The Real Adoptea Moxie by Pamela A. Karanova is now on SUBSTACK! 

Pamela A. Karanova is an Adult Adoptee, Writer, President of Adoptees Connect, Inc, and the Founder of Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th. Pamela has been featured on Adoptees OnReligion News ServiceReckoning with The Primal Wound, and Overcoming Odds.

Bold | Courageous | Fierce | Writer | Unruly Adoptee | Truth Seeker | Uncensored

Adoptea – Dishing out authentic, bonafide adoptee realitea one click, article, comment, and post at a time, adding uncensored and unfiltered rants and raves with an occasional impromptu cup of hot tea & virtual chat time with fellow adoptees & subscribers. 

Moxie – Moxie describes someone with a fighting spirit. If you’ve got moxie, you’ve got confidence, grit, determination, and nerve. If you’ve got moxie, you have a growth mindset, which means you can’t be stopped by an emotional response to a challenging situation and, ultimately, not by anything. Moxie is a word that means: strength of character. It means courage and spunk.

For over a decade, I have been curating adoptee-centric writings with a focus on difficult and challenging topics about adoption on my website www.pamelakaranova.com. As a result, I have exceeded over 200,000 views and hundreds of articles to elevate the adoptee’s voice and lived experiences. In addition, I am the recipient of The Angel in Adoption Award and several awards for the best adoptee website. I have spent countless hours creating adoptee-centric resources for the adoptee community and built lifelong relationships with adoptees and those in the adoption constellation worldwide.

What is The Real Adoptea Moxie?

One newsletter will drop every week & another will drop monthly!

On Substack, I will focus on sharing new and unique pieces of my writings about topics related to the adoptee experience from being in the fog, coming out of the fog, search, reunion, grief, loss, trauma, anger, rage, healing, and all the layers that can come with the adoptee experience. Over the last decade, I have navigated continuous areas in my healing journey. I am enthusiastic about sharing some of the knowledge I have gained with you on the Substack platform. I share one piece of extended writing here for free each month, but I also offer a 5 dollars a month paid subscriber option.

Around the first of each month, all subscribers receive an “Ask Me Anything” newsletter — which will answer one or two adoptee-related questions from paid subscribers. Think: What adoptee healing tools have been the most valuable to you? How have you navigated the grief and loss process? What made you want to search for your biological family? How was your reunion once you searched? Do you regret searching?

Each week paid subscribers get the “The Real Adoptea Moxie Insider TEA” newsletter, which includes sections like:

  • In My Adoptee Opinion — I sound off about adoption topics based on my experience being an adult adoptee. Example: what it’s like growing up adopted, how specific layers of the adoptee experience have impacted me short term and long term about grief, loss, abandonment, rejection, anger, rage, substance use disorder, raising kids, relationships, cutting ties, setting boundaries and much more!
  • Smash that Lie — I share popular myths, secrets, and lies many adoptees are told and set the record straight. I will also link stories/resources from other adoptees who touch on this topic.
  • I Highly Recommend — An overview of recommended resources I have used personally and why I recommend them for adoptees or others in the adoption constellation.
  • Helping Hands & Healing — A advice section that helps a subscriber deal with a current adoptee problem. I suggest adoptee healing tools that have helped me along my journey and share healing tools with fellow adoptees.

The paid plan is $5 per month or a discounted $55 annually.

Plus, the occasional waterfall or hiking photo — like this one of me basking in a waterfall!

This is Cummins Falls State Resort Park in Cookeville, Tennessee. The hike through the gorge is 2.4 miles in and out and runs into a 75 feet high waterfall you see in this photo.

Who would benefit from The Real Adoptea Moxie?

Anyone who wants to learn more about adoption! I’ll cover various topics, from the basics of living as an adult adoptee to deep heartfelt topics about what it feels like to be adopted and navigate the adoptee journey with the goal of healing. (And you don’t have to be a fellow adoptee to subscribe. Anyone can subscribe!)

Mostly, I’m excited to establish a supportive community for those who are a part of the adoption constellation and non-adopted individuals who have the willingness to learn by offering the 5 dollar a month subscription option.

While most of us have adventures with social media, at times, it’s more challenging to go deeper into our conversations and connections with one another. The Real Adoptea Moxie will be a community built on support for one another’s growth and to gain understanding and validation regarding our adoptee experiences. It’s a place of dishing the adoptTEA in bold honesty, truth-seeking, truth-telling, and uncensored experiences, thoughts, and fierce transparency about adoption from an adoptee’s perspective.

I am committing to spend some time each week in the comment sections of the writings that will be open for subscribers to spark conversations with one another. I will also host an occasional impromptu Adoptea Time by way of a virtual chat space for paid subscribers!

No matter where you are in your adoption/adoptee journey, I’m confident this newsletter will be entertaining, fun, and informative. Whether you’re a free or paid subscriber, I’m excited to have you as part of The Real Adoptea Moxie Community. For my website followers, feel free to follow me over to Substack! I will still be writing on my website, but most publications will be shared at Substack in advance. I would love your support so please consider downloading the Substack app and subscribing today.

Thank you for being so supportive, and I look forward to connecting with you more profoundly through The Real Adoptea Moxie Substack Platform!

The Real Adoptea Moxie is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE REAL ADOPTEA MOXIE CLICK HERE.

I AM GIFTING 10 LIFETIME SUBSCRIPTIONS TO THE REAL ADOPTEA MOXIE ON SUBSTACK TO MY WEBSITE FOLLOWERS. PLEASE REPLY TO THIS ARTICLE IF YOU ARE INTERESTED.

Pamela A. Karanova

Here are some of the writing pieces I’m the proudest of:

The Perplexity of Forced Bonding in Adoption – I share my thoughts on the bonding process in adoption.

100 Heartfelt Transracial Adoptee Quotes that Honor the Truth of Adoption – 100 Transracial Adoptees come together to share feelings on how adoption has impacted them.

Adoptees, Why Are You So Angry? – Adoptees share feelings on why they are angry.

Why Do Adoptees Search? An Adoptee Collaboration – Many adoptees experience why they choose to search for biological families.

100 Heartfelt Adoptee Quotes that Honor the Truth of Adoption – 100 Adoptees come together to share heartfelt feelings on how adoption has made them feel.

My Friend Has an Adopted Child, and They Don’t Have Any Issues with Being Adopted – Shining a light on the comment so many adoptees hear over and over.

Here are some of the articles I have been featured in:

These Adoptees Refuse to Be Christian Pro-Life Poster Kids by Kathryn Post of Religious News Service.

Toward Preventing Adoption- Related Suicide by Mirah Riben.

Before a month celebrating adoption, a day to recognize adoptees’ trauma by Religion News Service.

Bringing Adult Adoptee Issues to Light by Angela Burton of Next Avenue.

“Adoption Loss is the only trauma in the world where the victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful.” – Rev. Keith C. Griffith.

The Essence of My Biological Parents and My Adoptive Parents Being Deceased – An Adoptees Perspective

The Essence of My Biological Parents and My Adoptive Parents Being Deceased – An Adoptees Perspective by Pamela A. Karanova

For years now, I have had strained or missing relationships with all of my adoptive parents and my biological parents. But, in the last twelve years, they have all passed away one by one—four people with whom I had four unusual or missing relationships.

Two of them passed away in the last six months.

As a result, my obsession with trolling for obituaries on Google has concluded. I won’t miss it because, like closed adoption, it’s torture and agonizing.

How would you feel if the only way you might learn of your parent’s or family members passing was by conducting Google searches weekly or sometimes daily looking for obituaries? What if this went on for years or even a lifetime?

How many of my fellow adoptees have found themselves doing this?

How does it make you feel?

I always knew this day would come when my biological parents and adoptive parents, aka my parents on paper, would all be gone. Thankfully, I did gain notification of each of the deaths by way of social media or direct contact but that doesn’t change the reality that Google has been my #1 search engine in hopes of learning about the deaths of all of my parents.

But unfortunately, I recently learned my adoptive dad passed away on 1/3/23, and I struggle to find the emotions I should have about his passing. We hadn’t communicated in several years. The sadness I feel doesn’t feel new, I have felt this loss every day. Yet, I haven’t shared his passing with anyone but very few people. So let me also share that my biological father also passed away a little less than six months ago on 6/21/22. I still have yet to scratch the surface on processing his passing away. I have enormous feelings about the obituaries for each of these people, but I will save them for another article.

One of these men took a small part in raising me, and the other took every part in creating me. Equally, from the world’s description, they should have been my fathers, but the description of strangers is more true-to-life.

So how do I have a chance at two fathers yet feel like they are essential strangers? Welcome to the torture of adoption, the one that splits family trees apart and separates and divides. The one that creates lifelong consequential emotional and mental torment for the adopted child that grows up.

I have the same experience with both of my mothers. One took part in raising and traumatizing me; the other took part in creating me and her choice for my life and being separated from her traumatized me at the very beginning of my life.

I describe my adoptive parents as my parents on paper or my paper parents. Here’s why. They signed the adoption paperwork, and I did not. My life was estranged from both of them before they passed away for many reasons I will not discuss in this article but what I will say is that I feel like I was forced to make a choice.

With that choice, I picked myself. Unfortunately, I have been put in a situation because of the split adoption creates where I had to make this conclusion, and I regret it enormously. Most non-adoptees don’t comprehend what I even mean.

Well, let me be frank – when I was born in the adoption paradox at no choice of my own, I have always felt this internal tug-of-war being tugged in a million different directions. It’s felt like a split in the core of my being, and then from those two splits, there are more splits and more and more, and the splits go on forever, yet I can’t fully claim any side as mine.

Some may see it as a larger-than-life, full-of-love family tree. But I see it as a tree with no growing roots, replaced by severed roots that are chopped up all over the ground and left for dead.

I am the dead roots, trying to come alive, all alone. Still, because of all the emotions and deep-rooted feelings that resurface over and over, it’s almost impossible to feel planted or to grow with all these different people and families from all over the place.

Two sets, maternal and paternal, represent a DNA connection, and the other two, my adoptive parents, represent shared history. They are equally part of me, but I am forced to keep them separate. I fucking hate it because it always feels like I’m hiding half of myself to protect the other side. I have to watch what I say, and I have to watch what I do. And I damn sure can never share MY STORY because of the fear of pissing both sides off.

I have always felt like tremendous missing links have created a wedge between all my parents and me, and I genuinely believe ADOPTION is the root cause. I have no shared history with my biological parents and no shared DNA with my adoptive aka paper parents. I have always felt ripped into a million pieces between these two worlds. I have never felt like I belong in either of them.

Because of 45+ years of trying to shake this reality off, the sooner I acknowledged my adoptee pain was here to stay, the sooner things got more manageable for me. But in this self-reflection process, I also acknowledged I had to walk away from everyone to save myself.

This is something only a very minimal number of adoptees can do. Taking the first step towards freedom took strength and courage, but it didn’t come without a cost.

It was the hardest thing I ever did.

It cost me everything to choose myself.

EVERYTHING.

But at least now I have myself, even if I feel like I am in shambles half the time.

When others lose a parent, I see people grieving, crying on social media about the loss, and having loved ones surround them with care and concern. I see meal trains and flowers delivered. I see people take off work to grieve the life-changing loss and to take suitable time to grieve the loss. I see the world have compassion for someone when they lose a parent, not to mention losing two parents in a short period.

