Saying “Hello” to Adoptee Grief & Loss

img_5766I decided to write a short article about this topic, because over the years of coming out of the fog and being in recovery it’s come to my attention that so much of the adoptee experience is rooted and grounded in grief & loss. If we leave it up to the world we live in, they not only deny us the right to have anything but positive feelings, they also deny us the right to grieve our losses.

Can you imagine everyone around you celebrating your trauma? Can you imagine living in a world where your trauma is considered something wonderful? Can you imagine always having to hide your true feelings, because everyone in your life can’t understand that adoption is complex, and in order to heal it we must feel it. Can you imagine there never being any space to share your grief & loss because in adoption, grief & loss is something we are denied, yet society tells us we should he happy about it! This is adoption in our world today.

No one ever told me processing grief and loss was a natural part of the adoptee experience. Navigating this journey alone, it’s honestly been the hardest experience of my life. For me personally, being adopted has carried more weight than multiple brutal violent traumatic experiences that I’ve had in my 44 years of life. Yes, you read that right. I’ve survived MANY brutal violent traumatic experiences, and relinquishment trauma compacted by adoption trauma have impacted me far worse than any other experience, even the brutal violent ones all put together. That’s how BIG the wound from relinquishment trauma has been in my life. The adoption trauma only added to it.

Yes, Adoption Relinquishment is TRAUMA 

For me, adoption, by far has hurt the worst and it’s had the most complex dynamics to it. It hits deeper layers, and the recovery time seems to expand throughout ones entire lifetime. I’ve accepted that full recovery is never going to happen, so I’ve embraced it and welcomed the uncomfortable feelings when they come. Multiple brutal violent traumatic experiences have healed much faster than relinquishment trauma. That should tell you something about relinquishment trauma. Real lived experiences trump everything you have been told about adoption.

It’s hard to come out of the fog on your own like I did. Seeking therapy for the complexities of my adoption experience has always been a dead end for me. I’ve tried and gone to therapy since I was 5 years old. I’m not knocking anyone in therapy and I encourage it wholeheartedly. It just didn’t work for me. I pour my heart into therapying the therapist, and leave with little to no relief other than having one hour to share my life with someone who doesn’t’ “get it” in the long run. If they aren’t adopted, they have no clue what adoptees experience. Thankfully more adoptees are therapists these days, and things are changing.  When I was a child in therapy, they didn’t even talk about adoption. When I was a teenager crying out in rage and pain, they didn’t even talk about adoption.  When I was in juvenile lock up, group homes, drug treatment, the mental health hospital as a teenager and in jail and a mental ward as an adult, they never talked about adoption. When I tried to commit suicide multiple times, they never talked about adoption. When I was in alcohol addiction for 27 years, they never talked about adoption! Let’s be honest, I was groomed to never talk about it either, conditioned from a very early age. But I hold therapists to a higher standard. All these therapists of my lifetime failed me. I should be dead right now, but I’m not.

Today, I say “hello” to the waves of grief & loss as they come into my life instead of turn them away.

Today we’re talking about adoption!

Relinquishment is is the root cause!

I was in addiction for 27 years to ESCAPE! Alcohol took my pain away but only temporarily. Now that I’m in a place of 6.5 years of sobriety, I have even more wisdom to share about being an adult adoptee in recovery. As I navigate close to 10 years of coming out of the fog and 10 years of being in “Adoptee Land” one thing that keeps circling back around in my life is grief and loss. I’m recognizing how I’m feeling at the moment and how I’m feeling day to day about my adoption experience. I’m acknowledging those feelings as they come. I say HELLO to them. I welcome them. Of course I’m going up against what our world says, which is just be thankful and grateful!

I spent some time in a religious setting, and always made me feel like I wasn’t praying enough or I wasn’t fasting enough. I even heard I was CHOOSING to hang onto this pain, or better yet “You must not be receiving your healing because you aren’t right with God! I’ve heard it all, and today I consider it all to be MUMBO JUMBO and I want no part of it. It only caused me to AVOID the TRUTH and NOT FEEL THE PAIN! Because heaven forbid you actually process your traumatic experiences, or grieve your very legitimate losses!

