Friday, June 29, 2012

Spotlight Blogger: Meet Nancy

Today we're featuring a fairly new to the blogging world blogger, Nancy.  She's the author of  "Letting go to take hold."  She's in reunion with the daughter she relinquished, and since I don't know that many birth moms with those stories, I was particularly excited to interview her.  Let's find out about Nancy....


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 Nancy and I am 46. I live in Illinois and have all my life. When I chose adoption I was a single mom to my son and living in a car. Looking back, it was the only decision that made sense. I did not want to be a mom living on public aide. I wanted more for my children and myself. I was given the choice by my mother either place the child I was carrying and move back home or continue living in the car I was living in. I don’t place the blame for the decision on my mom. I realized that by moving home with my son, this was placing a burden on my parents as well. My father was a full-fledged Parkinson's patient and I knew it would be difficult for him to have one baby underfoot. I knew he could not handle two.

When and why did you begin blogging?

I know this might sound strange, but I began writing when I reunited with my girl. Blogging actually began when I needed something positive to focus on. I am currently in the middle of a divorce and the one positive thing in my life is the adoption/reuniting with my girl and her family. Writing about the experience has helped me to focus on a beautiful part of my life. I also believe that if I share the experience, I may be able to educate others in the experience of adoption.

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

When I first reunited I wrote the first entry “Letting Go To Take Hold”. Why I remembered this I have no clue. I never realized that this had stuck in my mind from my childhood. But, as I sat and wrote the first story the lesson from confirmation days came back in my mind and I couldn’t let it go. I had to include it.

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

The responses have been positive. But, to be honest it has only been out there a short time. I have had negative face to face responses from those who don’t really understand adoption. I have found that by taking the time to explain my choice and the choices I could have made, usually helps others understand that the decision was made out of love. 

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 want to say all of them, but I think the one that was the most meaningful for me was THE DAY EVERYTHING CAME FULL CIRCLE. I remember writing this and actually reliving the day. I believe that this one shows the beauty of our adoption experience and how with faith and love, everything really does come full circle.

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

I have not been doing this long, but I would say to sit in a quiet place and write from the heart. Allow yourself the freedom to say what you would want to say about your child, yourself and your choices. If you have a relationship with your child, respect their wishes and the relationship with their family. I never include their names out of respect for them.  My girl has read the entries and is fine with what is written.



Thursday, June 28, 2012

Unplanned Pregnancy & Homeschooling

If I have learned anything from my closed adoption experience, it's that one decision can have far-reaching effects. Oddly enough, our decision to homeschool, on my part anyway, is kind of tied to my unexpected pregnancy in high school.

Recently I wrote an ezine article entitled Homeschooling Starts Early. It's the story of how my experiences then kind of drove me to take a hard look at homeschooling. I'm not trying to influence your educational decisions in any way here. It just intrigues me how a principal's comment and an unplanned pregnancy over 25 years ago are still influencing the direction of my life and now the lives of my children.

Of course we can't ever know where 'the road not taken' would have lead us. It's impossible to know what may or may not have happened if my mom would have taken me out of public school. But it's also not really worth my time thinking about it. It's not going to change anything.

Do you ever find yourself looking at your life and seeing how decisions made long ago are still having influence over you today?



Photo credit

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Acknowledging our Birth Children

Upon having a discussion with some other birth moms I've met online over the past year or so, I started to wonder about all of the different ways we can honor our birth children (or just plain ol' "children," as I prefer to call them). Of course each adoption story is different, as is every birth parent - child relationship. While we are all proud of our children, whether we are raising them or not parenting them, some are much more open than others. Birth parents, how open are you about your story? Your child's story? Personally, I am very open but only once I am comfortable with a person or people. I don't walk down the sidewalk holding a sign, but I also don't hide it from anyone, either. My closest friends know almost every detail - of course some information is kept sacred as it is between myself and her adoptive mom or it is more my daughter's "story" than mine, but I proudly will tell my story to anyone who asks. Some acquaintances at work know that I had a child (her photo is in a frame on my desk) and will comment on how cute she is, but we don't start a discussion, so I leave it at a simple 'thank you,' rather than diving head-first into a conversation that could prove awkward for both of us. Others have asked questions about her that I am able to answer, but don't feel right doing so. Sure, I can tell you her first word, her favorite food, what her favorite toy is and when she got her first tooth, but I feel as if I am lying if I answer these questions as if I have witnessed them first-hand.

