Chapter 15. Deal Breaker – Finding Purpose in the Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 15.

Deal Breaker

The three-day journey to Utah from Kentucky seemed like an eternity. The twins weren’t even a year old yet, and Keila was close to five years old. I was piled into a car with Patricia and my kids. We stopped every hour or so to tend to the kids and to use the restroom.

One of Patricia’s friends drove the U-Haul 1654 miles across the country, and it wouldn’t go over 60 MPH because we had it so filled with the belongings of two adult households and three kids. It was a grueling three-day trip, but in the summer of 2000, we made it to Salt Lake City.

In all fairness, we all had high hopes for a fresh start. Melanie did a lot of work finding us all a place to live. The plan was that we all move in together, and then in some time, we separate to find our own places to live. We moved into a three-bedroom home, and I shared the biggest bedroom with my kids. Patricia and Melanie each had their own rooms.

Thankfully, I was able to transfer my housing authority voucher to Salt Lake City, so as soon as I found a new place to live and set things up, I would be able to move out. But, even with this setup, it took several months. Living with Patricia and Melanie for those months with my kids was a sacrifice for everyone. We all gave a lot to try to make this work.

The reality was that I chose to have my kids and wanted to take care of them on my own with no help from anyone. But unfortunately, it wasn’t anyone’s job to take care of my kids but me, and after moving to Utah, I felt like I was back at square one with little to no resources available. The difference in Salt Lake City was that they didn’t have resources for young single mothers like in Kentucky.

There were no after-school programs, sports in elementary school, or organizations to help me out, so I felt like I was even worse off than when I lived in Kentucky. But unfortunately, Utah is mormonized, and the available resources are only available if you convert to Mormonism. They were centered around the family unit with a father involved, and the reality that I had my kids outside of the traditional religious sense and out of wedlock as a single mother left me shit out of luck.

Once again, I found myself depending on Patricia to help babysit at times, and I also found a wonderfully babysitter named Ms. Lora, who was a fantastic light for my kids and me. In addition, I was able to get a small amount of help to pay for her daycare services, which was a huge help.

I still had no car, but after getting a part-time job, I saved enough money to buy a $500 cash car. It was beyond a beater, but it was good enough to get me from point A to point B. Salt Lake City had its perks. I met my best friend there, and the city is surrounded by mountains. However, it wasn’t a place where I felt like I fit in with my kids.

I remember being in a city with no friends and how that experience made me feel like arriving in Lexington, KY, with no friends or family besides Patricia and Melanie. But, one thing was sure; I was going to make some new friends because it was in my nature. So, I got a job and started to meet people. Eventually, I found a three-bedroom duplex to move into with my kids, and we began our new life in Salt Lake City.

Keila started Kindergarten, and she started ballet classes. The twins weren’t ready for school yet, and with no pre-school in Salt Lake City, they went to daycare at Ms. Lora’s so I could work. I got a waitress job at Joe’s Crabshack and then Applebee’s. Then, I got part-time jobs at Smith’s grocery store and the state liquor store. I always worked two jobs and never seemed to be able to get ahead. I didn’t blame anyone but myself for my bad choices and carried a lot of guilt because of my decisions.

After we moved out of the home with Patricia and Melanie, we occasionally saw Melanie and her boyfriend, Nasser, having a meal together or having a picnic in the canyons. We saw Patricia much more, and in no time, I started to experience the same unhealthy co-dependent patterns developing in Salt Lake City that I had to deal with in Kentucky. But now, I had kids in the picture impacted by the toxicity.

With all these changes going on and moving even farther away from Iowa, it was obvious that my relationships with Eileen and Joanna were non-existent. However, that didn’t mean I didn’t try to reach out to Joanna in the hope of sparking some dialogue. I wanted her to know that I was no longer in Kentucky, and if she needed me for anything, she could find me in Salt Lake City. But, once again, I am “putting myself out there” only to get crickets. This continued to be a hard pill to swallow, and I would frequently find myself in tears mourning the loss of the family I had dreamed about my whole life.

One day while living in Salt Lake City, I decided I had nothing to lose and I called my birth mother to ask one last time about my birth father. She didn’t answer but her current husband, Keith did. I explained who I was, and was blunt in the reason I was calling.

At the time, Damond was in the hospital for childhood asthma, and I wanted to try to learn some medical history. After Keith shared that Eileen wasn’t available, I asked him if he could share my birth father’s name with me so I could try to gain my medical history; I also expressed that my son was in the hospital and needed this information. I didn’t give a damn about letting the secret out of the bag. They didn’t give a damn about me so why should I? I was concerned for my son’s health.

“I don’t know his name, but I learned several years ago that he was dead; he got shot in a hunting accident. He’s been dead for several years.” Keith said.

That was the first time I had heard anything about my birth father being dead, but my initial instinct was disbelief. This news didn’t sting a bit because I didn’t believe it for a minute. If he was dead, I wanted to stand over his grave and see his death certificate for myself. Keith refused to give me his name, even when my child’s life was on the line. Two words – Fuck em! I will get to the bottom of this, one way or another!

Being a mom now, things moved quicker, and I didn’t have as much time to sit and dwell on my birth family while in Salt Lake City. However, they were never far from my mind. One day, they might change their mind and open the door. So I waited and waited and waited. I was going to find my birth father if my life depended on it; even if I found a grave, I would stand over his grave one day. Until that day, he was very much alive to me.

In the meantime, I found a new circle of friends and continued my party life mixed with the mom life. I think I always made friends well because I was like a chameleon with a lack of identity in my beginnings. This created the ability to blend in with everyone. It’s impossible to know who you are when you don’t know where you came from.

Alcohol continued to numb my reality, and about a year after moving to Salt Lake City, I found myself in a new relationship. It was evident I lacked self-love, among many other things, because my relationship was very harmful and abusive, and I stayed in it for three years.

Those three years were filled with more physical abuse than I had ever experienced, but I kept it all a secret from my family and did everything I could to hide it from my kid. Moving to Salt Lake City was a nice thought, but I was still a walking train wreck. It was no one’s fault but my own for putting up with the abuse for three years, but I continued to make bad choices in the relationship area.

I tried to be kind, and I allowed a friend to stay with the kids and me with her four year old daughter because she had nowhere to go. I got a call at work one night while working at Applebees. The fire department called to let me know my house was on fire. She had left her daughter unattended, and she turned on the broilers of the oven, and it eventually started the fire.

Thankfully, all the kids were with Patricia; however, this was a huge ordeal to experience. I will always say things can be replaced, but our lives can’t if something happens to the kids or me. My friend left the next day with her belongings, and I essentially never heard from her again. I was left to clean up the damage and find somewhere else to stay while the house was remodeled.

One thing is for sure, you can leave everything behind, but all your old habits and patterns are sure to follow until you get to the root of the issues. Still, at that time, I never connected my low self-esteem and internal heartache, and lack of self-love with relinquishment and adoption trauma. Don’t get me wrong; I knew I was sad and heartbroken, but I didn’t understand the depths of everything and how everything was intertwined.

That didn’t happen until I reached my late 30s when I would start researching adoption and relinquishment to learn that it’s all connected. Then, I started uncovering the truth by connecting with other adoptees online. But unfortunately, I had a long way to go before I got to this point.

As I matured into motherhood, my wants, needs, and desires for my kids also changed. Then, finally, I started seeing them experiencing some of the same things I did with Patricia when I was a kid, and this was when I knew I had to make a move. This reality was a deal-breaker.

After spending five years in Salt Lake City, everything shifted. I wanted my kids to have a better life than I did, so I was forced to make one of the most challenging decisions of my life.

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Chapter 14. The Struggle – Finding Purpose in the Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 14.

The Struggle

Life was about to take a whole new turn. I graduated from high school and got my diploma, and I also enrolled in some courses at the local community college.

On May 21, 1998, I gave birth to twins as 29-week preemies. Damia weighed 2lb 5oz, and Damond, who weighed 3lb 1oz. While I welcomed two beautiful babies into the world, Keila was four years old at the time. I was a struggling but strong-willed single mother. There was nothing that was going to come between my kids and me.

Once again, I was forced to depend on Patricia because I had no family in Kentucky, but I also depended on public assistance to help with the bare minimum and keep the lights on. Because the twins were so small, I had to keep them home and out of daycare for the first year. This made it impossible for me to work, so I had no choice but to get food stamps, Medicaid, and housing assistance. We didn’t have a car, but we managed. My deep-rooted skills of taking the city bus as a young kid would learn to pay off.

I did everything I could to keep my babies, all three of them, even when they didn’t have an active father in the picture; I made it happen to the best of my abilities. Finally, I saved up enough money to move out of Patricia’s and got a 3-bedroom apartment, and Patricia was furious when she found out I was approved for based on your income housing.

She didn’t want me to be independent because I wouldn’t need her as much. Instead, she thrived on me depending on her. I had no idea what co-dependency was at that stage of my life, but unraveling the mess all these years, I now know we had a co-dependent relationship that was highly toxic. I felt thoroughly trapped in my relationship with her, especially now that I had three children as a single mother in a state where she was my only family. But, once again, I felt like this was her plan.

When we would get into arguments, she would always say, “Your life is my life, and anything that’s your business is my business!” As a 24-year-old mom of three, I had no idea if this was everyday parenting; however, it felt utterly intrusive and overwhelming.

However, the twins came home from the hospital sharing their bedroom, Keila had her room, and I had my room. We lived in a decent apartment, and we had everything we needed. The first year after bringing the twins home from the hospital, we’re some challenging times in my life. They had off-scheduled sleeping patterns, ear infections, breathing inhaler machines, and seemed to have constant doctor appointments. But we made it work, and we made it through it.

If I can raise a four-year-old and a set of newborn twins as a young single mother, anyone can do it. Of course, nothing was easy about it, but my motto has always been, “We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.” My kids had me, but sadly I was still a very broken person, raising three children.

I made mistakes and, at times, was clueless about how to raise kids when I had the experience I had with my adoptive mother and biological mother. But unfortunately, I didn’t have any examples of a happy and healthy mom or a normal mother-and-daughter relationship.

I was still a partier, most evenings drinking boxed wine. Alcohol seemed to tame my misery regarding the emotional and mental torment I experienced from losing my birth family. Not to mention my experience in my adoptive homes and with Mark, Giovanni, Diego, and Patricia.

Patricia seemed to become an enormous responsibility for me as time passed. Her home was always filthy, just like it was when I was a kid. Even after moving out, it was my responsibility to help her keep her place clean in exchange for helping me with the kids. She seemed to move a lot, and it was my job to pack all her things up, gather my friends to load the truck, and help her get settled in the new place. Let me not forget that it was always my job to go to the old places and clean them to get them up to par to be re-rented so she could get her deposits back.

This was Patricia’s living conditions the last time I saw her in 2015.

My job was to come to the rescue when she found her dead old-English sheepdog dog on her basement floor from neglect. Any random task she needed to be done was always my job. It was all on me if something broke or needed to be put together.

When she had hip replacement surgery, it was my job to caretake her back to health. I bathed her and ensured she got where she needed because she couldn’t drive her car. Patricia was almost more of a responsibility than my three kids. She continued with her habit of staying up all night and sleeping half the day, and her pill addiction increased significantly after she had a hip replacement.

The doctors gave her endless pain pills, and she was completely wrapped up in the treatments of the doctors and the medical industry. Anytime she was in the hospital or ER, I was the sole one for being in charge of caretaking for her before, during, and after she went and was discharged.

While she graduated to get her RN, Nursing degree, she had issues at every job she worked. She was written up for falling asleep while working the night shift. She was fired more times than I can count from various nursing positions, which created a substantial emotional fallout that somehow I was responsible for managing.

One of the many memorable events was when I received a call from her supervisor. They let me know that they had “let Patricia go” as a staff member, and she was currently on the floor crying hysterically in the nursing director’s office. They wanted to contact me because I was her only emergency contact. Little did they know, this wasn’t the first shit show.

At the time, I was exhausted with Patricia, and there was NOTHING I could do about getting her up off the floor of her boss’s office, especially when she was hysterical in the middle of a meltdown. I instructed them to call 911 so the ER could deal with her. This was one of the first times I set a boundary for myself; I didn’t even know what boundaries were at the time. I felt obligated to go to the ER to check on her, but I only stayed a few minutes and left to be with my kids.

Buy this time, I am annoyed and exhausted with my responsibilities to caretake Patricia, which was exhausting. But I owed her for helping me with my kids, and I couldn’t survive raising them without her, and she made sure she let me know continually. So it was a total “You help me, I help you” relationship, but not by my choosing. There was no one in Kentucky helping me take care of Patricia, and at the end of every day, I was entirely indebted for taking care of her and all her wants and needs.

So really, I had four kids, but Patricia was an adult who couldn’t take care of herself. Nothing had changed from my childhood aside from me being the lone ranger and target of 100% of Patricia’s emotional, mental, and physical outbursts and needs.

I was angry, but I had no way out. No one in my life understood how these dynamics made me feel, but I kept pushing forward. But now, I had something to live for; even when I didn’t want to live for myself, I knew that my kids needed me, and I needed them. So, I wanted to live for them. But unfortunately, I was in an unhealthy relationship with the twin’s father, and all of a sudden, things turned another twist when the twins were seven months old.

In June of 1999, Patricia decided she was moving to Salt Lake City, Utah, to be closer to Melanie, who had moved to SLC from Iowa in 1997. I hadn’t had much of a relationship with Melanie since leaving Iowa, but sharing the responsibility of Patricia after all these years didn’t sound like a bad idea. Finally, someone could help me with these responsibilities of caretaking for Patricia.

Melanie and Patricia convinced me that I would have much more help with my kids, and I took the bait. Two family members are better than one? Right? However, it was either that or be in Kentucky alone with no family and three kids as a single mother. I lacked the confidence or strength to believe I could stay in Kentucky and care for my kids as three small children with no family at the time. That was a scary thought, so we started to pack up our things and I didn’t feel like I had a choice. I think Patricia again tried to lure me away from the twin’s father, who lived in Kentucky just like she did with Diego when we left Iowa.

In April of 2000, we packed up a 22FT U-Haul and began a journey across the country. I couldn’t help but hope things would be different than our childhood. Little did I know, the same shit show was present from when I was a kid, but it just relocated to a new destination, and now I had three kids to think about.

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Chapter 13. The Naive Adoptee – Finding Purpose in the Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 13.

The Naive Adoptee

Even when the signs were right before me, I was still the naive adoptee. Putting myself “out there,” never dreaming for a million years that things could end up a different way than I had imagined. A lifetime of fantasizing about Eileen and being told she “loved me so much” couldn’t possibly prepare me for the reality that would unfold over the next 15 years of my life.

A few weeks after returning to Kentucky from visiting Eileen for the first time, I called her to say, “Hello.” The phone rang, and rang, and rang. No one answered. I left a voicemail, “Hi Eileen; I was calling to say hello and see how you were. Call me when you can. I hope you are well. – Pam.”

I didn’t hear back from her, so I tried calling her several times over many months, but that turned into years. Finally, I mailed a few cards and letters to let her know I was thinking about her. She never responded to me, but I couldn’t give up or give in.

The little girl in me couldn’t acknowledge nor accept what was happening. Alcohol helped me escape. I never did come to grips with the reality that she didn’t want to hear from me and never wanted to meet me.

Looking back, I think Joanna was “twisting her arm,” so to speak, when it came to our meeting, and she did it to be a good sport. But, the open wound from the rejection and abandonment that I felt from Eileen are wounds that have impacted me at every step of my journey and life in every way.

The abandonment is separate from the rejection, but they are intertwined thoroughly. I feel abandoned because she left me with strangers and never came back. I felt rejected because once I found her and tried to rekindle a relationship, she didn’t want a relationship with me.

How could I be so naive in believing my whole life that “her loving me so much” would mean she would want a relationship with me one day? At 47 years old, I think I can answer that question through the fantasies that plagued my mind. My fantasies ultimately began because of deception from my beginnings, being altered, and being severed from my biological roots and truth. My story was a secret from me, which should be against the law.

