BIO: Pamela is an adult adoptee who resides in Lexington, KY. She’s a Iowa native but considers Kentucky her home. Pamela is a proud mother of 3 amazing children. Keila, Damia & Damond. They keep her young and make her world go around.She is a private caregiver and has been in this field for 11 years. She has been caring for multiple elderly people in that time, but has worked closely with a stroke patient. She is a huge part of her life and considers her career to be very rewarding. Pamela loves the simple things in life like hot tea, nature, and the sunrises and sunsets. Her love for the sky goes all the way back to being a little girl searching for her birth mother. Knowing she was under the same sky she was made her feel close to her even when she was far away. Pamela loves connecting with her fellow adoptees and shares her journey with the world at Adoptee In Recovery. She wants the world to know that with God all things are possible! Never give up hope in finding your family!
Content Warning: The following article you are about to read may contain written material of a serious factual nature that may be disturbing to some individuals. Reader discretion is advised.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?
WHAT IT COST TO BE ME:
Adoptee in Recovery
RELINQUISHMENT & BEYOND
I can only imagine what that day was like when my birth mother found out she was pregnant with me on that cold winter day in December of 1973.
I can speculate due to everything being kept a secret from me and never hearing the truth from her but I know she was 27 years old at the time. I’ve heard bits and pieces from others who were close to my birth mother over the years. I know the pregnancy was kept a secret which tells me my birth mother was ashamed and possibly had fear wondering what others would think of her. I always wondered WHY she kept it a secret, even from my own biological father. It was said that she had a drunkin affair with a married man who was approx. 10 years older than her. He was a close friend of the family. I was told my birth mother was never seen without a drink in her hand, including her pregnancy with me. I can only guess she rejected the pregnancy in many aspects. She knew from the beginning she wasn’t going to keep me. Why bother bonding to the baby inside who spent 9 months drinking every drink she consumed. I was bonding with her even if she didn’t bond with me. I know my birth mother had gone through a divorce not long before I was conceived. I was told she hadn’t healed from that divorce and it might have had an impact on her surrendering me for adoption. If I was to take my guess, it would be her having an affair with a married man which would have been extremely shameful back in those days.
Knowing these things I have been able to have a better understanding of WHY
You might ask WHY that is so important.
It would be ignorant for me to try to convince someone who doesn’t want to understand but for those who have the willingness to TRY…
Let me just say if you didn’t know the beginning of your life and your story it leaves a gaping wound that will never heal. It’s impossible to know where you’re headed if you don’t know where you come from. It’s impossible for a tree to grow without roots. Without roots I was floating around in life trying to find that attachment, that bond that was between a mother and her child. I had a hole in my heart.
For me, I was alive but not living.
I was dead inside not knowing my TRUTH.
Finding the WHY has helped me understand my birth mothers decision in a more profound way. I’ve been able to accept it for what it is and work on moving forward with my life. I’ve been able to forgive her. How can I forgive her when I don’t know what I’m forgiving? Not knowing the TRUTH has only HURT me MORE.
I can’t let go if I don’t know what I’m letting go of.
None of us can.
I have always obsessed with that day. August 13th 1974. What was that room like the day I came into this world? My birth mother’s best friend sent her flowers and they were returned to her because my birth mother went into the hospital under an alias name. I wondered if she held me that day? Did she name me? Was she sad or glad to get this day over with so she could move on with her life?
For most of my life I wished she would have aborted me, my pain was that great. I wished I was never born and I was mad that I was. Why didn’t she abort me when abortion became legalized in 1973 the same year I was conceived? I am lead to believe her views on abortion come from her mother, my biological grandmother trying to abort her baby on her own. The abortion didn’t succeed; instead she had a biological sister who was born mentally challenged due to a botched abortion. She lived her entire life in a nursing home and died in her 50’s. I would think this would give me a sour taste about abortion as well. Everyone’s family has some secrets, and this was one of their many.
Let me share, this family was not a spiritual family. They didn’t know God at all so I don’t think her decision had much to do with the spiritual aspect of taking a life.
I was told she worked up until the day she had me and went back to work the next day. I bet she was relieved she no longer had to hide it. She was told I would have a “Better Life” than what she could give me and I would be adopted by two loving parents who could provide me with more than she ever could.
