Being Adopted and The Significance of the Black Hole

Before sharing specifics, I need to bring Seasonal Affective Disorder to light. I suffer from this each year as fall approaches until early spring. Because of this, I feel what I describe as the “black hole” is much more prevalent in my life during that time frame. One of the dynamics of my healing journey is that idol time has proven to be a struggle for me. I have more idol time during the fall and winter months because I hate the cold, and can’t enjoy my number one escape, nature. When I’m trapped in the house, I experience a part of me that makes me feel guilty for resting, or when I’m not busy, a part of me feels dysfunctional. But, on the other hand, part of me always feels like I need to constantly be productive, active, doing something. 

Another part of me flourishes in a unique aliveness and sweet natural essence. I can see beauty in everyday life, and I find happiness within myself and my surroundings. The sunshine fuels my passion to be alive, and I strive to be active and never miss a moment to make a memory. Sometimes I run off into nature alone, and sometimes I take friends or family.

And then, there is a part of me that is missing; it’s hallowed and empty in that space that I call the black hole.

The black hole wants to be filled up, but it has no ending and depths. It goes on forever and ever, hallow. Sometimes I don’t think about it being there, especially in the summer and spring months. Other times in the fall and winter months, it’s screaming for attention. I describe it as an itch or a void. I have identified it’s significantly different from the black cloud that used to follow me everywhere I went, from all the sorrow I felt from adoption.  

I do my best to cover the defective parts and let happiness soar, but deep down, hidden from the world is a different story.  

Sometimes it feels like something inside is broken that created the black hole, and no matter what I try to fill it with, it never fills up. I filled it with alcohol for 27 years, but 9.5 years ago, I stopped that habit. Drinking alcohol kept me from noticing the black hole most of the time. The black hole has been screaming to be filled ever since. Sometimes its scream is more potent than others. 

How did this black hole come about? 

It used to feel like the black hole was in my heart because my heart was deeply saddened and sorrowful from my adoption experience. I always thought I would die from a broken heart, but I have learned over the years that it was grief and loss that were trying to come out. The broken heart feeling hung on day in and day out, never leaving. I have spent 10+ years working towards healing, and my heart feels better most of the time. 

Finally, around August of 2021, the sorrow and sadness I always carried deep down lifted, and I can’t quite explain it yet. Other than working towards healing for over 12 years,  I freed myself from an awful and unhealthy 9-month toxic relation-shit in my life, which is possibly one of my best decisions for my emotional and mental well-being. After this fake connection was severed, I have felt exceptionally FREE because it just wasn’t a good fit. 

I am finding a distinct difference between the broken heart feeling and the black hole feeling. It’s at the center of me, and it reaches the deepest parts of my mind, body, and soul. Most of the time, it doesn’t hurt. It’s just there, but it has a nagging and itching desire to be filled up.

It doesn’t want to be empty.

Can it ever be repaired? 

I suspect the black hole was created when the natural bonding process with my biological mother was interrupted, and the separation from her has left a black hole that can never be repaired. Acceptance of this reality has been a KEY component of my healing. 

Do all adoptees carry this? 

I constantly find myself trying to fill it up, but the most significant thing has happened. I can identify when I’m trying to fill the unfillable black hole with unhealthy choices. 

What are the unhealthy ways I try to fill the black hole up? 

