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.

The Girl in the Grocery Store

I wasn’t 100% sure I was going to write about this but it’s been on my mind pretty heavy dd3b937b1788b74f542f5891f1128b73--drawings-of-eyes-crying-sad-face-drawing-sketchesso I decided to get it off my chest. I’m also curious if any of my fellow adoptees have experienced anything similar?

Let me share, I’m a 43 year old adult adoptee. I’ve been single for many years, I’ve raised my kids as a single mom. I’ve had a lot of alone time and I’ve embraced it and I actually love to be alone because it seems to be the safest space for me. After many years I recently ventured out into the dating world and I’m currently seeing someone. As we’ve gotten to know one another over the last few months, I have shared a little of my adoption experience with Him. He’s listened and taken in what I have shared, but he doesn’t seem to have much to say in response which seems to be the norm for most non-adoptees. I can dig it because what is there to say? Usually one has to be able to relate to an extent so a conversation dialog is created and there the conversation goes.

In all honesty I haven’t shared all the dynamics of what it’s like to date an adopted person, me specifically. I have only shared with him a few details and some of the things on my list of “Special Needs”. O_O

One of the main things is COMMUNICATION. I made sure in the beginning I let him know how important communication is to me because areas of UNKNOWN are a area of FEAR for me. Maybe I didn’t say “Communicate with me at all times because if you don’t I start to freak out inside and my mind goes haywire and I need you to communicate with me!”… But chances are I said similar, but in a nicer way that said “Hey, communication is important to me so please communicate with me as much as possible”.

Do you have any idea how daunting it is to explain to someone all your adoptee issues? The great thing about this handsome man is I haven’t even had to tell Him all of these issues and one by one they seem to play themselves out. I want to be honest with him, yet what is too much especially in the beginning of a dating relationship? Again, FEAR of sharing too much is always at the forefront and wondering if he will leave like everyone else has, is on my mind so not saying much at all until the situation arises seems safer?

I think in time things reveal themselves so the need for me to vomit all my adoptee issues all over his lap is not necessary. I must say I’m rather sad and somewhat depressed I can’t seem to just forget all about this adoptee crap and get on with my life. As soon as I feel like I’m on top of the world, boom I crash and fall. If you read my blog years back you will see I have done the work! I have tried EVERYTHING! The highs and lows from this adoption thing seem to follow me all over and chances are they will follow me for the rest of my life.

It’s sad and depressing to me.

When I get to this “Space” all I want to do is sleep. I lose my MOJO and go into what I call a “FUNK”.

I never know when the sadness is going to rear it’s ugly head. All I know is when it comes I have to embrace it and KNOW that my response to current situations that might happen are based on the little girl that was abandoned as a baby and child. A non-adoptee reading might have no clue what I’m taking about and might just think I need to check myself into a mental ward, which might not be a bad idea. BUT I promise you if you do the research like I have, and understand that many of our responses to current situations are based on unprocessed stored memories from the beginning of conception and on, you will see that my responses as well as many adoptees aren’t all that “OFF” for the situation at hand.

I know this is A LOT.

Being adopted is A LOT

I hate being adopted.

“Well why are you so negative and why can’t you find the good in being adopted?”

I will save that answer for a totally different blog post because I’m not trying to go off today.  Stay tuned.

Back to the girl in the grocery store…

I turned into a little girl in the grocery store!

Laugh while you can!

It was humiliating!

I went with my guy to the grocery and I had to use the rest room. He was just getting a few things and we walked to the back of the store and found the rest room. I said “I’ll be right back” and walked on in. A few minutes later I came back out and I didn’t see Him. Where did he go? I just knew he had to be right around the corner. I walked a few steps and didn’t see him. I walked a few more steps and didn’t see him.

WHERE WAS HE AND WHY DID HE LEAVE ME HERE?

I TOLD HIM I WOULD BE RIGHT BACK.

