Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mother's Day or Birthmother's Day?

Mother’s Day is around the corner. This is a difficult day for a lot of us, but I think that the difficultly is for a host of different reasons.

Each year I reflect on how special Mother’s Day must be for Frogger’s mom, P. It is a special day for me knowing that P is a MOM and I was a part of that.

The hardest part of Mother’s Day for me is that friends and family are afraid to acknowledge Mother’s Day for me (even though I have Ladybug). I understand that they are afraid they are going to hurt my feelings or bring up painful memories. But, honestly, the part that hurts the most is the avoidance from others on that day.

When Frogger was still with me I had a friend that went out of his way to make sure that Frogger got something for me (I was a single mom, so there was no one else) on Mother’s Day. This friend would slide a card under the door. He would leave a bouquet of flowers on my doorstep with balloons. One year he even arranged for bagel delivery at 8am so I would have “breakfast in bed.” Ladybug was born in 2001, 3 years after placement, and 12 years ago. Yet, I rarely get a card. I don’t think I have ever gotten flowers, and I most certainly do not get breakfast in bed.

I am a mom. I am a mom to a beautiful little girl. I was a mom to a handsome little boy. I am a mother.
I am curious how other birth moms feel about Mother’s Day. Do you wish others would acknowledge you on that day? Do you wish that you could avoid that day?

I have mixed feelings about Birthmother’s Day, the Saturday before Mother’s Day. I feel as though in some ways it diminishes our role as mothers. We are ALL mothers, even if we do not parent our children. We may not be “mom”, but does that mean we are no longer a mother? Does that mean we are only entitled to the title of “Birth Mom”? On the other hand, maybe for some Mother’s Day is too painful.

I think that we need to speak out more. Stop being ashamed, or scared, or simply allowing ourselves to be diminished of the role we play in the adoption triad. Our children are real to us. Just as real as to the person who is parenting.

Perhaps, I am way off in my thinking. Perhaps, most believe, that as birth mothers, we should have a special day acknowledging the sacrifice, the hardship, the pain that comes along with our side of adoption.

What do you think, Mother's Day or Birthmother's Day?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Music Monday: Run by Snow Patrol

"Light up, light up
As if you have a choice
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I'll be right beside you dear"

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Quote of the Week: Every Tomorrow Has Two Handles

"Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith." 

Friday, April 26, 2013

New Blogger writing about Adoption in Films

I'm Natasha and I become a birth mother at 19 years old when I made an open adoption plan for my daughter, born in 1998.  We share love for eating ice cream and cuddling with cats.

After watching countless movies that portray adoption and being angry and disappointed after every film, I have decided to write about it and my posts here on the BirthMom Buds Blog will be about this project.  We need to hear from birth mothers themselves to speak to their own narrative. Adoptions wouldn't happen without these mothers signing relinquishing papers.
A common contemporary illustration of adoption is described as a triad, containing birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptees at their respectable points in the triangle. For me, when I watch a movie or when I read a story about adoption, I am curious about all points of the triad. For it to be a well rounded story, I need information about all parts of the triad. Frequently, I only see part of the story. Adoption stories told from the adoptive parents perspective starts from when they gained custody of their child or when they decided to adopt a child.
And rarely does it include a story through the eyes of experience of the women having to make the decision to place a child for adoption. These women are invisible mothers.  Without these mothers signing relinquishing papers (if she is alive during the adoption), there wouldn't be an adoption taking place. I don’t believe mothers sign relinquishing papers because they do not want the children they place for adoption. Rather, the circumstances they were in during pregnancy and at the time they signed away their rights, they did not have the resources they needed to raise the child placed for adoption.
During this project, I hope that I will find a new wave of the way films about adoption are portrayed. Stories that are based on reality and not on myths which further perpetuates false ideas and stereotypes about adoption. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Taking a Chance Revisited

Since I left the 
Taking a Chance post wide open at the end a couple weeks ago, I thought I would follow up and let you know what I decided to do or not do. If you recall, I was thinking about inviting Katie and her son to visit.

One friend encouraged me to do go for it. Maybe she's right.

My husband told me to hold back. Maybe he's right.

So what to do?

