Chapter 20. Who’s Your Mother? – Finding Purpose in the Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir by Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 20.

Who’s Your Mother?

November 11th, 2010, was a game changer for me. After learning my birth father’s name and receiving confirmation of his location from multiple sources, I made a decision. I could leave my birth mother’s funeral and drive back to Kentucky on a ten-hour trip home, or I could drive to Leon, Iowa, and show up at my birth father’s door and introduce myself! Unfortunately, the latter would put me way out of touch with getting home to Kentucky at a decent hour, adding over six hours to my driving time.

After doing some digging, I was able to find the name and phone number of the biological cousin that my aunt Nan mentioned, whose name was Brian. I called him, and he acknowledged who Jack Jennings was and confirmed where he lived in Leon, Iowa. I told him I was Eileen’s biological daughter, and I had been told Jack was my father. He concluded that Jack was a pall barrier at my grandfather’s funeral, and he was a close family friend.

He shared that the Jennings brothers were all very close, and they all lived within a mile radius from one another, in the sticks of the little town called Leon just a little north of the Missouri and Iowa border. He said they always lived off the land, and even when gaming laws were in play, the Jennings brothers made their own rules and hunted year-round to feed their families. So gaming wasn’t only a hobby for them; it was survival.

He shared Jack’s wife’s name, Lanette, so I decided to look her up online, and I took a plunge and gave her a call. After two short rings, a soft woman’s voice answered the phone. “Hello” is all that was said.

“Hi, my name is Pamela, and I hope this call finds you well. I am calling to speak about Jack. I live in Kentucky but have returned to Iowa for my biological mother’s funeral. At the funeral, I learned from several sources that Jack is my biological father. I am on my way to Leon now. I don’t want anything from him, only to see his face and meet him at least once. Is he home today?” – I said.

“Oh, honey, I believe everyone deserves to know who their biological parents are. However, I must share that Jack is a raging alcoholic who stopped drinking a few weeks ago. The last few weeks are the nicest he’s been to me in over 20 years of our marriage. If there ever was a time to come, it’s right now. I am going into town today to play bingo with a friend. He will be home all day watching football. Once you hit our long gravel road, you will see our mailbox on the right about half a mile up the long gravel driveway. You will likely lose your cell signal, so write this down. You might have wild dogs chase you up the driveway, but call inside before you get out of your car and ask Jack to come out. He will scare them off. Our house number is 1-319-555-1212. Good luck, honey. I won’t say we spoke.” – Said Lanette.

Wow, I remember being shocked at how kind and understanding she was. It felt like she gave me her blessing, so I was all in and taking it. The few hours to get to Leon, IA, from Waterloo, IA, seemed like an eternity. The closer I got, the more nervous I got. What if he thought I was an intruder? Or what if he turned me away? What if it went south? Well, all the scenarios were on the table, but one thing was sure, I was not going to die without seeing his face at least once, so I was more determined than I had ever been to do what I had to do to see him.

He lived in the country off the land, with wild dogs on his property, and was a gamer and hunter. He had a gun shed and a slaughterhouse. He could have lit my ass on fire when I showed up, but my desire to see his face one time was more significant than any fears most would have had. I didn’t think twice about putting myself in harm’s way. I was willing to die to see his face one time.

Non-adopted people can’t fathom why this would be so important to an adoptee. Sometimes I think it’s because they don’t know what it’s like to grow up and spend your entire life not mirroring anyone. It impacts adoptees, and it impacts us profoundly. I feel that to grow and prosper in life, we have to have roots, and when we don’t have our roots, we become stagnant and can’t grow.

When we see others who share similarities, characteristics, and genetic mirroring, it changes things. But unfortunately, most non-adopted people have this privilege and know no different, so they can unknowingly take it for granted. Well, I am here to tell you that seeing the faces of our biological parents is a massive piece of our journeys, and if an adopted person has that desire, it’s essential they are supported.

My anticipation rose as miles brought me closer to Jack Jennings’s doorstep. This was where the rubber met the road. I was finally going to see his face, a dream come true. Yet, part of me always questioned if seeing his face was enough. What if we could pull together a relationship from all the years apart? I was dying inside, not knowing who my biological parents were, so this was life or death.

I was open to all scenarios, but seeing his face one time was the priority of this decision. I wanted to feel real like I had roots somewhere. No matter how it would turn out, I would soon be faced with the reality that had always been hidden from me. Was my birth mother right? Did he know nothing about me, and would he NOT want to know? I was about to experience this myself. Indeed, no matter what anyone told me, I had to see it myself. Adoptees need to see it for themselves no matter who wants to protect them.

Most of the time, when an adoption happens, the pre-story isn’t usually a pretty story. While our adoptive parents and society dress it up, the reality is that it always begins with loss. Loss of our cultures, ethnicity, genetic history, medical history, lost relationships, knowledge of our ancestry, and so much more. Only when everyone in the adoption constellation acknowledges this reality will adoptees have a fighting chance at a life of wholeness and happiness, and even then, it’s no guarantee.

I turned right down a long gravel road, literally in the middle of nowhere outside Leon, Iowa, with a population of approximately 1800 residents. I remember Lanette telling me how to find the mailbox that led down another long gravel road that would lead to Jack Jennings’s doorstep.

It was around 11:30 AM on a Sunday, and the sun was shining, but it was a cool crisp morning in November in Leon. The leaves were starting to fall, and the vibes were majestic. Country fields surrounded Jack’s house for miles. As I pulled slowly up Jack’s long gravel driveway, I noticed a pond to the right of his property. It was breathtaking, and the land where he lived was enchanting.

The closer I got to his house, the more determined I became. Finally, I took Lanette’s advice and called into the house to see if I could get Jack on the phone to alert him of my arrival. Getting out of the car alone, with wild dogs approaching my car, wasn’t in the cards. After two short rings into Jack’s landline phone, I hear a “Hello” on the other end of the line.

I said, “Hi Jack, I’m Pamela, and I’m outside your house. I have been told you are my biological father, and I would love a chance to meet you and say hello for a few minutes. Would it be okay if I came in to say hello?”

He said, “Come on in. I will open the door!”

Once he came to the door, the wild dogs scattered off, so I was able to get out of my car safely. Then, as I walked up the rest of his gravel driveway, I approached his front door; he opened his screen door and said, “Come on in!”

I could glance at his face when he turned around; he looked at me and said, “Who’s your mother?!” I am sure this was the million-dollar question, but I said, “My mother is Eileen Ward from Waterloo, Iowa. Her father was Garrett Burchett. From what I have been told, you were a pall barrier and a family friend at this funeral?”

He walked me into his living room area, I followed him, and he invited me to sit on the sofa. I noticed he had Iowa Football on the television. It seemed he was spending the day in the little slice of paradise he had created for himself.

He said, “I remember her; she was the only woman I ever danced with that I didn’t have to bend to dance with her because she was so tall! But she didn’t tell me anything about you!”

“That’s the story I was also told,” I said. So I let him know that Eileen gave me up for adoption on August 13th, 1974, and it was apparent it was without his consent because he knew nothing about me.

He started to ask me a few questions, and he asked me if I had ever had a chance to meet my biological grandmother on my maternal side. I said, “No, sir, she passed away long ago, and I never got to meet her.”

“She was crazier than a box of rocks!” he said. I told him I heard a few stories about her, but that was the extent of my knowledge about her.” This sparked my interest in wondering if any of his parents were still alive.

I told him I was in Iowa because Eileen had passed away, and I was there for her funeral, where I received confirmation about who he was. I also shared I drove to Leon instead of home to Kentucky at a chance to meet him. I had a 13-hour drive ahead of me, so I wasn’t staying long.

He started to tell me a little about his life and job, and in that piece of our conversation, he was using the graphic term for a black person, which let me know he was a racist. I was taken back a bit, but I also acknowledged that he was from a different era and time than me, so I just listened. He shared that my great- grandmother was part Cheyenne Indian and shared this with pride.

Jack said he attended college at the University of Nebraska, where he played football. He also served in the United States Army, where he served from 1961 to 1963. He was an outdoorsman and loved hunting and fishing. He also was a sports fan. He loved the Green Bay Packers and New York Yankees. He also enjoyed the University of Nebraska and University of Iowa teams. He liked to read Louis L’Amour novels, watched westerns and Clint Eastwood movies, played the card game 500, and had a great recall memory.

Jack worked at John Deere’s and retired from there several years earlier. One of the strange things is that my adopted dad worked at John Deere’s and retired from there, and so did Eileen’s most recent husband, Keith. The one that told me Jack Jenning’s was deceased! Such a wild paradox if you think about it. I wondered if they knew each other.

Jack asked me about the names of my adoptive parents, which I told him, but he seemed like their names didn’t ring a bell. I told him I had been living in Kentucky since I was seventeen, but I always wondered who my biological parents were. We talked for about 45 minutes.

I had another question for Jack. “Do I have any siblings?” I asked.

He hesitated and said, “Grant Blackcloud might be my son, but there is more to that story, and I’m not 100% sure he’s mine.”

I said, “Can you tell me where Grant lives?”

“He is from the Dallas/Fort Worth area.” He said.

I thanked him for the information, and I asked him if any of his parents were alive, and he said, “Yes, My mother is alive, and she lives independently in town and has an apartment. I check on her daily. She’s 82 years old.”

I knew I might not like the answer he gave me, but I expressed an interest in meeting her one day because I had never met a biological grandparent. Because she was still living independently, I had hoped he would allow this meeting to be facilitated, but I wasn’t holding my breath.

However, when I suggested the idea, he said, “Maybe you can come back in the spring, and I can set up a meeting between you two?” I was elated at the idea. I was also surprised that he was interested in us meeting again in the future.

Even when I knew this could be the last and only time I ever saw him in this lifetime, I knew I had to get on the road for the long ride home across the country. After about 45 minutes of a visit, I told Jack it was nice to meet him, but I had to leave. I took one more leap and asked him if I could take his photo, and he didn’t seem thrilled with the idea, but he allowed it. In the first picture, he looked angry; I decided to ask him to smile. I got a half grin, snapped my camera again, and my time with Jack Jennings was over.

He walked me to the door and stepped outside to say a few more words. “I made that lake over there and that house over there; that’s where my brother lives. My other brother lives over the hill, about a mile away.”

I remember being awe-struck at the beauty of Mother Nature that surrounded me. Jack Jennings was wrapped in nature’s most delicate, and it seemed like it would be a dream to live out in the country as he did. The rolling hills and fields spoke to me, and it was apparent that I was standing in a space where my roots lay for the first time in my life. Part of me felt at home, but I knew it wasn’t my home because of adoption. I was once again an outsider looking in.

I gave Jack my business card so he would have my contact information and told him I was already looking forward to the visit in the Spring. No hugs or warm fuzzies were happening. I shook Jack’s hand, got in my car, and headed back to my old Kentucky home.

I’m pretty sure I was in shock for the next several hours, days, and weeks. My brain was overloaded trying to process the interactions and emotions over the last few days. Then, I called my kids, who were 16 years old, and the twins were 12 years old at the time to share the news. Of course, they don’t fully grasp the experience and how important it was to me to meet my birth father finally, but they understand more than your average person.

After my final destination home, I think I stared at the photo of my birth father for hours and even days. Finally, I printed it and tacked it to the wall beside my bed. It’s one of my very few most prized possessions. I showed all my close friends and could hardly believe I had met the man who had brought me into the world. Jack and I departed with a penciled-in plan that I come back in the Spring, and at that time, he was going to take me to meet his mother, my biological grandmother. This would be a dream come true.

Then, finally, I felt like a genuine and authentic person and that I came from somewhere. I didn’t drop out of the sky by way of a spaceship as an alien intruder to a world I didn’t belong in. Even when I felt this way my whole life, I now felt like I had roots planted somewhere. These were my people. This was the land that they lived on. Even when adoption separated us at no choice of my own, the authentic reality was that I was home.

Jack and I had some of the same facial features and skin complexion. Our faces were shaped similarly. Knowing this truth and seeing it for myself profoundly changed things for me. After feeling like a fraud my whole life, I felt REAL; I finally felt fucking real. This experience was a game-changer for me.

Non-adoptees can’t grasp what it feels like not to have the first pages of your book of life. To have the beginning pages ripped out, so to speak, really impacts the adoptee and not in a positive light. 2010 was the first time in my whole life that I didn’t look at myself in the mirror and hated what was looking back at me. Instead, although very scarred, I felt whole like I never had before, but I still had questions, and now my new search was about to begin.

It was time to put my investigator hat back on and begin the search for my possible half-brother, Grant Blackcloud. I was going to get to the bottom of that piece of the puzzle if my life depended on it. I was never going to give up until I found all my people.

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Chapter 18. Ulterior Motives – Finding Purpose in the Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 18.

Ulterior Motives

My first task after arriving in Lexington was to find a job and a new place to live. Of course, with no car, that wouldn’t be an easy task; however, I knew I could do whatever I set my mind to do. Thankfully, I could transfer my housing assistance voucher back to Kentucky, which would help me escalate finding a place to live. I was so thankful for this resource; otherwise, I don’t know what I would have done.

Waking up in a new place with new circumstances was scary, but my detachment from Patricia gave me a zest for life that I had never experienced before. I was finally free, but now what? I knew deep down I had so much to recover from, 31 years of traumatic experiences, to be exact. But I put being a mom first and foremost, and my self-repair work seemed to be on the backburner.

The reality was that I changed my surroundings, but deep down, I still had my deep-rooted adoptee trauma brewing below the surface. Being a mom with so many responsibilities on my shoulders created an escape from dwelling on my adoptee/relinquishee trauma as much as I had in the past. However, it was always brewing. I was still a drinker, and alcohol was still my escape from not feeling.

While I started drinking daily around twelve years old, my drinking career was a non-stop part of my life except for my pregnancies with my kids. It was a habit, a way of life. The world celebrates everything with alcohol, and I was for the ride. But, even with new beginnings in Kentucky, old habits die hard. I was able to connect with old friends and make some new ones. The party life was still prominent in my life.

After a month and a half of being back in Kentucky, we found a new place to live, a three-bedroom duplex on Whispering Hills Drive. We moved in just enough time for the twins to start 1st grade at Southern Elementary school, and Keila started 5th grade at Southern Middle school. We lived about two blocks from both schools, which was an excellent setup for a single mom with no car.

A grocery store and Walmart were less than a mile away, and a city bus stop. So I learned how to take the bus around Lexington and took the bus from time to time when the kids had doctor’s appointments. I got a job at a local grocery store, but I wouldn’t say I liked the job, but it did help with expenses I had coming in.

In October of 2005, just three months after making the most challenging decision of my life, I was offered a position in the home health field caring for an elderly stroke patient who needed a home health caregiver. So I quit the grocery store, worked in the home health field weekly, and made more money than I ever had. This was nothing I had done before in a career, but being Patricia’s caretaker for 31 years and a mom to my kids, I had all the skills to easily step into this new role.

This position was within walking distance from our duplex, a lifesaver! I was able to get Medicaid for myself and the kids. We established care with new doctors for each of us and settled into our new life. The kids all started to make new friends at school and in the neighborhood, and our house would soon become a kid-friendly home and a safe place for kids to gather after school and on the weekends.

I never had any friends come over during my childhood, so this piece was essential to me so that my kids could have friends to stay with all night and spend as much time with as they wanted. I loved making my house kid-friendly and hosting get-togethers with my friends and my kid’s friends. We cooked out, had game nights, had big birthday celebrations for the kids, had Sunday dinners, and slowly our lives became fuller and more normal than they ever had.

The kids could experience sports in elementary school and in private leagues affordable for young, single moms, which is something Salt Lake City didn’t offer. So Damond started playing football, and Damia started to cheer and dance. Keila was in volleyball, and we were busy!

Around five months after arriving back in Kentucky, I saved up enough money to buy a car, and finally, I had transportation of my own, so I didn’t have to ask anyone for rides or take the bus. This was lifesaving because taking the bus in the winter with the kids was not a fun task.

I was amazed that I could never gain this type of momentum in my life with Patricia close to me, but within six months of choosing to move across the country without her, everything changed for the better. Finally, I was following my path instead of her path. I was paving my way instead of following her way.

Patricia and I spoke a few times on the telephone and occasionally shared an email, but our daily interactions were non-existent, which is exactly how I wanted it. I needed to detox from all interactions with her, and for the most part, that’s what I was doing until she started pressing me about coming to Kentucky to visit. This started happening about six months into our move, and of course, she said her primary intent was to see the kids; however, I learned otherwise.

I have always been thankful that my kids didn’t have to experience the full extent of Patricia as I did when I was growing up. However, this has been a challenging experience to navigate because they don’t fully understand the depths of why I made the decision I did to move away. They know bits and pieces but will never fully feel what I have felt my whole life due to my experiences with Patricia, and I am glad. But part of me wishes they could feel what I have felt for just five minutes, and then they would understand my decision better.

I am happy that they each have happy memories with her and will always have those happy memories to remember. My trauma with her is so significant that it overpowers any of the positives I experienced with her. However, I can take certain things about my childhood and use them for good, like my love for plants. Patricia had plants, and I think I started to care for them at a young age, and I now love plants. I was her caretaker for 31 years and am now a caregiver by career. But there is a big difference between a caretaker and a caregiver. I feel I was a caretaker to Patricia because I had to be, but now I am a caregiver by career because I want to be.

I want my kids to have good memories of her, so after about two years back in Kentucky, I agreed to let Patricia come to visit. I prolonged the visit as long as possible so we could get settled. I hoped she was somehow more normal and healthy than she had been when we departed, so in 2007 she flew to Kentucky for the first visit together since we left.

She arrived, and we picked her up. I hoped that she would be different and our relationship would be different. I was proud that she could see I could survive without her and that I was doing better than ever. I wanted her to see how happy I was and the kids were, but she never once acted or seemed happy that we were doing so well. She didn’t celebrate any of my independence because the reality was that my independence was leaving her narcissistic supply tank empty. Instead of getting better, she did the opposite and got worse.

I hoped she had found happiness in her personal life and put some effort into becoming happy and healthy without the co-dependent relationship between myself and my kids, which kept her alive.

So many hopes and wishes for something to change with Patricia, but she arrived, and reality set in quickly. First, of course, she showed up with all her pills which I hated, making me feel like she was dependent on them all. What was she even taking at this point? I had no idea, but I hated my kids seeing her taking all these pills and seeing her pills scattered all over my house! Then, she stayed up late and slept the day away, even visiting for less than a week. Couldn’t she pretend to be healthy for five days so my kids could see a happy, healthy grandma? That’s all I cared about at this point.

My lens on how I viewed her visit, different from how my kids viewed her visit, was apparent. While I am confident they enjoyed having a visit with her, I had a hard time navigating her presence in my life, even for a short visit. I once again felt like she had an ulterior motive, but I wasn’t sure what it was.

After two days of Patricia visiting, she wanted to have a conversation with me. She wanted me to know she was having heart issues and to ask me again if I would be her POA. She also set an idea on the table about moving back to Kentucky to be closer to the kids and me. I will be completely transparent, and I almost fell over.

By this time, her health issues were something I wholeheartedly feel she used to manipulate everyone around her. I am not saying she didn’t have health issues, but I never saw her put in work to make her health better; but back in my childhood, her health issues made me feel terrible! Like somehow, I was responsible for them. I had to disconnect from her neverending health problems long ago because I saw how she used them to make people feel sorry for her.

In 2007, it was a new day. I had to disconnect myself emotionally and mentally from all things to do with Patricia so I could survive. I had to put myself before her emotional, mental, and health issues and be her POA.

These conversations with her gave me great anxiety and fear. I hadn’t even started working on my deep-rooted issues yet because being a mom was my main priority, and here she is, wanting me to take on HER as a responsibility once again? I was nauseous and frozen, thinking about the possibility. After everything I had gone through to get away from her, and now this?

Patricia even went to the extent of asking me to drive her around to look for rental properties, and I refused. However, she was talking about places she could work, and it was apparent she was planning this in her mind.

Patricia started telling me how she and Melanie weren’t getting along, and Melanie mistreated and was mean to her. Once again, trying to stir the pot with Melanie and me even when I hadn’t talked to Melanie in years. She was trying to gain sympathy that she was being mistreated in Salt Lake City, which was why she wanted to move back to Kentucky. She was carefully building her case and wanted me to take the bait. She tried to be on her best behavior because she presented me with her plan to move back to Kentucky.

What I suspect happened is that Melanie was forced to play the caretaker role for once in her life as I did for 31 years, and she got a glimpse of how unhealthy and toxic Patricia was, and she started to set some boundaries with her. I am sure this created waves in both of their lives. Sadly, I knew what Melanie was going through because I was the only responsible party for Patricia for 31 years, but finally, I had to set some boundaries for myself. Now it was Melanie’s time to do the same.

There was again no way I was going to support Patricia moving back to Kentucky, and I told her so. But she came into town with all these motives that made me nauseous. Allowing her to visit was a long shot; anything else was out of the question. So my wall was up thoroughly when it came to letting Patricia back in my life.

I let her see the kids, but now that I learned she had an ulterior motive, my guard was 100% up with her. I was clear and to the point, and I let her know that she is NOT moving back to Kentucky, and if she tried, I would not support it at all, and likely I would move farther away with my kids.

Looking back, I think she was so obsessed with my kids and me because there were four of us, and she had four humans to work through to see who would be kind enough to keep her out of a nursing home in her old age. So I think that was always why she targeted my kids and me, and I saw right through it all.

Her greatest fear was going to a nursing home, but I had news for her. Suppose she made her way to Kentucky and tried to ruin the rest of my life; that’s precisely where she would find herself. It would be an escalated version of her nursing home stay. The more she showed me she was unhealthy and sick, the more I thought she needed to be at a nursing home.

I thought that if she made her way back to Kentucky and something happened to me, my kids would all be responsible for caretaking for her, and they would be sucked in in a way they couldn’t escape. I was mortified at the thought.

