Sunday, September 30, 2012

Quote of the Week: Things That Matter

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." - Martin Luther King

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Friday, September 28, 2012


One of my favorite quotes is the “Serenity Prayer.” For those of you who may not be familiar with it, it reads as follows: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I think this is a perfect quote for a lot of people, but especially for birth moms.

The first part of that prayer can be difficult for any birth mom regardless of placement circumstances. Even if you’re like me and have a relationship with your child and his or her adoptive parents, there can be a lot of things we wish could be or could have been different. We can wish on our darkest days that we’d never gotten pregnant in the first place or that our relationship with our child’s adoptive parents was a closer relationship. We can spend days waiting for a picture, an email, or even a text that was promised and not delivered. If you don’t have a relationship with your child and his or her parents the doubts and desires get a lot stronger. It’s not much of a stretch to believe that accepting the things you can’t change would be harder to do in that circumstance than doing the same thing if there’s not much about your relationship with your child and his or her parents that you would change.
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I think that even if you have a wonderful relationship with your child and his or her parents you still have regret. Even our greatest decisions in life are tinged with regret. I’m not saying that I believe the decision to relinquish my daughter was the greatest decision I’ve ever made. I’m not assuming you would believe the same thing about your own situation, nor should you. However even if you believe as I do that you made an appropriate decision given your circumstances at the time that you will still struggle with regret at least occasionally.

There may not be a thing you can do to change your situation, whatever it may be. But if you cannot change your situation I hope that you find serenity in the things you cannot change. This doesn’t mean that you will be happy with the situation. Finding peace in your situation is not the same as finding happiness. Happiness is elusive and reliant on situations and other people. The peace that comes with a general acceptance of your not being able to change the situation in which you find yourself is something for which to strive.

It’s not easy. I think it’s a lifetime journey just as dealing with the lifetime grief journey that starts once you relinquish your rights to your child. But I also believe that it’s possible.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Better or Different?

A local adoption agency is holding a workshop at my church for couples and families interested in learning more about adoption. This agency, whom I consider to be very reputable, has the tag line of Helping children and families find a better life. That got me wondering if that's what I did. Did I help my child find a better life?

In 1987 I was a high school student, living at home with no steady source of income other than my summer job at a t-shirt store. I didn't have any skills apart from the ones I had learned about customer service and the process of silkscreening.

My birthdaughter's parents, on the other hand, were both professionals working in their respective fields. They had two steady income sources, two cars, a home and a dog. They enjoyed a certain amount of both financial and personal freedom since they had no children.

But did I really give her a better life? I gave her a different life than she would have had with me. I never could have afforded the material things her parents were able to give her. She has a sister that joined the family a couple years after she did. She also had parents that divorced after promising to love each other for the rest of their lives. She had a step-mom and the tension that caused with her mom.

And she didn't have me, the link to her health, her looks, her mannerisms, her family.

So better? Not sure. Different? Definitely.

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Quote of the Week: Forgive

"I forgive everyone in my life and release them with love.  They are free and I am free." - Unknown

Friday, September 21, 2012

Misplaced Anger

Have you ever found yourself placing blame where it doesn't belong when it comes to your adoption? I don't necessarily mean placing blame out of guilt or regret, but what I mean is, have you ever justified your decision to yourself by trying to reason it out? I started thinking about this the other day. Oftentimes, there is anger associated with adoption when it comes to birthmoms. I suppose I can only speak for myself, but I can admit that my anger has sky rocketed in ways that it never had before since placing my daughter. I do not regret my decision - yes, sometimes I wish I could go back in time and make a different decision - but I know in reality that even if I were given that chance, I would still make the same choice. Because this is not about me, my ex, or my family. This always has been and always will be about and for my little girl.

The other morning, as I was doing my hair and getting ready for work, I noticed my rabbit out of the corner of my eye. He was jumping and bouncing around in his cage, and then he started furiously scratching at his food bowl. I walked in to the room we keep him in, and realized that his food bowl was empty from the night before. I said to him (yes, don't laugh, anyone who has animals talks to them, and I won't believe otherwise ;)) "why are you scratching your food bowl?! It's not your bowl's fault that it's empty - YOU ate all of it." Something clicked in my head when I said that. Hmm, who knew 'talking' to a rabbit could bring you to a revelation about yourself? I started to realize that I have put blame on others for my decision to place my daughter, even though I stand by my decision and strongly believe in it. I believe, at the end of the day, that I did the right thing for her. Was it the right thing for me? Maybe not. But that doesn't matter. The moment you are pregnant, that other being comes before you. That's being a parent. Back to my point - misplaced anger and blame. I have deflected blame onto other people and circumstances in my life, when really, I shouldn't. I spent a long time blaming her birth father...thinking, 'well, if he had done this, or said this, or shown me this,' etc. I also spent a great deal of time blaming my parents. I thought if they had just offered a little more help, I could have kept her. I blamed the fact that I took a year off from school before going back. I blamed the fact that I hadn't graduated from college yet. I blamed my $12.00-an-hour job. I blamed my $280 car payments for the fact that I had no money. I blamed every one and every thing until I started to resent every one and every thing, all so I could avoid being angry at myself for not being able to be the parent my daughter deserved. I apologize if this post is too depressing; I always try to remain neutral, however, I am just being honest.