I couldn’t fathom that the woman I had put on a pedestal for so many years didn’t want to know me or have a relationship with me. The little bit that could tap into that reality was overcome by the hope that one day she would change her mind. I was never going to stop wishing she would change her mind. This kept an open wound that only another adoptee could understand.

The emotional and mental torment I felt resulted from the biggest disappointment of my life: a failed reunion and relationship with my birth mother. I felt utterly alone during this time, creating a split in my internal dialogue and life. On one side, I had my adoptive family and my life experiences with them.

On the other side was my biological family. Keeping them separate was challenging, but it also came naturally because I was doing this from a young age in silence. But these were big experiences and big feelings to keep silent; however, I had no choice.

My adoptive parents had no clue what I was going through because they never discussed adoption or the implications of a failed adoption experience. They also never talked about my birth family, ever. It was like an elephant-in-the-room-type topic.

The one chance at a face-to-face meeting with Eileen turned out to be the only time I was ever allowed to meet her and get to know her in my lifetime. Unfortunately, after that one meeting in 1995, she shut the door and put about 100 locks on it, and I never saw or heard from her again. No matter how hard I tried, she would rather die alone than allow me to be in her life: no goodbye, no reason, no note or letter to explain why she made this choice. I heard nothing from her after our one meeting in 1995. Sadly, my reunion with Joanna soured not long after and I was completely broken hearted about both failed reunions. Joanna and I also lost touch for over a decade but not at my choosing. I reached out to her many times, only to get crickets in return.

Am I such an awful person that I deserved this? What did I do or say wrong? Sadly, it would be many more years later that I would make sense of it all, but until that time in my life, I was a complete trainwreck. I internalized all my feelings. As a result, I didn’t understand it all, nor did I know how to heal from the pain I was feeling. Therapists had failed me miserably, and I had also failed myself.

I never gave up searching for my birth father. I knew that one day I would come face to face with him but I didn’t know how. I always wondered if I had more siblings and if finding him would be a better experience than what I had with my failed reunions with Eileen and Joanna. Alcohol again stepped in and allowed me not to feel or heal, so I rode the waves of the party life. I knew at the end of the day, even if I wanted to heal, there were no healing tools for me, the naive adoptee.

Through it all, in 1997, at 24 years old, I would receive some of the best news of my life, and everything shifted, at least for a while. I stuffed my adoptee reality deep down, and new and meaningful things would arise to take front and center.

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Chapter 12. Illusions – Finding Purpose in the Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 12.

Illusions

Joanna picked me up from the airport in Waterloo, Iowa, the town I was born in, where Eileen lived. It was a cool crisp morning in September of 1995. The leaves started falling and stirring on the ground, adding beautiful colors to the landscapes.

The drive to Eileen’s was only about 10 minutes, but it seemed like an eternity. Then, finally, we pulled up in her driveway, and I was anxious but on cloud nine simultaneously. I had no idea what to expect, but I know I had fantasized about this day my entire life. I was hoping for an immediate connection, a long motherly embrace to compensate for the lost 21 years together. I silently wished for a reunion as we see on all the television shows, you know, the warm fuzzy ones full of emotion and warmth.

We pulled up Eileen’s driveway, and I got out of the car with Joanna. My heart was racing. We both walked to the side door of Eileen’s house on Wilson Avenue. Joanna knocked, and the door opened a few short moments later. A thin, frail woman appeared before me who looked nothing like I had fantasized about my whole life. I didn’t feel the connection I had always thought I would.

Eileen had a short haircut curled back with sandy blonde hair. She wore blue jeans and a red sweatshirt that had mickey on it. She looked slim and slender, not over 100lbs. She stood about 5’10 and met me with a grin as she opened the door. However, she wasn’t warm, she didn’t hug me, and she wasn’t emotional in the slightest regard, more like standoffish.

“Come on in,” Eileen said with a half-grin as she held the screen door open for Joanna and me. We walked up the stairs, and I followed Joanna into the dining room. We met Nan, Eileen’s sister, and Barb, who was Eileen’s best friend. They were already sitting at the table waiting on Joanna and me.

We all sat down, but first, Eileen asked if I wanted a drink as she had already prepared hers ahead of time. I said, “Sure, I will take whatever you are drinking.” Joanna settled with some water.

She came back from the kitchen with a “Rum and Coke.” I thanked her. At the time, this was a dream come true. Finally, I was sitting face to face with the woman who gave me life, and we were having a drink together too! My prayers were answered, and my dreams finally came true.

Aside from giving birth to my daughter, this was undoubtedly the best day of my life. We all got settled, and Eileen lit a cigarette, took a drag, and said, “So, how was your life?”

All eyes were on me. Later I would learn this was a “make it or break it” moment. Everything was on the line.

I had no idea that this experience and conversation would forever change the trajectory of our interactions with one another. If I knew then what I know now, I likely would have shared a lighter version of how my life was up until that moment.

However, I am a genuine, raw, and honest person, so I only prepared ahead of time to share the truth about how my life had been up until that point. No one expressed the implications of sugarcoating the truth with Eileen, so I went all in sharing my life as I experienced it up until that moment we came face to face.

“Well, my adoptive parents divorced when I was one year old, and I was raised in a single-parent home, on welfare with my adoptive mom, who was addicted to pills and had untreated mental health issues. We have never had a good relationship, and I have never bonded with her as a mother and daughter should. She was emotionally and mentally abusive and tried to commit suicide in front of us many times, and used this as a weapon to control us. She also tied us to chairs and wouldn’t let us go outside to play,” I said.

I also expressed, “I have an adopted sister that was adopted a year before me, and my adopted dad remarried, moved over an hour away, and I gained a step mom and three step brothers. He took us for summer vacations and saw us every other weekend. Until I decided I no longer wanted to go in my early teens because the oldest step-brothers molested me repeatedly when I was young. I haven’t seen them in a long time. My adoptive mom got a job in Kentucky, so we moved when I was 17. “

On a lighter note, I shared some things about my daughter, Keila, Eileen’s biological granddaughter, who was genuinely the happiest part of my story. I also shared that I went back to school to graduate, and I had plans to go to college one day. However, I felt like I was on the spot and didn’t have many warm fuzzy pieces to tell her.

So instead, I told her I dreamed of her every day of my life and that she was the only thing missing. Everyone got quiet as if they didn’t expect to hear these things. I am confident that my birth mother and others had hoped to hear a wonderful and happy life story, but my story was quite the opposite of the picture-perfect adoption story.

I asked Eileen if she could share a little about herself and her life, and she did. However, she kept her sharing at the bare minimum, giving me tiny pieces of who she was and what she liked to do, almost as if it was enough to satisfy my curiosity, but nothing more.

The rum and coke were needed to calm my nerves after sharing these personal details of my life with four essential strangers. It was tense, but somehow I got through it. Eventually, I got up enough nerve to ask my birth mother about my birth father again.

She said the same thing she told me on the phone, “He didn’t know anything about you, and he wouldn’t want to know.” One thing was for sure; she wouldn’t tell me who my birth father was if her life depended on it. She was taking that secret to her grave with her.

Joanna shared a personal piece of her life on this day that she, too, was a birth mother, and she had a full-blood brother to her five-year-old son and gave him up for adoption. I found that this news took me back a bit. I always hear stories of our kids following in our footsteps, but this took it to a new level.

Joanna said she wasn’t aware that Eileen had me and had given me up for adoption because she was only four years old. However, she had her baby and gave it up for adoption also. It was almost a celebratory vibe behind them both giving their babies up for adoption. I wasn’t sure what to think, but I was taking notes in my mind and trying to retain all the details I had learned about my newfound family.

We sat together for approximately two hours, getting to know one another. Once our visit seemed to wrap up, we all took pictures together. I had more hopes that we would see one another again and keep our lines of communication open. The naive adoptee in me believed this would be the beginning of the relationship I always dreamed of. Little did I know, I created more adoptee illusions in my mind, and the hardcore reality would soon set in.

Most adoptees form fantasies and illusions in their minds about their biological families, especially our birth mothers. What does anyone expect us to do? When our reality is hidden from us, we have no choice.

The illusion that my birth mother was some beautiful woman from Hollywood, California, was shattered. Sadly, I didn’t feel like she was pretty like I always dreamed she would be. Instead, she looked like alcohol and cigarettes had taken a toll on her life. She looked far beyond her age of 50, more like her upper 60’s. Nevertheless, I wholeheartedly built up a fantasy in my mind of the magical, mystical, flawless, and embracing birth mother. I was greatly disappointed to have the reality be a stark contrast to my fantasy.

It’s similar to when a family has a child snatched up off the street, and they are frantic searching for them, but they have been abducted, nowhere to be found. That feeling they have searching for them everywhere they go, never giving up or giving in, plagues them and creates a never-ending internal torment until they are found. But they can outwardly express their grief, loss, and sadness. Adoptees can not. We keep it all locked inside for an entire lifetime, but most of us never stop wondering or searching.

Her face tells it all…

While I was over the moon to finally have my dreams come true and see the woman who gave me life, I will always wish I would have kept my sharing to a bare minimum regarding my heartache and heartbreak. I will always regret that I didn’t ask more questions, take more notes and stay longer.

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

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Chapter 11. High Hopes – Finding Purpose in the Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 11.

High Hopes

I was elated that I was on the phone with the woman I had fantasized about my entire life. “I have thought of you every year on your birthday, and I hope you have had a great life. What is it you would like to know?” Eileen said.

“I would love to learn more about you and your life. Do I have any siblings?” I said

“Well, I enjoy Rod Stewart, he’s my favorite artist. I collect Garfield memorabilia, and I have one daughter, but she doesn’t know anything about you, and I prefer to keep it this way” she said.

“Thank you for sharing. Can you tell me who my biological father is?” I said?

“Actually, I can’t share his information. He didn’t know anything about you, and trust me – he wouldn’t want to”, she said.

I was taken back by this, but we chatted for about five minutes, and I said, “If I sent you some pictures and a letter in the mail, would you possibly be able to write me back and send a photo of yourself?” I was dying to know what she looked like! Did I look like her?

“Yes, that would be fine. I look forward to that” she said.

I was over the moon and almost giddy. I wasn’t sure what to think about being a secret from my biological sister or the information about my biological father. Still, I glossed over it at the chance to get to know my birth mother better.

We ended the call, and I immediately started looking for photos of myself so that I could get together a photo album made just for Eileen. I retrieved photos of me being a newborn, toddler, and childhood. I found a few photos of my teenage and early adult years. I also included a few photos of Keila, her biological granddaughter.

I remember writing a poem for her that said, “My prayers were answered, my dreams finally came true, and all of this occurred the day I found you.”

I also wrote a letter telling her a little about myself and that I was looking forward to learning more about her, seeing her picture, and getting her letter in the mail. So I put a little photo album and package together, along with the letter and poem, and mailed it off to her the next day.

I couldn’t wait to get her letter back and finally see what she looked like. So I waited a few days, and then I started to check the mail about a week after sending my mail off to her. I knew the mailman always came around noon, so I would sit by the window and wait for his mail truck to roll up.

Then, as soon as I saw him coming, I would fly out the door to retrieve the mail. I could feel the excitement and anticipation from the tips of my toes to the top of my head!

A week passed, and then two weeks. After that, I thought maybe she was busy, so I gave it more time. Then three weeks passed, and then a month. Two months passed, and then three months. Finally, I started to get weary and couldn’t understand why she didn’t write back to me.

Maybe she didn’t get my pictures and letters? What if I had the wrong address? I better make sure she got them! So I decided to make a phone call and ask her myself.

I called Eileen, and this time the phone rang, and rang and rang. Finally, her voicemail picked up, and I left her a voicemail asking her to call me back at her earliest convenience. I was never going to stop waiting on her call, but I never received a return call. I was still running out every day to meet the mailman, and I had the phone close to me in case she called.

Three months turned into six months, and it was apparent Eileen wasn’t going to keep her word about writing me back. Deep down, I was crushed. But I thought she loved me so much? So why was she not writing me back? I internalized this in a significant way as if it was my fault. People tell adoptees always to prepare when they are searching and entering reunion; however, there is no natural way to prepare for what I was experiencing.

But, at this time, I had a decision to make. I could disappear as if I didn’t exist on this earth. Eileen’s secret would be kept hidden away from the world, and I would be the compliant adoptee. Or I could move along to find my biological sister, Joanna.

I decided to reach out to Joanna because I didn’t sign any adoption paperwork or agree to be anyone’s secret. At this stage, I had nothing to lose! So I reached out to Josie, who gave me Joanna’s address. I wrote a short but sweet letter, introducing myself and letting her know I was her long-lost sister and I would love to hear from her and get to know her. Once again, I had high hopes she would reach back out to me. So I mailed the letter off, and the waiting game began again.

I continued to fly to the mailbox waiting on any correspondence from Eileen and Joanna, only to be disappointed every time. Still, at 47 years old, I think of Eileen whenever I walk to my mailbox.

Saturday afternoon, my cell phone rang, and it was a call from an Oregon area code. I quickly answered, “Hello.”

“Hi Pam, it’s your sister Joanna. I received your letter in the mail today!” she said. Again, I was overwhelmed with emotions. My sister, I was finally talking to my REAL BIOLOGICAL SISTER! Another dream come true. We started to share a little information about one another, and she expressed that she always wanted a sister growing up as an only child.

She decided to fly to Kentucky the following week with her husband so we could meet in real life for the first time. I was 21 years old, and she was 25 years old. Friday couldn’t get here fast enough. I couldn’t believe I would be seeing my first biological relative aside from Keila. I was over the moon.

She arrived, we hugged for what seemed like forever, and we talked about our lives. She shared that Eileen was an alcoholic and still is and that they didn’t have a very close relationship growing up. She always wished she had a sister, and now she did. We spent several days together, and she told me she would talk with Eileen and set up a meeting between us.

Two months later, I was on an airplane to Iowa to meet Eileen for the first time. I was nervous but excited, with high hopes at the same time. I still hadn’t seen her picture, nor did I know what she looked like. Was she pretty like I always fantasized she was?

Of course, in a matter of hours, I would see her face for the first time, and hopefully, it would be the beginning of making up for lost time and a beautiful relationship.

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

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Chapter 10. Paperwork Promises – Finding Purpose in the Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 10.

Paperwork Promises

I will never forget Patricia’s following words, “When we were going to sign the adoption paperwork, the attorney gave us the wrong paperwork. Thomas saw your birth mother’s name. If you call him, he might remember it.”

The emotions that came over my body at that moment are so complex and deep that I don’t think I’ve felt such mixed emotions all at once before. Part of me filled with rage because she lied to me my whole life. Even knowing I was in extreme agony, she told the stale lie repeatedly, even knowing the truth? I will never trust her or forgive her for this, ever.

The other part was elated at the hope of Thomas remembering my birth mother’s name. Within minutes I picked up the phone and called Thomas.

“Hi Daddy, Mom said that when you were adopting me, the attorney gave you the wrong paperwork to sign, and you saw my birth mother’s name? Do you remember her name?”

Thomas said, “Yes, her name was Eileen Ward., and she lived at 512 Rhey Street in Waterloo.”

I said, “Thank you!” and quickly hung up the phone.

Now, what was I going to do with this information? At the time, it was 1994, and cell phones and the internet were non-existent. So I called the library in Waterloo, the city I was born in. I asked the receptionist, who answered if she could help me because I was out of state, calling from Kentucky.

She was kind enough to help and gathered the 1974 Waterloo directory phone book. I asked her if she could look up Eileen Ward on Rhey Street. She found her, along with another person with a different address but the same last name, Josie Ward.

Then I asked her to pull up the 1995 directory phone book and look for the same names on the same street as the 1974 directory. She could still see Josie Ward, but Eileen Ward was no longer listed. I asked her to give me Josie Ward’s phone number, and I thanked her for her time.

