Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Quote of the Week: Determined to Succeed


"Some succeed because they are destined to but most succeed because they are determined to." 

~ Unknown

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Re-Posting Policy

We've had a couple of people lately ask what our policy is regarding posting something they have found here on this blog on their own personal blog so I thought I'd take a moment to address that issue.

We don't mind (in fact we are honored) if you like something that you've read her (such as a poem or an article) so much that you wish to post it on your own blog we just ask that you keep the author's name with what you are posting and post a link back to our blog at the bottom of your post stating that this is where you found it.

If you find something on here that you are wishing to post in an agency, adoption group, etc newsletter, please email us for permission.

Thank you!!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dear Santa


I absolutely adore this poem Christmas poem written by Patty Savol a couple of year's back as she was dealing with the first Christmas she giving birth to and placing her son for adoption.

Dear Santa

by Patty Savol


Dear Santa,
Today I'll write my list out
It really isn’t much,
Maybe just a phone call,
A picture, letter, or such.


Its only been a month, 
Plus a few days more, 
Since the day I saw them take, 
My baby out the door.


I swore I wouldn't cry,
and for days I didn't dare,
I knew that he understood,
I know he knew I cared.


But this year my list will be different,
No CDs, candles, or clothes,
U only want one thing from you, 
And that's to let him know I love him so....


Perhaps this isn't an order, 
That you can fill yourself, 
So maybe you can ask God,
If he can offer a little help.


After all He sent the angels,
That comfort my little man, 
So maybe he could ease my fears,
I've done all I can. 


So now I'll close this letter, 
With a thank you, and a please,
Send my boy a piece of my heart, 
Because this Christmas he won't be with me. 


Love Always,
A Birth-Mother


Photo Credit

Sunday, December 20, 2009

How to Get Through the Holidays


This post is written by Guest Blogger, Amy S.

First of all, Merry Christmas! 



So, how many of you have a hard time dealing with adoption emotions through the holidays? I am sure all of us who are reading this can raise their hand, and say that we need the counseling more than the next person. How many of you are able to see your birth children over the busy holiday season? When I was still living in Oregon, I never had a visit with Kaylee around the holidays, as they were too crazy. But we would always get together sometime in January right after the holidays. One thing that I do for Kaylee every year is buy her a Christmas ornament and write the year on the ornament. Also I will buy an identical ornament for my own collection and hang them on my tree each year. It just just another way to feel like she is here in my home.


And as if being a birthmom and getting through the holidays isn't hard enough, some of us may be away from our families separated by many miles. How many of us have family traditions that you grew up with and you continue to do them now? I always loved the Christmas holidays in my house. My family would always go to a Christmas concert together sometime in the two holiday months. Then Christmas morning we would all open our gifts together, eat Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls, and in the afternoon go to a movie with extended family members. Still to this day that is what my family does. I am sad to say that this year I will not be home to participate with them.


Here are some ideas on how to get through the holidays:



  • Buy a new ornament that reminds you of your birth child. Go see a movie with family or friends.
  • Bake cookies and give them to your neighbors, co-workers, friends, family, etc...
  • Donate to a Charity that supports adoption, crisis pregnancy, or children in general.
  • Write a Christmas card to your child and either mail it or keep it for the future.
  • Donate food to a local food bank.
  • Serve food at a local homeless shelter.
  • Journal about your feelings on Christmas Day.
  • Spend time with family and friends. 
  • Make an appointment to speak with your adoption counselor. (If you have one that is.) 



I hope some of the ideas help make your help a little easier! And don't forget to reach out to your birthmom friends or join us in the forums!


Photo Credit

Monday, December 7, 2009

Music Monday: Tears in Heaven

Quote of the Week: Challenges

"Challenges are what make life interesting;
overcoming them is what makes life meaningful."
- Joshua J. Marine


Photo Credit

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday Inspiration: My Life is but a Weaving


My Life Is But A Weaving


By Grant Tuller


My life is like a weaving


Between my God and Me


I do not choose the colors;
He worketh steadily.


Often times, he chooseth sorrow,


And I in foolish pride


Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.


Not till the loom is silent


And the shuttles cease to fly


Will God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.


The dark threads are as needful


In the skillful Weaver’s hand


As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Holiday Traditions





Traditions are an important part of any holiday but it can be hard as a birthmother because your child will be participating in his/her adoptive family’s traditions and those may not be the same traditions that you have grown a custom to. But you can create some special traditions as a birthmother.

