Monday, August 29, 2011

Music Monday: Wish by Jo Dee Messina

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Quote of the Week: Angry Heart

"The more anger you carry in your heart towards the past, the less capable you are of loving the future." 
- Barbara de Angleis 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Children of Open Adoption and Their Families

Today my blog is going in a different direction than my usual posts.  I have felt very strongly in recent months that I would like to know more than just my point of view about adoption.  Since I consider myself a fairly voracious reader by nature, it seemed the most logical to find books on the subject.

Image credit:
The first adoption book that I"ve read is "Children of Open Adoption and Their Families" written by Kathleen Silber and Patricia Martinez-Dorner.

Since I'm in an open adoption with my daughter and her parents, I came into reading this book with the hope that it would offer practical advice or insights in dealing with the complexities of open adoption.  It didn't.  What it did offer was reasonable explanations and insights from real adoptions as to the benefits of having an open adoption.

I thoroughly enjoyed the tidbits of stories shared, and a few of them even brought me to tears.  One of my favorite insights by a birthmom shared early on in the book was the following: "When I see her, I don't want her back.  I would never go steal her away because I know where she is.  It's a good feeling to see them and know she's okay [talking about her birthdaughter]."  It is my hope that if potential adoptive parents (or even adoptive parents who are reluctant to facilitate or continue contact with their child's birthparents) read statements like this that they'll realize that the intent of the birthparent is not to damage the bonds that the adoptive parent creates with their child.  We only want to have a bond of our own.

This book doesn't address many birth parent issues directly.  In fact, it doesn't address at all when adoptive parents break promises of contact that the birth parents want to continue, it just talks about the importance of adoptive parents continuing to try to make contact when the birth parents (or the birthmother in specific) breaks contact for whatever reason.  It does devote several paragraphs to the positivity that many birthmothers actually experience when they keep up some sort of contact (cards/letters, phone calls, or even visits) with their children.  "Birthparents report that when emotionally dealing with their adoption decision, they sometimes remain in a state of numbness - intertwined with grief and guilt.  ....When no contact is available, birthparents are more likely to fixate on [these] issues, attacking their self-esteem and not progressing in the working through of the separation from their child."  I thought these sentences were particularly poignant as I know more than one birthmother who has been denied contact with her child, and I've seen what it does to them emotionally.  It is my hope that when adoptive parents read this book that they'll get insight into what it truly feels like to be a birthmother denied even the smallest of accesses to her child.

My favorite part of the book was a small section toward the end that addressed the discomfort of adoptive grandparents toward open adoption in general and told the stories of a couple of those grandparents that had come to terms with the decision that their children made to have open adoption with their child's birthparents.  This was particularly applicable to me as I know that both sets of my daughter's grandparents (with whom her parents have extremely close relationships) have expressed reluctance to support T & C's decision to have an open adoption with Nick and me.

All in all, this book was a good first foray into the "world" of adoption books.  I would consider it a great read for potential adoptive parents as well as adoptive parents already in the process of rearing their children, even those who may already be in various stages of openness with their child's birthmother.

What about you?  Have you read any adoption-related books that you think I should add to my growing list and then review here?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The River

On a recent hike through Rocky Mountain National Park, I heard from God in an unexpected way. Our family was away for a time of rest and refreshment before the crazy fall seaon. It was a great time of expectation and exploration for the kids and for us. For me, I love having time alone in the mountains to talk to God. Sometimes I'm just quiet. I get so little of that in my real life!

One day we were hiking and looking excitedly for new tings like different species of birds and other animals. Our trail led us over a river into the woods. On the back side of the trail, we were to cross the river again.

About halfway into the hike we started hearing the inevitable "Are we there yet?" from the children. So we gave them things to look for. As the end of the hike got closer, I finally told them to start looking for the river. Well, we looked and looked but couldn't see it. However we could hear it grow closer with every step. Then my daughter asked, "How come we can hear the river but not see it?"

You know, God works that way in my life. Although I ramble on guessing at things going on around me, God knows what he's doing all the time. And the God of the universe doesn't need my help in making sense of it. He has a plan and knows exactly how to execute that plan to teach me what I need to know. I know He's at work because I can "hear" him all around me even when I can't "see" how it all fits together.

But that's okay. While we walked and walked and waited expectantly, at just the right time we crested over a hill and there below us was the raging river. What we heard was just an indication of what was to come.

