My Experience with Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART)

I  wrote an article not long ago titled “RIP RECOVERY” I recently was triggered by previous traumatic events in a current way. Gah! This has created some mixed emotions, many based in anger and sadness. I credit ADOPTION: The gift that keeps on giving! I’ve created a bench, a safe space to welcome these “episodes” as I call them to come and sit down with me. I allow myself the space to sit with them, and welcome them. Then the work begins. No more running. Here I am, writing about it.

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What is ART?

Accelerated Resolution Therapy works to directly reprogram the way in which distressing memories and images are stored in the brain so that they no longer trigger strong emotional and physical reactions. The word accelerated means that sometimes people can see significant results in 1-4 sessions. I liked this idea a lot, and I am not digging these episodes so I’m willing to try ANYTHING.

A few weeks ago, I had a total meltdown. Without going into all the details of what triggered it, I will say that I know it was linked to some specific terror & traumatic episodes I experienced in my childhood, although I wasn’t thinking anything about them at the time at all.  However, I did not need to be. They were stored in my brain and body and they caused my body to react even when the current situation had absolutely nothing to do with them. I truly had no control over it and although I was able to make the connections between the two, I could not bring myself out of the meltdown. It lasted almost the whole weekend.

What feelings were I having? I would describe it as an impending doom, a terror feeling that literally took over my entire body which paralyzed me. I could not function properly, like the “normal me.” I was in bed all weekend long and I felt horrible. My body was riddled with fear, I was overwhelmed and sad because as soon as I feel like I am 10 steps ahead of the game, something like this happens which I consider to be somewhat of a setback.

Is adoption ever not going to impact me in a negative way? Even 10+ years into SELF WORK, I am still dealing with this bs. It brought on a lot of emotions for me that were difficult to navigate through, on top of the traumatic memories being triggered. I have not felt this type of feeling in a long while. But here I was, back at what seemed to be square one. FML was all I could think. All I was thinking was that I would rather die than feel this way.

One of the best parts about this situation was the fact that I did not react to it. I have come far enough in my journey to learn a few things. One is that I was able to make the connections to the way I was feeling, to the way I felt as a little girl and a newborn baby being relinquished by my birth mother. I was also able to distinguish that the reaction I was having was something from the past, because the current situation that triggered the response was not “that big of a deal.”   The other is that I did not allow myself to react. I also knew that I had to move through this situation, until my brain was able to shake it off.  I just did my best to sleep it off until that happened, because that is the only way I can shut my brain off, and I did a little self-care in the middle. I will not lie; the self-care was not easy. The only thing I could force myself to do was to get out of bed, put clothes on, and drive to get one of my favorite salads on Sunday. Then I went and got a large blizzard from Dairy Queen.

As soon as I was done, I came back home and got right back in the bed. Slept until Monday morning. Work was the pushing factor that snapped me out of this deep, dark hole I was in. I had to get up and go to work.

One of the things I believe escalated this meltdown was that I did not have any weekend plans. It was supposed to rain Sunday, so I did not make any plans. The rain came for a short while, the rest of the day was sunny and beautiful. I do not do well with idol time, and it is not healthy for me. So here I was feeling worthless like I wasted my whole Saturday and Sunday away, which is time I can never get back on top of the emotional traumatic episode being triggered.

Over the years, I have learned of several therapy types that have been extremely effective for adoptees. One is EMDR therapy, and the other is Brainspotting. I had never tried either, but I have heard that they are wonderful for adoptees, if you have an adoptee competent therapist.

I knew I needed to get to the bottom of this, because as stated above – I would rather die than feel this way. It is the worst feeling in the whole world. Monday morning I started reaching out to some local therapists, on top of Brooke Randolph who I consider a friend. She is an adoptive mom, and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and she specializes in many areas, but one is brainspotting. We have had the chance to meet at several conferences over the years, and I respect her greatly. She lives in Indiana, and I am in Kentucky. She was able to offer some suggestions and guide me in the right direction on the next steps. I appreciate her kindness in taking the time to assist me during what I feel like was a crisis in my life.

I ended up finding a local therapist here in Lexington, KY. I read over her website and I was impressed by it. I reached out to her and we set up a consult appointment. I explained my issues, what triggered them and set up a plan to move forward. On Friday I had my first appointment with her, and I can share with you it was one of the most enlightening and amazing experiences of my lifetime!

I will not lie; I was nervous at first because I did not know what to expect. She has listed on her website many areas that she is experienced in regarding types of therapy she uses like brainspotting, EMDR, Daring Way, etc.  The key factor was that she will not use just one technique on me, she will use a combination of techniques, depending on what works best for me. I liked that idea because what works for someone else, might not work for me and each person is different.

Now to the good juice.

Between our consult and our first meeting I was able to trace back in my early days of 4 different experiences that I feel created terror and traumatic memories that have been stored in my memory, some of it subconsciously.

Here they are.

