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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Saying “Hello” to Adoptee Grief & Loss

img_5766I decided to write a short article about this topic, because over the years of coming out of the fog and being in recovery it’s come to my attention that so much of the adoptee experience is rooted and grounded in grief & loss. If we leave it up to the world we live in, they not only deny us the right to have anything but positive feelings, they also deny us the right to grieve our losses.

Can you imagine everyone around you celebrating your trauma? Can you imagine living in a world where your trauma is considered something wonderful? Can you imagine always having to hide your true feelings, because everyone in your life can’t understand that adoption is complex, and in order to heal it we must feel it. Can you imagine there never being any space to share your grief & loss because in adoption, grief & loss is something we are denied, yet society tells us we should he happy about it! This is adoption in our world today.

No one ever told me processing grief and loss was a natural part of the adoptee experience. Navigating this journey alone, it’s honestly been the hardest experience of my life. For me personally, being adopted has carried more weight than multiple brutal violent traumatic experiences that I’ve had in my 44 years of life. Yes, you read that right. I’ve survived MANY brutal violent traumatic experiences, and relinquishment trauma compacted by adoption trauma have impacted me far worse than any other experience, even the brutal violent ones all put together. That’s how BIG the wound from relinquishment trauma has been in my life. The adoption trauma only added to it.

Yes, Adoption Relinquishment is TRAUMA 

For me, adoption, by far has hurt the worst and it’s had the most complex dynamics to it. It hits deeper layers, and the recovery time seems to expand throughout ones entire lifetime. I’ve accepted that full recovery is never going to happen, so I’ve embraced it and welcomed the uncomfortable feelings when they come. Multiple brutal violent traumatic experiences have healed much faster than relinquishment trauma. That should tell you something about relinquishment trauma. Real lived experiences trump everything you have been told about adoption.

It’s hard to come out of the fog on your own like I did. Seeking therapy for the complexities of my adoption experience has always been a dead end for me. I’ve tried and gone to therapy since I was 5 years old. I’m not knocking anyone in therapy and I encourage it wholeheartedly. It just didn’t work for me. I pour my heart into therapying the therapist, and leave with little to no relief other than having one hour to share my life with someone who doesn’t’ “get it” in the long run. If they aren’t adopted, they have no clue what adoptees experience. Thankfully more adoptees are therapists these days, and things are changing.  When I was a child in therapy, they didn’t even talk about adoption. When I was a teenager crying out in rage and pain, they didn’t even talk about adoption.  When I was in juvenile lock up, group homes, drug treatment, the mental health hospital as a teenager and in jail and a mental ward as an adult, they never talked about adoption. When I tried to commit suicide multiple times, they never talked about adoption. When I was in alcohol addiction for 27 years, they never talked about adoption! Let’s be honest, I was groomed to never talk about it either, conditioned from a very early age. But I hold therapists to a higher standard. All these therapists of my lifetime failed me. I should be dead right now, but I’m not.

Today, I say “hello” to the waves of grief & loss as they come into my life instead of turn them away.

Today we’re talking about adoption!

Relinquishment is is the root cause!

I was in addiction for 27 years to ESCAPE! Alcohol took my pain away but only temporarily. Now that I’m in a place of 6.5 years of sobriety, I have even more wisdom to share about being an adult adoptee in recovery. As I navigate close to 10 years of coming out of the fog and 10 years of being in “Adoptee Land” one thing that keeps circling back around in my life is grief and loss. I’m recognizing how I’m feeling at the moment and how I’m feeling day to day about my adoption experience. I’m acknowledging those feelings as they come. I say HELLO to them. I welcome them. Of course I’m going up against what our world says, which is just be thankful and grateful!

I spent some time in a religious setting, and always made me feel like I wasn’t praying enough or I wasn’t fasting enough. I even heard I was CHOOSING to hang onto this pain, or better yet “You must not be receiving your healing because you aren’t right with God! I’ve heard it all, and today I consider it all to be MUMBO JUMBO and I want no part of it. It only caused me to AVOID the TRUTH and NOT FEEL THE PAIN! Because heaven forbid you actually process your traumatic experiences, or grieve your very legitimate losses!

