Monday, January 30, 2012

Music Monday: The Promise by Tracy Chapman

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Friday, January 27, 2012

Failed Adoptions


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I would venture a guess that no one likes the word “failure,” especially in reference to themselves as people or in reference to their actions.  So why do we use that word when describing a choice to parent instead of place?  Is placement a failure to parent just as parenting is a failure to place in this case?  I argue that the same people wouldn’t use the term “failure” to describe a friend who chooses to raise her child instead of adoption placement, especially if the expectant mom never intends to place her child in the first place. 

I’m not referencing those birth moms who choose a person or couple prior to birth and then change their minds about the person or people they plan to place their child with.  I would call those failed matches.  But I hear the word failure as a derogatory statement most often when a birth mom chooses to parent at the last minute instead of continuing with her original choice of adoption placement.  I do believe placement is a parenting choice, and continuing to support your child’s parents after placement is also a parenting choice.  But it’s a different parenting choice than the more “traditional” choice of raising the child or children to whom you’ve given birth.

I think we need different terminology here.  I’m certain that it feels to the hopeful adoptive parents that they failed to impress the birth mother enough, or that someone else failed to convince her that placement was the right choice.  But placement is not an easy choice, and those who think that or try to convince an expectant mother of that are guilty of coercion.  I know that quite a few adoptive couples must feel like failures already if they’ve struggled with fertility issues before choosing adoption.  However, their feeling like failures should not be translated to an expectant mother who doesn’t choose them to parent her baby and instead decides to raise her baby herself.

I’m not certain that there is a simple word or phrase that could be used to describe this instance.  Adoption placement is borne out of loss.  The adoptive parents have lost the ability to bear their children whether through circumstances in their control or out and birth parents lose the ability to raise their children through choice, at least most often.  I realize there are special cases in which the birth parent has the choice to place made for them or coerced out of them.  I’m not addressing those situations, simply the birth parents that are not coerced into the choice. 

I do think that when the adoptive parents are chosen by an expectant mother that they tend to assume it’s a foregone conclusion.  Even if they know it’s a possibility and the expectant mother’s choice to change her mind, it’s hard to quell those hopes that automatically rise when one is chosen.  Understandably if those hopes have caused the HAPs to assume that the expectant mother is placing with them and it doesn’t happen, it’s a very negative experience when those hopes are dashed.  I also think that HAP’s tendency to refer to the expectant mother as a birth mom prior to relinquishment and placement does nothing to help quell those same hopes or at least keep them sort of manageable.

Do any of you reading this have suggestions for better terminology?  Should the HAPs just say that the expected placement didn’t happen because the expectant mother chose to parent her baby and leave it at that?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Where do I Belong?


If you would have asked me at any point in my closed adoption journey if I had any regrets, I would have said, "No way." This has been the party line to myself and others for a long time. And it's not a lie. Placing Katie with her family was the best parenting decision I could have made for her and myself at that time given that set of circumstances.

Until recently, that was as wide of a circle that I put around 'regret'. That's since changed. I have begun to realize that I actually regret a lot of things surrounding the adoption.

One thing I have struggled with is belonging. I had the same group of friends for years growing up. We went to school together, played in the band together, went to extracurricular classes together, and considered each other friends. When I got pregnant the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school, I was literally there one day and gone the next. My parents forbid me to keep in in contact with any of my friends, and I complied. They didn't want anyone to know where I was or what was going on.

After my pregnancy and adoption, I did return home, but only long enough to pack up our house and move across the country. I started a new high school my junior year and graduated with that class at the end of my senior year. But since I had moved to a small town and a small school, those kids had been together since kindergarten. Though I tried to blend in, I just didn't.

So I no longer belonged to the graduating class in my hometown because I didn't graduate with them. And I didn't belong to the class I graduated with because I hadn't grown up there. So a part of me feels like I don't belong anywhere.

Not a big deal, but one I have wrestled with as my husband's class reunions come and go. And as my friends talk about going to their reunions. I've never been to one of mine because I'm not sure where I would go and belong.



Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Slideshow Submissions

Each year BirthMom Buds creates a slideshow featuring our members and our members' children. The slideshow debuts at the BirthMom Buds Retreat and then is on the website afterwards. The slideshow is made to a different meaningful song each year, is a touching look at our members and their children, and is always a favorite among many of you. 

