Something about a MIRROR has always been extraordinarily symbolic to me. From the beginning of my life, the mirror brought me great sadness and pain, as I looked at myself I had no idea who or what was looking back at me. I would look at my face, and watch tears drop to the bathroom countertops, wondering if anyone on this entire planet cared about the pain I was carrying not knowing who I was or where I came from?
The little girl, robbed of her ancestry and culture, I grew up clueless of who I was and where I came from, the basic human right most people take for granted. I remember seeing myself, feeling hollow inside. Not knowing my truth kept me in bondage, dying inside.
As I grew up, looking in the mirror grew exceptionally painful and in my early teenage years I started to develop a deep rooted hate for the girl that was looking back at me. She was ugly, unwanted, abandoned and rejected by the two people that should love her the most, her biological parents. This self hate manifested in many ways, and self love was non-existent.
I couldn’t love myself and hate myself at the same time. Self hate, lead to harmful and reckless choices, and my life is filled with them. I don’t believe in “No regrets, just lessons learned.” That’s what the world wants me to believe, but I don’t feel that way at all. I have so many regrets, and yes, many lessons learned.
As I grew into a young woman and had kids of my own, I was able to step outside of the way I feel about myself, and love my children to the best of my ability but self love has still been nonexistent for most of my life.
When did things change for me?
When I found my truth.
The hard core raw, heartbreaking truth is what allowed me to begin the process of looking in the mirror from a different lense. In order for my spirit to be at peace, I needed to see the faces of both of my birth parents, so I can see the reflection of myself I had never seen in my entire life. In this process, I learned about them. I heard stories, I learned similarities we shared, and things we didn’t share. I learned that in many ways, I was so much like them, but other ways I was nothing like them.
This process allowed me to see things FOR MYSELF, instead of adoption trying to PROTECT ME FROM MYSELF. This was life or death for me, and it’s life or death for most adoptees. It’s a NATURAL desire to want to see who we look like, so we can get a better understanding of who’s looking at us when we see the hollow person looking in the mirror.
The mirror has brought me great pain most of my life, but because I’ve fought like hell to get my truth, I can now look in the mirror and I know who I am. Slowly, over the last 15 years or so, the sadness I once felt has turned into sorrow, and then grief, loss and processing. The self hate, from the unknown has slowly turned into self love. It didn’t happen overnight. It’s taken years of recovery, therapy, self reflecting, self work, self help, and lots of tears, grief, loss, anger, rage, and WORK!
I truly know that the KEY for me, and been the TRUTH. While so many others are celebrating valentine’s day, I’m celebrating the fact that I no longer hate what I see when I look in the mirror. I’m celebrating the fact that now that I can see myself as a reflection of my biological parents, I no longer feel the hate for myself that I always did. I’m celebrating that now that I can see myself, in the MIRROR and love what I see, that allows me to be able to love others the way they need to be loved. I’m celebrating the fact that when I look in the mirror today, I see a strong, independent woman who’s gone through a lot in life, who fought every step of the way. I see a woman who is alive, even when adoption tried to kill me with secrecy and lies.
Mirror, Mirror – Mi Amor.
Today I look in the mirror and I see MY LOVE looking back at me. The one who’s always been there, the one who I should have been searching for all along, MYSELF. I see the one who’s never left me, the one who’s been 110% dependable, the one who keeps me company in the dark moments. I see the one who I love to be alone with, and the one who’s pretty. I see a woman who’s a mom, who loves her kids. I see a woman who wants to be happy and healthy so her kids and future grand-kids will never experience what she did in the mom area. I see imperfections, maybe even a dirty mirror and messy hair? But most importantly I see the imperfect truth. I’m no longer looking in the mirror at secrecy and lies, looking at an adoptee internally dying.
Mirror, Mirror – Mi Amor come and see.
The truth is what I needed to see I’m not like any of them & I learned to love me.
Happy Valentines Day to YOU and to ME!
EVERY ADOPTEE DESERVES TO KNOW THEIR TRUTH, EVERYONE DESERVES TO KNOW WHERE THEY COME FROM!
The weekend of April 21st & 22nd I had the honor of going to my first ever adoptee conference. It was an experience of a lifetime for me and I enjoyed so much of it. My favorite part was meeting my fellow adoptees near and far.
Other parts were simply overwhelming. Emotions I had stuffed for years came flooding back. It was tough on many aspects.