Her life continued on…
I was all alone in the nursery at St. Frances Hospital in Waterloo, Iowa for the next 4 days experiencing the TRAUMA of being separated from the only thing I ever knew, my birth mother.
My adoptive parents picked me up and the previous time in my life being in utero and being born into the world was erased. The reasons WHY I was relinquished were parts of my story I was supposed to forget about, never to know the truth as long as I was to live. I was never to find out my lineage, history, medical history, who my siblings were. I was what they considered to be a new born baby with no memory, a blank slate.
On to have the “better life” promised to my birth mother…
THE BETTER LIFE
Please keep in mind I didn’t have ANY of these answers to my questions about my natural family until I was in my 20’s & 30’s. It was all a secret I was never supposed to find out.
I have a new home, a new family and all is good, Right? I even had an older sister from another family that was also adopted into the family I was.
Everything is perfect or so it seems…
Within a year of being adopted my adoptive parents divorced and my adoptive dad moved an hour away, remarried and had 3 step sons to be raised as his own. Left with our adoptive mother, we visited my adoptive dad every other weekend, for holidays and vacations in the summer. I could run and play at my adoptive dads. I was free like a kid should be.
My adoptive mother wanted to be a mother more than anything in this world, but the biggest reason I’ve gathered over the years is so that she wouldn’t have to go to a nursing home when she was elderly. How do I know this? I remember hearing about this from the time I couldn’t remember anything and it was like a reoccurring script she said over and over. At approx. 5 years old I remember finding out I was adopted. I saw a baby being born on the television. I said, “Mommy, I came out of your tummy like that?” She said, “No honey, you came out of another woman’s tummy. She loved you so much she gave you to me so I could be a mommy. You were the greatest gift and a dream come true for me to finally be a mommy!”
I remember not understanding all of this but what I knew was, “This isn’t my real mommy. I have another mommy somewhere out there!” My mind began to obsess over HER. WHO WAS SHE? WHERE WAS SHE? WHAT DID SHE LOOK LIKE? In my little girl mind this had to be a big mistake, and I waited on her to come get me my entire childhood and juvenile years.
What mother would really give their child away and really mean it?
I began to form fantasies about her. Was she a movie star or someone famous? She must be searching for me like I was searching for her. Did I have a twin? I looked for her everywhere I went. I remember searching in my adoptive moms file cabinets over and over looking for information about my birth mother. It had to be in there somewhere! I never did find it but I never stopped searching. Everywhere I went I searched for my birth mother.
Who was my adoptive mom? She tried to better herself by going to nursing school to be a RN. She took joy in planting flowers, watching figure skating and baking during the holidays. We said prayers before meals, went to church and did devotionals from time to time.Sounds idea, right? The hidden side was her being addicted to prescription pain pills, she suffered from depression, manic depressive episodes as well as severe mental illness that went untreated. She never healed from her divorce and her infertility issues which is the reason she was never able to have her own biological children. She tried to commit suicide in front of us multiple times, even laying in the street on one occasion. She would tie us to chairs with dish towels and make us massage her body with lotion all over. There were lists of chores and tasks for us to do, this never ended. We were her personal slaves, and going outside to play for 5 minutes had to be a thought out “escape”. Because of her, I never had a childhood or a mother. There was non-stop conflict and fighting in this home. I have suffered greatly because of this.
I experienced a lifetime of emotional and mental abuse and trauma in this home that impact me to this day. I had 2 chances in the “Mother Department” and struck out on both chances. Due to the trauma of relinquishment and the trauma that was happening in my home I was a very broken teenager and child. I’ve had a deep mother wound and I never bonded to anyone. Trust issues and PTSD episodes plague my life but I’ve become very good at hiding them from the world. Growing up, I was in and out of group homes, juvenile lock up and drug and alcohol rehab. I hated the world and everyone in it. I tried to take my own life, without success. I had nothing to live for. I was angry and rage filled for many, many years to come. From the ages of 5-10 my oldest step brother molested me in my adoptive dads home. I never told anyone until I was much older in a therapy session. From 12 years old alcohol was my best friend until I was 37 years old. This is no surprise sense I started drinking before I was even born into this world. As an adult I managed to get myself in countless abusive relationships. Looking back I had no self love. I felt I was disposable due to my birth mother not wanting me. Labeled as a “gift” did not help matters any! Imagine being a human being being made to feel as if you are a piece of property?
