Connecting with Adult Adoptees
by Pamela Karanova
Adoptees Connect was founded with a vision to connect Adult Adoptees with other Adult Adoptees. My hope is that the more adoptees we connect with, the less isolated and alone we will feel. A community of Adult Adoptees coming together in real life to experience life together is essential for each of us. When we’re surrounded in real life by those who “speak the same language” as we do, we feel connected, understood, important, significant and it can help us find our way in life.
Many adoptees navigate our lives doing our best to blend in with whatever situation comes our way. We learn to adapt and “go with the flow” if you will. Much of the time, deep inside we feel alone, isolated and as if there isn’t one person on this earth that understands us and our internal confliction. Sometimes we don’t even understand it ourselves!
As the founder of Adoptees Connect I can share from my personal journey that the moment I found another adoptee online who shared feelings like mine, something amazing happened. I felt an immediate connection with other adoptees, who shared feelings I could relate too but I was never able to share beofre. I learned that for most of my life it was hard to express how I’ve always felt being adopted. It was almost impossible for me to verbalize these feelings, let alone share them with non-adoptees who couldn’t understand them anyway.
Click by click, I began to build relationships with my fellow adoptees mostly online. I began to write and share my journey on my own website Adoptee in Recovery. Little by little I began to emerge “Out of the Fog” and reality of my adoption experience began to set in.
When reality set in, I really had no resources on how to handle things, or what to do next. I remember 2011 I started to look for adoptee support services in my city of Lexington, KY. Searching high and low I was found with absolutely no POST Adoptee Support Services in my city, or surrounding areas. I knew in my heart of hearts, at that moment I found one of my greatest reasons I’ve made it to where I am today. I’m here today to help plant Adoptees Connect Support Groups for Adult Adoptees. I had no idea how long it would take to put this vision in action.
It didn’t happen overnight. It took many more years to come to life. I thought that of all the people who would be able to provide me with some post adoptee support services, it would be the adoption agencies in my local area. It seemed that if they have dedicated there lives to providing adoption services for families, wouldn’t they also be able to provide adult adoptees with some post adoption resources or recommendations to help those adopted babies, when they grow up? Many of us may or may not have issues surrounding the realities of abandonment, rejection, grief, loss and trauma from our adoption experiences. They knew we could have these issues, right? They acknowledged the difficulties many adoptees experience in life, some are very complex like abandonment, rejection, grief, loss and trauma, didn’t they?
Sadly, in 2015 reached out to several adoption agencies in my community, and not one had any resources for me. One of the highest rated agencies I found on google in my city emailed me the link to the post I had put on craigslist in 2012 searching for adoptees to start a support group with many years earlier. She had no idea that it was me who put the add on craigslist so long ago. This was an awakening process for me. I knew that if any POST ADOPTEE SUPPORT SERVICES were going to be available in my city, I would have to be the one to do it. I had others who were in the “Kentucky Adoption Arena” who shot the idea of a support group down, because “Everyone does everything online now”. They assured me that my idea was foolish and said it would be a waste of time and that no one would come.
I became discouraged.
Life never stopped, and adoption continued to kick me flat on my face.
STILL NO POST ADOPTEE SUPPORT SERVICES.
In 2016 I started to see a new therapist. I found many “adoption competent” therapists in my area who were mostly adoptive parents, but no “adoptee specifically” competent therapists. The therapist I had only lasted a few months as she resigned her position to take another position. During that short while I was building a relationship with her, I found myself feeling like I was “Therapying the therapist” regarding adoptee complicated grief, loss, trauma, complex PTSD, abandonment & rejection issues and it was emotionally and mentally exhausting to say the least. When she resigned her position, I resigned mine as well. I didn’t have an ounce of being left in me to consider another round of having to therapy a therapist.
