It's very rare that I get an opportunity to help my son in some meaningful way. Recently an opportunity to do just that landed in my lap. It took me a while to act on it, but after thought and consideration, I asked for a lunch meeting with my son's adoptive mother.
Lately, my son has been having some problems in school. The school and teachers have been trying to figure it out. His adoptive mother and father had both talked about it with me. And that's when I started noticing glaring similarities between myself as a child and my son. So we decided to talk.
I explained how noise can be fine, but too much noise gets on my nerves. I like hanging out with friends, but I don't like crowds. I'm now an adult, so I have the choice to walk away from situations that stress me out. And if I can't walk away, there are sites where I can listen to ambient noise to block things out. I can snap my fingers and try to breathe so that I don't lash out. Then get away from the situation that is stressing me out as quickly as I can. But again, I'm an adult so I have that choice. School wasn't always a great thing for me. Mostly because you have very few choices when you are in school. When I was a teenager, I would wear headphones in the halls between classes so I wouldn't just smack everyone I walked past. Band was a solace for me. I explained how there's a lot of sound there, of course, but it was sound that was organized. And in the middle of the band it's almost like being wrapped in a cocoon of sound. Drumline was especially good for this. As you can imagine, almost twenty teenagers with drums, xylophones, and cymbals can be loud. But again, it was ordered sound. It was sound that made sense. And it was always so loud in there that not only was it a cocoon, it was the only thing I could think about anymore. When playing with the drumline, it was the only thing on my mind, and the two or three lines of thought I always have going finally went quiet.
But currently, my son is 5. I explained to her that I feel rather useless in this situation since much of my coping involves things only adults can do. But she assured me that hearing what it's like is helping her to understand and giving her ideas on what to do. She asked me questions about odd things he's said and I found that I could give her reasons and explanations because I remember having those problems and I still have some of them myself. I did apologize that some of these reasons don't really make logical sense. But they are reasons. Whether they make sense or not, I know that's what going on in his head. He just lacks the vocabulary to express what is going on.
Like I said before, it's rare that I get the chance to help my son in any way that's meaningful. But, it seems that this time, I can. I've started therapy again and with their help will hopefully think of other things that will help my son cope. The worst part for me right now is that I remember what this was like and I remember how much it isolated me and drove me nuts. But I keep trying to tell myself, he has me, he has his parents, there will be test results coming in soon, and possibly a therapist for him. He's not going to have to suffer like I did and like my father did. We can offer insight and hopefully this will help.
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 with birthdads are good too!
• Triad photos – adoptive parent(s), birth parent(s), and child
Basically, send us your favorite photos and we will choose what fits
the song and story line. We will use at least one of the photos that
every person sends and more as they pertain to the story line. High
resolution photos are best.
If you send us your pictures you are giving us permission to use
them. It’s your responsibility to OK the use of your child’s pictures
from their adoptive parents. Once you email them to us, we will respond
letting you know we have received them. If you don’t hear from us in a
couple of days after submitting your photos, it probably means that we
did not receive them so please check in with us.
Please email photos to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
When people learn that I am a birth
mom, I typically receive several questions. One of those questions
is usually in regards to how I found (and chose) my daughter's
fantastic parents. The first question is an easy one to answer; we
both were working with the same adoption agency. The second question
is a little more interesting to answer. I am quite honest. So
honest that I typically just tell them that baseball (more
specifically the Detroit Tigers) brought us together.
I have been a baseball enthusiast for
as long as I can remember. I played fastpitch softball all through
my youth, and still play slow pitch a few nights a week during the
summer. I remember every Tigers game that I have ever been to, even
the one that took place at Tiger Stadium (which I think is pretty
impressive, given that I'm only 25). I'm currently researching
statistics and getting ready for my fantasy baseball draft in a few
weeks, and I am excited because it is almost time to upgrade my cable
TV package to include Fox Sports. So, when I say “baseball
enthusiast,” I'm really not kidding.
