Feeling My Birth Mother Through the Sky
Your adopted child might look okay, but that doesn't mean they are.
I will never forget when I learned I was adopted, around five years old, and how this reality rocked my world from that moment; my life would never be the same.
I remember being outdoors was always an escape because things going on inside the home are things no child should have to endure. So, I wrote and recorded a chapter in my audible memoir (under construction) called "Sneak Life," which talks about my life growing up in my adoptive mom's home and how sneaking to go outside to play was a full-time job.
When I was in my adoptive mom's care, I was never allowed to play outside and felt like I was kept captive, only adopted to serve her wants and needs. However, when I was in my adoptive dad's care (they divorced when I was one!), every other weekend, I was allowed to run free in nature, and it was an escape from childhood sexual abuse from an older stepbrother.
Learning I was adopted was a total mental mind fuck as a child, and as soon as I learned about her, my birth mother, I started to obsess over her. Who was she? Where was she? Thoughts about her never left my mind, so I found myself fantasizing, dreaming, and thinking of her morning, noon, and night. My internal dialog about her was nothing short of torture and agony. While other kids were playing without a care in the world, I was dying inside, wondering who this woman was.
To give you a glimpse of what that feels like, try to imagine having a five-year-old child of your own, and they were playing outside, waiting on the dinner bell to ring. One particular day a man drove by, scooped your child up, and they were abducted, never to be seen again.
This is what adoption has felt like to me, an abduction.
First, you run frantically to find your abducted child, but the difference is you can outwardly share your feelings of terror as you wonder where your five-year-old child is, people gather together to help you find them, and you never give up looking for your baby.
Then, finally, you cry out for help, and the world shows up to help! A full search and rescue team has arrived, ready to serve and search, the officials come, and the news station is standing by to take the story and air it on television for all to see so you can get your abducted child back.
Imagine the feeling of terror as a parent losing a child this way.
Can you feel it?
Now reverse that and put that experience into five-year-old me. Still, instead of losing one person, adoptees lose not only their biological mothers and fathers but also all connections to their siblings, cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and all other extended family members. Not to mention our ethnicity, medical history, memories hijacked, false identities assigned, fake birth certificates replace real ones, and we are expected by society and our adopters to pretend and go along with the delusional fictional story because if we don't, we die!
I'm still going.
Now, imagine being five years old and having to internalize these feelings of complex grief and loss, and the only thing the world tells you is, "She loved you so much!" so she passed me over to strangers to raise. No one comes to the rescue to help save you from yourself because the internal conflict has turned into internal agony that will never settle. IT NEVER GOES AWAY! Being a deep thinker has always been a part of my life because I was always forced to keep everything inside; my mind has never stopped running after 48 years. It's exhausting at times!
I just wanted to find my mother.
I was never going to give up until I found her, but instead of help showing up for me to process these feelings, they celebrate adoption and all the beautiful things it brings. Not only in my childhood but until now, most people have no idea what adoptees experience, and they continue to celebrate adoption as if it’s not rooted in a traumatic experience.
After all, my most significant loss was my adoptive parent's greatest gain.
There was no room for the mourning and tribulations that riddled me daily. I swallowed my feelings and learned that they were not valued or welcomed, and I developed a deep-rooted feeling of badness at no fault of my own that traveled with me most of my life.
By my teen years, I was a runaway, addicted to substances, a juvenile convict, and filled with anger and rage. How convenient everyone labeled me a typical “Rebellious Teenager,” never once linking relinquishment trauma or adoption trauma.
I WAS HURTING!
I was in and out of the hospital for stomach issues my whole childhood, and they never once connected the dots on adoption or relinquishment trauma. The experience of being ripped from my birth mother inflicted TERROR in every fiber of my being. I cried all alone until my spirit broke. Never would I be able to form a deep attachment with another human being because the bond receptor was forever broken due to the separation from my biological mother. I can’t even describe how that has made me feel and impacted every area of my life.
The world fails adoptees by not acknowledging this has lifelong implications. The trauma is stored deep inside our subconscious memories of adopted people. Please research maternal separation! They expect me to be grateful that someone took me in when my biological mother didn't want me, but make no mistake - SHE LOVED ME!
This lesson taught me that love is internal misery, love is terror, love is leaving, love is loss, love is hurt, and love is abandonment. Love is a mental mind fuck for many adoptees.
When I went outside to play, I dreamt of the day she could come back and get me because I knew this would be a big mistake. Who would give their baby away and mean it? But, I was always told that she "loved me so much," so if she loved me so much, she would return for me.
"It is only a matter of time," I said.
So I waited, and waited, and waited. Waiting is a massive trigger because I spent most of my childhood waiting for my birth mother to return. Today, I don't wait on anyone because I can't. It takes me back. I keep it moving, and I get shit done on my own.
Inside my adoptive mom's house, she struggled with manic depressive disorder, narcissism, frequent suicidal attempts in front of me, prescription pill addiction, and mania episodes. It was hell, and she was always sick with something. She was a hypochondriac, and I was adopted to be her caretaker. But, unfortunately, I didn't bond with her even a little bit. So I lost not one chance at a mother but two.
So outside was the safest place, away from her mania and mental illness, but I could barely escape. She wouldn't let me go outside. Because of this, I always felt like I had a slim chance of ever finding my birth mother, whom I searched for everywhere I went, every day of my life.
Each time I went to visit my adoptive dad every other weekend, I was sexually abused by my oldest stepbrother, and this abuse lasted years. Yet, once again, I felt safer outside than inside because I was free from this abuse.
