matters!

Once I knew that my biological mother drank alcohol the entire pregnancy with me, it was like the lights flipped on. I knew at that moment that she couldn’t possibly bond with the baby in her belly for nine months. So she actually likely and purposely emotionally and mentally blocked any bonding out, and alcohol was the primary way she was able to do this. 

She was a sick woman long before I ever came into the world or was conceived. I had empathy and compassion for her and learned that her biggest problem was her alcohol use which ultimately killed her in her 60s. 

While I have been able to acknowledge and accept that she didn’t bond with me in utero but likely discouraged such bonding before I was born, I can’t deny this hasn’t had a lifelong impact on my life. Did I bond with her even when she couldn’t bond with me? Perhaps, I would like to think so, but that doesn’t change the dynamic of me feeling, knowing, and instinctively realizing that she didn’t bond with me. It takes two to bond, so I can safely say I believe I just answered my question. 

 Many people aren’t aware that this is even a thing, but I tell you, it is. While trying to piece my journey together to assess this dynamic, I have purposely researched how vital prenatal bonding is with our biological mothers and the post-natal bonding experience. I wanted to dive into this so I could understand myself better. For my fellow adoptees reading, I encourage you to do the same. 

While we already know the bond that was broken when I was born and separated from my birth mother and how it impacts every area of the adoptee’s life. This is the same for anyone separated from their biological mothers because this is a traumatic experience for all. Therefore, I encourage you to research Attachment Theory and learn about the implications of being separated from your biological mothers at the beginning of life.

Bowlby’s Attachment Theory suggests: 

“Bowlby’s maternal deprivation hypothesis suggests that continual disruption of the attachment between infant and primary caregiver (i.e., mother) could result in long-term cognitive, social, and emotional difficulties for that infant. Bowlby originally believed the effects to be permanent and irreversible.”

What’s also shared: 

“John Bowlby, working alongside James Robertson (1952), observed that children experienced intense distress when separated from their mothers. Even when such children were fed by other caregivers, this did not diminish the child’s anxiety.”

They found three progressive stages of distress:

  • Protest: The child cries, screams and protests angrily when the parent leaves. They will try to cling on to the parent to stop them leaving.
  • Despair: The child’s protesting begins to stop, and they appear to be calmer although still upset. The child refuses others’ attempts for comfort and often seems withdrawn and uninterested in anything.
  • Detachment: If separation continues, the child will start to engage with other people again. They will reject the caregiver on their return and show strong signs of anger.

I believe in the reality that mothers aren’t interchangeable. I do believe, at times, a substitute mother can come into play, as in our adoptive mothers; however, the bond is nothing like that of the bond we are supposed to have with our biological mothers. I feel once the damage is done with the broken bond, nothing can repair it, and it can and does impact every area of our lives. 

Research foster youth, foster adults, and adopted youth and adopted adults and see how the prison system, jails, treatment, and mental health facilities are over-populated with these individuals. Unfortunately, this is the reality of the aftermath of the primal wound and separation trauma. I could do the research for you, but I already have, and I encourage you to do the same. 

But what happens when we are rejected before we are even born? 

The Evolution of a Theory of Prenatal Attachment: 

Rubin, a nurse specializing in maternity care doing doctoral work at the University of Chicago, perhaps laid the foundation for a theoretical construct of attachment that begins before birth states:

“She identified four specific tasks the women she observed navigated before childbirth: (1) Seeking safe passage for self and baby, (2) ensuring that the baby is accepted by significant others, (c) “binding-in” 3, and (4) giving of herself. These tasks formed a framework for her conceptualization of the psychological experience of pregnancy and, although she did not use the term “attachment,” Ruben states: “By the end of the second trimester, the pregnant woman becomes so aware of the child within her and attaches so much value to him that she possesses something very dear, very important to her, something that gives her considerable pleasure and pride.” 

We can all acknowledge that this process of prenatal bonding can likely be interrupted when it comes to the feelings our biological mothers have about us when they are pregnant due to the very nature of the pregnancy outcome, I think this is noteworthy to investigate each adoptee’s experience. 

I know that this dynamic in my journey has helped me understand myself. Yes, it was a hard pill to swallow that I believe my birth mother rejected the pregnancy and, in return, rejected me for the nine months she carried me. However, acknowledging this and accepting it as part of my story has brought me great healing and understanding of why I am the way I am. 

If I’m candid and transparent, I feel broken because of this severed bond. Not only did my birth mother reject the pregnancy, but she abandoned me and rejected me after she gave birth. So while they are two separate things, I have often tried to take myself back to the days when I was in the womb and to try to process the feelings of my preborn self, to get to the bottom of what I might be feeling; at that time? Any chance of repair with her was shattered, because once I found her she rejected a relationship with me. Unfortunately, in my case this only added insult to injury setting me up for the biggest disappointment of my life.

In utero, I could likely feel the warmth of her body, but her coldness towards me was also felt. I could feel her desire to “get it over with” regarding the delivery and pregnancy altogether. I could feel her disdain and shame for conceiving a baby out of wedlock in 1974 and becoming pregnant by a friend of the family who was older than her and was married at the time. 

I could taste the alcohol she drank daily as any attempt to dull the pain. What did that alcohol do to me every day of my life for the nine months she carried me? One can only speculate. She never sang to me; she never embraced my touch or the growth of her growing belly. Instead, her feelings of badness transferred into my tiny body, and I was born with the feelings of being bad that stayed with me most of my life. 

While this all seems like a lot for an adoptee to navigate, walk through, and process, I can share that even when learning these things has been excruciatingly painful, it’s helped me heal. 

I want to emphasize that it is critically important for every adopted person to know the whole truth about their beginnings and the story of conception. We need to know it, we deserve to know it, and it is life or death for us. Can you imagine not knowing who brought you into the world and not knowing your conception and birth stories? 

I know you can’t because it’s unimaginable. But, it’s also inhumane to expect any human being to live through this painful and traumatic experience rooted in shame, secrecy, and lies. So, why are adopted adults still paying the price for others’ decisions and outdated laws from the baby scoop era? 

While I hope this article sheds some light on the different layers of the adoptee experience regarding separation trauma and prenatal bonding, I encourage you to do your research and dig as deep as possible to uncover your truth. The truth holds the keys to acceptance and, ultimately, healing. 

Let me also share that no one handed me this information. Therefore, it was up to me to fight the closed adoption laws and raise hell until I got my truth! Even when I was lied to my whole life, and I had people deliberately throw shade to discourage me from ever learning my truth, I kept pushing anyway. This is what I call THE FIGHT OF MY LIFE which is an article I wrote to describe what this struggle has been like. 

For my fellow adoptees, have you been able to learn the truth of your conception? Do you feel like you bonded with your birth mother before you were born, and do you think she rejected the pregnancy? How do you think this impacted you?

Have you ever processed through this layer of the adoptee experience? If so, what did you uncover? If you haven’t, is it by choice, or are you lacking the information needed? 

Thank you for reading and listening! 

Love, Love, 

Pamela A. Karanova 

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

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*The views and opinions expressed in this article and podcast 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

She Just Had a Bad Adoption Experience

Wow, at how many times I’ve heard people whispering these sentiments as I walk on by with a giant-sized adoptee chip on my shoulder. I couldn’t even begin to count, but it’s a lot. Even when they don’t say it directly to me, I feel it.

But the truth of the matter is that if we’re being honest and transparent, a trauma occurs before every adoption occurs when we experience the separation from our biological mothers. Even when adoptees are removed from dire situations and taken into foster care to more safe environments, the trauma of separation is still present. Because of this trauma, every adoptee can equate separating from our biological mothers as a bad adoption experience.

Some of us have awful experiences after we are adopted, and some have wonderful ones. But, of course, no two adoption stories are alike. Still, one thing for certain is that before every adoption occurs, the trauma of separation from our biological mothers occurs first.

The world pretends that separation trauma doesn’t exist in adoption. They gloss over it and even celebrate it. But then, they sweep it under the rug, ignore it and act like it doesn’t exist. Yet, the separation trauma is genuine and the root of every adoptee’s experience.

Some adopted people don’t even understand or realize that this trauma can impact every area of their lives. Unfortunately, most of the world doesn’t acknowledge it or recognize it either. If they truly knew, would they still celebrate every adopted person’s trauma, not leaving room for the realities of the heartache every adoptee experiences before they are ever adopted?

When we know better, we do better. At least we hope that is the plan.

My reason for sharing this article is to highlight that we must acknowledge and recognize as a society that separation trauma is a real thing, and it hurts. Separation trauma always happens before the adoption takes place. When I write, I try to distinguish that the SEPARATION is TRAUMA. And while we can speak about adoption being trauma, for some of us, it can be. But separation trauma is a separate thing. It’s essential to identify them as separate events in our lives.

 No matter who my biological mother was, how she was, or what she wasn’t, she was my biological mother. And no matter what the reasons were for our separation, it caused me a lot of heartache to lose her. But unfortunately, the world and my adoptive parents swept it under the rug because that is what everyone is told to do. We’re blank slates. But let me share a part of how the separation trauma showed up in my life.

At 12, I started drinking alcohol, and I started to run away. I started breaking the law, and I was in and out of group homes, juvenile detention, and drug and alcohol treatment. I was in an abusive relationship and pregnant at 15. This was only the beginning of what the world can consider “acting out” as a teenager. Unfortunately, this was only the beginning of a lifetime of troubles. I drank alcohol for 27 years to cope with the pain.  