Regardless of the scientific evidence
for or against God, I pretty firmly believe that he exists. I also
believe that he had hand in this. There really is no other
explanation for the picture that I found on the cover of my
daughters' parent's profile book. As I lifted up their book there
they were, wearing Detroit Tiger's t-shirts, standing at Comerica
Park, and taking in a baseball game. The rest of the book was
interesting, but in all honesty, the rest of the book didn't matter.
It could have been blank, and I still would have chosen to meet with
My daughter has her family because of
the Detroit Tigers. What led you to choose the family that you
My son was born November 23rd, so my thought a couple weeks after, were "What in the world do I get both him and the most perfect parents that are loving and taking such amazing care of my son?"
No gift could show how grateful I was.
The truth is, I think adoptive parents struggle with this "perfect gift" scenario as well. I think the "perfect gift" is the gift of having a relationship with them and showing our love for the child we share. When it comes to material items, I have always gone for the meaningful gifts instead of what the latest popular toy or the "bath and body works" gifts for the adoptive mom.
The first year, I bought Christmas gifts for both Noah and his parents along with birthday gifts for him as well. I plan on getting his mom flowers or something small to send her when she graduates with her Doctorates degree in Education this summer. It really is just about showing your love, not how much money you have.
If you cannot afford to buy toys or other items, send a childhood book you had growing up or a card with a meaningful message in it. Simple and sweet is the way I go about sending gifts.
Leaving the hospital....... It's the moment
that everyone fears, for good reason. In some cases, months (or days, or perhaps
only hours) of counseling and thinking have tried to prepare you for the event,
but in reality, no amount of preparation can make you ready for such
an occasion. Some birthmothers savor the hospital experience,
waiting as long as possible for the end of it, whereas others feel
that leaving the hospital expediently is what will work best for
them. There is no right answer, and no wrong answer.
I am a pretty open book about my
adoption experience. I will tell everyone pretty much anything that
they want to know about how I chose adoption, why I decided to have
an open adoption, and what our adoption looks like. I however,
usually stay pretty quiet in regards to the moment that I left the
hospital. They're my moments; they're tragic, painful, and
devastatingly traumatic. I feel like they are moments that need to
be discussed though, so here I am.
I left the hospital exactly 24 hours
after giving birth. I had the option to stay for an additional day,
as my baby wasn't able to be discharged for 48 hours, but felt that
24 hours was enough for me. Honestly, I worried that if I put off
leaving longer than I had to, then I wouldn't leave alone. I had
prepared for the moment, I knew that it would be difficult, but I was
not prepared for the crushing magnitude of sadness that befell me at
that time. I knew that it had to be done, but every corner of my
mind was screaming at me about how I was abandoning my baby (even
though I clearly wasn't).
I've read about some birth and
adoptive families having loving ceremonies where the birthmom
“presents” the baby to their new family. I envy the strength of
these women. I remember placing my baby into the arms of her Mom,
unable to make eye contact, I was so inconsolable that I couldn't
even mutter a word. I handed my baby to her, and quickly exited the
room. I walked purposefully down the hall, and left. It wasn't
beautiful. It wasn't this amazing, heart warming experience that I'm
sure the people around me had been praying for. It was ugly. It
hurt. In the midst of my grief, I played that moment over in my head
Looking back, I wish that it would
have been different, but I see that it couldn't have been. I wish
that I could have had this amazing, wonderful ceremony where our
families came together and we bonded over this wonderful person that
we would all love. I wish I would have been able to tell my
daughter's Mom how grateful I am that she was willing to give my
child everything that I couldn't give to her, and I wish that I would
have been able to express how much I appreciate the amazing pregnancy
counselor who guided me through my journey, but I just could not.
And I've come to realize that that's OK.
What was it like leaving the hospital,
or what are you fears about your hospital experience if you are
currently pregnant? Did your hospital experience go as planned, or
did it change once your baby was born?
After having Noah, I knew what I had to do. I had to move forward. But...what did that mean? For someone who did not experience what I just did, it would mean getting a job and getting back to "normal". But how in the world could I just go back to the way I was before?