  1. Relinquishment Trauma – Being separated from my birth mother at the beginning of life. I have always had haunting visions of what the delivery room was like that day, and all the sorrow and sadness that was present. No one was welcoming me, no one was happy. I know I cried in terror, learning to self soothe as soon as I came out of the womb. How long did I cry? Likely until my spirit broke and I had no more energy to cry. I have visualized this over the years because I have no birth story. Most adoptees do not so we are left to create our own images.
  2. A Reoccurring Dream – Around 5 years old I learned I was adopted, and from that moment on I started having a reoccurring dream that lasted at least 21 years of my life. They stopped after I found my birth mother but are still very vivid memories. I was on the labor and delivery unit at St. Frances hospital where I was born. This was the last place I knew my birth mother was before I lost her. I was a 5-year-old little girl, in a small white hospital gown. I remember vividly there were no people in sight, but I was searching for her. I saw a long hallway; everything was cold and white. I remember running down the hallway barefoot, jerking every single curtain back searching for her. I saw a clock, and time was running out. I was hysterical, and the hallway went on forever. I never found her, and I never stopped running trying to find her. The terror I felt in this dream, being lost looking for her is like the terror I felt during my meltdown. It’s the same terror that frequents my life. I feel it when I get lost.
  3. Adoptive Mom Laying in the Street – My adoptive mom was manic depressive and suicidal most of my life. One episode of a lifetime of episodes, is something that I have never been able to remove from my brain. She had a manic-depressive episode where she went and laid in the street to try to kill herself while we watched from our 3rd floor apartment window. The terror and trauma this inflicted on me as an 8-9-year-old child is something I will never forget. The visions and memories are clear, and they have always haunted me. I specifically remember how I felt during this episode, and
  4. Adoptive Mom Locking Her Bedroom Door, Telling Us She’s Killing Herself – Another terror and traumatic situation as a child was the repeated actions of my adoptive mom taking her whole “box” of prescription pain pills to her bedroom, locking us out and telling her she’s going to kill herself. I WILL NEVER FORGET BEING HYSTERICAL OUTSIDE HER BEDROOM DOOR BEGGING HER TO NOT KILL HERSELF. This created lifelong traumatic memories I have never been able to shake. I remember being so tired from crying and begging that I could not cry anymore. I just slumped down by the door, fell asleep and eventually after some hours, she would open the door like everything was perfect. This happened many times.

So here we are, trying to piece things together and figure out which of these traumatic experiences still has a tight grip on my emotional and mental health. Which one is triggering an emotional response in my present life?

That is a good question, and the only way to figure out is to go through each one step by step. It could be a combination of them all. It could be related to preverbal and previsual trauma I experienced before birth.  I know that the only way out is through, so here I was getting a new therapist, making a commitment to get to the bottom of this so I could hopefully heal these wounds that seem to creep up at different times of my life. I knew I was the only one that could do this as no one else can fix our junk for us but us.

I decided to start with #1 because it goes back to the beginning. Although I feel the true beginning was being in my birth mother’s womb, but I don’t have any visual memories of that. It might be something I have to circle back around and work on later. For now, we are starting with the first memories which I describe in #1 and the second session I worked on #2.

This is what I remember of the first ART session, but I am fairly sure I might mix my words up, and maybe not describe things perfectly, but I will do the best I can from what I remember.

Traumatic memory #1.

As already shared, I was a little nervous because I did not know what to expect. However, Jessica made things amazingly comfortable. We set up our first video zoom call and got the ball rolling. Jessica, had me hook my two thumbs together, and hold them at the top of my chest and I tapped on my chest with my fingers. Kind of like a butterfly. I closed my eyes and I started to rock as I did this which came natural for me. We had a brief discussion on my needing to rock, and we were able to trace this back to the original separation from my birth mother and an adaption tool I automatically picked up as a newborn baby as a way to self soothe. She wanted me to go back to the very first vision which I concluded would be visions of the delivery room where I lost my birth mother.

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

As I closed my eyes, my visuals of the deliver room were front and center. I was crying in terror for my birth mother to come back, but she never came.  It was like a scene from a movie. I was able to focus on 3 different clips (visions) for this one scene and drew out as many details as possible. As Jessica guided me through the process, I started to erase each clip one by one. After I erased the first clip, I picked a color and painted over it by a paint brush or spray paint. I picked yellow like the sun for the first clip, blue like the sky for the second and grassy green for the third.

Next, I moved on to create new visions for each clip. The first clip I painted a picture of one of my favorite waterfalls. The second I painted a picture of the sun. the third clip I painted a picture of the forest. All 3 of my favorite things on earth, that bring be great joy and comfort. I made sure I did not leave anything behind regarding the old clip. As the new “Conductor Scene” was created by me, I was not sharing all the details with Jessica. She asked a few little questions like what color did I pick and what new vision did I place over the old one. But I did not have to RELIVE each traumatic memory in her presence, which I really liked. That is the part I was most nervous about because I have been reliving those scenes my whole life in my head, I did not want to relive them again, especially in front of someone else.

Once I had the conductor scene created, it now took the front seat to any of the delivery room memories. It was a refreshing scene that made me happy just thinking about it. Not only that, but it is my real life. Most people that know me know my love for Mother Nature, waterfalls, and the sunshine.

Now what? We had to seal the deal. Eyes closed, still tapping – I was instructed to take any painful memories or pieces of the beginning of my life regarding my birth mother and I put them in a box. One by one, I tossed them in the box. Next, I created a bridge that took me to the new conductor scene, but my kids, pets, close friends, and family all walked with me to the other side of the bridge.

I got to decide what to do with the other side of the bridge that I was leaving behind. At first, I visualized setting it on fire, but then I decided I wanted to blow that bitch up. (sorry for the cursing) Up in flames it went, with an atomic bomb style boom…

Forward I walk, into my new destiny with all those I love. Waterfalls, sunshine, and the forest that is forever my sacred space.

Ending this exercise, I had a new spark about myself. I was incredibly pleased with the experience.

Fast forward to the next week and my ART therapy session.

Traumatic memory #2.

I applied the same concept that ART guides, with my eyes closed. Thumbs hooked like a butterfly on my chest while I tapped my fingers, and I rocked back, and forth which comes naturally to me.  I focused on two clips that I visually saw pertaining to this specific traumatic experience that I saw in a reoccurring dream. (please read #2 above for details) I erased them and covered them with pastel pink and yellow as the colors. Then I created the “Conductor Scene” that replaced this traumatic memory #2. I decided to apply a field of butterflies to the first one, and a rainbow on the other. I took all my feelings and memories that I thought about regarding this time in my life and piled them up in a box. Then I got to do what I wanted with the box. I decided to push the box off a cliff at the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Never to be seen again.