Well, whenever a situation like this arises in my birtmother world, I go back to the beginning and review my reasons for choosing adoption in the first place.

My deal with myself on the day of relinquishment was that she was gone to me forever. I decided to never look for her, to never force myself on her, and to never disrupt her life in any way. If she decided to find me and wanted to know me, then so be it. But even then, it would be up to her to do the pursuing and we would move at her pace.

That's exactly what we did during our year of reunion. She drove the bus. She dictated when we talked, when we met, all of it. And she dictated when we stopped doing those things.

I want to know her. And I want to meet her son. But we are not really connecting right now. And I think that inviting her to come would pressure her to do just that. I'm not certain that she would or could say no if I asked. And I don't want that. I want to have a relationship with her because she wants to have a relationship with me. Not because she doesn't want to hurt my feelings.

I know you all have your opinions. I'm still open to them even though I've made my decision.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

When Did You Know?

I've heard many different stories about how and when expectant parents chose adoptive couples, and how their experience affected the openness and closeness after the adoption.

I'm conflicted on whether I think there's an "ideal" situation, because what may work for one person may bring more difficulty to someone else. I didn't consider adoption until seven months and we didn't choose a couple until shortly before my delivery. This naturally meant we hadn't developed a relationship with the parents, so our updates following were more formal than those of my friends who described their relationships and contact as very close and open.

However, unlike one would expect, my late change of mind didn't make the decision harder. I was always a tomboy, never a girly-girl. I dreamed of owning and breeding horses, not getting married and having children. I watched cats and dogs for money growing up, instead of babysitting like so many of my peers. I was raised an only child and just never really had experience with children or motherliness. I'd imagine this was a big reason for my detachment during pregnancy. Even with my next pregnancy and this current one, I am just not a rub-the-belly, singing-and-talking-to-baby-in-the-womb kind of momma.

All of that goes out the window when the baby is born, though, don't misunderstand. I cried in the delivery room and spent as much time as possible with R while I had the chance in the hospital.

But thinking about my experience and hearing all of the different stories of other birthmoms, or expectant parents who later change their mind about placing with an adoptive family, always intrigues me.

So, what about you? Did you grow close to the adoptive family throughout your pregnancy? If so, did that make it easier or harder to make your decision? Were you naturally attached to you pregnancy or did you work to stay detached?  Do you wish things had happened differently?

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Roller-coasters: Emotional & Circumstantial

My adoption closed almost 5 years post-placement from semi-open. I'm not sure if all the emotional aspects are the same for me or not as I reach one of the final milestones. But Frogger will be 18 this fall. 

It’s a struggle. I am so excited that I will finally reach that major milestone where Frogger can, by law, contact me. I am also afraid of getting my hopes up. Yet, I cannot help but to be excited.  I have done countless hours of research through the years, so I know that boys are less likely to seek out their birth-family, especially, early into adulthood.

Frogger is a part of my daily life. His pictures are throughout my house. My daughter, Ladybug, knows about her brother and has questions and expectations of a reunion as well. My family and friends remind me often that this is the year he turns 18, as though I forget.

Adoption is not only a roller coaster of emotion, but of circumstance as well. Will he want to meet me? Will he want to know me? Did he have the happy life that I had hoped for him? In spite of my believing in my decision, was it, in fact, the right one?

What about his parents? How are they feeling as Frogger’s 18th birthday comes barreling towards us? Are they encouraging him to reach out or are they afraid of losing him?

It’s a roller-coaster  If he doesn't want to meet me is it because he feels that I abandoned him? Or is it because I truly did plan such an amazing life for him that he doesn't feel like a part of him is missing? And if he does not choose to connect, is the opposite is true?

I have had many people suggest through the years that my placing after parenting must have been more difficult than if I had placed at birth. I don’t think that is true. I had the opportunity to know him. I had the opportunity to be called “mummy”, by my son. There is no mistaking that I was his mom. It allowed me to know that my decision was because I thought he needed more than I could give. I have never felt that other’s made the decision for me. I have never felt that I was placing because of other people’s expectations.

All of the above is why I am here. I want to be able to help others on the “Adoption Roller-coaster . I want to tell my story, and maybe I can help someone. And most of all, I want Frogger to be able to find at least a small part of his story even if reunion is not his choice.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Quote of the Week: Be the kind of Person..

