Friday, August 31, 2012

The Gift of a Child

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about children as gifts and the implications it has for those of us who relinquish those same children.  I’m not arguing that children aren’t gifts.  I believe all children are gifts to those that are fortunate enough to be involved in their lives, and I don’t think you’ll find a single parent, birth parent or otherwise, that would disagree with me.

The hazard with thinking of children as gifts, however, comes when we think of them as gifts to give another family.  I believe I’ve said before how strongly I feel that children have families already when they are conceived.  You as a pregnant woman were your child’s family even if no other biological relative wanted to be involved.  When you signed away your legal rights to that child that did not mean that you signed away your motherhood as well.  No legal document can ever diminish the fact that you are still family to that child.  You are still that child’s mother.

When we choose a family for our child and subsequently sign away parental rights to that child, we are not giving that family the gift of a child.  We are giving our child the gift of an additional family that is better equipped to raise him or her than you feel you are at the time.

I’ve spoken on my own blog several times of the importance of adoption as a whole needing to be focused on the child and not focused on the parents.  That doesn’t mean no support is needed at all for the parents involved.  What it does mean is that we support the parents of that child by focusing on that child.  I’ve heard this attitude described as “finding a home for every child” instead of “finding a child for every home.”  That says it so completely and correctly.  When we consider ourselves as giving a gift of a child to the adoptive family, we’re “finding a child for every home.”  We’re not finding a home for that child.  Our focus is put on the hopeful adoptive family instead of on that child.

I’m not saying that we can’t or shouldn’t look at the positives for the family that is adopting our child as well.  In my own situation, though I didn’t choose Mack’s parents for their happiness, it does make me happy that they’re happy with my daughter.  I still did not place Mack with them for their happiness.  It was a side benefit as I like to see my “gifts” appreciated.  If Mack grows up surrounded by an adoptive family that love her and take wonderful care of her, then the gift I gave to her will truly be realized and fulfilled.  It will make me happy seeing that she likes the gift I gave to her.  It will make me happy to see her contentment with the family that I chose.

I’ll close with this thought.  It’s okay to think of your child as a gift.  Mack was and is a wonderful, life-changing gift.  But when you give your child an additional family, don’t let yourself fall into the trap of thinking you’re giving the gift of your child to those people.  Think of yourself as giving the gift of an additional, more-prepared family to your child.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Giving Up

Has this ever happened to you? You give up on something, totally resign, throw it in the round file, give up the ghost; however you want to say it. You renounce it, announce it, and tell everyone that you no longer want to do whatever it is. And you're serious. At that moment, you are totally serious and mean what you are saying.

I tried that with public speaking six months ago. I was so done. Over it. Never going to do it again. I didn't like it. It didn't like me. I was boring myself, boring my audience, and making a fool of myself. I knew I was supposed to share my story of unplanned pregnancy and closed adoption, but after the last time, I was done.

So the exciting news is that I got six months off. The not-so-good news is that I now have three speaking engagements in the next two months. Three. And none of them did I seek out, look for, apply for or otherwise market for. I told you, I was done. Done done.

Funny that it's been just long enough to forget how boring I am. Just long enough to make the prospect of speaking to a group of women enticing and exciting again.

So my point is that for me at least, this story doesn't belong to me. For me, the saga that is my life belongs to my Creator God. And if he desires for me to share it with people in a public setting, so be it. Do you ever feel like you want to keep your story to yourself? Do you ever feel like God wants you to be more vocal about it than you are?

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Quote of the Week: Eraser

"Life is the art of drawing without an eraser."
- John Gardner 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Spotlight Blogger: Meet Tamra

Today's featured blogger is Tamra of “Each Life That Touches Ours for Good.”  I appreciate her positive attitude and her gift with words.  Let's find out a little more about Tamra...

