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

Is Anyone Even Listening?

Ouch, this might have come off as abrasive right off the title. Hopefully so because my aim is to grasp the attention of anyone in the adoption arena in hopes to help someone who might not understand that you can’t fix adoptees and you can’t take our pain away. We need to embrace it and learn it’s here to stay. The sooner I acknowledged it, stopped running from it or trying to mask it with substances, the sooner healing started to happen.

National Adoption Awareness Month to me means I need to add my voice somewhere to the adoption arena because I’m adopted, and I know how it feels. Over the last 10 years of my activism in sharing how it feels to be adopted, I keep hearing the majority of adoptive parents say things like, “I just want to take away my adopted daughters pain” or “I don’t want my adopted son to feel like he was abandoned”.

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Photo by Casey Anderson on Unsplash.

I moderate multiple platforms online where this is a common theme and every time I hear it, I cringe. I think to myself, “They can’t possibly understand what damage they are doing by this mindset!”

Because if we know better, we do better and once you know, you can’t un-know. 

I decided that time is the most important thing we have, so I didn’t want to waste another minute not putting this information out here.

When a child or baby is adopted or separated from their biological mother for ANY REASON, no matter when it happens in life, it causes a trauma for this child. That trauma has to be acknowledged, but it also has to be exposed and brought to light so the person who has experienced this trauma has a chance to heal. As a baby, born and relinquished by my birth mother, my trauma happened at a preverbal state so growing up I never had the words to tap into this trauma. I didn’t have the language or memories talk to anyone about it. While this trauma has been stored my entire life in my subconscious memory, the fact that it’s never been addressed or acknowledged growing up has led me to a lifetime of addictions and unhealthy behavior habits.

I think if my adoptive parents understood this, they would have been able to help me. In 1974 they were told to not talk about it and move on. Sweep the truth under the rug and press on with the “better life” theory and act as if this real trauma never existed. Once this trauma occurs, it can never be undone. Healing is possible, but in order to heal it we must feel it and the earlier we start to do this, the sooner we start to heal.

Adoptees deserve to heal. 

I think as parents, we naturally want to take our children’s pain away, adopted or not. I’m a mom, I successfully have raised 3 kids to adult hood as a single parent and I have said many times, “I wish I could take your pain away” when they experience painful things in life. In acknowledging my own pain, I have been able to learn to acknowledge their pain.

There is a big difference in saying this but not reserving space for the pain to be processed vs saying this but also allowing space for the pain to be processed.

We can’t heal our wounds by saying they aren’t there.

While I believe many people have good intentions, we naturally don’t like to see people hurting, especially children. We want to help them, but the biggest mistake that can be made for an adoptee is when people try to fix us, or attempt to take our pain away by trying to make us “FEEL BETTER” without ever actually acknowledging that pain (trauma) to begin with. This is really life or death for adoptees everywhere. Of course, it’s life or death for anyone that’s been separated from their birth mothers, but I speak from an adoptees perspective so that’s the lens I’m sharing from.

The biggest deception in adoption today is that LOVE will somehow take the pain away, or that love will be enough. Well I’m here to share from my perspective and experience that love isn’t enough, and it will never be enough. The feeling of pain was far greater in my life than being able to FEEL LOVE.  Let’s be honest, there has never been a safe space for me (or most adoptees) to share them until Adoptees Connect, Inc. Because my trauma and pain was so BIG and LOVE was presented to me as abandonment, LOVE is something that confuses me to this day.  Love leaves, love is loss and love is abandonment. “My birth mother loved me so much, she gave me away” is my view of love.  Because of this, LOVE has always been a foreign concept to me when it comes to other people loving me.

Having children of my own, I finally know what it’s like to love others, but I still struggle to this day believing or FEELING like anyone loves me. I know it’s rooted in my adoption experience because I’ve spent the last 7 years in recovery working on myself. I’ve been able to identify the root issue being abandonment & rejection from both birth parents, compiled with C-PTSD, grief, loss and trauma.

