The Adoptee Expressway to Recovery Has More Than One Way 

img_7963I’ve learned the hard way, that the one way that’s usually presented as an express track to recovery and sobriety, isn’t the only way. I’ve also learned that there is nothing fast, quick or express about it. I’ve found that when one way is presented, this leaves one with absolutely no options to choose from in regards to making an informed choice regarding one’s very personal recovery journey. This is part of my life story. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again that someone’s recovery journey is as unique as their very own fingerprint and DNA. No two journeys are alike.  

I’ve been sharing my Adoptee in Recovery journey since August 13, 2012 and it’s no secret my main “addiction” was always alcohol. It was my “go to” to escape my adoptee reality. But the real question is, what was the reality I was running from? How long had I struggled with this addiction? What pathways to recovery did I try? What ways were presented to me? What were my root issues?

WHAT OPTIONS DID I HAVE? 

At 15 years old, I found myself locked in drug & alcohol treatment all alone. The only way out was to believe in God, a power higher than myself, and to work the 12 steps. I had no other options. By completing the 12 steps in 6 weeks, I graduated the program and it allowed me to go home. I had no knowledge of the AA Big Book before this, and I really didn’t fully understand the magnitude of the big book even after I worked the 12 steps. I was just “Going with the flow” because if I didn’t, I would never get to go home. Adoption was never talked about! 

If you read my previous article titled “Adoptee in Recovery, When Forged Forgiveness Becomes Fatal” you learned a little of my background of my drinking career. I don’t want to repeat everything from that article, so if interested, please read it and you can to get a little background. 

img_7964Today, I navigate my 2838th day living alcohol free, I’m just now coming to the head-space where I feel comfortable talking about this topic. After 7.5 years of a recovery process, If I’m completely transparent, my drinking started before I was ever born, in utero because I was told my birth mother was never seen without a drink in her hand, even through her pregnancies. It’s no wonder I started drinking so young.  

I’ve spent 45 years on this earth, my drinking career started at age 12 years old. That means I drank from 12 years old, to 38 years old. This is a 26 year drinking career! For an entire lifetime, I’ve been told I’m an alcoholic and I have always struggled with that thought. It’s made me feel “Bad” or “Defective.” Labeling myself an ALCOHOLIC for the rest of my life seems daunting, heavy, untrue and downright disgusting when I’ve been manipulated my whole life to believe this about myself. Being told I’m in DENIAL if I don’t label myself an alcoholic is abusive. I’m exceptionally happy I’m at such a healthy place in my own journey that I can recognize this as being unhealthy and toxic to my recovery. 

In the recovery world, I have never been able to verbally say, “My name’s Pam and I’m an alcoholic.” Those words have never set well with my spirit, even during the times in my life that I didn’t understand WHY. I remember a few times between 15 years old, and 38 years old I found myself in an AA room, because I knew I had a problem but the root of my problem was adoption, not alcohol. I know this now, but I didn’t know this as a 15 year old. If I was to share in an AA room about relinquishment trauma and how it’s impacted me, they would all look at me like I had lost my mind! I already know what they would be thinking, “What the HELL does this have to do with being an alcoholic?!” 

While spending the first few years of recovery in my late 30’s in and out of the AA rooms, this lets you know how much I took advantage of the open share of the AA rooms. ZERO. Because it was known that in order to share, I had to say “I’m Pam and I’m an alcoholic.” Me being stubborn is an understatement. I wasn’t going to say something that I didn’t feel in my heart was true just to be able to share, so I never shared. I just listened even after the first year. Even when I never verbally said I was an alcoholic, AA was known for alcoholics. I feel I was labeling myself as an alcoholic just by showing up at the meetings, even when I didn’t verbally say I was an alcoholic. Sharing is healing, and if I didn’t share at all in the meetings, it was stalling my healing. Period. 