In the middle of this exercise as I searched for my birth mother in the dream, Jessica encouraged me to go to the Parent Store and pick out new parents. I decided I did not want to pick out a father, because the mother wound has always been much bigger to me, especially with it being compacted by two mothers! The father wound and mother wound/s do not even compare to me.

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I was on the hunt. I looked for the perfect mother in the parent store. She had all the things I needed as a little girl, she was beautiful and affirming. She was happy and healthy. She was encouraging, supportive and complimenting. She was 100% on my side. She loved me unconditionally, without any ulterior motive. After I found her, I got to name her.

The name WILLOW came to my mind, because Weeping Willow is my favorite tree because I feel like they are so welcoming and beautiful. I HAVE ALWAYS HAD A HEART TIE TO THESE TREES. I named my mother Willow after the tree, and after my love for nature.

I expressed to Jessica something I have shared many times. I feel Mother Nature has been much kinder and more compassionate to me than any of my appointed mothers on this earth. They also do not compare at all. I was also able to make a shift from Willow being an actual person to entertaining the thought that Willow could be all the trees in nature, specifically Weeping Willows. If I am honest, I feel a connection to all trees. However, I needed to put something specific to Willow, because she is my new mother figure, I have missed my whole life. I can vividly see her, but you cannot. The closest thing I can tell you is that she is a lot like mother nature or mother earth, with a possible twist of mixing an earthly mother with mother earth. She is designed specific for me, by me so she is not something many others will understand or comprehend.

I was able to create a scene where Willow gets to meet my kids and she shares some uplifting and encouraging words about my parenting these 3 amazing human beings.

img_1388At first, I was skeptical of these exercises because I am a person of TRUTH, especially being an adoptee. But adoptees are also professionals at fantasizing things because we have been left to do this our entire lives. In a small regard, I was thinking I am not down with these shenanigans of playing “make believe” and “pretend.” However, I am also a firm believer that we can all rewrite our lives and our stories. I feel if I have one chance to write it the way I WANT IT TO BE WRITTEN – I would like to have the chance to be creative and do it. I know I am writing the future, but this allowed me a chance to rewrite the past.

Gradually as I did these exercises, the entire process allowed me to rewire my brain replacing the traumatic memories with ones that are inspiring, beautiful, and designed by me specifically.

I still have 2 of the traumatic memories related to the mother wounds to work on, but I am hopeful they will go like the first two.

I want to draw the pictures I see in my head about #1 & #2 being replaced because I would love for others to see. I am fairly sure I will start working on this soon. I cannot wait to draw the conductor scenes, and I cannot wait to draw WILLOW.

If you have made it this far, I commend you. I know this has been a long-winded article. I wanted to share as much details as possible so my fellow adoptees can possibly gain a spark of HOPE in the traumatic memories they might deal with in their lives. This has given me hope like I never had before.

It might be EMDR or Brainspotting work for you, and when and if I try them, they might work for me too. Right now, I was 100% satisfied with my experiences with Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) I am excited to see how this exercise helps me in my daily life moving forward.

For my fellow adoptees, I am curious how you have been able to get healing from traumatic memories and what’s worked for you? As always, I love learning from others because I feel we can all learn so much from one another. Can you relate to this article in any way?  I would love to hear from you.

Sending Sunshine, Love & Light

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Is Open Adoption The Answer?

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Time to seek input from those of us who have the most expertise in the adoption constellation- The Adult Adoptees!⚡️

The topic of OPEN ADOPTION keeps being brought up as a solution to closed adoption, and I’m seeking wisdom from the adoptees here to share your input on open adoption vs closed adoption. Of course none of us have been able to live both, but we do feel adoptees still have the best advice based on living adopted. They certainly have more experience than the adoption agencies, adoption attorneys and adoptive parents. As well as the birth mothers who make this choice thinking it’s the better option.

To the adoptees here, Is one better than the other? Why or why not? Do you recommend open adoption? When someone asks you if it’s better than closed adoption, how do you respond? Share as little or as much as you like!

Comments will not be censored! Here are responses from 22 adoptees who had enough courage to chime in on this topic. Thank you to each of you!

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  • In some ways, yeah. But on the other, growing up, I just wanted to be “normal”, and “normal” wasn’t having 2 families. I still struggle with that idea and feel like I need to be “rid of” one of them. At the end of the day, I don’t think adoption is an answer at all because there’s no win situation for the adoptee. – Alexis

 

  • Phuck adoption. Adoption needs to be killed. Legal Guardianship. That’s the answer – Danny

 

  •  I don’t believe it is the answer. It is a band aid over a bigger situation. The only thing with open adoption is that the child has the opportunity to know where he/she comes from. But in the end there is still trauma for child. Confusion. And again it is not in the best interest of the child. – Elva

 

  • Guardianship is the answer. Whereby contact to parents is open where its safe to do so, where the child keeps his or her birth certificate & identity intact and where the child isn’t Gas Lighted into believing adopters are the birth parents. The Guardianship concept isn’t likely to happen anytime soon so where open adoption isn’t the answer , its better than nothing . But legislation needs to put in place so that adopters cannot close an open adoption. Legislation allowing the child to return to his or her mother and or father should be put in place to remove the permanency of closed or open adoption. And with open adoption, I believe it is in the child’s best interest to not only see their mother often & with regularity, but that mothers should be encouraged & welcomed into the child’s home environment too. Not keen on the idea of an adoptees mother being shut out of the child’s home. It must feel odd & strange that a mother or father is kept locked firmly out of the child’s home. If it is safe for the child to have contact to their mother then it is safe for the mother to be welcomed into the adopter home so to create a stronger working relationship between mothers & adopters which in turn would make a child feel much more at ease & therefore happier. – Gordie