Coley’s Ornament Tradition



One tradition I’ve created for Charlie is to give him a special ornament each year at Christmas. I originally didn't plan on it becoming a tradition but it has turned out that way. 


When searching for something to give Charlie his first Christmas, I came across a really neat Precious Moments Christmas “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament that had a spot to write his name, birth date, weight, and length. I purchased the ornament and thought what a neat keepsake item it would be for him to have one day in the future.

The next Christmas it only seemed natural to give him another ornament, thus it has become a yearly tradition. I plan to continue this ornament tradition for years to come and when he is all grown up and leaves home, he will have years worth of ornaments to put on his own Christmas tree.



Lani's Verse Tradition





I have always loved family traditions and thought it would be great to still have a part of that in my birth child’s life.  Since the time she was born I started a  neat tradition that I do periodically when I send her gifts. I have a special Bible verse (James 1:17, Every good and perfect gift comes from God.) that is kind of like my thoughts about her.


Over the years I have given her different things that have that special verse on it such as a blanket with the verse embroidered on it, a stuffed bunny with the verse embroidered on it, etc..  One day I hope that she will see the link in all these things and know that time, thought, and love was put into it.   




We both encourage each of you to find some sort of tradition that you can do over the years for your child. Even if you are in a closed adoption you could still do something and just save it for the day when you are reunited.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Inspiration: You are Here by God's Choice




You are Here by God's Choice
by Roy Lessin

Just think,
you’re not here by chance, 
but by God’s choosing. 
His hand formed you and
made you the person you are.
He compares you to no one else-
you are one of a kind. 
You lack nothing that His 
grace can’t give you. 
He has allowed you to be here
at this time in history
to fulfill His special purpose
for this generation.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Music Monday: Keep Holding On



This is a song featured in the television show "Glee". If you watch the show, you know this is the song that the glee club sings when they want to show pregnant cheerleader Quinn that they support her-adoption situation and all. When choosing to become a birthmother, you really do find out who your friends are.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Music Monday: Get Up by Superchick



This song really inspires me when I'm in a sad mood or feel like I just can't fight any more battles. I hope it does the same for you, wonderful readers.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Quote of the Week: Dance in the Rain



"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain." 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Adoption-ology

As you are educating yourself on adoption you may run across terms that you are unfamiliar to you. Below is a list of some of those terms along with their definitions.

  • Adoption decree – Legal order that finalizes the adoption to the adoptive parents
  • Birthparents, Birthmother, and Birthfather – Refers to the people who biologically created the child. NOTE: There are also other terms that can be used to refer to a birthmother such as first mom or life mom. Birthmom just happens to be the one most commonly used. Also, you are not a birthmother until you sign relinquishment papers. Until that moment, you are simply an expectant mother considering adoption.
  • Closed adoption – Birth parents do not meet the adoptive parents and no contact is maintained after the birth and placement of the child.
  • Confidential Adoption - A more up-to-date term for closed adoption.
  • Familial adoption – Adoptions in which the adoptive parents and birthparents are related in some way (Also known as kinship adoption, relative adoption, or interfamily adoption.)
  • Home study – Assessment of the adoptive parents’ ability to provide a healthy and happy home. All adoptive parents must complete a home study before adopting. The home study includes background checks, doctors’ reports, financial information, etc.. and is conducted by a licensed social worker.
  • Open adoption – Refers to adoptions where the birth parents and adoptive parents have met and have some level of ongoing contact with each other. Contact can include letters, pictures, visits, etc. NOTE: In most states, open adoptions are NOT legally enforceable.
  • Openness Agreement – Document that states the intended amount of contact in an open adoption between the adoptive parents and the birthparents. NOTE: These are not legally enforceable.
  • Relinquishment papers – A legal document that birth parents must sign terminating their parental rights. NOTE: The laws regarding when a parent can sign relinquishment papers vary in each state.
  • Semi open adoption – Birthparents and adoptive parents may meet prior to the birth of the child, but typically do not know identifying information about each other. Contact can be maintained through a 3rd party.
  • Triad – Term used to describe the 3 parties represented in adoptions: the birthparents, the adoptive parents, and the adopted child.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

November Newsletter


The November Newsletter is now up.
Check it out!

www.birthmombuds.com/nov2009.htm

Quote of the Week: Music in the Trees


"There is music in the leaves of trees but you must be still to hear it."
- Unknown



Photo Credit: Coley S.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Music Monday on Tuesday: Held by Natalie Grant

We're late with Music Monday this week! But better late than never, eh? ;)

Enjoy!