I decided I would have to create MY new normal. I grieved. I surrounded myself with people who supported me who did not make me feel bad about placing my child. I am so thankful that I did not shove my feelings in and instead, experienced them the best I could. My instincts were honestly to smile and pretend nothing had happened because that was the easiest thing to do. Now, did I ever do that? Of course I did. I sometimes had to depending on where I was. But 90% of the time I let my emotions take control.
While going through all of this, I applied for jobs and eventually found my dream job teaching 5th grade. I love it. I also get to see Noah every 6 months and get an update with pictures every 1-2 months. Those updates are what keep me going. The first year is the hardest and now I take every day as it comes.
If I could give future birth moms one piece of advice, it would be to cry, cry, and cry some more surrounded by the ones you love. This may sound painful but after you let those tears out, you feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders and eventually, that weight doesn't feel so heavy anymore.
Those three days I spent in the hospital after Noah was born via c section were painful and very confusing, especially for someone who was overwhelmed with so much emotion it was hard to feel each one completely. I was happy, sad, scared, and shocked, but how was I supposed to feel each emotion? I was in a state of numbness, honestly.
My sweet boy was placed in the NICU because there was a little bit of water in his lungs, he was breathing too fast. That was so scary, because I was unable to leave my room to see him there since I had just come out of surgery. I just wanted to spend more time with him, but it was about him, not me. He needed to be there to get better.
The day after Noah was born, family and friends came to see Noah and fell in love. He had to have been the most beautiful baby in the hospital (biased, of course). I had a million pictures of Noah the night he was born but none after. This is a hard thing to accept and my biggest regret. I wish I had spent more time with him in the hospital. It would have been easier if he was born naturally but because I had surgery and he was 3 floors up from me in the special care unit, it took a team of nurses for us to get to each other.
I went up to see him on my 2nd day, because that was the day I was able to leave the surgical floor. My mom and sister were with me....he looked different. I have felt this way every time I have seen him since, why can't time stop? Why can't he stay the way he was when I first laid eyes on him? I guess that's how life works. When I saw him, I was so overwhelmed. How could I love someone so much? It seemed impossible. I went to see him again the 3rd day, this time alone. I knew that this was going to be our last visit alone together for a while.
When I walked over to him lying in his bed, his eyes opened. I will cherish that moment forever because that was the first time I saw his brown eyes wide open staring at me, it was like he knew me. He did know me. I was the mother who carried him for nine months. He heard me cry. He heard me laugh. He heard me tell stories to him. He knew who I was.
After that visit, the next time I went to the special care unit was to place him in his parents arms in the Entrustment Ceremony we had planned. We wanted this moment to be special. A beautiful prayer and poem were said by a counselor we had known. I only remember how beautiful it was because I had looked over it before it was said. While this woman was reading it, my face was against Noah's sobbing. I knew Noah deserved a family and they were the most amazing people. I placed him in their arms then actually calmed down. I talked with the A parents for 20 minutes like we were old friends then left.
I am so glad that I left Noah's room feeling like that instead of crying. I knew how happy Noah was going to be, and that gave me so much peace.
I am approaching a milestone (at least
in my eyes). My birth daughter is going to be turning 5 next month. That is 5 years of watching her grow up from afar, and 5 years of
missing out on things. It also marks 5 years of a wonderful
friendship with her adoptive family, and five whole years of growth
If you can't tell, the month before my
birth daughters birthday always leaves me feeling a bit sentimental. This year in particular though, I am really focusing on the "what ifs." You know what they are. Thinking about if things could have been different.
In the beginning, I often wondered what
life would have been like had I not made an adoption plan. I often
dreamed of ways that I could have made it work as a single mom coming
out of an abusive relationship with a toddler and a newborn. I
thought of things that I should have done, and things that I could
have done differently. Especially in the month between my daughter's
birth and the court date that terminated my parental rights, the
“what ifs” were very strong.