Throughout my entire life I longed for my birth mother. The sadness that followed is something I can’t even put into words, but it stuck with me my entire life. I drank alcohol for 27 years to COPE with this experience because I couldn’t handle processing this pain, but alcohol temporarily took the pain away. No amount of love, material possessions, people, places or things could make up for my trauma and loss of my birth mother at the beginning of life.

My birth mothers shortcomings didn’t matter to me 

ALL I EVER WANTED WAS HER. 

Instead of anyone trying to fix me, or take my pain away what I needed was my adoptive parents to open the conversations to allow me to process this pain at age appropriate times  I needed them to know AHEAD OF TIME before they ever adopted me that the pain I would experience from relinquishment trauma will be with me for the rest of my life and it will negatively impact me in many ways. I needed them to research relinquishment trauma, pre and post-natal bonding between mother and child and what happens when that natural process is broken, and the bond is severed. I needed them to know their love wouldn’t be enough to fix me or to heal my broken heart. I needed them to know that no matter what they did and how they did it that it wouldn’t take my pain away. I needed them to know about the emotional and psychological issues I would suffer for my entire lifetime because of this trauma, many years beyond being a cute baby and a cuddly toddler. The sooner the reality and truth is brought to light, the better!

Avoidance will only work for so long, and then our emotions start to come out in unhealthy ways. I would much rather sit with my child and HELP them PROCESS the pain by allowing them to feel feelings than watch them self-destruct because they aren’t able to articulate the words about why they are feeling the way they are. We need our parents help to find the right words, and the space to be able to share freely how we are feeling about our adoption experiences. It’s impossible to tap into this when society silences adoptees unless they have a thankful and grateful narrative to spin.

WE HAVE TO STOP BEING SCARED TO SIT WITH SOMEONE IN THEIR PAIN.

WE HAVE TO STOP TRYING TO RUN FROM PROCESSING PAIN. 

WE HAVE TO UNDERSTAND WE CAN’T PUT A TIME FRAME ON HEALING.

Pain is a natural response to different experiences that happen to us. I say all the time that the way adoptees feel is normal. What’s not normal is being separated from our biological families at the beginning of life. I say this to validate every single experience and feeling of every adoptee who might come across my words. I want them to know they aren’t alone, and they aren’t crazy!

I grew up, and here I am. I survived and I’m surviving daily. I’m in recovery from relinquishment trauma, compacted by adoption trauma. All I have really ever needed was my adoptive parents and those who aren’t adopted to acknowledge my pain, and in acknowledging that pain, sit with me and listen to me share pieces of my story.  They need to understand that there is much more to adoption than what society shares. It’s not all cute and lovely. It’s not all happy and positive. All adoptions are rooted and grounded in the biggest loss of a persons life, and until that’s acknowledged adoptees will continue to be stuck like I was for so many years.

45 Years of my life I can never get back…

I knew someone awhile back who wanted to fix me and was constantly trying to make me feel better. I had to tell them to please stop it because there is nothing anyone can do to change my reality. I certainly don’t need anyone else to try to re-frame my reality for me as an attempt to make me “feel better”. What is so hard about acknowledging someone else’s pain, and just listening to them and sit with them in the pain?

I’m a realist who’s focused on the truth. I didn’t fight for 45 years to get my truth, to turn around and pretend it’s not my reality. I experienced that in the religious settings of my x-church which is known as “spiritual bypassing”. This is when someone uses spiritual practices to avoid dealing with reality. I’ve broken free from that, and I will never live a lie again. So, when I cling to my truth, I don’t appreciate anyone trying to come into my space and change it after I’ve fought my entire life to receive it and I’ve spent many years working towards healing from it.