But it was much more than that. I knew I was adopted, and to the very core of my being, I just wanted and needed to find my biological mother. But no one knew the internal agony I was going through. I didn’t even understand it. Read over some of my articles, specifically “She’s Bad,” and you can gain a glimpse of the feelings I have carried.

For those who want to apply the label to my life, “She just had a bad adoption experience,” let me share some advice with you. Instead of applying this label to me, my life, and my fellow adoptees, why not open your heart up to the possibility that there is much more to adoption than what you always knew?

You can continue to label me as the lady that just had a bad adoption experience, but I ask you to reconsider your thoughts. Maybe I share my pain because it brings healing to my life. Maybe I share it with my fellow adoptees to know they aren’t alone. Maybe writing is healing to me. Maybe it’s one of the only places I can share my feelings about being adopted, and non-adoptees can’t silence me, shut me down, and tell me how to feel? Maybe writing my thoughts about adoption-related topics has helped me more than the 100 therapists I have seen in my life? Maybe it’s a safe place for me, and the world is not when it comes to sharing adoptee thoughts and feelings?

Also, please understand that the sentiments of “she just had a bad adoption experience” come off as gaslighting and invalidating my trauma and pain resulting from separation trauma and my adoption experience. Please stop.

If you have made it this far, thank you for reading. Hopefully, this article helps non-adoptees understand that every adoption is rooted in separation trauma first. It’s so much deeper than me just having a bad adoption experience!

How many of my fellow adoptees have heard this at some point in your journey? How has it made you feel?

Thank you for reading,

Love,

Pamela A. Karanova  

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

Don’t forget that I’m streaming my articles on several audio platforms for your convenience! 👇🏼

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*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, You Are Not Your Abandonment and Rejection

I know the title of this article is so much easier said than felt, but man, I have to share a few things about the experiences and wounds that many of us carry that I describe as very deep-rooted abandonment & rejection wounds. When we think of these wounds, we tend to believe that they began after we were born, but I suggest they could have started before birth due to the research I have done over the last 10 years. Just what we need, more cards stacked up against us. But knowledge is power, and it also promotes healing. 

I have lived with this wound for 47 years in addition to my time in utero, so I understand how it can manifest in an adoptee’s life and how we can try to hide it and cover it up or act like it doesn’t exist. Sometimes many of us don’t understand this is even a thing. But no matter what we do, abandonment and rejection issues always seem to circle back around and rear their ugly heads. 

I am not sure if you have thought about this or not, but many of us experienced our very first feelings of rejection while we were still in the womb of our birth mothers. I share this because I have researched prenatal bonding and prenatal psychology to try to understand my wound better.  

We are all supposed to grow a strong bond with our biological mothers while still in the womb; however, that bond doesn’t always happen for adoptees. Research shows that biological mothers can and do bond with their babies while in utero, so it’s only safe to say that they can also disconnect and not connect with the baby during pregnancy. I learned we all have a critical process of development before birth, and it’s possible to be born with psychological issues due to a lack of bonding and connection with our biological mothers. This would only add to separation trauma, compacted by adoption trauma. 

To help me understand the bond I should have had with my birth mother during conception,  I read many books and articles that helped me understand how important this bond was because then I understood what I was missing if I didn’t have this bond with my biological mother. I also learned how this had impacted me throughout my life into adulthood. 

A few of the books I read are, Babies Remember Birth, The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, Pre-Parenting – Nurturing Your Child From Conception, and Windows to the Womb – Revealing the Conscious Baby from Conception to Birth

However, many times when an adoptee is going to be relinquished for adoption, our biological mothers purposely try not to bond with the baby growing inside their bellies for nine months. Why? Without a strong mother bond to us, it’s said to be easier to relinquish when the time comes. With this, sometimes, our biological mothers can purposefully try to block any emotions or feelings that come with bonding to the baby they are carrying for nine months. As a result, we feel this rejection back to the beginning for many of us before we were ever born. Sometimes it takes us a lifetime to connect the dots and make sense of it all. And sometimes adoptees go to their grave, never really understanding that the abandonment and rejection we feel aren’t who we are; it’s something that happened to us. It’s sometimes next to impossible to weigh these dynamics out, let alone heal from them. 

It’s impossible to heal a wound by denying it’s there, so I wanted to write about this wound many of us carry that is no fault of our own. While researching conception and how babies can and do tune into their mother’s emotions during these nine months, even if our biological mothers aren’t purposely trying to not bond with us, their feelings of us are felt by us and can be carried in our subconscious memories. It’s no wonder many of us don’t understand the complexities of this wound because no one is teaching us or telling us that it exists. 

Once we know more, we can heal more. 

For me, my desire to HEAL was SO GREAT. I wanted to research the entire scope of pregnancy and pre-birth for myself, so I could try to get a better idea of my beginnings and how it all went down with my birth mother. Some of these discoveries I have learned were hard to grasp, but they have helped me understand from a more profound level, which helps me understand myself better. In return, I am learning to have empathy and compassion for myself and my birth mother. Every little clue to my beginnings has helped me heal, and I hope my fellow adoptees explore this dynamic so they can try to understand themselves better. 

While reading an article on the Integrative Psychiatry Institute website that is called “How Prenatal and Birth Imprints Set the Stage for Adult Behaviors HPP15,” I learned: 

“From a prenatal psychology perspective, the development in the womb and the birth process can have a huge impact on who we are as adults and the behaviors that we default to.” 

This alone inspires me to learn as much as possible about my prenatal life and to learn all the information that I can about my birth story. As adoptees, we’re usually always considered blank slates; when we enter into the contractual agreement, we don’t sigh; we call this adoption. 

While society and our adoptive parents at large spark our stories beginning with our adoptive parents, the adoptee community is circling around to let the world know that our stories didn’t start at adoption. They started long before then, and our stories before adoption matter, and they are essential to each of us. 

While I began to fight the world for my truth, I learned many things about my biological mother that helped me understand her decision to relinquish me for adoption. So I wanted to step into her shoes to learn more about her life as a child, her life growing up and her life when she conceived me, the days up to my delivery, and her life after. I wrote about this before in an article titled “My Birth Mother’s Shoes.” In understanding her journey better, I understood my life better. 

I learned I was conceived out of a one-night stand with a married man. He was a close friend of the family, ten years older than my biological mother. The pregnancy with me was hidden from him and everyone around. It was a secret, and no one was supposed to know at all costs. I can only imagine how my birth mother felt during that time. Maybe she didn’t feel at all because I learned she drank every day through the entire pregnancy with me. I genuinely believe she rejected the pregnancy while she was pregnant with me, and even when I could have bonded with her because I was connected to her, she was not bonded with me and even likely fought this connection off. By learning about her alcohol abuse, I am left to speculate. I learned she worked up until the day she had me and went back to work the very next day. She checked into the hospital under an alias.

 I think she felt “bad” for being pregnant by a married man, and one of the feelings I have carried my whole life is the feeling of being BAD. Read, “She’s Bad.” The feelings of secrecy and shame likely consumed her, which makes it no secret I have had to work hard to remove the way she felt from my life because it has always felt like I was born with that shame, secrecy, and badness. I have felt sad and lonely for most of my life, and I believe this was also the feelings my birth mother felt during her pregnancy and the days leading up to my birth. In many ways, for many years, it defined who I am because that is all I have known. However, I am not those things, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t felt like them for most of my life. Learning to separate them has helped me tremendously.  

David Chamberlain, Ph.D. states in his book, Babies Remember Birth: 

“A bad birth can be like a thorn in the flesh, which keeps getting inflamed.” 

We can all guarantee that any child relinquished for adoption can be equated with an inhumane and bad birth/experience. It’s one of the most significant traumas we will ever experience, yet society continues to turn a blind eye and act as if it doesn’t exist. 

In Babies Remember Birth, if you skip to page 134, you will find chapter 10, titled PITFALLS. If you decide to read on, you will learn of many individuals who experienced separation trauma and what that felt like as they participated in hypnosis in therapy and tap into their preverbal consciousness. 

One person even said, “It was like a funeral at birth.” 

David Chamberlain, Ph.D. also states in his book, Babies Remember Birth: 

“Things said during pregnancy can leave harmful imprints, “birthmarks” that are psychological rather than physical. But, even inside the womb, babies can learn to cope with unhappy parents.” 

I am sharing these dynamics in this article because I hope all my fellow adoptees understand that the wounds of abandonment and rejection they carry are valid, legit, and so very real. They can and do go back to our preverbal and prenatal lives. For each of our individual lives, it helps by investigating further by asking more questions and not giving up or taking “no” for an answer. 

The argument can be raised from the adoptee’s perspective that we need our truth to gain this reality of our beginnings, and they are correct. This is why I will always side with my fellow adoptees learning their truth because everyone deserves to know who they are and where they come from. I fought the moment I came out of the womb and likely while in the womb. I even wrote about it one time in an article titled “The Fight of My Life – Revised.” I have fought like so many of my fellow adoptees have to learn our truth when it seems like the whole world is up against us. 

I was never giving up, but I almost died trying many times over. 

One of the many discoveries I have learned is that although I feel abandoned and rejected by my birth mother, she didn’t know me to reject me. Instead, she rejected the unresolved wounds that she had never processed due to her alcohol dependency. She rejected her decision, the outcome of my adoptive parents divorcing when I was one, and that her decision didn’t create a better life for me, only a different one. I acknowledged her alcohol abuse was a focus of her life way before I was born. She had a hard life and a challenging childhood. I heard many stories, and every little clue helped me understand better and begin healing in return. 