Monday, November 2, 2009

Quote of the Week: New Ending


"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning but anyone can start today and make a new ending." - Maria Robinson


Monday, October 26, 2009

Music Monday: Find Your Wings

For this week's Music Monday, I chose the Mark Harris song Find Your Wings............



Sunday, October 25, 2009

Quote of the Week: Rise when You Fall


"Our greatest journey is not in never failing but in rising every time we fall."

~ Confucius

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sinner or Saint?


It seems like when society is thinking about birthmothers we often fit into one of two categories. We are either a sinner or a saint.

Some of us are viewed as sinners because we were unwed at the time we unexpectedly became pregnant so we committed what many view as a “sin” by getting pregnant. We are sinners because we shamed our families by getting pregnant. We are sinners because we did the unthinkable and “gave our babies away.” Some of you may be thinking that people don’t think that sort of thing in this day and age and granted that line of thinking probably isn’t as near as common as it once was, some people still do think that way.

Then there is the flip side of the coin. There are those who view me as a “saint,” an “angel,” or whatever similar word of their choosing. They say how happy I made Charlie’s adoptive family, what a blessing it is for me to be in their (Charlie’s family) lives, etc. They also tell me that I am brave and courageous. Yes it is true, that making an adoption plan for Charlie made his family happy but that wasn’t why I made an adoption plan. I also didn’t make an adoption plan in order to be angelic or saintly and most days I don’t feel very brave or courageous. I did it because it was what I felt was the best decision for Charlie and all involved at that time in my life.

Where do I view myself on the sinner or saint issue? I’m neither. I’m just a girl and a Mother who made some mistakes (not Charlie, but the acts that led up to his conception) and then did what she felt was best for both of her children.


Photo Credit






Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Quote of the Week: Winnie the Pooh Quote


I wrote the following quote in Charlie's birthday letter this year. It would be a great quote to write inside a birthday card, a book, a Bible, or even a thinking of you card sent at a random time of the year for your child.

"Promise me you'll always remember that you're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem,
and smarter than you think."
~ said by Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh







Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"Assume Best Intentions"




It's some of the best advice I've ever received, and it's only proved more and more helpful as I dealt with pregnancy, the placement decision and openness after placement.  

The advice comes with the assumption that most people don't intend to be mean.  Most people have good intentions, but their comments are often misinformed/misdirected/misplaced/etc.  In these situations, I always try to remember that advice.  It doesn't completely remove the sting of hurtful or insensitive comments, but it can help keep that comment (or action) from ruining a relationship.

So, how do you employ this piece of advice?

First, consider the source.  Is this someone who is typically nice? or have you had unpleasant run-ins with him or her before (or do you know others who have)?  If it's the latter, this advice isn't really beneficial.  Generally, if it's someone I don't know well, I try to give them the benefit of the doubt.

If it's someone you have a history with, remind yourself of times this person has been kind or supportive.  If it's someone new, you can simply remind yourself that most people are generally pretty decent and don't mean to go around offending people they just met.  Either way, these acknowledgements can help to calm you down.

Next, it's helpful to consider some possible motivations for the comment or action.  This practice will also help you figure out how to respond.  Is it a friend who is simply uneducated about adoption?  Is it a family member who is dealing with his or her own grief?  Is one of the adoptive parents exhausted from parenting a newborn, keeping a birthmom updated and handling ceaseless visits from family and friends?  You may not be able to pinpoint the exact motivation, but mentally putting yourself in their shoes can, again, help keep your frustration with the comment from turning into anger toward the person.  And, if you can pinpoint the probable motivation, you might just figure out the best way to address the comment.

When I assume someone is being purposefully hurtful, I react emotionally... then they get defensive... and everyone loses.  While there's way to undo the comment, using these techniques can minimize the damage the remark does to me and, sometimes, give me an opportunity to comfort or educate.

Have you learned any other techniques for handling hurtful comments?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Music Monday with Marilee: Whenever You Call

Whenever you Call- Mariah Carey

Adoption Related Secret


I'm a fan of Post Secrets and from time to time secrets that are related to adoption or unplanned pregnancy are featured. Sometimes the secrets break my heart but this week when an adoption related secret was featured my heart smiled.

This is the adoption related secret revealed on Post Secrets this week: 


Nice! :)  

 Have a good Monday!


