Saying “Hello” to Adoptee Grief & Loss

img_5766I decided to write a short article about this topic, because over the years of coming out of the fog and being in recovery it’s come to my attention that so much of the adoptee experience is rooted and grounded in grief & loss. If we leave it up to the world we live in, they not only deny us the right to have anything but positive feelings, they also deny us the right to grieve our losses.

Can you imagine everyone around you celebrating your trauma? Can you imagine living in a world where your trauma is considered something wonderful? Can you imagine always having to hide your true feelings, because everyone in your life can’t understand that adoption is complex, and in order to heal it we must feel it. Can you imagine there never being any space to share your grief & loss because in adoption, grief & loss is something we are denied, yet society tells us we should he happy about it! This is adoption in our world today.

No one ever told me processing grief and loss was a natural part of the adoptee experience. Navigating this journey alone, it’s honestly been the hardest experience of my life. For me personally, being adopted has carried more weight than multiple brutal violent traumatic experiences that I’ve had in my 44 years of life. Yes, you read that right. I’ve survived MANY brutal violent traumatic experiences, and relinquishment trauma compacted by adoption trauma have impacted me far worse than any other experience, even the brutal violent ones all put together. That’s how BIG the wound from relinquishment trauma has been in my life. The adoption trauma only added to it.

Yes, Adoption Relinquishment is TRAUMA 

For me, adoption, by far has hurt the worst and it’s had the most complex dynamics to it. It hits deeper layers, and the recovery time seems to expand throughout ones entire lifetime. I’ve accepted that full recovery is never going to happen, so I’ve embraced it and welcomed the uncomfortable feelings when they come. Multiple brutal violent traumatic experiences have healed much faster than relinquishment trauma. That should tell you something about relinquishment trauma. Real lived experiences trump everything you have been told about adoption.

It’s hard to come out of the fog on your own like I did. Seeking therapy for the complexities of my adoption experience has always been a dead end for me. I’ve tried and gone to therapy since I was 5 years old. I’m not knocking anyone in therapy and I encourage it wholeheartedly. It just didn’t work for me. I pour my heart into therapying the therapist, and leave with little to no relief other than having one hour to share my life with someone who doesn’t’ “get it” in the long run. If they aren’t adopted, they have no clue what adoptees experience. Thankfully more adoptees are therapists these days, and things are changing.  When I was a child in therapy, they didn’t even talk about adoption. When I was a teenager crying out in rage and pain, they didn’t even talk about adoption.  When I was in juvenile lock up, group homes, drug treatment, the mental health hospital as a teenager and in jail and a mental ward as an adult, they never talked about adoption. When I tried to commit suicide multiple times, they never talked about adoption. When I was in alcohol addiction for 27 years, they never talked about adoption! Let’s be honest, I was groomed to never talk about it either, conditioned from a very early age. But I hold therapists to a higher standard. All these therapists of my lifetime failed me. I should be dead right now, but I’m not.

Today, I say “hello” to the waves of grief & loss as they come into my life instead of turn them away.

Today we’re talking about adoption!

Relinquishment is is the root cause!

I was in addiction for 27 years to ESCAPE! Alcohol took my pain away but only temporarily. Now that I’m in a place of 6.5 years of sobriety, I have even more wisdom to share about being an adult adoptee in recovery. As I navigate close to 10 years of coming out of the fog and 10 years of being in “Adoptee Land” one thing that keeps circling back around in my life is grief and loss. I’m recognizing how I’m feeling at the moment and how I’m feeling day to day about my adoption experience. I’m acknowledging those feelings as they come. I say HELLO to them. I welcome them. Of course I’m going up against what our world says, which is just be thankful and grateful!

I spent some time in a religious setting, and always made me feel like I wasn’t praying enough or I wasn’t fasting enough. I even heard I was CHOOSING to hang onto this pain, or better yet “You must not be receiving your healing because you aren’t right with God! I’ve heard it all, and today I consider it all to be MUMBO JUMBO and I want no part of it. It only caused me to AVOID the TRUTH and NOT FEEL THE PAIN! Because heaven forbid you actually process your traumatic experiences, or grieve your very legitimate losses!

