Monday, September 27, 2010

Reunited Birthmom and Daughter on Amazing Race

Color me surprised when I was watching The Amazing Race premiere tonight and one of the teams is a birthmother and her reunited adult daughter!

Years ago, Andie DeKroon found herself in an unplanned pregnancy at age 22. She chose adoption for her baby girl and went on to get married and have 10 more children that she is raising with her husband.

In 2008, University of Georgia student Jenna Sykes decided she wanted to locate her birthmother and found Andie. The pair wrote old fashioned letters for 18 months as Jenna needed to ease into a relationship. She says she felt extremely overwhelmed just knowing her birthmother's name.

Last year, Jenna posted a Tweet saying she'd love to be on The Amazing Race. Seeing this, Andie thought it would be a unique way for them to get to know one another. Jenna agreed and they recorded separate audition tapes merging them together. In fact, the first time they heard one another's voices was on the audition tapes!

Anyone experienced in the adoption community knows that reunions are tricky, challenging, and emotional. I can't imagine having it all play out while you are being followed by a slew of cameras and racing around the world for a million dollars but I'll be watching and rooting for Jenna and Andie!


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Quote of the week: Light within

People are like stained glass windows: they sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within. - Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Spotlight Blogger: Meet Maryann

This weekend's featured blogger is Maryann from Bright Spotz. I love the quote Maryann has on her side bar and I must share it with you. Maryann defines a birthmother as "a woman who acts in faith, seeks for peace, and hopes for knowledge." Love the definition!

First, Maryann, please tell us a little bit about yourself. (Name, age, where you are from, what led to you making an adoption plan, and anything else you feel comfy sharing!)

My name is Maryann. I am 36 years old and have lived in Utah most all of my life. I am Birth Mom to one daughter (age 17), and Mother of two daughters (ages 9 & 5). I love running, reading, and I am learning to Irish dance.

I was 18 and attending my first year of college in Idaho when it was confirmed I was pregnant. I was 19 when my daughter was born.

An adoption plan is never easy to make – and never plan “A”. The first thing I considered was what it would be like if I decided to raise my daughter.

I had used all the money I had saved for tuition, books and housing – I had very little left in my savings account. So, I would take her back to Utah with me, to my parents 3 bedroom 1 bathroom house where there would now be 9 of us living.

I would need to find a job, and somehow obtain all the baby items I needed, a car, and eventually our own place to live. I would need to pay for daycare while I worked – and if I ever wanted us to be out of poverty level living, I would need to find a way to continue college.

But, if I went to work and college… day care would be raising my baby.

The sperm donor was demanding abortion and threatening to physically do it himself if I did not…… If I brought her home, I would also have to keep her safe from him.

This was NOT what I wanted for my daughter. She deserved to start life in a home where two parents welcomed her and were concerned for her well-being. A home where she would not want for the things she needed and desired. She especially deserved to have a Dad that wanted to protect her and expected to provide for her.

It was a heart-breaking decision to make… I had already chosen a name. Already thought of all the fun we would have together – the things I could teach her, the places I wanted to take her….reading together, going to the zoo, the park. I longed to see her grow up, to hold her, to protect her, and take care of her.

The final factor that led me to an adoption plan, was religion. Because I firmly believed only God knew what was really best for this baby, I asked Him. It was the spiritual confirmation I received that led me to making an adoption plan.

When and why did you begin blogging?

I started blogging in August of this year. My adoption was a closed adoption (because that was the only option at the time) and I stayed out of state to have my baby, so very few people knew I had placed a baby for adoption.

It was very much the mentality of the time that you should “forget about it.” I remember asking the caseworker what it would be like for me if I placed my baby for adoption. Her response was:

“Oh honey, you will forget about it. You will get married, have your own kids, and everything will be fine.”

Well, I didn’t believe her, and I DIDN’T WANT TO FORGET ABOUT IT. However – there was not really anyone to talk to about all the feelings and emotions I had inside. After 17 years, I have A LOT to say!