And in my own life at just the right time, I'll come over the ridge and I'll better understand that all of the waiting wasn't in vain. That God was working all things for my good even when I couldn't see it. What about you? Can you see the river clearly? Or are you still waiting?

Photo credit

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Quote of the Week: Attitude

"Attitude is a little thing that can make a big difference."
- Winston Churchill 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Spotlight Blogger: Meet Jenna

Today's featured blogger is Jenna of The Chronicles of Munchkin Land. Let's find out a bit more about Jenna....

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 Jenna Hatfield and I'm a 30-something wife and mom living in Ohio. I'm a writer and editor married to a professional firefighter. We have two sons. In addition to them, I also have a daughter that I placed for adoption in 2003.

I shared a brief version of my relinquishment story on my site, but I'll make it a bit shorter for you. At the age of 21, I found out I was pregnant. I began working two jobs to provide for my child, moved into my own apartment and generally was ready to parent. At 18 weeks along, I was hospitalized with what we eventually learned was a kidney disorder that had never been diagnosed. I had surgery and was placed on Level III bed rest. I began to panic and contacted what I thought was an adoption agency but was actually a facilitator. A long, slippery slope later, I placed my daughter for adoption.

We have a fully open adoption. It has had its ups and downs, as all relationships do. We have learned to deal with all sorts of things over the years, but our adoption works because my daughter's mom and I were both committed to making it work. It's been hard at times -- for both of us. But we make it work because we want the best for the Munchkin.

I also blog about family life at Stop, Drop and Blog.

When and why did you begin blogging? 
I'm not new to blogging. I actually started blogging while still in college in 2001. As such, I have nearly my entire journey through my adoption plan archived. (I say nearly because some posts never made it from paper to computer when I was in the hospital and others never made it online when I was without Internet.) I started Chronicles as a free WordPress site in 2006 and moved it to my own domain a few months later when it began to take off.

I began blogging our adoption story in a public manner for many reasons. I was tired of the stereotypes that were thrust upon birth parents. I wanted a place to speak the truth about who I was and what adoption has done to and for me. And, in early 2006, I was reeling after the birth of our first parented son as I struggled through not only the adoption issues that crop up after the birth of another child but through the murky depths of postpartum depression. I was in therapy, but I also needed a place to just "be." Chronicles came out of all of that. 

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

I never named my daughter. The facilitator informed me that any adoptive family was just going to change it anyway, so it would be best not to get attached to a name. (Yes, I am aware of how stupid I was to believe them.) I always referred to her as the Munchkin, even in those first early days of shock. The Chronicles of Munchkin Land was a title that just worked perfectly. As a writer and the birth mom of a Munchkin, I wanted to chronicle our journey. And there you have it.

Has the response to your posts been mostly positive, mostly negative, or a mix of both?
Oh, it's mixed. I'm unapologetic about who I am and what I've been through. Not all of my story is easy to take when you realize how I was treated by our facilitator. I also take on some controversial issues, frequently speak about ethical adoption reform and lift up the fight of adoptees to gain their Original Birth Certificates. I'm also a bit of an optimist; I find a silver lining in just about any situation. As such, I'm too happy for those who want to abolish adoption and I'm too negative for those who think all mothers facing an unintended pregnancy should relinquish. I am honest and people don't always like honesty. However, my blog has brought about many wonderful relationships, unique opportunities, writing and speaking gigs and an ability to help others when they have been referred to me or reach out. See? Silver lining.

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?
That's a hard question for someone who has been blogging for so long! This year, I am most proud of I Am Not a Unicorn, which was just honored as one of BlogHer's Voices of the Year posts. It was such an honor for that post to be chosen out of the thousands of submissions and to stand beside the amazing pieces of so many other wonderful writers. My personal all-time favorite is probably The Woman Upstairs.

I very rarely delve into the memories from my pregnancy as they are still so difficult for me to endure, but I did with that post and it resulted in one of my most well-written pieces.

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

Remember your boundaries and respect the boundaries of others. There are things in our open adoption that I do not blog. I've learned some of that by trial and error and some of that is simply common sense. It comes down to telling your story, not the story of your child or the story of your child's adoptive parents. Remembering that key thing will help you as you decide what is and is not appropriate to post. (As an aside, I have permission to post photos. I asked that from the day she was born.) Other tips? Ignore the haters and feel free to set up rules and/or ban commenters for not playing nicely. It's your space; use it as you see fit. Disagreement isn't trolling, but crazy, stalker-type actions and hateful comments are unnecessary. And, in the end, do it for yourself. As Patti Digh recently said during her keynote address at the Type-A Parent Conference, "Let go of your audience." Write for you. And for, someday, your child.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Shack Book Review

I know, another book review. I loved the The Shack! I'm sure everyone else read it a long time ago, but I just got to it. I loved the way it personified God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It made them so personable and so much more understandable.