I’m just saying, I’ve gone around the wagon a million times trying to be HEALED from relinquishment trauma! I have some wisdom to share, that’s why I keep writing. For you all and for me. The fact is, grief and loss are perfectly normal for a not normal situation. Nothing is normal about adoption, although our society and world have normalized it. It’s NOT normal to be severed from your roots at the beginning of life, to be handed over to strangers.

Adoption is not normal, and it’s time we STOP normalizing it.

Adoption is traumatic, relinquishment is traumatic and if adoptees aren’t allowed the space to process this trauma we will continue to see the jails, prisons, mental health facilities and treatment facilities overflowing with adoptees! We will continue to see adoptees attempt and succeed in suicide. The earlier we start to address the truth about adoption, the sooner adoptees can start to process our grief and loss.

As a child, I wouldn’t have had the language to process my pain if I wanted to have it. I didn’t know as a child what I know now. I’m here to tell you if SOMEONE, ANYONE would have told me it was okay to be SAD I lost my birth mother, or it was okay to be ANGRY she left me, my whole entire world would have changed growing up. I didn’t have that language, so my adoptive parents should have helped me find it. Yeah, I know it was 1974 and things were different then! TRUE! But they are different now too, and once you know this TRUTH that I’m sharing here based on my 44 years of lived experience being adopted, you can’t unknow it. Please, do what you can to help your adopted children access feelings of grief and loss, and HELP THEM process them!

For my fellow adoptees who have made it this far, I’m asking you how you are processing your grief and loss? What have you been able to do to tap into your real true feelings? Are you at a phase where you are numbing them and running? Or are you working towards processing them?

For me, saying HELLO to my grief and loss has been a critical part of my healing process. I’m no longer running the rat race to be healed! That doesn’t work for many of us. Being SAD about your adoption experience is NORMAL. Being ANGRY about your adoption experience is NORMAL. It’s what you do with these feeling is what’s KEY. Acceptance of them is KEY.

Saying HELLO to them is acknowledging them. Sitting with them awhile, writing about them, or sharing them with someone you love or trust is processing them. Getting alone in nature, doing your yoga, jogging, biking, hiking, and anything outside can help you release some the build up you have, and so many adoptees have anger and rage deep inside, bursting to come out. It’s going to come out in healthy ways, or unhealthy ways. What have you picked for yourself?

I picked unhealthy for 27 years, but it wasn’t because I wanted to pick it. It was because I didn’t have the tools to work on my adoptee issues. Remember, we live in a world that celebrates our trauma and celebrates adoption! This is why it upsets me when people say we are choosing to stay STUCK. Don’t you think if every single adoptee had a flip to switch, on was happy and off was sad/angry we would choose the HAPPY SWITCH? Seriously, so many of us are stuck because that was me for 40+ years because we had no tools. Thank God times are changing! –  Adoptees Connect.

The best part is, once we know that grief and loss is a normal response, and once we know it’s time to start processing it in healthy ways we can then make the choice to put one foot forward and try to walk it out TOGETHER.

Is it scary? Damn straight it is! I always say adoptees aren’t sissies! They are some of the strongest people on the planet! But I did it, and you can do it too! So my question for you is, when are you going to start saying HELLO to your grief and loss? Welcome it, embrace it and keep it moving. Only you can do this because one thing I’ve learned is that if we want something in the adoptee community or for ourselves we will have to seek it, create it, or find it ourselves! No one is going to do it for us, especially when they are so busy celebrating our trauma and they don’t acknowledge we have any losses to grieve.

It’s up to us. It’s up to me. It’s up to you.

What are you going to do?

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Happy Mommy Dearest Day

Times Two 

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Mommy Dearest #1 is the mommy that gave birth to me. She relinquished all rights to parent me. She left me at the hospital then decided to flee.

