Adoptees are Paying the Price for Adoptive Parent Infertility Compacted with AP Fragility

It is not enough to lose your biological mother at the beginning of life. Still, adopted individuals also must live up to unrealistic expectations set upon us by society and our adoptive parents. We must fit in the shoes of the fantasized biological child our adoptive parents would have had; could they have had children of their own. They have big plans for us like most parents have for their children.

News Flash: We can’t fit into those shoes or that role. It’s impossible. I’m very sorry for your loss, but its not my job to fix it or make up for it. I shouldn’t have to carry that burden. However, adoptees continue to be presented as a clean slate when we meet our adoptive parents’. Every one of us has a [his]-story & a [her]-story before we’re adopted, and it’s a critically important part of US.

I’ve experienced in my journey and learned by listening to my fellow adoptees that, more times than not, our adoptive parents have never fully healed from the unsettling truth that they couldn’t have children of their own due to infertility issues.  This causes significant problems for the adopted child because we will never live up to the expectations as if we were a biological child, but this demand is high. When healing hasn’t happened first, it can be a disaster in the home.

We’re born experiencing immense trauma by being separated from our biological mothers. This separation trauma impacts every area of our lives showing up as grief, loss, C-PTSD, abandonment, rejection, anger, rage, addictions and so much more.  The weight the adopted child feels and carries into adulthood is tremendous alone. Still, it’s compacted by the expectations set upon us to be something or someone we aren’t by our adoptive parent’s expectations. This weight carries on into adulthood and impacts every area of our lives. 

When our adoptive parents have significant unhealed issues with the loss of not having children of their own, it surfaces in every area of the home.

In my story, I remember my adoptive mom never being well, and she was always taking pills. When I was a child, I didn’t understand what was going on, but now I know “never being well” was depression, pill addiction, and manic depressive suicidal episodes. The depression was rooted in untreated mental illness, the aftermath of not being able to have children of her own, and marrying and adopting two daughters, only to divorce one short year later. I was told she wasn’t capable of parenting one adopted child, but somehow she ended up divorced, alone with two adopted daughters.

A glimpse of my childhood consisted of me being my adoptive mom’s caretaker. She was abnormally emotional every day and cried daily, saying repeatedly she wasn’t worthy of being a mother. I was the comforter and “Good adoptee.” I would sit with her on the edge of the couch and comfort her by rubbing her back and saying, “It’s okay, mommy, I’m sorry, mommy, It’s okay.” I must have said, “I’m sorry,” 100X a day sometimes. I remember being sad all the time and wanting her to stop crying. She never did, but when she wasn’t crying, she was sleeping in the daytime, and she also had a compulsion of wanting to threaten to commit suicide in front of us, which she frequently did. Learning and focusing in school was impossible most days, because I was I was riddled with anxiety and fear day in and day out.

Is it possible her infertility issues were the root of her behaviors? Being 46 years old and evaluating my childhood, I would suggest so. I don’t have the definite answers because she never got help for those issues; she adopted to fill the void instead. It was my responsibility as far back as I could remember to take care of her, cater to her, and be there for her. I was a slave to her.

I’ve recently discovered that I’m a people pleaser, and this characteristic was developed early in my childhood as a direct reflection of wanting to make my adoptive mom happy. I did everything I could think of to bring her happiness, and in the end, I always fell short. A co-dependent relationship was created, but I had no choice in the matter. I felt trapped in this cycle of co-dependency for most of my life due to my adoption experience.

Where was I going to go?

How was I going to get out?

It was all I knew.

I recall my entire childhood was focused on ways to make my adoptive mom happy, at the expense of my childhood happiness. Everything was all about her. I felt like a child servant with a list of tasks to complete daily, and most of them were centered around making her happy. I was brushing her hair, putting makeup on her face, massaging her arms, legs, and back with lotion, filing paperwork for her, cutting coupons, cleaning far beyond everyday routine childhood chores. I was never able to be a kid in this home. My feelings were never validated, nor were they important. Her adoptive parent fragility reigned supreme over all things in this household.