  • Sweets
  • Unhealthy food
  • Over-eating
  • Dating
  • Overextending myself
  • Trying to “save” others
  • Wanting to move
  • Starting a new job
  • Not setting boundaries with people
  • Creating a project adding more responsibility to my plate
  • Finding something new to fill the hole.
  • Buying material things I don’t need
  • Temporary satisfaction with unhealthy things
  • Making commitments, I don’t want to make
  • People-pleasing aka fawning
  • “Treating myself” with unnecessary things 
  • Creating a new “bad habit.”
  • Being impulsive
  • Over-planning
  • Filling the void with people, places and things
  • Acting on other peoples ideas and plans for my life before I think thoroughly if that is something I want to do
  • Being lazy, giving the black hole what it wants
  • Acting on obsessive thoughts and feelings 
  • Not spending enough time to think about things before I act on them
  • Avoidance from dealing with reality

One day I might try to fill the black hole with food where I overdose on sweets and food that I know isn’t good for me. One day I maybe have the itch to start a new project that I know I don’t have time for. Another day I might be searching for a new job I don’t need or a hobby that I like, that causes me to spend money I don’t need to spend. Another day, I might be trying to create something unique that no one has ever done before adding an unnecessary responsibility to my life.

I spent a lifetime trying to fill the black hole with Jesus, but that didn’t work permanently. It did work short-term, as long as I avoided the reality of the black hole. It only left me feeling like I was ashamed and defective even more because Jesus is supposed to cure it all. But I am the exception. I gave up on him, and I am glad. That was like running a never-ending rat race, always falling flat on my face in the end. Pretending that the hole didn’t exist or praying it away caused more harm than good. It was a constant war, and it was a game I decided I didn’t want to play anymore.

I won’t lie; it’s not easy to soothe the black hole. When I think about things thoroughly, and I walk away from an unhealthy choice or sporadic decision that attempts to fill the black hole, it sometimes feels like walking away from a drug I have been strung out on for a very long time. Sometimes it feels like death. I recognize that giving into filling the black hole will fix the empty feeling it carries, but only temporarily. A little time passes, then I am faced with something new that will temporarily “fix” the black hole. But, of course, it never goes away, but I can soothe it by choosing healthy things, or I can take a hit of the unhealthy choice, and it also temporarily fixes it. 

Everything changed when I started to look INSIDE MYSELF for the answers, instead of looking for things outside myself in other people, places and, things.

I’ve accepted that something is always going to be missing from my life, due to separation trauma compacted by adoption trauma.

The most amazing thing has happened in the last few months, but it’s not been easy to discover. Finally, I have IDENTIFIED when I have unhealthy feelings and thoughts that directly fill the black hole! Recognizing this is the first step, and I am thankful that I am at a healing space in my journey where I can acknowledge this and RECOGNIZE IT. Some people go to their graves, never making it to this point. While I had alcohol in my life almost daily for 27 years, it wasn’t possible to even identify this dynamic, let alone dissect it, acknowledge it and, work on it. Alcohol blocked me from tuning into my true self and stood in the way of me truly feeling my feelings.

Some people might say, “How do you know this is directly related to the separation from your birth mother?” 

From deconditioning and coming out of the fog regarding my adoption experience, it has opened up 12+ years of research on the topic of adoption. In learning to navigate all of the emotions and feelings that I have stuffed my whole life, I have learned that the primal wound, aka the mother wound compacted by separation trauma and adoption trauma, can impact every area of an adopted person’s life. Sometimes it’s more intensified for each of us, and some adoptees seem to be more well adjusted and they don’t have very many issues. 

Everyone responds to trauma differently. We must learn to recognize that mothers aren’t interchangeable. The void and trauma damage that happens from the separation of our biological mothers can and does leave lasting imprints on an adopted person that can last a lifetime. 

For me, adoption has always bothered me to my core, and I have done everything under the sun imaginable to fill the void. However, I am now learning that the void adoption has left created a black hole that I keep trying to fill. Conclusion: The reality that I can not fill this hole has been life-changing for me. Now that I can distinguish this dynamic, I can ask myself, “Do I really want to do this, or am I just trying to fill the unfillable black hole?” I make a conscious choice to do my best to choose the healthiest option for me, but I fall short all the time and that’s okay. I am a work in progress like we all are.

What that looks like for me is making myself wait on making decisions and giving myself time to sit with them and process them thoroughly before I act. Sometimes this takes me a while, and people don’t always understand that. Why is she taking so long to process? 