I left the conference with a ton of emotions way up at the surface. I didn’t quite know how to process it all. My plan was to come home and spend some time writing about it in the days to come.
That plan was halted by some news…
Within a few short hours of being back in Kentucky from the conference I found out my adoptive mother had passed away some time over the weekend.
It could hardly believe it.
I took all things I was feeling regarding the conference and put them on the shelf. (a safe space I will return to deal with later.) The emotions and feelings associated with my adoptive mother’s passing had taken over me.
My cell phone rang and on the other line it was my adoptive father whom never calls me for anything unless its sad news or a health issue. I had been working a double shift that Monday April 24th. I was at the tail end of the last shift when I got the call.
Adoptive Father- “Hi Pam- How are you?”
Me- “I’m good Daddy, at work. How are you?”
Adoptive Father- “I have some sad news for you. Your mother has died at some point over the weekend”.
Me- “Wow I don’t really know what to say. What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to do something?”
Adoptive Father- “No, I don’t think anyone wants you to do anything.”
Me- “I just wish she was different and things were different but at least she’s at peace now and hopefully she will finally be happy. I know for certain she was never happy here on earth.
Daddy- “Well your sister is taking it pretty hard. (Haven’t had contact with her in many years)
Me- “Well she still had a relationship with Her, I didn’t so that would make sense I suppose. I had to let go for my own sanity but thank you for sharing the news. I appreciate it”.
My mind was racing a mile a minute. What would they want from me? What would my responsibilities be in this thing? Would I have to travel back to Iowa? Would I be expected to DO SOMETHING? I was a mess thinking of all these things. I just wanted to run and hide.
Interesting that I was not able to process losing my “Mother” because I have done that every single day for the last 42 years. How was this any different?
You see, back in 2012 when I decided to get sober a lot of things changed for me. I learned that to fully live in recovery I had to get honest about all areas of my life. During that process and over the last 5 years I realized that I was forced to be in this family with dysfunction but as I got sober I learned I could make my own choices in all areas. In that time, I had discontinued my relationship with my adoptive mom because of the toxicity she brings to my life. I had accepted the fact that I will never have a mother because she has never been one. I was always the one taking care of her, not her taking care of me. I tried to set boundaries and she wouldn’t abide by any of them.
For my own mental health, sanity and recovery I had to close the door and keep it closed. I had learned in 42 years if I even cracked the door a tiny bit her toxicity impacted me in negative ways and I didn’t want anything to do with that anymore.
It’s awesome when we figure out that YES, we have that choice!
NO MATTER WHO IT IS!
My entire life I have been petrified about what is she going to do next? What area of my life is she going to come back and haunt me. She’s tried hard to use my kids as a manipulation tool and it infuriated me. Aren’t the horrible memories of her trying to commit suicide by laying in the street enough? Or the memories of her tying us to chairs as kids? The manic-depressive episodes- they weren’t enough?
Fear was always on my mind when it came to HER. Fighting off bad memories from my childhood has been a daily struggle. Thank GOD, I have God in my life or I wouldn’t be here! I have forgiven her but I have also closed the door and moved on with my life.
So now what?
I struggled with feeling inhumane for not FEELING LIKE I LOST A MOTHER WHEN SHE DIED. I felt guilty for not feeling any sorrow like someone should feel when their mother dies.
One more thing adoption has stolen from me. Not only 2 entire families but my mother too! If I had a good mother would things be different for me?
I will never know.
I came to the realization I DIDN’T LOSE A MOTHER WHEN SHE DIED. She was never a mother to me. She took more than anyone could ever imagine.
If I was to weigh the pain of losing my first mother and being rejected by her later in life to the pain of my adoptive mother passing there is no comparison at all. What I am trying to say is that the pain I have felt every single day of my life is the worst pain I have ever felt and that’s because I lost my birth mother at the beginning of life. It’s because I’ve lost 2 entire families because of adoption.
I have accepted THIS.
But it still hurts.
If you aren’t adopted, we are triggered by essentially EVERYTHING IN LIFE!
My adoptive mother dying has no comparison to me. I hope that doesn’t sound too harsh but I am being transparent here. What I did feel was a sadness and sorrow for her that she never found happiness or wholeness here on earth. I felt sorry for her she was in addiction, had gone her entire life never being diagnosed with mental illness therefor she tore through people’s lives like a destructive tornado and she never relented. If it wasn’t a family member (who almost all cut her off) it was someone where she worked, where she lived and her own children. I felt sorry for her that the adoption industry set her up for a fairy tale and I was never the daughter she wanted or needed.