When I would visit my adoptive dad's every other Friday around 5 PM, I would first say, "Can I go outside to play?" and the answer was always the same.
"Sure, have fun!"
I would fly out the door with my invisible cape to the land of freedom I didn't experience at my adoptive mom's house. We lived in the country, and I would frequent the woods close to the house, and a tall tree in front of our house called me to come and play.
Nature and the outdoors had a way of creating an outlet and safe space throughout my entire childhood. It welcomed me and warmed my heart. It hugged me and loved me.
Thoughts about my birth mother were never far from my mind when I was out in nature. I wondered if she was a movie star from California or if she was my Adoptive Aunt who gave a baby up for adoption around the time I was adopted into the family. Everything was a mystery, and nothing was certain. As the big tall tree used to call me to come to play, I was a daredevil in rare form from a very young age.
Looking back, I think the concept of death and danger didn't play a role like they usually would for most kids because I didn't feel rooted in anything. Non-adopted people likely can't come close to understanding this, but it's as if I didn't feel alive because I felt like I was never born. Having no fear was at the root of my core, so having sensors go off that I was doing something dangerous never happened. Like Nike, my childhood mindset was always, "Just do it!"
Anytime I approached the big tall tree, I had the idea that I wanted to climb to the very top as high as I could go, so I did. As the branches would sway back and forth, the higher I went, the more I would sway. After that, I started to love the tree because it was an escape for me, but it also took me to a sacred sit spot where I felt close to my birth mother for the first time.
I would find a spot to sit and hang on a branch at the very top as far as I could go while thoughts of her plagued my mind. I would never have made it if I was the least bit scared of heights. The fresh air was so clean and pure, and no one could bother me, abuse me or find me when I was in the tree. I could see others down below, but they couldn't see me.
I was mighty sitting at the top of the tree, just the sky and I.
Then, finally, I realized being close to the sky was the closest I had been to my birth mother because even when I didn't have a name for her or know what she looked like or where she was, we were under the same sky together.
I vividly remember reaching up to touch the sky after climbing as high as I could, as if touching her warm, soft skin; being rocked by the trees was like she was rocking me to sleep. Even for a brief moment, I felt her. I was close to her. I found solace in this space. It became a safe space, and I couldn't get enough of it.
My Birth Mother, the sky, the tree, and I were all I could see and feel at that moment. I couldn’t get enough.
Adventures to the top of the tree would give me more love than I had felt from my adoptive parents because finding my Birth Mother in the sky could comfort me and bring me peace like nothing else had done.
Today, I get the same comfort and peace from the sky, nature, and trees I did as a child. No matter what happens, I always feel the warm embrace from the most incredible mother of them all, MOTHER NATURE. The sky has always been my first love, and I now feel like it was a baby blanket at a time in my childhood when I needed safety and security. When my birth mother abandoned me, the trees have always been there, and because of this, I find great solace in life, adventuring into the woods, sitting with the trees, and LOOKING UP A THE SKY.
She still hugs me and loves me. She keeps me warm and lets in the LIGHT by the sun that beams on me, giving me the endurance I need to keep going. I can only hope those I know and love to get a glimmer of this experience in life because it's brought me more joy and comfort than I could have ever dreamed.
Just because I looked fine as a child and didn’t talk about my adoptee feelings doesn’t mean I didn’t feel them or have them. On the contrary, they were a dominant force in my life, an underlying feeling of heartache, complex grief, despair, torture, loss, and total confusion.
I wish conversations about the loss I experienced before I was adopted were facilitated by all the therapists I saw growing up or by my adoptive parents. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the language or skills to facilitate such conversations, and no one helped me. If I had started grieving earlier in life, I wouldn’t be starting that process so late into adulthood. But for adoptive parents to step into space to facilitate these emotions, they must first acknowledge that relinquishment from our biological mothers is a traumatic experience and has lifelong implications for adoptees. This reality needs to be put on the table and discussed.
Let’s start by listening to adult adoptees.
Q & A
For my fellow adoptees, when did you learn of being adopted, and how did it impact you moving forward?
Did you think of your birth mother regularly or form any fantasies about her? If so, what did that look like for you?
I would like to know if any of you reading have found a specific experience that helped you feel closer to your Birth Mother growing up or currently. If so, what did or does this experience look like to you?
How has this impacted your life and those around you?
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.
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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:
Still Grieving Adoptee Losses, What My Adoptive Parents Could Have Done Differently. by Pamela A. Karanova
Considering Adoption? What Adoptees Want You to Know by Pamela A. Karanova & Adoptees Worldwide
I’m Adopted: You Can’t Take My Pain Away, Please Stop Trying by Pamela A. Karanova
100 Heartfelt Transracial Adoptee Quotes that Honor the Truth of Adoption – 100 Transracial Adoptees come together to share feelings on how adoption has impacted them by Pamela A. Karanova & Adoptees Worldwide.
Adoptees, Why Are You So Angry? Over 100 Adoptees Share Heartfelt Feelings by Pamela A. Karanova & Adoptees Worldwide
How Adoptees Feel About Birthdays by Pamela Karanova
I Highly Recommend
Not My Adoptee, Yes Your Adoptee! by Sara Easterly
The Link Among the Brain, the Gut, Adoption, and Trauma by Maureen McCauley
Reckoning with The Primal Wound Documentary with a 10% off coupon code (25 available) “adopteesconnect”
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