I don’t see the same thing for adopted people, especially when we mention we had no relationship or estranged relationships with our adopters or biological parents. It’s almost as if the world shrugs its shoulders and says to itself, “Well, you didn’t know them, so what’s the big deal?” or better yet, “You chose not to have a relationship with them,” so it’s your fault. It’s a miracle if we are contacted at all.

No matter how hard we try or what we do, we’re always outsiders looking in – especially to the immediate adoptive or biological relatives because, let’s never forget, blood is always thicker than water. In my case, and many other adoptees, blood will also toss you to the wolves in the name of “Brave Love.” Even more so if you have no shared history.

In reality, the loss of these individuals hurts and hurts profoundly. However, as an adoptee, I can share that my grief for each person is not due to what was but rather what wasn’t. Every day of my life, I have cried inside at the loss of my biological mother and the loss of the woman I wished my adoptive mom was.

I have also cried inside at losing the connection with my biological father and the relationship I always wished I had with my adoptive dad. But unfortunately, these deep relationships never existed, so I have cried every day as if each of these people died daily because, essentially, I felt like they did.

But, instead of shedding external tears of sadness for what was lost with each of them, I have shed internal tears that ebb and flow as life passes me by every day of my life.

This isn’t new; it’s been a lifelong journey.

The two biological parents I sincerely spent a lifetime desiring to find, meet and get to know slammed the door in my face once located. I have yet to experience any more tremendous pain in this lifetime than the pain of this disappointment followed by grief, loss, abandonment, and rejection that will never entirely go away.

Unfortunately, the two who paid a cash price in exchange for being parents, who signed the dotted line, weren’t capable of being parents. My adoptive dad knew my adoptive mother was mentally unstable, yet he adopted two daughters and abandoned us a year later, divorced her, and left. He moved over an hour away, remarried, and raised her three sons as his own.

I get it.

He chose to save himself as I did.

I can’t tell you one lesson my adoptive dad taught me over my lifetime. He was always far away, and it impacted any relationship we might have had. I remember him saying, “If you’re happy, I’m happy,” which has been the extent of anything I have retained that could be a “lesson” he taught me. I don’t know anything about him other than he worked at John Deere, where he retired. While I am waiting patiently on his obituary to be published, I am confident I will find out more about him in his obituary than what I knew in my 48 years of him being my parent on paper.

I almost got up enough nerve about 8-9 years ago to reach out to him and ask him if he could come to Kentucky for a weekend, so I could get to know him while we planned a father/daughter visit. I was hoping that one time in my life, I could spend even one hour with him alone to get to know him one-on-one. This is something I have never experienced nor do I have any father/daughter memories to hang onto. But then, one day, I woke up and reevaluated all my relationships and acknowledged the reality that I have visited Iowa dozens of times over the years. As a result, I accepted that my adoptive dad had visited Kentucky 3 times in over 30 years.

I have never spent one hour with my adoptive dad, just him and me ever, in my whole life. So it’s hard for me to look at him like a father. I can see why the other people in his life have that experience with him; however, I don’t. Because of his choice to leave me with my adoptive mom, my childhood was robbed and stolen. Here’s an article on what it was like growing up with her. – The Narcissistic Adoptive Mom.

Not long after I turned 17, my adoptive mom moved me across the country, away from everyone. I never got along with my adoptive mom. We were like oil and vinegar. Because of this, I have felt entirely alone in the family area my whole life until I had my kids, who are all adults now.

So many memories with my biological family have been robbed because of adoption, and so much time has been lost, never to return. Reminiscing upon my life story, one of the most valuable things to me is time and what I can do with it. I hold high importance on making memories with those I love with the time I have left on this earth.

Adoption is a coverup for the most tremendous loss of someone’s life. It glosses over the loss before an adoption takes place with a shiny, sparkly coat that shines for all to see. But the reality is adoption is the ring leader of counterfeit and forged connections and not every adoptee benefits from it or bonds with their adopters.

I thank adoption because it’s the gift that keeps on giving; to me, it feels like death all by itself. It’s the queen of separation and the king of the division of families. It’s the ruler of grief, loss, anger, rage, abandonment, and rejection. It’s the monarch of a lifetime of pain that never goes away, rooted in secrecy, lies, and half-truths.

While I have stepped into a space of acknowledging that all my parents are gone because of the separation and division that adoption causes, I have never felt like they were here to begin with. This isn’t new because they have all left the earth; it’s been this way since the beginning.

I think my grief is heightened because this is it. Any small glimmer of hope something will change or be different is dead and gone with all the people with whom I should have the closest relationships.

“You chose to walk away from everyone,” says the world.

Yes, yes, I did.

But I should have never felt like I had to make that decision, to begin with. Unless you are adopted and forced to walk this tightrope, you have no idea how it feels. The split is too painful for me, and I give up on it.

But make no mistake, giving up still comes with a lifetime of anguish about what should have been, could have been, and what was robbed because of adoption and relinquishment.

My adoptive and biological parents are all deceased; however, adoption’s revolting and heartbreaking consequences are still felt for generations. I have no idea where to start processing my pain, but writing this article is a first step for me.

For my fellow adoptees, does this article resonate with you at all?

How do you think adoption has impacted your relationships with your adoptive parents and biological parents?

If they have passed away, how have you processed the loss?

I’ve created a comprehensive list of recommended resources for adult adoptees and adoption advocates!

Thank you for reading,

Love, Love

Pamela A. Karanova

Don’t forget this article, along with all my other articles, are available in audio for your convenience; look up Pamela A. Karanova Podcast on Google PodcastsiTunesand Spotify. And Amazon Music. Interested in treating me to a coffee to add fuel to my fire? Click here. Many thanks in advance to my supporters!

Disclaimer: 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. While it is Pamela’s hope that you find the information in her website useful and informative please note- the information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. The information is provided by Pamela A. Karanova with the goal of having the information up-to-date and correct; she makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the resources list on the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the resources listed on her website. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk. Through this website you are able to link to other websites which are not under the control of Pamela A. Karanova. She has no control over the nature, content and availability of those sites. The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.

The Perplexity of Forced Bonding in Adoption – An Adoptees Perspective

I genuinely believe the topic of newborn bonding isn’t brought to light enough in the adoption arena, so I decided to share my adoptee feelings about it based on my lived experience.

Just because someone adopts a child doesn’t mean the adoptee will bond or attach to the adoptive mother or father. It’s also essential to note that not all adoptive parents can form an attachment or bond with their adopted child. This is not guaranteed, yet it’s almost always dismissed as if it isn’t a real possibility.

When we assume the newborn infant will bond with the adopters, it has damaging impacts that can affect the adoptee for a lifetime. Unfortunately, this is real and has issues that will cause severe anguish throughout the adoptee’s life, at no fault of their own. The difference between adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents are that adoptees didn’t make this choice; it was made for us. Expectations to bond with a foreigner were placed upon us at no agreement of our own.

Let’s also put on the table that we know that anytime a biological mother and a child are separated for whatever reason, a trauma occurs. We know that the separation from our biological mothers can leave a broken bond that sets the tone for all the future relationships we will have. We know that our relationship to maternal attachment impacts how we parent our children and practically every area of our lives.

If we research bonding and attachment theory, we know that the maternal bond with our biological mothers is the most critical bond we will ever have. Attachment to our biological mothers is the cornerstone of infant development and is the sounding board on how we bond and connect with the world around us.

When we know this, we have to assume that when the maternal bond is disrupted for whatever reason, it can harm the child. If you do the research, you will find that neurology, psychiatry, biology, genetics, and psychology hold valuable scientific findings to infant prenatal and perinatal development.

The Importance of Early Bonding:

“Human babies are born very dependent on their parents. They undergo huge brain development, growth, and neuron pruning in the first two years of life. The brain development of infants (as well as their social, emotional, and cognitive development) depends on a loving bond or attachment relationship with a primary caregiver, usually a parent. Infancy is a crucial time for brain development. It is vital that babies and their parents are supported during this time to promote attachment. Without a good initial bond, children are less likely to grow up to become happy, independent, and resilient adults.” – Robert Winston & Rebecca Chicot.

Let’s also recognize that contrary to popular opinion, mothers aren’t interchangeable. Not one woman on this planet could replicate the connection and bond I should have had with my biological mother, but they can try, but it will never be the same. 

But, often, substitute maternal figures can benefit an individual, provide love, and sometimes form a long-lasting bond and connection with a child. However, we can’t assume that all adopted people form a bond with their adopters, particularly their maternal figure, the adoptive mother. Sadly, the ability to not bond with our adopters is valid for many adoptees.

Let’s focus on the adoptees who don’t bond with their maternal figure since it’s presumed that most adoptees automatically bond with their primary caregiver, whether it’s their biological mother or not. No one is talking about the side of the coin on what it might feel like from an adoptee’s lens to be forced to bond with foreigners you are incapable of bonding with. DNA matters, and our maternal bond with our biological mother matters.

“Not everyone bonds with their biological parents, adopted or not!” – says the non-adoptee community.

You are correct; however, here in this article, we are talking about adoptees! Of course, bonding isn’t guaranteed, and I am entirely aware that not all individuals form everlasting and substantial bonds with their biological mothers or parents.

Nevertheless, let’s spotlight that being born to and raised with your biological mother compared to an essential stranger carries a tremendous difference. One is a foreigner, and one we share DNA with.

I am an adoptee who didn’t form a bond with my adoptive mother.

I am also an adoptee who was forced to TRY

It felt like I was put in a room with a stranger, and she started hugging me, touching me, and being obsessed with me, but she never left. She was always around, dominating and controlling every aspect of my life. It was traumatic, and it made my skin crawl. I still feel fragments of it when I think about it. 

To add to this complexity, I was coerced to live an illusion, a fantasy, to appease my adoptive parents’ wants, needs, and desires. Adoption is rooted in a delusion that was agreed upon by my adoptive parents and my biological mother as co-conspirators in a legalized plan to hijack my true identity, better known as Adoption.  

I was coerced to accept my new identity as truth, while my Authentic identity was kept captive, secretly hidden away, never to be discovered. I was lied to, told I should be grateful, and love is the reason my biological passed me over to genetically foreign strangers. 

I was stalled from finding my biological father by being told he was dead, which was an absolute untruth. I said, “I want to stand over his grave then, and until I do that, I will never believe he’s dead!” And guess what? My tenacity persisted, and I found, met, and laid eyes on my birth father. He was very much alive, and they lied. 

While everyone in the transaction gets what they want, I am the one left to sift through the rubble once the entire orchestration blows up and the pieces are shattered all over the ground. One by one, I have fought the world to find my truth year after year. They got what they wanted in some regard, but I have never been the compliant and grateful adoptee they signed up for.  

Instead, I’ve conducted my life as quite the opposite. I was pissing people off the minute I entered the world, and I have no plans on stopping now.

How do you think this assumed UNNATURAL bonding has negatively impacted my life? Or the lifetime of lies my entire existence was built on? I don’t like it when people fucking touch me or look at me. I don’t trust people and struggle significantly with allowing them to get close to me. The forced pretending has carried over to my adult life. I constantly have to correct myself and work on operating from a place of TRUTH AND TRANSPARENCY, even when everyone in the adoption industry (even my adopters) pushed secrecy, lies, and half-truths. 

Being pushed or coerced to bond with a foreigner is a special kind of mental mind f*ck. So let’s bring the real deal to the table. It’s brutal, and it isn’t pleasant. It gives me the creeps. It’s caused me C-PTSD, extreme grief, sadness, and a loss that can not be measured. A counterfeit mother figure couldn’t substitute my real biological mother, but because of Adoption, she tried and failed miserably. Kudos to her for trying at my expense!

