When Your Biggest Blessing Invalidates My Greatest Trauma

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When your biggest blessing invalidates my greatest trauma it sets me up for a lifetime of pain, suffering and isolation. It facilitates a lifetime of suicidal ideation, because the pain is just too great to process. It makes me feel more isolated and alone than non-adopted individuals can ever imagine. It makes me wish I was aborted and feeling like I want to die for most of my life, because my pain is greater than my desire to want to live. It drives me to attempt to take my life as a teenager, because you fail to admit I have lost anything. It drives me to a place of addiction, because at the end of every day the only way to manage every day life is to numb the pain. When you use bible scriptures to defend your blessing, it makes me question the bible and the God you are speaking of. When your biggest blessing outshines my reality, it makes me feel unimportant and insignificant. When you refer to me as a blessing, it hurts because you are invalidating my adoptee and relinquishee reality.

My story went something like this:

Me: Mommy, did I come out of your tummy?

Adoptive Mom: No, you were adopted. Your birth mother’s choice to surrender you for adoption was my biggest blessing and a dream come true.

Me: What do you mean?

Adoptive Mom: She loved you so much she gave you to me to raise, and I will always love her and be thankful for her decision.

Me: Who is she? Where is she?

Adoptive Mom: We don’t know, honey.

Me: Experienced the most significant mental mind fu*k of my entire lifetime.

I was approximately five years old when this conversation took place, and it’s clear to me that my life was never the same. Every day, I was haunted every hour and every minute wondering, wishing, and dreaming about finding HER.

No matter what questions I had or what mental torment I experienced from this moment forward, my adoptive mom’s joy and happiness trumped everything. My feelings didn’t matter when I was her biggest blessing in life, and her joy  of being a mother trumped my feelings of sadness every damn day.

If I’m transparent, my adoptive mom likely didn’t know the pain and heartache I was experiencing but if she did, her happiness was highlighted over my pain. I was adopted in August of 1974, and my adoptive parents were told to sweep the entire idea of adoption and what it meant under the rug. They were also told the less we talked about it; the better things would be. This is how many adoptions were back in those days, but today is a new day and a new year. It’s 2020, and when you know better, you do better.

However, I ask myself if my adoptive parents knew this, would it have changed anything for my five-year-old self, who was desperately searching for my REAL MOTHER?

I genuinely believe as a 46-year-old woman, if I were able to process my trauma at as early of an age as possible, my healing journey wouldn’t have started at 36+ years old. I wouldn’t have been addicted to substances for 27 years of my life. I recently celebrated 8 years sobriety, however I feel like I’ve spent my entire life not only suffering from the trauma of relinquishment and adoption but healing from the lifelong aftermath of these experiences.

I have barely started living my life yet, and if I’m lucky, it’s over half over. That’s a hard pill to swallow, but I try to remain grateful that I’m here and I’m alive because I know so many of my fellow adoptees are not. This is why I keep sharing and writing. Adoptees are dying!

Adoptions continue to happen all over the world. We cannot continue to fail to acknowledge that before the blessing of an adopted child is brought into a family, it is equally intertwined into the very beginnings of our life, which is a traumatic experience. We must also recognize that relinquishment is trauma, and so is adoption. These are two very different dynamics to the adoptee experience. The sooner society steps out of denial about these truths; the sooner adoptees will start to heal.

Better yet, if our adoptive parents knew these truths from the beginning, would they still choose to adopt anyway? In my experience spending the last ten years networking in the adoption community, most all adoptive parents I have talked to have expressed they TRULY had no idea what they were getting themselves into when they adopted. The adoption agencies and attorneys never shared the truth with them. When they learned what they were up against, it was too late, and they were stuck with this child who has come with deep-rooted relinquishment trauma, or they rehome them and send them back.

Let me be clear, we can have wonderful and loving adoptive homes and love our adoptive families greatly, but the original trauma of relinquishment still remains the same. Networking with adoptees for over 10+ years and hearing their stories, building relationships with them, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt most of us don’t get happy and loving adoptive homes! If you are that one adoptee or know that one adoptee who’s “Just fine” with being adopted, spend more time getting to know more adoptees. That one adoptee story doesn’t compare to the hundreds of thousands of adoptees who have nightmare adoption stories and adoptive homes. Remember, adoption trauma always compacts the original relinquishment trauma.