I’m just saying, I’ve gone around the wagon a million times trying to be HEALED from relinquishment trauma! I have some wisdom to share, that’s why I keep writing. For you all and for me. The fact is, grief and loss are perfectly normal for a not normal situation. Nothing is normal about adoption, although our society and world have normalized it. It’s NOT normal to be severed from your roots at the beginning of life, to be handed over to strangers.

Adoption is not normal, and it’s time we STOP normalizing it.

Adoption is traumatic, relinquishment is traumatic and if adoptees aren’t allowed the space to process this trauma we will continue to see the jails, prisons, mental health facilities and treatment facilities overflowing with adoptees! We will continue to see adoptees attempt and succeed in suicide. The earlier we start to address the truth about adoption, the sooner adoptees can start to process our grief and loss.

As a child, I wouldn’t have had the language to process my pain if I wanted to have it. I didn’t know as a child what I know now. I’m here to tell you if SOMEONE, ANYONE would have told me it was okay to be SAD I lost my birth mother, or it was okay to be ANGRY she left me, my whole entire world would have changed growing up. I didn’t have that language, so my adoptive parents should have helped me find it. Yeah, I know it was 1974 and things were different then! TRUE! But they are different now too, and once you know this TRUTH that I’m sharing here based on my 44 years of lived experience being adopted, you can’t unknow it. Please, do what you can to help your adopted children access feelings of grief and loss, and HELP THEM process them!

For my fellow adoptees who have made it this far, I’m asking you how you are processing your grief and loss? What have you been able to do to tap into your real true feelings? Are you at a phase where you are numbing them and running? Or are you working towards processing them?

For me, saying HELLO to my grief and loss has been a critical part of my healing process. I’m no longer running the rat race to be healed! That doesn’t work for many of us. Being SAD about your adoption experience is NORMAL. Being ANGRY about your adoption experience is NORMAL. It’s what you do with these feeling is what’s KEY. Acceptance of them is KEY.

Saying HELLO to them is acknowledging them. Sitting with them awhile, writing about them, or sharing them with someone you love or trust is processing them. Getting alone in nature, doing your yoga, jogging, biking, hiking, and anything outside can help you release some the build up you have, and so many adoptees have anger and rage deep inside, bursting to come out. It’s going to come out in healthy ways, or unhealthy ways. What have you picked for yourself?

I picked unhealthy for 27 years, but it wasn’t because I wanted to pick it. It was because I didn’t have the tools to work on my adoptee issues. Remember, we live in a world that celebrates our trauma and celebrates adoption! This is why it upsets me when people say we are choosing to stay STUCK. Don’t you think if every single adoptee had a flip to switch, on was happy and off was sad/angry we would choose the HAPPY SWITCH? Seriously, so many of us are stuck because that was me for 40+ years because we had no tools. Thank God times are changing! –  Adoptees Connect.

The best part is, once we know that grief and loss is a normal response, and once we know it’s time to start processing it in healthy ways we can then make the choice to put one foot forward and try to walk it out TOGETHER.

Is it scary? Damn straight it is! I always say adoptees aren’t sissies! They are some of the strongest people on the planet! But I did it, and you can do it too! So my question for you is, when are you going to start saying HELLO to your grief and loss? Welcome it, embrace it and keep it moving. Only you can do this because one thing I’ve learned is that if we want something in the adoptee community or for ourselves we will have to seek it, create it, or find it ourselves! No one is going to do it for us, especially when they are so busy celebrating our trauma and they don’t acknowledge we have any losses to grieve.

It’s up to us. It’s up to me. It’s up to you.

What are you going to do?

Sending Renewed Love & Light,

d5a71516-b8fb-4335-9634-67a7c487301e

Reclaiming. Recovering. Recreating. Retreating. Repeating. 