I remember from a very young age being repulsed by her. From around four to five years old, I remember her forcing me to do things I didn’t want to, like massaging her entire body with lotion. She made me put on makeup on her and brush her hair. I had to run her bathwater, keep her room clean and take care of her when she was manic, depressive, sick, and suicidal. I was forced to do other awful things no child should have to do, but I cannot convey them currently.

For some wild reason, I have this intuitive sense that she tried to breastfeed me when I was a newborn, which is unnatural to me when it’s not from my biological mother. When she touched me, I would become nauseated from a very early age. This notion completely repulses me, and I am 100% against any adoptive mothers breastfeeding their adopted children. This is a whole article by itself; stay tuned.

While I have no experience of what it feels like to have a healthy connection or a bond with any mother, I can share without a shadow of a doubt that the experience of NOT having this has been heartbreaking, grievous, and painful. Therefore, to be coerced into conformation with the notion of love being enough to suffice all lost because of Adoption is corrupt, offensive, and heartless! 

It’s tough to describe how being forced to bond with someone I cannot bond with has felt my whole life. For starters, I am positive that “the way my adoptive mother was” had a profound impact on the capabilities of forming a bond with her. But, of course, not all adoptive moms are like her. I will never get another chance in the mother department; quite frankly, striking it out three times in this area is enough for me. So, we have my biological mother, adoptive mother, and stepmother, and I feel no bond or connection with any of them.

I wonder if my biological mother knew this would be a reality if she would still choose Adoption.

Giving a baby up for Adoption or adopting a baby and assuming they will form a bond with their adoptive maternal figure is like playing Russian roulette and taking a chance that could have life or death consequences. When adoptive parents don’t form the bonds they expect when they adopt a child, they sometimes rehome the child, passing them over to someone else to raise. Once again, they decided to take this chance, and at no fault, the adoptee is the one who never made this choice, yet we have to pay for the consequences for life.

Not only is the adoptee severed from the biological mother, but this automatic notion that they will permanently, automatically, or in time, assuming that they will bond with the adoptive parents, must be put to rest.

SOMETIMES IT’S IMPOSSIBLE FOR AN ADOPTEE TO ATTACH OR BOND TO ANYONE WHEN THE ORIGINAL BOND TO OUR BIOLOGICAL MOTHERS IS BROKEN! THIS IS OUR REALITY.

We need everyone in the adoption constellation to acknowledge that this is a reality for many adoptees. When this expectation is placed on us, and we don’t have the capabilities to meet the expected requirements, it can and will impact every area of our lives. Not just our lives but the lives of anyone that knows and loves the adoptee. It will impact our children and their children.

I can’t speak for all adoptees, but I have always struggled to bond and connect with people. I have carried this deep internal dialog with myself that is one of defeat, where I feel defective and broken. In my healing journey, mapping out all areas of my life, I have recognized that because the original bond with my birth mother was broken, it has impacted me negatively my entire life. It takes me a supplementary amount of work to experience what most people take for granted, and that’s bonding with anyone. All the time, I have worked to “fix myself” because what Adoption has broken has robbed me of a meaningful life. For 48 years, I am still attempting to fix what Adoption stole, broke, and robbed me of, and I often think about what I would have made of myself and become if I had an everyday life. One where I wasn’t dying on the inside every day just because I needed to see the face of the woman that gave me life only to be rejected by her once I found her. 

So much for “she loved you so much!” The biggest lie ever told in Adoption. 

This struggle is rooted in the broken and missing bond from the loss of our biological mothers. This is one more expectation that’s been placed upon me and so many adoptees that reflects a decision others made for us.

“How do you think your adoptive mom felt when you didn’t bond with her? Do you think this was her choice? How do you think she felt not bonding with you? I’m sure it wrecked her, and she felt it too!” – Says the world.

To be completely honest, I don’t care. She autographed the paperwork and signed up for this; I did not. But, let me be evident in defense of all the adoptive parents and birth parents out there who are considering Adoption; the adoption agencies, adoption attorneys, and advocates are not going to tell you the depth and layers of this reality! They might touch on it, but they will devise coercive ways to convince you that there are “so many ways” to bond with your adoptive baby. No one can guarantee this maternal bond to be acquired with an artificial mother, just like they can’t guarantee a “better life” in Adoption, only a different one.

This is why it’s essential to listen to adult adoptees!

Well, BONDING WITH YOUR ADOPTIVE BABY IS NOT GUARANTEED! So better yet, maybe ask yourself before you choose Adoption for your baby or to start a family, “How would I navigate an adopted child who couldn’t bond with me? Or “What if I couldn’t bond with them? Would I try to force it? Should I choose not to parent instead of playing Russian roulette with a child’s life?”

If you get on YouTube and find “Soft White Underbelly” and hear the stories of all the individuals interviewed on this show, the majority of them express early wounds of the missing mother and the mother wound that go back to their childhoods. Of course, some were abandoned, and family or other people took some in; however, the common theme in many stories is the broken bonds and relationships with the maternal mother figures in their lives.

Considering adoptees are 4x more likely to attempt suicide than non-adopted people, and they are over-represented in prisons, jails, treatment, and mental health facilities, I think its time the adoption constellation steps out of denial and acknowledges that we have a real problem here.

For my fellow adoptees, how well did you bond or not bond with your adoptive parents?

Have you been able to connect the dots on this impacting other area of your lives?

If so, how do you feel it’s impacted you the most?

How have you healed from it?

Have you accepted it’s here to stay?

I’ve created a comprehensive list of recommended resources for adult adoptees and adoption advocates!

Thank you for reading,

Love, Love

Pamela A. Karanova

Don’t forget this article, along with all my other articles, are available in audio for your convenience; look up Pamela A. Karanova Podcast on Google PodcastsiTunesand Spotify. And Amazon Music. Interested in treating me to a coffee to add fuel to my fire? Click here. Many thanks in advance to my supporters!

*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

Recommended Resources for Adult Adoptees & Adoption Advocates

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255 OR Dial or Text 988.

Suicide – Read This First

Adoptee Centric Therapist Directory – Grow Beyond Words

Marie Dolfi – Specializes in counseling for all members of the adoption constellation.

Adoptees On Healing Series – Adoptee Therapist 

Abby Jacobson, Adoptee Counselor 

Ask Adoption by Lesli Johnson, MFT

100 Heartfelt Adoptee Quotes that Honor the Truth of Adoption by Pamela A. Karanova & 100 Adoptees Worldwide

100 Heartfelt Transracial Adoptee Quotes that Honor the Truth of Adoption by Pamela A. Karanova & 100 Transracial Adoptees Worldwide

15 Significant Steps Towards Adoptee Healing by Pamela A. Karanova

Adopted and Pro-Choice: A Reproductive Journey by Lynn Grubb

Still Grieving Adoptee Losses, What My Adoptive Parents Could Have Done Differently by Pamela A. Karanova

Considering Adoption? What Adoptees Want You To Know by Pamela A. Karanova

Light, Water, Love by Michelle Hensley | Severance Mag

Why Do Adoptees Search? An Adoptee Collaboration by Pamela A. Karanova

Adoption is Amputation! By Shane Bouel

Adoption, Sex, and the Pursuit of Love: Why Adoptive Parents Need to Talk to Their Children and Teens about Sex (2022) by Christina Romo

From Political Pawns to Punchlines – Leave Adoptees Out of Your Abortion Arguments (And Memes) by Stephanie Drenka

No, I Will Not Pretty Up the Details, Why I Don’t Agree with Positive Adoption Language (PAL) by Deanna Doss Shrodes

I’m Adopted: You Can’t Fix Me or Take My Pain Away. Please Stop Trying by Pamela A. Karanova

I Died the Day I Was Born by Shane Bouel 

Article on Light of Day Stories about Adoptees Connect, Inc.

Maybe – What is the Cost of Swallowing a Secret?  by B.K. Jackson | Severance Mag

“Not My Adoptee!” Yes, Your Adoptee by Sara Easterly 

What Are the Mental Health Effects of Being Adopted? By Therodora Blanchfield, AMFT

Adoption and Abortion: What Adoptees Wish Others Would Consider When Discussing Adoption and Abortion by Melissa Guida-Richards

The Link Among the Brain, the Gut, Adoption, and Trauma by Maureen McCauley 

Family History “UNKNOWN” – Understanding an Individuals Needs in the Healthcare Environment by Julia Small, MS III, Ramya Gruneisen, MS, Elaine Schulte, MD, MPH, BCC

I Am Grateful To Be Adopted  – Yet Adoption is Still Traumatic by Therodora Blanchfield, AMFT

12 Smiliarities Between Witness Protection & Adoption by Shane Bouel

Dear Adoptive Parents: An “Angry Adoptee” Gets Vulnerable – The Pain Behind the Rage by Mila at Lost Daughters

Does Adoption Really Equal Trauma? by Maureen McCauley 

The Truth About Adoption – An Adoptee’s Perspective by Stephanie Drenka

5 Infuriating Things Non-Adoptees Say to Adoptees by Angela Barra

Assume All Adopted Children Have Trauma by Musings of the Lame

How Adoptees Feel About Birthdays by Pamela Karanova

What Problems Do Adopted Adults Have? by Dr. Andrew Rosen

Bringing Adult Adoptee Issues to Light by Angela Burton of Next Avenue

5 Hard Truths About Adoption that Adoptive Parents don’t want to Hear by Louisa

These Adoptees Refuse to Be Christian Pro-Life Poster Kids by Kathryn Post of Religious News Service

10 Things Adoptive Parents Should Know – An Adoptee’s Perspective by Cristina Romo

What Adoption Taught Me About Family Separation by Stephanie Drenka

Adoptees, Why Are You So Angry? Over 100 Adoptees Share Heartfelt Feelings by Pamela A. Karanova & Adoptees Worldwide

Dear Adoptive Mother by Shane Bouel

We Should Be Fighting for a World Without Adoption by Michelle Merritt

When Your Biggest Blessing Invalidates My Greatest Trauma by Pamela A. Karanova

Struggles of an Adoptee: Loss by Cosette Eisenhauer

What it Costs to be Adopted by Michele Merritt

Canceling My Adoption by Netra Sommer

Exploring the Great Divide in Adoption: Why You’re Not That Different by Christina Romo

On the Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Adoptees Don’t want to Be A “Pawn” in Abortion Debates by Danielle Campoamor

An Adoptee’s Perspective on Healing by Christina Romo

5 Reasons Why Biology Matters to an Adoptee by Angela Barra

Adoption and Mental Illness by Arline Kaplin

How to Help Yourself & Others with Suicide Ideation by Ginger Robinson

We Need to Talk About Adoptee Suicide by Angela Barra

Understanding Why Adoptees Are At A Higher Risk for Suicide by Maureen McCauley | Light of Day Stories

Research on Adoptees and Suicide by Harlows Monkey

Dealing with Adoptee Suicide by Lynelle Long

6 Things You Should Know About Adoptees and Suicide by Jennifer Galan

Adoptee Suicide by Layla Schaeffer

Adoptee Suicide in the Media by Jeanette-ically Speaking

Toward Preventing Adoption- Related Suicide by Mirah Riben

Suicide Amongst Adoptees by Hilbrand Westra

R U OKAY, Day? It’s Time To Talk About Adoptees and Attempted Suicide by Angela Barra

Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide by Suicide Prevention & Public Health Organizations 

Changing the Conversation About Suicide by Claudia Youakium

Hidden Identity Podcast by Lynn Grubb

Who Am I Really Podcast? by Damon Davis

Adoptees On Podcast by Haley Radke

Somewhere Between Podcast – Asian Adoptee Podcast by Maia, Aimee, Alia, and Ace

The Adoption Files Podcast by Ande Stanley

Thriving Adoptees Podcast by Simon Benn

Secret Son Podcast by Mike Trupiano

Adoption: The Making of Me Podcast by Sarah Reinhardt & Louise Browne

The Adoptee Next Door Podcast by Angela Tucker

Cut Off Jeans Podcast by Julie Dixon Jackson & Richard Castle

Adoptee Thoughts Podcast by Melissa Guida – Richards

Born in June, Raised in April by April Dinwoodie

Adoptee Reunion Coaching – By Daryn Watson  

Reunion: Is There Enough Room for Us All? By Lynn Grubb

Adoptees Connect, Inc. – Where Adoptee Voices Meet

Adoptee Merch – Your #1 Adoptee Merchandise Shop with 100% of the benefits donated directly to Adoptees Connect, Inc. 

