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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Leaving the Church, Quitting the Search

img_1536Finding time to write in my own blog has been nonexistent lately. WHY? Because I’m putting everyone and everything in my life ahead of myself. Writing has always been EXTREMELY therapeutic for me for so many reasons. You can see my blog goes all the way back to 2012 and I’ve been consistent until the last year or so.

I’ve decided for my own piece of mind, sanity, recovery, and self-care I need to keep writing in my blog! Writing is part of my recovery from life! Sometimes I might need to put it ahead of other things going on in my life. I really have allowed myself the grace and space to be okay with that. Hopefully everyone else will too.

This is something I’ve wanted to write about for a few years now. My family and I left the church a few years ago, and I have yet to share my experiences like I want too because anytime I mention anything about THE CHURCH, I have people come out of the wood works trying to silence me. This has only given me the opportunity to take a few steps back and gear myself up for sharing my truth as I see it here in my blog. I have so many thoughts and feelings and emotions about it that my mind is literally all over the place a lot of the time.

I’m so thankful for the very few close friends I have who don’t judge me, they don’t try to silence me, they just listen and hear me out. They have literally been my saving graces during this season of my life.  Thank you to each of you! You know who you are.

In this article I really want to touch base on the fact that I realize there are many wonderful and positive things that came from our previous church experience. You would expect this, because a church is supposed to the hospital for the hurting. I also want to share some things that have been very positive and exciting after leaving.  The church we belonged too was a place to belong, become, believe and build. Our family finally felt like we found our way home. We spent 4 years of attending, serving, leading, mentoring, dedicated wholeheartedly to this church. We put it above everything in our lives. Sometimes we would be at the church 4-5 times a week. WE WERE DEDICATED.

Being an adult adoptee, I’ve always felt like I was somewhere in the middle between 2 families. Abandoned and rejected by my biological parents, accepted by my adoptive parents, but I never was exactly what they had wished for when they adopted a child. I always felt like many adoptees feel. Like an outsider looking in, somewhere between lost and found trying to find my way in this world, feeling alone most of the time.

When we walked through the doors of this church, this changed. We were filled with this euphoric feeling being around a building of people who all seemed happy, fun, positive and wonderful to be around. Of course, there will always be those who you don’t jive with, which is to be expected. We started attending in February 2012 and after a few months of attending our lives were centered around church activities and commitments in serving in different ministries. At one period I was serving in 4 areas at one time.

August 13, 2012 was the day I had the last drink of alcohol. I’ve been living in sobriety ever since. I started Celebrate Recovery which is a Christ Centered recovery ministry which was one of the ministries at this church. Everything fell into place, so it seemed.

I found a new love for worshiping and from this moment forward, I became a worshiper at heart. My kids did as well. I had twins that were starting high school, and my oldest daughter was starting college. I loved hearing the word, and our pastor was on point! My kids became full time students in the youth ministry, and they were even serving in many areas themselves. We built relationships with countless amounts of people, served our hearts away, spent hundreds of hours dedicating our time to church activities, and for 4 years THIS WAS OUR LIFE.

When we walked out the doors as a family, it was around the time Donald Trump was elected. I know this was the same story-line for many people at many churches across the nation. My kids and I held on tight with one another and I knew that God was escorting us out the doors, not for one reason but for many.

Once again, I was back in the place where I was 4 years earlier. This “church family” I once clung so tight too, was no longer existent. Just like my biological family, and my adoptive families. I was on my own with my kids, and I knew it. I unfriended all the “church acquaintances” from my social media because I didn’t need the painful reminders of what we once had. I decided I no longer wanted relationships in my life that were conditional and dependent on if we went to the same spiritual place of worship.  This was okay with me because I prayed and asked God, if he intended for any of those people to TRULY be a part of my life, that he circle them back around organically and then I would know they were more than seasonal friends.

