Thursday, November 29, 2012

Preparing for Christmas

With Thanksgiving only a week past, it's time for the crazy Christmas season. It seems strange to feel so stressed when this time last week I was focused on what I was most thankful for. And while the calendar still says November, I already feel behind. Let me give you a few examples:

My neighbor's Christmas lights have been up for over a week now.

Some of my friends have their gifts bought and wrapped.

I'm already receiving Christmas cards in the mail. And the list goes on.

Me? Well, let's see... We put up some lights last night. I have bought a few gifts and have thought about buying more. And Christmas cards? Ummmm... they haven't hit my radar yet.

It's easy to feel overwhelmed this time of year especially. The idea of "keeping up with the neighbors" takes on a whole new meaning when tiny white lights are involved.

So this year I need to focus on caring for myself amidst the stress. Getting plenty of rest, taking time to work out and doing something enjoyable like reading top my list.

How are you preparing for the Christmas season?

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Holidays Approaching!

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The holidays are upon us. All one has to do is take a stroll through a local retail store or drug store to realize this! Christmas decorations have been up in stores since the last week of October, it seems. Is it just me, or is it coming out earlier this year?! I, for one, am not complaining! I love Christmas and everything about winter. The snow, the lights, the smell of the tree, everything.

This year will be my 3rd Christmas being a mother without my child there to celebrate with me. The first Christmas was unbearable, because she wasn't even two months old yet. Her adoptive parents made it a little easier for me by sending me a photo on Christmas of the ornament I sent to my daughter sitting on their tree. I remember reading that email like I just read it yesterday. It was a day that I did not expect to hear from them because they have such a large family and I figured they would be so busy. Later that day, they sent photos of her in her Christmas dress. It made the day a little more bearable. I still love the holidays, but something definitely is missing. Well, not something, someone. It's funny how as I grew older and Christmas was less of an "event" at my house, I never once thought "this day would be much more exciting and full of life if there was a happy little kid tearing presents open," even though I was aware that seeing my little cousins on Christmas was always amazing. Seeing them tear open presents, seeing their eyes light up, and watching them beg their dad to assemble their toys was always amazing to me. It made me feel like a kid again. Fast forward to now, it's all I think about on Christmas. Wishing I had a little (this year, 2 year old) running around. Playing, laughing, making a mess of paper and bags all over my house. Falling asleep on the floor or the couch because she is so tuckered out from all of the excitement.

It warms my hear to know that so many people love her, and I know gifts and material things don't mean much in this world, but I have seen the Christmas tree and just her gifts alone surround it. The tree is drowning in a sea of gifts that are all hers. She is one lucky girl. So many aunts and uncles to spoil her. Her adoptive mom was adopted herself, so she has her adoptive mom's birth parents and parents to spoil her as well. I find comfort in knowing that she is having an amazing holiday, even if I feel lonely and edgy all day.
How do you cope with holidays, if you celebrate them, and don't have any other kids to share the day with?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Open Adoption, Open Heart

This week, instead of a typical post, I will be reviewing "Open Adoption, Open Heart: An Adoptive Father's Inspiring Journey" by Russell Elkins. Coley actually received an email about the blog book tour and forwarded it to me. Without reading much about the book, I signed up to do a review of the book here and an interview with the author on my personal blog. I will be posting my interview with Russell on my blog on December 2nd (this link will not be live until December 2nd).

Here is the book summary:
"The world of adoption has changed dramatically over the past twenty years. No longer do biological parents have to say goodbye to their child forever. They now have more options when deciding the type of adoption to pursue, such as open adoption. Open adoption creates the opportunity for a special relationship between biological parents, the adoptive parents, and the child.

Open Adoption, Open Heart is an inspiring and true story, which takes the reader deeper into the feelings and emotions experienced by adoptive parents. As you read this incredible story, you will experience the joys, difficulties, and amazing victories facing adoptive couples. Russell and his wife, Jammie, invite you to share in their inspiring and heartwarming journey."

 In reading the title of the book as well as the summary, I was excited to hear about the process this adoptive father went through with his wife in making the decision to not only adopt, but have an open adoption. I was hoping this book would talk more in depth about why he and his wife chose open adoption and the practicalities of the open adoption decision. I'm certain that my desire to want to read more in general from the adoptive parent "side" on the start of the adoption journey instead of the actual process of adopting caused me to enter reading this book with quite a bias. My bias was skewed as well by the fact that I'm a birth mom and am very opinionated about adoption in general. Of course everyone interacts with others and with situations based upon their own experiences and opinions due to those experiences. Adoption seems to bring out more passionate opinions and bigger divides in those opinions because of the high emotions inherent in both the decision to relinquish and the decision to adopt.

