Even when the signs were right before me, I was still the naive adoptee. Putting myself “out there,” never dreaming for a million years that things could end up a different way than I had imagined. A lifetime of fantasizing about Eileen and being told she “loved me so much” couldn’t possibly prepare me for the reality that would unfold over the next 15 years of my life.
A few weeks after returning to Kentucky from visiting Eileen for the first time, I called her to say, “Hello.” The phone rang, and rang, and rang. No one answered. I left a voicemail, “Hi Eileen; I was calling to say hello and see how you were. Call me when you can. I hope you are well. – Pam.”
I didn’t hear back from her, so I tried calling her several times over many months, but that turned into years. Finally, I mailed a few cards and letters to let her know I was thinking about her. She never responded to me, but I couldn’t give up or give in.
The little girl in me couldn’t acknowledge nor accept what was happening. Alcohol helped me escape. I never did come to grips with the reality that she didn’t want to hear from me and never wanted to meet me.
Looking back, I think Joanna was “twisting her arm,” so to speak, when it came to our meeting, and she did it to be a good sport. But, the open wound from the rejection and abandonment that I felt from Eileen are wounds that have impacted me at every step of my journey and life in every way.
The abandonment is separate from the rejection, but they are intertwined thoroughly. I feel abandoned because she left me with strangers and never came back. I felt rejected because once I found her and tried to rekindle a relationship, she didn’t want a relationship with me.
How could I be so naive in believing my whole life that “her loving me so much” would mean she would want a relationship with me one day? At 47 years old, I think I can answer that question through the fantasies that plagued my mind. My fantasies ultimately began because of deception from my beginnings, being altered, and being severed from my biological roots and truth. My story was a secret from me, which should be against the law.
I couldn’t fathom that the woman I had put on a pedestal for so many years didn’t want to know me or have a relationship with me. The little bit that could tap into that reality was overcome by the hope that one day she would change her mind. I was never going to stop wishing she would change her mind. This kept an open wound that only another adoptee could understand.
The emotional and mental torment I felt resulted from the biggest disappointment of my life: a failed reunion and relationship with my birth mother. I felt utterly alone during this time, creating a split in my internal dialogue and life. On one side, I had my adoptive family and my life experiences with them.
On the other side was my biological family. Keeping them separate was challenging, but it also came naturally because I was doing this from a young age in silence. But these were big experiences and big feelings to keep silent; however, I had no choice.
My adoptive parents had no clue what I was going through because they never discussed adoption or the implications of a failed adoption experience. They also never talked about my birth family, ever. It was like an elephant-in-the-room-type topic.
The one chance at a face-to-face meeting with Eileen turned out to be the only time I was ever allowed to meet her and get to know her in my lifetime. Unfortunately, after that one meeting in 1995, she shut the door and put about 100 locks on it, and I never saw or heard from her again. No matter how hard I tried, she would rather die alone than allow me to be in her life: no goodbye, no reason, no note or letter to explain why she made this choice. I heard nothing from her after our one meeting in 1995. Sadly, my reunion with Joanna soured not long after and I was completely broken hearted about both failed reunions. Joanna and I also lost touch for over a decade but not at my choosing. I reached out to her many times, only to get crickets in return.
Am I such an awful person that I deserved this? What did I do or say wrong? Sadly, it would be many more years later that I would make sense of it all, but until that time in my life, I was a complete trainwreck. I internalized all my feelings. As a result, I didn’t understand it all, nor did I know how to heal from the pain I was feeling. Therapists had failed me miserably, and I had also failed myself.
I never gave up searching for my birth father. I knew that one day I would come face to face with him but I didn’t know how. I always wondered if I had more siblings and if finding him would be a better experience than what I had with my failed reunions with Eileen and Joanna. Alcohol again stepped in and allowed me not to feel or heal, so I rode the waves of the party life. I knew at the end of the day, even if I wanted to heal, there were no healing tools for me, the naive adoptee.
Through it all, in 1997, at 24 years old, I would receive some of the best news of my life, and everything shifted, at least for a while. I stuffed my adoptee reality deep down, and new and meaningful things would arise to take front and center.
*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
Joanna picked me up from the airport in Waterloo, Iowa, the town I was born in, where Eileen lived. It was a cool crisp morning in September of 1995. The leaves started falling and stirring on the ground, adding beautiful colors to the landscapes.
The drive to Eileen’s was only about 10 minutes, but it seemed like an eternity. Then, finally, we pulled up in her driveway, and I was anxious but on cloud nine simultaneously. I had no idea what to expect, but I know I had fantasized about this day my entire life. I was hoping for an immediate connection, a long motherly embrace to compensate for the lost 21 years together. I silently wished for a reunion as we see on all the television shows, you know, the warm fuzzy ones full of emotion and warmth.
We pulled up Eileen’s driveway, and I got out of the car with Joanna. My heart was racing. We both walked to the side door of Eileen’s house on Wilson Avenue. Joanna knocked, and the door opened a few short moments later. A thin, frail woman appeared before me who looked nothing like I had fantasized about my whole life. I didn’t feel the connection I had always thought I would.
Eileen had a short haircut curled back with sandy blonde hair. She wore blue jeans and a red sweatshirt that had mickey on it. She looked slim and slender, not over 100lbs. She stood about 5’10 and met me with a grin as she opened the door. However, she wasn’t warm, she didn’t hug me, and she wasn’t emotional in the slightest regard, more like standoffish.
“Come on in,” Eileen said with a half-grin as she held the screen door open for Joanna and me. We walked up the stairs, and I followed Joanna into the dining room. We met Nan, Eileen’s sister, and Barb, who was Eileen’s best friend. They were already sitting at the table waiting on Joanna and me.
We all sat down, but first, Eileen asked if I wanted a drink as she had already prepared hers ahead of time. I said, “Sure, I will take whatever you are drinking.” Joanna settled with some water.
She came back from the kitchen with a “Rum and Coke.” I thanked her. At the time, this was a dream come true. Finally, I was sitting face to face with the woman who gave me life, and we were having a drink together too! My prayers were answered, and my dreams finally came true.
Aside from giving birth to my daughter, this was undoubtedly the best day of my life. We all got settled, and Eileen lit a cigarette, took a drag, and said, “So, how was your life?”
All eyes were on me. Later I would learn this was a “make it or break it” moment. Everything was on the line.
I had no idea that this experience and conversation would forever change the trajectory of our interactions with one another. If I knew then what I know now, I likely would have shared a lighter version of how my life was up until that moment.
However, I am a genuine, raw, and honest person, so I only prepared ahead of time to share the truth about how my life had been up until that point. No one expressed the implications of sugarcoating the truth with Eileen, so I went all in sharing my life as I experienced it up until that moment we came face to face.
“Well, my adoptive parents divorced when I was one year old, and I was raised in a single-parent home, on welfare with my adoptive mom, who was addicted to pills and had untreated mental health issues. We have never had a good relationship, and I have never bonded with her as a mother and daughter should. She was emotionally and mentally abusive and tried to commit suicide in front of us many times, and used this as a weapon to control us. She also tied us to chairs and wouldn’t let us go outside to play,” I said.
I also expressed, “I have an adopted sister that was adopted a year before me, and my adopted dad remarried, moved over an hour away, and I gained a step mom and three step brothers. He took us for summer vacations and saw us every other weekend. Until I decided I no longer wanted to go in my early teens because the oldest step-brothers molested me repeatedly when I was young. I haven’t seen them in a long time. My adoptive mom got a job in Kentucky, so we moved when I was 17. “
On a lighter note, I shared some things about my daughter, Keila, Eileen’s biological granddaughter, who was genuinely the happiest part of my story. I also shared that I went back to school to graduate, and I had plans to go to college one day. However, I felt like I was on the spot and didn’t have many warm fuzzy pieces to tell her.
So instead, I told her I dreamed of her every day of my life and that she was the only thing missing. Everyone got quiet as if they didn’t expect to hear these things. I am confident that my birth mother and others had hoped to hear a wonderful and happy life story, but my story was quite the opposite of the picture-perfect adoption story.
I asked Eileen if she could share a little about herself and her life, and she did. However, she kept her sharing at the bare minimum, giving me tiny pieces of who she was and what she liked to do, almost as if it was enough to satisfy my curiosity, but nothing more.
The rum and coke were needed to calm my nerves after sharing these personal details of my life with four essential strangers. It was tense, but somehow I got through it. Eventually, I got up enough nerve to ask my birth mother about my birth father again.
She said the same thing she told me on the phone, “He didn’t know anything about you, and he wouldn’t want to know.” One thing was for sure; she wouldn’t tell me who my birth father was if her life depended on it. She was taking that secret to her grave with her.
Joanna shared a personal piece of her life on this day that she, too, was a birth mother, and she had a full-blood brother to her five-year-old son and gave him up for adoption. I found that this news took me back a bit. I always hear stories of our kids following in our footsteps, but this took it to a new level.
Joanna said she wasn’t aware that Eileen had me and had given me up for adoption because she was only four years old. However, she had her baby and gave it up for adoption also. It was almost a celebratory vibe behind them both giving their babies up for adoption. I wasn’t sure what to think, but I was taking notes in my mind and trying to retain all the details I had learned about my newfound family.