As a child I never could acknowledge my painful truth because my adoptive parents were busy pretending, I was a blank slate, and they were my only parents. Reality, I had a broken past and history before I ever came to them but them denying it, and pretending like it didn’t exist wrecked me, and it still impacts me to this day. How do you think it feels to be a part of 2 families, but never being able to feel like you fully belong to either? Like an outsider always looking in. It’s extremely difficult to navigate so I’ve made the choice to opt out for my own sanity, mental health and recovery.

I share no DNA with my adoptive family, and I have no shared history with my biological family. I’m learning to adapt by accepting I will never truly be a part of either family, so I’ve moved far away across the country from everyone to try to recovery from this experience the best I can.  I now have 3 adult children who are my family. Although, I’m 7 years into my sobriety and recovery journey and I consider myself an adoptee who’s worked through a lot of these issues, not one day goes by where being adopted doesn’t impact me in some way.

I’m thankful for my kids because without them I wouldn’t be here. 

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Damia, Keila, Damond – Twins 21st Birthday Celebration

It’s us against the world. 

We may not have it all together, but together we have it all. 

I’ve accepted that I will be in recovery for the rest of my life due to my adoption experience. Thankfully I’ve been an adoptee whose found my adoptee tribe that meets in real life and they get me. They understand and they will sit with me in my pain. They don’t put a time frame on it, they don’t try to silence me, and they understand the adoptee journey.  This has been very validating, but I can’t help but wonder who’s narrative might change if other’s hear this side of the story?

Will adoptive parents stop trying to avoid dealing with the truth after reading this? Will non adoptees in society try to listen more and talk less, with compassion and understanding? Will they listen to what I have shared here? Will they try to learn more, and stop trying to bypass the process of dealing with the truth of adoptees all over the world?  I can’t help but hope that if my adoptive parents had this information back in the day, they would do whatever they could to learn to understand the adoptee experience and having the willingness to listen and learn.

Is anyone even listening? 

If you are, this is for you. 

Please know you can’t fix me. 

You can’t fix any adoptees. 

You can’t take our pain away either. 

Please stop trying. 

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Adoptee City

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Adoptee City is my online community of adult adoptees who I have come into contact with over the years. Some live in the USA, and some across the world. Adoptee City filled with all different versions of adoptees, who all come from so many different experiences, yet line up with a common denominator of being ADOPTED.

We’re ALIVE.

We Survived.

We have a story to tell.

Adoptees ONLY.

I entered ADOPTEE CITY online in 2011. It was a whole new world to me. Finally, others who could understand me. If you’re not adopted, you are the outsider looking in of ADOPTEE CITY, finally we are in control of something. We have a bond, we have a heart for one another’s pain, experiences and visions. We can FEEL what one another is going through when we go through things. We know how critical listening is, because for many of us we’ve waited our entire lives for someone to listen. We know how important listening is!

I have learned over the years, I have my fellow Adoptees back, at all costs because I know what it feels like to be them. To be silenced by a world that glorifies adoption.  I’ve always given them favor, because it’s about time someone be on our side, right? I’ve spent years encouraging them, lifting them up and letting them know they aren’t alone. So many of them have returned this same love to me when I have been down and out. I will be forever grateful.

What would we do without one another, really?

I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without you all, THANK YOU! I love you!

My heart has never been set on educating adoptive parents, or birth parents and I haven’t made it a mission in my life to do so. I simply do not have this gift. You can see by the thread I was tied into yesterday I don’t have this gift. HAHA. If I’m honest I don’t appreciate the burden that’s been placed on my shoulders, OUR shoulders that it’s our job to teach them how it feels to be adopted like it’s expected of us.  It’s not that I don’t’ want to help them, it’s because my focus and heart has always been on reaching the hurting Adoptees who are in really sad and dark places. I was once that Adoptee, and still have moments like this. If I’m honest, I have them frequently. I am learning that sometimes God puts us in positions where we are going to be uncomfortable, and in this uncomfortableness is when we grow.

