The Adoptee Expressway to Recovery Has More Than One Way 

img_7963I’ve learned the hard way, that the one way that’s usually presented as an express track to recovery and sobriety, isn’t the only way. I’ve also learned that there is nothing fast, quick or express about it. I’ve found that when one way is presented, this leaves one with absolutely no options to choose from in regards to making an informed choice regarding one’s very personal recovery journey. This is part of my life story. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again that someone’s recovery journey is as unique as their very own fingerprint and DNA. No two journeys are alike.  

I’ve been sharing my Adoptee in Recovery journey since August 13, 2012 and it’s no secret my main “addiction” was always alcohol. It was my “go to” to escape my adoptee reality. But the real question is, what was the reality I was running from? How long had I struggled with this addiction? What pathways to recovery did I try? What ways were presented to me? What were my root issues?

WHAT OPTIONS DID I HAVE? 

At 15 years old, I found myself locked in drug & alcohol treatment all alone. The only way out was to believe in God, a power higher than myself, and to work the 12 steps. I had no other options. By completing the 12 steps in 6 weeks, I graduated the program and it allowed me to go home. I had no knowledge of the AA Big Book before this, and I really didn’t fully understand the magnitude of the big book even after I worked the 12 steps. I was just “Going with the flow” because if I didn’t, I would never get to go home. Adoption was never talked about! 

If you read my previous article titled “Adoptee in Recovery, When Forged Forgiveness Becomes Fatal” you learned a little of my background of my drinking career. I don’t want to repeat everything from that article, so if interested, please read it and you can to get a little background. 

img_7964Today, I navigate my 2838th day living alcohol free, I’m just now coming to the head-space where I feel comfortable talking about this topic. After 7.5 years of a recovery process, If I’m completely transparent, my drinking started before I was ever born, in utero because I was told my birth mother was never seen without a drink in her hand, even through her pregnancies. It’s no wonder I started drinking so young.  

I’ve spent 45 years on this earth, my drinking career started at age 12 years old. That means I drank from 12 years old, to 38 years old. This is a 26 year drinking career! For an entire lifetime, I’ve been told I’m an alcoholic and I have always struggled with that thought. It’s made me feel “Bad” or “Defective.” Labeling myself an ALCOHOLIC for the rest of my life seems daunting, heavy, untrue and downright disgusting when I’ve been manipulated my whole life to believe this about myself. Being told I’m in DENIAL if I don’t label myself an alcoholic is abusive. I’m exceptionally happy I’m at such a healthy place in my own journey that I can recognize this as being unhealthy and toxic to my recovery. 

In the recovery world, I have never been able to verbally say, “My name’s Pam and I’m an alcoholic.” Those words have never set well with my spirit, even during the times in my life that I didn’t understand WHY. I remember a few times between 15 years old, and 38 years old I found myself in an AA room, because I knew I had a problem but the root of my problem was adoption, not alcohol. I know this now, but I didn’t know this as a 15 year old. If I was to share in an AA room about relinquishment trauma and how it’s impacted me, they would all look at me like I had lost my mind! I already know what they would be thinking, “What the HELL does this have to do with being an alcoholic?!” 

While spending the first few years of recovery in my late 30’s in and out of the AA rooms, this lets you know how much I took advantage of the open share of the AA rooms. ZERO. Because it was known that in order to share, I had to say “I’m Pam and I’m an alcoholic.” Me being stubborn is an understatement. I wasn’t going to say something that I didn’t feel in my heart was true just to be able to share, so I never shared. I just listened even after the first year. Even when I never verbally said I was an alcoholic, AA was known for alcoholics. I feel I was labeling myself as an alcoholic just by showing up at the meetings, even when I didn’t verbally say I was an alcoholic. Sharing is healing, and if I didn’t share at all in the meetings, it was stalling my healing. Period. 

I totally understand why AA/NA & Celebrate Recovery work for so many people. They provide community for others experiencing similar stages of life. They bring on new friendships, and a safe place to share. I think this provides amazing benefits for many people, and I’m happy about that if it works for you, or those you might know and love. My experience is different, but I have been able to take away some wonderful benefits from being a part of these groups, even if it was for a season. I learned a lot! 

 

Spending the last few years on the outside of any recovery organization or ministry, I’ve learned a lot as well. I’ve been able to take what I’ve learned, and use it for good and help others who might be where I once was. I had to walk away from everyone I knew and loved when I decided to get sober. I know I hurt some people doing this, but I didn’t have to explain myself. My life came first, and it was life or death. All I have to do is see the faces of my kids, and future grand-kids and I’m reminded alcohol no longer plays a role in my life. I don’t need the label of “alcoholic” to remind me. The world hasn’t been on my side in this discovery! 

