Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sharing Ourselves

Since my closed adoption I have struggled with many issues. One specifically has been how and when to share and how much to share. As I've shared my story with others, I can see for some it has been a burden. For that reason, I have become increasingly sensitive to them. Some people are curious and want to know more. Some people judge me and my actions and motives. I've learned that if I'm not feeling particularly strong or confident in that moment in that situation, sharing my shortcomings is not my best move.

So how do we know when to share? And what to share? I think first we need to be willing to tell others about the parts of us that are not so pretty. After building up a friendship or two, start sharing about your story. Start small. Maybe you still don’t share every wretched detail of everything. But share the main point and a lesson or two you’ve learned along the way. You may be surprised that when you are vulnerable enough to share, your friend is empowered also.

Years ago my husband and I were on vacation with another couple. The gal and I didn’t know each other that well but the way the arrangements worked out, she and I were alone in a car for several hours that weekend. We spent time talking and getting to know each other. We had just had our first baby after years of trying, and she and her husband had tried for years but still didn’t have a child of their own.

Normally I am very open about my first pregnancy, but for some reason I was slow to share that with her. Anyway, on the return trip, I took a chance and told her about my pregnancy at 15. What came out of her mouth next could not have surprised me more. She confessed to three previous abortions and was convinced that’s why they weren’t getting pregnant.

Now, in that case I may have gotten more than I bargained for BUT I never would have known that about her if I had not taken a risk and shared. Because I had that information, I knew how to better pray for her and support her during all of her fertility treatments.

Your adoption experience has purpose. Even when we don't understand. Be sensitive about who to share what with, but do take courage and open up when the opportunity presents itself.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Titles Sometimes = Gray Areas

In my personal experience, I've found that adoption language is a little more than difficult to navigate. It's really not black and white, and there are so many gray areas (I ALMOST said so many shades of gray, probably because I've heard so much about that book lately!), which can cause people to walk on eggshells. Not just friends and family of birth parents or adoptive parents, but the birth parents and adoptive parents themselves. For example, I will always think of my little girl as my daughter. I know I signed my parental rights away, but I will always think of her that way.  I have never referred to her as my birth daughter, because personally, it doesn't feel right to me. Not that it isn't - I'm just not comfortable with it, whereas another birth mom may be comfortable with it.

My daughter's mom always refers to me as her birth mom, which is completely fine. I personally do not love the term, but I do prefer it over 'first mom,' or 'natural mom,' because the first makes it sound as if her adoptive mom comes second, and the latter makes it sound as if her adoptive mom is 'unnatural' - neither of which are things I believe. I get conflicted at times, because I refer to her adoptive mom simply as her "mom." While I recognize that I am not actively our daughter's "mommy," sometimes I wish we could both simply be called "mother." Sometimes adding adjectives adds conflict. (I have a habit of analyzing words, if you couldn't tell).

For Arianna's birthday, Jared* (*not her birthdad's real name) signed her card, 'your loving father,' which her mom and dad didn't take too well to. They were friendly and polite, but asked him not to refer to himself that way, as her dad who is raising her earns that title. She would prefer he signed it 'your loving birth father.' She gave me the heads up that she was going to be writing to Jared to tell him, which I appreciated, and I completely took her side. He does not deserve the same title or recognition that her daddy does! However, after speaking to him about it, and seeing how hurt he was, I started to see his side as well. At the end of the day, he is still her father -- no, not her "daddy," -- but without him being her father in the first place, her adoptive dad wouldn't have that title (not to sound overly self-righteous - because I'm not like that). Now the situation has blown over, but I'm still floating somewhere between seeing his side and also completely understanding hers. This is what I mean about the "gray" areas.

Have you run into any of these "gray" areas head-on throughout your adoption experience? If so, how did you handle them?  Are you able to "keep the peace?"