Our adoption story is a flat our disaster!
I was her caretaker.
She was never mine.
Until I turned 31 and packed up a 22 foot U-Haul and moved myself and my kids across the country. I have never felt freedom before like I have sense I moved.
YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW HARD IT WAS!! I HAD NO HELP & NO SUPPORT aside from my best friend. I had 3 small kids and was a single mother making this decision.
IT WAS THE HARDEST YET BEST DECISION OF MY LIFE.
I had to do this not only for myself, my mental health and sanity but for my children! When I saw her doing some of the same things with my kids I knew it was time to go. GOD KNEW!
Life has never been more peaceful for me because I moved far away. Now it was time to recovery from the first 31 years of life! I tried to have a long-distance relationship with her but that didn’t work either. She would come visit and it was like the devil himself was showing up at my door step. I had to put an end to it. There comes a time when we must put ourselves FIRST.
I was unsettled on how this was going to play out. For some reason, I thought they were going to need something from me or I was going to have to go back to Iowa to clean her apartment out. I was petrified! Given the circumstances I had dreaded this more than anything in the world and the scene played over and over in my mind all these years. I had visions of this day coming. FEAR! Fear of facing something I ran from tormented me all these years.
I just wanted the nightmare to end and for it all to go away.
It was like a dark cloud hanging over my head.
I certainly didn’t expect it to happen within 24 hours of connecting with my fellow adoptees in real life. I hadn’t even been able to process the conference yet!
After my conversation with my adoptive father (him and adoptive mother divorced when I was 1) He asked me to call my adoptive sister. I hadn’t spoken to her in years and years. I believe my adoptive mom used triangulation tactics our entire lives and played us both against each other. We never stood a chance at being sisters because of her.
Now I was supposed to call her?
All I wanted to do was the right thing considering the circumstances.
I called. We spoke about 5 minutes. She was tearful and crying. I was the opposite = Emotionless. She hadn’t let go yet, and I had many years earlier. I didn’t make my decision lightly. I prayed and contemplated and received some guidance from people I’m close to. I felt sorry for my adoptive sister but I know she will be okay.
It comes down to this. If you don’t bring happiness and positivity into my life you must go. I am not making any apologies these days for cutting toxic people, places or things out of my life. Neither should you.
Do I feel any regret for making this decision? No I don’t. I prayerfully made this decision and many tears were involved for along time. I had to do what I had to do to survive. I had to put my recovery and mental health first for once. I didn’t regret moving across the country and I don’t regret cutting her off with this unhealthy tie legally attaching me to this toxicity. It was a strange feeling at the end of her life being someone who had to sign her cremation paperwork.
As if the beginning was an adoption transaction.
The end was a cremation transaction.
I didn’t sign any adoption paperwork.
But I had to sign her cremation paperwork.
There is supposed to be a memorial at a later date. I decided it would not be in my best interest to go back to Iowa to help with her apartment. I experienced massive anxiety and fear even contemplating it. I didn’t have peace about it at all and peace comes from God. This spoke to me. I helped with some of the cremation costs and will be sending more money asap to go towards expenses my sister has had to face regarding this manner. Neither of us asked to be in this situation. It’s certainly not all her fault. I will not attend a memorial at this point unless my children want to attend. Being an adoptee loosing 2 entire families with no funerals, no nothing I’ve learned to say good-bye without funerals!
I know my kids are sad and I can respect and understand that because they are in a different position than I am. They didn’t experience what I did and I never want them too- THANK GOD! I respect the need for them to process the grief and loss they might be experiencing. After all, legally she was their grandmother.
Out of every darkness in life God will turn around and use it for His good. I am content knowing that even when my adoptive mom brought so much darkness to my life she’s in a happier place now. I know she believed in God and I know her mental illness was left untreated. I know she’s in heaven healed, happy and whole. Finally, she’s in a place where she could receive all God has for her and it wasn’t here on earth. Heaven isn’t 2nd place you know! Her infertility and not being able to have her own children haunted her and I was adopted to fix the problem. What a heavy burden to carry. I’ve forgiven her. She was sick. I am sad she lived such a miserable life.
