Dandelions, Angry Adoptees, and Solidarity
The wound from separation trauma ran deep and wide, leaving a profound gaping hole that left me feeling hollow and empty for most of my life.
I always thought dandelions were lovely, and they reminded me of mini rays of sunshine scattered all over the yard. So what's not to love about mini-rays of sunshine? I remember always being told not to blow the seeds apart because it would make many more dandelions. I don’t know about you all, but whenever someone told me not to do something, I wanted to do it more. I am likely responsible for half the dandelions in Iowa, where I grew up.
I have been thinking a lot lately about dandelions, and from my experience in childhood and adult life, they have been looked upon as invasive weeds that people pay good money to be removed from their yards. However, as soon as you see the first dandelion sprout up in the spring, it seems the goal is to kill them and spray weed killer to get rid of them all. A sense of urgency prevails as they will take over your yard quickly.
Then all of a sudden, several years ago, I learned that dandelion has a million different health benefits and it's a superfood. Dandelions are high enough in vitamin levels they put kale and spinach to shame. In addition, the entire dandelion plant, roots, leaves, and flowers are edible. WHAT?!
So you mean to tell me that this plant that's been plagued as a weed my entire life has some remarkable benefits? Wow, I wish I had known this sooner. Now, I enjoy an occasional cup of dandelion hot tea and embrace all the goodness I am ingesting when I consume it.
But make no mistake; dandelions have been getting a bad rap for centuries.
My adoptee journey reminds me of the journey of a dandelion. When I was younger, with no tools to help me work on my deep-rooted adoptee issues, I was angry as hell, and rightfully so. Unfortunately, I got a bad rap, as many angry adoptees do. Because I had no tools available, my anger became exceptionally deep seeded, and I began to hate myself internally. This reflection of myself would come out as self-destructive patterns, lack of self-love, and episodes of rage were reoccurring visitors.
So many times, my pain was so great, I just wanted to die.
But, instead of the world evaluating the root of an adoptee's anger, of my anger, they look at the behaviors and the acting out patterns. They did their best to apply labels that would be with me throughout my life instead of getting to the root of relinquishment trauma, adoption trauma, grief, loss, abandonment, complex- PTSD, etc.
One of the labels I refused to consent to is that of an alcoholic. I might have had a 27-year drinking career, but drinking alcohol was a coping tool for the deep wound from relinquishment trauma, compacted by rejection from my birth mother once I did find her.
Alcohol was a Band-Aid; once I ripped it off, the adoptee wounds were bloody, raw, and profound. Likewise, the wound from separation trauma ran deep and wide, leaving a profound gaping hole that left me feeling hollow and empty for most of my life. I felt like a walking dead woman with a dark cloud hanging over my head that followed me everywhere.
My life during that 27 years was a pretty significant disaster on the outside, which only directly reflected how I felt inside. Alcohol took the pain away but only pushed it deep down, and it would return another day. Like a fucked up merry-go-round, adoptee issues were never gone for long. The bottle was my best friend, but I knew in my heart of hearts that alcohol wasn't my only problem, which is why I refused the label "Alcoholic."
UNTREATED, UNRECOGNIZED & UNACKNOWLEDGED RELINQUISHMENT TRAUMA was the problem.
Like the core value of the dandelion, I had so much value in my life and so much good to give the world, but because of the cards I was dealt, with no choice of my own, my life began with trauma, loss, grief, and pain. While the world tried to label me as an alcoholic, angry, rage-filled, and destructive, they failed to see my value beneath the surface. They failed to separate my behaviors rooted in pain from the actual genuine, and authentic me.
I am sure that was hard for them because how could they know the real true me when I didn't even know it? But, unfortunately, that’s what secrecy, lies, and half-truths in adoption do. They cause lifelong conflict, confusion, and agony.
Even when I have chosen to weed out all roots that have caused me lifelong pain and put in years of work to heal from the painful parts, I have accepted that the realities of my adoption story will impact me forever. My heartache and pain will be lifelong visitors, just like the pesky weed that is the dandelion. I might still get a bad rap, but it depends on who you talk to.
Instead of looking at an adoptee's anger, it would be incredible if society could open its hearts to trying to understand why adoptees would possibly be angry. As most of us know, anger is a natural response to different situations in life. However, it’s important to note that while anger is a natural response, it is also essential to learn how to manage it healthily and productively rather than letting it control us and harm ourselves or others.