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 Tamra Hyde, and I'm 34 years old.  I recently moved to Salt Lake City, UT but I grew up in Memphis, TN and have lived many places since. I've worked in the wilderness therapy, adoption, and beauty industries.
There were many factors and MANY miracles which led me from being a self-absorbed, reckless 17 year old to being a birth mom. It was not a quick and easy answer.  I think it rarely is. My initial thinking was: but I'm not one of "those girls.”  I imagined that the only person who should place a child for adoption were those who would be the absolute worst of parents, who absolutely COULD NOT do it; the drug addicted, the 14/15 year olds, the destitute, the mentally unstable. None of this applied to me and in fact, I believe I would have been a good parent, certainly better than many I've seen.  I COULD have done it. Truth be told, most anyone CAN with the resources that are available. It's always a pet peeve of mine when people assume I placed for adoption because I "couldn't" do it. I know now that just because you can doesn't mean you should. I came to see that it was a matter of good, better, best. What I'd had, what I grew up with, what my parents had given me- was in most respects better than what I had to offer Justin. Don't we want our children to have MORE, to fare BETTER than we have? How could I give him less than even what I'd been afforded? It didn't seem fair. What I had to offer was enough. But was enough...enough? Not for him. Not when I knew there was better. My adolescent brain would try to twist reason and logic in such a way where it evened out, where what I had to offer could compare to what 2 parents with emotional and monetary experience, maturity, and preparation could offer him. I bargained that if I overcompensated and did my very best... But in time, I had to submit that even stretched to my max...the gap between what I could give and what he COULD have was too broad.

So knowing, at least intellectually, what was best for him was half the battle.  I still had my heart to deal with.  Part of me would still say "right or wrong...I can't.  It would kill me".  There was a sense of entitlement.  "He's MINE, I want him, I love him, and that would hurt ME".  As a teen, and as someone who was responsible for no one but myself and not even fully so, I'd only ever made decisions with the reasoning of what I felt, what I thought, what I wanted, and what I thought I needed. I was right on par developmentally (thus why we should not procreate without a fully developed frontal lobe). It took time and struggle and certainly divine intervention to break that process of thought, to finally see highlighted the "I, ME, and MY" in my rationale and to come to the realization that my mom, doesn't matter, my friends don't matter, caseworker doesn't matter, my boyfriend doesn't matter, TAMRA doesn't matter. What any of us felt or wanted was now irrelevant and could not factor into the equation. I had forfeited my right to self-interest. When I erased all of these factors from the chalkboard in my brain, when only Justin's best interest and the will of the God I'd been petitioning were left, there was clarity, and to my astonishment, even peace.

Now at this point I knew that adoption would mean that Justin wins, he would have a wonderful family with 2 parents who had the stability, experience, maturity, and preparation he would need. I knew that his parents would win when they would receive this precious, perfect child they’d prayed for.  But I believed I would be the loser in adoption, even a victim of it.  That was a deal I was prepared to strike.  I fully anticipated being pretty broken from that point but it didn't matter.  If Justin wins, I win.  

Happily, it has been much to the contrary.  I have my part in the sweet as well as the bitter. The first of that sweetness came into my view as I met his parents. Up until that point, while I'd had tremendous peace to sustain me, it was still something I viewed as tragedy.  I was going to lose a child.  But on this day of days in my life, I sat across from two good and deserving people, who'd cried and prayed and wondered for years, and now, they would have the desire of their hearts and the answer to their prayers. This was silver lining indeed. I was so full of joy for my new and already much loved friends that for a moment, I forgot my own loss. They have mourned with me and a portion of all of their joy has been mine. Every blessing and happiness they have as a family is soothing and compensation for my tears shed. Furthermore, the effort and progress I made in order to benefit my Justin have changed the course of my life exponentially. I grew more in those months than all the years proceeding. I learned so many defining lessons, most significant of which is love, the real kind, the kind that is void of self.

But I've gotten a bit off topic, I can't help myself.

This is an account of not the events (which were also miraculous), but the thoughts and feelings that lead me to adoption. It must be said however, that the MOST influential factor, what it was that got me TO adoption and then got me THROUGH adoption, was the wisdom and strength that could not have been found in me.  It was from He who knows me and Justin better than I do.  It was from He who loves us both more even than that great love which I felt for my child. I asked and He answered. I was weak but He was strong, and when the burden of grief weighed me down, He carried me. These are not just lovely sentiments. This is real and true.