Well, that’s actually because I am PROCESSING trying to make the best decision possible for myself, instead of reacting and acting from a DYING place to fill the black hole. The most significant piece to the black hole is acknowledging it, learning more about it, and not running away from it. So I am opening up about it and having conversations about it. I recognize it’s not present all the time, although it is always there. 

I suspect non-adopted people have this black hole feeling, but maybe they don’t describe it this way. I think the black holes can come from different traumatic events in life or things that have always been missing. Our mothers and fathers missing or absent would likely be at the top of the list for many people. I think abuse of any kind can provoke a black hole, as well as accidents or situations that spark C-PTSD and PTSD. Abandonment and rejection of any kind can spark a black hole feeling. 

Self-awareness has been vital and learning to listen to my mind, body, and spirit when it comes to how I’m feeling. Tuning into how other people make me feel when I am around them and acknowledging how I feel by myself has been instrumental in my healing and growth journey. Even when others might pressure me to move faster or respond quicker, I take my time. 

Today, I welcome the black hole, and I realize that it’s something that might be here for the rest of my life. I’m learning to replace it with positive aspects and to be easy on myself if I fail. I am not numbing it with substances; I’m not running from it. I do not deny it’s there. But, I’m learning to make friends with it, which helps us understand one another more profoundly. I am also celebrating the fact that today, I AM FEELING. So many people stuff these holes with drugs and alcohol, and I am doing none of that.

This alone is a cause to celebrate! 

For my fellow adoptees – have you ever experienced a feeling that feels like a black hole?

Does it come and go?

How would you describe it, and where do you think it comes from?

How do you handle it and deal with it?

Biological mothers – Does losing your child feel like a black hole or would you describe it another way?

Thank you for reading,

Love, Love

*The views and opinions expressed in this article 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

Big Adoptee Feelings, Learning to Feel the Feels While Coming Out of the Fog

I remember back to the earlier days of my life, particularly in my pre-teen years, and I was so angry about my birth mother never coming back to get me; I just wanted to die. I hated the world and, I hated everyone in it. And most of all, I hated myself. For me, this means my self-love was non-existent. Nothing could console me and I didn’t feel connected to anyone or anything.

I was a trainwreck.

During the beginning of my life, I developed the fantasy that she was coming back. I dreamed and fantasized of the day that she would change her mind and decide her love for me was so great, she decided to come back and get me. After all, I dreamed she wanted me back because who could actually give their baby away and genuinely mean it?

During my teen years and childhood, as many times as I saw therapists ( I saw a lot!), adoption was never addressed or discussed. Because of this, I didn’t start working on any adoptee-related problems or issues I was holding deep down until the later part of my 30’s which is when I consider the beginning of my process of coming out of the fog about adoption.

In the years that passed, adoption-related thoughts plagued my mind, but there was no help for me. I learned to keep things tucked inside, never sharing my thoughts with the world for fear. Fear of what? Fear of shattering my adoptive mother’s dream come true to be a mother. Fear of upsetting her or being abandoned once again. I never talked about it, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t thinking about it. It honestly never left my mind. I was obsessed with finding HER, my biological mother.

Who would have ever known that my internal dialog with myself was one of ultimate torture? What adults in my life would have understood this dynamic played out as an adopted child? I wasn’t acting out until I was in my pre-teens.

But even then, once I started acting out, no one ever acknowledged that being adopted could play a role in my behaviors. Even running away, locked in drug and alcohol treatment, being in group homes, detention, breaking the law, fighting, stealing, unplanned pregnancy, and even a burglary at 15 – Not even my adoptive parents. So I am here to tell you that not one person in all the contact I had with adults, made the connection that “Wow, this girl is adopted. Maybe that brings some root issues for her we need to bring to the table?”