Unfortunately, when adoptees are dealing with such deep, complex emotions, it's easy for anger to surface. It's part of the adoptee experience, and it's natural to be angry about being lied to, gaslit, and treated like second-class citizens.
But unfortunately, the need for adoptee-centric resources has caused much harm to the adoptee community. Our society has failed adoptees, and it's failed them miserably.
Consider Reading: Adoptees, Why Are You Angry? Over 100 Adoptees Share Heartfelt Feelings.
The key is, what are we going to do with that anger?
We can create something extraordinary with it or let it destroy our lives and those around us who know and love us. Some of us might find a happy medium somewhere in the middle, but our internal dialog often weighs in on the side of a war that festers deep inside until we pull it up at the root and work on it.
I sat in my anger for most of my life until I woke up and decided I wanted to work on it. The key was to feel the anger, acknowledge it, and accept it but also move through it and use it for positive change. Getting stuck in it is when the damage happens, not only for ourselves but for those around us who know and love us. Once I learned to validate my feelings, I allowed myself to move through the anger, which had hurt feelings at the root.
WE HAVE THE CHOICE AND THE POWER TO OVERCOME OUR STRUGGLES.
Like the dandelion, labeled as a weed, they are also incredibly nutritious. Adoptees (even the angry adoptees) have so much greatness to give the world when we work towards healing, finding our authentic selves, and even searching for ourselves. Our anger can be used as a launching pad for our greatest calling in life.
Life is a journey, not a destination.
This means that the essential part of life is not where you end up but rather the experiences, challenges, and growth you encounter along the way. The journey shapes us and helps us discover who we are and who we aren’t. The destination might be necessary, but the journey is what truly matters.
But, unfortunately, adoptees deal with roadblocks every step of the way on our journeys. It just so happens that the greatness given to others at birth is shafted for adoptees when our original & authentic true identities are hijacked. As if that wasn't enough, we're up against the world to find our truth, which is a fight for many of us throughout our lives. It's no wonder so many adoptees are angry. They have a right to be.
Mix these realities with a lack of resources for the adoptee community. It's no wonder prisons, jails, mental health, and treatment facilities are overpopulated with adoptees, who are 4x more likely to die by suicide. In the last four to five years, adoptee-centric organizations are sprouting up, but they are still few and far between.
Consider Reading: Being Adopted: When Your Truth is Held Hostage
How does solidarity mix with dandelions and angry adoptees? It's easy; instead of judging adoptees based on their behaviors and patterns, consider extending the hand of elegance and understanding. Coming together in solidarity can create a sense of community and belonging. Sadly, adoptees have rarely been given this by adoption constellation members, which has forced us to stick together because we speak the same language.
Solidarity is not just about agreeing with others or being the same person as them. It’s about recognizing our shared humanity and supporting each other and our differences. It requires empathy, compassion, and a willingness to listen and learn from adoptees.
If we can acknowledge that most adoptees have been dealt the cards of life without all the pieces to the puzzle, we can also acknowledge this can and does cause strife in an adoptee’s life. So how does it feel when you have all your friends and family over for a game night, and you open the game up, missing half the pieces?
That's an adopted person's life, but it's not a game. It's real, and it can and does fuck us up! Unless you are adopted, you have no idea how that feels to be expected to be thankful, yet we don't even know who we are or where we come from, and the internal torment of the unknown eats many of us alive. Lies in adoption can have long-lasting and damaging impacts on each adoptee.
Consider Reading: Mental Health and Psychological Adjustments in Adults Who Were Adopted in Childhood.
No matter how devastating the circumstances were for our relinquishment or separation from our biological mothers, no matter who she was or who she wasn't, that separation damages adoptees deeply. Please research separation trauma, relinquishment trauma, and adoption trauma.
We need non-adoptees to get on the bandwagon of support, stepping up with us in solidarity that there is much more to adoption than society promotes. But, little by little, minds are starting to shift on perspectives about adoption, and non-adoptees are starting to listen and are willing to learn.
Consider Reading: The Raw Resentment I Have Carried for Most Adoptive Parents and What Changed.
Adoptees need more non-adopted allies in sharing the truth about what most people take for granted - WHO AM I AND WHERE DID I COME FROM? While I know it's easy for others to cast adoptees to the side for behaviors they have brought forward throughout their lifetimes, I hope in making decisions about adoptees that it's taken into consideration that many of us are doing the best we can with the tools we have.