In those 26 years, not only was I forced to admit in my mind, and publicly by showing up at meetings that I was an alcoholic, but it was necessary that I believe in God. I was told I needed to forgive all those who have hurt me, and I was encouraged to make amends with those who have traumatized and abused me. I was told if I didn’t admit I was an alcoholic, I was in denial and denial would only lead to death, failed recovery, relapse, among other things. 

Somehow I finagled my way through the 12 steps MANY times, without ever verbally saying I was an alcoholic. In 2012, I would say, “I’m Pam, I’m in recovery for alcohol abuse.” but that was the closest thing I have ever come to labeling myself an alcoholic. It seemed to fit me and my situation better at the current time. It was more TRUE to me to say that, than attach a label to myself for the rest of my life. I absolutely despise labels, and I find them to be a box of confinement of rules and regulations that I refuse to fit in. Currently, May 21, 2020 I say, “I’m in recovery from LIFE and relinquishment & adoption trauma!” This suits me at this present stage of my life. See how the labels can actually hinder us and trap us in a space we have the abilities to move beyond? Especially the phrase, “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic!” –  Dangerous! 

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It feels so wonderful to share this publicly, and not feel like I’m going to get thrown under the bus in the process. I feel labels only construct us and hold us back within the limits of those ideas and we deserve the freedom to go far beyond that. I know I have one friend who understands this and that’s David Bohl.  David is also a fellow adoptee in recovery, and we see things very similarly. He’s given me the inspiration to share my feelings about such a complex topic and he continues to share his on his website. 

DavidBohl-headshot-740x1024David shares in his article called The World Post – AA,, “I’ve learned a lot from AA and I learned a lot from leaving it. The biggest lesson is the one that tells me I need to be kind with myself and that I need to stay as diligent about Reality as I’ve always been. I no longer live in the delusion that I can drink without some dire consequences and I don’t need meetings to tell me that. But just because I don’t go to meetings, it doesn’t mean that I’m off the hook from reminding myself every day and practicing what keeps me sober and happy.” –  David B. Bohl 

I can so agree with David about learning a lot from AA and also learning a lot from leaving it! Same with Celebrate Recovery. Today I asked myself, “Did I really have to admit I was an alcoholic in order to be in recovery, seek healing and wholeness in my life? Did I need to admit I was an alcoholic to stop drinking? How has this idea stalled my healing?”  What I’ve finally discovered is that, “NO, I don’t have to accept or admit I’m an alcoholic!” I can’t tell you how refreshing, freeing and wonderful this realization has been. If it’s true for me, it can be true for you too! We have to step into writing our own story, and stop letting others write it for us. 

Over a 20 year period, I learned that both my biological parents were alcoholics. I found out my biological mother was first, and it’s ultimately what killed her. Some years later I found my biological father, and I was told he was a raging alcoholic. He will likely die the way my birth mother did. Discovering these two very important pieces of my history is something that rocked me to my core. This is why ALL adopted people should receive 100% of their truth. It’s the KEY to healing!  You might ask, “How are both of your birth parents alcoholics and you are not when you drank for 26 years?” 

That’s easy for me. I don’t drink anymore, and I’m in recovery and I no longer have a desire to drink. I’ve put in the work to make changes. They, on the other hand are going to die from alcoholism as my birth mother already has, and my biological father is right behind her. If either of my birth parents put in the work to become sober, I wouldn’t label them alcoholics but they never got help, sadly. I broke the cycle and I’ve applied a lot of blood, sweat and tears to do this. I can not consciously attach being an alcoholic to my name and my legacy because of this. My kids are my motivation! 

I BROKE THE CYCLE NOT JUST FOR ME, BUT FOR THEM! 

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From my experience, in AA never admitting you are an alcoholic is denial. This thought process that influenced me kept me confined for a very long time! It’s very scary for a lot of people who are considering recovery or living an alcohol free life. From my experience, in AA, if you don’t label yourself an alcoholic, you will NOT make it. Relapse is inevitable and you will be told you are in denial. Let me be clear, I know AA, NA and Celebrate Recovery, and all the other recovery programs and ministries have saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. I can find goodness in all of these programs. But due to my experiences with them, I can also take some steps back and see how damaging they can be. I’m not knocking them, or those who believe in them or those that are faithful participants of any of them. I’m just saying what worked and didn’t work for me, along with my views being on the outside looking in. 

Besides my three amazing kids, knowing both my birth parents were alcoholics was my motivation to want to be nothing like them. I didn’t want to be like them, and I didn’t want to die like them. I have wasted 26 years of my life, with alcohol being at the center of almost everything I did and I didn’t want alcohol to take anymore from my life, or my kids lives.  

The older I get, the more wisdom I gain, and the more I begin to think for myself. I never understood how labeling myself an alcoholic for the rest of my life would help me? If I’m doing everything in my power to become happy, healthy, and recover from my previous life experiences, why do I have to call myself an alcoholic, yet be manipulated into doing this? I never fell for it, and I have never been comfortable with ADMITTING I’M AN ALCOHOLIC. 