Mommy Dearest #2 is the mommy that adopted me. It took me a lifetime to discover, she was mentally ill and didn’t have capabilities to parent me.

I spent my entire life searching for Mommy Dearest #1 because she had to be a better mommy than Mommy Dearest #2.

“But she gave you away, she didn’t want to parent you!” they say.

“But she loved you so much” they say.

Conflicting stores, leaning towards my birth mother wanting to see me because I believed that “She loved me so much.” How could a mother not love their child? She must be searching for me too, to rescue me from Mommy Dearest #2.

Mommy Dearest #2 had some good qualities if I’m honest. She loved gardening, plants, lavender, and the colors blue and white. She liked watching soap operas, cutting coupons, talking, and figure skating. She was a nurse, and her greatest gift was my birth mothers ultimate sacrifice.

ME.

Mommy Dearest #2 wanted to be a mother more than anything in this world, but here’s the drawback. Her husband, my adoptive father left us when I was 1, because he knew she couldn’t parent us. He moved over an hour away, remarried and raised a new family of his own. Leaving us with Mommy Dearest #2.

Mommy Dearest #2 was manic depressive, always sad and cried daily, and said over and over, “I’m not a good mother, I just want to die.” I was her caretaker my entire child hood and most of my life. Recalled memories of terror that have overpowered any good she brought into my life. Her laying in the street, trying to commit suicide. Flashbacks. Flashbacks. I will never forget it. Her locking herself in her room with her box of pills, saying she was going to commit suicide. Being a little girl banging on the door, crying hysterically for hours sometimes begging her not to die. Over and over, memories never leave my mind. Flashbacks. Flashbacks. I didn’t know about mental illness as a child, I just know because of her being undiagnosed, and untreated I paid the price and will have memories of this trauma for life. Read more about my experience with her here. 

I was the ultimate sacrifice.

Was this the “BETTER LIFE?”

WHY?

Why did Mommy Dearest #1 decide to flee?

I had to find her, because she had to be better than Mommy Dearest #2. Sadly, I learned my fantasy of her wasn’t true. Even when I wrote her a poem that went something like this…

“My prayers were answered, my dreams finally came true, all of this occurred the day that I found you”

The truth is, she wasn’t searching for me, and she didn’t want to be found. She met me once, but she never wanted me to come back around. She slammed the door shut, she locked it and she threw away the key. As long as she was alive on this earth, I never threw away the hope that one day she would want to see me.  20 years passed, I waited and waited. Then I got the dreaded call, “Your birth mother has died.” With her dying, my hope of ever seeing her again died too. I was told it broke her heart that my adoptive parents divorced because if I was going to be raised on welfare, food stamps and in an abusive environment, she would have kept me! This made her ANGRY!

2010 Mommy Dearest #1 is dead.

She would rather die all alone, than have me in her life. I would have been there in a heartbeat if she would have picked up that phone.But the world says I’m supposed to be thankful.

I’m thankful that I found her, I’m thankful that I met her one time but that doesn’t change the fact this has traumatized me for life. I’m not thankful I was adopted. I do have a million things in my life I’m thankful for, but adoption isn’t one of them.

Mommy Dearest #2 died 7 years later.

But not before I escaped by moving across the country in 2005 so my kids and I could have a better life. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done is making the choice to sever ties. I changed my name, embraced my recovery journey, and started my life over.

2 Corinthians 5:17

BRAND NEW!

I didn’t sign any adoption paperwork!

As soon as Mommy Dearest #2 died my soul was set free, I finally felt like I could breathe. The weight lifted. I didn’t feel any sadness from her dying, than the same sadness I’ve felt every day of my life NOT. HAVING. A. MOTHER. I still have dreams about her, and memories of my childhood flashback frequently. I continue to remind myself that I don’t live there anymore, today I’ve made the choice to open a new door.

A new life, with new possibilities.

Moving forward, I made a vow to myself, I would always be true to me! 

Honesty is KEY!

