Sunday, August 21, 2016

Quote of the Week: A Flower does not Compete


Friday, August 12, 2016

Respecting Boundaries

Sometimes I feel like being in a semi-open adoption is just more complicated than it needs to be. Since I moved once my birth son was born, I live halfway across the country from him. The agreement since birth has been that I can send letters and gifts whenever I want and I see pictures of him and keep in touch with his parents. However, they want to wait until he's older to do visits. While I don't really like this arrangement, I appreciate what I do have, I respect it, and would never do anything to cross any boundaries, something that I work very hard at.

But sometimes that gets tricky. In a few weeks, I will be traveling back to where I grew up and to near where my son now lives. I'm so excited to go back and I'm so excited to see my family and eat foods I haven't been able to since I left (I can taste the bagels and the pizza now...), but I also have an overwhelming sense of anxiety about it. What if I get triggered by things I'm not expecting to, or worry the whole time that I'll accidentally run into them? I doubt I will, but still. 

Respecting the boundaries that his parents have set is something that I always take to heart and always something that I try to do. While it is something I want more than absolutely anything in the world, I will not ask to see my birth son while I'm there, and I will do my best to avoid accidentally running into them.

But something that I don't understand is why I can't see his parents? I don't know why the 3 of us can't just catch up and grab lunch together or something. I've brought it up with them before and they told me that they don't know if they'd be comfortable with that. I respected and accepted their decision, but it still hurts. Maybe they thought I was asking to see my birth son, I don't know. It's so important for me to try to still feel connected to them. I hate feeling a sense of disconnect or distance. We'll see what happens, but I won't push and I won't ask again. 

Adoption is something that will never be easy, and it will never be fun. But it is doable, and it is a blessing. This has been a difficult season for me, but I know it will change and I know it will get easier to deal with soon. I'm so grateful for his parents, they are truly great people and I do have so much respect for them. I guess I just wish I didn't miss them all so much.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Hard Words to Say

Trigger warning: This post deals with post placement pregnancy.....

For the past few months, I find myself to be in familiar territory. Yet at the same time, very new territory. Instead of being cryptic about it like I have been with everyone lately, I’ll just say it – I’m pregnant. These past 12 weeks have been an emotional roller coaster for me.

                Despite the fact that this pregnancy was “planned”, and that I am now married, because of the situation I was in just 2 years ago when my son was born, it feels somehow like I’m doing the wrong thing by being pregnant. It has been so confusing for me dealing with all of these emotions. I feel like I’m betraying my son, I feel like I don’t really deserve to parent this baby, and I’m terrified that something is going to happen to take this baby away from me. Some days I feel so scared to connect with this baby because my connection with my birth son was so immediate and so fierce and that has led me to become vulnerable to a lot of hurt and pain. This baby is no more or less wanted than my birth son was, and will be no more or less loved. But I’m not going to lie, it’s almost scarier this time.

                Going to doctor appointments is scarier. Now I have to answer questions like “is this your first child?” or “and how is your other child, is he healthy?” Well, I’d assume so, haven’t heard otherwise! Telling my family was horrifying in a different way this time too. When I first told my parents, I had to say it all very quickly in one sentence so they wouldn’t ask questions that I didn’t want to hear. It came out something like “we’re pregnant but it was planned so don’t worry and this needs to be a good thing so I need you to be happy about it”. I think I was more nervous telling them this time than I was last time (granted, last time I did tell them in an email). Facing the public is scarier. People constantly assume that this is my first pregnancy. They like to give me advice on what to expect, and tell me things like that my baby probably won’t be too big because I’m very small. Oh really? Because my son was 8lbs 12oz, so I’d say that’s pretty big! But I don’t say that. I don’t correct them. It hurts too badly to go down that road. I hate the fact that I'm terrified of telling people because I'm afraid of their reaction.

                Around week 6 or so, the baby is the size of a lentil. During that week, I sent my husband a picture of some lentil soup and told him how I really wanted to eat it, but told him I couldn’t do it because it felt like cannibalism. I was half kidding, but waited to eat the soup. Ever since then, we call the baby The Lentil. I hope that loving the Lentil won’t make my birth son feel betrayed in the future. I know how very much and how very strongly I loved my birth son from the very beginning. I’m almost scared that I won’t be able to love the Lentil enough. I have missed my birth son more in these last 12 weeks than I expected to, and there have been a lot of emotions come up for me that I didn’t anticipate.

                I hate the fact that whether a pregnancy is planned or not matters, but it does seem to matter to other people. Yes, my husband and I planned to have this Lentil (although we did think it would take us a little bit longer than…immediately), and no, my birth son was not planned. But you know what? Both of my babies were wanted. And both of my babies are loved. Mom, birth mom, step mom, all of my titles aside. I will always love all of my children more than they can possibly understand, something my own mom used to tell me, and now I do understand. I hope they know that. I hope I will always be a positive person in their lives, someone they can look up to. I may not have it all together, nobody really does. But what I do have is an endless supply of love. And hugs to give. Just ask my husband. I’m sure it drives him crazy sometimes.