My heart starts to do some flips because now I know he’s gone. I didn’t see Him anywhere. My mind starts racing and I started to walk up and down the isles and as I passed each isle, my panic button was being triggered more and more. Every step I took where I couldn’t see Him my fear increased. I felt like I was split in two. The real me KNEW he had to be there somewhere, but the little girl in me knew I was lost. The FEAR from the little girl was much MUCH stronger than the reality of Him being there somewhere.  I was in a full blown panic episode at 43 years old in the damn grocery store!

I walked to the front of the store, and even looked out the front window and thought, “Maybe he went to the car and he’s waiting on me?” or “Maybe he’s hiding around one of these corners trying to play a trick on me?”.

Up and down the isles, faster and faster, searching… I was so upset that he left me. I got tears in my eyes, and I kept looking for Him. In my mind he left me. I continued to search, but I hated the way I was feeling. As I walked all the way to the opposite side of the store I got tears in my eyes. I kept searching. I was frantic.

After many minutes and a dissecting the store in search of HIM I finally laid eyes on Him. A sigh of relief came over me.

He’s here after all and he didn’t leave me…

By this time my mind was mentally and emotionally exhausted. I’m pretty sure I was pouting as I got closer to Him and my eyes were tearful. I’m pretty sure if I said what I was feeling he would have been totally taken back by my reality and considerably shook at my revelations.

I remember saying, “Why did you leave me?” He said, “I told you I was going to find the milk and chicken”. Obviously I didn’t hear that part.  I’m pretty sure he could tell I was visibly upset. I told him I didn’t hear him.  I’ve been beating myself up ever sense then and I am still upset about it because I feel like as far as I am on my healing journey I should have been able to flip the switch on that one.

He said, “Do you really think I would leave you?”. I just looked at Him. I couldn’t even say anything after that because me feeling what I felt at that moment I felt LEFT & LOST. Knowing he would never leave me in the grocery was at a parallel ends of the spectrum of how I was feeling at that moment.   I  had the feeling like I had been abandoned in the grocery at 43 years old by my BOO! WTF! At that time, I either wanted 1 of 2 things to happen. I wanted Him to hug me tight and tell me he’s never gonna abandon me or leave me in the grocery store or ever for that matter, OR I wanted to go crawl in my bed and pull the covers up and never come out again.

I couldn’t do either. I had to just pretend that this episode didn’t happen and I didn’t share with him my feelings about it because I thought it would be just too much for anyone to take in. I do love to communicate and I would like to share it with Him. This is one of the many “Special Needs” that many adoptees might face that our significant others need to know about so they know how to help us and handle us better.

REALITY= I was at the grocery store in the town where I live. I knew where I was. I wasn’t lost but that isn’t how I felt.  I felt abandoned and lost, like the little girl I always was searching for her birth mother.

My thing is who the hell wants to deal with this crap? Seriously? It’s something so small to so many but to me it was a huge deal. I’m disappointed and I’m sad in myself for responding this way, although I feel had no control over it. It was a much deeper psychological episode than I felt I could control. I’ve been working on triggers and how to respond when I have them which is ALL THE TIME but this one swooped up on me and I felt helpless in my response. It was almost like the feeling of coming down on a drug, terrible terrible feeling.

I would rather DIE than feel this way!

I’m not freaking kidding either!

 

THE DREAM

 I was about 5 years old around the time I found out I was adopted.

After this I had a reoccurring dream as a little girl and through much of my life. I was in a hospital around 5 years old wearing a hospital gown. I remember the long hallways going on forever and ever and I was running up and down the hallways looking for my birth mother. I could very vividly remember being frantic, running and pulling the curtains back on each hospital room searching for HER. It went on forever, and I never did find her in the dream. Again, I had this dream over and over through out my life.

This searching FEAR is the exact same way I felt in the grocery when I felt like I was LEFT & LOST.

I’ve always been triggered by feeling lost, and I definitely associate this to adoption. If I can’t find my car parked coming out of the grocery store and I have to walk all over looking for it, I feel lost and I start to panic inside and get tears in my eyes. Worst feeling ever.

The feeling of your mother abandoning you and never coming back, ever. A deep homesick feeling and nothing or no one can help it.

That’s how it feels.

Let’s turn the coin and talk about living real life searching for my biological mother everywhere I went my entire life. Most adoptees can relate 100%. This isn’t a dream. This is real life. I mean today, September 7, 2017 I know where my birth mother is.