I believe God gives us each gifts and it’s up to each of us to tap into those gifts, and use them in a way that helps other people. For me, my gift was relating to and making safe spaces for Adult Adoptees to share their stories. How have I done this? I’ve created numerous platforms online where adoptees feel safe in sharing their stories and I’ve founded an adult adoptee support group that is being planted all over the USA soon to be in another country. I’ve done this by sharing my story via my blog, and being interviewed by podcasts and having my story featured in other online safe spaces. Not saying because I want any credit, just saying because THIS IS MY CALLING. I’m walking it out and sometimes I still feel alone, even when I have an amazing supportive ADOPTEE CITY behind me cheering me on. I believe it might be because my vision isn’t anyone else’s vision and they don’t see what I see?

“Perhaps this is the moment for which you were created for”- Esther 4:14

I remember about 2 years ago, I felt like God was telling me that YES, I’m going to continue my online Adoptee City work, but I’m also going to do something IN REAL LIFE, IN MY COMMUNITY which I will call my real-life Adoptee City. I had no idea what this would look like, but it’s been in the back of my mind for years, festering but God always reveals his plans for us.

Sadly, the world can discourage us and even some of those who are in our ADOPTEE CITY can discourage us. I’ve encountered backlash because Adoptees Connect is adoptee only and not open to adoptive parents and birth parents. I’ve received a very small amount of backlash for creating Adoptee Merch. as well and I’ve learned it’s okay, as I already said my vision isn’t everyone’s vision. We will always have critics but navigating this a few things have come to my attention.

Most of the time when an adoptee from Adoptee City comes out of the woodwork and tries to shut down other Adoptees ideas, it’s for 2 reasons. 1.) They have a vision of something they want to create themselves, and they are seeing another adoptee create this vision, but not exactly like the vision they have. In other words, they have an idea in mind, but instead of pursuing it they are shooting down other adoptees for doing something similar because it’s not exactly like the idea they have in mind. 2.) Lack of support in sharing their own ideas and fear of the unknown sets it, so they lash out at others who do have support and ideas that are prospering in the online adoptee city movement, and even reaching outside the online Adoptee City movement into the real adoptee cities in our communities in real life.

Fear is crippling. Fear of those who are in the same adoptee city as you is even more crippling and it paralyzes us from pursuing the calling God has on our lives. If you don’t believe in GOD, it still paralyzes you from the calling that has been placed on our lives. I believe each and every adoptee in this world has come equipped with a special gift and ability that will not separate or divide our community but bring us closer together. Does that mean we will all agree with those visions or gifts? Absolutely not, but this is a question I have for you.

Are you dividing Adoptee City or bringing it closer together? Whatever it is on your heart to pursue to advance Adoptee City, is that bringing us closer together or dividing us from one another? Do the words you use in online Adoptee city forums when communicating with your fellow Adoptees do you come from a place of compassion for those Adoptees who don’t think exactly like you, or are the coming from a place of anger and rage tearing one another down?

We’re all on the same team, and nothing saddens me more than seeing Adoptees fight with one another.

Please don’t mistake my above paragraph as if we don’t have a right to have anger and rage. WE ALL DO! We’ve all heard “It’s not what you say it’s how you say it”.

A few years ago when I was filled with anger and rage, it came out in every way possible. I had NO GRACE. I wrote out of anger and rage, I told people my feelings that were based in anger and rage, I was flat out ANGRY! I still am ANGRY. But the difference is, I had someone take me aside and say, “You know Pam, I understand your pain, I understand your hurt and broken heart, just remember whatever message you are trying to get across is going to be better received by those who you want to receive it if you can shape your message in a way that doesn’t scare people off and turn away from you all together. When you come off angry or rage filled it turns people away, and I know you have a powerful story to tell”

What did I do? I got mad, and angry. What CRAP THIS IS! Someone telling me I need to NOT BE ANGRY! I got an attitude, and didn’t really like what she said.