Can you believe my angry, hungry little rabbit made me realize all of this? My point is, if we feel that we need to forgive ourselves for our decisions, then we need to do just that. Forgive. Holding onto anger, especially anger directed at oneself, is a recipe for absolute disaster.

So, do you ever feel angry when it comes to your adoption or placement because of circumstances out of your control?

Thursday, September 20, 2012


I love the way this site connects us to one another. Research tells me that there must be millions of us out there, somewhere. But since birthmothering is not something that usually comes up in random conversation, how would we find each other were it not for a place like this.

I know when I do happen on another birthmom I feel an instant connection and understanding. While our stories may not even be similar, the root is always the same.

I have experienced this again recently through an email relationship with another birthmom. She is going through a really rough patch right now, while I seem to be on solid footing. Even though we've never met in person and we may never meet face to face, I get to give her a hand and encourage her during her rough time. Our stories aren't the same, but that doesn't matter. We are connected by our loss.

I'm so glad we have each other, aren't you? Let's continue to look for ways to encourage each other and lift each other up.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Makeover and Newsletter

If you have visited the website lately, you may have noticed a new look and some changes! (If you can't see the changes, try refreshing the page or clearing your cookies.) Don't worry, it's still the same website you love but with updated content and a fresh new look!

We're still working to get all of the poems, articles, and showcase pages transferred so bear with us as we do that. If there is something specific you are looking for and can't find, don't hesitate to email us for help.

One little bit of trivia about the new site. Every single photo on the site either features birthmothers or was taken by a birthmother!

Our newsletter, The BirthMom Buds Bulletin, is back with a brand new edition which you can read here. If you'd like to receive the newsletter in your email box each quarter, please fill out the subscription form on the newsletter page.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Quote of the Week: Extending Love

"We are not held back by the love we didn't receive in the past, but by the love we're not extending in the present." - Marianne Williamson

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Choosing Open Adoption

I’ve been thinking a fair amount recently about the reasons one would choose open adoption versus closed. This isn’t an argument for adoption over any other choice. Once the decision is made to choose adoption, whether you are expecting a baby or whether you’re a hopeful parent who has chosen adoption as a way to complete your family, there is a subsequent choice to be made. Do we want open or closed?
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I grew up around adoption. My dad was adopted by his parents at the age of five from foster care. My dad has never been reunited with anyone from his birth family. When he initially expressed curiosity at the age of 40 about meeting his birth family his mom responded so negatively he dropped it. Once she passed away he found out a little more about his birth family and now he’s tormented. He’s tormented with the desire to know his biological relatives but afraid that they might have grown up in negative circumstances and just use him as a paycheck if and when they meet.

If you’ve read anything of my story, you know that my daughter was a complete surprise. I didn’t find out about the pregnancy until the day she was delivered via emergency c-section. My agency caseworker told me that I could have an open adoption and might be able to watch my daughter grow through letters and pictures, so when I said I’d like that I had no other knowledge of why open adoption should exist and the reasons we should choose it.

With the prevalence of open adoption today you would think it would be easy to find reasons to choose open adoption instead of closed. I’ve learned much of what I’ve learned about open adoption from people who are and have been living it. I’ve seen the benefits from all sides of adoption – the birth parent(s), the adoptive parent(s) and even some from adoptees that have grown up in open adoption situations. However, you still have to search for many of these accounts. They’re easily accessible to me now that I’ve immersed myself in adoption the way that I have, but it took me a while to find the stuff. The most valuable resources to me in this search have been personal blogs.

I would like to think if I had the same decision to make over again that I’d do it with much more knowledge of the benefits involved besides just the benefit of being able to watch your child grow. Though that is definitely a benefit, I believe that it shouldn’t be the only benefit considered. We as birthmoms relinquish our children to adoption to give them a chance at a better life than we feel we can provide for them, which is an unselfish choice. If we choose open adoption solely for our own benefit then it focuses that decision for our child’s benefit into a choice for our benefit.

