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

My Views on Adoptee vs. Relinquishee

Over the last few years, I’ve learned the noteworthy difference in the concept of an adopted individual referencing themselves as a relinquishee and why this is even a thing. Take note while I share here, I’m sharing from the perspective of an adoptee adopted from a closed adoption in 1974. I’m not referencing individuals who have never been separated from their biological mothers at the beginning of life.

10+ years ago, I began to come out of the fog regarding my adoptee journey, and in that time, it’s been ten years of processing pain, heartache, adoption, and relinquishment trauma. I had to trace back to the beginning of my life, which we would typically consider being conception. I actually wrote about this before many years ago, Is Adoption the Problem or is Relinquishment the Problem?

 However, we must go much farther back and allow ourselves to spend some time in our birth parents’ shoes, their parents’ shoes, and their parents’ shoes.

Over those ten years, I’ve learned the knowledgeable difference between someone using the reference adoption trauma and relinquishment trauma. They are two very different things, and we must recognize them as such to embrace our healing journeys.

For myself, the root of my pain is a reflection of the original separation and relinquishment trauma from my birth mother. This wound in the adoption community is fitfully referenced as The Primal Wound.

I share my thoughts and feelings based on my experiences, which is especially true for my healing journey. One’s healing journey is never cut and dry, reflecting ONE WAY, so I will never insist what works for me will work for you too, but it might.

I used to refer to adoption trauma as the root of my trauma; however, my growth has caused my views to change over the years. Today, I hear countless individuals reference adoption trauma as the soul wound that an adoptee carries; however, I would disagree. The first trauma an adopted individual experiences is actually from the relinquishment from our biological mothers. This trauma is first, and it is the root of our heartache and pain. Trying to heal these wounds “out of order” where we aren’t acknowledging the root first, can and will stall our healing as relinquishees.

Adoption trauma is definitely in the mix for most of us, who consider our adoptive homes a traumatic experience. Still, we must acknowledge that relinquishment trauma, aka the primal wound, was FIRST.

Adoption trauma compacts relinquishment trauma, making one big cluster fu*ks of trauma on top of trauma. I’m a firm believer in getting to the root of the problem to pull it out and set it on the table to work on it. In my opinion, we must start referring to our pain to share where the root of our heartache and pain comes from, and that’s relinquishment trauma.

The loss of our birth mother is so profound that until we start to recognize this as our original trauma that happened FIRST, our healing will be stalled.

Adoption trauma is a thing. Being forced to bond with a family, you are nothing like is a thing. Adoption abuse is a thing. Adoption itself is separate from relinquishment and in this acknowledgement, I’ve learned this is one reason adoptees are now referencing themselves as relinquishees.

As I embrace a New Year and as 2021 approaches, I feel that for my writings and personal journey, I am going to starting writing from the perspective of a relinquishee because, for me, that’s the one wound that’s been the deepest. It’s the root of my pain. To recognize this, I want other adoptees to consider acknowledging this as their root wound as well. However, it could also be known as the mother wound for adoptees that wound is dual damage.

I have learned over the years some adoptees do not acknowledge adoption or relinquishment as a trauma. However, I feel they likely haven’t done enough research on either of these to make the correlation.

One dynamic of connecting these dots was to step out of denial about relinquishment trauma. This only happened by researching and trying to understand pre and perinatal bonding, separation after birth, and the emotional, psychological, and preverbal trauma that occurs when relinquishment/separation happens. Another avenue to research is generational trauma. No one will tell us to research these things to understand them better, so we must embrace this on our own.

Acknowledging these differences in relinquishment trauma and adoption trauma is critically essential, and our healing depends on it. Moving forward, you will likely see me reference myself as a relinquishee about my views on relinquishment trauma. I encourage you to do your research and study all the adoptee experience dynamics so you can best understand the complex layers of trauma that an adopted individual experiences.

For most adoptions to take place, the adoptee is a relinquishee FIRST. I think this difference is a noteworthy one those in adoption circles should acknowledge because the more we understand, the more we heal.

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.

Is Open Adoption The Answer?