Separation trauma can impact adoptees significantly, and everyone reacts differently to trauma. However, one of the most significant dynamics for adoptees is that we often suffer in silence because our adoptive parents and the world celebrate adoption. In return, they celebrate our trauma. They leave no room for our sorrow or sadness. Our conception and preconception stories, and birth stories are a part of our history. Even when we’re considered blank slates, what happens during these times matters to adoptees. 

While abandonment and rejection from our adoption experiences can and does impact each of us significantly, and sometimes the wounds last a lifetime, the more we learn about our [His]-Story and [Her]-Story, the more we learn about ourselves. So it’s essential to separate the differences between the things we have control over and the things we don’t. We had no control over what happened to us as babies, but we can fight like hell for our truth. I always try to remember I am not how abandonment and rejection from adoption has made me feel. I am not the pain and heartbreak. Yes, it’s been a part of my life and always will be, but we are all so much more than how adoption has made us feel. We have a purpose, and we all have many countless reasons that the universe brought us together. 

Being adopted, it’s sometimes hard to feel like anyone cares about you. But I am here to share that you won’t feel others care about you until you put yourself first and learn to care about yourself FIRST. For me, that meant letting go of the feelings of being misunderstood. My fellow adoptees get me, and that’s good enough for me. But, unfortunately, other people can’t get me because they aren’t walking in my shoes. 

So much of what adoptees experience and endure along our journeys aren’t our fault. The feelings of abandonment and rejection aren’t our faults either. I hope you know that you are so much more than how adoption makes you feel wherever you are in your healing journey. You are NOT how abandonment and rejection make you feel. Trauma doesn’t have a healing time frame, so be easy on yourself and allow yourself to feel the feelings when they surface. Then, allow yourself the space to seek healing and guidance by adoptee-competent trauma specialists.

Research all of the dynamics of the wounds you carry as an adoptee and, if possible, go back to previous generations. You can bet that your biological mother’s decision didn’t start with her. Consider reading the book “It Didn’t Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle.” 

It’s not your fault, and you didn’t deserve the pain adoption has caused you. You are not your abandonment and rejection. You are more valuable, and your story is of utmost importance, back to the very beginning. 

Never stop fighting for your truth; you deserve it. Never stop researching and learning about the wounds we carry. Understand, most of society won’t acknowledge them, so it’s up to YOU to do the work. But, acknowledging these realities is the first step.

I hope this article helps one of my fellow adoptees out there.

 For those who have made it this far, have you been able to gain any information on your biological mother to help form a conclusion of what your preverbal and prenatal lives might have been like? 

Have you made the connection that the way she felt during pregnancy could very well be impacting you to this day? 

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 PK 

*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

Why I Have A Blazing Passion to Share My Story and What It Cost Me to Tell It

“Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.” – Janis Joplin.

When an adoptee is adopted, we are immediately put in a position where we are expected to forget our former selves and carry on with life as if our pre-adoption life never existed. 

When we grow up and start to develop internal feelings about this, these feelings often manifest outside ourselves in many different ways. Some of us use unhealthy coping mechanisms like using substances or alcohol. Some of us are perfectionists and overachievers. Some of us are workaholics. Some are addicted to food and spending money. Some of us are rage-filled and angry as hell. Some have healthy coping mechanisms like working out, exercising, hiking, running, bike riding, jogging, volunteering, writing, etc. 

But it’s no secret that when we start to tap into our real feelings and begin to express them verbally, we are walking a thin line here, and we feel every bit of it. I could possibly describe it as modern-day blackmail.  

Blackmail-  “To cheat, deceive or defraud someone for personal gain. A fraudulent scheme or ruse.”

What does this even mean? Many of us have a lot to lose, and we live in fear and intimidation that if we upset our adoptive families, we could have terrifying outcomes. Many of us have similar feelings regarding our biological families, so we remain silent because the risk we take sharing our emotions is too consequential. 

If our adoptive parents love us and take care of us when our biological parents didn’t want us, we must be thankful, grateful and we damn sure aren’t supposed to share any feelings that don’t line up with this narrative. It feels like blackmail, and it constantly hangs over our heads. 

We give you love if you pretend everything is perfect. 

Thoughts like, “If they knew how I feel, would they still love me?” or “If I share my feelings publicly, I will be disowned?” So much of the time, the adoptee can’t share their feelings, even if they want to. Our biological and adoptive families don’t have to say anything; we just know it! We feel it in our souls. Our compliance in keeping quiet is usually in exchange for being included in the family dynamics and receiving the love that’s conditional from the beginning. Trust me, the adopted children that grow up are the first to be left out of wills and shunned or excluded in the family dynamics. If we speak privately or publicly, we take the chance of losing it all!  

So most of the time, adoptees might have online roles or share pieces of their story. Still, they often use pen names to write.  I don’t see many adoptees sharing particular details about their birth parents and adoptive parents publicly because of these reasons. I’m not saying they don’t write about the adoptee experience; I’m saying they are sometimes afraid to share anything that doesn’t line up with the fairytale narrative.

I also see adoptees write or share about their adoption experience, and they feel as if they ALWAYS have to include, “My adoptive family was wonderful or I am thankful my parents chose me.” They don’t feel they can be real and raw without saying these things before, or after they say the truth that adoption has impacted them negatively.

As a result, I sometimes describe our experiences in a way that others can understand, and I call it the “Adoptee Whammy Effect.” 

This is based on having four parents: one adoptive mom, one adoptive dad, one biological mother, and one biological father. In addition, of course, many of us have step-parents or parental roles, which would add layers to this example. 

Let’s also not forget to recognize that some adoptees adopted internationally have not had the opportunity to find biological families, and some adoptees adopted domestically haven’t searched for various reasons. 

This example assumes that the adopted person has two adoptive parents and two biological parents they have attempted to reunite with over their lifetimes. Let’s also accept and acknowledge that before every person is adopted, they experience separation trauma from being removed from their biological mother. This should never be viewed as a positive experience; it’s traumatic. I have learned from other adoptees that even when they have the “Assumed Picture Perfect Adoption Experience” and they have ZERO WHAMMYS, they still have separation trauma that haunts them, and it impacts them in every way throughout life. That alone is enough for an adoptee to feel completely wrecked by adoption. Adding the whammy’s to it, only magnifies the grief, loss, pain and, trauma. Research separation trauma and the primal wound and learn so you can see for yourself.

When I share “Ideal and Fulfilling” relationships with our parents, I mean the adoptee’s relationships with the specific parent (bio mom, bio dad, adoptive mom & adoptive dad) have been generally a loving and healthy one. 

What’s Assumed in Adoption – Every adoptee has an ideal and fulfilling relationship with both adoptive parents. After searching for their biological family, both biological parents receive, love, and accept the adoptee. But, unfortunately, this is the fairytale narrative that most people believe happens in most adoptions. 

What Really Happens to Multiply Our Grief, Loss, Separation Trauma & Adoption Trauma:

A Single Whammy – This is when we don’t have good experiences with one of the two adoptive parents OR one of two of the biological parents 

A Double Whammy – We don’t have good experiences with two of our parents. It could be one adoptive parent and one biological parent, OR both adoptive parents OR both biological parents. 

A Triple Whammy – We don’t have good experiences with three of our four parents. It could be one adoptive parent and both biological parents, OR both adoptive parents and one biological parent. 

A Quadruple Whammy – We don’t have good experiences with all four of our parents, both adoptive parents and both biological parents. 

I try to leave it up to the adoptees to describe what they consider a “Good Experience” when it comes to each of our individual maternal and paternal parents and each of our adoptive parents because no one else should define that for us. 

In my case, I am hands down A Quadruple Whammy and some EXTRA ISH! 

I am not going into all the grimy details on WHY I have a quadruple whammy, but I will share briefly that I was estranged from my adoptive mom before her passing and have no relationship with my adoptive dad. In addition, both biological parents rejected a relationship with me after meeting them each one time. Finally, I have an adoptive step-monster who essentially doesn’t exist in my life for various reasons I’m not going to make public. 

As a result, I don’t feel connected to or a part of any family except the three adult kids I birthed myself. I have accepted this, and I’m at peace with it at this stage of my life, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t lost so much in the process. It still impacts me (and my kids) until this day, and grief and loss are something I will be processing for the rest of my life. This doesn’t mean I am not thankful for what I have, because I am. My kids are the reason I keep living.

What does it cost for me to share my story? I can’t list everything, but I will highlight the main areas that come to mind. 