The following are the reasons I would choose open adoption if I had the knowledge back then as I do today:

  1. My daughter won’t be tormented, like my father is, thinking that her biological family will find her and try to use her and/or her family someday. She will know without a doubt that my intentions, as well as those of her birthfather and extended birth family, are pure and loving when it comes to both her and her family.
  2. My daughter will grow up secure in the knowledge that her parents won’t feel betrayed if she wants to contact me or other members of her birth family at any time.
  3. My daughter will grow up with a complete picture of who she is, including both the parts she gets from her biology and the parts that she explores because of her adoptive family’s nurture.
  4. I will not live in fear that I made the wrong choice in the family I chose for her because I will know (and do know) that I made a good choice.
  5. My daughter will have more than just access to her history of disease as she grows.
  6. My daughter’s parents will have the opportunity to love their daughter for everything she is, including the parts she gets from her biological family.

Open adoption is not an easy choice. It comes with days of pain as well as days of pure joy. But I’m glad that I as well as her parents chose and continue to choose an open adoption relationship because it benefits her.

Why would you choose open adoption? Any reasons that I didn’t address?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hide 'n Seek

I was with my Mom recently and she walked into the room as I was scrolling through my Facebook wall. There, right in front of me, was a picture of my birth daughter on the floor with her son. At that moment, my mom walked into the room for something completely unrelated. I quickly closed my laptop and focused on her, glad for the miss but nervous about the nearness of it.

Am I the only one hiding my relationship with my birthchild from someone? Who are you hiding it from?

My mom and I have an awesome relationship. We have made huge strides the past several years. And yet I have stopped at the threshold of sharing this with her. Why?

I think part of it is selfishness on my part. I honestly don't think I'm bitter ..  at least I would like to think that. This relationship with my oldest daughter isn't about her. It's about me. And I think I'm scared that if I share it with her it will turn into being about her birthgranddaughter instead of my birthdaughter. Does that make sense?

So am I the only one? or are you hiding something about your relationship too?

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Quote of the Week: Dance of Life

"The Journey between who you once were and who you are now becoming, is where the dance of life really takes place." - Barbara De Angelis

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Friday, September 7, 2012

Spotlight Blogger: Meet Jan

Today's featured blogger is Jan of "Building Up Birthmothers."  Though her blog is fairly recent, her journey as a birth mom has been happening for quite a while.  Her experience and perspective as a birth mom who has a grown son that grew up in an open adoption is quite interesting.  I enjoy her perspective and think she has a lot of good things to say.  Without further ado, let's find out a little more about Jan...

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 Jan Collins. I am the birthmother of a 21 year old boy who is currently a junior in college. I am initially from Chicago but am currently attending graduate school in Texas, doing research about birthmother grief. I discovered that I was pregnant shortly after my boyfriend and I had broken up. He had already started seeing another girl and there was no question that our relationship was over. There was also no question that he would not be supportive of me during my pregnancy. I never intended to be THAT girl but knew that I had to make some life changing decisions for both me and my son. I chose adoption because I wanted my son to have the life that I had growing up, which included a mother and a father who loved each other and always looked out for my best interest. It's been 21 years and although there have been some very painful seasons in my life I have never regretted doing what was best for my baby.

Tell us more about the title of your blog, “Building Up Birthmothers.”  Why did you choose it?

I wanted something catchy but I also wanted something that really expressed my vision for this blog and that is to encourage birthmothers on their journey. I also hope that it will educate those who are unfamiliar with adoption and the concept of birthmother grief.

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

I created my blog a few months ago but just really started blogging and "advertising" in the past few weeks. Although I've noticed I have readers from all around the world, most of my comments are from Facebook friends that are supportive of me. No negative comments yet, but I also have to approve any responses before I post them. That's the safe way of doing it.

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 wrote a post called "Disenfranchised Grief and Ambiguous Loss" to help birthmothers understand their journey a bit better. It took me 20 years to really "get it". Maybe this will make it easier for another grieving birthmother. And for those who want to be uplifted spiritually, I posted two songs on the top right side of my page that are so encouraging to me. I hope they will be to others as well.