The point I am trying to make here is: whether or not we honor or acknowledge our children publicly or privately, we can still be proud of them just the same. My post tonight may seem all over the place - which it very well may be! These gears started spinning in my head last week when someone asked me what my tattoo on my foot said. If a passerby happens to ask me while I'm, say, out shopping or something, I will just tell them it's my daughter's birthday (which is true). They usually say "oh," and leave it at that. (It is a tattoo of my daughter's birthday - however it also has the words "always in my heart" scrolled above it). Last week, a coworker was looking (and looking, and looking, and looking) at it, until she finally asked me what it said. She asked in a tone that also implied that she wanted to not only know what it said, but what it meant. I replied that it was my daughter's birth date, and told her what it said. She looked at me with a very shocked look in her eyes and asked me what happened, and if she was okay. I told her yes with a smile on my face and told her that her birth father and I chose to place her for adoption. I then waited for the shocked expression to continue, but instead, she softened up completely and started asking me all sorts of questions - not out of nosiness, but out of genuine interest. She told me she had a cousin who was adopted at birth and she always wondered what it would be like to get a birth mom's perspective on adoption. We ended up having a great conversation, and I felt as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders - finally I was being myself around co-workers.

So, I may have veered off topic a little, but my point was this: whether we have tattoos publicly displaying our children or we haven't told anyone in our families that we got pregnant, carried a child, and then placed that child for adoption, we all still love our children with all our hearts. (Well, I think I can speak for the majority of birth moms, and hopefully ALL). I have heard and read many birth moms, who also parent children, wonder how many children they should say they have if asked. Do they say one, as they are parenting one? Or do they say two, as they have placed one and parented another? I believe you should do whatever you feel is right in your heart, and whatever the time and circumstance allows.

Birth moms and birth dads: how do you handle situations like this? How do you answer when you are asked if you have children?, how many?, how old?, etc.? 



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bittersweet

I actually got the inspiration to write this post from another post written by another blogger here. I was reading about how a lot of you birthmoms out there have had the opportunity to be updated on the child's progress and to receive pictures of the child.  I was amazed at how open a lot of the adoptions are.

Mine unfortunately was a closed adoption and there was no updates, pictures, or anything.  I tried but was told it wasn't allowed.  I had to accept it and try to go on.  From the day that happened to me, I prayed  and prayed for the opportunity to be able to see my birth son from an infant to adulthood.  I had that opportunity present itself to me, actually by surprise, and it was too late to back out.  My birth son and his girlfriend brought our grand daughter to our house for a visit and she handed me a large photo album.  My heart dropped and I felt as if I couldn't breath.  I had to open the book as they (birth son and his girlfriend) were both watching me.  So I tried to stay calm and not show any emotion, but I think they read what was going on in my head.  I slowly opened the book and it was like someone had knocked the wind out of me. The very first page was the infant photo of him.  It felt like I was starring at the same picture forever, then I realized they were watching me so I turned the page.  First him in the high chair celebrating his first Easter, outside riding on a sled with his adoptive dad, and many more. 

I was not expecting the emotional side effects of that one.  I truly wanted a picture of him every year of his life.  When I finally had that in my hands, WOW, it blew me away.  I guess sometimes you should be careful what you wish for.  I didn't sleep all that night or the next night and it really bothered me.  It just made me feel how much I missed and how much they (his adoptive parents) gained from this.  It hurt so bad.  I know they say all things happen for a reason, but I am still trying to find the positive in this.

I listed this under bittersweet because that was how it was for me.  I felt really blessed to see those photos but on the other hand it hurt me so bad to see them.  So I guess for anyone out there thinking about the same thing, just prepare yourself for what you are doing.  What I thought was something great turned into a emotional ride in my head.  It was like they took him all over again, almost as if it just happened.  Now that some time has passed since I saw them, I wish I could see them again.  I would still love to have a copy of each one of those.  See how confusing this can be, part of me still wants those pictures even knowing what it would do to me.

I am completely confident that if I was to ask my birth son for copies he would give them to me.  I really do want to ask this but something tells me to let it go.

What do you think, would you just let it go or would you ask?





Sunday, June 24, 2012

Quote of the Week: Power of Loving

" There is no limit to the power of loving."
 - John Morton

Friday, June 22, 2012

Superman and Adoption


Image credit
No, I’m not speaking of Smallville.  I’m going to be talking today about the old Superman movies with Christopher Reeve as the star.  I know you’re probably wondering how this relates to adoption, but I will show you.

