Friday, August 30, 2013

How and Why I Chose to Proceed with an Open Adoption

When I first went to the adoption agency, we discussed a future contact agreement (FCA). You know, like if I wanted to see Micah, visit with him, pictures, emails, the works. At first, I was questioning it. Did I really want to see him with his new family? Would it bring up "healed" wounds? I had no clue. But what I did know is that I had tons of questions growing up about my own birth parents. Yep! I'm adopted! But that's a different story. 

The one thing I didn't want for Micah is any loose ends. Any questions he had, I or S&H would answer. So I decided to opt for an open adoption. He would know everything about me and some information about his birth father when he was ready. Only when he's ready. I don't want him to be overloaded with too much information at a time when he's not fully prepared. I mean, like it or not, adoption is a hard thing to process for anyone. I didn't want any answer or explanation coming across the wrong way. For example, "I wasn't ready for you" can easily come across to a five year old as "I didn't want you to ruin my future". It's a thin line for any adoptive family to maneuver around. But it can be especially detrimental to the birth mother's relationship with their biological child. 

It's hard to know how to "enforce" an open adoption and it's important to note that open adoption isn't legally enforceable in most states. By nature, I'm an extremely impatient person, so if S and A don't email me back within a few weeks, my mind  always gets the best of me. "Why aren't they emailing me back? Ugh, what is going on!!? How can they do this to me! I have a right to know what is going on with my child! Wait, what if something happened... Is everyone okay?! Oh my gosh, what if Micah is hurt!?" See what I mean? It's ridiculous. But my mom says that's the "mother" in me coming out. 

Mainly, I just wanted Micah to know who I am and why I did what I did. I've been dealing with abandonment issues my whole life, and the last thing I want is Micah to feel that way. I've dealt with depression my whole life, too. He should never have to feel like I felt at my lowest point. By having an open adoption, I'm hoping he won't have to feel the pain I felt from not knowing my own birth mother. 

How did you chose what kind of adoption you have? Leave a comment below! 

Until next time!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Where are the Others?

So I'm curious about something. For years I would have given anything to find other women like me to talk to, cry with and just connect with. Someone who could understand my pain, fear, despair, sadness, etc.

Fast forward a decade (or two) and I am suddenly part of several online groups for birthmoms who are very supportive and open about their decisions. It's really amazing to read their posts and watch as they come around each other for support on the hard days and celebration on the happy days.

So my question is this: Where are the others? Because while I'm seeing a large group of women connected online, there are many more that aren't connected. Maybe they don't know how to get connected. Maybe they've never even considered that there are others out there like them who want to get connected.

So how do we reach out to those ladies? Where are they? And how do we find them?

That's what I'm curious about today.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Forgiving Yourself

One adoption related issue that I still struggle with is forgiveness; particularly forgiving myself. Forgiving other people for what I felt they did or did not do wasn't always easy but it is something that I have been able to work through.  Where I struggle in terms of forgiveness though, is with forgiving myself.

What do I have to forgive myself for you might be wondering? Well, I have many guilty feelings about a variety of issues surrounding Charlie’s conception and subsequent adoption. I feel guilty for the mistakes that led up to Charlie’s conception. I feel guilty that I wasn’t in a position to my parent my son at that time in my life. (Let me clarify though, I don’t feel that Charlie was a mistake, just the actions that led to his conception.)

I looked up the word forgiveness in the dictionary, which took me to the word forgive and then gave me this definition.

Forgive: verb a: to give up resentment of or claim to requital for (forgive an insult) b: to grant relief from payment of (forgive a debt)2: to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) : PARDON (forgive one’s enemies)

I know I have to learn to forgive myself. I cannot beat myself up constantly for the mistakes that I have made, things I didn't do, or things I wish I would have done differently. I know those things are in the past, what’s done is done, and I can only learn from them and move forward. Unfortunately, life doesn’t have a rewind button where we can go back and fix our mistakes. (Boy, don’t you wish it did!)

To me, it just seems so much easier to forgive another person for something, than myself, but lately I have really been working to forgive myself. I start by praying and asking God for forgiveness but that was easy compared to the work I have to do within myself.