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

Make sure you have a clear purpose and goal and then be consistent.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Jealous Tidal Waves
Jealousy almost always is a very ugly thing. On occasion it can be acceptable in small doses, but overall, it is not a trait I enjoy having. I was never jealous of my friends growing up (except for that one time one of my friends got a "Razr" scooter and my parents wouldn't let me have one) and I'd like to think that I'm not jealous of any friends or family now. Sure, I have one of those friends who seems to have eaten off a silver spoon her entire lif, and I've found myself wishing I could travel the world on a whim or use my dad's credit card to pay for gas in my car each time I filled the tank, but I've never found myself truly jealous of her. I am happy for her, deep down. Do I wish I had those luxuries? Sure, who wouldn't? I don't let it get in the way of our relationship, though.

Jealousy can and will tear apart relationships of any kind such as business relationships, romantic relationships, and friendships. My point is this: lately, I have found myself insanely jealous of anyone with a child. When A was first born, I was jealous of women with infants. As she grew, I found myself jealous of women who had children who were around the age that she was at the given time. Lately, however, I have found myself jealous of people with kids of any age from newborns to pre-teens. I'm jealous of that relationship they have that I will never have with my daughter. Of course I hope to have a great relationship with her, but I will never be her mom. Even if, one day, she refers to me as her mother just like she will to C, I know that there will still be a huge gap there that "shouldn't" exist between a mother and child. I've also found myself jealous of women with children accompanied by their boyfriends/husbands/what have you. Just this evening, my mother and I were in Target and I saw a little girl in a carriage who, from the back, had hair that resembled my little girl's. I did a double-take, and then took note of the mom in sweatpants and a headband and (who I assume was) the dad pushing the carriage. Talking, laughing, having fun shopping for the family. I felt rage go through my body. Why am I standing here in "nice" clothes, my hair done perfectly, make up on...all alone? Why isn't G pushing our daughter around in the carriage? Why isn't he here with me period? I knew it then and I know it now as I type - it was irrational.

I feel as though I can't control it. I want what I can't have - I want what I had, but let go of. It's times like those that I wish I never signed the TPR. I know it's a small thing, it's a simple interaction between husband and wife...daughter and father...that makes me resent people who have that. I know it's not fair! It makes me angry at myself for thinking I couldn't do it, and angry at G for not stepping up to the plate more. He was involved and he was my emotional support during the pregnancy and after. But there was the underlying knowledge that he wouldn't be good for much more than that once she was born, and she needed more than that. So, standing in Target, I wished I had never signed the papers, I wished he was there at that very moment, and I wished that our child was walking and hopping around the store with us. But she wasn't and I know that that is because she was probably tucked into her crib, sleeping soundly while her parents (key word) were watching a movie or something of that nature. She is where she belongs.  That, too, can make me jealous at times. When her mom wrote to me and told me that A now calls her "mama," I couldn't help but feel a tinge of jealousy. Sometimes, though, my doubts and emotions get the best of me.

Do you ever have these feelings come over you in waves? Are you ever jealous of your child's adoptive parents in any way?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Quote of the Week: Little Steps

"Take all the time you need to heal emotionally.  It takes a lot of little steps to break free of your broken self." - Unknown

Saturday, September 1, 2012

What Music Speaks to You?
Music has always been a big part of my life. I like all types of music (with a few exceptions), and I really like music that I can relate to. During my angst-period my sophomore year of high school, I listened to Marilyn Manson and Nirvana day in and day out because I felt that it "spoke" to me in some way. Of course I can't see it now, but then, it was all I wanted to listen to.

Over the years, my tastes have changed. I've adapted more to listening to what is on the radio at any given time, and started broadening my horizons to other types of music, especially the music my daughter's birth dad constantly played.

Lately, I've been in the habit of listening to music I can relate to again. Songs that have lyrics that really speak to me in some way, or that I can mold to fit myself in some way. There are so many songs (mainly break-up songs, if you will) that remind me of my little girl. I know there are songs out there geared specifically to the adoption triad, but I'm not talking about that kind of music. I am fairly certain that some of the songs on my "Arianna" playlist have actually been featured in the Music Monday segment on this blog.

I was listening to one of my old Sarah McLachlan CDs the other day, cleaning my room and putting away laundry absentmindedly, when this song came on:

and something told me to stop and listen. I hadn't heard this song in a while, but I remember hearing it a month or so after I had my daughter, and thinking of her when I heard it. This time, though, the feeling hit me seven-fold. Take a listen if you have a moment, or take a look at the lyrics. It's about love, fate, missing someone, and admitting that you can't quite let them go. It could even be about someone passing away. I'm sure it's written about a significant other, but I think (if you are a birth parent) you may find yourself able to relate in other ways.

Do you have any songs that aren't written about adoption, but remind you of your child?