 

  • No, it most definitely is not. Legal guardianship is. – Janice

 

  • I cannot imagine how heart wrenching it must be to see your mother periodically and then watch her go back to her life and family without you over and over again!
    I was in a closed adoption so cannot speak from experience, but, in my view it would be unsettling to say the least. Let’s just reform adoption to be a last hope Guardianship only when a child has been proven unable to live with any of their own family. And if possible should lead to help for parents and eventual return to family. Let’s make adoption work for adoptees instead of hopeful family builders. – Kimberly

 

  • I wish there was no adoption at all. I can understand that there will always be those who are unable or unwilling to parent their child and I would rather see the child with a family than an institution. What I have a HUGE problem with is stripping away a child’s identity. Furthermore, forcing a child to pretend that they are from the adopted family. Because of this, if there have to be adoptions at all, (and why cant there be legal guardianship instead of adoption?), I would rather see open than closed. I feel closed adoptions should be eradicated completely. I wish more than anything I would have been able to grow up knowing my siblings. That hurts me to my core. I am grateful to know them now, but I will never have that shared history with them, and it is very emotional and hard to see them interacting with each other and with my parents in a way that I can’t. Children deserve to know where they come from and who they come from. They are entitled to see what their parents look like and know how to get ahold of them. Adoptive parents should never be able to close an adoption or stop contact with the bio family. My two cents worth. – Denise

 

  • I’ve never understood how open adoption is the right choice for the child. Wouldn’t that cause more confusion and anger for the child? – Krystyna

 

  • No. Just no. No adoption until a child is old enough to choose. – Sammy

 

  • My adoption 60 years ago was Gray Market. Not totally legal baby selling ring people who made arrangements to traffic babies between Maryland, NY and NJ. I grew up in NY. The baby sellers often falsified much of the information (names, ethnicity, etc.) Found out in an argument when I was 15 that I had been adopted. They gave me the information, yet took away a great deal of trust + given the shock of the news shared in anger. Not to say these ring folks placed babies in bad homes, however, they got in serious trouble for their extensive role in the practice. Met the Lady that gave birth to me. Nice, open, vulnerable, kind, lost, and not ‘mother’ material, therefore open might not have mattered, plus my parents might have felt insecure given all of the dynamics. – Roxan

 

  • I don’t feel that open adoption is a solution to closed adoption. Adoption, in its entirety needs to be overhauled. Adoption should not be an “option” to “build a family”. Buying a womb wet infant is baby selling, plain and simple. Guardianship and kinship placements should be considered first if in fact there is a pregnant woman who really and truly cannot, shouldn’t or won’t parent. I believe in most instances, mothers do want to parent, but may be in a temporary situation that makes it impossible or impractical to parent. Help with the temporary hardship should be the goal of every social worker out there. A birth certificate should never be changed, parents should never be replaced with lies. An OBC and a court order if guardianship should be enough documentation to register for school, get a license, passport, SS card, etc. Why is a falsified piece of paper proof of your identity? Closed adoption is horrific because there are so many questions, so much missing information, that it can be hard for a child to feel “real”. Open adoptions are potentially more problematic in that the child is repeatedly ripped from their natural family and may wonder why they aren’t good enough to stay with them or a myriad of other feelings of otherness. There is no win-win for children in these scenarios. – Daphne

 

  • I can’t imagine how an open adoption would feel as a kid growing up. I was in a closed adoption so can only recount that experience and hazzard a guess about open adoption. Whilst I wondered and made up stories of my birth mother it wasn’t something that affected every waking hour. It wasn’t every moment I looked on a mirror or got told off for being naughty. Indeed it really was as I grew older into adulthood that I started to explore how I felt more deeply. I’m fortunate to have reunited with my birth mother so the circle was closed with no gaps. She was adorable. I never thought after meeting her that I’d wished she’d kept me for my life would not be what it is now if things had been different. I sat on an adoption panel for many years and to place some of the children in an open adoption would have been harmful to them. I like the idea of letterbox contact which we do in the uk. Exchanges of letters and pics maybe twice a year via the adoption agency. Both sets parents remain anonymous but the kids get to keep in touch with their history. I think open adoption would work too if both parties are open and caring enough not to let their egos fight over the child. I used to explain to my own kids that their are so many sorts of families and parents and that each had reasons for being as they are and that is how the world works. I am happy with both open and closed adoption as long as it’s the adoptees interests that are at the forefront of any decision. – JoJo

 

