Sunday, July 31, 2011

Quote of the Week: Perfection

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"All of us failed to match our dreams of perfection. So I rate us on the basis of our splendid failure to do the impossible." -William Faulkner

Friday, July 29, 2011

Bittersweet News

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When Coley wrote her "Missing the Baby" post on April 7, 2011, in it she asked if we missed the “baby versions” of our children more than the “today versions.”  At the time, I said to myself, “Nah.  I love whatever version I get to see, and don’t miss one more than the other.”  That was then.

Last week, T (my daughter’s a-mom) emailed me and said that my daughter was now running around and chattering away – that she had a vocabulary of more than 20 words, not including people names and animal sounds.  When Nick (birthfather and my boyfriend) and I had our surprise (to us) visit at the beginning of June, she still had some….I don’t know….baby attributes.  She was toddling around at that point, but just barely, and her vocabulary was still pretty small.

I’m excited on one hand that she’s growing the way she “should be,” but on the other hand, I think it’s causing me to realize how fast she’s growing up and how much I’m actually missing.  Don’t get me wrong: I’m hugely appreciative of the relationship I have with my daughter’s parents.  The fact that I usually get a weekly email from them is above and beyond what I ever hoped for when I placed my daughter with them.  But it’s also causing me some regret that I didn’t get to spend more time bonding with her as a baby.

Not knowing I was pregnant until I gave birth caused me to miss out on all that pre-birth bonding time that most mommas get.  Then of course with the issues surrounding my physical state when I gave birth and the subsequent fact that she was in foster care for nearly 2 months after she was born caused me to miss out on a lot of things then too.  I know birthmoms don’t get nearly 2 months of bonding time with their children.  It’s usually about 48 hours and then placement day happens.  But during that time, most birthmoms make the most of that time with their children.  They hold them, feed them, change them, and even bathe them.  I’ve experienced those things a multitude of other times with other babies since I was a nanny for so long.  But it’s different with your own, I know.

I’m now wondering if the fact that I didn’t get to bond with her much when she was little will negatively affect the relationship I have with her as she grows.  I don’t want to take away the bond that she has with her parents.  I just want her to have a bond with me too.  It’s crazy how different things can affect me different ways.  Most of the news I’ve received about her various milestones has been bittersweet.  But this bit of news seems more bittersweet than most.

I usually have a healing point to my posts.  This one doesn’t.  My dear friend and fellow birthmom Debbie said at the BBuds retreat that it was nice for her to see me shed healing tears about my daughter at the candlelight ceremony.  She said usually she sees me so positive about my whole adoption experience that it was nice to see me grieving too.  This post is for those of you that wonder if I have the “perfect adoption” too because I’m always so positive about it.  I’m still positive about the experience.  I know that my daughter is where she’s supposed to be, and my experience as a birthmom has blessed me beyond what I ever expected.  But yes, I grieve too, and the recent news I received has reminded me that it’s okay to show that.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rules or Relationship?

You know I grew up going to church. I didn't always get it, but I didn't have a choice. So I went. I participated in junior choir and VBS and Sunday School classes. I learned that Jesus was loving and kind and a friend.

When I became pregnant, my mother and grandmother started quoting Scripture verses to me from the Bible. They called me names like "whore" and "bitch". They told me how no God could ever love someone like me. They used the Bible as a weapon to put me down and beat me up.

Ouch. That really hurt. A lot. And for a long time. In fact I had a visceral response to even typing those names. I don't honestly think I've ever told anyone the ugly truth about those days. My grandmom had my mom so fired up. So full of righteous indignation. My grandmom, the former preacher's wife, the woman who studied the Bible in her spare time just because she loved it so much.

My mom and grandmom were right on some level. They were right that I had broken the rules. I had gone against the Bible's teaching. I had gone against the teaching of the church.

But they were wrong to judge me. That wasn't their job. God didn't give us the Ten Commandments so we can judge each other. Think of how boring that would be! We all fall short. There is no one on this earth who can keep all of those rules except for Jesus. He's the only one who lived perfectly. The rest of us don't stand a chance.

At that time, my mom chose to hide behind the rules instead of reaching out to me in relationship. I guess it was just easier for her. She sided with her mother and her righteous indignation instead of comforting her daughter who was scared, desperate, and alone. 

