Chapter 7. Goodbye World – Finding Purpose in the Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 7.

Goodbye World

Trigger Warning // Physical Assault // Violence // Suicide

Eventually, we left the small two-bedroom Westover Road apartment. Instead, we moved to a bigger three-bedroom townhome closer to Lyndale Mall.

My relationship with Giovanni became my whole world, filling a massive hole in my heart from losing my birth mother. Finally, having someone I loved who said they loved me back was a fantastic feeling.

Patricia forbid us from seeing one another, just like she forbid me from seeing Tasha. The more she tried to control what I did or who I hung around, the more I rebelled. She would sometimes come home, and Giovanni or Tasha would be hiding in my bedroom closet. They knew how to climb in, and out of my bedroom window, so we didn’t sweat it. We were still going to spend time together regardless.

When Thomas got wind of me dating someone black, he sat me down and talked with me. “Back in my days, we didn’t mix races, but if you’re happy, I’m happy.” And that was the end of his talk about race-mixing! He didn’t shame me or threaten me with hell. I could respect that times were different when he was coming up, and I appreciated his sentiments of hoping I was happy at the end of the day.

About five weeks after being released from drug and alcohol rehab, I learned I was pregnant. I shared the news with Giovanni, and we wrapped our heads around the reality we would have a baby together. We both became excited, and then I had to break the news to Patricia. Her initial reaction was that of tears, of course. But after she overcame the initial shock, she also wrapped her head around the idea she would have a grandbaby.

Little by little, I started to buy baby items, and I stored them away in a small corner of the spare room we had in the townhouse. Deep inside, I became excited at the thought of being a mother. I would never give my baby away as my birth mother gave me away. Because I knew what that deep-rooted pain felt like, I would never inflict that abandonment on my child.

As the weeks passed, I became attached to my baby, and the thought of being a mother, even at the age of 15, this was something I was ready to take on. I stopped drinking alcohol and using drugs right away. No more fighting or running the streets like I was used to. Finally, I had something to look forward to.

I got a job at the local Pizza Hut by the mall and would walk back and forth to work each day. At this point, high school was almost a non-factor, but I would agree to go back to Metro, but this agreement was short-lived. On a Saturday night in the summer of 1989, I learned Giovanni had gotten in a fight and got arrested at a bar in Czech Village on the S.W. side of Cedar Rapids. It was all over the news and in the newspaper the next day.

I remember being upset because I had no idea how long he would be gone, but being pregnant worried me. However, he was released after a few days after appearing in court. This resulted in him being put on probation, and he would turn himself into a probation officer every month. If he did anything else to break the law, he would be sent away for at least three, possibly five years.

While our relationship seemed to get stronger because we were going to start a family together, Giovanni’s temper and rage only increased as time passed. He became paranoid and would accuse me of things I didn’t do, which resulted in frequent physical attacks that I just took. I never fought him back because I knew it would not end well.

One Friday evening, when I was approx. 12 weeks pregnant, he accused me of messing around with someone he knew. However, I denied it because it wasn’t true. He drew his fist back and punched me in my chest as hard as he could. I remember falling back, losing consciousness for a short time, and gasping for air, but he knocked the wind out of me. As soon as I thought he might have some sympathy for me, he choked me, making me admit to talking to the guy. But, again, I didn’t admit it because it wasn’t true.

I started to cry, and after a few minutes, he started to apologize for what he had done. Then, he started to get emotional, telling me how much he loved me and that it would break his heart if I were ever with someone else. Then, he stopped with the paranoid accusation and started to get sympathetic. I was in pain because the chest blow completely knocked me out for a short time. I had red marks around my neck from him choking me.

After he spent some time apologizing, telling me how much he loved me, I turned the page and acted as if these events didn’t happen. But he said he loved me and stayed, which trumped all the emotional and physical abuse he inflicted on me.

The following week after these events, at 15 weeks, I started spotting, and my chest continued to hurt beyond my ability to handle the pain. Finally, I found myself in the Emergency Room with Patricia, where the nurses and doctors asked me what happened to cause the chest injury.

I covered for Giovanni at all costs because only a snitch would tell the truth of what happened. So I told them I got in a fight a few days earlier, and that was all I said.

They did some x-rays and learned I had a periosteal contusion of my chest bone from Giovanni punching me. They also did some tests and learned that the spotting was from me miscarrying the baby. I asked Patricia to please reach out to Giovanni at the hospital so he could be with me.

Not long after, I asked Patricia for a few minutes of privacy. Giovanni entered the hospital room, where I was all alone. He hugged me, told me he loved me and would be outside waiting for me. Soon a doctor came in asking Giovanni to have a seat in the waiting room, and he performed a DNC, ultimately removing the baby’s remnants from the womb. I remember becoming deeply sad and in tears, and I hated that experience to the core of my being.