After attending an Adoption conference this year (FSA), I saw those who are in open adoptions and are able to talk about their experience are in a much healthier state …. I am blogging because I have decided it is time to talk about my adoption experience.

I love the title of your blog, Bright Spotz. Can you share the story and meaning behind your title?

My blog title comes from my journal at the time I was pregnant. There is much shame associated with being pregnant when the world thinks you should not be…. Some people are rude. Some people are opinionated. Some people judge without ever asking the circumstance.

However, I had a few friends who although they did not know where I had gone or why I had left continued to do nice things for me. They sent all kinds of cards, letters, and packages to my Mom’s house which she would forward to me. In my journal I referred to them as the “bright spots in my life”. They helped me to keep going when I felt like giving up.

Has the response to your blog posts been mostly positive or negative or a mix of both?

So, far it has been positive, but I am a brand new blog with not too many followers yet. I realize not everyone loves adoption or is happy with their adoption experience. I am sure at some point I may get a negative response.

Do you have any advice for anyone else thinking of starting a blog?

Do it! It is healthy to talk about your adoption experience regardless of your take on it. In the words of Maya Angelou, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

We just all need to realize everyone’s story is a little bit different. Everyone’s perception of adoption is based on their experience. When we really face the facts, our perception IS our reality. All the experiences and perceptions help us sort out together what adoption really is and how to make it better.

Anything else you’d like to say/share??

Your blog is about your experience…. Stay true to what adoption has been for you. Share the happy and the sad…. I believe adoptions stories have both.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Quote of the week: Little bits of good

Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world. - Bishop Desmond Tutu

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Little Study!

Hey I am teaching a class about open adoption! I wanted to conduct a small study!

Answer the questions in a comment or email to me at
If you email me put STUDY in the subject line! They are all in your opinion and from your experiences. Choose the answer that is closest to what you feel, feel free to expand on it as well.

What is the best and most effective way to set up boundaries for your open adoption?

a) Talking about it
b) Writing it down
c) Letting the birthmom/birthfather or adoptive couple decide then inform the opposite party
d) a and b

What do you feel is the least invasive form of communication
a) Letters and pictures
b) Blog
c) Visits
d) Phone calls/ Texting
e) Other: Please specify

What do you feel is the most invasive form of communication
a) Letters and pictures
c) Visits
d) Phone Calls/Texting
e) Other: Please specify

What is the thing you have seen that has caused the biggest breakdown in communication
a) The birthmom trying to co-parent
b) The adoptive couple ignoring the birthmom
c) Other: Please specify

What is the main thing that attracted you to the couple you chose
a) Pictures
b) Birthmother letter
c) Communication
d) Other: Please Specify

What was the main thing you worried about when it came to your profile/blog?
a) Birthmother wouldn't like how you looked
b) Your birthparent letter
c) Birthmother wouldn't like everything about you
d) You were unsure about what you wanted in openess
e) Other: Specify

Thank you for your help!! Jessa

Support and Birthdays

"I keep thinking of that moment, because that's when she really started to live." - Tyler talking to Catelynn about the day they said goodbye to Carly.....

The past few weeks have been some of the most emotional weeks I’ve had in quite awhile. It doesn’t help that the past three episodes of Teen Mom almost seemed to coincide with situations that were occurring in my life as a birthmom, and writing about that was just too hard to do. So here I am, 3 weeks late on what I think about Teen Mom, but ready to share my thoughts and feelings.

Coming from a two parent, middle class household, where mom and dad did everything they could to provide us with the things we needed, you would’ve thought my family was the Cleaver family or the Brady Bunch. But that’s what things looked like from the outside. The emotional and verbal abuse from my family has always gone on for as long as I can remember growing up. Being that I was the oldest of the three of us girls, there was always more pressure on me to do what they wanted me to do, and there was hell to pay when I deviated from their plans for me. It was more subtle when I was younger, but definitely became more apparent once I told my family that I was pregnant with C 7 years ago. That’s when I got labeled as the “Family Screw Up.”

