Father’s Day

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Father's Day is quickly approaching… I wanted to highlight the blog of a birth father.  As the birth parent online community is mostly female, I thought it was important to lift up the voice of a father this month:

http://statisticallyimpossible.blogspot.com/

and a forum that he's highlighted for birth fathers at http://www.birthfathersrecognized.org/index.html

America Adopts has been blogging about birth father's all month!

Please check out these links and share!


What Are Your Rights When You Are Making An Adoption Plan?

KnowYourrights

What are my rights?

      Is adoption right for me and my child?

 

                If you are considering adoption, you have the right to:

  • Free counseling that helps you assess your options including choosing to parent your child.
  • Access prenatal care and to deliver in the state where you live.
  • Sign relinquishments ONLY after you have delivered.
  • Receive financial help in states where it is legal, such as Virginia.
  • Decide not to proceed with the adoption even if you have been given financial support.

 

                What kind of adoption do I want?

 

                If you are considering different types of adoption, you have the right to:

  • Choose the family who will raise your child.
  • Specify the amount of open contact you have with your child while he/she is growing up.
  • Obtain a written agreement that is legally binding in states like Maryland, Virginia and D.C.
  • Place your child with a family in the state where you live.
  • Have your child placed immediately with the family you choose.
  • Select a family with a completed home study and background clearances.

 

What are my legal rights during the adoption process?

 

As a birth parent, if you decide to proceed with an adoption, you have the right to:

  • Your own attorney, paid for by the adoptive family.  
  • Work with a qualified adoption professional. Make sure that you are working with an agency that is regulated by the state.
  • Revoke your consent within the legally allowed timeframe.
  • Know if there is a medical emergency concerning your child.
  • Receive or not receive notice of the legal process. 
  • Obtain copies of any paperwork you sign.

 

What am I entitled to at the hospital?

 

          While you are at the hospital giving birth to your child, you have the right to:

  • Choose your child’s name and receive a copy of the original birth certificate.
  • Spend as much or as little time as you want with your child.
  • Request your child be placed in temporary care if you need more time to think about your options.
  • Make your decision without pressure from any professional or hospital staff.

 

You have the right to be informed about the impact of adoption on yourself and your child.  You are also entitled to and to counseling and support. 

If you want to talk to a counselor or an attorney about adoption, please call 1-800-439-0233.

Adoption laws vary from state to state.  If you are considering adoption make sure you are aware of the laws in your state and what rights you are entitled to.

 

If you are concerned about birth father rights please check out this link.

 

 

 


Birth Mother Support Group.

I just have to share that we had a support group meeting Tuesday night that was really wonderful. Ladies were able to share, make connections, and hear stories that brought comfort, support and understanding. I was honored to be among such honest and open women.

Support group meetings will be open to ANY birth mother who wants to come. Meetings are held the 3rd Tuesday of each month in the DMV area at 6:30p. Contact me for more information!


Honoring Birth Mothers on Mother’s Day

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As Mother's Day approaches we wondered what ways families honor birth parents on that special day or on other days.  It is very encouraging to know the ways other birth parents are celebrated and acknowledged.  We wanted to share the results. If you have a story to share please let us know!

We asked some of our Adoptions Together adoptive families:

How do you/will you honor your child’s

birth mother on Mother’s Day?

One adoptive family wrote:

"We first talk about the birthmother ALL the time.  Our kids are 5 and 3 and they can tell anyone about their birthmother and where she lives and her name.  The birthmother chooses not to be a part of their lives right now so we do not have a picture but if we had a picture of their birthmother – we would laminate it and post on their wall beside their beds and have them say good night and talk to her everyday.

 "We write the yearly letter and try to include a winter holiday card that we sent out to others so that she is kept up to date.  We hope to meet her someday and want the kids to have at least one picture of her.

"I am not sure this is really anything special but I hope it helps.  We also honor our two different foster mom's on Mother's Day as well."

 

One of our other adoptive families wrote:

"As the parents of three children, two joined our family through domestic adoption and one through international adoption, we thought we would share our thoughts on how we honor the women who gave birth to our kids. 

Quite honestly, we do not do anything special on Birthparent's Day.  We believe there are better ways we can honor our children's birthparents.  They are:

1. We do the best we can to raise our children up in a household that is taught to love others as we want to be loved. 

2. Anytime we hear someone use terminology that is offensive, we gently correct them (not so gently for repeat offenders).  Correcting misconceptions is one small step towards changing the way our society views birthmoms.   Specifially, we correct statements like:

     a. Why did his/her Mom give him/her away?  They did not give him away.  She  first chose life and secondly thoughtfully and carefully picked out (in the domestic adoptions) the family who she felt would best parent her child.  Her specific reasons are personal and between my child and his/her birthmom.