My hope that something would shift and change with her and me having a mother-daughter relationship was down the drain. She would never change; the sooner I accepted it, the better. Instead, I had to start grieving the loss of this false hope. I should have known better, but once again, I stick myself out there only to be let down as usual. I tried, but it would take me some time to heal from yet another encounter with Patricia.

I wanted her to be on her way back to Utah, and now my greatest fear was that she would somehow be stuck in Kentucky and be my responsibility again, which frightened me on every level.

The sooner she departed, the better! She had a chance to show up and be the healthy and happy mom I always hoped she would be, but she couldn’t do that. Instead, she had to show up with an ulterior motive that was selfishly centered around herself. Of course, she led everyone to believe she was coming to see her grandkids, but I knew otherwise. I couldn’t fathom that this was her main point in coming to Kentucky, to try again to convince me to be her POA.

Was this normal? At 33 years old at the time, I had never even thought about where I would be at the end of my life! I always feel that if my kids are in a position to care for me, the circle of life will organically circle back around. It will naturally happen. However, I have never had any expectation that they care for me in my old age, nor would I try to push this expectation on them as Patricia has me!

This was even more reason I wanted my kids to see a happy and healthy mom and one that was more “normal” than I had. While moving away, I wanted to believe that Patricia would get her own life and make friends. I hoped she would have more time to focus on finding herself and even starting new hobbies she loved now that she wasn’t babysitting my kids and had more free time.

The thought of Patricia making her way back to Kentucky to live made me completely panic. The fear of my kids having to experience what I did growing up and the older they got, they would be on the front line of Patricia’s emotional, mental, and physical outbursts and issues only convinced me more that I had to set more boundaries with Patricia.

But first, I had to get her back on Utah soil because as well as I knew her, I was waiting for her to throw herself into dire straights and end up in the hospital in Kentucky, and then I would be stuck with her. I could not let that happen, so I played my part until she left Kentucky.

This visit was such an emotional paradox for me. The kids didn’t know what I knew and didn’t experience what I did, so they were protected. That’s all I wanted was to protect my kids from all I had to experience with Patricia. Having Patricia back in Kentucky temporarily was eye awakening. I learned that no matter how badly I wanted a happy, healthy relationship with her as my “mom,” I would never get it.

I tried opening this door for a visit, but as soon as she left, I shut the door back and continued with my life. It would be a long time before I ever let her visit again.

Around 2008, I learned that Patricia was headed to Iowa to help care for her youngest sister, my Aunt Jeanette, who had recently learned she had breast cancer. She left all her belongings in Utah and was in Iowa City, Iowa, for several months. Based on our few conversations, she was unhappy in Utah, and she and Melanie weren’t getting along. I am positive Melanie confronted her on many of her unhealthy habits and toxic ways. Patricia knew she wouldn’t be able to manipulate Melanie into taking care of her when she was older and being her POA. At the time, she didn’t have kids to use as pawns for Patricia’s manipulation and games. Good for Melanie. I wish I could have set that in stone when I was growing up, but by this time, my life was likely half over, and I was stuck.

Since she couldn’t manipulate Melanie or me any longer, Patricia’s next plan was to transition back to Iowa, and this was precisely what she did. Patricia’s narcissistic supply was running dry, but she was fed just enough in Iowa to stay alive now she had nieces and nephews she could work on. And Iowa was closer to Kentucky than Utah. I knew her ultimate plan was to return to Kentucky; however, I also knew I had to play my cards right with her to stop this from happening.

I was never letting her move back to Kentucky! But soon, I would learn she was conversing with her old Lexington friend about moving back, the friend she had ties with when we moved here in 1991. So once I got wind of Patricia trying to make plans to move back to Kentucky, I reached out directly to her friend and gave her a piece of my mind.

I told her that while her intentions might be good, she needed to plan on being 110% responsible for Patricia in every single way, including being her POA. I told her how sick she was physically, emotionally, and mentally. I let her know I would not support her move, nor would I assist in any way regarding packing, driving, unpacking, etc. I would not be available for anything, and I had already been her caretaker for 31 years of my life. I was done, and she needed to know it.

At this point, I started to feel like Patricia was a little lady who appeared cute and wonderful to those who didn’t know the real her, but behind closed doors, she was a con woman. The history I had with her is what formed these conclusions. Seeing and knowing of all the interactions she not only had with me but with others, she came into contact with reinforced these beliefs. I can’t count how many people she reeled in with her sob stories over the years, only to take advantage of them and use them for her benefit.

While Patricia transitioned to living in Iowa, I kept my boundaries firm and learned to set new boundaries. Not only for myself but for my kids. Eventually, I would let her visit a few more times, but those visits would stop in 2015. I had finally reached the end of my rope.

I had no relationship with Melanie or many people from Iowa. But in November of 2010, I received an inbox message on Facebook from Joanna, my half-biological sister on my maternal side. I hadn’t heard from her in over a decade! I wonder what she wanted? So I opened her message and never expected to read what I did.

“Hi, Pam,

I am sorry it’s been so long. I wanted to let you know mom passed away, and I thought you should know. We have her funeral in a week, and I would love you to be there. Can you make it? I don’t think I can do it without you! So please let me know, and I will send you the arrangements soon. Love your sister, Joanna.”

Wow, just wow. I could hardly believe what I was reading. The saddest part for me wasn’t that Eileen died. It was that I lived my life every single day, grieving her as if she was already gone back to my beginnings. Knowing she left the earth sealed the deal for me. I knew I was never going to see her again. This helped me close the door and move on with my life. The open wound could finally heal.

No more hoping, wishing, dreaming that she would come back or change her mind about me. This was a powerful dynamic to my healing journey. This was it, and it was over. The end of all the internal torment I carried because she was alive but would rather die alone than have me in her life.

She’s dead. She’s gone—the end of Eileen, but not the end of my story. I was just getting started, and I was on my way to Waterloo, Iowa, for her funeral on November 9th, 2010. Little did I know that the next 48 hours of my life would change drastically, and my life would never be the same.

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

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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

Chapter 14. The Struggle – Finding Purpose in the Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 14.

The Struggle

Life was about to take a whole new turn. I graduated from high school and got my diploma, and I also enrolled in some courses at the local community college.

On May 21, 1998, I gave birth to twins as 29-week preemies. Damia weighed 2lb 5oz, and Damond, who weighed 3lb 1oz. While I welcomed two beautiful babies into the world, Keila was four years old at the time. I was a struggling but strong-willed single mother. There was nothing that was going to come between my kids and me.

Once again, I was forced to depend on Patricia because I had no family in Kentucky, but I also depended on public assistance to help with the bare minimum and keep the lights on. Because the twins were so small, I had to keep them home and out of daycare for the first year. This made it impossible for me to work, so I had no choice but to get food stamps, Medicaid, and housing assistance. We didn’t have a car, but we managed. My deep-rooted skills of taking the city bus as a young kid would learn to pay off.

I did everything I could to keep my babies, all three of them, even when they didn’t have an active father in the picture; I made it happen to the best of my abilities. Finally, I saved up enough money to move out of Patricia’s and got a 3-bedroom apartment, and Patricia was furious when she found out I was approved for based on your income housing.

She didn’t want me to be independent because I wouldn’t need her as much. Instead, she thrived on me depending on her. I had no idea what co-dependency was at that stage of my life, but unraveling the mess all these years, I now know we had a co-dependent relationship that was highly toxic. I felt thoroughly trapped in my relationship with her, especially now that I had three children as a single mother in a state where she was my only family. But, once again, I felt like this was her plan.

When we would get into arguments, she would always say, “Your life is my life, and anything that’s your business is my business!” As a 24-year-old mom of three, I had no idea if this was everyday parenting; however, it felt utterly intrusive and overwhelming.

However, the twins came home from the hospital sharing their bedroom, Keila had her room, and I had my room. We lived in a decent apartment, and we had everything we needed. The first year after bringing the twins home from the hospital, we’re some challenging times in my life. They had off-scheduled sleeping patterns, ear infections, breathing inhaler machines, and seemed to have constant doctor appointments. But we made it work, and we made it through it.

If I can raise a four-year-old and a set of newborn twins as a young single mother, anyone can do it. Of course, nothing was easy about it, but my motto has always been, “We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.” My kids had me, but sadly I was still a very broken person, raising three children.

I made mistakes and, at times, was clueless about how to raise kids when I had the experience I had with my adoptive mother and biological mother. But unfortunately, I didn’t have any examples of a happy and healthy mom or a normal mother-and-daughter relationship.

I was still a partier, most evenings drinking boxed wine. Alcohol seemed to tame my misery regarding the emotional and mental torment I experienced from losing my birth family. Not to mention my experience in my adoptive homes and with Mark, Giovanni, Diego, and Patricia.

Patricia seemed to become an enormous responsibility for me as time passed. Her home was always filthy, just like it was when I was a kid. Even after moving out, it was my responsibility to help her keep her place clean in exchange for helping me with the kids. She seemed to move a lot, and it was my job to pack all her things up, gather my friends to load the truck, and help her get settled in the new place. Let me not forget that it was always my job to go to the old places and clean them to get them up to par to be re-rented so she could get her deposits back.

This was Patricia’s living conditions the last time I saw her in 2015.

My job was to come to the rescue when she found her dead old-English sheepdog dog on her basement floor from neglect. Any random task she needed to be done was always my job. It was all on me if something broke or needed to be put together.

When she had hip replacement surgery, it was my job to caretake her back to health. I bathed her and ensured she got where she needed because she couldn’t drive her car. Patricia was almost more of a responsibility than my three kids. She continued with her habit of staying up all night and sleeping half the day, and her pill addiction increased significantly after she had a hip replacement.

The doctors gave her endless pain pills, and she was completely wrapped up in the treatments of the doctors and the medical industry. Anytime she was in the hospital or ER, I was the sole one for being in charge of caretaking for her before, during, and after she went and was discharged.

While she graduated to get her RN, Nursing degree, she had issues at every job she worked. She was written up for falling asleep while working the night shift. She was fired more times than I can count from various nursing positions, which created a substantial emotional fallout that somehow I was responsible for managing.

One of the many memorable events was when I received a call from her supervisor. They let me know that they had “let Patricia go” as a staff member, and she was currently on the floor crying hysterically in the nursing director’s office. They wanted to contact me because I was her only emergency contact. Little did they know, this wasn’t the first shit show.

At the time, I was exhausted with Patricia, and there was NOTHING I could do about getting her up off the floor of her boss’s office, especially when she was hysterical in the middle of a meltdown. I instructed them to call 911 so the ER could deal with her. This was one of the first times I set a boundary for myself; I didn’t even know what boundaries were at the time. I felt obligated to go to the ER to check on her, but I only stayed a few minutes and left to be with my kids.

Buy this time, I am annoyed and exhausted with my responsibilities to caretake Patricia, which was exhausting. But I owed her for helping me with my kids, and I couldn’t survive raising them without her, and she made sure she let me know continually. So it was a total “You help me, I help you” relationship, but not by my choosing. There was no one in Kentucky helping me take care of Patricia, and at the end of every day, I was entirely indebted for taking care of her and all her wants and needs.

So really, I had four kids, but Patricia was an adult who couldn’t take care of herself. Nothing had changed from my childhood aside from me being the lone ranger and target of 100% of Patricia’s emotional, mental, and physical outbursts and needs.

I was angry, but I had no way out. No one in my life understood how these dynamics made me feel, but I kept pushing forward. But now, I had something to live for; even when I didn’t want to live for myself, I knew that my kids needed me, and I needed them. So, I wanted to live for them. But unfortunately, I was in an unhealthy relationship with the twin’s father, and all of a sudden, things turned another twist when the twins were seven months old.

In June of 1999, Patricia decided she was moving to Salt Lake City, Utah, to be closer to Melanie, who had moved to SLC from Iowa in 1997. I hadn’t had much of a relationship with Melanie since leaving Iowa, but sharing the responsibility of Patricia after all these years didn’t sound like a bad idea. Finally, someone could help me with these responsibilities of caretaking for Patricia.

Melanie and Patricia convinced me that I would have much more help with my kids, and I took the bait. Two family members are better than one? Right? However, it was either that or be in Kentucky alone with no family and three kids as a single mother. I lacked the confidence or strength to believe I could stay in Kentucky and care for my kids as three small children with no family at the time. That was a scary thought, so we started to pack up our things and I didn’t feel like I had a choice. I think Patricia again tried to lure me away from the twin’s father, who lived in Kentucky just like she did with Diego when we left Iowa.

In April of 2000, we packed up a 22FT U-Haul and began a journey across the country. I couldn’t help but hope things would be different than our childhood. Little did I know, the same shit show was present from when I was a kid, but it just relocated to a new destination, and now I had three kids to think about.

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

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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

Chapter 12. Illusions – Finding Purpose in the Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 12.

Illusions

Joanna picked me up from the airport in Waterloo, Iowa, the town I was born in, where Eileen lived. It was a cool crisp morning in September of 1995. The leaves started falling and stirring on the ground, adding beautiful colors to the landscapes.

The drive to Eileen’s was only about 10 minutes, but it seemed like an eternity. Then, finally, we pulled up in her driveway, and I was anxious but on cloud nine simultaneously. I had no idea what to expect, but I know I had fantasized about this day my entire life. I was hoping for an immediate connection, a long motherly embrace to compensate for the lost 21 years together. I silently wished for a reunion as we see on all the television shows, you know, the warm fuzzy ones full of emotion and warmth.

We pulled up Eileen’s driveway, and I got out of the car with Joanna. My heart was racing. We both walked to the side door of Eileen’s house on Wilson Avenue. Joanna knocked, and the door opened a few short moments later. A thin, frail woman appeared before me who looked nothing like I had fantasized about my whole life. I didn’t feel the connection I had always thought I would.

Eileen had a short haircut curled back with sandy blonde hair. She wore blue jeans and a red sweatshirt that had mickey on it. She looked slim and slender, not over 100lbs. She stood about 5’10 and met me with a grin as she opened the door. However, she wasn’t warm, she didn’t hug me, and she wasn’t emotional in the slightest regard, more like standoffish.

“Come on in,” Eileen said with a half-grin as she held the screen door open for Joanna and me. We walked up the stairs, and I followed Joanna into the dining room. We met Nan, Eileen’s sister, and Barb, who was Eileen’s best friend. They were already sitting at the table waiting on Joanna and me.

We all sat down, but first, Eileen asked if I wanted a drink as she had already prepared hers ahead of time. I said, “Sure, I will take whatever you are drinking.” Joanna settled with some water.

She came back from the kitchen with a “Rum and Coke.” I thanked her. At the time, this was a dream come true. Finally, I was sitting face to face with the woman who gave me life, and we were having a drink together too! My prayers were answered, and my dreams finally came true.

Aside from giving birth to my daughter, this was undoubtedly the best day of my life. We all got settled, and Eileen lit a cigarette, took a drag, and said, “So, how was your life?”

All eyes were on me. Later I would learn this was a “make it or break it” moment. Everything was on the line.

I had no idea that this experience and conversation would forever change the trajectory of our interactions with one another. If I knew then what I know now, I likely would have shared a lighter version of how my life was up until that moment.

However, I am a genuine, raw, and honest person, so I only prepared ahead of time to share the truth about how my life had been up until that point. No one expressed the implications of sugarcoating the truth with Eileen, so I went all in sharing my life as I experienced it up until that moment we came face to face.

“Well, my adoptive parents divorced when I was one year old, and I was raised in a single-parent home, on welfare with my adoptive mom, who was addicted to pills and had untreated mental health issues. We have never had a good relationship, and I have never bonded with her as a mother and daughter should. She was emotionally and mentally abusive and tried to commit suicide in front of us many times, and used this as a weapon to control us. She also tied us to chairs and wouldn’t let us go outside to play,” I said.

I also expressed, “I have an adopted sister that was adopted a year before me, and my adopted dad remarried, moved over an hour away, and I gained a step mom and three step brothers. He took us for summer vacations and saw us every other weekend. Until I decided I no longer wanted to go in my early teens because the oldest step-brothers molested me repeatedly when I was young. I haven’t seen them in a long time. My adoptive mom got a job in Kentucky, so we moved when I was 17. “

On a lighter note, I shared some things about my daughter, Keila, Eileen’s biological granddaughter, who was genuinely the happiest part of my story. I also shared that I went back to school to graduate, and I had plans to go to college one day. However, I felt like I was on the spot and didn’t have many warm fuzzy pieces to tell her.

So instead, I told her I dreamed of her every day of my life and that she was the only thing missing. Everyone got quiet as if they didn’t expect to hear these things. I am confident that my birth mother and others had hoped to hear a wonderful and happy life story, but my story was quite the opposite of the picture-perfect adoption story.

I asked Eileen if she could share a little about herself and her life, and she did. However, she kept her sharing at the bare minimum, giving me tiny pieces of who she was and what she liked to do, almost as if it was enough to satisfy my curiosity, but nothing more.

The rum and coke were needed to calm my nerves after sharing these personal details of my life with four essential strangers. It was tense, but somehow I got through it. Eventually, I got up enough nerve to ask my birth mother about my birth father again.

She said the same thing she told me on the phone, “He didn’t know anything about you, and he wouldn’t want to know.” One thing was for sure; she wouldn’t tell me who my birth father was if her life depended on it. She was taking that secret to her grave with her.

Joanna shared a personal piece of her life on this day that she, too, was a birth mother, and she had a full-blood brother to her five-year-old son and gave him up for adoption. I found that this news took me back a bit. I always hear stories of our kids following in our footsteps, but this took it to a new level.

Joanna said she wasn’t aware that Eileen had me and had given me up for adoption because she was only four years old. However, she had her baby and gave it up for adoption also. It was almost a celebratory vibe behind them both giving their babies up for adoption. I wasn’t sure what to think, but I was taking notes in my mind and trying to retain all the details I had learned about my newfound family.

We sat together for approximately two hours, getting to know one another. Once our visit seemed to wrap up, we all took pictures together. I had more hopes that we would see one another again and keep our lines of communication open. The naive adoptee in me believed this would be the beginning of the relationship I always dreamed of. Little did I know, I created more adoptee illusions in my mind, and the hardcore reality would soon set in.

Most adoptees form fantasies and illusions in their minds about their biological families, especially our birth mothers. What does anyone expect us to do? When our reality is hidden from us, we have no choice.

The illusion that my birth mother was some beautiful woman from Hollywood, California, was shattered. Sadly, I didn’t feel like she was pretty like I always dreamed she would be. Instead, she looked like alcohol and cigarettes had taken a toll on her life. She looked far beyond her age of 50, more like her upper 60’s. Nevertheless, I wholeheartedly built up a fantasy in my mind of the magical, mystical, flawless, and embracing birth mother. I was greatly disappointed to have the reality be a stark contrast to my fantasy.

It’s similar to when a family has a child snatched up off the street, and they are frantic searching for them, but they have been abducted, nowhere to be found. That feeling they have searching for them everywhere they go, never giving up or giving in, plagues them and creates a never-ending internal torment until they are found. But they can outwardly express their grief, loss, and sadness. Adoptees can not. We keep it all locked inside for an entire lifetime, but most of us never stop wondering or searching.

Her face tells it all…

While I was over the moon to finally have my dreams come true and see the woman who gave me life, I will always wish I would have kept my sharing to a bare minimum regarding my heartache and heartbreak. I will always regret that I didn’t ask more questions, take more notes and stay longer.

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

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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

Chapter 11. High Hopes – Finding Purpose in the Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 11.

High Hopes

I was elated that I was on the phone with the woman I had fantasized about my entire life. “I have thought of you every year on your birthday, and I hope you have had a great life. What is it you would like to know?” Eileen said.

“I would love to learn more about you and your life. Do I have any siblings?” I said

“Well, I enjoy Rod Stewart, he’s my favorite artist. I collect Garfield memorabilia, and I have one daughter, but she doesn’t know anything about you, and I prefer to keep it this way” she said.

“Thank you for sharing. Can you tell me who my biological father is?” I said?

“Actually, I can’t share his information. He didn’t know anything about you, and trust me – he wouldn’t want to”, she said.

I was taken back by this, but we chatted for about five minutes, and I said, “If I sent you some pictures and a letter in the mail, would you possibly be able to write me back and send a photo of yourself?” I was dying to know what she looked like! Did I look like her?

“Yes, that would be fine. I look forward to that” she said.

I was over the moon and almost giddy. I wasn’t sure what to think about being a secret from my biological sister or the information about my biological father. Still, I glossed over it at the chance to get to know my birth mother better.

We ended the call, and I immediately started looking for photos of myself so that I could get together a photo album made just for Eileen. I retrieved photos of me being a newborn, toddler, and childhood. I found a few photos of my teenage and early adult years. I also included a few photos of Keila, her biological granddaughter.

I remember writing a poem for her that said, “My prayers were answered, my dreams finally came true, and all of this occurred the day I found you.”

I also wrote a letter telling her a little about myself and that I was looking forward to learning more about her, seeing her picture, and getting her letter in the mail. So I put a little photo album and package together, along with the letter and poem, and mailed it off to her the next day.

I couldn’t wait to get her letter back and finally see what she looked like. So I waited a few days, and then I started to check the mail about a week after sending my mail off to her. I knew the mailman always came around noon, so I would sit by the window and wait for his mail truck to roll up.

Then, as soon as I saw him coming, I would fly out the door to retrieve the mail. I could feel the excitement and anticipation from the tips of my toes to the top of my head!

A week passed, and then two weeks. After that, I thought maybe she was busy, so I gave it more time. Then three weeks passed, and then a month. Two months passed, and then three months. Finally, I started to get weary and couldn’t understand why she didn’t write back to me.

Maybe she didn’t get my pictures and letters? What if I had the wrong address? I better make sure she got them! So I decided to make a phone call and ask her myself.

I called Eileen, and this time the phone rang, and rang and rang. Finally, her voicemail picked up, and I left her a voicemail asking her to call me back at her earliest convenience. I was never going to stop waiting on her call, but I never received a return call. I was still running out every day to meet the mailman, and I had the phone close to me in case she called.

