It’s Hard to Smile Today – My Tribute to Adoptee Remembrance Day 10/30/2020

IT’S HARD TO SMILE TODAY

It’s hard to smile today, when so many adoptee smiles have been washed away. If you know an adoptee, let me take you on a ride in an Adoptees mind. Sit down and give me a few minutes of your time.

Imagine being in your mother’s womb, where there is only room for scared hearts beating as one. The day we are born should be as bright as the beaming stars in the sky.

Her heartbeat warms our hearts like the bright & shiny sun but quickly turns to gloom as soon as you make your grand entrance into the delivery room.

Like a thief in the night, your sacred heartbeat is gone. Disappeared. You are all alone, no longer one. Where is your bright and shiny sun?

She’s gone and she’s not coming back. Pre-verbal trauma will be carried around like a permanent backpack. We can run but we can’t hide, adoptee triggers bring on lifelong thoughts of suicide.

Adoptees are dying searching for their sun. Carrying so much pain because being separated from your mother is a deep rooted trauma and inhumane.

“LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED”

That’s a damn lie. No matter what they say, love isn’t enough or a house full of stuff. Buckle up for the ride called “The Fight of Your Life!”

Fighting the fight of your life with your very first breath, unattached to anyone because of the broken bond. Most days the only escape seems like death.

We might not want to die, but we want out of here. We’re sick and tired of the continuous emptiness inside, the heartbreak and never ending tears.

We’re tired of therapying the therapists. No one understands adoptee layers unless they are one of us.

When you say “Screw the world, I no longer want to live, I have nothing left to give!” I want you to know your adoptee tribe knows your pain. We love you with no ulterior motives and we have nothing to gain.

Everyday can seem like an uphill battle being tormented by things everyday people can’t relate too. They have no idea what it feels like to have your entire history erased or what it feels like to look in the mirror and see “Nobody’s Face.”

There was a nothing wrong with your views or how you feel. What’s wrong is relinquishment and adoption trauma being subjects that are considered taboo.

Rooted in relinquishment trauma, dark clouds are everywhere, most days feeling hallow and empty inside. Being born a burden is a heavy load to carry.

The world says “Be Thankful!” but they are clueless what it feels like to feel like a piece of property. Paid in full for a cash price. Only to make the dreams come true for another person’s life. Meanwhile, our entire lives are rooted in secrecy and lies.

It’s hard to smile today, but I wish I could wipe your teardrops away. If I had one more chance, I would hug you so tight and tell you wherever you are in life, everything’s gonna be alright.

It’s hard to smile today. You will always be remembered because your heart and smile are as big as the sky.

Please know we will never let your memories fade away, I wish I could take your pain away.

It’s hard to smile today.

RIH to all the Adoptees who didn’t make it by way of suicide or the hands of their adoptive parents. 💛

I Keep Walking, Learning to Live for Myself, Love Myself, & Honor Myself

img_6311It’s interesting that I’ve been experiencing a new layer of an awakening process recently, even before Covid-19 came about. I’m so thankful for all things NEW, because that means I’m not sitting in the same spot for eternity. Many people are fretting about the isolation and aloneness they are feeling due to the new social distancing guidelines, but for me personally, this is something I’ve felt my entire life. It’s nothing new to me being adopted, and feeling isolated and alone. I’ve adapted to that feeling way back to my early childhood, but I sympathize for all those who are experiencing this for the the first time.

I’ve made the choice to set more boundaries in my life, which have allowed me to have more room for JOY. This hasn’t been an easy thing to do because no one has guided me, or encouraged me to do this. I’ve figured it out on my own.

As an adoptee, I’m used to giving all of my self for others wants and needs, all the way back to my childhood and juvenile years. I didn’t have a typical adoption story, I had a heartbreaking one. Every single side I look at has been nothing but heartbreak and pain. I know so many of my fellow adoptees have the same story, it’s heart-wrenching.

I’ve written before about this BADNESS I’ve always felt, being attached to me from the beginning, as I was conceived in my birth mothers womb. I was conceived out of an affair with a married man, who was also a close friend of the family. So not only did my birth mother feel shame and guilt, she kept her pregnancy a secret, but she rejected the pregnancy, and drank alcohol the entire time.