I called Josie Ward immediately and explained that I was in search of Eileen Ward and wondered if she could help me. She said, “Eileen was married to my brother, John Ward, but they have since divorced, and they are no longer together. So how can I help you?”

I explained that I was searching for Eileen because I had recently learned she was my biological mother.

Josie said, “Wow, what year were you born?”

I said, “1974.”

She said, “We all knew something was going on because Eileen wasn’t coming around for a while, and when we saw her, she was wearing baggy overall bibs, which confirms our suspicions that she was hiding; a pregnancy. I think she must have worked up until the day she had you and went back to work the next day. She and John divorced in 1972.”

“Can you tell me anything else about her? Do you have her phone number?” I asked.

“Well, I can tell you that you have an older sister named Joanna, and she was an only child. You were born four years after her. I haven’t talked to Eileen in several years; she’s remarried to Keith, but her phone number is 1-319-555-1212. Good luck, honey.” Josie said.

I thanked her for her help and the information, and we hung up the phone. My mind and heart were racing at that moment, and I was gathering what I wanted to say to Eileen. But unfortunately, I didn’t have any guidance, assistance, or support. This was 1995, and adoptees had no resources, so I was winging it. I was on my own, as usual.

This was undoubtedly the absolute best day of my life, aside from giving birth to my daughter just nine months ago. I could hardly fathom I was minutes away from my dreams coming true and hearing the voice of the woman that gave me life! I waited 21 years for this. I had high hopes we would reconnect and compensate for the lost time. I knew she would be so excited to hear from me, especially when she “loved me so much!”

That Friday afternoon, I sat quietly, jotting down thoughts of what I wanted to say. Then, finally, I dialed the phone number, and it started to ring.

One ring, two rings, three rings seemed like an eternity.

I hear a soft “Hello” at the other end of the line.

I said, “Hi, Eileen, my name is Pamela, and I was born on August 13th, 1974, at St. Frances Hospital in Waterloo, Iowa. Does this date mean anything to you?”

The phone got quiet, and the next thing I hear is a “click.” The dial tone was ringing in my ear.

My heart dropped.

I said to myself, “This must be an accident, the woman that “loved me so much” would never just hang up on me.”

I immediately pushed redial and heard the same “Hello” at the other end of the line again.

This time I said, “Eileen, I want you to know I don’t want anything from you. I only wish to get to know you and learn more about you. I have some questions for you. I mean no harm. Can we please talk for a few minutes?”

She said, “I am the woman you are looking for.”

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

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*The views and opinions expressed in this article, memoir, and podcast 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

Chapter 9. A Reason to Live – Finding Purpose in the Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 9.

A Reason to Live

The next few years of my life were blurred, and the memories I have during this period aren’t genuinely happy or wholesome. I was constantly partying, and the less I had to sit with myself, the better. Don’t get me wrong, knowing how to party brought on a whole “fun” side of life; however, it was all a mask to cover up the internal sadness and heartache I felt.

I still thought of my birth mother, but at this stage of my life, living states away, DNA wasn’t a thing, nor was the internet, so I had no clues to go on when it came to finding her. Was she looking for me? If she “loved me so much,” I hoped she would be. But instead, internal sadness loomed as a dark cloud hung over my head, following me everywhere I went.

I dreamed my whole life that she was a beautiful woman with long ash blonde hair and possibly a movie star in Los Angeles. Maybe she was someone famous? It’s strange, but I never obsessed about my birth father as I did about my birth mother. Now I know that’s because my birth mother and I were connected on a primal level which was very different than being connected with my birth father.

After a lifetime of heartache, in November of 1993, my whole world changed. It was a cold fall morning, and I remembered I was supposed to start my period earlier in the week, but it didn’t come. So I waited a few days and decided to take a pregnancy test.

At 20 years old, I learned I was pregnant, and my life would change forever. So naturally, I became excited about the new baby that would come. Although I still had fears due to the miscarriage, I had high hopes that I was in a somewhat better space at this time than I was at 15 years old. I chose to change many things in my life due to the new idea of bringing a baby into the world.

I stopped drinking alcohol and using drugs, and I stopped partying. I made a doctor’s appointment and started to attend regular OBGYN appointments monthly throughout the entire pregnancy. I started buying baby items and filling a space with baby things. I learned my due date was June 21, 1994, and I was having a baby girl.

As my baby belly grew, I couldn’t help but think more of my birth mother. I would ponder thoughts about her during my pregnancy, wondering if she experienced the same or similar things during her pregnancy with me. How did she feel when she felt me move when she was pregnant with me? How turbulent was her pregnancy and delivery with me? Was she happy or sad? Even with new things happening in my life, she was never far from my mind.

Then, about five months into the pregnancy, I felt my baby girl move for the first time, which I described as more like a flutter. It was a magical experience. It was no secret that I loved my daughter and would do whatever I had to raise her to the best of my abilities as a single mother.

I broke the news to Patricia; at first, she cried, and then she got excited. Our relationship was still rocky, and I wasn’t close to her, but I tolerated her only because I had no choice. Patricia became consumed with my pregnancy, which is better than the alternative; however, it was a tricky dynamic to navigate. Part of me felt like she was viewing my pregnancy as her pregnancy, giving me creepy vibes, but there was nothing I could do about it. I still lived with Patricia, and because I had no family in Kentucky, it seemed like I depended on her more and more. I was not too fond of it, but I had no choice as a single mother with no other family, exactly how Patricia wanted it.

This dynamic created a co-dependent relationship between the two of us, and it was one I didn’t ask for. But, I was convinced I needed her in my life to help because I had no other options available, so I took it. She had me right where she wanted me, in a city all alone, all to herself.

As my pregnancy and belly grew, so did my independence. My need to want to do better increased, and I knew I had to change my old ways to create a happier childhood for my daughter than I had. At all costs, I wanted to keep her safe, away from anyone that could ever hurt her.

I wish I could say I worked on all the previous traumas I had experienced before becoming a mother, but instead, I put them all on the shelf and put my “mom” hat on by putting my daughter first. I had no idea how these traumas would revisit throughout my lifetime, but one thing is for sure – we can run, but we can’t hide forever. They would catch up to me eventually.

The crib and baby room were all set up with Lion King, filled with baby girl things, and a white rocking chair so we could rock our days and nights together. I was never more ready to take on the responsibility of being a mother. Of course, the world might have said differently; after all, I wasn’t married, and I was having a bi-racial baby out of wedlock as a white woman. I didn’t have a job, and I didn’t have a high school diploma or even a car. But I had me to give to her, and in my eyes, that was the most important thing. I knew the rest would all work itself out.

On June 18, 1994, I brought a beautiful baby girl, Keila, into the world. She weighed 7lbs 4 oz, and she was 21 inches long. She was perfect! She had all her fingers and toes and a head of brown hair. But unfortunately, I remember she was born with a touch of jaundice, and they had to keep her in the hospital two extra days after I was released to go home.

I remember going home without her, and I had a total meltdown. I went into her bedroom, shut the door, and collapsed on her bedroom floor. I will never forget this feeling as long as I live. I sobbed harder than I ever had in my entire life. I wanted my baby to be with me, but they wouldn’t let me bring her home for a few more days. I was heartbroken.

This triggered some powerful feelings about my birth mother. Did she feel like this when she left the hospital without me? How did she overcome that sadness that seemed to take my breath away? How did she cope or manage life with losing her baby? Did she block it all out? She “loved me so much,” so she must be distraught at my loss?

Thoughts plagued my mind about her pregnancy with me. I wished I could find her to ask her all about it. I couldn’t imagine leaving my baby at the hospital to never returning for her. The pain I experienced for the two days we were apart would kill me if it lasted a lifetime. This experience showed me a glimmer of what birth mothers must feel when choosing adoption when they depart without their baby. If they feel this way, imagine what the baby feels at no choice of their own?

A few days passed, and I could pick Keila up from the hospital. Finally, I had something to live for because she needed me, and I needed her. She loved me, and I loved her. I can, without a doubt, share that June 18, 1994, was the best day of my life. It was the first time I looked into the eyes of someone’s DNA connected to me in my whole life. I was amazed at the beautiful baby girl looking back at me.

We got into the swing of things, and I made one of the best choices of my life. First, I returned to school to graduate and get my high school diploma. Then, I started applying for based on your income apartments in the hope of getting approved for a two-bedroom for Keila and me. I was on public assistance and donated plasma every week, sometimes several times, to afford to pay for diapers and wet wipes.

While I embraced being a mother, the alcohol component picked up shortly after giving birth. Still, I managed it better than before, limiting my drinking to the evenings when Keila was already in bed. It was still hard for me to sit with myself sober, and that is when my past problems would try to come to visit. A drink or two or three would settle my mind from wandering back and overthinking my past by helping me fall asleep each night.

I started attending Family Care Center, a high school for young single mothers. There were many great things about this school, but one of them was that all the mothers could take their babies to school with them. In addition, they had social workers, a daycare, a dentist, and doctors’ offices on-site with the school. The bus picked us up each day and dropped us back off. I loved attending Family Care Center because Keila could come with me, and I could check on her throughout the day.

I was 21 years old, and Keila was around nine months old when I asked Patricia again, “Are you sure you don’t have any information on my birth mother? I want to find her!”

I was expecting the same answer she gave me my entire life; however, I got another one this time that would change my entire life’s trajectory.

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

Don’t forget that I’m streaming my articles on several audio platforms for your listening convenience! πŸ‘‡πŸΌ

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*The views and opinions expressed in this article, memoir, and podcast 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

Chapter 8. Transporting Trauma – Finding Purpose in the Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 8.

Transporting Trauma

Trigger Warning // Suicide // Physical Abuse

Approximately 6-8 hours after trying to leave this world, I woke up with a hazy and sluggish feeling all over my body and mind. I remember lying in bed thinking, “Damn, I woke back up! Wasn’t I supposed to be meeting the Devil at the gates of hell right about now?” I could hardly believe it.

Looking back over that time in my life, one of the most shocking things is that hell seemed like a better solution than living in my reality on earth. That is tremendous because I knew I was going to hell for everything I had done to deserve it, but I didn’t care because I was drowning in my sorrow. I just wanted the pain to go away.

Does this give the world a small glimpse of how significant my adoptee pain was? Possibly, for those who want to try to understand. I was crushed that I woke back up, I didn’t want to wake back up, and I had this enormous feeling of guilt that came over me that I couldn’t even kill myself right. I felt like a total failure despite all the other feelings I was dealing with.

I quickly clung to the bottle and drank myself out of my misery morning, noon and night. Drinking alcohol was the only way I could survive the pain I was feeling. For 27 years, It allowed me not to feel but opened a whole world of other problems that would have lifelong consequences.

Most people won’t understand this, but at times over the last five years, I have been presented with a question on various social media platforms that says, “If you were to tell your younger self something, what would you tell them?”

Sadly, the first thing that always comes to my mind, even at 47 years old, is “Take more pills!”

Still, to this day, I feel like if I could have found a way out, I wouldn’t have had to live with a lifetime of excruciating pain. I wouldn’t have passed on my pain to my kids and had so much to recover from. But instead, I would just be gone, with no legacy to leave other than a dead, deeply troubled adoptee and one that is nothing more than a menace to society.

However, the universe had other plans for me. I wish I could say I figured this out in my teenage or young adult years; however, it would be a long time before I understood this.

You would think this experience “changed me,” but what changed me the most is that I tried to kill myself, and not one single person knew about it or noticed. It felt like no one on the earth cared about me. It’s a hard pill to swallow. I didn’t “get better,” but I continued to spiral out of control.

I ended up taking Giovanni back, and our relationship was rocky, but we both confessed our love for one another. I won’t go into all the details of every dynamic of abuse I experienced with him, but it was a lot. We were both troubled and were constantly getting arrested for fighting.

Eventually, I ran away so much and continued to break the law that I found myself in a group home called Foundation 2. During my time in Foundation 2, I remember liking the structure there, just like I did when I was locked in drug and alcohol rehab. I remember staying several months, going home, and acting out repeatedly.

Unfortunately, Giovanni was back in jail, and we were separated again. I know Patricia looked at our time apart as a positive thing, but all I wanted was to be with Giovanni. When I say I loved him, I love him.

When I was 16, Patricia started talking about moving to Lexington, Kentucky, because she had a friend who lived there. So she planned a visit to look at jobs and the city. We arrived, spent five days sightseeing around Lexington, and saw the beautiful horse country we would soon call home.

I remember having mixed feelings about the move because I would be leaving the state where I hoped to find my birth mother. Wouldn’t it be more challenging for us to find one another states away? But, of course, I knew the answer was yes, and I always wondered if this was part of why Patricia wanted to leave Iowa because I never stopped asking about finding my birth mother. I would never give up on finding her, no matter what state I was in.

I was also conflicted because I would be leaving Giovanni and I have always felt like that was part of Patricia’s plan. While he was locked up, we wrote each other letters constantly, and I started to keep a collection of his letters in a big box, and after some time, it filled up. I would read them repeatedly, and they were my most prized possession. We would sometimes write to each other daily, sometimes receiving multiple letters each day. We hoped we would be back together again one day, and until then, we knew that even when distance separated us, we would always be in each other’s hearts.

I hadn’t seen Thomas, Laura, Melanie, or the boys in a long time when I stopped going for weekend visits. Our time spent together tapered off into nothingness.

We packed up a 22-foot U-Haul and arrived at our new three-bedroom home in Lexington, Kentucky, in the Fall of 1991. I didn’t know a single person in the whole town, but I was always great at making new friends anywhere I went.

I think Patricia had hoped I would turn a new page removing Giovanni from my life and luring me away from Cedar Rapids, where I was always in nonstop trouble combined with constant alcohol use. The thing is, I was still dealing with all the same issues, but the only thing that had changed was my surroundings.

I was 17 years old, in a new city, and she was back working the night shift again. The summer of 1992 rolled around, and the new Dr. Dre – The Chronic album had just come out. What did that mean? If you don’t know, never mind.

It was about to be on and popping in the city of Lexington because one thing is for sure, I was the life of the party anywhere I went, and I was always ready to get the party popping!

I was expected to enroll in an all-new high school that was predominantly black, and being a white girl from Iowa, and I started to make friends one by one. However, my time at Bryan Station Sr. High was short-lived. Patricia must have forgotten that I hated regular school, so I dropped out within a month, and at 18 years old, I was a high school dropout. However, I attended long enough to make new friends, and I made friends with some neighbors close to me.

I think my mind did sway a bit regarding the nagging desire to find my birth mother, but I feel that’s only because I was in a new city with new friends and new things to do. The deep-rooted abandonment was always there, but drinking daily forced it to take a back seat.

I remember going to my first party with my friend Dorthy who lived down the street from me. I didn’t know her that well, but after a while, I learned that we ended up at a crack house in East End. I remember being offered the drug and trying it. I would do anything to get out of my mind. It didn’t affect me, so I tried some more. I drank until the sun came down, sitting in a crack house surrounded by people I didn’t even know. I wanted to belong and be part of something, so I was along for the ride.

While the evening would wind down, everyone at the party was just getting started. So I decided I wanted to split, and although we didn’t have cell phones back then, I was pretty sure I could walk home and find my way.

I set off to walk home through East End and ended up waking up in the Fayette County Detention Center with a public intoxication charge. At 18 years old, I graduated from juvenile jail to the big house, and I remember not feeling anything about this reality. Once again, I felt disconnected from my body and did not care if I lived, died, or woke up in jail.

The internal hate I had for myself only traveled with me to Kentucky. While I know Patricia thought she was doing the right thing, my troubles only followed me, but now I was an adult, and my actions had real-life consequences. I called some of my neighbor kids who were friends of mine who had a brother that was 19 years old, and they came and got me out of jail. I was drinking the same day and didn’t learn a damn thing.