The reason God gave us rules in the first place was to show us our need for Jesus. He is all about relationship. He lives in constant relationship with himself. Have you ever thought of it that way? God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are each individual parts that are perfectly fulfilled in relationship. God did not come to this earth to bring us a rule-based religion. He came here so he could have a relationship with me. With you.

It's easier to sit back and judge than it is to jump into relationships that are often messy, hard, and sometimes hurtful. But we were not created to live alone on an island. We were created to be part of families and communities and churches. Do you choose rules over relationship? I love hearing from you.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Quote of the Week: If you Judge People....

"If you judge people you have no time to love them." 
- Mother Teresa

Friday, July 22, 2011

Spotlight Blogger: Meet Michelle R

This week's featured blogger is Michelle R of More Than Just a Birthmom.  We're excited to feature Michelle as she actually blogged for BirthMom Buds in the past!  Let's find out a little more about Michelle....

First, please tell us a bit more about yourself (name, age, where you live, what led you to making an adoption plan, and anything else you feel comfortable sharing).

My name is Michelle R. (C and H's Mama according to my blog), I’m 28, and I live in Southern California. I was 22 years old when I was a single mom to my son who was barely a year old and found out I was pregnant again. Parenting another child was definitely not an option for me, as I was still living with my parents, working a part time job, and going to community college. I had scheduled an abortion, but as I was on my way, a higher power and faith intervened. Through lots of prayer, I realized that adoption was the best choice for me.

One of my coworkers niece's had just adopted through HFS so she gave me her contact information and everything seemed to fall into place after that. At the beginning of August 2005, I met my daughter's adoptive parents and instantly fell in love with them. We decided on a semi-open adoption and agreed on pictures and letters 4 times a year. She was born on September 9, 2005 and I last got to physically see her and hold her in my arms on September 11, 2005.

It has definitely been a journey since then, but I don't regret any of the decisions I have made before and after placement, as it has helped me to grow and mature into the woman I am today.
When and why did you begin blogging?

I started my blog in April 2011, mainly as a place to vent and write about my life, my feelings and frustrations. I have always been the type of person to verbalize my feelings, but as I have gotten older, I have realized that it hasn't always been the most effective strategy for me, as I usually don't think about what I am saying in advance. I felt like there was a lot I had to let out and so I created a place where I could do it at as effectively as possible. Alot of people don't know that I am a bmom, so blogging is my first step to "coming out the closet" and sharing with the world my "secret".
Tell us more about the title of your blog. Why did you choose it?

I picked 
"More Than Just a Birthmom" as the title of my blog because I'm just that, More Than Just A Birthmom. I see a lot of blogs written by birthmoms, as well as discussions and forums where people mainly identify themselves as just a birthmom and don't see that there is so much more to themselves beyond that title. There's more to me than just being a birthmom. I am also a mother, a daughter, a sister, a girlfriend, and friend. When I created my blog, I knew that my blog wasn't just going to just be about the adoption and my feelings and thoughts towards it, but also about the rest of my life.
Has the response to your posts been mostly positive, mostly negative, or a mix of both?

While I have shared the link to my blog to some of my friends who know, as well as to people in the adoption world, I really didn't think that anyone was reading my blog. I know that my boyfriend has really appreciated reading my blog because it has helped him to understand me better. I have mostly gotten positive feedback from the friends I have shared it with as well, especially friends who didn't know I was a bmom to begin with.
Do you have any advice for someone thinking of starting their own blog?

If I had any advice for people wanting to start a blog, I would suggest not being afraid to express yourself. A blog isn't about correct grammar or spelling, it's about creating a place where you feel comfortable to let out your thoughts and feelings about one topic, or a bunch of them, like mine. When writing, don't worry about who is reading, write for yourself. People are always going to have an opinion, but what they say really doesn't matter ;)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Girls Who Went Away Review

Thanks to your suggestions, I just just finished reading Ann Fessler's The Girls Who Went Away. Wow! I mean wow wow. I've known I wasn't alone. The statistics prove that. My research shows that. I've been speaking and counseling for years on this topic, and it never ceases to amaze me that whenever you throw out the word 'adoption' in a room, you can just see the ripples.

Although I thought my adoption in the 1980's was hard, I had no idea what hard is. I could identify with many things the ladies had to say. The feelings they felt, the way their lives have been touched or damaged or torn apart. So many similarities.