Please understand that this didn’t stop in childhood. It only stopped when I packed up a 22 Foot U haul and left this toxicity. I moved across the country with my three young children at 31 years old. It felt like an escape, and I have never looked back or regretted my decision but it hasn’t come without more heartache.. When I arrived back in Kentucky, I had no job, no car, no money, no home, no place to live, and no keys to anything. Thankfully my twin’s grandmother was kind enough to let us use a bedroom, where we all 4 stayed for the next few months to get on my feet. Little by little, I made a way for my children.

This escape didn’t come without a cost. Unfortunately, it’s taken me 15+ years to recover, and I’m still recovering daily. It’s going to be a lifelong process for me, as it is most adoptees/relinquishees.

My adoptive moms’ actions throughout my childhood and lifetime caused significant damage that has radiated throughout my life course. When I left at 31, I had to sever ties for my mental health, but it wasn’t before I tried to set boundaries first. She overrode every boundary I asked of her, which were simple things like please put your pills away. I asked her to please not cry around my kids. I asked her please not talk negatively about me behind my back to my children. She broke everyone, so I cut all contact. She was not going to do to my children what she did to me. Moving across the country and cutting ties was the only option.

It was the hardest decision I ever made.

Being groomed to put my feelings aside and caretake to her and her feelings have been a pattern I have picked up into adulthood. I put everyone else ahead of myself, and I never learned how to say “no” or even have an opinion about anything. This has caused me a lot of problems in relationships and my personal space and life. Caretaking is something I was conditioned to do from a very early age; it’s no wonder I am a caretaker by career and have been for 15+ years. This role wasn’t healthy for me as a child, and it’s not healthy for me as an adult.

I was forced to pretend, and I ended up being a professional at this game of make-believe. Better yet, I was conditioned to assume the role of expectations from a very early age. In this game, I learned early that my true feelings of grief, loss, and sadness from the loss of my biological mother and families’ weren’t welcomed. If I shared them, I took the chance I might hurt my adoptive parents’ feelings.

With my adoptive mom crying daily, sometimes hourly, having mental health episodes, she was likely already hysterical. My feelings of sadness would only add to this problem. I learned to keep things inside locked away. I learned my feelings weren’t important, and they didn’t compare to her outbursts. The safest place for them was to pretend like they weren’t there. I think I learned to disassociate and became a professional at it as a survival technique. There was a split created between the real true me, and the me she needed me to be.

As an adult, trying to recover from this childhood, I have done countless healing exercises to help myself try to make sense of it all and heal. One of the things I did was put myself in her shoes to try to gain a better understanding of why she was the way she was.

Untreated mental illness has always highlighted itself in a way that I’ve put it at the top of the list of why she was the way she was. I didn’t understand this as a child, but It’s more than evident mental illness is front and center when her suicide attempts of laying in the middle of the street play like a repeated movie scene in my mind from my childhood. She was sick, but I didn’t understand mental illness as a child.

I can’t help but wonder how my life would have been different if my adoptive parents had gotten some therapy for infertility issues before choosing to adopt. I think about it from time to time; although non of us get any “do-overs” in life, I sure would have benefited in a positive way to have a happy, healthy mother figure to think about in my lifetime. I blew it in this area not once, but twice. A total crap shot.

Instead, the trauma of her attempting suicide, her untreated mental illness, pill addiction, and her manic depressive episodes trump all the good memories there were.  Traumatic memories seem to have a way of showing upfront and center in our lives when we least expect it.

Over the years, I have heard countless stories from my fellow adoptees. They experienced similar childhoods and lives. Our adoptive parents adopted a child to replace their biological child they might have had if they didn’t have infertility issues, never healing from infertility issues first. It’s no secret in the adoptee community; we weren’t chosen. We were next in line.