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Quote of the Week: Attitude We Bring to Life


"Our lives are not determined by what happens to us but by how we react to what happens and not by what life brings to us but to the attitude we bring to life."
- Author Unknown



Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dealing with Others


“I could never do that.”

This statement makes my stomach churn every time I hear it and I’m sure there are probably some other birthmothers out there reading this, sitting at their computer desks, nodding their heads yes in unison.

First, let me clarify the context that I’m referring to in this post. I’m referring to the “I could never do that” statement in the context of being a birthmother, typically when I’ve just shared with someone who doesn’t know my story very well or even know that I am a birthmother.

“I could never do that.”

It seems like such a harmless phrase, doesn’t it? A simple comment probably made when the commenter can not think of anything else to say or has no clue what to say. The commenter probably did not intend for it to be hurtful. But it can be hurtful.

Why does that seemingly innocent comment hurt me and make me green? Those five little words usually uttered carelessly make me feel so judged. Instantly I feel as if the person is sizing me up thinking, “how COULD she do that.” I feel like in that moment they think they are superior and better than me.

The truth of the matter is, I probably said that once upon a time before I wore the scarlet B and I probably made someone feel as low as I feel when that is said to me.

So what do you say when someone makes that comment? I usually respond in one of two ways, depending upon my mood at the moment. I will typically either say “I never thought I would have to either,” which is the honest to God truth. I never in a million years thought I would become a birthmom. Or response number two is “And I hope you never have to,” because I don’t want others to feel the pain of being a birthmother.

What do you say when someone makes a similar comment to you?




Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Triggers



Coley mentioned in the newsletter this month that adoption is everywhere.  Lately, I've felt like every TV show I turn on or movie I rent has some sort of storyline about adoption or unplanned pregnancy.  I go to dinner and the people behind me are talking about adoption.  The radio station I work for did an entire two hour program on unplanned pregnancy and I had no choice but to listen.  I'm constantly getting baby-related mail.  Some days, I really really want a break from these emotional "triggers."

On good days, these emotional triggers are frustrating, and can leave me in a funk.  On bad days, they can bring on some pretty strong emotional reactions.

So, how do you handle these triggers?  Here are some things I do:

  • If I'm feeling a strong reaction coming on, I will try to excuse myself for a few minutes.  Bathrooms are great for this.  So are cars.  Sometimes just stepping away from people gives me enough of a chance to calm down.
  • Internally praying, reciting a comforting Scripture or quote, or singing an encouraging song.  Any of these can help to calm my thoughts and focus me.
  • Finding a task to distract myself.  This is especially helpful if I'm faced with a trigger at work.  Anything that takes significant concentration will do.
  • Turning off the TV show/radio, stepping away from the conversation, etc.  Sometimes it's hard... especially with adoption themes in shows.  But, I'd rather miss the rest of the episode than let it drag me down.
  • Send a text to another birthmom.  Sometimes just venting to someone who understands makes a huge difference.
  • Sometimes, thinking about or looking at a picture of my son helps... other times, I know it would just make things worse.  I always keep a few pictures in my purse for times I think it will help.


Unfortunately, these options aren't always available.  Sometimes, I just have to deal with it.  If I do start crying and I'm with people who don't understand, I just explain that I'm having a hard day.  Most people are kind enough not to pry.  I also try to remind myself that it's a normal part of the grief process and, next time, I'll be a little stronger for it.  Each time I face these types of things, I get a little better at managing them and at figuring out what I need to recover.

What do you do when faced with unexpected triggers?



October Newsletter


The October Newsletter is now up. Check it out at www.birthmombuds.com/oct09.htm.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Music Mondays with Marilee

This is a new feature to the blog called...you guessed it! Music Monday. Every Monday we will share a song that either deals with adoption, a mother's love, or just inspires and gives a person strength.

This week's featured song is I Give You to His Heart by Alison Krause and Union Station. Orginally from the movie The Prince of Egypt.




Sunday, October 4, 2009

Quote of the Week: Not the End of the Road


"A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn." 
- Unknown




Sunday, September 27, 2009

Quote of the Week: Believe In Yourself


"Believe in yourself.
Our strength grows out of our weakness."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, September 25, 2009

Birthday Letters


If you are not already doing this, I encourage you to sit down each year around your child's birthday and write him or her a birthday letter.