We sat together for approximately two hours, getting to know one another. Once our visit seemed to wrap up, we all took pictures together. I had more hopes that we would see one another again and keep our lines of communication open. The naive adoptee in me believed this would be the beginning of the relationship I always dreamed of. Little did I know, I created more adoptee illusions in my mind, and the hardcore reality would soon set in.
Most adoptees form fantasies and illusions in their minds about their biological families, especially our birth mothers. What does anyone expect us to do? When our reality is hidden from us, we have no choice.
The illusion that my birth mother was some beautiful woman from Hollywood, California, was shattered. Sadly, I didn’t feel like she was pretty like I always dreamed she would be. Instead, she looked like alcohol and cigarettes had taken a toll on her life. She looked far beyond her age of 50, more like her upper 60’s. Nevertheless, I wholeheartedly built up a fantasy in my mind of the magical, mystical, flawless, and embracing birth mother. I was greatly disappointed to have the reality be a stark contrast to my fantasy.
It’s similar to when a family has a child snatched up off the street, and they are frantic searching for them, but they have been abducted, nowhere to be found. That feeling they have searching for them everywhere they go, never giving up or giving in, plagues them and creates a never-ending internal torment until they are found. But they can outwardly express their grief, loss, and sadness. Adoptees can not. We keep it all locked inside for an entire lifetime, but most of us never stop wondering or searching.
While I was over the moon to finally have my dreams come true and see the woman who gave me life, I will always wish I would have kept my sharing to a bare minimum regarding my heartache and heartbreak. I will always regret that I didn’t ask more questions, take more notes and stay longer.
*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
I was elated that I was on the phone with the woman I had fantasized about my entire life. “I have thought of you every year on your birthday, and I hope you have had a great life. What is it you would like to know?” Eileen said.
“I would love to learn more about you and your life. Do I have any siblings?” I said
“Well, I enjoy Rod Stewart, he’s my favorite artist. I collect Garfield memorabilia, and I have one daughter, but she doesn’t know anything about you, and I prefer to keep it this way” she said.
“Thank you for sharing. Can you tell me who my biological father is?” I said?
“Actually, I can’t share his information. He didn’t know anything about you, and trust me – he wouldn’t want to”, she said.
I was taken back by this, but we chatted for about five minutes, and I said, “If I sent you some pictures and a letter in the mail, would you possibly be able to write me back and send a photo of yourself?” I was dying to know what she looked like! Did I look like her?
“Yes, that would be fine. I look forward to that” she said.
I was over the moon and almost giddy. I wasn’t sure what to think about being a secret from my biological sister or the information about my biological father. Still, I glossed over it at the chance to get to know my birth mother better.
We ended the call, and I immediately started looking for photos of myself so that I could get together a photo album made just for Eileen. I retrieved photos of me being a newborn, toddler, and childhood. I found a few photos of my teenage and early adult years. I also included a few photos of Keila, her biological granddaughter.
I remember writing a poem for her that said, “My prayers were answered, my dreams finally came true, and all of this occurred the day I found you.”
I also wrote a letter telling her a little about myself and that I was looking forward to learning more about her, seeing her picture, and getting her letter in the mail. So I put a little photo album and package together, along with the letter and poem, and mailed it off to her the next day.
I couldn’t wait to get her letter back and finally see what she looked like. So I waited a few days, and then I started to check the mail about a week after sending my mail off to her. I knew the mailman always came around noon, so I would sit by the window and wait for his mail truck to roll up.
Then, as soon as I saw him coming, I would fly out the door to retrieve the mail. I could feel the excitement and anticipation from the tips of my toes to the top of my head!
A week passed, and then two weeks. After that, I thought maybe she was busy, so I gave it more time. Then three weeks passed, and then a month. Two months passed, and then three months. Finally, I started to get weary and couldn’t understand why she didn’t write back to me.
Maybe she didn’t get my pictures and letters? What if I had the wrong address? I better make sure she got them! So I decided to make a phone call and ask her myself.
I called Eileen, and this time the phone rang, and rang and rang. Finally, her voicemail picked up, and I left her a voicemail asking her to call me back at her earliest convenience. I was never going to stop waiting on her call, but I never received a return call. I was still running out every day to meet the mailman, and I had the phone close to me in case she called.
Three months turned into six months, and it was apparent Eileen wasn’t going to keep her word about writing me back. Deep down, I was crushed. But I thought she loved me so much? So why was she not writing me back? I internalized this in a significant way as if it was my fault. People tell adoptees always to prepare when they are searching and entering reunion; however, there is no natural way to prepare for what I was experiencing.
But, at this time, I had a decision to make. I could disappear as if I didn’t exist on this earth. Eileen’s secret would be kept hidden away from the world, and I would be the compliant adoptee. Or I could move along to find my biological sister, Joanna.
I decided to reach out to Joanna because I didn’t sign any adoption paperwork or agree to be anyone’s secret. At this stage, I had nothing to lose! So I reached out to Josie, who gave me Joanna’s address. I wrote a short but sweet letter, introducing myself and letting her know I was her long-lost sister and I would love to hear from her and get to know her. Once again, I had high hopes she would reach back out to me. So I mailed the letter off, and the waiting game began again.
I continued to fly to the mailbox waiting on any correspondence from Eileen and Joanna, only to be disappointed every time. Still, at 47 years old, I think of Eileen whenever I walk to my mailbox.
Saturday afternoon, my cell phone rang, and it was a call from an Oregon area code. I quickly answered, “Hello.”
“Hi Pam, it’s your sister Joanna. I received your letter in the mail today!” she said. Again, I was overwhelmed with emotions. My sister, I was finally talking to my REAL BIOLOGICAL SISTER! Another dream come true. We started to share a little information about one another, and she expressed that she always wanted a sister growing up as an only child.
She decided to fly to Kentucky the following week with her husband so we could meet in real life for the first time. I was 21 years old, and she was 25 years old. Friday couldn’t get here fast enough. I couldn’t believe I would be seeing my first biological relative aside from Keila. I was over the moon.
She arrived, we hugged for what seemed like forever, and we talked about our lives. She shared that Eileen was an alcoholic and still is and that they didn’t have a very close relationship growing up. She always wished she had a sister, and now she did. We spent several days together, and she told me she would talk with Eileen and set up a meeting between us.
Two months later, I was on an airplane to Iowa to meet Eileen for the first time. I was nervous but excited, with high hopes at the same time. I still hadn’t seen her picture, nor did I know what she looked like. Was she pretty like I always fantasized she was?
Of course, in a matter of hours, I would see her face for the first time, and hopefully, it would be the beginning of making up for lost time and a beautiful relationship.
*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
I will never forget Patricia’s following words, “When we were going to sign the adoption paperwork, the attorney gave us the wrong paperwork. Thomas saw your birth mother’s name. If you call him, he might remember it.”
The emotions that came over my body at that moment are so complex and deep that I don’t think I’ve felt such mixed emotions all at once before. Part of me filled with rage because she lied to me my whole life. Even knowing I was in extreme agony, she told the stale lie repeatedly, even knowing the truth? I will never trust her or forgive her for this, ever.
The other part was elated at the hope of Thomas remembering my birth mother’s name. Within minutes I picked up the phone and called Thomas.
“Hi Daddy, Mom said that when you were adopting me, the attorney gave you the wrong paperwork to sign, and you saw my birth mother’s name? Do you remember her name?”
Thomas said, “Yes, her name was Eileen Ward., and she lived at 512 Rhey Street in Waterloo.”
I said, “Thank you!” and quickly hung up the phone.
Now, what was I going to do with this information? At the time, it was 1994, and cell phones and the internet were non-existent. So I called the library in Waterloo, the city I was born in. I asked the receptionist, who answered if she could help me because I was out of state, calling from Kentucky.
She was kind enough to help and gathered the 1974 Waterloo directory phone book. I asked her if she could look up Eileen Ward on Rhey Street. She found her, along with another person with a different address but the same last name, Josie Ward.
Then I asked her to pull up the 1995 directory phone book and look for the same names on the same street as the 1974 directory. She could still see Josie Ward, but Eileen Ward was no longer listed. I asked her to give me Josie Ward’s phone number, and I thanked her for her time.
I called Josie Ward immediately and explained that I was in search of Eileen Ward and wondered if she could help me. She said, “Eileen was married to my brother, John Ward, but they have since divorced, and they are no longer together. So how can I help you?”
I explained that I was searching for Eileen because I had recently learned she was my biological mother.
Josie said, “Wow, what year were you born?”
I said, “1974.”
She said, “We all knew something was going on because Eileen wasn’t coming around for a while, and when we saw her, she was wearing baggy overall bibs, which confirms our suspicions that she was hiding; a pregnancy. I think she must have worked up until the day she had you and went back to work the next day. She and John divorced in 1972.”
“Can you tell me anything else about her? Do you have her phone number?” I asked.