When Superman’s story begins, he’s an infant.  We find him on his home planet, Krypton.  His parents Jor-El and Lara put him in a pod to save him from Krypton’s impending explosion.  Then we see them no more.  The planet explodes in the reflection and view from the escaping pod.  The next we see of Superman is his pod crash landing in the Kent’s farm fields, where what will become Superman’s adoptive father finds him and takes him in.

Let’s explore some of the negative adoption stereotypes that were perpetrated by a storyline like that.  Superman’s parents didn’t abandon him.  They actually knew his life was in danger and did the best thing they could to save him, which was to send his pod out into space and hope he landed on a friendly planet.  This is much how birth parents today are still viewed.  People take negative stereotypes about parents who lose their kids to foster care and place them upon parents who make that relinquishment decision at birth.  They also assume that we’re abandoning our children, even if we’re actually doing the best thing we can think of doing for our children.  This may not be literally saving them from a threatening living situation, or an expectant mother may feel her child is in literal danger if she parents that child.  However, when Mr. Kent finds the baby, the assumption is that the baby has been abandoned by his parents.

The second stereotype perpetuated by the storyline is that adoption is a charitable decision by the adoptive parents.  When Mr. Kent finds the baby in the field, the emphasis placed on the “poor, abandoned baby” makes it seem like the Kents are heroes for taking in the child no one knows a thing about and raising him as their own.  This stereotype was widely known and acknowledged in the baby scoop era where all adoptive parents were painted as heroes for adopting a stranger’s baby.  Once the feeling of being heroes had passed, the fact of adoption was then promptly covered over by adoptive parents trying to raise these kids as their biological children.  Some adoptions still happen that way today.  But adoption should happen with respect to the child’s biological roots too.  I’m certain you would agree.

Superman grows up feeling different and when he starts blooming in his powers, he figures out why he feels that way.  Even though the Kents raised Superman in the way they felt he should be raised, because they knew nothing about his biology they couldn’t encourage that side of him.  That’s one of the many benefits of open adoption.  Not only does the adoptive family have access to medical history, but they have ongoing access to at least the birth mom’s personality.  If the Kents had access to Superman’s biological parents, they would’ve known he had many special powers and he wouldn’t have had to search for who he was like he did.

However, despite all the negatives, there’s one overwhelming truth.  Superman’s birth parents made the best decision they could with the information they had at the time.  They gave him the best life they could picture for him and after all, isn’t that what birth parents do for their kids?


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Permission to Give Advice

Recently I was in a seminar that focused on relating to our adult children. While I was in a closed adoption for 17 years, my birthdaughter has been in and out of my life since then. I went to the seminar hoping to gain some wisdom on how to do things right now that she’s an adult.


One bit of knowledge I got was to ask permission before giving advice. This is important in all adult relationships, by the way, and not just the one with Katie. But in my life, it seems I would be more inclined to give unsolicited advice to her instead of my other adult friends. Why? Probably because I still see her as a child. I’m working on that, but I’m slow.
Shortly after we reconnected a few years ago, she had an adult situation going on in her life. I’m not really sure if she asked my advice or not, but I sure gave it to her. As a result, I didn’t hear from her for 18 months, an eternity when someone has just come back into your life after a long absence.


The teacher at the seminar encouraged us to see ourselves not as parents, but as mentors, guides and wise friends. That perspective is helping me. I’m obviously not her parent, but I haven’t been sure what I am and where I fit into her life until now. Those handles give me a place to start.




Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Things a Birthmom Wishes an Adoptive Mom Knew

This is actually a cross post from my personal blog. I truly believe in all things that I write and wanted to share this list! 
Disclaimer: This is not targeted towards my daughter's adoptive parents whatsoever, nor is it meant to offend anyone or put anyone off. It's just a little list of things that I
truly wish all adoptive parents knew. Some of it is said out of experience, some is said out of wishful experience - experiences I hope to have in the future, and some are just thoughts that swim around in this crazy head of mine.

(1) Nothing means more than calling the child we share an immense love for 'our child.' Recognizing that the child does in fact have two sets of parents who love him or her means the world to us birth parents.