Photo Credit


Friday, July 8, 2016

You are Entitled to Your Feelings

             
Two years post placement, I still find myself suprised when I'm faced with certain triggers and get upset by it. I try to put on a strong face for my family and friends and act like I'm not affected by things or act like certain situations don't upset me when they do. 

 I think a lot of us do this. We act like we’re doing okay. We try to stay strong and we put on a brave face. I hope that we all feel safe enough in our lives and within our support systems to be real with ourselves and with the people close to us. It’s okay to have a bad day. It’s okay to feel sad if we see something that reminds us of our birth children, when we were pregnant with them, or any other memory or trigger that we have. It’s okay to feel it and it’s okay to express it.

                Adoption is a huge part of my life and hiding how I feel on my sad days doesn’t do anyone any good. I’m not being “noble” by swallowing my emotions. Yesterday was an unexpectedly difficult day for me. I was triggered by something that I didn’t expect to be and my negative emotions took me by surprise. But I know I didn’t handle the situation right. What I should have done was talked to my husband about what I was thinking and feeling and just talked it out with him so he could understand what I was going through at the moment. But that isn’t what I did. Instead, I tried to “get over it”. I tried to swallow my emotions and act like it wasn’t a problem. But it was a problem, and because I ignored it, it got bigger and bigger. I ended up redirecting my emotions in the wrong way and picked a fight with my husband over him going to the dentist. It was ridiculous and unnecessary, and could have been prevented by me being honest in the first place. Of course shortly after that, I realized that I was being ridiculous and was honest with him about what was going on and what I was feeling.

                This next season in my life is going to be filled with triggers that will probably make me think of my birthson more and I know I will be more challenged by unexpected hard days than I have been recently. I hope that you know that it’s okay, and necessary, to feel what you need to feel and be open and honest with yourself and those around you. You deserve it. You deserve your good days and you deserve to be able to express yourself on your bad days. Don’t feel guilty for having either of those days. Whether you are feeling happy or sad or anything at all in between, I hope you never feel alone.

                Two years post placement, I still find myself to be so grateful for the fact that good days will always follow the bad days.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Social Media and Adoption

When looking at the world today, it seems like everyone is connected to everything.  It might seem completely natural for some birth families to be connected to adoptive families on social media, but for others it can feel like walking on thin ice.

When I placed my daughter for adoption, the agency that I was using advised that adoptive families and birth families not 'friend' each other on social media.  After placing, I adhered strictly to that guideline for several years.  After my daughter's Mom served as my maid of honor in my wedding in 2013, we both felt as though we had become comfortable enough with each other to engage in social media.

I was excited by this turn of events.  I was looking forward to seeing the everyday happenings on my birth daughter, and I was glad that my daughter's Mom felt comfortable enough with me to do this, even though our agency didn't generally recommend it.  The friend request came in and I eagerly accepted, looking forward to seeing extra pictures of my sweet baby girl.

Then I saw them.  Every. Single. One.  I knew when she was going on vacation, I saw photos of her going to preschool, I saw pictures of her with her family.  I immediately felt a pit on my stomach.  I was barraged by their happiness and my loss.

I was committed to remaining 'friends' on social media, since I didn't want to jeopardize the openness that I had been so excited to have.  However, after several days of being barraged by photos, I chose to 'unfollow' my daughter's Mom on Facebook for quite some time.  We were able to remain friends, but I struggled with the lack of control that I had when my birth daughter would pop up on my newsfeed unexpectedly.

It took my several months to acclimate with the idea of being friends on social media once I had a taste of what it was like.  After some time, when I felt more prepared, I 'followed' my birth daughter's Mom again.  We have now been happily 'friended' for several years, with no issues.  The first few months though, our social media interactions served as a bit of a trigger for my grief, which was unexpected.

I know not everyone has the opportunity to be "friends" on social media with their child's family
If you are friends with your birth child's family on social media, how has it worked for you?

Photo Credit

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Love From His Far Away Family

                
Throughout my journey through adoption, I try to incorporate my birth son into everything I do. I guess it’s my way of keeping him with me and in my heart, even if he isn’t here physically. I never want him to feel like he wasn’t loved, or that we forgot about him, and I want him to always feel as if he has a place in his far away family.
                I have pictures of him in my house, and whenever my step daughter sees one, she gets excited and says his name and says “cute baby!”. I tell her that I think so too. I keep a picture of him in my binder for school, too. That way, every time I get frustrated or overwhelmed, I can remember my motivation and my strength for why I try so hard every day to be the best person I can be. Every day, I wear a bracelet that I made and put on the last day I got to see him and spend time with him. During my wedding, I pinned that bracelet to my bouquet of flowers and kept him with me that way. I also had a few pictures of him in the bridal room. I also have a necklace with his footprints engraved into it that I wear whenever I’m missing him just a little extra.