Today I celebrate 2838 days of living alcohol free, and I’ve made it this far never claiming the label of being an alcoholic. Can I agree I had an alcohol problem? Definitely. Can I drink today even if I wanted to drink today? No sir. I can’t. I know this and I have way too much at risk. I can also agree that the root of my drinking, and alcohol problem was relinquishment trauma and adoption trauma from my adoption experience. That’s my truth and that’s where I needed to put my focus if I ever wanted to be a happy, healthy individual. 

So how did I get to where I am when I’ve never publicly admitted I’m an alcoholic? Being true to myself was KEY. In order to know what that looked like, I needed to be by myself. I know not everyone can do this, or wants to do this. That’s okay.  I spent years, single not dating at all in order to learn who I am and who I’m not. What were my likes and dislikes at this stage of my life? I had to leave all the systems that were presented to me like church,  AA & Celebrate Recovery and walk away.  I had to create my own program that works for me which has been Adoptees Connect, Inc.  I walked away from many of the reasons (people, places and things) I drank to begin with, I got real with myself and got honest. I’ve applied the tools that I’ve been given and aligned them with what works for me and I’ve thrown the rest in the trash. Some of these things, others inside and outside of recovery settings might not agree with. I’ve learned to be okay with that. I don’t need anyone’s approval. I’m no longer collecting CHIPS for my recovery milestones. I collect ROCKS which are symbolic to me. I’ve found more healing in nature, chasing waterfalls than I have inside any church, program or ministry. 

MY WAY. 

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There’s a lot of stigma attached to recovery, that it has to be done a certain way. I’m no longer buying into it. I’m now doing things my way. Going against the grain is in my DNA but it’s been a significantly difficult journey to always be the one “not listening” or “not following directions.”  Or better yet, “THE REBEL WITH A CAUSE” – This is what I prefer to be called. 🙂 But here I am, 2838 days into sobriety and I have a story to tell on how I got here. The instructions of finding god, labeling myself an alcoholic and demanding forgiveness in order to heal and be in recovery has not worked for me, and news flash…

I’M STILL IN RECOVERY! 

I’M STILL SOBER! 

I HAVE A NEW FOUND LOVE FOR LIFE THAT I NEVER HAD BEFORE. 

MY WAY ISN’T ANYONE ELSE’S WAY. 

I’M OKAY WITH THIS. 

I BROKE THE CYCLE! 

I AM NOT AN ALCOHOLIC! 

I would like to share a message of encouragement for all my fellow adoptees in recovery, and anyone else who might be reading this article. You don’t have to admit you’re an alcoholic to get help, nor do you have to admit it in private. You don’t have to forgive everyone, or anyone for that matter. You don’t have to believe in God to get the help you need. I encourage you to explore other options outside of the 12 steps of AA, and religious settings because as times change, recovery doesn’t fit in a box. It’s not a “One size fits all” method like it was when I was growing up, and entering the recovery 12 step world in 2012. There are so many other options out there now. Keep searching until you find what works for you and realize that your way isn’t anyone else’s way. 

 One of the people who I follow and admire greatly is my friend mentioned above, David Bohl. Follow his Facebook, get his memoir. Read his article, Blue Mind and Relinquishees/Adoptees. The idea of being close to water and the healing dynamics to it is a very powerful healing tool! I can wholeheartedly agree, because this is what I get when I chase waterfalls. This is one of the many things that’s worked for us, but the mainstream recovery outlets aren’t talking about it. We learned it on our own and have a lifetime of experiences to back it up. Research Blue Mind.  You will be happy you did! 

TNM_book-hand-mockup_jan_2018-400x386Another sober living tool I’ve been following and learning about is This Naked Mind.  This Naked Mind has helped me realize that many people struggle with alcohol, and we have many options to try to seek understanding on the WHY, so we can make an informed choice on getting help.  I also encourage building a support system of other adoptees in recovery. Consider starting an Adoptees in Recovery® group via Adoptees Connect, Inc.®  I suggest EMDR Therapy because it has been highly recommended for adoptees, trauma work and inner child work is also a great step in healing. If you can find a Adoptee Competent Therapist at Beyond Words Psychological Services, LLC. I highly recommend it. 

268x0wListen to the podcast, Adoptees On. This has been a major healing tool for adoptees all over the world. Haley is a personal friend of mine and her gift of this podcast has changed the lives of so many people. She’s exceptionally gifted on creating a safe space for adoptees to share their adoption experience. In this, the validation that adoptees receive by tuning in is a valuable tool in our healing. Check her out!

