The Essence of My Biological Parents and My Adoptive Parents Being Deceased – An Adoptees Perspective by Pamela A. Karanova
For years now, I have had strained or missing relationships with all of my adoptive parents and my biological parents. But, in the last twelve years, they have all passed away one by one—four people with whom I had four unusual or missing relationships.
Two of them passed away in the last six months.
As a result, my obsession with trolling for obituaries on Google has concluded. I won’t miss it because, like closed adoption, it’s torture and agonizing.
How would you feel if the only way you might learn of your parent’s or family members passing was by conducting Google searches weekly or sometimes daily looking for obituaries? What if this went on for years or even a lifetime?
How many of my fellow adoptees have found themselves doing this?
How does it make you feel?
I always knew this day would come when my biological parents and adoptive parents, aka my parents on paper, would all be gone. Thankfully, I did gain notification of each of the deaths by way of social media or direct contact but that doesn’t change the reality that Google has been my #1 search engine in hopes of learning about the deaths of all of my parents.
But unfortunately, I recently learned my adoptive dad passed away on 1/3/23, and I struggle to find the emotions I should have about his passing. We hadn’t communicated in several years. The sadness I feel doesn’t feel new, I have felt this loss every day. Yet, I haven’t shared his passing with anyone but very few people. So let me also share that my biological father also passed away a little less than six months ago on 6/21/22. I still have yet to scratch the surface on processing his passing away. I have enormous feelings about the obituaries for each of these people, but I will save them for another article.
One of these men took a small part in raising me, and the other took every part in creating me. Equally, from the world’s description, they should have been my fathers, but the description of strangers is more true-to-life.
So how do I have a chance at two fathers yet feel like they are essential strangers? Welcome to the torture of adoption, the one that splits family trees apart and separates and divides. The one that creates lifelong consequential emotional and mental torment for the adopted child that grows up.
I have the same experience with both of my mothers. One took part in raising and traumatizing me; the other took part in creating me and her choice for my life and being separated from her traumatized me at the very beginning of my life.
I describe my adoptive parents as my parents on paper or my paper parents. Here’s why. They signed the adoption paperwork, and I did not. My life was estranged from both of them before they passed away for many reasons I will not discuss in this article but what I will say is that I feel like I was forced to make a choice.
With that choice, I picked myself. Unfortunately, I have been put in a situation because of the split adoption creates where I had to make this conclusion, and I regret it enormously. Most non-adoptees don’t comprehend what I even mean.
Well, let me be frank – when I was born in the adoption paradox at no choice of my own, I have always felt this internal tug-of-war being tugged in a million different directions. It’s felt like a split in the core of my being, and then from those two splits, there are more splits and more and more, and the splits go on forever, yet I can’t fully claim any side as mine.
Some may see it as a larger-than-life, full-of-love family tree. But I see it as a tree with no growing roots, replaced by severed roots that are chopped up all over the ground and left for dead.
I am the dead roots, trying to come alive, all alone. Still, because of all the emotions and deep-rooted feelings that resurface over and over, it’s almost impossible to feel planted or to grow with all these different people and families from all over the place.
Two sets, maternal and paternal, represent a DNA connection, and the other two, my adoptive parents, represent shared history. They are equally part of me, but I am forced to keep them separate. I fucking hate it because it always feels like I’m hiding half of myself to protect the other side. I have to watch what I say, and I have to watch what I do. And I damn sure can never share MY STORY because of the fear of pissing both sides off.
I have always felt like tremendous missing links have created a wedge between all my parents and me, and I genuinely believe ADOPTION is the root cause. I have no shared history with my biological parents and no shared DNA with my adoptive aka paper parents. I have always felt ripped into a million pieces between these two worlds. I have never felt like I belong in either of them.
Because of 45+ years of trying to shake this reality off, the sooner I acknowledged my adoptee pain was here to stay, the sooner things got more manageable for me. But in this self-reflection process, I also acknowledged I had to walk away from everyone to save myself.
This is something only a very minimal number of adoptees can do. Taking the first step towards freedom took strength and courage, but it didn’t come without a cost.
It was the hardest thing I ever did.
It cost me everything to choose myself.
But at least now I have myself, even if I feel like I am in shambles half the time.
When others lose a parent, I see people grieving, crying on social media about the loss, and having loved ones surround them with care and concern. I see meal trains and flowers delivered. I see people take off work to grieve the life-changing loss and to take suitable time to grieve the loss. I see the world have compassion for someone when they lose a parent, not to mention losing two parents in a short period.
I don’t see the same thing for adopted people, especially when we mention we had no relationship or estranged relationships with our adopters or biological parents. It’s almost as if the world shrugs its shoulders and says to itself, “Well, you didn’t know them, so what’s the big deal?” or better yet, “You chose not to have a relationship with them,” so it’s your fault. It’s a miracle if we are contacted at all.
