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.

Boundaries | Adoptionland | Minimizing | Into The Wild: KY | 2020

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Boundaries, Boundaries & More Boundaries

What is Adoptionland to me?  – The online adoption community. 

Rolling into 2020 I continue to set boundaries for myself, in my personal and professional life.

What do these boundaries look like? 

I’m no longer opening up my personal facebook to Adoptionland like I always have. As I continue to get dozens of friend requests weekly, I apologize in advance to the adoptees who send me friend requests that I don’t accept, or I deny. I know how sensitive adoptees can be, and I totally understand why many of us have that sensitivity.

 I live with it everyday. 

However, I have to put the safety of myself and my family first. If you had seen what I have seen in the last 2 years in Adoptionland, you would understand a bit more why I have set these boundaries. I have shared some articles on my website so if you are keeping up with me, you already have some ideas about why I’ve made this choice. If you are close to me, you are aware. The dynamics of my online experience has shifted significantly, and because of this, I need to protect my space. 

Let me take a moment to recap my Adoptionland experience for you. 

When I came out of the fog approx 10 years ago, Adoptionland was a space of refugee. It was a space where adoptees were on deck to help one another by extending a hand of grace, walking with you out of the deep dark waters of being in adoption fog. It was a safe space and I have connected with adoptee friends online near and far, all around the world. I cherish many of these friendships, and always will. We’re still waking it out together. 

I had adoptees that lead the way for me and so many others like Deanna Doss Shrodes, Jessenia Arias, and Rebecca Hawks. These ladies will never understand how much their kindness, compassion and dedication to the adoption community has helped so many adoptees. Once I emerged out of the fog, I made a commitment to do everything in my power to give back to Adoptionland in hopes to help other adoptees to give back to a community that had so freely given to me. 

Like many adoptees, I poured my heart and soul into this mission and I’ve spent many years now not only transforming my life, but in that process I’ve been able to help others which has also helped me. 

I wouldn’t change a thing about my journey. But things have changed in Adoptionland and they are no longer what they used to be. 

This has created a significant upset in Adoptionland and I’ve been clear all the way back to the article I wrote in January 2018, I’m Not Co-Signing for Online Bullying & Harassment. That was a year ago, and things have only gotten significantly worse. 

What I’ve seen is the supportive adoptees that created the community that was once safe, only to be taken over by trolls, cyber bullies, and impostors who conceal their identities, spew evil, hate and rage throughout the online adoption community aka Adoptionland. They feel it’s perfectly okay to publicly shame, call out, and attack anyone that doesn’t fit into the mold they’ve created. This could be adoptees, adoptive parents and biological parents, or anyone for that matter. They hold no bars on who they attack, vilify and cyber bully. I could list a HUGE list of names, but that’s not my style. They know who they are. 

It’s become a common theme that these trolls believe they are “Educating Adoptionland” but they have no remorse of the hate and evil they are spilling or the way they are doing it is actually causing more harm to adoption than they could ever truly understand. It’s ABUSE in every form. I’ve seen with my own eyes, these trolls create so many online identities that they talk to themselves and carry on conversations with their different online personas. Yes, I said that right! I’ve seen them create so many identities that their goals is to get on your Facebook page, so they can steal your information and create Adoptionland drama, stir the pot and set you up to be cyber attacked. They are professionals at twisting words, being deceptive by acting like they are your “friend” and then throwing you out to the wolves while their followers rip you to shreds. While they hide behind the pseudonym name, they reveal the true identities of people, which can cause a real safety concern, not to mention the damage and hurt they are doing to the specific person they are cyber targeting. 

I KNOW ADOPTEES WHO HAVE BEEN SO DEVASTATED BY BEING TARGETED AND TREATED THIS WAY THEY HAVE BEEN DRIVEN TO CONTEMPLATE SUICIDE, AND EVEN ATTEMPT IT. SOME ARE FRIENDS OF MINE.  

I’ve seen these trolls set targeted attacks on individuals, and use their entire following to cyber mob a person. Many of these individuals that have been targeted are personal friends of mine. I’ve seen them take confidential conversations that someone shared in private, and screen shot them and make them public to “call out” this person all in the name of “Educating in Adoption”. 