I’ve moved forward with my life, and the 2 women that should have loved and cared for me the most, have hurt me the most. The damage that has been done is something I’ll be working on for the rest of my life, but today I’ve accepted it and acknowledged its here to stay. It’s part of who I am, it’s part of my story but it’s not all of who I am or all of my story.

I’ve been working 10+ years on my recovery and healing journey. Not all adoptees have something positive to hang onto, but we can take the pain and find something to pour it into! Passion and purpose seem to make it all worth it. Many of us have been dealt a hand of trauma all the way around the paradox. Mother’s Day for many of us is not only a day of remembrance of the woman who carried us for 9 months, handing us over to strangers, TRAUMA! abandoned but it’s also a reminder that the woman we were handed too couldn’t parent us. Trauma times TWO!

If this isn’t you, that’s wonderful, because we all deserve a wonderful mother. The fact is, some of us don’t get it even when we’ve been given 2 chances by being adopted.

How do you strike it out 2x in the mother area?

Some of you will say “It’s all a part of God’s plan.”

 Newsflash: God doesn’t plan trauma so stop blaming him!

What has this experience taught me? It taught me that no matter what anyone says, mothers aren’t interchangeable. It’s taught me that adoption of the world today isn’t from God, and man has totally messed this thing up and they have the audacity to say God is in control! It’s taught me this is MAN’S PLAN, NOT GOD’S. God never plans on separating mother’s and babies.  It’s taught me I’m strong and a survivor to be alive, making it through this nightmare. It taught me that even when I’ve been adopted on paper, I’ve really raised myself. The examples I had as mothers, not only one but TWO were something I never wanted to be.

So, what did I do?

I have done everything in my power to break generational curses and heal from the hurts. I want to be a better mom to my kids, than what I ever had. I want to be a happy healthy grandma to my future grandkids, which is something my kids never had. I want to take all this pain and trauma and find purpose in it. –  Adoptees Connect! I want to take back everything that was stolen from me. I’m finding happiness within myself, because I’ve never found it anywhere else. After I’ve found it in myself, I’ve been able to find it with others. I want to help other adoptees who feel isolated and alone, because if I can survive this THING, they can too. If your adopted and reading this, you are NOT ALONE!

This writing is me acknowledging my pain, and my experience with both of my “mothers”. I’m no longer sitting in this space, but when my feelings come, I need to share them. My website has always been a safe space for me to share. I don’t want to take any more of your time, by sharing this sad story of mine.  I acknowledge it, process it, and move forward with my life. I’ve been stuck for far too long.

So, this year, I’m sure my kids will want to celebrate ME, and that’s how it’s supposed to be. I’ll celebrate the fact that I’ve been a mom to some amazing kids, who I cherish more than life. That’s a TRUE gift and a focus for me on Mother’s Day. In the back of my mind, these memories and my story will always be. I have no mother to celebrate. But if you do, I’m happy for you. If I’m a little distant, or it takes me awhile to respond it’s because I’ve pulled away from electronics, and the television where everyone is gloating about their mothers. I just can’t deal.  Self-care is something I put first.

Hugs to all my fellow adoptees who lost your first mother, who have a hard time with Mother’s Day. MEGA HUGS to all my fellow adoptees who not only lost your first mother, but your second mother wasn’t what you deserved. I’m crying with you all. If you made it this far, you are a survivor. It hurts, let yourself feel the pain. Write about it, draw, color, paint, run, jog, hike, cry, scream.

Feel free to leave your thoughts here if it will help you in some way. Please take care of yourself in the coming days!  Do whatever you need to do, to take care of you.

I decided to post this before Mother’s Day because I don’t want to interfere with those celebrating this day, in anyway. I’m not looking for sympathy or to be “fixed.” Just sharing my story, healing through writing one click at a time. Thank you for being a part of my journey! 💛

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Deep Inside I’ve Lived My Life with Secret Heart Wrenching Cries…

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Baby cries, little girl cries, grown woman cries.

It’s always been a secret and it’s not safe with anyone.

It was always tucked so far down inside. I’m talking about the pain of adoption and how it festered and manifested in my life in ways that non-adoptees can’t even comprehend.