Adoptee Recommended Resources by Adoptees Connect, Inc.

Recommended Resources by Adoptees On

Right to Know – It’s a fundamental human right to know your genetic identity

Adoptee Paths to Recovery by NAAP United

Adoption Mosaic by Astrid Castro

Intercountry Adoptee Voices – ICAV 

Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th – Exposing the hidden side of adoption, acknowledging adoptee suicide, grief, and loss. 

Pamela Karanova’s website, where she documents her journey over years of her life, uncovering the truth of who she is and where she came from. Her audible memoir can be found here titled, “Finding Purpose in the Pain, One Adoptee’s Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing.” 

Dear Adoption, is a community where adoptees share stories.

Adoptee Restoration by Deanna Doss Shrodes

Adoptees for Justice – Inter-country adoptee-led social justice org working to educate, empower, & organize international & transracial adoptees

Truth is Louder by Moses Farrow 

Adoption Decision-Making Among Women Seeking Abortion

Mental Health and Psychological Adjustment in Adults Who Were Adopted in Their Childhood: A Systematic Review

Substance Use Disorders and Adoption: Findings from a National Sample

Adoption as a Risk Factor for Attempted Suicide During Adolescence

The Mental Health of US Adolescence Adopted in Infancy by Margaret A Keyes, Ph.D.

Relationship Between Adoption and Suicide Attempts: A Meta-Analysis

Risk of Suicide Attempt in Adopted and Nonadopted Offspring

Behavioral Problems in Adoptees

Attachment Theory Explained by Kacy Ames, LCSW

Risk of Eating Disorders in International Adoptees: A Corhort Study Using Swedish National Population Registers

Rediscovering Latent Trauma: An Adopted Adults Perspective by Michele Merritt

Adopted Children Have Twice the Risk of Abusing Drugs if Biological Parents Also Did by Partnership Staff

Adoptees 4 Times More Likely to Attempt Suicide by Jenny Laidman

“Teachers and Adopted Children” Survey – Report: Key Findings, Topline Results, and Recommendations by Rudd Adoption Research Program Executive Summary Results

Adoption: Adverse Childhood Experience Explained by Dr. Chaitra Wirta-Leiker 

Infant Adoption is a Big Business in America by Darlene Gerow

Adoption and Trauma: Risks, Recovery and the Lived Experience of Adoption by David Brodzinsky 1, Megan Gunnar 2, Jesus Palacios 3

Reckoning with The Primal Wound Documentary with 10% off coupon code (25 available) “adopteesconnect”

Closure Documentary by Angela Tucker

Daughter of a Lost Bird by Brooke Swaney

Calcutta is my Mother by Reshma McClintock 

Father Unknown by David Quint

A Girl Like Her by Amy S. Weber

Adoption and Suicide Prevention: Adult Adoptees Speak Out by United Survivors

Adoption, DNA and the impact on a concealed life Tedx by Ruth Monning

Adoptee and Identity by Just Jae

Fireside Adoptees – Together We Rise!

Adoption and Addiction by Paul Sunderlund

The Trauma of Relinquishment- Adoption, Addiction, and Beyond by The OLLIE Foundation

An Adoptees Nightmare by Cryptic Omega

Transracial Adoptee Voices of of Love and Trauma by Mikayla Zobeck

What is Gaslighting and How Does it Impact Adopted Persons by Dr. Chaitra Wirta- Leiker

The Secret Identity of An Adopted Child: Catharine Robertson at TEDxBaltimore

Pulled by The Root – Unearthing Global Conversations for The Adoption Community

What is Adoption? A Video for Kids by Jeanette Yoffe

Finding Purpose in the Pain: One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir by Pamela A. Karanova

The Primal Wound – By Nancy Newton Verrier. Can be purchased used on Amazon.

Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self – By David M. Broadzinsky, Ph.D., Marshall D. Schechter, M.D. & Robin Marantz Henig

Visit adopteereading.com, where you will find a comprehensive list of adoptee books recommended by adult adoptees.

Coalition for Truth and Transparency in Adoption – Rise Up, Speak Up, Join Up by Richard Uhrlaub

Adoptee Rights Coalition – ARC

Adoptee Rights Campaign 

Adoptee Rights Law 

Bastard Nation  The Adoptee Rights Organization

Adoptees United

Facing the Primal Wound of Transracial Adoption by Naomi Sumner

InterCountry Adoptee Stories by ICAV

Hey TRA by Hannah Jackson Matthews

Adoptee Bridge 

Navigating Disability and Rare Medical Conditions as an Intercountry Adoptee by ICAV

Racisim and Microagressions in Transracial Adoption by AFFCNY

What Jessica wants You to Know About Transracial Adoption by Jessica Walton

Exploring Transracial Adoption and The Invisible Protection of Privilege by Molly McLaurin

Online Events by ICAV

Webinars by ICAV

Adoptee Hub 

Intercountry and Transracial Adoptee Experiences of Search and Reunion by Thomas Grhahm 

I Am the Black Adoptee of White Parents: What George Floyd Taught Me About Race and the Adoption Industry by Tony Hynes

Harlow’s Monkey – An Unapologetic Look at Transracial and Transnational Adoption 

Grieving as an Asian Adoptee by Stephanie Drenka

Diary of A Not-So-Angry Asian Adoptee 

InterCountry Adoptee Memorial by ICAV

An Adoptee’s Perspective: 15 Things Transracially Adoptive Parents Need to Know by Christina Romo

Navigating Disability and Rare Medical Conditions as an InterCountry Adoptee by Lynelle Long

Dear Adoptive Parents of Overseas Adoptees, Wake Up! by Stephanie Drenka 

Navigating Adoption by Cossette Eisenhauer & Zoe 

I Am Adoptee 

To Pimp an Adopted Butterfly by Matthew Charles | Severance Mag

Transracial Adoptee Voices of of Love and Trauma by Mikayla Zobeck

Interview: Lynelle Long – TRA/International Adoptee Part 1 by Fireside Adoptees 

Interview: Lynelle Long – TRA/International Adoptee Part 2 by Fireside Adoptees

Gazillion Voices 

Delaying Adoption Disclosure: A Survey of Late Discovery Adoptees by Amanda Baden & more. 

Storytelling to Save Your Life: A Late Discovery Adoptee Experience by Kevin Gladish | Severance Mag

Late Discovery Adoptees (LDA) and What We Can Learn by Lynn Grubb

Narcissism and Adoption: Very Likely Bedfellows by Lynn Grubb

72 [S4 E10] Alice – Narcissism – Adoptees On Podcast

Trying to Heal After Maternal Narcissism by Louisa

5 Reasons Narcissistic Parents Replace Their Children by Devon Frye

The Narcissistic Adoptive Mother by Pamela A. Karanova

Adoption, Narcissism, and Psychopathy by Lee Daniel Hughes

New Study sheds light on the links between family type, childhood experiences, and narcissism by Eric W. Doolan

Is Maternal Narcissism more Prevalent in Adoption? By Louisa

Little Fires Everywhere – An Adult Adoptee’s Reflections: Narcissism and Mother- Blaming by Sara Easterly 

33 Revealing Signs You Have A Narcissistic Parent: The Ultimate List by Toxic Ties

Finding Long Lost Family – DNA Favorites by Richard Hill

How Consumer DNA Testing is Changing the Conversation Around Original Birth Certificates (OBC) by Lynn Grubb

Adoptee Resources – DNA Favorites by Richard Hill

Right to Know – It’s a fundamental human right to know your genetic identity

While You Wait for Your DNA Results: Things Adoptees Can Do by Lynn Grubb

Finding Family Book – DNA Favorites by Richard Hill

The Best DNA Testing Companies – DNA Favorites by Richard Hill 

Lessons for Adoptees with Unknown Parentage by Lynn Grubb

Favorite DNA Books – DNA Favorites by Richard Hill

Search Angels for Adoptees – DNAngels – Find Families, One DNA Strand at a Time.

DNA Search Tips for Adoptees by Janet Weinreich- Keall

Adoptee Remembrance Day: Today by Light of Day Stories

Before a month celebrating adoption, a day to recognize adoptees’ trauma by Religion News Service

Adoptee Remembrance Day by InterCountry Adoptee Voices (ICAV)

Adoptee Remembrance Day by Adoptees On

Adoptee Remembrance Day by My Adoptee Truth 

Adoptee Remembrance Day Presentation by Brenna Kyeong McHugh

Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th by Bastard Nation

It’s Hard to Smile Today – My Tribute to Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th by Pamela A. Karanova

Adoption BE-AWARENESS and Remembrance By Mirah Riben

Adoptee REMEMBRANCE Day by Janet Nordine, Experience Courage

Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th YouTube Poetry Hosted By Liz Debetta

Listeners Acknowledge Adoptee Remembrance Day by Adoptees On

The Family Preservation Project – Adoptee Social Media Accounts to Follow

JoJo Patience – Adoptee Self-Help Book and Coaching for Adoptees

Start writing, journaling, and documenting your adoptee journey. WordPress is our recommended platform that is free to use. Healing through writing is a wonderful healing outlet, and we highly recommend it.

If you have any recommended resources we can add to this list, please leave them below, and we will consider adding them to our database.

Crisis Hotline Numbers

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Call: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)

  • The Trevor Project – LGBTQ Community.

Call: 1-866-488-7386

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline

Call: 1-800-799-7233

  • National Sexual Assault Hotline

Call: 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673)

  • Suicide Hotline:

Call: 1-800-784-2433

  • National Hopeline Network

Call: 1-800-442-4673 General Crisis Support by Text

  • Crisis Text Line: Text Support to 741-741 (24/7) Trained counselors can discuss anything that’s on your mind. Free 24/7, confidential. crisistextline.org

Not a crisis but need someone to talk to:

This article compiled by Pamela A. Karanova. Don’t forget this article, along with all my other articles, are available in audio for your convenience; look up Pamela A. Karanova Podcast on Google PodcastsiTunesand Spotify. And Amazon Music. Interested in treating me to a coffee to add fuel to my fire? Click here. Many thanks in advance to my supporters!