Patricia kept nagging me to get my GED or go back to school, but I shot down every attempt at a conversation, expressing that there was no point in returning to school because, in my mind, the world was going to end. I was profoundly depressed but masked every bit of this with drugs and alcohol. Finally, she nagged me to start therapy, and at 18, I decided to try it.

During round 382 of therapy, I sat in a new therapist’s office again. But unfortunately, of all the feelings I had pondered deep inside about my birth mother, my sadness, grief, and loss still never made their way into the appointment with the new therapist.

When we make our adoptive parent’s “dreams come true” to be parents, our feelings of sadness are automatically stuffed deep inside. It’s known in a very subtle way that feelings that aren’t positive, thankful, or grateful aren’t welcome. For me, there was a block there, and I don’t know how else to explain why adoption or the implications of separation trauma were once again never discussed. The therapist never brought it up or addressed it, so neither did I. To this day, I can’t wrap my brain around why adoption was never discussed in all the therapist’s offices I sat in throughout my whole life!

The therapists detected that I was suicidal and that I had no hope for the future. Duh. I did express that I never got along with Patricia, and I felt comfortable sharing with her all the things Mark did to me growing up and why I decided to stop going to Thomas’s house. This was the first time I had shared this with anyone.

She encouraged me to call Thomas and Laura while I was in her office to tell them about the childhood sexual abuse Mark is responsible for. She also wanted me to tell Patricia, so I did.

While speaking to Thomas and Laura on speaker phone, I expressed to them vague details of my experience with Mark, and they said they didn’t know why he would do such a thing, but they would reach out to his therapist and bring this topic to the table to get him some help. They speculated that maybe Mark was being sexually abused by the catholic priest at the church they used to drop us off at? No one knew, but they assured me they would address it with Mark. I didn’t get any resolve out of this other than bringing a secret to light and finally telling them what had happened. No one asked how this impacted me in my life or if I needed help with healing.

A big piece of me feels they want to blame my outbursts and acting out on the childhood sexual abuse alone, omitting adoption and separation from my birth mother is even a thing. How convenient of them.

Everyone seemed to sweep this under the rug, and we never discussed it again. Finally, when I told the new therapist I thought the world would end, she prescribed me Prozac and sent me on my way. I took the Prozac for a week and threw it in the trash. I never went back to that therapist again.

Not long after moving to Lexington, I learned Giovanni was arrested for burglary, kidnapping, and aggravated assault and sentenced to 20 years in prison in California. We still wrote off and on and professed our love for one another, but we tapered apart due to his lengthy prison sentence. He served 16 years, got out, and is currently back in prison as a persistent felony offender serving federal time.

I ended up in another abusive relationship that resulted in a broken nose, stitches between my eyes, and two black eyes. When people say you attract what you are, they aren’t lying. I felt horrible about myself, and I attracted horrible men.

Again, I numbed the pain with more drugs and alcohol. I was farther away from finding my birth mother than I ever had been, and I had little hope I would ever find her. Deep-down sadness and despair were masked with a fake smile and a party over at Pam’s!

Unfortunately, I had never healed from all the trauma I had experienced. Even transporting me to a new state, with a new school and new friends, my unresolved, unhealed separation and adoption trauma wounds transported with me. However, the other traumas from Diego, Mark, and Giovanni compacted the root traumas. I was a walking dead woman, feeling hollow and empty inside.

At 18 years old, I continued to find my way in the party lifestyle and made severe mistakes and bad choices along the way. I was going down a path of destruction, and most days, I didn’t care if I lived or died. I hated myself, the world, and everyone in it. I had so much anger and rage it consumed me. However, I always felt like my life would end early, and at this stage, I hoped it would.

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

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*The views and opinions expressed in this article, memoir, and podcast 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

Chapter 7. Goodbye World – Finding Purpose in the Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 7.

Goodbye World

Trigger Warning // Physical Assault // Violence // Suicide

Eventually, we left the small two-bedroom Westover Road apartment. Instead, we moved to a bigger three-bedroom townhome closer to Lyndale Mall.

My relationship with Giovanni became my whole world, filling a massive hole in my heart from losing my birth mother. Finally, having someone I loved who said they loved me back was a fantastic feeling.

Patricia forbid us from seeing one another, just like she forbid me from seeing Tasha. The more she tried to control what I did or who I hung around, the more I rebelled. She would sometimes come home, and Giovanni or Tasha would be hiding in my bedroom closet. They knew how to climb in, and out of my bedroom window, so we didn’t sweat it. We were still going to spend time together regardless.

When Thomas got wind of me dating someone black, he sat me down and talked with me. “Back in my days, we didn’t mix races, but if you’re happy, I’m happy.” And that was the end of his talk about race-mixing! He didn’t shame me or threaten me with hell. I could respect that times were different when he was coming up, and I appreciated his sentiments of hoping I was happy at the end of the day.

About five weeks after being released from drug and alcohol rehab, I learned I was pregnant. I shared the news with Giovanni, and we wrapped our heads around the reality we would have a baby together. We both became excited, and then I had to break the news to Patricia. Her initial reaction was that of tears, of course. But after she overcame the initial shock, she also wrapped her head around the idea she would have a grandbaby.

Little by little, I started to buy baby items, and I stored them away in a small corner of the spare room we had in the townhouse. Deep inside, I became excited at the thought of being a mother. I would never give my baby away as my birth mother gave me away. Because I knew what that deep-rooted pain felt like, I would never inflict that abandonment on my child.

As the weeks passed, I became attached to my baby, and the thought of being a mother, even at the age of 15, this was something I was ready to take on. I stopped drinking alcohol and using drugs right away. No more fighting or running the streets like I was used to. Finally, I had something to look forward to.

I got a job at the local Pizza Hut by the mall and would walk back and forth to work each day. At this point, high school was almost a non-factor, but I would agree to go back to Metro, but this agreement was short-lived. On a Saturday night in the summer of 1989, I learned Giovanni had gotten in a fight and got arrested at a bar in Czech Village on the S.W. side of Cedar Rapids. It was all over the news and in the newspaper the next day.

I remember being upset because I had no idea how long he would be gone, but being pregnant worried me. However, he was released after a few days after appearing in court. This resulted in him being put on probation, and he would turn himself into a probation officer every month. If he did anything else to break the law, he would be sent away for at least three, possibly five years.

While our relationship seemed to get stronger because we were going to start a family together, Giovanni’s temper and rage only increased as time passed. He became paranoid and would accuse me of things I didn’t do, which resulted in frequent physical attacks that I just took. I never fought him back because I knew it would not end well.

One Friday evening, when I was approx. 12 weeks pregnant, he accused me of messing around with someone he knew. However, I denied it because it wasn’t true. He drew his fist back and punched me in my chest as hard as he could. I remember falling back, losing consciousness for a short time, and gasping for air, but he knocked the wind out of me. As soon as I thought he might have some sympathy for me, he choked me, making me admit to talking to the guy. But, again, I didn’t admit it because it wasn’t true.

I started to cry, and after a few minutes, he started to apologize for what he had done. Then, he started to get emotional, telling me how much he loved me and that it would break his heart if I were ever with someone else. Then, he stopped with the paranoid accusation and started to get sympathetic. I was in pain because the chest blow completely knocked me out for a short time. I had red marks around my neck from him choking me.

After he spent some time apologizing, telling me how much he loved me, I turned the page and acted as if these events didn’t happen. But he said he loved me and stayed, which trumped all the emotional and physical abuse he inflicted on me.

The following week after these events, at 15 weeks, I started spotting, and my chest continued to hurt beyond my ability to handle the pain. Finally, I found myself in the Emergency Room with Patricia, where the nurses and doctors asked me what happened to cause the chest injury.

I covered for Giovanni at all costs because only a snitch would tell the truth of what happened. So I told them I got in a fight a few days earlier, and that was all I said.

They did some x-rays and learned I had a periosteal contusion of my chest bone from Giovanni punching me. They also did some tests and learned that the spotting was from me miscarrying the baby. I asked Patricia to please reach out to Giovanni at the hospital so he could be with me.

Not long after, I asked Patricia for a few minutes of privacy. Giovanni entered the hospital room, where I was all alone. He hugged me, told me he loved me and would be outside waiting for me. Soon a doctor came in asking Giovanni to have a seat in the waiting room, and he performed a DNC, ultimately removing the baby’s remnants from the womb. I remember becoming deeply sad and in tears, and I hated that experience to the core of my being.

Giovanni never said he was sorry, and I never connected the dots at the time that there was a very significant chance that his actions of physical abuse could have very well caused the miscarriage. I think that reality was too much for me to bare on top of losing the baby. So I tucked it away and acted like it didn’t exist. It was my secret, and I never told anyone close to me either. Besides, I was scared to lose Giovanni; he was my whole world.

The miscarriage triggered some emotions in me that heightened more feelings about my birth mother. I remember a sadness set in like never before, and I would think of her. Was this how she felt when she lost me to adoption? Was she sorrowful? No one talked to me about grieving the loss of the baby I miscarried, yet I was expected to move on and never think about them again. Is that what my birth mother was told when she gave me up for adoption? Thoughts of her plagued my mind, as well as thoughts of the baby I would have given birth to less than six months away.

The days and weeks following the miscarriage became a blur to me. My sadness spiraled out of control. I was heavyhearted and grieving like I never imagined.

I had noticed a distance between Giovanni and me, but it was more a time distance on his part. We didn’t spend as much time together or see one another after I lost the baby. But then, I would learn that Giovanni was seeing someone else and finding this news out crushed me. I also learned he had slept with Tasha, who was my closest friend at the time. So I confronted him, only for him to completely deny the accusations.

While we tapered off from seeing one another like we originally had, my alone time increased because now, not only did I lose the baby, but I felt like Giovanni was slipping from my grasp. My friendship with Tasha was over because she told me it was true; she slept with Giovanni. I was broken-hearted and couldn’t seem to shake it. I dreamed of my birth mother daily, sometimes hourly. I wish she were close, and I wish I knew where she was. She would make this all better, but the painful reality was that she was nowhere around.

Just a few months before my 16th birthday, I decided I wanted to end my life. I didn’t have the energy to write a note. I didn’t have the strength to ask for help. I didn’t have anyone to talk to. So I went into Patricia’s room, grabbed a handful of her pills from her nightstand, and laid back in my bed. This was one of the darkest times of my life.

Why did I decide to share this piece of my story? Because at 47 years old, I genuinely believe the separation trauma from the loss of my birth mother impacted every area of my life. As long as therapists, counselors, adoptive parents, and others want to sweep this reality under the rug, adoptees will continue to be negatively impacted as I have been and so many of my fellow adoptees.

The abandonment I have felt my whole life has run deep to the core, and I believe I felt it in my subconscious memory and every fiber of my being. I believe that every decision I made growing up was a reflection of this trauma. I don’t have a fluffy adoption story that everyone wants to hear. I have a real story, and I want people to understand how abandonment and separation trauma from our biological mothers can impact us long-term.

I always share that I’m not into dishing out feel-good juice. I’m into dishing out the truth. I promised myself that I would always be true to myself and walk in my truth even when it might be uncomfortable for others. So this is why I am sharing MY TRUTH. This is not only for me, but so my fellow adoptees know they aren’t alone in feeling how they feel. They need to know they aren’t crazy. What’s crazy is removing babies from their mothers, expecting them to not have lifelong consequences. Adoptees are dying from the pain. If we want to make changes within the adoption arena, we have to stop softening our realities! My audible memoir is my adoptee reality.

I will never forget taking all the pills, swallowing five at a time with big gulps of water, taking at least 30 pills, if not more, hoping I could finally go to sleep and never wake again. This was because the pain I felt was too great and too much to feel. Finally, I truly felt I had nothing to live for, so I took the pills and nodded off to sleep.

Goodbye, world, were some of my last thoughts. I rocked myself to sleep all alone, as I usually did. Something about rocking made me feel close to my birth mother, and that’s all I wanted to be close to her in my last moments of life. I always wonder if she sat in a rocking chair pregnant with me?

During my last thoughts, I pondered with deep, heartbreaking sadness and tears streaming down my face soaking my pillow, that I would never get to look face to face with the woman I had dreamed of my whole life, my birth mother.

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

Don’t forget that I’m streaming my articles on several audio platforms for your listening convenience! πŸ‘‡πŸΌ

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*The views and opinions expressed in this article, memoir, and podcast 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

Chapter 6. Twisted Love – Finding Purpose in The Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 6.

Twisted Love

Trigger Warning // Physical Assault // Violence // Suicide

Now that I was no longer visiting the Rodriguez’s house, I had more free time on my hands most days. At this stage of my life, Patricia was still working the night shift, and when she was home, she slept all day. We rarely saw one another, but when we did, we fought consistently. My feelings of annoyance and unhappiness around her only increased. I was repulsed by her. I continued to ask her when I could find my birth mother, only to get the same response, “We don’t have enough money for an attorney, but when we do, we will try to get the closed records opened.” The less I had to be in Patricia’s presence, the better.

With Patricia working the night shift, I occasionally had friends over to party when she was at work. I would kick everyone out before she was supposed to get off, and sometimes I would leave myself. I was clearly out of control, and at 15 years old, I only had a few things on my mind, finding my birth mother, living up to the expectations of being bad, and partying hard.

I would make copies of Patricia’s car keys, hide them, and when I needed to get somewhere or wanted to joy ride, I would steal her car, sometimes even stealing it from her job in the middle of the night. She would get off work at 7 AM, and her car would be gone from the hospital parking lot. I taught myself how to drive and had endless keys made so I could escape by wheels when I wanted to. I acquired several grand theft auto charges along the way and only added these charges to the wall of shame, adding to the list of reasons for my badness. I definitely won the heathen of the year award every single year.

I was also a liar and a thief, and I didn’t care who I hurt. Did these traits come from my experiences being groomed by the Rodriguez family? Or did they come from the profound reality that my life was built on a bed of lies, normalizing the very concept of lying? Were they rooted in me acting out from separation trauma, compacted by the trauma I witnessed in my adoptive homes? Was I really just an awful and bad person? Could it be a combination of them all? The good adoptee was nowhere in sight; she was dead and gone, never to return.

I was invincible and entirely out of touch with my body, mind, and soul. It’s almost as if I was hollow inside, soulless. Feeling feelings were out of the question. But, on the other hand, I was a runner and always kept it moving. 99.9% of the time, no adult in my life knew where I was or could keep up with me. I wholeheartedly believe that not having a birth story, or roots planted anywhere made me feel like I wasn’t alive, which flipped a switch on the reality that dying was no big deal. It’s impossible to feel alive, when you feel like you were never born.

No birth story can impact adoptees significantly, but the world never listens to us. There were times in my teenage years that I just wanted to die. I wanted someone to kill me, and I would instigate fights in hopes that my heartache and pain would all be gone. Rage continued to build up, and I hated the world and damn near everyone in it.

I remember walking down the street on the S.E. side of town in Cedar Rapids, and at 15 years old, I found the boy’s home, where teenage boys lived who had been removed from their own homes for various reasons. Some broke the law, and some were abandoned by their parents. They would sneak other girls in and out the windows and me occasionally. I always felt connected to them, even if it was just friends. We shared some of the same wounds, specifically the mother wound. It could have been a trauma bond, but we never talked about it. We just knew we were kindred spirits of sorts.

I would also hang out with my friend Shante’, who lived on 5th Avenue on the S.E. Side. She had a fully present and welcoming mom, two sisters, and five brothers who felt like the closest thing to a family I would ever experience. I was drawn to them, especially now I wasn’t going to the Rodriguez home. We could sit on Shante’s front porch and be smack dab in the middle of all drama and the happenings on the S.E. side of Cedar Rapids.

One particular day, I was approached by a girl named Renee, who physically attacked me because she heard Johnson gave me a ride home from the Rodriguez home back when I was being physically attacked. She obviously didn’t understand he helped me and thought it was more. We started fighting, throwing blows tumbling on the ground, and a few minutes into it, she got up and walked away while blood was everywhere.