I think the thing that struck me the most was the shame of it all. My parents claimed they loved me, yet when it came to such a pivotal time in my life and my development and my health, they rejected me. For so long the line "this is what's best for you" made me question if it wasn't the best thing for them.

About 5 years ago, the pregnancy center where I was serving connected me with a new volunteer. Guess what she told me? She talked about her own set of circumstances and the daughter she had placed with an adoptive family almost 40 years ago.

And she also said that I was the first person she had ever told besides her husband! That is still so amazing to me. The only way I've been able to get through the loss and grief and all of it is through talking, sharing, writing, and speaking. To be silenced by shame would be the worst.

I think my mom would be more comfortable if I would stop talking, to be honest. I love her and we have spent many years building our relationship, but this is a subject we just don't talk about. It's kind of awkward for me since this is what I speak about, write about and can't shut up about.

You know, when I was in graduate school, one of our projects included looking at 3 generations of our family on both sides. It was interesting having conversations with my mom and dad about the history of them and their families.

What was shocking is that when I finished, there was an obvious pattern of unwed pregnancy. My aunt is the first one I know about. She got pregnant in the late 1960's and stayed with my parents during her pregnancy. Then she went on with her life. The only reason I know is because my mom told me after finding out I was pregnant.

It was appalling to learn that I hadn't done something unique, but rather just the opposite. I had unwittingly carried on the 'family tradition' of getting pregnant without being married. No wonder my parents were so mad at me.

But it has lead me to wonder, how does that happen? What is it about the family dynamic that allows something secret like out of wedlock pregnancy to be repeated generation after generation?

Those thoughts are too much for today. This book has changed the way I view things. 
Have you read it? If so, what did you identify most with?

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Past is the Past

Not long after writing my post on forgiving yourself a few weeks ago, I ran across the following quote:
"The past cannot be changed, edited, erased, or forgotten - it can only be accepted."
Wow! Isn’t that the truth? So often, I think we become too wrapped up in our past. Our past does shape our future; that is true. You probably wouldn’t be here reading a birthmother blog if it weren’t for placing your child which is something that happened in your past.  

But the past is just that – the past. No matter how much it hurts, how much regret we may have, how much we wish we could rewind and re-do the past, we can’t. We must live in the present. And I believe the best way to live in the present and move forward to the future is to accept the past for what it is. Accept the beauty of our past and accept the ugliness of our past. 

I’m not saying forget your child, forget what you have been through, or anything like that. I am simply saying that in order to move forward in life, in order to create a meaningful life, you have to accept that the past is the past. It is what it is.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Music Monday: Stronger by Mandisa

I've had the pleasure of seeing Mandisa (a Christian singer who was on American Idol season 5) in concert twice. At her last concert, she debuted a new song called Stronger. As I listened to the words, I loved their meaning and was reminded of the struggles a birthmother goes through. 


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Quote of the Week: Happiness

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"Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present." -Jim Rohn

Friday, July 15, 2011

To Write or Not to Write

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I have a sort of pet peeve to discuss with all of you today.  I actually discussed this on more than one occasion with my social worker.  It seemed to be a pet peeve of hers as well.  This is especially applicable if you have an adoption where you expect to get update letters and photos of your child, even if it’s in email form.  Whether these letters are in addition to visits & phone calls or not, writing a letter back to your child’s adoptive parents is equally important.

I placed my daughter with her parents in January of 2010.  We didn’t have our first visit until July 2010.  They might have been open to a visit with me during that time.  I don’t know, as I never asked.  I don’t think I was ready to have a visit yet.  I also wanted to wait for Nick (also the birthfather) to get home from his Iraqui deployment so we could visit her together.  Anyway, during that time, we got our first scheduled update letter with pictures.

Though we still don’t have their last name or their address, it was important to me to send a letter back.  I know T & C (my daughter’s aparents) appreciated the letter.  In it, I not only responded to the things they said in their letter, but I gave them insights into my own personality and told them what had been going on in my life since placement.

Returning letters is still very important to me. Even though we’ve now added emails to our means of contacting each other, I know we all value the letters.  Besides, it gives us something to look forward to getting in our mailboxes besides bills and junk mail.

I know that we all crave a relationship with our children.  Not only our children, but we want a relationship with their parents as well.  Unless we choose to have a closed adoption (or had that option chosen for us), we specifically choose the people we want to parent our children.  Therefore it makes sense that we’d want a relationship with them.  My social worker told me of several birthmoms that complained they never got anything from their child’s adoptive parents, but when the adoptive parents were contacted, they admitted that they have a really hard time writing update letters and never getting anything in response.  It’s hard having a one-sided conversation all the time!