I felt this as a baby, in utero and if you do the research and study this topic, you will learn that babies feel what the mother feels while we are in the womb. We can sense our biological mothers emotions, feelings and surroundings before we’re ever born.

Scientist Say, say, “They found something interesting: what mattered to the babies was if the environment was consistent before and after birth. That is, the babies who did best were those who either had mothers who were healthy both before and after birth, and those whose mothers were depressed before birth and stayed depressed afterward. What slowed the babies’ development was changing conditions — a mother who went from depressed before birth to healthy after or healthy before birth to depressed after. “We must admit, the strength of this finding surprised us,” Sandman says.

So much to unpack here, but my motive in sharing this is the more we research the entire concept of perinatal bonding, and our pre-birth conditions, the more we understand our selves. This is one of the MANY reasons why adoptees receiving our TRUTH is so critically important. I will say it now, and I’ve said it a million times before, we (adoptees) can’t heal from secrecy, lies or half truths. The conditions of our conception is very important for us to learn, so we can gain a better understanding of WHY.

This is the ONLY way to acceptance & healing

While the topic of our experiences is very important, so is the topic of being born into a world to serve others wants and needs. I can share from my story, I felt like I was “the help” when it came to my experience in my adoptive moms home. I was her caretaker from the very beginning, and lived my entire life catering to her wants, needs and demands. Not just her physical needs, but her emotional and psychological ones as well.

She suffered from severe emotional and mental illness, and her issues impacted my life greatly. One reason was because she was never officially diagnosed, or treated although she was given several pain medications, and mood stabilizing medications and was addicted to them until she died in 2015. She was consistent in over medicating herself, which only added issues to her mental illness.

My life until I was 30 years old was centered and focused around HER. She had it planned out that she wanted to adopt 2 daughters, so she would have someone to take care of her in her old age, because her greatest fear of life was dying in a nursing home all alone. She adopted for us to take care of her, and that’s exactly what happened for 30 years of my life, until I broke free and escaped by moving across the country with my children. She created a very toxic and unhealthy codependent relationship, that was VERY hard for me to break away from, but I did it in 2005.

I’ve done a lot of research on codependency, and as complex as it is, it’s some real live issues that come with it. When I was a child, I had no way out and I had nothing to compare it too. What was a normal relationship with a mom, or a parent, and what did a healthy relationship look like? I have no idea.

Needless to say, when I spent 30 years catering to her wants and needs, it’s taken me the last 15 years to learn what taking care of myself looks like. When every waking moment of my childhood was to serve her, and the entire reasons for my existence was to take care of her, this hasn’t been an easy task to learn. As it turns out, I’ve been a private independent caregiver for a stroke patient for 15 years as my full time career.

It’s interesting how I leave a very toxic care taking and codependent relationship ends, but I once again pick up a career taking care of someone else, because it’s all I know. A big difference in the two situations is one is healthy, and a wonderful relationship as my career, and it’s something I enjoy with my whole heart. The other was something that was forced upon me I had no control over that was very toxic. I know for certain, that care taking responsibilities run deep in my veins, because of my childhood and my role in taking care of my adoptive mom all the way back to pre-verbal days.

Besides by life growing up in my toxic adoptive home, I’ve been a mom for 26 years, taking care of my kids. They have been my #1 motivation to keep going and taking care of them has been priority. Between being a mom, being a caregiver by career, and my history in the toxic adoptive home, how in the actual hell have I even learned how to take care of myself?

It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to learn to do. I didn’t start taking care of myself and actually enjoying MYSELF in the process until I walked away from the church. Walking away from the church, and religion is a whole different topic, article and discussion. I don’t care to share much here, but I will eventually. However, leaving the church has allowed me the time to serve, but instead of serve 4-5 days in the church, I’ve been serving 4-5 days a week at getting my life back, the one that was stolen from me.

I’ve learned that consistently, things come in our paths that will take our time and energy from us. Time is the most valuable thing any of us have, so the more commitments, the less time we have to use for ourselves. Just what if, we took all the energy we’ve been pouring out into systems, people, places and things outside of ourselves, and turned it back around and put it into ourselves? What would happen then?