100 Heartfelt Transracial Adoptee Quotes that Honor the Truth of Adoption

You have come to the right place if you are looking for the best adoption quotes from the transracial adoptee’s perspective. This article shares 100 Heartfelt Transracial Adoptee Quotes that Honor’s the Truth of Adoption from the transracial adult adoptee perspective.

As we end 2022, I decided to call my fellow adoptees to help collaborate and share quotes from the heart, reflecting the voices almost always overlooked in the adoption constellation. So, 100 transracial adoptees came together to capture some of the feelings and experiences that transracial adoptees go through during their lifetimes.

While you read these quotes, 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 the rollercoaster journey that adoption brings. They are mothers, fathers, sisters, cousins, doctors, nurses, teachers, public speakers, advocates, writers, authors, D.J’s, lawyers, homemakers, students, etc. As transracial adoptees grow up, they host lifelong experiences, and every experience holds value to their lives and stories.

By sharing 100 Transracial Adoptee Quotes with the world, we hope that a new level of awareness will arise that there is so much more to transracial adoption than what society recognizes. Maybe 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 transracial adoptee who shared their heart here. While you read this article, you will receive validation that you are not alone. We’re in this together, and our voices are valuable and worthy.

We are stronger together.

100 Transracial Adoptee Quotes

  1. “My fundamental outlook on human relationships is: if the person who brought me into this world can abandon me, anyone can. I have inadvertently become an island, trusting no one, grounded by no significant human connections. The word ‘love’ is meaningless to me because it was conflated with abandonment and abuse. I should not know these feelings.”B. Birch
  1. “The way I see it, transracial adoption is human trafficking and the theft of children from the people the world sees as unworthy of raising their own children. I was not adopted, I was stolen.“Elli Mariyama Manneh 
  1. “As a transracial adoptee, your experiences with racism, self-identity, grief, etc., are all unique to yourself, which creates an immense sense of loneliness. Parents of transracial adoptees must know that their child will go through many obstacles they will NOT understand. But it is important to recognize this and always support the best you can!”Miguel Jones 
  1. “I used to pray every night that I’d wake up and be white so I looked like I belonged with the family I was with.”C.C.
  1. “As a TRA, it feels like I culturally appropriate my very own culture whenever I wear or use original clothes, jewelry, accessories, and products from my people. I feel like a total fraud, an imposter that doesn’t belong anywhere.”Jennifer Elise Teer, IG @PiecieLove
  1. “I am a Korean adoptee, brought to Oklahoma in 1982. Becoming a mother changed everything for me. I am convinced, now more than ever, that regardless of the circumstances surrounding my relinquishment, my birth mother still thinks of me from time to time after all these years. There’s no way she does not find herself wondering about the woman I’ve become.”Jennifer H-P
  1. “Dear Adopters, The only reason you were able to adopt me is because society failed my mother and forced her to make a decision she shouldn’t have had to make in the first place. Not yours truly.”Kris 
  1. “Being a transracial adoptee feels like I was set on fire, and everyone around me was ok with the fire because it kept them warm. They all got what they wanted while they watched me burn. The worst part is they expect me to be grateful for burning.”Amanda B.
  1. “I grew up thinking I was white.”Omaira Avila
  1. “Mirrors are a strange companion when no one else reflects you. People and family make it clear, so all you can do is look back at yourself.”Nikolay Arthur 
  1. “Learning in my late 40’s about my Peruvian ancestry, I have referred to myself as a ‘reluctant latina.’  I honestly have no idea what an ‘authentic Latina feels like, nor have I ever experienced the culture of my father’s people.”Lynn Grubb
  1. “Growing up, I wondered who my birth parents were for many reasons. I wanted to know where my physical features came from but also what kind of people they were. I believed if they were good, loving, and smart, that would mean I was. I didn’t believe I could identify who I was until I knew where I came from.” Jen Capeless 
  1. “Love is colorblind, or so they said! Adoption into a colour not your own is beautiful…on the surface for the White Saviour who rescues you. When you find your biology, you truly understand being Black on the outside yet white on the inside. As a transracial adoptee, it’s like straddling two cultures yet fitting wholly in neither.” blacksheep1969 
  1. “It’s illegal to change the identifiable information on your car. Individuals can be fined $10,000  or jailed for up to 5 years for changing the VIN, and nobody bats an eye when the name and date of birth is changed on a birth certificate for an adoptee.”
  • “For every highlighted war hero, there are a thousand more that suffer in silence with the traumas of war. PTSD is the hidden scars of war. Adoption is very similar to the military, where only the positive narratives are highlighted as many more suffer from guilt (being adopted as others are not), suffer from shame (unable to share their abuse), and fear (as they deal with separation anxiety).”
  •   “It’s incomprehensible to me how it’s illegal to sell human organs for profit, but the wholesale of the entire person through adoption is justified by our society.” 
  • “If adoption were a drug, then the evidence of its efficacy would have pulled it off the shelf many decades ago.”
  •   “Adoptions vary like the weather. For every sunny outcome, there is an equal negative, destructive tornado of an outcome that has destroyed either a child, biological mother and/or adoptive family. Therefore, we need to honor all adoption narratives, both positive and bad.”
  • “It’s estimated that nearly 60,000 intercountry adoptees reside in America without citizenship, and roughly 60-70% of domestic adoptions have open records. Adoption laws have made great strides in recent years but so much more needs to be done for every adoptee to have the same rights as a non-adoptee. Of the nearly Seven million adoptions in the United States, it affects almost 1/3 or 100 million Americans face adoption in their immediate family (includes adopting, placing a child for adoption or being adopted.”Jayme K. Hansen
  1. “As a transracial adoptee, I lost my first family, my first culture, my first language—all gone before I even knew I had it. The journey to reclaim them has been long and arduous, and I might never get the answers I want or need. But I will carry on, both for myself and this community.”Patrick Armstrong 
  1. “Having to justify my experiences and realities to the most familiar strangers, fighting to be seen and heard, to two different worlds that I seamlessly exist in, is the most exhausting experience to navigate.”Vanessa Pacheco 
  1. “My parents did an amazing job for the ’80s, and I was always connected with my bio family.  I had a healthy racial identity as black, but you still miss out on some aspects of your culture. However, you learn that no matter how aware your adoptive family is with transracial adoption, they simply can’t grasp living firsthand with racism. At times, they can even use microaggressions without being aware – being an overall positive experience doesn’t negate the challenges. When it comes to transracial adoption, you’re at the mercy of people around you. “Where’d you get them colored kids?” Being “othered” in a space that’s still your own family, it’s a weird complexity. Hair insecurity, trying to find a seat at a table, I’m tolerated but not actually included.”Silver
  1. “I grew up thinking that if I denied my culture and sounded white, people would accept me more.”Marta Aranda 
  1. Being nonwhite, raised by a white family in a white community, has given me a near pervasive feeling of triblessness.  It is communicated in various ways that you are not white but also that you are not of our racial background, especially if you are from a relatively segregated place.  Identity is a constant question.  One of the advantages though is that we get to create our own identities and stories, which is both a privilege and burden that few except us can know.” Andrew Glynn 
  1. “The truth of the matter is that my parents were told that my race was not a factor in how I was to be raised, but race does matter when you are one of the only people of color in your community. Race does matter when you get racially profiled at a store, when someone at work is micro-aggressive, and when kids at school tell you that your skin is ugly and dirty and that you matter less because of it. I struggle to claim my identity as a Latinx person to this day, and I never learned the tools of how to cope with my racially based hate from my family. I used unhealthy coping mechanisms to “stay alive” barely, but luckily, thanks to the online adoptee community, sobriety, and therapy, I am learning how to love myself, brown skin and all.”Joe Toolan 
  1. “Being adopted into a transracial family did not protect me from racism or micro-aggression or being fetishized. I’ve learned that Adoptees might get to experience their birth culture, but they will always experience people’s perceptions of their race and culture.”Cosette Eisenhauer 
  1. “It has taken me years to allow myself to feel angry about my experience as a transracial adoptee raised by a white parent. I want to tell my younger self that my feelings are valid and my circumstances are nuanced. I encourage them (my younger self) to seek those who will provide space to be your full self. You are not too much.”Anica Falcone – Juengert 
  1. “I never feel as invisible as when someone asks me “Do YOU experience racism here?” Hasina Helena, A transracial adoptee who is from India but resides in Sweden. 
  1. “As an International Adoptee, my journey is not exactly the same as that of Transracial Adoptees; however, there are a few intersections. It is from that perspective that I share this feedback. As an Afro-German child growing up in a family that was rife with racial microaggressions was difficult. Clearly, the only way for me to be comfortable in the midst of these conversations was to consistently deny my bio mom’s ethnicity and the European part of my own. There was absolutely no inclusion, exposure, or discussion of German culture.  There were 25 years between the year that I learned I was adopted and the year that I finally met relatives that looked just like me. Having no familial mirror was very difficult for me. I was expected to sink or swim prior to that moment. Upon my reunion with my first family, my adoptive parents admitted that they knew my biological family all along. WTF!?  It changed everything for me and my connection to them. However unconscionable, it was also the defining moment that made me choose to be the one to not spoon-feed generational trauma to my own children.”Jacquelin Taybron 
  1. “In my experience as a TRA, I was often shamed for wanting to know more about my birth family. When I did ask about them, I was told I was selfish, and I was dismissed about wanting to learn more about my culture. I was once told that I can be black but not too black.” IG @thespeckledadoptee 
  1. “Being a transracial adoptee, it’s living with the fear your physical features could condition the way others will treat you.”Maria Daozheng 
  1. “We, as the transracial, as the mixed, as the adopted, exist beyond the outer bounds of language, where your words have no meaning, where we laugh at your categories and borders and contradictions. Beyond the safety of your understanding, beyond the limits of your imagination. What power we must hold, then, as to exist beyond this imagination is to know that a better world beyond this one exists, not only in the future but here and now. And that what we create, becomes.”Yohanyy Torres | Andrew Drinkwater
  1. “Being a transracial adoptee makes us a double minority – both racially and biologically. The world is seen through a lens that is very different than most people. Patience, a sense of empathy, and listening from people who understand we think differently are essential to an adoptee’s ability to thrive. We need this to embrace that we matter; that different is good and that we deserve to be heard, even though we know most cannot and will not ever truly understand from our perspective.”Maria Gatz 
  1. “Adoptees don’t always know exactly what they’re going through. They not only need patience from others but also with themselves. If you are close with an adoptee, be patient with them and learn from them. You never know what is adoption-related trauma and what is part of being human.”Zoe Seymore
  1. “Adoption did give me a very different life for which I am extremely grateful.  In retrospect, there was still a good deal missing. Discovering the transracial element of my pre-adoption life has added immensely to the richness of my life. It’s really unfortunate in so many ways that it had to be kept secret. I just wish I had found out sooner.”Jack Rocco  
  1. “I’ve never felt as a TRA that there was a space for me since I knew my birth parents, but I felt so much of the distance from them that I might as well have not. Maybe there is so much vastness and space and language that is not yet created by us and for us as adoptees to claim for ourselves since so many decisions were made for us. After all, our experiences are our own.”Oumou Cisse 
  1. “My parents say that they just see me as ‘their kid’ while still letting friends of the family and/or relatives say some pretty racist stuff to me when I was growing up. I’m 26 now, and I just realize how not okay that all was.” Grace R. 
  1. “I constantly felt like I was sticking out among family & friends, I forgot how comforting it can be to have friends that look like you. Being a transracial adoptee is such a unique experience, so unique that at times it feels almost isolating.”Julie M. 
  1. “Growing up Asian in predominantly white communities, I didn’t understand the importance of representation until I saw myself being represented. With that comes questions, confusion, and pain surrounding racial and cultural belonging.” Phoebe M. 
  1. “I feel like I don’t fit. Anywhere. Not in my current family…they’re too white. Not in my first family…they’re a world away. I’ve accepted that I’ll never fit. Anywhere.”Sara G.
  1. “Alienation. Wherever I turned, I was constantly reminded that I did not fit the society around me. I am a Latina, but I have no connection to that culture. I grew up white, but I absolutely do not look like it. Alienation wherever I looked.”Carmen C.
  1. “For me, trans-racial adoption feels like a constant journey through an identity crisis- a never-ending cycle of grieving, shedding, discovering, losing, gaining, analyzing, & understanding.” Lauren Castillo
  1. “Being a transracial adoptee means living a life of being misunderstood while also being surrounded by assumptions made by others of your own life. It also means never fitting in anywhere, except for maybe the home you make yourself.” Alexis Bartlett
  1. “My white adoptive mom once told me that she believed in nurture over nature until I started exploring my black identity and “acting culturally black.” I still live with the fact that my mom adopted me with the belief that she could love the black out of me. It continues to break my heart, more than thirty years later.”Dr. Abby Hasberry
  1. “You are stronger than your shadows. Sure there has been major upheaval in our life. I was 26 when I was half told I was even trafficked or adopted. All a bit shady, but I know who I am because I spent my life being me and built myself up one day at a time. Hard days? Yes. Gamut of terrible feelings? Of course, racist attacks, obviously from within my family and not, BUT only if you allow externalities define you does it transform you. Do it yourself, you’ll be happier and less upset. Ciao. Iranian adoptee to an Italian family, raised in Canada.”Flavia Nasrin Testa
  1. “I grew up thinking I was a fraud. Not enough of anything, but always too much. I was told I was no different, so what I was feeling could not be true. There is a hollowness to my sense of self that will always be there.”I Used to Be Sam
  1. “As a transracial adoptee adult, who was raised with the “colorblind” worldview, I was dangerously unprepared for college, city life, and the world. Leaving for college, I vividly remember being convinced racism was not real. As an adult, navigating Blackness, Whiteness, racism, and discrimination for the first time without the “cloak of (white) privilege” life was devastating and demoralizing for me. I felt bamboozled in college, after college, and in many instances in life still to this day.”Molly E. McLaurin
  1. “I felt Swedish, I breathed Swedish, and I lived Swedish – everything I did growing up other white Swedes did as well – but of course, as soon as anything negative happened in school as a kid or teen, it was all blamed on me, and my sister – the psychiatry got involved as is the practice here and only the two adopted kids got labeled, after which we got our rights removed as young adults – the practice is such that whenever an adopted kid/teen is involved in any trouble the psychiatry will label you, we’re sacrificed as scapegoats by the psychiatry and they don’t give a fuck about context, we’re treated like foreigners – not like citizens by them – the statistics tell of adopted kids being four times more common in the psychiatry, and in the suicides for a reason.”Victor Fernando Nygren 
  1. “Growing up, my white adoptive parents forced me to believe they were my only family. Because of this, I’m unable to connect with my Indian culture. To the point where I don’t feel Indian. Sometimes it even feels like an Indian woman didn’t give birth to me.”Winnie 
  1. “I always felt as though I wasn’t “Latina enough” or fitted in anywhere being a Transracial Adoptee. And being torn from my ethnic culture was not my choice as a child. However, reclaiming my roots and my power as an adult on my terms has been my choice, and I am grateful for it because now I realize that HOME has been inside of me all this time.”Sarita Buer, Latina TRA – @saritawellness 
  1.  “Being a TRA has wreaked havoc on my mental and emotional health. Referring to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, my sense of security, belonging, and esteem was neglected when I had no racial mirrors during the formative first 19 years of my life. At the age of 55, I still have no sense of belonging, my self-esteem is in the trash, and I struggle forming lasting intimate relationships.  I wouldn’t wish this internal battle on anyone.”Karen Elliott 
  1. “I think people often think that being adopted is a glamorous experience and a fairytale ending, and I’m here to say that yes, it was an experience I had, but the fairytale ending does not exist.  I have been navigating the intersections of my identity as a transracial international adoptee from South America, growing up in a predominantly white community, along with several other adopted siblings.  These experiences, while unique to my story, are very common, and I have realized how much of my mental health has been impacted by these many layers of my identity.  I hope people understand that being an adoptee is complicated and not as easy or wonderful as some people may think.”Ana Felicia, Colombian Transracial International Adoptee 
  1. “This is what no one told me about being adopted…No one told me that I would find out that I was out of the loop when the most crucial moments in my life were set in motion. No one told me how misplaced I would feel — how I would grow up knowing that I am different, with my origins erased. That I would struggle with buried trauma, racial identity as never-ending grief, because I’ve lost something that I can neither recover nor just “get over.” – Eun Kyung Chee 