  • I have lost three shots at having a nurturing, loving, and caring mother. Three chances and I struck out all three times. I will never know what a loving relationship looks like from a mother other than seeing it in other people and their mothers. I have no mother to call, and I never really have. With this, I have never felt a mother’s unconditional love and support. There is no wound on earth quite like the mother wound. When you have it x3 as I do, it only magnifies it. 
  • I have lost the chance to know and grow up with and have relationships with my biological siblings. This is unforgivable, and the pain will echo for a lifetime. I have a lost/missing sister somewhere out there, and I have a half biological sister who resents me because I was adopted, and she wasn’t. She, too, bought into the fairy tale narrative that adoption is rainbows and unicorns, and it’s always a better life. She relinquished her baby for adoption just like my birth mother did. Giving your baby away runs in the family!  She thinks I should be grateful, and I am NOT. She knows nothing about the trauma I experienced in my life, nor has she tried to understand that I might have had a different life than her, but it damn sure hasn’t been a better one. Because of our differences on the issue, we have no relationship today. 
  • I have lost a sense of self because I have had severe identity struggles from childhood to adulthood. Only until I fought like hell for my truth have I been able to come to a place of internal peace in the last five years. That’s a lot of time lost!
  • I have lost a normal childhood; while most kids are frolicking in the fields, I was obsessed with finding my birth mother. It never left my mind. Read “The Sky and I.” I was also consumed with being the caretaker for my sick adoptive mom. I was traumatized over and over again by her manic depressive episodes.
  • I can’t connect with celebrating or even embracing a culture. I didn’t find out my ethnicity until I was 40 years old, and now I don’t even know how to tap into something that has been null and void my whole life.    
  • The dream I had of how much my birth parents “Loved Me So Much” was nothing more than a pacifier statement and a myth to stall my healing, and it stood in the way of me knowing the truth. No truth = no healing. The truth is, not all birth mothers love their children, and not all of them want to be found. My birth mother is one of them. Being told she loved me so much shattered me once I saw her, and she rejected a relationship. Please stop saying this to adoptees! 
  • I have lost the ability to understand what love even is. Your mother is supposed to be your ride or die and the one who fights until the end of the earth for you. So when your mother “Loves you so much” she gives you away to strangers, it’s a significant mental mind fuck. I am still making sense of it, and I am not sure I will ever understand why I was told this in this way? Did they know this would forever manipulate my view of what love is? This “lesson” has caused catastrophic consequences in my lifetime. 
  • I don’t know what it’s like to be a part of a real family, aside from my own three adult kids.  Being adopted to me feels like I’m still an orphan because I never felt like I fit in with my adoptive family. I always knew I was the second choice.  But, I am FOREVER grateful for MY FAMILY WITH MY KIDS. Without them, I would not be here. 
  • I have taken on an impending sense of deep-rooted sadness that will be with me until I leave this earth, for the fact that me being adopted IMPACTS MY KIDS, in every way! The trauma from relinquishment and adoption is generational, and I see my kids experiencing some of the things I did because of my adoption story. I will always hate adoption because of this. I can handle how it makes ME feel, but because it impacts my innocent children in such a profound way, I will never be able to forgive adoption. It will also impact my future grandkids, and their kids. Fuck adoption. 
  • I have lost the ability to trust because I learned early on from my adoptive mother that life and love are based on conditions. I have lived my life feeling like everyone wants something from me. Love is like a carrot, dangling over my head my whole life. The love will be snatched away if I say or do the wrong thing. Well, I’m an adult now, and I don’t want that conditional love anymore. I am learning to trust a few people, and I appreciate small circles.   
  • It’s taken me 47 years on earth to feel complete within myself, finally. The hell I had to go through to get here has consumed every part of my life. Because of this, I feel like I missed out on many moments of my kids being younger and the ability to find beauty in everyday life because most of my 47 years have been spent recovering from separation trauma compacted by adoption trauma. I resent this, and this is one of the reasons I don’t want to waste any more time and I am very selective on what I use my time on. 
  • I have lost every chance at having a father in my life. My biological father didn’t know of my existence, and he didn’t sign any adoption paperwork. However, once found, he still doesn’t want a relationship. My adoptive dad divorced my adoptive mom a year after adopting two daughters; (even when he knew she couldn’t care for us, he left anyway!); he moved over an hour away and remarried. He raised three stepsons as his own, and I honestly feel I don’t even know him. He’s always been far away, and he’s only visited Kentucky 3 times that I can remember,  in over 30 years of me being here. On the other hand, I have been back to Iowa at least 20+ times. No father/daughter dance or date, ever. No one-on-one time, not even an hour. Ever. 
  • Trust –  I have lost the ability to trust the people who are supposed to love me the most. They kept my truth from me for their gain. They paid a cash price for me. They said whatever they had to say to soothe my deep-rooted desire to find my biological family. I don’t just give trust away; people have to earn it in time. 
  • Missing Memories – I have lost all memories I should have made with my biological family’s maternal and paternal sides. This has been one of the most complex parts for me to fathom. I will never know any grandparents or aunts and uncles. I have met a few biological cousins, but we have no shared history. It’s hard building relationships from scratch. To much time is missing. The grief has knocked me down so many times over in my life. It’s consumed me so profoundly; some days and seasons in my life, I didn’t even want to go on with living. The sadness has been that great. 
  • Judgment – When people learn of me, maybe in a professional setting or even in the dating world, I am always putting myself at risk for pre-judgment because people can read my whole life story on my website before they get to know me real life. This impacts me significantly in life, and I am still sharing my story with my fellow adoptees, but it doesn’t come without a considerable cost! It’s a HUGE PRICE TO PAY!
  • People assume I am stuck – When I am still writing about adoption, many people think I am stuck in the places I am writing about. However, the truth is that I am not stuck. I have been stuck in the past; however, I have moved on in my life, I have accepted adoption for what it is, I have healed and continue to heal. It has always been the most significant thing in my life that has hurt me the most. I am sharing my feelings with the world, specifically my fellow adoptees because people need to know they have been sold a lie when it comes to adoption. I share so my fellow adoptees know they aren’t alone and aren’t crazy about their feelings. I am also sharing because it helps me heal, and non-adopted individuals can learn from an adoptee’s lens. They are why I keep writing, but I have happiness and wholeness in my personal life, and I am no longer stuck. However, that doesn’t stop people from making assumptions. The great thing is, I could care less what people think. 

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. 

As you can see, I have nothing to lose by sharing my story – I have already lost everything. When any adoptee shares their story, even if it’s in small pieces or micro-doses, please understand that sometimes that might be the very first time they ever let these feelings come to light. Sometimes it takes us an entire lifetime for adoptee feelings to come out of our mouths. So please listen without judgment and understand that to share our stories, especially publicly, we have A LOT TO LOSE! Be kind, be compassionate, and most of all, have the willingness to understand that there is much more to adoption than what society has been sold. 

In sharing my story and being a lifeline to my fellow adoptees, because I have nothing to lose, I can share from depths that many others can’t. When I share from these spaces, I heal a little more each and every time I release feelings that have been inside for 47 years. Because of these reasons, I keep sharing.

For my fellow adoptees, do you have the fairytale narrative that’s assumed by society? 

Or do you fit into the Single, Double, Triple, or Quadruple Whammy Effect?

How has this impacted your short term and long term?

What has helped you heal? 

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!

Thank you for reading, 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

She Said I Would See Her In Heaven One Day, So I Decided I Didn’t Want to Go.

Disclosure Statement: If you are someone who considers yourself a Christian, Jesus Follower, Church Goer, Religious Guru, Or if you believe your way of spirituality is the only way, I am asking you to save your comments, judgments, and opinions and share them on other platforms as there are many churches, online platforms and religious circles that would love to use the glory in your story to promote their church and religion. Please don’t come here to use your story to discredit mine. This page and article isn’t for you. We are all free to have our personal spiritual beliefs and journeys. My space’s boundary is not allowing others to use their personal stories to belittle mine.

Pieces of my childhood: bible stores, devotionals, prayers, using scripture to let me know I was going to hell from a very young age for dating outside my race. Being forced to sign covenants that I wouldn’t have sex before marriage or ever drink alcohol at 12 years old. Being cursed to hell for using the “lord’s name in vain.” I learned all gay people were going to hell. Being manipulated to believe like my adoptive mom, and scriptures being used as a way to control me starting at a very young age.

Back to the beginning, my whole life has been chosen for me, especially all the heartbreaking parts. The loss of my biological mother, the loss of my biological father. The loss of genetic connections and a sense of wholeness. I lost my medical history and learning what my ethnicity was. I was a secret up until the very moment of birth, swept away and forgotten about as if I never existed. But then, she walked away and went back to work the next day signing her rights over ever to see, hear or speak to me again as long as she lived. I never agreed to keep her secret.

 But none of us get to pick our beginnings, right? 

True, but most people’s beginnings don’t start with a traumatic experience on the first breath you take entering the world, and most people don’t start their first breath with their story being built on a bed of lies. 

In adoption, others make this decision for you because they want you to have a “better life.” However, this one decision can and does impact an adoptee’s life forever. 

 If people knew the depths of separation trauma, would they still make this choice for another human being? If they knew that basing one’s life on pretending, secrecy, and lies would destroy me from the inside out, would they still pick this choice? 

Probably. Because an infertile adoptive parent’s desire to have a child is more significant than their desire to give a flying fuck about the separation trauma that child will experience being separated from their biological mother and being forced to bond with strangers. 

Either way, for me and my story, the damage is done. We don’t get do-overs or a rewind button. 

So what’s the point? 

The point is, I get to choose now. I get to write my story. I didn’t get to choose back at the beginning, but I get to decide now.

If you have read my articles, you would know I was adopted by a woman who suffered from severe mental illness issues. While I have empathy that she had a side to her that was kind and loving, I rarely felt it or saw it, but others did. Some of her mental health issues were possibly being treated, and some weren’t. My entire childhood was filled with her emotional and mental outbursts. I tried to articulate this experience in an article I wrote called “The Narcissistic Adoptive Mom.”  

I do remember pills everywhere, all the time, but how would I know she’s addicted to prescription drugs?  I remember her sleeping all the time when “normal” parents would be up. Getting up for school, setting the alarm, and getting myself ready every morning was a pretty regular routine. As a child, I had no idea that this behavior was abnormal or her outbursts were signs of mania and depression. I was a child. I had no fucking clue I was knee-deep in disfunction. This disfunction was all I knew. 

