Bridging the Gap Between InterCountry Adoptees and Professionals

I spent 47 years of my life in and out of therapist’s offices back to five years old. I remember each time I was seeing a new therapist, the concept and idea of adoption was never brought to light or to the surface. EVER. 

As I emerged out of the fog in my 30’s I was still seeking therapy and direction on how to process my adoptee reality and was always left with absolutely nothing. Once I learned the deeper dynamics of relinquishment trauma compacted by adoption trauma, things became even more real. 

Even in my 40’s, seeking out therapy once again, I found myself therapying the therapist and exhausted in that process. While it’s been evident my entire life that there is a noticeable gap between not just mental health professionals but all professionals when it comes to the multilayered complexities of the adoptee experience and understanding that experience. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to help someone navigate their journey if you don’t understand the complexities. 

As I’ve spent a significant amount of time contemplating and trying to understand where things have gone wrong, and why have adoptees been failed so miserably? How are adoptees 4x more likely to attempt suicide, and our prisons, jails, mental health facilities, and treatment facilities are over-populated with adopted people. Yet, this reality isn’t a shocking testimonial that something in adoption is gravely wrong. Instead, adoptees are dying at the expense of this failed experiment called adoption. 

Knowing this gap is present, I have found that seeking help from professionals was a continuous letdown, so I stopped seeking understanding or healing from them. I had given up hope which is a bad thing. Thankfully, even though they couldn’t help me, I had enough strength to help ME when the world failed me. So I decided the next best thing was to create Adoptees Connect, Inc., or I likely wouldn’t be here writing this article.  

The fantastic news I have to share today and my reason for writing this article is to share an exciting new resource with my followers. I was contacted by my friend and fellow adoptee, Lynelle Long, the founding director of ICAV – InterCountry Adoptee Voices. Lynelle shared with me that she has created a new adoptee-led educational video resource for professionals designed to assist doctors, teachers, and mental health professionals to better understand the adoptee experience for intercountry adoptees. This project took many months, and a wide range of individuals helped pull it off. Click the link below to learn more. 

Lynelle Long, Founding Director – ICAV InterCountry Adoptee Voices

Video Resource for Professionals

This project from Lynelle and ICAV is a fantastic step in the right direction at bridging the gap with the communities that are designed to help adoptees but have been lacking the resources to understand the complexities of the adoptee experience themselves. In all my years of being in adoption and adoptee circles, this is the first I have seen that tackle such essential topics in this way, from the adoptee’s perspective. 

When I received Lynelle’s email, I was overjoyed for the adoptee community, and I can’t lie. I got a little teary-eyed about it. So many lost adoptees, so many locked up adoptees, so many adoptees who feel so misunderstood and invalidated. So many adoptees deported, and hurting. Finally, the resources we have needed all along are coming to life because of Lynelle and organizations like ICAV. It is a massive milestone in the adoptee community, and I couldn’t wait to share it with my followers.  

I want to share a special message of gratitude to Lynelle for being such an extraordinary force in the adoption community and for pouring her life out to create such valuable resources that have otherwise been unavailable. Another special thank you to everyone involved in this project. You all are changing the narrative and shifting a community that has needed this resource for far too long. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU. 

To learn more about ICAV and all the other resources Lynelle’s organization provides, please take a little time on the ICAV – Intercountry Adoptee Voices website. 

To visit the new resource for professionals, click here – Video Resource for Professionals

Please be sure to share these valuable and life saving resources in your communities, you might be saving an adoptees life. Together we are changing the narration of adoption.

Much Love,

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

When Your Biggest Blessing Invalidates My Greatest Trauma

img_0272

When your biggest blessing invalidates my greatest trauma it sets me up for a lifetime of pain, suffering and isolation. It facilitates a lifetime of suicidal ideation, because the pain is just too great to process. It makes me feel more isolated and alone than non-adopted individuals can ever imagine. It makes me wish I was aborted and feeling like I want to die for most of my life, because my pain is greater than my desire to want to live. It drives me to attempt to take my life as a teenager, because you fail to admit I have lost anything. It drives me to a place of addiction, because at the end of every day the only way to manage every day life is to numb the pain. When you use bible scriptures to defend your blessing, it makes me question the bible and the God you are speaking of. When your biggest blessing outshines my reality, it makes me feel unimportant and insignificant. When you refer to me as a blessing, it hurts because you are invalidating my adoptee and relinquishee reality.