The verbal and emotional abuse continued well after I had C. It was the main factor in deciding to place Hope for adoption. I didn’t want another child brought into a home where they saw their mother constantly brought down by their family. I didn’t want her to see me cry or be sad because I wasn’t “good enough” for my family. It was bad enough C has to see his mommy go through that from time to time, even though I do my best to suck it up when he’s around. But there was no way I could bring another child into this mess.

This “mess” ended up only getting worse after I gave birth to Hope. My family has had the hardest time accepting the adoption and the fact that my princess is in the hands of a wonderful couple who are better suited to give her all the things I could never provide. I know they are angry and hurt by the fact that I didn’t give them the opportunity to get used to the idea that they were going to have another grandchild. I understand that they are hurt because she is a piece of them since she is a piece of me. I get it, but I don’t get why they continue to bring me down when they see for themselves how bad I hurt.

I will never ever forget the day my family and I were sitting at the dinner table a couple of years ago and my dad blurted out “All the problems in this family are because of you. It’s all your fault.” I know he was referring to my choice to place Hope. I remember not wanting to live anymore after that day. I remember hurting to the point of being unable to breathe because, while they didn’t respect me, I respected them, and could not believe my dad would say that to me. Those words stuck to me even after my dad denied ever saying that to me. This is part of the reason why I push myself to succeed in life – to have the last laugh.

During last week and the previous week’s episodes of Teen Mom, I felt a heavy pain in my heart. I wanted to hug Catelynn and tell her that even though her mom didn’t understand her, I did. I wanted to tell her that I support her and am proud of her and would never make her feel bad for the choice she made to give Carly a better life. I would tell her those things because they are things I wish my own mother would tell me. Just like Catelynn’s relationship with her mom since the adoption has crumbled, so had my own relationship (or what little I had) with my mom and it breaks my heart. The anger and rage that her mom has, the emotional outbursts, I totally understand. While my mom is mild compared to Catelynn’s mom, and my mom is way straight edged compared to the mess that makes up her mother, the feelings that they share towards our choice for adoption are similar, if not the same.

I find that after watching the previous two episodes before this week’s, it was hard to take in for the mere fact that Hope’s birthday was coming up and watching the show was only a constant reminder of the pain in my heart. This year, on September 9th, my sweet angel turned 5 years old. Her birthday marked 5 years since the moment my life changed forever, since I fell in love with those beautiful brown eyes, dark curly hair, and inherited dimples. This was the hardest birthday to get through, one I labeled as a “Milestone Birthday”.

I considered this to be a Milestone Birthday because SO MUCH has happened in the past 5 years, let alone 5 months or so. I have grown so much as a birthmom and have felt emotions I never had an opportunity to feel since placement. I have accepted that I am a birth mother, and while it doesn’t define who I am, I can no longer deny that it is a big part of who I am today. I have “come out of the closet” and am no longer afraid to share my story. I no longer have fear of being judged or looked down on because I know that being a birthmother is one of the greatest jobs I could have ever been given.

Watching this week’s episode of Teen Mom couldn’t have come at a better time. Just 5 days after having gotten through Hope’s birthday, this episode featured Catelynn and Tyler celebrating Carly’s first birthday. They sent her a gift and got to talk to her on the phone. They were able to talk about their memories and share their feelings with one another. It was a bittersweet episode that ended with the two of them blowing out a candle on a cake for her birthday. It proved that they didn’t need her mom or his dad, or anyone else for that matter. They had each other.

Getting through the tough times, like birthdays and holidays, wouldn’t be possible without the support from others. No one in my family directly mentioned Hope’s birthday last week, at least not to me. No one in my family gave me a hug or said that they were thinking of me as I got through this tough time. My mom did get mad, however, because an aunt questioned her about my status on Facebook and wanted to know what it was all about. Afterall, the adoption is a “family secret”.

