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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The Wilderness is My Rehab, Nature is My Church, Mother Earth is My Mother, Waterfalls are My Worship

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It’s taken me 44 years to figure out what works for me and what pulls on my heart strings from the inside out. Some people spend an entire lifetime and never get to this point. My hope is, I can share a little about how I got here, in a way to help inspire others, specifically my fellow adoptees. I know so many of you are waking up daily, hurting and broken in a million pieces.

I’m sorry. I feel your pain.

All of the experiences I’m sharing are intertwined into my adoptee experience, my recovery journey, my leaving the church, and my lifelong mother wound from my adoptive mother and biological mother, failed therapy, chasing everything under the sun to attempt to feel whole and find happiness.

This is what worked for me.

The Wilderness is My Rehab – The wilderness has always given me the gift of freedom like I’ve never experienced in any other way. To fill the void from adoption, I’ve spent my entire life chasing different things and all the way back to my beginnings, the wilderness has always embraced me. It’s rolled out its beautiful red carpet, and touched me in a way that inspired me to come on in and explore. The wilderness has provided me with the gift of a greeting, a welcoming of sorts every single time I choose to visit.  It’s provided me with a secure escape away from all life’s problems, even if it’s only for a little bit. It’s life changing for me, ever time I go into the wilderness, into the wild. The birds sing to me as if it’s a song dedicated just for me.  The breeze of the trees provide a soothing tone I’ve yet to experience anywhere else. The dew drops in the early mornings remind me of a new day, a new chance to make a difference in this world. As the sun rises and kisses the tree tops, sparkles illuminate glimmering down over the beautiful green lush plants and shrubs grown in the wilderness.  Green is one of my favorite colors because it reminds me of the wilderness, and yellow is also a favorite because it reminds me of the sun. I escape into the wilderness as much as possible either alone or with someone else. It’s always a divine experience no matter how short or how long the visit. Practicing mindfulness in the wilderness has been a key factor to my healing and happiness.

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Nature is My Church. – I’ve finally found the church I’ve been searching for all these years! For most of my life, I’ve been told how I need to do certain things and one of them is finding and attending a church in my community. I’ve been conditioned to believe this is an extremely important part of one’s spiritual journey, to find the right building and visit every Sunday. One dynamic that keeps playing over like an echo is other’s telling em I need the “COMMUNITY” of believers in my life and how important that is. Why do they have to be believers? Over my experience, the community of believers is no different than a community of non-believers. My experience showed me that the only way that community is going to be real is if you attend the same church. Walking away from the church, I’ve learned those aren’t the relationships I want in my life. I want real, true and organic relationships and I won’t settle for anything less these days.

When I experience nature, a new found freedom takes over my mind, body and spirit. Suddenly I’m back to being the 3 year old little girl that would run free in the country of Iowa playing and laying in the fields. My memories of finding the closest creek come back, searching for crawdads and frogs. We would build tree forts, climb trees to the highest tip and shout as loud as we could with our voices echoing across the fields.

Nature has always made me feel safe and it’s always embraced me. It’s the place I run too to feel God’s presence therefor I feel nature is my church. I’ve finally found what it is I’ve been looking for. Nature is the only place I feel at home.

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Mother Earth is My Mother – This might be a little too deep for some people, but I feel most of my fellow adoptees will be able to understand and relate. Out of two chances in the mother area, I’ve never felt love, compassion, acceptance or valued in a healthy way. I’ve actually been one of the adoptees who’s experienced two very VERY deep mother wounds, that still impact me to this day. My biological mother surrendered me for adoption, and after spending a lifetime of searching for her she rejected a relationship with absolutely no explanation. She slammed the door shut, locked it up and threw away the key. My adoptive mother was never able to be a mother due to extreme mental health issues. I was her caretaker held captive for 31 years, until one day I got up enough courage to leave. I packed up a 22 foot uhaul and my kids, and moved across the country. I consider it my great escape and one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my lifetime. Essentially, I started my life over so my kids could have a better life, and so I could one day become a happier, healthier mother to them which is something I never received.

I say Mother Earth is my Mother because when I look at the bigger picture, she’s been far more kind and compassionate to me than any mother I’ve came across here on earth. From a spiritual standpoint, I’ve always been a believer in God,  I’ve been able to look at God as my Heavenly Father where it helped ease my pain with my father wound. I was able to look at my brothers and sisters in Christ as spiritual family, but at the end of the day there was never any help with the MOTHER WOUND. None. Of all the things that have happened to me here on this earth, the Mother Wound has been by far the biggest wound I’ve experienced and for my specific journey I’ve experienced it two times. I think the hurt and pain from my experience has been the fueling fire for all my adoptee advocacy, because I know there are other adoptees out there like me who have gigantic mother wounds, and they have no idea how to heal them. I’ve purchased a host of books about healing the mother wound, I’ve tried therapy, etc. I’ve written about it until I’m blue in the face. The mother wound is DEEP.

Nothing has helped me until I mindfully started to explore nature going on healing nature walks and hikes. During these adventures, I set out to truly connect with nature, like I hadn’t done since I was a child. Some of my first memories and connection with nature were climbing trees to the top, reaching out and touching the sky because the sky made me feel close to my birth mother. It was the tree that assisted me in touching the sky, so my memories and connections to trees and nature have been a part of my life for most of my 44 years on earth. I write a story about feeling close to my birth mother by being closer to the sky. If you are interested in reading click here.

