Fierce Writing, Adoptee Smiling, Glowing & Thriving
I might not be the most traditional writer, but one thing is for sure the truth is the pathway to healing for us all.
Trigger Warning: Adoptee suicide, childhood sexual abuse, sexual abuse, rape.
While I thought long and hard about launching The Real Adoptea Moxie before I started my new writing platform, I knew it would be an extensive adventure I wouldn't take lightly. This writing project is a tremendous commitment, but one I have a passion for. The need to bring the truth to light about how adoption impacts adoptees is unwavering.
Writing has been one of my biggest passions since I came out of the fog from my adoption experience around 13 years ago. Previously, I wasn't a writer and never wrote about anything, let alone intense, intimate pieces of my heart.
Writing about my adoptee feelings has benefited me because, growing up, I could never verbalize my feelings about how it felt being adopted due to being conditioned to be thankful and to put my adoptive parent's feelings ahead of my own. As a result, my feelings didn't matter, and my loss and heartbreak were in a glossed-over, sparkly package the world celebrates and calls adoption.
It seemed extra gigantic to express my feelings verbally, although they were endlessly brewing deep inside. Over the years, I have described this as being "tongue-tied."
A limitation or roadblock to verbally articulating my feelings likely started when I was around five. This was when I learned of my biggest heartbreak and loss from losing my biological mother; that loss was my adoptive mom's greatest dream come true.
Something indistinctively made me feel that I should honor her celebration and that my feelings of sadness needed to be tucked away deep inside.
When I started writing about my feelings, I bypassed having to articulate them verbally. This was a HUGE healing discovery for me. At the time, I never connected the dots on why writing my feelings was so much easier than verbalizing them, but several years ago, I started to make a life-changing connection.
Finally, feelings started to pour out of my fingertips, and I began to acknowledge some of them for the first time outside of myself.
Mostly, I write about adoptee-centric topics, but I want my readers to know I have moved past much of the pain I share here in my articles. Instead, I have found happiness and live each day as fulfilling as possible.
Sometimes I find myself picking my face up off the floor because adoption has a way of kicking my ass royally, sometimes totally out of the blue. However, for the most part, I am writing from a more healed place than I have ever been.
Imagine a world where everyone folded up all their pain, lessons, experiences, and issues in a nice neat little box, wrapped it up and put a bow on it, and set it up on a shelf forever.
How would they help others going through similar struggles? How would they change the world? What would they stand for, and what would their passion be? How would they be a light for others in times of darkness? How would they find purpose in the pain?
They wouldn't. They would "move on," as the world says, and their vision to help others and bring purpose to the pain most likely wouldn't exist.
My writing flavor and style reflects who I am, but it's not all I am. So, for example, I cuss a lot because it's part of my deconstruction therapy, and it sometimes feels good to say "FU*K"! But on the other hand, I clearly say in my BIO that my platform is uncensored, and my goal is to be honest by sharing raw feelings and emotions about how it feels to be adopted.
The Real Adoptea Moxie platform is where I am committed to being authentic, genuine, and frank in adoption conversations. I show up in my rarest form, yet I have done extensive work on myself and healed significantly in my journey to show up with even a little grace for the topic of adoption.
Starting a platform like this, I had to open myself up to the possibility of criticism, backlash, and naysayers. I have accepted that this platform isn't for everyone; however, it is created to develop a supportive community with something in common: adoption.
What you will read here is only a piece of my life, not all of it. To gain enough confidence in myself even to share my story publicly has been nothing short of a miracle, and if you knew my whole story, you would understand this.
The time some people have taken out of their day so they can tell me how I should write or shouldn't write is astonishing! I can't envision having enough time to deliberately go to someone's article, website, or blog and trash them for what they are doing and how they are doing it. Is it that hard to pass something by and move along without trying to critique someone or tear them down? This is mind-blowing to me.
What did I experience to find my voice as an adult adoptee?
My birth mother abandoned me at the hospital, and I was traumatized by the separation. Yet, I was supposed to pretend she didn't exist; the world swept the trauma under the rug, dressed it up, and called it "Adoption." They leave no room for my grief, loss, and sadness, and I am expected to move on with my life adopted days later, with a new identity, forced to bond with strangers.