Frankly after reading the book, I was disappointed. I do value hearing others' experiences and think that the adoptive father's voice is a very important one. However, the language he uses throughout the book doesn't bring to mind "open heart" as the title of the book implies. "Another reason why pictures and updates proved to be harder than we anticipated was because we didn't like to feel like we were babysitters anymore. Even though we understood and respected Brianna's role in the situation, Ira was our little boy." That quote was taken from near the end of the book. To me, that is not having an open heart. Quotes like that cause me to think of selfishness and possessiveness. Granted, feeling possessive toward your child is a good thing. I will never argue that. But possession of a child acts like that child is a thing to be bought, sold, or traded, much like any other item you'd buy at a store.

Also, the means by which they adopted their son caused me to cringe in many ways. The book details the fact that they connected with their son's birth mom via a long distance relationship (meaning several states away). Their son's birth father did not want to relinquish his rights so their son's birth mom discontinued the relationship briefly. The book does state that she was telling them things during and slightly after this period that caused them to believe she still wanted to relinquish. In order for them to assist her in relinquishment, they relocated her to their house, away from all the support systems she might've had, so that a judge in their state could rule that the father had no say in the matter of relinquishment at all. If you've read any of my personal blog, you would know that I'm very much in favor of making certain the biological father has just as much say in what happens to his child as the biological mother, with the exception of abusive or threatening situations. I'm also very strongly against relocating an expectant mother considering adoption away from her friends and family because I think it's extremely coercive.

The book does go on to explain that they proved to the judge in their state that their son's biological mother gave the biological father multiple opportunities to lay claim to his child and that the only thing he seemed interested in doing was using his son as an excuse to harass his son's mother. Apparently there were other issues with his son's biological father that he describes briefly in an answer to one of my interview questions.

I did feel slightly better about the book after reading Russell's responses to my interview questions though I still wouldn't personally recommend this book to any hopeful adoptive parent. Their particular situation, though they love their son's birth mother and have a continuing relationship with her, is not typical of what I personally believe an adoption should be. I also know a fair amount of birth moms and adoptive parents in working open adoption relationships that do not fit the story as depicted in the book. I know that humans make messes out of the perfection we or others have in our heads, but from all the other stories I've heard about adoption, this particular story seems to be an anomaly instead of the norm. I'm concerned that people considering open adoption might read this story, expect that they'll have to endure the emotional ups and downs that Russell and his wife endured, and decide to adopt in a closed situation so they won't have to "deal with the birth mom at all."

I appreciated a look into adoption from another point of view even if some of the terminology and expressions as well as some of the actions from the Elkins' side caused me to cringe quite a bit during my reading of this book.

For other reviews and interactions with the author, please go to "I Am A Reader, Not A Writer" for the list and links. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Well friends, it's turkey time again. It sure seems like it was just a few weeks ago we were celebrating the holidays and here they are again.

In preparing to write this, I was thinking through all the things I am thankful for. Of course there is all the usual stuff. But in this season of thanksgiving, I find myself thankful. Just thankful. I'm thankful for the God of the Bible who is always right beside me guiding me and showing me the way. He never leaves me and never bores of my endless questions, wonderings, and wishes.

He guides me in such a perfect fashion that when I look back, I can't see the seams of worry and temptation. I can't see the lines of confusion or the almosts or the should haves. It just all makes sense from the point at which I am standing because I know it took all of those twists and turns to get me where I am.

Take me and my birthdaughter for instance. The relationship we do have is the result of years of getting to know each othe combined with our current family situations. Is our relationship what it has been or what it will be? No. Our relationship is what it is right now. It will change as we change.

God provides for me in a way that is far beyond what I could ask or imagine. I look at the way he has met my needs and his creativity makes me laugh. He gives me things I desperately need but don't have the words to ask for.

If I could ask for the perfect relationship with my birthdaughter, I'm not really sure what it would look like. But God, who created me, knows just what I need at the stage of life I'm in. At first I thought taking on a relationship with Katie would be a burden. But it has turned into a happiness I can't describe.

What am I thankful for? I'm just thankful. Thank you God for doing your work in my life. Thank you for knowing me and making yourself known to me.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Thanksgiving (for those who celebrate) is tomorrow! Can you believe how quickly November has flown by? In some ways I'm thankful that it has gone by quickly, and in others, I'm not.

This time of year is always such a double-edged sword. I want the days to pass because the days surrounding my daughter's birthday are tough (her birthday is November 2), but I also want to cherish them because my fondest memories of her are on her actual day of birth and the couple of days following. Those are the days we spent in the hospital together. So while it nearly kills me to think about, I also enjoy the memories.