I actually started this tradition with Noah, the son I am parenting. His first year of life had so many ups and downs because of medical issues stemming from his prematurity that a few days before his first birthday I sat down and wrote a letter to him briefly recapping everything that we had been through in that first year of his life. When his second birthday rolled around I did the same and it just became a tradition. I’ve put them up for him to read one day when he is older.

Around Charlie’s first birthday as I was thinking about what I wanted to do for his birthday, Noah’s birthday letters came to mind. It seemed only natural to sit down and write a letter for Charlie each too.

I usually do include a little bit about something that happened during that year of Charlie’s life, such as a field trip to the apple orchard. Last year I decided to make the letter more scrapbook style and added a few pictures in with the letter.

A birthday letter is a tradition that would work with any type of adoption. If your adoption is closed, instead of sharing things you’ve done with your child, share things that have gone on in your life in the current year and then include a picture or two of yourself and other children if you have any. Hang on to the letters in a special spot and when you and your child are reunited you’ll have a great stack of letters as tangible proof that you thought of him/her each and every birthday.

So, if you are writing your child a birthday letter, what do you include in the letter each year? And if you are not, why not start this year when your child's birthday rolls around. It doesn't matter what age he/she is - it's never too late to start a new tradition!



Thursday, September 24, 2009

Birthday Party Tips



Our children's birthday is an emotional time for most of us. In open adoptions, you may be given the opportunity to attend your child's birthday party. Like many moments in open adoption, birthday parties can be bittersweet. You are excited to be there celebrating your child's life but you may feel a little sad at the same time.

When Charlie's first birthday party rolled around, I was a bundle of nerves. What should I wear? How should I act? How would other people respond to my presence? What if I cried or things got too tough for me emotionally while I was at the party? Many questions and scenarios floated through my head.


Now, eight years later I have a few birthday parties under my belt and feel that I can share a few tips with you on how to make attending birthday parties a bit easier.



  • Go early or stay late -Try to schedule a little bit of one on one time before or after the party so you (birthmom) can spend a little bit of quiet time with your child. Parties can get crowded, noisy, busy, and overwhelming pretty quickly so you may not actually be able to have much one on one time with your child, so going a bit early or staying late remedies this.
  • Take a break – If you get overwhelmed emotionally (and you might) take a quick breather. Excuse yourself to the bathroom, step outside, or busy yourself with a distraction.
  • Offer to help - Parties can sometimes be difficult to get everything ready and done by a certain time so your child’s Mom may appreciate the help (either before with preparations or after wards with clean up) and it will make you feel more involved and useful. This can also be a distraction if you are feeling overwhelmed emotionally.
  • Bringing guests – If you wish to bring other people with you (aside from people who are already assumed to be coming with you like husband or boyfriend and parented children) check ahead of time and make sure it is ok.
  • Activities for Parented Children – Depending on the age of your child there might not be much for your parented children to actively participate in at the party. Unlike older children’s parties where there are typically games and activities that your parented child could participate in, some of the early years birthday parties (first and second birthdays in particular) typically do not have games or activities as everyone just sits around and watches the birthday boy or girl be cute, play in the cake, and open presents. This could leave your parented children antsy after a little bit, so bring some small toys or books to occupy them should they become antsy.

If you are invited to your child's birthday party and just feel uncomfortable or too emotional about attending, I suggest that you don't force yourself to attend. Suggest an alternate activity such as getting together for cake and ice cream or meeting at a park and doing your own birthday celebration there.




If you have attended your child's birthday party, how did it go? Do you have any tips or suggestions on how to make it easier and a positive experience?


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pack your Bags!


Somewhere in the third trimester of your pregnancy (or the end of your second trimester if you just know you are going to go early like I did!) you probably should go ahead and think about packing a bag with the items you will need to have ready so that when you do actually go into labor, you are prepared and do not have to fumble around packing your belongings. It’s also a good idea because you are able to choose the personal items that will make you feel more comfortable, not have someone else do this for you which could happen if you do not have a bag packed and have to head to the hospital rather quickly. But what should you take to the hospital with you?