Whatever side of adoption you are on, no matter how you feel about it – this behavior is NEVER okay. It is not okay to treat people this way and if you are on the side of thinking this behavior is okay, have fun in your misery. Most of the time, I’ve learned that these are the adoptees who are stuck. I was once stuck and I have much compassion for adoptees who are stuck, however I didn’t use my valuable time tearing other adoptees down, cyber attacking or cyber mobbing them. But beware, these individuals are the very first to say you are gaslighting them, tone policing them, and holding them accountable for their delivery which they use as a full time defense for their abusive online behavior. Reality is, many of them are narcissists, and every time you feed into their toxicity, you fuel their fire.   I’ve never seen such disrespect, abuse and toxicity in my life. 

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There is so much more to “educating” someone about adoption, than sitting behind a computer screen hiding behind a pseudonym name while attacking and targeting others who have the strength and poise to share their real true identities. You can dish out the BS, but you can’t take the heat when it comes back full circle which is why you hide behind a fake name… I literally have no time for it, and I will not engage on any platforms or with people that aren’t legit, real true individuals. Aside from the platforms I manage, admin and moderate that I know are safe, I’m 100% done with Adoptionland. My time is way to valuable, and yours is too! 

WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN YOUR COMMUNITY ON THE GROUND TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE? 

A huge part of why Adoptees Connect, Inc. was created was to counteract with what Adoptionland has become. Our goal is to take our online relationships offline, and create grassroots connections in our very own communities- in real life. This cuts out all of the cyber attacks, cyber bullying/mobbing and interaction with trolls in Adoptionland. 

What does this mean for Adoptionland in my world? 

I can only make changes and control my own life in attempts to create the safest space possible for MYSELF. In 2020 I’m making more changes to protect my space. One of the steps I’m taking is moving 99.9% of my Adoptionland interactions to LinkedIn. I haven’t seen the trolls on LinkedIn like I’ve seen them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I’m not saying they aren’t there, but I’m saying I feel LinkedIn is a safer space, based on it being rooted and grounded in us creating a professional network. I’m also not adding anyone to my LinkedIn who I don’t personally know. Under no circumstances am I adding anyone just because we have mutual friends. 

Those days are over. Adoptionland isn’t safe at all anymore and we all must protect our spaces, at all costs. For me, Adoptionland has always been about being a light for my fellow adoptees, no matter what space they are at I have always tried to embrace them, and walk with them out of the darkness into the light. Now, the tides are turning and I’m more interested in continuing this advocacy, but I prefer to pour my time and energy into the relationships I’ve built in my city, via my Adoptees Connect – Lexington, KY group and those within the Adoptees Connect community where the connections are centered around real, true and genuine meetings and getting to know one another IN REAL LIFE. I no longer have the time or energy to pour into dozens of online conversations when Adoptionland has been consumed by trolls, and evil individuals who have no remorse for who they hurt, or how they do it. 

Let’s take Adoptionland and Adoption out of the equation for a moment and talk about being a kind human being. This behavior that’s increased online isn’t okay in any fashion. No matter what you are advocating for, if you aren’t trying to educate in a way that doesn’t hurt others, you should hang up your hat and go spend some time to work on some of your own pain before you continue to inflict your rage onto others. Reevaluate the way you are delivering your message, and consider making some changes where you are advocating for the truth in adoption, but you aren’t hurting people in the process. It can be done. 

FYI: YOU AREN’T EDUCATING IN THE NAME OF ADOPTION WHEN YOU ARE HURTING PEOPLE IN THE PROCESS!

If you’re an online troll, with one or multiple identities, who thinks it’s okay to set up cyber mobbing attacks, call others out, bully, and be hateful to others, I challenge you to make some changes in 2020. If you are someone who sits back and watches this type of behavior happen, I challenge you to rethink your approach in Adoptionland. Maybe you are someone who chimes in, and eggs this behavior on? You don’t set up these attacks, you just comment on them and like/love them on social media? 

Whatever your role is, in whatever communities you spend time online, I ask you to be kind to others. If you are creating a space in Adoptionland where only YOUR WAY or YOUR BELIEFS are allowed, you truly aren’t teaching anyone. You are creating a community of people who believe like you, leaving NO ROOM for teachable moments. The minute your RAGE flips into action, rooted from YOUR OWN PAIN – you are turning people away from receiving your message. You have LOST what could have been a wonderful message received by someone who truly wants to learn from others. I challenge you to get off the internet, stop spreading hate and pain and go work on yourself to get UNSTUCK before you continue to hurt others online and your personal life. 