  • All adoption is abuse of a child’s human rights. There is never a need for adoption for a child who is genuinely in need of (frequently temporary) care. Kinship care (never adoption) should be sought in the child’s father and mother’s family/extended family so that a child can grow up within their own family, having mirroring and feeling grounded. Knowing who they are, their family, place and culture. Failing this, a Legal Guardianship is kindest to the child; puts the child’s welfare first and has regular checks. Adoption has become a multi billion dollar industry by supplying babies who belong to one family to infertile people who feel entitled to a child when they can’t have their own children naturally, or to saviour attention seeking types. That a person could even think like that, ie, that they are entitled to someone else’s child, is beyond me. Adoption involves child trafficking and skullduggery of every kind and lies and deceit. Infertile people go to great lengths, fundraising on facebook, having bake and garage sales to buy a baby. How disgusting. There is never ever a thought for what the baby would want, only what they want. Adoption: First, it severs a child from the mother the child already knows and is waiting to meet. A baby knows their own mother by scent. Second, it cuts a child off from all that is rightfully theirs by birth. Their name, their birth certificate (is replaced with a fake birth certificate naming strangers as their parents), their family, their neighbours, their place, their history and heritage, their culture and country. Third, it forces a child to live a pretend life. Pretend these strangers are your parents. Pretend you are their son or daughter. It forces a child to try to be what the owners/adopters want, as adoption promised them the child would be “just like them,” and they truly believe, delusionally, that if they cajole, manipulate and bully the child enough, it will be moulded into what they want. The child tries to cooperate because he or she fears further rejection from the owners. This child usually develops Stockholm Syndrome and is loyal to his or her captors and parrots all they tell her. “Adoption is beautiful”, oh yes, adoption is beautiful! For this child to look at the truth of what was done to them is too painful. When a child is just him or herself, this is unacceptable to the owners/adopters as it reminds them they are really NOT the child’s parents. The child is being true to his or her own inherited traits and it really upsets them and they feel they were conned and didn’t get value for their money. This child is the black sheep, the receptacle for the narcissists vile projections. So many adopted people tell of their lives being destroyed by adoption and by narcissistic adopters. Recent studies have shown that most female adopters are narcissists. The amount of adopted children worldwide who are being abused in every way but especially sexually, who are being beaten, starved, imprisoned and murdered by their loving adopters should be enough to get this barbaric practice stopped, but its not. Too much money is being made off the backs of innocent children and mothers. Adoption has no follow on checks so adopters can do what they like to the innocent children they got their hands on. The idea that someone else’s child can be legally owned by infertile or other types of people who ‘want children’ is beyond appalling and reprehensible. The child loses their mother/father and family and the life they should have had all because some strangers want a child? More regard is given to puppies and kittens than to human children. Its outrageous and it needs to be seen for the child abuse it is and outlawed. Legalized child abuse. Taking someone else’s child is NOT a cure for infertility. Acceptance is the cure for infertility. Surrogacy is another breach of children’s human rights and we are seeing many of those purposely created children now with broken hearts just like adopted people have…. longing for their fathers and mothers. The same people who shouted about children being separated from their parents at the border have no problem coveting and taking someone else’s child themselves. They disgust me. – Geraldine

 

  • I think it’s the best way to go. I wish mine had been! – Courtney

 

  • Open Adoption Well for a start in N.Z there is no such Legal Law. Its only on the word of the Adopting Parents which they can break at any given time. Then on the other hand the Birth Mother can also walk away, perhaps she has a new partner, so that new family is her main concern, or new partner says NO to contact with her first child. Its a very mixed bag. Its like everything some work most don’t. Again the Adopted child pays the price. – Josie

 

  • I don’t recommend any adoption but open is better than closed. I grew up with no real information about my parents. The non-identifying information did not answer any of my questions and only prompted more questions. I didn’t even have a photograph of my parents. I had nothing and that was horrible. I would have appreciated having access to my parents, siblings and grandparents. But since my APs were abusive what I really needed was to return to my real family. Adoption of any kind can really mess with your head but having access to information would have been better for me. – Lorene

 

  • No – Julia

 

  • I have already read and heard many stories about the so-called “open adoption”. Often the mother is persuaded to agree to an “open adoption”. She is presented with a fantasy. However, in 99% it is turned within 1 year so that a closed adoption is approved by the judge because the adoptive parents convince the judge “that the contact is very confusing and slaughter for THEIR child. !!! The mother has no right to speak, so all adoption is bad for mother and child. – Barbara

 

  • No adoption is the answer be accountable for your actions. – Elizabeth

 

  • ONLY if the CHILD wants to be. Why can’t you can’t adopt without changing their names? Without stripping them of their identity? Without taking away their relationships with their families? – Britney

 

  •  I think abortion is the answer. If a woman doesn’t want, or isn’t able to keep a child, she shouldn’t have it. – Kris

 

  • Open adoptions aren’t any better IMHO. Can you imagine being ripped away from your biological mother over and over again? Every single time that happens a trauma occurs. All relinquishment, open or closed is rooted and grounded in trauma. We have to stop co-signing for trauma. The only way to eliminate such trauma is abolish adoption as we know it. Only in abusive situations we need to focus on keeping the child in the family first, (kinship) and if all options have been exhausted in that area then guardianship should happen. In guardianship, no names are changed, histories aren’t sealed and our lives aren’t based on secrecy and lies. Our truth AND ALL OF IT must stay in tact! This idea of “protecting us” from the truth needs to be stopped because it’s killing adoptees! We can’t heal from secrecy, lies and half truths no matter if its closed or open adoption. I can never support adoption or open adoption until 100% of our truth is disclosed. We also need to be 100% for family preservation NOT adoption separation. Open adoption is not better than closed adoption. Abolish it, and stop keeping secrets. The truth needs to be mandated and the truth means nothing hidden. – Pamela

 

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Adoptee in Recovery – When Forged Forgiveness Becomes Fatal 

1f6ae293-fe8e-4e1f-903b-0e9d69324cafTo my friends, David Bohl and GRH –   Thank you for giving me the courage to write about this! 

As I continue on my recovery and healing journey, so many things are coming to the light about different areas I’ve navigated over the years. One of those areas is the topic of forgiveness. This is going to be lengthy, so get a cup of coffee and be prepared. 

The world says “If you let go, by forgiving others you don’t have to hold onto resentment and anger” It’s said that forgiveness is necessary for personal growth. I can see this might be true in some circumstances and for minor hurts, but my thoughts shared here are relating to forgiveness towards traumatic events and situations because of someone else’s harmful actions. 