You know, when I think back, there was a long time I avoided my birthmothering experience, the way Mack avoided the Shack. I didn't talk about it openly. I kept the secret. I grieved all alone. I didn't externally acknowledge the birthdays, the anniversary dates.

But like Mack, I didn't have to acknowledge them. They found me. My own biological clock reminded me of her on her birthday, at holiday time and all the times in between. It wasn't something I had to remember to do.

About seven years into his Great Sadness, Mack gets invited to go back to the Shack. To go back into his pain. Instead of running away from it and denying it, God invites him to embrace it and really drill down into it.

It wasn't until I saw a counselor in college that I really started to face my stuff. To really see it and acknowledge it for what it was. It may have seemed easier for Mack to resist going back to the Shack, but he was desperate for a way out of his Great Sadness, for a way back to living life with his family. Desperate enough to do something crazy like trudge all the way back up that mountain to face his worst fears.

Birthmothering is like that. As painful as it is, God invites us to embrace the hurt, embrace the sadness and trust him with it. God met Mack at the Shack in a big way. In a real way. He can and will do the same for you if you let him.

Where are you today? Are you walking in freedom? Or are you still stuck in sadness and pain?

Photo credit

Monday, August 15, 2011

Music Monday: Everything's OK by Chris Rice

Have you ever had someone, a friend, come into your life just at the moment you needed them most and just by them being a part of your life, you know that things won't be perfect, but that they will be OK and you are going to survive. 

This song reminds me of those types of friends. 


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Quote of the Week: Stained Glass

Image credit:
"People are like stained-glass windows.  They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within." -Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Friday, August 12, 2011

Judge and Jury??

Image credit:

I’ve been hearing a lot lately of other birthmoms getting judged.  Not by people outside the adoption community, but by other birthmoms!

Topics range from their opinions about proper grieving time to legislation surrounding adoption.  I’ve personally been judged because I didn’t agree with a birthmom on her opinion surrounding some legislation.  There are groups of birthmoms on Facebook that will be cruel to another birthmom because of a disagreement, or if that birthmom doesn’t agree with everything the group agrees with.  I’ve heard of birthmoms judging other birthmoms because they felt like they got past their grieving time too quickly, and others judged because the judger thought they were grieving too slowly.  As far as I’m concerned, when a mother places her child with an adoptive family instead of raising that child, they start a lifetime grieving process.  That grief never actually goes away.  Certainly as a birthmother you want to continue with your life, to honor that choice you made by not wallowing in your sadness.  But I’m a firm believer that you never stop grieving.

As birthmoms, we all have the fact that we’re birthmoms in common.  Yes, there are differences in our circumstances.  We’re all human and all have differing opinions, so we’re all bound to disagree on one thing or another.  I think we especially have the potential to disagree when such high emotions are involved in such a life-changing choice as becoming a birthmom in the first place.   Thoughts can be taken out of context very easily when emotions are involved.

I think that such an emotional commonality should help us judge each other less, and not more.  Even if you don’t agree with someone, the realization that their situation is very different from your own (even if your kids were placed under similar circumstances, you’re still different people) should help us judge less.  I don’t have a problem with birthmothers in general stating that they disagree with something another birthmom feels.  I’ve done the very same thing.  But I’m not going to ostracize someone because their thoughts don’t exactly match my own.

I’ll end with this: I urge us all to remember that we’re all living without our kids. We all have to deal with that grief on a daily basis. We don’t need to deal with judgment from someone who at their core is dealing with the exact same thing we are.  For more on judging, Lani’s post, To Judge or Not to Judge also deals with this subject.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Closed or Open?

When I placed my daughter, I was so glad to be part of a closed adoption. What I learned that first year was how hard the emotional rollercoaster was for me. I would get a letter and some pictures, and it would send me into a tailspin. After a few weeks, I would finally get my bearings back and level out only to get another letter and more pictures in the mail.

Part of me was honestly glad when that first year was over. The adoption agreement with the family was only to receive letters and pictures through her first birthday, and then nothing more. And you know what? That was fine with me.

Fast forward about 16 years. By this time I had college, graduate school and several years of marriage under my belt. I had a home, a career, and life was good. And I began to wonder... Maybe I could have handled letters and pictures. Maybe I could have handled knowing how she was doing. Maybe it would have been easier instead of having all of the questions about her health and wellness.