Being adopted doesn’t give you a free pass to treat people like shit, and to dish out your rage filled hate in an abusive way while hurting others in the process. I revoke your free pass and call you on your BS, Narcissistic behavior and toxicity! 

We all come from different experiences, and none of them are exactly the same. We all deserve to be heard, without being attacked, no matter what our stance in adoption is. If you disagree with someone or what their role is in the adoption community, have a trustworthy conversation with them, creating a safe dialogue in private over calling them out on social media, setting them up to be cyber mobbed. This is horrible behavior, and let me just tell you if you participate in it at all, YOUR TIME WILL COME. Wait until you get treated this way, or someone you love and you will rethink your approach. 

As I continue to set boundaries and back away from Adoptionland, I would love to encourage any of my followers to find me on LinkedIn, send me a message introducing yourself, and we can go from there. If you don’t have LinkedIn and you are an adoptee, or anyone in Adoptionland I encourage you to set up a LinkedIn profile, and start networking in a professional way. I truly feel this is the only way to continue to make connections online in the adoption community in a safer way. 

Wherever you are in your personal journey, I hope you set healthy boundaries for yourself in 2020 and in this process you find healthy online activities. You are the only one who can make these changes for YOURSELF.  

INTO THE WILD: KY

388f964a-8e76-4e5b-a234-8afed1e38e51For 2020 I’m not only setting these boundaries, but I’m focusing on spending less time online, less time on my cell phone, and electronics, and spending more time making plans to spend quality time with the small circle of people/friends/family who I feel close too. I’m working at setting boundaries for myself so my time isn’t so consumed in things at a level I’m not enjoying my life. 

We LIVE EVERYDAY, but we have to clear space in our personal lives, professional lives and everyday lives to make room for living life. I plan to spend 2020 minimizing to less THINGS, and upgrading by having more ADVENTURES. I want to spend more time in the wilderness and having more Into The Wild: KY – Kentucky Wilderness & Waterfall Adventures. I want to take my close friends, my kids and others who are interested in exploring nature because wilderness wellness is at the top of my self care toolbox. 

Time is something that can be more meaningful for adoptees than your average person.img_0073  Time is something I cherish, because when it’s all said and done it’s all I have and I don’t want to lose more TIME, when so much has already been lost because of ADOPTION. I’m 45 years old, and so much TIME has already gone, and I could possibly be at the halfway mark of my life here on earth, do I really want to use all my time up fighting with trolls on the internet? Or being consumed by social media?  I want to make wonderful memories with others, and I will not sacrifice five minutes of the most valuable thing I have for internet trolls, and cyber bullies. They will not get any airtime on my platforms, nor will those who support them. 

Some of my boundaries regarding social media/email/cell that will bring me quality of life starting January 2020 are: 

  • I am no longer using Facebook messenger on my cell and  I don’t have it on my phone. I will only check it occasionally from my laptop once or maybe twice a week.  
  • I’m going to try to start calling my friends more. Text has taken over the world and starting in January 2020 – I’m calling you! 
  • I’m no longer accepting friend requests on Facebook from people I don’t personally know, even if we have mutual friends. The internet has gotten extremely toxic and I will not chance allowing anyone into my space that I don’t know. Please know this isn’t personal, but boundaries I’m setting for myself. However, You can follow me on my public page at Pamela Karanova.
  • I don’t use inboxes on Twitter or Instagram for communications, nor will I be checking them. It takes up too much time, and I’m not giving more time to these inboxes. Email is a better way for me to communicate. 
  • I will consider adding people to my LinkedIn but only if they send me a direct message introducing themselves. Somebody’s momma always said don’t talk to strangers, yet the internet has ruined that. I’m always happy to have a discussion with someone, but introduce yourself first, please have some manners. 
  • I’m only checking email first thing in the morning, MON-FRI. I removed email apps from my cell, and I am no longer refreshing them 100x a day to see whos emailed me. 
  • If you text me, I will respond when I can but let’s work together to talk on the phone sometimes.  I’m going to be working on doing this as well. Maybe we can set up a time to talk via text? Let’s meet in the middle. 
  • I will not respond to drama on the internet. I’ve removed myself from ALL DRAMA ZONES FOR A MILLION VERY GOOD REASONS. Please don’t pull me into any messes and consider removing yourself from these spaces as well. 
  • I’m not on call for Adoptees Connect, Inc. As it grows, there is still only one me. Please direct all questions or concerns to the exclusive group on Facebook or email: adopteesconnect@gmail.com Please allow for appropriate time for me to get back to you. This is 100% volunteer and I have a MORE THAN FULL TIME CAREER that I’m on call for 24/7. 