In what ways does relinquishment and adoption trauma surface in an adopted individual? It can be acting out at an early age or teen/adult years with anger, rage, self-harm, substance abuse, breaking the law, running away, testing the waters in every way possible. Depression, anxiety, abandonment, mental health issues, self love, self hate, rejection, and Complex – PTSD. Let’s not forget grief and loss. Grief and loss show up in more ways than non-adoptees can even imagine and it lasts a lifetime! We struggle with these things for our entire lifetimes and many adoptees never get the help they deserve, taking this pain to their graves. We don’t wake up one day and it’s gone. It follows us, like ball and chain. For many of us, it feels like we’re doing a life sentence for a crime we didn’t commit.

While our adoptive parents, their friends, and family are celebrating adoption blessings, the truth is that adoptees will continue to attempt suicide at 4x the rate of non-adopted individuals. We will continue to grieve our grief and process our loss alone for a lifetime. We will continue to feel helpless in a world that celebrates our relinquishment trauma and adoption trauma. We will continue to live a life riddled with anxiety, depression, and sadness. We will continue to feel isolated and alone. Many and most of us take these things to our graves, because there has never been any help for us.

Instead, you celebrate our trauma and normalize the separation of a mother and her baby. Nothing about relinquishment and adoption is normal, and all the feelings adoptees feel and how we respond to relinquishment and adoption trauma is normal considering the circumstances. What’s not normal is relinquishment and adoption trauma!

Back in 1974, adoptees weren’t baring their souls to share their stories in hopes of shining a light on the truth about adoption and how it’s made them feel. If they were, there might have been very few of them. Today they are, and it’s making a difference. One of the biggest things I have experienced that’s been a significant hurdle to overcome is that our world celebrates adoption the way they do. Can you imagine our world celebrating rape or child abuse? Can you imagine our world celebrating someone being held hostage at gunpoint? Can you imagine our world celebrating a mother and child dying in childbirth?

Only in adoption is our most tremendous trauma of relinquishment not acknowledged, but it’s celebrated. The mental mind fu*k this causes for relinquished and adopted individuals can’t even be explained. Let me be frank; it’s a big giant clusterfu*k.

While our adoptive parents and society are celebrating, they don’t equally acknowledge that we are being is severed from our roots before any adoption occurs. This is the most significant loss of our lifetimes. We lose genetic mirrors, biological connections, medical history, siblings, grandparents, ethnicity, homeland, and so much more on top of YOU CELEBRATING IT. Stop celebrating mothers and babies being separated!

If you’ve made it this far, I will encourage you to challenge yourself in stepping out of denial about the FACTS that what you were told and what you learned about adoption might not be accurate information. I ask you to open your eyes, ears, and hearts to the truth that relinquished and adopted individuals need you to equally acknowledge all we have lost before you consider celebrating it.

We’re not your blessing. Until you can do this vital step to help aid us in our healing process you have no business celebrating us or calling us a blessing. When our adoptive parents are our elders, we follow suit in what they acknowledge as we are children. If you recognize this, we will realize this. Conversations about grief, loss, relinquishment, abandonment, rejection, culture, genetic mirroring, searching, and reunion need to happen. As children, we will NOT be able or equipped to open these conversations on our own. Without the support of our adoptive parents, we will suffer, and we will suffer greatly.

I hate to shatter the fantasy that your adoption is a blessing, but the truth is before every adoption takes place, relinquishment trauma happens first. Adoptees are dying. Please stop celebrating our relinquishment trauma and adoption trauma, and if even after learning all this, you still choose to celebrate, at least equally share the truth by sharing the painful pieces as well. If you don’t, you will regret it, and please know you are assisting in the stalling of your adopted child’s healing. A lifetime of pain will follow no matter what, but if you choose to assist by opening these difficult conversations, it will help!

If you are the adoptive parent of an adult adoptee, you can still apply this information to your journey, life, and relationship with the adopted individual in your life. I don’t know your story, nor do I need to know it. Start talking about the TRUTH in adoption. Start talking about uncomfortable topics. It could save your relinquishee/adoptees life.

Thanks for reading.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author, Pamela A. Karanova. Reproduction of the material contained in this publication may be made only with the written permission of Pamela A. Karanova

My Views on Adoptee vs. Relinquishee

Over the last few years, I’ve learned the noteworthy difference in the concept of an adopted individual referencing themselves as a relinquishee and why this is even a thing. Take note while I share here, I’m sharing from the perspective of an adoptee adopted from a closed adoption in 1974. I’m not referencing individuals who have never been separated from their biological mothers at the beginning of life.

10+ years ago, I began to come out of the fog regarding my adoptee journey, and in that time, it’s been ten years of processing pain, heartache, adoption, and relinquishment trauma. I had to trace back to the beginning of my life, which we would typically consider being conception. I actually wrote about this before many years ago, Is Adoption the Problem or is Relinquishment the Problem?