Where was the blood coming from? I didn’t feel anything, and that’s because she had a razor blade in her hand. She sliced my face, forehead, and my neck. To say blood was gushing everywhere would be an understatement. I didn’t feel anything, but I knew I needed to get to the hospital ASAP. One of the many razor cuts was within a few centimeters from my carotid artery. Shante went with me to the hospital and stayed with me until Patricia arrived. I had over 100 stitches and lacerations everywhere and still have hidden scars to this day. The doctor said I was lucky to be alive.

Unfortunately, the South East side was the wrong side of town, but it was the side of town Metro High School was on, so I would take the city bus, get dropped off, and make an appearance at Metro so I could say I went. Typically, I never stayed for an hour, no one noticed, and I never did a damn bit of work. Instead, I walked through like some celebrity, said “Hi” to my friends, and walked out the back door. After, I would walk the streets until I found someone I knew to hang out with. It didn’t matter what time it was or what day; at 15 years old, I felt like I was born to get the party started.

Soon I would run into a guy named Giovanni Rockwell, aka Big Rocky. Giovanni was just released from Juvenile Jail because he had reached 18 years of age, legally an adult at the time, and he aged out of the system. I had no idea what he did to get locked up in the first place, but I did know we had a spark between us that I had never experienced before. We took a liking to one another and started to spend time together.

After learning more about Big Rocky, I learned his nickname came from his last name, but it was also after the Movie Rocky because, in Cedar Rapids, Big Rocky was well known for never losing a fight. Instead, he was unforgettably known for knocking anyone out who crossed him in any way. No one wanted to be on the wrong side of Big Rocky.

I was young and naΓ―ve, and when Big Rocky took an interest in me, I bit on to the attention he gave me, and before long, we were in a relationship. We would meet at his friend’s houses and sneak into our homes, frequent parks, or Lyndale Mall. The more time we spent together, I learned about the jealous streak he had, but at the time, I didn’t recognize it as jealousy. Instead, the 15-year-old me recognized it as LOVE.

The first time Giovonni appeared to be jealous was when we were at the mall, and some other guy looked at me, and Giovanni thought I was looking at him. He insisted we knew each other, and I had no clue who the guy was. It was a random glance because we happened to be in the same placeβ€”nothing more, nothing less. He took me outside, pushed me up against a brick wall, pulled my hair, and tried to force me to admit I knew the guy. I promised him I didn’t know him! He let go of my hair and threatened that if I ever looked at another guy again, I was going to get it.

I had no idea what would come of my relationship with Giovanni, but sadly I didn’t need to look at another guy to “get it.” But unfortunately, that was only the beginning of years of emotional, mental, and sexual abuse. Giovanni had anger issues, and I was among the many receivers of his anger and rage. Nevertheless, I was willing to overlook all the usual “red flags” to be loyal to him for loving me.

We spent a lot of time together, and even when we weren’t 21, which was the legal age for drinking alcohol, we could get alcohol and weed, which were always available. So we got tipsy regularly, and the more time I spent in the streets with Giovanni, the more Patricia would stir, wondering where I was. Finally, she couldn’t control me anymore and couldn’t find me even if she tried. I would only go home long enough to shower, change clothes, and leave again.

At times, I had the police or detectives searching for me for fighting or breaking the law, which added a whole new layer to being a runner. I would hide in different friends’ attics and homes until, eventually, the law caught up with me. I woke up in Juvenile Jail more times than I could count, and it never stopped me from being a menace.

Spending so much time with Giovanni, my love and loyalty to him were intense. He was mine, and I was his, and at all costs, we weren’t going to let anyone break us up, but as soon as Patricia caught on that I had a boyfriend, she did everything in her power to try. Her famous words were, “Is he black?” which seemed to be all she cared about. When I expressed that “yes, he’s black,” she would go into the bible saying we aren’t supposed to date outside our race, and if we do, we are going to hell!

This only damaged my inner being more than it was already damaged because now that I knew I was going to hell for dating someone who was a different race than me, my feelings of badness only increased. She made me feel less than, lower than the low. Then, as if my feelings of low self-esteem and self-hate couldn’t get any worse, Patricia repeatedly threw scriptures at me and damned me to hell. I guess I was going to hell then because I wasn’t leaving Giovanni alone for anything.

Sadly, being an adoptee, I have discovered more profound thoughts about this topic. How was I dating someone outside my race when I didn’t even know what my race was? Being adopted, I always had this deep-rooted fear that I would date a biological brother or a cousin, which is something non-adoptees can’t comprehend. This taught me to tap into something that I couldn’t ignore.

I had to mentally look at everyone who looked a little like me as a biological family member because I didn’t know they weren’t! However, to bypass this, I learned that dating someone who looked NOTHING like I did was a safe zone to be in. Dealing with a lifetime beginning with secrecy and lies is much deeper than anyone thinks. It impacts every area of our lives and the choices we make all the way back to the beginning!

The flip side is that Patricia repeatedly pointed the finger at me and told me I was going to hell for dating outside my race, but she forgot she signed on the dotted line that cosigned me, never knowing my ethnicity or race! Talk about a mental mind fuck. It was apparent I was on the opposite side of the tracks from this God character, and no matter what I did, I was not going to be good enough! Ever! This wasn’t the least helpful to me; actually highly damaging. So I might as well pull up my bad bitch shoes even higher, and I decided to wear them proudly and didn’t care who I pissed off or hurt. Sadly, I didn’t even care about myself.

One afternoon in 1989, I decided to go home to take a shower and change clothes. However, Patricia insisted I go to turn myself into Drug and Alcohol Rehab at Mercy Hospital. So, at 15 years old, I went but resisted the entire way. I didn’t need drug or alcohol rehab or help, nor did I want the help, but just like Melanie being removed by the tough love people, now it was my turn. Patricia never once took accountability that her actions could have impacted Melanie and me in a traumatic way, nor did she ever acknowledge her part or the adoption component to my behavior.

I spent 30 days of strict routine by waking up at 5 AM daily, walking across the street to the track at McKinley School to start some laps to get the morning going. Then, for the rest of my time in rehab, I was in a locked facility and couldn’t get out if I wanted to. However, there was a warmness about the structure in rehab. A hot meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, no Patricia or her emotional outbursts, and no Mark to torment me and molest me. I made friends and embraced the 30 days. It was much more peaceful than being around Patricia or her outbursts or being sexually abused by Mark.

Not long after I arrived, I remember them handing me the Alcoholics Anonymous big book, and to get out in 30 days, I had to start reading and applying the 12 Steps to my life. In a nutshell, I had to find God.

“Oh, you mean I had to find the same God who was already sending me to hell for various reasons?” I said to myself. Ah, gotcha. Not one person or trained professional asked about my childhood, adoption, or how it felt to be adopted. No one talked about the childhood trauma of growing up in abusive homes. No one wanted to hear about the childhood sexual abuse I had repressed from Mark. Or the suicide attempts from Patricia. No one asked what it feels like to be lost, searching for clues to your beginnings. No one cared why I used drugs and alcohol; they just wanted me to stop using them, and, like this God character, they shamed me for using them.

The responsibility to “find God” was placed on me, along with forgiving all the people who had hurt me. This told me that my heartache and pain were irrelevant, and it didn’t matter. It told me I didn’t matter. It told me my traumatic experiences weren’t real, and my feelings about being adopted were insignificant.

No options, no choices, Just find God.

My experience with God goes much deeper and more profound than “Just having a bad church experience.” God was responsible for shame, punishment, belittlement, and religious trauma, which began in my childhood before I ever stepped foot inside the doors of a church. And my adoption experience goes much deeper than, “She just had a bad adoption experience.”

Where was God when I was being sexually abused by Mark? Where was God when I was watching Patricia lay in the street to try to kill herself and lock herself in her room trying to kill herself? Where was God when my birth mother decided to hand me over to strangers? Where was God when he knew the agony I felt searching for my birth mother every day of my life? Where was God when I was being physically and sexually abused by Diego and Giovanni?

He must have been sitting back watching the whole thing, which let me know God wasn’t looking out for me, but now I had to put everything I had into him to get out of this shit hole? Fake it till you make it was my new motto, especially if my freedom was involved. Finally, I found God all right, long enough to get out of drug and alcohol rehab to freedom.

I pretended I found God, graduated from the program, was released, and was drinking alcohol and using drugs again within the hour. I reached out to Giovanni, and we got together and made up for lost time from being separated for 30 days. Giovanni showed me love that I didn’t feel anywhere else; sometimes, it was because he showed up consistently. The other part was that he told me he loved me and spent time with me.

When I was growing up, loyalty was everything. I remember thinking, “If my birth mother LOVED ME SO MUCH she handed me to strangers, and leaving was considered LOVE, then Giovanni must love me because he stayed.” This thinking also sparked me to prove my love to him because if love was leaving, I wanted to show Giovanni I loved him by staying.

It didn’t matter how abusive he became; he kept showing up. That was more than I got from my birth mother, who abandoned me and never showed up. Trying to make sense of my biological mother giving me away to strangers because she loved me will forever taint my view of love. This was twisted love at its finest and completely wrecked my ability to view what real true love is. It’s taken a lifetime to unravel the roots of my adoptee experience. Even today, at 47 years old, I’ve accepted love as a topic that isn’t for me.

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

Don’t forget that I’m streaming my articles on several audio platforms for your listening convenience! πŸ‘‡πŸΌ

πŸ“± iTunes – https://apple.co/3tKzT5f

🌎 Google – https://bit.ly/3JP6NY0

🎧 Spotify – https://spoti.fi/3Ny6h35

πŸ“¦ Amazon – https://amzn.to/3JScoga

β˜•οΈβ€“ Buy Me A Coffee https://bit.ly/3uBD8eI

*The views and opinions expressed in this article, memoir, and podcast 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

Chapter 5. Runaway – Finding Purpose in The Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 5.

Runaway

Trigger Warning // Rape, Sexual Assault, Suicide

This will likely be one of the most challenging chapters I will write for my audible memoir. Some of the experiences I had from 12 to 17 years old are hard to digest, talk about and share with close friends, let alone share publicly. This is a whole new ballgame for me. Yet, I feel they are necessary to share because they directly link to my being adopted and why my mentality was the way it was in my pre-teen and teenage years.

Unfortunately, then, the world labeled me as a troubled teen who acted out as a typical rebellion, only increasing my feelings of badness. Adoption was never acknowledged or talked about as a contributing factor. In return, like most adoptees, I was failed and failed miserably.

Melanie packed up all her belongings and moved to Thomas and Laura’s, and I was left behind to stay with Patricia. Soon after she left, Patricia became obsessed with me and everything about me. She didn’t have a life of her own, friends, or hobbies other than sleeping and watching television. I had no other mother and daughter relationships to compare this one too, so I thought her behavior was normal and would frequently ask myself, “Is this how other mothers are with their daughters?”

At 12 years old, Patricia approached me one afternoon and asked me to sit down and talk to her. She had two printed forms she wanted me to sign. One was a Christian Covenant that I had to sign where I agreed not to drink alcohol or do drugs. The other was a Christian Covenant that I would have to sign that I would not have sex until I was married. Me signing the covenants was a promise to her and God that I wouldn’t do these things. In a nutshell, Patricia’s conversation with me was her letting me know that if I choose to do these things, I would be sinning, and God would be very upset with me. Ultimately, he would also send me to hell.

I went to Franklin Middle School, but I despised every minute. Nevertheless, I skated by and soon made it out of 8th grade. I never liked school, but soon I would be expected to go to 9th grade at Washington High School, only to drop out the same day. I refused to go back because I felt terribly out of place. There were too many people I didn’t know, and I experienced intense anxiety in the social setting of public high school.

While never going back to school again would have been a dream come true for me at that time, Patricia didn’t have it. She nagged me to death that I had to do something, and at 13 years old, she had the idea that I attend Metro High School, which was considered an alternative high school for dropouts kids and the kids who didn’t fit into regular school settings. I gave it a whirl, and I felt like I fit in more than the traditional high school; however, there was one problem.

Attending Metro was a better fit for me, but any of the kids who attended Metro were labeled as “bad,” and my feelings of badness were already planted in the core of my being due to being abandoned by my birth mother. This only magnified it, but I began to embrace being viewed as a bad kid, which influenced my decision to own up to the label! But, unfortunately, they hadn’t seen bad yet!

The best part for me about going to Metro for high school is that no one monitored if I went or not. I could show up once or twice a week, and no one would hound me. It gave me the freedom I wanted and got nagging Patricia off my back. I also could go at my own pace with no specific curriculum. If you showed up sometimes and even did a little work, everyone seemed okay with it. Of course, I would rather run the streets than get an education! I was free. That was my jam.

When I got arrested for the first time, I had to get a job to pay the restitution back for the burglary charge. So I started working at the Cedar Rapids Reds ballpark, but it was across town. I would hop on the city bus and arrive during game nights. This was my first job, and it was so much fun! By then, I was 13 years old, soon to be 14.

I made new friends that I worked with, and my circle got wider. Tosha was my age, a girl with who I immediately connected too. Tosha lived in Springville, Iowa, and was a school dropout. Not long after meeting, we became thicker than thieves and ventured out together outside of work. She was the first close friend I had outside of school acquaintances, and she had an untamed spirit about her, which I loved! We became close, and we’re constantly planning our next adventure!

Soon we met two Hispanic sisters at the ballpark named Isabella and Elena Rodriguez. Isabella was 17, and Elena was 21, so they were several years older than us, but they were the big sister type I was attracted to. They had a nurturing spirit about them, which felt safe. Soon they would invite Tosha and me to come to hang out with them at their house.

We would enter the home of the Rodriguez family on a Friday evening, and Mrs. Rodriguez would be at the stove cooking a wonderful meal for her family. Usually, homemade tamales or quesadillas. Hip-hop music played in the background, and the house smelled of a delicious dinner that I wasn’t used to. Everyone could get as much as they wanted when the food was ready, which was a rare treat.

Isabella and Elena had three other siblings, all older brothers named Diego, Mateo, and Andres. Andres was the oldest, and he wasn’t home much. Diego was 19, and Mateo was 17, and I would soon become acquainted with them and was profoundly drawn to them. Elena had her own apartment, so we would visit her also. In addition, each of the Rodriguez kids had friends who came over, which always felt like a considerable celebration.

The Rodriguez family lived together, hung out together, and seemed close. They seemed to take me under their wing. I don’t think they knew why I was so attracted to being at their house. I was drawn in because this is something I didn’t experience at home. My heart was filled knowing I was welcomed into this home, and I wanted to be there as much as possible. At 14 years old, I finally knew what a family felt like. This kept me going back.

The more I hung out with Isabella and Elena, the less I wanted to be home at Patricia’s or at school. Diego and I spent so much time together we started to develop a relationship, and soon he would become my first boyfriend. Finally, someone that loved me. This was even more reason to keep going back to the Rodriguez home. I felt like I finally had a surrogate family of my own. Patricia had no idea where I was, and I only went home every few days to shower and change my clothes long enough to leave again.

I would have been classified a run-a-way, but by then, Patricia was working the night shift, and with me popping in and out, even with me being on probation, she had no grounds to stand on. Patricia working the night shift with a teenager was one of the worst parenting decisions she could have ever made. She kept no tabs on me whatsoever. I know she didn’t think I would stay home like the compliant adoptee. That was not me. I learned to raise hell on earth from others in my life and from my experiences in the streets.

Little did I know, the Friday and Saturday evening “get-togethers” at the Rodriguez home were the beginning of a downward spiral and one I was not prepared to experience at 14 years old. Alcohol was introduced into the evening atmosphere, and I found myself at weekend parties filled with others who were much older than I was. Mrs. Rodriguez would retire to her bedroom for the evening, not to be seen until the following day.

Drinking alcohol would impair my judgment, and so would my adoption story because I desperately wanted to belong somewhere, and the Rodriguez family made me feel like I was a part of them. I had no filter on what crossed over to be an unsafe and harmful environment, and I had no one advocating in my corner to help me see signs of things that shouldn’t be happening.