Three months turned into six months, and it was apparent Eileen wasn’t going to keep her word about writing me back. Deep down, I was crushed. But I thought she loved me so much? So why was she not writing me back? I internalized this in a significant way as if it was my fault. People tell adoptees always to prepare when they are searching and entering reunion; however, there is no natural way to prepare for what I was experiencing.

But, at this time, I had a decision to make. I could disappear as if I didn’t exist on this earth. Eileen’s secret would be kept hidden away from the world, and I would be the compliant adoptee. Or I could move along to find my biological sister, Joanna.

I decided to reach out to Joanna because I didn’t sign any adoption paperwork or agree to be anyone’s secret. At this stage, I had nothing to lose! So I reached out to Josie, who gave me Joanna’s address. I wrote a short but sweet letter, introducing myself and letting her know I was her long-lost sister and I would love to hear from her and get to know her. Once again, I had high hopes she would reach back out to me. So I mailed the letter off, and the waiting game began again.

I continued to fly to the mailbox waiting on any correspondence from Eileen and Joanna, only to be disappointed every time. Still, at 47 years old, I think of Eileen whenever I walk to my mailbox.

Saturday afternoon, my cell phone rang, and it was a call from an Oregon area code. I quickly answered, “Hello.”

“Hi Pam, it’s your sister Joanna. I received your letter in the mail today!” she said. Again, I was overwhelmed with emotions. My sister, I was finally talking to my REAL BIOLOGICAL SISTER! Another dream come true. We started to share a little information about one another, and she expressed that she always wanted a sister growing up as an only child.

She decided to fly to Kentucky the following week with her husband so we could meet in real life for the first time. I was 21 years old, and she was 25 years old. Friday couldn’t get here fast enough. I couldn’t believe I would be seeing my first biological relative aside from Keila. I was over the moon.

She arrived, we hugged for what seemed like forever, and we talked about our lives. She shared that Eileen was an alcoholic and still is and that they didn’t have a very close relationship growing up. She always wished she had a sister, and now she did. We spent several days together, and she told me she would talk with Eileen and set up a meeting between us.

Two months later, I was on an airplane to Iowa to meet Eileen for the first time. I was nervous but excited, with high hopes at the same time. I still hadn’t seen her picture, nor did I know what she looked like. Was she pretty like I always fantasized she was?

Of course, in a matter of hours, I would see her face for the first time, and hopefully, it would be the beginning of making up for lost time and a beautiful relationship.

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

Don’t forget that I’m streaming my articles on several audio platforms for your listening convenience! 👇🏼

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🌎 Google – https://bit.ly/3JP6NY0

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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

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.

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

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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

Chapter 4. Searching for Clues Among Chaos – Finding Purpose in The Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 4.

Searching for Clues Among Chaos By Pamela A. Karanova

“I see…the way you’re always searching. How much you hate anything fake or phony. How you’re older than your years, but still…playful, like a little girl. How you’re always looking into people, or wondering what they see when they look back at you. Your eyes. It’s all in the eyes.” – Claudia Gray

My entire childhood is filled with memories of hitting the highway and going back and forth between Dunkerton and Cedar Rapids every other weekend. It was Sunday at 5 PM, and we were swiftly dropped back off into Patricia’s care. Thomas and Laura never went inside; they just dropped us off and told us they would see us next time, two weeks later.

As soon as we returned to Patricia’s, the three-ring circus began. She had clothes piled up, waiting to be ironed. She taught me how to iron at around seven years old, and it was my job to iron all her clothes. As long as my eyes reached the top of the iron board, I could get the job done. By the time I was nine or ten years old, I was a professional ironer. The chores at Patricia’s were never-ending.

Anytime Patricia turned her back or took a nap, I was secretly busy searching for documents to find out who my birth mother was. Patricia had filing cabinets that were 6FT tall, a desk, and papers everywhere. I just knew there had to be some evidence somewhere. So day after day, for as long as I could remember, I would look everywhere I could think of to find adoption paperwork. Sadly, I never found any clues, and I searched all of her files numerous times.

When my searches continued to come up empty, around nine years old, I decided to be gutsy and ask Patricia, “I want to find my birth mother. How can I find her?”

Patricia’s response was the same each time I asked, and it sounded like a broken record, “Your adoption was closed, so we don’t have any information on your birth mother. When we get enough money for an attorney, we will get the sealed records opened, but right now, we don’t have enough money.”

My hope for a different response was inconsolable, but I never stopped asking the same question about every six months. Only to be given the same response every single time. The truth was, we were never going to have enough money. We still didn’t even have a fucking car! I was deeply conflicted that I didn’t know who my birth mother was.

On a scale of 1 to 10, adoptees with minimal issues with being adopted are at a 1, and adoptees with massive issues with it are at a 10; I was at 10,000. I was so emotionally disrupted by having a missing mother out there that I was physically ill. I remember having stomach issues around five years old and feeling sick a lot, and I ended up in the hospital many times as a child because of stomach problems. I was a thumb sucker, and I also had a baby blanket I was deeply attached to until one day, they threw it in the trash because they decided I didn’t need it anymore. This was traumatic as a child, on top of everything else.

Yet, not one adult in my life would acknowledge that separation from my birth mother and adoption might be the root instigation of these issues. The only diagnosis they could come up with was that I could be suffering from a dairy allergy, and they labeled me lactose intolerant. I have learned in recent years that many adoptees have stomach issues related to childhood anxiety and separation trauma compacted by adoption trauma. If you do the research, you can see for yourself.

What if I was suffering from anxiety deep in my body that I was in the wrong place? What if the separation from my birth mother was a traumatic experience? What if I never bonded with my adoptive mom, but I was forced to bond with her? What if her emotional outbursts and suicide attempts caused me severe PTSD? What if I have experienced severe trauma, and it was making me physically ill? What if the sexual abuse from my adopted stepbrother was taking a toll? What if I was suffering from an emotional response to all the things going on in both of these homes with Patricia, Thomas, and Laura?

But my angst and suffering were always neglected by Patricia and Melanie’s fights, and my feelings would never be acknowledged or discussed. Indeed, not one adult in my life, between my adoptive parents, teachers, school counselors, and regular counselors, would acknowledge a combination between adoption, relinquishment, and my adoptee issues, so I suffered and suffered greatly.

Because I suffered physically, emotionally, and mentally, it significantly impacted my school performance. But unfortunately, no one was paying attention that I had a learning disability, and I wouldn’t discover this until adulthood, on my own. Because of this, it seemed like I barely made it out of each grade and suffered in silence my entire life in grade school, middle school, and high school. As a child, my wants and needs were always swept under the rug, and Patricia’s dramatic emotional and mental outbursts always sat front and center in our daily lives.

After moving to Westover Road, my daily escapes seemed less frequent. Not because I didn’t want to get outside, but Patricia would stand in front of the one door to get in and out of the apartment, and she wouldn’t let me leave to go outside and play. She would cross her arms and shout, “You aren’t going anywhere!” I was trapped daily. How the hell was I going to get out of this house?

I knew if I were ever going to get outside, I would have to escape through the bedroom window and climb down the three levels to get to the ground. This was a more severe type of escape, and if I was going for it, it needed to be for a good reason! So I started to venture farther from home, and I learned all about taking the city bus at around nine years old. My feelings of getting in trouble were non-existent. In my mind, no punishment could be worse than living inside Patricia’s house.

Patricia had a sister named Jeanette, and she had six kids who were my favorite cousins. Melanie and I were close to Olivia, Jeanette’s oldest daughter. I was also significantly close to Jeanette’s sons, Wilder and Forest, who were younger than Olivia, more my age. Being a tomboy, Wilder, Forest, and I ran off to have adventures together. They had the advantage of living right across the street from Ellis Park, a park that ran alongside the Cedar River.

To get to Jeanette’s house, I had to escape out my third-floor bedroom window and take off walking in the direction to get to Ellis Park. I never asked for permission because I knew what the answer would be! It was seven miles away, and at nine years old, I would walk up to first avenue and spend hours walking to Jeanette’s house. But, for sure, every step I took was a step towards freedom. Finally, after so many trips to Jeanette’s, I learned there was a city bus line that would take me straight to Ellis Park! It was on and popping now. Over time, I learned I could take the city bus all over the city! Freedom just entered a whole new level!

By the time I made it to Jeanette’s house, my cousins were waiting for me! Their house was different than Patricia’s house. Things leaned on the messy side, but it was refreshing to arrive somewhere I could be a kid, and Mark and Patricia were nowhere around. I honestly never wanted to leave, and Ellis Park and the golf course across the street were always a great escape for all of us kids.

We would scamper down to the Cedar River in wintertime and skate on the ice regularly. If our parents knew we were doing this, we would have been in big trouble. I will never forget the Ellis Park Golf Course would turn its giant sprinklers on in the summertime, and we would sneak over to play in them at all hours of the night. Then, once we saw the groundskeeper coming over the hill, we would squeal and take off running! We owned Ellis Park and knew every inch of the area as we frequented the park any chance we could. Some of my favorite childhood memories are running free in Ellis Park with my cousins, and I cherish them all.

Eventually, I would have to return to Patricia’s house after what felt like a “day pass” from jail and return to the life I despised the most. When I was younger, I didn’t have a voice and was a good compliant adoptee. But boy, by the time I progressed into my pre-teen identity, the tables got flipped upside down. I started to stand up for myself.

While I feel Melanie began to do this at a much younger age than I did, I am proud that she had the willpower to keep standing up for herself in such a harmful home! Sadly, her standing up for herself backfired on several occasions. Patricia convinced all of her close friends and church group that Melanie was problematic. She was convinced that the “tough love” way was the only way, and she had Melanie physically removed from the home on several occasions. She not only had her physically removed from the home by random strangers, but she also had them drop her off at the locked local psych ward, where she would stay for several weeks on end.

I always felt despair for Melanie when I was a child. I didn’t understand that Patricia was the one who suffered from mental illness, and she was the one that should have been locked in the psyche ward! After those interactions, Melanie must have felt heartbroken, and my heart truly breaks for her. Still, to this day, my heart breaks for all she went through growing up in Melanie’s care. She deserved so much more. We both did.

Anytime Melanie was “away,” I would be the sole focus of Patricia’s interactions, almost like her projecting her toxicity was placed directly on me because Melanie was out of the picture for a short time. Either way, we were both directly impacted by Patricia’s ill mental health, which impacted every area of our lives growing up.

After a few trips to the psych ward and a lifetime of disaster with Patricia, Melanie decided she wanted to go live with Thomas and Laura. I don’t blame her. She was around 13, and I was about 12 years old. Maybe things would improve for everyone because Patricia and Melanie were now separated? Maybe the house would be more peaceful? Maybe Melanie would be happier at Thomas and Laura’s?

Boy, was I mistaken. As soon as Melanie left and moved away, the shit hit the fan with Patricia and me in a whole new way. It was like the flip of a switch, an overnight change where the good adoptee turned herself in, never to return. I now wore the shoes of the bad adoptee, I put on my boxing gloves, and I started to act out because I was the sole beneficiary of Patricia’s wrath, mental illness, and toxicity.

Sunday morning, the summer of 1986, Patricia gets a call from the Springville Police Department. “Hi Patricia, we have your daughter, Pamela, in custody. She’s been arrested with several other kids for burglary. You can come to pick her up, but she will likely be on probation and have to complete restitution. This week, you will hear from her new probation officer on the next steps.” So, Patricia came to pick me up, which was the beginning of my adoptee anger, rage, rebellion, and defiance. Reality began to set in that my birth mother wasn’t coming back to get me, and deep down, I was miserable. Hurt was the root, but it showed up in brutal ways.

Feelings of anger, rage, and self-hate started to internalize deep inside me from a very early age. Soon they took over subconsciously, and I felt abandoned by the woman who should have loved me the most, my birth mother. Just because she didn’t come back for me didn’t mean I wasn’t searching for her. I continued to search for clues to find her everywhere I went. I was tormented every day by not knowing who she was or where I came from.

This was around the time I stopped wanting to visit Thomas and Laura’s house due to the things Mark was doing to me. I was in for a real-life changing experience about how distressing things would get at Patricia’s house. The good adoptee disappeared into nothingness, and I started to have very unfavorable feelings about Patricia. My newfound adoration of escaping out my third-floor bedroom window was a fast track to being a runaway and experiencing a ruthless street life. Unruly was about to become an understatement.

Little did I know, agony hadn’t even begun for me. I was 12 years old, and by the time I was 15 years old, I had already experienced what most people don’t experience in an entire lifetime.

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

Don’t forget that I’m streaming my articles on several audio platforms for your listening convenience! 👇🏼

📱 iTunes – https://apple.co/3tKzT5f

🌎 Google – https://bit.ly/3JP6NY0

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📦 Amazon – https://amzn.to/3JScoga

☕️– Buy Me A Coffee https://bit.ly/3uBD8eI

*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

Chapter 2. Good Adoptee vs. Bad Adoptee – Finding Purpose in The Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 2.

Good Adoptee vs. Bad Adoptee By Pamela A. Karanova

Trigger Warning // Suicide

While my sneak life brought me some fulfillment in my childhood, what was going on inside behind closed doors was something almost no one knew about.

Patricia suffered from untreated manic depressive disorder and what I believe to be schizophrenic episodes. She had manic episodes regularly, and they would be integrated with emotional outbursts that created a very toxic environment. Some days were worse than others, but one thing is for sure, I don’t remember any days where she resembled a happy and healthy mother.

She would get angry with us on a bad day and tie us to the dining room chairs with dish towels. Next, she would tie the towels together to make a longer towel, sometimes several. Finally, she tied them around our waist and our mouths with our hands tied behind our backs. She would leave us there whenever she needed us to be out of her way, sometimes minutes and sometimes hours. No telling what the reason was she did this; it could be because I kept running outside every chance I could to escape or because she needed to take a nap.

She would regularly cry hysterically and complain about how much of a failure she was as a parent. She was sick A LOT! She resented Thomas for leaving her to raise two adopted daughters independently. She was constantly taking prescription medications. She would over-medicate herself as a way to escape her reality. Most of the time, it would make her sleepy, so she was always going to sleep and taking naps, sometimes many times a day. She slept a lot, and throughout my entire childhood, I never remember her having a good day.

I always had this deep-rooted feeling of being flawed because of how sad my mom was all the time. Combining that with the abandonment from my birth mother, my feelings of badness only increased as I grew into my preteen years. “I’m sorry” was something I sometimes said to Patricia a hundred times a day. She and Melanie were constantly fighting about everything, you could imagine. They would get into physical altercations regularly, and it seemed like Melanie was definitely the bad adoptee. Not to my standards, but from how Patricia treated her, She was always the target, and they never got along.

Melanie told me that she and Patricia got in a physical fight in the basement one time. I’m not sure what the argument was about. Melanie said; she ran up the stairs to escape Patricia’s wrath. However, Patricia grabbed a pair of scissors and started chasing Melanie up the stairs while shouting, “Here, kitty, kitty, here kitty, kitty!” I can imagine this scared Melanie significantly, and eventually, she got away from her by running to our bedroom and slamming the door shut.

I was always stuck somewhere in the middle of the blowouts with Patricia and Melanie. My role was to gravitate toward my mother to try to comfort and console her. It’s no doubt that I was the good adoptee in Patricia’s eyes. I remember almost every single fight they had; I was in charge of trying to make Patricia feel better. These are big shoes to fill, and it was all I knew.

She would cry hysterically while sitting on the couch. So I would sit next to her, rub her back, and say, “It’s okay, mommy I’m sorry, mommy.” She would talk about how mean her family was to her growing up and how she had an abortion at a young age, and not long after, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer, which resulted in a total hysterectomy. She adopted children because she aborted the only child she could have ever had, and she talked about this constantly. She also made it known from a young age that she never wanted to go to a nursing home. She would even go to the lengths of listing the reasons why.

She seemed never to stop crying about these things and, of course, the divorce. She would cry about never knowing who her father was and that she felt like a failure as a mother. The burden of her life and failures felt like they were planted on my shoulders from the time I could walk. This was a reoccurring theme in my childhood that happened almost daily. So now, you might understand why I was always about that sneak life. Fuck this shit; I was out of here on the regular!

It’s not that I didn’t care about Melanie, because I did, but Patricia made everything about her. She was always the victim in every altercation, even when she was the adult in the house. Normal disagreements never get dealt with appropriately; they usually were a big ordeal, and Melanie, the bad adoptee, was always to blame. On the other hand, the good adoptee would always come to the rescue to comfort my crying adoptive mom. It was a full-time job and never-ending.

I remember we started seeing therapists at a very young age, so many I can’t even count. Believe it or not, we never discussed adoption in my childhood with any of the therapists or my adoptive parents. We would all have to build a report with the therapists and have solo sessions and sessions as a family. After several visits, the reoccurring theme was that the therapists would tell Patricia politely that she was acting like a child instead of a parent.

The therapist would offer her suggestions on managing her emotions so the blowups in the house didn’t escalate into volcanos! They would create ways we could de-escalate by all of us agreeing to a time-out. Then, when a blowup was about to happen, we would all go to our bedrooms, close the door, and have a cool-off period. Sounds simple, right?

There was only one problem when we would go to our bedroom to shut the door, Patricia would be outside the door screaming and banging on our door for us to open it up, and we always would. So this idea never worked when we used this tactic. But when Patricia wanted to do it, it was a whole different ball game.

She would get butt hurt that the therapist would direct everything back to her parenting style and her emotional and mental outbursts. Then, finally, they told her she needed to be the one to change because we were just kids. So Patricia would get upset, go home in a rage, and never see that specific therapist again. It was like we were on a neverending merry-go-round of seeing therapists, and this pattern was happening every single time. I’m not sure why Melanie and I didn’t tell the therapists about everything going on in the house. Maybe we were scared? Regardless of the reason, we kept many things from them, or CPS would have been contacted immediately, and they never were.

I didn’t want to be the good adoptee, and I didn’t want Melanie to be the bad adoptee. I felt bad for Melanie all the time. We didn’t ask for this setup; however, it was all we knew for our entire childhoods. Because of this, Melanie and I never had a chance growing up to be close like most sisters are. Instead, we had Patricia spinning the triangulation tactics between all three of us for an entire lifetime.

It was exhausting being in this home around such an unstable and unhappy mother. This pushed me to dream more and more about my birth mother. I thought about her nonstop and dreamed that she would come back and get me one day after realizing that giving me up for adoption was a big mistake. Who would give their baby away to strangers and mean it? It was incomprehensible to me. I was waiting on her to change her mind and come back for me. Indeed, my chances of finding her or her finding me were always bigger if I was out of the house!

I fantasized about how beautiful she was and what the day would be like when she showed back up because, in my mind, if she “loved me so much,” she would eventually show back up. She had to be a better mother than Patricia, and she had to be looking for me like I was looking for her. Everywhere I went growing up, I searched for her face in crowds. I would look for women who had the same skin tone and hair color I did. Are you my mother? I would wonder.

By the time I was ten years old, Patricia had graduated from nursing school as an R.N. I think it’s lovely she had the dream of being a nurse and even raising two kids as a single parent; she made it happen. But how would she be a nurse with such emotional and unstable outbursts?

We lost Title-19, and we moved to an apartment at 4009 Westover Road, Apt #6. It was a 655 Square foot, 3rd-floor apartment, which was a stark difference from the big grey house on 13th street. We moved on an evening during a school night, and I will never forget how tired and hungry we were. Around 10 PM, we asked Patricia if we could have something to eat; however, there was not much to pick from just moving.

Patricia found a Lipton onion soup mix box tucked down in a big ” Kitchen box. She was able to heat it in the microwave, giving us each a cup. But, of course, with this being broth and no real food, we weren’t happy with it.

Melanie and Patricia get into an altercation that escalates into another blowup fight. I think Melanie was brave and confronted Patricia on certain things, whereas I was passive at that time. I did anything to keep the peace.

The next thing we know, Patricia takes off, flying out the apartment door and down the steps. Melanie and I have no idea where she is going, so we decide to look out our 3rd-floor apartment window to find Patricia lying in the street, trying to commit suicide!

Of course, we would have never expected to see that in all our lives. We both began to cry hysterically because we didn’t want our mom to die. We surely didn’t want to see it happen! Terror took over. What the fuck were we supposed to do? I am confident I blacked out or disassociated during this time because it was a very traumatic experience for me to witness.

I am not sure what happened to escalate out of this episode. Did she get up on her own? Did a car come and help her, or someone who maybe saw her? Did Melanie and I run down to get her up? I have no idea, and I will never know. Somehow things went back to “normal,” but my life would never be the same after this incident. Still to this day, I have visions of this situation that revisit like a reoccurring movie theme.

Melanie and I still shared an even smaller bedroom, but we put bunk beds in the middle of the room, which left about 3 feet of space on each side we could call our own. We plastered posters all over our walls to mark which side was ours. I loved Poison, Motley Crew, and Guns N Roses. Melanie loved Boy George!

Patricia and I on Westover Road, In front of the street, she laid in. I was 10 years old in this picture.

With a 700-square-foot apartment, we were all three, literally on top of one another. I had no idea how awful things would become, but I was about to find out. Not long after moving into the apartment on Westover Rd, Melanie and I started to have altercations independently, without Patricia spinning things in the middle each time. I mean she did that also, but at times we didn’t need her help. I remember Melanie would attack me countless times, pin me to the ground, and sit on top of me. She would hold me down by clawing my arms until I started to bleed from her nails digging into my skin. I would beg her to get off of me and stop, but she was stronger than me and overpowered me on the regular. I was still the good adoptee, and now I saw her in the light as the bad adoptee because I felt like she was bullying me. I still believe that Patricia set us up to be against one another from day one. So it’s no wonder we started to tango!