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When I was a child it was innocently part of my life, but it was in my DNA from the very beginning. The forREST became a place of rest for me. It embraced me, took me in and was kind and compassionate to me like no Mother has ever been.  It was always there, with open arms and a dirt trail to meet me at whatever place I was in my life at the time. As my body would enter these sacred spaces, untouched by man of the earth my moods began to shift and change. I got happier inside. My spirit lifted, and joy would come strong and take over my mind. All the things in my life would fall to the side, while I had this time with Mother Earth, everything became relaxing and all my problems seemed to go away for that moment, with HER.

Over the last few years, I’ve been seeking HER more and more, and I’ve healed more and more. I have more internal peace than every before. When I escape into the wilderness, I find it to be extremely relaxing and restorative. Not only does it help my physical well-being, but my emotional and mental state as well. This has helped me in so many ways, and this is why I feel Mother Earth is my Mother.

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Waterfalls are my Worship – A few years ago when I decided to step down from my leadership position as a small group leader for a Women’s Chemical Dependency group for the ministry called Celebrate Recovery, I decided to focus on myself. What that looked like for me was finding out what Pam liked and loved. So many adoptees struggle with identity, and many other issues. Of all the issues adoptees can face, I believe I’ve struggled with every single one of them and then some. My family also decided to walk away from our church of four years due to many different dynamics that I don’t care to share in this article. Needless to say, we we’re all come to the ending of different chapters in our lives, but it’s also the start of something new which has a potential to be beautiful.

I’m rewriting my story. 

I had never taken time out of my busy life to look myself in the mirror and figure out who I am. First thing, adoption created such a void that my deep seeded issues we’re rooted in not knowing who I was or where I came from. I would not be where I am today without finding my truth, and all of it. When I discovered my love for waterfalls, I had no idea at the healing that would follow. In my process of self discovery, I decided to do something I had never done before. I decided to create a bucket list. In this process, I learned that my great state of Kentucky has over 600 waterfalls. I learned so many people add things to their bucket list that are sometimes so far away from achieving because of financial reasons. I set out to create a bucket list that was attainable for me, and as I did this I learned that so many adventures were in my own back yard, and the state of Kentucky had so many hidden gems, waterfalls, and beloved spaces in nature I set out to discover as many spaces as possible. Over the last 3+ years that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve seen dozens of waterfalls, all within a few hours from my front door. Most of them I’ve been to a half a dozen times, because I love taking friends and family on these adventures with me. That’s half the reward, is taking those you love to experience the solitude nature has to offer.

When I set out to find waterfalls, I experience an excitement I can’t describe. I’ve never experienced something so lovely, that it makes me forget all about my past, my future, and it allows me to focus on being present in the moment. Although I’m working on living a mindful lifestyle (focusing on the present moment)  daily, anytime I have a chance to run away to nature and soak up something that’s so beautiful, untouched by man makes me feel closer to God than ever before.  The water and the birds are the music, and the serenity of the surroundings fills my spirit like nothing else has ever done. This is why I seek out to find waterfalls, as they have been a huge part of my healing journey.

Below are some of the photos I’ve taken as a way to capture some of my most amazing moments, so I can share them with you and others. My hope is, I can inspire my friends, family and fellow adoptees to seek nature for healing because it’s worked for me, and it might work for you too!

To my fellow adoptees, what’s worked for you?

How are you rewriting your story?

 

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Sending Renewed Love & Light,

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Reclaiming. Recovering. Recreating. Retreating. Repeating. 

What NAAM17 Means To Me…

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I’m still recovering from NAAM16

I’m not even lying. I totally overdid it last year and as a result I dropped off the face of “Adoptee Land” for 6 full months. I was too overwhelmed with it all I had to spend 6 months of self care to nurture my adoptee self back to life again. Then, I tippy toed my way back in but made a promise to myself.

I was not going to overdue it again! For my own mental health and sanity. And also so Adoptee Land wouldn’t lose me again, for 6 months or  maybe longer.

I wanted to share what NAAM17 meant to me.

NAAM17 is a time where the world celebrates adoption, yet adoptee voices have always been an after thought. As the years have passed adoptees are breaking out of the fog and coming together and raising our voices to the world on how it feels to be adopted. Finally, we have a space and our voice matters. On the other hand as November approaches I almost get this sick feeling in my stomach like someone punched me in the gut. It’s an unnerving feeling. Unsettling for adoptees and this is why many of us feel the need to raise our voices. Seeing the adoption agencies and those in the adoption arena celebrate adoption is sorrowful for many of us. It brings triggers that we have to learn to navigate. It’s difficult and there is no way to escape it.

For me, this month is a month I’m putting my long time vision of starting an all adoptee support group Adoptees Connect – Lexington, KY into action on the ground here in Lexington, KY where I live. This is my contribution to NAAM17 this year, as well as guiding some of my fellow adoptees around the USA to start their own Adoptees Connect in the city and state they live in.

IT’S OUR TIME!

I still have my Facebook “Like” pages to run, as well as my own blog so my plate is already full. For my fellow adoptees, please take care of yourself this month. Go treat yourself to something you want, buy a massage or get your nails done. Buy an ice cream cone or go to the gym and work out to burn steam off. Whatever calms your spirit and brings you job, make sure you’re doing that this month in the middle of your commitment to raising awareness on how it feels to be adopted.

I love you all.

Please, take care of yourselves.

P.K.