Soon I would be hooked up with a family who had normalized terrorizing the city of Cedar Rapids. Before I knew it, I was an accomplice and interrogator to some troubling interactions. Diego and Mateo would load up in their decked-out Chevy Nova and hit the streets of Cedar Rapids, but they weren’t looking for fun, only trouble!

I learned what “ganking” was through them, and they labeled themselves “The C.R. Clique!” They had clothes and hats that had their name on them. This was when they had two Chevy Nova’s full of friends and family, myself included, and they cruse the strip on First Avenue, which was the popular thing to do on Friday and Saturday nights in Cedar Rapids.

They would catch a car at a stop light and block them in with both Novas so they couldn’t drive. Then, the Rodriguez family would get out of the Nova and storm the cars, beating everyone who was inside up and stealing their belongings. Then, they would pull off and find another car a few minutes later and repeat these same encounters for hours until they eventually retired home.

I remember being so influenced by this family I jumped right in to partake in the criminal activities; however, I never received a dime of the benefits if they got belongings or money. Instead, I was being used as an accomplice, and I was naΓ―ve enough to participate. I am not proud of my participation and have always been remorseful as I grew up and have come to grips with my part. At the time, Bad welcomed BADDER, and I crossed over into stepping into the shoes of being a part of the The C.R. Clique, and at 14 years old, I embraced my new life proudly. Finally, I belonged.

I would start fighting random people out on the street for no legitimate reason at all, and this deep rage was always brewing that my birth mother never came back for me like I dreamed she would my entire childhood. As a result, I was arrested more times than I can count and on probation repeatedly. As soon as I got off, literally within days, I would get arrested again for fighting or stealing and taken to jail, which resulted in six more months of probation.

You might ask yourself how my mentality and soul could participate in these activities? It was much deeper than that. Due to the root trauma and abandonment from my birth mother, I had a deep enate desire to be a part of a family, to be loved and belong, which was something I didn’t feel with my adoptive parents, Patricia or Thomas. In the Rodriguez family, I would be accepted and do whatever I had to do to FEEL like I belonged, even if horrendous things were happening.

A few short weeks into our relationship, Diego became controlling and abusive. At 14 years old, he would encourage me to drink more and more alcohol, and when I didn’t want to, he pressured me, eventually forcing me by holding me down and pouring it into my mouth. If I closed my mouth, it would spill all over my face. Eventually, he would tie me down on the gravel driveway by sitting on me and slapping my face until I agreed to drink it. If that didn’t work, he would pull my hair and insist, and in some time, it was evident that the only way this was going to go well was if I complied with drinking alcohol when he wanted me to, so I gave in to his demands. Little did I know, this wonderful family I was dying to be a part of had more dark parts that would ultimately impact me for the rest of my life.

One morning after a night of a late-night house party, I woke up foggy and uncertain where I was. Everything was dark and somber, and I didn’t have any clothes on. Then, I saw a glimmer of daylight coming through a crack in the wall, which allowed me a chance to scatter around to try to find my clothes. I was lying on a mattress on the floor in the attic of the Rodriguez home all alone. How the fuck did I get here, I asked myself? Why was I here? What happened up here? I had a sick feeling that something traumatic had happened, but I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what. The feelings of panic came over me. I needed to get out of here.

I found my way to the steps and went downstairs. On Sunday, it was early in the morning, and everyone was still asleep. Tasha was on the couch, and I quietly woke her up. I said, “What happened last night? I woke up in the attic, and I have no memories of getting there?”

Tasha said, “They had a house party, don’t you remember? Diego got you wasted and took you up to the attic and let some of his friends come? Do you remember that happening? Everyone was talking about it, but you passed out.”

“No, I don’t remember it. Who were his friends? I can’t believe he would do that to me,” I expressed to Tosha. She said she wasn’t sure who was up in the attic, but she expressed sympathy for what happened. We all knew what had happened. Not a single person stepped up to help me or protect me. Once again, I was no better than a piece of trash thrown away, just like when my birth mother passed me over to strangers and walked away. I was completely traumatized.

I remember going to the bathroom to take a little alone time to myself, and I will never forget having that moment to look at myself in the mirror and disliking what was looking back at me. I despised that girl. I was traumatized at the thought of what happened last night. I felt disconnected from my body and like I wasn’t a real person, yet only a shell of one, hallow and empty insideβ€”a walking dead girl.

Who was I? Where the fuck did I come from? I have two mothers and two fathers in the world, and none of them were there for me to console me through this time of my life. So as a result, I began to hate myself, and the feelings of badness only multiplied.

I never acknowledged that I was raped by several people that night. It didn’t matter to me that I was in a house with almost all adults older than me, and at 14 years old, I had no business being there. Patricia had no clue where I was, and she damn sure couldn’t keep up with me. Coming to terms with what happened was a struggle because I only blamed myself for drinking too much. For years I told myself that it was all my fault.

I went home, showered and changed, and went right back to Diego’s house the same night. Why would I go back after this happened? THIS IS WHY I AM SHARING THIS PART OF MY STORY!

Do you see how significant this is to my adoptee journey? Do you understand my reasoning for sharing this piece of my story? Do you understand that when your biological mother tosses you to be raised by strangers, it creates a profound wound that impacts your self-esteem and how you view the world? I wanted to belong and be loved so deeply that I allowed these people to violate me again and again. Sadly, this wasn’t a one-time thing.

I had a friend named Johnson, who was 22 years old and frequented the Rodriguez home, and he even stayed there on occasion. He came home on a break in the middle of the day and walked into the Rodriguez brothers, holding me down on the kitchen floor, completely naked. After getting me intoxicated, I tried to fight them off while they raped me. I blacked out because Johnson told me what happened, and only after he told me did bits and pieces started to come back to me.

Johnson yelled at them and broke everything up. He then helped me up and helped me find my clothes. He was kind enough to take me home, and he was the first person in my life that went completely off on how they did not love me or care about me for them to be doing those things to me. He stood up for me when I couldn’t stand up for myself.

He went in the whole ride home on them not being my friends and that I should never go back there again. He also let me know that I wasn’t the only young female they did this to. They did it all the time, and I was just one of the victims who was lured in. In my case, because I had never experienced what a loving family was in my life, my desire to experience that was bigger than anything, even being raped and abused.

After Johnson saw what they did to me, knowing they were doing this to other girls, he stopped going to the Rodriguez house, and finally, after a good year of being heavily involved with the Rodriguez family, I was done too. But the damage was done, and there wasn’t one single adult in my life I could share these things with, especially my adoptive parents.

What would Patricia think? I violated both Christian covenants, and that was it. No doubt in my mind I was going to hell now. This whole Christian dynamic of my journey did not help me. On the contrary, it caused me great harm to know that I was disappointing God and upsetting him because of what happened to me. It would be a cold day in hell before I ever confided in Patricia about being raped, and still, to this day, she knows nothing about what happened at the Rodriguez house. Nor does Thomas or Laura. But everyone around wonders why little Pammy has completely lost her shit and rebelled to the most significant extreme.

I still have vivid memories like flashbacks of being involved with the Rodriguez family. I have had to make amends for my actions and deeply struggled with not blaming myself. It wasn’t until my 40’s that I acknowledged that this house was a house of horrors, and this family was filled with criminals.

For so much of my teen life, I just wanted to die. If my birth mother wasn’t coming back to get me, I didn’t want to be here. I left the Rodriguez house still not understanding that they were terrible people and I was just a kid. I internalized the trauma and blamed myself, and even after all these horrors, I still missed the pieces of this family that felt like family to me.

But one thing is for sure; alcohol was my new best friend. It stepped in the gap and helped me not feel the abandonment by my birth mother and the abuse in my adoptive homes. It also helped me not think about the rapes and how I was treated in the Rodriguez home. So I clung to the bottle every chance I could, and soon at 15 years old, I would be introduced to drugs and a whole new boyfriend. A new life was right around the corner.

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

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Chapter 3. Corn Fields for Days – Finding Purpose In The Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 3.

Corn Fields for Days by Pamela A. Karanova

Trigger Warning // Childhood Sexual Abuse

It was Friday at 5PM, it was time to head to Dunkerton, where Thomas and Laura lived, along with Mark, Max, and Mike. It was an hour each way from Patricia’s house in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. They lived in a house in the country, literally smack dab in the middle of cornfields that surrounded our small cul-de-sac with a few other houses.

Thomas worked at John Deere’s, and my interactions with him were pleasant most of the time. He was a hard worker and was dedicated to taking care of his family and doing what he had to do to put food on the table. At times, his commute to and from work was an hour each way, and even in the cold, brutal Iowa winters, he did what he had to do to provide for his family.

He took pride in taking us on summer vacations and loading us up in the big blue van with the pop-up camper. We went to Disney Land, The Grand Canyon, The Petrified Forest, Wisconsin Dells, and The Queen Mary. In addition, we frequented many campgrounds around the USA. My favorite was always Jelly Stone Park.

The big blue van with the pop-up camper.

Before she met Thomas, Laura worked part-time at a local gas station and had the three boys with different dads. Once they married, Thomas raised my three stepbrothers as his own. Laura worked off and on over the years. We never talked about God or prayed before meals, but on Sundays, Laura and Thomas would sometimes drop us off at the local catholic church but would never stay themselves.

Laura had an aura about herself where I never felt a “motherly” love from her; instead, I felt like she was cold as ice towards me. There was nothing warm and fuzzy about her, not as far as I was concerned anyway. We were never close or connected, and she was always around, which stood in the way of me ever having any one-on-one time with Thomas. I don’t ever remember us having 5 minutes of father/daughter time together in all my life. And to be completely honest, I don’t know much about Thomas because he wasn’t a talker.

Melanie and I didn’t have chores at Thomas’s house because our visits were only a weekend in length, creating what felt like a free pass. The visits with them were much different than our home life with Patricia. Thomas and Laura’s house was usually kept clean, dinner was always ready around 5 PM, and I didn’t have to sneak outside and play. There was a structure here, which I knew nothing about at Patricia’s. Most of the time, chaos was at a bare minimum, but I wasn’t around much either. I heard some stories about Thomas being tough on the boys and calling them sissies for wanting to play sports. This never made me feel good that they were treated this way, actually the opposite.

The Brown House in Dunkerton, Iowa

The boys each had their own rooms in the unfinished basement, and Melanie and I shared a room for a long time. Believe it or not, Melanie and I rarely fought at Thomas and Laura’s like we did at Patricia’s. The ring leader and middle man spinning the drama were nonexistent, so things were pleasant.

At one point, as a way to separate Melanie and me as we got older, they created a small “room” for me, which was a closet that fit my twin bed and dresser in it. They hung up sheets from the ceiling to block off the area to create privacy. It was tiny; however, it was the first time in my life I had a space I could call my own. Because of this, I didn’t think twice about it being in a closet.

At Thomas’s house, I could ask to go outside, and most of the time, they said the most prized words that I longed to hear at Patricia’s house, “Have fun!” or “BYE!” I would take off flying out the door and enjoy the freedom every child should have without the sneak effect hanging over my head.

Mike was a year older than me, he enjoyed wrestling in school, and he loved the Dungeons and Dragons game. He was a fun kid and always enjoyed our company when we visited from Cedar Rapids for the weekend. We have some great childhood memories together.

Max was always the favorite of Thomas and Laura. He was three years older than me. He loved Motley Crew, Ozzy Osborne, and Guns N Roses. He was popular in school and seemed to receive favor everywhere he went. However, he was a rebel and seemed to get in trouble more than any of us. He was arrested first and wrecked a car first, but he was still everyone’s favorite.

Mark was five years older than me, so when I was 5, he was 10. There were always some peculiar things about him, like the fantasies he created in his mind about creating another world and his own government named after him. He had a strange personality, and I always felt it from him. He was also in and out of psychiatric hospitals his entire juvenile and early adult life. It ended up being that he came out of the closet as gay, and I am sure that was a difficult journey for him to navigate.

All three of my stepbrothers detasseled corn in the summertime, and that was a tough job. They would remove the immature pollen-producing tassels from the top of the corn, laying them on the ground on by one. They would get up at the crack of dawn and go to the pick-up site to head out to the cornfields for the day. When they returned home, they were bright red from the sun beating on them each day. One thing was for sure, detasseling corn wasn’t for sissies!

I will never forget Mike screaming frantically one evening while running through the woods shouting, “A wild bore is chasing me! Hurry! Run fast!” The reality was that it was dinner time, and he was trying to round us up to get inside! We would play hide and seek in the cornfields or the woods. In Wintertime, we would create igloos and play king of the mountain with the heavy snowfall we received in Iowa.

At some point around the age of five, Mark started to groom me to do sexual favors for him. He was a kid at ten years old; however, I have memories of these interactions up to me being 10-11 years old, where he would have been 15 to 16 years old and old enough to know better! So while things with Laura and Thomas seemed to be better than with Patricia, I lived with this childhood sexual abuse keeping it to myself until I ended up in therapy again at 18 years old, and this was the first time it all came out.

Until then, my lips were sealed because Mark told me not to share it with anyone or else! By the time I reached 12 years old, I had stopped wanting to visit Thomas and Laura because of these activities. When they asked why I didn’t want to come anymore, I didn’t give a definite reason. I kept that secret from all, just like Mark instructed me to do.

L-R Melanie, Max, Pamela, Mark, Mike – In the photo, look how far away I am from Mark, look at his hand, and look at my face. This was only the beginning!

At times, someone in the house did something wrong, and Thomas and Laura would punish us all. For example, we were told to get down on our hands and knees on the basement floor, and while we all five lined up, they beat our asses with a belt one by one. This was terrifying and painful.

We returned home, and Patricia saw that we had marks on our bodies from the belt. She let Thomas and Laura know that we would never return until they agreed to never use a belt on us again. They finally agreed, and after a pause in visits, our visits to Dunkerton would resume.

Thomas and Laura never spoke negatively about Patricia in front of us girls. On the contrary, I always appreciated this because that was the opposite of what Patricia did. It was almost as if she wanted to sow seeds of discord. She did an excellent job at it; however, I would ultimately lose respect for her because she continuously attempted to put a wedge between Thomas and us girls. I put him on a pedestal because he always showed up to pick us up and he took us on vacations and to fun places.

I would run off to frolic in the cornfields, which seemed never-ending. We also had the woods not far where I would have the freedom to run wild until dinner time. No one knew that my escape into nature would be a healing place for me. I was free from Mark and Patricia’s toxicity, and I could pretend the forest was my home. My imagination would run wild by being able to run amongst the forest and the trees. I never wanted to leave.

Freedom always reigned for me outside amongst the trees. We had one substantial gigantic tree outside our house across the street. I climbed to the top and would reach up and touch the sky, and in my mind, I was touching the only close thing I had to my birth mother. I knew she was under the same sky I was, and I longed to be closer to her. So I would hang out at the top, dreaming of her. It was like the sky was my baby blanket growing up, and it made me feel closer to my birth mother, when the reality was I had no idea who she was or where she was. Was she looking for me? Was she thinking of me? I knew it was a matter of time before she returned for me.

I never spoke to Thomas or Laura about knowing I was adopted; however, I know my three stepbrothers knew. I know this because they would get upset with Melanie or me for something; they would shout, “You aren’t our REAL family” or “Blood is thicker than water!.” They would also make fun of us because our city smelled nasty, so they would hurl insults at us from time to time. “They were kids!” shouts the world. Yes, this is true, but it was mean-spirited, and it stuck, especially being adopted.

Little Pammy on the basement steps at the brown house in Dunkerton.

I loved being able to escape into nature and consider that piece of my childhood an essential aspect of why I am the person I am today. Mother Nature was always there even when my earthly mothers didn’t hold up to the expectations I deserved! As early as I can remember, I felt more connected to the trees and the woods than I did any of the people in my life, especially running around barefoot with no shoes on. That was my jam. I loved to get dirty and wet and play in the mud and rain. I had little fear!