Recently, I wrote an apology letter to myself. It may seem a little hokey, but it really did help. I wrote a letter apologizing to myself for the things I feel like I let myself down on. I then, wrote myself a letter of forgiveness, forgiving myself for the things I felt I have done wrong. It really has helped me on the road to forgiving myself.

Anyone else out there struggle with forgiving yourself? What have you done in order to try and forgive yourself?

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Music Monday: Blind by Lifehouse

"I was young but I wasn't naïve
I watched helpless as he turned around to leave
And still I have the pain I have to carry
A past so deep that even you could not bury if you tried"

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Quote of the Week: Everyone Has Oceans to Fly

"Everyone has Ocean's to fly, if they have the Heart to do it. Is it reckless, maybe. But what do dreams know of boundaries?"

Friday, August 23, 2013

Being a Birth Mom Does Not Define Who I Am

Hello BirthMom Buds blogging world. My name is Annie, and I'm new. (Makes me feel like I'm in kindergarten again.) I guess I'm supposed to tell you about myself now. 

Well, like I said, my name is Annie. I'm a birth mom. My son, Micah, is 15 months old and as big as a toddler. I found out I was pregnant when I was 17 years old. I also found out when I was 37 weeks pregnant. I was a senior in high school. "This is going to be the best year of my life!" I would tell myself that every day until the school year started. Little did I know, it would be the best, AND the worst. 

The year started off alright. I have never been a good student, but it was never a priority to me. I was in an English class that I never wanted to go to. My school had a program called "SOC" which stood for seniors open campus. I didn't get proficient on my PSSA standardize test the year before, so I wasn't granted SOC until spring semester of my senior year. But, pshh, like that could stop me from skipping. I would slip out with a group of friends after first period and either go out to breakfast with them or go home. My parents never really asked any questions about why I was home almost every morning at 9:30. My teacher started calling home around November and, well, you know the rest. I got In School Suspension (ISS) for the rest of the semester. My mom assumed that I was going through a crisis. But little did we both know, it was mainly just my hormones. I wasn't getting morning sickness or any of the normal signs of pregnancy. Wasn't getting my period, either, but I was on the Depo shot. Finally the semester ended and the question of pregnancy was brought up by my mother, of all people. I had brought up my weight with her and, jokingly, she told me to take a test. I took one the next day and what do you know! It was positive. (Insert sobbing intermixed with profanity here). Anyway, on March 16, 2012 it was official, via blood test. "Here we go!" I thought. "I can handle 9 months of this." But it wasn't gonna be 9 months... It was gonna be 3 weeks. 

Keegan Michael was born at 5:11 am (AM - I'm not a morning person at all), April 6, 2012. He was, unfortunately, an emergency c-section baby. Everything was fine though, don't you worry! He was born peeing. (That's what I was told, the doc had to put me under due to lack of anesthetic). He was the most perfect-est baby you'd ever seen, but all moms say that about their babies. I had 3 days with my son. 3 of the shortest days of my life. Then on April 9, 2012, S and H came to pick up their new son. 

Before I had Micah, I kinda just labeled everything as chance. Ya know, luck? Like that $5 bill you found in your jeans. Or the front row parking spot you find on Black Friday. Even the call you got from your boss telling you not to come in to work today. All of these things I used to just call chance. I never believed in all of that "everything happens for a reason." I figured out after I had Micah, that he was meant to be on this earth, and he was meant to have me as his mother. Now I'm more of a "everything happens for a reason" kinda girl. I guess everything is perspective, so you just gotta give life a second glance every now and again. 

I really hope y'all enjoyed reading this.. It's not every day a girl gets to blog about what she's passionate about to other women who are passionate about the same thing! Well, until next Friday, mothers. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

God Who Heals

I've started reading through Sarah Young's book Jesus Calling each day and it's amazing how God continually finds me right where I'm at. While obviously written years ago and not about me or my life, I am constantly finding myself in the pages.