  1. “Biological connection means nothing and everything at the same time. You’re told blood doesn’t make a family, and love is a choice. But if love is a choice, then why is it so hard to choose to love yourself? Not knowing your true roots and being reminded of that harsh reality every time you look in the mirror, at your adoptive family’s faces, or at everyone around you who doesn’t resemble you at all makes self-love difficult. And being adopted, being biologically different certainly wasn’t my choice.”Kelly Hrank 
  1. “Growing up, my experiences as a transracial transnational adoptee had been narrated and carefully curated by my white adoptive parents. As a child, the only feelings I was allowed to access were gratitude and happiness, and my own adoption story didn’t even belong to me. Coming out of the Fog freed me to embrace the anger, loss, and grief I had also been feeling my entire life. And to eventually meet a worldwide community of adoptees and witness others who felt exactly or similarly to me was validating and necessary for my adoption trauma healing.”Maze Felix (They/Them)
  1. “Being a multiracial transracial adoptee is a constant search for identity. It is a constant navigation between belonging and not. I feel roots that I don’t know how to access and, at times, explore without feeling like an imposter. It is a constant practice of coming back to myself in acknowledgment that I am enough by just existing.”Tisa A.
  1. “For me, my adoption is the “fairy tale” version, the one people think they’d be getting out of the whole experience. But just because the princess is happy now doesn’t mean her trauma is gone or no longer hurts her. She’s stuck in an endless loop of ‘what if it didn’t happen’ or ‘who was I supposed to be’ and feeling like an imposter at all times because she’s been playing a part she didn’t ask for. Yet, she wouldn’t change a thing because she loves herself for her strength and understanding adoption has given her.”Supposed to be Selena
  1. “My closed transracial adoption was full of lies and deception regarding my ethnicity. This led to a lifetime of confusion, searching for clues to my racial identity. I never fit in and had no “tribe” or culture to claim as my own.”Signed, T. Adams
  1. “Here’s an inside scoop to understanding an Adoptee’s Grief: No matter the explanation for why they were given away, babies do not understand logic and babies do not understand politics, but instead, all they know is that they were abandoned. Babies, instead, should feel safe, secure, wanted, and loved, but that is all lost in the process of relinquishment and adoption. Their baby self has learned the message that they are unwanted and unloved, and so the only way for Adoptees to heal is through self-love.”Haley Hudler, Chinese American Adoptee, adopted in 1997.
  1. “Who I was before the fog was a version of me wearing a mask which was chosen for me. An identity handpicked. Now, here I am after the fog. Maskless. Identity reclaimed anew.” Harley Place, Indian Adoptee 
  1. “I know what it feels like to hold a piece of myself that will never have a true sense of belonging to one culture or family, and that piece of me will always feel lost and stranded. I know what it feels like to grow up being racially isolated and wishing I were white, wishing I looked like my parents. I know what it feels like to be loved by my parents and to have the knowledge that their first preference was to have a biological child.”Amanda Fallon, Korean American Adoptee, Adopted in 1982.
  1. “I may have been adopted from India by white people, but that doesn’t give me white privilege. Ever since 9/11, I receive far more uncomfortable looks from people at the airport.”Nandeeta Ramsey
  1. “Adoption is my roaring broken heart beneath the expectations of love-starved strangers. It is the daring, lonely, and unending pursuit of finding doors and the skeletons they hide. The idea itself of embracing arms, of belonging, is the only home I’ll ever know.”“Amanda” Wild
  1. “Like many transracial adoptees, I’ve always felt like a part of many worlds but more like a visiting tourist. My twist is that my adoptive mom was Mexican, and I’m white, so I grew up around relatives speaking Spanish and eating tamales at holidays, but since my mom didn’t make an effort to raise me as bilingual, I’m unable to access her/our full community. Now I send my little white kids to Spanish immersion school to [re]connect with our Mexican roots (that don’t actually feel rooted to my whole identity), which also gives me cultural appropriation vibes, but it truly was and is a big chunk of my multi-layered culture. So I’m in yet another space where I feel like I don’t belong- transracial adoptee communities that are seemingly all people of color.” Mari Triplett
  1. “My proximity to Whiteness as a result of being raised in a White household didn’t shield me from experiencing racism. It deprived me of learning how to exist as a POC and instead taught me how to erase my sense of identity, culture, and self.”Dong Mee
  1. “As a Chinese transracial adoptee who was raised by my Jewish mother in a predominantly white area, I experienced a lot of confusion surrounding my cultural, ethnic, and racial identity. I spent a lot of time feeling like I wasn’t Asian enough or Jewish enough, no matter how much I tried to fit into those two labels. Since finding the adoptee community, I finally feel like I’ve found a place where I truly belong and can just be my authentic self.”Shelley Rottenberg | IG: @shelleyrottenberg
  1. “I feel impostor syndrome follows me throughout all of the cultures I’ve grown to be a part of, especially my own. I feel an openness to other races that is not reciprocated by anyone I know, as I don’t know any other trans-racially adopted people. I feel proud to be celebrating my culture as I learn it, whereas others who have grown up with this culture may leave it behind or take it for granted.”Soni
  1. “I feel blessed that a family wanted me because upon finding my birth mother, she didn’t want anything to do with me after our first initial meet-up. When I think of transracial adoption. I realize the blessing lies in being able to identify with more than one ethnicity, and this trait allows my future work as a social worker to be impacted positively when it comes to the skill of tuning into the client, intellectually and effectively!”IG @stay_driven05
  1. “I never know which culture I belong to. My Bulgarian Romani or my American that I was adopted into. I feel like I don’t belong in either, and when I do, I feel like an imposter.”Maria
  1. “I never felt like I fit in, I lost my roots and my culture. I remember never knowing what I was ethnically when I was asked and telling my white friends they should be in my family photos instead because they looked more like everyone else.”Chelle Cook
  1. “In grade school, I was one of the only Asian people in my predominantly white community and was heavily bullied for it. I didn’t even understand that I was being bullied at the time, so I never told anyone about the constant racist comments from my classmates. This, combined with having a white adoptive family, ultimately led to a big identity crisis, and it’s taken me a long time to start healing. Surrounding myself with people who accept me and exploring the adoptee community has helped me so much in my healing journey, and I hope other adoptees struggling can find loving communities just as I have!”Kaeli Walker
  1. “The system of adoption has hurt both my adoptive parents and me and simultaneously makes it impossible for us to heal together. It has pitted us against each other, but we are not adversaries. We share collective pain.”Julie Emra
  1. “Anytime I experienced racism or someone questioning my race or ethnicity my adoptive mom would always answer, “but you’re Italian too. Did you tell them that? I found out later I’m not even Italian.”Rhiannon
  1. “Transracial adoption feels like having a house but never a home. Knowing that something/someone is missing, but not knowing how to fill that void. Perpetually isolated even when surrounded by your circle of love.”  – B
  1. “Strangers constantly pointed at me, asking my parents, “Is THAT your daughter?” My parents tried to pass me off as some exotic European, so I learned my true ethnicity by way of a schoolmate’s racial slur. My mom said I looked like a racially derogatory term when I braided my hair. I stood no chance of forming a healthy sense of self and will forever feel alien and disconnected.”L. Calder
  1. “My mental picture of myself was so whitewashed that I couldn’t even recognize my own reflection. How do I reconcile my brownness with a culture that was taken from me?”A. Kumari
  1. “I wasn’t adopted to take a pill. When I act out, I’m heartbroken, not mentally ill.”Tinabtinari  
  1. “My birth mother did not write that my father was Puerto Rican on the birth certificate, fearing I would be adopted by a Spanish family. I spent my whole life thinking I was Irish and English. My adoptive family was in total disbelief that I am half Hispanic.”Terri
  1. “As a transracial adoptee in a white country: “Family-seems to always end up being something I have to prove myself belonging to and worthy of”Hasina
  1. “As a community, we often connect over our trauma and pain. What would it mean to build radical joy, love, and abundance? I have found that joy outside of the adoptee community by connecting with other movements where I can share new perspectives as an adopted person. What would it mean for our adoptee community to join broader movements for social change and add our voices to them?”m. Seol 
  1. “I am a queer, trans, non-binary, neurodivergent, autistic, ADHD, PTSD, Asian-Chinese transracial + transnational (self-estranged) adoptee, survivor, artist, and human. I feel like I was just an object that was purchased and sold overseas as a ‘simple’ solution to a privileged white, cis, het couple’s infertility struggles, to fulfill their dream of having a baby and raising a family, except that each time that I strayed further from their idea of who I should be/who they wanted me to be for them, I got into trouble and made things worse for myself by exploring and expressing who I was. The greatest disservice of my transracial/transnational adoption experience was growing up and being treated like just another white member of the white family I was sold to because there were never conversations about race, I had to figure out on my own how to deal with racism and racist remarks directed towards me or in media, I never developed any early sense of comfortability with being Asian-Chinese, and they never allowed me to go outside of the child they wanted me to be, even when me trying to meet their unrealistic expectations almost killed me and lead me to several mental health struggles and life-long trauma. I AM NOT A SOLUTION, I AM A HUMAN/AN INDIVIDUAL, AND IT IS A DISSERVICE TO TRANSRACIAL ADOPTEES for adoptive parents to NOT embrace the child(ren)’s culture, language, food, history, and everything there is to know for the rest of their lives because THIS IS ABOUT SUPPORTING THE ADOPTEE AND THEIR LIFE; ADOPTION IS TRAUMA.”IG: @ohheyyits_aj (they/them)
  1. “Adoption has brought me the most pain, privilege, loss, and love I could have ever imagined. I want people to know that the act of adoption is traumatic; losing your biological family, heritage, culture, language, and much more is trauma. I want people to know that I don’t think all adoption is bad, but I DO think people who consider adoption should heavily do their research. And lastly, I want people to know that I am enough, I am Asian enough, and I belong in both Asian and American spaces.”  – Lori Scoby
  1. “There has been a great struggle in my life to fit in. Like trying to make a square peg fit a round hole. So, it felt like being forced to whittle pieces of myself away even though I could never truly be like everyone around me. White.”Hanna Lee
  1. “Being a transracial adoptee has always made me feel alone, unworthy and unwanted because I was “different.” “Didn’t have real parents who loved me” and never fit in with the ‘cool kids.’ Recently though, I learned that family is not always blood and true friends never judge you and love you for who you truly are. Being labeled as ‘adopted’ can be challenging to accept, but I’m learning to be proud of my label instead of embarrassed or ashamed. Because I’m adopted, I’ve found a loving and supportive community online and in real life, and I’m extremely grateful for my growth and who I’m becoming.”Allyson Ware
  1. “I have had to fight my entire life to get back a fraction of what was taken from me, my language, my people, my country, my culture, my roots. I have fought so hard only to feel at times like it’s still not enough. I should never have had to fight for something that was my birthright.”Marcella Moslow
  1. “There’s a difference between having a home and feeling at home. As a transracial adoptee, I’ve never experienced the latter, even though I grew up in a supportive, loving home. I currently live in a home and have built a life that’s overflowing with love, support, and empathy. Yet there remains a deep, innate void that permeates my soul, and I believe it will only be fulfilled when I return home to Korea.”Tory Bae
  1. “My parents raised me with the “color blind” mentality that I was no different to anyone in the sea of white people I grew up around while simultaneously using my Asianness as a virtue signal in their saviorist narrative for adopting me. Since I was the first Asian person many people met, I was treated like I was the purveyor of all Asian culture & knowledge even though I was a child. I wish more people become aware of how patronizing it is to live with the belief that white people/the West are deemed better suited to adopt than the people of the same race/ethnicity of the children.”Katie L. 
  1. “Abused, neglected, orphan adopted changes for families and nations to their delight, yet then is 4x more likely to suicide. Thank you for shifting the way you think and act about adoption to change that STAT.”Kristina Lisa 
  1. “As a transcultural adoptee, I struggled for a long time to define my identity and what true belonging means to me—Until I discovered the concept of the third space. Here, I can liberate myself from external expectations and labels and be firm yet fluid in my self-understanding. I am Korean, I am German, and I am everything in between and beyond—I am simply Sun Mee.”SUN MEE MARTIN
  1. “While my feelings about being adopted and being Korean-American are complicated, and they change often, I’m beyond thankful for adoption and the family it’s given me – my family is one of the clearest pictures of God’s goodness in my life. But it’s also really hard – being adopted is hard, and being Korean-American is hard, so having both of those experiences intersect can be confusing and painful at times. For me, having the safe space to process both my grief and gratitude has been so sweet. I’m thankful for the friends and family I have who have shown me Jesus through asking questions, listening to me ramble and reflect, and just being present for me in my pain and doubts this year.”Kim G Instagram/Twitter – @kg_hyunmee
  1. “Quantum Leap Living, where life situations suddenly move me from one continent or situation to another- shedding and acquiring cultures, language, and even my own new/old names, has left me struggling my entire life with realizing I deserve a choice and say in my life. I’ve had to learn this through many emotionally and physically abusive relationships- I simply did not realize I had a choice. I thought “things” and people just happened to me, and I learned to endure.”IG – @lalasunmi
  1. “My recent journey has been to recover/reclaim my Colombian culture and to reconnect it to my identity. All this with the hopes of integrating these aspects of myself that were lost to adoption. It’s also about remembering who we are behind all the social programming of family and society expects of us”Elena Di Giovanna Serrato
  1. “Just because an adoptee is a certain race or was adopted from another country does not mean they have an obligation to learn the language, be interested in the culture, etc., of their birthplace. While there are many who wish for this, there are many who do not. This is part of an adoptee story. It shows the range and depth of our interpretations of personal experiences and should be validated.”Emily IG – @languagetraveladoptee
  1. “Sometimes there’s a small feeling of envy for seeing others and families where the kids look like their parents. It’s not necessarily skin color but specific features. As a transracial adoptee, we sometimes feel more connected to others who are from the country we are born in and, as an extension of the culture. But really, we are culturally never going to be them, and our features will remain uniquely ours in families that brought us here, and that’s one thing not to envy.”Tara S.
  1. “Being an adoptee is like being an elephant in a family of lambs. The environment that the elephant grows up in will affect its mind and heart. Don’t think it won’t, you’d be lying to yourself.”Megha
  1. “Being a Chinese adoptee in America has had its ups and downs. I have struggled with feeling like I don’t always fit in and like I’m not good enough. Growing up, it was a constant battle trying to figure out and accept my identity. But even through the struggles I’ve faced, being a transracial adoptee has made me the strong woman I am today, and now I can proudly say I am a Chinese Adoptee.”Olivia L.
  1. “Though I am a Haitian raised by a non-BIPOC mother, I am not “transracial.” Trans means to erase, transition or transfer. There was nothing left behind, nor did I forget any part of myself. I only had to awaken to this truth: Nothing was left behind, and even my ancestors came with me.”Lanise Antoine Shelley
  1. “Adoption took not only my identity but my existence itself. Rootless, I felt the string that tied me to this world was broken. Faceless. Bodyless. Like if I didn’t exist until I found where I come from and who I am. How could I exist if there was no beginning? Now, I know.” Andrea Maldonado
  1. “Culture that runs through the blood but doesn’t reach past the tongue.”Savannah Quinn
  1. “Parents of transracial adoptees need to step in and advocate for them when they experience racism. It’s hard to self-advocate as a kid when you barely understand you’re a target of racism. The love of family is not a force field for racism-you need to be a vocal activist too.”Sara W. 
  1. “The lines you created were an illusion. I know this because I crossed every one of them. When I didn’t fit into your box, you got scared. I got abandoned.”Shaka Firefly IG – @shakafirefly 
  1. “My biological mother didn’t know or didn’t care to identify my biological father. She went so far as to have the wrong man sign away parental rights to me. I later learned she did know who my true father was and hid a huge part of my identity in the process. I was raised my whole life to believe I was white until I found and reunited with my Puerto Rican biological father.”Luna Ashley IG: @thelunaashley
  1. “I have always known I was adopted and that I was Chinese. My adoptive mom made sure of that. That piece of my identity is why I am here, at the University of Minnesota, studying social work with dreams of working with transracial adoptees like me. I was privileged to grow up being proud of my race and ethnicity. I’m here because I want others to have the experience I did and not live in shame or sadness for not being White.”Ariana Meidan
  1. “Hearing a deep sense of calling from your unconscious ancestral  being within but unable to unlock the secrets or hear its song.”Jade
  1. “I’m so curious how come adoption has yet to solve the historic – current problem of leaving behind young – elder person, place, thing blamed, shamed, scapegoated, trashed that I began seeking and sharing solutions.”River Riika IG: @witchtotake