We are looking for the following types of photos:

  • Pregnancy pics
  • Hospital photos
  • Photos of you and your birth child if you are in an open adoption
  • Photos of your child
  • Photos of older birthmothers in reunion
  • Photos of birthchildren with their biological siblings
  • Photos with birthdads are good too! 
  • Triad photos – adoptive parent(s), birth parent(s), and child
  • Photos of you with other birthmother friends
Basically, just about any photo will work so send me your favorite photos and I will choose what fits the song and story line. I will use at least one of the photos that every person sends and more as they pertain to my story line. High resolution photos are best.

If you send me your pictures you are giving me permission to use them. It’s your responsibility to OK the use of your child’s pictures from their adoptive parents. 

Please email photos to birthmombuds@gmail.com and put “slideshow pics” in the subject line. Also, please put your name, your child’s name, your child’s age, and adoption type, and any other pertinent information regarding the people or what's going on in the photos you are submitting. 

Check out past slideshows to get a feel for what types of pictures we like to use.

Here are links to the past slideshows if you want to check them out:

 Deadline for submissions is April 1, 2012. Email photos to birthmombuds@gmail.com. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

2012 BirthMom Buds Retreat

Below you will find the invitation and information for this year's retreat! 

(Click to view larger)

Additional Information

Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton Inn are adjacent to one another. We will be staying at the Hampton Inn but the Birthmother’s Day Fiesta will be in the Dogwood Room at the Hilton Garden Inn.

There is no cost to attend the Birthmother's Day Celebration on Saturday, May 5th. Dinner on Friday night and lunch on Saturday will be provided by BirthMom Buds. Free continental breakfast is provided for hotel guests on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings. You will be responsible for any other expenses including travel expenses, hotel, meals, and activities.

Discounted hotel rooms are available Thursday, May 3, 2012, Friday, May 4, 2012, and Saturday, May 5, 2012 at the Hampton Inn at a discounted rate of $99 a night (plus tax). Please call either 1-800-HAMPTON or go to http://www.hamptoncharlotteuptown.com/ and use group code “BUD.” Rooms must be booked by April 3, 2012 in order to receive the discounted rate. If you are sharing a room with someone, both names must be on the reservation.

If you need assistance making hotel or travel arrangements please contact our event coordinator, Melanie Mosberg, at melaniemosberg@gmail.com.  

We are also still accepting sponsors and are in need of donations for door prizes and swag bags. Please contact BirthMom Buds at birthmombuds@gmail.com if you are interested in becoming a sponsor or making a donation. 

Music Monday: What Might have Been by Little Texas

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Quote of the Week: Hope, Breathe, Love


"Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more; and all good things are yours." - Swedish proverb

Friday, January 20, 2012

Spotlight Blogger: Meet Susie

Image credit: sunsetmoment.wordpress.com
Today's featured blogger is Susie of "Endure for a Night."  I was personally excited to interview her as I read her blog regularly and enjoy it.  Let's find out a little more about Susie...


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 blog handle is Susie Book; I’m twenty-nine, and I live in California. I’m a married Catholic lady. I placed my firstborn son for adoption, am raising my second, and am now expecting my third—all are full biological siblings, and I suspect that all will be boys.

When and why did you begin blogging?

I started blogging in September 2009, when my placed son Cricket was nine months old—I was incredibly angry about the adoption, and needed a place to talk about what I was going through. I didn’t know anyone connected to adoption in real life except my husband, my son, and his mothers; I was talking my husband’s ear off, but it wasn’t enough, and Cricket’s moms and I don’t have that kind of relationship.

Tell us more about the title of your blog, Endure for a Night."  Why did you choose it?

It’s biblical: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) I knew that things had to get better, that I couldn’t be in deep grief forever—and I chose the blog title to reflect that. When my second son, Joey, was born, I was able to blog that Joey came in the morning early afternoon. I’m no longer in crisis mode, which is good, but I am also coming to accept that the “night” may continue for many years to come.

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

The responses have mostly been positive. I’m in an odd sort of middle-ish position; I absolutely do not advocate for adoption, and think that in my case it was a terrible mistake. I’m in favor of family preservation generally, but at the same time, I think that women have the right to choose adoption, and that it can be the right choice for some people. At any rate, I am entirely in favor of adoption reform.

Most of the people who read my blog are adoptive parents, and I think they appreciate the fact that while I don’t have a good relationship with Cricket’s moms, I respect them and their parenthood.

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?
 
One of my favorites is a pretty angry post, "Smash the Machine, Win a Prize."   I got both negative and positive reactions to this post, but I’m glad that I put it up: I meant what I said and I said what I meant, and it’s important to me that I’m able to claim my blog as my own space. On EfaN, I don’t want to worry about what people will think.

