New Beginnings…

Hello Everyone,

I would like to introduce myself to all you new and old bloggers…My name is Lindsey and I am the  newest member of the Adoptions Together team. I look forward to  reading all your thoughts and stories in the near future and beginning this new journey with you…

I was doing some research to become a little bit more informed about the difficult path a birth mother must take, in doing so I ran across this poem written by a birth mother who placed her son in 2008. I look forward to your hearing thoughts and opions about this poem and any other topics that might interest you all…

Best Wishes,

Lindsey

In the Beginning…

Long ago on a summer eve,
A baby boy I did conceive.
Was not a plan I had in life,
But what to do, I was not a wife.
A mere child I was and yet so old,
My life was about to unfold…
What to do, where to go, this was
something I did not know. 
 

I cried and cried and prayed and prayed.
I was so alone and so afraid.
And yet I knew I had a choice to make,
It was my baby's life that was at stake.
Each day that passed and you did grow,
I knew you would have a loving place to go.
My plans for you were what kept me strong,
with deserving parents you did belong.
Not a day goes by I do not ponder,
Who you are and where you wander.
My thoughts and prayers are always with you.
For it is the life you live that makes my dreams come true.

© M.A. Hague


The First Visit!

Talisa has posted on the blog before about her adoption journey, and she recently had her first visit with her daughter and her daughter's adoptive family, which she recounts for all of us.  Her mom also met her adoptive family for the first time.  This was a big day!

Hello everyone.  It been a while since I wrote something for the blog. I was away for three weeks in Hawaii, and then I came back to experience my first visit with my daughter.
 
I never thought that I would be so calm, but at the same time, so nervous for the visit. I thought I was going to cry during the visit, but I was surprised that I kept the tears back.  Before I had left on my trip, I received a DVD movie of my daughter, and it was a amazing and emotional for me to see her.  When I had watched the DVD, I cried knowing that I'm not there everyday and just seeing her trying to crawl and talking away.  My feelings were everywhere, and I couldn't believe it.  I couldn't believe how big she was and how she was moving around.  Still, I was happy to see her and knew that I did the right thing.  My parents and fiance's family have been one hundred percent behind me with my decision, and I'm happy to have that support. 
 
The day of the visit was Saturday, June 20, 2009, and it was a rainy day so we couldn't go to the park like we planned, but we had another alternative.  My social worker, my mom and I arrived at the restaurant to meet my daughter and her adoptive family.  When they arrived, I was so happy. They met my mom for the first time and all got along so well.  I loved seeing my mom with Juliana – it was so nice and she loves her much.  At times when I was holding her I wanted to cry, but I held it strong. It was nice to see them and let them know how everything is going me and hear how everything was going with them. I loved telling them about the trip to Hawaii, about the adoption organization that I'm part of and how school is going with me. After talking about Hawaii for a little, I had some gifts that I wanted to get out. We did the gift exchanges it was fun because I got to explain what everyone gifts were.
   
After the bunch, we went over to a book store and watched how Juliana is standing and crawling around on her own. It was amazing to see how independent she is become. She is a very adventurous little baby - reminds me of me when I was little.  I shared pictures of my fiancee and our puppies – it was really nice to share these things and to feel so comfortable with each other. I loved how my mom was able to talk with Juliana's family. 
 
At the end of the visit, we said our good bye and how we will continue sending the pictures and the updates.  My mom was surprised because she thought that Juliana's family are the most wonderful people that she ever met, and I was happy that she felt that way. When my social worker asked her about whether she expected the visit to turn out the way it did, she said that meeting Juliana's family for the first time, she just was amazed by how much they care about me. My mom has always been thankful for them becoming a part of my life, but then she knew how truly blessed I was to have chosen then for the adoptive parents.  She thinks highly of them and thinks of them everyday as much as I do. We're happy for the next visit, and they will be meeting my dad and fiancee I'm happy for that.
   
The first visit has really shown how much I've progressed and grown into a mature and strong young lady. I know that everything that is happening to me right now is because I'm a good and kind person, and I have the willpower that has helped me build a strong and loving relationship with Juliana's family.

On TV – 16 and pregnant

I love reality TV so I probably would've been watching the MTV show 16 and pregnant whether it was a topic that interested me or not. This hour-long show focused on a different teenager each week dealing with an unplanned pregnancy.  It seems like the recipe for a potential trainwreck, but actually, as I watched the season, it depicted an unexpected pregnancy in a fairly accurate light.  It made it look really hard.  And tiring.  And stressful for relationships.  And financially overwhelming. 