The realities for me have always been that my feelings weren’t welcomed growing up or for most of my adult life. My greatest heartbreak was a couples biggest blessing. In my advocacy and experience in networking with hundreds of adoptees all over the world, it’s not just me and my “bad adoption experience”. You can take it or leave it, but it’s been the majority of most of us who have felt this way. If you are one of the adoptees who doesn’t agree, I respect your views, but I would like to ask, “How many adult adoptees have you gotten to know one on one and how many stories have you listened to in your life?”

Can you imagine living your life with pain so big, yet there was no one to share it with? No one wanted to hear your heart. Imagine if your biggest pain was celebrated by the world… Can you even imagine that? Imagine that your pain was irrelevant, so your suffering became evident.  Imagine being born as an “Adopted Child” and being 44 years old still being treated as that same “Adopted Child”.

I’m not a child.

Imagine never being allowed to tap into the feelings hidden deep inside, because you don’t even have the language to express these cries. Our world glorifies the secrets and lies that are the root of my cries.

There has never been a place for me here on this earth. Those who promote, glorify and celebrate adoption haven’t given me that option.

January 2018 everything changed for me. Adoptees Connect was birthed out of a vision that God gave me and this vision to create a community of adult adoptees who gather together in real life to support one another, encourage one another and lift one another up RIGHT WHERE WE ARE AT IN LIFE.

It was evident to me that all adult adoptees needed a safe space and if we were going to have something like this we were going to have to be the one’s to create it.

This world has failed us miserably, so I ask if you are reading this have you looked in the mirror lately? What part have you played in this?

Silence? You have nothing to say? That’s exactly why adoption is corrupt even to this day. We all have a choice to pick and choose what we advocate for, but my days of being silent have gone out the door. I know too much, I’ve seen too much, and my experience weighs too much. I owe it to me, and my fellow adoptees to shine my light and shine it bright.

Adoption, I’m not a little girl anymore.

Do you hear me?

Once upon a time you kept me silent, you made a mess of me from the inside out but today I’m taking it all back without a doubt. Step by step, day by day someone is going to listen to what I have to say. You can tune me out but I’m not going anywhere, and I’ve committed to myself and my community and I’ll continue to share.

I’m not hiding my pain anymore because it has a place in this world. It’s my motivation behind the calling God has on my life.

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My prayer is that all my fellow adoptees who feel alone, defeated and isolated please remember you are never alone. Please believe that the way you feel is NORMAL for a not normal situation. ADOPTION IS NOT NORMAL. There is nothing wrong with you. What is wrong is the world that refuses to acknowledge your pain and meet you in the middle space of your heartache.

NOTHING IS WRONG WITH YOU!

NOTHING IS WRONG WITH YOU!

NOTHING IS WRONG WITH YOU!

You are not bad, and you did nothing to deserve this. You have many reasons to be sad. I’ve made it my life’s mission to meet my fellow adoptees in their sadness, because giving a voice to our sadness, grief and loss is just as important as our happiness.

Yes, we all want happiness but until we uncover our sadness that’s deep down it will fester and manifest. Healing can happen, but we must meet people in the hurt and pain they carry. That’s a huge step of the healing process and without it happiness won’t be gained. So, when someone is sharing a painful experience please listen and learn from them. We all deserve the freedom that comes from being important enough that someone cares enough to listen to our hearts, especially the painful pieces.

Through Adoptees Connect, I’m committed to meeting adoptees in the places where the world rejects them.  We need one another and our stories matter. Or cries will be heard and hopefully you can be encouraged by this word. I have so many things on my heart to share but time is of the essence. I’ve finally found that this world has a place for me in finding purpose in my pain. My hidden tears will not go in vein.

I’m going to try to write more but always know I’m never very far. If you need a lifeline, REACH OUT TO ME! If you are thinking about planting an Adoptees Connect group in your city REACH OUT TO ME!

No More Hidden Tears!

I love you!

You are NOT Alone! 

p. karanova

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