Once I reached my 30’s I lived many years as an everyday drinker, trying to raise three kids as a single mom, work, pay the bills, and not think about my adoptee reality. Alcohol was the escape, so was partying. I didn’t know how to process the pain from relinquishment, nor did I ever make the connection that my drinking was a symptom of a much bigger cause – ADOPTION TRAUMA AND RELINQUISHMENT TRAUMA.

Once I learned that I have always had every reason to act out and be angry, the fog began to lift. It’s taken over 10+ years working on myself. I have learned that my feelings were so EXTREME and SEVERE because not only was I keeping things tucked inside, but sharing my real feelings about my adoption experience was IMPOSSIBLE because I had never done it.

Not only had I not shared feelings, but I was emotionally abused and gaslit my entire life that adoption was a wonderful thing. I made my adoptive parent’s dreams come true to be parents. I was also told that my birth mother loved me so much; she wanted me to have a better life with a loving two-parent home that she couldn’t provide. Too bad my adoptive parents divorced a year later, and I was raised in an abusive home with a mentally ill and narcissistic adoptive mother I never bonded with!

From a very young age, I learned that I must put everyone’s feelings ahead of my own and that my feelings weren’t significant compared to everyone else’s. Of course, I internalized this, and it only magnified my feelings of grief, loss, anger, rage, and self-hate. I was also forced to pretend that my adoptive parents were my only parents. I knew they were not, but I had to go along with the fantasy because I didn’t know who my biological parents were or how to find them. I was forbidden that information, and it was kept a secret from me.

No Truth, No Healing

The reality that I have made it out of this complete nightmare is nothing short of a miracle. This is why I keep sharing my story because it’s a miracle I am alive to do it. The reason I am saying this is because my issues were so deep. I spent the majority of my youth wanting to die. I tried several times to take my own life (no one even noticed), and I would entice others in hopes that they would kill me. Sounds ludicrous, right? Well, it is, but that’s how dark my sorrow and sadness were. I just wanted out of my misery, and at that time, I was hopeless I would ever “feel alive.” So it’s easy for me to understand why so many adoptees choose to leave the world.

The world has failed adoptees.

When I hit 2010, I found my first adoptee online via the Twitter platform named Jessenia Arias. Jessenia is now Jessenia Arias Parmer, and her website is I Am Adopted. I will never forget this beautiful soul, who I consider one of the most amazing lights to adoptees and anyone in the adoption world. I love you, Jessenia! I remember like it was yesterday, reading her tweets and how so many of them resonated with me.

After spending 2010 and 2011 trying to heal from adoption and relinquishment trauma with alcohol in my everyday life, I finally decided that I could not heal while using substances. Instead, it made my problems worse because I wasn’t genuinely feeling my feelings, I was mixing alcohol with raw emotions, and it was indeed a recipe for disaster!

On my earthly birthday, August 13, 2012, I decided to throw in the towel on my drinking, and this was the last day I ever drank alcohol. Why? Because I desperately wanted to heal, and I wanted my kids to have a better mom than what I had. Even when I was in shambles on the inside, I wanted to get better for my kids. And eventually, for myself. Removing alcohol from my life, I had to get honest with myself. Then, all the feelings I had been running from my whole life showed up at my front door.

BIG ADOPTEE FEELINGS!

Frankly, adoptee feelings have been the biggest and most complex feelings I’ve ever had, even experiencing other traumatic events. Slowly, I started sharing my feelings online, but I was scared to my core that if anyone knew how I felt, something terrible would happen. So I began to write online under an alias, and I wasn’t strong enough to share my feelings from my true authentic self. This was when Adoptee in Recovery was born. It protected me.

I wrote many years under this alias, but one day into my healing journey, the lights flipped on, and I realized I was coming out of the fog, but I wasn’t being true to myself in the process. I wrote under an alias, making me feel phony and not legit. So I stepped into a new phase around 2015 of welcoming the real true me into my website and online adoptee world. This was a liberating experience, but it took years to get up enough courage and strength to get here. I finally didn’t feel invisible. I felt more real than I ever had. I was strong and ready to share my story with the world, from the real true me and not just a piece of me.