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Birth Mother Story

I'm Lisa. I am 48 years old and I am a birthmother.  I was 26 when I was pregnant with my son and because of my past and things that I went through, my brain shut down and I was not in my right mind, as a result, I have no memory of what took place prior to the adoption.  I don’t remember having the child, or leaving the hospital.  I have pieces of memories that are no help for me to come to an understanding of what happened to me then.  I have been told that this adoption wasn’t my decision.  I wanted to keep my baby, but because of my emotional and mental breakdown from my past, two family members decided that adoption was best.  I didn’t get the 3 days with my baby, I didn’t get to say good-bye or fight for what I wanted.  The hospital just moved me off the floor and put me somewhere else.  Probably because I was saying things like---”I want to keep my baby”.  This is where I would like to get involved with changing the rules and policies of adoption.  I want to make sure everyone is treated fairly, counseling is always mandatory prior to adoption, and everyone understands just what is going to happen, now and in the future.

My husband (boyfriend at the time) is a great man.  I absolutely love him and thank God for him.  He has been wonderful through all this.  He is the biological father of our son and back then my family hated him.  My mother would do anything to get him out of my life.  No one went to him and said “I don’t think she can handle taking care of a baby, and give him the chance to voice his opinion”, No they just decided to give him away.  I can only imagine how he must of felt back then being shut out of everything.  No one in my family stood beside me or showed me any support of any kind.  I just shut down because it was to painful to go through.

I remember one day sitting in my chair and it was like someone shook me awake, that’s when I said “I think something happened”.  I do remember going to my phone and making a phone call to the agency that handled it.  (I must have had that number  when I left the hospital. ) I remember telling the lady “I think I made a mistake, could you send someone to come and talk with me”, she said they would send someone to help me.  No one ever came, so I kept calling.  Finally the lady says to me, “its too late, forget about him”, I was crushed.  I felt so empty inside.  I called yet again and asked if I could put cards and letters in his file so he would know that I love him.  She told me “No that is not allowed” and hung up on me.

Sometimes the pain is so overwhelming that all I can do is write my feelings down.  I do have a great husband to help me through things but sometimes that is not enough.  My dream would be to help someone, if its only one person, I would feel I was doing some good.  Anyone that has been through an adoption knows, NO ONE understands what you are going through or feeling unless you went through it yourself.  I am a member of the forum and without them, I would of been in a hospital with a mental breakdown.   That is how I heard of this organization, I wrote to them because I didn’t know what else to do.  Someone from the forum wrote me and gave me Birth Mom Buds information.

It was 2 years ago when my husband came home and told me that our birth son was looking for us.  I was hysterical, I couldn’t breath, or focus.  I was doing my own research to find him about 3 years before this happened.  I never told anyone what I was doing this,  so when he came home and told me this, well, I just lost it.   Having a reunion with my son was a blessing and exciting time, then the next day I just started crying, uncontrollably.  I couldn’t function.  I was a mess, I could not talk to anyone, go anywhere, even to sit with my family was hard.  I would leave the room because all I could do was cry.  The grief, pain, and guilt was all brought back and almost got the best of me.

Now I am not saying that I am against adoption, because in the right situation, it can be a beautiful thing.  I know birthmothers who it has been the right decision for.  I  want to be able to help someone through whatever they may be going through.  I think this blog is a wonderful opportunity for anyone needing to talk or just find support.  You don’t have to face anyone, you just write.  I think that makes a big difference, especially if your not ready to open your life to someone.  I just think its easier this way, at least it was for me.

I am still very emotional over this and sometimes feel very depressed and just don’t understand why this happened, but I am really trying to think positive.  Knowing that my son was raised in a good and loving home is a  comfort for me.  That is probably the only thing that gets me through the really hard days.  Plus I do have contact with my son, and he assures me that everything is ok with him and he had a good life.  But there is still those nagging questions and the hurt I will always feel I guess.

So I guess what I am saying here is no matter the situation, you can heal and go on.  Mine was negative because of the way it was handled.  But with support and someone to talk, it can help you on the road to healing (or I like to say, being able to cope).  Having a support system outside of my family has been a great help to me.  You can vent your feelings and believe me, someone always answers and understands.  It makes whatever your going through a little less painful and easier to get through.