As if my biological mother passing me over to strangers wasn’t enough, I never bonded with my adoptive mom, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t forced to try. That was traumatic in its way, and I have yet to be able to describe how that’s made me feel. I started to be repulsed by her presence when I was a child. This only increased as I grew up. 

Some of her emotional outbursts consisted of her threatening to overdose and commit suicide while running to her bedroom with all her pills in a shoebox, taking the phone, shutting us out, and locking her bedroom door, telling us she wanted to die. We would be left outside her bedroom door screaming, crying, hysterical because we thought she was going to die, sometimes for hours. This happened over and over again. She even had a manic episode and ran out of our 3rd store apartment and laid in the middle of the street while we watched, because she was going to kill herself in front of us.

Abuse comes in all forms. 

I feel these episodes caused me C-PTSD as a child.

I remember always saying, “I’m sorry, Mommy, I’m sorry” my entire childhood. At some point, during one of her millions of episodes, I took the blame that it was all my fault and at every attempt, I tried to console her but the endless manic episodes seemed to be inconsolable. But I never stopped trying. Somehow, as a child in elementary school, I did something “bad” to drive her over the edge continuously. While doing inner child work a few years ago, I named my 5-year-old self, I’m sorry. After doing much healing and self-work, I understand that was a trauma response. 

It’s no doubt that this woman who adopted me didn’t bring security into my life, but instead, she traumatized me; while she may have had some good and positive qualities, the trauma always comes to my mind when I think about her. I don’t have loving and caring memories of her. She might have loved me in her own way, but her real reason for adopting me is that she didn’t want to go to a nursing home, and she wanted a caretaker. I will be writing more about this soon. 

How do I know this? Because she never stopped talking about not wanting to go to a nursing home, and she started priming me for this when I was in elementary school. While my entire childhood was filled with caring for her as a mini servant, other kids were out playing with friends, having sleepovers, and running free in nature. Not me, I had a chore chart a mile long, and I was groomed to rub her back and body giving her massages all the time, and to do many other disgusting things I do not want to share. I was responsible for cleaning my room and cleaning her room also. I ran her bathwater, bathed her, scrubbed her back, put lotion all over her body. I brushed her hair, put her makeup on her. Weird fucking shit, right? Again, I can’t share some because it’s too disgusting. I was adopted to fulfill her needs. 

But, eventually, I grew up. 

When I had my kids, this new level of fear took over me that she would get custody of my kids if something ever happened to me. This haunted me! Thinking about this sometimes took my breath away. Then, as my kids got older, I started noticing some things she started doing with my kids, as she did me as a child. This was when I decided to pack up a 22-foot Uhaul and move across the country to Kentucky, far, far away.

This was what I call “The Great Escape.”  

She visited Kentucky on occasion, and it was always catastrophic drama when she showed up. Even after setting some very firm essential boundaries with her,  one time, she threatened to sleep in her car on the side of the road, so my kids felt bad for her. She would talk negatively about me, in my own home to my kids behind my back. I could go on forever at the drama she showed up with and the trouble she caused in my life. I started my alcohol-free journey on August 13, 2012, and she has always been the most significant trigger I have ever had. Putting my recovery and sobriety first, spending 30+ years tolerating her inappropriate behavior, finally, letting her know she’s never welcome to come to my home again. And she never came into my house after this. 

I always felt like she had her claws in my kids, and her motive was to put a wedge between us so that they would feel sorry for her, and then they would be the ones next in line to take care of her. My intuitions were correct because when my oldest daughter, 27, turned 18, my adoptive mom asked her to be her Power of Attorney. I had previously refused, and our relationship was non-existent, so my kids were the next best thing. I have had nightmares off and on since having my kids that she would take them from me, and in the dream, I felt the horror of how a mother feels when their children are removed from their care. But then, I would wake up, feeling like this was always her plan.  

However, I could always see right through her mind games and manipulation, and finally, I was able to set more firm boundaries and remove this toxic person from my life once and for all. 

Her plan didn’t work; it backfired on her. But, after setting a no-contact boundary, I will never forget one of the last conversations we had. 

She said, “You don’t have to talk to me here on earth, but you will be seeing me again in heaven one day!”

Did she threaten me with heaven?

It was like a punch in the gut. This is something I never thought about until she said it.  I will never forget how this made me feel. I was sick at the thought of having to see this woman in heaven one day. 

Would we be on excellent terms in heaven? 

Would she be a normal mom in heaven? 

Would I be pretending she didn’t traumatize me my whole life in heaven?

All these questions began to swim around in my brain. My conclusion is, if she was going to be in heaven, that’s damn sure a place I never want to go.

Hell to the no-no. 

And, I didn’t sign any adoption paperwork.

While coming out of the fog about adoption for 10+ years, I have also been coming out of the fog about religion. While adoption is celebrated worldwide, so is Christianity and religion. My views don’t stop with this one experience. They go far beyond and are endless on why I can no longer support Christianity and the Bible. But I respect you do! It’s been just as difficult as coming out of the fog about adoption, and I’ve found it to be a lonely and isolating journey. To conclude, everything you had always been told in life was a lie can be difficult to step into, especially when you enter this space many times in a lifetime. But, the flip side is that today I am walking in freedom, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

It has been exceptionally liberating to step into a space of making my mind up about what I believe and why I believe it without others cramming it down my throat. Also, the fact that the only way I will ever be forced to see my adoptive mom again in heaven is ONLY if I believe in the shenanigans, to begin with, which is refreshing.

Regardless of what I believe in or don’t believe in, hopefully, if you are someone that reads this, you can save space for others who believe nothing like you without trying to “prove them wrong” or “prove a point” on why your beliefs trump another’s beliefs.

I can say from a personal standpoint; I don’t care what you believe. I care what kind of person you are and how you treat people. I care about integrity, compassion, and empathy. I’ve seen people claim to believe in a higher power and be rotten to the core deep down and treat others like shit. I’m sure we’ve all seen different variations in our lives, but my goal is to learn from others and offer a judgment-free perspective if someone inquires about my input. At this point in my life, if I had to attach my beliefs to a label I would say my personal views align closest to Agnostic.

While I’ve been told I was going to hell from a very early age for dating outside of my race, the truth is – I didn’t even know what “race” I was until I was 40 fucking years old. Adoption prohibited me from knowing my ethnicity, so I never had a culture to celebrate, study or feel like I was a part of.  Did it ever occur to anyone that the possibility exists that I dated “outside of my race” because I knew that person wasn’t a blood cousin or blood brother? It is more profound than just wanting to be rebellious and a rotten teenager. Now that I am out of the fog about religion, I can confidently say that if this is what the bible is about, you can miss me with it. 

Many adoptees have this feeling of “badness” attached to them just for being born. I wrote an article to express my feelings about it one time called “She’s Bad.” Then you add that with my religious upbringing, being told I am going to hell, and constantly feeling “BAD” because I internalized this because of my adoptive mom’s mental illness and outbursts. It’s no wonder I started acting BAD my teen years and then got tossed in the school for the “BAD KIDS.” I didn’t do well in public school constantly because my childhood didn’t allow me the capabilities to be able to learn well with the life I was dealing with at home. Being in and out of detention, on probation, in group homes, a teen runaway (the list could go on), and you see why this feeling of badness has been so strong? Now, add religion to the mix. They convince you that you are born a sinner, and your flesh will steer you in the wrong direction every time if you listen to it, so you are conditioned to feel like you are BAD when you fail and follow your fleshly desires over God’s plan for your life. They teach you your flesh (intuition) can not be trusted, and in return, you can’t trust yourself. 

Talk about a big bag of trash!

That’s putting it as politely as I can. 

Do you not see the cards stacked against me as an adoptee and so many others? It’s taken me 47 years to see the light and to be able to call BULLSHIT on all of it. I tell myself daily; I am not bad; I wasn’t born bad, I wasn’t born a sinner, I am NOT going to heaven or hell because I don’t believe they exist. I want to organically be good and offer the world the genuine me because that’s who I am. Not because I’m trying to stay on God’s good side so I don’t go to hell. I’m so thankful the lights have come on so I can deconstruct in a more graceful and profound way. The only way I can genuinely save myself is to get REAL with myself. No more fucking pretending. That shit is for the birds. 

Let me be completely transparent, I want to live my life NOW. I don’t want to wait to live until I’m dead. I want to spend time with those I love while I’m here, alive and well on earth. We live every day, we only die ONCE. I’m determined to make it count.

 Have you ever known anyone to “threaten” another human being with seeing them in heaven? Have you ever had someone threaten that you were going to hell for your actions?

Dear Adoptive mom, I’m sorry, but you will not be seeing me in heaven, and even when you cursed me to go to hell, I won’t be showing up there either. Today I am finally able to look myself in the mirror and love who’s looking back at me without the profoundly ingrained feelings of badness adoption, you and your religion ingrained into me. 

The thoughts of heaven and hell are traumatic for me, so on top of deconstructing Christianity, I am deconstructing from the notion that I will never be good enough, and heaven and hell will NOT be the deciding factors on what happens to me after I’m dead. 

I’m good enough now, and I was good enough when I came out of the womb. The world’s conditioning and others’ beliefs made me feel otherwise, but I see the truth and the light today. I have joy in my heart that I’m following the path that seems real to me and not full of secrets, lies, and half-truths. Not to mention made-up stories, used against me to try to make me BE GOOD.

I am good all by my damn self.

Today I am free.

P.S. I am NOT Powerless, and I never have been!