She’s dead.

I no longer search for her  but these episodes sparked by FEAR of being abandoned and rejected, LEFT & LOST take me back to the unresolved emotional wounds that are under the surface from being an adoptee.

It’s scary!

It’s complicated.

Adoption is complicated.

All adoptees are different.

Not all adoptees can sympathize with this type of issue, yet some can.

It seriously messed me up and I still haven’t gotten myself back right yet.

I want to tell my guy, but I don’t want to burden him or anyone else with my issues so I have shared it here instead. Maybe one day I’ll get up enough courage to share this blog post with him, until then I will keep it to myself for fear of……

To me, this is one example of so many I could share how adoptees are tormented by emotional and psychological issues we carry regarding being adopted. It might seem small to some, but this type of thing happens daily for many adoptees, and sometimes hourly and more. It’s a constant mental struggle and it’s exhausting just to be alive most days.

Adoption is a permanent solution to what is most of the time a temporary problem and adoptees are the ones doing the life sentence. We pay the price for life, while the rest of the world glorifies how they think we should feel, gratefulness.

I’m sick of adoption. Because of all the real true dynamics, I know and feel and live regarding all the pain, grief, loss and trauma that happens when a child is adopted is why I am deeply saddened anytime a child is adopted and separated from their first families. I am me alone, yet I see and hear the pain and heartache from hundreds of adoptees all over the world that I’m acquainted with. Please believe I am not singing this tune all alone. We create our own army and support one another and validate one another.

If you are an adoptive parent and you have made it this far I commend you for reading. I appreciate it. It takes courage to make the choice to try to learn from adult adoptees. Please look up my tab that says “Adoptee Blogs” and save it as a favorite and you will have never ending knowledge based on real TRUE experience from those who know adoption the most- The Adoptee.

Adoptees, can you relate?

Have you ever had anything like this happen?

How did you diffuse out of it?

Thanks for reading,

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Pamela A Karanova

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When the Wall Comes Tumbling Down…

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You make the choice to pick up all the pieces, try to put them back together again.

Most people who know me or who have followed my blog will be familiar with my story but for those who aren’t aware I’m adopted. I was born in Waterloo, IA in 1974. I spent 20+ years searching for my biological family. Over the years I spent time battling an alcohol addiction and I suffered from anger, rage, low self-esteem, and lived a completely hopeless life.  I had abandonment & rejection issues from my adoption experience and I grew up in an emotionally, mentally and sexually abusive adoptive home. It’s taken me years to move towards accepting and acknowledging the truth, and asking God to come into my life and heal me from all these different “things” I have faced in my lifetime. Today I live in VICTORY. The devil had his way with me for far too long and TODAY because of GOD my life is on the mends. I share my story so other adoptees know they aren’t alone and with the world because adoption is much more than the label “A beautiful thing!” I desire to bring hope to the hopeless adoptees because having someone that UNDERSTANDS is HUGE!

Being adopted isn’t for sissies!

We are strong, resilient and we are fighters.

With that being said, as I was reunited with both my birth parents, they both met me and then rejected me. I hear people say, “You know, what feels like rejection is God’s way of protection!” I believe that to be true, but I also know in life especially in adoption I have always found people to want to silence my pain with reasons I should just be thankful for the circumstances I was born into. Let me just share that with this mentality I was never able to heal growing up. My healing was stalled, because the WORLD didn’t want to hear my pain, or acknowledge it in anyway.

Even the 20 counselors I saw growing up NEVER ACKNOWLEDGED MY ADOPTEE GRIEF, LOSS & TRAUMA!

Not even a little bit.

All I hear is, “Aren’t you thankful you weren’t aborted?” or “Aren’t you at least thankful for your life?” If you want to know the TRUTH, I spent 37 years being angry my birth mother didn’t abort me and I STILL struggle being thankful for my life! If I hear that one more time I think I might lose it.

Being transparent is the only way I can share things. I refuse to be marginally deceptive to make other people feel comfortable.