"Be the kind of person you would like to be with. Some people come into our lives, make footprints on our hearts and we are never the same. People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Welcome to Facebook

So this week I was stalking my birthdaughter's fb page (don't worry... we're friends and I'm allowed!)  and a familiar face with an unfamiliar name popped up. It was a picture of Katie and her family, and the caption said, "I just love my kids and grandson." Huh?

It took me a few minutes to figure out who else was claiming to be my birthdaughter's mom. Sure enough, it was her mom, the woman who has every right to claim her.

What was weird about the whole thing was her name. I met her several years ago, but the name on the screen didn't match. Apparently she's gotten married and started using a longer version of her name. It just hit me as strange.

Stranger still is our relationship - or lack thereof - over the years. When Katie and I met for the first time, we picked a neutral location and each brought a support person. I took my husband and new baby, she brought her mom.

Our weekend together was delightful. Her mom seemed to include me right away. I felt like I belonged with them even though they were both strangers to me. We laughed at the same things and understood why we were laughing.

My family and I visited Katie's hometown not long after that. That too was a fun visit where her mom seemed unruffled by the fact that we were there.

But that was it. Since that time I have not gotten a letter, an email, or a smoke signal from her. My letters go unanswered. My calls go un-returned. It has been sad to me. I was hoping she didn't not see me as a threat, but I think it's way more complicated than that.

Anyway, back to the present. Another story from the social networking files. I'm not always sure technology is good. What part does technology play in your situation?

Photo credit

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

My (Shortened) Story

I've increasingly wanted to be more active as a birthmom for the past couple of years. When I saw BirthMom Buds was looking for bloggers, I was anxious about committing but excited about the opportunity. Since I'm new here and looking forward to providing my thoughts each week, I'd like to just introduce myself and my condensed story today.

I found out I was pregnant shortly before my 17th birthday. My boyfriend and I were both obviously shocked but actually excited to raise our child. Unfortunately, after we moved in together, our relationship turned tumultuous, depressing, abusive and impossible to salvage. We were both just very immature, selfish and divided on what we wanted out of life and out of each other.

After much thought, much prayer, and much listening to the advice of a few friends one night, I finally concluded that adoption - an option neither of us previously couldn't stomach considering - was the answer. I was seven months pregnant.

R was born on October 4, 2006 at 3:28 in the morning - on the adoptive parents' anniversary. They immediately packed up and drove through several states when they heard of his birth and before I ever officially signed the papers.

I spent three days in the hospital with him, and was able to meet not only his parents, but a set of his grandparents who just so happened to be driving through our state at the right time.

There are three sobering moments that I remember in the hospital: when the lawyers came with the papers, they referred to Baby M-- (last name). For some reason I can't explain, this evoked intense emotions and I insisted that they write the name my family had picked - Jayden Andrew (knowing his name would be R instead). I remember realizing I didn't have to sign. It comforted me knowing I had a choice. And though I lingered for a moment, I did choose to sign.

The second moment that I will never forget was on the day we left. I was in the hospital bed with R and I handed him to his mom. While she was holding him, he cried, and I remember a gut-wrenching feeling and an impulse to reach out, though I didn't. We took pictures, cried.

And the final memory was leaving the hospital with my mom. Riding away like so many other ordinary times I had been in the car with my mom. Back to life. No baby. No pregnancy. Nothing to show for anything.

If I were to write about the journey that followed, this would turn into a book. My hope is to share insights from my experience as a birthmother through my future writing here. Oftentimes, people are curious about the process before the placement, but don't realize there is a far longer and emotional, difficult, changing process that continues after. I believe it's important to shed light on this process.

I just want to conclude by saying we started with a semi-open adoption, receiving updates monthly for the first six months, then yearly until five years. However, R will turn seven in October and his mom recently added me on Facebook, initiating a transition into the "open" adoption territory. I'm sure I'll have much to share about this change of events!

I'm currently married, parenting an 18 month old son and expecting a baby girl in July. As the years have gone by and I've become more stable in my emotions regarding adoption, I've become involved with the other side of adoption, speaking to and making friends with many adoptive parents. It is my hope that we will someday be able to adopt, but for now I simply hold a special place in my heart for families who seek out those children in need. Hopefully because of this, I can write somewhat unbiased about some adoption issues and topics.