 ALL OF ME.

No more hiding behind an alias, but it was lifesaving for a time in my life where I was operating out of paralyzing fear. Adoptees have a lot to lose when they share their real feelings. For me, it was worth the risk, especially knowing I could validate the sentiments of my fellow adoptees if I poured my heart and soul out into my articles.

We must recognize that every person who experiences separation trauma from their biological mother has trauma memories stored in their subconscious memory. This trauma can cause many issues that might not be brought to light. They come out later in life, and adoptees usually have to learn about this independently by experiencing triggers.

While many adoptees feel conditioned to be thankful from the beginning of life, we learn to internalize our thoughts and feelings about our adoption experiences. We go most of our childhood for some of us without ever letting the words from our emotions come out of our mouths. However, just because you don’t hear an adoptee sharing heartbreak or sadness doesn’t mean it’s not there. Most of the time, if they know the whole truth of their adoption, it’s there.

I will never forget the first time I started to share feelings about my birth mother. After 27 years of a love affair with alcohol (so I didn’t have to feel), I stopped drinking alcohol in 2012 at 38 years old and made my way to Celebrate Recovery. I was sitting in a circle of women, and I started sharing about my birth mother, and tears started to flow. I began to cry; my cry turned into a sob. The next thing I knew, I started whaling with my cry and tears, snot started slanging. Suddenly, I realized this was the very first time in my whole life I had shared about the loss of my birth mother. I was 38 years old at the time. 38!!!! Suddenly, an adoptive mom interrupted me, who was in the group. She said, “I’m sorry, but you don’t know adoption like I know adoption! I adopted two kids from foster care, and the experience those kids had gone through before we adopted them has been a nightmare!”

Of course, I was silenced. I shut down. I couldn’t even finish my sentence. How many adoptees who are reading have gotten this sort of treatment in your life?

I got up, and I left…

I walked out of Celebrate Recovery, and that was the moment that I knew if adoptees wanted to heal from a space like this, that is supposed to be safe to share, we would have to create our adoptee centric space because I knew we would be silenced if we didn’t! This was when I knew Adoptees Connect, Inc. was so needed!

So you see, the one time I get up enough courage to share my real feelings, I get silenced and shut down. So I left, and I was hopeless after this. To be transparent, if I were suicidal at this time, I would have taken my own life. I needed and wanted help so desperately, but there was no place I could even share my adoptee feelings freely without being silenced. By this time, I had given up therapy. I couldn’t bear to therapy another therapist.

News Flash: This is the treatment most adoptees get in life! We aren’t only silenced and shut down; we are emotionally and mentally abused and gaslit regularly. Yet, we choose to keep our feelings to ourselves for fear of more emotional abuse.

When I started to come out of the fog and share my truth, I feared that my adoptive family would read my feelings? What if my biological family reads my feelings? Will they all leave me too? Will they stop talking to me? Will they be mad at me?

Despite all these internal fears, I stepped out, and I started to share anyway. After a while, I learned to put myself first and not care what anyone thinks. Finally, after a lifetime of being silenced,  being true to myself and sharing my truth loudly became a priority. Unfortunately, many adoptees never get to this point. Instead, they internalize things so long that they lose the battle at life.

They choose not to go on.

I want those reading that aren’t adopted to consider acknowledging and understanding that their role in an adopted person’s life could potentially be a role that sends an adoptee over the edge. What they say to us is a significant piece of our journey. Do you realize I will never forget the way this adoptive mom treated me and how she silenced me?

Let me share that this experience has been the launching pad for everything I have done for adoptees in creating adoptee-centric spaces all over the world? Unfortunately, not all adoptees will have this courage and strength because we are simply tired! We can’t take more gaslighting and abuse from the world that celebrates our trauma. (adoption) We are tired of being treated like second-class citizens to everyone else’s feelings.