For those of you unfamiliar with her writing, she writes as though Jesus were actually speaking. While criticized for "putting words in the mouth of Jesus", she has taken her own reflection and meditation times with God, written them down, and compiled them into a book. As far as I know, she is not pretending nor professing to be Jesus.

The page for earlier this week keeps sticking with me, maybe because it explains part of my path. She writes,

"I am a God who heals. I heal broken bodies, broken minds, broken hearts, broken lives and broken relationships. My very Presence has immense healing powers. You cannot live close to Me without experiencing some degree of healing."

While I now see adoption as a gift, it could have easily destroyed me. If I would have allowed the bitterness and anger over my situation to stew and stew, it would have eventually consumed me.

The years between placement and healing were long, drawn out times full of bad decisions and poor coping methods. While I knew Jesus as my personal Savior, I was a young and immature Believer without a guide to teach me how to live out my faith.

In between those bad decisions and attempts to deal with my pain, however, were bursts of light. A counselor who heard me. A boyfriend whose family took me in and cared for me. A church that taught the truths of the Bible in a way I could relate to my life. Sunday school teachers who did the same and walked with me down some yucky roads. Friends who were not freaked out by my story (finally!!) and stuck by me.

God can heal you. He can restore you to wholeness. I know it feels like that can never happen, and while you won't be the same person you were before, he can make you new. Better. Healthy.

I am no where near the person I once was. And I'm no where near the person I will be one day. But oddly enough on my way to healing, I'm actually becoming more like myself. More true to myself. More comfortable in my own skin. I owe it all to Jesus Christ, the God of the Bible. I asked him for help, and he answered.

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Music Monday: For Always by Josh Groban & Lara Fabian

"For always, forever
For us there's no time and no space
No barrier love won't erase
Wherever you go, I still know
In my heart you will be with me"

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Quote of the Week: What we do Today Matters Most!

"Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most."

Friday, August 16, 2013

Passion as a Benefit to Anger

Enough about anger already, eh? It's been good to talk about some of this stuff. I guess before we leave the subject entirely there's one more thing that should be brought out. You know me, I'm all about the healthy, getting your feelings and thoughts out into the light. There's something about naming your sins, past and present hurts, and habits that takes away their power.

That being said, anger can be useful in one way. It can motivate us to change in ways we never thought possible. That anger, dealt with in a healthy way and channeled appropriately can give passion to a cause like nothing else. Here are some examples:
  • Consider birthmothers who have had bad experiences post-placement and as a result have fought to change adoption laws.
  • Consider cancer survivors' families that are so compassionate and passionate about finding a cure so no other family has to go through what they've been through.
  • Consider the Silent No More Awareness Campaign that has brought women who have personally experienced abortion out of the darkness of their shame.
These are all example of women who have been hurt but have used their pain to help others. The Bible says God can use anything and everything for his purposes. When we hold on to our anger and allow it to rule our lives, it eats us up from the inside out until eventually, we are just a hollow shell.

But if we will believe in the God of the Bible, and believe that he can use even the ugliest life brings, we have hope that our suffering is not in vain.

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Music Monday - Sun's Work Undone by The Hackensaw Boys

"What I want you to know,
is how much I love you.
I place no one above you
You’re always in my prayers"

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Quote of the Week: Be Unique!

"Cherish forever what makes you unique, 'cuz you're really a yawn if it goes."

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Still Angry

Since we're having so much fun talking about anger, let's talk about it some more. I know lots of you have strong feelings about this issue but aren't commenting. How come? I would love to hear what you have to say. We're all in this together.

Naming our anger, calling it what it is and bringing it out into the light of day is far healthier than keeping it locked up inside. Remember, living things don't stay buried forever. They always find a way to come out.

When I was growing up, my family was very secretive about sex. My parents never talked about it. It was something dark, sinister, and bad. No matter whose household I was in, my own or one of my grandparents' homes, that was the atmosphere when it came to sex. I realize part of that was generational.

But there was another part. A part that knew sex as dirty and shameful and secretive instead of a beautiful gift. Even though my parents were as closed as they could be about sex and all things related to that topic, I managed to shine a bright light on the family dysfunction. How could I possible know about a history of sexual abuse in my family when no one told me? How could I know the thing that would shame my family the most?