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Time to seek input from those of us who have the most expertise in the adoption constellation- The Adult Adoptees!⚡️

The topic of OPEN ADOPTION keeps being brought up as a solution to closed adoption, and I’m seeking wisdom from the adoptees here to share your input on open adoption vs closed adoption. Of course none of us have been able to live both, but we do feel adoptees still have the best advice based on living adopted. They certainly have more experience than the adoption agencies, adoption attorneys and adoptive parents. As well as the birth mothers who make this choice thinking it’s the better option.

To the adoptees here, Is one better than the other? Why or why not? Do you recommend open adoption? When someone asks you if it’s better than closed adoption, how do you respond? Share as little or as much as you like!

Comments will not be censored! Here are responses from 22 adoptees who had enough courage to chime in on this topic. Thank you to each of you!

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  • In some ways, yeah. But on the other, growing up, I just wanted to be “normal”, and “normal” wasn’t having 2 families. I still struggle with that idea and feel like I need to be “rid of” one of them. At the end of the day, I don’t think adoption is an answer at all because there’s no win situation for the adoptee. – Alexis

 

  • Phuck adoption. Adoption needs to be killed. Legal Guardianship. That’s the answer – Danny

 

  •  I don’t believe it is the answer. It is a band aid over a bigger situation. The only thing with open adoption is that the child has the opportunity to know where he/she comes from. But in the end there is still trauma for child. Confusion. And again it is not in the best interest of the child. – Elva

 

  • Guardianship is the answer. Whereby contact to parents is open where its safe to do so, where the child keeps his or her birth certificate & identity intact and where the child isn’t Gas Lighted into believing adopters are the birth parents. The Guardianship concept isn’t likely to happen anytime soon so where open adoption isn’t the answer , its better than nothing . But legislation needs to put in place so that adopters cannot close an open adoption. Legislation allowing the child to return to his or her mother and or father should be put in place to remove the permanency of closed or open adoption. And with open adoption, I believe it is in the child’s best interest to not only see their mother often & with regularity, but that mothers should be encouraged & welcomed into the child’s home environment too. Not keen on the idea of an adoptees mother being shut out of the child’s home. It must feel odd & strange that a mother or father is kept locked firmly out of the child’s home. If it is safe for the child to have contact to their mother then it is safe for the mother to be welcomed into the adopter home so to create a stronger working relationship between mothers & adopters which in turn would make a child feel much more at ease & therefore happier. – Gordie

 

  • No, it most definitely is not. Legal guardianship is. – Janice

 

  • I cannot imagine how heart wrenching it must be to see your mother periodically and then watch her go back to her life and family without you over and over again!
    I was in a closed adoption so cannot speak from experience, but, in my view it would be unsettling to say the least. Let’s just reform adoption to be a last hope Guardianship only when a child has been proven unable to live with any of their own family. And if possible should lead to help for parents and eventual return to family. Let’s make adoption work for adoptees instead of hopeful family builders. – Kimberly

 

  • I wish there was no adoption at all. I can understand that there will always be those who are unable or unwilling to parent their child and I would rather see the child with a family than an institution. What I have a HUGE problem with is stripping away a child’s identity. Furthermore, forcing a child to pretend that they are from the adopted family. Because of this, if there have to be adoptions at all, (and why cant there be legal guardianship instead of adoption?), I would rather see open than closed. I feel closed adoptions should be eradicated completely. I wish more than anything I would have been able to grow up knowing my siblings. That hurts me to my core. I am grateful to know them now, but I will never have that shared history with them, and it is very emotional and hard to see them interacting with each other and with my parents in a way that I can’t. Children deserve to know where they come from and who they come from. They are entitled to see what their parents look like and know how to get ahold of them. Adoptive parents should never be able to close an adoption or stop contact with the bio family. My two cents worth. – Denise

 

  • I’ve never understood how open adoption is the right choice for the child. Wouldn’t that cause more confusion and anger for the child? – Krystyna

 

  • No. Just no. No adoption until a child is old enough to choose. – Sammy

 

  • My adoption 60 years ago was Gray Market. Not totally legal baby selling ring people who made arrangements to traffic babies between Maryland, NY and NJ. I grew up in NY. The baby sellers often falsified much of the information (names, ethnicity, etc.) Found out in an argument when I was 15 that I had been adopted. They gave me the information, yet took away a great deal of trust + given the shock of the news shared in anger. Not to say these ring folks placed babies in bad homes, however, they got in serious trouble for their extensive role in the practice. Met the Lady that gave birth to me. Nice, open, vulnerable, kind, lost, and not ‘mother’ material, therefore open might not have mattered, plus my parents might have felt insecure given all of the dynamics. – Roxan