Suggested items include:

    * Birth plan or hospital action plan
    *  Pajamas/Night Shirt, robe, and slippers
    * A few pairs of socks to keep your feet warm
    * Telephone numbers of family and friends (may want to bring a calling card as well)
    * Camera and/or video camera (Check with the hospital staff on their policy regarding videotaping in the delivery room)
    * Barrette, rubber bands, or scrunchies if you have long hair
    * Stop watch to time contractions
    * Insurance card and other needed medical information (If you pre-register through the hospital they will probably already have this on file, but it’s a good idea to bring it just in case.)
    * Toiletries (shampoo, toothbrush, tooth paste, hairbrush, etc.)
    * Snacks as hospital food can be yucky!
    * Hard candy or lollipops (Your moth will get dry during labor, but check with the hospital staff on their policy of food and candy during labor.)
    * CD Player and soothing music to help you relax
    * Chapstick for dry lips
    * Outfit to leave the hospital in


Once your bag is placed, stick it in an out of the way place such as a front closet so it will out of the way until its d-day!


Photo Credit

Monday, September 21, 2009

Coping with Closed Adoption


Today's post is written by guest blogger, Alicia M.

Being the birthmother of a daughter in a closed adoption is on a good day tolerable and on a bad day very hard. Your child’s birthday, Mother’s Day, and other holidays are probably some of the common hard days birthmothers experience but there are ways to make it through and cope on those hard days.

A big part of how I cope is to focus on the possibility of a future reunion with my birth daughter. I keep a journal and a photo album just for her. In the journal, I tell her what is going on in my life and tell her of my love for her and how much I miss her. On her birthday and Christmas each year, I get her a special card and sign and date them. I keep the journal, albums, and cards for her and hope to one day be able to give them to her. Sometimes I write poems for her or about her and will share these with her one day as well.

I try hard to think positive that one day we will reunite and I will get to see her again and that she will get to see and meet her sisters.

Other birthmothers I know will light a candle in honor of their child on important dates like birthdays or holidays.

I pray for my daughter and her adoptive family on a regular basis. I also pray for the strength to get me through the days without her. My faith has gotten me through a lot of hard days.

I also share how I feel with other birthmothers. I get a lot of love and support from all of the women at BirthMom Buds. I do not know where I would be without them. There are women there who are going through what I am going through and we have laughed and cried together. I’ve also learned that when you need to cry, let yourself cry and lean on your family and friends as needed on those hard days.

I know it is not easy and some days are harder than others, but just try to take it one day at a time.


Photo Credit

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Quote of the Week: Challenges


"Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful."
- Joshua J. Marine

Friday, September 18, 2009

Another Birthday


Charlie will celebrate his eighth birthday on Sunday. It sounds so cliché but it’s hard to believe he is going to be eight! It seems like only yesterday I was holding a tiny baby in a hospital bed preparing to do the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life while at other times it seems like a lifetime ago.

Most birthmothers will agree that their child’s birthday is a hard day for them. Personally speaking, in the days leading up to Charlie’s birthday are very emotional. I find myself reliving all those last little moments Charlie and I had together. I relive the excitement of meeting my son for the first time and spending time with him. I relive the kind thoughts, cards, and gifts from friends, family members, and other visitors. I relive preparing to say goodbye and sign the relinquishment papers just a few days after his birth.

A question I get asked many times by new birthmothers is if the birthdays get easier as the years pass. I have to honestly say no, they haven’t for me.

I expected Charlie’s first birthday to be hard and emotional. As I was able to spend time with him both on his actual birthday and at his birthday party a few days later, it was also very bittersweet. I was glad to be celebrating with him but sad at the same time since I wasn’t the one throwing the celebration.

I thought his second birthday would be easier. But it wasn’t. Third birthday, I thought the same thing. When his fourth birthday rolled around, I was prepared. I’ve learned that none of Charlie’s birthdays will probably ever be easy for me. They will probably always be emotional and bittersweet.

But now, I do have feel like I have the upper hand in some regards because I know to expect they are going to be hard and I know to be prepared for that. (If one can ever really prepare for emotional situations, but I at least attempt it. 


Photo Credit

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Memory Box

Photobucket
When I got home from the hospital and unpacked, I ended up with bits of "C stuff" all over my room... a pacifier he used, his umbilical cord clip, the blanket and hat he wore at the hospital, various paperwork and documents, etc. For a few months, I was almost scared to touch any of this stuff, but stumbling across it unexpectedly brought up a ton of emotions.

After a couple months of this, I decided it was time to gather all these items into a single location. I got a really nice project box with a lid and handles (it's about 20"x20") and collected all these precious items together.