Spend some time RESEARCHING Complicated Grief, Loss & Trauma for adoptees. GOOD LUCK finding it because there are no resources ANYWHERE for us but if you find any please share them with me! A few books here and there and on a rare occasion one of us might come across a therapist that specializes in adoptee issues but that’s very rare. They aren’t common at all but there are adoption therapists for adoptive parents on every corner, not to mention agencies.

When you silence our pain with comments like that and refuse to acknowledge our pain you cause us more pain!

What does this mean?

When the walls come crumbling down we are left to figure it out on our own!

I have quickly learned that those close to me who WANT to learn how adoptees feel will make the choice to actively listen and try to understand that there is more to adoption than just a pretty little story.

JUST LISTEN!

As I was rejected by my birth parents, I was reunited with a half adoptive sister that relationship fizzled. She hated that I shared my less than perfect feelings on how adoption has impacted me and she has given a baby up for adoption. This caused an immediate clash between us and there seems to be no middle understanding. Her story is her story and mine is mine but she HATED that I shared adoption has been painful because she refuses to acknowledge her pain regarding losing her son to adoption. She lashed out on me and that was the end of that relationship.

I have had 3 biological family reunions and 3 fizzled reunions. Words can’t even begin to express the pain involved with these losses. I spent MANY years in denial, and really angry. Today I have gained acceptance but I had to step out of denial and the only way I could step out of denial is by learning my TRUTH! Shame and secrets stepped in the way so this is why I’m healing so late in life. The younger we learn our TRUTH the earlier we begin to heal. Secrecy and lies prevented me from healing. Today, as heart breaking as it has been at least I have my truth at least I’m healing!

Today I’m not as angry as I used to be but what fuels my anger is that society still fails to realize that adoption is loss & trauma which causes complicated grief, sadness, anger, rage and a lot of pain! Until this pain is acknowledged and understood on a deeper level the adoptee suicide rate will ALWAYS be 4 x more likely than non-adoptees. Check this article out if you don’t believe me. Preventing Adoptee Related Suicide

I have written for the last 5 years about how God saved the best for last. I didn’t find out I had a brother until 2010. I searched for him for a year in November 2011 I finally found my brother. We shared the same father. December 2011 was the first Christmas I ever spent with a biological family member. I can’t even tell you at the excitement and happiness to have finally found the BEST PART of my adoption search and the reunion was a great one. My brother was accepting, his siblings were accepting, and his children were accepting. We spent the next 5 years making up for lost time. I can tell you that he was and is the first person I ever felt like I had a biological connection besides my own kids. It was something only my fellow adoptees could appreciate because you had to grow up being denied that right, in order to understand how important it is.

FINALLY GOD SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST. MY BROTHER WAS AND IS THE POT OF GOLD AT THE END OF THE RAINBOW FOR ME.

Adoptees know that desire, that need to just feel like they belong, that deep desire to have that deep connection with their blood kin. Non-adoptees can’t relate because they haven’t gone without. It’s something most people take for granted.

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My brother has given me hope, that finally I will have some biological connections with someone somewhere. I imagined that one day when I get married he will be there at my wedding and he can meet all my adoptive family and they can finally see someone else that looks like me, acts like me and who has similarities as me. They will be able to see how awesome he is. I’ve been elated because my niece had her first baby, and I got a card in the mail that said “Auntie” with a Christmas picture with him in it. She kept me up to date about her pregnancy, and it’s been fun slowly building relationships with all of my brothers 4 kids and his siblings. They have all accepted us, loved us, and warmed us into the family. We traveled back and forth to Texas to his crawfish boil. He has been to Kentucky many times and celebrated a few Christmas’s with us. This past Thanksgiving 2015 we drove to Texas and my kids and I spent the first Thanksgiving in 41 years of my life with biological family. For me this has been a dream come true to a pretty tragic story.

God saved the best for last!

Indeed!

What feels like REJECTION is God’s way of protection might be true, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t have pain, grief & loss associated with the situation. I know that God understands the pain because he too can feel the deepest parts of my heart, every little broken piece.