When and why did you begin blogging?

I started blogging in 2009. I'm sure there were a few reasons. Advocacy has always motivated me. It's almost compulsive. I've encountered so many who have expressed regret saying if they’d only known, if they’d only had accurate information that they would have chosen differently.

One of my friend’s mothers confided in me that she wished she had done for her daughter what I’d done for my son.  I've had 2 girls, after having had abortions, express to me after hearing my story that they wished they’d heard it before they made their choice but they didn't know.  Nobody told them.  I almost feel like I'm stealing if I don't give back, if i take my blessings, say "thanks very much" and then bolt.

I was SO stupid about adoption before someone told me, and the difference it has made to me and Justin and his family is eternal in consequence. Because I have been given much, I too must give.  Another part of the compulsion is a bit… selfish? As I've made associations with those who placed in the dark ages of adoption, in those times when we had no forum, no audience, no outlet, when we were told to hide it and forget about it, I've seen all the more the great need we have to process our experience. It is so amazing and beautiful but it is also absolutely trauma. We NEED to talk about both of those aspects of it. I've come to understand my story in the telling of it.  I STILL gain new insights and greater perspective as I share it.
Furthermore my memory ain't so good so I figure I ought to have documentation ;)

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

When I started, I didn't know anything about blogs or blogging.  I doubt if I'd ever even read one besides maybe The R House. I didn't have anything clever to call it. I named it after the hymn “Each Life That Touches Ours for Good” because every time I hear or sing it, I think about adoption. I think about Justin and his family and the impact for good they've had on my life. I also like to hope that through my words I can touch other lives for good as well.

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

Truth be told, I still know next to nothing about blogging beyond that you write (this is evident if you visit).  So I don't know why, but I haven't gotten any of the haters that I hear about everybody else getting. I know they're out there and they are nasty and ruthless but for whatever reason, they seem to be as yet unaware of me. I can't recall ever having a comment on my blog that wasn't very sweet. Lucky, huh? Many of the responses I've received have moved me to tears in fact. Only really, really sweet people read my blog. ;)

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 posts are so random, and honestly, shamefully few and far between. Probably only a few of them are what you'd think of as traditional blog posts. Most of it is just pieces I've written for some other purpose. I'm a lazy blogger. It's interesting because I actually have some pretty passionate and current thoughts and views and things I'm processing but I get overwhelmed to think of that kind of blogging though I'm sure it's exactly what i need to do. Perhaps I will...

I think the first thing I ever posted was actually written by my mom. It's a poem called “Promise in the Garden.” I think it's probably the best thing on my blog. Really, everybody should read it. I think I'd also recommend the post entitled "Myths and Misconceptions," particularly to someone who may be fairly new to adoption. One of the few more personal ones is about what I experienced the night before Justin turned 14. I like it.

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

Me?  Nah.  I'm just STARTING to try to use capitalization and proper punctuation. I write like I speak, sloppy and a little southern.  But if anyone has any advice for me… I'd like to evolve as a blogger.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Simply Become Who You Are

In redecorating my daughter's room recently, we came across lots of run-on transfers containing words and phrases. Since she is my child, I wanted to put something on her wall that both inspires and blesses her as she grows and becomes who she is. I've seen Bible verses, sayings, drawings, designs - anything can be put on a wall nowadays. 

But then I saw one that summed up me to myself. Simply become who you are is what I feel like I've been trying to do for several years. Integrating birthmothering, parenting, daughterhood, sisterhood and the zillion other things I am into my one person has challenged and stretched me. Being comfortable in my own skin is the thing that stretches me the most.

I would like to think I have outgrown the days of feeling insecure about my height/weight/shoe size/you name it. I think for the most part I have. The more I get to know myself and what I'm about, the less prone I am to fall into the comparison trap. Simply becoming who I am takes the pressure off of me and focuses it on my creator. He made me for a specific reason. He knows all and sees all and even if my house-on-the-corner-in-suburbia life makes no sense to me at times, God knows exactly what he's doing by having me right where I am.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Quote of the Week: Life is Like A Bicycle

"Life is like a bicycle. 
You don't fall off unless you plan to stop peddling." 
- Claude Pepper

Friday, August 17, 2012

Are We Really Mothers?