“Well, I can tell you that you have an older sister named Joanna, and she was an only child. You were born four years after her. I haven’t talked to Eileen in several years; she’s remarried to Keith, but her phone number is 1-319-555-1212. Good luck, honey.” Josie said.
I thanked her for her help and the information, and we hung up the phone. My mind and heart were racing at that moment, and I was gathering what I wanted to say to Eileen. But unfortunately, I didn’t have any guidance, assistance, or support. This was 1995, and adoptees had no resources, so I was winging it. I was on my own, as usual.
This was undoubtedly the absolute best day of my life, aside from giving birth to my daughter just nine months ago. I could hardly fathom I was minutes away from my dreams coming true and hearing the voice of the woman that gave me life! I waited 21 years for this. I had high hopes we would reconnect and compensate for the lost time. I knew she would be so excited to hear from me, especially when she “loved me so much!”
That Friday afternoon, I sat quietly, jotting down thoughts of what I wanted to say. Then, finally, I dialed the phone number, and it started to ring.
One ring, two rings, three rings seemed like an eternity.
I hear a soft “Hello” at the other end of the line.
I said, “Hi, Eileen, my name is Pamela, and I was born on August 13th, 1974, at St. Frances Hospital in Waterloo, Iowa. Does this date mean anything to you?”
The phone got quiet, and the next thing I hear is a “click.” The dial tone was ringing in my ear.
My heart dropped.
I said to myself, “This must be an accident, the woman that “loved me so much” would never just hang up on me.”
I immediately pushed redial and heard the same “Hello” at the other end of the line again.
This time I said, “Eileen, I want you to know I don’t want anything from you. I only wish to get to know you and learn more about you. I have some questions for you. I mean no harm. Can we please talk for a few minutes?”
*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
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.
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.
“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.
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
I’ve experienced so many emotions when it comes to my birth mother, relinquishment, and rejection. Although I’m about 8 years into the “Coming out of the FOG” phase, I still grapple with emotions and feelings associated with my birth mother and her decision in relinquishment. I can say, without a doubt that with knowledge of some of the truth, hers and mine it’s allowed me to accept that truth to move forward with my life.
1994 I was a 21-year-old single mother of a beautiful daughter. This was the year I would find out who my birth mother was, where she was, and I heard her voice for the first time. Eventually I saw her face.
After spending 21 years being lied to by my adoptive mom, I finally found her. My adoptive mom held the key to this information my entire life. Did she think she was protecting me? Perhaps, but I don’t think I will ever “Get Over” the fact that every single time I asked about my birth mother, who she was, where she was, and how I could find her, she lied to me. That’s another blog post.
Spending a lifetime and childhood filled with fantasies about “HER” I had always hoped that one day she was going to come back to get me. I visualized a car pulling up in the front yard, a woman getting out walking up to me saying, “Hi Honey, it’s me, your momma… It’s time to go home now… This was all a big mistake”. Many of you already know about my obsession with THE SKY AND I. It was my baby blanket growing up, and a safety net for me because I knew she was under the same sky I was.
As you can guess, my fantasy turned to reality and she never showed up. I waited and waited and waited. Today, I am extremely triggered by waiting on anyone for anything. Something deep in my soul takes me back to waiting my entire childhood waiting on my birth mother to show up, and I panic. I do my best to plan things in my life where I don’t have to wait on people. It’s hard for me to separate my responses to waiting on people as a memory of waiting on my birth mother, yet I know it to be true. I do my best to acknowledge it, yet I believe it will be a piece of the little girl in me always wanting my birth mother.
I remember around the time I found out I was adopted, (5ish) I started to have dreams about searching for my birth mother. I was a little girl in a hospital gown around 5 years old, running up and down the hallways of the maternity ward at St. Francis Hospital in Waterloo, Iowa. There wasn’t a single person in sight, just me. I was LOST. Everything was white. I kept running down a hospital hallway, ripping the white curtains back one by one, searching for HER. The hallway went on forever and ever and ever… I kept running, and running, and running. This dream has come and gone many times in my life.
Today, if I feel left, or lost at all, I panic. The little girl in me associates the current with the past, and it’s extremely hard to navigate. It feels like a PTSD episode.
Adoption- The “beautiful gift” that keeps on giving.
Searching for her was an everyday part of my life all through my childhood, teen years and adult life. As you can imagine when I finally found HER, it was the best day of my life. I wrote a poem that day, “My dream finally came true, the day that I found you.” I still have it somewhere, in a box tucked away.
I made the call. The call I had been waiting to make my entire life, and I said, “Hi Eileen, my name is Pam, I was born Aug 13, 1974 – does that date mean anything to you?”
I said, “Hello? Hello?”
She hung up the phone.
I called back, I hear her answer and say “Hello, Yes I am the woman you are looking for”.
I said, “I can assure you I don’t want anything from you. I would love to learn more about you, your life and I have some questions for you if that’s okay?”
She replied, “I have always thought about you each year on your birthday. You have a sister, she doesn’t know anything about you and I don’t want her too”.
We spoke a few more minutes and she agreed she would write me, and I said I would write her and send some photos. I was DYING inside not knowing what she looked like. We ended our conversation and said we would be in touch.
I prepared a photo album for her, and a letter with the poem in it. Mailed them off within 24 hours.
The wait began…
I met the mailman at the mailbox daily.
Did I mention I hate WAITING on people to this day?
This is why.
I called her.
I called her again.
I was totally in the fog and I had no idea what was really happening.
I decided after 6 months I had nothing to lose in contacting my biological half-sister. The one my birth mother said she didn’t want to know about me. I mailed her a letter, and within days I was on the phone with my half biological sister. This was also a dream come true. She was receptive and excited to speak to me and we ended up meeting not long after.
She spoke to my birth mother and convinced my birth mother she needed to meet me. Yes, I said that right. She CONVINCED my own biological mother to want to meet me. I still hadn’t accepted the truth.
A month later I pulled up in the driveway of my birth mothers house. A surreal experience. I remember her coming to the door and laying eyes on her for the first time. She looked nothing like I imagined but it was her, none the less. She gave me what I would describe as a “Distant Hug”. It wasn’t the real embrace I expected from the woman that gave me life after 21 years apart. She invited me in and we sat around her dining room table. It was my birth mother, her sister (my aunt), my birth mothers best friend, my sister and me. She got a drink, and I got a drink. (alcohol) No one else was drinking but us. As soon as we sat down, the question started flying.
My birth mother said, “So, how was your life?”
I could have lied, or sugar-coated things but I chose to be honest.
“I’ve had a really hard life, I never bonded with my adoptive mom. My adoptive parents divorced when I was a year and the home I grew up in was extremely chaotic and abusive in many ways”
She got quiet.
I asked her if she could tell me who my birth father was.
She said, “He didn’t know about you and he wouldn’t want too”.
That was the end of that topic. She really didn’t share much about herself but a few details. We took a few pictures together and wrapped the visit up. I was there about 2 hours. I was later told my birth father was dead by my birth mothers x- husband, but that was a lie.
In my mind this was the beginning of a hopeful relationship. I wrote her. I called her. She avoided me at all costs. My half-sister had even cut off all contact as well.
Year after year passed and I waited and waited for something, anything. What did I do wrong? I mean I only told her the truth.
What I did get was a Facebook message in 2010 from my half-sister 20 years later that my birth mother had passed away, and my birth sister NEEDED me to be there at the funeral to support her. I showed up. This was one of the hardest experiences of my life. Not only was I introduced multiple times as, “This is Pam, the daughter my mom gave up for adoption” but I was also totally omitted from the obituary. I was there, in real life but I didn’t exist to them.
I was able to speak to a few of my birth mother’s friends in attempts to understand her life, and to gain empathy for this woman that brought me into the world who abandoned me not once, but twice. I wanted to know more details on why she made these choices, so I began to ask her close friends some questions.
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 gain a better understanding about 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.
It was fascinating to me that even though she didn’t raise me, I picked up this “alcohol thing” anyway. Alcoholism was something I picked up on not only through my DNA but in utero, before I was even born I was exposed to alcohol in the womb. It’s no wonder I spent 27 years addicted to it.
While learning more about my birth mother, her best friend shared with me that she was pregnant at the same time as my birth mother although she kept her baby. August 13, 1974 I was born. My birth mothers best friend said she sent flowers to the hospital for my birth mother when she gave birth to me, but they were returned to her because my birth mother used an alias in the hospital. She did not want to be found or discovered. They were never able to be delivered because of this. She said my birth mother worked up until the day she had me and went back to work the next day and she hid the pregnancy from everyone around. Her best friend is who told me she never saw her without a drink in her hand, even throughout her pregnancy. I was startled by this truth. I wondered how this impacted me in utero, although I guess I will never know?
Another one of my birth mothers friend shared with me that after my birth mother met me that one time and shut me out forever back in 1995, had expressed to her how upset she was that my adoptive parents got a divorce when I was 1 year old. She told her she wanted me to have a “better life” like she was promised, yet I was raised on welfare, food stamps in a single parent household. Not to mention the abuse I experienced at the hands of my adoptive mother and adoptive step brother. She said my birth mother never “Got Over That” and said many times if she would have known that was going to happen she would have kept me.