I experienced living in an adoptive home where my adoptive parents divorced when I was one. When my adoptive dad remarried, I was sexually abused by my oldest stepbrother, whom everyone has protected over me. Around 12 years old, I left one afternoon from every other weekend visit, and I rarely returned, keeping this secret tucked away as I was coached to do.
Adoption cant guarantee a better life, only a different one.
I was in a single-parent home, impoverished, on food stamps and welfare, and we had no car. I lived in residence with a narcissistic, manic-depressive, pill-addicted adoptive mom who was suicidal almost daily and couldn't care for herself, let alone the two daughters she adopted. I was adopted to care for her and did my entire life and childhood until I finally escaped in 2005. I never bonded or connected with her, but I was forced to live under her roof until I started running away as a little girl searching for my birth mother. Unfortunately, my adoptive parents co-signed for the secrecy and lies that kept me from finding my truth, and the world that celebrates adoption did the same.
Anger and rage are an understatement.
The run-a-way, teenage life was filled with highly traumatic events. I was in and out of group homes, in detention for breaking the law, in drug and alcohol rehab at 15, pregnant at 15, and suffering a miscarriage due to a physically abusive relationship. I was trying to fill the void from separation trauma and losing my birth mother. I searched for her everywhere I went. Finally, I found a family I thought was safe, and at 13 years old, I was raped several times in that same home. I never told a single person because there was no one to tell.
I was hurting deeply, and not one person connected the dots that adoption and relinquishment might have something to do with it. As a result, I was in and out of jail as an adult several times, and I developed a 27-year drinking career that enabled me to avoid dealing with my reality of separation trauma and adoption trauma.
I tried to take my own life several times, unsuccessfully, because I couldn't see past the pain. I have struggled with suicidal ideation my entire life because the big feelings that come from being adopted are so big sometimes I am drowning in them.
Consider Reading: The Fight of My Life
After fighting the world for my truth, I finally found my birth parents and experienced the biggest disappointment of my entire life. I met them both and was rejected by them both. I was unprepared to navigate —more big feelings, so I used more alcohol to avoid them. I also used spiritual bypassing practices, like prayer, fasting, serving, and tithing in the church, to avoid dealing with reality. Unfortunately, with my truth being kept captive, I could only get it piece by piece, little by little, which also stalled my healing.
Consider Watching: Adoption and Suicide Prevention: Adult Adoptees Speak Out
Ultimately, learning my birth parents were alcoholics, who have both died from alcoholism, was a piece of information that saved my life. I will never understand how anyone on earth feels it's okay to withhold the truth from another human being, especially concerning medical and mental health history. It's hard enough our biological parents are kept a secret from us, but damn. As if that's not enough, so many of us don't even know our medical history!
This is an inhumane punishment for adoptees!
So on August 13, 2012, I stopped drinking alcohol for ten years to get to the root of my adoptee issues and work on them. To heal it, I knew I had to feel it. All the feelings I had run from my entire life were knocking on my door, and I stopped running from them and numbing my feelings with alcohol. Instead, I spent ten years on the recovery bandwagon, trying many different 12-step programs that didn't work for me. However, I learned a great deal from those experiences.
Today, I have a healthy relationship with alcohol, but first, I had to get to the root and work on my issues from adoption. I will save the details for another article.
I tried more therapy repeatedly in that ten years to help me navigate my healing journey. But unfortunately, in 2017, I reached a deep, dark hole due to several circumstances in my adoptee journey.
1. My adoptive mom passed away; however, we were estranged for many years before her passing. Her death impacted me, but not how everyone expected it to.
2. My newfound biological brother, the only accepting person in my search and reunion, turned out not to be my brother by DNA. This was devastating on every level.
Then, after we spent five years building a relationship, he was gone just like that. Then, not long after this discovery, he was killed in a motorcycle wreck. So the happiest part of my entire adoptee story was destroyed as well. I could not overcome this, and my grief, loss, and sadness were smothering. The grief almost killed me.