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I know some birthmoms who struggle with feeling like their right to call themselves “mom” and to act like mothers was signed away when they signed relinquishment documents.  In fact, my best friend feels that way.  She relinquished her son last December to an open adoption, and though she calls herself “momma” to me when we’re talking about her son, she doesn’t feel it in her heart as she expects to feel it.  I think several things have contributed to birthmoms in general having that feeling.

Terminology has had a negative effect on our being able to feel our motherhood.  I know I’ve spoken before about how proper terminology can make a huge difference, but even the usage of good terminology can have pitfalls.  I think the term “birthmom” can actually cause some women to feel that they don’t have the right to simply refer to themselves as a mom.  I don’t have an easy answer for this.  For instance I have no problem calling myself a birthmom, but I also use the terminology interchangeably with “mom” or “other mom” depending on my audience.  I have no problem saying this because I am my daughter’s mother, but society in general expects us to not refer to ourselves as “mom” because we’ve supposedly signed that right away.  The signing of a legal document will never change my biological relationship to my daughter.  I believe a general need to refer to the children we’ve relinquished as “birth son,” “birth daughter,” or “birth child” stems from that same attitude.  Relinquishing our legal rights to parent our children doesn’t make them less our children.  It just means we have no legal right to make the decisions their parents now make for them and about them.

I believe the other reason that my best friend and others who feel as she does feel the way they do happens on a much deeper emotional level.  No matter how positive and at peace we feel about our decision to relinquish, I think there will always be at least a small part of us that reminds us of the fact that we didn’t feel we were “good enough” for whatever reason to parent our child.  Our inner self is saying that if we weren’t “good enough” to parent our child then we’re not “good enough” to call ourselves mothers.  The problem with that feeling is that we are good enough to parent our children.  Every single one of us is good enough to parent our children.  We just decide that we want to give our children more than what we feel we can provide.

So how do we fix our own internal voice?  We have to drown it out with another voice telling us that we are mothers, and that we are good enough to take that term as our own.  That means lots of repetition to ourselves that we’re good enough to deserve that title.  That means we act like proud moms and show pictures of our children off.  If you’re not fortunate enough to have pictures of your child, you can still tell people that you have a child.  If you’ve decided for other reasons to keep the birth and relinquishment of your child a secret, you can still tell yourself that you’re a mom even if you’re not raising any other child.  Even the birthmoms that feel uncomfortable being as public about their adoptions as I am but have access to pictures of their child can say to themselves when they look at those pictures, “That’s my kid,” with pride in their voice.  It’s important to change the voices around us and in our heads that tell us we don’t deserve our motherhood.  There’s a line in the P!nk song, “Less Than Perfect” that says, “Change the voices in your head; make them like you instead.”  That attitude can and should be applied to a situation where a birthmom doesn’t feel like the mother that she is.  The same line in this case could say, “Change the voices in your head; you are a mom.”  Obviously it doesn’t fit well with the music if you’re familiar with the tune of the song, but the attitude needs to be there.

How will you work on changing your voice?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Response

Well my response to my aunt's letter is about done. If you missed last week's edition, you can catch up here. I'm still a little surprised how good that grief validation feels after 26 years.

Even though I have been praying about what to say and how to say it, it all looks different on paper, you know? I've written some things that I have been surprised about. I've also left things out that should be in there.

Mostly I just told my aunt how much I love her and have in her both a friend and a confidant. I wish I could be there when she reads my letter so I know my words are interpreted as they are intended. But more than that, I wish I could thank her in person. Look her in the eyse and tell her how much her words mean to me and the healing of my soul. Put my arms around her and squeeze her tight.

I guess her letter had another impact on me that I didn't realize at first. She's aging, as we all are, and she will die some day. It's hard to get older and lose loved ones. It's hard to see the ones who have loved me and supported me in dark times pass away.