Looking forward to writing again!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Who Am I?

My name is Bethany and I am honored to be one of the new bloggers for BirthMom Buds. But, WHO AM I?

I am a mother. I am a mother to my pre-teen daughter, “LadyBug”. I am also a mother to someone else’s son. I was “Frogger’s” mom first. I was his mom for 2 years, 6 months, and 10 days. THEN he became someone else’s son.

On some days, it feels like that spring day was just yesterday. Other days, it seems as though it was so long ago it never happened. Most days it feels just like it was, just over 15 years ago.

I was 17 when I found out I was pregnant. I felt as though I was so much older than I was. I had spent a long time living with a much older man and raising his children. He was physically abusive, but it was my mission to be there for his daughters. I was stable for them and I loved them. Then I was pregnant. That is when it hit me that ultimately I had no control over what happened with his children. But, I was ultimately in charge of what happened to the child that was growing inside of me.

I left one night to go to the “store”. In reality, I went to the airport to escape 1,000 miles away. My father was amazing. At the time I felt he was overbearing, controlling and so incredibly disappointed. While all of those things may be true, I now know it was because he loved me. He wanted to protect me.

Throughout the years, and especially in the beginning of the adoption, a lot of people asked me “How?”. How could I parent for 2 ½ years and then just “give” him away? I did not “give” my son away. I made a plan for his future. I made a choice for him that has been the hardest decision I have ever had to make. It was not about me. It was not about what I wanted or what I needed.  I made a choice to give my son a life less likely to be defined by financial struggle. I made a choice to give him two parents instead of one. I made a choice to give him love by allowing someone to raise him and parent him that could give more than just the infinite amount of love that I could give him.

I do not regret my decision in the least, although, at times it can be overwhelming how much I wish it was different back then.  I am excited to be able to share my story and to hear stories from all of you. I am sure I will cover the period of time that I was simply, mom, or “mummy” as Frogger called me, but also the roller-coaster I call life since placement.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Quote of the Week: Life is like a Bicycle

"Life is like a bicycle; in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving." 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Taking a Chance

I'm considering doing something scary. Something I've never done before. I haven't been thinking about it for long. It just kind of came to me last night.

I haven't acted on it yet, but I'm thinking about how to broach the subject. It's all in the wording, you know. What to say. What not to say. How to say and not say what I really mean.

I want to invite my daughter and her son to visit. But I don't want to scare them away. I don't want to push too hard. And I definitely don't want to freak anyone out.

But it would be fun to have them here for a couple of days and hang out by the pool. Our kids could play together and we could visit. Catch up. Get to know each other better. Or again.

But I don't want her to feel pressured to say yes if she doesn't want to. If she's not ready.

At this point I have nothing to lose. I know about her life but I'm not part of it. I am her friend on facebook but not in real life. I've seen pictures of her family but have never met most of them.

So really, what's to lose?

I'll keep you posted.

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Quote of the Week: Lighthouses

"Lighthouses don't go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining." 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Baby

Hello friends! I hope you are seeing signs of spring wherever you are. It's only been a week since our last snowstorm here in Kansas, so I'm hopeful but realistic.

This birthmother journey is so interesting. I am learning so much even 26 years down the road. Who would have thought this girl had it in her to change?

I met a friend in Target yesterday and as we were catching up, I asked about The Baby.......
The Baby they had been promised.
The Baby they had been allowed to take home from the hospital.
The Baby whose mother changed her mind after a week and is now parenting her.
That baby.

The mother is unable to provide food or shelter or clothing for that baby.
The mother is unable or unwilling to work to make money to support them, so they lean on everyone else to do it for them.

So for now, their church, their community organizations and her father are all pulling together, working and supplying the needs for that baby and her mother.

But my friend said the baby looks happy and until such time as the support system fails, they will be ok.

I really don't know what I think about that. I used to have such strong opinions, but now the whole situation makes me sad. Sad for the baby. Sad for the mother. And sad for my friends who are wanting to provide a home for a child who needs one.

How about you?

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