Another day, another outburst from Patricia. But once we moved into the apartment, her outbursts would become so outrageous that she started to threaten suicide regularly. She not only threatened suicide, but she took her shoebox filled with prescription pills to her bedroom; she locked the door and also took the house phone with her so we could never call for help. Her threats of killing herself and locking herself in her room, locking us out, were exceptionally traumatic. She did this a lot!

I remember vividly banging on the bedroom door for hours, begging her not to kill herself, and crying hysterically. Just like her lying in the middle of the road trying to kill herself, I am confident I blacked out or disassociated again because I have no memories of how we escalated out of these episodes, only the hysteria I felt begging my mom not to kill herself. These memories have always plagued my mind, and they dominate anything good that came out of living with Patricia. This was not a safe home, and I did not feel loved. Chaos was a nonstop companion at no choice of my own or Melanie’s.

Soon, I would find another escape plan for myself that opened my life to a whole new world. It was easy to escape from the big grey house because we had three doors that led outside. However, the apartment on the third floor of Westover road only had one. I learned that I could open my bedroom window, and at the time, I could climb down the wooden panels that were like steps to the ground. This turned out to be my number one way to escape the disfunction and constant fighting I lived with within this family. Even climbing down three stories which were exceptionally dangerous for a ten or 11-year-old, I soon became a professional escape artist. Sneak life was back in full effect!

But first, it was time for a weekend visit with Thomas and Laura. So we packed our bags as if we were staying a lifetime, leaving only for the weekend. It was 5 PM on Friday, and we would get to escape Patricia’s wrath for a few days. We would be dropped back off Sunday at 5 PM.

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

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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

Chapter 1. Sneak Life – Finding Purpose in The Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 1.

Sneak Life By Pamela A. Karanova

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” – Anne Lamott.

I grew up in a small town in Iowa called Cedar Rapids otherwise known as “The City of Five Smells.” Burnt corn, stale, rotten garbage, and overcooked oatmeal are combined to make a nasty stench that covers the city. I will never forget that smell! It’s the home of the largest cereal plants in the world, General Mills and Quaker Oats. Cedar Rapids is also known for being the largest corn producing city in the world. I remember wonderful parks where I spent a lot of my childhood.

In the summer of 1979, on a hot and humid morning, my five-year-old self moped down the creaky wooden stairs somberly to the living room in the big grey house on 13th street. My hair was a sandy blonde, messy from just waking up. It was 7 AM on a Saturday, and everyone was still asleep. It was quite and peaceful for a change.

I always went to bed at night before everyone else and seemed to get sleepy earlier than your average kid. This allowed me to get up earlier most of the time while everyone else was sleeping soundly. This was a magnificent thing because I could watch a few minutes of Saturday morning cartoons, which was rare. If I was lucky, I could also sneak outside for a little bit of freedom.  

The living-room coffee table overflowed with papers, pill containers, magazines, and old and half-filled empty Pepsi cola bottles. Old newspapers, mail, coupons that needed cut, and magazines took up half the couch, and clutter surrounded the area allowing for a tiny sitting space—a full cigarette ashtray sat waiting to be emptied. Boston ferns hung in front of the windows, in desperate need of watering.

I walked into the kitchen to find the usual clutter, dirty dishes piled up and old food, and junk covering the countertops. The garbage was overflowing with a stinky odor filtrating the morning air coming through the windows. Full eight packs of Pepsi bottles lined the baseboard along one wall for my mom’s pleasure. On the other side of the wall sat the empty bottles of Pepsi that I would walk up to the 7-11 gas station to trade with a note from my mom. The gas station would return .10 cents for each empty bottle taken back. The note would say, “Please allow my daughter to trade two eight packs of empty Pepsi bottles for one pack of Marlboro Light 100s. Thank you!”  

I will never forget my five-year-old self walking up 13th street carrying two eight-backs of empty Pepsi bottles. They were heavy, and I was alone, but I was brave and didn’t scare easily. I would stop and take breaks when I needed to. It was about a five-block walk. I would get Patricia her pack of cigarettes with the note and walk back home. We didn’t have enough money for a car, so walking or taking the city bus was a regular event. 

To enjoy the rare luxury of watching Saturday morning cartoons, I managed to jump up on the counter to grab a bowl to enjoy some cereal before everyone else woke up. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the good kind with sugar; it was plain cheerios or wheat crisps. But, of course, I had no problems finding the sugar and pouring as much as I wanted into the bowl. 

The big grey house was where some of my first childhood memories were. I lived here with my mom, Patricia, and my sister, Melanie, until approximately 9. Both Patricia and Melanie were night owls, and I was the opposite. I was known as the sleepy head of the family and didn’t appreciate late nights and sleeping half the day away. It was a regular occurrence that dinner not be served until 9 or 10 PM if it was served at all. I got sleepy most of the time and wandered off to bed without eating dinner because it never seemed to be ready at the usual dinner time. It wasn’t odd to me because it was all I knew. This was just the way it was. 

I don’t have any memories of my parents being together, but I believe that’s because they divorced when I was one year old. My sister, Melanie, was 11 months older than me, so we were almost like having twins. I do have one photo of my parents being together before the divorce. When I look at the photo, it’s hard for me to believe that they would divorce less than a year after the photo was taken, and that was the end of their marriage. Why would a marriage only last a year or two?

After the divorce, my dad, Thomas, moved over an hour away to Dunkerton, Iowa. He remarried my stepmom, Laura. Laura had three sons of her own, named Mark, Max, and Mike. We saw them every other weekend, on some holidays, and for a summer vacation. My sister, Melanie, and I stayed with Patricia full time between the visits with our dad. 

Patricia was 33 years old, and she had brown hair and she stood about 5’1 tall. She was going to school to be a Registered Nurse and this was a lifelong dream of hers. She loved soap operas, watching figure skating, and lavender smells, and her favorite color was blue. She enjoyed baking holiday treats and having her family over for festivities. She also loved plants and flowers. She was single as long as I knew her. She would read us bible devotionals and take us to church on occasion. Patricia wanted to be the center of everything, and in all conversations she had with people, she was the dominator so she could be the center of attention. 

She didn’t work the earlier part of my life, but instead, we received public assistance, food stamps, welfare, and child support from my dad to make it by. Things were always tight, and we never had extra money for anything other than the basic needs. 

The house on 13th street was rented to us with Title-19, a program for families to receive assistance with their rent. I’m confident that’s the only way we could afford to live at this house because it was gigantic and it had to be expensive, especially for someone not working. However, even as big as the house was, it only had two bedrooms, so Melanie and I shared a room. 

The Big Grey House on 13th Street, The Porch Roof I Jumped Off Of at 5 years old.

Polk Elementary School was two blocks away. So if we came out of or front or side door and turned left, we walked straight down the alley two blocks and ran into the school playground. I was not too fond of school, and I never did well in it.   

If we came out of our front door and turned right, made another right at the stop sign, and walked about five blocks down, we ran into Helen and Leo’s house. Helen was an 81-year-old lady who used to babysit us while Patricia was in school to get her nursing degree. Leo was 92, and he was Helen’s husband. So we spent a lot of time at Helen and Leo’s. 

Their house was old, musty, and dark. However, the backyard did have a swing set, and we were on it as much as possible. The basement was better known as the “Dog house!” and we spent much time there. What would get us thrown in the dog house? Being rowdy, rambunctious, not listening, or misbehaving in some way. And sometimes, nothing would get us sent to the dog house; we were just ordered to go! 

The doghouse was filled with old books, unfinished rooms, and an old school laundry room, and it felt like doom. The floor was concrete and cold. Leo made a habit of seeing me and kicking me in my ass and shouting, “little bastard!” This was followed by a mumble of “get out of my way!” It was no secret that Leo was grumpy, and we needed to stay out of his way. He would send me straight to the dog house if I didn’t move quick enough or if I crossed his path. Thankfully he was just a mean old man and not a dirty, mean old man. 

Helen was about her business. She wasn’t warm or grandma-like, as you would think. Sometimes she would forget we were down in the dog house, so we would stay for a long time. We better not come out of the dog house without being excused first. And sometimes, Patricia would leave us at Leo and Helen’s overnight or for several days at a time. So Helen would put blankets on the living room floor, where we would sleep until Patricia eventually made the call for Helen to send us to walk home. Patricia was supposed to pay Helen for babysitting us, but she rarely gave her the money she was owed, and she still kept sending us anyway. 

We passed several houses with Dobermann Pinschers chained to the front porch as we walked back and forth. That was the primary way to secure your home and belongings when I was coming up. I will never forget walking the five blocks back home from Helen’s, and one particular day a man called us to his car window. We walked over, and he was sitting naked, masturbating himself. I was with a cousin at the time, and we both screamed and took off running all the way home to the big grey house on 13th street. We told Patricia and the cops were called to the car where the gross man was.

Patricia slept a lot, and she was always taking naps. I didn’t know what depression or mental illness was as a child, but I do now. She was severely depressed due to the divorce, and she felt like a failure as a parent. She would sleep late in the day most days because she stayed up late at night. During school days, I remember waking myself up and getting myself ready for school most days while she slept half of the day away. Anytime she took naps in the day or evening, it was a perfect opportunity for me to sneak off and run wild; it was my way of life!

My Saturday morning cereal and cartoons were an unusual treat in the big grey house. Sometimes I would put clothes on and sneak outside to play until I heard the dreaded yell. Being outside was a great escape for me, and I would try to sneak out as much as possible. I would do wild and crazy things because I was a daredevil. I would climb trees to the top and climb on the rooftops to hang out. I was a tomboy and grew up feeling invincible. 

I have memories of all the neighborhood kids daring me to jump off the roof of the big porch of the grey house and jump down to the ground when Patricia was gone one day. But, of course, I wasn’t scared, and I did it with great pride. I almost felt like I should have won an award for being so brave, but several claps followed by hemming and hawing from all my friends would do. 

Of course, I was not supposed to be outside when Patricia was gone; however, sneaking outside was a full-time job for me from a very early age. I was the queen of sneak. But it was all over as soon as she came back home, and I would hear her shout out the front door, “Pammy, get back in this house!” I knew I would get in trouble, but I didn’t care, so I pretended I didn’t hear her. I continued to sneak anyway, proudly. 

I would hear her yell again a short time later, but I would ride every second of freedom out to the fullest. I didn’t want to go back inside because I knew I would never be allowed to come back outside again. Sneaking was the only option for me. Finally, after hearing Patricia yell for me a second and sometimes a third time, I would mope back inside with a sorrowful aura about myself. The escape to freedom was over. But make no mistakes, I was already planning my next escape adventure!

But for now, onto the constant and never-ending task of catering to and caring for Patricia. “You know better than to go outside without permission!” yelled Patricia. The reality was that I could never go outside, even with permission. This is why I made a run for it any chance I could! Getting in trouble was worth it to get out of the house for a short time. 

I remember walking up to First Avenue to fetch Patricia’s medications from the pharmacy many times as a little girl. As young as six years old, I would cross the busiest street in the city. I guess Patricia’s medications were that important, and it was my job to make sure she didn’t run out of them. One particular day, I was walking home, and my classmate Manuel Gonzales came up to me and asked me what I was doing. I explained that I walked to the pharmacy to pick up my mom’s medication. He asked me to give him one of the pills, and I did. 

He wandered off, and I was stopped by a police car within a few minutes. The officer got out and asked me my name and where I lived. I told him my name was Pamela, and I pointed down the street, and he proceeded to ask me to get in his car so he could take me home. I didn’t understand why; however, Manual ran straight over to the fire department a block down the road and let them know I had given him a pill and that I was walking home with them now. 

We pulled up at the big grey house, and I knew I would get into trouble giving Manual one of Patricia’s pills. The police officer called Patricia to the door and handed her the medication bag. He scolded her for allowing me to cross the busiest street in the city at my age, and he strongly disagreed with her having me pick up her medications at that age. He also said I was carrying the narcotic diazepam, otherwise known as Valiums. The cops gave her a warning, and my ass was grass once they left. That was the last time I ever walked to pick up Patricia’s medications. 

When I didn’t have school, as soon as Patricia was awake for the day, it was time for me to get busy. She created a chore chart the size of a 22×28-inch poster board. Each entry of a chore was a 1/4 of an inch, and the poster board was full of chores. From top to bottom! A few of the tasks were everyday chores most kids can relate to doing, like taking the trash out and making your bed up. Others were strange things like rubbing and massaging Patricia’s back, feet, and legs using lotion, running her bathwater, brushing her hair, and making her bed up. She made me give her enemas while she lay on the bathroom floor, and she would also make me pop all her pimples. Talk about disgusting. Were other kids doing this, I wondered?

In addition, she wanted us to cut coupons for days, file papers in her filing cabinet, and handle other miscellaneous tasks most kids don’t do. We were always in charge of helping her clean piles of clothes and trash off her bedroom floor, changing her bedding, and dusting her bedroom and the whole house. Cleaning and caretaking were embedded in me from a very young age.

The reward was the star sticker system. Each chore was a one-star sticker, and if we got 25 stars, we got a popsicle or a nickel or a dime. The chores were never done, and as soon as we thought we would be close to getting them done, it was a new week and time to start them all over again. Once it was time to give us the little bit of change that was owed to us, we never had the money and bills being due was the reason.

Patricia was a professional at getting people to feel sorry for her, especially churches. As far back as I could remember, we had churches helping us pay our bills and donating us food when we had little to eat. She knew how to turn on the tears at a second’s notice and did a great job telling the story of her husband leaving her for another woman, and she’s a single mother raising two kids with no help or assistance.

The basement was problematic; it was continuously flooded with water, and water bugs were everywhere. We cleaned up all the rotten wood from a failed attempt to create a floor. The wooden floor was created so we could put our toys on it to stay safe from the water, but the water rotted the wood in no time. Our toys were mixed with the mess, so we bagged most of it, hauling them off to the trash. 

If I ever thought my chores were almost done so I could go outside and play, Patricia would insist I entertain her wants and needs. “Pammy, go get me a Pepsi,” and “Pammy, go run my bathwater.” “Pammy, come watch figure skating with me, and you can work on your workbook.” It was never-ending all about her. If getting paid to fetch her Pepsis and massaging her body was a job, I would be a millionaire. 

Spending time with her wasn’t my kind of fun if I had any “fun.” It was her kind of fun. We would watch Lawrence Welk, old-timer television shows, and play Kings Corners. I would help her get her flower beds ready and pull weeds out. She would talk non-stop sharing stories about her life, her family and her childhood. She also spent a lot of time bashing my dad, Thomas and his new wife, Laura. It was clear she held a lot of resentment about the divorce and him and Laura.

I longed to be a regular child who could go outside and play with friends without sneaking and getting in trouble. I would have given anything to be able to have friends over to stay all night, but that was always out of the question. I don’t think I ever had one friend stay all night in all my life, and I can count on one hand the times I stayed at a friend’s house all night. 

One evening when I was five years old, I watched television with Patricia, and we saw a woman giving birth to a baby. “Did I come out of your tummy like that, Mommy?” Her answer would forever change the trajectory of my life. 

She said, “No, honey. You were adopted. That means you came out of another woman’s tummy. She loved you so much, but she couldn’t care for you. She made my dreams come true to be a parent. I will always love her because of her selfless decision.” 

I remember the feelings of total confusion that came over my life. I said, “Who is she, and where is she?” Patricia said, “I don’t know who she is or where she is. The adoption was closed, so all of that information was kept private. I know your birth mother loved you so much, and she wanted you to have a better life.”

After this, I didn’t ask any more questions, but my brain would not stop thinking about my “birth mother.” My thoughts were, “So you mean you aren’t my real parents and my real siblings?” I was blown away at the news of being adopted. I stuffed my feelings out of respect for Patricia’s dreams coming true, but my life would never be the same.

I wish I could share that Melanie and I had a close relationship growing up, but we didn’t. It seemed like Patricia and Melanie were constantly fighting, and with no choice of my own, I was stuck in the middle, left to be the comforter to Patricia. She had constant outbursts that created a living hell in the big grey house. This created an automatic wedge between Melanie and me for as long as I can remember. Things were manageable during the peaceful times in the big grey house, but when all hell broke loose, all hell broke loose. 

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

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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

Acknowledgements – Finding Purpose In The Pain, One Adoptees Journey From Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Acknowledgements By Pamela A. Karanova

“Your children are not your children. They are sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you. And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.” – Khalil gibran

My story isn’t only my own; it’s the story of my children, future grandchildren, and the legacy that comes long after I am gone from this earth. I owe the most significant gratitude to my three exceptional adult children, Keila, Damia, and Damond. I am so sorry you have a mom that’s been so significantly impacted by adoption, and in return it has impacted each of you greatly. My heart will always hurt because of this. Without you all, I would have taken myself out of my misery long ago. So many times, I have wanted to give up, but you gave me the courage to keep going because of my love for each of you. You have been my biggest supporters and the core reason I have wanted to be the happy, healthy mom you all deserve. Thank you for cheering me on and not giving up on me!

Four women in my life have stepped into the gap and have been mother figures to me, and without them, I am sure I would not be where I am today. Patsy B., Sharon H., Jan H., and Linda W. – Thank you for the unwavering level of love, encouragement, and support you have provided me. The space you have created to allow me to share my feelings has made me feel safe. You have listened to my story without judging me, and you have offered me guidance and advice when no one else was anywhere in sight. But, thank you isn’t enough!

To Marjorie J. Allen, thank you for teaching me that life is a gift and to be thankful for the little things we take for granted everyday like getting out of bed, and putting our clothes on. Thank you for bringing purpose to my life and for being one of the biggest inspirations I have ever met.

Rebecca Hawkes, Jessenia Arias Parmer, and Deanna Doss Shrodes, the original adoptee tribe who led me out of the adoptee fog over a decade ago; thank you! You will never know how your stories impacted me, and in return, my cacoon days have been replaced by the beautiful butterfly flying high!

To my day ones and ride or dies, Sarah Furnish, Kelly McFall, Lisa & Jamie Kemper, Lynn Grubb, Stephani Harris, Haley Radke, Shantu Ellis, Maria Gatz, Jennifer Fredrickson, Harris Coltrain, and Christina Keifer, because you have held my hand all these years and wiped my tears until they began to dry up; I know the meaning of true, genuine lifelong friendships. I am sure you have all saved me many times with your endless love and support. THANK YOU!

To my fellow adoptee tribe and those I have come to know and love in the adoptee and adoption community, I don’t even know where to start. I have had the honor of getting to know so many of you over the last decade. Each of you holds a special place in my heart. R. Colton Lee, Remember back in 2012 us watching “I’m Having Their Baby” on Oxygen? We both went nuts and talked one another off the ledge? I will never forget it!

Adoptees, when you cry, I cry. When you hurt, I hurt. When you smile, I smile. We are connected in a synchronistic way, yet each of our stories is so different at the same time. This memoir is for you. Thank you for holding my hand and walking me out of the darkness. Every word of encouragement and inspiration has brought me back to life more than you will ever know. Thank you to every one of you. I was going to list each of you, but that would be a whole book. You know who you are.

Lastly, I want to share a special message of hope for all the adoptees who have been done wrong by adoption. That would be every single adoptee on the planet. Never give up hope on finding your truth and your people. You give me the spark to keep sharing. I hope in sharing my story that you learn you are not alone in your thoughts, feelings, and struggles when it comes to being adopted. It’s been the most real shit show on the planet, but healing happens when we share untold feelings and our stories. Not just for ourselves but for those who know and love us, not to mention the generations behind us. We all have so much to learn from one another. So keep sharing and seeking more of your truth because everyone deserves to know who they are and where they come from.

Love,
Pamela A. Karanova

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

Don’t forget that I’m streaming my articles on several audio platforms for your listening convenience! 👇🏼

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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

Introduction – Finding Purpose In The Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Introduction By Pamela A. Karanova

“We have to walk through all the adoptee layers, to make it to the light, but it won’t come overnight or without a lifelong fight!” – Finding Purpose in the Pain – One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

This is the story of my beginnings of how I was born and grew up, discovered I was adopted, and went on to find my biological family going against the grain of the closed adoption system. This is a story of searching and finding in a time when there was no internet, cell phones, or adoptee-centric connect groups. It’s a story of acceptance, acknowledgment, processing grief, loss, abandonment, rejection, and ultimately healing. It’s a story of never giving up hope that I would find my people and essentially my truth one day.

It’s taken me close to 48 years to finally come to a place where I am ready to share my story via an audible memoir. I have been writing for over a decade on my website, and I have attempted to write my story off and on over the last ten years, but one thing was sure. It wasn’t time yet. Timing is everything.

While most non-adopted people likely can’t relate, the adoptee experience isn’t your typical life experience. While other people were the ones who made this decision for my life, I have been the one to unravel all of the truths and tales to get to the bottom of why I am here and who I am. Like most adoptees, my story is complex, trauma-filled, messy, and ugly at times. But, it’s also an equal combination of triumph, healing, surviving, and overcoming the odds. I’m excited to share my story with you.

It’s only been the last 4 to 5 years that I have arrived at the space of healing where I feel confident in sharing pieces of my story that I have always left in the dark. While I have demanded the universe tell me my truth, I have had to kick, scream, and fight every step of the way to get it. As a result, I have made some mistakes and pissed many people off, and I am confident this audible memoir will piss more people off.

While most stories might start with the typical “beginning of life” theme, that place for me was null and void because it was kept a secret from me due to being adopted in a closed adoption in 1974. The beginning of my life was the state of Iowa’s best-kept secret.

One of the biggest struggles in getting my story out is that I never knew where to start with my life beginning non-traditionally. I thank the unnatural act of adoption for that. Thinking about my life and its complexities, my thoughts would overwhelm me when I started to write my story, and I would shut down in frustration. I would start a chapter and then stop, start another chapter and then stop again.

It’s no secret when someone is adopted; their beginnings aren’t usually a cute story, even when the world tries to cover it up and celebrate adoption in all God’s glory. The truth is, I didn’t know my beginnings, and if I let the world have its way, I would never know who I was or where I came from.