This breaks my heart for my fellow adoptees because many of us didn’t stand a chance at having happy childhoods. There is nothing a relinquishee/adoptee can do to make up for the loss one feels who cannot have their own biological children. Nothing. Yet here we are, forced to fit into a role we can’t possibly fit into.

But we fake it until we make it, and we try because we have no choice. We learn to adapt, or we die trying. This sets us up for a lifetime of a false sense of self, never really knowing who we are or who we aren’t until we break away altogether. And some of us never make it to that place of self-discovery. Breaking away is difficult, if not impossible, for most of us. It’s no wonder adoptees are 4x more likely to attempt suicide. Look at the paradox we are forced to be in the center of.

The sensitivities around this topic echo throughout our lives. Many times it creates an adoptive parent fragility that adoptees are forced to be sensitive to. We’re groomed to put everyone’s feelings above our own, and it can and will create and a lifetime of struggles. 

It’s taken a lifetime to be able to look myself in the mirror and say, “You are important, and so are ALL of your feelings!” because no one ever did this for me growing up. My life was centered around her and her feelings. It was never about me.

I remember conversations with my adoptive mom way before I reached adulthood, where she wanted to make sure I knew she didn’t want to go to a nursing home when she got old. She also had talked about me being her power of attorney way before I was even an adult. It became evident to me at a very early age, and these were the reasons she adopted two daughters. She had a motive the entire time, and it wasn’t hard to piece it all together as I grew up.  

I never was and never will be the daughter my adoptive parents signed up for. I’m pretty sure I’ve turned out quite the opposite, to be honest. I’ve committed to spending the rest of my days trying to recover from this childhood of pain, not just for myself. For my kids, so they have a chance at seeing a happy and healthy mom, which I never had. Even on the days where I didn’t have the drive and motivation for myself, I do it for them.

Suppose you’ve made it this far, and you are possibly a prospective adoptive parent. In that case, I ask you to please consider intense emotional and psychological therapy before you even think of adopting a child. And then before you choose to adopt, visit pages like @askanadoptee and @howdoesitfeeltobeadopted and read and learn what adoption is like from an adoptee’s perspective. Ask questions on the Ask an Adoptee platform because one thing for sure, adoptees there will tell you the truth, even when it hurts. Have you accepted that relinquishment trauma is a real thing? Do you know anything about it? If you don’t you need to learn from adopted adults. We hold the keys of knowledge but you have to have the willingness to listen and learn.

If you are an adoptive parent already, I urge you to seek deep within ourselves to find out where you are in your recovery and healing with your infertility struggles.  Please do this immediately before you project your pain onto your adoptive child. Also, know that we never can and never will be what your biological child would have been. Unless you have accepted this, you still have work to do.

For my fellow adoptees, I’m so sorry for your pain and heartache. I’m sorry for the unrealistic expectations that have been placed upon you to fill the shoes of a child you were never meant to fill. I’m sorry you weren’t listened to. I’m sorry you haven’t felt your feelings are important as a child or an adult. Your feelings are important, and so are you. Can you relate to anything I have shared here? I would love to hear from you!

Love, Love.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author, Pamela A. Karanova. Reproduction of the material contained in this publication may be made only with the written permission of Pamela A. Karanova.

What You Can Do to Support Adoptees on Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th

As Adoptee Remembrance Day is approaching, I have felt like it would be essential to share a few things that we need from our friends, family, loved ones, and even those who aren’t close to an adoptee but maybe they know one. If you need a moment to reflect on what Adoptee Remembrance Day is about, please visit this link.

First things first, this day is 100% focused on the adoptee experience, and all it entails regarding adoptee grief, loss, abuse, mental health, deportation, and adoptee suicide.

While each topic carries significant weight, what we need from non-adopted individuals is for them to search deep in their hearts and understand that adoption might not be all it’s cracked up to be. Our society has failed miserably on every level of bypassing and ignoring the TRUTH regarding how adoption impacts adopted individuals. While adoption has been celebrated worldwide, the adoptee suffers in silence significantly.