 However, we must go much farther back and allow ourselves to spend some time in our birth parents’ shoes, their parents’ shoes, and their parents’ shoes.

Over those ten years, I’ve learned the knowledgeable difference between someone using the reference adoption trauma and relinquishment trauma. They are two very different things, and we must recognize them as such to embrace our healing journeys.

For myself, the root of my pain is a reflection of the original separation and relinquishment trauma from my birth mother. This wound in the adoption community is fitfully referenced as The Primal Wound.

I share my thoughts and feelings based on my experiences, which is especially true for my healing journey. One’s healing journey is never cut and dry, reflecting ONE WAY, so I will never insist what works for me will work for you too, but it might.

I used to refer to adoption trauma as the root of my trauma; however, my growth has caused my views to change over the years. Today, I hear countless individuals reference adoption trauma as the soul wound that an adoptee carries; however, I would disagree. The first trauma an adopted individual experiences is actually from the relinquishment from our biological mothers. This trauma is first, and it is the root of our heartache and pain. Trying to heal these wounds “out of order” where we aren’t acknowledging the root first, can and will stall our healing as relinquishees.

Adoption trauma is definitely in the mix for most of us, who consider our adoptive homes a traumatic experience. Still, we must acknowledge that relinquishment trauma, aka the primal wound, was FIRST.

Adoption trauma compacts relinquishment trauma, making one big cluster fu*ks of trauma on top of trauma. I’m a firm believer in getting to the root of the problem to pull it out and set it on the table to work on it. In my opinion, we must start referring to our pain to share where the root of our heartache and pain comes from, and that’s relinquishment trauma.

The loss of our birth mother is so profound that until we start to recognize this as our original trauma that happened FIRST, our healing will be stalled.

Adoption trauma is a thing. Being forced to bond with a family, you are nothing like is a thing. Adoption abuse is a thing. Adoption itself is separate from relinquishment and in this acknowledgement, I’ve learned this is one reason adoptees are now referencing themselves as relinquishees.

As I embrace a New Year and as 2021 approaches, I feel that for my writings and personal journey, I am going to starting writing from the perspective of a relinquishee because, for me, that’s the one wound that’s been the deepest. It’s the root of my pain. To recognize this, I want other adoptees to consider acknowledging this as their root wound as well. However, it could also be known as the mother wound for adoptees that wound is dual damage.

I have learned over the years some adoptees do not acknowledge adoption or relinquishment as a trauma. However, I feel they likely haven’t done enough research on either of these to make the correlation.

One dynamic of connecting these dots was to step out of denial about relinquishment trauma. This only happened by researching and trying to understand pre and perinatal bonding, separation after birth, and the emotional, psychological, and preverbal trauma that occurs when relinquishment/separation happens. Another avenue to research is generational trauma. No one will tell us to research these things to understand them better, so we must embrace this on our own.

Acknowledging these differences in relinquishment trauma and adoption trauma is critically essential, and our healing depends on it. Moving forward, you will likely see me reference myself as a relinquishee about my views on relinquishment trauma. I encourage you to do your research and study all the adoptee experience dynamics so you can best understand the complex layers of trauma that an adopted individual experiences.

For most adoptions to take place, the adoptee is a relinquishee FIRST. I think this difference is a noteworthy one those in adoption circles should acknowledge because the more we understand, the more we heal.

Thanks for reading.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author, Pamela A. Karanova. Reproduction of the material contained in this publication may be made only with the written permission of Pamela A. Karanova.

What You Can Do to Support Adoptees on Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th

As Adoptee Remembrance Day is approaching, I have felt like it would be essential to share a few things that we need from our friends, family, loved ones, and even those who aren’t close to an adoptee but maybe they know one. If you need a moment to reflect on what Adoptee Remembrance Day is about, please visit this link.

First things first, this day is 100% focused on the adoptee experience, and all it entails regarding adoptee grief, loss, abuse, mental health, deportation, and adoptee suicide.

While each topic carries significant weight, what we need from non-adopted individuals is for them to search deep in their hearts and understand that adoption might not be all it’s cracked up to be. Our society has failed miserably on every level of bypassing and ignoring the TRUTH regarding how adoption impacts adopted individuals. While adoption has been celebrated worldwide, the adoptee suffers in silence significantly.

Adoptee Remembrance Day is a day to step into a new light that there is so much more to the adoptee experience than what our world has lead non-adoptees to believe. It’s a day to seek deep in your heart to find the willingness to listen and learn from adopted individuals that there is much more to the adoptee experience than what the adoption agencies, adoption attorneys, news, and society tell you.