As I got older I began to base my worth on how God feels about me, NOT anyone of this world…but this took MANY YEARS and I was well into my 30’s before this happened.
Alcohol took the pain away, at least for that moment.
It has been said over and over in the adoption community, adoption doesn’t guarantee a better life, only a different one.
My life story is in agreement with this statement.
In 1994 I had a beautiful baby girl who gave me a reason to move forward. She was joy to my life like nothing ever was before. Having a child of my own was the first blood relative I ever laid eyes on. A few years later I gave birth to twins. My kids gave me something to live for. Having children triggered my curiosity of who my birth family was even more than before. I wondered about my medical history. This not only impacted me, it also impacted my children. How cruel I had no medical history for my children!
I spent 21 years asking my adoptive mother who my birth mother was. She said over and over, “When we get enough money for an attorney we’ll get the sealed records opened, but right now we don’t have enough money”. Finally at 21 years old she came clean and admitted she LIED to me my entire life and she knew how I could find out who my birth mother was. To this day I believe it was God shining his light on me because he KNEW this is something that bothered me on a very deep level.
I NEEDED TO KNOW MY TRUTH!
IT WAS KILLING ME INSIDE NOT KNOWING THE TRUTH!
THE TRUTH FINALLY SURFACES
But not without a fight.
I guess everyone was hoping I would be the “good adoptee” and never ask any questions, be obedient in being “Thankful” I was saved when my own biological mother didn’t want me. I should be grateful I was alive and not an aborted baby. At least I got life, right?
I was far from the good adoptee. In fact, I was the very very BAD ADOPTEE. My spirit, heart and soul have gone against how the “ADOPTION INDUSTRY” has wanted me to respond. This goes all the way back to the moment I found out the truth about being adopted. To top it off the WORLD treats me as LESS THAN for simply wanting to know the TRUTH about where I came from. They make it apparent because of the way they treat me as if I’m just an angry adoptee who had a bad experience.
Imagine for a moment how that might feel?
Like I’m nothing, and I don’t matter nor do my feelings. It doesn’t help any that my adoptive parents have never had one talk with me about how I have felt being adopted. Society hasn’t had any “Safe Spaces” for adoptees until recently. Between these things I have felt like I was adopted not as a human being with real feelings, but a little baby that has no say so. Like a piece of property. Nothing is REAL, living a pretend life. I am a child for 18 years. Do you know how fast that goes? A baby that had no choice and no voice grows up into a living, breathing, feeling, ADULT. I’m supposed to grow up THANKFUL for this LIFE yet the WORLD doesn’t care how I feel. My adoptive parents got their “FREE PASS” at being parents at the expense of my life, my history, my truth and my healing.
It never was about ME.
I AM ALIVE.
I HAVE FEELINGS.
I’M NOT A BABY ANYMORE!
I was able to meet both my birth parents and after the initial meeting with both of them they shut the door and rejected any further communication. The best days of my life meeting them turned into the worst. I had no idea I would experience a 2nd rejection.
Prepare! Prepare! Prepare!
There is no real preparation for THIS!
My birth mother was deeply upset and guilt ridden the “better life” wasn’t better at all. She said if she would have known I was going to be raised in poverty in a single parent household she would have kept me and raised me herself. She was an alcoholic, and died all alone. She was a hurting woman. I tried to reach out to her over the years and she declined any contact.
My birth father still doesn’t acknowledge me even after DNA testing has confirmed he is my biological father. I am his only daughter. He is also an alcoholic and a very hurting broken man.
Although I am extremely grateful I was able to lay eyes on the 2 people who brought me into this world, because some adoptees never get that chance rejection from them BOTH has hurt me beyond words can express.
Where does this leave me?
Broken hearted & feeling alone in this world.
“With God, You are never alone.”
I get peace in this!