I totally understand why AA/NA & Celebrate Recovery work for so many people. They provide community for others experiencing similar stages of life. They bring on new friendships, and a safe place to share. I think this provides amazing benefits for many people, and I’m happy about that if it works for you, or those you might know and love. My experience is different, but I have been able to take away some wonderful benefits from being a part of these groups, even if it was for a season. I learned a lot! 

 

Spending the last few years on the outside of any recovery organization or ministry, I’ve learned a lot as well. I’ve been able to take what I’ve learned, and use it for good and help others who might be where I once was. I had to walk away from everyone I knew and loved when I decided to get sober. I know I hurt some people doing this, but I didn’t have to explain myself. My life came first, and it was life or death. All I have to do is see the faces of my kids, and future grand-kids and I’m reminded alcohol no longer plays a role in my life. I don’t need the label of “alcoholic” to remind me. The world hasn’t been on my side in this discovery! 

In those 26 years, not only was I forced to admit in my mind, and publicly by showing up at meetings that I was an alcoholic, but it was necessary that I believe in God. I was told I needed to forgive all those who have hurt me, and I was encouraged to make amends with those who have traumatized and abused me. I was told if I didn’t admit I was an alcoholic, I was in denial and denial would only lead to death, failed recovery, relapse, among other things. 

Somehow I finagled my way through the 12 steps MANY times, without ever verbally saying I was an alcoholic. In 2012, I would say, “I’m Pam, I’m in recovery for alcohol abuse.” but that was the closest thing I have ever come to labeling myself an alcoholic. It seemed to fit me and my situation better at the current time. It was more TRUE to me to say that, than attach a label to myself for the rest of my life. I absolutely despise labels, and I find them to be a box of confinement of rules and regulations that I refuse to fit in. Currently, May 21, 2020 I say, “I’m in recovery from LIFE and relinquishment & adoption trauma!” This suits me at this present stage of my life. See how the labels can actually hinder us and trap us in a space we have the abilities to move beyond? Especially the phrase, “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic!” –  Dangerous! 

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It feels so wonderful to share this publicly, and not feel like I’m going to get thrown under the bus in the process. I feel labels only construct us and hold us back within the limits of those ideas and we deserve the freedom to go far beyond that. I know I have one friend who understands this and that’s David Bohl.  David is also a fellow adoptee in recovery, and we see things very similarly. He’s given me the inspiration to share my feelings about such a complex topic and he continues to share his on his website. 

DavidBohl-headshot-740x1024David shares in his article called The World Post – AA,, “I’ve learned a lot from AA and I learned a lot from leaving it. The biggest lesson is the one that tells me I need to be kind with myself and that I need to stay as diligent about Reality as I’ve always been. I no longer live in the delusion that I can drink without some dire consequences and I don’t need meetings to tell me that. But just because I don’t go to meetings, it doesn’t mean that I’m off the hook from reminding myself every day and practicing what keeps me sober and happy.” –  David B. Bohl 

I can so agree with David about learning a lot from AA and also learning a lot from leaving it! Same with Celebrate Recovery. Today I asked myself, “Did I really have to admit I was an alcoholic in order to be in recovery, seek healing and wholeness in my life? Did I need to admit I was an alcoholic to stop drinking? How has this idea stalled my healing?”  What I’ve finally discovered is that, “NO, I don’t have to accept or admit I’m an alcoholic!” I can’t tell you how refreshing, freeing and wonderful this realization has been. If it’s true for me, it can be true for you too! We have to step into writing our own story, and stop letting others write it for us. 

Over a 20 year period, I learned that both my biological parents were alcoholics. I found out my biological mother was first, and it’s ultimately what killed her. Some years later I found my biological father, and I was told he was a raging alcoholic. He will likely die the way my birth mother did. Discovering these two very important pieces of my history is something that rocked me to my core. This is why ALL adopted people should receive 100% of their truth. It’s the KEY to healing!  You might ask, “How are both of your birth parents alcoholics and you are not when you drank for 26 years?” 