 Let me be just completely honest. I’m not happy with the way everyone has become so disconnected with the real meaning of life, me included. True relationships that meet in real life and spending time with those you love is what I crave. Authentic organic connections are ones I enjoy the most. I’ve been working for some years to restore this piece of what so many have lost and moving into 2020 I will continue to work on this. 

 I always say the things I need in life, money can’t buy. Honesty, Truth, Transparency, Connection, Time, Adventure, Wilderness, Compassion, Kindness, and the list could go on. 

In attempts to create the life I would like, I have to make these changes and set these boundaries for myself. The greatest gift I have to give anyone is my time, because it’s something I can never give back. In 2020 I’m putting a focus on these things, along with people who mean the world to me. 

I hope you all continue to follow your hearts as we enter into a new year. We have a  new chance to rewrite our stories and a new 365 days to add some magic to our lives. I encourage you to make as many changes as you need to make to create the life you desire and deserve. Cheers to all we have learned in 2019 and all the lessons we’ve experienced along the way. Cheers to many more! 

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Love, Love. 

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Disclosure Statement: Online bullying, threats and personal attacks aren’t going to make Adoption any better. Usually it does the opposite. I continue to unfollow and block ALL accounts that endorse this content. I challenge you to do the same. 

Still Grieving Adoptee Losses, What My Adoptive Parents Could Have Done Differently

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I was born in Iowa in August of 1974. At that moment when I found out I was adopted back in 1979, I wish my adoptive mom would have sat down with me and opened the conversations about what adoption REALLY meant. I was around 5 years old.

Instead, I got something like this.

Me: Mommy, I grew in your tummy like the baby in the lady’s belly on television?

Adoptive Mom: No, you grew in another lady’s belly. She loved you so much, she gave you to me to raise because she wanted you to have a better life. It was a dream come true for me to become a mommy. I couldn’t have children of my own. I will always love her for that because she’s given me the greatest gift of my life.

Me: Who is she?

Adoptive Mom: I don’t know who she is. You were adopted. If you want to know who she is, we will have to wait until we get enough money for an attorney to get the sealed records opened. Right now, we don’t have enough money. I just know she loved you so much and wanted you to have a better life.

Me: Where is she?

Adoptive Mom: I don’t know where she is.

Me 1980: Who is She?

Me 1981: Where is She?

Me 1982: Who Is She?

Me 1983: Where is She?

Me 1984: Who is She?

Me 1985-1994: Every Single Year – Who is she? Where is She?

Every Single Year

Adoptive Mom: I don’t know who she is or where she is. You were adopted. If you want to know who she is, we will have to wait until we get enough money for an attorney to get the sealed records opened. Right now, we don’t have enough money.

At 21 Years Old in 1995 I said to my adoptive mom, “WHO IS MY BIRTH MOTHER? WHERE IS SHE?’ It was like a broken record. 

Adoptive Mom: Well, there’s something I want to tell you. When your dad and I signed the paperwork for you to be adopted, the doctors accidentally gave us the wrong paperwork. We saw your birth mothers name, and the street she lived on. If you call your dad, he might remember the information.

I remember this exact moment, because I immediately became enraged and the anger that took over, is something that’s hard for me to process. I’m just telling you THE TRUTH because once I found out she lied to me my entire life, I have never looked at her like a mother again. EVER! Yes, for the record I have forgiven her, but we had an estranged relationship until she died and I don’t regret it for a minute. I can’t have people in my life who lie to me, for any reason at all. Hopefully this will help adoptive parents understand, lying and deception under any circumstances is never okay.