Consciously I didn't. But I believe that my subconscious knew something wasn't right and was trying to work it out. Maybe I sensed that my parents' marriage wasn't all it could be. Maybe I felt that someone in our family should be having sex, so why not me?

This is an example of living things that don't stay buried forever.. they always find a way to come out. I know how crazy it sounds, but I've had lots of years to think about this. And I don't think it's any coincidence that my actions shined a bright light on our family's dysfunction. I think there's more to it than that.

So more than you wanted to know about me and my family and definitely not what I was planning to write about. But here it is.

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Music Monday: Life Ain't Always Beautiful by Gary Allan

"Life ain't always beautiful
Sometimes it's just plain hard
Life can knock you down, it can break your heart"

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Quote of the Week: Judging Your Worth

"You alone are the judge of your worth, and your goal is to discover infinite worth in yourself, no matter what anyone else thinks."

Friday, August 2, 2013

Coping with Anger

Last week we talked about the basics of anger. While the subject felt a little dry to me, you all seemed to receive it well. What one thing did you try this week to let go of your anger? What have you tried in the past? What did you see on the list that you haven't tried before but want to try? I think getting healthy takes a combination of different things and a willingness to try something new.

For example, when my birthdaughter announced to me out of the clear blue that she had found her birthfather, Chris, and connected with him, I was at a total loss. I actually had to get off the phone because words would not come. I was shocked. Shocked. Hurt. Surprised. And oh-so-very angry.

Being 20 years post-placement at the time, I thought I was past all of that. I thought I had dealt with that stuff and nothing could surprise me. But then those words popped out of her mouth and I was in a tailspin. For days.

I did recover, but it took work on my part. New work. I wasn't able to get by on the work I had already done. I had to find new ways to deal with this, this whatever it was I was feeling. Which wasn't easy decades later. I was not only older, but I had grown up. I was married. Educated. Different.

But yet I needed to go back and work through teenage thoughts, feelings and emotions. I remember feeling so lost for a time, like my compass had been broken. I journaled. I sat in silence. I talked to God, to my sister, and to my husband which was different for me. Of course my husband knows about Chris and Katie. But to talk to him about the specifics from all those years ago was weird yet helpful.

That's what I'm talking about. That part was new to me. But I tried it. And after a while there came peace. Restoration. Resolution? Not sure. Chris may be part of her life, but he's not a part of mine. I get to make that choice.

So this week, think outside the box when anger appears. Of course do what works. We all have our go-to tools. But sometimes new situations call for new tools.

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Movies, Movies, Movies


There are few movies that include depictions of birthmothers I've liked and which haven't left a bitter taste in my mouth.

Recently we watched "Admission" which, semi-spoiler alert, includes a birthmother storyline that I actually enjoyed. It wasn't a movie about being a birthmother, but I thought it was realistic, yet positive, and simple and almost nonchalant (something I'd like to see more often).

More positive media portrayals of average women who happen to also be birthmothers, I believe, would help shape the overall general view of women who place their children with adoptive families, and I was pleased with this particular example. What I could do without are characters like the birthmother in October Baby, a movie highly recommended by everyone I knew who saw it, yet which I really disliked. I'm not denying that there aren't very calloused, dramatic birthmothers who do much harm to families as well as to the reputation of other women who have chosen the path of adoption for their children. I know women like that. I've read stories like that.

But I feel that many people are aware of those stereotypes and could instead benefit from hearing and seeing something different, perhaps even more common: genuine, kind, real women who faced a difficult decision. Women they can relate to. I also know so many birth mothers who don't fit the lifestyle stereotype - the lost cause, hopeless, drug or party addict who may only barely finish high school - and I want others to realize that as well.

So, do you know of any movies with birthmother stories that you can recommend? Or that you would never recommend? Which movies have really struck a chord with you, good or bad?

What are your thoughts on movies like Admission, Juno or Mother and Child? How about October Baby?