I'm thankful for my aunt's letter. I'm glad to know what she has been feeling all these years and have the opportunity to respond to it. I would prefer to know now than after she passes away when it's too late to respond, too late to tell her what she means to me.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I Wonder What He's Thinking

I always wonder what my birth son is thinking, is he resentful to me for what happened or is he thinking "how could a mom do this"?  I think about this quite often, daily actually.  I look into his eyes and I see question marks.  It has been two years know since our reunion and it just seems that there are still a lot of unanswered questions from myself and from my birth son.  I don't want to burden him with the questions I have or make him feel like I need for him to talk to me about this just so I will feel better.  So I just simply don't ask.

However, today was a good day for me.  I no longer feel that way thanks to his girlfriend.  She brought my grand daughter over to watch while she went to classes and after she came back we had a nice long chat.  So glad that we did, it made me feel so much better about how I have been feeling.  I found out that my birth son wants to ask the questions and know everything he is just to afraid to ask me.  WOW, what a breakthrough!  I will finally be able to talk about stuff with him and not feel like I am intruding in his life.  I mean he has a family and he is happy BUT now I can sit and discuss it with him.

I will see him again Thursday when he comes to pick up the baby after work and we can sit and talk things out.  I really just want to know about his life with his adoptive parents.  I mean things like, what were the holidays like for him and did he get a lot of presents, did he get to go see Santa and the Easter Bunny, and what his life was like.  I know that might sound corny or just weird, but that is what I want to hear.  I want him to tell me all about his life with them.

Just knowing that we are both afraid to ask questions and tell each other stuff is a relief to me.  I just didn't want to give him any reason to look down on me or to feel uneasy or uncomfortable when he is here.  But know I won't feel that way.  He does want to know everything from me (he has already talked to my husband which is his birth dad) but he still wants to talk to me.

I still see things in his eyes, I told his girlfriend that today.  I knew something was going on.  While I just thought he didn't want bothered with any of it and that's why we really don't have a relationship, in reality we are BOTH feeling the same thing.  Yep, today was a good day and I am so thankful I am going to have this opportunity to finally sit and talk with my birth son and let him know just how much I care about him.  I just can't wait until Thursday now.  I wrote in an earlier post that I had an envelope of letters and cards from the past two years and was just afraid to give it to him.  Thought maybe he just wouldn't be interested in it.  Now I can hand them to him and not feel like the outsider.  THANK YOU GOD, I feel like he answered my prayer today.  I think this will be a fresh new start for my birth son and me and will change how we look at each other.

So anyone else feeling like the outsider and had a breakthrough?  Just remember patience is your friend and in time things will come together.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Quote of the Week: Bad Attitude

"A bad attitude is like a flat tire. 
You can't go anywhere until you change it." 

- Unknown

Friday, August 10, 2012

Spotlight Blogger: Meet Nan

This week's featured blogger is Nan of "Our Best Day So Far."  She is in reunion with the daughter she relinquished.  I love her perspective and her overall positive attitude despite some of the rough things that she's endured.  Let's find out a little more about Nan...

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 MariAnell Barton; almost everyone who knows me knows me as Nan. It is confusing for some who don't know how to find me in the phonebook, but I have always loved my real name more than the nickname that was given to me as a small child. I am 39 years old; I placed my baby girl for adoption 19 years ago. I live in a middle-of-nowhere small town in Utah and have for most of my life.

What led me to an adoption plan? I found myself unexpectedly pregnant and thought myself completely unprepared to be a parent. When I decided to get a real pregnancy test, I went into a Planned Parenthood. When the worker there came back to me with the results, she asked me what I wanted to do about it. My first thought was adoption. She handed me a paper with the names of several agencies and attorneys that could help me. The one that was run by my church stood out the most to me. I went into the agency telling them of my plans, but they insisted that I spend more time considering all of my options, including getting married or single parenting. After a few months working with them, I felt even more sure of my plan. I participated in a birthmother group there, attended child birth classes, and prayed more in those few months than I ever had in my life. I received a strong confirmation that adoption was the right thing for this baby, especially after I was able to choose her family. Her birth was one of the most spiritual experiences in my life.

