Monday, December 31, 2012

The Best of 2012

As we wind down the year, I thought we'd take a look back at some of the most popular posts of 2012. In no particular order, I give you the top ten of 2012. 

by Monika

by Coley

by Monika

by Terri

by Lisa

by Elizabeth

by Terri

by Coley

What was YOUR favorite post of 2012??

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Distraction

A Note from Coley: Because I am human, I goofed up and didn't get this posted last week! Enjoy it a week late!

Along with most of you, I am trying to finish up my Christmas shopping. Honestly, my husband is the absolute hardest person to buy for. Part of the problem could be that I'm distracted this year more than others.

My firstborn (birth) daughter's firstborn just turned 2.

And it's distracting me. I'm not sure why.

Could it be because her oldest and my youngest are not too many months apart?

Could it be that while I love looking at pictures of him, I have yet to hold him? That I may never hold him?

Could it be that though the miles separate us, modern transportation can take us anywhere we want to go, or need to go, or are invited to go with minimal preparation and cost?

All good questions. And I'm sure there are answers. Somewhere. Maybe even in my own heart. But honestly, I'm trying to prepare my home and my family and myself for Christmas, and if I allow this stuff to come to the surface, it may overtake me.

So for now, happy birthday little one. Maybe someday we will meet.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Merry Helping Christmas

In the news recently, one of our local professional athletes took his own life and the life of his girlfriend leaving their 3 month old daughter an orphan. Who does that? And why?

That event really burst my Christmas bubble in some ways, but I think it's been for the best that my bubble was burst a little bit. I love this time of year and look forward to the rituals with my children. But since that event was so public and happened in our city, it was an instant reminder that not everyone loves this time of year. Many, many people are hurting.

I would know. I've been one of them. Along with you, holidays have not always been fun since placing my daughter for adoption. Lucky for me enough time has passed that I have good memories of Christmases after her to look to.

So this Christmas, I have been more purposeful in looking around me for others who are hurting, others whom we can encourage and help. My daughter puts money in the Salvation Army kettle every single time we see one, no matter how many errands we run in a day. We are supporting our local food bank this season and have found a family at church who could use a little extra help.

It's been great for my children to think about something besides the gifts under the tree. And for me, it's helped remind me that when I'm hurting, the best thing I can do is help someone else.

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Friday, December 7, 2012

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

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Oh, but is it? I hear that song at least once per day from Thanksgiving all the way to Christmas. The song talks about going to Christmas parties, toasting marshmallows, and singing carols out in the snow. For some of us, it can be hard to sing that Christmas song with much conviction. The holidays bring into sharp focus the part of our family that we’re missing. Even if we have relationships with our children and their parents, maybe even celebrating with them, it’s not the same.

My daughter just turned three in November. She asks about the Christmas tree, loves the presents and loves singing Christmas songs. I’ve always loved Christmas. My mom worked hard every year to keep traditions alive and to really bring joy to our Christmases despite the lack of money. Though I hold tight to any commonalities Mack shares with me all year, this time of year causes me to want to hold tighter to those same traits and to hope she loves Christmas as much as I did.

We birth moms feel loss all year round. Even if we have other children (either before and/or after a placed child), no child can replace the hole left by the child we’ve lost. Yes. It is a loss, even if we freely chose that loss. I lost my daughter to adoption despite the fact that I was not coerced at all. No one made the choice but me to relinquish my daughter, and I accept that. But it’s still a loss. I used the example on my own blog of someone who makes the choice to either have a pet put to sleep or is forced by their circumstances to give that pet to other people. That person is still allowed to love and miss that animal despite the fact that they are the ones that made that choice.

More than any other, this season focuses on family and friends and spending time with those we love. It’s focused on children and the joy in their hearts when they get presents and see all the pretty decorations everywhere. Of course as adults we know this season is child-focused. Advertisements and community leaders like pastors encourage us to appreciate the season like little children. So can we help it if our thoughts focus even more on the children we’re not raising? I think not.

