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

Happy Mother’s Day to The Missing Mother

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sending Love & Light 

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Still Grieving Adoptee Losses, What My Adoptive Parents Could Have Done Differently

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I was born in Iowa in August of 1974. At that moment when I found out I was adopted back in 1979, I wish my adoptive mom would have sat down with me and opened the conversations about what adoption REALLY meant. I was around 5 years old.

Instead, I got something like this.

Me: Mommy, I grew in your tummy like the baby in the lady’s belly on television?

Adoptive Mom: No, you grew in another lady’s belly. She loved you so much, she gave you to me to raise because she wanted you to have a better life. It was a dream come true for me to become a mommy. I couldn’t have children of my own. I will always love her for that because she’s given me the greatest gift of my life.

Me: Who is she?

Adoptive Mom: I don’t know who she is. You were adopted. If you want to know who she is, we will have to wait until we get enough money for an attorney to get the sealed records opened. Right now, we don’t have enough money. I just know she loved you so much and wanted you to have a better life.

Me: Where is she?

Adoptive Mom: I don’t know where she is.

Me 1980: Who is She?

Me 1981: Where is She?

Me 1982: Who Is She?

Me 1983: Where is She?

Me 1984: Who is She?

Me 1985-1994: Every Single Year – Who is she? Where is She?

Every Single Year

Adoptive Mom: I don’t know who she is or where she is. You were adopted. If you want to know who she is, we will have to wait until we get enough money for an attorney to get the sealed records opened. Right now, we don’t have enough money.

At 21 Years Old in 1995 I said to my adoptive mom, “WHO IS MY BIRTH MOTHER? WHERE IS SHE?’ It was like a broken record. 

Adoptive Mom: Well, there’s something I want to tell you. When your dad and I signed the paperwork for you to be adopted, the doctors accidentally gave us the wrong paperwork. We saw your birth mothers name, and the street she lived on. If you call your dad, he might remember the information.

I remember this exact moment, because I immediately became enraged and the anger that took over, is something that’s hard for me to process. I’m just telling you THE TRUTH because once I found out she lied to me my entire life, I have never looked at her like a mother again. EVER! Yes, for the record I have forgiven her, but we had an estranged relationship until she died and I don’t regret it for a minute. I can’t have people in my life who lie to me, for any reason at all. Hopefully this will help adoptive parents understand, lying and deception under any circumstances is never okay.

What kind of mother lies to their child repeatedly? I have had to unpack this, and there are many layers and dynamics to it but this layer (along with all the layers of adoption) of the onion has impacted me greatly my entire life.

I was adopted in 1974 and things were different then. I’m certain my adoptive parents were told to not talk about it, to sweep it under the rug and act as if me being adopted didn’t exist. So many adoptive parents weren’t given the correct tools to use so they knew how to navigate these complex dynamics of the adoptee experience.

Looking back, how I wish things were handled? 

Today I believe in my heart of hearts, my adoptive parents didn’t have a CLUE of what they were doing. I don’t think adoption agencies or adoption attorneys are preparing adoptive parents for the TRUTH, and how to navigate it as making money trumps everything in that arena.

I think the deception regarding lying to me my whole life is a way my adoptive mom was able to stall me from finding my truth. But let me just tell you, there were consequences for that. I never trusted her again, and I’ve always felt like she adopted me for her needs, not mine. This has impacted every area of my life, still to this day!  I was a pawn to fulfill her void because she couldn’t have children of her own. I would like to encourage anyone dealing with infertility issues, please seek help on your own. Don’t make your adopted child fill your void. 

I wish more conversations were opened at that moment I found out I was adopted in 1979 and moving forward.

I wish our conversation would have went like this. 

Me: Mommy, Did I come out of your belly like the lady on the television?

Adoptive Mom: No honey, you came out of another lady’s belly. She was unable to take care of you, so she decided to have someone else parent you and that someone else was your dad and me. No, she loved you and gave you away. No, you were my biggest gift because I couldn’t parent or have kids of my own!

Me: Who is she? Where is she?

Adoptive Mom: Because you were adopted, when you are old enough, we will do everything in our power to help you try to find her. Helping your adopted child search and find their biological parents means everything! Support us!

Me: I want to find her now.

Adoptive Mom: We can’t find her until you are 18, but it’s okay to be sad you lost her. It’s okay to love her and want to find her. You lost the most important woman of your life, and it’s okay to feel sad for losing her. Would you like to talk about it? How are you feeling about this? Open these conversations and never stop!

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

No one has ever asked me how it feels to be adopted!

Me: Weeping, my grieving starts at 5 years old because I have every reason to be sad for losing the woman who carried me in her belly for 9 months and who brought me into the world. Regardless of whose dreams she made come true to be parents. Regardless of how much LOVE she thought I was going to have in this “BETTER LIFE” I was promised. Regardless of how happy my adoptive parents were to be parents, and their dreams coming true, I still deserved the right to grieve my losses as soon as I discovered them.

The catch is, I was 5 years old. I didn’t know how to do this. I needed my adoptive parents to step in and open the dialog and put ME AND MY LOSSES FIRST. I needed them to set their dream come true to be parents on the shelf and BE REAL WITH ME!

Yes, this is possible at 5 years old. At age appropriate times it is possible to share the TRUTH with adopted children. If you can’t do this, you have no business being an adoptive parent. Period!