The next few months of my life were like a whirlwind. I experience the death of my adoptive mother whom I had no relationship with, the death of who I thought was a new-found brother. I met my biological grandmother 2x and some more biological family and this was a dream come true for me. Then reality set in, and all at one time I was struck with inconsolable grief that I couldn’t share with anyone and I didn’t even understand it myself. It was as if I was grieving the life I never knew, the memories I would never have with my biological family. I slipped into a depression around October 2017 and this took me to a very dark place. So dark that I was at a point where I feared myself. I feared my thoughts, yet I had no place to turn. Darkness followed me everywhere, but I hid it the best I could from everyone around. I was already born a burden, I never want to burden those close to me with my issues.
It was during this darkest time that I knew I had a choice to make. I could either continue to stay in my dark place, filled with grief, loss and sadness regarding this adoptee journey or I could take it and do something positive with it. This was when I put ACTION behind the years of a vision. This was when Adoptees Connect – Lexington, KY was planted. I knew it was never going to happen if I didn’t pursue this vision despite what the dream killers said. I knew I couldn’t possibly be the only hurting adoptee in my city.
In November 2017, I set a date, created social media and began to advertise for my group which meets the 2nd Saturday of every month. It all came so natural to me because it’s something that has been needed and envisioned for so long.
I quickly began to anticipate our first meeting which was January 13, 2018.
In November 2017 I stepped out in faith and made a post on Facebook asking my fellow adoptees if anyone would be interested in starting an Adoptees Connect in their city and surprisingly many adoptees responded and said, “YES!” they would love to get on board and plant an Adoptees Connect in their cities. In my heart of hearts, I knew that every single adoptee in this world deserves a “Safe Space” that Adoptees Connect provides but it would be so far out there to logically think we could plant an Adoptees Connect in every city and state. FEAR is always lurking in the background trying to hold us back from perusing the visions that have been placed on our lives.
As I continued to “advertise” and encourage my fellow adoptees to help plant an Adoptees Connect in their cities, the vision of something that didn’t seem logical or possible quickly became a reality for me. Who says we can’t have an Adoptees Connect planted in every city, state around the USA? Who is stopping us? It became apparent that the only thing that would be stopping us – IS US!
I feel strongly that 2018 is the year that we, as adoptees are no longer waiting on change to happen, we’re making change happen.
I’ve always had a heart for my fellow adoptees, for their pain because I too have experienced that same pain. I know what it feels like to be isolated, lost and alone with no hope insight. I know what that dark cloud feels like that follows us everywhere. I know what discouragement and disconnection feels like. I know what it feels like to not be able to “feel love” because “love is abandonment” for many of us. Life without connecting with our fellow adoptees in real life can be lonely. Being adopted can be lonely. Having one another as local lifelines can change everything for us.
Could it be possible that I know what these things feel like, so I would have the heart for my fellow adoptees like I do? I needed to feel these things to understand the significance in us needing a “SAFE SPACE” to share our experiences, strengths, sadness and sorrow. Everyone needs that one person, or place who embraces them, and who understands them who speaks the same language they do. Online is wonderful, but real life is so much more meaningful.
This is life or death for adoptees.
Having a connection in real life with fellow adoptees in a community of those who we can trust enough to be vulnerable and honest about our experiences with is a foundational part of life. We’ve all missed it for far too long, and we all deserve people in our lives who will listen to us, encourage us and who will let us share our tears, anger, and who will celebrate with us. Being able to share in this way can have a significant impact on improving our quality of life and overall happiness.
Connecting with Adult Adoptees in real life can create shared memories, laughter, and fun times spent, which can last a lifetime. My hope is that as our Adoptees Connect Support Groups continue to grow, it will be a game changer for adoptees everywhere. We can’t “fix” one another, but we can be there to support one another in good times and bad. We can be there to listen, learn and grow with one another.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for taking an interest in what Adoptees Connect is doing. Be sure to check back often under our “Group Locations” tab. Subscribe to our website to stay up to date with our community. We will do our best to keep our followers informed as these groups meet, form and grow in our communities.
Love & Shalom,
Pamela A. Karanova | Adoptees Connect