I can share from experience, HANDS DOWN – I COULD NOT WORK ON RELINQUISHMENT AND ADOPTION TRAUMA WHILE I WAS DRINKING ALCOHOL. I HAD TO STOP DRINKING COLD TURKEY TO DO THIS WORK! I became suicidal mixing the two, so if you are TRULY wanting to work on your adoptee problems, trauma, and issues I suggest getting sober FIRST. After-all, that’s a huge part of the reason many of us drink and use substances to begin with. If you haven’t made that connection yet, here is a helpful video for you. Paul Sunderland – Adoption & Addiction.

We all deserve to know the truth that there are more ways than the one way that might be presented to us as contemplate entering into a recovery journey. Your “thing”  might be drugs, alcohol, food, shopping, sex, divorce, anger, rage, self esteem, abandonment, rejection, C-PTSD, and the list could go on. Alcohol was the substance I used to run from processing abandonment, rejection, grief, loss and trauma regarding my adoption journey. Keep searching for what works for you and please know that this world is now full of possibilities  to living a life of happiness and wholeness beyond the confinement of any programs, rules and regulations of others telling you how it needs to be done.

Do not settle for one way. 

Your way isn’t anyone else’s way! 

Sending Love & Light,

Pamela Karanova

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Finally, Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30, 2020

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You can find the original posting of this article at Adoptees Connect, Inc by clicking here.

What is Adoptee Remembrance Day? 

We’re declaring Adoptee Remembrance Day as a day to honor the memory of adoptees who didn’t make it by way of suicide and to those who have died by the hands of their adopters. While this topic remains sensitive in nature, adoptees who are murdered by their adoptive parents is increasing around the world.  It’s a time to honor their legacy by setting aside a day just for them. 

You can read more about Adoptee Remembrance Day below, and find out how you can show support for the adoptee community on this day. 

Adoptee Remembrance Day is starting in 2020 by Adoptees Connect founder, Pamela Karanova.

“Adoptee Remembrance Day is a day to recognize all of our brothers & sisters who are adopted, that didn’t survive adoption. It’s also a day that signifies an acknowledgement of loss for adoptees because before we’re ever adopted we experience the biggest loss of our lives that’s continuously ignored by our world today. Over the years, the adoptee community has had multiple conversations on creating a day set aside for adoptees, but we’re ready to bring this to life as a way to raise awareness and honor those adoptees who are no longer with us. It’s important that we don’t forget them and after all we’ve lost, adoptees deserve a day just for them.” – Pamela Karanova

As things are shifting in the adoptee community regarding resources, safe spaces and communities of our very own, we still have work to do. Adoptees Connect, Inc. can’t help but place an emphasis on remembering where the adoptee community used to be, and where we are now. 

We’re working our hardest at sharing our resources with others so we have more groups available all over the world. Adoptees Connect groups are changing the narrative of the adoptee experience from that of isolation and loneliness to one of community and validation. Adopted people are, in fact, four times more likely to attempt suicide than non-adoptees: Risk of Suicide Attempt in Adopted and Nonadopted Offspring Adoptees are over represented in prisons, jails, treatment facilities and mental health facilities. Adoptee Remembrance Day is for them. We haven’t forgotten about them. 

I shared an article many years ago titled, “Love is not all we need”, yet society as a whole continues to fall short at giving adoptees what they need. While adoptee advocacy and adoptee voices are raising up and sharing the truth in how adoption has made them feel, many people are still not listening. While we create a space dedicating October 30th to this much needed topic, we hope it will ignite conversations of awareness of the adoptee experience by those who have lived it, the adoptees. 

While those who have passed away before us, are no longer able to speak and share their stories or voices, there are many adoptees today who are paving the way for the voiceless to become strong enough to share their voices. We are the voice of the voiceless. This is what Adoptee Remembrance Day is all about. 

Remembering the voiceless and honoring those we’ve lost way too soon. 

Since the beginning of time, adoptees have never had a space to go to share their hearts, and conversations about the adoptee experience and these experiences have rarely been welcomed by society at large. Things are changing for the better and our hope is, as we highlight this very important day we will continue to bring light to the other side of adoption that almost always goes unrecognized by our world today. 

Things are changing but what about all that’s been lost in the meantime? 

What about the adoptees that didn’t make it? What about all the memories lost, never to be found? What about the adoptees that haven’t found a community of their own? What about those who haven’t made it to the other side of healing? What if healing isn’t possible? What if you lost an adoptee? You might be an adoptive parent, a biological parent, a friend or a sibling of an adoptee? 

While our aim is to lift up the legacy of those who are no longer with us, we’re also wanting to share the truth of how adoption has impacted each of us. We’re opening October 30th up to be our day of truth,  transparency and remembrance for adoptees all over the world. We’re also remembering the heartbreaking loss that all adoptees experience, which deserves to be acknowledged.