We all have a beginning, but adoptees often don’t know their beginning until the middle of their lives and sometimes the end. Sometimes they don’t know their truth at all. Not that they didn’t want to know it, but there are a million roadblocks that stand in the way. I plan to share some with you as I share my story.

While I share my story with you, I need to share that some names, locations, and minor details have been fictionalized to protect the people’s privacy discussed in this audible memoir. Otherwise, this memoir is true based on experiences that I remember with a few specific areas where I fill in the gaps with creative nonfiction. Some of the things I share are stories and facts that I have heard from other people who were close to my adoptive families and birth families.

This audible memoir should be considered a trigger warning to all who read and listen to it. I discuss suicide, religious trauma, spiritual bypassing, deconstructing from religion, drug and alcohol abuse, recovery, failed therapy attempts, emotional, mental, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. I will share my chapters by uploading them to my platforms one by one and writing them one by one because I find this a more manageable and less stressful load due to having a full-time career and Adoptees Connect, Inc. to manage. Beware, I use curse words to express my feelings, and I consider this an essential part of my healing and recovery process. If you have sensitive ears, do not proceed.

I will also consider the nature of the content I will share as sensitive, and practicing self-care between the chapters will be essential to share my story. Sharing my story is a tremendous labor of love and one that I have to go back in time to revisit. I will be reliving traumatic events from the past and revisiting experiences that scare me slightly. Chapter by chapter, discovering clue by clue, I invite you to join me as I release one chapter at a time and take breaks in between to pause to reflect on all my life has been.

This is a story about breaking out of the boxes that society has built around me and discovering who I am and who I’m not, regardless of my adoption status. It’s a story of constantly evolving to grow, heal and overcome the obstacles I had no choice over that many adoptees face.

Thank you for being on this journey with me, being patient with me, and understanding that I am sure I will make mistakes along the way. This will not be your traditional memoir because I am telling my story in the way that works the best for me. I will do the best I can to articulate events of my life to the best of my abilities. My entire life, I would look in the mirror and ask myself, who am I, and where did I come from? Who’s fingers and toes do I have? Why am I so tall?

Finally, after 48 years, I can be true to myself and share with you what it costs me to discover my truth.

Meet Little Pammy.

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

Don’t forget that I’m streaming my articles on several audio platforms for your listening convenience! 👇🏼

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🌎 Google – https://bit.ly/3JP6NY0

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📦 Amazon – https://amzn.to/3JScoga

☕️– Buy Me A Coffee https://bit.ly/3uBD8eI

*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

Adoptees, Why Are You So Angry? Over 100 Adoptees Share Heartfelt Feelings

In 2014, I decided to call on my fellow adoptees on the How Does it Feel to Be Adopted? Page to help collaborate and share thoughts from the heart, reflecting the voices almost always overlooked in the adoption constellation. Over 8 years of collecting these submissions, this article collaborates with over 100 Adoptees who share heartfelt feelings on why they are angry from the adult adoptee’s perspective. So, 100 of us came together to capture some of the feelings and experiences adoptees go through during their lifetimes and why we are angry.

The reasons an adopted person might be angry are endless and no two adoptee experiences are the same. We experience healing by sharing our feelings and anger is a natural, normal feeling to the adoptee experience. It can add great fuel to our fire to raise awareness, and bring some light to the dark side of adoption that can and does help promote change.

While you read these submissions, we ask you to remain with an open heart and mind and enter the possibility that we all have a lot to learn from one another. We must recognize that adopted children grow up, reach adulthood, and consume adoption’s rollercoaster journey. We are mothers, fathers, sisters, cousins, doctors, nurses, teachers, public speakers, advocates, writers, authors, D.J’s, lawyers, homemakers, students, etc. As we grow up, we host lifelong experiences, and every experience holds value to our lives and stories. The adoptees submitted their quotes anonymously to protect their privacy for this collaboration. Some submissions are short and quaint, and some are longer filled with highs and lows of the adoptee experience. Remember, it’s taken me 8 years to complete this article, and every submission holds immeasurable value to the adoptee experience.

By sharing why adoptees are angry with the world, we hope that a new level of awareness will arise that there is so much more to adoption than what society recognizes. Perhaps love isn’t enough, or a house full of stuff? Perhaps we should start talking about relinquishment trauma as soon as possible? Maybe adoption hurts more than we would ever know?

Again, we ask for open hearts and open minds.

Thank you to each adoptee who shared their heart here many moons ago and the new submissions I received in the last 8 years to add to this article. While reading this article, you will validate that you are not alone. We’re in this together, and our voices are valuable and worthy.

We are stronger together.

I asked a straightforward question, “ADOPTEES, WHY ARE YOU SO ANGRY?”

Over 100 adoptees chimed in.

Here are their responses.

  1. “Lack of identity. Lack of origin. Adoption being about our adoptive parent’s pain which eclipses our own, feeling like an outsider. Feeling helpless. Bullying. Discrimination. Systematic discrimination. Legal discrimination. Being forced to lead someone else’s life and not my own. Searching for an identity in all we know. Having to identify with painful backstories of pop culture icons whose worlds have been destroyed (superman, Mr. Spock, Starlord, the punisher, the list goes on). Feeling like your life is a movie because we’ve been introduced as a supplemental characters in our own story with no history. Having to grow up too fast. Being told we’re lucky. Being asked about our ‘real’ parents, being looked at like an alien. Being told, there’s a reason for our suffering without being told the reason. Feeling worthless because nobody values OUR needs. Feeling like there’s no end in sight. An inability to believe in ourselves because we believe there is something intrinsically wrong with us. Having to constantly wonder if the people you may know on Facebook are somehow related. Feeling the same feeling when walking down the street—having to wonder when starting a new relationship whether or not they’re your sibling or cousin—never being able to feel 100% comfortable in the said relationship because of that. Feeling like love is someone leaving you. Never finishing anything because of a lack of closure.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “My own FAMILY gave me a way to strangers. My grandmother lied to and coerced my mother to feel she had no other choice because my grandmother cared more about what the neighbors thought than my mother or me. The government conspired with my grandmother to ensure that my mother wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone unsupervised by my grandmother, so she had no opportunity to discuss or truly discover what SHE wanted. Even though the government KNEW full well that my father wanted to raise me even if my mother didn’t, they told him he had no rights to me and gave me to strangers when they COULD EASILY have allowed me to be kept within my own family.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “Some members of my adoptive family always treated me like an outsider. I never fit into my adoptive family. I’m not like the rest of them – even those who have been nice to me. All the other kids at school knew I was adopted and would tell me that their parents had said that my real mother didn’t love me and didn’t want me.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “Other people have always acted like THEY know better and have told me how I should feel and what I should or should not do. Other people gave me search advice that I wish I hadn’t taken because my mother DIED before I found her, and if I’d just called around, I’d have found her before that. Other people told me what to call my natural family, and I wish I hadn’t felt obligated to listen because it’s NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “People do not allow us to grieve. Try telling someone your mother died and hearing, “It’s just as well.” or “You’re overreacting. You didn’t even know her.” I’m angry because my right to grieve was stolen along with my history. If I had been allowed to grieve and share my feelings as a child, I might not be as angry as an adult. Unfortunately, I’m just now grieving my losses. And yes, ANGER is a stage of that grief.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because I was told a lie most of my life by my adoptive parents. Why are we raised to tell the truth and not lie, but adoption lies are okay? Lying is not okay. I would rather know my hardcore history [My truth] than being lied to my entire life by those who are supposed to love me the most.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I am angry because I was not told I was adopted until I was in my 30s, and it’s very disempowering, plus quite a shock to find out at that age.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because I grew up feeling completely out of place and ALWAYS have wondered about where I came from, and here I am- a grown adult who is STILL being denied that knowledge by other people. I am angry because I have had to put myself (and private information) out there for the world to see for only a tiny CHANCE of finding my biological identity. I am angry because I have feelings that get poo-pooed by other people who have never been in my shoes. I am angry because I am being treated like a perpetual child. Like I’m not “allowed” to want to know and that I don’t deserve to know, and most of the people with those thoughts get to know exactly where THEY came from!” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because I’m in my 50s and still not allowed access to my birth certificate – even though I found all of my family member’s years ago. I’m angry that there is still a lack of support for family preservation in favor of adoption. I’m angry that having more money allows certain adopters to pull wanted children away from their families. I’m angry that so many childless people claiming to care about children only want to get themselves a baby and not help older children in foster care or even vulnerable families in their community. I’m angry that whenever adoptees attempt to speak their truth and call for changes in the system, they are silenced, called “ungrateful” and “angry,” and told they just had a “bad experience.” I’m angry that the industry is pulling in thousands of dollars at the expense of vulnerable children. I will continue to be “angry” to try to affect change for today’s children and those yet unborn.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because everyone expected me to forget my first family & expected me to be thankful for the biggest loss of my life—an entire family. I’m angry because of my adoptive parent’s gain; I lost a lifetime of memories that can’t be replaced with my biological family members.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because I was taken away from my country, culture, and native language. Not only that but I was lied to, which was pretty stupid as I was transracially adopted! My name was taken away from me. I was taken away from me, and I was renamed. If they had used my Chinese name as a middle name, that would have been fine but I wasn’t even afforded that option. What makes me even angrier is that I see 21st-century white adoptive parents making exactly the same “mistakes” or decisions as my unenlightened 60’s adoptive parents did. At least they had an excuse; ideas about culture and identity had yet to be formed, etc. But today, what’s the excuse? There is none.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m not angry. I’m hurt. I’m hurt that my birth Mother thinks the system failed her. I’m hurt that my natural citizenship from Canada was taken away from me. I’m hurt that I was taken away from my birth father. I’m hurt that I was discarded both as a baby and an adult after the reunion. I’m hurt that my birth mother cares more about what others think than how I feel. I’m not angry; please don’t mistake hurt for anger.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because if we feel any negativity towards being taken from our roots, heritage, and FAMILIES, it’s seen as anger and dismissed. Why can’t we just be sad that we have lost so much? I am mostly sad, but I am furious that the government decided I would be better off with a married couple without any other support than my loving single mother. The latter could raise me herself and had a HUGE extended family. I’m angry that no checks were done other than to check their marriage certificate. That certificate didn’t take away the dysfunction and abuse in the marriage.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “It gets me angry that I fucking don’t know the beginning of my own life! How am I supposed to live a life when I don’t know how it started?” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I am angry that we are made to feel ashamed if we express anger because we should be grateful. That our anger is seen as unjustified and that we must have some mental health problem if we are so angry; rather than a normal reaction to a tragedy.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I am an angry adoptee because not only was I given up for adoption, but so were my four siblings. Thankfully, I did find them all.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “Well, I have struggled with anger my entire life. I am a 48-year-old adoptee, and my Adoptive Father was also an adoptee. We BOTH had/have anger issues. It stems from fear of abandonment, I believe. Anger can creep up in the strangest places. I call these “triggers.” Because we have experienced abandonment at birth, we may not remember it, but it is imprinted on our psyche, and we carry that with us our entire lives. Our brains are also hard-wired around this event. I also believe that we intuitively know that we do not want to be abandoned again. So, we will do everything humanly possible to avoid anything we perceive as abandonment. I have read tons of books on adoption and its effects on the adoptee, which is the conclusion I have come to for today. Our brains are not fully developed at birth. When babies are taken away from our birth mother, we immediately go into fight or flight mode. Our brains at this age cannot regulate and handle all the stress that we are experiencing and our systems become overloaded with cortisol which changes how the pathways in our brand-new brains are wired. As a result, I also believe that experiencing this at birth tells us that we are not worthy, capable, or entitled to basic necessities and comforts in life. Anger is also a mask for other emotions that we “believe” we cannot or are not allowed to feel for fear of abandonment. I can ” become angry whenever I feel sadness, fear, loneliness, STRESS, being left out (This is a HUGE, HUGE trigger for me), or many other feelings. If I stop and think, “What is the underlying emotion that I am feeling right now” or “What is causing me to feel anger right now?” I can often avert the anger and deal with what I am really feeling – not always, though. Asking for help is another HUGE trigger for me simply because I have three teenage children who do not always want to help out at home. If I am having a low energy day and cannot follow through with asking for what I NEED help with, I often become angry. I become angry when I am overwhelmed. The thoughts in my head also tell me incorrect ideas that lead me to believe that I cannot ask for help – for fear of abandonment. Thankfully, I am learning to overcome this after many years of hard work. My thoughts also tell me that I cannot do nice things for myself because 1. I cannot afford it, 2. I do not have time, 3. My chores are not done. Etc., Etc., Etc. I also have a terrible habit of reading into the thoughts and feelings of others. If these people do not read my mind and act the way I “Need” them to, I become angry.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I have been married for 25 years to a wonderful man who is patient and kind. I STILL, to this day, become outraged over silly little things – all because I do not communicate my needs, feelings, or wants (in a healthy way), AND I can provide myself adequate “Downtime” consistently due to fear of abandonment. Here is one example. My husband is a hunter, and he plans two hunting trips every year. Every year we talk and put the trips on the calendar. Every year I become angry at him during this time for several reasons: 1. He is preoccupied with planning for and packing for the trip. (I feel left out) 2. I have not planned a “Getaway” for myself in YEARS! (This makes me feel guilty and sad and worn out etc., etc.).” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “In a nutshell, I think we adult adoptees have hidden triggers that creep up in several predictable and sometimes unpredictable places in our lives. These triggers cause us to feel anger because we are covering up emotions that we do not feel we should feel for fear of abandonment.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “The bottom line is that we had no voice & no choice. It left most of us feeling disenfranchised. It affects every aspect of our lives & our sense of self-worth. It’s as though we were just thrown away to be bought & sold to fulfill someone else’s needs rather than ours. Even as adults, we have to fight to gain any knowledge of our own personal health & family history, nationality & religious backgrounds, much less to know if we have biological relatives, & to claim our birth certificates. To get anywhere on our searches costs money & we have to face the potential for rejection from both our adoptive & biological families for doing it. People who were raised in their own family of origin get to take all of that for granted.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because I don’t have the basic right to be who I am, and I have a law that prevents me most of my life from talking to my own mother and father, while strangers who were married took me because they wanted to and because adoption is a form of slavery and child trafficking.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “Ambiguous grief. Why can’t you be grateful? Most adoptees are. Coercion. No one offered to help my first mother raise me. So much for helping “widows and orphans” Hijacking holy writ for personal or financial gain. Interesting that “orphans and widows” are often mentioned together in the sacred texts, implying vulnerable mothers and children. I remember one important man turning over some tables or something with the money changers. Hijacked identity. Give me my OBC.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “Decades lost with my siblings that wouldn’t have been without closed adoption.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry that the state feels I’m incapable of knowing who my biological parents are, that the adoption industry is profiting by human trafficking and that so many adoptive parents are so insecure that they are threatened by us wanting to know our truths.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because most adoptive parents don’t have the willingness to read something like this to help understand adoptees better. They label us and say, “we just had a bad adoption experience.” Adoption in itself is a bad experience, yet they refuse to listen to us! The world refuses to listen to us! Well, someone better be angry because of all the voiceless adoptees who haven’t made it on this earth. Who’s going to stand up for them? Adoptees who attempt suicide are 4x more likely than non-adoptees. When are you people going to start listening to adult adoptees? Do we have to make lists like this so you won’t shut us down? WAKE UP. I will continue to be angry until you WAKE UP! Someone has to be angry for change to happen! #ihaveavoice I will use it!” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I am angry because, for 57 years, I wasted my time thinking I had to fit in with my adopted family. I am angry because I was treated as an outsider no matter what my adoptive parents said when they had their own kids. I am angry that the government made it almost impossible for me to connect with my biological mother. I am angry when I think back to incidents where I desperately needed my adoptive mother to hug me, and she never did. When I needed my adoptive parents to listen, they never did. I am angry that they always treated me differently, and then they totally rejected me when I was a teen. But mostly, I am angry that it took me this long to realize that these people are not worth my time or effort.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I am not angry; I am hurt. I grew up in complete filth. I was abandoned at the hospital when I was born. My adoptive mother was in and out of psych wards my whole life, and my adoptive father was Satan in disguise. I had no upbringing. I searched for my health. My adoptive mother told me I would not be able to walk when I hit my thirties, and at 34, I lost some vision and live with extreme muscle pain. I am angry because I sound desperate. I almost feel like a person begging for food. Am I wrong because I want to know where I come from? Am I wrong because, for once, I want to feel like I belong? I am more desperate now than ever. I wonder all the time looking at my 17 and 14 years old. Are they okay? I cry secretly because I wish I could be a better mom like I used to be without these health issues.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “Anger is a part of the grief & loss process. No one told me I could grieve my losses growing up, so I’m doing it now. I’m 62. Every day is a struggle. I just want to know. I will not burden my birth mother. I would never blame or yell. I want answers, and I have a right to know.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “Because anger gives me the energy to handle all the hurts; if I were just to feel my sadness, I would fall into a depression. A bit of anger helps me keep my head above water to fight for adoption laws to change for adoptions to be open, ethical, and more support services. I work in adoptions because I am angry with people not doing adoptions correctly, and I want to be a part of the solution and help change and influence those around me. I am angry because I did not get a say. My loss was and still is not validated. I still don’t get a say. My reunion was 24 years ago. My adoptive parents died 20 years ago, yet I cannot unadopt myself. I cannot legally be my mother’s daughter or my father’s daughter. This makes me angry that I do not have the same self-determination as non-adoptees.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “Sometimes I have no idea why I am angry; self-worth and abandonment seem to be at the center of the feelings that do not always make sense. Angry because we are told how we should feel, but our feelings are not validated, even in our own families.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “What causes me anger as an adoptee was having to hold back my feelings as a child, and of course still now as an adult, with my adoptive parents to protect their feelings, as if theirs were the only ones that mattered. They certainly made it loud and clear that theirs mattered more than mine when it came to wanting to search for my birth mom and asking too many questions about her because they made it very clear from the get-go that they would be very hurt if I searched for her. I did it anyway in secret and found her as an adult. I am also angry that the adoptee’s voice counts for nothing.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because the government says I have no right to know who I am or where I came from….that the 14th amendment doesn’t apply to me.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because I’m expected to be grateful for losing my mother. Non-adoptees take so much for granted and are unwilling to understand our loss and grief. If one more fucking person tells me I’m lucky, I’m ready to give them an earful. I had to disguise my grief so as not to upset my adopters. I’m angry that I was given to people old enough to be my grandparents who thought a shed was an appropriate home. They didn’t legally adopt me till I was 16, and they kept that a secret, although all my ‘friends’ knew. I’m angry that I don’t belong with either my adoptive or birth families. They’re aliens to me. I didn’t search till it was too late. My mother was dead. I delayed because I didn’t want to hurt my adopters! My male adopter (I wouldn’t dignify him with the title father) was an abusive drunk. They were insensitive to my feelings. They never talked about my adoption. Well, there wasn’t one when I was growing up. They were clueless that I was seriously depressed. I hate them, and I hate my birth relatives. They, too, are insensitive. My cousin showed me a ring from my mother’s, never thinking that I’m her daughter and it should be mine. Why am I angry? Sheesh!” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I think frustrated is a better descriptor than angry. Frustrated and over being silenced, lied to, and treated like wayward children.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because I’ve never seen my own birth certificate. I’m angry because I was lied to for 34 years. I didn’t discover I was adopted until I was an adult, when my birth mother found me. The “better” family I went to was emotionally and physically abusive. I’m angry that I missed knowing my biological family for so long. My birth mom searched for ten years before finding me. Numerous relatives, including my birth father, died during that time. Health history would have been treasured (thus avoiding several tests I “needed” based on adoptive family history). I’m angry because no one supported my mother in raising me instead of making me out to be a shameful secret. I’m angry that my adoptive family denied my mental health issues when they would have been addressed openly in my bio family (all my siblings have some kind of issue that the family deals with openly and honestly). I’m angry that my birth mom didn’t make the cake at my wedding. I’m angry that we have missed so many important days together.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m not angry as much as I’m hurt. I believe I was discarded and sold (the way adoption agencies work). I was raised in a VERY dysfunctional family, and as a result, I feel like I can’t speak the truth to my biological family about how I was raised. I don’t think anyone has ever loved me, wanted me or cared about me without an ulterior motive. I’ve been alone my whole life. I’m hurt because people use words like “we know what’s best for you,” and that’s a lie. They know what’s best for them or what they want. And now, I lie to my adopted family that it’s okay that a mother raised me with mental health issues, and I lie to my bio-family that I had a happy childhood (I’m trying to protect them). The truth is, I was born alone and will probably die alone, and everybody will say they did their best. As a 9-year-old, when my ‘adoption issues’ first presented, I was told that adoption had nothing to do with any of my issues. After that, a lockstep of denial that adoption had any ill effects was the party line in my AP’s house. My adoptive mother abused and neglected me, and my adoptive father did nothing to stop it. Yes, I have anger at the adoption industry that continues to profit off my pain.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because I’m in-between two females being my mother, yet when I met one’s family, they all say I look like them. I can’t have my OBC, and my adoptive parents know who my birth mother is and her last name but will not tell me. I’ve been lied to and abused, and I’m downright sick of the lies.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because my birth father’s rights were stripped. In the 1970s, things were much different, but it’s still happening today! This makes me angry. I missed out on a lifetime with him and my sibling. This can’t be undone or replaced.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because the government does not deem me worthy of having my original birth certificate. Even my dogs have their original birth certificates; I, however, am not allowed to have mine. I would NOT change anything about my life insofar as being adopted, my adopted parents – who were the best parents anyone could have ever had — the only thing I ask for is being treated with respect as a human being – I have the right to know who I am, where I come from and who I come from and my ancestry – I don’t think that’s asking too much.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “My parents adopted me and then treated me like shit. People always ask me, “Why did they adopt you?” It’s the million-dollar question. The closest I could come to was that I was a lemon for them, and they had buyer’s remorse. For some reason, I still hung on from the fringes, and it wasn’t until I read this page that it occurred to me that I could simply let go and just walk away from the pain of being an outcast in my immediate adoptive family. I haven’t yet let go, and maybe I won’t, but it sucks to feel like you were rejected twice and still feel a connection to people who, for all insensitive purposes, don’t want me. It does give me some measure of comfort that at some point, should I choose to, I can decide to divorce my family and just be me, not defined by them and all that I endured as their “Mistake.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry that my adopted mother was so desperate for a child that she ignored the wishes of my natural Mother. I know she knew. I’m angry that my natural Grandmother was a coward who sent the Doctor in to pull me away. I’m angry at my natural Grandfather, who said he’d throw my mom out on the street if she kept me. I’m angry that there was no advocate for her and me and that it wasn’t anyone in her family. I’m angry at the pain she went through, enough to experience the feeling of not wanting to be because I love her.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because I was robbed of my culture and heritage, and I’m not a transracial adoptee. I was adopted by a couple who were not good parents – they were extreme narcissists who demanded a culture of denial. I figured out early that it was my job to meet their needs (not the other way around). They allowed a grandfather to abuse me sexually, and although they knew it was going on, they kept that man as a member of the family. Just another indignity an 8-year-old had to endure to keep the peace. I was verbally ridiculed and minimized and physically abused. I kept quiet until I was in my 50s. Now old family friends don’t want to believe it and want to cast me as an ungrateful adoptee. Ungrateful for what? I’d like to add that I don’t thank my biological mother for giving me life. I don’t know why this is part of the social myth of adoption. Either have us and keep us or don’t have us, but don’t have us and give us away, and try to claim some moral high ground. Being abandoned and left to strangers creates deep wounds that last a lifetime and are passed to the next generation. Many times I considered suicide. After all, my history, culture, and identity were killed, what part of me is left?” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “This is the anger talking, which comes from the deep well of hurt we carry. We may be fortunate enough to find our strength and self-esteem, but we often don’t feel valued by the world, so our self-worth sucks. I am angry that we must work hard to overcome adoption to survive and thrive. I’m angry that many of us can’t.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because a social worker shut down my search when I was fifteen by telling me that my biological mother probably wasn’t as interested in me as I was in her. Forty years later, I searched again, only to find both parents dead.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because the loneliness and genetic confusion of adoption are passed down to the next generation when our kids don’t know who their true ancestors are unless we undertake a financially and emotionally costly search that is fraught with obstacles, rejection, and ignorant “experts.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because the non-adoption community is bloody ignorant yet full of self-righteous opinions. I’m angry because adoption is child trafficking pure and simple, and has become glamorized by Hollywood and the powerful – so that adoptees don’t have a voice.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m now in my 50s. I am still angry (that’s not the right word – I’m furious, enraged, deeply saddened, distraught) about being given away. My adoption was miserable. I felt disconnected, filled with self-loathing, and inferior. I was told I was special, but how could I be special when I felt dirty and bad inside. My adoptive mother was abusive and completely dominated my adoptive father. I think she was probably a narcissistic personality – she wanted children because it was part of her perfect package but couldn’t accept my sister and me for the people we were. I wasn’t their child. I wasn’t what they wanted. I was their last resort. The other week, I suddenly burst into tears in public at the thought that my birth mother had abandoned me in a children’s home at four weeks old. I’ve never done that before. I suppose that was grief showing itself – and I’m scared that so much grief is still inside me. Unlike many adoptees, I found my birth parents. And for me, this was the twist in the tail. Both my birth parents are self-absorbed and irresponsible. Much to my disbelief, I discovered that my birth mother had the choice to keep me – a former boyfriend who still cared about her and wanted to marry her and raise me as his own child. But she chose not to, telling me it wouldn’t have been right because she didn’t love him. A year later, she went ahead and married him anyway. And on top of that, when I met her, she used me to try to re-establish contact with my birth father. I understand that losing a child to adoption caused her irreparable pain. But I have no words to describe what I’ve lived with throughout my life and what that discovery did to me – the self-doubt, the hatred, the isolation blew up almost out of control. Adoption is destruction. The ties are broken and can’t be fixed. A baby’s development, emotional and mental, is radically altered by the adoption experience. Why, when so many ‘minority’ groups can have a voice in society, are the voices of adoptees still smothered? I detest the hypocrisy that human life is sacred – if we truly believed that, adoption, as it is now, would no longer exist. Don’t have a child and give it away. Keep it, or don’t go through with the pregnancy.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I have said I choose who my family is. The thing about that is that they don’t feel the same about you. People always treat their blood differently. They care about them more. They will do more for them. On top of that, I ended up in a family I don’t mesh with. I struggle to socialize with them. I don’t know-how. My parents love me as their own, and the extended family doesn’t. I also feel I have a right to know who I am. I am stuck in this never-ending identity crisis.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I am angry that the court, which symbolizes justice, approved and arranged for me to live out my life as a secret (it was a closed adoption) even from myself. I am angry that I normalized being a secret to the point that I was willing to participate in other relationships where I was required to be a secret. I couldn’t see the selfishness and the lack of respect these people were showing me. Like a child, I still believed I was still being protected by being kept a secret! I am also angry about being a receptacle for the shame, resentment, and disappointment both my mothers feel about their actions. Lastly, I am angry about how non-adopted people responded when I searched. Eventually, I experienced a secondary rejection from my birth mother. People asked about the well-being of both sets of parents at this time. Some expressed sorrow and compassion for my birth mother, who rejected me. Others praised my adoptive parents for their patience and support. No one asked me how I was doing or felt about being rejected again. When I tried to voice my feelings, someone said, “Hey, this isn’t a competition, you know.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “Angry; since my older sister turned seventeen and decided to seek out our biological mom, my adopted mother believes she is a victim. In some cases, she may be, but that didn’t give her the right to treat me any differently because I wanted to know where I came from. It is years later, and I do NOT even talk to my biological family, none of them. In my adopted family’s eyes, I am now an adult and on my own, which I agree with, but please, let the past go. No matter what decision I made, It was “MY” decision. Some information for anyone thinking about adopting; NOT everyone will want to meet their biological families, but if they do, don’t hold it against them; or think they do not love you.”- Adult Adoptee