The season finale featured a couple who opted for adoption, and it was amazingly heart-wrenching.  Their ambivalence was obvious, and they courageously displayed pure emotion on TV (so much so that part of me was wondering whether adoption was a good plan).  But this couple was incredibly centered in making their decision.  They were facing families who disagreed with them, and they stood firm that they were not able to provide their daughter the life they wanted for her.  I watched the reunion last night, and they still feel strongly that adoption was a good choice for them, but the tears are still fresh in their eyes.  And, of course, they think of their daughter everyday.  They are lucky to have each other and also to have such depth at such a young age.  You can see interviews with this couple here:  

http://remotecontrol.mtv.com/tag/16-and-pregnants-catelynn/ 


encouraging words

Posted below are some excerpts from the book Being a Birthparent: Finding our Place (by Brenda Romanchik, published in 1999). I think these are inspiring and uplifting words, not heard often enough by birthparents. What are your thoughts after reading the following?

 

“The darkness of grief often makes it difficult for birthparents to see what they have to offer. By relinquishing their right to parent, many may feel as if their work is done. Society tends to reinforce this by portraying good birthparents as silent participants. In addition, birthparents may be struggling with the inner demons of shame and guilt and may not feel worthy of a relationship with their children. They may also have family and friends who are not very supportive of their decision and make it difficult for them to feel good about continued contact.

One way they are valuable is as a source of family information. Birthparents are the keepers of an adopted child's genetic heritage. Most experts in child development agree that a child's development depends on both genetic (nature) and environmental (nurture) factors. Besides physical characteristics, children can inherit talents and temperaments. Is your child good in science like the birth grandmother? Are they creative like the birth sister? Birthparents can help their children discover their genetic origins.

A birthparent's history is also part of the child’s history. A birthmother feels their first kick, remembers the unusual food cravings and remembers their activity level. Birthfathers who are involved in the pregnancy may recall hearing the baby's heart beat for the first time, and may have had the first fuzzy glimpse of them swimming around during an ultrasound. The pregnancy and birth stories that birthparents hold so dear to their hearts, as well as their reasons for choosing adoption, also have meaning to our children.

Ongoing contact can also be reassuring to a child of adoption. Their questions can be answered as they come up and they never need doubt that their birthparents love them. They will always have tangible proof of how they are cared for. No child–or adult for that matter–can have too much love in their life.”


A much-anticipated visit

Last week I facilitated an annual visit between a birthmother ­– I’ll call her Paula, her now-toddler-age son, and his adoptive mother.

 

Before the visit, Paula and I talked about her anticipatory feelings. She told me that with the visit looming, she’d been experiencing bouts of depression. Thinking ahead to seeing her son had made her revisit the decision she made two years ago, and the consequences of that decision – not getting to see her son every day.

 

The minute the visit began, Paula burst into tears. After her son’s shyness wore off, he walked over to her and gave her hug while I watched. Tears welled up in my eyes. As he held on to her, she cried harder at first and then gradually stopped as she began engaging with him.

 

The visit lasted for a couple of hours. She and her son played some games together and read a story. Her son’s adoptive mother regaled us with stories about his antics over the past year.

 

After the meeting, Paula’s mood seemed lighter. She told me how meaningful an experience that had been for her. And she told me she was ready to start receiving twice-yearly updates (photos and letters) from her son’s adoptive family.

 

The experience was incredibly emotional for me, too. It made me appreciate how aspects of an open adoption have the power to … time and time again …open up old life wounds, but – for those willing to take the risks – provide powerful connection and comfort.


Openness

How do you feel about open adoption?

 

Open adoption means birth parents have direct contact with their children and adoptive parents through letters, emails, photos, and/or visits.

 

Some birth parents prefer an open adoption. They feel it benefits both them and their child(ren) by permitting them to develop a continuing relationship. They like the reassurance it provides that children are loved and well cared for and they appreciate that it may help ease some feelings of pain, loss or grief.

 

And others don’t. For them, an open adoption forces them to confront their extremely raw feelings. For them, an open adoption simply serves as a constant reminder of possibly the most significant loss of their life. Letters, emails, pictures and visits can lead to intense feelings of sadness and depression.

 

What about you – what has your experience been like? Have your feelings about openness changed over time?


Birthmother’s Day

Hi there – I'm Laura. I'm a new Adoption Counselor at Adoptions Together. I'll be taking Jen's–the previous blogger's–place. I'm excited to continue this blog. It looks like there've been some pretty neat blog postings, some uplifting thoughts, and some heartbreaking stories. I'd love to read more of your thoughts (on blog, or non-blog related, topics). And, what I want to write about today is…

Did you know that there is a Birthmother's Day?

A group of birthmothers created it in Seattle in 1990. The point of Birthmother’s day? To recognize, celebrate, and honor birthmothers, and the difficult but often sacrificial choices they made.

Birthmother's day is celebrated every year on the Saturday before Mother’s Day — to alleviate some of the common feelings of pain surrounding Mother's Day. So what do you think of this day? I realize it's a little late to post this (since the day has passed), but how would you celebrate this day next year?

Want to read about the founders of Birthmother’s Day? Read their story here: http://www.birthmombuds.com/founders.htm


Do you ever want to walk away?