That’s easy for me. I don’t drink anymore, and I’m in recovery and I no longer have a desire to drink. I’ve put in the work to make changes. They, on the other hand are going to die from alcoholism as my birth mother already has, and my biological father is right behind her. If either of my birth parents put in the work to become sober, I wouldn’t label them alcoholics but they never got help, sadly. I broke the cycle and I’ve applied a lot of blood, sweat and tears to do this. I can not consciously attach being an alcoholic to my name and my legacy because of this. My kids are my motivation! 

I BROKE THE CYCLE NOT JUST FOR ME, BUT FOR THEM! 

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From my experience, in AA never admitting you are an alcoholic is denial. This thought process that influenced me kept me confined for a very long time! It’s very scary for a lot of people who are considering recovery or living an alcohol free life. From my experience, in AA, if you don’t label yourself an alcoholic, you will NOT make it. Relapse is inevitable and you will be told you are in denial. Let me be clear, I know AA, NA and Celebrate Recovery, and all the other recovery programs and ministries have saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. I can find goodness in all of these programs. But due to my experiences with them, I can also take some steps back and see how damaging they can be. I’m not knocking them, or those who believe in them or those that are faithful participants of any of them. I’m just saying what worked and didn’t work for me, along with my views being on the outside looking in. 

Besides my three amazing kids, knowing both my birth parents were alcoholics was my motivation to want to be nothing like them. I didn’t want to be like them, and I didn’t want to die like them. I have wasted 26 years of my life, with alcohol being at the center of almost everything I did and I didn’t want alcohol to take anymore from my life, or my kids lives.  

The older I get, the more wisdom I gain, and the more I begin to think for myself. I never understood how labeling myself an alcoholic for the rest of my life would help me? If I’m doing everything in my power to become happy, healthy, and recover from my previous life experiences, why do I have to call myself an alcoholic, yet be manipulated into doing this? I never fell for it, and I have never been comfortable with ADMITTING I’M AN ALCOHOLIC. 

Today I celebrate 2838 days of living alcohol free, and I’ve made it this far never claiming the label of being an alcoholic. Can I agree I had an alcohol problem? Definitely. Can I drink today even if I wanted to drink today? No sir. I can’t. I know this and I have way too much at risk. I can also agree that the root of my drinking, and alcohol problem was relinquishment trauma and adoption trauma from my adoption experience. That’s my truth and that’s where I needed to put my focus if I ever wanted to be a happy, healthy individual. 

So how did I get to where I am when I’ve never publicly admitted I’m an alcoholic? Being true to myself was KEY. In order to know what that looked like, I needed to be by myself. I know not everyone can do this, or wants to do this. That’s okay.  I spent years, single not dating at all in order to learn who I am and who I’m not. What were my likes and dislikes at this stage of my life? I had to leave all the systems that were presented to me like church,  AA & Celebrate Recovery and walk away.  I had to create my own program that works for me which has been Adoptees Connect, Inc.  I walked away from many of the reasons (people, places and things) I drank to begin with, I got real with myself and got honest. I’ve applied the tools that I’ve been given and aligned them with what works for me and I’ve thrown the rest in the trash. Some of these things, others inside and outside of recovery settings might not agree with. I’ve learned to be okay with that. I don’t need anyone’s approval. I’m no longer collecting CHIPS for my recovery milestones. I collect ROCKS which are symbolic to me. I’ve found more healing in nature, chasing waterfalls than I have inside any church, program or ministry. 

MY WAY. 

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There’s a lot of stigma attached to recovery, that it has to be done a certain way. I’m no longer buying into it. I’m now doing things my way. Going against the grain is in my DNA but it’s been a significantly difficult journey to always be the one “not listening” or “not following directions.”  Or better yet, “THE REBEL WITH A CAUSE” – This is what I prefer to be called. 🙂 But here I am, 2838 days into sobriety and I have a story to tell on how I got here. The instructions of finding god, labeling myself an alcoholic and demanding forgiveness in order to heal and be in recovery has not worked for me, and news flash…

I’M STILL IN RECOVERY! 