I am extremely thankful for my kids, because without them I would not be here. I can see that my experience impacts them in many ways but I do try my best to hide it. It’s not their problem to have to tend to how I feel. I don’t want them to worry about me or my feelings. They are kids, they shouldn’t have too like I had to growing up. They know a fraction of how deep my wounds are because unfortunately they have seen me cry about my birth mother, and my birth father. Never getting to meet any grandparents or have any loving memories with any of my biological family has hurt, and hurt deeply. It does not just go away! It will last a lifetime! My kids have their own wounds because half of them is half of me. Adoption impacts generations. It moves far beyond a cute little baby and making an infertile couple happy to be parents. A dream come true is an adoptees greatest loss which is rarely acknowledged.
I know that one day my kids will leave too because that’s how life works. We raise our kids the best we can, and they spread their wings and fly high. They become independent and move on to do amazing things with their lives. This is a good thing and I support them in all that they do.
So what is an adoptee to do when we are surrendered, and had dysfunction in both adoptive and biological families? When we are rejected 2x when we finally find who we are looking for all these years? When our disappointment is so deep and raw, and our broken heart starts to heal but triggers open the wound right back up again? What are we supposed to do when we simply can’t bond with “people” because of the original trauma and we keep what could be close relationships at a distance because closeness is a potential abandonment? What are we supposed to do when we “divorced” the adopters and we are rejected by the biologicals leaving us with no family?
Resulting in Adoptee in Recovery
The first step was to admit all the places I am broken…
I could not do this in the fog!
What worked for me was to pack up my small children in 2005 and moved across the country far away from everyone. Talk about a leap in faith! I have never regretted it, and never looked back. I had to begin to learn WHO I AM after all the trauma, grief & loss. I’ve had to move states away and what I have learned is I’m not like anyone in either family. I am who God created me to be. At times, I’m still stuck in limbo as to who that is but I consider myself a work in progress and growing in that area.
Packing up and leaving everything was not an easy decision. I had no support aside from my best friend, God love her. I have learned that just because THESE THINGS HAPPENED doesn’t mean it needs to determine the rest of my life.
THIS IS TRUE FOR ALL OF US!
It’s up to me to write the next chapters of my [HER]-story.
No matter how adoptees slice this journey it’s painful.
Acceptance of this is key.
I keep waiting on it to get better, and it has a little bit. Healing is possible and I’ve spend a lot of time working on healing. Visit this link for a complete list of Healing Tools that have helped me. I hope and pray they might help you too.
There are so many aspects to how adoptees are emotionally and mentally impacted by adoption in general, most therapists don’t even understand it all. Adoptees must stick together to help one another.
Once society and adoptive parents understand that love is not all we need adoptees will seek the healing they need and deserve at a much younger age. It’s a shame so many adoptees are in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and on before they start healing. Some never heal and take the hurt to their graves because they don’t have their truth or healing tools. This deeply saddens me but I do have hope that as adoptees continue to SHARE things will start to change.
Some commit suicide because it’s just too much pain to handle! We can’t ignore these statistics!
WHY IS THE WORLD STALLING US FROM HEALING BY WITHHOLDING OUR TRUTH?
Help us get our TRUTH so we can HEAL.
April 2009 I gave my life to Christ and began to grow in my relationship with him. I was still partying and drinking alcohol to numb the pain of abandonment & rejection from my birth parents and life experiences. Alcohol took the pain away temporarily but the next day it was the same routine. It took me many years to grow in my relationship with God and learn who I was in Him and I’m still learning! He loves me no matter what my adoptive parents and birth parents did or didn’t do. He loves me just as I am, not as I should be. He loves me all the times I would go out and party and show up at church Sunday morning with a hangover. He knew my heart. I was seeking Him and growing in Him even as I was still kept in bondage in my old ways and old habits. This is why we should never judge anyone for any reason! We have no idea where they are in their journey!
August 13, 2012
WHEN I STOPPED DRINKING I CAME OUT OF THE FOG ABOUT MY ADOPTEE EXPERIENCE! THE TRUTH HIT ME LIKE A TON OF BRICKS!
“I was breaking generational curses from family I don’t even know!”- Pastor Marion Dalton
That is a pretty big deal if you think about it!