I AM POWERFUL

Religious Trauma Syndrome is a real thing.

To learn more visit www.journeyfree.org

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!

Thank you for reading, 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

Lying Lips and DNA Kits

It’s not enough that many times the information that is relayed over to the adoptee/relinquishee is shadowy at best. Still, often we are presented with information based on inaccurate data that is usually restricted and modified to stall the adoptee/relinqishee or throw them off entirely from ever learning who they are and where they come from.

One of the many challenging lessons I’ve learned over the last 10+ years of coming out of the fog regarding my adoption journey is that no matter what we find or how we find it, we should ALWAYS back our stories and conclusions up by doing DNA testing, preferably Ancestry DNA. Ancestry has the most extensive database with nearly 20 million people.

Here’s why I make this suggestion.

People lie when it comes to adoption and relinquishment stories. While we learn from childhood that lying is never okay and even receive punishment as a child for such activities, our society accepts this rule in adoption and relinquishment; our culture makes an exception to this rule. Sometimes I believe that people believe their lies, and sometimes we don’t want to accept them. We feel a shadowed conclusion that doesn’t sit well with our internal dialogue.

Let me give you an example of this. I was told back in 1998 from an individual in my birth mother’s family that my birth father was dead and that he had gotten shot. I sat with that for a minute, and it never sat well with my spirit. But, my intuition is on point, so I said to the world. “If he’s dead, let me confirm he’s my father via DNA testing FIRST, and let me stand of that man’s grave and see his death certificate so I can see it for myself.” Unfortunately, I know countless adoptees who have been sold a lie.

I was never able to receive either of them, and in 2010 I decided to drive 11+ hours from Kentucky to Leon, Iowa, and I showed up at his doorstep and introduced myself. That man wasn’t dead, and he was very much alive. So they lied to me, and chances are if you are adopted, you have been lied to also. I learned from a close family friend that I was conceived out of a one-night stand with a married man. He knew nothing of the pregnancy, and he never consented that I was given up for adoption.  

Sometimes as adoptees, we want something to be confirmed with every fiber in our being, so we ignore the signs or subtle hints that a find might not be true, accurate, or correct. Instead, we jump in head over heels, going by what we were told or what we hope to be true. I hope this article puts a pause in play for anyone that reads it. Please tread carefully and always, always, get DNA testing done BEFORE you build relationships with someone you suspect might be your biological family.

Adoptees/relinquishes are vulnerable individuals. When searching, we often open our hearts and lives as wide as they can go to receive whatever it is we have been fantasizing about our entire lives. We assume the best yet frequently are left feeling misled, robbed, or even taken advantage of. Sometimes this can feel like the biggest disappointment of our lives.

Growing up, our life is filled with fantasies about what we will find. Where is the mother that “loved us so much?” But often, we’re faced with the complete opposite, a cold, disconnected woman that shows no signs towards us that feel like anything close to “love.”

People say, “Expect the worst and hope for the best.” Yet, I am here to tell you there is no natural way to prepare for such conflicting and unimaginable feelings and emotions that come with our discoveries, no matter what they turn out like. It’s like opening a pandora’s box, and what we find can be shattering combined with fulfilling. It’s complex at best, but not learning the solid truth can be devastating beyond repair, so DNA testing is exceedingly essential.

My life story backs this conclusion up because, in 2010, I learned I had a half-sibling out there in the world. After a year of searching, I finally found him. We compared notes, and he ended up being the absolute best part of my reunion story. We spent time together from states away, planned visits and trips together. We accepted one another and our children and spent five years building a relationship. I always said he was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and he was and is to this day the only happy and positive part of my whole adoption experience and story.

Until January 2016, everything was flipped upside down. We ended up doing DNA testing to send the results that my brother and I were connected via DNA to my birth father. He has always expressed a deep-rooted feeling of disbelief that either of us was his biological adult children. To be completely transparent, I haven’t blamed him. He didn’t know anything about me, and he said he had reason to doubt my newfound brother was his biological son. This was why I wanted to complete DNA testing with my brother, so we could present the truth in hopes that it might change something with my biological father because initially, he rejected us, not knowing if we were his or not.

While I had taken the position to clear up this bed of lies that my life was rooted in, I had no idea what the DNA test would soon reveal. In January 2017, the DNA test returned and said WE SHARED NO DNA. I will never forget how this made me feel. I was sick and so distraught that I honestly didn’t believe it. The first person I reached out to was the amazing and gracious Priscilla Stone-Sharp, and I asked her if she could double-check this for me. She concluded that my newfound brother and I shared no DNA. However, we could pinpoint that my birth father was my birth father. His mother’s maiden name is all over in my highest DNA matches. However, my new brother is the one that showed NO DNA with my birth father, which means his biological mother gave him the incorrect information on who his biological father was.

Now that I had opened that whole can of worms, I had to reveal this to my brother, which was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. But, unfortunately, he flat out didn’t believe the DNA results and ended up tragically passing away a few months later in a motorcycle crash. This experience sent me into a profound depression and sadness I could not process at all. I was living alcohol-free, but I could not feel these feelings, and I had no idea the level of grief and sadness that would soon take over my life.

It was such a complex situation that no one could help me, and I couldn’t even find the right words to use to describe this situation. I kept referring to my brother as “My brother who turned out not to be my brother” because I didn’t know how to describe it. I couldn’t believe that one ONLY GOOD PART OF MY STORY wasn’t genuine, I was duped once again, and the devastation left me in horrible shape. I couldn’t stand the thought of therapying another therapist, and this is when I put my vision of Adoptees Connect, Inc. into action, which saved my life.

It’s taken me all these years to begin to recover, and I still have a lot of sadness about it. I wanted to share this dynamic because I want non-adoptees to see what adopted people have to go through when we are searching for our truth. All these hoops and hurdles can and do exhaust us, they destroy us, and they can and do take us down. It’s inhumane that the adults in our lives signed us up to go through this. Literally, every adult who took part in signing any adoption documents signed over that they would be okay letting me suffer and damn near die in my pain from all the secrecy, lies, and deception from adoption and the adults that co-signed for this traumatic event to happen to me.

Today, I have annulled my adoption in my mind, body, and spirit, and I sometimes remind myself that I didn’t’ sign any adoption paperwork. Yet, I have survived this nightmare, moved across the country, changed my name, and started my life over.

For my fellow adoptees who might have made it this far, I beg you to please get DNA testing before you build relationships or get too excited about a possible discovery you believe is a biological family member. The pain of the alternative I have shared here is something I do not want anyone to go through because it’s unbearable when we already feel so alone; we get our hopes up and put ourselves out there. Ancestry DNA has sales around major holidays, and the DNA kits are $59.00.

Not getting DNA testing FIRST can add a new level of trauma that you do not deserve. Please learn from my experience. Trust me; you do not want to risk it.

For those who might be wondering, this changed nothing with my birth father. I sent him confirmation I am his daughter, and he tossed it in the trash, and went on his merry 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!

Thanks for reading,

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 Deserve Far More Than What They Get

*Disclosure Statement: I do NOT claim to speak for all adoptees in this article, nor do I claim ALL adoptive parents are abusive or fit the narrative of the topics brought to light in this article. CHILL #apfragility

And for the record, Jesus, his love, our adoptive parents love or a house full of stuff isn’t enough. 

I keep seeing individuals use Jesus as a reason to invalidate the reality and truth of the adoptee experience. 

This has to stop. 

Adoptees are DYING. 

PLEASE STOP! 

Listen to Adoptees before it’s too late. 

First things first, if we’re transparent, adoption is messy AF. Everything about it. It’s complicating, emotional, taxing, and exhausting. There is no one size fits all, and all stories are unique in their own way. 

I’ve not only navigated my adoptee journey and spent most of my life in agony over it, but I’ve listened to the stories of hundreds of my fellow adoptees. We all have in common that we experience painful pieces of our journeys that can impact many areas of our lives, if not every area. 

“So what’s the big deal? Everyone deals with pain in life!” 

The big deal is that we live in a world that promotes and celebrates adoption (just like religion)  but do they realize they promote relinquishment trauma on every child separated from their biological mother?  While they pray for another person’s child, they ignore entirely that every adoption is rooted in loss and trauma FIRST.

They are praying for TRAUMA TO HAPPEN!

 If you have ever prayed for a child to adopt, YOU ARE GUILTY! 

Thousands of adoptees have walked before me and navigated these muddy and messy waters of trying to navigate a life that’s rooted in relinquishment trauma. Thousands of adoptees are walking behind me that haven’t yet made the connection, and some are slowly emerging out of the adoptee fog, figuring out just how damaging relinquishment trauma is on every person separated from their biological mothers at the beginning of life. 

For some of us, we don’t make this connection until later in life. We become all too familiar with waking up every day trying to make sense of it all, trying to heal, and finding happiness when our very beginnings were severed from the woman who should love and want us the most, our biological mothers. 

Society has this conditioned belief that adoption can be an excellent and painless alternative to many scenarios in life. For example, maybe someone can’t have children of their own, or they want to save unwanted children, so they sign an adoption registry and start the process to adopt a child. Whatever the reason is, we need to get to the root of the problems, and there are many! 

Adoption is a supply and demand multi-billion-dollar unregulated industry. Check out The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption by Kathryn Joyce or The Stork Market: America’s Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Industry by Mirah Riben if you need to research for yourself.  