Let’s also include this day is for the families and friends who have lost a loved one to adoption. Maybe you’ve been searching for them, but you can’t find them? Maybe you had an open adoption and it was suddenly closed? Maybe your a birth parent who lost a child to adoption? This day is for adoptive parents, friends, family and loved ones who acknowledge an adoptees loss, before they gain. We see you. This day is for you too.

All adoptions begin with extremely complex multi layered loss FIRST.   

Adoptee Remembrance Day is a day where each person has a chance to share their hearts on this very difficult and sensitive topic. We hope you will consider joining us to honor and remember those who we love and  lost who didn’t survive adoption, as well as acknowledging the loss each adoptee experiences. 

Things you can do to for Adoptee Remembrance Day

Wear YELLOW – We’re dedicating the color YELLOW to this day as a way to honor those adoptees we’ve lost. Please consider wearing yellow to honor them. Spark conversationsimg_2132 why you are wearing yellow in your workplace, home and among friends & family. 

Use Hashtags – We’re using hashtag #adopteesconnect  #adopteeremembranceday and #adopteesweremember so please share all photos, articles, poems, online using this hashtag so we can share with our community. 

Read Adoptee Books – Read adoptee centric books, The Adoptee Survival Guide: Adoptees Share Their Wisdom and Tools, Parallel Universes: The Story of Rebirth, You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are: An Adoptee’s Journey Through The American Adoption Experience You can find a comprehensive list of adoptee centric books at Adoptee Reading. Share which book you are reading on October 30th. 

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A Moment of Silence – Pause for 4 minutes of silence to reflect, honor and remember our fellow adoptees who didn’t survive adoption at 12:00PM EST on October 30th.(Adoptees are 4x more likely to attempt suicide than non-adopted individuals)  

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Keep Memories Alive – Keep memories alive & e-mail a paragraph, poem, art or short story with a photo and tribute about the special adoptee you know that didn’t survive adoption, or an adoptee who’s incarcerated. Paint a memory rock, decorating it with your loved ones name, favorite thing or quote. We will share it on our Facebook October 30th in their honor. Email: adopteeremembranceday@gmail.com 

Wear A Yellow Flower – Wear a yellow flower and spark conversations of what the yellow flower represents in your work, home and with friends & family. 

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Share A Tribute – Email a paragraph with your photo if you’re an adoptee who would like to share a tribute to honor the lost adoptees, and/or all you have lost in adoption.  Email: adopteeremembranceday@gmail.com 

Have A Ceremonial Bonfire- Gather with others who support Adoptee Remembrance Day and at dusk light a bonfire in memory of the lost adoptees, and all that’s lost in adoption. Everyone can receive a piece of paper on which to write the message they would like to share. They can read them together, or keep them private. Then they can take turns placing their messages into the fire. As the notes burn, the rising flames and the sparks spiraling upward will offer the effects of sending the messages to the heavens.

Events – Schedule and dedicate an event on Facebook for a walk, hike,  dinner, lunch, sit in the park for October 30th in your community or with your Adoptees Connect group or others as a way to honor those who didn’t survive adoption and to recognize adoption loss. Do you have a special place or a reminder of someone you lost to adoption? Visit this place and set aside some time to remember your loved one. Be sure to tag our official Adoptee Remembrance Day – Oct 30th  page on Facebook, as well as add us to co-host your events. 

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Order A T-Shirt or Hoodie – Wear our exclusive T-Shirts or Hoodies dedicate to this significant day and take photos and share them with us. Wear them leading up to October 30th so you can be a walking billboard for this day. We’re the only ones that will get the word out about the significance of this day, so use this as an opportunity to spark conversations. You can find these items available at www.adopteemerch.com with 100% of the proceeds going directly towards our Adoptees Connect Scholarship Fund. This fund helps adoptees receive a scholarship to be able to receive the materials they need to plant an Adoptees Connect group in their area. We have a growing list of individuals who need scholarships and sponsors. The more groups we plant, the more adoptees will have a safe space to share their journeys.  Learn more: Sponsor Program.  If we see a need for youth & kid sizes, let us know! We will consider adding them to our website. If you can get the whole family involved, that will raise more awareness. 

Tribute Donations – Make a tribute donation or start a fundraiser to Adoptees Connect, Inc. to honor the memory of a loved one who didn’t survive adoption. The more groups we plant, the less isolation and loneliness adoptees will feel which are directly impacting adoptees all over the world. 

Make A Meme – Make a viral memorial meme in honor of any adoptees that didn’t survive adoption. Share it on October 30th in their memory. 

Write a Song – Write and record a song dedicated to the remembrance of the adoptees that didn’t survive adoption and the adoptee loss experience. 

Write an Article – Consider writing an article about adoptees who didn’t survive adoption or those who died at the hands of their adopters. How has this impacted you and the world of adoption?  Share the link with us, we will share it on our Facebook page on October 30th.