If I ever have the opportunity to speak to an adoptive parent, I always share that the sooner the truth is revealed to the adoptee, the better. I would seek emotional support and therapy from an ADOPTEE competent therapist to know when to share the truth, specifically at age-appropriate times. If I had started to identify with grief, loss, and sadness early on, my healing would have started earlier. I might not have depended on alcohol to numb my pain for 27 years of my life.

The thing about adoptees being young and healing are that we need our adoptive parents, counselors, therapists, and adults in our lives to help us find the words to identify the feelings and also spark conversations that will help create a dialogue. As kids, we don’t know how to do this without help.

Before any adopted child begins to share feelings about being adopted, we need our adoptive parents to research and learn as much as possible and acknowledge and accept that adoption always begins with loss. And we need them to recognize that anytime a mother and a child is separated, a trauma occurs. Once they come to a place of acceptance that their adopted child could struggle with these things, then they can know how to hold space for difficult conversations to be sparked at age-appropriate times.

It’s taken me 10+ years to learn how to process my adoptee feelings in healthy ways, and I am 47 years old. My life is over half over if I’m lucky. Adoption has stolen so much from my fellow adoptees and me, but it doesn’t have to keep stealing so much.

Today, I take my time to respond to uncomfortable feelings, and I have learned that all my emotions are valid and legitimate. If no one has ever told you, so are yours! I sit with them when they come, and I am no longer numbing myself with substances, so I don’t have to feel. My tears have gone from being hard as a rock to flowing freely. Now, I have cried so much the last 10+ years as an attempt to feel and heal that my tears are finally starting to dry up.

This is what I call getting honest with myself, and sitting with my sorrow and sadness, and learning that it’s okay to feel these ways. I remember days when I couldn’t feel at all!

 I have also accepted the pain is here to stay, which was one of the most prominent healing dynamics of my journey and life. I spent so much time trying to be completely healed in my past! But after running many rat races, I learned that it was all a hoax, and this pain is here to stay. I’m not saying I won’t heal because I am healing daily, but adoption’s painful parts will always revisit. I will never be completely whole, and that’s okay. I have accepted it, and it’s easier for me to believe this than run a rat race for 100 years TRYING TO BE FULLY HEALED. This reality in itself has helped me tremendously. They will revisit future generations and my children when they aren’t revisiting me. The key is not running from it but embracing it, sharing it, and feeling it.

Today, I am thankful for the ability to feel because I remember when I was a teenager, my heart, soul, and entire being felt so hallow, dark, and empty inside. Because of all the blood, sweat, and tears, I’ve put into my journey, not today.

Today I am full of life, and I have joy in the little things. I hope the same for my fellow adoptees.

Adoptees, What has the process been like to identify with your adoptee feelings? Have you struggled with this? Do you have any advice for your fellow adoptees or tips and tricks you recommend when it comes to processing and feeling adoptee feelings? Have your adoptee feelings been the biggest feelings you’ve ever had? How has your healing journey been? What helped you the most?

Thank you for reading,

Love, Love

*The views and opinions expressed in this article 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

When Your Biggest Blessing Invalidates My Greatest Trauma

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When your biggest blessing invalidates my greatest trauma it sets me up for a lifetime of pain, suffering and isolation. It facilitates a lifetime of suicidal ideation, because the pain is just too great to process. It makes me feel more isolated and alone than non-adopted individuals can ever imagine. It makes me wish I was aborted and feeling like I want to die for most of my life, because my pain is greater than my desire to want to live. It drives me to attempt to take my life as a teenager, because you fail to admit I have lost anything. It drives me to a place of addiction, because at the end of every day the only way to manage every day life is to numb the pain. When you use bible scriptures to defend your blessing, it makes me question the bible and the God you are speaking of. When your biggest blessing outshines my reality, it makes me feel unimportant and insignificant. When you refer to me as a blessing, it hurts because you are invalidating my adoptee and relinquishee reality.