John 10:10 says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Today I choose to live life & live it more abundantly. I am excited to move forward to receive all God has in store for me. I’m looking forward to taking back all the enemy has stolen from me as the days move forward in life. I have a bucket list now and I’m moving forward with those people in my life who love me for me and are real, true, genuine and sincere.
I still haven’t even processed the conference yet. I don’t know if I will ever be able to do that but hopefully I will be able to write about it soon. It was tough on many levels. My favorite part was meeting all my fellow adoptees who GET IT!
I love you all.
Say a prayer for me and I’ll say a prayer for you too!
This picture kinda sums up my mood at this point in my life.
I was up late last night researching “Grief & Loss” and all the stages of this process.
It was amazing to me that if I inserted the word “ADOPTEES” into all of the areas that take you through the grief & loss process it describes how I have felt all of my life regarding my adoption experience.
Putting in some work and research I have identified that this process is the grief and loss process, vs. depression. I’ve compared the 2, and from what I’ve read and learned, the grief & loss process is like an emotional roller coaster, up and down. It’s said that you can still see the beauty in areas of your life, and the thankful for certain areas, but in this particular area (ADOPTION) I (and hundreds of thousands of other adoptees) are stuck in this grieving and loss process.
Why are so many of us stuck?
My opinion is based on living my life being an adoptee. I believe I am stuck at this point in my life because my grief & loss was never acknowledged growing up, ever. I’ve been 100% alone on this entire journey, until now. I know I have people who support me, especially my fellow adoptees. Growing up, no one ever told me it was okay to be sad about the biggest loss of my life, let alone cry about wanting to know who my birth mother was. Emotions, and sad feelings were tucked deep inside, with no way to come out.
I remember my adoptive mom telling me I was adopted, and how my birth mother loved me so much she “gave me away” to have a “better life”. She followed this by saying, how HAPPY she was, that her dreams finally came true to be a mother. She said she couldn’t have her own babies, so when she adopted me, God gave her the gift of being a mother, so I was so special to her.
Let me ask… I wonder how my feelings of sadness would fit into this equation? I remember being a little girl, thinking, “Wow.. She sure is happy I’m here, to be her daughter” and I knew at that moment, for her to keep her happiness I can’t share my sadness. Did anyone else experience this? In a way I feel like it was a form of gas lighting. But she was also someone who always made us feel like we were responsible for the way she felt, which is not true. I grew up with the mindset (because of her upbringing) her happiness and sadness depended on me. She would always say things like, “You made me feel this way, or you made me feel that way”… I always remember counselors always telling us, “You aren’t responsible for her feelings”. When we would say that to her, she insisted we made her “feel” a certain way.
It’s interesting to me to finally figure this all out and my attempts to do this research are to work towards healing, because truthfully although I’m on the other side of my healing journey, I still have a long way to go.
Let me share some of the top areas that society might consider areas we might grieve our losses over in our life:
Loss of health
Losing a job
Loss of financial stability
Death of a pet
Loss of a cherished dream
A loved one’s serious illness
Loss of a friendship
Loss of safety after a trauma
Selling the family home
Of course we can add to that list. It amazes me that losing ones mother at the beginning of life is no where on this list. Nor is losing an entire family in adoption.
What if, just what if the WORLD started opening their eyes to the adoptees side of view, and they stepped out of denial and we started to grieve our very VERY real loss at a very early age? What if the world started treating adoption loss like they do other losses? What if the WORLD got educated on the grief & loss process, and adopees started sharing their feelings at a much earlier age? What if we saw adoptee therapists who specialized in complicated grief and loss at a early age?
The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief we experience.
Adoptee loss is complicated!
In adoption, our loss is so extremely great, yet it’s almost always ignored. We’re told the be thankful, to be grateful and to be happy we were given life when we could have been aborted. We’re told we were a GIFT FROM GOD and God knitted us in our mothers womb and we were planned before we were ever born. Scriptures are thrown at us to back it up.
How do these comments help us grieve our loss? To me, they have always been silencer statements as a way for someone to try to make me “FEEL” better. How about as a society we come to a place where we just can’t make adoptees feel better, we let them grieve their losses by acknowledging them and we listen to their feelings when they share them?
What if those close to us were to say, “It’s okay to be sad” or “It’s okay to want to know where/who your first mommy is. She’s your mommy and you have every right to love her and ask questions about her”. What if the world said “I’m so sorry for the pain adoption has caused you, and acknowledged our feelings of loss” instead of “Oh your adopted?! How wonderful!”.