  1. “I was having a bad day, and finally I journaled and what I am most angry about and hurt about adoption is why I could not be loved? What was so difficult about loving a child? I was never told. I, too, am angry that the government or anyone else who helped keep me a “secret.” I do love my adoptive parents and always will. (They both passed three years ago). In saying that, it’s also because I have had to forgive them for finally letting go. I now understand all my feelings growing up, and how I was mistreated finally made sense. I don’t know what it’s like to have that “unconditional” love. I was always looking to be a part of another family. I asked if I was adopted several times growing up, and I was told “NO.” I have no contact with my siblings. Everything was always in my “head.” I was also raised in the military. My biological father was KIA before I was born. So many lies & secrets. I always used to feel like I wasn’t good enough. “It’s my fault what happened to me.” I make excuses for their behavior. I have had to learn to let go of people finally. I have P.T.S.D, and there are lots of triggers. I need to start talking about how adoption hurt me and how many times I have been wounded. How the hell am I going to make it through this?” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry that my birth and my history are still huge questions on my mind, although I’ve been in a reunion for 20 years. I’m angry that people feel the need to keep secrets about MY past and birth. Most of all, I’m angry because I’ve doubted myself and questioned what’s wrong with me my entire life; why can’t somebody answer these questions? Sometimes it’s life or death.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I wasn’t even adopted. I think I was stolen from my mother, dying from hunger and depression. Loneliness, stigma, trauma, abuse, PTSD, depression, anxiety disorders, sleep hyper-vigilance, distrust from others, nature, nurture, and the environment, and being rejected by everyone, mocked at, and humiliated for being different. People around either neglect or despise the facts, call me boring and are totally insensitive, and never listen to an adoptee’s reasons. The Primal wound, that is, the separation from mother, is a disintegration of the self, and no one cares about us. We are faced with terror and abuse, and no one cares because usually, It’s a life of lies and lots of repressed rages which we are forbidden to express. Adding to this, I was hated by my adoptive family. It’s tough to survive after all that. Nothing seems credible, long-lasting, or possible. It’s torture and only through an immense amount of self-sacrifices (tragic sacrifices, self-victimization, etc.) did I survive.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I am angry that so many people think we as adoptees should be grateful because our adoptive parents saved us, so we should shut our mouths to any gripes we have about them and be eternally thankful towards them. I am angry that I never felt like I fit in and that I had a huge identity crisis my entire life until I found my birth parents to confirm what I did internally know about myself so that I felt explained and I felt like I understood why I was the way I am so I didn’t feel so out of place, I finally feel accepted and finally know why I was drawn to all I was drawn to, why I react to things as I do and where my talents and interests and values and quirks come from.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I am angry that I have to live a double life as a 37-year-old to hide from my adoptive parents that I have found my birth mom to protect their feelings because it’s all about them, which as a parent of my own biological child, it should never be that way, IMHO. When I say these things, I’m angry that I get told I just had a bad adoption experience. I’m angry that adoption truth is hidden along with my identity and family. The most sacred bond of family is destroyed by adoption, cruel and barbaric, extreme, insanity; imagine preventing family association, absolutely disgusting!” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I am angry because I am 52 years old and have been brainwashed all of my life to believe that I was “chosen” while the fact that I was torn away from my natural mother was swept under the rug like it didn’t matter or wouldn’t have an impact on me for the rest of my life. I am angry because if my 15-year-old mother had received the support she needed to keep me, I might have known what it’s like to feel whole instead of being judged, shamed, and beaten down. I am angry because my adoptive parents weren’t educated on the problems I would have due to being torn away from my natural mother. I did not receive the validation, recognition, or support I needed to deal with that trauma. I am angry that even though I have met and connected with my natural family for 34 years, I still don’t fit or feel whole. I am angry that these things are still happening in 2018 to other innocent babies and children who are expected to fulfill everyone else’s needs while being ‘trained’ to ignore and bury their own needs. Needs that go unrecognized, unacknowledged, and unsupported by the vast majority of society, medical and mental health professionals, religious institutions, child welfare agencies, and discriminatory laws.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “Why do we have to be labeled as Angry? That makes me Angry. I’m lost in pain. I should be; I was rejected in the womb and ripped away from the womb, and placed in unfamiliar surroundings as a baby. It’s haunting. I’m tired of all the labels placed on me, mental, angry, angry adopted child. I’m not mental, and I’m not angry. I’m hurt. It hurts me that they give so much attention to the parents and not the baby or child. I get it that it’s got to be hard giving your baby away, but it’s 100 times harder on the baby. We all know what it takes to make a baby, and if you don’t want to deal with the pain of giving a baby away, don’t make one. If I want to be hurt or angry, I have that right, and it doesn’t make me bad.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I am angry because my mother never believed that her family (cousins) said racist things to me. “She’s not really our cousin; look how dirty her skin is.” (5 years old) She made blood more important. I’m angry because she made me compete with a child who never existed. “You’re the only fat family member.” I am angry because the parent that understood me and loved me as me died, and I am left with a dependent abusive alcoholic narcissist who can hide her true self from everyone else. Everyone allows her to drink, and when she’s at the point where she’s no longer fun, they dump her onto me, and I hear about how I am a “disappointing alien child. To find your real parents cause you’re a selfish, ungrateful thing I regret.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I am angry because I have no idea who I am or where I come from. I’ve met my biological mother, with absolutely no connection there. I asked her who my father was; she told me she didn’t remember. I call bullshit! When I tell my wife about things like this, she says,” Did you consider how she feels?” I say it’s not about her, remember? She had a choice. My biological mother has never made any attempts to tell her story, so again I don’t know. I remember growing up and people telling me how ” lucky ” I was because I was chosen? Oh, yea? Give it some time, and tell yourself how lucky you are. I’m 48 years old and still feel at odds with everything around me. I feel like I’m either ten years ahead or ten years behind. I have serious trust issues, even with friends. I wonder if I will ever have peace in my life.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I am justifiably angry that adoptive parents and society put so much effort into being saviors, meeting their own needs and not ours, and expecting us to be eternally grateful. Why not have placed more effort in helping my family stay together and keep me as a part of it. For that, I would not only have been grateful, but I would also be functional with none of the burden of the primal wound I carry today from not only being separated from my parents but from being sexually and emotionally abused for eight years by the family I was given to. Better off, I beg to differ.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry that my birth and my history are still a huge question on my mind although I’ve been in reunion for 20 years. I’m angry that people feel the need to keep secrets about MY past and birth. Most of all, I’m angry because I’ve doubted myself and questioned what’s wrong with me my entire life. Why can’t somebody answer these questions? Sometimes it’s life or death.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because I was two years old when my mother fainted from hunger and exhaustion, and I was sort of kidnapped to awake in the arms of strangers. The aftermath was that I was bullied, made fun of by everyone in the village, and stalked, put down because I was the unworthy, dirty, shitty blood of a miserable beggar, and I would never make it through in life. I’m angry because I was denied grief. After all, the extended adoptive family rejected me. I couldn’t contact my family of origin because shit is contagious. I tried to run away from home, I tried suicide with Valium at thirteen, and no one cared about my inhuman suffering. I suffered from hypervigilance so much, so limited, and had to put a false front on being well, and I became thinner and thinner. Although my parents knew, they were ashamed and denied the disease (my torture) until I was near death at 21.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I applied for my adoption information from children’s aid, and they knew who my birth mother was, but they never told me even tho legally they should have. It didn’t stop me. I found her anyway. Now I know my medical history, but the doctors are not taking me seriously or believing what I found. If I wasn’t adopted, I could say any medical history and just be believed. I grieve for my family and my sisters and brothers, and since there is no place for that grief, it turns to hardened anger over time.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because the adoptive family was extremely abusive to me. They had a biological son who could do no wrong. I, however, was blamed for everything! My adoptive mother told everyone not to believe anything I said because I was a “Chronic Liar.” It hurt horribly. Later, I realized it was because she didn’t want anyone to know that her husband was an abusive alcoholic and her son was sexually assaulting me and beating me regularly. She was afraid I would tell someone, and they would believe me. She told everyone how bad I was and would pit her son against me with flashcards to show how smarter he was. She would punish me if I got the math problems wrong. The three of them called me horrible names. Her husband was a racist and told me one day that he would kill me if I ever dated a black man! Their son saw me talking to a black male friend at school. He came home and told them I had a black boyfriend. My adoptive mom took me to the doctor to determine if I were still a virgin! I was accused of being a slut! When I found my bio family, my aunt told me that my adoptive father had visited them and told them he would bring me by to meet them. He was drunk and could barely stand up. He never returned. He never told me they lived a few short miles from me. I never knew they even existed. I found them after I married, years later! There are many more reasons why I’m so angry; however, it would take me years to write them all!” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I am angry on behalf of that defenseless baby boy who had no say in the matter and is still, at 50 (me), has no say in the matter. Like all other relinquishees/adoptees, I have suffered undiagnosed complex PTSD from the moment my mother relinquished me until now. I have been expected to function as well as ‘normal’ people; needless to say, I have been handicapped in competing, but no one acknowledged that handicap. I was relinquished by my mother, then again by a foster mother, and again by a second foster mother to finally be adopted, all within six months of my birth. Unsurprisingly, I have been unable to cognitively function all my life, suffering very frequent inexplicable ‘mental blocks’ resulting in minimal productivity. Although I am educated to an MA level, I am inevitably regarded as ‘slow’ in the workplace. After ‘failing’ in no less than 30 of the most menial jobs, I have finally given up as unemployable (you can only bang your head against the wall so many times before continuing to do so becomes a silly idea), intending to confront head-on the reason for this tragic pattern. I need therapy but can’t afford it. Only other adoptees who have escaped their own denial mechanisms can acknowledge invisible internal injury. Since no one has pleaded the cause of this baby boy (me), rather actually or implicitly, all have told me to “let it go!” (how ironic); until now, I am simply going to have to do it myself. I am LIVID with humanity that no one could be bothered, not even myself, until now: it’s taken 50 years for someone to speak up for him and that someone is himself: truly sickening! 1968 Mosley, Birmingham, UK, ‘closed reinquishee/adoptee.’ SPEAK OUT FOR ALL SUCH INNOCENT VICTIMS OF WHOM THERE ARE MILLIONS!” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I am angry because I was secreted away into an illegal adoption and lived all my life feeling like a dirty secret. My biological Mom checked into the hospital under my adoptive Mother’s name, so on paper, it looks like I ‘belong’ to her and my adoptive Father. There’s no original birth certificate to try to petition for; there’s no non-identifying information to peruse. From the very beginning, my entire life has been a fraud, a complete fraud that I was supposed to be ‘thankful’ for. I was lucky enough to find my bio Mom and try to get to know her for a year and five months before she died. We were both so guarded that we never let our walls down to get to know each other truly. I protected her feelings as many of us adoptees do and never told her of the hell she put me in by giving me to my adoptive family. They didn’t know how to love me. They were abusive physically, emotionally, mentally, and sexually. I went without basic needs for most of my childhood and was told to be thankful because ‘No one wanted me.’ I should feel lucky because I could have been aborted or thrown in the trash, but they saved me like a stray fucking dog, and I should just be thankful. I wasn’t given ‘up’; I was certainly handed down to the depths of hell and told to be thankful. Finding my biological Mom and family showed me that they were a pretty functional tight-knit family that had each other’s back no matter what, but I didn’t have that growing up. I felt so sad and hurt that I couldn’t be a part of that then and not now either. My Mom is dead, and the connection to the rest of the family died when she did. We’re all just strangers, and our link has been gone now for 14 years. Recently, 21 days ago, I found my biological father. All the info my bio Mom gave me was completely false. I think the truth lies that she didn’t know who my father was, and she didn’t trust me enough not to hate her if she told me that, so she just made up a story and a name to go with it. My Father had no idea that my Mom was even pregnant, let alone that he had a 42-year-old daughter out, lost in the world wondering who the fuck she was all this time. He has embraced me with open arms and tells me that I’m the light of his life. Finally, I have the love and acceptance I have craved since I came out of the womb, but I don’t know how to take it. I don’t know how to accept goodness and truly feel it without conflict. I feel I’m betraying everyone in my adoptive family, although betrayal is what they deserve and more. I’m just so fucking mad that I’ve had to stuff these emotions my entire life to make everyone else comfortable with their lie. The lie that they based my life on and then called me crazy and mentally ill. What the fuck would they do if the tables were turned? I doubt they would persevere the way I have. I am an angry, fucked up complete badass, and I will conquer this. I WILL right this lie one step at a time with my truth. I’m no longer living in the shadows of what they think I should be, what they think I should think, and what they think I should feel. Fuck them!! And I’m done being ‘thankful’ for the pure hell and torture they put me through. Done!” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I am a 58-year-old international adoptee. Yesterday, I asked four adoptive family members why they voted for Trump because I was so upset at seeing innocent children separated from their parents at the Mexico-California border. None of them asked why I needed to know, and I thought I was out of line for asking them. They told me I was rude and didn’t want to know why I wanted to know. They were uninterested in finding out that I felt betrayed by them for lifelong callousness to brown immigrants when I am also one. It doesn’t matter to them to understand how the plight of these children, who will be traumatized for life by the cruelty of Trump, could possibly relate to my situation as a 58-year-old adoptee to their Christian family. They refused to acknowledge that the death of my original mother and separation from my original father, sister, and brother, all in one day, and soon after separation from my original country, culture, language, and empowerment is a valid loss that deserved to be acknowledged. Instead, I was dismissed by my adoptive family as a whining selfish ingrate. I was adopted at age four and told that I was their fifth choice of a child after four fruitless searches for a white baby in Illinois. My adoptive Christian family frequently told me that I was selfish and ungrateful because I cried every day for 18 months. My adoptive mother told me to be silent or she would give me something to cry about. Every day for 18 months, I hid in the closet and cried/screamed into a pillow, trying to keep quiet so I wouldn’t be hit for making noise. No one to this day, 54 years later, has even figured out that I lost four blood family members in such a short time. One adoptive cousin, age 60, was surprised that I had ever had any blood relatives to speak of as if I had just somehow appeared at their family place at age 4. No one has ever asked me to describe any memories of my original family, which I have, or how I felt at seeing my original mother die and the resulting devastation to my original father and brother. My sister was a baby, and I remember her crying and my father being desperate to find someone to nurse her. My adoptive family has not been interested that my original father carried my baby sister and had my brother and me follow behind him and hold hands to stay together. They do not care that I remember the echo of footsteps as my father left with my baby sister, telling us that he would return for us. They did not want to hear that; after two days of waiting, my brother attacked another homeless child to get food for me. I remember him attacking several other children so that I could eat over the next few days, but he ate very little. We never saw our father and sister again. When the police found us, we were separated and did not see each other again. When I wrote about this experience, my adoptive family barely read it. When I tried to describe it ten years ago, they told each other (as if I were still invisible in the room) that I had made it up and just shook their heads, rolling their collective eyes. They never asked how or why I could remember or how I felt about the loss. They have never deemed me intelligent enough to understand them, although I am more educated than they are. It has never dawned on them that passing items down in the family through their bloodline and letting me have one table, which was rejected by six others first, might be hurtful. It never occurred to them that leaving me out of their wills might be inconsiderate. Although they claim to be Christian, my adoptive mother, 2 of my adoptive uncles, both ministers, one adoptive aunt, and three adoptive cousins have told me that they agree with each other that I am spoiled and do not appreciate how lucky I was to have them as a family. Since they certainly know how to appreciate each other. They do not realize how many times they left me in the kitchen to clean up for them while the real Christian family enjoyed time together in the dining room. They don’t remember asking me to serve them coffee and tea as if I didn’t deserve to join them at the table. When children, and even two teachers, bullied me at school and church, my adoptive mother told me I had imagined it and that it had not happened. No one believes that my adoptive parents hit me on my first day in the USA for not understanding their instructions to follow them down the grocery store aisle. My first memory of life in the USA was off running down the store aisle, screaming in fear and wondering what I had done that these two big people were chasing me and trying to hit me. That’s when the 18 months of crying started. They have frequently told me directly and in more insidious ways that they feel I am going to hell for being so ungrateful to them for all they did for me. The extended family clarifies that they love my adoptive mother, and her two Christian brothers/ministers and nieces and nephews all think it is okay to phone and email me with orders of things they want to be done for their beloved sister/aunt. Her friends insist that I have an obligation to care for her forever since she took care of me. Is that balanced since she took care of me for only 14 years? Do I really owe her and them forever, or should I just go to hell as they tell me I am going to for not fulfilling their expectations? As recently as a few days ago, the same cousin who didn’t realize that I had blood relatives that I could remember was also telling me that I was going to hell for wishing that the person responsible for hurting innocent children at the border deserved to stand judgment for crimes against humanity. Yesterday, my adoptive mother told me that I had no right to judge this administration for anything they were doing, and I realized that she was the fifth adoptive family member to vote for him. Today, I notified five adoptive family members by phone that I never wanted them to contact me again. Why am I angry? Perhaps, it should be obvious to any decent person.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry, hurt, bitter, and sad. My adoptive parents gave me some of my paperwork. I was placed in Foster care at 11 weeks old. My biological mother had a chance to get me back, and she didn’t give up. They didn’t even care to look for my Dad. I Have abandonment issues that always surface no matter what is going on. I’m angry that no one is looking for me. I’m not allowed to know my beginning life story because the state has decided that I can’t handle it. It makes me so angry that everyone gets to hold on to my life story and not share it with me. I’m 52, and I have so many trust issues. My adoptive parents loved me. But it was simply not enough. Sometimes I just want to scream aloud to non-adoptees that they have all the privileges. I have to beg for information about myself. I’m angry because I was told at 52 that I may have a twin and nobody can help me. Both my adoptive parents are deceased. I always feel that I’m on the outside, not even able to look in the window. Some days I feel like a lost 5-year-old.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m in my 40s and was adopted at birth. I am angry because my entire life has been a scam. I wish that my birth mother would’ve had an abortion rather than leave me with abusive strangers. My life has been a nightmare, and I wish it would end. I recently found my bio father through DNA testing and found that he is successful, wealthy, and has a great life. It seems like everyone has had a great life except for me. I have had non-stop abuse, loss, and harm come my way. It feels like a curse. Everyone treats me like an object. No one has ever sympathized with my loss. I’ve never had a family or love. I’ve never had anyone who cared about me, my life, or my future. I’ve only been surrounded by narcissists who only cared about me concerning what I could do for them or how I could make their lives appear to others. Women need to stop giving their children up for adoption and just get an abortion. I think that my bio mother made big money from selling me, so I guess that the cash incentive is too great for people to do the right thing.”- Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because my adoptive parents didn’t have enough decency to try to integrate my culture into my life once they adopted me from China. They always said, “love sees no color,” which was exceptionally damaging when you are a colored person growing up in America, not resembling anyone. Not only did they rob me of my roots and culture, but they raised me to be white like them. The damage can’t be undone, and I will be spending the rest of my life trying to unravel the layers of pain.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “Anything rooted in secrecy and lies, co-signed by all the people who say they love you, is a complete mental mind fuck for adoptees. I’m angry because of the subtle hints of brainwashing I experienced that started in my childhood, like, “You were my greatest gift!” and “You were chosen!” After all, my adoptive parent’s biggest dreams came true to be parents. I was groomed to be grateful, so how could I possibly feel sad for the loss I feel? I’m angry because no one would allow me the space to feel the grief and loss at a younger age, and now it’s boiling over. I have had such significant anger issues; it’s a miracle I’m not in prison for murder. Thankfully, I have finally identified the root of my anger: abandonment and rejection from my adoption experience. It’s too bad I have wasted so much time with no tools or resources, and my life is almost over. I am 68 years old. My adoptive parents and biological parents are dead and gone. I have been unraveling the damage adoption has done my entire life now. If only I had known sooner that my anger was valid and a part of the healing process and learned how to process the pain, I wouldn’t feel so isolated and alone. I would have found internal peace long ago. ” – Adult Adoptee