 Candle-lite Remembrance – Shine a light or a candle at 9:00PM EST on October 30th which we feel would be a powerful way to remember adoptees who didn’t surviveimg_2131 adoption and to recognize adoption begins with loss. When multiple people are involved in the lighting it can be a powerful recognition but being alone works just as well. 

Living Reminders – Create a living reminder like planting a flower, a tree or an entire garden in memory of adoptees who didn’t survive adoption and acknowledging loss in adoption. Pick up some yellow flowers from the store. 

Memorial Video – Create a memorial video dedicated to all of our lost brothers and sisters in adoption sharing your voice advocating for change in adoption policies and practices today. Tag us so we can share. 

Blow Bubbles – Instead of release balloons, blow bubbles. One person blowing bubbles is fun, but get a group together all blowing bubbles, and you can create a magical experience. For even more impact, add a few giant bubble wands to the mix.

Float flowers – Choose locally-grown flowers rather than imported ones. Friends & Family can drop the flowers into the water from the shore or from a boat in memory and remembrance of adoptee loss & suicide. Add an extra layer of meaning by writing notes to our loved ones, on quick- dissolve paper (such as rice paper) and releasing the notes into the water along with the flowers. They’ll float along for a bit before harmlessly dissolving. To be truly eco-friendly, you should use fully biodegradable ink, such as an ink made from algae, to write the messages.

Write in the Sand – Take a stick and write in the wet sand on the shore of a lake, river or ocean. This can be a prat of a larger remembrance service, or private. Anyone that attends can write their words of love to the departed and all that’s lost in adoption. The waves will wash them away, symbolically sending the message along.

Be Creative – Start a new tradition on October 30th for Adoptee Remembrance Day. Express how you have been advocating for change in adoption by sharing your voice on how adoption has impacted you. Share why this day is important to you. Encourage friends, family and loved ones to do the same. 

Alone Time – Have a moment of alone time which can signify for you a special moment of recognizing adoptee loss. img_2133

Family Friendly – Make it a family affair. Explain the importance of recognizing this day and honor it and remember it with your family. 

Spread the Word – Invite as many people as possible to follow our Facebook page and share our events inviting everyone you know. The more people that learn about this day, the more will begin to recognize the many layers of adoption that are unrecognized by society as a whole.

RSVP to our Facebook event if you plan on participating to Adoptee Remembrance Day. Don’t forget to invite your friends & family. 

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Please don’t release balloons into the environment. Click here to learn why this is terrible for our environment. We have plenty of eco-friendly options listed here. Please choose them over polluting the environment.  

There’s no rule that says you can only remember or memorialize someone or something in one way. Feel free to use multiple suggestions above as you see fit or create something new. 

A few things to remember: 

  • We will start pre scheduling posts on our Facebook page on August 1, 2020 that will launch October 30th 2020 at 8AM EST. Posts will be shared at least 15 minutes apart, unless the response is overwhelming they will be closer together. 
  • You don’t have to be adopted to recognize Adoptee Remembrance Day. We recognize that many people are impacted by adoption each year. We encourage you to get involved no matter which part of the adoption constellation you might or might not be a part of. Your support means everything to the adoptee community. 
  • We have a main Facebook page for this day, but we are not setting up Instagram or Twitter for this purpose. Our main Adoptee Remembrance Day page will be sharing all posts we are tagged in, so make sure to tag us on October 30th. We will also share as many posts that use hashtags #adopteeremembranceday and #adopteesweremember as well as share as many as possible on our Adoptees Connect, Inc. Instagram & Twitter. 
  • We will need some volunteers to help with our social media, emails, and correspondence about the Adoptee Remembrance Day. If you have some free time and are interested, please email us: adopteerememberanceday@gmail.com 
  • Please be patient with correspondence as we’re 100% volunteer ran and most of us have full time jobs. 
  • Please direct all correspondence regarding Adoptee Remembrance Day to email: adopteerememberanceday@gmail.com and NOT our Adoptees Connect, Inc. email. Separating the two causes will be critical to the productivity of Oct 30th. 

Thank you for your support and understanding in these matters. If you have any more ideas we can add to our list of things we can do on October 30th for Adoptee Remembrance Day, feel free to email them to us. We will take them into consideration and possibly add them to our list.

Adoptee Remembrance Day serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of  crimes against adoptees by adoptive parents, an action that current media doesn’t recognize. It also allows us to publicly mourn and honor the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through these actions, we express love and respect for the adoptee community. Adoptee Remembrance day reminds others that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Adoptee Remembrance day gives our allies a chance to step forward with us, memorializing those who’ve died too soon, and it also recognizing the loss all adopted people experience, before they’re actually adopted.

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Adoptees Connect, Inc.   

 

I’m Adopted: You Can’t Fix Me or Take My Pain Away. Please Stop Trying.

Is Anyone Even Listening?