Adoption can’t promise a better life, only a different one.
My birth mother’s sister, who was my biological aunt is the one who upped the information as to who my biological father was because my birth mother wasn’t going to tell me. She explained that he was a pall barrier in my grandfather’s funeral and a friend of the family. He was approximately 10 years older than my birth mother, and he was married at the time of my conception. I was supposedly conceived out of a drunken one-night stand, after my grandfather’s funeral.
My birth sister said it was traumatic growing up in a household with an alcoholic mother. She said she never attended her school events, and that she wasn’t a good mother at all. She suggested to me multiple times that she wished she was the one given up for adoption, in other words I should be thankful I was! If she knew all about my experience growing up in an abusive adoptive home, I don’t think she would have said that.
I have sympathy for my birth sister, because of her upbringing. She’s expressed multiple times wishing that she was the one given up for adoption, and her views adoption was a “better life” so I automatically must have gotten the better life than her? Sadly, she too has surrendered a child for adoption, so her views are at the opposite end of the spectrum regarding adoption, and sadly because of our opposing viewpoints and a few other issues, we have no relationship today.
Every little piece of information has been an extremely valuable piece to me completing my puzzle. Every clue helped me understand better. Spending so many years numbing my pain with alcohol, running from the TRUTH I wasn’t in a place to process anything. Alcohol didn’t do anything for me to process my pain in healthy ways, and I can say now I had no idea how to process emotions in a healthy way. There was no living example of someone I could mirror, growing up on how to process feelings in a healthy way.
One day in 2012 it all came tumbling down on me like a TON of BRICKS.
I was just like my birth mother.
I didn’t want to be like her in the alcoholic area!
This meant I was going to die like her if I didn’t make any changes. I wanted my kids to have a happy healthy mom because that’s something I never had. I wanted my future grandkids to have a happy healthy grandma which is something my kids never had.
I was still angry at my birth mother, so I did a lot of praying about my anger towards her. She was dead for God’s sake. My anger was only hurting me. I was angry she abandoned me 2x. I was angry she kept me a secret from my birth father which resulted in me being given up for adoption without his consent. I was just flat out angry!
I knew if I was ever going to get to a place of forgiveness, I needed to try to FEEL what she FELT when she decided to make the decision to surrender me for adoption. I had to have empathy for her during that time, and even the years to follow. Why did she make that decision? What happened to her in her childhood to make her the way she was? What did she reject me for the second time?
To do this, I had to put myself in MY BIRTH MOTHERS SHOES. I had to TRY to understand her position in all areas of our journey. I started to ask a few birth mothers some questions, to try to understand better. I read “The Girls that Went Away” at an attempt to try to understand her better. Each area I learned about what a birth mother goes through was healing to me. Every area I began to understand more about why she made the decision she did, and I tried to objectively see things from her view, from her shoes.
It would be incredibly inaccurate of me to lump all birth mothers in one category, saying they all feel this way or that way. On the other hand, I’ve had a ton of people try to speak on behalf of MY BIRTH MOTHER in attempts to make me “feel better”. I see a lot of people speak for adoptees as well. No adoptees or birth mothers, or even adoptive parents all have the same cookie cutter situations or experiences. I had birth mothers tell me, “I’m sure she was broken hearted just like you” and “I’m sure your birth mother loved you and wanted you in her life, it was the pain she was rejecting, not you”.
Bottom line is, no one can speak for her. NO ONE. I was told she was a very cold person. Her neighbors would come try to bring her food, or cookies, or shovel her sidewalk and driveway and she would tell them “Leave her alone” and they said she flat out didn’t want to be bothered. She had a mean spirit, and if she was anything like me as a drinker alcohol only made it worse.
After reading “The Girls that Went Away” I learned how relinquishment might impact birth mothers and this helped me understand this could have easily impacted my birth mother. They mentioned how things stood still, like everything remained the same as if frozen in time, around the time of relinquishment. It was interesting to learn this because when my birth mother passed away, I asked my sister to take me to her house. The same one I went to 20 years earlier and met her that one time. She said, “Oh, trust me you don’t want to go to mom’s house, it’s horrible”. I assured her that yes, yes, I did. I needed to see it. November 7, 2010, I pulled up in her driveway, and went inside. Everything was dark, curtains drawn with dark floral colored drapes almost looking like they were from the 70’s. It didn’t look like anything had changed from when I saw her the one and only time, although things were much darker and dirtier. Dust was extremely thick, she had oxygen tanks lined up in her living room. Darkness was everywhere. She died on her sofa, with COPD, smoking, on oxygen and an alcoholic who had shut everyone out. I needed to see this, so I could see what her last days were like. It broke my heart, but I was told that she didn’t only shut me out, but she had shut everyone else out too. Her closest friends hadn’t seen her in along while, neighbors said she wasn’t very friendly. My birth sister hadn’t seen her in many years, nor talked to her. She was estranged from everyone and died in that dark, sad, lonely place.
I wanted to know everything I could about my birth mother. I needed to know. Every piece of information about her and her life was like salve to my wounds. Healing to my spirit. It was hard to learn all these things, it wasn’t easy at all, but the truth is always better than secrecy and lies. I need to share that most of the information I found out about my birth mother was from other people who knew her, and experienced life with her. I didn’t get that privilege, but I hold all the information close to my heart from those who shared it with me.
You might say “privilege? She doesn’t sound like she was a privilege to know!” Anyone can easily say that, just like my adoptive mom told me one day, “You act like your life would have been so better with her!” I don’t care how mean she was, or how much of an alcoholic she was. I don’t care how many married men she slept with, or how many babies she surrendered for adoption – she was still my mother! I don’t care what she was or wasn’t. And it is entirely possible I feel this way about her because I sought her my entire life, searching, seeking, looking, dreaming, fantasizing about HER that it’s so hard for me to see the bad in her. I see a broken woman who was hurting. She was an alcoholic, and I know from my own experience alcohol is something people use to run from pain. To mask the pain, to not feel it. She was an alcoholic way before I was born, all her life from what I was told.
I learned this I wanted to learn about what her childhood was like, and what had happened to her in her younger days to make her the way she was. Instead of damn her for having sex with a married man, I wanted to learn what happened to her. I had to have the willingness to take myself out of my shoes and put them in her shoes. It was easy for me to have sympathy for her because her alcohol problem was a huge factor in the decisions she made. My alcohol problem was a huge problem in the decisions I made. If I threw her under the bus, I needed to throw myself under the bus and guess what? I did that most of my life. To forgiver her I had to forgive myself vice versa.
I learned that my birth mothers mother was mentally ill, and she tried to abort one of her first child on her own in 1942. Rumor has it that she (my grandmother) might have been pregnant by her father, but I don’t know this to be entirely true. I do know that the abortion attempt was a failed one, and my birth mother had a sibling that was born mentally handicapped who lived in a nursing facility her entire life who was 5 years older than her. She died in her 50’s. I always wonder how this impacted my birth mother? What other family secrets were there that I had no clue about. Whatever they were, I wonder how they impacted my birth mother? Was that what drove her to drink? Did she have some pain she was running from? Did something happen to her in her childhood?
Those questions remain questions today, but I can imagine she was drinking running from some pain just like I was for 27 years. The only difference is her drinking killed her. Mine is not going to kill me. She made mistakes, I made mistakes. I don’t have any hate in my heart for her, only hurt. I did hate her for many years, but it was only hurting me.
I’ve come to my own conclusion that many women who have children don’t have a maternal bond with that child, nor do they have the desire to be a mother. I personally believe based on the information that I know about my birth mother is that she rejected the pregnancy, and she was ashamed of her actions in having an affair with a married man. This was the reason she chose to give me up for adoption. Who would want to be reminded of such an event day in and day out?
I think about what if she would have kept me and what my life would have been like. A few years ago, I saw a lady on Dr. Phil and she was in bad shape on the show because she was conceived out of an affair with a married man who was her father, but her mom kept her. Her father and his wife divorced, her half siblings held grudges against her simply for being alive and being the product of her parents “affair” and this woman was a WRECK! She was hysterical at times crying and sobbing that she hates that she was born causing so many problems and ruining a family because of her parent’s actions. It was clearly a HUGE burden placed on her shoulders the minute she knew the truth. My heart ached for her, and I couldn’t help but realize that could have been me if my birth mother kept me.
Without the truth I wouldn’t be where I am today. Without the knowledge regarding my birth mother, especially her alcoholism I would have never made the choice to stop drinking. August 13, 2012 was my birthday, and the last drink I had. I was determined to NOT die like my birth mother. My kids deserve more, and I deserve more.
Learning all this information about my birth mother, has helped me form my own conclusion about her. Some days I feel like she just wanted to get rid of her problem, “ME” because I was a reminder of her irresponsible actions. Part of me believes she truly wanted me to have a better life, because that’s what the adoption industry and our society feeds birth mothers so they guilt them into making the choice to surrender. Part of me believes that she was destroyed after I met her that one time, learning the truth. The other part of me feels like she’s just a cold-hearted woman who’s in a lot of pain. I have done my best to take myself out of my shoes and put myself in her shoes to bring healing to my spirit and understand her decision better.
