Monday, October 31, 2011

Music Monday: Butterfly by Mariah Carey

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Quote of the Week: The Best in you

"Let go of those who bring you down and surround yourself with those who bring out the best in you." - Unknown

Friday, October 28, 2011

Spotlight Blogger: Meet Katja

Today's featured blogger is Katja of Therapy is Expensive. Let's find out a little more about Katja....

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).
The name I go by is KatjaMichelle or Katja. Not my real name, but close enough to not be truly anonymous. Perhaps I should have thought that through better. I'm an army brat born and raised currently living in Washington (state not DC). I'm in my late twenties, although since I had typed mid-twenties and had to go back and fix it I guess that means I'm in denial about being in my late twenties. I placed Kidlet for adoption because I didn't feel I had any other choice. I had just turned 18 when he was born and was working part time scooping ice cream for minimum wage. I'd just graduated high school and I was living with parents who were barely speaking to me and not really acknowledging the situation. I'd been told by others who were important to me at the time parenting would have been selfish and I was childish to have even been considering it. Looking back, it would not have been selfish or childish of me to parent. In fact I would have made an awesome mom, but I can't change the past. Instead I chose great parents for him and have spent the last 10 years learning to navigate the waters of open adoption.

When and why did you begin blogging?

I started blogging a long long time ago on myspace, but I started my current blog in 2007. I needed a space to process my emotions about the adoption (and other things). I had been searching for a therapist, but for multiple reasons that search wasn't fruitful at that time. I felt like I had to censor myself in forums and like I didn't really belong. So I started my blog. My place to just let it out.

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

I chose to call my blog Therapy is Expensive because at the time I had been looking for traditional therapy. I contacted the facilitator who'd arranged my son's adoption as well as many local agencies looking for therapists or support groups in the area who might be competent in adoption issues. I was met with resistance, told I should be over it, and made to feel like the lowest of the low. I don't recall a single one of the those calls that ended without me in tears. So i changed tactics and just began cold calling random therapists and learned that on what I was making I couldn't afford therapy. I did save up and try a few sessions, they were awful. I'm working toward my hours for full licensure as a clinical social worker so I know the value of therapy and know I can't do it completely on my own so once again I am searching for a therapist, but adoption competent therapists are hard to find.

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

It's been a mix. I don't mind when commenters disagree with what I have to say I like discussion and will try to have that discussion so I can understand where they are coming from. What hurts is when the person obviously has no interest in discussion.

What post on your blog do you consider a “must read” for people visiting your blog for the first time? Or what post(s) from your blog is (or are) your favorite(s) and why?

One of my favorite posts is actually one I did as part of the Open Adoption Roundtable. It's one of my favorites because it allows me to recalls some of my favorite Open Adoption moments: These are the Moments.  Another of my favorites (and also an Open Adoption Roundtable Post) is one that responds to some questions from a woman who no longer blogs, but that I think a lot of people have about open adoption. I think it was good to have a lot of people answering these types of questions: Brevity and I Have Never Met.

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

Be genuine. Give people the benefit of the doubt, sometimes because you can't hear voice inflection or see facial expression typed words come across harsher than they were intended. On the flip side there is negativity in the blogosphere, try not to let it get to you.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Frantic Mistake

Ann* was frantic. I could hardly understand her. "I've made a horrible mistake," she said as I pressed the phone closer to my ear.

"I'm selfish and I shouldn't have done it. But I did. And now I can't take it back."

Calmly I told her to take a breath and then tell me the whole story. She said she had been curious about her daughter's birth mother. She said she had finally located her. Then late one night when she was on the computer, she sent her a note. What happened next, I'm not really sure. But to Ann it was awful.

"She says I took her child away from her and now she wants her back. What do I do?"

Since the adoption happened at birth and the daughter is now in her teens, I could tell that the birth mother was perhaps not in touch with all that is reality. However, she apparently was still deeply troubled by the experience.

"Did you tell your husband?" was the only rational thought that came to my mind.

"No. He'll be so mad at me. And he should be! I'm such a fool. This never should have happened."

"You can't take it back now," I started gently. "What needs to happen is that we need to hang up and you have to tell your husband immediately. I'll keep my phone close if you need to talk afterwards." 

As I prayed for my friend throughout that day, I wondered what was going through the birth mother's mind. What had this contact done to her? for her? Where was she emotionally? spiritually? And did she have any support?

I hope she has all of those things. I hope she has a support system like we do here. All I can do is pray and hope that she finds something to help her through.