Adoptee Remembrance Day is a day to step into a new light that there is so much more to the adoptee experience than what our world has lead non-adoptees to believe. It’s a day to seek deep in your heart to find the willingness to listen and learn from adopted individuals that there is much more to the adoptee experience than what the adoption agencies, adoption attorneys, news, and society tell you.

I know you mihgt know an adoptee, and they say they have no issues at all.

Well, I know thousands of adoptees that DO have problems with it, and I have dedicated over ten years of my life to building relationships with them, listening to them, and validating them. We must collectively step out of a space of denial into an area of truth to better understand the trauma in relinquishment and adoption, regardless of all the given love.

While our world is focused on pushing positive culture, this is a day to reflect sorrow and sadness. Please understand that there is nothing wrong with this. Adoptees have never ending things to be sorrow-filled about and sad. Adoptee Deportation and Suicide are significant issues within the adoptee community. Adoptee grief and loss are not acknowledged by the Adoption community. Please save space for the adoptees on this day who need to sit and be sad. All they need from you is for your to listen and have the willingness to try to learn how they feel. If you are close to them, wrap your arms around them while they cry. Allow them the space to cry.

I’ve said it before, and I will repeat it, love isn’t enough or a house full of stuff. Love does not replace our lineage, lost memories, relinquishment trauma, grief and loss process, ethnicity, medical history, answers to our truth, citizenship, knowing who our siblings and biological kin are. Nothing can replace what is lost in adoption for the adopted individual, and until we can start to have these candid and raw conversations, adoptees will continue to die.

Adoptee Remembrance Day is a day for non-adopted individuals to press into this day and do everything they can to listen and learn. There are genuinely countless layers to the adoption experience, and they deserve to be addressed and brought to light. We’re asking for your support as you open your heart to learning that every adoption begins with a loss so significant, it could very well impact an adopted person for the rest of their lives.

We were hoping you would consider showing up in some way by making a public statement acknowledging the sensitive topics of this day. Maybe you will take part in this day by sharing articles and posts about this day. We were hoping you could support us by RSVP’ing to the Facebook event and invite your followers, friends, and family to the event.

Search the hashtags #ard2020, #adopteeremembranceday, and #adopteesweremember and soak in all you can on other adoptee experiences. This is a day to save space for adoptees’ experiences in deep pain, grieving losses they have been denied the right to grieve for an entire lifetime.

There are adoptees out there who consider themselves “saved by adoption,” and they might even be “thankful they were adopted,” however, I encourage them to step into this day with the notion of understanding that not all adoptees feel this way. I challenge you to learn, grow, and expand in your current knowledge and insight on how adoption impacts your fellow adoptees. Step into a space of grace and understanding to try to listen and learn how your fellow adoptees might feel. Please, whatever you do, don’t say, “That’s not how I feel” when another adoptee shares their feelings. We all deserve space without someone else coming behind us, running over our feelings, reminding us we need to be thankful or grateful.

If you don’t know any adopted individuals, you can still get involved on this day, and we need your support. Here’s an article that share’s ways you can help promote this day.  Promoting Adoptee Remembrance Day. Don’t forget to read how you can get involved on this day and the different things you can do to participate. Read here.

Last but not least, Adoptee Remembrance Day is going to be an emotional day for Adoptees everywhere. I am already crying daily just because we finally have the day to recognize the truth in adoption that I get emotional even thinking about it. I’m pretty sure on October 30th, 2020, and I will likely have a box of Kleenex with me all day because I know my emotions will be all over the place. Be easy on your fellow adoptees or any adoptees in your life. It’s not going to be easy for any of us, but so overdue and so very needed for the Adoptee Community.

For those who might not support this day or for whatever reason don’t feel it’s necessary, we respect your right to feel that way, however adoption has stolen enough from us. What we won’t allow is those who don’t support this day for the adoptee community to hijack this day by spinning the adoption is wonderful narrative. Sometimes being frank is the only way I can be because I always have to be true to me and the adoptee community. We invite you to take a seat, close your mouth and make the choice to not participate. Thank you very much.