As the story unfolds, my biological father doesn’t claim me and he shared doubts with me about my half-brother. My brother is 10 years older than me. He was always told growing up that J.J.; our birth father is his father. Our birth father even acknowledged him at a few different times in his life but they hadn’t had a relationship in many years. I found my birth father in 1999 and mailed him a letter sharing with him who I was. I waited every day for the mail and had high hopes he would respond but after giving him 11 years I never had confirmation he received my letter, so I decided to drive to Iowa to see his face at least one time in my lifetime. 2010 was the year my birth mother died and we had only met one time. It was also the year I laid eyes on my birth father for the first time. During this visit he shared with me I had a half-brother, He said he had some doubts he was his or not, but he was believed to be in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, he gave me his name and off I went. The search was on.

In my heart I felt that if my birth father didn’t claim me, and he wasn’t for sure claiming my brother I would leave it up to my brother and I to determine if we were siblings because as soon as we saw one another’s childhood pictures, and pictures through life we just knew we were siblings. We spent some time together and our similarities are astonishing! We have so many of the same mannerisms, we’re both tall, we have the same complexion and if my hair was natural we would have the same hair color. We are so much alike, and in my heart I finally felt a connection to someone I shared DNA with, which was a connection I had never felt in my lifetime aside from my relationships with my kids. It was amazing to finally feel like I connected with someone! So over the years building this new found relationship has been challenging due to the distance, but we have made many phone calls and visits back and forth. We have done the best with the circumstances. I have struggled in my own personal way I know my fellow adoptees get this  with the fact that so much time has been lost. I get angry regarding this matter. I missed EVERYTHING with my brother, and I get emotional about it, thinking of missing his weddings, his kids being born, having that brother/sister relationship bond that is indescribable and PEOPLE chose to take our relationship away from us. Time is the most valuable thing in the world and 38 years gone, never to return. This has been one of the deepest parts of my hurt, and of course these feelings aren’t welcome anywhere because non-adoptees just don’t understand and they all say “Well aren’t you just thankful you found him and you having the future to look forward too?” Yes, yes of course I am but that doesn’t change the facts which have caused me a great deal of pain.

Thanksgiving 2015 I asked my brother if he would consider doing a DNA test so that I could present it to our birth father. Over the years he has said numerous times, “What are we going to do, get a blood test 40 years later?!” Well, actually that’s a great idea. If PROOF I am his child and my brother is his child might sway him into letting me meet my grandmother for the first time before she dies than for me it would be worth the hassle and cost of 2 DNA tests. (Mine was already uploaded to 23andme and GedMatch) My brother understood in my needs in wanting to do this due to my circumstances regarding my “Story”.  My only purpose was to upload my brothers DNA to GedMatch and we would be able to use the “One to One” compare feature comparing our KIT #’s and BOOM… I could print this out, and compose a letter and mail it to my birth father. Once and for all we would have proof and he couldn’t say we weren’t his. DNA doesn’t lie. Now that doesn’t mean anything would change with him, but I hung on to the little piece of hope that maybe DNA PROOF would maybe change something, after all he said over and over, “What are we going to do, get a DNA test 40 years later?”.

Well, as a matter of a fact…

 I mail my brothers DNA off to AncestryDNA and the waiting begins. 2 days after Christmas his results come in. Dec 27th I uploaded his DNA to Gedmatch and I waited a day to make sure they results were fully uploaded and in the system.

As I compare the “One to One” feature I couldn’t believe what I found.

“No shared DNA segments found”

I tried it again, and again and again.

“No shared DNA segments found”

I got the same thing every time.

“No shared DNA segments found”

NO WAY!

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My first thoughts were, “There is no way I’m believing this. This has to be a mistake” but deep down my heart sunk. I reached out to a few ladies I’m close with that were more familiar with DNA than I am and they both confirmed that the results are true.

I refused to accept this.

I called my brother a few days later, and I shared the news with him. HONESTY IS EVREYTHING EVEN IF IT HURTS! He also refused to accept this. We did not believe these results. I had many people say, “The DNA test could have been faulty”. Well, if there was even a TINY chance the DNA test was faulty I was running with that, and so was my brother.

I mean we are NOT ACCEPTING THIS!