Ouch, this might have come off as abrasive right off the title. Hopefully so because my aim is to grasp the attention of anyone in the adoption arena in hopes to help someone who might not understand that you can’t fix adoptees and you can’t take our pain away. We need to embrace it and learn it’s here to stay. The sooner I acknowledged it, stopped running from it or trying to mask it with substances, the sooner healing started to happen.

National Adoption Awareness Month to me means I need to add my voice somewhere to the adoption arena because I’m adopted, and I know how it feels. Over the last 10 years of my activism in sharing how it feels to be adopted, I keep hearing the majority of adoptive parents say things like, “I just want to take away my adopted daughters pain” or “I don’t want my adopted son to feel like he was abandoned”.

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Photo by Casey Anderson on Unsplash.

I moderate multiple platforms online where this is a common theme and every time I hear it, I cringe. I think to myself, “They can’t possibly understand what damage they are doing by this mindset!”

Because if we know better, we do better and once you know, you can’t un-know. 

I decided that time is the most important thing we have, so I didn’t want to waste another minute not putting this information out here.

When a child or baby is adopted or separated from their biological mother for ANY REASON, no matter when it happens in life, it causes a trauma for this child. That trauma has to be acknowledged, but it also has to be exposed and brought to light so the person who has experienced this trauma has a chance to heal. As a baby, born and relinquished by my birth mother, my trauma happened at a preverbal state so growing up I never had the words to tap into this trauma. I didn’t have the language or memories talk to anyone about it. While this trauma has been stored my entire life in my subconscious memory, the fact that it’s never been addressed or acknowledged growing up has led me to a lifetime of addictions and unhealthy behavior habits.

I think if my adoptive parents understood this, they would have been able to help me. In 1974 they were told to not talk about it and move on. Sweep the truth under the rug and press on with the “better life” theory and act as if this real trauma never existed. Once this trauma occurs, it can never be undone. Healing is possible, but in order to heal it we must feel it and the earlier we start to do this, the sooner we start to heal.

Adoptees deserve to heal. 

I think as parents, we naturally want to take our children’s pain away, adopted or not. I’m a mom, I successfully have raised 3 kids to adult hood as a single parent and I have said many times, “I wish I could take your pain away” when they experience painful things in life. In acknowledging my own pain, I have been able to learn to acknowledge their pain.

There is a big difference in saying this but not reserving space for the pain to be processed vs saying this but also allowing space for the pain to be processed.

We can’t heal our wounds by saying they aren’t there.

While I believe many people have good intentions, we naturally don’t like to see people hurting, especially children. We want to help them, but the biggest mistake that can be made for an adoptee is when people try to fix us, or attempt to take our pain away by trying to make us “FEEL BETTER” without ever actually acknowledging that pain (trauma) to begin with. This is really life or death for adoptees everywhere. Of course, it’s life or death for anyone that’s been separated from their birth mothers, but I speak from an adoptees perspective so that’s the lens I’m sharing from.

The biggest deception in adoption today is that LOVE will somehow take the pain away, or that love will be enough. Well I’m here to share from my perspective and experience that love isn’t enough, and it will never be enough. The feeling of pain was far greater in my life than being able to FEEL LOVE.  Let’s be honest, there has never been a safe space for me (or most adoptees) to share them until Adoptees Connect, Inc. Because my trauma and pain was so BIG and LOVE was presented to me as abandonment, LOVE is something that confuses me to this day.  Love leaves, love is loss and love is abandonment. “My birth mother loved me so much, she gave me away” is my view of love.  Because of this, LOVE has always been a foreign concept to me when it comes to other people loving me.

Having children of my own, I finally know what it’s like to love others, but I still struggle to this day believing or FEELING like anyone loves me. I know it’s rooted in my adoption experience because I’ve spent the last 7 years in recovery working on myself. I’ve been able to identify the root issue being abandonment & rejection from both birth parents, compiled with C-PTSD, grief, loss and trauma.

Throughout my entire life I longed for my birth mother. The sadness that followed is something I can’t even put into words, but it stuck with me my entire life. I drank alcohol for 27 years to COPE with this experience because I couldn’t handle processing this pain, but alcohol temporarily took the pain away. No amount of love, material possessions, people, places or things could make up for my trauma and loss of my birth mother at the beginning of life.

My birth mothers shortcomings didn’t matter to me 

ALL I EVER WANTED WAS HER. 

Instead of anyone trying to fix me, or take my pain away what I needed was my adoptive parents to open the conversations to allow me to process this pain at age appropriate times  I needed them to know AHEAD OF TIME before they ever adopted me that the pain I would experience from relinquishment trauma will be with me for the rest of my life and it will negatively impact me in many ways. I needed them to research relinquishment trauma, pre and post-natal bonding between mother and child and what happens when that natural process is broken, and the bond is severed. I needed them to know their love wouldn’t be enough to fix me or to heal my broken heart. I needed them to know that no matter what they did and how they did it that it wouldn’t take my pain away. I needed them to know about the emotional and psychological issues I would suffer for my entire lifetime because of this trauma, many years beyond being a cute baby and a cuddly toddler. The sooner the reality and truth is brought to light, the better!