(2) That old, crinkled up sheet of paper with errant crayon scribbles all over it that you are about to throw away because you've already kept approximately 8,000 of them? Don't. Send it to your child's birth mom or dad, no extensive letter necessary. What may be every-day and semi-"meaningless" to you may mean the world to a birth parent.

(3) You can never send enough photos. If you don't want to send one for fear of being too "pushy," I can assure you almost certainly that you are not. If we aren't ready to look yet, we'll save it for later. But just knowing you thought of us means everything.

(4) Including us as part of your family is the biggest honor you could give us. Even if visits are not part of the adoption plan, including us on group emails (with photos) to far-away family members doesn't go without notice. (My daughter's adoptive mom sent a photo of of our little girl waving two flags in her hands last year on the 4th of July. I love emails she sends only to me, but to see all of my daughter's many aunts and uncles from both sides of the family included on the email, along with myself and my mother, made my heart practically burst!)

(5) Likewise, being part of your "Christmas card list" is also amazing. If you're one of those families who takes professional Christmas photos and sends them out on little postcards, consider sending one to your child's birth family. (I still have mine from the two Christmases that have passed since she was born).

(6) No matter how much we love you (which, trust me, is a lot!), it is still extremely hard to trust someone else with your child. Think of how nervous you were the first time you let someone babysit your children...this is how we felt at placement, only it was magnified seven-fold. This is not to say we don't trust you - we more than trust you, and are secure in that trust - but keep this fear in mind when we send quick texts or emails just to see how everyone's doing. We don't mean to bug you.

(7) Sending us quick emails just to say hello, check in, or wish us luck on upcoming finals or whatever it may be, mean the world to us. Feeling like we not only share a common interest in the child, but also share a friendship, is wonderful.

(8) Not sure if we want that low-quality, grainy video you took on your cell phone? We do! You may have better ones that you took with a digital camera, but we cherish anything - and I mean anything you send us.

(9) Always keep your promises. This goes for birth parents and adoptive parents alike. Promises in open adoption are worth gold...there is no relationship more delicate or fragile on earth, so promises are sacred.

(10) We may not admit it, and a lot of us may share our pain quicker than we share our joy, but we love you for providing our children with what we couldn't at the time. Whether it's a two-parent household, a solid financial ground, or just a house period, it's something we couldn't provide or provide properly. I've heard it said that people think adoptive parents should "owe" their child's birth parents the world for "giving them a child." Well, birth parents feel indebted (in a good way) to adoptive parents for loving their child above themselves. We didn't give our child to you, we gave you to our child.

(11) Don't hold back on what you tell us. Don't be afraid to tell us that you missed 'our' baby while you were away on a business trip because you're scared we'll think "how do you think I feel?." The feeling we get when you are expressing your love for our child will eventually win over any jealous feelings we have about the time you get to spend with them that we don't.

(12) Allow us to send gifts. While some of us can't bear to walk down the baby aisle or the kid's toy aisle at Target, others find immense comfort in buying things for the child. The occasional "spoiling" we get to do feels amazing.

(13) Sending photos of your child wearing outfits we sent to her/him or playing with toys we sent are priceless.

(14) Always feel free to send us the "outtakes," too. While pictures in nice lighting, in cute outfits and with huge smiles are great, we want to see pictures of our kids just being kids, too. Not sure if you should send the picture where his or her back is to the camera and they are playing with toys? Please, send it! That one where they are crying or in mid-scream...send that one, too. We want as much insight into their daily lives as you are willing to give.

(15) If you don't already, please understand that as long as the safety of the child isn't at risk (mentally or physically), it can never be a bad thing for more people to love a child. When everyone has that child's best interest at heart, the more love, the better. Please don't close us out, we are not a threat. We don't want to take over your title or role and 99% of us would never have that intent nor would we dream of trying. We just want the opportunity to let our child know that he or she always was and always will be loved by us.

Birthmoms, do you have anything to add to this list?



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Reunion

Having a reunion with your birthchild can be a very emotional time. I reunited with my son 2 years ago and I was so afraid that I was going to say or do something to offend him. I got online immediately and started searching for adoption reunion help. I came across a forum for birthmoms and looked into what I should do. The site was very helpful and I followed the advice that I was given on reunions. I did not agree with a lot of the things they suggested I do, but I did it anyways. 
The main thing was not to say anything about what had happened unless the child brings it up.  I don't really agree with that because I think they have a right to know what happened.  I think you have to go with your gut and do what feels right to you.  I didn't start the conversation about what had happened, my birth son did.  I answered him honestly and made sure he knew everything that I could remember.  Being honest is the best thing in this kind of situation.