 

 

 

Happy Mommy Dearest Day

Times Two 

img_5138

Mommy Dearest #1 is the mommy that gave birth to me. She relinquished all rights to parent me. She left me at the hospital then decided to flee.

Mommy Dearest #2 is the mommy that adopted me. It took me a lifetime to discover, she was mentally ill and didn’t have capabilities to parent me.

I spent my entire life searching for Mommy Dearest #1 because she had to be a better mommy than Mommy Dearest #2.

“But she gave you away, she didn’t want to parent you!” they say.

“But she loved you so much” they say.

Conflicting stores, leaning towards my birth mother wanting to see me because I believed that “She loved me so much.” How could a mother not love their child? She must be searching for me too, to rescue me from Mommy Dearest #2.

Mommy Dearest #2 had some good qualities if I’m honest. She loved gardening, plants, lavender, and the colors blue and white. She liked watching soap operas, cutting coupons, talking, and figure skating. She was a nurse, and her greatest gift was my birth mothers ultimate sacrifice.

ME.

Mommy Dearest #2 wanted to be a mother more than anything in this world, but here’s the drawback. Her husband, my adoptive father left us when I was 1, because he knew she couldn’t parent us. He moved over an hour away, remarried and raised a new family of his own. Leaving us with Mommy Dearest #2.

Mommy Dearest #2 was manic depressive, always sad and cried daily, and said over and over, “I’m not a good mother, I just want to die.” I was her caretaker my entire child hood and most of my life. Recalled memories of terror that have overpowered any good she brought into my life. Her laying in the street, trying to commit suicide. Flashbacks. Flashbacks. I will never forget it. Her locking herself in her room with her box of pills, saying she was going to commit suicide. Being a little girl banging on the door, crying hysterically for hours sometimes begging her not to die. Over and over, memories never leave my mind. Flashbacks. Flashbacks. I didn’t know about mental illness as a child, I just know because of her being undiagnosed, and untreated I paid the price and will have memories of this trauma for life. Read more about my experience with her here. 

I was the ultimate sacrifice.

Was this the “BETTER LIFE?”

WHY?

Why did Mommy Dearest #1 decide to flee?

I had to find her, because she had to be better than Mommy Dearest #2. Sadly, I learned my fantasy of her wasn’t true. Even when I wrote her a poem that went something like this…

“My prayers were answered, my dreams finally came true, all of this occurred the day that I found you”

The truth is, she wasn’t searching for me, and she didn’t want to be found. She met me once, but she never wanted me to come back around. She slammed the door shut, she locked it and she threw away the key. As long as she was alive on this earth, I never threw away the hope that one day she would want to see me.  20 years passed, I waited and waited. Then I got the dreaded call, “Your birth mother has died.” With her dying, my hope of ever seeing her again died too. I was told it broke her heart that my adoptive parents divorced because if I was going to be raised on welfare, food stamps and in an abusive environment, she would have kept me! This made her ANGRY!

2010 Mommy Dearest #1 is dead.

She would rather die all alone, than have me in her life. I would have been there in a heartbeat if she would have picked up that phone.But the world says I’m supposed to be thankful.

I’m thankful that I found her, I’m thankful that I met her one time but that doesn’t change the fact this has traumatized me for life. I’m not thankful I was adopted. I do have a million things in my life I’m thankful for, but adoption isn’t one of them.

Mommy Dearest #2 died 7 years later.

But not before I escaped by moving across the country in 2005 so my kids and I could have a better life. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done is making the choice to sever ties. I changed my name, embraced my recovery journey, and started my life over.

2 Corinthians 5:17

BRAND NEW!

I didn’t sign any adoption paperwork!

As soon as Mommy Dearest #2 died my soul was set free, I finally felt like I could breathe. The weight lifted. I didn’t feel any sadness from her dying, than the same sadness I’ve felt every day of my life NOT. HAVING. A. MOTHER. I still have dreams about her, and memories of my childhood flashback frequently. I continue to remind myself that I don’t live there anymore, today I’ve made the choice to open a new door.