I’m just saying, I’ve gone around the wagon a million times trying to be HEALED from relinquishment trauma! I have some wisdom to share, that’s why I keep writing. For you all and for me. The fact is, grief and loss are perfectly normal for a not normal situation. Nothing is normal about adoption, although our society and world have normalized it. It’s NOT normal to be severed from your roots at the beginning of life, to be handed over to strangers.

Adoption is not normal, and it’s time we STOP normalizing it.

Adoption is traumatic, relinquishment is traumatic and if adoptees aren’t allowed the space to process this trauma we will continue to see the jails, prisons, mental health facilities and treatment facilities overflowing with adoptees! We will continue to see adoptees attempt and succeed in suicide. The earlier we start to address the truth about adoption, the sooner adoptees can start to process our grief and loss.

As a child, I wouldn’t have had the language to process my pain if I wanted to have it. I didn’t know as a child what I know now. I’m here to tell you if SOMEONE, ANYONE would have told me it was okay to be SAD I lost my birth mother, or it was okay to be ANGRY she left me, my whole entire world would have changed growing up. I didn’t have that language, so my adoptive parents should have helped me find it. Yeah, I know it was 1974 and things were different then! TRUE! But they are different now too, and once you know this TRUTH that I’m sharing here based on my 44 years of lived experience being adopted, you can’t unknow it. Please, do what you can to help your adopted children access feelings of grief and loss, and HELP THEM process them!

For my fellow adoptees who have made it this far, I’m asking you how you are processing your grief and loss? What have you been able to do to tap into your real true feelings? Are you at a phase where you are numbing them and running? Or are you working towards processing them?

For me, saying HELLO to my grief and loss has been a critical part of my healing process. I’m no longer running the rat race to be healed! That doesn’t work for many of us. Being SAD about your adoption experience is NORMAL. Being ANGRY about your adoption experience is NORMAL. It’s what you do with these feeling is what’s KEY. Acceptance of them is KEY.

Saying HELLO to them is acknowledging them. Sitting with them awhile, writing about them, or sharing them with someone you love or trust is processing them. Getting alone in nature, doing your yoga, jogging, biking, hiking, and anything outside can help you release some the build up you have, and so many adoptees have anger and rage deep inside, bursting to come out. It’s going to come out in healthy ways, or unhealthy ways. What have you picked for yourself?

I picked unhealthy for 27 years, but it wasn’t because I wanted to pick it. It was because I didn’t have the tools to work on my adoptee issues. Remember, we live in a world that celebrates our trauma and celebrates adoption! This is why it upsets me when people say we are choosing to stay STUCK. Don’t you think if every single adoptee had a flip to switch, on was happy and off was sad/angry we would choose the HAPPY SWITCH? Seriously, so many of us are stuck because that was me for 40+ years because we had no tools. Thank God times are changing! –  Adoptees Connect.

The best part is, once we know that grief and loss is a normal response, and once we know it’s time to start processing it in healthy ways we can then make the choice to put one foot forward and try to walk it out TOGETHER.

Is it scary? Damn straight it is! I always say adoptees aren’t sissies! They are some of the strongest people on the planet! But I did it, and you can do it too! So my question for you is, when are you going to start saying HELLO to your grief and loss? Welcome it, embrace it and keep it moving. Only you can do this because one thing I’ve learned is that if we want something in the adoptee community or for ourselves we will have to seek it, create it, or find it ourselves! No one is going to do it for us, especially when they are so busy celebrating our trauma and they don’t acknowledge we have any losses to grieve.

It’s up to us. It’s up to me. It’s up to you.

What are you going to do?

Sending Renewed Love & Light,

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Reclaiming. Recovering. Recreating. Retreating. Repeating.