* not her real name

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Quote of the Week: Gain

"For everything you have missed, you have gained something else." - Unknown

Friday, October 21, 2011


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I read a blog post recently that caused me to do some thinking. Katelyn of “My Angels From God” posted "Things a Birth Mother shouldn't say to an adoptive mother."  As a birth mother and an adoptive mother, she’s actually experienced her son’s birth mother saying most of the things listed to her.

Some of the things listed on the blog frankly blew me away.  I cannot imagine saying most of those things to my daughter’s mother, especially one basically telling her how to parent.  Like Katelyn says, we don’t have that ability to parent anymore.  We lose that right to make daily parenting choices regarding our kids when we relinquish, though it can also be argued that supporting our child’s parents in their parenting roles is a parenting choice for us as well.

As difficult as it may be to stomach that choice, especially when we see the parents of our kids making decisions with which we disagree, we need to place and respect boundaries.  We also need to respect boundaries the adoptive parents set, whether they’re implied or spoken.

Relationships grow and change with time.  Sometimes, unfortunately, relationships break.  An originally open adoption relationship may become closed.  But the opposite may also become true.  A semi-open adoption relationship may become more open with time as the adoptive parents become more comfortable with the relationship and with the birth mom and/or dad.

That’s what I’m hoping will happen in my own situation.  Currently we don’t have their last name or their address.  I have confidence that they will share this information with us someday, partially because we’ve been respectful of the boundaries they’ve set in the relationship.   We’ve respected their parenting choices, and when we have visits, we constantly reaffirm them as parents.  Maybe I’m a bit too nervous about that, but I’d rather reaffirm their roles over and over rather than have them question that we don’t think of them as her parents.  Plus, this also reaffirms them to our daughter.  She may not understand it quite yet, but I believe kids understand unspoken boundaries long before they understand verbal ones.

In an open adoption relationship, it can become so easy to step on one another’s toes, so to speak.  There are no guidelines, no rule book.  What works for one open adoption relationship may not work for another.  There are many emotions involved on all sides and the dynamics that come with them can be complicated.  Respect for the adoptive parents’ boundaries as well as the birth parents’ boundaries can go a long way toward resolving those dynamics.

What boundaries have you perhaps crossed in your own adoption relationship without intention to do so?  Have you crossed any boundaries, spoken or not, with intention?  Have you allowed your emotions to control how you respond to those boundaries even if you’ve set them for yourself?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Agency Adoptions

I was very surprised to recently learn that agency adoptions are on the decline. Instead, expectant mothers considering adoption as well as prospective adoptive parents are finding each other through social networking sites or friends and family members.

Maybe it's my age, but I'm still a firm believer in agency adoption. While expensive for the adoptive family I think a good, ethical agency is on everyone's 'side' and honors the wishes of the birthmother. The fees cover all counseling of the birthparents, all home study and related costs, as well as all legal fees. But probably the biggest service I feel adoption agencies offer is post-placement counseling for the birthmother.

I did have an agency adoption. And my counselor was open to post-placement counseling. But since I was thousands of miles away and Skype and email weren't readily available (I don't think they were invented yet), my only option was communicating with my counselor through handwritten letters. My folks would not hear of me going to a live counselor in our area.

I'm not saying agency adoptions are for everyone and it's important to note that the opinions in this post are solely my own and not the opinions of BirthMom Buds as a whole. I'm curious as to why you wouldn't choose an agency adoption. This is so interesting to me. I would love your feedback including your specific experience and your perceived pros and cons of that choice!

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Education is Key

Television shows this fall seem to be portraying a lot of adoption storylines. Unfortunately, they aren't portraying it the way that it really is and this kind of worries me.

I am a huge fan of the show Glee. In the first season, they did a story line about adoption and I think they did it justice. The characters seemed to go through what we as birth parents go through, such as grieving, and dealing with other people such as parents, peers, and family.

But now that it is season 3, they have brought back that story line, and needless to say, I am not a happy camper about it. In a recent episode. the adoptive Mom tells Quinn (the birthmother) that she wants her to be a part of the baby's life but not until she gets her act together. And at the end of the show Quinn goes back to looking normal (she dyed her hair, dressed inappropriately, was hanging with the wrong crowd, and rebelling as some teens do.) She tells the birth dad "If being blonde, dressing like this, and acting like everything is okay is what I need to do to get my daughter back I'm going to do it. WE are going to get full custody of Beth". 