All the adoptee “fears” come rushing in. Thoughts like “I knew I was going to lose him too” and “I always knew he was going to disappear too”. The enemy was having a field day with me. I was NOT accepting this.

It was obvious that the next move was the prove weather his test was faulty or not. So in order to do that, I started to contact his highest DNA matches on Ancestry DNA to find out some of their surnames and see if I can make connections to his mother’s side. If I was able to make DNA connections to his mother’s side, than that would mean the test is not a faulty one.

Of course we want the test to be faulty!!!

As a few days pass, and I explain to my brother what I’m doing and make sure he is okay with it, I uncovered his DNA has many ties to his mother’s side which indeed was proof his DNA was not a faulty one.

HEARTBROKEN AGAIN!

EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS TAKEN FROM ME! EVERYTHING REGARDING MY ADOPTION EXPERIENCE EQUALS GRIEF, LOSS & TRAUMA!

Deep down I was…

And I still am…

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This is the most devastating news to me, and it seems there isn’t anyone in the world at this point that can relate to the deep level of pain and sadness I am experiencing regarding this matter. I cried for 3 days straight before I could even tell my brother.

So what does this mean? I was able to trace my DNA connections to J.J. my biological father which means if I share DNA with J.J. and my brother and I share no DNA J.J. is not his biological father. What turns out to be something that started out so simple turned into something far more that what we ever expected. I was not only experiencing my own shock and sadness, but I was also feeling some major sadness for my brother because now I had to tell him the TRUTH and I know the TRUTH might hurt.

So many dynamics to this situation but the end result is that the TRUTH is ALWAYS better than living a LIE.

I have sat and tried to figure out what God has taught me in this situation… I know there had to be a lesson and some areas I am going to grow in regarding many dynamics to this. One thing that comes to mind is that I have never experienced a DNA felt connection with anyone aside from my kids until I met my brother. Now, knowing he’s not actually DNA connected I can TRULY say I still have a connection to him and for me that’s a big deal. It has helped me learn that I can have a close connection with someone I am not DNA connected too. I had a few close connections growing up with a few of my adoptive family members I was close too, but I never felt similar to anyone until I met my brother.

The other thing that I feel God was teaching me is to share with ALL MY FELLOW ADOPTEES that DNA TESTING IS CRITICAL! Don’t just assume and go off of what you are told. Even if the reunion seems to be the PERFECT FIT like mine did with my brother, GET DNA TESTING ANYWAY!

I CAN NOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH! GOD HAS THIS HEAVY ON MY HEART TO SHARE! SO MANY LIES AND SECRETS IN ADOPTION, DNA TESTING IS CRITICAL TO CONFIRM! NO MATTER WHAT!

As far as I’m concerned he’s still my brother. I cried and was really upset for about 3 days, and I had to get myself together so I could share this information with my brother. I prayed and I called him.

My fellow adoptees understand the FEARS associated with reunions, and it seemed one of my greatest fears of my brother leaving might be coming true, but I knew I still have to share the truth. I have heard many people say, “Family isn’t always blood, family is what we make it!” and I find this to be true. But as an adoptee that has already lost so much it’s hard to not fear abandonment again. It has happened with every “reunion” I have experienced with ALL biological family members. I have LOST every single one. So naturally based on my experience I am in fear. Maybe my brother will not want to be my brother anymore? Maybe my nieces and nephews won’t want to be in my life anymore, even if they are all far away. I will once again feel all alone in life, and that happy ending wasn’t happy at all. My pot of gold at the end of the rainbow has been snatched away and God didn’t save the best for last, he took the best part of my reunion away. I have felt like this was some evil trick someone played on me.

I had to think about this for a few days. Process everything. I had to feel the emotions and allow myself the room to feel them. I had to cry. I had to cry out to God and ask him to SHOW ME what he is trying to teach me here. I knew there had to be some reasons. 