Now, though, 5 years past my adoption
placement, I have a different set of “what ifs.” Now, when I
think about what life would have been like if I hadn't placed, I am
saddened. Not because of my placement, but because I can't picture
my life being any more perfect than it is right now. If I had never
placed, there's no saying that my husband would be my husband. He is
a wonderful man who took on the responsibility of raising my young
daughter, when he absolutely didn't have to. However, I wonder if
taking on the responsibility of a toddler and a newborn, all while
still forging a new relationship would have been too much for us.
I also wonder if I would have been
given the employment opportunities that I have had. I worked full
time for several years after my placement, and was referred to the
company by my birth daughter's dad who also works there. It
provided me with financial security, which I had not had for several
years. It gave us the funds necessary to pay for our wedding, and
then purchase our first home.
I do suppose that everything could
have worked out exactly as it did had I not placed, but I am doubtful
of that. My adoption placement served as a springboard that led to
many amazing things happening in my life. So for this birthday,
instead of focusing on the incredible sadness that was my hospital
experience and the weeks following it, I am going to think of all the
ways that my life went right after I placed. I am going to think of
my youngest daughter, and how if it weren't for my adoption decision,
she likely would not exist. I am going to think of the wonderful
experiences that my oldest daughter has been able to have, that I
likely wouldn't have been able to afford if I hadn't placed my middle
child. And I am going to think of my marriage and how God blessed
me with the exact man that I needed at the exact same time that I
wasn't expecting to need him.
What have been some of your “what
if” thoughts, and how have you been able to get past them?
I was prepared. I was ready for
everything that I have encountered in the last several years, from my
placement, to my wedding, to my pregnancy after my placement. I
researched, I reflected, I weighed the pros versus the. cons in every decision
that I made. I knew that I would be sad, and I knew that I would
feel fulfilled, and I knew that in the end I would have happiness.
Until I wasn't
The hard thing about life
is that no matter how ready you think you are for something, reality
smacks you in the face. This reality came to me after my youngest
child was born. My husband and I had planned her from the beginning. She had a beautiful room in the house that we had purchased, our
families were ecstatic, and I could hardly wait to finally have a
baby that I would be able to bring home. The weeks flew (OK, they
dragged) by and before we knew it we were at the hospital getting
ready to have a baby.
My enthusiasm gave way to
exhaustion somewhere around hour 17 of a 24 hour labor, but when it
came time to deliver my daughter, I was able to complete the task.
We were elated and completely in love. Life was wonderful.
Until it wasn't.
hours after her birth nurses discovered that my daughter wasn't doing
as well as we had thought. This led to an emergency ambulance
transport, a NICU stay, and me leaving the hospital with empty arms,
think this is where it started for me, the anxiety. It got worse
when my daughter got home. All I could think about was losing her.
I was overwhelmed by a crippling fear of something terrible
happening and losing my motherhood all over again. I would hardly
sleep, spending my nights watching over her, making sure that she
never missed a breath. When my daughter would cry, I would tremble,
clenching my hands, and pacing through the room. I would do my best
to please her as quickly as possible, but at times it just seemed
impossible. I would find myself in the middle of a room, crying,
hyperventilating, knowing what to do, but being unable to do it.
realized that I had a problem when I quit leaving my house. I would
take my baby to the grocery store when it was absolutely necessary,
and I found myself wrapping her tightly to my chest in a baby
carrier, never willing to risk a disaster, regardless of how small
the gamble was. I was on constant alert, viewing the world as one
dangerous situation after another.
a particularly rough week, I made an appointment with a psychologist.
When I left my first meeting with her, I brought something with me;
a diagnosis of PTSD(Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
I was shocked. I have never been to war, I have never seen death, I
have never been a victim of sexual assault, I don't fit the mold of
someone who would suffer from PTSD. At least that's what I thought
until she told me that many birth mothers suffer from this, usually
after it is triggered by a life event (like the birth of a child). I
have an incredible open adoption, and I have never once regretted my
decision. However, the experience of placing a child was most
definitely a trauma and I've come to see that it will continue to
influence me for the duration of my life.
great news is that PTSD is can be treated quite effectively with talk
therapy. During my sessions (and outside of them), I worked hard
with my therapist to rewire the way that my brain perceived things.