A new life, with new possibilities.

Moving forward, I made a vow to myself, I would always be true to me! 

Honesty is KEY!

I’ve moved forward with my life, and the 2 women that should have loved and cared for me the most, have hurt me the most. The damage that has been done is something I’ll be working on for the rest of my life, but today I’ve accepted it and acknowledged its here to stay. It’s part of who I am, it’s part of my story but it’s not all of who I am or all of my story.

I’ve been working 10+ years on my recovery and healing journey. Not all adoptees have something positive to hang onto, but we can take the pain and find something to pour it into! Passion and purpose seem to make it all worth it. Many of us have been dealt a hand of trauma all the way around the paradox. Mother’s Day for many of us is not only a day of remembrance of the woman who carried us for 9 months, handing us over to strangers, TRAUMA! abandoned but it’s also a reminder that the woman we were handed too couldn’t parent us. Trauma times TWO!

If this isn’t you, that’s wonderful, because we all deserve a wonderful mother. The fact is, some of us don’t get it even when we’ve been given 2 chances by being adopted.

How do you strike it out 2x in the mother area?

Some of you will say “It’s all a part of God’s plan.”

 Newsflash: God doesn’t plan trauma so stop blaming him!

What has this experience taught me? It taught me that no matter what anyone says, mothers aren’t interchangeable. It’s taught me that adoption of the world today isn’t from God, and man has totally messed this thing up and they have the audacity to say God is in control! It’s taught me this is MAN’S PLAN, NOT GOD’S. God never plans on separating mother’s and babies.  It’s taught me I’m strong and a survivor to be alive, making it through this nightmare. It taught me that even when I’ve been adopted on paper, I’ve really raised myself. The examples I had as mothers, not only one but TWO were something I never wanted to be.

So, what did I do?

I have done everything in my power to break generational curses and heal from the hurts. I want to be a better mom to my kids, than what I ever had. I want to be a happy healthy grandma to my future grandkids, which is something my kids never had. I want to take all this pain and trauma and find purpose in it. –  Adoptees Connect! I want to take back everything that was stolen from me. I’m finding happiness within myself, because I’ve never found it anywhere else. After I’ve found it in myself, I’ve been able to find it with others. I want to help other adoptees who feel isolated and alone, because if I can survive this THING, they can too. If your adopted and reading this, you are NOT ALONE!

This writing is me acknowledging my pain, and my experience with both of my “mothers”. I’m no longer sitting in this space, but when my feelings come, I need to share them. My website has always been a safe space for me to share. I don’t want to take any more of your time, by sharing this sad story of mine.  I acknowledge it, process it, and move forward with my life. I’ve been stuck for far too long.

So, this year, I’m sure my kids will want to celebrate ME, and that’s how it’s supposed to be. I’ll celebrate the fact that I’ve been a mom to some amazing kids, who I cherish more than life. That’s a TRUE gift and a focus for me on Mother’s Day. In the back of my mind, these memories and my story will always be. I have no mother to celebrate. But if you do, I’m happy for you. If I’m a little distant, or it takes me awhile to respond it’s because I’ve pulled away from electronics, and the television where everyone is gloating about their mothers. I just can’t deal.  Self-care is something I put first.

Hugs to all my fellow adoptees who lost your first mother, who have a hard time with Mother’s Day. MEGA HUGS to all my fellow adoptees who not only lost your first mother, but your second mother wasn’t what you deserved. I’m crying with you all. If you made it this far, you are a survivor. It hurts, let yourself feel the pain. Write about it, draw, color, paint, run, jog, hike, cry, scream.

Feel free to leave your thoughts here if it will help you in some way. Please take care of yourself in the coming days!  Do whatever you need to do, to take care of you.