I have been grateful to be able to say I never regretted my choice. However, I have been frustrated by some of the mistreatment I have experienced at the hands of an agency I have loved and promoted over the years. This was particularly true this last year, as I sought to re-establish communication with the family with the agency's "help". Still, I do believe my life has been blessed by adoption, and by the opportunities I have pursued to share my experience and to support others who have had similar experiences.

When and why did you begin blogging?

I started my blog in 2008, after some of my family members encouraged me. We found it was a good way to share in each others' lives as some of us live thousands of miles apart. I started blog hopping and one day I ended up following a link to a friend of a friend and I discovered another family who had been touched by adoption. From there, I wandered to The R House blog. I loved reading about how she advocated for adoption, and it made me want to share more about my own experience. I was able to do a couple of guest posts on her blog, and I started writing more on my own blog about my story as a birthmother. Around then I realized that rather than telling people I had been a birthmother (as though it were a past tense thing) I was and always would be a birthmother, and a lifetime would never change that.

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

The title of my blog is "Our Best Day So Far."  I like the idea that happiness is a process, not an end goal, and we can always improve, even in small ways. I love the idea that today is even better than yesterday and tomorrow will be better yet. It is not always true, but it is something I strive for, and I believe as we celebrate even the smallest joys, they are easier to find. My adoption journey, particularly over the past year, as I sought for communication and ultimately reunited with my birthdaughter and her family, was definitely a roller coaster ride. There were moments when it was nearly impossible to find any kind of joy, but I am ultimately grateful for the things I have learned and for this renewed friendship.

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

Most of the people who read my blog are friends, so the response has been positive. There are a few posts that caused some offense to my birth daughter's mother, even though most were written before we reunited. I make no apologies for the things I have said on my blog. It was how I felt at the time and I think it is good for people to see the whole story, good and bad.

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 think my post "Life as a Birthmother" written on June 16, 2011 is a good one, because it discusses how while I don't consider myself a tragic figure, I do recognize that being a birthmother is something which has affected and always will affect my life. "Nan, in Real Life" is a post that received a huge response from friends and others (well, huge for my blog). It is pretty long, but several people told me they could relate to the things I was saying. Basically, life sucks sometimes. Sometimes, even when things are mostly good, it is hard to find the joy in our experiences. I was struggling. We all struggle sometimes. A lot of it related to how things had transpired after "The Reunion" and how it wasn't all as perfect as I wanted it to be.

I also recommend reading any of the posts labeled My Adoption Story or Being a Birthmother. Those are the posts that tell more about my personal experiences relating to the adoption. Here is one thing that is interesting about my blog. In November of last year, I decided to post throughout the month about my personal adoption experience, starting with events leading up to the pregnancy, the choice to pursue an adoption plan, and the birth and subsequent placement. That same month, my birth daughter found me on Facebook and she started reading the posts about her birth story. She said she really enjoyed learning more about that part of her life, through my stories. Much of it comes directly from my journal.

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

My advice is to be real, but to also remember that the way you feel in one moment may not be how you will feel in another. If you are particularly emotional about something, it might be a good idea to wait to post about it until you are a little more clear-headed. I still believe it is important to be honest, because we need to be true to ourselves in anything we say. Adoption can be a subject that people feel pretty passionately about, whether negatively or positively. It helps to be prepared for the fact that people might misunderstand or disrespect your passion. But, as long as you can own it, even if the only person who seems to benefit from your blog is yourself, then that is worth it.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Letter

Oh boy have I been avoiding writing this. Ever since I read Monika's post last week on grief validation, I have been reeling. That coupled with a letter I received recently from my aunt and  I have wanted to stay in denial.

Let me say first that my aunt and I have corresponded for years. I always look forward to her letters because they are handwritten and newsy. Like 8 or 10 pages of news and conversation. So getting a letter from my aunt is always welcomed.