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

Think about what will happen when your parents, or your boyfriend, or your kid’s adoptive parents find it—really, the same advice I’d give to someone considering making pornography. If you’re going to reveal yourself publicly, think about what it will be like to have your father/your son’s father/your son’s adoptive father see the you on your blog. You may want to decide against; you may want to wear a mask (as I do); or you may be perfectly comfortable baring all. But figure out which camp you’re in before you post!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Just Maybe

One of the hardest things about a closed adoption is the not knowing. For the first year of my birthdaughter's life, I received regular pictures and letters updating me on her development and her schedule. The adoptive mom also told me her feelings about becoming a mommy and what that transition was like for her.

But at the end of the first year, I got a final set of birthday pictures and a final letter. And then just silence. That was the deal. But the silence was sometimes deafening. Sometimes overwhelming. I'm not complaining, mind you. There was also some comfort in the silence. Some comfort in knowing the new peace I had found would not soon be upended by another batch of letters or pictures.

Now that I am a mommy, I am seeing first hand all the things I missed. While the letters that first year were great, the stuff that happens after that first year is equally great. And I missed all of it. The last picture I have of my birthdaughter is her sitting on a blanket in a onesie. The next time I saw her she was about to graduate high school. I missed all that in-between stuff.

I'm thankful now to be a mommy and watch my children grow. I'm thankful that each day seems to bring a new skill or a better understanding of a skill or a more thoughtful approach to some aspect of life. Maybe I'm a better mommy now because of those things.

Maybe I'm more appreciative of the little things because I missed so much the first time around.

Maybe my firstborn daughter paved the way for my current children to have an engaged mommy when otherwise I may not have been.

Just maybe.



Sunday, January 15, 2012

Quote of the Week: Celebrate Life


"The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate." - Oprah Winfrey

Friday, January 13, 2012

Giving Is Healing Too


Image credit
Since we’ve just finished the holidays, also known as The Giving Season, I thought I’d mention today how giving can be instrumental in your own healing journey since placement.

Those of you birth moms out there reading this that have participated in the Birth Mom Buds Secret Sister Stocking Exchange will most likely attest to the power of giving a gift.  I participated this year as well, and though the stocking my sister sent me was fabulous beyond measure (Thank you, Leigh!), that’s not why I participated.  I participated to be able to give of myself to someone else.  There’s a reason why there is a dollar limit on what is included in our gifts to each other.  Though most people who have participated regularly don’t stick to the limit, the idea is that even relatively small gifts can be meaningful to the recipient and the effort the giver puts in finding the gift(s) to include will benefit the giver as well.

Some of you might be thinking that your budget wouldn’t allow for you to give gifts anytime you need a healing boost.  Frankly, my budget doesn’t allow for that either.  However, gifts don’t always have to have a monetary value.  The gift of time can be huge.  Help a friend in need with a move.  If you have friends in school, offer tutoring or proofreading services.  Give a friend a manicure or a pedicure just because.  All of these things are free or extremely low cost.

Time can also take the form of listening to a friend in need.  When I go to my local birth mom support group, it’s not about the others listening to me cry about how much being a birth mom hurts sometimes.  For me, it’s a chance that I get to listen and support others who are hurting.  We all know as birth moms that no matter how good our relationships with our kids and their parents, it still hurts at least occasionally.  Even if I’m in particular need that week of an understanding ear I’ve found that focusing on someone else provides much more healing power than talking about how bad I feel.  It takes the focus away from my own negative thoughts and feelings.

I’ll end this post with a challenge.  The next time you’re feeling low, reach out to help someone else, either with a gift of time or an actual gift of something they need or want.  I can almost guarantee that doing so will cause you to feel much better.  Can you think of other ways to be a giver instead of a taker?


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Grace


Maybe I never knew the word, but I have always struggled with the space between forgiveness and justice. Perhaps you have, too. I'm a justice girl. I see things in black and white, which makes life very difficult. Not everything is black or white. Not everything can be black or white. Some things just are.

I'm not sure if it was the pregnancy or the subsequent adoption that set my family off, but we have never been the same. Not that I would know any different. But it just seems like we're so, well, crazy. My mom seems to have nothing but grace and forgiveness for my sister who makes one poor choice after another. But I, on the other hand, always feel judged by her. Even though I've been in the same marriage, the same house, moving in the same direction for many years, I still feel a lack of grace from her.

Maybe that's where I get it from. Maybe that's why I see the world the way I do. Is that stuff taught or is it coded into our DNA? I don't know. So I struggle. How about you?



Photo credit

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Top 10 of '11

I thought it would be a fun way to kick off the new year by highlighting some of the top posts from 2011.