If adoption agencies would genuinely care for the child’s best interest, they wouldn’t be in the business of separating them from their biological mothers. Whether some women choose to parent or not, if we have more adoption agencies, we have more accessibility to provide services for a mother to pass her baby over to strangers. Just like the more adoptive parents who want to adopt, keep these businesses in the business.  

Unfortunately, these agencies are FOR-PROFIT.  Of course, that’s why an adoption costs so much, yet we fail to realize that adoption today is rooted in legalized human trafficking. If you haven’t figured this out by now, I encourage you to do some soul searching and researching. The adoption industry is selling babies and making a living off of doing it. When a price tag is being put on a human being’s head for any cost, it’s human trafficking. It shouldn’t matter that adoption is legalized, it doesn’t mean its right.

When many adopted children are adopted, they are legally assigned a new identity, and their history is essentially erased. However, even when our beginnings are painful or abusive, we are still connected to our past via DNA and our history. We all have a history, even when the system of adoption is set up to destroy, erase and abolish its existence. Even when it’s painful, we deserve to know our truth and all of it. 

Why are so many secrets kept in adoption? 

When someone signs up to adopt a child, they sign up to co-sign for secrecy, lies, and half-truths regarding the adoptive child. Do you know what secrecy, lies, and half-truths do to a human being? 

They destroy them and stall their healing. 

When biological mothers refuse to share the truth about the conception, birth, and biological father of the adoptee, they add many levels of shame and secrecy the adoptee later has to uncover. It’s AGONIZING to not know who you are or where you come from!

Why should adoptees have to experience deception at every turn? 

We deserve more than that. 

HONESTY

TRUTH

TRANSPARENCY

It’s no secret that we can’t heal from half-truths because we don’t know what we are healing from. So if you ever wondered why your adopted child or adopted adult in your life is angry, sad, depressed, addicted to substances or struggling, I would like to look no further. Relinquishment trauma compacted by adoption trauma is the culprit. I’m not saying other things might exacerbate these issues. However, the ROOT cause is abandonment, rejection, relinquishment trauma, and adoption trauma. 

For those unfamiliar with the statistics, adoptees are 4x more likely to attempt suicide, and we’re overrepresented in jails, prisons, treatment, and mental health facilities. Why? Because adoption is rooted in secrecy and lies, anything embedded in secrecy and lies is bound to have significant repercussions. It’s also rooted in relinquishment trauma.

If you support adoption, you are a co-signer. 

Why should we have to spend our whole lives trying to fix what adoption has broken? 

Why should we have to fight the world for our truth? 

Why should we have to experience relinquishment trauma, to begin with? 

Why is our history, ethnicity, siblings, DNA connections, medical history, original birth certificates, and biological connections and relationships be kept from us? 

Why does the world rob us from acknowledging our grief, loss, and trauma?

Why have our adoptive parents co-signed for this pain? 

Why did our biological mothers give us away? 

Why should we have to look at doctors our whole lives and say, “I don’t know my medical history; I’m adopted?” 

Were they genuinely ignorant? Or did they choose to ignore these realities for the sake of their wants and needs? 

ADOPTEES DESERVE MORE! 

It’s no secret that there have never been resources for adoptees until recently. We didn’t sign any paperwork, yet we are sentenced to life for a crime we didn’t commit. 

For most of us, learning our TRUTH is the beginning KEY to accept that truth, acknowledge it, and make a choice to move towards healing. 

NO TRUTH = NO HEALING 

If our truth is kept secret from us, it will always have ways of impacting our lives and circling back around. It will keep surfacing. We often depend on substances to take our pain away because it’s so great we can’t process the feelings or address the trauma. 

Don’t read this and think for a minute that open adoption is any better. The secrecy part is usually not there; however, did you ever wonder what it’s like to be traumatized over and over again by being removed from your biological mother over and over again? You see her one day, and then you are ripped from her arms the next? How can anyone inflict this type of pain on a child they supposedly love? Open adoptions aren’t legally binding, and many times adoptive parents have no problems closing the adoptions. DOOR SLAM IN YOUR FACE, and there is nothing you can do about it. NOTHING!

Adoptees are met with adoptive parents who believe that Jesus, Love, and a nice home are enough to stand in the gap for what the adoptee has lost. This is manipulative and gaslighting behavior.  Let me be completely honest; you are fooling yourself if you think that any amount of love can replace the woman that gave us life! Jesus has never healed my adoptee wounds, and even if I believed he was real ( I did at one point in my life), I can and will never think he’s in the business of separating mothers and babies! If you believe this, you are delusional! That sick and twisted mentality is one of the many reasons I am no longer a believer.

A fancy house, a two-parent home, and all the material belongings in the world will never replace the loss an adoptee experiences. Adoptive parents get divorced, abuse their adoptive kids every day. Adoptees are sexually abused in their adoptive homes all the time. Many times adoptive kids are used as pawns to fill a void in the lives of their adoptive parents. Many of us are adopted solely to take care of our adoptive parents in their old age and even replace the relationship with a biological child that went south. Yet, time and time again, we’re expected to meet the expectations of our adopters, and no matter how hard we try, we always fall short. 

We are not their DNA, and we will never be. Yet, we notice being treated differently. We know when we are treated like the adopted child and adult in the family. We know when we don’t fit in or belong. Trust me; we feel it every day of our lives. As adoptees how it feels to be left out of the will, just because you are the adopted one in the family. Ask adoptees what it feels like to sit at the funeral of a biological mother or father, yet not be listed in the obituary as if they don’t even exist.

ADOPTEES DESERVE FAR MORE THAN WHAT THEY GET

The moral of the story is, get on the right side of wrong.

LISTEN TO ADOPTEES BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE. 

 Understand that many of us aren’t grateful at all for all of this pain and trauma being inflicted on us at no fault of our own, nor should we be expected to be. Understand that many of us would have rather been aborted, and if you are withholding the truth from an adoptee, you need to share the truth NOW. Even when the truth hurts, we want it because it’s ours! If you see your adopted child or the child you adopted who is now an adult hurting, help them process pain, grief and loss. Try HARDER to understand your adoptees’ pain, and never diminish it or tell them they should be grateful or get over it and move on. NEVER use Jesus as a tool that intercedes in them processing pain. Research spiritual bypassing and don’t do it! Understand there is no time frame on grief and processing all that is lost and research and become great at helping an adoptee process grief and loss. Know that there is NOTHING you can do to fix us or take our pain away, and we would like to ask you politely to please stop trying.

The world might feel like we have a replacement family for our biological mothers and families, but we haven’t. That’s a fantasy, and the sooner everyone realizes this, the better. No one can sweep our DNA under the rug, but they keep trying. I can promise you that the truth always comes out, especially now more than ever, with the increasing ability to do DNA testing. 

There is no amount of money, fancy car, house or vacations that can make up for what was lost because of adoption. Nothing on this earth can replace the memories and relationships lost. NOTHING.

For my fellow adoptees, never give up hope in finding your truth. If anyone has told you your biological parents are deceased, DO NOT BELIEVE IT. I repeat, DO NOT BELIEVE IT unless you are standing over their grave AFTER you have done DNA testing to confirm you share DNA with them. I can’t tell you how many times I have learned that adoptees are told their biological parents are deceased, only for them to be very much alive. I am one of these adoptees who was told my birth father was deceased, and I refused to believe it and later found out he was very much alive!  

Please know you didn’t deserve the cards you were dealt. You deserved far more!  You are strong, and even in the dark moments, realize you aren’t alone. You are a survivor, surviving daily. Know that you don’t owe anyone anything outside of yourself. I challenge you to take back what was taken from you because you are the only person who can do it. Look deep within yourself, and you will find precisely what you need. 

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

Disseminating my Deconstruction with Religion, Christianity, Church and Adoption

I’ve recently come to a empowering place in my recovery journey where I’m starting to share my deconstruction experiences with Christianity, Church, Religion and Adoption. They are so similar in so many ways. I’m writing as a healing tool for myself, but for others who might be on a similar path so they know they aren’t alone.

Below are a few posts that I’ve recently shared on my Facebook page – Pamela Karanova

Trust me when I tell you, this is only the beginning.


June 16, 2021 Hello Friends, It’s been awhile since I put any personal thoughts and feelings into this page. However, I’m back and ready to roar! I have a lot to share as I’m continuing to evolve, grow and reach destinations in my personal journey I never thought I would reach. Some of the experiences, views and opinions I carry are quite controversial to most. But here, I’m going to try to share them not only to free myself, but to hopefully be a light to other adoptees who might feel similar ways.

While we live in a society that celebrates adoption, do they realize they are celebrating mother’s and babies being separated?

Do they understand when they support adoption, they are supporting secrecy, lies and half truths?

Do they understand that adoptees are dying every day not knowing their truth?

Do other adoptees feel that coming out of the fog about religion is parallel to coming out of the fog about adoption? If so, have you been lonely in this journey? I see you, because I have felt this way too…

In adoption and religion, I see so much damage being done to innocent people, including myself & my family. I can not stay quiet.

While adoptions continue to happen, adoptees are stepping up to share insights on how this has impacted us, and also share areas we feel need highlighted and improved, sometimes even abolished.

As I share my story of coming to terms with the parallels of coming out of the fog about adoption and religion, I will focus on the purpose of healing and allowing others to know they aren’t alone if they might be going through similar experiences.

It’s been a long and lonely journey to get to this space, but I have arrived.

Thank you for following along, and embracing me as I share my journey with the world. – P.K.