In my own personal story, I have no memory of anything.  I blocked out everything and to this day still cannot remember.  I have only three memories of what took place and none of which make any sense to me.  My husband and I talk about this stuff and he tried to fill in the blanks for me but it still doesn't help. It is hard when your birth son/daughter is asking you things and you just can't remember what happened.  So I told him the truth, I told him I have no memory of what happened and really couldn't answer the questions he was asking.

My husband did tell him what he knew which was a huge help.  Anything else all of us would do our part to find the answers.  My birth son and I never really connected when we first met, it was very awkward.  He was fine with my husband (his birth dad) but with me, he just had a hard time looking at and talking to me.  I don't think we talked for a long time.  He always looked at me as if he hated me.  I started writing all this down and keeping track of my feelings.  Now looking back at my diary, two years passed and a lot has changed.

Reunions can be a hard time and very emotional for all involved.  You just need to take it slow, be honest, and be patient.  It has been two years now and just in the last month, my birth son and I have started to actually talk to each other.  We actually sit and have a conversation.  It still feels a little weird to me, but I love being able to talk to him.  When he looks at me now, he looks genuinely happy to be around me.  When he hugs me, he really holds on to me like it means something to him.  That is like huge for me.  This year he also called and told me Happy Mothers Day--that was so amazing and of course I cried.  He finally is seeing me as his "real mom".  I just hope one day he can call me "mom" but I am okay with it if he doesn't.

Being patient is my best advice to anyone going into a reunion.  Go online and research on the reunion and prepare yourself for it.  Remember that not only are you as the birth parent going through this, but also the birth child.  He/she will be just a nervous as you are.  Take it slow and be patient with him/her and things will fall into place.







Sunday, June 17, 2012

Quote of the Week: Laughter

"The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter." 
- Mark Twain 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Spotlight Blogger: Meet Rachel


Rachel with Reed at their last visit

Today's featured blogger is Rachel of "The Great Wide Open."  I love to read her story as she lives a nomadic lifestyle and I've always wondered how that would feel and work out.  Let's all read about Rachel...

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 Rachel. I’m currently 35 years old, and I’m an American living in Singapore (no, that’s NOT in China!) and working as a teacher. My son Reed was born in December 2009, but to understand why I decided on adoption, I’ll have to begin much earlier.

I grew up in Small Town Texas, and went to University in a suburb of Dallas. I lived there happily through my college years and beyond for 10 years, surrounded by loving family (I’m the middle child of 5) and close friends. I had been working for a few years during the summer at a summer camp in North Carolina to escape the Texas heat, but one summer, the summer of 2005, I guess you could say things were stirring in me, and every time I thought about going back to Texas to look for a job and jump back into the way things were, I would start to feel a little sick to my stomach. I hated the idea of leaving everyone I loved so much, but I decided to explore my options and see what else would come up.

What I ended up with was going to Zion National Park in Utah. I was waiting tables in the lodge in the national park, and even though at the time I felt that it was a step backwards career wise (after all, I did have a college degree, people with education aren’t suppose to be waiting tables… right?), I knew as soon as I woke up my first morning there that I had made the right decision. I stayed there 4 months, living and working in the bottom of Zion Canyon, surrounded by gorgeous red brick walls, incredible vistas, and even more incredible people who had chosen, for whatever reason, to escape the “real world” for a time and live in a place most people only have on their screensavers.

After my short time there, I went back to Texas, held a huge yard sale, sold everything I had in storage and in the house I was still paying rent for, and was left with two duffle bags of my favorite clothes and necessities. I took those bags and left one week later, excited to start my new adventure on a cruise ship in Hawaii. I haven’t stopped since then. Since I first left Texas in the summer of 2005, I have lived in the canyon in Utah, a cruise ship in Hawaii, Denali National Park in Alaska, a ski resort in Colorado, the beach in San Diego, the rain forest in Washington, and have traveled in between jobs. It was always in the restaurant business, and I quickly moved from waiting tables into management, being the general manager of seasonal resort restaurants in Alaska and in Colorado. I never lived in one place more than 5 months, had nothing to my name other than what would fit into my 2 suitcases, and I loved it. The nomadic lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but it fit me like an old pair of jeans the moment I tried it on.