I know you mihgt know an adoptee, and they say they have no issues at all.

Well, I know thousands of adoptees that DO have problems with it, and I have dedicated over ten years of my life to building relationships with them, listening to them, and validating them. We must collectively step out of a space of denial into an area of truth to better understand the trauma in relinquishment and adoption, regardless of all the given love.

While our world is focused on pushing positive culture, this is a day to reflect sorrow and sadness. Please understand that there is nothing wrong with this. Adoptees have never ending things to be sorrow-filled about and sad. Adoptee Deportation and Suicide are significant issues within the adoptee community. Adoptee grief and loss are not acknowledged by the Adoption community. Please save space for the adoptees on this day who need to sit and be sad. All they need from you is for your to listen and have the willingness to try to learn how they feel. If you are close to them, wrap your arms around them while they cry. Allow them the space to cry.

I’ve said it before, and I will repeat it, love isn’t enough or a house full of stuff. Love does not replace our lineage, lost memories, relinquishment trauma, grief and loss process, ethnicity, medical history, answers to our truth, citizenship, knowing who our siblings and biological kin are. Nothing can replace what is lost in adoption for the adopted individual, and until we can start to have these candid and raw conversations, adoptees will continue to die.

Adoptee Remembrance Day is a day for non-adopted individuals to press into this day and do everything they can to listen and learn. There are genuinely countless layers to the adoption experience, and they deserve to be addressed and brought to light. We’re asking for your support as you open your heart to learning that every adoption begins with a loss so significant, it could very well impact an adopted person for the rest of their lives.

We were hoping you would consider showing up in some way by making a public statement acknowledging the sensitive topics of this day. Maybe you will take part in this day by sharing articles and posts about this day. We were hoping you could support us by RSVP’ing to the Facebook event and invite your followers, friends, and family to the event.

Search the hashtags #ard2020, #adopteeremembranceday, and #adopteesweremember and soak in all you can on other adoptee experiences. This is a day to save space for adoptees’ experiences in deep pain, grieving losses they have been denied the right to grieve for an entire lifetime.

There are adoptees out there who consider themselves “saved by adoption,” and they might even be “thankful they were adopted,” however, I encourage them to step into this day with the notion of understanding that not all adoptees feel this way. I challenge you to learn, grow, and expand in your current knowledge and insight on how adoption impacts your fellow adoptees. Step into a space of grace and understanding to try to listen and learn how your fellow adoptees might feel. Please, whatever you do, don’t say, “That’s not how I feel” when another adoptee shares their feelings. We all deserve space without someone else coming behind us, running over our feelings, reminding us we need to be thankful or grateful.

If you don’t know any adopted individuals, you can still get involved on this day, and we need your support. Here’s an article that share’s ways you can help promote this day.  Promoting Adoptee Remembrance Day. Don’t forget to read how you can get involved on this day and the different things you can do to participate. Read here.

Last but not least, Adoptee Remembrance Day is going to be an emotional day for Adoptees everywhere. I am already crying daily just because we finally have the day to recognize the truth in adoption that I get emotional even thinking about it. I’m pretty sure on October 30th, 2020, and I will likely have a box of Kleenex with me all day because I know my emotions will be all over the place. Be easy on your fellow adoptees or any adoptees in your life. It’s not going to be easy for any of us, but so overdue and so very needed for the Adoptee Community.

For those who might not support this day or for whatever reason don’t feel it’s necessary, we respect your right to feel that way, however adoption has stolen enough from us. What we won’t allow is those who don’t support this day for the adoptee community to hijack this day by spinning the adoption is wonderful narrative. Sometimes being frank is the only way I can be because I always have to be true to me and the adoptee community. We invite you to take a seat, close your mouth and make the choice to not participate. Thank you very much.

Please realize that we’ve invited everyone to get involved on this day, and that includes biological parents, adoptive parents, and friends and family of adoptees. We’re saving space for you to share your thoughts on this day. Together, we hope to share our feelings, so healing begins to happen.  

We will be sharing an Adoptee Remembrance Day Agenda in the coming days. Be sure to share it online with your friends, families, and in your adoption circles.

If there ever was a time to share your voice, the time is now for my fellow adoptees. Make sure you tag Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th on Facebook and RSVP to our Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th Event. Use hashtags we’ve shared above.

Together, we’re collectively going to raise our voices, so the world will be able to listen.

Sending you sunshine, love, and light as this day approaches.

Please know you aren’t alone!

Love, Love