My story went something like this:

Me: Mommy, did I come out of your tummy?

Adoptive Mom: No, you were adopted. Your birth mother’s choice to surrender you for adoption was my biggest blessing and a dream come true.

Me: What do you mean?

Adoptive Mom: She loved you so much she gave you to me to raise, and I will always love her and be thankful for her decision.

Me: Who is she? Where is she?

Adoptive Mom: We don’t know, honey.

Me: Experienced the most significant mental mind fu*k of my entire lifetime.

I was approximately five years old when this conversation took place, and it’s clear to me that my life was never the same. Every day, I was haunted every hour and every minute wondering, wishing, and dreaming about finding HER.

No matter what questions I had or what mental torment I experienced from this moment forward, my adoptive mom’s joy and happiness trumped everything. My feelings didn’t matter when I was her biggest blessing in life, and her joy  of being a mother trumped my feelings of sadness every damn day.

If I’m transparent, my adoptive mom likely didn’t know the pain and heartache I was experiencing but if she did, her happiness was highlighted over my pain. I was adopted in August of 1974, and my adoptive parents were told to sweep the entire idea of adoption and what it meant under the rug. They were also told the less we talked about it; the better things would be. This is how many adoptions were back in those days, but today is a new day and a new year. It’s 2020, and when you know better, you do better.

However, I ask myself if my adoptive parents knew this, would it have changed anything for my five-year-old self, who was desperately searching for my REAL MOTHER?

I genuinely believe as a 46-year-old woman, if I were able to process my trauma at as early of an age as possible, my healing journey wouldn’t have started at 36+ years old. I wouldn’t have been addicted to substances for 27 years of my life. I recently celebrated 8 years sobriety, however I feel like I’ve spent my entire life not only suffering from the trauma of relinquishment and adoption but healing from the lifelong aftermath of these experiences.

I have barely started living my life yet, and if I’m lucky, it’s over half over. That’s a hard pill to swallow, but I try to remain grateful that I’m here and I’m alive because I know so many of my fellow adoptees are not. This is why I keep sharing and writing. Adoptees are dying!

Adoptions continue to happen all over the world. We cannot continue to fail to acknowledge that before the blessing of an adopted child is brought into a family, it is equally intertwined into the very beginnings of our life, which is a traumatic experience. We must also recognize that relinquishment is trauma, and so is adoption. These are two very different dynamics to the adoptee experience. The sooner society steps out of denial about these truths; the sooner adoptees will start to heal.

Better yet, if our adoptive parents knew these truths from the beginning, would they still choose to adopt anyway? In my experience spending the last ten years networking in the adoption community, most all adoptive parents I have talked to have expressed they TRULY had no idea what they were getting themselves into when they adopted. The adoption agencies and attorneys never shared the truth with them. When they learned what they were up against, it was too late, and they were stuck with this child who has come with deep-rooted relinquishment trauma, or they rehome them and send them back.

Let me be clear, we can have wonderful and loving adoptive homes and love our adoptive families greatly, but the original trauma of relinquishment still remains the same. Networking with adoptees for over 10+ years and hearing their stories, building relationships with them, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt most of us don’t get happy and loving adoptive homes! If you are that one adoptee or know that one adoptee who’s “Just fine” with being adopted, spend more time getting to know more adoptees. That one adoptee story doesn’t compare to the hundreds of thousands of adoptees who have nightmare adoption stories and adoptive homes. Remember, adoption trauma always compacts the original relinquishment trauma.

In what ways does relinquishment and adoption trauma surface in an adopted individual? It can be acting out at an early age or teen/adult years with anger, rage, self-harm, substance abuse, breaking the law, running away, testing the waters in every way possible. Depression, anxiety, abandonment, mental health issues, self love, self hate, rejection, and Complex – PTSD. Let’s not forget grief and loss. Grief and loss show up in more ways than non-adoptees can even imagine and it lasts a lifetime! We struggle with these things for our entire lifetimes and many adoptees never get the help they deserve, taking this pain to their graves. We don’t wake up one day and it’s gone. It follows us, like ball and chain. For many of us, it feels like we’re doing a life sentence for a crime we didn’t commit.