 

  • I don’t feel that open adoption is a solution to closed adoption. Adoption, in its entirety needs to be overhauled. Adoption should not be an “option” to “build a family”. Buying a womb wet infant is baby selling, plain and simple. Guardianship and kinship placements should be considered first if in fact there is a pregnant woman who really and truly cannot, shouldn’t or won’t parent. I believe in most instances, mothers do want to parent, but may be in a temporary situation that makes it impossible or impractical to parent. Help with the temporary hardship should be the goal of every social worker out there. A birth certificate should never be changed, parents should never be replaced with lies. An OBC and a court order if guardianship should be enough documentation to register for school, get a license, passport, SS card, etc. Why is a falsified piece of paper proof of your identity? Closed adoption is horrific because there are so many questions, so much missing information, that it can be hard for a child to feel “real”. Open adoptions are potentially more problematic in that the child is repeatedly ripped from their natural family and may wonder why they aren’t good enough to stay with them or a myriad of other feelings of otherness. There is no win-win for children in these scenarios. – Daphne

 

  • I can’t imagine how an open adoption would feel as a kid growing up. I was in a closed adoption so can only recount that experience and hazzard a guess about open adoption. Whilst I wondered and made up stories of my birth mother it wasn’t something that affected every waking hour. It wasn’t every moment I looked on a mirror or got told off for being naughty. Indeed it really was as I grew older into adulthood that I started to explore how I felt more deeply. I’m fortunate to have reunited with my birth mother so the circle was closed with no gaps. She was adorable. I never thought after meeting her that I’d wished she’d kept me for my life would not be what it is now if things had been different. I sat on an adoption panel for many years and to place some of the children in an open adoption would have been harmful to them. I like the idea of letterbox contact which we do in the uk. Exchanges of letters and pics maybe twice a year via the adoption agency. Both sets parents remain anonymous but the kids get to keep in touch with their history. I think open adoption would work too if both parties are open and caring enough not to let their egos fight over the child. I used to explain to my own kids that their are so many sorts of families and parents and that each had reasons for being as they are and that is how the world works. I am happy with both open and closed adoption as long as it’s the adoptees interests that are at the forefront of any decision. – JoJo

 

  • All adoption is abuse of a child’s human rights. There is never a need for adoption for a child who is genuinely in need of (frequently temporary) care. Kinship care (never adoption) should be sought in the child’s father and mother’s family/extended family so that a child can grow up within their own family, having mirroring and feeling grounded. Knowing who they are, their family, place and culture. Failing this, a Legal Guardianship is kindest to the child; puts the child’s welfare first and has regular checks. Adoption has become a multi billion dollar industry by supplying babies who belong to one family to infertile people who feel entitled to a child when they can’t have their own children naturally, or to saviour attention seeking types. That a person could even think like that, ie, that they are entitled to someone else’s child, is beyond me. Adoption involves child trafficking and skullduggery of every kind and lies and deceit. Infertile people go to great lengths, fundraising on facebook, having bake and garage sales to buy a baby. How disgusting. There is never ever a thought for what the baby would want, only what they want. Adoption: First, it severs a child from the mother the child already knows and is waiting to meet. A baby knows their own mother by scent. Second, it cuts a child off from all that is rightfully theirs by birth. Their name, their birth certificate (is replaced with a fake birth certificate naming strangers as their parents), their family, their neighbours, their place, their history and heritage, their culture and country. Third, it forces a child to live a pretend life. Pretend these strangers are your parents. Pretend you are their son or daughter. It forces a child to try to be what the owners/adopters want, as adoption promised them the child would be “just like them,” and they truly believe, delusionally, that if they cajole, manipulate and bully the child enough, it will be moulded into what they want. The child tries to cooperate because he or she fears further rejection from the owners. This child usually develops Stockholm Syndrome and is loyal to his or her captors and parrots all they tell her. “Adoption is beautiful”, oh yes, adoption is beautiful! For this child to look at the truth of what was done to them is too painful. When a child is just him or herself, this is unacceptable to the owners/adopters as it reminds them they are really NOT the child’s parents. The child is being true to his or her own inherited traits and it really upsets them and they feel they were conned and didn’t get value for their money. This child is the black sheep, the receptacle for the narcissists vile projections. So many adopted people tell of their lives being destroyed by adoption and by narcissistic adopters. Recent studies have shown that most female adopters are narcissists. The amount of adopted children worldwide who are being abused in every way but especially sexually, who are being beaten, starved, imprisoned and murdered by their loving adopters should be enough to get this barbaric practice stopped, but its not. Too much money is being made off the backs of innocent children and mothers. Adoption has no follow on checks so adopters can do what they like to the innocent children they got their hands on. The idea that someone else’s child can be legally owned by infertile or other types of people who ‘want children’ is beyond appalling and reprehensible. The child loses their mother/father and family and the life they should have had all because some strangers want a child? More regard is given to puppies and kittens than to human children. Its outrageous and it needs to be seen for the child abuse it is and outlawed. Legalized child abuse. Taking someone else’s child is NOT a cure for infertility. Acceptance is the cure for infertility. Surrogacy is another breach of children’s human rights and we are seeing many of those purposely created children now with broken hearts just like adopted people have…. longing for their fathers and mothers. The same people who shouted about children being separated from their parents at the border have no problem coveting and taking someone else’s child themselves. They disgust me. – Geraldine