But this one seemed to take a turn. Instead of news, I started reading things like "I felt so saddened that I allowed myself to be distanced from you...It never was what was in my heart...I am so sorry...I always had such hopes of being a very special aunt...I so wanted to talk to you about your feelings...I knew how unstable and grieved you must have been for a long, long time...I truly cannot imagine what those months and years were like for you."

After 25 years, I'll admit I was surprised. This is clearly grief validation in its purest form. Unexpected, unedited, unsolicited. I haven't written back yet. I think what's stopping me is that I don't know how to respond. What would you say?

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Forgiving and Letting Go

As I write this week, I wonder if I will ever be able to forgive and let go.  It has been a long 22 years and the pain is as raw as it was the day this happened to me.  I have been reading a lot online and I have many books on adoption, but nothing is working for me.  I cry when I read the stories, some are so horrific and sad that I don't know how they live day to day.  Most of everything I have read says forgiveness is the answer to healing.  But see, forgiving to me is telling the ones that did this thing to me, it's okay and that I am alright with what you did.

I am so not ready to forgive and let go.  Everyday I think of what could of been and how our lives would of been different with our birthson.  All I get from the my family members responsible for this is, "you can have a wonderful relationship with him now and be happy".  That really just makes me mad when they say that to me.  They have no idea what I go through and the worst part, they won't acknowledge it.  I need for them to say they are sorry and acknowledge that pain and loss I have endured and still am going through.  Tell me "I'm sorry I caused you all this pain".

See I am still the outsider in this situation.  I can't just call my birthson and say, "Hey, I miss you and would like to see you and the baby, can you drop by", that will never happen.  We tried that many times.  But when the adoptive parents call him and say "bring the baby down so I can see her", they drop everything and go there.  I know I sound selfish, but that is how I feel.   But I love my birth son so much that I accept what it is and try to be understanding so that he doesn't feel he is hurting anyone's feelings.

It is just so hard to see him go to them (adoptive parents) at the drop of a hat while I have to wait a month sometimes longer to see him.  It is painful and that is why forgiving and letting go is so hard for me.  I get very upset when things like this happen. I immediately start thinking, if my family would not of done this to me, I would not feel this way and my son would be here with us.

Its hard feeling like the outsider, it is always going to be that way I know that.  How do I get past something like this?  How would you get past something like this?  Accepting? forgiving? and how would you do this?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Quote of the Week: Better

"Let your past make you better,
not bitter." 

- Unknown

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Lean On Me

I’m a part of a local birth mom support group.  Normally our meetings are fairly casual and unstructured, but lately we’ve been working through “The Art of Grief.” It’s a book meant to use in a group setting, but since it’s not geared toward birthmom grief in specific, participants can use it to work on whatever reason they might be feeling grief.  It’s been interesting to me to see what’s been coming up as I’ve been working on the journal assignments and the group structured activities.  This whole experience for me has really cemented the importance of grief validation.

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What does that mean exactly?  It means that it’s important to be around people who understand that even if we as birthmoms look like we’re coping on the outside, and we may well be, we’re also dealing with a grief that never goes away.  If we’re living with a closed adoption then we have additional grief, but even if we have an open adoption, it doesn’t mean the grief isn’t there.

I would venture a guess that for a large majority of the birthmoms that will read this post, you don’t interact regularly with other birthmoms.  You may have friends or casual acquaintances that are birthmoms.  But even if you are fortunate enough to be able to interact with other birthmoms on a semi-regular basis, I would imagine that you’re not surrounded by birthmoms every second of every day.  I’m also certain that just about every one of you has a friend or a significant other that may try to understand but just can’t properly validate the grief we feel because they don’t have the in-person knowledge that we have.  Even though I’m immersed in the online world of adoption and most of my closest friends are in fact birthmoms, I still struggle with my need to have my grief validated.  Because of the positivity with which I view my own adoption situation and because I tend to consistently post comments about my peace with it, I think even my birthmom friends might think occasionally that I don’t have grief.