I also encourage all adoptees who have made it this far to consider the support they need and create the resource to align with it. Without a doubt, no one on this earth will CREATE any adoptee-centric resources unless they are an adoptee themselves.
WE HAVE THE POWER TO CREATE PROFOUND GROWTH IN THE ADOPTION COMMUNITY BY BRINGING RESOURCES TO LIFE FOR ADOPTEES ALL OVER THE WORLD.
This is how we can stand in solidarity, channel our anger and CREATE CHANGE for our communities and future generations of adoptees. While angry adoptees might get a bad rap like dandelions, I genuinely believe beneath it all is a world full of adoptees who want to get to the root and heal from the trauma that was inflicted on us at no fault of our own.
In a world that can often feel divided and polarized, solidarity with adoptees offers a way to bridge gaps and build connections. It reminds us that we are stronger together than alone and that we all have a role in promoting truth and transparency in adoptions.
Here’s a recent picture of my adventure into the wild in my great and beautiful state of KENTUCKY. For those who don’t know, waterfalls are a natural source of negative ions, which can positively affect mood and stress levels.
Consider Reading: Waterfalls and Benefits of Negative Ions
I used this adventure to wander the woods and connect to Mother Nature and myself. I often document my journeys and adventures at “Into the Wild: Kentucky Wildnerness & Waterfall Adventures.” (Both on Facebook and IG @intothewildky) Luckily, Kentucky has over 1000 waterfalls, so I am always running off to explore what my great state offers. It helps me heal, and I feel lighter and freer after every escape from the everyday hustle and bustle. If you have waterfalls in your state, I encourage you to sit by one for a few hours. You will feel energized, renewed, and refreshed.
To see the beauty life offers, I first had to spend over a decade digging up the roots and working on the pain from my adoption experience. Nothing in life comes easy, and every time I explore a new waterfall, I know it will take intentional, hard work to get there. I usually drive several hours to and from, and the hikes are always at least several miles. But like my adoptee healing journey, the result is a breath of fresh air, a euphoric flow of natural elements that feed my soul.
If you want to connect more profoundly, I have set up Table Talk Sessions for you. Click here to learn more. This new adventure allows you to book one-on-one AdopTEA RealiTEA Virtual Table Talk Sessions with Pamela A. Karanova.
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Understanding is Love,
Pamela A. Karanova
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Here are some of the writing pieces I’m the proudest of:
Adult Adoptee & Adoption Advocates Recommended Resources
When Your Biggest Blessing Invalidates My Greatest Trauma by Pamela A. Karanova
Before a month celebrating adoption, a day to recognize adoptees’ trauma by Religion News Service
The Perplexity of Forced Bonding in Adoption - An Adoptees Perspective by Pamela A. Karanova
Why Love Isn’t Enough or A House Full of Stuff - An Adoptees Perspective by Pamela A. Karanova
Considering Adoption? What Adoptees Want You to Know by Pamela A. Karanova & Adoptees Worldwide
How Adoptees Feel About Birthdays by Pamela Karanova
I Highly Recommend
Adoptee Centric Therapist Directory – Grow Beyond Words
Adoption: Adverse Childhood Experience Explained by Dr. Chaitra Wirta-Leiker
Dear Adoptive Parents: An “Angry Adoptee” Gets Vulnerable – The Pain Behind the Rage by Mila at Lost Daughters
Does Adoption Really Equal Trauma? by Maureen McCauley
The Truth About Adoption – An Adoptee’s Perspective by Stephanie Drenka
5 Infuriating Things Non-Adoptees Say to Adoptees by Angela Barra
Assume All Adopted Children Have Trauma by Musings of the Lame
Reckoning with The Primal Wound Documentary with a 10% off coupon code (25 available) “adopteesconnect”
ASK ME ANYTHING COLUMN
Each month, all subscribers receive an “Ask Me Anything” newsletter — which will answer one or two adoptee-related questions from paid subscribers. Think: What adoptee healing tools have been the most valuable to you? How have you navigated the grief and loss process? What made you want to search for your biological family? How was your reunion once you searched? Do you regret searching?
Here are two recent questions:
When Speaking to Adoptive Parents About Adoption
Ways to Better Understand and Support Adopted Teens
Do you have a question for me? If you leave them in the comment section, I will consider answering them in my Ask Me Anything Column or email them to: firstname.lastname@example.org