I hope by reading this someone will be able to relate to this and become part of this great place.  Everyone here will be understanding and not judge you in any way.  No matter if you are going to do adoption, or your thinking about it or you have already done it, someone is always here for you.  If you have questions or just need to talk through your feelings, we can do that too.  I just hope this can help someone feel that they are not alone, it can really be a relief to know that.

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Quote of the Week: Happiness

"Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present." - Jim Rohn

Friday, May 25, 2012

Focusing on the Positive

Image credit
There is a lot of negativity in the adoption world.  It seems I’ve been running into it more and more lately.  I had reason to speak to an adult adopted person and she told me that she prefers to use a negative approach to speak for adoption reform instead of a positive one.  There are people that have had negative experiences with their own adoptions that have preferred to focus on the negative parts of their adoptions instead of the more positive aspects.  Then of course there’s all the negative stereotypes about birth moms and adoption in general that were publicized by the atrocious TLC show, “Birth Moms.”

I know that it seems easier to focus on the negative especially if you’re in a situation that seems to have no positive aspects.  If your child’s parents have not kept up their end of the agreement at relinquishment or if there was no openness to begin with then it seems there’s no positive.  I’ll admit in such situations that it would be very hard to focus on the positive.

So with all the negativity, why not just join in?  It’s the more difficult path to walk when you decide to focus on the positive things.  This does not mean you can’t speak out about the negative aspects of adoption that need reform or at least addressing.  I’ve spoken out about negatives that need changing in my own blog.  But even if my own situation was less than the positive situation that it is, I would hope that I would still concentrate on finding the positive.

Maybe it’s just my personality.  I tend to think of myself as fairly grounded in reality but I also like to view the more positive side of the equation.  I also think that change isn’t accomplished negatively.  I believe wars don’t really accomplish much other than killing people.  Certainly you could say that people might change eventually just to get the squeaky wheel oiled, so to speak.  But it’s rather like discipline to me.  I’d rather have a carrot motivating in front of me than a stick beating from behind.  When speaking of adoption I think it’s especially important to be a positive motivator for change.  Birth moms in general over the years have been viewed as an unknown enigma meant to be feared.  The stereotypes about us are all negative and I believe if we focus on the negative when advocating for change or even in our own situations that we will simply add to the negative view of us as a whole.  I don’t personally know a single birth mom that fits the stereotypes of us and I think the more of us that don’t fit those stereotypes, the more that society will be less likely to want to cram us all into that feared box.

How do we focus on the positive?  I can’t tell you the specifics of how because I don’t know your own situation.  If you aren’t able to watch your child growing in updates and/or visits, trust that he or she is growing up in the family you wanted for him or her.  Come to peace with the factors that affected your relinquishment.  It’s too late to change them now, and allowing yourself to focus on the negative will eventually affect your life negatively.  In my own relinquishment I’ve come to peace with what happened and that has helped a lot.  I’ve owned up to the parts of the equation that I could control and let go of the parts that I couldn’t.  Believe that even the negatives in your own situation can and will eventually work for the positive if you let them.  When I made the decision to marry my ex-husband it wasn’t one of the best decisions of my life.  But if I hadn’t met and married him I wouldn’t have met the man with whom I believe I will spend the rest of my life.  Yes, sometimes it takes hindsight to see the positive and sometimes it’s hard when you’re still in the situation as you are when speaking of adoption.  Adoption is a lifetime circumstance.  But I also believe that a daily inventory of what has changed positively about your life as a result of relinquishment and what you know that you desired for your child that’s come true can go a long way toward changing your focus and your attitude.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Motivating Regret

Since my closed adoption, I have struggled with many things one of which is regret. I have had so many regrets that I honestly didn't realize some of them until I started writing about them.

Regret can be a very strong motivator for healing if we will let it. Last week I was talking to a young college student. She is earning good grades and working hard towards applying to nursing school. She is also the mother of a 10-month old baby boy. She told me she has given up the dream of the “white picket fence”, but she’s ok with that now. She said it has been hard, but now she sees what is really important and wants to stay focused so she can provide a good life for her and her son. She said that although her dreams for the future have died, she has a new dream.