I decided to throw in the towel on my drinking career and started a recovery ministry called, Celebrate Recovery. Through God this ministry has saved my life. I spent 3.5 years in leadership not only working on my issues, but helping others work through theirs.
This was an eye awakening experience for me. I learned that abandonment, rejection and abuse of any kind are the leading root issues of people’s dysfunctional lifestyle habits. Of course being an adoptee I learned my issues were classic examples! I spent the next 4 years working on ME & MY ISSUES!
It has not been easing feeling all these feelings SOBER! My biological mother handed me over to strangers to raise? – Swallow that pill why don’t you! It has been extremely difficult, but I was determined the next chapter and the rest of my life was not going to be like the first 37 years! Not just for me, but for my kids and future grandkids.
I deserve it and they deserve it! I knew God had so much more for me than living with a broken heart and in addiction!
Where am I today November 27, 2016?
I’m 42 years old and 4 years living a sober lifestyle!
IF IT CAN HAPPEN FOR ME IT CAN HAPPEN FOR YOU!
The only hope I have is in God and His word. I have faith and believe in His word and trust him. Some days seem harder than other’s but I have been so rejected and let down by this world I refuse to put my faith in anything but God. He is the way, the truth and the life. At the end of each day I know when no one else understands, he understands. He gives me the drive to move forward and to share my story for my fellow adoptees.
I have learned that if I had to experience all I have in life in order to write and share my story and let other adoptees know God is here & he loves them then it has been worth it. I want them to know their fellow adoptees are here to support them. If I had to experience all I did just for my adoptive mother to introduce me to God, then it was worth it. I will say her version was extremely “off” but she did make the introduction where I would not have learned about him otherwise.
Does that take the pain away?
Living in the unknown being heartbroken to living in the KNOWN after finding the TRUTH and still being heartbroken I would say its 2 different types of pain.
BOTH ARE EXTREMELY PAINFUL.
The fact that I’m still alive to type this is a miracle. Adoptees are strong! Maybe some of you don’t feel like it but I’m here to tell you if you are alive YOU ARE STRONG.
I’m confident God knows my hurts, and my pain and he has helped me heal in many aspects. He also knows my heart and the joy I get from my kids, and the excitement I get from the thought of future grandkids.
Please understand that all adoptees have a different story. Some are still in the fog and are happy to be adopted and some are out of the fog and share their truth brightly. Regardless of each story, I have learned to embrace each adoptee right where they are. In the good and the bad and the painful, they deserve to be heard and respected. Living a life where our feelings don’t matter finding a place where they do matter is extremely liberating! When you reach out to me you don’t have to pretend! Take your mask off and be REAL! How has adoption impacted YOU?!
Better yet, share your story at www.howdoesitfeeltobeadopted.com
Today I share my voice on how it feels to be adopted so my other fellow adoptees will know they aren’t alone. So I can share the love of Christ with them. Some people feel that just because I have Christ in my life should mean I am 100% completely free from pain and completely healed. This is not true for me at this stage in my life. Things have gotten easier, but triggers are everywhere. When one wound heals it’s ripped right back open by a trigger! It’s a cycle and I’ve accepted it’s here to stay. Learning how to handle the triggers is something I’m working on. I will always be in recovery because of these things and recovery is a life long process.
TODAY I NO LONGER DRINK TO NUMB MY PAIN!
I’M FACING IT HEAD ON!
I will just share, My God guides me in writing my truth and sharing it with the world. He is the simple ONLY reason I am alive and here to share this story today. He never said I had to make it all rosy to make others feel comfortable. Those days are over. I will always be true to myself and my fellow adoptees. I am not sugar coating anything to make others feel comfortable. My truth is my truth and in the end it’s what set me free. I’m working daily on being thankful for this life. God knows why it’s been so hard. He knows the truth. Don’t think for a moment he doesn’t cry tears for every single child that is separated from their mother. When we cry about every mother and baby being separated from their biological families, he’s crying with us.
So for me…..
How Does It Feel To Be Adopted?
Lonely & Painful & Acceptance of a Lifetime of Recovery
Pamela A. Karanova
Please reach out to Pamela on her blog: Adoptee In Recovery
Find her on Twitter:@pamelakaranova
Find her on Instagram: pwishes
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