I would strongly encourage you to start a habit of writing letters back to your child’s adoptive parents when they send you one.  Not only does it give them more motivation to continue sending letters to you, but it gives them more insight to who you are as a person.  Also, if you’re fortunate enough to have awesome adoptive parents like mine are, they will keep the letters to share with your child when he or she gets older.  Even if you never write a letter directly to your child, they can still find more about who you are and what you do.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Father's Day, A Standing Stone in my Journey

Have you ever heard of a "standing stone"? There are so many standing stones in my journey through the world of birthmothering. In the Bible, a standing stone was a literal stone or group of stones set up as a physical witness to something specific that the Lord had done.

In the book of Joshua, for example, God's people took the Ten Commandments into the Promised Land. They had to cross the Jordan River which was at flood stage. Incredibly, the Lord stopped the flow of the river and all the Israelites crossed on dry ground.

After all the people were through the river, God said, "Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan...and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight." (Joshua 4:2-3)

God had them leave a physical reminder to his miracle.

For me, Father's Day 1993 is a standing stone. It had been six years since my daughter's birth. I had graduated from high school and was about to graduate from college. Life was pretty good although I struggled to 'keep the secret' of my birthdaughter. But on the inside, I was still filled with hate and rage, anger, hurt, and, well, you get the idea. I still had a long way to go in my healing.

I can't tell you what the message was about that morning in church, but in my head I heard an audible voice say, "Forgive him." Through my tears I quietly asked, "Are you CRAZY?" and then proceeded to remind God of all the ways K had hurt me. Now, it's important to note that I had no contact with the birthfather. He was not part of my life. But I was angry like I had just seen him.

God got through to me that day and after many tears I did forgive K, or at least I gave him over to God for probably the first time. That day marked a major milestone in my life.

Like Joshua at the Jordan, I have marked that day as a standing stone in my journey to freedom. Forgiving K was not some magic pill that made all of my hurts go away, but it was a step. I needed to forgive the birthfather not so that I would be all better, but because not forgiving him was hampering my ability to move forward.

What about you? What standing stones have you set up along the way? Maybe today is a day to remember. I love reading your comments.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Writing your Child's Birth Story

Last week, I talked about writing letters to your child. Today, let's talk about writing your child's birth story. 

Many children like to hear their birth story. Noah (my son that I parent) still enjoys me telling him all about the day he was born. I tell him that he was impatient and arrived early because he couldn’t wait to see the world. I tell him about how his first cry reminded me of a kitten meowing. I also include age appropriate details about the pregnancy complications I had and the complications he had once he was born.

Considering that Noah enjoys hearing the details of the day he was born, it should have been no surprise to me that Charlie would want to hear these details as well.
Charlie’s adoptive Mom, A, told me awhile back that he had recently begun asking questions about the night he was born. He wanted to know all the details. Because we have an open adoption, she was present at the hospital (but not the operating room) when he was born so she was able to tell him as she could from point of view. She tells him about nervously waiting in the weighting room while I was having the c-section. She tells him about the first time she saw him, about staring at him through the nursery window, etc.

But Charlie’s adoptive Mom’s view of the night he was born is a bit different from mine version of the night he was born and I want Charlie to know both versions. He has begun asking me questions about the night he was born as well. He wants to know when I first saw him, how long I held him, etc. After answering his questions I decided that it might be a good idea to write down his birth story. I honestly wish that I had done this before now when the details may have been fresher in my mind. I do remember a lot of the details though and have recorded all that I remember in my own words in his life book.
No matter how old your child is or what type of adoption you may have, I want to encourage each of you to write down your child’s birth story. For some I know the details might not be as fresh, but still record what you can. If this isn’t something that you want to give your child at this time or your adoption doesn’t allow for that then, it’s something you could put up and save for them later in life. Even if you don’t share it with your child at any point in his or her life, you may find that writing your child’s birth story will be healing and therapeutic in some ways.