I can tell you what will happen, because it’s my life, my story. I’ve spent a LIFETIME walking away, and escaping situations that don’t suite me well. At the end of the road, all I have left is myself, and my children. I say all the time I didn’t sign any adoption paperwork, so I’m not committed to anyone aside from MYSELF. I can no longer give all my time or energy to any family that doesn’t honor and respect the fact that I’m an adult and I can speak for myself. I can no longer pour my life into serving in a church, or slaving for my adoptive mother only to feel empty and depleted in the end. I have no more energy to put into relationships that have gone sour, for whatever reason. I have no time to explain myself, or try to “plead my case.”

I walk. And I keep walking. Those who are meant to stay will stay, and those who aren’t meant to stay will go along their way. Along the way, is the new path that I have chosen for myself. It’s a path that I CHOOSE, and it’s one I am learning to enjoy. The key has been, learning the TRUTH, and then REMOVING THINGS NO LONGER MEANT FOR ME. Doesn’t matter who or what it is, if it’s not healthy for me, it has to go.

This has left my life wide open for a choice. I can either sit around and feel sorry for myself, and live in misery or I can accept the truth, work toward healing for the rest of my life, and in the process get to know myself, which has allowed me the space to learn to love myself. In this, I’ve learned what I love, and what I don’t. I’ve learned what I stand for, and what I don’t. I’ve learned who I want in my life, who I should share my very valuable time with and who I shouldn’t.

I’ve learned out of all the experiences in life, and of all my attempts to fill the void and huge hole adoption has left, after I found my TRUTH, the very thing I was searching for was inside myself the entire time. And let me share, I’ve searched everywhere. Partying, drugs, alcohol, men, sweets, committing to serving and being present in the church FULL TIME. Nothing filled me up, nothing helped permanently.

I know, it’s hard to find ones self when we don’t have our truth, and if I’m completely honest, It’s impossible to do. This is why THE TRUTH is 110% critical for adoptees. But once I broke away from so many commitments, responsibilities, and systems, I found the time to look myself in the mirror, and find some time for myself. Little by little over the last few years, I’ve uncovered that life everyone talks about being beautiful, is something I can find beautiful too. But this isn’t easy to conclude. It’s hard work.

A few years ago, before Adoptees Connect, Inc. came about, I felt like I had no purpose, and I didn’t even want to be alive because I was in so much pain from my adoption experience. Finding PURPOSE in Adoptees Connect, has been a huge piece of my healing journey. Between finding purpose in the pain, and seeking outside fulfillment within myself, things have dramatically changed for me.

I still have bad days, and extreme days of sadness due to my adoption experience. The difference now is that I sit with it. It’s usually GRIEF that I’m feeling, and I allow myself to feel it and process it, whatever that looks like for me. It’s not even logical to say that I will be totally healed. That’s false, and not part of my reality. As soon as I accepted this, that’s actually when more healing began. Let me explain a little further.

As I continue my steps forward there is no doubt in my mind that I will never completely forget my past. No matter who says that’s possible, it’s not realistic for me to think like that. Adoption impacts so much, I deal with daily triggers, daily reminders of what was lost, sometimes hourly. One of the best things I did for myself is accepting that the pain from relinquishment and my adoption experience is here to stay. Once I accepted this, I learned to embrace my feelings, and I stopped trying to PRAY THEM AWAY or FILL THEM WITH OTHER THINGS. I sat with them, I cried with them and I learned to process them.

No one on this earth can do this for me. No one told me this is what was going to work. I’ve learned it because I’ve literally tried everything under the sun to BE HEALED, and nothing worked for me until I made the choice to STOP TRYING TO BE HEALED and sit with the pain. For me, my pain has looked more like GRIEF than anything. No one on earth is going to tell adoptees this, but grief for us will likely be a grieving process we experience for the rest of our lives. For me, to just expect it to be gone, IN JESUS NAME is something that didn’t work for me. It actually hindered my healing process, and made things worse. It bypassed the trauma I experienced from relinquishment, that was compacted by a traumatic adoption experience.

Fighting like hell for my truth was the first step. Accepting the pain was here to stay, was the beginning of my healing process. Today I can see brighter days ahead, and I can see joy in life like I have never seen before because my pain was just too great. So many adoptees can’t see past the pain, and they are stuck. I understand it and get it because it was me for years, 43 to be exact.