That’s letting poor decisions encourage better ones in the future. Now I know what you’re thinking. Why should I put myself through this? What is there to gain? Is there really anything better than what I already have?

The answer is YES! But more than that, God did not allow those things to happen to you to punish you. He allowed those things to come into your life for a reason. Those are the things he will use to deepen your faith and give you meaning and purpose. Those are the things he will use to show you his mighty hand of restoration. And those are the things he will use to show you, to prove to you, that he is who he says he is and you are who the Bible says you are.

 My husband and I tried for years and years to have a baby on our own. After my own unplanned pregnancy at age 15, imagine how surprised I was to find out that I couldn’t get pregnant when I actually wanted to. Did I struggle with regret? You bet. But finally having a child became an even bigger blessing because of our doubt and struggle.

Trust God with your doubt, your regret, your struggled. He will get you through to blessings you can't even imagine on the other side.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Allow Me to Introduce Myself!

Hi there! My name is Elizabeth and I'm excited to be one of the new bloggers here at BirthMom Buds! I have a one and a half year old daughter who I placed for adoption in November of 2010 and I'll call her Arianna when I post - this is not her real name now, but it is the name I gave to her and the name that is on her original birth certificate. My hope is that I can be easy to relate to, and if my story (or any of the other posts on this blog for that matter) can help even one person who is facing an unplanned pregnancy, then I think I speak for everyone when I say that I will feel accomplished. I feel as though adoption stories are like snowflakes - no two are alike. Some may look the same if you look quickly, but if you dig a little deeper, each one is different. I'm still learning as I go, and I've realized that there is no blanket category for birth moms. We are all unique, and that's what makes this journey so amazing. Granted, I know there are very high highs and can be very low lows, but no matter how you look at it, "birth-motherhood" is amazing (in my opinion)!

Each one of us brings something new to the table. Some of us have completely closed adoptions, others have very open adoptions, and others are in between. I fall into the "in between" category. My adoption is very open in many ways...all information is disclosed, including last names, addresses, phone numbers and emails, but I don't have face-to-face visits yet. We Skype (which is wonderful!), but do not speak in person. I struggle with this sometimes, because at the time I placed her, visits were not something I wanted. I didn't even know if I could handle seeing photos of her, let alone seeing her in person and leaving her again. So visits were never really brought up, and I was fine with it. A few months after placement and regular contact with her adoptive parents, I realized that I wasn't in the right state of mind at the time, and that I did want to spend time with her. Long story short, her adoptive parents kindly told me that they personally would rather wait until she is "older," but that I can always feel free to discuss it with them because nothing is set in stone and they do want me to be a part of her life. So, in many ways, I feel like I can relate to the girls who have closed adoptions as well as girls who have extremely open adoptions.

I could go on forever! I'll save it for more focused posts in the future, though. I look forward to blogging with these wonderful women and hope that I can bring something great to the table as they all have! Before I sign off - if you could go back to the beginning (say, at the time that you were in the hospital), is there anything you would change about your experience? Possibly spending more time with your child in the hospital, or setting different "ground rules" for what you would have liked to see in the future in your adoption?

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Quote of the Week: Change the World

"Change your thoughts and you change your world." - Norman Vincent Peale

Friday, May 18, 2012

Spotlight Blogger: Meet Sterling

Sterling with the son she placed
Today's featured blogger is Sterling of My Adoption Journey: a birthmother's story.  Let's find out a little more about Sterling...