While our adoptive parents, their friends, and family are celebrating adoption blessings, the truth is that adoptees will continue to attempt suicide at 4x the rate of non-adopted individuals. We will continue to grieve our grief and process our loss alone for a lifetime. We will continue to feel helpless in a world that celebrates our relinquishment trauma and adoption trauma. We will continue to live a life riddled with anxiety, depression, and sadness. We will continue to feel isolated and alone. Many and most of us take these things to our graves, because there has never been any help for us.

Instead, you celebrate our trauma and normalize the separation of a mother and her baby. Nothing about relinquishment and adoption is normal, and all the feelings adoptees feel and how we respond to relinquishment and adoption trauma is normal considering the circumstances. What’s not normal is relinquishment and adoption trauma!

Back in 1974, adoptees weren’t baring their souls to share their stories in hopes of shining a light on the truth about adoption and how it’s made them feel. If they were, there might have been very few of them. Today they are, and it’s making a difference. One of the biggest things I have experienced that’s been a significant hurdle to overcome is that our world celebrates adoption the way they do. Can you imagine our world celebrating rape or child abuse? Can you imagine our world celebrating someone being held hostage at gunpoint? Can you imagine our world celebrating a mother and child dying in childbirth?

Only in adoption is our most tremendous trauma of relinquishment not acknowledged, but it’s celebrated. The mental mind fu*k this causes for relinquished and adopted individuals can’t even be explained. Let me be frank; it’s a big giant clusterfu*k.

While our adoptive parents and society are celebrating, they don’t equally acknowledge that we are being is severed from our roots before any adoption occurs. This is the most significant loss of our lifetimes. We lose genetic mirrors, biological connections, medical history, siblings, grandparents, ethnicity, homeland, and so much more on top of YOU CELEBRATING IT. Stop celebrating mothers and babies being separated!

If you’ve made it this far, I will encourage you to challenge yourself in stepping out of denial about the FACTS that what you were told and what you learned about adoption might not be accurate information. I ask you to open your eyes, ears, and hearts to the truth that relinquished and adopted individuals need you to equally acknowledge all we have lost before you consider celebrating it.

We’re not your blessing. Until you can do this vital step to help aid us in our healing process you have no business celebrating us or calling us a blessing. When our adoptive parents are our elders, we follow suit in what they acknowledge as we are children. If you recognize this, we will realize this. Conversations about grief, loss, relinquishment, abandonment, rejection, culture, genetic mirroring, searching, and reunion need to happen. As children, we will NOT be able or equipped to open these conversations on our own. Without the support of our adoptive parents, we will suffer, and we will suffer greatly.

I hate to shatter the fantasy that your adoption is a blessing, but the truth is before every adoption takes place, relinquishment trauma happens first. Adoptees are dying. Please stop celebrating our relinquishment trauma and adoption trauma, and if even after learning all this, you still choose to celebrate, at least equally share the truth by sharing the painful pieces as well. If you don’t, you will regret it, and please know you are assisting in the stalling of your adopted child’s healing. A lifetime of pain will follow no matter what, but if you choose to assist by opening these difficult conversations, it will help!

If you are the adoptive parent of an adult adoptee, you can still apply this information to your journey, life, and relationship with the adopted individual in your life. I don’t know your story, nor do I need to know it. Start talking about the TRUTH in adoption. Start talking about uncomfortable topics. It could save your relinquishee/adoptees life.

Thanks for reading.

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

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

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 Adoptee’s mind. Please sit down and give me a few minutes of your time.

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

You are 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 endless emptiness inside, the heartbreak, and never-ending tears.

Every day can seem like an uphill battle, being tormented by things everyday people can’t relate to. 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 is 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 hollow and empty inside. Being born a burden is a tremendous pill to swallow. Mental gymnastics always override and blindside the happiness non-adoptees feel. I wake up most days and can’t believe this life is real.

The world says, “Be Thankful!” for the deck of cards you were dealt. They are clueless about what it means 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.

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, and 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.

Today is Adoptee Remembrance Day, and It’s hard to smile today.

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, that everything’s going to be alright. I will always remember you because your heart and smile are as big as the sky, and no one can deny the outcry we feel because you didn’t deserve to die.

Please know we will never let your memories fade away.

I wish I could take your pain away.

It’s hard to smile today.

RIP to Caleb Harris and all the Adoptees who didn’t make it by way of suicide or at the hands of their adoptive parents.