I never cared for Laura much and didn’t feel close to her. She was deceptive multiple times and lied to Thomas and us about being a smoker. Even though she let us see her smoke, she wanted us to lie for her to Thomas. She also stepped outside the marriage with Thomas. As a result, I lost respect for her and had little love for her, and felt the coldness in her aura towards me. She also favored Max, and because of this, all the rest of us felt like red-headed stepchildren. And in my case, the adopted red-headed stepchild. Favoring kids destroys kids.

It was Sunday in the blink of an eye, and it was time to go back to Patricia’s house. We wouldn’t see or hear from Thomas or Laura for two weeks. We never kept in touch between the visits or spoke on the phone. They never knew how school was going or what we were up to sports-wise, or activities we completed like dance recitals or plays. I never remember conversations on life lessons at all. They just showed up for the court-ordered visits, every other holiday, and a vacation in the summer.

Thomas was always far away, and because of this, sadly, I don’t feel like I ever had a close relationship with him or a relationship at all. He wasn’t around when Patricia was amid her meltdowns, and world war three was happening inside Patricia’s home. I was dying to know details about the divorce from his perspective. How do you marry someone, adopt two daughters, get divorced a year later and move to another city, and re-marry a year later? Did he know how emotionally unstable Patricia was? If he did, why did he leave us with her?

It would be years before I would get up enough nerve to ask Thomas to get to the bottom of this. But eventually, I would learn the truth from his perspective, and it was a hard pill to swallow. After reality set in, sadly, the pedestal I put him on my whole life changed to a different reality. One that I wasn’t expecting to learn. But ultimately, even when it hurts, it’s the truth that sets us free.

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

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*The views and opinions expressed in this article, memoir, and podcast 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

Chapter 2. Good Adoptee vs. Bad Adoptee – Finding Purpose in The Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 2.

Good Adoptee vs. Bad Adoptee By Pamela A. Karanova

Trigger Warning // Suicide

While my sneak life brought me some fulfillment in my childhood, what was going on inside behind closed doors was something almost no one knew about.

Patricia suffered from untreated manic depressive disorder and what I believe to be schizophrenic episodes. She had manic episodes regularly, and they would be integrated with emotional outbursts that created a very toxic environment. Some days were worse than others, but one thing is for sure, I don’t remember any days where she resembled a happy and healthy mother.

She would get angry with us on a bad day and tie us to the dining room chairs with dish towels. Next, she would tie the towels together to make a longer towel, sometimes several. Finally, she tied them around our waist and our mouths with our hands tied behind our backs. She would leave us there whenever she needed us to be out of her way, sometimes minutes and sometimes hours. No telling what the reason was she did this; it could be because I kept running outside every chance I could to escape or because she needed to take a nap.

She would regularly cry hysterically and complain about how much of a failure she was as a parent. She was sick A LOT! She resented Thomas for leaving her to raise two adopted daughters independently. She was constantly taking prescription medications. She would over-medicate herself as a way to escape her reality. Most of the time, it would make her sleepy, so she was always going to sleep and taking naps, sometimes many times a day. She slept a lot, and throughout my entire childhood, I never remember her having a good day.

I always had this deep-rooted feeling of being flawed because of how sad my mom was all the time. Combining that with the abandonment from my birth mother, my feelings of badness only increased as I grew into my preteen years. “I’m sorry” was something I sometimes said to Patricia a hundred times a day. She and Melanie were constantly fighting about everything, you could imagine. They would get into physical altercations regularly, and it seemed like Melanie was definitely the bad adoptee. Not to my standards, but from how Patricia treated her, She was always the target, and they never got along.

Melanie told me that she and Patricia got in a physical fight in the basement one time. I’m not sure what the argument was about. Melanie said; she ran up the stairs to escape Patricia’s wrath. However, Patricia grabbed a pair of scissors and started chasing Melanie up the stairs while shouting, “Here, kitty, kitty, here kitty, kitty!” I can imagine this scared Melanie significantly, and eventually, she got away from her by running to our bedroom and slamming the door shut.

I was always stuck somewhere in the middle of the blowouts with Patricia and Melanie. My role was to gravitate toward my mother to try to comfort and console her. It’s no doubt that I was the good adoptee in Patricia’s eyes. I remember almost every single fight they had; I was in charge of trying to make Patricia feel better. These are big shoes to fill, and it was all I knew.

She would cry hysterically while sitting on the couch. So I would sit next to her, rub her back, and say, “It’s okay, mommy I’m sorry, mommy.” She would talk about how mean her family was to her growing up and how she had an abortion at a young age, and not long after, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer, which resulted in a total hysterectomy. She adopted children because she aborted the only child she could have ever had, and she talked about this constantly. She also made it known from a young age that she never wanted to go to a nursing home. She would even go to the lengths of listing the reasons why.

She seemed never to stop crying about these things and, of course, the divorce. She would cry about never knowing who her father was and that she felt like a failure as a mother. The burden of her life and failures felt like they were planted on my shoulders from the time I could walk. This was a reoccurring theme in my childhood that happened almost daily. So now, you might understand why I was always about that sneak life. Fuck this shit; I was out of here on the regular!

It’s not that I didn’t care about Melanie, because I did, but Patricia made everything about her. She was always the victim in every altercation, even when she was the adult in the house. Normal disagreements never get dealt with appropriately; they usually were a big ordeal, and Melanie, the bad adoptee, was always to blame. On the other hand, the good adoptee would always come to the rescue to comfort my crying adoptive mom. It was a full-time job and never-ending.

I remember we started seeing therapists at a very young age, so many I can’t even count. Believe it or not, we never discussed adoption in my childhood with any of the therapists or my adoptive parents. We would all have to build a report with the therapists and have solo sessions and sessions as a family. After several visits, the reoccurring theme was that the therapists would tell Patricia politely that she was acting like a child instead of a parent.

The therapist would offer her suggestions on managing her emotions so the blowups in the house didn’t escalate into volcanos! They would create ways we could de-escalate by all of us agreeing to a time-out. Then, when a blowup was about to happen, we would all go to our bedrooms, close the door, and have a cool-off period. Sounds simple, right?

There was only one problem when we would go to our bedroom to shut the door, Patricia would be outside the door screaming and banging on our door for us to open it up, and we always would. So this idea never worked when we used this tactic. But when Patricia wanted to do it, it was a whole different ball game.

She would get butt hurt that the therapist would direct everything back to her parenting style and her emotional and mental outbursts. Then, finally, they told her she needed to be the one to change because we were just kids. So Patricia would get upset, go home in a rage, and never see that specific therapist again. It was like we were on a neverending merry-go-round of seeing therapists, and this pattern was happening every single time. I’m not sure why Melanie and I didn’t tell the therapists about everything going on in the house. Maybe we were scared? Regardless of the reason, we kept many things from them, or CPS would have been contacted immediately, and they never were.

I didn’t want to be the good adoptee, and I didn’t want Melanie to be the bad adoptee. I felt bad for Melanie all the time. We didn’t ask for this setup; however, it was all we knew for our entire childhoods. Because of this, Melanie and I never had a chance growing up to be close like most sisters are. Instead, we had Patricia spinning the triangulation tactics between all three of us for an entire lifetime.

It was exhausting being in this home around such an unstable and unhappy mother. This pushed me to dream more and more about my birth mother. I thought about her nonstop and dreamed that she would come back and get me one day after realizing that giving me up for adoption was a big mistake. Who would give their baby away to strangers and mean it? It was incomprehensible to me. I was waiting on her to change her mind and come back for me. Indeed, my chances of finding her or her finding me were always bigger if I was out of the house!

I fantasized about how beautiful she was and what the day would be like when she showed back up because, in my mind, if she “loved me so much,” she would eventually show back up. She had to be a better mother than Patricia, and she had to be looking for me like I was looking for her. Everywhere I went growing up, I searched for her face in crowds. I would look for women who had the same skin tone and hair color I did. Are you my mother? I would wonder.

By the time I was ten years old, Patricia had graduated from nursing school as an R.N. I think it’s lovely she had the dream of being a nurse and even raising two kids as a single parent; she made it happen. But how would she be a nurse with such emotional and unstable outbursts?

We lost Title-19, and we moved to an apartment at 4009 Westover Road, Apt #6. It was a 655 Square foot, 3rd-floor apartment, which was a stark difference from the big grey house on 13th street. We moved on an evening during a school night, and I will never forget how tired and hungry we were. Around 10 PM, we asked Patricia if we could have something to eat; however, there was not much to pick from just moving.

Patricia found a Lipton onion soup mix box tucked down in a big ” Kitchen box. She was able to heat it in the microwave, giving us each a cup. But, of course, with this being broth and no real food, we weren’t happy with it.

Melanie and Patricia get into an altercation that escalates into another blowup fight. I think Melanie was brave and confronted Patricia on certain things, whereas I was passive at that time. I did anything to keep the peace.

The next thing we know, Patricia takes off, flying out the apartment door and down the steps. Melanie and I have no idea where she is going, so we decide to look out our 3rd-floor apartment window to find Patricia lying in the street, trying to commit suicide!

Of course, we would have never expected to see that in all our lives. We both began to cry hysterically because we didn’t want our mom to die. We surely didn’t want to see it happen! Terror took over. What the fuck were we supposed to do? I am confident I blacked out or disassociated during this time because it was a very traumatic experience for me to witness.

I am not sure what happened to escalate out of this episode. Did she get up on her own? Did a car come and help her, or someone who maybe saw her? Did Melanie and I run down to get her up? I have no idea, and I will never know. Somehow things went back to “normal,” but my life would never be the same after this incident. Still to this day, I have visions of this situation that revisit like a reoccurring movie theme.

Melanie and I still shared an even smaller bedroom, but we put bunk beds in the middle of the room, which left about 3 feet of space on each side we could call our own. We plastered posters all over our walls to mark which side was ours. I loved Poison, Motley Crew, and Guns N Roses. Melanie loved Boy George!

Patricia and I on Westover Road, In front of the street, she laid in. I was 10 years old in this picture.

With a 700-square-foot apartment, we were all three, literally on top of one another. I had no idea how awful things would become, but I was about to find out. Not long after moving into the apartment on Westover Rd, Melanie and I started to have altercations independently, without Patricia spinning things in the middle each time. I mean she did that also, but at times we didn’t need her help. I remember Melanie would attack me countless times, pin me to the ground, and sit on top of me. She would hold me down by clawing my arms until I started to bleed from her nails digging into my skin. I would beg her to get off of me and stop, but she was stronger than me and overpowered me on the regular. I was still the good adoptee, and now I saw her in the light as the bad adoptee because I felt like she was bullying me. I still believe that Patricia set us up to be against one another from day one. So it’s no wonder we started to tango!

Another day, another outburst from Patricia. But once we moved into the apartment, her outbursts would become so outrageous that she started to threaten suicide regularly. She not only threatened suicide, but she took her shoebox filled with prescription pills to her bedroom; she locked the door and also took the house phone with her so we could never call for help. Her threats of killing herself and locking herself in her room, locking us out, were exceptionally traumatic. She did this a lot!

I remember vividly banging on the bedroom door for hours, begging her not to kill herself, and crying hysterically. Just like her lying in the middle of the road trying to kill herself, I am confident I blacked out or disassociated again because I have no memories of how we escalated out of these episodes, only the hysteria I felt begging my mom not to kill herself. These memories have always plagued my mind, and they dominate anything good that came out of living with Patricia. This was not a safe home, and I did not feel loved. Chaos was a nonstop companion at no choice of my own or Melanie’s.

Soon, I would find another escape plan for myself that opened my life to a whole new world. It was easy to escape from the big grey house because we had three doors that led outside. However, the apartment on the third floor of Westover road only had one. I learned that I could open my bedroom window, and at the time, I could climb down the wooden panels that were like steps to the ground. This turned out to be my number one way to escape the disfunction and constant fighting I lived with within this family. Even climbing down three stories which were exceptionally dangerous for a ten or 11-year-old, I soon became a professional escape artist. Sneak life was back in full effect!

But first, it was time for a weekend visit with Thomas and Laura. So we packed our bags as if we were staying a lifetime, leaving only for the weekend. It was 5 PM on Friday, and we would get to escape Patricia’s wrath for a few days. We would be dropped back off Sunday at 5 PM.

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

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*The views and opinions expressed in this article, memoir, and podcast 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

Chapter 1. Sneak Life – Finding Purpose in The Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 1.

Sneak Life By Pamela A. Karanova

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” – Anne Lamott.

I grew up in a small town in Iowa called Cedar Rapids otherwise known as “The City of Five Smells.” Burnt corn, stale, rotten garbage, and overcooked oatmeal are combined to make a nasty stench that covers the city. I will never forget that smell! It’s the home of the largest cereal plants in the world, General Mills and Quaker Oats. Cedar Rapids is also known for being the largest corn producing city in the world. I remember wonderful parks where I spent a lot of my childhood.

In the summer of 1979, on a hot and humid morning, my five-year-old self moped down the creaky wooden stairs somberly to the living room in the big grey house on 13th street. My hair was a sandy blonde, messy from just waking up. It was 7 AM on a Saturday, and everyone was still asleep. It was quite and peaceful for a change.

I always went to bed at night before everyone else and seemed to get sleepy earlier than your average kid. This allowed me to get up earlier most of the time while everyone else was sleeping soundly. This was a magnificent thing because I could watch a few minutes of Saturday morning cartoons, which was rare. If I was lucky, I could also sneak outside for a little bit of freedom.  

The living-room coffee table overflowed with papers, pill containers, magazines, and old and half-filled empty Pepsi cola bottles. Old newspapers, mail, coupons that needed cut, and magazines took up half the couch, and clutter surrounded the area allowing for a tiny sitting spaceβ€”a full cigarette ashtray sat waiting to be emptied. Boston ferns hung in front of the windows, in desperate need of watering.

I walked into the kitchen to find the usual clutter, dirty dishes piled up and old food, and junk covering the countertops. The garbage was overflowing with a stinky odor filtrating the morning air coming through the windows. Full eight packs of Pepsi bottles lined the baseboard along one wall for my mom’s pleasure. On the other side of the wall sat the empty bottles of Pepsi that I would walk up to the 7-11 gas station to trade with a note from my mom. The gas station would return .10 cents for each empty bottle taken back. The note would say, “Please allow my daughter to trade two eight packs of empty Pepsi bottles for one pack of Marlboro Light 100s. Thank you!”  

I will never forget my five-year-old self walking up 13th street carrying two eight-backs of empty Pepsi bottles. They were heavy, and I was alone, but I was brave and didn’t scare easily. I would stop and take breaks when I needed to. It was about a five-block walk. I would get Patricia her pack of cigarettes with the note and walk back home. We didn’t have enough money for a car, so walking or taking the city bus was a regular event. 

To enjoy the rare luxury of watching Saturday morning cartoons, I managed to jump up on the counter to grab a bowl to enjoy some cereal before everyone else woke up. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the good kind with sugar; it was plain cheerios or wheat crisps. But, of course, I had no problems finding the sugar and pouring as much as I wanted into the bowl. 

The big grey house was where some of my first childhood memories were. I lived here with my mom, Patricia, and my sister, Melanie, until approximately 9. Both Patricia and Melanie were night owls, and I was the opposite. I was known as the sleepy head of the family and didn’t appreciate late nights and sleeping half the day away. It was a regular occurrence that dinner not be served until 9 or 10 PM if it was served at all. I got sleepy most of the time and wandered off to bed without eating dinner because it never seemed to be ready at the usual dinner time. It wasn’t odd to me because it was all I knew. This was just the way it was. 

I don’t have any memories of my parents being together, but I believe that’s because they divorced when I was one year old. My sister, Melanie, was 11 months older than me, so we were almost like having twins. I do have one photo of my parents being together before the divorce. When I look at the photo, it’s hard for me to believe that they would divorce less than a year after the photo was taken, and that was the end of their marriage. Why would a marriage only last a year or two?