Her decision has impacted every area of my life.
Although I’ve gained a better understanding, I still hurt – daily. My “Mother Wound” is a very deep wound. Like many adoptees, I struck it out in the mother area not once, but twice. When I dreamed my entire life about this woman, for that reunion to fail it’s left me devastated. I don’t believe it’s something I will ever forget or get over. It’s something I am learning how to process the best I can while I live a sober life. I don’t run and go drink 5 glasses of wine anymore or a 12 pack of beer to NOT FEEL IT! I must feel it to heal it. Some days I ponder how much more fun life was when I was drinking. This handling “feelings” business when it comes to all this adoptee trauma is no damn joke! Before in my drinking life, I would skate through life with never processing anything.
Alcohol was only a band aide on my wounds. Knowing my birth mother was an alcoholic her entire life, helped me understand her coldness and decision making. Alcohol was a major factor in some terrible decisions I made in my days. How can I look down on her, when I am no different? Really none of us are, we all make mistakes and have issues.
I guess for me, being born and causing so many people so much pain in the process is something I have carried deep in my soul for 43 years. I’m working on finding my worth aside from causing so many people so much pain but it’s a struggle daily.
Once I was able to put myself in my birth mother’s shoes, I then was able to meet and find my birth father. I had more questions, needed more answers. I won’t go into all I learned about him at this time, but one thing I learned is that he’s a raging alcoholic which rocked me to my core. So, you mean BOTH my birth parents are alcoholics, and I picked this alcohol thing up and they didn’t even raise me? This was another aspect of the driving force behind my decision to stop drinking. I didn’t want to be anything like Him in the alcohol area.
I wanted to break the chains of this generational curse and the chains of this cycle of alcoholism because if I didn’t do it who was going to do it? That was an always has been one of the hardest yet best decisions I ever made for myself, my kids, and my future grandkids for generations to come.
As I end, I would like to share that I would never be able to put myself in my birth mother’s shoes, if I hadn’t learned the TRUTH about who she was. When we don’t have our truth, we can’t heal. No more secrets. No more lies. Every adoption person deserves to know their truth, because we all deserve the chance at being able to put ourselves in our birth parents shoes to gain a better understanding of WHY?
WHY DID THIS HAPPEN TO ME?
WHAT HAPPENED TO MY BIRTH MOTHER?
WHY WAS I ABANDONED BY THE WOMAN THAT SHOULD LOVE ME MOST?
NOT ONCE BUT TWICE?
Knowing all the above information has helped me make the choice to come to a place of acceptance. I have to be honest, as long as my birth mother was alive on this earth I always had a tiny piece of hope she would change her mind about me. It’s only after she died was when the reality set in and I knew there was no more hope at all in us having a relationship. Please don’t judge adoptees for feeling the way they do. You have no idea how much adoption hurts us, along with the secrecy and lies involved in most adoptions today.
Withholding the truth, no matter who it is, (birth parents, adoptive parents, etc.) is wrong. The truth is everything to adopted people. It doesn’t mean it won’t hurt but it’s always better than living a lie.
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!
I wasn’t 100% sure I was going to write about this but it’s been on my mind pretty heavy so I decided to get it off my chest. I’m also curious if any of my fellow adoptees have experienced anything similar?
Let me share, I’m a 43 year old adult adoptee. I’ve been single for many years, I’ve raised my kids as a single mom. I’ve had a lot of alone time and I’ve embraced it and I actually love to be alone because it seems to be the safest space for me. After many years I recently ventured out into the dating world and I’m currently seeing someone. As we’ve gotten to know one another over the last few months, I have shared a little of my adoption experience with Him. He’s listened and taken in what I have shared, but he doesn’t seem to have much to say in response which seems to be the norm for most non-adoptees. I can dig it because what is there to say? Usually one has to be able to relate to an extent so a conversation dialog is created and there the conversation goes.
In all honesty I haven’t shared all the dynamics of what it’s like to date an adopted person, me specifically. I have only shared with him a few details and some of the things on my list of “Special Needs”. O_O
One of the main things is COMMUNICATION.I made sure in the beginning I let him know how important communication is to me because areas of UNKNOWN are a area of FEAR for me. Maybe I didn’t say “Communicate with me at all times because if you don’t I start to freak out inside and my mind goes haywire and I need you to communicate with me!”… But chances are I said similar, but in a nicer way that said “Hey, communication is important to me so please communicate with me as much as possible”.
Do you have any idea how daunting it is to explain to someone all your adoptee issues? The great thing about this handsome man is I haven’t even had to tell Him all of these issues and one by one they seem to play themselves out. I want to be honest with him, yet what is too much especially in the beginning of a dating relationship? Again, FEAR of sharing too much is always at the forefront and wondering if he will leave like everyone else has, is on my mind so not saying much at all until the situation arises seems safer?
I think in time things reveal themselves so the need for me to vomit all my adoptee issues all over his lap is not necessary. I must say I’m rather sad and somewhat depressed I can’t seem to just forget all about this adoptee crap and get on with my life. As soon as I feel like I’m on top of the world, boom I crash and fall. If you read my blog years back you will see I have done the work! I have tried EVERYTHING! The highs and lows from this adoption thing seem to follow me all over and chances are they will follow me for the rest of my life.
It’s sad and depressing to me.
When I get to this “Space” all I want to do is sleep. I lose my MOJO and go into what I call a “FUNK”.
I never know when the sadness is going to rear it’s ugly head. All I know is when it comes I have to embrace it and KNOW that my response to current situations that might happen are based on the little girl that was abandoned as a baby and child. A non-adoptee reading might have no clue what I’m taking about and might just think I need to check myself into a mental ward, which might not be a bad idea. BUT I promise you if you do the research like I have, and understand that many of our responses to current situations are based on unprocessed stored memories from the beginning of conception and on, you will see that my responses as well as many adoptees aren’t all that “OFF” for the situation at hand.
I know this is A LOT.
Being adopted is A LOT
I hate being adopted.
“Well why are you so negative and why can’t you find the good in being adopted?”
I will save that answer for a totally different blog post because I’m not trying to go off today. Stay tuned.
Back to the girl in the grocery store…
I turned into a little girl in the grocery store!
Laugh while you can!
It was humiliating!
I went with my guy to the grocery and I had to use the rest room. He was just getting a few things and we walked to the back of the store and found the rest room. I said “I’ll be right back” and walked on in. A few minutes later I came back out and I didn’t see Him. Where did he go? I just knew he had to be right around the corner. I walked a few steps and didn’t see him. I walked a few more steps and didn’t see him.
WHERE WAS HE AND WHY DID HE LEAVE ME HERE?
I TOLD HIM I WOULD BE RIGHT BACK.
My heart starts to do some flips because now I know he’s gone. I didn’t see Him anywhere. My mind starts racing and I started to walk up and down the isles and as I passed each isle, my panic button was being triggered more and more. Every step I took where I couldn’t see Him my fear increased. I felt like I was split in two. The real me KNEW he had to be there somewhere, but the little girl in me knew I was lost. The FEAR from the little girl was much MUCH stronger than the reality of Him being there somewhere. I was in a full blown panic episode at 43 years old in the damn grocery store!
I walked to the front of the store, and even looked out the front window and thought, “Maybe he went to the car and he’s waiting on me?” or “Maybe he’s hiding around one of these corners trying to play a trick on me?”.
Up and down the isles, faster and faster, searching… I was so upset that he left me. I got tears in my eyes, and I kept looking for Him. In my mind he left me. I continued to search, but I hated the way I was feeling. As I walked all the way to the opposite side of the store I got tears in my eyes. I kept searching. I was frantic.
After many minutes and a dissecting the store in search of HIM I finally laid eyes on Him. A sigh of relief came over me.
He’s here after all and he didn’t leave me…
By this time my mind was mentally and emotionally exhausted. I’m pretty sure I was pouting as I got closer to Him and my eyes were tearful. I’m pretty sure if I said what I was feeling he would have been totally taken back by my reality and considerably shook at my revelations.
I remember saying, “Why did you leave me?” He said, “I told you I was going to find the milk and chicken”. Obviously I didn’t hear that part. I’m pretty sure he could tell I was visibly upset. I told him I didn’t hear him. I’ve been beating myself up ever sense then and I am still upset about it because I feel like as far as I am on my healing journey I should have been able to flip the switch on that one.
He said, “Do you really think I would leave you?”. I just looked at Him. I couldn’t even say anything after that because me feeling what I felt at that moment I felt LEFT & LOST. Knowing he would never leave me in the grocery was at a parallel ends of the spectrum of how I was feeling at that moment. I had the feeling like I had been abandoned in the grocery at 43 years old by my BOO! WTF!At that time, I either wanted 1 of 2 things to happen. I wanted Him to hug me tight and tell me he’s never gonna abandon me or leave me in the grocery store or ever for that matter, OR I wanted to go crawl in my bed and pull the covers up and never come out again.