  1. ” I have spent most of my life completely numb from all my feelings associated with being adopted. The feelings were so gigantic that they scared me. I did everything not to feel because I didn’t know how to handle such emotions, especially when adoptees have never had tools, and therapists can hardly scratch the surface of the layers of the adoptee experience. After two failed marriages, I finally concluded that anger is a legitimate feeling regarding the magnitude of the adoptee’s experience. Being ripped from my mother at birth and lied to my whole life by my adoptive parents and gaslit when I share feelings, it’s no wonder my anger didn’t kill me. Today, I’m thankful I know my anger is valid and legit, and if you are an adoptee, so is yours. It’s what we do with that anger is the key. It can eat us alive, or we can take it and use it for good.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “Anger is one of three responses created by loss of the primal mother. Shame and grief are the other two. Chronic anger is a serious problem that needs to be resolved. We have to avoid reinforcing anger in support groups. We validate it, but if it goes on, it will cause serious problems.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I am angry because I never felt unconditional love. I was promiscuous because I was seeking love and validation. I am angry that everyone dismisses my pain. I’m angry because I don’t know who I am, where I come from, or who I look like. I’m angry because my children are the only biological relation I know. I’m angry my records are sealed, and even though I found my biological mom, I can’t get any info on my biological dad. I’m angry I am a secret that only two people know about in the family. Every time I go to the doctor, I’m angry that I have to write “ADOPTED – UNKNOWN” on my medical history. I’m angry that I demand loyalty and cut people off if I feel slighted, so they don’t have the chance to abandon me. I’m angry because I’ve been sad my entire life.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I am 52 and angry. I was adopted by people almost as old as my grandparents. They adopted my brother and me because people would think they were “weird” being childless. They were already planning for retirement and were cheap, which turned me to thievery to have what other kids had. It was sad getting a used bike for your birthday. I was left with babysitters so the parents could go on vacations. I blame this for my lack of perspective, not even knowing what was out there. By default, I was a poor rich kid, things were expected, but nothing was there that other kids around me had. I knew from an early age I was less than, so I watched my life from a distance expecting less. I was always alone, with nobody to comfort me. I can remember being sad, wanting to run away. There was nowhere to go. I thought about hurting myself and did in many ways. I was a boy who needed a real man for a father, not just a provider. In 2009, many years after my parents died, I felt worried about my birth mother. I was told she was probably a drug addict or alcoholic. Was this a way to explain the Primal Wound? Even though counseling as a child, being adopted was never mentioned as a source of the ills. When I finally found out who my birth family was, I realized it was my grandmother who had passed in 2009, AND my grandparents AND the rest of my family never knew I was born. I was literally born into darkness. A fate I tried to ignore, I put on a brave face, a smile, and laughter. Secretly I wondered what kind of people would make their daughter give up her child, but then I found out they never had a chance. I was born a lie! For this, I am angry. After a year and a half, my birth aunt, who I messaged, and was ignored, told me to go away in so many words. The lie was essential to keep. My birth mother is married to the same man and has two children and grandchildren. I will not ruin her family, but I will forever wonder why I was given the name I used here if there was no hope. Why name a kid if you give them away? When my adopted parents died, I found the name on legal paperwork. I hate who I am, and I hate all who shunned me. I hate that my adopted mother had a miracle baby and further withdrew. One of my earliest memories is being dropped off at a youth center and told by my mom there was a bus going to a park. It was for teenagers, and I was left alone. My mom drove off without talking to anyone. This experience opened the door to my abandonment, an awareness of being alone. Because of this, I did not have children. I like kids, they are a joy, but I did not want to ruin anyone’s life. At 52, I question these decisions and more.

  1. I’m hurt like hell. And I’ve finally come to a place where I can admit I’m angry. Anger is something you’re not allowed to feel. It’s a negative emotion. And we should be grateful. We should look on the bright side. We should love people unconditionally. We should accept people’s limitations. They do the best they can. It’s our expectations of others that cause us to hurt. But I call bullshit. We were kids. Defenseless babies. Wounded children. Broken adults. It was not their best. I was taken away from my birth mother. She didn’t fight for me. She let it be. I’m angry at my extended family for not stepping in. And consequently, for the abuse, I suffered. The neglect. The lack of affection. For watching my foster families treat their children differently. For still feeling like an outsider. For still being excluded. For being treated as less than. For treating my children as less than. I’m tired too. Tired of trying to prove my worth. Of trying to win their affection. Of pretending to be someone, I’m not. A shadow of who I am. I’m like a kid saying, pick me, pick me. And this pattern is prevalent in many of my relationships. We should be grateful, you know. We’re lucky, remember. You must never forget that they took us in when nobody wanted us. It’s probably all in our heads. It’s our own insecurities. So don’t say anything. Nobody loves a negative Nancy. You’re one of the lucky ones. I’ve come a long way. But honestly, some parts of me are so broken. The damage is done. And I can’t fix it. I can only live with it the best I can.

  1. I have been angry for most of my 52 years, and I never truly understood why. I recently left a crappy, abusive marriage. I used it as a catalyst to understand how I could have ever let myself, an honest, hardworking, loving, caring person, accept so little from what was supposed to be my primary relationship. I finally understand that fear of rejection (again) has affected so much in my life and made me feel unable to express myself adequately and fight for myself properly and try and please everyone around me in the end, leaving me exhausted and drained and desperately unhappy. All the feelings of anger and rage were stuffed down until I didn’t really feel anything anymore. I’m still unpacking it day by day and hope that one day I can just learn to feel I am worthwhile without having to prove it to myself endlessly. I still struggle with getting angry when I shouldn’t and not getting angry when I should. But anger just seems to be my factory setting.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “Why would an adoptee be angry? The separation of a child from its mother increases the risk of various deep-rooted forms of psychopathology based on attachment theory. These problems may manifest themselves in adolescence and continue through to adulthood. Every adopted child has feelings they can’t fully comprehend, including grief, denial, abandonment, low self-esteem, and anger. There are a thousand reasons why adoption puts them in an irritable and irascible mood. Knowing that they were rejected by their parents and discarded by family torments them, and no amount of external love can overcome this internal torture and humiliation. It’s almost impossible to emerge unscathed from any situation that makes a child available for adoption, and every adopted child has experienced loss, or they wouldn’t be available for adoption. Their lives are complicated by painful backstories and gaps in their life’s story that causes emotional suffering. Traumatized by the experience, many of them need help learning to understand their emotions and how to deal with them. They are hurt by the adoption experience and confused by the lack of an authentic self-identity. They sense that something is intrinsically wrong without always knowing why. They are grieved by the difficulties they are forced to endure without ever understanding the reasons for the lifelong banishment they have received. Conscious awareness that their life’s journey has been coldly interrupted leaves many adoptees feeling overwhelmed by a sense of helplessness, annoyance, and displeasure.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because it was never my burden to be the balm to my adoptive mother’s own wounds. If anyone had cared even a smidgen to allow me to be authentically me, I’d not be just shy of 50 and still trying to figure out who I am.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I am angry because I am treated worse than an illegal immigrant as an adoptee. My adoptive parents have been fabulous, but because I am adopted, neither the British nor German governments are prepared to give me citizenship – the reason being “you are adopted” claim through your biological parents. I was given up at birth anonymously. I do not know who my biological parents are! Are these governments saying my parents are not my parents!?” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because I’ve had issues with self-esteem issues, clinical depression, anxiety, and trust issues all my life, and I’ve never been able to connect with my adoptive family no matter how hard I try. I’m angry because when I go out with family, I know I don’t look like my parents, and it’s evident to everyone that I got ABANDONED by my own mother and sold to a different family as plan B (my parents tried to have a baby and couldn’t). I’m angry because I’ve had issues with so many health issues, and I don’t know my history or genetic background and what I could be at risk of when I’m older. I’m angry because I’m treated like a second-class citizen at school and sometimes in public. But, most of all, I’m angry because I lost my entire family. I lost my mother, father, sisters, brothers, grandparents, and cousins, replacing them with new ones. I know I should be grateful because a loving family adopted me. If I weren’t adopted, I would never have had the extraordinary life and opportunities I have now, but I can’t shake the feeling of abandonment. I know that I will never feel like I belong anywhere. Transracial adoption, I had to grow up as the only AA kid in the community and school. The anger talks, and so does the grief. I do not belong in any sort of society, so I live in a tiny town to be left alone.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I am angry because my adoptive mother (my adoptive father died when I was two) only got me because it was the done thing in wealthy families to have children, and at 40, she didn’t want anyone thinking she was sterile. She was a real bitch, always saying I was a no-good idiot at school, and she made me thank her every day for what she had done (saved me from the gutter, or my mother was no doubt a prostitute). Her favorites slapped me across the face or banged my head against the wall for any minor fault (spilling soup from the spoon onto the tablecloth) and constantly humiliated me in front of anybody. I hated her and left for another country at eighteen and had minimal contact since. The day I heard she had died was the best day of my life.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because I have zero answers. I’m angry because I am rejected. I’m angry because I will always be different. I’m angry about the PTSD that I was traumatized with as a young kid. I’m angry about the anxiety I was given. I’m angry for always feeling like a burden or unwanted. I’m angry that I will never meet my siblings that THEY KEPT! They kept two of the four. Am I not good enough for them? I love both families because they are both dear to me. That doesn’t mean I’m not EXTREMELY hurt or angry or disappointed.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I am angry because I feel so hurt and lost. I am angry at the consulate of my birth country, who didn’t understand why I wanted to find information about my biological family. I am angry that my biological mother passed away before I could meet her. I am angry I was separated from my half-sister and haven’t been able to find her. I am angry because I “look and act white ” but am fiercely proud of being Latina but don’t fit into the Latino community either. I am hurt because I have fears of being abandoned. I am hurt that I will likely never know any of my immediate biological family. I am hurt my adoptive mother didn’t think to take a photo of my birth mother when she met her. I am angry my biological dad abandoned my biological mom and never sought me out.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I am a foster care and adoption survivor. Why am I angry? I’m angry because authorities, who insisted and still insist, they know what’s best for babies, for me, acted as if true ancestry and heritage and mother didn’t matter nor had value to a baby, to me, to any child that comes biologically from a particular ancestry, heritage, mother. But we ARE from whom we come. We are not blank slate programmable dollies. I’m angry because who I ended up with could pretend the part on the rare occasion of barely any official scrutiny, and because it wasn’t the bonkers they saw with my mom, it was not just good enough; it was great. I am angry because authorities interpreted my tenacity, intelligence, and resilience as sole evidence of a safe home and adequate caregiving. I am angry because I saw babies, and kids, come and go in that foster home, but I was the prize to the lonely old widow wanted, so she’d tell me how others wanted me, but she wouldn’t let them and told me how loved and special I was to her, but continuously neglected me, used me. I am angry that the widow brainwashed me into believing her mental illness was love and that not being hers was not better, that her alcoholic adult biological son could dislocate my arm at age 4, then show up in court at age 6 to be her advocate and her crutch to the judge, saying I didn’t need a father because I had her glorious son that was like a father. I am angry because I was smarter and more conscientious than they were as a small child but was held captive, deluded, and poorly formed from the lies, ignorance, the gaslighting. I am angry because I was molested by a neighbor, physically and emotionally abused by the foster family, then the court said they were worthy of adopting me. I am angry because the only one that could have saved me was me, but I was so scrambled, and no child should be responsible for saving themselves! I am angry because I was supposed to be her partner, her spite child, the replacement for her husband, her three biological sons, and her two biological grandkids who just weren’t good enough for her. I am angry because she was in borderline poverty but allowed to adopt me, and we lived on food stamps for a while. I am angry because everyone on the outside called her an angel, but her actual family stayed as far away as they could or got good and drunk to be around her. I am angry because she didn’t like or love who I was. I am angry because I was only good when I made her feel good and when she could brag about me when I was her minion. I am angry that I was fetishized and objectified from the start. I am angry that I am nothing like her family, and I was expected to act and think to look different so that I could show up and pretend for their sake. I am angry I had to call her mother and allow her to call me daughter and that I didn’t realize how wrong and damaging that dynamic is/was until I was over 30 years old. I am angry my mother was molested and grew up in an orphanage. I am angry that her trauma and illness were demonized, and no one gave me context. I am angry that I heard I was lucky, chosen, blessed, and special every step of the way. I am angry that foster turned adoptive mother could tell everyone, “she was #28 of 49 foster kids. We kept her because she was special”. I’m grateful that she’s dead and that I cut contact with her family, and that for the last five years, I have finally begun to heal. I think I will get a small holocaust-style tattoo on my arm someday that says “28:49″ because I don’t want to lose sight of how righteous my indignation truly is or forget that children still, yet, today, need people like me to fight and speak for them. I’m angry people think adoption, as it stands, is acceptable, and trauma is a rare, worthwhile trade. I am angry people won’t stop lying to kids, making them pretend to be children of theirs when they aren’t, and I am angry birth certificates are still changing to reflect lies while kids are being gaslit to believe where they come from doesn’t matter. I am angry that I could write more pages for this post. I will stop here, though.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “Why am I angry? No one asked me what I wanted. Of course, I was an infant and couldn’t communicate, but this sense of powerlessness prevails in my life. I was removed from my birthmother’s womb, handed to foster care, and adopted three months later. My birthmother SOLD me in a gray adoption to STRANGERS, then when we met 34 years later said she loved me so much she wanted a better life for me. I’m not sure my life was better when I spent so much time feeling abandoned, rejected, powerless, voiceless, and not knowing WHO I am. I’m angry that my birth mother sold me, then 14 months later had my sister, and then quickly became pregnant again and had my brother. She kept them but sold me away. I’m angry that I didn’t have a brother or sister in my life, yet I DID – no one told me. I’m angry that even legal documents are fraudulent, and we have to pretend that these adoptive parents are Mommy and Daddy, but they ARENT. My birth certificate is SEALED, and the public document lists the adoptive parents as “mother” and “father.” it’s all a lie. And NO one can access their own information? Information on health history, heritage, siblings, EVERYTHING is a secret. Maybe adoption empowers a woman to continue her life as before the adoption, not burdened with a child, but adoption does NOT empower a child. We are pawns, without a voice in our own lives.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I hate being adopted, and I hate not being allowed to have a birth family even though the non-adoptees are allowed a birth family at any age but adopted people like me are never allowed a birth family. I hate when non-adoptees are very mean and unkind to adopted people like me. I wish I could smack them in the face and deny them everything they have denied me. I can’t stand how the non-adoptees always support each other and are nice but mean to me because I am adopted. Plus, they like to say they don’t mistreat me when they do.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “ANGRY?? The word doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings. Oh YES, I’m quite angry. Why? I never fit with my “family” physically, mentally, or emotionally. I was severely abused physically by my “father” and my “mother,” who, instead of protecting me, had a mental breakdown. My entire childhood was nothing but fear and abuse with “don’t upset your mother” being a common occurrence. Being asked “what was wrong with me” anytime I had a different way of thinking than them!! Seriously even a 10 yr old have their feelings and thoughts!! I was told repeatedly I wasn’t wanted and thrown away like garbage. Should I be your slave and punching bag? I am NOT anyone’s property. I was a child!! My adoptive family was looked on and still is in the community as great people??? WHAT??? THEY are not good people!! They are abusive, child molesting, and trash that only cared about themselves and their family name and appearance. My brother (who was also adopted) and I are looked upon as wild and the black sheep because once of age, we left and never looked back. I’m beyond angry, and I’m pissed off! The government took me from my real family because my mom was a minor and my dad was of age, but my mother’s father didn’t approve in 1976 OR believe they could properly care for my well-being. THE GOVERNMENT WAS WRONG!! My mom and dad married and had four more children. They were not wealthy, but my sisters and brother were LOVED, and now today 2020, my mom and dad are still married. I AM VERY ANGRY. I was robbed of LOVE, acceptance, and well-being. I’m 43 and from Ohio, so I now have my once, and I can proudly say my REAL name is Stephanie L. I WILL ALWAYS BE ANGRY BECAUSE I WAS STRIPPED OF WHO I AM.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I was never angry about being adopted until I started dealing with the government when seeking medical history and my original birth certificate. Things that I believed to be my immediate right to have, such as my OBC and family medical history, have slowly trickled through with changes. But this all took time, and the worst-case scenario may have had significant health implications if the information was not released due to ridiculous vetoes. The Veto system that has since been abolished (but historical ones remain) implies that we are the criminals without any wrongdoing apart from being born. Like putting a restraining order on someone you never met and then us not being allowed to use one in return. Anything else? Not at this stage, but let me think it over some more.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “As a 46-year-old adult who was adopted in 1975, I’m angry at the system which failed to perform thorough psychological evaluations on my prospective adoptive parents. One is a narcissist, and the other has Asperger’s syndrome. Quite the one-two punch for a child growing up in an unfamiliar genetic environment. I believe the prevailing wisdom of the day was, “adopted kids are a blank canvas and will grow up to be however you make them be, ” Like I was some mini-Mr. Potato Head or something. The couple who adopted me were nice enough people to the rest of the world, but they constantly treated me like a malfunctioning machine. I demonstrated high intelligence and musical talent from an early age, yet was told pursuing my life as a musician was out of the question. They steered me instead of towards their interests (religion & science), neither of which I cared for. All I ever heard was, “we know what’s best for you,” even as the loneliness, ostracizing, and lack of personal identity drove me into crime, heavy drug abuse, and suicidal thoughts. Nobody appeared to care about ME. They only cared about how I measured up to their expectations – which I failed at basically every time. I’m a grown adult now, lonely as hell. I was looking back on a childhood of regrets. I don’t speak with them anymore and likely never will. After an exhaustive search, I finally managed to uncover the identity of my birth mother – she died almost 30 years ago.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I am angry because the State of California put the ‘wrong medical information’ on my non-identifying information report. I know. I hired a Private Investigator, and I have found my birth family with DNA. The State of California was reckless with my birth information, and I am sure I am not alone. There were typos throughout the report. They didn’t think we would ever find out in 1957. The jig is up to California, and I am thinking about contacting an attorney about this.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. The fundamental reason many adoptees are angry is that our human rights have been violated. ” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “Why am I angry? Socially engineered into “perfect” families based on decisions made by the grandmothers to be and social workers, also mothers and grandmothers, to convince a young unmarried woman to ignore her high school sweetheart who was prepared to marry her and raise his family, so all these already mothers could find a permanent solution to a temporary crisis that embarrassed the pregnant 19 year old’s mother and grandmother. I’m angry because, in the Baby Snatch Era, healthy white infants like myself were a commodity to be bought and sold and then asked to accept delusional thinking. ” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because adoption is so widely pushed at the pulpit and by the evangelicals worldwide, but they refuse to acknowledge the grief, abandonment, loss, and trauma that every adopted person experiences before they are adopted. Not only that, but I’m angry the pro-life movement continues to use adoption as an alternative to abortion, but the alternative to abortion isn’t adoption. It’s parenting! I’m angry that so many evangelicals are still stuck in the dark ages of secrecy, shame, and covering up by supporting untruths which are a part of almost every adoption story today. Secrets, lies, and half-truths destroy, and this is from God? Disgusting! Anger is an understatement.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because so many adoptive parents continue to have their heads in the sand when it comes to the adoptee experience and the pain we all carry. As if the adoptee doesn’t speak about their feelings, they must not have any, and everything must be okay! WRONG! Kids don’t know how to articulate grief and loss, and they need their adoptive parents to facilitate these conversations at a young age. We can quickly adapt to living self-destructive lives and using coping mechanisms like drugs, alcohol, sex, food, gambling, addiction to toxic relationships, etc. Stop pretending adoption and relinquishment don’t hurt, and everything is perfect. It’s not. Adoptees are hurting and dying, and we need the world to wake up!” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry because closed adoption is a form of torment and an inhumane way to expect anyone to live. So the faces and identities of my biological mother, biological father, siblings, grandparents, aunts, and uncles are supposed to be a secret from me? Yeah, well fuck you, adoption, and everyone who supports it. My anger stems from the lies I’ve been fed my entire life by those who should love me the most! It’s valid and legit. And just think, they (adoptive parents and birth parents) signed the dotted line so I would have this life! I didn’t sign any paperwork! Until I reached my 40s and learned that I could positively use this anger and create CHANGE, it almost killed me!” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “Anger is a natural part of the grief and loss process and a natural emotion to have when you have been deceived your whole life to appease our adoptive parent’s wants and needs. Do you want to know why it’s so EXTRA BIG for adoptees? Because we’re brainwashed from an early age to be grateful, when those feelings of sadness come in, and they always do, they show up as anger as rage for many of us. We are left in the dark on how to process it all. No one helps us because this idiotic notion that we’re only supposed to be thankful creates a huge mental mind fuck, and it’s sometimes impossible for us to be able to share our feelings how we feel because of this conditioning. I didn’t say the word “birthmother” until I was in my 50s because I was groomed not to talk about it and be thankful and grateful. My feelings weren’t welcome because they went against my adoptive parent’s biggest dream coming true, and that was my birth mother choosing to hand me over to strangers. By the way, those strangers were abusive emotionally, mentally, physically, and sexually. I am spending a lifetime recovering from adoption trauma, but I’m spending a lifetime recovering from relinquishment trauma as well.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I asked my adoptive parents over and over who my birth parents were, and they lied to me my whole life. Until one day, the truth came out. They knew who my birth mother was, and they just lied because they thought I would one day shut up about finding this lady that I was searching for in my fantasies and dreams, at parks, festivals, and walking down the street. Because they lied, I have every reason to be angry. I also have every reason to never speak to them again.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’m angry that even when I found my biological family in 1990, the government won’t allow me to have my very own original birth certificate. This is based on outdated laws that were put into play to deceive the adopted person from ever finding their truth. I am sick and tired of everyone thinking that I am still an infant and child with no thoughts, feelings, or say-so. I am 62, and I still am denied this basic human right. Damn right I am angry, and much more.” – Adult Adoptee