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 Sterling Bo Lloyd. I'm 22 years old and my husband and I live in Roy, Utah. I placed a sweet little boy for adoption almost 2 years ago. When I initially found out that I was unwed and pregnant, I decided to move home to be with my parents. They were disappointed and very sad that I had to go through so much pain, but they were very supportive and loving. Almost immediately, my mom wanted me to seek counseling so that I could get help emotionally and mentally... we didn't even consider the idea of adoption at the beginning. One month into counseling at LDS Family Services, my caseworker and I started talking about how to make a plan for my baby. Since I was living at home with my mom and her husband, my step-dad, I was beginning to see what a healthy, functional family looked like. I began going to church with them and slowly grew an appreciation and respect for a family - one with a mom AND a dad.  I didn't always have my dad around growing up, and it was very difficult. I didn't want my little boy to suffer for the mistakes I had made. His (birth) father would be involved in his life, but he didn't want ME. It tore me up to think about my child growing up being carted between parents. It wasn't fair to him. He deserved more than I could offer at the time. I'm also of the LDS faith and believe in the principle of eternal families - that families still exist after this life through a sealing ordinance (visit for more information)... I couldn't be sealed to my baby when he was born, or until he was 18 unless his (birth) father gave permission, which he said he would never do. My baby deserved an eternal family, and I had no guarantee that it was possible then, if ever. I began emailing Dave and Amy when I was 3 months pregnant, and when I finally met them at 6 months I knew they were his family. I had no doubt, and the feeling of peace (bittersweet) was so powerful that I couldn't deny it was the right decision for me and my little boy.

When and why did you begin blogging?

I began blogging when I was 18 and had first moved to college.  At the time I had plans to change the world through writing.  I had a blog that I essentially used as a journal. I would post my thoughts and rants about how unfair society is, really dark and disturbed stuff, and my pathetic love life. My second year of college I decided that if I wanted to be a serious writer, I had to have a blog that was themed. I had to have a strong stance on something... the problem was that I couldn't decide what that was. I couldn't do satire, it's not my thing. Politics were out. I wasn't the crafty type... so I dabbled for a year and almost gave up.  Then, when I began making an adoption plan for my sweet little boy, I needed an outlet. I needed a place where I could talk about my feelings and also seek advice from other women who had gone through what I was going through. I thought that if I could survive placement and move forward, it would be a good resource someday for others going through the heartache of an unwed pregnancy. This started my Diary of a Birthmom blog.

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

I chose the name of my blog, Diaryof a Birthmom, because I felt it was catchy.  I'd read similar titles before, Diary of a Madman, Diary of a Vampire, Diary of a Wimpy Kid... I figured that was the closest I could get to having anything "memorable" in the writing world. That was me trying to be clever whilst pregnant. :-)

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

It's been mostly positive.  I've had the occasional negative comment, as most hot-topic bloggers do, but to be honest I generally delete negative comments or let my adoption advocate friends rip them to shreds. :-)

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?

My must-reads are listed on the top left column of my blog. They are:

"The Other Side of Sorrow," which is actually written by my little boy's mom, Amy, about their struggle with infertility and the years leading up to placement.  I bawl every time I read it, and it has helped others who read my blog and know my story understand the other side of things, and why I truly believe adoption is beautiful and perfect.

"Remember, it's okay to miss him," which I wrote just a few weeks after placement. I had some very raw emotion, and when I read back I can feel it all again.

"A Mother's Prayer" is the post about hospital, placement, and immediate post-placement. It was the most helpless and bittersweet time of my life, but I knew that if I shared then others might be able to find hope.

Others I really like are "a strong kind of broken"  from May 20, 2010, and the two posts following it. They were written when my step-dad passed away. He was very influential in helping me decide to place, and supported me constantly. He went into a coma ten days before I delivered and placed, and never came out of it. He passed away three months after I placed my little boy, and that experience changed me completely.

My favorite, though, is from this past year. I got married to the most incredible man in the world. I only did a short post, but it still makes me smile. It's in June 2011. Go have a read.

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

Really decide if what you are going to blog about is worth it, and if you can stick to your values and opinions. Have a purpose for your blog. The tiniest bit of negativity, especially if you want to blog about a hot-topic such as adoption, can really feel devastating. The most important thing is to be honest, open, and compassionate. Also, be original. Be sure YOUR personality is shining through each post, not some generic what-the-world-wants-to-hear personality. I love reading blogs that make me feel as if I know the person and can feel what they are feeling.  If I laugh, cry, or get angry... I know it's a good blog. :-)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Going Public

Since my closed adoption, I have struggled with many things. This was one of them. Finally I got so tired of keeping my secret that I told everyone I could just so I didn't have to carry it all by myself any more.