I also think that Christmas traditions become even more important after becoming a birth mom. It’s important to not only continue to enjoy Christmas for ourselves but to have something to share with our kids, even if we only share them in our hearts. For instance, I make an ornament every year for Mack to hang on our tree. It hasn’t been very fancy – just a clear ball with fake foliage and a picture of Mack from that year inside. This year, with clearance first from her mom, I’m going to be making one to send to her as well. Of course not everyone has a relationship with their child and his or her adoptive parents like I have. I realize that I and my daughter are fortunate that her parents honor my role in her life. I know I’ve talked about the importance of having Christmas traditions that you keep every year for the child (or children) you’ve placed and I will say it again. As hard as it can be sometimes to include your child in some sort of holiday tradition especially if they’re not participating in it with you, it is so important. Write a letter or note. Make an ornament. Have a special candle you light every day during this time of year just for them.

If we honor the children we placed and really work to keep the Christmas traditions we enjoyed before our children were born and relinquished, I really think it can again be that “most wonderful time of the year.”

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Looking for Myra

Time for my yearly lost roommate post. Last year's post, Dear Myra, pretty much sums it up. But since it's been a year since I last looked for her, guess I'll give it another go.

Myra was my roommate at the maternity home. Of course at the time, we were closer than we were to our own sisters. Nothing could come between us -- not houseparents, not our situations, not even our families. We were thick as thieves we were.

Our babies were born several months apart, but we kept in touch after she left in December. She came back for Katie's dedication ceremony in March. After that it was letters and phone calls and visits. She was older than me, so when we did get together, we could go where we pleased because she had a driver's license.

But real life has a way of seeping in and while I was trying to finish high school, she was off to college to make a life for herself. We lost touch so long ago it's hard to remember when exactly we had our last communication.

Amazing how shared experiences can bond you to someone else for life. There's not a year that goes by that I don't long to find her and reconnect.

My, if you're out there, I'm still looking. Hopefully someday we will meet again.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My "Game Face" Might Need Some Fine-Tuning

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There are countless things I never thought twice about before getting pregnant and placing my daughter. Countless things I never took offense to and couldn't imagine why I would. Things I never wondered about, things I took for granted. I never knew how hurt I could be by seeing a mother and her children out shopping together or a father holding hands with his little girl while walking down the street. Are these people hurting ME intentionally? No, of course not. So why do these instances hurt me more than say a childish classmate in 8th grade who was purposely targeting and making fun of me? It seems crazy, but it's all too true.

I have a coworker who I have gotten close to over the past couple of months. She is around my age but she is married and her life is completely the opposite of mine in many ways. We have always gotten along great, but now that I am approaching my one year anniversary of being with the company, I have gotten to know my coworkers very well, some more so than others. She happens to be someone I am close with. She always offers great advice for me and she knows the whole story about my daughter and is familiar with most of the pieces of the "puzzle" that is my child's birth father. She has suggested many good ideas when it comes to dealing with situations that arise (for example, her birth dad calling me out of the blue wanting pictures after I told him to stop contacting me and she also helped me construct a letter expressing my feelings rationally to my daughter's adoptive mom when she had blown us off for Skype twice in a row).

Anyways, let me get to the point (hahaha). She chatted me today via the program we have at work and said "GOOD NEWS! :)" so I asked her what was going on. She told me she and her husband got accepted into an adoption program. Now, I knew that she had been interested in adopting from the start, but we never talked about it too much, aside from me telling her how utterly important it is to keep promises to the birth mom and just giving her some insight to "our" side of the adoption world. For whatever reason, when she told me that, it was like a knife in my gut. Thankfully, we were talking on the computer, so she couldn't see my face. I acted happy  - and don't get me wrong - I am happy for her, but it was tough to be excited. I almost felt like she was going to come take my baby from me. I realize how crazy that sounded, but hearing that she is in the process of adopting made me think of my pregnant self, and her coming to pick my baby up from the hospital. It was an irrational thought, but it stuck with me throughout the day. She went on to tell me about the hopeful adoptive parents' side of the process, and she went into a lot more detail than I would have liked. Then, she walked over to my desk and talked about it some more. I feigned happiness, but again, it was hard. She was not trying to be insensitive, she is not that kind of person. She is one of the only people I talk about deeper stuff with, and I am one of the only ones that she does as well, so it's just the relationship we have. But part of me was thinking, "can't she put two and two together and realize that I may not want to carry on with this conversation?"

Do you ever have to try to distance yourself from your own feelings and try to put on your "game face" for the sake of a friend. I, personally, am dreading the day any of my close friends announce a pregnancy.