As anyone in an open adoption knows, openness is not the "solution" to the pain of loss.  I believe in open adoption, and I honestly wish every person I work with could be given the opportunity to have an open adoption.  But visits come with hard parts to them too, including the anticipation and anxiety beforehand and the emotional let-down after.  I heard someone very wise recently say – you can be a good birth mom if you are able to feel two opposite emotions at the exact same time.  And I think visits are a physical manifestation of those conflicting feelings. 

NotMother wrote about her experiences with the tough parts of openness about two years ago.  As I was going through an old email, I saw her posting "Do I Ever Want to Walk Away" and wanted to share.  To give you a taste,

Round is Funny asked if I've ever wanted to pull away from my open adoption. The short answer is yes, many times.

She also wondered how my daughter's parents handled it, but the thing is, I've never really pulled away. I don't initiate contact much and they have asked me to make more of an effort in that area, though I think they've given up on that by now. The truth is I stink at keeping in touch with everyone and it pretty much runs in my family. I have no idea if they ever have to do damage control for my lack of communication or how they do it if they do.

But…..I do have lots of thoughts about why it's so tempting to pull away.

First things first, it is a myth that open adoption somehow makes things easier. You know that whole group who might admit that closed adoption is wrong and harmful, but argue that open adoption is all sweetness and light, especially for birthmothers. Because I can see my daughter and know that she is okay and be a part of her life, there is this misconception that I don't (and shouldn't) have any of the well-documented negative effects of relinquishment. Um, it's not true (though I confess to having no personal knowledge of being a birthmother in a closed adoption). I do have plenty of those same loss-related issues.


This too shall pass

In the past two days, I've had two uplifting visits with two different birth mothers.  They both happened to be having their second visits with the children they placed.  I remember both of their first visits with their children.  Each one was full of raw pain and didn't know what to do to feel better.  One mother was physically and emotionally showing symptoms of depression, and the other was angry at the world.  There was a sense of hurt and chaos and confusion.  I also heard deep regrets about the adoption. 

Their visits this time around were so different – the pain is still with them every day, of course, but the emotional crisis has passed.  There is something more peaceful about them, you can feel it just by being in the room with them.  It reminded me that there are moments where we think we cannot stand the pain, and we think in those times that there is no hope for something better.  But it happens.  The worst of the storm breaks, and the sun peaks out from behind the clouds again….

And I realized that they have changed as people – there is something deeper to them now than I have ever known before.  Maybe all the pain is working towards something. 


Adoptive Parent Guest Post: We Don’t “Own” Our Children

We heard from an adoptive mom who happened upon this blog and felt outraged on behalf of birth mothers who seem to be fighting for the updates every year. Everyone brings their own history to adoption and responds differently to the idea of openness; here is this adoptive parent’s perspective.

As I read through some of the blogs I see on the Internet, I am absolutely horrified at the behavior of adoptive parents. And I am an adoptive parent!

When I signed up for this “gig,” there were many things I knew I would have to do, things that could be difficult given my conservative upbringing. I never questioned being able to love a child not biologically related to me … as a teacher, there were several instances I would come home and let my husband know if “X” student needed a home, I wanted to step up. I never questioned having to prepare my conservative family for such a radical idea, but to my utter surprise and delight, they have more than stepped up. If a stranger walked into a family gathering, I have no doubt that they would not be able to pick out the “adopted” child.

I never questioned being able to let a first mom into my life, not in the “Hey move in with me” sense, but if she wanted visits and was not abusive, then who was I to deny her? This is what has horrified me the most in seeing some of the reactions of adoptive parents. They seem to think these kids are their possessions, like their houses and cars. Like these women who allowed them the privilege to parent have no feelings. And I feel sorry for them because one day may come when they realize this child was never “theirs” in the first place. The child is “ours,” as in birth family history, adoptive upbringing history, and decisions that child will make that create his or her life story.

After all, this first mom, as we generically call her, she gave me the opportunity of a lifetime that I would never have otherwise had. She chose me to parent her daughter, trusted that I would nurture her and help her grow. Trusted that I would not be abusive to her and to do what was within my power to do right by her. Trusted that if we had an open adoption agreement, that I would honor it, this being the most raw kind of trust there is. How could I deny her of her own right to see her child? Yes, this little girl is undoubtedly  “mine.” I have claimed her and bonded with her and would take a bullet for her. I can proudly say I know her better than anybody on the planet. But she is also somebody else’s daughter, with a history that does not connect to my own. And she may want this somebody else in her life one day. Who am I to deny that? Why make problems for her later down the road? And why would I want to have to answer the question as she matures, “Why didn’t you let me see my first mom?” when her first mom tells her that the adoptive parent was the one to cut off contact? I sure don’t want to have to be in that position!

For we don’t own our children, we are given the honor and privilege of guiding them to be the very best they can be for what is ultimately a very short time. If this is an adoptive parenting situation, that honor and privilege is extra special, because of the level of trust that was given to us. And if we are lucky, the children will come back to both of their families once they are grown and our relationship with them will strengthen and deepen, but that is their decision to make.