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?

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.

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

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

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

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

It is my normal.

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

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

I AM CURRENTLY NOT OKAY.

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

It’s okay to not be okay…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s get to b*tching.

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

Ready, set, go…

Adoptee Love Forever,