It’s ok, though, because I have an amazing group of friends and coworkers who made sure I got through this Milestone in one piece, and I did. I got texts, phone calls, e-cards, Facebook messages and ims. I got flowers delivered to my job (thank you, friend ). I went out to dinner with friends and hung out with my boyfriend and my son over the weekend to help ease the pain… and it did. Without all of that, I don’t think I would’ve been able to make it through, so I thank those of you who were there for me. It means the world to me to know that so many people care about me. Once again, thank you, friends, because of your support, I’ve made it one year closer to the day I hope to see her again.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Quote of the week: Serenity

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. - Reinhold Niebuhr

Friday, September 10, 2010

Remembering 9/11

Every year on the anniversary of the September 11th attacks on our country, like many others, I find myself re-living those moments of where I was when I found out about the attack on our country. Eight months pregnant with a baby boy I was about to place for adoption and on bed rest, I sat on my couch in disbelief as I watched the towers fall to the ground. In the days that followed, I watched some of the constant coverage. Amongst the tragedy there were stories of triumph and courage as Americans rose above the tragedy to help one another.

One name that came up then was Tom Burnett. I remember hearing his name then but it was years later when I found out that Tom Burnett had a direct connection to adoption. I shared Tom's story here last year and will probably share it here every year on September 11th as a way to remember those who lost their lives on that day. 

Tom Burrnet was on Flight 93 and was one of the passengers who helped take over the plane from the terrorists causing the plane to crash in a field in Pennsylvania. Tom Burnett, who grew up in Minnesota, was flying home to California from a business trip to New York and is said to be the leader of the attack on the cockpit that caused the plane to divert its path and crash in a field instead of its target. Tom called his wife Deena multiple times from the plane telling her what was going on and that he loved her and the three daughters they were raising.

So, you are probably thinking, “Ok, I know all this already…”

But, did you know Tom Burnett was a birthfather?

While in college, Tom Burnett’s then girlfriend became pregnant in an unplanned pregnancy. The two were opposed to abortion and initially wanted to get married and parent. Tom was very involved in the pregnancy, working two jobs to pay for medical bills and present for his daughter’s birth. Eventually, the two decided it would be best for the baby if she was placed for adoption.

Two years after the terrorist attacks, Mariah Mills, turned nineteen and was finally old enough to request her original birth certificate from the state. The name Tom Burnett was very familiar in her area and she quickly realized that her birthfather was one of the 9/11 hereos.

Unsure of what Tom’s wife, Deena, and the rest of his family knew about the adoption and how they would feel about this, Mariah’s mother sent word through the agency that had handled Mariah’s adoption that Mariah was interested in meeting her other birth relatives. It turns out that Tom had told his wife about the daughter he placed for adoption and even showed her a letter that he had been writing to Mariah over the years in the hopes that they would one day be reunited.

Mariah has ended up meeting most of her birth family, including Deena, Tom’s daughters, parents, and sisters. She has been welcomed in by most of them. She has ongoing relationships with her half sisters and Deena. She has gotten to know the type of man and father Tom Burnett was through his family and Deena was even able to give her a letter that Tom had started writing to Mariah when she was younger for the day they would be reunited.

I love a quote from a newspaper article by Tom's daughter, Maraiah, “Even if he’d never been on that plane on September 11th, he’d still be a hero to me. He gave me life and a chance with a wonderful family.”

I know that Tom Burnett was probably not the only birthparent who lost their life that day. Today, I'm remembering and thinking of all those and their families who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001. 

Photo Credit

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

August/September BirthMom Buds Bulletin

The August/September issue of the BirthMom Buds Bulletin is now viewable. Click here to download!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Quote of the week: Attempt the Impossible

To achieve all that is possible, we must attempt the impossible. To be as much as we can be, we must dream of being more. - Unknown

Thursday, September 2, 2010

You Know What You Know

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own.
And you know what you know. You are the {girl} who'll decide where to go.”

I love this poem/quote! In my opinion Dr Seuss is pretty awesome when it comes to stating simple truths in short quotes. I like this quote and have been thinking about this concept a lot lately.

How many times when you were pregnant did someone voice their opinion about the matter? How many times when you were thinking about placing did you hear an unsolicited remark? For me it was all the time. Every time I turned my head I heard a new opinion. It made things very difficult.

It is so important to keep in mind that no matter what anyone says or does, you ultimately have the choice of what decisions you make.