Giovanni never said he was sorry, and I never connected the dots at the time that there was a very significant chance that his actions of physical abuse could have very well caused the miscarriage. I think that reality was too much for me to bare on top of losing the baby. So I tucked it away and acted like it didn’t exist. It was my secret, and I never told anyone close to me either. Besides, I was scared to lose Giovanni; he was my whole world.

The miscarriage triggered some emotions in me that heightened more feelings about my birth mother. I remember a sadness set in like never before, and I would think of her. Was this how she felt when she lost me to adoption? Was she sorrowful? No one talked to me about grieving the loss of the baby I miscarried, yet I was expected to move on and never think about them again. Is that what my birth mother was told when she gave me up for adoption? Thoughts of her plagued my mind, as well as thoughts of the baby I would have given birth to less than six months away.

The days and weeks following the miscarriage became a blur to me. My sadness spiraled out of control. I was heavyhearted and grieving like I never imagined.

I had noticed a distance between Giovanni and me, but it was more a time distance on his part. We didn’t spend as much time together or see one another after I lost the baby. But then, I would learn that Giovanni was seeing someone else and finding this news out crushed me. I also learned he had slept with Tasha, who was my closest friend at the time. So I confronted him, only for him to completely deny the accusations.

While we tapered off from seeing one another like we originally had, my alone time increased because now, not only did I lose the baby, but I felt like Giovanni was slipping from my grasp. My friendship with Tasha was over because she told me it was true; she slept with Giovanni. I was broken-hearted and couldn’t seem to shake it. I dreamed of my birth mother daily, sometimes hourly. I wish she were close, and I wish I knew where she was. She would make this all better, but the painful reality was that she was nowhere around.

Just a few months before my 16th birthday, I decided I wanted to end my life. I didn’t have the energy to write a note. I didn’t have the strength to ask for help. I didn’t have anyone to talk to. So I went into Patricia’s room, grabbed a handful of her pills from her nightstand, and laid back in my bed. This was one of the darkest times of my life.

Why did I decide to share this piece of my story? Because at 47 years old, I genuinely believe the separation trauma from the loss of my birth mother impacted every area of my life. As long as therapists, counselors, adoptive parents, and others want to sweep this reality under the rug, adoptees will continue to be negatively impacted as I have been and so many of my fellow adoptees.

The abandonment I have felt my whole life has run deep to the core, and I believe I felt it in my subconscious memory and every fiber of my being. I believe that every decision I made growing up was a reflection of this trauma. I don’t have a fluffy adoption story that everyone wants to hear. I have a real story, and I want people to understand how abandonment and separation trauma from our biological mothers can impact us long-term.

I always share that I’m not into dishing out feel-good juice. I’m into dishing out the truth. I promised myself that I would always be true to myself and walk in my truth even when it might be uncomfortable for others. So this is why I am sharing MY TRUTH. This is not only for me, but so my fellow adoptees know they aren’t alone in feeling how they feel. They need to know they aren’t crazy. What’s crazy is removing babies from their mothers, expecting them to not have lifelong consequences. Adoptees are dying from the pain. If we want to make changes within the adoption arena, we have to stop softening our realities! My audible memoir is my adoptee reality.

I will never forget taking all the pills, swallowing five at a time with big gulps of water, taking at least 30 pills, if not more, hoping I could finally go to sleep and never wake again. This was because the pain I felt was too great and too much to feel. Finally, I truly felt I had nothing to live for, so I took the pills and nodded off to sleep.

Goodbye, world, were some of my last thoughts. I rocked myself to sleep all alone, as I usually did. Something about rocking made me feel close to my birth mother, and that’s all I wanted to be close to her in my last moments of life. I always wonder if she sat in a rocking chair pregnant with me?

During my last thoughts, I pondered with deep, heartbreaking sadness and tears streaming down my face soaking my pillow, that I would never get to look face to face with the woman I had dreamed of my whole life, my birth mother.

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*The views and opinions expressed in this article, memoir, and podcast 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

Dear Non-Adopted Friends & Family Members

I will do my best to share from a place of grace because a lot is on the line here, but I also refuse to sugarcoat things to make them comfortable for anyone who reads this article. Hopefully, I can reach a middle ground that relays the message yet shares what is at stake in an upfront way. 

The lives of adopted individuals are in a crisis, and there is no time to wait in sharing this truth or to ponder on those who might take this article as a slap in the face or offensive. 

First things first, this article is for anyone who knows and loves an adopted individual and for those who can step into their shoes to try to gain a level of understanding that adoption might not be all you have known it to be. 