All those years of my hopes being high for these WONDERFUL DNA relationships, these fantasies of these AMAZING people that I would look like and act like and have so much in common with are really nonexistent and I can’t begin to describe the sadness and loss attached to this disappointment. Of course I had no other options than to believe it would be all wonderful to connect with DNA “Family” because I hadn’t ever experienced it and I always had such a longing to see where I came from and who I looked like. I had HIGH HOPES ALL MY LIFE! After all, “Your birth mother loved your so much” left the imprint deep in my mind all the way back to the first time I heard it that my biological family loved me, and why would they be anything less than wonderful?

Adoption stole A LOT!

I could go on ALL DAY about what has been stolen!

So what do you do when the wall comes tumbling down?

I’M NOT LETTING THE DEVIL STEAL ANYTHING ELSE FROM ME!

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” John 10:10

The devil is not taking my relationship with my brother, or my nieces and nephews. He’s not taking anything else from me. He’s taken my relationships with both birth parents and my birth sister and I’m NOT letting him take my relationship with my brother.

TO HECK WITH THE DEVIL!  HE IS A LIER!

I believe God started preparing this for me early, as I began to build my church family and I started to experience that type of “family” that I had never experienced before. There is nothing like it anywhere and I am not DNA related to any of them. Not DNA from the world anyway. I do share DNA with them regarding us being in the body of Christ together and I must say THEY HAVE SHOWED UP AND SHOWED OUT WHEN NO ONE ELSE HAS! They have shown me the true definition of love, loyalty and what a “Family” is all about. At my church, we call them “Family of Choice”. I couldn’t imagine my life without them. I never knew how special and awesome they were until I experienced it. I can share how empty my life was without them. But learning and building these relationships I have TRULY understood and realized family isn’t always blood, but I had to experience this and experience that latter to actually “Get It”. People just telling me that wasn’t helping me. I had to experience it myself.

WE ALL HAVE TO EXPERIENCE THINGS ON OUR OWN!

So today, with the new found results in my life, I can say I’m still sad and I still have fears that my brother is going to disappear being an adoptee I have that fear anyway about everyone   and maybe “Change his mind” about wanting to be my brother. But our last words to each other were, “IT’S NOT GOING TO CHANGE ANYTHING” And if I have Jesus in me, I have his hope in me too. I am making the choice to hang onto his word and I am NOT letting GO of my relationship with my brother. He is still my brother and I don’t care what DNA says. YES, I am glad we know the truth now because what that means I need to help my brother find his TRUTH!

 “Then you will know the TRUTH and the TRUTH will set you FREE” –John 8:32 is the verse I stand on!

I can’t help but wonder if that is one more reason God put my brother in my life 5 years ago?

As adoptees we receive every little puzzle piece about our lives, any little clue we can get. We piece it together as one overall goal..

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This has let me know that not only adoptees deserve their truth, but EVERYONE deserves their truth. We all deserve to know the answers to the question

“WHO AM I?”

“WHERE DID I COME FROM?” 

I will share as I end, that secrets and lies hurt and they destroy lives. If you are holding back sharing the TRUTH with someone please know that God is a God of TRUTH. Truth means NOTHING HIDDEN. This is why the Adoptee Rights Rally 2016 is so critical!  We all deserve to know our truth no matter how painful it might be. This has literally crushed me, but I would still rather know the truth ANY DAY! What we choose to do with it is our business. I’m praying for everyone involved with adoption realize that secrecy and lies HURT and TRUTH HEALS. We all deserve to know our truth and we all deserve our BIRTH RIGHT so we can move forward and HEAL!

You see, adoption is far more than adopting a beautiful baby to complete a family or to make someones dreams come true to be parents. For adoptees, adoption is rooted in grief, loss & trauma. We have to deal with the life long consequences for decisions that were made for us, decisions we had no choice over and we have little to no support in processing the grief, loss & trauma we face. I have found that societies ignorance to this grief, loss & trauma has only stalled and prolonged adoptees in receiving truth & healing. I’m praying more and more adoptees speak up and speak out and society starts to open their eyes, ears and hearts to receive what adoptees have to say.

If there is anyone on earth that is for TRUTH & HEALING it’s

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Thanks for reading.

Twitter: @pamelakaranova

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Never give up hope in finding your family. You aren’t alone! Can you relate to this blog post? If so please comment, share and let me know your thoughts.