 

     b. How much did your son/daughter cost?  We did not pay for our children.  We did, however, freely give some money to the adoption agency to ensure that our child's birthmother received services, if she wanted them.

 

     c.  I could NEVER give up my child.  It is impossible to know what you would  do in the situation our child's birthmom was in.  Judging people without all the facts (actually, judging them at all) is completely inappropriate.

 

     d.  Do your kids know they are adopted?  Of course they do!  They have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of!  In fact, there are two Moms that love them unconditionally.  (sometimes I feel sarcastic and I answer by saying, "No, my Chinese daughter does not know that she was adopted.  Do you think she will notice?")

 

3.  All year long we talk to our children about their individual adoptions and encourage them to ask questions.  If possible, we allow them to have contact with their birthmom.  Unless there is a situation that is simply not healthy, guiding our child as he sends a letter or email only reaffirms that I am his Mom and that we love his birthmom.  I do not 'fear' his relationship with her, I celebrate it!  She is not going to replace me as his Mom and I will never replace her as his birthmom.  These are two very distinct roles and, again, can reaffirm to our child that his birthmom loves him.

4. Recently, we realized that we honor her by providing her with a way to contact us directly (as opposed to routing things through the agency).  Finally, since she trusted us enought to place her child with us, surely we can trust her with our email.

 

While we will most certainly think about the women who are such a huge part of who are children are on Birthparent's Day, we try to remember that there are 364 additional days in the year!"

 

Kudos to these families for keeping the thoughts of their child's birth mother active within their families and desiring even more!!  Here's a link to some  messages from a birthmom blogger to adoptive mothers.


In what ways has your child or children's adoptive parents recognized you on Mother's Day?  

Does anyone do anything special for themself on Mother's Day? 

Your words are valuable and impactful.  We share your stories with brand new birth parents and they are encouraged by your honesty.  You would be surprised how the smallest anectode or gesture can mean the world to someone.


8 Things To Do on Birthmother’s Day

Started in 1990 by a group of Seattle, WA birth mothers,  Birth Mother’s Day is just around the corner (May 5, 2012) here is a list of things you can do to celebrate the day…

 

Journal

  1. Write a journal entry or blog entry honoring your story.   (Image Credit.)

Phone call

2.  Plan a phone call or a meeting with your child and adoptive family if you have an open relationship. (Image Credit)

 

Spa

 

3. Treat yourself to a relaxing day with a girlfriend or a source of support.  (Image Credit.)

 

Support group

4.  Seek support through a group or a counseling session.  (Image)

 

Flower pot

5. Buy yourself flowers or plant something in honor of your child.  (Image.)

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6.  Talk with your or a local adoption agency about speaking opportunities or

possibly supporting other birth mothers or expecting mothers.

 

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7.  Attend an event to celebrate Birthmother’s Day: 

Birthmother’s Day Brunch in Falls Church, VA (Birthmom Buds)

Birthmother’s Day Retreat in Charlotte, NC.

 

8. Check out articles and sites on Birthmother's day:

Adoptees and Adoptive Families Celebrating

http://www.earlychildhoodnews.net/motherhood/130-birth-mothers-day-2010

 

http://www.blogher.com/birthmothers-day-separate-and-not-equal-maybe-okay

 

Have you done anything to honor Birthmother’s Day in the past?

 

What do you plan on doing this year?


      October Baby

      While listening to NPR yesterday I heard about a new film coming out that highlights the story of an adoptee who searches finds out she survived an abortion attempt and begins a search for her birth mother. I know these are highly charged topics and this is definitely not an endorsement of the film by any means, but I thought it would be interesting to share and possibly discuss. If anyone plans on seeing the film or has a film that you think other birth moms should check out please let me know.

      I'll attach the review from the website afro.com:

      Hannah (Rachel Hendrix) has suffered from a host of afflictions over the course of her childhood, including asthma, seizures and multiple hip surgeries. Besides her physical ailments, the poor girl has unfortunately been haunted mentally by a nagging sense of feeling unwanted, despite being raised by a couple of very loving parents (John Schneider and Jennifer Price).

      Everything comes to a head during her freshman year in college, after she collapses on stage while performing in a school play. Her parents rush to campus where they inform her doctor (Lance E. Nichols) in the infirmary that their daughter has considered committing suicide.

      Hannah’s dismay upon learning that her folks had invaded her privacy by reading her diary is forgotten as soon as they proceed to make an even more shocking revelation. For not only do they subsequently announce that she had been adopted, but that she had miraculously survived an attempted abortion when her mother was only 24 weeks pregnant.