I had told myself for years that closed adoption was the right answer for me. Of course at that time in that state, it was the only option. But I told myself that the 'end point' is what allowed me to move on with my own life and move past being a new mother. I had this challenged recently by a foster parent telling me, "That might be different if you had met and gotten to know the adoptive parents."

I never thought about it like that. I mean, really. I know you birth moms in open adoptions are probably giggling right now, but I just hadn't. I chose Katie's adoptive parents based on a single type-written sheet that listed their occupations, income, hobbies and physical descriptions. Period. It's a far cry from the slick booklets adoptive parents put together to try and 'sell' themselves to the birthmother now, eh?

What's my point here? It's this: We all have different stories. What unites us is a single act of unselfishness, but that may be the only thing we have in common. And that's ok.

I know you have a lot to say on this subject, so let's hear it!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Music Monday: Bad Day by Daniel Powter

I like to listen to this song when I'm having a rough day. While it doesn't instantly always make me feel better, it does remind me that bad days are a part of life.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Quote of the Week: Book of Life

"In the book of life, 
the answers are not in the back." 
- Charlie Brown

Friday, August 5, 2011

Spotlight Blogger: Meet Elizabeth

Today's featured blogger is Elizabeth of "My Little Blessing in Disguise."  Let's find out a little more about Elizabeth....
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's Elizabeth, and I live in Massachusetts. I was 21 when I got pregnant, 22 when I had my baby, and I am now 23. I would have to say that animals, writing, and photography are the three things I am most passionate aboout. There are a million little reasons that all make up the "big picture" of why I chose adoption for my daughter. The first and biggest being the fact that I can barely take care of myself at this stage in my life. I am in no way fully independent; my parents are still putting a roof over my head and helping me pay my way through school. I wanted my daughter to have an even better life than I had, and I knew that I could not be the one to give that to her. I grew up with both of my parents under the same roof and couldn't imagine it any other way, and I didn't want my little girl to not only know how it feels to imagine it, but to know how it feels to live it. I was with her father for a few years (and coincidentally found out I was pregnant three years to the day since we got together) but knew he and I would not last, and if we did, we could not create a stable environment for our baby. We fought every other day, we just had grown apart and soon realized that we brought out the worst in each other. I knew I could do it, I knew I could be a single mom and we would make it, but I didn't want my baby to only have the basic things she needed, I wanted her to have what she wanted as well. I didn't want to have to sacrifice her Christmas gifts for Christmas dinner, and I didn't want her to be in daycare all hours of the day while I worked to barely make ends meet. I wanted the best for her while still wanting to be with her and knew the two just simply could not work together; they were like water and oil. So I put on my big girl pants (hahaha) and made the decision that was best for her. I have my teeny tiny doubts every now and then, but ultimately I know I made the right choice for her, especially when I see what a truly happy baby she is. Already, at eight months old, she has more luxuries provided to her (like music class) than I could have given her in eight years.

When and why did you begin blogging? I began blogging in October of 2010, because I was nearing the end of my pregnancy and realized that I desperately needed an outlet to get my feelings out. At that point, only my parents, my daughter's father, and the girls I worked with and my very best friend knew about my unborn daughter, so I didn't really have many people to reach out to. I wanted a place where I could basically talk to myself, but also feel like I was getting some weight lifted off my chest with no repercussions; no judgement. As time went on, I kept blogging, and now I keep up with it not only to be able to take note of areas I have progressed in and areas in which I still need to heal, but so my little girl (if she so desires) can see how I truly felt in my days up to and after placing her.

Tell us more about the title of your blog.  Why did you choose it? My blog is titled "My Little Blessing in Disguise" because that is the most fitting phrase I could think of to describe my daughter. She came disguised because she was a big surprise for me, and I had not planned on having children for many years (if ever) and certainly not with the man I found myself pregnant with. In all honesty, when the doctor said "well, that test was positive!," I thought those were the five worst words I could hear. Shortly after I came to terms with it, though, I realized what a blessing she truly was in my life; whether I parented or chose adoption for her. She made me realize so many things about myself before she was even born. Mainly and most importantly, she helped me see the true colors of the man I had been with and been in love with for three years. When I am being honest with myself, I know that if it weren't for her coming into our lives, I would still be in the dead-end relationship I was in with him, just spinning circles. That's the story behind my blog title! And the URL is the name I gave to her when she was born.