This line completely made me so mad. She relinquished her rights in season 1 and this is a year and half later. Obviously, her rights would have been terminated by now and she legally wouldn't be able to get her daughter back. I feel like it this is showing us birth mothers in a very bad light and showing the non-educated people of the world, and even hopeful adoptive parents the fears, and adoption in a bad light.

And on another show that I don't watch but have seen the previews for called Parenthood one of the girls that wants to adopt a child says to a teen that is pregnant "Can I have your child?" These lines that they use just makes adoption all around look bad. Now, I can't say I haven't seen a couple of hopeful adoptive parents be forward like that, because I have. But NOT all hopeful adoptive parents are that forward, and they are definitely usually not that rude about it.

I have posted and emailed both networks on the problems with their story lines and how as writers, they obviously had to go to school and are educated people. Yet, before they write a script or lend a hand in the development of a story line they don't educate themselves on adoption law and how adoption TRULY works. I say this because in Glee, legally no matter what Quinn does to her appearance, or the way she acts she will NEVER get her child back. She relinquished her child, and after an adoption is finalized and all her rights are gone I don't believe there is any judge in the world that would overturn the ruling. Also, in most cases, a case worker or social worker for the hospital is present and the birthmother is asked before signing if she is under any duress, been bribed, pressured to sign, etc.

I think it's one of those things that just gets to me because I feel like adoptions have come so far since they first started and now these TV shows are setting us back.  They are showing birthmoms in a bad light and scaring adoptive parents more than they should be.

We as birth mothers aren't perfect, but showing to the world, and even potential birthmothers that they can just go and take their kid back whenever they want isn't right. We need to educate these wome, and also adoptive parents about the way that they act during certain situations. I feel like my main issue here is exploiting adoption as if it's this bad thing, and as if we are bad people. And we are far from bad people.

I understand that these are just television shows, and we should always take them with a grain of salt, but there are people out there that watch these shows religiously and get their information and their education from these shows because they look up to these people as if they, and their situations are real, when they are not. CLEARLY.

I leave you with this, "Who have you educated today?". If you can take one, just ONE person's perspective and give them a small piece of what your adoption story was like, then maybe, just MAYBE we could change the way the world sees adoption. Even if it is just one person at a time.

"Be the HOPE you wish to see in the world, be the CHANGE that changes the world".

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Quote of the Week: Understanding Yourself

"The most difficult phase of life is not when no one understands you; it is when you don't understand yourself." 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Spotlight Blogger: Meet Amanda

Amanda 9 months pregnant with her son!
Today's featured spotlight is Amanda of "Life After Placing."  Let's find out a little more about Amanda...

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).

I’m Amanda, I just turned 26 in July, I currently live in Hawaii, my husband is an officer in the Army and we are stationed here, but he is currently deployed to Afghanistan.

I made my adoption plan back in 2008 when I found out I was pregnant because I was not in a place to raise a child, and neither was the birth father. The birth father and I were not in a relationship at the time, and he was quite adamant that our son was not his. A month after his birth, I wrote the birth father letting him know and he was still not admitting to being the father, and that helped me make my decision. My family was supportive no matter what I decided, but I just knew that this child would be better off being raised by someone else. I also came to realize that this child was not mine, he was not meant for me, but for his adoptive family. The way he became his adoptive family’s son is truly a miracle from God, and I fully believe God intervened through a few of our mutual friends. Our adoption is semi-open, I get letters and pictures every 6 months, for about another year, and then yearly for who knows how long. The last time I saw him in person, was the day after he was born.

I met my husband 2 months after the adoption took place, and he’s been amazing! We started dating a month later, and were married 7 months later. We’ve been married for 2 years in October. He is currently deployed to Afghanistan for 12 months. He’s super supportive of the adoption and takes such great care of me. We plan on having children of our own one day.

When and why did you begin blogging?

I started blogging beginning of Feb. 2009; my very best friend said I should start one as a place to put my words down. I also wanted to use it as a place to minister to other girls in my situation.

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

Life After Placing is just that, a blog about my life after I placed my son for adoption. The blog title is something that has been able to move with me, and grow with me. It’s not something that is just limited to the adoption, but my life.

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

I think it’s mostly been positive. I know of a few people who are so grateful for my blog, and have told me that I've helped them, and that would more than likely make the negative comments seem like nothing.

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?

Probably my first post about why I started the blog, and my adoption story (part 1 & part 2), along with the How to Talk to a Birth Mom Series (part 1, part 2, & part 3), and my Birth Story, also a question I got about the triad and how I refer to all sides, another question about Mother's Day, this post about "my son" versus "the baby," and finally, my favorite adoption poem/song.