I couldn’t do either. I had to just pretend that this episode didn’t happen and I didn’t share with him my feelings about it because I thought it would be just too much for anyone to take in. I do love to communicate and I would like to share it with Him. This is one of the many “Special Needs” that many adoptees might face that our significant others need to know about so they know how to help us and handle us better.
REALITY= I was at the grocery store in the town where I live. I knew where I was. I wasn’t lost but that isn’t how I felt. I felt abandoned and lost, like the little girl I always was searching for her birth mother.
My thing is who the hell wants to deal with this crap? Seriously? It’s something so small to so many but to me it was a huge deal. I’m disappointed and I’m sad in myself for responding this way, although I feel had no control over it. It was a much deeper psychological episode than I felt I could control. I’ve been working on triggers and how to respond when I have them which is ALL THE TIME but this one swooped up on me and I felt helpless in my response. It was almost like the feeling of coming down on a drug, terrible terrible feeling.
I would rather DIE than feel this way!
I’m not freaking kidding either!
I was about 5 years old around the time I found out I was adopted.
After this I had a reoccurring dream as a little girl and through much of my life. I was in a hospital around 5 years old wearing a hospital gown. I remember the long hallways going on forever and ever and I was running up and down the hallways looking for my birth mother. I could very vividly remember being frantic, running and pulling the curtains back on each hospital room searching for HER. It went on forever, and I never did find her in the dream. Again, I had this dream over and over through out my life.
This searching FEAR is the exact same way I felt in the grocery when I felt like I was LEFT & LOST.
I’ve always been triggered by feeling lost, and I definitely associate this to adoption. If I can’t find my car parked coming out of the grocery store and I have to walk all over looking for it, I feel lost and I start to panic inside and get tears in my eyes. Worst feeling ever.
The feeling of your mother abandoning you and never coming back, ever. A deep homesick feeling and nothing or no one can help it.
That’s how it feels.
Let’s turn the coin and talk about living real life searching for my biological mother everywhere I went my entire life. Most adoptees can relate 100%. This isn’t a dream. This is real life. I mean today, September 7, 2017 I know where my birth mother is.
I no longer search for her but these episodes sparked by FEAR of being abandoned and rejected, LEFT & LOST take me back to the unresolved emotional wounds that are under the surface from being an adoptee.
Adoption is complicated.
All adoptees are different.
Not all adoptees can sympathize with this type of issue, yet some can.
It seriously messed me up and I still haven’t gotten myself back right yet.
I want to tell my guy, but I don’t want to burden him or anyone else with my issues so I have shared it here instead. Maybe one day I’ll get up enough courage to share this blog post with him, until then I will keep it to myself for fear of……
To me, this is one example of so many I could share how adoptees are tormented by emotional and psychological issues we carry regarding being adopted. It might seem small to some, but this type of thing happens daily for many adoptees, and sometimes hourly and more. It’s a constant mental struggle and it’s exhausting just to be alive most days.
Adoption is a permanent solution to what is most of the time a temporary problem and adoptees are the ones doing the life sentence. We pay the price for life, while the rest of the world glorifies how they think we should feel, gratefulness.
I’m sick of adoption. Because of all the real true dynamics, I know and feel and live regarding all the pain, grief, loss and trauma that happens when a child is adopted is why I am deeply saddened anytime a child is adopted and separated from their first families. I am me alone, yet I see and hear the pain and heartache from hundreds of adoptees all over the world that I’m acquainted with. Please believe I am not singing this tune all alone. We create our own army and support one another and validate one another.
If you are an adoptive parent and you have made it this far I commend you for reading. I appreciate it. It takes courage to make the choice to try to learn from adult adoptees. Please look up my tab that says “Adoptee Blogs” and save it as a favorite and you will have never ending knowledge based on real TRUE experience from those who know adoption the most- The Adoptee.
One piece of advice I have for adoptees that have searched, and are about to be reunited with their biological parents or family is to TAKE NOTES. Everything they say and everything you see, take notes. Listen harder, and listen closer.
I say this because when I met both my biological parents, I didn’t expect for it to be the last time I saw them. I was sure in my mind that they wanted a relationship with me, because after all I dreamed about that my whole life. Why wouldn’t they want to get to know me? Or have me in their lives?
The first time I met my biological mother, we sat at her dining room table. She had her sister there, and her best friend. Her sister would be my biological aunt. My half biological sister was there, and she is the one who arranged the meeting. My birth mother didn’t really want to meet me, but my birth sister insisted. She knew how much it meant to me that I meet the woman that gave me life.
For those that don’t know. I found my birth mother in 1995 when I was 21 years old. My adoptive mom told me some information she had been keeping from me for a life time, so from that moment forward I had a name and there was nothing anyone could do to stop me from finding this woman. This was in my mind, but no way did I ever believe that she really never wanted to see me. After I found her, she hung up on me, and then I called back. The hang up hurt, but that wasn’t stopping me. I was very persistent in finding her, and I wasn’t taking no for an answer. Not yet. After she answered again, I made sure she knew I didn’t want anything from her. I only wanted to get to know her. After this, she spoke up and said “I am the woman you’re looking for”. I was ecstatic. The search was finally over! Finally! It’s been a lifetime of dreaming, and searching for faces in a crowd, wondering if everyone that had similarities as me just might be my biological family. We talked for a few minutes, and she told me she would respond to a letter if I write her. She said she would send me some pictures of herself so I could see what she looked like. So I could finally see who I look like. Of course I hung up the phone with extremely high hopes that I would get some mail from her in the near future. I quickly started to write her, and got an envelope to send with some pictures of me in it. I sent it off, and waited, and waited, and waited. Weeks passed into months. Every single day I would rush to the mail box, looking for the letter she promised. This turned into a very hard time in my life. Why didn’t she want anything to do with me? Why didn’t she keep her word? Did she realize how bad this hurt my feelings? I was crushed.
Finally it was made clear to me that she wasn’t going to keep her word. I knew from the first time I talked to her I had a half biological sister, but she told me she didn’t know anything about me, and she would tell her and be in touch. Obviously that was not the truth, so after I waited months on her reply I decided to set out on a search for my birth sister. I didn’t have a number but I did have an address. I figured I had nothing to lose at this point. No one’s dirty little secret was going to stop me from finding my roots. Whoevers genes I have they are some very persistent ones. I wrote my birth sister a letter, and within a few days I received a call from her, and within a few days after that she flew to Kentucky with her husband so we could meet. It was the first time in my life I finally had someone that was a biological relative that looked like me; besides my precious daughter that was 1 at the time. It was an amazing experience. We have a lot of similarities and you can tell we are sisters. We do have different fathers. She spent a week in Kentucky, and it was wonderful getting to know her. She flew back to Iowa where her and my birth mother lived and she insisted that when I come to Iowa a visit, that we arrange a meeting so I can meet my birth mother. My birth mother agreed, even thoe we hadn’t had any more contact sense the original phone conversation. She never did write, or send pictures.
So the visit was arranged, and my life would never be the same. I just wish I would have absorbed more of what she was saying. I had no idea I would never be given that chance again. Never in a million years did I think I would never have a face to face conversation with her again. If I had it to do all over again, I would have taken notes on every detail she told me.
I must say I am VERY thankful that I was given the chance to sit down with her at her table that one and only time, because I know that so many don’t get that chance. I have spent so many years being angry at her for not giving me more, for not wanting me in her life, for shutting me out after this one visit. I have been angry for many years about many things to do with my adoption. I have to come to a point where I can get past the anger and I hope one day I will. Every single time I think of her and my birth father, I just whelp up and cry. It’s really hard for me to just act as if they don’t exist, or as if I’m not supposed to love them or have a bond with them.
If I could give one piece of advice to any adoptive parents that might be reading this it would be to give your adoptive child permission to grieve the family they had before you. And yes, no matter what way you want to look at it, they have a first family. If you try to cover this up, and ignore these facts you are only doing damage to your child. Please be realistic in this matter. Your child isn’t going to come to you and ask “Is it okay if I love my first mother?” or “Is it okay that I cry because I want to know my first family but I don’t know who they are? Please allow them permission to grieve this, because it is one of the biggest losses of their lifetime. It is over looked so much, and I’m positive that is why I am having such a hard time at this point in my life. Just now at 38 years old I am grieving what could have been, the lost relationships, my first family. This is not an easy journey. I beg for you to discuss these things with your adoptive child. It’s critical that you go to them and the words come out of your mouth as their adoptive parents. They will remember later in life that you expressed to them that it was OKAY to love their other mother, and their other family. Can you imagine living an entire lifetime having to keep such things “Secret”? This is why so many adult adoptees voice their journeys, because we can finally be heard.
With all that being said, yes I am going through the grieving process, yes I am still angry and I have every right to be. I will say that as I grieve, write, express myself and ask God for healing daily I am able to see things in a different light. But this can only happen if we are allowed to grieve the trauma, and events that have been so traumatic on us before we were adopted, and many of us after we were adopted. Acknowledging these traumas is the first step. I recommend any adoptive parents, or anyone touched by adoption to read “Primal Wound” by Nancy Newton Verrier. She explains the adopted child like no one ever has before.