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read quotes from 100 transracial adoptees. 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 quotes spoke to you the most? Could you relate to any of your fellow transracial adoptee’s quotes?

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 transracial adoptee who has a quote to share, please drop them in the comment section below.

If you are not an adoptee, but you have been impacted by this article in some way, we would love to hear your thoughts as well.

Once again, a special thank you to all 100 transracial adoptees who took the time to share your quote with me, and in return collaborated with one of the most important articles we can share. 100 transracial adoptees coming TOGETHER to share your truth is a powerful initiative.

XOXO P.K.

Don’t forget this article along with all my other articles are available in audio for your convenience, just look up Pamela A. Karanova Podcast on Google PodcastsiTunes , Spotify. and Amazon Music. Interested in treating me with a coffee, to add fuel to my fire? Click here. Many thanks in advance to my supporters!

Concluding Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th, 2022 but Adoptee Voices Will Continue to Blaze

by Pamela A. Karanova

Adoptee Remembrance Day: October 30th, 2022, has recently passed, and the collective echoes of adoptee voices can be reflected worldwide. To learn more about this day, click here

It’s no surprise at the outpouring of support the adoption community has received about this special day of remembrance for adopted people worldwide. No doubt about it, it was a difficult day, but every day, being an adopted individual, comes with its own struggles. Yet, we must consider that adoptees have never had the support they need to navigate such a lifelong, complex, and emotional journey. 