The whole entire concept of taking my energy, confidence, feelings, and time and reality, and turning it over to an outside source, system or person is something I’ve found to be extremely dangerous and counterproductive to my healing.  It’s no wonder I’ve always felt empty, alone, isolated, like a walking dead woman. It’s impossible to look at yourself as a source of strength, when we’re continuously told to look for it in other people, places and things.

I challenge everyone, not just adoptees to seek inside themselves, because your strength is there. Your wisdom is there. Your happiness is there. You have the total power and control to shift your energy from seeking sources outside yourself, to that of seeking strength, wisdom and understanding deep in your own heart.

For adoptees, if you don’t have your truth and all of it, fight like hell to get it. Never give up. You deserve healing, wholeness, and happiness. My story has been heartbreaking all the way around, with double rejection from BOTH my birth parents, and I have no relationship with 95% of my adoptive family for MANY reasons. I’ve had to make the choice to put myself, my recovery and my happiness FIRST. They put their happiness first, when I was conceived out of an affair, handed over to strangers to raise. My adoptive parents only cared about being parents, they didn’t have the capabilities of caring for me, an adoptee, like I needed to be cared for. No one helped me, I was 100% on my own finding my truth. Once I received the truth, that I fought like hell to get ON MY OWN, I realized that I CARRIED ME THROUGH THAT. I HAD THE STRENGTH TO MAKE IT. MY HEART IS THE ONE THAT WAS LEFT BROKEN. I USED SUBSTANCES FOR 27 YEARS TO NUMB MY PAIN. I’M THE ONE WHO DID THE WORK IN RECOVERY. I’M THE ONE PERSON I COULD COUNT ON. I HAD THE FIGHT TO WANT TO HEAL, BE HEARD AND NOT STOP. I WANTED TO BE A BETTER MOTHER TO MY KIDS THAN WHAT I HAD. I LIVE EVERYDAY IN RECOVERY AND MAKE DAILY, SOMETIMES HOURLY DECISIONS THAT TAKE WISDOM SO I STAY IN RECOVERY. NO SOURCE OR SYSTEM OUTSIDE MYSELF DID THAT.

I DID THAT.

I walked and I’m still walking.

For the rest of my days on earth, I will not be confined to anyone or anything. I no loner believe in any belief systems or have any loyalty to any one person or families that have hurt me. I’m finally FREE, living for ME. I continue to set boundaries for myself, and I have many more I will be setting in the coming weeks, months, years. All the labels in the world can walk off into the sunset, because I no longer want to be a part of them either. They don’t define me, they don’t make me a better person, or different than anyone else. Just like adoption. It’s a piece of who I am, but it’s not all of who I am.

As I continue to walk, I’m making the choice to continue to put my happiness first, as this new stage of my life approaches I HAVE A LOT OF MAKING UP TO DO. Chances are you do too!. Adoption has stolen A LOT. I refuse to allow it to steal anymore of my beautiful life. I have a wonderful career, amazing kids, and things in life I want to do. I have hobbies, and I want to be a happy, healthy mom and individual. When the end of my life is near, I hope people remember my life, but I also hope they see I didn’t stay stuck until the end of my days. Adoption will snatch up all our time, memories and freedom as we slave away at trying to bring the truth to light, and help others. I will always have certain commitments to the adoption community, but other commitments are falling to the side, because I’ve missed enough of living life, I don’t want to miss anymore.

Every minute lost is a minute I can’t get back. I ask myself daily, as I look in the mirror, “If you were to die tomorrow, what would you want to do today, if it was your last time on earth?” What makes my heart happy and what makes me tick? Same to you… What creates your happiness, deep within your soul? Don’t let adoption suck your entire life away, weather it be getting unstuck, or serving your life away in the adoption community. Finding a happy balance is KEY.

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Today, I keep walking, learning to live for myself, love myself, & honor myself. I’m focused on seeking solace and serenity inside myself, because others just let me down. I’ve never been happier. No one is going to tell you to seek this route, you will be solo but for many adoptees, that’s nothing new.  I’ve always been alone, but I haven’t always been okay with being alone.

Today, I’m alone, but I’m finally okay with being alone.