After the divorce, my dad, Thomas, moved over an hour away to Dunkerton, Iowa. He remarried my stepmom, Laura. Laura had three sons of her own, named Mark, Max, and Mike. We saw them every other weekend, on some holidays, and for a summer vacation. My sister, Melanie, and I stayed with Patricia full time between the visits with our dad. 

Patricia was 33 years old, and she had brown hair and she stood about 5’1 tall. She was going to school to be a Registered Nurse and this was a lifelong dream of hers. She loved soap operas, watching figure skating, and lavender smells, and her favorite color was blue. She enjoyed baking holiday treats and having her family over for festivities. She also loved plants and flowers. She was single as long as I knew her. She would read us bible devotionals and take us to church on occasion. Patricia wanted to be the center of everything, and in all conversations she had with people, she was the dominator so she could be the center of attention. 

She didn’t work the earlier part of my life, but instead, we received public assistance, food stamps, welfare, and child support from my dad to make it by. Things were always tight, and we never had extra money for anything other than the basic needs. 

The house on 13th street was rented to us with Title-19, a program for families to receive assistance with their rent. I’m confident that’s the only way we could afford to live at this house because it was gigantic and it had to be expensive, especially for someone not working. However, even as big as the house was, it only had two bedrooms, so Melanie and I shared a room. 

The Big Grey House on 13th Street, The Porch Roof I Jumped Off Of at 5 years old.

Polk Elementary School was two blocks away. So if we came out of or front or side door and turned left, we walked straight down the alley two blocks and ran into the school playground. I was not too fond of school, and I never did well in it.   

If we came out of our front door and turned right, made another right at the stop sign, and walked about five blocks down, we ran into Helen and Leo’s house. Helen was an 81-year-old lady who used to babysit us while Patricia was in school to get her nursing degree. Leo was 92, and he was Helen’s husband. So we spent a lot of time at Helen and Leo’s. 

Their house was old, musty, and dark. However, the backyard did have a swing set, and we were on it as much as possible. The basement was better known as the “Dog house!” and we spent much time there. What would get us thrown in the dog house? Being rowdy, rambunctious, not listening, or misbehaving in some way. And sometimes, nothing would get us sent to the dog house; we were just ordered to go! 

The doghouse was filled with old books, unfinished rooms, and an old school laundry room, and it felt like doom. The floor was concrete and cold. Leo made a habit of seeing me and kicking me in my ass and shouting, “little bastard!” This was followed by a mumble of “get out of my way!” It was no secret that Leo was grumpy, and we needed to stay out of his way. He would send me straight to the dog house if I didn’t move quick enough or if I crossed his path. Thankfully he was just a mean old man and not a dirty, mean old man. 

Helen was about her business. She wasn’t warm or grandma-like, as you would think. Sometimes she would forget we were down in the dog house, so we would stay for a long time. We better not come out of the dog house without being excused first. And sometimes, Patricia would leave us at Leo and Helen’s overnight or for several days at a time. So Helen would put blankets on the living room floor, where we would sleep until Patricia eventually made the call for Helen to send us to walk home. Patricia was supposed to pay Helen for babysitting us, but she rarely gave her the money she was owed, and she still kept sending us anyway. 

We passed several houses with Dobermann Pinschers chained to the front porch as we walked back and forth. That was the primary way to secure your home and belongings when I was coming up. I will never forget walking the five blocks back home from Helen’s, and one particular day a man called us to his car window. We walked over, and he was sitting naked, masturbating himself. I was with a cousin at the time, and we both screamed and took off running all the way home to the big grey house on 13th street. We told Patricia and the cops were called to the car where the gross man was.

Patricia slept a lot, and she was always taking naps. I didn’t know what depression or mental illness was as a child, but I do now. She was severely depressed due to the divorce, and she felt like a failure as a parent. She would sleep late in the day most days because she stayed up late at night. During school days, I remember waking myself up and getting myself ready for school most days while she slept half of the day away. Anytime she took naps in the day or evening, it was a perfect opportunity for me to sneak off and run wild; it was my way of life!

My Saturday morning cereal and cartoons were an unusual treat in the big grey house. Sometimes I would put clothes on and sneak outside to play until I heard the dreaded yell. Being outside was a great escape for me, and I would try to sneak out as much as possible. I would do wild and crazy things because I was a daredevil. I would climb trees to the top and climb on the rooftops to hang out. I was a tomboy and grew up feeling invincible. 

I have memories of all the neighborhood kids daring me to jump off the roof of the big porch of the grey house and jump down to the ground when Patricia was gone one day. But, of course, I wasn’t scared, and I did it with great pride. I almost felt like I should have won an award for being so brave, but several claps followed by hemming and hawing from all my friends would do. 

Of course, I was not supposed to be outside when Patricia was gone; however, sneaking outside was a full-time job for me from a very early age. I was the queen of sneak. But it was all over as soon as she came back home, and I would hear her shout out the front door, “Pammy, get back in this house!” I knew I would get in trouble, but I didn’t care, so I pretended I didn’t hear her. I continued to sneak anyway, proudly. 

I would hear her yell again a short time later, but I would ride every second of freedom out to the fullest. I didn’t want to go back inside because I knew I would never be allowed to come back outside again. Sneaking was the only option for me. Finally, after hearing Patricia yell for me a second and sometimes a third time, I would mope back inside with a sorrowful aura about myself. The escape to freedom was over. But make no mistakes, I was already planning my next escape adventure!

But for now, onto the constant and never-ending task of catering to and caring for Patricia. “You know better than to go outside without permission!” yelled Patricia. The reality was that I could never go outside, even with permission. This is why I made a run for it any chance I could! Getting in trouble was worth it to get out of the house for a short time. 

I remember walking up to First Avenue to fetch Patricia’s medications from the pharmacy many times as a little girl. As young as six years old, I would cross the busiest street in the city. I guess Patricia’s medications were that important, and it was my job to make sure she didn’t run out of them. One particular day, I was walking home, and my classmate Manuel Gonzales came up to me and asked me what I was doing. I explained that I walked to the pharmacy to pick up my mom’s medication. He asked me to give him one of the pills, and I did. 

He wandered off, and I was stopped by a police car within a few minutes. The officer got out and asked me my name and where I lived. I told him my name was Pamela, and I pointed down the street, and he proceeded to ask me to get in his car so he could take me home. I didn’t understand why; however, Manual ran straight over to the fire department a block down the road and let them know I had given him a pill and that I was walking home with them now. 

We pulled up at the big grey house, and I knew I would get into trouble giving Manual one of Patricia’s pills. The police officer called Patricia to the door and handed her the medication bag. He scolded her for allowing me to cross the busiest street in the city at my age, and he strongly disagreed with her having me pick up her medications at that age. He also said I was carrying the narcotic diazepam, otherwise known as Valiums. The cops gave her a warning, and my ass was grass once they left. That was the last time I ever walked to pick up Patricia’s medications. 

When I didn’t have school, as soon as Patricia was awake for the day, it was time for me to get busy. She created a chore chart the size of a 22×28-inch poster board. Each entry of a chore was a 1/4 of an inch, and the poster board was full of chores. From top to bottom! A few of the tasks were everyday chores most kids can relate to doing, like taking the trash out and making your bed up. Others were strange things like rubbing and massaging Patricia’s back, feet, and legs using lotion, running her bathwater, brushing her hair, and making her bed up. She made me give her enemas while she lay on the bathroom floor, and she would also make me pop all her pimples. Talk about disgusting. Were other kids doing this, I wondered?

In addition, she wanted us to cut coupons for days, file papers in her filing cabinet, and handle other miscellaneous tasks most kids don’t do. We were always in charge of helping her clean piles of clothes and trash off her bedroom floor, changing her bedding, and dusting her bedroom and the whole house. Cleaning and caretaking were embedded in me from a very young age.

The reward was the star sticker system. Each chore was a one-star sticker, and if we got 25 stars, we got a popsicle or a nickel or a dime. The chores were never done, and as soon as we thought we would be close to getting them done, it was a new week and time to start them all over again. Once it was time to give us the little bit of change that was owed to us, we never had the money and bills being due was the reason.

Patricia was a professional at getting people to feel sorry for her, especially churches. As far back as I could remember, we had churches helping us pay our bills and donating us food when we had little to eat. She knew how to turn on the tears at a second’s notice and did a great job telling the story of her husband leaving her for another woman, and she’s a single mother raising two kids with no help or assistance.

The basement was problematic; it was continuously flooded with water, and water bugs were everywhere. We cleaned up all the rotten wood from a failed attempt to create a floor. The wooden floor was created so we could put our toys on it to stay safe from the water, but the water rotted the wood in no time. Our toys were mixed with the mess, so we bagged most of it, hauling them off to the trash. 

If I ever thought my chores were almost done so I could go outside and play, Patricia would insist I entertain her wants and needs. “Pammy, go get me a Pepsi,” and “Pammy, go run my bathwater.” “Pammy, come watch figure skating with me, and you can work on your workbook.” It was never-ending all about her. If getting paid to fetch her Pepsis and massaging her body was a job, I would be a millionaire. 

Spending time with her wasn’t my kind of fun if I had any “fun.” It was her kind of fun. We would watch Lawrence Welk, old-timer television shows, and play Kings Corners. I would help her get her flower beds ready and pull weeds out. She would talk non-stop sharing stories about her life, her family and her childhood. She also spent a lot of time bashing my dad, Thomas and his new wife, Laura. It was clear she held a lot of resentment about the divorce and him and Laura.

I longed to be a regular child who could go outside and play with friends without sneaking and getting in trouble. I would have given anything to be able to have friends over to stay all night, but that was always out of the question. I don’t think I ever had one friend stay all night in all my life, and I can count on one hand the times I stayed at a friend’s house all night. 

One evening when I was five years old, I watched television with Patricia, and we saw a woman giving birth to a baby. “Did I come out of your tummy like that, Mommy?” Her answer would forever change the trajectory of my life. 

She said, “No, honey. You were adopted. That means you came out of another woman’s tummy. She loved you so much, but she couldn’t care for you. She made my dreams come true to be a parent. I will always love her because of her selfless decision.” 

I remember the feelings of total confusion that came over my life. I said, “Who is she, and where is she?” Patricia said, “I don’t know who she is or where she is. The adoption was closed, so all of that information was kept private. I know your birth mother loved you so much, and she wanted you to have a better life.”

After this, I didn’t ask any more questions, but my brain would not stop thinking about my “birth mother.” My thoughts were, “So you mean you aren’t my real parents and my real siblings?” I was blown away at the news of being adopted. I stuffed my feelings out of respect for Patricia’s dreams coming true, but my life would never be the same.

I wish I could share that Melanie and I had a close relationship growing up, but we didn’t. It seemed like Patricia and Melanie were constantly fighting, and with no choice of my own, I was stuck in the middle, left to be the comforter to Patricia. She had constant outbursts that created a living hell in the big grey house. This created an automatic wedge between Melanie and me for as long as I can remember. Things were manageable during the peaceful times in the big grey house, but when all hell broke loose, all hell broke loose. 

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

Don’t forget that I’m streaming my articles on several audio platforms for your listening convenience! πŸ‘‡πŸΌ

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🌎 Google – https://bit.ly/3JP6NY0

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πŸ“¦ Amazon – https://amzn.to/3JScoga

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*The views and opinions expressed in this article, memoir, and podcast 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

Introduction – Finding Purpose In The Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Introduction By Pamela A. Karanova

β€œWe have to walk through all the adoptee layers, to make it to the light, but it won’t come overnight or without a lifelong fight!” β€“ Finding Purpose in the Pain – One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

This is the story of my beginnings of how I was born and grew up, discovered I was adopted, and went on to find my biological family going against the grain of the closed adoption system. This is a story of searching and finding in a time when there was no internet, cell phones, or adoptee-centric connect groups. It’s a story of acceptance, acknowledgment, processing grief, loss, abandonment, rejection, and ultimately healing. It’s a story of never giving up hope that I would find my people and essentially my truth one day.

It’s taken me close to 48 years to finally come to a place where I am ready to share my story via an audible memoir. I have been writing for over a decade on my website, and I have attempted to write my story off and on over the last ten years, but one thing was sure. It wasn’t time yet. Timing is everything.

While most non-adopted people likely can’t relate, the adoptee experience isn’t your typical life experience. While other people were the ones who made this decision for my life, I have been the one to unravel all of the truths and tales to get to the bottom of why I am here and who I am. Like most adoptees, my story is complex, trauma-filled, messy, and ugly at times. But, it’s also an equal combination of triumph, healing, surviving, and overcoming the odds. I’m excited to share my story with you.

It’s only been the last 4 to 5 years that I have arrived at the space of healing where I feel confident in sharing pieces of my story that I have always left in the dark. While I have demanded the universe tell me my truth, I have had to kick, scream, and fight every step of the way to get it. As a result, I have made some mistakes and pissed many people off, and I am confident this audible memoir will piss more people off.

While most stories might start with the typical “beginning of life” theme, that place for me was null and void because it was kept a secret from me due to being adopted in a closed adoption in 1974. The beginning of my life was the state of Iowa’s best-kept secret.

One of the biggest struggles in getting my story out is that I never knew where to start with my life beginning non-traditionally. I thank the unnatural act of adoption for that. Thinking about my life and its complexities, my thoughts would overwhelm me when I started to write my story, and I would shut down in frustration. I would start a chapter and then stop, start another chapter and then stop again.

It’s no secret when someone is adopted; their beginnings aren’t usually a cute story, even when the world tries to cover it up and celebrate adoption in all God’s glory. The truth is, I didn’t know my beginnings, and if I let the world have its way, I would never know who I was or where I came from.

We all have a beginning, but adoptees often don’t know their beginning until the middle of their lives and sometimes the end. Sometimes they don’t know their truth at all. Not that they didn’t want to know it, but there are a million roadblocks that stand in the way. I plan to share some with you as I share my story.

While I share my story with you, I need to share that some names, locations, and minor details have been fictionalized to protect the people’s privacy discussed in this audible memoir. Otherwise, this memoir is true based on experiences that I remember with a few specific areas where I fill in the gaps with creative nonfiction. Some of the things I share are stories and facts that I have heard from other people who were close to my adoptive families and birth families.

This audible memoir should be considered a trigger warning to all who read and listen to it. I discuss suicide, religious trauma, spiritual bypassing, deconstructing from religion, drug and alcohol abuse, recovery, failed therapy attempts, emotional, mental, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. I will share my chapters by uploading them to my platforms one by one and writing them one by one because I find this a more manageable and less stressful load due to having a full-time career and Adoptees Connect, Inc. to manage. Beware, I use curse words to express my feelings, and I consider this an essential part of my healing and recovery process. If you have sensitive ears, do not proceed.

I will also consider the nature of the content I will share as sensitive, and practicing self-care between the chapters will be essential to share my story. Sharing my story is a tremendous labor of love and one that I have to go back in time to revisit. I will be reliving traumatic events from the past and revisiting experiences that scare me slightly. Chapter by chapter, discovering clue by clue, I invite you to join me as I release one chapter at a time and take breaks in between to pause to reflect on all my life has been.

This is a story about breaking out of the boxes that society has built around me and discovering who I am and who I’m not, regardless of my adoption status. It’s a story of constantly evolving to grow, heal and overcome the obstacles I had no choice over that many adoptees face.

Thank you for being on this journey with me, being patient with me, and understanding that I am sure I will make mistakes along the way. This will not be your traditional memoir because I am telling my story in the way that works the best for me. I will do the best I can to articulate events of my life to the best of my abilities. My entire life, I would look in the mirror and ask myself, who am I, and where did I come from? Who’s fingers and toes do I have? Why am I so tall?

Finally, after 48 years, I can be true to myself and share with you what it costs me to discover my truth.

Meet Little Pammy.

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

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*The views and opinions expressed in this article, memoir and podcast 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