One of the core components of Adoptee Remembrance Day is to create one day before National Adoption Awareness Month which is in November and National Adoption Day, November 19th, where adopted individuals can share from the deepest parts of their hearts the reality of how adoption makes them feel. Unfortunately, the Pro-Adoption narrative has always dominated the narrative, but adoptees are dying, and we can’t afford to stay silent. 

Adoptees are overrepresented in prisons, jails, treatment, and mental health facilities, and we are 4x more likely to attempt suicide. Thankfully, the tides are turning, things are changing for the future generations of adoptees, and adoptee-centric resources are starting to surface more than ever before. But unfortunately, even with some resources surfacing for adult adoptees, our cries for help have been ignored for far too long. This is one of the many reasons Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th was created.

With our collective efforts, we’ve picked October 30th annually to share our hearts, and adoptees from all over the world showed up for this day, and they showed out. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this community. The adoptee experience is unique to each of us, yet we all share the ultimate loss of our beginnings, which can impact every area of our lives. 

Photo Credit: IG: @nikki_often / Artist / Korean Adoptee

Nikki’s Tribute, “Don’t let the feeling that I’m all alone deceive me. Among the many reasons for this day, Adoptee Remembrance Day is to raise awareness about crimes committed against adoptees by adoptive parents, as well as suicide, and different kinds of loss that are experienced by everyone who is impacted by adoption.”

While the internet is overflowing with tributes from adoptees worldwide, we wanted to share a message of gratitude for everyone who participated, adopted or not. Your voice was loud, and we appreciate everyone who took the time to share something on Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th. 

As the Adoptee Movement for Adoptee Remembrance Day continues to expand and grow annually around the world, more non-adoptees will learn that there is so much more to adoption than what they have come to know. Between now and then, Adoptees will continue to do outstanding work in the adoption community by raising their voices and sharing the truth about adoption. I commend each of you and appreciate you!

We are so sorry to all the adoptees who didn’t make it because their pain was too great. We will never stop exposing the hidden side of adoption, and we love you. For the adoptees who are hurting and can’t see past their pain. Don’t give up! You are not alone. To everyone who participated, THANK YOU! WE LOVE YOU! Sending you massive hugs of support and embracing you with love and encouragement to press forward in your cause. 

Below are some online tributes for Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th, 2022.

Photo Credit: IG: @chung.woolrim / Artist / Adoptee

Lisa Wool-Rim Sjoblom’s Tribute: “Today, October 30th, is Adoptee Remembrance Day. Today we mourn all the adoptees we’ve lost. Those who were murdered by their adoptive parents and other family members, and those who died due to neglect and abuse. Those we lost to suicide. Today we acknowledge all the adoptees suffering in their adoptive homes and whose please for help no one hears or believes. We recognize all adoptees struggling with depression, addiction, poverty, homelessness, abusive relationships and loneliness. We acknowledge those who have been re-homed – some multiple times, those without citizenship, those who have been deported and those who are incarcerated. We recognize all adoptees searching for their first families, all who are not allowed to reunite and all who are trying to get access to their birth certificates and other documents they’ve been denied for far too long. We recognize all adoptees who will never find their families and will never learn where they came from. We recognize that for many of us, adoption is a wound that will never heal, a grief that will never diminish and a trauma we will carry for the rest of our lives.”

Korean Adoptee Community in Germany‘s Tribute: “We are proud of this collage! It shows cohesion, understanding, love and trust. We are an international community and nobody has to be lone! Special thanks to our friends around the world.”

Photo Credit – IG: @sanjaypulver / Indian Transracial Adoptee / Trans Man ‘ Advocate / Shirt = http://www.adopteemerch.com

Sanjay’s Tribute: ” Thinking of all of us who haven’t been able to grieve the losses to our community because we’re supposed to be grateful/thankful. Or even how close I’ve come to that edge because the pain felt is overwhelming and I couldn’t imagine another way forward. For all adoptees today, I see you, I love you, and your lives matter!”

Photo Credits – IG: @carmencampbell_ / Guatemalan Adoptee / Adoptee Awareness Advocate

Carmen’s Tribute: Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th. This day holds a special place in my heart. It’s one in which we reflect upon the hardships that are within being adopted. As well as remembering and honoring those in the adoptee community we have lost too soon. I light a candle to remember how far I have come in this adoption journey of mine. Had you known me as a child, even two years ago I never would have expected me to be speaking at my own candlelight vigil. Sharing with others my adoption journey has led me to a whole new world of healing.”

Photo Credit – IG: @valnaimanauthor / Adoptee / Author / Advocate

Valerie’s Tribute: Adoptee Remembrance Day is October 30th, 2022. Adoptees are four times more likely to commit suicide than non-adopted people. Here is a bowl of yellow flowers from my garden for all my co-adoptees out there. Adoptees Matter, We Matter. So much love to all the lives we lost, those who have attempted, and for those who are still struggling.”

ADOPTEE’S & SUPPORTERS ON TiKTok

Reflections on Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th, 2022.

Video Credits – Tik Tok – @wardofthestate1.0
Video Credits – Tik Tok @1adoptee
Video Credit – TikTok – @dariarottenberk
Video Credit – TikTok – @withloveaugust
Video Credit – TikTok – @transmomsbex_kasey
Video Credit – TikTok – @alauraslateagain
Video Credit – TikTok – @theoutspokenadoptee

Video Credits – TikTok – @truthspeakssp
Video Credits – TikTok – @wardofthestate1.0

Video Credits – TikTok – @june_in_april

To our fellow adoptees, keep sharing and keep shining. We need you; you matter, and your voice is critical to the community that has been marginalized for a lifetime. Please take care of yourself and practice a healthy balance between self-care and pouring into the adoptee community.

Please visit the next Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th, 2023 Event Page on Facebook at CLICK ATTENDING! Invite all your friends and family.

Much Love and Gratitude,

Pamela A. Karanova / President Adoptees Connect, Inc. | Founder, Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th.

Here’s a comprehensive list of some wonderful articles for everyone in the adoption constellation.

100 Heartfelt Adoptee Quotes that Honor the Truth of Adoption by Pamela A. Karanova & 100 Adoptees Worldwide

Before A Month Celebrating Adoption, A Day to Recognize Adoptee’s Trauma by Kathryn Post of Religion News Service.

Adoptee Recommended Resources by Adoptees Connect, Inc.

Recommended Resources by Adoptees On

Understanding Why Adoptees Are At A Higher Risk for Suicide by Maureen McCauley | Light of Day Stories

Suicide Amongst Adoptees by Hilbrand Westra

Adoptee Centric Therapist Directory – Grow Beyond Words

Adoptee Remembrance Day: Today by Light of Day Stories

Toward Preventing Adoption- Related Suicide by Mirah Riben

Adoptee Books- Visit adopteereading.com where you will find a comprehensive list of adoptee books recommended by adult adoptees.

Adoption and Suicide Prevention: Adult Adoptees Speak Out by United Survivors

Still Grieving Adoptee Losses, What My Adoptive Parents Could Have Done Differently by Pamela A. Karanova

Adoptee Remembrance Day by InterCountry Adoptee Voices (ICAV)

Adoptee Remembrance Day by Adoptees On

Adoptee Remembrance Day Presentation by Brenna Kyeong McHugh

Adoption, DNA and the impact on a concealed life Tedx by Ruth Monning

Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th by Bastard Nation

It’s Hard to Smile Today – My Tribute to Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th by Pamela A. Karanova

Adoptee Suicide by Layla Schaeffer

Adoption BE-AWARENESS and Remembrance By Mirah Riben

Adoptee REMEMBRANCE Day by Janet Nordine, Experience Courage

Considering Adoption? What Adoptees Want You To Know by Pamela A. Karanova

Facing the Primal Wound of Transracial Adoption by Naomi Sumner

Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th YouTube Poetry Hosted By Liz Debetta

Listeners Acknowledge Adoptee Remembrance Day by Adoptees On

Adoptee and Identity by Just Jae

Adoption and Addiction by Paul Sunderlund

The Trauma of Relinquishment- Adoption, Addiction, and Beyond by The OLLIE Foundation

Adoptee Suicide in the Media by Jeanette-ically Speaking

An Adoptees Nightmare by Cryptic Omega

6 Things You Should Know About Adoptees and Suicide by Jennifer Galan

InterCountry Adoptee Memorial by ICAV

I’m Adopted: You Can’t Fix Me or Take My Pain Away. Please Stop Trying by Pamela A. Karanova

Transracial Adoptee Voices of of Love and Trauma by Mikayla Zobeck

What is Gaslighting and How Does it Impact Adopted Persons by Dr. Chaitra Wirta- Leiker

Creating Space To Find Who I Am – Pamela Karanova – Who Am I Really Podcast? Damon Davis

The Secret Identity of An Adopted Child: Catharine Robertson at TEDxBaltimore

Article on Light of Day Stories about Adoptees Connect, Inc.

Bringing Adult Adoptee Issues to Light by Angela Burton of Next Avenue

These Adoptees Refuse to Be Christian Pro-Life Poster Kids by Kathryn Post of Religious News Service

Adoption Decision Making Among Women Seeking Abortion

Mental Health and Psychological Adjustment in Adults Who Were Adopted in Their Childhood: A Systematic Review

Substance Use Disorders and Adoption: Findings from a National Sample

Dealing with Adoptee Suicide by Lynelle Long

Adoptees, Why Are You So Angry? Over 100 Adoptees Share Heartfelt Feelings by Pamela A. Karanova & Adoptees Worldwide

We Should Be Fighting for a World Without Adoption by Michelle Merritt

When Your Biggest Blessing Invalidates My Greatest Trauma by Pamela A. Karanova

    Where darkness resides: suicide and being adopted – is there a connection of elevated risk?

   Adoption as a Risk Factor for Attempted Suicide During Adolescence

What it Costs to be Adopted by Michele Merritt

The Mental Health of US Adolescence Adopted in Infancy by Margaret A Keyes, PhD.

Relationship Between Adoption and Suicide Attempts: A Meta Analysis

     Risk of Suicide Attempt in Adopted and Nonadopted Offspring

     Behavioral Problems in Adoptees

Risk of Eating Disorders in International Adoptees: A Corhort Study Using Swedish National Population Registers

Cancelling My Adoption by Netra Sommer

Risks of Suicide Attempt in Adopted and Nonadopted Offspring

Rediscovering Latent Trauma: An Adopted Adults Perspective by Michele Merritt

     Adopted Children Have Twice the Risk of Abusing Drugs if Biological Parents Also Did

     Can Adoption Create Addicts?

On Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Adoptees Don’t want to Be A “Pawn” in Abortion Debates

Adoptees 4 Times More Likely to Attempt Suicide by Jenny Laidman

Infant Adoption is a Big Business in America by Darlene Gerow

Adoption and Trauma: Risks, Recovery and the Lived Experience of Adoption

Give Me Back My Name by Michele Merritt

Stop Weaponizing Adopted People for Your Anti-Choice Agenda by Michele Merritt

Adopted Children at Greater Risk for Mental Health Disorders by Madison Park

     Understanding Why Adoptees Are at Higher Risk For Suicide

Video Credits – Korean Adoptee Community in Germany – @koreanische_adopteierte_ev

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.

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 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

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

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

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

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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*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

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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*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

🎧 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, 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

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

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

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, 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