This week's featured blogger is Nan of "Our Best Day So Far." She is in reunion with the daughter she relinquished. I love her perspective and her overall positive attitude despite some of the rough things that she's endured. Let's find out a little more about Nan...
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 MariAnell Barton; almost everyone who knows me knows me as Nan. It is confusing for some who don't know how to find me in the phonebook, but I have always loved my real name more than the nickname that was given to me as a small child. I am 39 years old; I placed my baby girl for adoption 19 years ago. I live in a middle-of-nowhere small town in Utah and have for most of my life.
What led me to an adoption plan? I found myself unexpectedly pregnant and thought myself completely unprepared to be a parent. When I decided to get a real pregnancy test, I went into a Planned Parenthood. When the worker there came back to me with the results, she asked me what I wanted to do about it. My first thought was adoption. She handed me a paper with the names of several agencies and attorneys that could help me. The one that was run by my church stood out the most to me. I went into the agency telling them of my plans, but they insisted that I spend more time considering all of my options, including getting married or single parenting. After a few months working with them, I felt even more sure of my plan. I participated in a birthmother group there, attended child birth classes, and prayed more in those few months than I ever had in my life. I received a strong confirmation that adoption was the right thing for this baby, especially after I was able to choose her family. Her birth was one of the most spiritual experiences in my life.
I have been grateful to be able to say I never regretted my choice. However, I have been frustrated by some of the mistreatment I have experienced at the hands of an agency I have loved and promoted over the years. This was particularly true this last year, as I sought to re-establish communication with the family with the agency's "help". Still, I do believe my life has been blessed by adoption, and by the opportunities I have pursued to share my experience and to support others who have had similar experiences.
When and why did you begin blogging?
I started my blog in 2008, after some of my family members encouraged me. We found it was a good way to share in each others' lives as some of us live thousands of miles apart. I started blog hopping and one day I ended up following a link to a friend of a friend and I discovered another family who had been touched by adoption. From there, I wandered to The R House blog. I loved reading about how she advocated for adoption, and it made me want to share more about my own experience. I was able to do a couple of guest posts on her blog, and I started writing more on my own blog about my story as a birthmother. Around then I realized that rather than telling people I had been a birthmother (as though it were a past tense thing) I was and always would be a birthmother, and a lifetime would never change that.
Tell us more about the title of your blog. Why did you choose it?
The title of my blog is "Our Best Day So Far." I like the idea that happiness is a process, not an end goal, and we can always improve, even in small ways. I love the idea that today is even better than yesterday and tomorrow will be better yet. It is not always true, but it is something I strive for, and I believe as we celebrate even the smallest joys, they are easier to find. My adoption journey, particularly over the past year, as I sought for communication and ultimately reunited with my birthdaughter and her family, was definitely a roller coaster ride. There were moments when it was nearly impossible to find any kind of joy, but I am ultimately grateful for the things I have learned and for this renewed friendship.
Has the response to your posts been mostly positive, mostly negative, or a mix of both?
Most of the people who read my blog are friends, so the response has been positive. There are a few posts that caused some offense to my birth daughter's mother, even though most were written before we reunited. I make no apologies for the things I have said on my blog. It was how I felt at the time and I think it is good for people to see the whole story, good and bad.
What post on your blog do you consider a “must read” for people visiting your blog for the first time? Or what post(s) from your blog is (or are) your favorite(s) and why?
I think my post "Life as a Birthmother" written on June 16, 2011 is a good one, because it discusses how while I don't consider myself a tragic figure, I do recognize that being a birthmother is something which has affected and always will affect my life. "Nan, in Real Life" is a post that received a huge response from friends and others (well, huge for my blog). It is pretty long, but several people told me they could relate to the things I was saying. Basically, life sucks sometimes. Sometimes, even when things are mostly good, it is hard to find the joy in our experiences. I was struggling. We all struggle sometimes. A lot of it related to how things had transpired after "The Reunion" and how it wasn't all as perfect as I wanted it to be.
I also recommend reading any of the posts labeled My Adoption Story or Being a Birthmother. Those are the posts that tell more about my personal experiences relating to the adoption. Here is one thing that is interesting about my blog. In November of last year, I decided to post throughout the month about my personal adoption experience, starting with events leading up to the pregnancy, the choice to pursue an adoption plan, and the birth and subsequent placement. That same month, my birth daughter found me on Facebook and she started reading the posts about her birth story. She said she really enjoyed learning more about that part of her life, through my stories. Much of it comes directly from my journal.
Do you have any advice for someone thinking of starting their own blog?
My advice is to be real, but to also remember that the way you feel in one moment may not be how you will feel in another. If you are particularly emotional about something, it might be a good idea to wait to post about it until you are a little more clear-headed. I still believe it is important to be honest, because we need to be true to ourselves in anything we say. Adoption can be a subject that people feel pretty passionately about, whether negatively or positively. It helps to be prepared for the fact that people might misunderstand or disrespect your passion. But, as long as you can own it, even if the only person who seems to benefit from your blog is yourself, then that is worth it.