In the winter of ’08-09, I was working at the ski resort in Colorado. I was skiing to work every day, working with wonderful people, loving my job and loving my life. Bill was the chef at the restaurant, and since we started from scratch together to get the restaurant open and running, we were around each other literally every day and quickly became close and got into a relationship. At the end of the season, we knew our lives were going in different directions, so we parted as friends with him going to work as a private chef on a ranch in Colorado and me going to Thailand for a month of travel before I started my next job in Alaska for the summer.

I was in Thailand when I found out I was pregnant. It started in Bangkok, the day after I arrived, and I got sick. After not feeling good for almost two weeks (but still trying to make the most of my vacation), I woke up one morning and thought, “Oh my God, I’m pregnant!”

No, surely I couldn’t be! Bill and I were very cautious about that, there’s no way! But I knew it was true. What would I do with a baby? What would Bill do with a baby? How could we provide for it? Everything in my life would have to change. I mean Everything. My job, my career, my lifestyle, my plans, my home. I had nothing, no stable job, no insurance, no home, no stability, and though Bill was still a good friend and I knew I could count on him, we weren’t in a relationship and I didn’t want to be, so I also had no partner. And what’s more, I didn’t want any of those things. I was nomadic and minimalistic and I loved it. Plus, having a family hadn’t been in my radar at all, at the age of 32 I didn’t feel my biological clock ticking away like most women do.

Yet, I loved this baby from the very moment I knew of him. One night I was sitting on a beautiful beach, toes dug into the sand, all alone looking out into the ocean, and I chatted with my little one. I had thought about all of my options. I didn’t want to terminate his life, he was already special to me. That wasn’t even an option. I thought about keeping him, but it didn’t seem right or fair, to me or him. I felt we were so connected, and that what would be the best thing for one of us was what was going to be the best thing for both of us. I had an overwhelming feeling that he was suppose to be here, he was meant to exist and I was a vessel for that to happen. I had thought about adoption, but I couldn’t bear the thought of letting him out of my life. But something told me that he already belonged to someone else, that someone else had loved him and longed for him and has been preparing for him long before Bill and I had ever even met. That night on the beach as I was having a heart to heart with him, I knew what I was going to do. I told him with all the conviction in the world, “You have NEVER been unloved, undesired or unwanted.” And I told him that there was no way I was going to let him out of my life, and I told him that he was so special to me.

It wasn’t until a week later that I could get my hands on a pregnancy test, which of course proved true. I went down from my hotel room and polished off an entire pizza by myself, and then went to an internet cafĂ© to email Bill. “I hope you’re sitting down for this…”

A week later, I flew from Thailand straight to Alaska, where I jumped into working 80 hours a week to get the large restaurant at the resort up and running. There in Alaska, I really started my quest for adoptive parents. I had contacted a handful of prospective parents, but when I found Doug and Maura’s profile, it was like someone turned on the lights and calmed the waters. I knew from the moment I first saw their profile that I was carrying their child. They made plans to come meet me in Alaska, and when they did they were able to take me to the nearest hospital in Fairbanks (2 hours away) for my first ultrasound, where we found out I was carrying a boy.

From his job in Colorado, Bill was as supportive as he possibly could have been. He sent me packages of home-baked cookies, books and special pregnancy teas. When our summer jobs were up, we both moved to North Carolina to be with Doug and Maura for the last trimester. My best friend Shelley also moved there to give me support, and Bill, Shelley and I rented a 3 bedroom house not far from the birthing center in Chapel Hill.

The five of us all went to birthing classes together, which made up almost half of the participants in the 7 week course, so when the time came, we were ready. It was a group effort: Maura and Shelley were rubbing my shoulders, Bill was rubbing my back and never left my side, Doug was making sure I was drinking water, my sister Kathryn who had come up from Texas for the birth was snapping pictures, and I was in a bathtub of warm water pushing. Suddenly I heard Maura gasp, “There he is!” and before I knew it I was lying in the tub with my son Reed in my arms. After a while, Bill cut the umbilical cord and held him, then Doug, and then Maura took him and breast fed him. He was born at 9 in the morning, and we stayed at the cozy birth center all day resting, enjoying each others company, and ooohing and ahhhing at the one who had brought us all together.