I decided to post this before Mother’s Day because I don’t want to interfere with those celebrating this day, in anyway. I’m not looking for sympathy or to be “fixed.” Just sharing my story, healing through writing one click at a time. Thank you for being a part of my journey! 💛

d5a71516-b8fb-4335-9634-67a7c487301e

Reclaiming. Recovering. Recreating. Retreating. Repeating. 

When Adoptive Parents Have the Willingness to Listen…

 

img_0111

Let me explain my recent change of heart on this topic.

I’ve discovered over the last few months I’ve been selling myself short in speaking to adoptive parents. For those who know me, they know I’ve always said my passion and gifting is for adult adoptees. The ones who are broken, hurting, isolated, and alone. They need someone who understands them, and they are my motivation, my reason to keep sharing and keep writing.

On the other hand, I’ve also backed it up on many occasions that my gifting is NOT in speaking with Adoptive Parents. I’ve shouted this loud and clear and let the adoption/adoptee community know that it’s just not my strong suit. It’s not my area of expertise.

Why you might ask?

Because I find them to be triggering to the max on many fronts. A lot of crossing paths with them have been in online settings, and it’s hard to tell if I was inserting my option when it was asked for or if I was simply sharing my views. Most all times it’s been triggering is when they refuse to listen, learn and acknowledge my truth, even if they don’t understand it or agree with it.

Over the last 7 years of sharing my journey, I’ve found that more times than not Adoptive Parents don’t have the willingness to LISTEN & LEARN from Adult Adoptees which defeats the purpose of sharing all my knowledge based on lived experiences being an adoptee. This has caused me to put my wall up with them and retreat solely with networking and focusing on my fellow adoptees. The wall has been up for years!

Something amazing happened a few months ago. I will leave names out for privacy, but a long-time friend reached out to me and said she would love if we could meet so we could talk about some things. She’s now an adoptive mom. At first, I was a little reluctant because in my mind, I don’t have a gifting for speaking to Adoptive Parents. But there was something different about her. Not only did I know her and have known her for along time but she actually WANTED TO LEARN AND LISTEN.

What I had based my views on regarding not having gifting to speak to adoptive parents is because so much of my experience is them wanting to talk over me, shut me down, silence me, or better yet have no intention to LISTEN, but always wanting to be heard. Sadly, these experiences outweigh the good experiences in interacting with adoptive parents in my world. Unfortunately, this is the reason I have excluded Adoptive Parents from my inner circle. They have only caused more damage to me by the attitude they have, and I can no longer allow those type of people to be inside my very valuable space.

My views have shifted after meeting with my friend who is now an Adoptive Parent. I love her. She loves me. We have a mutual respect for one another and have known one another for at least 25 years. She genuinely wanted some advice, and I was honored and elated she would seek me out to receive it.

RECEIVE IT.

Let’s say it again…

RECEIVE IT…

That’s right. It’s been highlighted to me that my friend wanted to receive what I had to share, and this is exactly what the difference is between her and so many other Adoptive Parents I’ve come across. So many of them don’t want to receive what Adult Adoptees have to say even when we hold the most valuable experience in the adoption equation. There is no therapist, or counselor who understands this thing like we do, unless they are adoptees themselves. I promise you this is the TRUTH!

In my 7 years of being out of the fog, networking in the adoption/adoptee community I have only come across a small handful of Adoptive Parents who have reached out to me and supported me, who have had the willingness to listen and learn. A VERY SMALL HANDFUL. If you are one of them, I will share I appreciate you more than you know and thank you for having the willingness to listen and learn to help understand your adoptive child better.

I say to myself all the time, “If only ALL adoptive parents were that way, adoptees wouldn’t be 4x more likely to attempt suicide. Adoptees wouldn’t be over populated in the prisons, jails, treatment facilities and mental health facilities. If only more adoptive parents had the willingness to LISTEN AND LEARN from Adult Adoptees they could HELP US, adoptees all over the world wouldn’t be so broken” And yes, adoptees all over this world are broken, hurting and they have no where to turn. Some of them are in their 60’s and 70’s and they’ve lived their entire lives suffering in silence because our world won’t acknowledge the pain they have had to carry their entire lives.  I’ve seen too much, and I know too much. I can’t unsee what I’ve seen or unknow what I know.