Where do you start writing your child’s birth story? Below are a few ideas to get you started.
  • Write about where you were when you realized you were in labor, who you were with, etc. Or if you were induced write about how and why your doctor came to the decision that inducing you was necessary. Write about how you felt during all of this.
  • Write about going to the hospital. What did you do to prepare? Who took you to the hospital? What happened once you got there? How did you feel?
  • Write about how your labor progressed. Who was there at the hospital with you? How did you feel? How long were you in labor? If you had a c-section, how and why did the doctor come to the decision that a c-section was necessary? How did this make you feel?
  • Write about the moment your child was born. Who was there with you? What did you think when you first laid eyes on your child? Did your child cry right away? What did others in the room with you do and say?
  • Write the details of your baby such as weight, length, APGAR scores, etc. You could also include a physical decryption of your baby such as hair color, who he or she looked like, etc.
  • If you spent time with your child in the hospital, write about that as well. What did you do with your baby? Did you sing him or her special songs or tell them how much you love them? Did you have visitors during the hospital stay? Those are all things you could include. 

I hope you’ll take the time to jot down your child’s birth story sometime. Getting it down on paper is something that he or she may appreciate one day. 

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Quote of the Week: Life is Like a Canvas

"Life is like a canvas, 
it begins blank and every day is like another brush stroke."
- Unknown

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To Judge or Not to Judge?

I have been thinking a lot about judging people these past few days. There has been much in the news lately about crime and trials and it seems that people always have an opinion and make judgment. 

Many times they don’t have a clear stance and seem to waiver this way and that way with no solid foundation for their beliefs and thoughts. So I thought this week we could discuss a few things as to what I've read and my own heart on the matter. 

If I see a rose and I say, “Look a rose.” I am not judging the rose; it IS a rose. If someone points me out in a crowd and says, “Look a birthmom!” I am not offended. I AM a birthmother. However if that person stands back and says I got this title in a negative way as did every other birthmother and then begins to call me names, THAT is judging. 

The Bible has a lot to say on judging. Here are a few of my favorite verses on the subject:  

"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." Matthew 7:1-5 ESV

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven." Luke 6:37 ESV

"Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. 
For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?" Romans 2:1-3 ESV

“Judge not lest you be judged” means if you can't stand up and let someone judge you to this then don't say it. I am confident other people cannot call me an adulterer and I have the confidence that if I saw someone committing this act, I would stand up to them and point it out and then lovingly show them a way out of that lifestyle. It's standing up for what I believe in and many others may feel differently but that’s ok.  I respect anyone who disagrees with me and I have hope and love that they will come around.

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Spotlight Blogger: Meet Kelsey

This week's spotlight blogger is Kelsey Stewart, author of "The Best for You," a book written for children explaining adoption from a birthmother's point of view.  She's also the author of her blog, A Birth Mother Voice.  Let's find out a little more about Kelsey....

First, please tell us a bit more about yourself (name, age, where you live, what led you to making an adoption plan, and anything else you feel comfortable sharing).

My name is Kelsey Stewart and I am 40 years old. I live in Southern California with my husband and two boys, ages 11 and 8. I placed a daughter in the late 80's and then two years later I placed twin boys, all in open adoptions. (the twins were placed in the same family)

I was young, unmarried and had not finished my education when I found myself pregnant with my daughter. I grew up without a father in my life and I did not want the same for my daughter. I chose to place her for adoption because at that time in my life I could not justify keeping her when I could barely take care of myself.

When I learned I was pregnant with the twins, I was in a relationship that was THE relationship (I later married their father), but again we were so young and just not prepared to embark on parenting two children. I had already been in an open adoption that was working very well and knew that there had to be a reason why God gave me two more children to carry, but not raise. My then boyfriend (now husband) and I decided the best we could do for our children was to place them in a home that could provide them with all we could not. It had nothing to do with money, but more to do with making sure they had the best start in life that we could possibly give them.

When and why did you begin blogging?

I began blogging in the fall of 2009 on the suggestion of a wonderful man who took me under his wing after I sent him a copy of my children's book "The Best For You." He was the President of Tapestry Books, an online resource that only carries adoption literature and because I was so persistent in my pursuit to show him that I had brains and experience in adoption he took me in and told me exactly how to build a fan base that would not only appreciate my book, but also my positive attitude towards life as a birth mother.

Once I started writing, I found it rather therapeutic to release all my thoughts and feelings from the previous 20 years of life without my children. I have met so many amazing women who have told me that they appreciate the honesty, compassion and strength that I write with. I had no idea that there were so many out there that I could connect with, so many who needed no explanation as to why I chose adoption but rather embraced the experience and knowledge that I have. What started as a side note to my book turned into a wonderful blog that has helped so many out there... adoptees, adoptive parents and ESPECIALLY birth mothers ... feel that they are not alone and connect with someone who not only had been on this road for a long time, but also listened to those who had something to say.