I could seriously link to ALL my posts, but I won’t haha!

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

Go for it! Write about what you know, and what you’re passionate about. And remember, nobody is perfect, so they’re hopefully not expecting you to be. It’s also your space, so do what you want, and be sure to put a disclaimer, that way, if you do offend someone, you can say, hey, I warned you!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


“You’re not what I expected.”

Someone who had never met me in person but knew I was a birthmother said this to me upon meeting me. 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 is 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.

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Quote of the Week: Hang On

“When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot & hang on.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

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Friday, October 7, 2011

They're Only Words. Right?

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We’ve all heard that saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  So how can words cause so much hurt?  Perhaps words aren’t just words after all.  Perhaps words carry more meaning than we give them credit for and can cause more hurt than even a broken bone can.

I blogged in my personal blog last week about a television producer that was spamming Facebook and Twitter looking for birth moms and their adoptive families to do a documentary about.  They weren’t looking for them post-placement, however.  They were looking to do a show on “expectant birth moms.”  I have a problem with that term.

A woman is not an “expectant birth mom” when she is pregnant, even if she fully intends to place the child she is carrying for adoption.  She is not a birth mom at all until she has signed legal relinquishment papers.  Before that, a pregnant woman is simply a “mom” or “expectant mother.”  When a woman is pregnant, she is legally, emotionally, and physically that child’s mother.  When we place our children with their parents, we don’t call their moms “adoptive mom” or other versions of that term unless we are using that term to delineate their role from ours.  I know that as much as it may hurt sometimes to hear our children call someone else “mom,” we don’t expect them to call us “mom” and the woman who’s raising them something else entirely.  We call a woman a birth mom post-placement to continue to acknowledge the role she has in her child’s life, even if she’s not parenting that child.  Frankly, I need to be called “birth mom.”  I like the acknowledgment, and it makes it impossible to get stuck in the denial phase of grieving.

The other reason I dislike “expectant birth mom” as a term is that it’s coercive to call her that.  Sure, she may not even realize that it’s coercive.  That might not enter into her thinking when she’s making the final decision to place.  But it’s still putting that “seed” in there – the seed of that expectation that she’s going to place, and isn’t worth anything as a mother prior to placement.  You might as well call her a “vessel” or an “incubator.”  Talk about disrespectful terms!

So why is calling an expectant mother a birth mother prior to placement disrespectful to her role and afterward it isn’t?  It’s disrespectful because prior to placement it doesn’t acknowledge the entirety of her role in her child’s life.  As I’ve said previously, she is entirely responsible for raising that child prior to placement.  She has the ultimate decision when it comes to what she does with her body that affects her baby, and every woman makes whatever decisions she makes willingly.  Post-placement, a woman’s role as a mother is diminished, though still important.  Without her, that child would not exist.  That diminished role is hard for a lot of birthmothers to accept, including me, but that’s a topic for another post, perhaps.

Yes, it’s “just” a word.  But words are powerful and come with all sorts of emotions attached to them.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Just What I Need

It's sad when my own words come back to encourage me. Or mock me. Sometimes I'm not sure which it is. This is a passage I wrote a few years ago and came across earlier today. I hadn't planned to write about it, but it was just exactly what I needed to hear and I couldn't resist.

This Thanksgiving morning as I was praying and trying in my own strength to make sense of my life, part of the Lord's Prayer came to mind, the part that says, "Give us today our daily bread." Strange, since I don't usually pray the Lord's prayer. In fact, my prayers often sound more like senseless rambling. How short-tempered do I get when no one asks how I'm doing or what's going on with me? But not God. He doesn't expect that. He knows we're human and selfish by nature. After all, he created us, didn't he?

Anyway, back to my rambling. I was asking for something specific from God, a new way of dealing with a continual challenge. I honestly try not to ask for a specific thing very often because I'm smart enough to know how much I don't know. I've also seen in my life how I've asked for something, gotten it, but it has been far from the blessing I was hoping for. That's when this passage hit me. This is what God was saying as he was teaching his disciples. In my life I don't want riches or material things. The real truth is I don't know what I need. There's so much I don't understand, but I know the answer is God.

Tell me, are you content in the knowledge that God knows what you need? Are you okay not knowing what you want or need? Do you trust him enough to care for you, his precious creation?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Quote of the Week: Wants of your Heart

"A Birthmother puts the needs of her child above the wants of her heart"
- Skye Hardwick