Avoidance will only work for so long, and then our emotions start to come out in unhealthy ways. I would much rather sit with my child and HELP them PROCESS the pain by allowing them to feel feelings than watch them self-destruct because they aren’t able to articulate the words about why they are feeling the way they are. We need our parents help to find the right words, and the space to be able to share freely how we are feeling about our adoption experiences. It’s impossible to tap into this when society silences adoptees unless they have a thankful and grateful narrative to spin.

WE HAVE TO STOP BEING SCARED TO SIT WITH SOMEONE IN THEIR PAIN.

WE HAVE TO STOP TRYING TO RUN FROM PROCESSING PAIN. 

WE HAVE TO UNDERSTAND WE CAN’T PUT A TIME FRAME ON HEALING.

Pain is a natural response to different experiences that happen to us. I say all the time that the way adoptees feel is normal. What’s not normal is being separated from our biological families at the beginning of life. I say this to validate every single experience and feeling of every adoptee who might come across my words. I want them to know they aren’t alone, and they aren’t crazy!

I grew up, and here I am. I survived and I’m surviving daily. I’m in recovery from relinquishment trauma, compacted by adoption trauma. All I have really ever needed was my adoptive parents and those who aren’t adopted to acknowledge my pain, and in acknowledging that pain, sit with me and listen to me share pieces of my story.  They need to understand that there is much more to adoption than what society shares. It’s not all cute and lovely. It’s not all happy and positive. All adoptions are rooted and grounded in the biggest loss of a persons life, and until that’s acknowledged adoptees will continue to be stuck like I was for so many years.

45 Years of my life I can never get back…

I knew someone awhile back who wanted to fix me and was constantly trying to make me feel better. I had to tell them to please stop it because there is nothing anyone can do to change my reality. I certainly don’t need anyone else to try to re-frame my reality for me as an attempt to make me “feel better”. What is so hard about acknowledging someone else’s pain, and just listening to them and sit with them in the pain?

I’m a realist who’s focused on the truth. I didn’t fight for 45 years to get my truth, to turn around and pretend it’s not my reality. I experienced that in the religious settings of my x-church which is known as “spiritual bypassing”. This is when someone uses spiritual practices to avoid dealing with reality. I’ve broken free from that, and I will never live a lie again. So, when I cling to my truth, I don’t appreciate anyone trying to come into my space and change it after I’ve fought my entire life to receive it and I’ve spent many years working towards healing from it.

As a child I never could acknowledge my painful truth because my adoptive parents were busy pretending, I was a blank slate, and they were my only parents. Reality, I had a broken past and history before I ever came to them but them denying it, and pretending like it didn’t exist wrecked me, and it still impacts me to this day. How do you think it feels to be a part of 2 families, but never being able to feel like you fully belong to either? Like an outsider always looking in. It’s extremely difficult to navigate so I’ve made the choice to opt out for my own sanity, mental health and recovery.

I share no DNA with my adoptive family, and I have no shared history with my biological family. I’m learning to adapt by accepting I will never truly be a part of either family, so I’ve moved far away across the country from everyone to try to recovery from this experience the best I can.  I now have 3 adult children who are my family. Although, I’m 7 years into my sobriety and recovery journey and I consider myself an adoptee who’s worked through a lot of these issues, not one day goes by where being adopted doesn’t impact me in some way.

I’m thankful for my kids because without them I wouldn’t be here. 

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Damia, Keila, Damond – Twins 21st Birthday Celebration

It’s us against the world. 

We may not have it all together, but together we have it all. 

I’ve accepted that I will be in recovery for the rest of my life due to my adoption experience. Thankfully I’ve been an adoptee whose found my adoptee tribe that meets in real life and they get me. They understand and they will sit with me in my pain. They don’t put a time frame on it, they don’t try to silence me, and they understand the adoptee journey.  This has been very validating, but I can’t help but wonder who’s narrative might change if other’s hear this side of the story?

Will adoptive parents stop trying to avoid dealing with the truth after reading this? Will non adoptees in society try to listen more and talk less, with compassion and understanding? Will they listen to what I have shared here? Will they try to learn more, and stop trying to bypass the process of dealing with the truth of adoptees all over the world?  I can’t help but hope that if my adoptive parents had this information back in the day, they would do whatever they could to learn to understand the adoptee experience and having the willingness to listen and learn.

Is anyone even listening? 

If you are, this is for you. 

Please know you can’t fix me. 

You can’t fix any adoptees. 

You can’t take our pain away either. 

Please stop trying. 

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