                I will never be his Mom in the way that I wish I could be, and that’s just a part of my life now. But just because I can’t be there with him every day, that doesn’t mean that I can’t love him and think about him every day. We are all entitled to love and miss our children. Wherever they are, whenever the last time was that we saw them, we are entitled to how we feel about it. Whenever I’m feeling down about it, it always makes me feel better knowing that I’m doing everything I can to make sure that he will one day know how loved he always was. I always remind him in letters, that I hope he’ll read when he’s older, how lucky he is to have two families who love him so much. Adoption will never be easy, but it has taught me how to love in ways I never thought I could have before. And for that, I am grateful.

Photo Credit

Friday, June 3, 2016

Adoption is like the Weather

Adoption is like the weather. It's a constantly changing adventure, and you can always count on it to not be stagnant. Perhaps that's the best and worst thing about it. For some of us, we pray for a change. We beg for things to be different, or better in some way. For others, we're terrified for things to be different because we're so comfortable with how things are now. 

For me, I think it’s both. I have wished for things to be better for as long as my son has been alive, but now I guess I’ve just become so used to the way things are that I’m scared of what a change would mean. I know I want more, I’ll always want more. But right now I don’t think that’s possible. And I’m learning to accept that that’s okay, because nothing is stagnant about this crazy life we live in.

If there’s one guarantee in life, well, I guess it’s that there are no guarantees. Always hang in there and never give up. Don’t give up on your children, don’t give up on your family and friends, and don’t give up on hope. But most importantly, don’t give up on yourself. Things can always get better, just like the weather will always change. It might rain for a week, but the sun always comes out again. The stars are always behind the clouds, even if we can’t see them. I really believe that’s the best thing about life. We can always count on things to get better, and if we hold onto hope long enough, they will.


I’m so grateful for every single picture or small update I get. Those little things give me my motivation to keep going. I may not be able to visit him yet, but one day I will. Even if it takes me 16 more years, I know that reunion will come. That is what I wake up each day and fight for.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Next Baby

When I was getting ready to place my second daughter for adoption, I never gave my future children much thought.  In fact, at that point, I would have been perfectly content to never deal with pregnancy again, as both my pregnancies had been pretty dramatic and ridiculously emotional, mostly due to the volatile relationship I was in.

However, shortly after my birth daughters second birthday I got married to a wonderful man, and by the time she was 3 and a half my youngest daughter was born.  This pregnancy wasn't a surprise, she was meticulously planned.  Yet, for some reason, when I told my family, I was afraid.  I had nothing to be afraid of, I was 23 and married with a mortgage, a job, and a 401K.  I was an adult, in every sense of the word.  I struggled with the idea that this pregnancy would be joyfully embraced though.  I felt that, even though I may have been more prepared, my newest baby didn't deserve more fanfare than my older children.
 
As my pregnancy progressed, everything terrified me.  If I hadn't felt my baby move for a few hours, I immediately thought the worst.  I couldn't shake the feeling that something terrible was going to happen, even though things were progressing completely normally.  I genuinely felt that, after everything I had been through, there was no way I would finally get my happy ending.

Fast forward a few months and a week long NICU stay, and we were finally able to bring our perfect 8 pound 9 ounce baby girl home.  I was immediately struck by the amount of love I felt for such a tiny little stranger.  When I placed my second child, I spent most of my pregnancy avoiding much of a connection with her.  This time, I embraced the connection fully.  I immersed myself in every piece of Motherhood, from the sleepless nights, to breastfeeding, to diaper changes, and everything in between.

I was in newborn heaven.  I was also completely overwhelmed by the demands of two children.  Although I had quite a age gap between my kids (my oldest was almost 6 when my youngest was born), I still struggled meeting the demands of both my children, while still providing the basic necessities for myself.  My husband was extremely helpful during this time, as he took a month off from work to be with us at home.

This is when it really hit me that my decision to place my second child was the correct one.  I always knew it was, but after I had a taste of parenting multiple children it became even more clear.  I struggled with the demands as a 24 year old married woman with a wonderfully supportive partner.  I have no idea how things would have been if I had attempted this feat as a 20 year old single Mom who had just exited an abusive relationship and was working part time at a pizza place while struggling to afford a single wide trailer.

Since my youngest daughter's birth, ever milestone she has reached has served as another reminder to me that adoption was the best choice for my second baby.  Adoption was the best choice for  my newborn, my crawling baby, my teething baby, my toddler, and every stage that has and will still come.

Has anyone else had a baby after their placement?  What has surprised you about the experience?

Monday, May 23, 2016

BMB of TN

BirthMom Buds is very pleased to announce our newest chapter: BMB of Tennessee.

Let me introduce you to Lexi, who will be running the BMB of Tennessee chapter.


My name is Lexi Allen, and I am a birthmother from Knoxville, Tennessee. I placed my son in a private, closed adoption 12 years ago. I walked my journey as a birthmother completely alone for 10 years until I found BirthMom Buds. The support, love, and empowerment I have received since being a member of this organization has helped me tremendously. I only wish it hadn’t taken me a decade to find these amazing women. Therefore, I am starting a chapter of BirthMom Buds in Tennessee in order to provide birthmothers of all walks of life with the support that I wish I had received much sooner.”

For now, there is a private Facebook group and once there is some interest, live meet ups will begin. Send us a private message on Facebook or email Lexi for more information.