I’m here to tell you that I do.  Grief is something that we as birthmoms will struggle with every day for the rest of our lives.  Despite the fact that adoption can be a great thing and a good decision, it has negative repercussions for the rest of our lives.  This is why I believe strongly in good education for all moms considering adoption.  They need to know that as wonderful as adoption can be they will still struggle with their grief for the rest of their lives.  This is also why I think it’s so important to reach out to other birthmoms when you struggle.  Even if you don’t think you’re struggling, you might be ignoring it as a coping mechanism.  Then again, you may really be okay at the moment.  But I’m sure we’ve all been in a place where we feel okay or even great, and then grief comes out of nowhere and hits you hard.

So validate each other’s grief.  Find another birthmom to lean on who will just listen with an understanding ear.  It is so important.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Expected Grief

Recently I had the occasion to sit with a pregnant young woman who plans to place her child with an adoptive family when she delivers in 8 weeks. The local pregnancy center thought she might enjoy talking with me and asking me questions about life on the other side of placement.

Now, I've had some of these conversations before and it seems as though they are usually upbeat despite the content. Usually the young woman is telling me all her reasons for choosing adoption and how wonderful the adoptive family is and is going to be.

Not this time. As this young lady, I'll call her Sadie, just cried and cried, I found myself at a loss for how to encourage her. Finally, through my own tear-filled eyes, I said this: "Sweet girl, I'm so sorry. But the truth of the matter is that you will cry about this for the rest of your life."

I wasn't at all trying to be harsh, just real. And pretty soon after that, her crying stopped and we were able to have a conversation about some of her fears and concerns.

I'm not sure what I thought she needed that day, but when she was in front of me it was pretty obvious she needed someone to acknowledge her grief.

Come to think of it, sometimes I still need that or I at least need to recognize that I am grieving. How about you?

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Can Your Pain Help Others?

Remember that woman I told you I ran into at work and had a great conversation with? I hadn't really seen her since, until today. We bumped into each other in the cafeteria (by bumped into each other, I mean I saw her and ran up to say hi. She's become one of my favorite people!) and walked back to our respective office areas together. She asked me how I was doing, and I told her I was doing well. Then she said, "how are you really doing?" which had an underlying tone of "how are you doing when it comes to missing you daughter?". I appreciated her questioning me, because most people accept "fine" as an answer or don't care to dig deeper. Sometimes, I'm fine with that. Sometimes, I don't want to talk about it. Others, I do. When it's coming from a place of real concern and care, I appreciate people asking questions like that.

Anyways, I told her I was doing okay, hadn't gotten any photos of my little girl in a few weeks but overall I am doing well. I asked how her girls were and she lit up while talking about them. I know some people (ignorantly) say 'you can never love a child that you didn't birth yourself as much as you can love one you adopted,' but that, my friends, is very untrue. How anyone could hear the happiness in this woman's voice when she talks about her daughters and make a statement such as that is beyond me.

She asked me to refresh her memory on how far along I was in school. I told her, and she asked me what I was majoring in. Behavioral Science. She asked me if I wanted to work with adoption in any way, shape or form - did I want to be a social worker, a counselor, go into foster care? I told her I'd always thought about being a psychologist or counselor, and only recently thought about working with adoption. It really got me to thinking. I don't think I'd ever work directly under an agency - for many personal reasons. I would, however, love to work with expectant moms who are considering adoption or women and men who have recently placed.

My co-worker told me that sometimes, the best advice-givers are those who have been through it themselves. I must agree with her. At times, I feel having a career centered around adoption might be too emotionally taxing. Even now, I can't read too much about it on the internet; I can't partake in too many discussions without being overwhelmed and just wanting to "shut off." But at the same time, I feel the best person to empathize and understand the struggles that these girls and women (and boys and men) are going though would be someone who has walked in similar shoes.

What do you think? Do you think having a career centered around guiding and understanding others would be too hard on you (if it was a sensitive subject, such as adoption, addiction, abuse, etc) or do you think those who have "been there" are the best helpers, because they truly understand? Do you think it's a good idea to use your past experiences to help others in the future?