What is considered traumatic? That’s for each person to decide. What’s traumatic to me, might not be traumatic to you. My role in sharing this information is to shine a light about a topic that’s significantly complex, with many layers from the perspective of an adult adoptee in recovery. Everyone seems to have their own opinion about what forgiveness is, or isn’t and this is usually in alignment with the experiences that person has gained over their lifetime. 

I’ve heard about forgiveness over the years, but I was never in a position to apply it to my life, nor did I see a need for it when I was young. It wasn’t a topic of conversation but I also wasn’t on a healing journey as a child either. In 2012 I started my healing journey and things changed. This sparked a significant experience with forgiveness as I got involved with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and I started working the 12 Steps. Not long after I learned of Celebrate Recovery, and forgiveness was talked about even more but it was in a religious setting because Celebrate Recovery is a ministry. 

Although I have an appreciation for both of these programs and the concept of forgiveness, I’m now an outsider looking in because I no longer attend either of these programs and I’ve been reflecting on my experiences with both. 

Let me back things up to give you a little history. 

When I was 15 years old, I was lost, alone, broken, rage filled and I had no hope in life. Not only was I experiencing abuse in my adoptive home, but my fantasy of my birth mother coming back to get me was shattered, and reality was beginning to set in. 

SHE WAS NEVER COMING BACK. 

SHE was constantly on my mind, but where was she? Who was she? I acted out in every way possible and began using substances daily at 12 years old.  My struggles were 100% adoption related, but adoption was never talked about and never mentioned so I turned to substances, because I didn’t want to feel. I didn’t know how to feel. Most days I wanted to die, but somehow I found myself committed to drug and alcohol rehab in a locked facility at 15 years old. 

I will never forget being locked in an all white room, and a nurse came in and handed me the big book. I had no clue what the big book was, but for those who don’t know it’s the story of Bill W. who’s the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, and he shares how to recover from alcoholism. It’s focused on the 12 Steps and 8 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. 

I asked myself, “did I hit rock bottom at 15 years old?” I hadn’t even begun to live my life yet. I had barely made it out of Jr. High, and I found myself locked in rehab, with a big book in my hand. I will never forget reading the first few pages, and the first few chapters. So let me get this straight, finding GOD was the cure all to this recovery thing? The only way I was going to graduate this drug and alcohol treatment program, and get out was finding GOD? And working these 12 steps. Today, I ask myself, ‘what were my other options?”  

I had none. 

So this huge gigantic responsibility was placed on me, TO FIGURE IT OUT. The entire treatment program and my recovery depended on it because the effectiveness of the entire AA program will depend on this decision to “turn my will and my life over to God, as I understood Him.”  

Let’s break that down a little more, “AS I UNDERSTOOD HIM.” I had no clue what this even meant, but I was either going with the punches, working these 12 steps or never graduate this program. Let me be honest. I didn’t care about any of it, because I just wanted to go drink and use again. I had no choice in this and I was forced to play along. I asked a few of the inmates (it was like jail so that’s what I will call them) what god they turned their wills and life over to in hopes to gain a better understanding. They expressed the God that created the earth, the bible was the word, and that was the only way this thing was going to work. 

I remember having experiences with that same God when I was growing up. My adoptive mom had us read devotionals, we went to church, performed in church plays, and she made us say prayers before meals. 

But now, my entire life depended on turning my will and my life over to God as I understood him. What did this even mean? To be honest, I didn’t understand him but I did what I had to do to get out. I finally worked all the 12 steps, and after about 8 weeks I graduated the program. During my time in this locked treatment facility, I never once worked on or talked about any of my root adoptee related issues, like relinquishment trauma, grief, loss, abandonment, the primal wound, etc. I got out, went and got high and drunk again as soon as I was free. 

I did NOT want to feel adoption, and at all costs and I didn’t.

 Of course, if the tools were present and I had help, I’m sure I would have been able to process but that’s not how things worked for me. I had no tools, no one opening up conversations about my adoptee reality,  it was a taboo topic. The less we talked about it, the better for everyone else. I felt truly alone in the world, but it wasn’t a happy alone. It was a deep, dark sad alone. I spent the next 27 years drinking alcohol, and using as many drugs as I could get my hands on as a way to numb my reality.  So many times in my life, I just wanted to die because my adoptee pain has been that great. Reality, I didn’t want to feel the pain anymore and I had no tools to work on my issues. In my mind, the only way to get rid of it is to go to sleep and never wake up again. Two times as a teenager I was unseccessful at trying to commit suicide, taking a hand full of pills each time, only waking up later regretful that the pills didn’t work. My adoptive parents never knew, and they still don’t. I just wanted out.  The next 27 years was a roller coaster of a ride. 

As 2012 hit, so did my next attempt at recovery and the 12 steps once again smacked me straight in my face. Here we go again. What other options were presented to me or available? 

None.

Even after seeing dozens of therapists all the way back to being 5 years old into my adult life.

NONE. 

The only way to get healing is turning my life and will over to God, and making sure I forgive all those who have harmed me, even if they aren’t sorry, and even if I hadn’t even worked on the issues at all. I also had to forgive God, and forgive myself, which was the hardest part.  As I set out on my recovery journey, I learned the rules to forgiveness in the religious realm are, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” – Matthew 6:14

I remember my time heavily in the church, surrounding myself with Christian’s and church people the advice and information I was getting was solely from them and I also researched forgiveness. As they shared, and the bible shared, I knew that forgiveness was such an important part of healing, and the 12 steps so I worked on figuring out the true meaning of forgiveness and what it meant to me. I knew it was something for me, not the other person. The more I learned, I applied this to my life, but I also shared it with others on many occasions, especially during the 4 years I served in leadership for the women’s chemical dependency group in Celebrate Recovery. I remember internally struggling with the fact that I had forgiven someone like I was told to do by the 12 steps, but I still had major issues with the situation or the person I had forgiven. This only made me feel more defective than I already felt. It made me feel worse, because I must not be doing something right. It was like a dark cloud hanging over my head, combined with my heart torn into shreds. It was a horrible life for many of my years on earth. 