I don’t know that the goal of every one of our struggles is standing on the stage and confessing them to large groups of people. But again, I do believe there is power in speaking the words out loud and bringing them out of the darkness and into the light. Each of us has to trust God to show us and make it clear to us if and when we are to share our experiences with other people.

A couple of years ago, I was working with a group of women in a recovery ministry. One of the women was a prominent member of the church but came to the group confessing that as a pastor’s daughter, she was repeatedly sexually abused growing up. She felt convicted that she was finally healthy enough to share her story with other women and help promote healing. All through our meetings together, she held firmly to that belief even though the spiritual warfare going on in her life was unimaginable.

Suddenly and without warning, she quit the group, quit the church and disappeared. She stopped returning phone calls. And the next time I saw her, she totally ignored me and kept walking.

That is still such a sad scene for me. This woman was so loving and encouraging to everyone in our group. But she just couldn't get over her shame. Trust God. I know that doesn't make it easier, but he will guide you and encourage you and give you the strength necessary to walk the path you need to walk in order to find healing.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Birthmom Bloggers

We are looking to add a few new bloggers to our blog. You must be a birthmother and willing to blog once a week. If you are interested please send a writing sample or a link to your own blog if you have one to birthmombuds (at) gmail (dot)com.

Secondly, we are looking for bloggers to spotlight. If you actively blog about life as a birthmother on your own blog and would like to be featured in one of our (every other) Friday spotlights, please send a link to your blog for consideration to birthmombuds (at) gmail (dot)com.

Photo Credit

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

2012 Retreat Recap

Random Acts of Kindness
Once again we had a fabulous time at our annual BirthMom Buds retreat. Since the retreat fell on the weekend of Cinco de Mayo this year, the retreat was appropriately fiesta themed.

We started off the weekend with some sightseeing on Friday. While browsing through the streets of uptown Charlotte, North Carolina, we decided to do a “random act of kindness” when we spotted a street vendor selling bouquets of flowers. Lani purchased a bouquet and we split it up amongst the ladies with us. We then randomly gave flowers out to strangers and wished them a good day. This was much more fun than I thought it would be. It was heartwarming to see the smile on the strangers face when they received a flower. I am sure we brightened a few days.

2012 Attendees
We really kicked off the festivities with a pizza party at the hotel Friday evening. This was the first year we had a pizza party and it was a lot of fun! We played several different icebreaker/get to know you type games and “the pig game” seemed to be everyone’s favorite and got the most laughs.

Oh Fiesta! 
On Saturday, we started our day off with another icebreaker and then launched right into our breakout sessions. We have two time slots and offer two different sessions during each time slot and attendees choose which sessions they’d like to attend. This year’s breakout sessions were: Closed Adoption Chit Chat led by Pam B., Identity of a Birthmother led by Melanie M., Managing the Story of Our Adoption for the Children in Our Life led by Lani W., and Healing a Broken Heart; Finding Peace in Tough Circumstances led by Mary C.

Balloon Release
After breakout sessions, we did a simple craft of making post it note stands and then it was time for lunch. In keeping with the fiesta theme, we had a taco/fajita buffet. After lunch, we all went outside and released balloons with our hopes, dreams, and prayers for our birthchildren attached to them. Watching all of the balloons float upward is always beautiful.

Next was our afternoon speakers which were fellow birthmother and author Michelle Thorne, adoptive Mother of 2, Nancy Fisher, and adoptee and Nancy’s son, Justin Fisher. Each of the speakers were engaging and had great things to share. I think Justin’s words were especially powerful as he encouraged each of us to write or continue writing to our birthchildren and explained how important those letters are to him.

Candlelight Ceremony
Lastly, we closed with a candlelight ceremony which is always so meaningful as we go around the room lighting our candles off one anothers and sharing prayers, thoughts, or wishes for our children.