When and why did you begin blogging?
I started blogging when I got to North Carolina during my third trimester. When I had decided on and open adoption, I had never heard of it before. I thought I was crazy for thinking someone could ‘adopt’ me into their family along with my baby, but I knew that’s how it had to be. When I found out that I wasn’t crazy for wanting that, and that there were actually several cases of successful open adoptions, I tried to read all I could about it. Maybe I didn’t know where to look though, because I couldn’t seem to find any resources from actual birth moms. I found lots of articles and interviews from adoptive parents and adoptees, but I was hard pressed to find any accounts from a birth mother who had been through it. So, I decided to put my own account out there. I did it because it’s good for me to get my thoughts and feelings out, like therapy. And I also did it because I strongly believe that open adoption is something that should be more accepted. So often adoption is looked at as a shameful thing; the birth mother is expected to feel shamed and humiliated, the adoptive parents are hailed as saints, and the child is to be pitied. I hate that. Why can’t a woman be proud of the decisions she’s made, why shouldn’t a child feel proud of where he/she has come from? The world is full of double standards, and the realm of adoption has a plethora of them in stock. I wanted to be a small crack in the mental walls that people have formed through generations of closed adoptions, with the hopes that women (and men) will be able to see it as a viable and healthy choice.

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

I chose “The Great Wide Open” for the title of my blog for a number of reasons. Ok, to be honest, my love for Tom Petty may have played a little part in it. But mostly, it accurately reflects both my life and my open relationship with Reed and his family. I try to keep my thoughts and plans open. I love the thrill of not knowing where I’m going to be 6 months from now, or even a week from now. I love looking into the future with all the possibilities laid out before me, not even having to know what they are. The unknown is a treasure to me, the journey- not the destination- is life giving. I see all of those things working out in my relationship with Reed and his family. From the beginning, we all wanted to be open and honest with each other. I told Doug and Maura that they had to adopt me into their family as well, and they have joyfully stepped up to the task. It takes a lot of trust to do something like that, and it’s scary letting someone into your life like that. There are risks on both of our sides. But we have been able to see our relationship as being wide open. Of course there are healthy boundaries, but there are no boundaries on how much we love Reed and each other. I feel I have truly been adopted into their family and accepted as one of their own, and even their extended family has done the same for me. Our openness with each other is what has made this adoption work so far and we are convinced that it will continue to work.

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

Positive, by far. It’s funny, I can remember being in Thailand when I first found out I was pregnant, and even though I had this surreal sense of calm, I still had moments of, “What am I doing? This is crazy! What will people think? What will I say to them? I must be nuts!” Even though I knew I was making the right and only choice for me and I had this intense inner peace about it, I still dreaded the reaction from others. After I had been in Alaska for a couple of weeks and felt things with my job there were getting to a point of settling down a little, I wrote a note on facebook announcing the news and my decision to place for adoption. The response was amazing, I was blown away by the amount of support I received. Now when I post on my blog, I always get encouraged by friends or even people I have never met who have happened to stumble across it. There are only a few rare instances where I have not felt supported in my decision.

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 the entries that meant a lot to me was “Revisiting Thailand” posted on October 6th. It was after I had visited Thailand again in the same spots I was when I had found out I was pregnant, and it became very emotional for me. I asked myself some questions I’ve had for a while, about loving someone that you don’t want to keep. I don’t know that it even makes a lot of sense, but emotions often don’t.

The other posts I really like are my Christmas posts from 2010. I posted every day during the week I was there, and I feel it really gives a picture of what my visit was like and how we are all forming a relationship together. The links are here: day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4, and days 5 & 6.  I wish I had done the same thing this past Christmas during my visit, but time got away with me.

Do you have any advice for someone thinking of starting their own blog?
My advice: DO be open and honest, DO write often, and DO find a layout that properly holds all your videos and pictures (mine doesn’t… I really need to change it!). DON’T try to make things sound rosy just because other people will read it, DON’T water down your emotions, and DON’T be too self critical about what you write. When you’re putting yourself out there like that, especially about something as emotionally intense as adoption, it’s important to just get the feelings down, regardless of if they make sense or not. I am preaching to myself here; there is not a single day that I don’t think about Reed, but when I don’t write for a while about him, my thoughts about what to write about become so many that I don’t even know where to begin. My schedule this year has been extremely busy, but now it’s starting to settle down a little so hopefully I’ll use that time to catch up a little on my blogging.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Family Ties


For those of us in a closed adoption, birthparenting is a weird thing. Every time I talk to Katie, I’m aware of the fact that I don’t know her well. I missed 17 years. I don’t know her likes and dislikes. We don’t have many shared experiences together. I don’t know what she’s like when she’s sad, mad, or glad. I don’t know what she was like as a teen. And I don’t know if her faith is deep, wide, or nonexistent.