But then in time I began to really think about it and realize that she was correct. If I wanted to share my message, I needed Grace. I began to pray for GRACE. It took me YEARS and I still fall short daily. Adoptive parents and birth parents are in a category where it’s harder for me to show them grace, I can’t lie. I’m a work in progress.

But my fellow Adoptees that are in MY ONLINE ADOPTEE CITY…

Every day I wake up, and I want to show them grace. I want to show them grace even when I don’t agree with them. Even when we come from totally different spectrum’s in the Adoptee arena. I know the place of pain they speak from, so even when they are angry and rage filled shouting it all over ADOPTEE CITY, I get it. I understand because that was once me and some days it’s still me!

My question is, ARE YOU DIVIDING ADOPTEE CITY OR BRINGING IT CLOSER TOGETHER?

Do you respect the views of your fellow adoptees who are in the same Adoptee City as you or do you spit on them because their views aren’t the same as yours? Do you respond to posts in online Adoptee city with the stance of BEING RIGHT, or BEING UNDERSTOOD? What are your motives in sharing your voice in Adoptee City?

Is it possible we take away the mentality of “I’M RIGHT VS THEY ARE WRONG” and just show compassion and love for one another right where we are at?

Sadly, so much of ADOPTEE CITY is divided because we lack understanding for our fellow adoptees calling and visions to move ADOPTEE CITY forward. We are sometimes our own oppressors, and judge one another by being very harsh critics of one another.

ADOPTEE CITY…

Can we agree to disagree without being mean spirited to one another?

The last few months I have had my share of experiences with those who don’t support or agree with my visions and that’s totally okay. I love them anyway but I also refuse to allow those same people in my life who want to slander my name, talk about me behind my back and NEVER ONCE contact me to talk about my visions or to even see where they come from. Thankfully I have a HUGE following of adoptees and even some birth parents who support me, and they have outweighed any of those who want to slander me behind my back. If you have an issue with me, or what I’m doing, CALL ME!. Let’s talk about it in an adult manner where we can share our views and come to a common place of understanding. If you have never talked to me about my visions, you really have no place talking negative about my visions all over Adoptee City when you only know what you see, and not the truth. I’m willing to discuss anything I’m doing with anyone. LET’S TALK! But let me be clear, I don’t do drama! Talking negative about one another, shooting one another’s ideas down is only counterproductive to ADOPTEE CITY ever moving forward.

If you want to shoot me and my ideas down, let me ask you…

WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR ADOPTEE CITY? WHAT ARE YOUR DREAMS, VISIONS AND GOALS TO MOVE OUR CITY FORWARD AND OUT OF A PLACE OF OPPRESSION? Is your gift legislation? Or helping hurting Adoptees? Or running an online safe space for adoptees? Starting a all adoptee support group? WHAT IS YOUR GIFT?

A lot of times when we can sit and focus on the negative aspects of what someone else is doing that WE DON’T LIKE we are lacking vision of our own. What are you doing to advance ADOPTEE CITY? I know you have a purpose here, what is it? I would love to hear about it! I challenge those who have this train of thought to RE-SHIFT their thinking and ask themselves, “WHAT IS MY PURPOSE? HOW AM I GOING TO BE USED TO ADVANCE ADOPTEE CITY?”

I think part of the reason people are like this online is because that’s just it, it’s ONLINE. Someone can lash out at you and shut the computer down, or x out of an APP and go about their merry way, never having to take accountability for the actions they spill out against their fellow adoptees online. Some people don’t have a gift of understanding, or empathy. They just don’t. They are right at all times and this mentality only hurts our community. Let’s be honest none of us are right at all times. NONE OF US.