Saturday night, we went to dinner and then dancing at an 80’s club. Some of our ladies dressed the part and looked like they stepped right out of 1988. Saturday night was a lot of fun and was a nice change of pace compared to the emotions of earlier that day. Sunday morning we all had breakfast together before parting ways.

My biggest complaint about the weekend was that it went by too fast! I’m already looking forward to next year’s retreat!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Quote of the Week: Truth

”Every truth passes through three stages before it is recognized. In the first, it is ridiculed. In the second, it is opposed. In the third, it is regarded as self evident.” - Arthur Schopenhauer

Friday, May 11, 2012

Oh Fiesta!

Last weekend I had the privilege of once again attending the BirthMom Buds retreat in Charlotte, NC.  Honestly it’s completely worth the pain and expense of traveling across the United States to be there.  I can’t accurately describe what it means to be in a room full of people who, while they may have different stories, know exactly how you feel because they’ve been or are there too.  It’s like an extended birth mom support group except much better.

We laughed and we cried.  We colored, ate pizza, danced, lit candles, drew pigs, made paper airplanes, and listened to stories both funny and heartwarming.  The fiesta theme and d├ęcor were absolutely fabulous.  It was perfect, bright, and colorful to match the whole idea of fiesta.  Michelle Thorne came and spoke, and an adoptive mom and her 18 year old son came and each spoke about their open adoption experiences.  I have to say that was one of my favorite parts of the whole event this year.  Hearing about open adoption from those who have experienced it is always great no matter who is speaking.  But when you hear about what a difference it does indeed make for the adopted child from him or her, it’s that much better.  One of the things the adoptive mom said made an impression.  When asked by a birth mom in reunion about how she’ll feel about her son having kids and those kids calling his birth mom “grandma,” she essentially said that those who have a problem with that need to work on their own self-esteem.  She realizes that her son’s future kids calling another person grandma doesn’t take away her own role or her own importance.  I also enjoyed Michelle’s analogy with the cups.  When Michelle was speaking, she used Styrofoam cups and water to illustrate that the bottom gets cut out of your heart when you relinquish your child.  Coming to terms with your decision and healing from it gives you a “new” heart that you can fill again.  That new heart still holds the old and broken heart.  The broken heart never goes away.  I’m a very visual person and that visual will stay with me and be a reminder to me when the grief pops up.

One of the things that also made an impression on me was the fact that though we all have different experiences it feels so much like an accepting family.  Those experiences and beliefs have shaped our own opinions, but even with differing opinions there wasn’t a single argument.  I think part of the reasoning behind it is that we’ve all experienced judgment for our decision to relinquish, or even more so for the decisions that led to getting pregnant in the first place.  We’re not anxious to judge other people for differing opinions because we’ve all felt the pain of judgment.  I also think we just have a great group.  I have run into birth moms who are extremely judgmental of other birth moms so I don’t necessarily think that assuming a birth mom won’t be judgmental because she’s been judged is always an accurate assumption.

All in all it was a fantastic experience.  I strongly urge those of you who haven’t yet gone to a retreat to make the effort to be there next year.  At this point you have a full year to save for a plane ticket and to plan to be gone for a 3-day weekend.  You won’t regret going!  A special thanks to Coley, Melanie, and Lani for spending hours in preparation for this event.  I know I’m not the only one who appreciates your hard work!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Mother's Day is a time to remember and reflect on how we have mothered in all areas of our lives. For us as birthmothers, Mother's Day may be a sad time as we have given birth to new life and allowed someone else to nurture that life and watch it grow.

How have you mothered in other ways perhaps to a niece or a nephew, a friend's child, etc? What area of your life are you currently mothering in? Do you have children at home? Neighborhood children you love on when they are in your home? Children at church? As women, we were created to be life-giving not just through our bodies but by the way we speak and serve and sacrifice for others.

This Mother's Day let's indeed remember the children that we are not raising. But let's also celebrate all the ways we can mother to those around us.

Happy Mother's Day!

Photo credit

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Quote of the Week: Motivation

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” - Zig Ziglar