I learned that in order for us to be forgiven by God, we had to forgive others who had harmed us. It’s said this “deal” could potentially send us to hell, and it would always keep us in bondage if we didn’t make the choice to forgive others, God and ourselves. I learned that once we make the choice to forgive others for them harming us and when we forgive ourselves, we then had to consciously decide to never bring it up again, and never discuss it or tell others about it, otherwise it wasn’t true forgiveness. Even when we thought about it again, we weren’t to speak about it, at all. 

In my mind, this is more like coerced and mandatory forgiveness, (forged) but not true from the heart and it’s also ABUSIVE.  Writing this today, I’ve come to the realization of how I personally feel this can be extremely damaging and even fatal for some people. I know in the AA Big Book, it says to find “God as I understood Him” and the forgiveness rules are possibly a little different than in the religious settings. But both of these ideas of forgiveness ignited the fact that I had to forgive others in order to make it out alive and complete these 12 steps. And what about there truly being no other choice towards healing, aside from working these 12 steps? 

Why wasn’t I given anymore options? 

Let me make this clear, I wholeheartedly believe that the 12 steps in AA and Celebrate Recovery have worked wonders and saved the lives of many individuals, and for that I’m very thankful. However, this topic is a critical thing, and it’s important it’s shared, especially with Adoptees in general, but specifically my fellow Adoptees in Recovery. 

I’m not addressing forgiveness for minor or petty offenses. I’m not talking about when someone TRULY makes a mistake, and they are sorry they did something and us forgiving them and giving second chances.  I’m not talking about those that don’t intentionally hurt us. We can easily say, “That person didn’t know what they were doing” but many times forgiveness is extended to people who knew what they were doing. Improper forgiveness can keep us in bondage, and it can set the forgiver up to be victimized again, and again, and again with the offender never being truly sorry or remorseful. This is ABUSIVE. THIS IS BONDAGE. 

Do you ever feel like forgiveness defends the abusers? I do. Do you ever feel like forgiveness feels like giving our abusers a free pass? I do. When someone has root issues that are trauma based, the whole idea of forgiveness can be very damaging, and oftentimes deadly. I can share this, because this is how forgiveness has impacted me, when it’s been presented in a way it has throughout my lifetime. Forced upon me by scriptures backing it up, and through programs I had to complete to LIVE, it’s clearly had me backed in a corner with nowhere to turn. It manipulated me to the core of my being. 

Until Now…

I realize that there are more resources today than there were when I was 15 years old, and even when I started my recovery journey in 2012. Today I’m thinking for myself, and I’m not being backed into a corner with no options.  I realize that I possibly didn’t have all the tools for recovery in my recovery tool box and there are more possibilities today than there was before. The more I learn about forgiveness, and all the different dynamics of it, the more I’m informed if it works for me or if it doesn’t work for me. 

I resent the fact that from the biblical concept of forgiveness and the world’s standards, I’ve felt 100% manipulated and duped into forgiving others, God and myself. What I wonder is, if I’m supposed to forgive all those who hurt me, myself and God and if I don’t God won’t forgive me, but he sends so many people to hell, so where is his forgiveness for others? Isn’t this quite the double standard and mental mind manipulation?  It’s lead me to question God all together, and rethink my entire approach on what I believe and what I don’t believe. I’m going to save that for another article, but it’s coming. 

I don’t know about you, but the idea that a person that has been victimized has a responsibility placed on them to forgive their perpetrator/s is pretty disgusting and a topic I’ve found to be very disheartening. Anyone who is pushing forgiveness onto others is doing it for their own gain, and their own agenda, not yours. A lot of the wounds people care are inner child wounds, and being forced or coerced to forgive others is extremely toxic and damaging!

For me, where I am today, what if I personally don’t believe in forgiveness based on my experience with it, but I believe in holding people accountable for their shitty actions? What if I make the choice if I want to allow them in my life or not without being manipulated into forgiving them? What if MY WAY isn’t the WORLDS WAY but who gives a shit, because it’s what works for me? Would you believe me if I told you that I’m at peace with things, but I haven’t forgiven anyone by the world’s standards? That doesn’t mean I still don’t have traumatic memories, or have trauma work to do.  What if I take forgiveness and everything about it and toss it in the trash? Shouldn’t we want to consciously and organically in our hearts want to give people second chances, be better people or come to peace with things on our own time without an entire belief system manipulating us into doing so? This manipulation with forgiveness has actually hindered me, kept me in bondage, and held me back from true authentic and organic healing. This is life or death for many of us. 

 Forced and Forged Forgiveness can add layers of shame onto victims, for not “getting over something” or for “sharing their trauma.” Once you forgive someone, you’re supposed to get over it, and move on with your life. What if you don’t get over it or move on? “Here you are talking about it again” … Shame comes in after we’ve said to forgive someone,  when you are simply having natural and very legitimate feelings associated with a very real situation for you. This isn’t helping people, only hurting them worse. I’ve had people09be5a42-2952-4e14-810c-0c40893545c9 silence me with scriptures, when I share very real feelings with them. “You’ve already forgiven yourself for that, the devil is only bringing it up again because he wants you to live in condemnation.”  Talk about BONDAGE and MENTAL MIND F&^KS. It’s becoming apparent to me that this belief system can cause great amounts of harm, and even become fatal to some. (I plan on writing about that later) 

Let’s touch on the our society’s “positive culture” that surrounds our lives today. Positive vibes, clearing any and all negative energies from our sacred spaces, and much of the time we’re denying our own feelings, stuffing them down and bypassing processing them just to fit into the mold of the world and the preaching of positive vibes. You see motivational speakers kicking into high drive, and spiritual circles silencing you with scriptures all to keep the positive vibes going.  Have you learned what Spiritual Bypassing is? I suggest you research it, and it’s a real thing. Also research Religious Trauma Syndrome. Your life will never be the same. 