Do you have the emotional and mental capacity to do that? 

Are you open-minded and can see that other perspectives are entirely possible? 

If the answer is “YES,” Please continue. 

If you can’t do that, don’t bother reading any further.

Your time will be wasted. 

This information is for those who want to learn and those who can see beyond their own level of experience, knowledge, and understanding. 

My entire life, I’ve been silenced, shut down, and ridiculed by non-adopted individuals, and I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough of seeing my fellow adoptees treated this way, and I can’t help but wonder if people understand the depts of their words and actions? Do they know their responses to us sharing feelings could be a life or death response from the adoptee? 

Adoptees are DYING!

I can’t help but give some of these people the benefit of the doubt that it’s not just adopted people they treat this way, but all people because they never learned the actual value of acknowledging someone’s feelings, sitting with others in their sadness, and also having empathy for others and trying to understand their viewpoints. I have learned the hard way, this is a gift, and not everyone has it. 

I have recently seen an adoptee share a meme (see below) on a social media post, and a long-time friend & family member decided to post a comment on the meme. This is what they said, “I don’t get it. Would you have rather grown up in an orphanage or foster care?” This reminds me of all the times we get, “Would you rather have been aborted?” or the infamous “You should be thankful you were adopted!” 

I couldn’t help but jump in and go to the defense of this young lady, who is a fellow adoptee, because his comment struck a chord with me. Even when the meme said, “Adoptees are 4x more likely to attempt suicide – Listen before its too late,” and he still didn’t have the common sense that it was OBVIOUS that the adoptee shared this for very valid and legit reasons. Gaslighting her into feeling bad about sharing it was an awful thing to do. Talk about insensitive and offensive to the adoptee experience, yet how many adoptees experience this daily? 

If we emerge from the fog and start sharing our feelings, we are always in fear someone will jump on us or tell us we’re ungrateful, and it can and does cause us to shrink back from sharing our truth. 

My point in sharing here is that you have no idea what it feels like to be an adoptee if you aren’t adopted. You don’t have a clue about the complexities that we carry around with us daily. You have two choices. To listen and try to learn from us OR you can turn the other way and ignore us like we’re the ungrateful adoptees the world says we are. BUT YOU WILL NOT continue to gaslight us and minimize our pain and suffering when it takes us our whole lives to get to a space where we feel confident enough to share our feelings. 

I know so many adoptees who have been on the edge of taking their own lives at various times in their lives. I am one of those adoptees. But, unfortunately, one friend or a family member can say something that literally can and will and has sent an adoptee over the edge of taking their own life, and there is no coming back. It happens all the time!

It blows me away that even when this meme says what it says, this individual had to insert his ignorant and self-serving comment without ever asking the adoptee, “Hey, I’m wondering if you can help me understand this better? I would love to learn from you!” 

I wrote an article back in 2014 – Just Listen, That is All. But if you want to do the world a favor, try to LEARN something new while you listen to adoptees share their experiences. It truly is a humbling thing when we come to a place in life where we acknowledge and accept that we don’t know everything and we can learn a lot of things from other people. 

If you have made it this far and are a friend or family member of an adopted person, thank you for reading. I would like to invite you not to comment when an adoptee shares feelings unless it’s coming from a place of support and understanding. What would you do if your comment was the breaking point for that person, and it was the last straw for them to feel once again invalidated, unheard and unacknowledged? You would have to live with that for the rest of your life, and there is no bringing that adoptee back. 

Like the meme says, LISTEN BEFORE ITS TOO LATE! 

How hard is it? 

TOO HARD FOR SOME PEOPLE! 

National Adoption Awareness Month is coming up, and so is Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th, and a lot of adoptees will be sharing feelings, thoughts, and emotions during these times. I invite everyone reading to try to understand the WHYS better when adoptees share how they are feeling. 

It costs nothing to be a kind and empathetic human being. 

I am thankful you are here for the adoptees who have made it this far because I want to invite you to cut these insensitive and harmful people out of your life. You do not need anyone in your life who tries to shut you down, silence you, and minimize your legitimate feelings. I encourage you to block, ban and delete anyone who can’t create space for you to share your story and emotions. Those are not your people, and it might be hard but do it anyway. You deserve to have people in your life who are understanding and empathetic for you and all that you carry. Allowing harmful people in your life will not serve you well in the long run. 

Family or not, they have to go.

Put yourself first, and set firm boundaries.  

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Love, Love. 

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

Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th – Express Yourself

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

Express Yourself

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

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

Express Yourself

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

Express Yourself

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

Express Yourself

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

Express Yourself

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

Express Yourself!

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

The key is to do something!

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

Share the love and get involved.

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

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

Sending Sunshine, Love & Light