What kind of mother lies to their child repeatedly? I have had to unpack this, and there are many layers and dynamics to it but this layer (along with all the layers of adoption) of the onion has impacted me greatly my entire life.

I was adopted in 1974 and things were different then. I’m certain my adoptive parents were told to not talk about it, to sweep it under the rug and act as if me being adopted didn’t exist. So many adoptive parents weren’t given the correct tools to use so they knew how to navigate these complex dynamics of the adoptee experience.

Looking back, how I wish things were handled? 

Today I believe in my heart of hearts, my adoptive parents didn’t have a CLUE of what they were doing. I don’t think adoption agencies or adoption attorneys are preparing adoptive parents for the TRUTH, and how to navigate it as making money trumps everything in that arena.

I think the deception regarding lying to me my whole life is a way my adoptive mom was able to stall me from finding my truth. But let me just tell you, there were consequences for that. I never trusted her again, and I’ve always felt like she adopted me for her needs, not mine. This has impacted every area of my life, still to this day!  I was a pawn to fulfill her void because she couldn’t have children of her own. I would like to encourage anyone dealing with infertility issues, please seek help on your own. Don’t make your adopted child fill your void. 

I wish more conversations were opened at that moment I found out I was adopted in 1979 and moving forward.

I wish our conversation would have went like this. 

Me: Mommy, Did I come out of your belly like the lady on the television?

Adoptive Mom: No honey, you came out of another lady’s belly. She was unable to take care of you, so she decided to have someone else parent you and that someone else was your dad and me. No, she loved you and gave you away. No, you were my biggest gift because I couldn’t parent or have kids of my own!

Me: Who is she? Where is she?

Adoptive Mom: Because you were adopted, when you are old enough, we will do everything in our power to help you try to find her. Helping your adopted child search and find their biological parents means everything! Support us!

Me: I want to find her now.

Adoptive Mom: We can’t find her until you are 18, but it’s okay to be sad you lost her. It’s okay to love her and want to find her. You lost the most important woman of your life, and it’s okay to feel sad for losing her. Would you like to talk about it? How are you feeling about this? Open these conversations and never stop!

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

No one has ever asked me how it feels to be adopted!

Me: Weeping, my grieving starts at 5 years old because I have every reason to be sad for losing the woman who carried me in her belly for 9 months and who brought me into the world. Regardless of whose dreams she made come true to be parents. Regardless of how much LOVE she thought I was going to have in this “BETTER LIFE” I was promised. Regardless of how happy my adoptive parents were to be parents, and their dreams coming true, I still deserved the right to grieve my losses as soon as I discovered them.

The catch is, I was 5 years old. I didn’t know how to do this. I needed my adoptive parents to step in and open the dialog and put ME AND MY LOSSES FIRST. I needed them to set their dream come true to be parents on the shelf and BE REAL WITH ME!

Yes, this is possible at 5 years old. At age appropriate times it is possible to share the TRUTH with adopted children. If you can’t do this, you have no business being an adoptive parent. Period!

I would give anything if someone in my life would have sat me down and said “It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be mad. it’s okay to feel hurt, and broken, and lost. If I was you, I would feel that way too after losing so much!

But that never happened so at 45 years old, I have been going through the grieving process for 7 years now, all alone.

What did I lose?

My Birth Mother.

My Birth Father.

Connection.

My maternal and paternal grandparents.

My siblings on both sides.

Memories from all the above.

My ancestry.

Genetic Mirroring

My identity

My medical history.

Maternal Bonding

My peace of mind, taken by always searching for clues to my family.

My childhood, taken because I was searching my entire life.

I lost how to regulate emotions, because these are the biggest emotions I’ve ever had, and I had to keep them secret so my adoptive parents wouldn’t get hurt. This was a HUGE internal war within me. It almost killed me. Not to mention, as a child I can’t articulate how I’m feeling, and I don’t have the words to describe it.

I needed help, and I didn’t get it although I’ve been in therapy my entire life since I was 5 years old, and the THERAPIST COULDN’T EVEN HELP ME! Adoption was never talked about, and it was the ROOT issue!

Abuse of substances for 27 years took away my pain, but only temporarily. A lot happened in 27 years.