Tell us more about the title of your blog.  Why did you choose it?

A Birth Mother Voice needs no explanation. When you see the title you know what point of view you are reading. The Voice part came from years and years of not being silent, but rather being reserved. As many birth mothers know we do not walk around with a sign on our chest that says ... "I walk without my children because that is what I chose to do." I have no problem talking with people about adoption, but it does not come up in everyday conversation.

I really wanted people to know that A) I am a birth mother, B) I am not at all ashamed of my life or the decisions that I made for myself and my children and C) I use my voice to help others understand a little better the why's and how's to living life with a piece of yourself missing.

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

Very much a mix of both! Like I said, I am a very positive person when it comes to speaking out about adoption and that is not always received with open arms. Most people who read my blog have a similar thought process to mine: they are content with their decisions and have made the best of life since adoption. There are many who check my blog from time to time that do not have the same views that I have and they try to rattle me when I post or speak of my positive experiences with open adoption. It is not easy to hear the negative comments at all, but I also know that there are many, many stories out there that need to be heard in order to really understand this complex issue of adoption from all sides. I keep my head up, listen to what they have to say and then sometimes put my own spin on their thoughts or attacks. All I have ever wanted was for people to really LISTEN to what I have to say and if I don't allow others to do the same then I would be a big hypocrite, wouldn't I? I keep in my mind what my mother always taught me ... Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Do you have any advice for someone thinking of starting their own blog?

Be yourself and do not let anyone try to convince you of what YOUR thoughts are. This world of online adoption social networking can be cruel, mean and down right nasty. However, if you keep reminding yourself the reason you want to write in the first place then you can always touch base with your inner most thoughts and rise above all that is negative.

Don't take all the comments so seriously. Some folks only attack others because of their own insecurities. Do not take on their anger or their self hatred, they have to learn to forgive themselves and work through their own issues of adoption. My favorite quote that helps me remember to keep it together is ....  No one can make you feel inferior without your permission." ~ Elanore Roosevelt

Keep in mind why you are writing. Some write to help themselves. Some write to help others. No matter what your reasons, do not loose yourself in what others think about what you have to say.

Most of all, be honest! Not only with others, but also with yourself. You just might surprise yourself with what you can learn about you from writing in an honest way.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

How my Faith was Born

So last week I told you that my faith was born out of the drama of my unplanned pregnancy. How did that happen? What did it look like? What drove me to that place?

All good questions. You already know I was sent far away from home and lived in a maternity home. It was there I met and saw people serving as nurses and house parents and counselors. People who didn’t know me or my family or my particular situation.

But they didn’t care. They were there to love me and support me physically as I moved through my pregnancy; mentally as I worked through the various decisions that needed to be made; emotionally as I dealt with very grown-up subject matter at a young age; and mostly spiritually, as they were the hands and feet of Jesus loving me, smiling at me, hugging me, praying for me and teaching me about Jesus and his love for me.

While I had grown up in church, I never connected church with real life until I went there. Yes, I heard about Jesus and the Bible there, but I also saw it in action. In my day, being pregnant outside of marriage was shameful. It was not something boasted about or flaunted. It was something to be hidden and not discussed.

My parents went to great lengths to hide my pregnancy from everyone they could, even family members. I was not allowed to return home until my pregnancy was over and done with and I could fit back into my regular clothes. And then only with strict instructions that no one was to know. Ever.

The irony is that when I got home and saw my best friend, she knew all about my pregnancy because the birthfather had spread the news all over school.

But while I was at the maternity home, I was encouraged by people speaking kind and loving words to me. People looking me in the eye and treating me like a hero for choosing life. They didn’t look through me or around me. They weren’t afraid of catching my sin. They reached out to me and showed me what Jesus was really like.

They understood that while my family was ashamed, Jesus was not. Yes, I had made a mistake that had lead to pregnancy, but he had not turned away from me. In fact, more than ever he wanted a relationship with me.

So one day, knowing I was beat and had nowhere else to turn, I got down on my knees by my bed and asked Jesus to take over my life.

It’s amazing that when you have nothing left but Jesus, you realize he is all you really need.