      That bombshell triggers an explosion of emotions inside Hannah ranging from bewilderment to desperation to rage. But at least she finally has an idea why she’s been so sickly and saddled with emotional trauma all her life.

      Next, the understandably-anguished teenager demands a copy of her birth certificate before deciding to track down her biological mother over Spring Break.

      And, accompanied by her supportive best friend, Jason (Jason Burkey), she sets out on a spiritual sojourn via Volkswagen bus to Mobile, Alabama in quest of self-discovery and perhaps closure.

      This is the compelling point of departure of “October Baby,” a modern morality play co-directed by Jon and Andrew Erwin. The brothers, who admittedly “never knew there was such a thing as an abortion survivor,” were inspired to make the movie after learning about the real-life ordeal of Gianna Jessen.

      While I suspect that the Erwins aren’t the only ones previously unfamiliar with the phenomenon, their moving tearjerker will undoubtedly go a long way towards spreading the word. The principal cast comprises mostly relative unknowns, as well as a couple of familiar faces from TV in John Schneider (“The Dukes of Hazzard”) and Jasmine Guy (“A Different World”).

      Though unabashedly pro-life in point-of-view, “October Baby” is nonetheless an apolitical coming-of-age adventure apt to touch the hearts of audience members on either side of the abortion issue. A faith-based parable bringing to mind Psalm 139:16’s sobering message: “You saw me before I was born.”

      Excellent (3.5 stars)
      Rated PG-13 for mature themes.
      Running time: 107 minutes
      Studio: Provident Films
      Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films

      October Baby


      Making Meaning of Losses

      When we experience losses in life there are a few typical responses.  Some may include crying, shock, sadness, feelings of depression, and even denial.  We sometimes reflect upon the positive memories or maybe the negatives if they were more pertinent in our relationship.  Most losses in life are understood by our communities and we can feel supported.  We plan funerals, family and friends fly in to help us memorialize, and society at large pretty much understands.  We’re even allowed time off work to do these things and people understand what we’re going through and try to do what they can to help. 

      But all losses are not the death of a person.  We’ve lost relationships through separation and divorce, jobs, maybe even the loss of use of a limb, or received a life changing diagnosis.   There are some types of losses that are not publicly acknowledged or understood by society at-large.  Some of these losses include an LGBT individual being extradited from family and even community, being unable to mourn publicly the loss of special person because of some secret, the loss of child through miscarriage, and this includes placing a child for adoption.  

      For the many birth parents that have placed a child for adoption, there is no typical “loss” scenario.  The child is still alive, but there is a significant loss that presents itself.  Some birth parents feel as though they are not allowed to mourn because they have “done this to themselves” or feel like mourning is not taking responsibility for this decision.  The mysterious nature of some adoptions has created an atmosphere where a birth parent may not even know what she or he should do.  Nevertheless, the feelings are there.  Whether very present or buried a bit further down, these emotions and feelings are valid and deserve to be recognized.

      The grief processes, regardless of the type of loss, include the following:  Accepting the reality of the loss, experiencing the pain of the grief, adjusting to the environment from which the lost person or object is missing and withdrawing energy from the loss and reinvesting it in someone or something else, and also making meaning of the loss.  But disefranchised loss, the type of loss that a birth parent may experience, brings with it another set of challenges.

      For birth parents working through these tasks of grieving can sometimes be difficult.  For example, many people involved are sending the exact opposite messages like, “just forget about it” or “you’ll feel better after you have your next child.”  These people can be parents, friends, even doctors and nurses give out bad advice at times.  How many times has this happened?  Instead of experiencing the pain of the grief, you may be told to act as if it never happened.  Withdrawing energy from the adoption and placing it into others or some other activity is the one thing that many birthmothers seem to do well on the outside but if the loss hasn’t been acknowledged then focusing on this task may be a bit premature. 

      Making meaning of it all is a task that definitely takes a bit of time for some.  Some find spiritual reasons for what has happened, others find that their decision making throughout the process is a meaning in itself.  Rituals are an activity that can produce positive expressions in response to a loss.  For example, eating the favorite meal of a loved one who’s passed away or doing an activity that one loved to do.  This helps to bring attention to the loss in a healthier way and it’s something that you have control over.  You can include others, or you can do it alone.  Joining a support group is another way to facilitate the meaning making process.  Hearing the stories of others often helps to understand things in one’s own life.  It is also a safe space where stories, emotions, and experiences can be shared in a supportive environment.

       

      What are some ways you have made meaning from your adoption story? 