There is nothing wonderful about losing our mothers and an entire family. I’m so sorry, but there just isn’t anything wonderful about that.
I’ve written a few blog posts earlier about God healing my broken heart regarding my birth mother. Amazing, yes this did happen! What I’m continuing to experience is processing grief & loss regarding my adoptee experience. I have accepted that it is here to stay, and the more I feel it the more God will heal it. So this is my safe place to write about what I’m FEELING regarding my adoptee experience, and each time I write I’m healing.
I would like to encourage all adoptive parents to reach out for help on assisting your adoptive child in starting the grief and loss process as early as possible. I had to figure all this out on my own. I still have people that are close to me who think I should have “just gotten over it” by now. Don’t you think if I could I would? Who really wants to go through the grief and loss process their entire life? Sad thing is, sometimes it takes us an entire life to process this grief and loss especially when we aren’t starting until our 20’s-30’s-40’s & 50’s. If society would step out of denial, and begin to understand how great our loss truly is, by reading adoptee blogs, reading The Primal Wound-Understanding The Adopted Child and take off their rainbow colored glasses regarding adoption, we wouldn’t spend such a long time grieving our losses.
Let me say there is no write or wrong way to grieve, or a time we are limited to grieve. Some of us grieve pretty quickly, some of us are perfectly fine and don’t need to grieve at all. Some of us experience loss so great, we will be grieving for the rest of our lives. Each adoptee is different and unique in that aspect. The point I’m trying to make is that once the WORLD steps out of denial and starts to acknowledge our loss as a real and valid reason to grieve adoptees will begin to heal. We need non-adoptees to TRY to understand this, especially those impacted by adoption. What if we start doing this at as young of an age as possible the adoptee suicide rate will begin to go down? The prisons, and treatment facilities filled with adoptees will be less and less. The crime rate for adoptees will be less and less.
Study the grief and loss process, and add ADOPTEE LOSS everywhere you can. You will learn that “ANGER” is one of the stages of grief, and as an adoptee who has lived being adopted we have much reason to be angry. The question is, what are we doing with our anger? Are we using it to hurt ourselves, and other people or are we using it in a positive way? Are we helping others with it?
So many adoptees don’t know what to do with the feelings they are having. Talk about a mixed up bag of emotions. Every day continues to be a struggle, but because of my kids, God and my close family and friends, and because of my fellow adoptees I’m still here. Many days I don’t want to be here, the pain is just too great and at 41 years old it continues on. I know my fellow adoptees get it!
Could it be I will experience this pain from grief and loss for the rest of my life?
I will never know the answer to that, until I reach the end of my life but I have experienced it for 41 years now. Each and every day there are always reminders and each day is a struggle. I don’t believe I’ve ever truly lived LIFE because so much has always been weighed down. I’ve spent my entire life trying to survive and make it through the realities of what adoption really is. Today, I can get comfort in knowing I have a purpose on this earth to share my story so other adoptees know they aren’t alone. I have hope in Jesus my pain will get easier. I have hope that future generations of adoptees will have things easier, because adoptive parents are reading and listening.
I’ve learned that most people just don’t want to read or hear what adoptees have to say because the truth in how we feel is pretty uncomfortable. It’s not usually a happy topic and I can understand this might be the case for any “hot topics”. Yet society is failing to “tune in” to a very flawed system of sealed records, and adoptees hurting all over the world because no one will validate our grief and loss. Society can do something about this. They can chose to tune in and try to understand from an adult adoptees perspective. They can stop pretending that our loss isn’t real or we aren’t impacted by loosing our entire first family. They can face the truth, because the truth is the only way we will be set free. I challenge you, to start tuning in today.
I know the adult adoptees sharing their stories is causing a ripple effect in the adoption communities, so all the future generations of adoptees will be able to be heard and not silenced. They will understand their loss is real, and it’s okay to grieve it. Hopefully it will start as early as possible. I pray adoptive parents out there are equipped on how to handle these very sensitive subjects, so they can better help their adoptive children. ( search for an adoptee therapist who specializes in complicated grief & loss) No matter what our biological parents were, or they weren’t we all deserve to know our truth, so we can grieve that truth and move forward with healing.
John 8:32 “We shall know the truth, and the TRUTH shall set us free”
For my fellow adoptees, what has helped you with grieving your losses during your journey? Do you have any suggestions for your fellow adoptees or those reading? What has your process been like? Has it gotten easier for you?