June 16. 2021 For me, coming out of the fog about religion has been comparable to coming out of the fog about adoption. It’s been a long and lonely journey for me, but I have arrived at a space of freedom and strength where I am pushing myself to share my story. I am continuously taken back on how similar my experience has been coming out of the fog with adoption, as it’s been coming out of the fog about religion.

It’s eerily similar!

Just like adoption, I can no longer sit in silence as I continue to experience the unjust practices of religious beliefs, Christianity, Church (or adoption/relinquishment trauma), and how they damage, hurt and impact people I know and love and myself… & even people I don’t know and love.

My moral compass will no longer allow me to stay silent, especially when so many people are in agony and pain over these religious beliefs, practices, and circles. Let me point out adoption and relinquishment trauma have a million of the same parallels.

I’m calling out the contradictions, inconsistencies, and appalling discoveries I have made, and I am not backing down or hiding or censoring my feelings! Much of what I share will likely cause some buttons to be pushed, however it doesn’t change my truth (experiences) and how I feel about these topics. – P. Karanova

June 18, 2021 This is my brain when I try to process religious, adoption and relinquishment trauma.

A big majority of it is fear based, and more is trauma based. For the last 10+ years I’ve been on a journey of healing, evolving and self discovery. The larger part of this time I’ve been raising my kids to adulthood as a single parent.

Life has been busy… and hard.

When I think of all the dynamics of my deconstruction journey, and coming out of the fog about adoption and relinquishment trauma and even embracing a new recovery journey living alcohol free after 27 years of dependence, my brain goes into instant overload.

I’ve been trying to process it all as they have happened at separate stages of my life. But when I try to compare them or put the experiences together it’s almost like my brain shuts down. That’s the trauma.

It’s obvious it’s too much.

But I’m still going to try to try to do my best to push forward and share these layers of my experiences in hopes to not only help myself heal, but others who might be suffering alone. I would like to ask for understanding while I share. My words my be off, I might not share in the right order, and sometimes what I share won’t make sense to you.

Lastly, when someone is sharing areas that they feel have been traumatic for them, they don’t need you to swoop in and protest by standing up for the exact thing that has traumatized them. Please STOP before you even start and think before you comment.

Would you tell someone sharing about their heartbreaking divorce how wonderful your marriage is?

Would you tell someone who just lost their child to a horrible illness that your child survived that illness and is thriving well and that wasn’t your experience?

No, no you wouldn’t so don’t please don’t do it to me. It’s not helpful even if you don’t agree with me, and have a different experience I ask you to keep it moving! I appreciate it in advance.

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!

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

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

That Moment I Wanted My Mom, Then I Remembered I Don’t Have One.

On February 19th, I had an accident where I slipped hard and fell on the ice, and I hurt myself badly. I was trying to get to work to take the lady I care for to get her Covid-19 Vaccine, and time was in a significant crunch. It was 6:30 AM on a Friday, and the sun hadn’t even started coming up yet.

As my feet slipped out from in front of me and my back and backside landed hard on my three front steps covered with ice. My left hand was mangled in the railing, my car key snapped off the keyring and flew in the snow. My right palm tried to help me land but ended up being bruised and hurt as well.

I tried to find my car key, but I was completely taken back, and now I didn’t even have a car key to get to work. I started to become frantic while my pinkie was bleeding, swelling, and causing me a lot of pain. My backside was doing the same.

I remembered I had a spare key inside, but I had to find a battery. Thankfully, I was on my way to work, pretty banged up. I arrived one minute early. Over the next few hours, a football-sized bruise appeared, and the color changed from dark purple to almost black. The swelling was out of this world. I still had to work, which was not easy.

As the days passed, my pain set in, and I was beside myself. After nine days, I hoped my pain would be better, but I was still in a significant amount of pain. While the bruise was getting lighter, the knot in the middle of the bruise was the same size, about 5in x 6in, and the pain was still about an 8. I decided this past Sunday I was going to the ER to check it out to make sure nothing else was going on. I also wanted to discuss some pain medication for nighttime which seemed to make sleeping impossible.  

All CT scans came back normal, which I figured they would, and they ended up sending me home with some pain meds, and they wanted the hematoma that was causing so much pain to absorb itself back into the skin. In the meantime, they gave me a shot in my arm of pain meds.

This shot was so painful; I had immediate tears stream down my face, and at that moment, it hit me. Something that never hits me.

I wanted my mom.

This wasn’t the familiar daily feeling of wishing I had a mom as an adult; it was much deeper than that. I want a mom every day, and I’m constantly reminded I don’t have one but this was a deep and sad longing, one that has rarely ever come out in my adult life.

Is it a sign of healing?

Is it a sign of saving space for my inner child to come out?

 It was a new experience for me because my story is a story that has unfortunately set me up to live a life MOTHERLESS. As the thoughts of wanting a mother came over me, this deep sadness came over me. I was in the ER hospital room alone, and I realized I didn’t have a mom.

It’s not that my moms are dead, and I had a lifetime of beautiful memories with them, and they just no longer existed because they passed away. Both my adoptive mother and biological mother have passed away. It was more so the sadness set in that the biological mother I wanted and needed didn’t want or need me. And the mother that wanted me couldn’t care for me; she wasn’t there for me. She was mentally ill, and she was emotionally and mentally abusive in a lot of ways. She caused me a lot of childhood trauma, and I never felt connected to her or bonded with her. I felt like I was forced to bond with her, which was traumatic in its own way.

This reality set in, and tears were nonstop. I let myself cry and sit in the sadness. I couldn’t help but think about the last time being connected to my biological mother in a hospital, which was 46 years ago, the day I lost her on 8.13.74. Did you know the maternal bond that’s formed with your biological mother is the core bond that sets the tone for the path of your life? There is lack of resources for adoptees on this topic that directly connects adopted individuals who are relinquished by their biological mothers but there are many studies and articles for adoptive parents, and non adopted individuals.

Robert Winston and Rebecca Chicot explain –

“Infancy is a crucial time for brain development. It is vital that babies and their parents are supported during this time to promote attachment. Without a good initial bond, children are less likely to grow up to become happy, independent and resilient adults.”The importance of early bonding on long term mental health and resilience in children.

David Chaimberlain, Ph.D. says –

“Separation of mothers and newborns is a physical deprivation and an emotional trail. Mothers know deep within themselves what scientists are just discovering – the relations between mothers and babies are mutual, reciprocal, even magical. A baby’s cry triggers release of the mother’s milk, the only perfect milk on earth for babies. In addition, there is a vital power in the baby’s look and touch to turn on feelings and skills necessary for successful mothering.”Babies Remember Birth.

Where does this leave relinquished newborns in regards to the prenatal and perinatal bonding and the traumatic separation at the beginning of life?

When I was a child, I used to have a reoccurring dream that I was about 4-5 years old, running down a maternity ward’s long hallway. Everything was white. I had a hospital gown on, no shoes, and the hallway went on forever and ever. I remember a clock being at the end of the hallway, and the time was disappearing minute by minute as I ran. I remember jerking all the curtains back, one by one in terror, as I searched for HER. It went on forever. I never did find her, but this dream was reoccurring through most of my life. Did this hospital visit connect me to that dream subconsciously? It’s hard to fathom I’m 46 years old, and discovering these connections and truths are still impacting me greatly.

I’ve recently started to become familiar with IFS – Internal Family Systems by recommended by a great friend, Stephani H. (TY STEPH!) Watching the video will explain what IFS is the best, but in a nutshell, you identify different parts of us that have been parts of us back to the beginning of our lives. It helps us learn our parts are all welcomed and a part of us.

Stephani mentioned that it was my inner child part that wanted my mom, and when she said that, it made total sense to me. It was the little girl in me that just really needed my mom with me, and the entire concept that she wasn’t there, and she has never been, and she never will be set in. It was a hard pill to swallow. I was in a significant amount of pain, and that didn’t help me any.

The best part is, I’m learning that my feelings of sadness are not feelings to run from; they are feelings to sit with. I didn’t realize that was my inner child feeling that way until after I was already home and Stephani mentioned it to me. I was blown away because it made total sense.

If I thought of that while I was at the hospital, IFS teaches us to talk to the parts, welcome them and give them what wasn’t given to me as a child. I didn’t realize it until I was already home, but my sadness consisted, and I got comfort in understanding the dynamics of my child part coming out while I was at the hospital.

I have recently decided to give IFS therapy a try, and in the last month of learning about it, it is a miraculous and fantastic tool. I don’t want to share much here, but I plan to write about my experience with IFS because I want other adoptees to consider using it as a healing tool.

At a very young age, I was disassociated from the entire concept of wanting and needing a mother to protect myself. When those feelings came, it caught me off guard. I’m usually a strong person, and tears are something in the past I have held inside. But this time, these feelings wouldn’t let me. Even when I tried to stop crying, the feelings of wanting my mom overwhelmed me. I’m 46 years old and still navigating the aftermath of adoption.

As I learn more about IFS, self & my parts, I want to share them with you! I’m also starting therapy with a new therapist who is an adoptee! I am excited about this process. It seems I’ve done a lot of self-work, but I have never done trauma work. I have work to do. I think acknowledging these parts is the first step, and making the choice to sit with them, and no run is the next step. What’s next? I hope to share with you what the process looks like by trauma informed therapy, IFS and other techniques I am using to navigate the healing process from an adoptees perspective who also lives a life sober of alcohol.

Adoptees, have you ever been in a situation where you wanted your mom on a deeper level? Did these feelings surprise you? I would love to know how you describe them? What helps you navigate them when they come?

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!

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!