For the last 2.5 years my children and I have been in religious recovery from many aspects of our church experience. Religious trauma syndrome is a real thing! Spiritual Abuse is REAL!  Spiritual Bypassing is DAMAGING and happens in a lot of religious settings. It’s been an eye awakening experience to leave the church, and not only come out of the fog about adoption, but the church and religion as well. It’s left me with so many feelings and emotions I need to share. Just like adoption I’ve learned about 99% of the time if I share my feelings about church in a public setting, social media, etc. the norm is for others to want to silence me. They really don’t truly want to listen to what I have to say. This has left me extremely discouraged and aggravated on many levels.  Like any wound, if it’s not tended to it will manifest in many other ways in one’s life. For me, ANGER has permeated in many ways because of the lack of resources available for those who leave the church HURT. My anger has subsided, and I’ve prayed for grace so I’m able to share my views from a more compassionate space. It’s been 2.5 years of leaving, and it’s taken this long where I feel like I can write about it. Just like the lack of resources for adult adoptees to be able to process pain, the church hurt has only compacted due to no resources to help someone navigate what life looks like outside the church. Anger is a natural response to an experience like this. I know I’m not the first nor the last person to leave the church hurt. You might be asking, “What is the big fuss about?”.

I’m going to spend the next few months sharing my views on what my big fuss is all about. My experience is valid, and so are the experiences of my children. My views about Christianity, Church & Religion are also very valid. I’m going to spend some time interviewing them, asking them some questions as well as sharing some insight of my own. My overall goal is to heal through writing since it’s almost impossible I find the space in this world to share my feelings without others interrupting me. This is truly one of my favorite parts about writing. You can read, or not read what I have written, but no one will interrupt me.

I will add I’m no spiritual guru who claims to know the bible from front to back. I know some scriptures, I have read some of the bible and I’ve learned a lot from it. But I’m no longer speaking Christianese and I’m no longer interested in silencing people with the word of God. I’m not trying to control situations by manipulating people because I’m right and they are wrong based on what the bible says. Sadly, while I was in the church, I learned this to be a piece of the way of life. Even if they never intended for it to be this way, It was what we were taught. Here in this blog, I will be as transparent as possible, speaking from my heart as to what has impacted me in positive and negative ways, based on my experiences. I’m never going to say I’m right and they are wrong. All experiences are valid.

For privacy reasons, I won’t put the name of the church I attended, nor the names of those who we’re involved in the reasons we walked away. They already know who they are, and those close to me know who they are. My goal is not to cause them any harm, but to share my truth as I see it and to hopefully reach someone out there who’s left their church and religion and they find themselves in a dark place, confused and alone. That was once me.

I’m VERY disgruntled about how damaging the church and even Christianity has become, and at the end of the day I want to share WHY I FEEL THIS WAY. If you come across my blog, and you can’t relate to what I’m sharing here please understand that’s totally okay. I’m not sharing my views to try to convince others how to feel or what to believe. That’s the last thing I want to do. But what I am doing is digging deep down in my spirit and sharing legitimate situations, and things that do not sit well with my spirit. I don’t feel that keeping quiet about these things is helping anyone, especially myself. It’s only hurting me, and just like my adoption journey, I have a story to tell. Freedom and healing begins to happen the moment we feel heard and validated.

I know for certain there are people out there who will be able to relate to what I’m going to share. There are people who have left the church who feel isolated and alone. There are others who are trying to figure out what’s next after leaving the church. I’m sharing and writing for those people, the ones on the outside of the church.

As I begin to share about this very personal part of my life, and my family’s life, I ask you remain neutral and try to understand that church doesn’t work for everyone. It doesn’t mean those on the outside of the church are less than, or “bad”. With my experience I’ve learned to have an entirely new perspective of those who don’t attend church, which is opposite of how I felt when I was inside the church. Sadly, I’m ashamed of some of my thinking and thought process during the time I was in the church. Those are other things I want to share here.

Please also take note, because of our church experience and leaving it’s opened our lives up to some amazing and wonderful things. I also want to be transparent on where this has taken us, because at the end of the day an awakening process has happened. We no longer see things like we used to see them when we were inside the church. We’ve learned to love more, accept people more, and find God and our happiness outside the 4 walls of the church. I can promise you, IT IS POSSIBLE! It doesn’t make me bad, or my family bad. It doesn’t mean we’ve backslidden. We aren’t less than because we are no longer washed up in religion.