Here's a bit of what I've got in my "C Box":
hospital Birth Certificate
receiving blanket (complete with spit up... I've got it in a separate bag)
hat and shirt
pacifier and umbilical cord clip
my hospital bracelets
the card from the bassinet
the termination of rights paperwork
sonogram pictures
H&L's profile book
hospital discharge paperwork
ink footprints
hearing screening certificate
deflated balloons we received in the hospital
cards I was sent around the time of his birth

I've also added the church program from his baptism and a copy of the newsletter of an adoption group I go to that has a picture of us on it. I plan to add any memorabilia I collect over the years.

Having a "catch-all" kind of place for all things C-related is nice. I don't have to worry about misplacing things, and I always know right where it is if I need to spend a little time reminiscing over his tiny t-shirt. It also keeps me from happening upon these items on days I can't deal with them.

I will say, though, that putting the lid on the box was very difficult... it seemed somehow final, but I think it was a step in the healing process. It was a physical way of showing some level of acceptance. It's place in my seems somewhat representative of C's place in my life. Like the box, he's no longer always in the center of every thought... but he's always there. I know exactly where the memories are if I need to pull them out. I cleared out a special area in my room for the box, and C will always have a very special place in my heart.

The box is also a reminder that there is a piece of C's story that only I can share with him. I look forward to someday pulling out the box and going through its contents with C.

Do you keep some sort of memory box? What do you keep in it?

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Monday, September 14, 2009

The Rights and Wrongs of Reunification


Today's post is written by guest blogger, Alicia M.

As a birth mother who is part of a closed adoption, I look forward to a reunion in the future with my biological daughter. I look forward to it with cautious anticipation though, because I want to do everything right, and I hope she wants to see me too and be a part of my life. I have put a lot of thought into how I can make the possible reunion a positive experience for the both of us. I do have some ideas that I believe will help make adoption reunions have a better chance of being a positive experience.

  1. Be honest- You may think this goes without saying, but tell your birth child about why they were placed for adopion and any information you have about their biological father.
  2. Be patient-Don’t expect a loving relationship to happen right away with your birth child. Good, loving, and trusting relationships take time to develop and grow.
  3. Don’t bombard your birth child with gifts and things- I have heard this is a classic mistake in adoption reunions. Some birth mothers think that they need to give their birth child gifts and things to make up for lost time and for not being able to give them things over the years.
  4. Don’t be pushy-I know you will have a lot of questions to ask your birth child about their life and their upbringing, but let them volunteer what information they feel comfortable with when they are ready to share it.
With these tips, I can not guarantee a wonderful reunion, but they will definitely set you on a positive path to a successful reunion.

Photo Credit

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hospital Memorabilia


Recently an expectant mother making an adoption plan asked me if she would be allowed to have the keepsake items from the hospital stay when her baby is born and I realized that this may be something other expectant mothers making adoption plans are wondering about too.

By keepsake items, I am referring to all the items from the hospital, like the little birth certificates with your baby’s footprints on it, hospital bracelet, the little hat, the hospital blanket, crib card, etc.

I’m sure older birthmothers from the closed adoption era were not allowed to have these items, but nowadays things are changing. You are allowed to have these items and it is YOUR choice then to decide if you want to share them with the adoptive parents. Nowadays, many hospitals will even make duplicate copies of the birth certificate with footprints if you ask them to.

A lot of birthmothers do keep these items. I did and they are all safe in my “Charlie box” which is full of various things related to Charlie and our adoption. I don’t look at these things often, as it brings up a lot of emotions and tears but knowing that I have them, knowing where they are, and knowing that I could look at them anytime I want to is comforting to me.

One last piece of advice regarding this subject, the hospital experience is such an emotional and overwhelming time, that it might be wise to ask someone you trust (like your support person) to make sure you leave with the keepsake items that you want.

Photo Credit: Coley

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Greeting Cards

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A couple months ago, I noticed that I often had the urge to tell C something. "I love you" or "I miss you" or "You're really just TOO cute!" Since I don't have the everyday option of snuggling him and telling him these things, I came up with another plan.

I scoured the $.99 card aisle at my local Target for cute, kid-friendly cards in themes like "missing you", "thinking of you", "love you"... or just blank notecards. I also got a nice box that was made for DVDs... which happen to be about the same size as standard gift cards.

Now, when I have those feelings, I grab a card from my bookshelf. The notes have ranged from serious to silly, depending on what I'm feeling at the time. It offers me an outlet to let out whatever emotion is welling up inside me, and it will provide C with some tangible evidence of just how often I think of him! It also keeps me from having to remember all the little things I want to share with him at some point... I know they are all written down and available to him when he's ready.