My experience in being a voice in ONLINE ADOPTEE CITY for approx. 7 years is that there are good parts and not so good parts about adoptee city. It’s up to each of us to navigate our own lives, dictate who we allow in our lives and who we don’t. Today I am not dealing with those who want to shoot my ideas down in a negative way, talk about me behind my back instead of come to me and talk like an adult. I don’t have time for it. I have way too many positive things going on than to focus on who has a problem with what I’m doing. I’m not saying I’m not going to talk to anyone that doesn’t agree with me or support me. I’m saying I will not talk to those who attack me. As I said, CALL ME IF YOU WANT TO TALK. We will always have those who don’t agree with us, and that’s part of life. I accept it and I’m okay with it. I know my visions aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, I’m not everyone’s cup of tea but I won’t deal with vicious attacks from anyone. You will be shut down and you won’t get a response from me. My visions will continue to move forward to BETTER ADOPTEE CITY in ways that bring us closer together. I have no time for those who want to divide.

Dedicating 7 years of my life to ONLINE ADOPTEE CITY, it’s been a whirlwind as it has for most of us. Some days I want to run and hide, and I do. I’m sure we all do!  Other days, I want to share my voice no matter where it comes from, a place of pain, a place of purpose or even a place of victory! What I have decided is that for 2018 I’m at a place where God is doing MORE in my life than ever before. Not for me, but for my REAL-LIFE ADOPTEE CITY community. I feel a shift coming on and that’s one that is going to navigate how to incorporate REAL LIFE ADOPTEE CITY into ONLINE ADOPTEE CITY. I feel spread thin, and like I have a ton of doors open all at once, and that’s probably because I do. I feel that in the near future I will need to think about handing over some of my online adoptee city responsibilities that are a great resource to the online adoptee city world and release certain things to adoptees I know, love and trust to do a good job because I can only do so much. In the coming days, weeks I will have to make a decision to minimize my load in ONLINE ADOPTEE CITY which will free up my time for my REAL LIFE ADOPTEE CITY. Stay tuned.

My focus now is Adoptees Connect- Lexington, KY, and Adoptees Connect support groups that are so desperately needed in every city in every state in the USA and even around the world. This is very time consuming, lots of networking and sharing information, etc. Adoptees Connect- Lexington, KY is REAL-LIFE ADOPTEE CITY to me, and it’s a place I want to build relationships, stories, experiences, to empower one another. I have made the decision to make this priority in my life because the feeling of aloneness, so many adoptees feel needs to be a thing of the past. Online Adoptee City is wonderful, but REAL-LIFE ADOPTEE CITY is a much deeper connection with your fellow adoptees and I feel we all need that as well as online adoptee city. In a perfect would I could handle both full fledged and never have any issues navigating them all together. That’s not the world I live in, we live in.

I want to say I hope and pray that 2018 is the year of ADOPTEE CITY coming together to support one another, lift one another up and encourage each other no matter what visions we have in life regarding Adoptee City.  You don’t have to necessarily agree with someones vision in order to offer them a blessing of support as they navigate new territories. If you are adopted I will do whatever I can to support you in your visions!

If you are an adoptee reading this, and you’ve been in fear of starting something to bring us closer together I encourage you to step outside of that fear and put your visions, dreams and goals into action. Adoptees will either support you or they won’t. I’ve learned from my own experience those who support me are FAR MORE than those who don’t.

We MUST Keep pushing, keep moving forward.

My purpose of writing this article is to share my experience and let all my fellow Adoptees know who have been along this ride with me that I love you all, I appreciate you all and you mean the world to me. We’ve been through some crazy things together. Your support means so much!

Bottom line is we’re STRONGER TOGETHER and I’m calling 2018 to be the year we come together like never before. Online and offline. It’s the year we support one another so we can all use the gifts that have been instilled in us, based on our very personal stories in ways that will grow Adoptee City. In return we will be a light to help other Adoptees who can relate and in return they will be able to use their gifts, and grow, etc.

For 2018 Let’s bring visions to life!

Thanks for reading, XOXO

P.K.

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