 

  • I think it’s the best way to go. I wish mine had been! – Courtney

 

  • Open Adoption Well for a start in N.Z there is no such Legal Law. Its only on the word of the Adopting Parents which they can break at any given time. Then on the other hand the Birth Mother can also walk away, perhaps she has a new partner, so that new family is her main concern, or new partner says NO to contact with her first child. Its a very mixed bag. Its like everything some work most don’t. Again the Adopted child pays the price. – Josie

 

  • I don’t recommend any adoption but open is better than closed. I grew up with no real information about my parents. The non-identifying information did not answer any of my questions and only prompted more questions. I didn’t even have a photograph of my parents. I had nothing and that was horrible. I would have appreciated having access to my parents, siblings and grandparents. But since my APs were abusive what I really needed was to return to my real family. Adoption of any kind can really mess with your head but having access to information would have been better for me. – Lorene

 

  • No – Julia

 

  • I have already read and heard many stories about the so-called “open adoption”. Often the mother is persuaded to agree to an “open adoption”. She is presented with a fantasy. However, in 99% it is turned within 1 year so that a closed adoption is approved by the judge because the adoptive parents convince the judge “that the contact is very confusing and slaughter for THEIR child. !!! The mother has no right to speak, so all adoption is bad for mother and child. – Barbara

 

  • No adoption is the answer be accountable for your actions. – Elizabeth

 

  • ONLY if the CHILD wants to be. Why can’t you can’t adopt without changing their names? Without stripping them of their identity? Without taking away their relationships with their families? – Britney

 

  •  I think abortion is the answer. If a woman doesn’t want, or isn’t able to keep a child, she shouldn’t have it. – Kris

 

  • Open adoptions aren’t any better IMHO. Can you imagine being ripped away from your biological mother over and over again? Every single time that happens a trauma occurs. All relinquishment, open or closed is rooted and grounded in trauma. We have to stop co-signing for trauma. The only way to eliminate such trauma is abolish adoption as we know it. Only in abusive situations we need to focus on keeping the child in the family first, (kinship) and if all options have been exhausted in that area then guardianship should happen. In guardianship, no names are changed, histories aren’t sealed and our lives aren’t based on secrecy and lies. Our truth AND ALL OF IT must stay in tact! This idea of “protecting us” from the truth needs to be stopped because it’s killing adoptees! We can’t heal from secrecy, lies and half truths no matter if its closed or open adoption. I can never support adoption or open adoption until 100% of our truth is disclosed. We also need to be 100% for family preservation NOT adoption separation. Open adoption is not better than closed adoption. Abolish it, and stop keeping secrets. The truth needs to be mandated and the truth means nothing hidden. – Pamela

 

Are you an adoptee and have thoughts on this?

Please share below, we want to hear from you!

Please consider sharing this article the next time someone asks if open adoption is the solution to closed adoption.

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