Please realize that we’ve invited everyone to get involved on this day, and that includes biological parents, adoptive parents, and friends and family of adoptees. We’re saving space for you to share your thoughts on this day. Together, we hope to share our feelings, so healing begins to happen.  

We will be sharing an Adoptee Remembrance Day Agenda in the coming days. Be sure to share it online with your friends, families, and in your adoption circles.

If there ever was a time to share your voice, the time is now for my fellow adoptees. Make sure you tag Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th on Facebook and RSVP to our Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th Event. Use hashtags we’ve shared above.

Together, we’re collectively going to raise our voices, so the world will be able to listen.

Sending you sunshine, love, and light as this day approaches.

Please know you aren’t alone!

Love, Love

Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th – Express Yourself

As Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th approaches, a fundamental component to this day is to encourage all the adoptees to share their feelings on this day. The ways to get involved are limitless, but I have created a comprehensive list of how to participate on this day. You can visit the link by clicking here.

Express Yourself

I’ve suggested that adoptees express themselves by writing and sharing that writing on Adoptee Remembrance Day. You might want to share it with a few co-workers or at a Friday dinner with a few friends. Whatever your plans are, sparking conversations about what this day is all about is the key to opening up the discussion on how you feel about Adoptee Remembrance Day.

For those who don’t know, Adoptee Remembrance Day was created to pause before National Adoption Awareness Month and put a focus on remembrance of all the adoptees who didn’t make it out alive. Maybe the adoptee was murdered at the hands of their adoptive parents, or they took their own life because the pain was just too great. Perhaps they are an international adoptee who’s adoptive parents failed to complete the proper paperwork for citizenship, leaving the adoptee in limbo, a lot of times deported from the only country they have ever known.

Express Yourself

Adoptee Remembrance Day is a day to reflect on adoptee loss. While our world seems to dismiss the side of adoption that doesn’t acknowledge this loss, the adoptee lives with this pain our entire lives. Most of the time, never being able to articulate the words at a young age, so we spend our whole lives trying to process how we feel inside.

Express Yourself

Adoptee Remembrance Day is to share those feelings at your comfort level. It’s a day of acknowledgment. It’s a day for adopted individuals and our allies to come together and raise our voices on areas that we are passionate about and our feelings about this day.  

Express Yourself

You don’t have to be adopted to acknowledge Adoptee Remembrance Day. Maybe you are a friend or family member of an adoptee, and you’ve seen this adoptee experience heartbreak and pain regarding their adoption journey. Perhaps you are a family member of an adoption that was closed. Maybe you are the adult child of an adoptee, and adoption has echoed throughout your life, and loss has been prevalent.  

Express Yourself

Adoptee Remembrance Day is a day for adoptees worldwide to be heard, validated, and acknowledged. Whatever your feelings are about this day, I encourage you to focus and reflect on the places you hold deep inside and consider letting them out. Maybe sharing them is too much for you at this time, but writing about them and letting them out is one of the most critical steps. Start a journal, and keep writing. Consider making a video or a song. Being creative in art, spoken word or poetry would fit right in. Anything you can do to share how adoption has made you feel…

Express Yourself!

  • If you would like to share them publicly, visit the Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th Facebook page and learn how to get involved. Invite your friends and family to this page and the event as well.
  • To get involved with the promotion of this day, please visit our promoting Adoptee Remembrance Day page.
  • You can view the Adoptee Remembrance Day Agenda (we will insert the link once it’s ready) to find out a list of events and activities that are going on that day.

The key is to do something!

Express yourself in whatever way feels natural and organic to you.

Share the love and get involved.

A special shout out and THANK YOU to the individuals and organizations who have reached out to me to collaborate to add an activity to this day. Thank you! I couldn’t pull this day off without your willingness to participate.

If you’re an adoptee who wants to share your Adoptee Expressions on Adoptee Remembrance Day, please email me at adopteeremembranceday@gmail.com for guidelines.

Sending Sunshine, Love & Light