1. My 10 Favorite Adoption Quotes
Coley shares 10 of her favorite quotes related to adoption.

2. It's Not Easy being Green
Monika cleverly discusses the difficulties involved with being a birthmother.

3. Always in my Heart, Always on my Mind
Alicia discusses how her son is always with her in her heart and shares her plans for a symbolic tatoo in his honor.

4. Pregnancy after Placement
Guest blogger Katelynn shares her personal story and struggles of dealing with a pregnancy years after placing her daughter for adoption.

5. Dear Myra
Terri shares a letter she wrote to her old maternity home room mate.

6. They're Only Words, Right? 
Monika discusses terms related to adoption and both their intended and un-intended meanings.

7. Something Within You
Lani shares an inspiring post that she read at the BirthMom Buds 2011 Retreat.

8. How many Children do you Have? 
Coley disccusses this seemingly simple question but it's complicated answer for many birthmothers.

9. Not Alone
Guest Blogger Kristin R. shares the powerful feelings she experienced when she realized that she was not alone in her journey as a birthmother.

10. 2011 Slideshow
This post revealing the 2011 slideshow received a lot of hits. (Call for the 2012 slideshow will be coming out at the end of the month so stay tuned for details.)

What was YOUR favorite post of 2011?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Quote of the Week: Joy


"The Joy that you give to others is the Joy that comes back to you." - John Greenleaf Whittier

Friday, January 6, 2012

Spotlight Blogger: Meet Katelyn

Today's featured blogger is Katelyn of My Angels From God.  Let's find out a little more about Katelyn....


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 Katelyn Krum Shaw. I'm 23 years old and I live in Layton, Utah.  I found out I was pregnant the fall after I graduated high school.  The birth father was Air Force and deployed for Iraq the morning after I got pregnant.  After he told me that I should get an abortion I knew he wasn't going to be the support I needed to raise a child.  My cousin was the adoption supervisor at a local LDS Family Services and my mom called him to make an appointment with a case worker.  I actually went into the meeting pretty determined to parent.  I met with my case worker a few times before it really hit me that I needed to start thinking more seriously about adoption.  The birth father wasn't supportive of the adoption but after certain things he said to me I really didn't give a flying rat’s behind whether he was supportive or not.  My birth daughter was born on May 10, 2007 and was placed into her mother’s arms on May 14, 2007.  Two short years later I met the love of my life and we became a family of 3.  Around the same time I was pregnant, he and his girlfriend were also pregnant.  I adopted Cayden in August 2010 and we were sealed as an eternal family in September of 2010.  I have an open adoption with my birth daughter and a semi-closed adoption with my son's birth mother.

When and why did you begin blogging?

I started blogging about adoption and how it has touched my life in August of 2010.  I've been asked many times how it is to be a birth mother and adoptive mother.  I thought I should share with the internet world what it's like for me; all the trials, joys, struggles, and blessings that come along with it. 

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

My blog title is My Angels From God.... This wasn't the original title for the blog.  It was originally My Gifts from God.  I always said that Ally was my gift from God to get me where I needed to be so that I could be Cayden's mommy.  HOWEVER, Ally's birth father's family said some mean things so I changed it to My Angels from God.  Ally and Cayden truly are angels in my life.
  
Has the response to your posts been mostly positive, mostly negative, or a mix of both?

Oh the responses to my posts..... They are all over the place.  I've been told that I'm a horrible person for giving away my own child and then going and "stealing" a child from someone else.  I've been praised for being as open with my son's birth mother given the situation that he came from with her.  I've been ridiculed for thinking of Ally and Cayden as gifts from God.  I've been mocked for thinking that I have any experience being a real adoptive mother since Cayden is technically my step son.  My praises have been sung by countless people for opening up and sharing about the hard, tough, and not fun things that happen in adoption.  So overall, I get mixed reviews.

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?

 The most popular post on my blog is by far my placement post.  I was able to have a professional photographer come and take pictures so there are some really gut wrenching pictures that really stir the heart.  My favorite post would have to be this one, I'll Love You Forever....    It's about a dream that I had.  It prepared me for my future in adoption.

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

The advice I have for someone considering starting their own blog is this: be open, be honest and be ready.  Be open about your feelings regarding certain topics, sayings, points of view.  Be honest with yourself about why you're blogging.  Be ready to hear negative, positive, and indifferent opinions.  If I allowed myself to be offended by every negative thing someone posted on my blog I would be in sad sorry ways.  I know my story.  I know how it's touched my life and by me sharing it I hope that it will touch other people's lives.  I hope that I will be able to open the eyes of many to the wonderful world of adoption.

For more information on Katelyn, see her blog and/or watch this video!