Today, I’m doing for myself what my adoptive parents and Adoption Culture didn’t do for me. I’m allowing myself the space to grieve my adoptee losses, whatever that looks like for me. Usually I run off in nature, and I cry there because Mother Nature doesn’t have an ulterior motive behind her role in my life. She want’s nothing from me. I write here on my website. I share my feelings in my Adoptees Connect group. I have ways to process, but I’ve had to figure this out alone, after a lifetime of pain.

So, I seek Mother Nature the most, as no one in this world seems to understand that adoptee grief is something I will process for the rest of my life. It never goes away. Just like grief from someone loses their mom in childbirth, or someone losing both their parents in a car wreck.

The difference is, those people are given the gift and privilege of being able to grieve their losses as soon as they happen and usually throughout the duration of their lives, it’s normal to coach them through the grief process.

Not for adoptees.

We are stripped of that privledge but that doesn’ t mean we aren’t grieving on the inside. 

We must grieve in silence, and for many of us, it kills us. I’ve attempted suicide multiple times as a adopted teen, and have contemplated suicide many times as an adult due to my adoption trauma. Mix grief, loss, abandonment, rejection, C-PTSD and the internal confliction I experience daily, it’s a miracle I’m alive and I feel the same for all adoptees who make it out alive. We also live in an Adoption Culture society that celebrates our losses and tries to talk down upon us for feeling anything less than “thankful” or “happy” about our experiences.

I’m just telling you; adoptees are dying out here and there is something adoptive parents and Adoption Culture can do about it. If you know all of this, you can’t unknow it and you can’t say someone out there didn’t share it. If you have adopted a child, please understand that this child can and will have lifelong difficulties that will need ongoing care. Please know that we never outgrow being adopted. Yes, adoption is complicated and it’s messy. No one story fits all. We know this.

But please understand that being adopted is with us FOREVER. The sooner we can start grieving our losses, the sooner we start to heal. Please understand that NO AMOUNT OF LOVE IN THIS WORLD CAN REPLACE THE LOSS I have always felt by losing my biological parents, and all the losses that come with that. Please understand no ivy league college, a brand-new car at 16 years old, or a huge house on a hill can take away these losses. We should be allowed to grieve as early as possible, at age appropriate times and this is life or death for us.

If any adoptive parents might be reading, please allow these conversations to be opened at age appropriately times. Please seek therapy on how to do this. Please don’t ignore this. Please understand no matter how much of a blessing you feel adoption is, it doesn’t change the fact that we experienced a trauma the moment we lost our birth mothers, and that trauma is compacted by pretending it’s not there by adoption being celebrated. I’m sharing here what I wish was done differently based on my experience.

I will be grieving these losses for the rest of my life, but I can’t help but wonder how my life might have been different if I would have started grieving at the moment I found out I was adopted. Please don’t let Adoption Culture deceive you, because I’m here to tell you if you ignore the grief and loss process for your adopted child, you will be sorry you did.

Please don’t mistaken this article as I’m sitting in sadness, depressed, angry or mad at the world. I was in that space for most of my life, because I couldn’t grieve my losses. But today, becaue I’ve allowed myself the space to do this, I’m healing daily and I have actually been able to find love in my life. Love for myself, love for life itself, love for others, love for all things around me. It’s almost impossible to get to the space I am, without grieving my losses. Today I enjoy life. Today I welcome my sadness when it comes, I embrace it and I invite it to stay awhile. I sit with it, I talk with it, and I process it. Then I let it go, until it circles back around again. Procesing adoptee grief is a lifelong journey. The sooner we embrace it and stop running from it, the sooner we start to heal.

 If you’ve made it this far, I commend you.

Adopted Adults are the KEY to learning what should have been done, or what could be done differently. If you’re an adoptive parent, and you have any questions for the adult adoptee community, visit Ask an Adoptee on Facebook. This platform was designed for you in mind.

Adoptees, What are some ways you have been able to grieve your losses? What age did you start this process? Did anyone ever encourage you to do this growing up? Have you been alone in this process?

Adoptive Parents, where are you at with this topic? Did the agencies or attorneys give you information on how to proceed with this topic? Have you been able to open these conversations? If yes, what has that looked like for you? If no, what are you waiting for?

Love, Love

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