With Thanksgiving literally right around the corner, I'm getting a bit anxious about what the day will bring. This will be the 3rd Thanksgiving since having  & placing my little girl. The very first Thanksgiving, she was only a couple of weeks old, and I was still in a fog about it all. I was also a two weeks or so away from having gallbladder surgery, so I was wrapped up in that as well, so that one was fairly easy to get through. Truthfully, I don't remember much about Thanksgiving last year, either. I know that on that morning, I woke up to an email with pictures from her birthday party. It was almost as if her mom knew I would need a little extra support during the holidays.

This is a holiday centered around family. I don't have a very big family, so my mom's side comes over, and that includes just my grandmother and uncle. In a way, I am glad, because I don't have to keep up "appearances" for a large group, but in other ways, I wish the day would be a little "busier." I have a lot to be thankful for, but it's easy to lose sight of that when I am sitting there wishing I was washing a two-year-old's face and hands because she got mashed potatoes everywhere, and the reality is that I'm not. Not even close. I'm thankful because I know that tomorrow my daughter will be surrounded by her very large, diverse family and she will have boatloads of cousins to play with. I'm thankful that she will probably be in a gorgeous
Thanksgiving dress and that her mom will have so much fun doing her hair that morning.

I'm trying to keep these thoughts close to my heart as tomorrow approaches. Do I wish I could be thankful for the little girl sitting at the table with my family, her birth family? Yes. But I can't, so instead I'll focus on being thankful that she is here on this earth and loved beyond imagination.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Quote of the Week: Who You Are

"Never waste your time trying to explain who you are to people who are committed to misunderstanding you." - Unknown
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Friday, November 16, 2012


A short time ago, my family and I took a much-needed vacation. We flew from the central time zone to the eastern only to turn around and fly to the pacific time zone. Since it also happened to be on the "turn-your-clocks-back-an-hour" day of the year, we were worn out when we arrived. As a result, I wasn't very nice to the lady that was trying to sell me a spot for a time share presentation.

But I digress.

The next morning, my husband rolls over, looks at me and says, "What time is it?"

I mean really, all I could do was laugh. Because at that moment I had absolutely no idea. My body thought it was 2 hours later than the clock said. And even the clocks were wrong because of the night before daylight savings time change.

Have you experienced that feeling of timelessness? The years and the developmental stages of our birthchildren's growth slip by unnoticed to us because we're not there. Even with cards and visits it can feel like they are growing up over night.

Of course it's not overnight. It's year after tedious year. My birthdaughter was 17 before I had any children of my own and it has been startling to realize just a little bit all I have missed. When I met her the first time, she was already driving, had boobs and was about to move out on her own.

This is the part when I give some great tip that I've learned about slowing down time so it doesn't pass so quickly. I don't have anything like that. All I can do is cherish the time I've had with her and take what she gives me. Sometimes she'll message me on facebook. Other times she doesn't. My choice is to be content with where our relationship is, or be upset and angry about something which I can do nothing to fix.

Who knows? Maybe in time, things will be different.

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Quote of the Week: Simplicity, Harmony, Opportunity

"Out of clutter; find simplicity. From discard; find Harmony. In the middle of difficulty; lies opportunity." - Albert Einstein
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Friday, November 9, 2012

Spotlight Blogger: Meet Lisa

Lisa with her daughter
Today, our featured blogger is Lisa of "Navigating Normal." I'm excited to feature her because although she's fairly new to being a birth mom and birth mom blogger, she's from the Pacific Northwest like me. It's always wonderful to connect with a birth mom that doesn't live that far away! Without further ado, let's meet Lisa...

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 Lisa Rezendez. I'm 31 years old and live in Portland, Oregon, though I was born in and spent the first 10 years of my life outside of Kansas City. I placed my beautiful daughter in a very open adoption on July 17th, 2012, two days after she was born.

I found out that I was first pregnant when I was almost 4 ½ months in. I'd been on Depo Prevera, which prevented me from getting my period, and hadn't had any pregnancy symptoms, so I was in utter shock when I first found out how far along I was. I had been in a very rocky relationship with a man who made it crystal clear that he wanted nothing to do with our child and wouldn't be supportive of me during the pregnancy, so our relationship quickly ended when I told him that I was going to have the baby. Despite my small business taking a serious blow from the failing economy leaving me with little income, not being able to afford health insurance, and going it alone, I still initially planned to parent my daughter.