I would give anything if someone in my life would have sat me down and said “It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be mad. it’s okay to feel hurt, and broken, and lost. If I was you, I would feel that way too after losing so much!

But that never happened so at 45 years old, I have been going through the grieving process for 7 years now, all alone.

What did I lose?

My Birth Mother.

My Birth Father.

Connection.

My maternal and paternal grandparents.

My siblings on both sides.

Memories from all the above.

My ancestry.

Genetic Mirroring

My identity

My medical history.

Maternal Bonding

My peace of mind, taken by always searching for clues to my family.

My childhood, taken because I was searching my entire life.

I lost how to regulate emotions, because these are the biggest emotions I’ve ever had, and I had to keep them secret so my adoptive parents wouldn’t get hurt. This was a HUGE internal war within me. It almost killed me. Not to mention, as a child I can’t articulate how I’m feeling, and I don’t have the words to describe it.

I needed help, and I didn’t get it although I’ve been in therapy my entire life since I was 5 years old, and the THERAPIST COULDN’T EVEN HELP ME! Adoption was never talked about, and it was the ROOT issue!

Abuse of substances for 27 years took away my pain, but only temporarily. A lot happened in 27 years.

Today, I’m doing for myself what my adoptive parents and Adoption Culture didn’t do for me. I’m allowing myself the space to grieve my adoptee losses, whatever that looks like for me. Usually I run off in nature, and I cry there because Mother Nature doesn’t have an ulterior motive behind her role in my life. She want’s nothing from me. I write here on my website. I share my feelings in my Adoptees Connect group. I have ways to process, but I’ve had to figure this out alone, after a lifetime of pain.

So, I seek Mother Nature the most, as no one in this world seems to understand that adoptee grief is something I will process for the rest of my life. It never goes away. Just like grief from someone loses their mom in childbirth, or someone losing both their parents in a car wreck.

The difference is, those people are given the gift and privilege of being able to grieve their losses as soon as they happen and usually throughout the duration of their lives, it’s normal to coach them through the grief process.

Not for adoptees.

We are stripped of that privledge but that doesn’ t mean we aren’t grieving on the inside. 

We must grieve in silence, and for many of us, it kills us. I’ve attempted suicide multiple times as a adopted teen, and have contemplated suicide many times as an adult due to my adoption trauma. Mix grief, loss, abandonment, rejection, C-PTSD and the internal confliction I experience daily, it’s a miracle I’m alive and I feel the same for all adoptees who make it out alive. We also live in an Adoption Culture society that celebrates our losses and tries to talk down upon us for feeling anything less than “thankful” or “happy” about our experiences.

I’m just telling you; adoptees are dying out here and there is something adoptive parents and Adoption Culture can do about it. If you know all of this, you can’t unknow it and you can’t say someone out there didn’t share it. If you have adopted a child, please understand that this child can and will have lifelong difficulties that will need ongoing care. Please know that we never outgrow being adopted. Yes, adoption is complicated and it’s messy. No one story fits all. We know this.

But please understand that being adopted is with us FOREVER. The sooner we can start grieving our losses, the sooner we start to heal. Please understand that NO AMOUNT OF LOVE IN THIS WORLD CAN REPLACE THE LOSS I have always felt by losing my biological parents, and all the losses that come with that. Please understand no ivy league college, a brand-new car at 16 years old, or a huge house on a hill can take away these losses. We should be allowed to grieve as early as possible, at age appropriate times and this is life or death for us.

If any adoptive parents might be reading, please allow these conversations to be opened at age appropriately times. Please seek therapy on how to do this. Please don’t ignore this. Please understand no matter how much of a blessing you feel adoption is, it doesn’t change the fact that we experienced a trauma the moment we lost our birth mothers, and that trauma is compacted by pretending it’s not there by adoption being celebrated. I’m sharing here what I wish was done differently based on my experience.

I will be grieving these losses for the rest of my life, but I can’t help but wonder how my life might have been different if I would have started grieving at the moment I found out I was adopted. Please don’t let Adoption Culture deceive you, because I’m here to tell you if you ignore the grief and loss process for your adopted child, you will be sorry you did.

Please don’t mistaken this article as I’m sitting in sadness, depressed, angry or mad at the world. I was in that space for most of my life, because I couldn’t grieve my losses. But today, becaue I’ve allowed myself the space to do this, I’m healing daily and I have actually been able to find love in my life. Love for myself, love for life itself, love for others, love for all things around me. It’s almost impossible to get to the space I am, without grieving my losses. Today I enjoy life. Today I welcome my sadness when it comes, I embrace it and I invite it to stay awhile. I sit with it, I talk with it, and I process it. Then I let it go, until it circles back around again. Procesing adoptee grief is a lifelong journey. The sooner we embrace it and stop running from it, the sooner we start to heal.

 If you’ve made it this far, I commend you.

Adopted Adults are the KEY to learning what should have been done, or what could be done differently. If you’re an adoptive parent, and you have any questions for the adult adoptee community, visit Ask an Adoptee on Facebook. This platform was designed for you in mind.

Adoptees, What are some ways you have been able to grieve your losses? What age did you start this process? Did anyone ever encourage you to do this growing up? Have you been alone in this process?

Adoptive Parents, where are you at with this topic? Did the agencies or attorneys give you information on how to proceed with this topic? Have you been able to open these conversations? If yes, what has that looked like for you? If no, what are you waiting for?

Love, Love

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