My story went something like this:

Me: Mommy, did I come out of your tummy?

Adoptive Mom: No, you were adopted. Your birth mother’s choice to surrender you for adoption was my biggest blessing and a dream come true.

Me: What do you mean?

Adoptive Mom: She loved you so much she gave you to me to raise, and I will always love her and be thankful for her decision.

Me: Who is she? Where is she?

Adoptive Mom: We don’t know, honey.

Me: Experienced the most significant mental mind fu*k of my entire lifetime.

I was approximately five years old when this conversation took place, and it’s clear to me that my life was never the same. Every day, I was haunted every hour and every minute wondering, wishing, and dreaming about finding HER.

No matter what questions I had or what mental torment I experienced from this moment forward, my adoptive mom’s joy and happiness trumped everything. My feelings didn’t matter when I was her biggest blessing in life, and her joy  of being a mother trumped my feelings of sadness every damn day.

If I’m transparent, my adoptive mom likely didn’t know the pain and heartache I was experiencing but if she did, her happiness was highlighted over my pain. I was adopted in August of 1974, and my adoptive parents were told to sweep the entire idea of adoption and what it meant under the rug. They were also told the less we talked about it; the better things would be. This is how many adoptions were back in those days, but today is a new day and a new year. It’s 2020, and when you know better, you do better.

However, I ask myself if my adoptive parents knew this, would it have changed anything for my five-year-old self, who was desperately searching for my REAL MOTHER?

I genuinely believe as a 46-year-old woman, if I were able to process my trauma at as early of an age as possible, my healing journey wouldn’t have started at 36+ years old. I wouldn’t have been addicted to substances for 27 years of my life. I recently celebrated 8 years sobriety, however I feel like I’ve spent my entire life not only suffering from the trauma of relinquishment and adoption but healing from the lifelong aftermath of these experiences.

I have barely started living my life yet, and if I’m lucky, it’s over half over. That’s a hard pill to swallow, but I try to remain grateful that I’m here and I’m alive because I know so many of my fellow adoptees are not. This is why I keep sharing and writing. Adoptees are dying!

Adoptions continue to happen all over the world. We cannot continue to fail to acknowledge that before the blessing of an adopted child is brought into a family, it is equally intertwined into the very beginnings of our life, which is a traumatic experience. We must also recognize that relinquishment is trauma, and so is adoption. These are two very different dynamics to the adoptee experience. The sooner society steps out of denial about these truths; the sooner adoptees will start to heal.

Better yet, if our adoptive parents knew these truths from the beginning, would they still choose to adopt anyway? In my experience spending the last ten years networking in the adoption community, most all adoptive parents I have talked to have expressed they TRULY had no idea what they were getting themselves into when they adopted. The adoption agencies and attorneys never shared the truth with them. When they learned what they were up against, it was too late, and they were stuck with this child who has come with deep-rooted relinquishment trauma, or they rehome them and send them back.

Let me be clear, we can have wonderful and loving adoptive homes and love our adoptive families greatly, but the original trauma of relinquishment still remains the same. Networking with adoptees for over 10+ years and hearing their stories, building relationships with them, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt most of us don’t get happy and loving adoptive homes! If you are that one adoptee or know that one adoptee who’s “Just fine” with being adopted, spend more time getting to know more adoptees. That one adoptee story doesn’t compare to the hundreds of thousands of adoptees who have nightmare adoption stories and adoptive homes. Remember, adoption trauma always compacts the original relinquishment trauma.