Yet somewhere down deep inside, I have this feeling like I should know. Like somehow because I carried her in my womb we are intimately connected and I am supposed to know these things about her. To me it feels like a pressing weight, like a pressure I feel to connect with her in a way that we aren’t connected. Our connection ends with our DNA. Our lives have been totally separate. And apart from our few visits and conversations, we really don’t know each other that well.

It’s very hard to put into words. Never did I feel this way before having my own children. Truthfully I didn’t know this was how a mother feels. With my own children, I know everything about them. With one look I can assess their mood, their hunger level and even the next words out of their mouth. It’s a mommy thing.
And I don’t have it with Katie because that thing only comes from knowing a child day in and day out over years and through every kind of circumstance.

Of course I’m the only one that feels this way. She knows I don’t know her. She understands that. And I do too on some level. But the feeling remains.

So while she’s communicating with me, I ignore that should feeling and get to know her. I ask her questions and answer hers. I try and have real conversations with her about real things. Now that she’s a mommy, that’s easy to do. We talk about mommyhood and developmental stages. Her last message to me asked about homeschooling and what it was like, how it was going.

We’re forming a friendship, a relationship based on conversations about real things. Not should things.

Am I alone out here? I would love to hear how you handle your situation.






Photo credit

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Initiating Contact

As you may remember, I have a very open adoption with my daughter’s family – minus the visits. Some people get confused when I say that we have an open adoption but do not have face-to-face visits yet. I suppose that if I weren’t so involved in this world now, I, too, would be confused. Before I got pregnant with my daughter, I assumed “open” meant you spend physical time with the family and your child, and “closed” meant that you didn’t. Now, I realize that there are no solid definitions or rules...at least in my case, we are sort of making them as we go.

My daughter’s adoptive parents have an older adoptive child (he is three now), so while they know the ropes a bit more than I do (as far as communication), each situation is different and that does not exclude sibling adoptions. Just because my child and their son’s birthmom have the same adoptive family for their child, that doesn’t mean the relationship is the same. Their son’s birth family is not too involved with him, from what I have been told. It is because of this that A’s mom seems to appreciate our relationship even more and most likely why she always says that A is so lucky to have such a ‘great, loving birthmom.’ (Which, by the way, makes me smile from ear-to-ear when she says it). Not that I want to use someone else’s sad situation to make mine look better, that’s not it at all. My point is simply that each relationship has it’s own dynamic...so while your open adoption may include visits, another person’s may include visits and no personal info (phone numbers or addresses) and anothers may include all of that information and no visits.

In the same light, communication has completely different boundaries in open adoption. Generally, I leave it to her adoptive mom to initiate our conversations, be it by text or by email. There have been a few times where I have requested something out of the ordinary, and I was terrified to ask. I was scared to be rejected, scared that I would come on too strong and not only would she say no, but she would back off in future contact. Each time I have taken the plunge, though, she has never had a problem with it. In fact, when I asked if it would be okay to make a phone call to A on her first birthday, her mom responded by saying it was absolutely fine, and asked if I would rather Skype with them instead. Hmm, let me think about it....YES!! I was over the moon (and still remember every minute of that 50 minute call, believe it or not)! I expected to have a quick video chat for maybe 10 or 15 minutes, but it lasted nearly an hour. It was amazing. I don’t mean to get off track, though. These thoughts are all swirling around my head today because I sent an email to her mom last night because it was really bugging me that I didn’t know what her first word was. I knew she was talking, but was never told what her first word was. Curiosity got the best of me, and I emailed her. I am awaiting a response...I hope she doesn’t mind sharing. While it would have been nice if she had volunteered the information, I know her well enough to be fairly certain that now that I have prompted it, she will let me know.

This got me to thinking: birthmoms, do you usually leave the ‘first contact’ up to the adoptive parents? Or do you initiate the conversation just as much as they do, or more? I remember my adoption counselor stressing that I had to write back when they wrote to me, or they would stop writing to me. I always write back, if not the same day, within a couple of days. So why do I feel  intrusive if I send the first email?