It was difficult and it took a lot of work, but as time went by I
became more outgoing and less fearful. After “graduating” from
counseling I have been able to resume all of my previous activities.
I enjoy going out to places and no longer view the world as one
enormous accident waiting to happen.
guess that what I'm trying to say by sharing this, is that if you
ever are feeling like I felt, it is not your fault. It doesn't mean
that you made the wrong choice by choosing adoption and it certainly
doesn't mean that you did something faulty. I worry that other birth
moms feel the way that I felt and don't get the help that they need.
Adoption can be a wonderful thing for some, but it is also overwhelmingly
difficult, and there is no shame in needing help, no matter how long
ago your placement was. I received counseling for PTSD over 3 years
after my adoption. I had no signs prior to the birth of my youngest
child. I was secure in my decision, and happy with my life. I had
everything going for me, and was ready for anything that life was
going to throw at me.
Until I wasn't.
adoption affected you in ways that you never anticipated? What are
they, and how have you been able to work through them?
I gave birth to Noah on November 23, 2014 at 11:10 p.m. I was 23 so I was not too young, but I hadn't fully accepted the fact that I pregnant. Although I was 23, I was still sheltered growing up so I never thought something like this would happen to me unless I was ready. Let me back that up with saying that having Noah is the best thing I have ever done, but I wish I was under different circumstances when I had him. My mom was in critical condition in the hospital for 2 months while I was pregnant, then was in the hospital for another 2 months learning how to walk again, so my mind was elsewhere and I didn't have much time to really soak in the idea that I was going to be having a baby boy in just a couple months. Because Noah was such a chub, we ended up scheduling for me to be induced at 40 weeks with pitocin. I asked my dad not to be in the room because I didn't want him to see me in labor. My dad was so supportive throughout my pregnancy and the decision of adoption, but I knew that I had disappointed him getting pregnant before being married. I love my dad but I didn't want him to see the vulnerability of me going through the process of pushing my baby out. Honestly, I even had my mom leave the room when I began having contractions because I just wanted to be alone. At this point, I wasn't sad, mad, or anything really. I was numb because I did not take the time to truly bond with my sweet boy while I was pregnant. I had mapped out a perfect plan previous to him being born so that I would not be on the same floor as him because I knew it would be too difficult. I went all routes to ensure I would not feel pain (what did I know?). I spent all day on the 23rd watching Netflix and sneaking in some goldfish. I couldn't help it! How did they expect a hormonal pregnant woman to not eat for THAT long?! Haha. Around me being 4 cm dilated, I gave it up and got the epidural. By the way...best invention ever. Not long after, they measured me and I was dilated 6 inches. Things were going well! Unfortunately, I didn't dilate much after 5 hours so my OBGYN recommended a C section. While this was all going in, the A parents were on their way in from out of town (going through a tornado on the way...stressful much?). They actually got into the hospital 10 minutes before I was rolled into the surgery room. I know they were so scared and nervous! I had told my mom going in that her job was the photographer and not to worry about me. I wanted to make sure that the adoptive parents had a ton of photos to look at and felt like they were there. I would have allowed the A mom into the delivery room if they allowed two, but unfortunately most hospitals only allow one..and I needed my mom. So I won't give you all the details of the C section besides me having a minor anxiety attack before Noah was born. I was just so scared and nervous with all these doctors hovering over me and just wanted to make sure Noah was going to be okay. So at 11:10, Noah was born!! He didn't cry immediately...10 hours later (20 seconds) he finally cried! Sweetest sound I had ever heard. My mom brought him over but I told her I didn't want to see him yet because I was drifting in and out (I think the sedation had me going in and out of consciousness). I wanted to remember that precious moment forever. Five long minutes later, my mom brought him over and we looked at each other for the first time. He was stretching those lungs but when my mom brought him over and he touched my chest, he stopped crying completely and smiled. Never have I felt love like that!! He is and forever will be the light of my life.
Lots of Love,
Erin **Next week comes part 2: The Hospital Experience (After Labor)**