No matter how hard we try or what we do, we’re always outsiders looking in – especially to the immediate adoptive or biological relatives because, let’s never forget, blood is always thicker than water. In my case, and many other adoptees, blood will also toss you to the wolves in the name of “Brave Love.” Even more so if you have no shared history.
In reality, the loss of these individuals hurts and hurts profoundly. However, as an adoptee, I can share that my grief for each person is not due to what was but rather what wasn’t. Every day of my life, I have cried inside at the loss of my biological mother and the loss of the woman I wished my adoptive mom was.
I have also cried inside at losing the connection with my biological father and the relationship I always wished I had with my adoptive dad. But unfortunately, these deep relationships never existed, so I have cried every day as if each of these people died daily because, essentially, I felt like they did.
But, instead of shedding external tears of sadness for what was lost with each of them, I have shed internal tears that ebb and flow as life passes me by every day of my life.
This isn’t new; it’s been a lifelong journey.
The two biological parents I sincerely spent a lifetime desiring to find, meet and get to know slammed the door in my face once located. I have yet to experience any more tremendous pain in this lifetime than the pain of this disappointment followed by grief, loss, abandonment, and rejection that will never entirely go away.
Unfortunately, the two who paid a cash price in exchange for being parents, who signed the dotted line, weren’t capable of being parents. My adoptive dad knew my adoptive mother was mentally unstable, yet he adopted two daughters and abandoned us a year later, divorced her, and left. He moved over an hour away, remarried, and raised her three sons as his own.
I get it.
He chose to save himself as I did.
I can’t tell you one lesson my adoptive dad taught me over my lifetime. He was always far away, and it impacted any relationship we might have had. I remember him saying, “If you’re happy, I’m happy,” which has been the extent of anything I have retained that could be a “lesson” he taught me. I don’t know anything about him other than he worked at John Deere, where he retired. While I am waiting patiently on his obituary to be published, I am confident I will find out more about him in his obituary than what I knew in my 48 years of him being my parent on paper.
I almost got up enough nerve about 8-9 years ago to reach out to him and ask him if he could come to Kentucky for a weekend, so I could get to know him while we planned a father/daughter visit. I was hoping that one time in my life, I could spend even one hour with him alone to get to know him one-on-one. This is something I have never experienced nor do I have any father/daughter memories to hang onto. But then, one day, I woke up and reevaluated all my relationships and acknowledged the reality that I have visited Iowa dozens of times over the years. As a result, I accepted that my adoptive dad had visited Kentucky 3 times in over 30 years.
I have never spent one hour with my adoptive dad, just him and me ever, in my whole life. So it’s hard for me to look at him like a father. I can see why the other people in his life have that experience with him; however, I don’t. Because of his choice to leave me with my adoptive mom, my childhood was robbed and stolen. Here’s an article on what it was like growing up with her. – The Narcissistic Adoptive Mom.
Not long after I turned 17, my adoptive mom moved me across the country, away from everyone. I never got along with my adoptive mom. We were like oil and vinegar. Because of this, I have felt entirely alone in the family area my whole life until I had my kids, who are all adults now.
So many memories with my biological family have been robbed because of adoption, and so much time has been lost, never to return. Reminiscing upon my life story, one of the most valuable things to me is time and what I can do with it. I hold high importance on making memories with those I love with the time I have left on this earth.
Adoption is a coverup for the most tremendous loss of someone’s life. It glosses over the loss before an adoption takes place with a shiny, sparkly coat that shines for all to see. But the reality is adoption is the ring leader of counterfeit and forged connections and not every adoptee benefits from it or bonds with their adopters.
I thank adoption because it’s the gift that keeps on giving; to me, it feels like death all by itself. It’s the queen of separation and the king of the division of families. It’s the ruler of grief, loss, anger, rage, abandonment, and rejection. It’s the monarch of a lifetime of pain that never goes away, rooted in secrecy, lies, and half-truths.
While I have stepped into a space of acknowledging that all my parents are gone because of the separation and division that adoption causes, I have never felt like they were here to begin with. This isn’t new because they have all left the earth; it’s been this way since the beginning.
I think my grief is heightened because this is it. Any small glimmer of hope something will change or be different is dead and gone with all the people with whom I should have the closest relationships.
“You chose to walk away from everyone,” says the world.
Yes, yes, I did.
But I should have never felt like I had to make that decision, to begin with. Unless you are adopted and forced to walk this tightrope, you have no idea how it feels. The split is too painful for me, and I give up on it.
But make no mistake, giving up still comes with a lifetime of anguish about what should have been, could have been, and what was robbed because of adoption and relinquishment.
My adoptive and biological parents are all deceased; however, adoption’s revolting and heartbreaking consequences are still felt for generations. I have no idea where to start processing my pain, but writing this article is a first step for me.
For my fellow adoptees, does this article resonate with you at all?
How do you think adoption has impacted your relationships with your adoptive parents and biological parents?
If they have passed away, how have you processed the loss?
I’ve created a comprehensive list of recommended resources for adult adoptees and adoption advocates!
Thank you for reading,
Pamela A. Karanova
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