As adoptees, it’s so important we understand that anger, and feelings of grief, loss and sadness are perfectly legitimate feelings, and they come in waves for many of us. Are you leaving room for these feelings within your friends and family and within your circle? If not, please reconsider because it’s life and death. I don’t have time to preach positivity when adoptees are dying! Once we are in a position to process these feelings, in natural ways we then start healing. When positive culture is shoved down our throats, like it is in churches, spiritual settings, and in society as a whole it leaves no room for us to share our pain. Just like forged forgiveness, this can be fatal. We really need to rethink our approach, and stop forcing this culture on everyone. We have to do better. 

Anger can be a very positive thing when used the right way. Anger can be used to fuel change, create visions, and put action behind them. We have to stop silencing people when they share it, and stop trying to dish out feel good juice, and learn to sit with people in their pain. I’m not talking about ANGER that abuses and hurts other people which is HUGE as well. This is when anger is toxic to others and it isn’t productive. We can each set our own boundaries if this type of anger influences our lives, or the lives of others. But before we get to the other side of healing starting, we have to process the anger FIRST. 

If you step out of the box filled with influences from your lifetime, please know It is entirely possible for someone to get to a place of acceptance, and peace about a situation and forgiveness has never been extended. Please know forgiveness culture can be very damaging when it’s forged and forced in anyway.   

What if I have been on a healing journey, and I’ve decided on my own that my goal is to come to peace with things in my life, and for me that process happens by accepting things are the way they are and there is nothing I can do to change them? What if forged forgiveness does more harm than good? What if expecting others to FORGIVE THOSE WHO HAVE HARMED US actually retraumatised us and damages us more than the actual offense itself? What if we’re placing an unrealistic and damaging burden on those who we expect to forgive who are perpetrators and those who hurt us and it only adds to our pain and trauma? 

“Forgiveness is for you, and no one else and it should never be forced on anyone” – Says the world.

Yes, this is true yet the world is set up as the opposite, especially in religious circles. The 12 steps are focused around forgiveness, and for me I was giving FREE PASSES TO PEOPLE WHO ABUSED AND TRAUMATIZED ME. Is anyone manipulating me into “coming to a place of peace?” No, no they aren’t. It’s something I do on my time, through healing (whatever that looks like to me), and trauma therapy, and TONS OF TRAUMA work. Not because GOD AND THE SCRIPTURES SAY SO. 

For me, forged forgiveness (a huge burden and responsibility) to forgive those who have traumatized and hurt me, was actually BONDAGE. Not the other way around. Forged Forgiveness feels like gaslighting to me, and that’s only adding trauma on top of trauma. It’s up to each of us to decide on our own, without any influences if we want to forgive someone or not. It should be from our hearts, not because of manipulation or to complete a program. If forgiveness has worked for you, that’s wonderful but we must understand what works for some doesn’t always work for everyone. Have you spent as much time sitting with someone, listening to them in their grief and pain like you have encouraged them to forgive their perpetrator/s? 

Today, I’ve decided I’m withdrawing my forgiveness claims, and reevaluating each and every situation on my own terms, in my own time. Right now, I have a clean slate and I have forgiven no one. From this day forward, as situations arise and thoughts come to my mind, I will process them organically either alone or with someone I trust and I will REMOVE any forged and forced idea of forgiveness from my mind. This is freedom to me. 

 If the idea of forgiveness comes naturally, then I will apply it to that situation. If it doesn’t, and I can come to a place of peace, then wonderful. Maybe I’m not at a place of peace yet about certain things, which means I still have trauma work to do. Maybe I will never get to that place, because trauma impacts us all in different ways. It can change our brain wiring, it can change our memory and our mobility. Trauma can change everything and not all trauma just goes away.  Sometimes acceptance that the trauma and it’s symptoms are here to stay is what’s needed to be able to cope. 

No two stories are the same, and we all need and want different things in life. This article is long, and it’s filled with a lot of thoughts. I’m sharing because this is a HUGE topic, and recently having someone tell me “MAYBE YOU SHOULD FORGIVE THEM” even after I shared many traumatic situations with that person, really rubbed me the wrong way. It made me reevaluate forgiveness all together, and made me really think how abusive it can be. It also made me realize how forged forgiveness has impacted my life, and how I’m the only one who can change things for my future. 

After reading ALL THIS, I’m not here to tell you forgiveness isn’t productive and it’s not for you. I’m here to share my truth, as my experiences back it up. I’m here to share there is a damaging side to forgiveness and I hope each person reading is given more tools than what I was given. I hope for each of you, forgiveness is a CHOICE that you choose.

I’m glad I got to share this, and I feel even more free than when I started typing it. I’m thankful I’m at a place of freedom where I can recognize the abuse behind certain areas that are portrayed to be positive things. The healthier we get, the more BS we can recognize. I hope to continue to share what’s worked for me, and what hasn’t worked for me. My hope is, it helps someone out there, specifically my fellow adoptees. Please understand, if you can’t bring it in your life to FORGIVE others, for ANY REASON please don’t allow others to place that BURDEN on you. You don’t deserve it, and it’s not yours to carry. You don’t owe anyone, I MEAN IT!

No matter who it is. 

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Love, love. P.K.

P.S. I know some might mean well, but if you feel the need to send me scriptures about forgiveness, please spare yourself the time. I’m not interested.