Has the response to your posts been mostly positive, mostly negative, or a mix of both? So far, I have seen only positive replies....if anyone has any negative thoughts, I haven't heard them (yet). However, I have only recently made my blog public. My first blog (the livejoural which is linked to my blogger) was private up until about a month ago, when I switched over to blogger and made it open.

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 would have to say this post: "Unintentional rant" because it sheds a lot of light, in my opinion, on why the decision to place is made and how it is made. I can only speak for myself, but I think it shows the "other side" of adoption...the true side of a birth mother, the side that not a lot of people see or want to see. It proves the negative stereotype wrong, the one that says that women who gave their babies up just wanted to "get rid of them," or didn't want the responsibility. My favorite part about that post is the fact that when I started writing it, I had planned for it to go in a completely different direction than it did, and then it wound up the way it is now.

Do you have any advice for someone thinking of starting their own blog? Only think about yourself, and your honest feelings. Don't hold back from saying something because you're afraid you'll offend someone. There will ALWAYS be someone that will be offended by something you say or don't say; that's just life. Even with my own blog - I'm sure there has been or will be something I will say that could offend someone who is or has been in my very same situation. Be honest with yourself, and don't create an image of yourself for others to see. Just be you! You'll appreciate it later on down the road.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

How I Was Made

Last week, Coley posted about the comment "I could never do that". I, too, have experienced that comment, but in a slightly different way.

Over the years, I have had opportunities to speak publicly and privately about my experience with unexpected pregnancy and closed adoption. At different times, God has given me a voice and a stage, and so I have taken them and spoken out. I share from my heart my story and whatever else God tells me to at that particular time.

Maybe I talk about my experience too much. My best friend confronted me a couple of years ago and asked me, almost in disgust, how I could talk about such personal matters so easily. She reflected on her own past, looked at me and said, "I could never do that."

It seems like lately, everywhere I turn, I keep getting the same message from God. Has this ever happened to you? You're listening to the radio and suddenly the announcer says something that seems to be aimed right at you and your particular situation. Or you have a random conversation where God seems to be giving you direction and insight through the mouth of the other person.

This is what it's been like for me lately. Everywhere I turn, I'm getting the same message. In my personal reading time. In my conversations. Everything is saying the same thing. "God created us each with a specific purpose. We have to do what we love. Otherwise we'll never keep on doing it."

So my response to my friend's "I could never do that" is this: I can't not do it. I can't not speak and write and tell my story. It is what God has done for me. That place is where I have seen Jesus up close and personal. And as a result, I have been changed forever.

Early in my marriage, I sat down with my husband and asked him if he was okay with what I felt called to do. It was one thing to be single and share my story when and where I wanted. But after getting married, he became part of it. So I asked him what he thought. And his answer was the same: "You can't not speak out. This is what God has done in your life. This is what you are called to do with it."

Ahh. Glad I got that off my chest. I feel so much better. Now if I could just figure out why God is reminding me of that so much recently... I'll let you know as soon as I know.

Photo credit

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


"You're not what I expected....." 

Someone said this to me recently. They had never met me before but knew that they would be meeting me that day and they knew ahead of time that I am a birthmother. I guess by their comment that they had some preconceived ideas of how a birthmother might appear or act and I’m also guessing by their comment that I didn’t meet their preconceived notion of a birthmother.

I jokingly asked if I was better or worse than what they expected and they responded with better. Perhaps they were expecting someone younger, like a teenager or perhaps they were expecting someone who was uneducated. Maybe they were expecting someone who wasn’t parenting a child or maybe someone who isn’t married. I really don’t know; I’m not really sure what they were expecting! But whatever it was, I wasn’t it.

One thing I learned quickly once becoming active in the birthmother and adoption community is that birthmothers come in all different shapes, sizes, races, ethnicities, backgrounds, levels of education, etc. We (birthmothers) have chosen adoption for different reasons and we have varying different types of adoption and thoughts and views on adoption. But there is that one common bond that draws us all together – our (birth) children. 

There is no “look” or “age” that predicts who is going to choose adoption and become a birthmother. And we may or may not be what someone else is expecting when they think of the word birthmother. The truth of the matter is, we each define ourselves instead of our choices defining us. Being a birthmother is only a small part of who we are.

Photo Credit 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Music Monday: My Wish by Rascal Flatts

I love this song. It really is a perfect song to describe the wishes, hopes, and dreams each of us has for our children. So perfect, that we used it in one of our annual slideshows