 It’s actually the safest space for me, because it’s all I know. I’m my own safe space. 

I have my kids, my career, nature, sunrises, sunsets, trees, flowers, fresh air, books, writing, my animals, health, inner peace, hiking, waterfalls, road trips, exercise, bonfires, hot tea, coffee,  acceptance, sobriety, a small circle of friends, my story, and my continued recovery.

I have all I need.

I’ve let go of the rest. 

I’m a free bird. 

For my fellow adoptees, what have you found that makes you tick?

Where is your safe space?

What JOY have you been able to find in your life, despite your adoptee journey?

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Saying “Hello” to Adoptee Grief & Loss

img_5766I decided to write a short article about this topic, because over the years of coming out of the fog and being in recovery it’s come to my attention that so much of the adoptee experience is rooted and grounded in grief & loss. If we leave it up to the world we live in, they not only deny us the right to have anything but positive feelings, they also deny us the right to grieve our losses.

Can you imagine everyone around you celebrating your trauma? Can you imagine living in a world where your trauma is considered something wonderful? Can you imagine always having to hide your true feelings, because everyone in your life can’t understand that adoption is complex, and in order to heal it we must feel it. Can you imagine there never being any space to share your grief & loss because in adoption, grief & loss is something we are denied, yet society tells us we should he happy about it! This is adoption in our world today.

No one ever told me processing grief and loss was a natural part of the adoptee experience. Navigating this journey alone, it’s honestly been the hardest experience of my life. For me personally, being adopted has carried more weight than multiple brutal violent traumatic experiences that I’ve had in my 44 years of life. Yes, you read that right. I’ve survived MANY brutal violent traumatic experiences, and relinquishment trauma compacted by adoption trauma have impacted me far worse than any other experience, even the brutal violent ones all put together. That’s how BIG the wound from relinquishment trauma has been in my life. The adoption trauma only added to it.

Yes, Adoption Relinquishment is TRAUMA 

For me, adoption, by far has hurt the worst and it’s had the most complex dynamics to it. It hits deeper layers, and the recovery time seems to expand throughout ones entire lifetime. I’ve accepted that full recovery is never going to happen, so I’ve embraced it and welcomed the uncomfortable feelings when they come. Multiple brutal violent traumatic experiences have healed much faster than relinquishment trauma. That should tell you something about relinquishment trauma. Real lived experiences trump everything you have been told about adoption.

It’s hard to come out of the fog on your own like I did. Seeking therapy for the complexities of my adoption experience has always been a dead end for me. I’ve tried and gone to therapy since I was 5 years old. I’m not knocking anyone in therapy and I encourage it wholeheartedly. It just didn’t work for me. I pour my heart into therapying the therapist, and leave with little to no relief other than having one hour to share my life with someone who doesn’t’ “get it” in the long run. If they aren’t adopted, they have no clue what adoptees experience. Thankfully more adoptees are therapists these days, and things are changing.  When I was a child in therapy, they didn’t even talk about adoption. When I was a teenager crying out in rage and pain, they didn’t even talk about adoption.  When I was in juvenile lock up, group homes, drug treatment, the mental health hospital as a teenager and in jail and a mental ward as an adult, they never talked about adoption. When I tried to commit suicide multiple times, they never talked about adoption. When I was in alcohol addiction for 27 years, they never talked about adoption! Let’s be honest, I was groomed to never talk about it either, conditioned from a very early age. But I hold therapists to a higher standard. All these therapists of my lifetime failed me. I should be dead right now, but I’m not.

Today, I say “hello” to the waves of grief & loss as they come into my life instead of turn them away.

Today we’re talking about adoption!

Relinquishment is is the root cause!

I was in addiction for 27 years to ESCAPE! Alcohol took my pain away but only temporarily. Now that I’m in a place of 6.5 years of sobriety, I have even more wisdom to share about being an adult adoptee in recovery. As I navigate close to 10 years of coming out of the fog and 10 years of being in “Adoptee Land” one thing that keeps circling back around in my life is grief and loss. I’m recognizing how I’m feeling at the moment and how I’m feeling day to day about my adoption experience. I’m acknowledging those feelings as they come. I say HELLO to them. I welcome them. Of course I’m going up against what our world says, which is just be thankful and grateful!