Stay tuned for more articles and I take you on the journey as to why we left the church in November 2016 and why we’re stopping the search. The firsIMG_1553t article will be about the vulnerability of the people who walk through the doors of the church, people like me.  I want to share how the overwhelming “LOVE” we experienced by walking through the doors grabbed a hold of us and reeled us in. Only to find out this “LOVE” wasn’t real love after all. It was built on a false reality, based on the CONDITIONS that we attend this church. I want to share how this has impacted our family.

If you feel a strong urgency to let me know “Not all churches are the same” or “You need the community” I would like to ask you to reconsider. That’s not what I want to hear at this present time. It will not help me at all. I ask you open your heart to understand the possibilities that maybe others can find God MORE outside the church. Maybe it’s possible that church doesn’t work for everyone. I would love to have a chance to share what’s changed for me, and what’s helped me greatly since leaving the church!

If you subscribe to my blog, you will receive these articles as I share them. If you don’t, feel free to do so now. If you can relate to any of what I’ve shared so far, please feel free to leave me a message!

Thank you!

Much Love,

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Tick-Tock, Times Moving on the Clock

The last few weeks of my life have been sort of a blur in many ways.

WHY?

Because I’m finally LIVING LIFE!

One thing I’ve learned is that time isn’t standing still for anyone. It appears most of my life has been a struggle, and a hard one at that. Isn’t that what it is for most of us? I mean isn’t that LIFE?

A STRUGGLE!

I don’t feel I’m set aside from everyone else or that my struggle has been worse or easier than anyone’s. We all go through things. I feel I’ve always been in survival mode never taking time to actually enjoy life. To be honest, the journey I’ve had it’s a miracle I’m alive. This is where God comes into my story, and I give him all the PRAISE & GLORY!

Living most of my life with a broken heart from adoption, I have learned that it’s okay to feel that way and it’s important to share my feelings. This is what my blog is for.  This is true for us all or healing won’t happen. I’ve been on the recovery road for almost 5 years now and it hasn’t been easy to work on all my past JUNK! But one thing I am not going to do is take it all to the grave with me or make others pay for my issues! This is what has given me the motivation to work on SELF! For my kids, future grand kids and those close to me.

I want to be WHOLE, HAPPY & HEALTHY!

Recently, I’ve been reminded of how quick life is and how our lives can be gone in the blink of an eye. It’s so important to open our eyes and see the beauty God has placed all around us in people, places & things. We can’t wait my friends. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in pushing our way through LIFE and being in survival mode but I would like to challenge you to pause on the hustle & bustle of LIFE and start finding things that make you tick.

What brings you true happiness?

What is healing to you?

For me, I describe my journey in this area finding my way back home. Adoptees get the search I am speaking of. We spend our entire lives searching for our people, places & things.

Every. Single. Day.

Searching.

For me, it’s all said and done. There is no more searching for my biological family. I’ve searched and found them. It turned into more heartbreak for me but at least now I know.  They were not “home” for me but I’ve heard many adoptees say they were home for them. So for me, my search to fill that void continued. Yes, God is living in my heart but please believe there is still a void not having my biological family in my life. It will always be there, especially the mother part. But I’ve moved on the best I can and process emotions when they come.

But I would like to ask WHERE IS HOME FOR YOU?

For me, It’s with my kids and in nature with God.

I’ve floated around my entire life like a lost soul trying to attach to people, places & things to fill that void but I’ve discovered it’s impossible for me. I’m okay with that but I understand time is passing by and I can’t get back any of the time I have spent working on myself in recovery or the time I have spent living life with alcohol in it.

TODAY & FUTURE DAYS I WANT TO LIVE THE LIFE GOD CREATED FOR ME ALL ALONG.

Time doesn’t wait for any of us so I would like to encourage you to do the same.

What are you waiting for?

Here are some recent pictures of my most recent adventure into the wild.

This is home for me my friends.

God’s presence is HERE more than anywhere for me.

Adventure Awaits, We Have to Reach Out & Grab It.

Much Love,

Pamela Karanova

Adult Adoptee

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