3. I went back to Iowa to meet my biological cousin and uncle on my birth father's side; I got to see my grandmother for the 2nd time in my life and step foot on the land where my ancestors came from.
A dream comes true, you would think?
It was until I returned home that grief set in like a tsunami, and all I could think of was everything I missed out on because of adoption. My sadness was so deep I couldn't see past it and was unprepared for it to consume me the way it did. Again, the grief almost killed me!
Consider Reading: Do not assume when an adoptee finds their biological family, all their problems will be solved, and the case will be closed.
On top of the everyday adoptee struggles, all these things seemed to take me downward. So I started to plan a suicide that I wanted to look like an accident. I didn't want to inconvenience my kids and close friends with the reality that I couldn't take living anymore, so if it could look like an accident, that would be better for everyone.
I didn't want to die but I couldn't see the light or a way out of my pain. With a glimmer of hope, I pulled myself out of bed and started Adoptees Connect, Inc, which changed everything for me and adoptees all over the world.
"SOUNDS LIKE YOU NEED THERAPY!" I hear people say to adoptees, myself included.
Well, duh. Of course. I need to spend my entire life unraveling how fucked up adoption has made me and my life, that I should be in therapy my entire life until I leave the world.
Newsflash: Therapists sometimes need help understanding the depths and layers of the adoptee experience. I have been in and out of therapy my entire life since five years old, and not one therapist has ever connected the dots on my issues of relinquishment and adoption trauma.
I have been 100% on my own to figure it all out, and I had ZERO help from the therapist along the way, even when I have tried over and over to get therapy for adoptee issues. I have been therapying the therapist numerous times, year after year, explaining separation trauma, adoption trauma, and the primal wound.
I have absolutely tried therapy, and repeatedly they have failed me as an adoptee. However, I know I am not alone. Thankfully, we now have adoptee-centric therapists expanding all over, but they are still few far and few in between for the demand of adoptees who need services. Plus, therapy costs money. What about the adoptees who don't have money?!
Since coming out of the fog about my adoption experience, not only have I created one of the very first adoptee-centric organizations available in Adoptees Connect, Inc., but I have tirelessly connected with hundreds of adoptees all over the world and listened to their stories as we have walked each other out of the darkness time and time again.
I have vigorously been writing for over a decade at www.pamelakaranova.com, and I've won several awards for my platform, that is reached over 200,000 views. In addition, I have won the Angel in Adoption award from the National Association of Adoptees and Parents. I shared my story on endless podcasts to help elevate the adoptee experience, so my fellow adoptees would know they aren't alone.
A few weeks ago, I had my first sit-down, in-person meeting with the director and founder of a local adoption agency to share some life-saving resources with her. This was an extraordinary meeting, as I have tried this for years and had the door slammed in my face every step of the way.
Consider Reading: Adoptees are Dying, but Adoption Agencies Continue to Neglect Our Cries
While I, like many of my fellow adoptees, have experienced many highs and lows concerning my adoption story, I have fought like hell to overcome the obstacles that have been placed before me and to heal from them. Finally, after a lifetime of work, I am at peace with the healing space I am currently in.
Am I still angry? Yep, I have every right to be, as does every adoptee. I know too many adoptees who are in shambles because of what adoption has done to them. I know too many adoptees who have died by suicide because their pain was too great. However, I am using my anger to promote change not only for the adoptee community but also to raise awareness in the adoption community about how it feels to be adopted.
No one knows what it costs to be an adoptee unless you are an adoptee.
I have found joy in life and know who I am and who I'm not. I've accepted that the pain and triggers are here to stay, and now I have the tools to navigate them. Besides adoption, there are many more pieces to me and my life, so don't think all you read here is all I am because it's not. It's only a piece of it.
I work full-time in the home health field as a team leader for home health caregivers. We strive to keep the elderly living independently for as long as possible so they don't have to relocate to nursing homes. Every day counts; I have been in this field for 18 years. I am an avid hiker and waterfall chaser and have found great healing in retreating to the forest. I have documented my adventures at: Into The Wild: Kentucky Wilderness & Waterfall Adventures. I love the simple things in life, bonfires, sunrises, sunsets, hot tea, and memories and moments with those I love.