  1. “I’ve struggled with anger my entire life due to my adoption experience. I have learned that the more I share my feelings, the more the pain chips away, and I eventually feel more at peace with things. The problem is that no one wants to hear it. We are labeled as “just having a bad adoption experience,” and we are told to “Just get over it already!” by those around us who know and say they love us. The reality is, I have learned that society doesn’t leave room for the heartbreak in adoption, only the sunny side, which always reflects the needs and wants of our adoptive parents. People are starting to listen little by little, but it’s still such a stretch to feel safe sharing feelings being adopted. I wonder if people knew how many adoptees commit suicide and how our jails, prisons, treatment, and mental health facilities are overpopulated with adoptees if they would open their hearts and minds to the realities that adoption isn’t what they have always thought it was? It is much more, and if we want the wants and needs of the CHILD to be put first, we need to acknowledge that that adopted child grows up. We have voices, and we need the world to start to listen and even become an ally and advocate for truth and transparency in all adoptions today. Remember – secrecy and lies destroy, so you are a huge part of the problem if you support this. Adoptees have every right to be angry. You would understand this if you only knew what we had to go through to find our truth. One simple response to an adopted person like, “I see you, I am sorry you are in pain, I am here to listen to you without judgment always,” could save an adoptee’s life. The willingness to listen, kindness, and compassion go a long way.” – Adult Adoptee

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read why 100 adoptees might be angry. Please share this article in your online communities. Our hope is that we raise a brighter light around adoptee voices and bring the truth to light, one story, quote, and click at a time.

If you are an adoptee, what piece of this article spoke to you the most? Could you relate to any of your fellow adoptee’s thoughts, feelings and experiences?

Maybe you are an adoptee and missed the call to be included in this 100; we still want to hear from you! If you are an adoptee who what’s to share why you are angry, please drop your thoughts in the comment section below.

If you are not an adoptee but have somehow been impacted by this article, we would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for your willingness to learn that there is much more to adoption than a beautiful bouncing baby to complete your family.

Once again, a special thank you to all 100 adoptees who took the time to share your feelings with me over the last 8 years and, in return, collaborated with one of the most important articles we can share. 100 of us coming TOGETHER to share our truth is a powerful initiative. THANK YOU!

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Love,

Pamela A. Karanova

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Pamela A. Karanova – Finding Purpose In The Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing – An Audible Memoir

Over a decade ago, I named my memoir “Finding Purpose in the Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing,” Although a lot of time has passed, this is still the name I would like my memoir to be today. At one time, I decided to give up on writing a memoir because I feel like, in a way, my website is my memoir. However, I also feel things are so spread out on my website when sharing MY STORY. There are also a lot of things I haven’t shared.

This website is filled with sharing my insight, experiences, and thoughts. Still, I have recently decided to share my story separately to reach the adoptees who feel isolated and all alone. I want them to know they aren’t alone and their feelings are normal for a not normal situation. Nothing is normal about being separated from your biological family at the beginning of life.

Questions I get from adoptees all the time: 

How did you navigate double rejection from both biological parents? How did you overcome a 27-year drinking career rooted in the painful dynamics of my adoption experience? How was your therapy experience? What was your childhood like? Did you bond with your adoptive parents? How did you overcome emotional, mental, and sexual abuse in your adoptive home? How did you move past the pain and find happiness in a lifetime of heartbreak? I have fellow adoptees ask me how I was able to experience so much tragedy and get to where I am today. 

The truth is, If I had unlimited time left on earth, I would be honored to have individual conversations with every adoptee I cross paths with. But because time is of the essence, and logically I have to work full time to make a living and also juggle Adoptees Connect, Inc. on the side as an entirely volunteer basis, the facts are that I have little leftover time to dedicate to these lifesaving conversations. With what little time I have left, I’m committed to pouring into my self-care and spending time with close friends and family. 

After over a decade of contemplation and wavering feelings, starting and stopping my memoir several times, I have decided to pick my memoir back up by sharing my story via an audible format that will be easily accessible and complimentary for all the adoptees and others who are interested in hearing it. 

My goal is to honor a farewell gift to the adoptee community that’s been so good to me over the years, especially over a decade ago when I first emerged out of the fog from my adoption experience. I was utterly broken, on the verge of suicide, and felt deeply depressed, isolated, and alone. 

What has shifted? 

It’s simple, and I can sum it up in one word

GROWTH.

I believe the timing is everything. My healing has been so progressive and profound that I know I’m going to wither into nothingness when it comes to my voice in the adoptee community one day soon. I know this is coming because I finally see the beauty in everyday life, and it’s time I enjoy it. It’s almost as if my fire for all things adoptee-related is becoming dimmer by the day. I feel it deep inside. However, before I depart, I have this one project I want to complete. I want to offer a glimmer of hope with my memoir to the fellow adoptees who still sit in the darkness trumped by the sadness so many adoptees live with and ultimately die with. 

Don’t worry, my role in Adoptees Connect, Inc. isn’t going anywhere!

While I completely understand that a memoir is ideally created with a printed and published book for purchase in mind, I have thought long and hard about sharing my story in audible format only. It is the most economical and accessible for all, including myself. While I could easily explore all the avenues to market and profit from this endeavor, my desire is not to profit from my story. I hope it will help my fellow adoptees, specifically those with similar struggles. As a complimentary gift, hopefully, my story reaches more adoptees, not just those who could afford a hardcopy book, not to mention shipping prices.

A while back, I started sharing my articles on multiple streaming platforms like Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, and Google Podcasts so my supporters, friends, and family could follow along in the easiest way possible. Let’s face it, technology is taking over! People aren’t reading books like they used to, yet they are migrating to an audio format which saves space and is usually cheaper. This is my deciding factor to write my memoir and share it in audible format for your listening convenience. I am also considering the economical challenges of life many of us are experiencing at this time.

Allowing myself the flexibility to share my story in this way also means that I will be doing my editing and writing without any assistance or insight. My goal is to spend ZERO money because I don’t have much to spend yet still share my journey and experiences from the heart, offering guidance and encouragement. I can do it, and I want my friends, followers, and readers to be the first to know.

I still have other writing I plan on doing and some other adoptee centric projects; however, over the next few months, I will likely be spending a lot of my time focused on my audible memoir. I have re-launched my public Pamela A. Karanova page, which will be a place I update you on how my audible memoir is coming along. Be sure to follow it here. – Pamela A. Karanova – Finding Purpose In The Pain, An Audible Memoir.

“We have to walk through all the adoptee layers, to make it to the light, but it won’t come overnight or without a lifelong fight!” – Pamela A. Karanova

Thanks for reading and listening!

On to the next adventure!

Love,

Pamela A. Karanova

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

Don’t forget that I’m streaming my articles on several audio platforms for your listening convenience! 👇🏼

📱 iTunes – https://apple.co/3tKzT5f

🌎 Google – https://bit.ly/3JP6NY0

🎧 Spotify – https://spoti.fi/3Ny6h35

📦 Amazon – https://amzn.to/3JScoga

☕️– Buy Me A Coffee https://bit.ly/3uBD8eI

*The views and opinions expressed in this article 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

Being Groomed for Gotcha Day – An Adoptee’s Perspective

Many of you have heard of the term “Gotcha Day” over the years, and it seems like it isn’t going anywhere. For those new to this term, Gotcha Day is a day our adoptive parents have picked to celebrate, reflecting the day our adoptions are finalized.

While I think many of them might have good intentions, this term is problematic for many reasons. I write this article to offer another viewpoint from an adult adoptee. I don’t wish to throw anyone under the bus if you choose to celebrate this day. While I have read many articles written by adoptive parents, why they choose to celebrate this day, and even an article or two from a biological mother, I have not read an article focused on an adoptee’s perspective.

I decided to share my feelings on this topic in this article. Let me be frank, my adoptive parents didn’t celebrate this day, and I am exceptionally thankful for this. However, after building relationships with adoptees worldwide for over a decade, I have experienced a lot of thoughts on “Gotcha Day.”

One dynamic that I would like to bring to light is that any child enjoys a celebration 99.9% of the time. If our adoptive parents decide to celebrate “Gotcha Day,” the adopted child is along for the ride. Kids don’t generally turn away from a party. This is when our grooming to celebrate the day we are adopted begins. Celebrating this day as a child might feel good.

Our adoptive parents have all the power to celebrate or not celebrate the day we legally became adopted. While they likely see no issue with it when we are children, we must not forget the adopted child grows up.

In 2018 I completed a poll on the How Does it Feel to Be Adopted? page and the question were for adoptees, and it said, “Adoptees, Are you in favor of the term “Gotcha Day?”

377 adoptees responded, and 95% said that “No” they were not in favor of the term Gotcha Day.

You read that right, 95%!

Adult Adoptee, Sarah says:

“I DESPISE it. It was referred to as my ‘Gotcha Day” and always involved a present, much like a birthday. It symbolized a day that sealed my fate of never returning to my biological family. Having it celebrated felt like my adoptive family was disregarding my biological family and my feelings about not being with them. My adoptive mom still celebrates it and brings me a present which I usually throw in the closet for months before opening, or I give it back to her.”

Another Adult Adoptee, Chris, says:

“My family did not celebrate it as I was growing up. I don’t care for the term “gotcha,” as it does feel like ownership. And while I understand that it may be a cause for celebration for the adoptive parents, it’s also a day of loss for the adoptee, even if they are not aware of the loss.”

While I can completely understand the feelings of these two adoptees, I share similar sentiments. I feel that if I were in a position to celebrate this day as a child with the terminology “Gotcha Day,” it would be a dehumanizing experience I likely wouldn’t fully understand as a child.

As an adult, I feel it belittles what someone separated from their biological mother has to lose to become an adopted person. It glosses over the reality we all experience. Do those who celebrate this day understand what we lost before they “GOT US?” Our biological mother and father, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, brothers, ancestry, culture, language, medical history, memories, and the list could go on.

I personally would be mortified and resentful if my adoptive parents groomed me to celebrate this day. For me, it was the day I lost everything! To be expected to celebrate it, would be a cruel thing to have to do and I find it insensitive to be encouraged to do so.

Our lives don’t begin the moment we are adopted.

So we have a [his]-story and a [her]-story, which are essential to our lives and experiences. So celebrating “Gotcha Day” solely focuses on the day we are adopted and not what we lost to get to that point.

Some families are using “Adoption Day” or “Family Day” instead of the dreaded “Gotcha Day.” While I respect the need to want to celebrate such a wonderful day in the new family, I must share that no matter how you slice it, you can’t deny the reality of what the adoptee lost to gain a new family.

I say we get rid of these celebrations altogether.

However, if you decide to host them, let’s be honest and have a day of mourning the day before or the same day, so we equally acknowledge all the adopted person has to lose before the adoption ever takes place. If we’re authentic, honest, and accurate, we must acknowledge this as part of the adoptee story, and it happens FIRST.

The sooner an adoptee begins to grieve the losses they have experienced, the better. Therefore, I suggest all adoptive parents become experts in The Grief Recovery Method for kids and learn as much as they can as an adoptive parents and apply it to the adopted child’s life. In addition, finding an adoptee-competent therapist would be beneficial to all involved.

I hope this helps clear up how adopted adults feel about celebrating the day we were adopted, specifically “Gotcha Day.” It’s particularly despised in the adoptee community. I genuinely believe that once we know better, we do better, so I hope this article shares some insight that can be helpful.

To my fellow adoptees, what are your thoughts on this topic? Did you celebrate “Gotcha Day” and if so, how do you feel about it now? For those who didn’t celebrate it, how do you feel about the term and celebrating adoption day?

Thanks for reading and listening!
Pamela A. Karanova

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

Don’t forget that I’m streaming my articles on several audio platforms for your listening convenience! 👇🏼

📱 iTunes – https://apple.co/3tKzT5f

🌎 Google – https://bit.ly/3JP6NY0

🎧 Spotify – https://spoti.fi/3Ny6h35

📦 Amazon – https://amzn.to/3JScoga

☕️– Buy Me A Coffee https://bit.ly/3uBD8eI

*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

Adoptees Are Not Gifts and Possessions – An Adoptee’s Perspective

“All children are a gift from God,” – Says the world. 

I believe this is part of the reason our adoptive parents refer to us as gifts; however, to refer to each adopted individual as a gift would insinuate that children are owned by someone who then bestows the gift upon a receiver and that this person is now the owner of the property being gifted. 

I think people likely mean well; however, sometimes, they don’t understand the layers and depths of their words when explaining and exploring the different dynamics of the adoption and adoptee experience. Sometimes people can say things that are well intended, but the reality is that they can be hurtful to adoptees. On the other hand, sometimes, a little enlightenment on a topic can go a long way.

Let me get straight to the point. Children are free individuals, and no one possesses them in a way that they would be in a position to “give one” to someone else as a gift. Being your parent’s responsibility is entirely different from being their property. 

Having my own experience with adoption and hearing the experiences of my fellow adoptees for over a decade, many of us feel as if we are referred to as a monetary possession when hearing from our adoptive parents and others. This comes off as a reflection of “ownership” to many of us. 

However, when most of us are paid for with a cash price, is when the reality of our feelings gets magnified even more considerably. Not to mention the lifelong reminders we get from those around us and the families we grow up in. 

The feelings of being referred to as a gift imply ownership, entitlement, and possession are many ways adopted people feel in our experiences with our adoptive parents and others. I now consider this line of thinking linked to adoptive parent parental narcissism.

Nevertheless, as if feeling this was not enough, many adoptees are expected to celebrate “Gotcha Day” or “Adoption Day” and referred to as a “Gift” as if the loss we experience before we are adopted does not count for anything. I will be writing about this soon. 

We are expected to feel thankful and grateful that our adoptive parents took us in when our biological families did not want us. Assuming that an adopted child or adult should be more grateful and thankful than a biological child can be an epic failure in acknowledging and recognizing what that person had to experience to be adopted, to begin with. Expecting us to be more thankful or grateful than another person on earth is an unrealistic expectation placed on us. 

Our biological connections matter to us and presuming that their loss doesn’t exist causes tremendous grief and pain for the adopted person, on top of the loss we already experience, and it’s not helpful. 

Unfortunately, society at large and most of our adoptive parents have not left room for us to share our feelings because they assume we should be thankful and grateful. While many adoptees have not come to a place of sharing their true feelings, many of us are blazing the trailways and sharing how adoption has impacted us and made us feel. 

I remember as a teen, I would have new friends or a new boyfriend, and my adoptive mom would suddenly act as if she had new friends and a new boyfriend. She would ask questions and want me to tell her everything about them and my life. She rarely had friends of her own, and she never had a boyfriend as she and my adoptive dad divorced when I was one year old. She did not have her own life and lived through me and mine. 

I would constantly tell my adoptive mom to “Stay out of my business” when it seemed like she was constantly overstepping. Being a teenager, I thought she was just a nosey parent; however, when this carried over into my adult life is when I knew something was not right. 

One of the phrases I heard throughout my childhood and adult life from my adoptive mom was, “Your life is my life, and everything that has to do with you is my business!” Anytime she would say this to me, it would strike a chord profoundly. Unfortunately, I had no healthy examples in my life of what a mother and daughter were supposed to be like, so I grew up thinking this was normal. 

As I grew into my teen and adult years, I would still hear, “Your life is my life, and everything that has to do with you is my business.” 

In my childhood, I also remember hearing “you were my greatest gift,” like a broken record about my biological mother giving me up for adoption and my adoptive mom sharing her elated feelings about this decision. Ultimately, my birth mother chose not to parent, which allowed my adoptive mom’s dreams to come true to be a mother. 

But, while she celebrated, I suffered in silence as many adoptees do. As soon as her feelings of happiness came into the conversation, there was no room for my sadness about this woman who was gone, to whom I was very much connected. So while I believe she had no idea how damaging this would be, I am here to share that it was indeed damaging.

An adopted person is usually paid for with a cash price, so our sentiments being referred to as a gift will likely be different than a biological child or a child that wasn’t paid for with monetary value. It makes us feel like a monetary possession. Yet, too often than not, we’re expected to be glad that someone on this earth cared enough about us that they created GoFundMe and received loans from family and friends to purchase us as if that wouldn’t impact us at some point in life. 

I completed a poll on the How Does it Feel to Be Adopted? Page in 2015 asking adoptees if they were okay with being referred to as a gift. I had 378 adopted people respond, with 88% saying that “NO” they aren’t okay with being referred to as a gift. Can we consider this when we speak about adopted children and adults moving forward? 

I would like to think that it counts for something significant that 88% of adoptees are not okay with being referred to as a gift, which implies ownership of a whole human being. Can we at least be sensitive that this is a problem and have the willingness to consider changing our language in adoption?

When I think of the children I brought into the world, they are my children, but they are also their own individual people. While I didn’t pay for them with a $45,000.00 cash price, I still do not refer to them as a gift because of the weight of ownership this implies. 

One of the most amazing things I have received was from a friend, Frank Ligtvoet. He shared the song “On Children” by Sweet Honey In The Rock, and I wanted to share it. I think this song is powerful in so many ways. I would like to think it could be applied to the lives of those who wish to accept, acknowledge and appreciate that none of us own our kids. They are sons and daughters of the universe and the world itself. Adopted or not, this is a powerful reminder that no one has ownership over another, and no human being is a GIFT of monetary possession. Can we acknowledge that things ring differently for adopted people? Even with well-intended circumstances, adopted people are not okay with feeling like they are possessions and gifts. 

It’s time our language and thoughts match up with this reality. 

Take a listen below!

For my fellow adoptees, have you been referred to as a gift or felt as if you were a possession? If so, how did that make you feel?

Thanks for reading and listening!

Pamela A. Karanova

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

Don’t forget that I’m streaming my articles on several audio platforms for your listening convenience! 👇🏼

📱 iTunes – https://apple.co/3tKzT5f

🌎 Google – https://bit.ly/3JP6NY0

🎧 Spotify – https://spoti.fi/3Ny6h35

📦 Amazon – https://amzn.to/3JScoga

☕️– Buy Me A Coffee https://bit.ly/3uBD8eI

*The views and opinions expressed in this article 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