      Do you have any rituals you perform? (Possibly lighting a birthday candle on your child’s birthday or calling a loved one to come over and have dinner on the anniversary of your child’s placement day, planting a tree or plant, and if you have an open relationship, maybe even planning your meetings with your child or sending a card.)


      Holiday Emotions

      This is a post from a blog I discovered from December 8th, 2008 written by  Jenna Hatfield

       

      The holidays are a busy time. They’re also an emotional time. Whether you are touched by adoption or not, the holidays can be a reminder of both happiness and loss. As such, many birth parents find the holiday season to be a particularly difficult one. Is there any way around it? Or is it just a given?

      I think that knowing the holidays can be emotional for just about anyone should be our first clue to the fact that this is a normal and possibly expected response. As such, is there anything (at all!) that we can do to better prepare ourselves for the season at hand? Of course.

      1. Schedule a therapy appointment. With these last two weeks before Christmas being hectic, my guess is that someone is going to cancel with your normal therapist. Call and see if there is an opening which you can claim. Perhaps you feel okay right now. Schedule it anyway. It won’t hurt to talk about the issues at hand. Furthermore, if you do not yet have a therapist, consider looking for one.

      2. If you have contact and the ability to send cards or gifts, get on that right now. There’s something about preparing a package or signing a card that brings emotions together; the happy with the sad. Reminding yourself of the happiness is important at this point in time.

      3. Don’t forget to do something nice for yourself. Schedule a pedicure or buy yourself something nice while shopping for everyone else. It’s allowed, trust me. We so often forget to take care of ourselves when our schedules get hectic. Don’t allow that to happen to you this year. Make yourself a priority. Doing so will help you deal with the emotions of the season.

      4. Cry. The strongest among us pride themselves in never crying. But doing so can be the emotional release that you need at times. If you need to cry, do so. There’s no pride in holding back your emotions just because the world deems it to be stronger. In fact, it takes strength to let yourself cry.

      5. Be happy! Sometimes we get caught up in the negative emotions of whatever we’re feeling. I am willing to be that there is some happiness in your life. Allow yourself to celebrate those joys as well. Nothing is ever completely one-sided. Recognize the points of joy in your life at this time.

      Do you have any ways to deal with big emotions during the holidays? Please share them with us.


      To Tell or Not To tell “The Secret”

      Fall is here.  The leaves are changing and falling.  It's a time of planting.  For some, after placing a child for adoption, it is a time of planting secrets.  Over time, the issue of keeping secrets regarding placing children for adoption has been coming to the surface.

       

      Fears of family reactions, the possibility of being talked out of your plans to place your child, fear of judgment from others, fears of what your other children will think, and even fears of being disowned because of your pregnancy or adoption plan , are just a few of the reasons some birth parents choose to keep the adoption story a secret for some period of time.

      Every birth parent makes a decision whether to talk about their adoption story openly, to only tell one or a small number of people, or to never tell a soul.  That decision is yours to make.  Sometimes birth parents tell their future spouses and their children.  

      There will be opportunities in everyday life to talk about your story. Sometimes a conversation with someone else will spark feelings you thought you'd done a good job of  burying.  Sometimes a news story or another member of your family considering adopting or making an adoption plan for their own child will push you one step closer to being ready to talk.

      You may not be initially comfortable with this conversation.  The first step may be to share your experiences with someone who is supportive and non-judgmental.  This will help you to gain confidence.  We live in a world where more information is available and more things are coming to the light.  Having less secrecy now means having less to explain later in life.

      You may have fears that your other children will be mad or think badly of you.  At the end of the day many children are curious about the story and especially about their half-siblings.  The earlier this conversation takes places with children, the more "normal" it is in their eyes.

      As you live your life you'll decide when and where you will bring your story up/respond to questions about your story.   Think about who is asking, where you are, is it appropriate, possible reactions, etc.  If you feel comfortable talking, it may become a teachable moment.  On the flip side, you may feel like darting in the other direction when this question comes up.  Answering the question may help someone else and may make you more and more confident in yourself and your decisions.  You'll probably be surprised at the number of people who are connected to adoption in some way.

      It all starts with one conversation.

       

      If you are one of the many birth parents who has decided to keep your story a secret we'd like this to be a safe space for you to talk about it in any form, a poem, a comment, a letter to your child(ren), Anything!  If you are a birth parent who has made the choice to tell people about your story feel free to comment too!  You may encourage someone to be one step closer to sharing.

       

      Resource:

      Roles, Patricia. (1989).  Saying Goodbye to a Baby Volume 1-The Birthparent's Guide to Loss and         Grief in Adoption. Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America.