If you don’t believe me visit my Facebook pages Ask an Adoptee and How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? You could also visit the website I created for adoptees to share their stories at How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? If you have networked with as many as adoptees as I have and heard their stories, listened to them and validated them you would see why the adoptee community is so important to me and my number one focus and cause in life. You would understand why we need Adoptive Parents to listen & learn.

Having many years of experience and my new turn of events in having the grace and willingness to share with my friend who is an adoptive parent, it’s helped me realize that I DO HAVE THE GIFT to talk to adoptive parents but there is a stipulation. It’s the adoptive parents who have the willingness to listen and learn.

I’ve found that it’s not my job to educate adoptive parents because I simply don’t owe anyone anything in that area. On the other hand, when an adoptive parent comes to me like my friend did, and they sincerely want to listen and learn I will do my best to share my experience with the utmost respect and truth and present it with the most understanding way possible. I appreciate my friend coming to me more than she will ever know, and she was so brave to have the willingness to listen and learn. I hope and pray the same for all Adoptive Parents all over the world. When the Adoptive Parents want to listen and learn, it helps their Adoptive Child because they begin to understand better.

In talking to my friend I learned she was very rare Adoptive Parent in wanting to listen and learn. Our time together was priceless, and we shared from our hearts our experiences and we both welcomed questions and had the willingness to speak gracefully about the unexpected situations that come from raising an adoptive child, especially the ones the Adoption Agencies don’t tell you about.

I’ve decided that I do have the grace and the gift, but each situation in me connecting with an adoptive parent will be unique in my choosing in who I want to engage with. Being an adoptee, I lost all choices for most of my life, and still losing some today so today I CHOOSE.

For the Adoptive Parents who don’t have the willingness to listen and learn, I have absolutely no time for them nor will I waste my time on trying to connect because they are EXTREMELY triggering to me. It’s simple.

In the future I have a vision of incorporating a discussion panel into our Adoptees Connect Small Groups (separate from our monthly meetings) where Adoptive Parents and Birth Parents would be able to come ask Adult Adoptees questions. The key is, they are coming to RECEIVE what we are willing to share. I feel this will be a game changer for the Adoption Communities all over the place. I hope to put this vision into action Spring 2019 and Adoptees Connect will have been planted for a little over a year. By then I will have some Adult Adoptees who are on board for being on the Discussion Panel. Lot’s in the works for Adoptees Connect!

I’ve had it on my heart to share this article for some time, but life has been crazy, but things are slowing down a bit.

My question is, if you are an Adoptive Parent do you have the willingness to listen and learn from Adult Adoptees? If you answered “YES” to that question I commend you. Every time I get questions from Adoptive Parents & Birth Parents on the “Ask an Adoptee” page on Facebook I commend them! They are seeking the valuable voices of Adult Adoptees who have the lived experiences to back it up.

Things are changing, and things are looking up, but we still have so much work to do!

If you answered “NO” to this question I would like to encourage you to seek deep in your heart and ask yourself “WHY?”. Is it fear? Fear of the truth? It will eventually come to surface as all truth does, and I would much rather you be prepared and ready for whatever is to come than to live in denial and your adoptive child live a life like I did and so many other adoptees. Isolated. Alone. Disconnected. Hurt. Traumatized. Many Adult Adoptees have the willingness to share our perspectives with you, but you must meet us half way and have the willingness to listen and learn.

For my fellow Adoptees, how do you feel about speaking to Adoptive Parents? As I shared, it’s not our responsibility but if you have chosen to navigate this into your adoption/adoptee advocacy, do the adoptive parents you are speaking to have the willingness to listen and learn? I would love to learn your experiences?

Thanks for reading!

Pamela Karanova | Adult Adoptee

22730589_1450902488364359_6611962318795000880_n