This platform was launched to start a supportive community of people tied to adoption in some way. Likely, if you aren't interested in learning how it feels to be adopted or someone directly connected to adoption, you wouldn't have an interest in my writings.
Please don't assume this is all of me because adoption is only a piece of me. So what if I sound angry, The Real Adoptea Moxie is bold, and I stand by my writings, and if you don't, please excuse yourself from the table. I don't expect the world to always agree with me and not challenge me; however, lived experience can't be trumped.
Someone recently told me my writings are "negative," and I beg to differ. Here's why, the world is already dressing adoption up as a win for all, and someone has to shatter this myth. Adoptees are dying; we can't afford to be silent or sugarcoat the truth. There is nothing positive about the separation from our biological mothers. Unfortunately, the world minimizes our pain, so I am committed to sharing the truth for myself and my fellow adoptees. I will take the heat from the few who aren't supportive, but it won't stop me from sharing the truth.
I have received 98% extremely positive feedback from this creative and honest space, and I am grateful for each of you being here. But, of course, anyone authentically telling the truth will experience criticism, so I knew once I took on this commitment, I would experience this. So the few people who aren't supportive will not get a rise out of me. I will delete rude comments and not respond to awful, unsupportive emails.
So instead, I will save my time, energy, and responses for those willing to open their heart to learn another perspective from an adoptee with lived experiences. I'm writing to those who can hear me, and if you can't hear me, then obviously, you aren't one of the ones I am writing for. You should only be here if you support me and my platform.
None of us know what another adoptee has experienced in their life to get to where they are today. So, several years ago, I decided that one of the most important things I would do was be true to myself and choose myself. So, in that, I can be true to you too.
I might not be the most polished writer or the most traditional, but one thing is for sure the truth is the pathway to healing for us all. Therefore, I am committed to sharing the truth in love, even when it hurts.
Q & A
For my fellow adoptees, have you started writing about your adoptee journey?
If so, do you notice a difference in how you write vs. verbalize your feelings and experiences as an adoptee?
What are some of the biggest obstacles you have experienced, and how have you overcome them?
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.
Lastly, I have created a comprehensive list of Recommended Resources for everyone in the adoption constellation. I strongly encourage you to read each piece and absorb as much as possible.
Whether you’re a free or a paid subscriber, I’m excited to have you as part of
The Real Adoptea Moxie Community, and thank you for supporting my work!
Please say hello if any of my supporters are headed to the Untangling Our Roots conference on March 30th-April 1st in Louisville, KY! I will be there Saturday only, representing Adoptees Connect, Inc. I can’t wait to meet you all!
Understanding is Love,
Pamela A. Karanova
The Real Adoptea Moxie is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
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? If you have a question for me, please email it to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are the most recent questions:
When Speaking to Adoptive Parents About Adoption
Ways to Better Understand and Support Adopted Teens
What I Wish My Adoptive Parents Had Done Differently
Here are a few articles I recommend reading:
100 Heartfelt Adoptee Quotes that Honor the Truth of Adoption by Pamela A. Karanova & 100 Adoptees Worldwide
100 Heartfelt Transracial Adoptee Quotes that Honor the Truth of Adoption by Pamela A. Karanova & 100 Transracial Adoptees Worldwide
What Are the Mental Health Effects of Being Adopted? By Therodora Blanchfield, AMFT
10 Things Adoptive Parents Should Know – An Adoptee’s Perspective by Cristina Romo
Understanding Why Adoptees Are At A Higher Risk for Suicide by Maureen McCauley | Light of Day Stories
Toward Preventing Adoption- Related Suicide by Mirah Riben
Relationship Between Adoption and Suicide Attempts: A Meta-Analysis
Reckoning with The Primal Wound Documentary with a 10% off coupon code (25 available) “adopteesconnect”
Still Grieving Adoptee Losses, What My Adoptive Parents Could Have Done Differently.