I put a date on the outside of the card and mark any special occasion it relates to. I also keep notes of dates that contain sensitive information. That way, if he's still pretty young and needs some evidence that I love him and think about him a lot, I can pull out any that might be inappropriate for his age and let him open all the cutesey ones. There are also a few that I think would be great to give him on special days later- his baptism, graduation, etc. I'm sure I'll write a new card then, too, but I hope this will be something special to share!

Do you have anything special you do to let your children know you're thinking about them?




Monday, September 7, 2009

September Newsletter


The September Newsletter is now up and available for your viewing pleasure. Check it out at www.birthmombuds.com/sept09.htm!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Quote of the Week: Self Pity

"Self pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it we can never do anything wise in this world."
- Helen Keller

Friday, September 4, 2009

"Mom at Sixteen" Movie Review

Today's post is written by guest blogger, Alicia M

Take a teenage girl who gets pregnant, an over protective single mom, and a younger sister who feels out of the mix when her older sister gets pregnant and that is the situation that Jacey Jeffries (played by Danielle Panabaker), her mom Terry Jeffries (played by Mercedes Ruehl) and her sister Macy Jeffries (played by Clare Stone) find themselves in, in the Lifetime Original Movie, Mom at Sixteen

Jacey gets pregnant at 15 years old by her boyfriend Brad, (played by Tyler Hynes). During her pregnancy, Jacey and her mom decide the best thing to do is place her baby for adoption. When Jacey is in the hospital with her son, she bonds with him and decides she can not place him for adoption. Jacey’s mother decides that they will keep the baby, whom they named Charlie, as long as she (the mom) tells everyone that Charlie is her son so Jacey can go back to school, go on her with her life, and fulfill all the dreams she has for her life.

They move to a new town where no one knows that Jacey had a baby. Jacey and her sister attend a new high school full of gossipy teens, where sex is as free wheeling as candy. She slowly starts to befriend her health/sex education teacher, Donna Cooper (played by Jane Krakowski). Mrs. Cooper and her husband Bob (played by Colin Ferguson), who is a coach at the school, have been trying to have a baby and even had a failed adoption. One day, Jacey faints at swim practice and has to go the emergency room.  Mrs. Cooper goes to the hospital to check on her and finds Jacey holding Charlie while waiting on her Mom to finish the hospital paperwork.  She talks to Jacey for a while and figures out that Charlie is Jacey’s son. .

Jacey and her Mom argue often and Jacey decides that she can handle being Charlie’s Mom – she doesn’t need her Mom to do it but Jacey struggles and turns to Mrs. Cooper for support learning that they (the Coopers) had a failed adoption placement and were struggling to have a child.

Jacey is beginning to realize that her Mom being Charlie’s Mom is not working and is still considering her options regarding placing Charlie for adoption. Jacey decides to join a group for young mothers and talks to the girls and learns more about open adoption versus raising their babies.

Time passes in the movie, and Mrs. Cooper excitedly runs into the gym telling her husband that she has just received a call from the adoption agency and that they have been chosen by a birthmom! At the adoption agency, they are told the birthmom has already had the baby and wants an open adoption. They agree and are anxiously waiting when Jacey walks in with her mother and Charlie. Jacey tells Mrs. Cooper that this is the hardest thing she will ever do.

In the last scene of the movie, Jacey is visiting the Coopers’ in their living room and Mr. Cooper is video taping them. He is asking Charlie, who appears to be about 5 years old, questions about what is new in his life. He says that he has a new baby sister and Mr. Cooper said "Where did she come from?' .Charlie tells him that his sister came from his mommy's tummy. And then Mr. Cooper asks Charlie where did he come from? And Charlie says, "From my Jacey's tummy." Mr. Cooper asks him, "Who is Jacey?" Charlie goes over to Jacey and hugs her. Mr. Cooper asks him, "What is so important about Jacey?" He says "I am the only one who knows how much she loves me." And Mr. Cooper says, "How is that?" Charlie says, "I am the only one who knows what her heart feels like from the inside." The movie ends with Charlie giving Jacey a big hug.

Mom at Sixteen is a touching, yet complex movie, which shows teenage pregnancy and open adoption in a very positive light. The birth mother and the adoptive family love each other deeply and they share their love for the child.  I left out many endearing scenes and would recommend this movie to anyone who has not seen it, but be sure to bring a box of Kleenex.