I’M STILL SOBER! 

I HAVE A NEW FOUND LOVE FOR LIFE THAT I NEVER HAD BEFORE. 

MY WAY ISN’T ANYONE ELSE’S WAY. 

I’M OKAY WITH THIS. 

I BROKE THE CYCLE! 

I AM NOT AN ALCOHOLIC! 

I would like to share a message of encouragement for all my fellow adoptees in recovery, and anyone else who might be reading this article. You don’t have to admit you’re an alcoholic to get help, nor do you have to admit it in private. You don’t have to forgive everyone, or anyone for that matter. You don’t have to believe in God to get the help you need. I encourage you to explore other options outside of the 12 steps of AA, and religious settings because as times change, recovery doesn’t fit in a box. It’s not a “One size fits all” method like it was when I was growing up, and entering the recovery 12 step world in 2012. There are so many other options out there now. Keep searching until you find what works for you and realize that your way isn’t anyone else’s way. 

 One of the people who I follow and admire greatly is my friend mentioned above, David Bohl. Follow his Facebook, get his memoir. Read his article, Blue Mind and Relinquishees/Adoptees. The idea of being close to water and the healing dynamics to it is a very powerful healing tool! I can wholeheartedly agree, because this is what I get when I chase waterfalls. This is one of the many things that’s worked for us, but the mainstream recovery outlets aren’t talking about it. We learned it on our own and have a lifetime of experiences to back it up. Research Blue Mind.  You will be happy you did! 

TNM_book-hand-mockup_jan_2018-400x386Another sober living tool I’ve been following and learning about is This Naked Mind.  This Naked Mind has helped me realize that many people struggle with alcohol, and we have many options to try to seek understanding on the WHY, so we can make an informed choice on getting help.  I also encourage building a support system of other adoptees in recovery. Consider starting an Adoptees in Recovery® group via Adoptees Connect, Inc.®  I suggest EMDR Therapy because it has been highly recommended for adoptees, trauma work and inner child work is also a great step in healing. If you can find a Adoptee Competent Therapist at Beyond Words Psychological Services, LLC. I highly recommend it. 

268x0wListen to the podcast, Adoptees On. This has been a major healing tool for adoptees all over the world. Haley is a personal friend of mine and her gift of this podcast has changed the lives of so many people. She’s exceptionally gifted on creating a safe space for adoptees to share their adoption experience. In this, the validation that adoptees receive by tuning in is a valuable tool in our healing. Check her out!

I can share from experience, HANDS DOWN – I COULD NOT WORK ON RELINQUISHMENT AND ADOPTION TRAUMA WHILE I WAS DRINKING ALCOHOL. I HAD TO STOP DRINKING COLD TURKEY TO DO THIS WORK! I became suicidal mixing the two, so if you are TRULY wanting to work on your adoptee problems, trauma, and issues I suggest getting sober FIRST. After-all, that’s a huge part of the reason many of us drink and use substances to begin with. If you haven’t made that connection yet, here is a helpful video for you. Paul Sunderland – Adoption & Addiction.

We all deserve to know the truth that there are more ways than the one way that might be presented to us as contemplate entering into a recovery journey. Your “thing”  might be drugs, alcohol, food, shopping, sex, divorce, anger, rage, self esteem, abandonment, rejection, C-PTSD, and the list could go on. Alcohol was the substance I used to run from processing abandonment, rejection, grief, loss and trauma regarding my adoption journey. Keep searching for what works for you and please know that this world is now full of possibilities  to living a life of happiness and wholeness beyond the confinement of any programs, rules and regulations of others telling you how it needs to be done.

Do not settle for one way. 

Your way isn’t anyone else’s way! 

Sending Love & Light,

Pamela Karanova

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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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