This plan changed when the reality set in that I wasn't physically capable of caring for my daughter on my own. I'd been in an accident 12 years prior that left my body in pretty bad shape. I knew it would only take a few months before she grew too heavy for me to pick up or carry. As many resources as there are out there for single women to assist them with the financial and emotional responsibilities of motherhood, the one thing no one could offer me was a full time partner to do the heavy lifting that I wasn't capable of, so I made the decision to place my daughter for adoption.

When and why did you begin blogging?

I've been blogging off and on for years about various topics, but this is the first time I've written about anything personal. Shortly after I placed my daughter, I started writing about my experience just for myself. I wanted to sort out the memories to make better sense of them, and to have a record of it all for when my daughter gets older and has questions. I'd spent hours, days, weeks recording these stories, all just saved on my laptop.

In Early October, I had some serious technical difficulties with my laptop. The only resolution was to restore everything to original condition, and silly me, I hadn't backed up any of my personal files for weeks, meaning I lost all of the writing I'd done.

I was simply devastated at the thought of starting all over. But, when I began writing it all out again, it seemed a little less personal than the first time, so I slapped together a blog and started posting them there. Saving it all online also means I won't lose everything again in the next tech catastrophe.

Tell us more about the title of your blog, “Navigating Normal.” Why did you choose it?

It just seemed obvious. The word “normal” has been prominent in my paradigm since the second I found out I was pregnant. Friends and family kept telling me how everything would “go back to normal” after my daughter was born and placed. What no one bothered to tell me is that what was normal before wouldn't be the normal for after, and I'll likely spend the rest of my life redefining what that word means. I'm no longer the single, childless, carefree woman I was before. I'm a mother now, in my mind and heart, but not by societies standards. That's a life I never planned or prepared for. As I started diving in to the birth mother community, there seemed to be a common mantra...the new normal, we're all searching for it.

Also, I really like alliteration.

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

My blog's still pretty new, and I haven't made much of an effort to advertise it at all, so I haven't gotten many responses. Of the few I have they've all been positive so far.

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?

Again, I'm pretty new. There are only a handful of posts so far, and I don't know if I've written anything truly relevant yet. I'm still stuck in the “trying to make sense of it all” phase of my writing. But, I guess the one thing I've written that gives the clearest picture of the duality of my birth-motherhood, it would be Halloween in Two Movements. It’s the closest I've been able to come to explaining how I can find joy and comfort in this experience at the same time that it can be emotionally devastating.

Do you have any advice for someone thinking of starting their own blog?
To ask someone who has a better understanding of blogging than me. I'm still trying to figure it out myself. :)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

So Close, Yet So Far

It won't be long before we are vacationing in the very state where my birthdaughter and her family live. This has only happened one other time. It was weird, too. I'm expecting this time to be no different.

The last time was several years ago. I knew the area where she was living and even knew her place of employment. We were flying into the local airport and I wondered what it would be like if I just showed up at her work to say "hello". I weighed all the pros and cons. I prayed. I schemed. I planned. I played out as many scenarios in my head as I could come up with.

In the end, our traveling days at both ends were on Sunday, the one day of the week her work was closed. Totally shut down. No chance of me even catching a glimpse of her.

Providence? Perhaps. Dropping in on her life unannounced is probably not the best thing to do to someone with whom I am trying to build a relationship. In fact, thinking about it now it seems pretty selfish.

This time around I don't have nearly the information I had previously. That's probably a good thing, don't you think?

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Quote of the Week: Future is Open

"The future is completely open, and we are writing it moment to moment." - Pema Chodron

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Friday, November 2, 2012

4th Quarter Newsletter

The Fourth Quarter edition of the newsletter is now available. You can read it here.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Grace Period

The other day I received an email reminding me that my library book was due. A couple days later, I remembered. By then it was almost midnight, so I got in my car and dropped it in the dropbox.

The way the grace period works, I thought to myself, is that the check-in system doesn't care if I dropped off the book in the first hour or the last. It just matters that I do it.

The grace period has reminded me of coping with being a birthmom. I know we have talked about a lot of ways to cope throughout the seasons of the year. And I for one use them all. I write. I talk to you girls. I talk with others. I pray. I cry. I have times of quiet reflection.

And through all of that God shows me his grace by giving me what I need when I need it. Sometimes it's peace in the midst of a stressful time. Sometimes it is courage to move forward in my relationship with my birthdaughter.

Sometimes it is courage to move forward without a relationship with my birthdaugther.

Grace is undeserved merit. I have done nothing and can do nothing to earn it. Because I follow Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, he showers me with it all the time. Not that I always recognize it. But when I most need it, whether I know it or not, it's there.

For some reason, that is what is on my mind this Halloween week. Hope you're having a good one.

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