I pray that in a year you will be able to read my blogs, and go back to the very beginning and see the change that has been made. God is working, and he isn’t through with me yet.
P.S. When and if you ever get the chance to meet your biological family, take notes. My biological mother passed in 2010 and the only face to face conversation I ever had with her was the original one in 1995. Take notes.
I received a Facebook message in 2010 from my 1/2 biological sister whom hadn’t spoken to me in over 13 years. Not by my choosing, she shut me out and I still to this day have no idea why she is the way she is. Not only did my birth mother not want anything to do with me, but after I found and was reunited with my birth sister she too shut me out. I never understood because when I first found her, she was ecstatic she had a long lost sister she said she always dreamed of. She invited me to be in her wedding, our children met one another, and it was the first time in my life I felt a true connection with someone with the same blood as me ever in my life. I can’t tell you the sense of joy I had knowing I had a big sister, that I could look up too, get advice from, be close with, and share stories with.
After a few years of meeting her as I would reach out she wouldn’t reach back. Over and over I would try to keep in touch, and she wouldn’t return my calls, letters, emails nothing. This honestly broke my heart a million times, and I never understood WHY. I always thought I did something to offend her, or upset her but I didn’t know what. I was clueless.
Not many years before my birth mother passed away I had basically given up hope that we would ever have the relationship I always dreamed we would have. That dream I had sense I was a little girl, sense the day I found out I was adopted. I knew at this point nothing was going to give, but in the back of my mind I think I always had that sense of “Maybe one day she will come around”. I never stopped thinking about her, or praying for her, or wondering what she was doing, especially around my birthday time.
But my birth sister, I never gave up hope, so when I got this inbox message saying my birth mother passed away, I was not only shocked but I was beyond hurt that I had to find out in a Facebook message. My birth sister hadn’t spoke to me in 13 years! She was acting as if our relationship was where it left off 13 years ago. As if the last 13 years went by and I hadn’t tried to reach out to her a million times, and she shut the door in my face, just like my birth mother did. They have no idea how that has hurt me over the years, and words can’t even describe it. Not only did I feel out of place growing up in a house full of strangers, but the biological roots I dreamed of my whole life didn’t even want me around. They didn’t want to know me, love me or have me in their lives. THIS HURT and still does.
When I got the Facebook message my immediate response was angry. I was so angry that she told me the way she did! After a few hours when my anger subsided a bit, I realized that in true honesty she didn’t have to contact me at all. I had to try to pull something positive out of this. In her facebook message she expressed how she really wanted me to be there, and she didn’t think she could do it without me. I had a decision. I could either go, be there for her, and perhaps find some more information out about my birth father whom I also always dreamed about knowing, I could find out more information about my birth mother, and meet some of her life long friends, and meet some more of my biological family OR I could stay home and wish I had went.
After making some arrangements with my job, and for my kids off to Iowa I go. I started off on a 10 hour drive, all alone. Something about taking road trips are always so refreshing but not this time. I was nervous, sad, anxious, and I surly didn’t know what the next few days were going to hold. I was just praying, and talking to God the whole entire way for him to help shine his light on me because I knew I was going to need it to get through the next few days.
Soon I was to arrive in Iowa at my adopted mothers house. It is no secret to anyone in my life that we have never EVER gotten along. We are like night and day, and there has never been a time in my life where I feel close to her, or have a bond with her a mother and daughter are supposed to have. I just all the way missed out on that in life. She is a very different person, and after being almost 40 years old I have come to the conclusion that she is mentally sick, and she is a very ill person. She should have never been given the right to adopt a child, let alone two. She wasn’t and still isn’t capable of being a mother. I will never understand how a couple ends up adopting two children, divorcing a year later leaving these two adopted children to be raised in a very dysfunctional home, by a woman whom doesn’t have the capabilities, strength, guidance or understanding to raise children!
After being at my adopted mothers for a hour or so, we decided to take a trip to the grocery store. I was going to stay all night at her house, then leave very early the next morning to drive to Waterloo, Iowa where my birth mother lived. This is where her funeral was going to be held. I was really a nervous wreck. While we were at the grocery something in me decided I wanted to search for my birth mothers obituary online via my cell phone. When I start searching for something, or someone Its crazy but I get frantic almost obsessed until I find what I’m looking for! I think character trait has a big part on me searching and finding my biological family all on my own. I was obsessed with finding them, and I was never going to give up until I saw them all, even if it meant getting shot by showing up on my birth fathers property unannounced! I was going to find them.
As I Google searching for the obituary, walking around in circles in the grocery store waiting on my adopted mom to take her time shopping, (One of our many differences, she takes all day to shop! I get in and get out!) I finally found the obituary. As I started to read it, my heart started racing more and more. I couldn’t even believe what I was reading. SHE DIDN’T LIST ME ANYWHERE! NO WHERE! SHE DOESN’T HAVE JUST ONE CHILD! SHE WAS A LIER! THIS OBITUARY WAS A LIE! I AM HER DAUGHTER TOO, AND SHE HAS 3 OTHER GRANDKIDS AND WE ARE ALIVE. I DROVE ALL THE WAY TO IOWA TO BE AT HER FUNERAL BUT THEY COULDN’T EVEN LIST ME IN THE OBITUARY OR MY CHILDREN! I WAS SO MAD AND HURT!
I immediately started to cry in the middle of the grocery store. Of course I felt I had to hide it from my adoptive mother, because she just wouldn’t understand. So I kept walking around the store, trying to hide my tears from all the people walking by me. I know that some people might not understand the big deal, or why I was feeling the way I was feeling but when you spend a lifetime fantasizing, dreaming and wishing, and wondering about the very woman that created you, and gave you away to have a “better life” but she doesn’t even list you in her obituary it hurt really bad, and cut like a knife. My mind goes back there, to that time in my life and I still cry thinking about it. I don’t understand how someone can give their child away, and act as if they didn’t even exist. I will never understand it.
After I finally got myself together in the grocery, I would soon see my adoptive mother again. She knew by the tears in my eyes something was wrong. She asked, and I told her. I started to cry again. I just walked away from her and told her I would be in the car. In no way did I want her sappy ass rubbing me on my back making it worse! She always made everything worse!
Soon the very next morning had arrived, and it was time to set out on my hour long drive to the very city where I was born, and given away. To the very city my biological mother, and half of my biological family lived. It was a very bitter sweet drive, and time in my life. Something about discovery of your roots, and where you come from is almost eerie to me, and I have done all this alone and I can look back now and rejoice that I had a relationship (And still do) with God, my higher power for hugging me and holding me the entire way. I’m blessed and thankful for that.
My birth sister and her husband moved from Iowa to Arkansas, so they too had to travel back to Iowa for the funeral.I arrive at the hotel where my birth sister and her husband and kids were staying I was a nervous wreck. I hadn’t seen her in ALONG time! I hadn’t talked to her in 13 years, but I hadn’t seen her in about 16 years. I parked my car, and head in to the hotel. Knock on her hotel door, and see her face, and we gave each other a big hug. It was great to see her, and I realized that I couldn’t focus on the past, and be upset with her that for whatever reason she shut me out for the last 13 years. I was still hurt, but I had to make a decision to not focus on that. She expressed to me how bad she wanted me there, and how thankful she was that I came. I got to hug and see my niece and nephew, one I had never met before. I was very excited about that, but yet I was deep down very sad that so many years had passed and they really didn’t even know me. It’s not my fault and if I had it my way It wouldn’t be like that. I would have never been separated from any of them ever if I had it my way. I would have grown up in the same house as her, and we would have been close sisters growing up. She gave me a card, and we all headed over to the funeral home for my biological mothers visitation.
The card was an apology for her being absent for the last 13 years. She was very nice in the card, and she expressed how she was sorry that this tragic event is what brought us together again. She said in the past, I was the one to reach out and she failed. She hoped this would be a new beginning to our relationship. I was happy about the card, and I was happy I was getting to see her, and spend some time with her. I was deeply saddened that so much time had passed, and I really didn’t know when I was going to see her again. Was it going to be another 13 years?
My birth sister and my birth mother hadn’t spoke in over 3 years. So I wasn’t the only person they didn’t reach out too. They didn’t even reach out for each other. My birth sister said many times that my birth mother was an alcoholic. She said after her and her husband and children left Iowa, they went back for a visit at Christmas time only for my birth mother to not open the door for her, or her children on Christmas morning. I really don’t know the whole story, or my birth mothers reasoning, but I am sure my birth sister had a very good reason for being upset with her. A long drive from Arkansas to Iowa and your own mother doesn’t open the door? Shame on her. I would be furious too. I can’t say what I would do, but she didn’t speak to her for 3 years. When she did have contact with her again, it would be to bury her.