I spent some time in a religious setting, and always made me feel like I wasn’t praying enough or I wasn’t fasting enough. I even heard I was CHOOSING to hang onto this pain, or better yet “You must not be receiving your healing because you aren’t right with God! I’ve heard it all, and today I consider it all to be MUMBO JUMBO and I want no part of it. It only caused me to AVOID the TRUTH and NOT FEEL THE PAIN! Because heaven forbid you actually process your traumatic experiences, or grieve your very legitimate losses!

I’m just saying, I’ve gone around the wagon a million times trying to be HEALED from relinquishment trauma! I have some wisdom to share, that’s why I keep writing. For you all and for me. The fact is, grief and loss are perfectly normal for a not normal situation. Nothing is normal about adoption, although our society and world have normalized it. It’s NOT normal to be severed from your roots at the beginning of life, to be handed over to strangers.

Adoption is not normal, and it’s time we STOP normalizing it.

Adoption is traumatic, relinquishment is traumatic and if adoptees aren’t allowed the space to process this trauma we will continue to see the jails, prisons, mental health facilities and treatment facilities overflowing with adoptees! We will continue to see adoptees attempt and succeed in suicide. The earlier we start to address the truth about adoption, the sooner adoptees can start to process our grief and loss.

As a child, I wouldn’t have had the language to process my pain if I wanted to have it. I didn’t know as a child what I know now. I’m here to tell you if SOMEONE, ANYONE would have told me it was okay to be SAD I lost my birth mother, or it was okay to be ANGRY she left me, my whole entire world would have changed growing up. I didn’t have that language, so my adoptive parents should have helped me find it. Yeah, I know it was 1974 and things were different then! TRUE! But they are different now too, and once you know this TRUTH that I’m sharing here based on my 44 years of lived experience being adopted, you can’t unknow it. Please, do what you can to help your adopted children access feelings of grief and loss, and HELP THEM process them!

For my fellow adoptees who have made it this far, I’m asking you how you are processing your grief and loss? What have you been able to do to tap into your real true feelings? Are you at a phase where you are numbing them and running? Or are you working towards processing them?

For me, saying HELLO to my grief and loss has been a critical part of my healing process. I’m no longer running the rat race to be healed! That doesn’t work for many of us. Being SAD about your adoption experience is NORMAL. Being ANGRY about your adoption experience is NORMAL. It’s what you do with these feeling is what’s KEY. Acceptance of them is KEY.

Saying HELLO to them is acknowledging them. Sitting with them awhile, writing about them, or sharing them with someone you love or trust is processing them. Getting alone in nature, doing your yoga, jogging, biking, hiking, and anything outside can help you release some the build up you have, and so many adoptees have anger and rage deep inside, bursting to come out. It’s going to come out in healthy ways, or unhealthy ways. What have you picked for yourself?

I picked unhealthy for 27 years, but it wasn’t because I wanted to pick it. It was because I didn’t have the tools to work on my adoptee issues. Remember, we live in a world that celebrates our trauma and celebrates adoption! This is why it upsets me when people say we are choosing to stay STUCK. Don’t you think if every single adoptee had a flip to switch, on was happy and off was sad/angry we would choose the HAPPY SWITCH? Seriously, so many of us are stuck because that was me for 40+ years because we had no tools. Thank God times are changing! –  Adoptees Connect.

The best part is, once we know that grief and loss is a normal response, and once we know it’s time to start processing it in healthy ways we can then make the choice to put one foot forward and try to walk it out TOGETHER.

Is it scary? Damn straight it is! I always say adoptees aren’t sissies! They are some of the strongest people on the planet! But I did it, and you can do it too! So my question for you is, when are you going to start saying HELLO to your grief and loss? Welcome it, embrace it and keep it moving. Only you can do this because one thing I’ve learned is that if we want something in the adoptee community or for ourselves we will have to seek it, create it, or find it ourselves! No one is going to do it for us, especially when they are so busy celebrating our trauma and they don’t acknowledge we have any losses to grieve.

It’s up to us. It’s up to me. It’s up to you.

What are you going to do?

Sending Renewed Love & Light,

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Reclaiming. Recovering. Recreating. Retreating. Repeating.