In what ways does relinquishment and adoption trauma surface in an adopted individual? It can be acting out at an early age or teen/adult years with anger, rage, self-harm, substance abuse, breaking the law, running away, testing the waters in every way possible. Depression, anxiety, abandonment, mental health issues, self love, self hate, rejection, and Complex – PTSD. Let’s not forget grief and loss. Grief and loss show up in more ways than non-adoptees can even imagine and it lasts a lifetime! We struggle with these things for our entire lifetimes and many adoptees never get the help they deserve, taking this pain to their graves. We don’t wake up one day and it’s gone. It follows us, like ball and chain. For many of us, it feels like we’re doing a life sentence for a crime we didn’t commit.

While our adoptive parents, their friends, and family are celebrating adoption blessings, the truth is that adoptees will continue to attempt suicide at 4x the rate of non-adopted individuals. We will continue to grieve our grief and process our loss alone for a lifetime. We will continue to feel helpless in a world that celebrates our relinquishment trauma and adoption trauma. We will continue to live a life riddled with anxiety, depression, and sadness. We will continue to feel isolated and alone. Many and most of us take these things to our graves, because there has never been any help for us.

Instead, you celebrate our trauma and normalize the separation of a mother and her baby. Nothing about relinquishment and adoption is normal, and all the feelings adoptees feel and how we respond to relinquishment and adoption trauma is normal considering the circumstances. What’s not normal is relinquishment and adoption trauma!

Back in 1974, adoptees weren’t baring their souls to share their stories in hopes of shining a light on the truth about adoption and how it’s made them feel. If they were, there might have been very few of them. Today they are, and it’s making a difference. One of the biggest things I have experienced that’s been a significant hurdle to overcome is that our world celebrates adoption the way they do. Can you imagine our world celebrating rape or child abuse? Can you imagine our world celebrating someone being held hostage at gunpoint? Can you imagine our world celebrating a mother and child dying in childbirth?

Only in adoption is our most tremendous trauma of relinquishment not acknowledged, but it’s celebrated. The mental mind fu*k this causes for relinquished and adopted individuals can’t even be explained. Let me be frank; it’s a big giant clusterfu*k.

While our adoptive parents and society are celebrating, they don’t equally acknowledge that we are being is severed from our roots before any adoption occurs. This is the most significant loss of our lifetimes. We lose genetic mirrors, biological connections, medical history, siblings, grandparents, ethnicity, homeland, and so much more on top of YOU CELEBRATING IT. Stop celebrating mothers and babies being separated!

If you’ve made it this far, I will encourage you to challenge yourself in stepping out of denial about the FACTS that what you were told and what you learned about adoption might not be accurate information. I ask you to open your eyes, ears, and hearts to the truth that relinquished and adopted individuals need you to equally acknowledge all we have lost before you consider celebrating it.

We’re not your blessing. Until you can do this vital step to help aid us in our healing process you have no business celebrating us or calling us a blessing. When our adoptive parents are our elders, we follow suit in what they acknowledge as we are children. If you recognize this, we will realize this. Conversations about grief, loss, relinquishment, abandonment, rejection, culture, genetic mirroring, searching, and reunion need to happen. As children, we will NOT be able or equipped to open these conversations on our own. Without the support of our adoptive parents, we will suffer, and we will suffer greatly.

I hate to shatter the fantasy that your adoption is a blessing, but the truth is before every adoption takes place, relinquishment trauma happens first. Adoptees are dying. Please stop celebrating our relinquishment trauma and adoption trauma, and if even after learning all this, you still choose to celebrate, at least equally share the truth by sharing the painful pieces as well. If you don’t, you will regret it, and please know you are assisting in the stalling of your adopted child’s healing. A lifetime of pain will follow no matter what, but if you choose to assist by opening these difficult conversations, it will help!

If you are the adoptive parent of an adult adoptee, you can still apply this information to your journey, life, and relationship with the adopted individual in your life. I don’t know your story, nor do I need to know it. Start talking about the TRUTH in adoption. Start talking about uncomfortable topics. It could save your relinquishee/adoptees life.

Thanks for reading.

The views and opinions expressed in this article 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