We soon set out to head to the funeral home. I really didn’t know what to expect. I know from the moment I walked in there, to the time I left I felt so out of place. I knew my birth sister wanted me there, but there is no way my birth mother wanted me there. I was her best kept secret. I knew this for certain. We went in for the viewing. I was shocked at what I saw. My birth mother that was in her mid 60’s and looked as if she was much older. She was wearing a blue jean button up Christmas shirt, glasses and had a few rings on her fingers. She was always lean and long. Her fingers looked like my fingers. I wanted so bad to ask if I could have one of her rings on her fingers, but I didn’t dare. After all I felt as if I was a nobody. I really would to have loved it for sentimental reasons. I had nothing of hers, absolutely nothing. Nothing but a broken heart from this woman. Time after time, and year after year I wanted on her calls, mail, only to receive broken promises after broken promises.
As we sat in the front row, I sat right next to my birth sister. I really felt like her husband should be sitting by her but I respect the fact that she let me sit next to her, and that she acknowledged the fact that I was her daughter too, and I had every right to be there just like she did.
My birth mother planned her service out down to the very last minute. She had someone get up and speak about her life, and some of the things she loved. Rod Stewart, Nascar, Elvis, and some other things. He spoke about her daughter, Joanna and her 3 grand kids from Arkansas. I honestly sat there and wept not only because I was deeply saddened, but because she once again didn’t acknowledge that I was her daughter. Some of you might say, “Well DUH Pamela! She gave you away! You were no longer her daughter!”. You would think it wouldn’t be so hard for me to just “GET IT”, or “GET OVER IT”, but I will never forget that time in my life when they clearly made me feel as if I was nothing. I wonder if she knew how much pain she caused me? I wonder if she even cared? People shouldn’t have to go through life being rejected and denied from the very people that created them.
This is the song that she had requested be played at her funeral. I will never in my life forget this song. I cry every time I hear it, and can’t help but wonder what part of her giving me up for adoption had an impact of her and her life, and this song. If you listen to the words, (please do!) you will understand what I’m talking about. Was I one of the many regrets she is speaking about? I stayed around after the service, so I could meet some of her friends, and some biological family. It was really hard to get through this time in my life. I was thankful I had my birth sister there, but yet she was still so far away. I didn’t know any of those people. My birth sister kept introducing me as “This is my sister, my mom gave up for adoption!”. I really didn’t know what to think, but I was thankful she was even introducing me at all. I had to be thankful I was even there at all because she didn’t have to invite me, or tell me if she didn’t want too. As I got to know some of my birth mothers friends, they all expressed to me how stubborn she was, and how she was very strong willed. She was set in her ways, and no matter what in life she did it her way!
I met my birth mothers best friend, and she knew my birth mother the time she was pregnant with me. She said she remembers her giving me up for adoption. No way did anyone at the funeral try to console me, and what I was going through. I don’t think any of them understood my pain at all. I asked her if she knew any information about my biological father, but she declined. I asked her if she drank when she was pregnant with me, and she said, “Honey I never saw her without a drink in her hand”. I guess I’m supposed to be grateful for that just like I am that I’m adopted. I spoke to a few other people, and met a biological aunt. One aunt that I had met the first time I met my birth mother wasn’t there. I asked about her, but everyone said she was sick, and couldn’t come. I asked my birth sister if we could go visit her, because I realized this might be my last chance at finding out more information about my biological father. On the way to her house I asked my birth sister if we could go by my birth mothers house. She said, “Oh you don’t want to go over there!”. I said, “Yes, I do, I really do”. Off we go.
When my birth mother died, she passed away from alcoholism, and COPD. She smoked, and was on oxygen, and she was an alcoholic all at the same time. These are the things that killed her. I believe alcoholism is what really killed her. Everyone at her funeral said for the last few years of her life, she wouldn’t let anyone in her house, NO ONE. The neighbors would come to bring her food, or try to help her shovel snow in the winter, or help her with a leaking roof and her response to everyone that came to her door was ” GET THE HELL OUTTA HERE!”. I had no idea what to expect when we arrived at her house. I remember walking up to the front door, her house almost looked like a little cottage but you could tell it had some major repairs that needed done, but you didn’t really see it until you walked inside. Her front door had broken glass through the front window, and she had news paper, and duct tape and a piece of plastic over it to keep the cold out. As we walked in I just got such an eerie feeling. This was the house that my birth mother lived in for many many years. It wasn’t the house she was pregnant with me at, but it was the house that my birth sister grew up in. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw how dusty everything was. The dust was literally an inch thick. I looked over to the left, and saw another broken window covered just like the other one. Also to the left was about 6 oxygen tanks, all empty. She had papers and clutter all over her dining room table, and hutch. As you walked in further I saw the couch that she was found on. The old dusty mantel, and drapes matched the couch. The whole place looked like a scene from a 1975 movie. NOTHING WAS UPDATED! Everything was so old, and dusty. It was filthy, and the floor was covered with garbage, and junk. The carpet looked like it was 30 years old, and I’m not even kidding. It was so cold in there, and I will never forget the feeling I got when I was in her house. It was so dark, and dingy. Complete filth couldn’t even touch it. I saw a little green paper weight on her coffee table, shaped like a small elephant. I kindly asked my birth sister if she cared if I have it. She said, “Sure take it”. This small paper weight is the only thing I will ever own that was my birth mothers. My birth sister took me through the house, and it’s hard for me to explain the feeling I got. After we noticed no running water, and rat droppings all over, we decided it was time to go. That house should have been condemned in my opinion.
Some people might be saying,”WOW- and you aren’t HAPPY she gave you up for adoption?”. NO, No I’m not. I would have taken my birth mother any way she came. I would have loved to be with my biological roots, even if she made mistakes as a mother, I would have forgiven her. All of her mistakes and errors in life wouldn’t change the fact that she gave birth to me. I will never stop thinking about her, or wishing I knew her. I will always love the woman I never got to know.
After we left my birthmothers house, we headed over to visit my aunt for a few minutes. When we arrived the house was filled with smoke, and we could smell that she had been smoking. Its amazing that the crazy part is she looked at both of us and said “I quit smoking awhile back”.. Even thoe we smelled right through that lie. This was my birthmothers sister. She was also a smoker, and on oxygen suffereing from COPD which is what my birth mother died from. After we visited a few minutes, I got up enough nerve to ask her if she knew who my birth father was. I thought I had nothing to loose. She ended up giving me a name, and told me a little about my birth father. Now I recieved confirmation who he was and where he lived. A month after visiting my biological aunt she passed away from COPD. I look back and I’m in awe the way God set it up. Not that I wanted her to die, but he let me find out my confirming information about my birthfather before she passed away, and it meant so much to me to be able to see her one last time.
Leaving Waterloo, Iowa was a bitter sweet moment for me, but so was my experience after I drove to my birthfathers door step. Leaving Iowa on this trip I made a very brave decision. I could either drive back to Kentucky and never see who my birth father was, or I could drive 3 hours out of the way and show up at his door step and introduce myself. I was able to receive some confirming information while I was in Waterloo about my birth father. I prayed, and God answered my prayers. I drove 3 hours out of the way to his house, but I only stayed 45 minutes. I left Leon, Iowa and my life would never be the same.
I keep reminding myself, that God is controlling this whole show, so I have to sit back, and let him and stop trying to control it myself.
On Aug 12, 2012 I decided I had enough alcohol in my life to last me a lifetime. I started reading The Big Book on August 15th. Started attending my my first AA meeting in my area on Aug 18, 2012. I started attending Celebrate Recovery at my church soon after, and today I am celebrating 39 days sobriety! I am in complete amazement. I am in the process of retraining my brain from all the things I have always done, to new and different exciting things.
The God starts placing people in my life and events that I truly need. For me to face the adoption issues head on, and have someone close to me to help me do it is an amazing thing, but I must admit I am pretty scared. I know how I feel about adoption, and I know how a lot of adopted parents feel about adoption, and I’m praying this won’t create some sort of clash between me and this wonderful woman, who I can now call a friend. I pray that God gives me the right words to use, and the right things to say so that maybe I can help her understand a little better of what her adopted son might be going through, or what he might face in the future. I think God has put us in each others lives for many reasons.
This is the newest event in my life. I am very blessed and thankful to be here, and can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me.I am living walking proof there is a God and there is nothing anyone can say or do to make me believe otherwise.
This is a drawing that I drew as one of the exercises in Sherrie Eldridge’s adoption healing workbook. “Under His Wings”.
I remember dreaming this dream over and over again growing up. The hallways never ended. They went on forever and ever. I was never going to stop looking for my mommy.
But then I found her when I turned 21, and she hung up on me. I finally met her 1 time in person, and I never saw her again. Sheleft me and rejected me 110%.
So that was 2 times. One was giving me away at birth,and the other was when I found her. I will never understand WHY?
I must say through God’s Grace & Mercy I might never understand WHY, but he’s helping me COPE with my adoptee feelings. If I didn’t have God on my side, there is no way I would be here right now. When my birth mother abandoned me, and later rejected me God was always right by my side. When my birth father rejected me, God never took a step away, only came closer. I’m growing everyday and with God healing is possible.
If you are in Lexington, KY or the surrounding areas and an Adult Adoptee please email email@example.com I’m praying about starting a support group in my area to help other adoptees heal and connect. You are NOT alone. 🙂