Have you come to that point in your life yet? I love hearing from you.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Writing Letters to Your Child

Many birthmothers, even those in open adoptions, write letters to their placed child. Some birthmothers find it healing, therapeutic, and a way to connect with their child. Some birthmothers may write at the same time each month, such as the date their child was born while others may write only when and if they feel the need. Some may write on special occasions, such as birthdays and holidays. Some birthmothers may send the letter to their child right away while others may save it until their child is older and others may write and keep the letters in their journal.

There are also some birthmothers who may struggle with writing letters to their child. I admit that this can sometimes be a struggle for me, although I have managed to keep one letter writing tradition going on each year and that is the birthday letter tradition. When the son I parent turned one, I remember reflecting on how much had gone on in his first year of life. So I sat down and wrote a letter to him telling him about all of the things that had changed in that first year of his life, the battles we’d faced and overcome, etc... So on his second birthday, I decided to do it again, thus beginning a tradition.

When Charlie was born and his first birthday rolled around, it just seemed natural to sit down and compose a “birthday letter” for him and I have kept that tradition each year. I send his birthday letter to him each year in a special card, separate from what I give him when I spend time with him on his actual birthday. His Mom puts all the birthday letters up in his special keepsake box filled with things I have given him over the years.

Although, I’m not the best letter writer, I do enjoy sending cards. I try to send Charlie a card after visits and then I send cards for some of the smaller holidays (like Halloween or Valentine’s Day) with some stickers or candy inside. And sometimes I’ll just send cute cards that say “hi” or “thinking of you” for no real reason other than he was especially on my mind and heart that day. I’m much better with sending cards though than with writing longer letters.

Do you write letters to your child? Do you send/give them to your child, plan to save them for when he/she is older, or do you want them to remain private?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Music Monday: Firework

Since it is the 4th of July, Firework by Katy Perry only seemed appropriate.

Have a safe and fun 4th of July!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Quote of the Week: Growth

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"There is no royal road to anything.  One thing at a time, all things in succession.  That which grows fast, withers as rapidly.  That which grows slowly, endures." 
-Josiah Gilbert Holland

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Silver Lining
So often lately, I’ve heard the words “Life (or God) hates me.”  Or "I’m a good person and I’ve done the right things.  Why do bad things keep happening to me?”  I’ve said the same things myself, many times.  I’ve had my own share of “downers” in life. 

Being a birthmother could be considered a “downer” too.  Even though I’m firm in my belief that my daughter is in the right place and that I made the right decision for the time, when I have my moments of grief for her out of the blue, I start to question it.  The hurt starts overwhelming me and I feel as if God is sending me down a well instead of setting me in high places like He promised.  Whether you believe in God or not, I believe that each of you, me included, is meant for great things.  I believe that every pain in our lives, every stressor, is just temporary.

When I look back on my life, all the negative things that I’ve either caused or happened to me have turned into good things if I’ve let them.  Sometimes I’ve had to search for the good, the silver lining, so to speak.  Sometimes the good has hit me like a bolt of lightning and made all the negative feelings surrounding the event quickly disappear.  I’m sure we’ve all heard it said that we need to learn from our mistakes.  Even if being a birthmother cannot be considered a mistake (and NO child, planned for or not, is a “mistake”), I know when the grief threatens to overwhelm that we can think we made a mistake.

While the negatives of being a birthmother can feel overwhelming all of the time or even just sometimes, I think it’s important to remember the positives.  Search for a reason or a way to turn the negative around.  Perhaps the feelings of loss surrounding the placing of your child help you remember other losses that you may have buried and you’re able to finally heal from those losses.  Perhaps someone that you meet as a result of being a birthmother that you wouldn’t have met otherwise ends up helping you in a way that you could have never guessed.  Perhaps you’re able to connect with others and your experience as a birthmom changes other people’s lives.  Maybe your experience as a birthmom will inspire you to get involved with the legislature surrounding adoptions in general in some way, and even if your own experience has been less than positive, you’ll be able to prevent the same thing from happening to others.  The possibilities are endless.  Sometimes you just have to look.  In that looking, you may also find, as I have, that you distract yourself from your own pain and you may even heal when you’re not expecting it.

Just remember you’re beautiful.  You’re perfect, just the way you are.  You’re meant for wonderful things.  Believe that for yourself, because no amount of me or anyone else telling you this is going to make it true until you start believing it.