Saturday, February 28, 2015

Coping 5: Look to the Future

This is going to be the last in this series of blog posts that I do.

This may sound like an odd coping tool, but in truth, it is.  After getting home, the next question I asked myself was, "Now what?"  At the time, I turned on Netflix and tried to bury my head in the sand.  But then I started setting up little projects for myself.  My mother was having me make dinner on Thursday nights (the night she would work late), so I would look up recipes and plan a couple weeks ahead.  I started looking up knitting and crochet patterns and working on them.  I made plans and found yarn that I really liked and experimented with it.  I started writing again and planned out stories that I wanted to write down.  And I started looking into things to do.

If you can call it a job, my father "hired" me to make labels for the numerous things he had printed out to read for various reasons.  Why did he want me to make the labels?  His handwriting has gotten to the point that even he can't read it anymore.  It's really that terrible.  So I would sit with a little lap desk on my lap and write out labels for him while watching Netflix.  After that, I volunteered in my mother's library working in the technical services office.  Essentially, that's the office where everything gets cataloged, barcoded, put in mylar jackets, and labeled.  It's also where donations get sorted, books get mended, DVDs and CDs get cleaned, and various other things get done.  So as you can imagine, I had a number of little odd jobs that I could do for the few months that I was hanging out with them.

I was always looking for a job.  Looking for something else to do.  Trying to find some meaning and something to keep me occupied.  Otherwise I would sit and spin in my own thoughts.  And that was something I just could not do.

My looking eventually landed me a job working as a facilitator for a child in a Montessori school.  The boy's optical nerves are too small and thus he had issues reading.  Not the comprehension part, just the reading.  So my job was to sit with him and help him to get things done.  I liked it.  The kid I worked with was eight years old and was in a room of six to eight year old's.  Some were concerned about me working with children, but I assured them, working with kids of their age was not a problem.  Had it been babies, I would have been sunk.  But at the time, I would just look at the kids and wonder what my kid would look like when he was that old.

In October, about three months after giving birth, I finally landed my first full-time job.  This job led to me moving out of the house, getting another full-time job in the same school, and finally finding the friends and the adventures that I have found thus far.  It hasn't always been easy, but it has been worth it.

So my best advice, do something.  Knitting, writing, running, a job, volunteering, anything.  Just do something that gets you moving again and get you out of your own head.  Hope you are all doing well and that you have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, February 27, 2015

BMB Reform Blog: Meet Amy!

Hello again readers!  This week we have another interview with a birthmother by the name of Amy!  Let's see what she has to say about adoption reform as it pertains to her life!

1.  Please tell us your name and a brief intro to your story.  

I placed in an open adoption in 2007.   I went through an agency to find the adoptive family and they claimed to be prepared for an open adoption and willing to use the agency as a resource for any questions that came up.  I was extremely prepared for what an open adoption was going to bring, but it seems after placement, they were not as prepared or willing to receive counseling/help for issues that came about.  The agreement was to have at least 2 visits a year, plus being a part of special occasions in each others lives (IE Baptism, First Communion, etc.)  We were also to have contact at least one time per month through mail, email, or phone calls.

I placed my child with this family because they claimed their faith was an intricate part of their lives and they wanted to raise their children with that faith.  I am religious and this was a VERY important aspect for me and that the children would grow up in a 2 parent, traditional household…something I could not give my child at the time he was born.

In 2010, my child’s parents separated and from what has been shown to me, the separation and divorce was very nasty.  Nothing has been explicitly explained to me as to what happened with the marriage.  Instead of telling me in person or over the phone, I received an email from my child’s adoptive father letting me know they separated.  My child’s adoptive mother does not have any contact with me.  I have not spoken to her, nor seen her since 2010 due to her choice.  The parents have split custody of the children and my visits take place when the children are with their father. Their mother still has influence in regards to my visits and contact, even though she wants nothing to do with me.

It wasn't until last year that my child was told who I was, and his sister informed him, not his parents. This was a question that I posed to his father a couple of times since the divorce as to the importance of my child knowing who I was, hence the reason for an open adoption.  I was informed they didn't know how they were going to do it since his sister is adopted as well and her adoption is closed. They didn't want her to be affected by her birthparents not being a part of her life.  I was also informed that my child would eventually figure it out since he was smart.

My visits don’t take place as they should be either.  The coordination of the visits have been left up to me only, and sometimes my inquiries for dates/times that are good for the adoptive father are not answered.  There is not a bit of initiation on their part for scheduling visits.  Some of my visits have also been cancelled and rescheduled instead of the visits being a priority.

2.  Are there any aspects of adoption you would like to see changed?  This can be within your own journey or adoption as a whole.

I wish my whole entire adoption experience could be changed and I believe it has influenced my reasons for desiring adoption reform.  
  • I believe the adoptive parents and the birth parents should be required to go through extensive counseling before and after placement, especially with an open adoption.  Both parties need to have a complete and thorough understanding of what open adoption means and I believe the social workers that are assigned to each party need to make sure this knowledge base is formed and maintained.  If you do not have a complete and thorough understanding of what open adoption is required to have (full and complete honesty, commitment to mutual agreements, etc) than you should not be allowed to move forward with an open adoption.
  • I believe there should be contractual agreements signed before and after placement in between the birth and adoptive parents to keep both parties protected.  EVERYTHING needs to be laid out as to what is expected before placement, during the hospital stay, and after placement.  Legal accountability for your actions should be required, and I believe this should be done with the child’s best interest at heart.  If there is a dispute in regards to how things are going, mediation done by the placement agency should be required.  I’m not sure quite yet what the legal ramifications should be if the agreement is not upheld, but I believe something has to be done in this regard.
  • The placement agency needs to play a very active role in all aspects of the adoption triad until the child turns 18.  At least 1 visit per year with each party should take place.  Many things occur in life and things change.  It would be the equivalent to a yearly physical check up with the doctor.  An adoption is a living and breathing entity that should be taken care of, and if there is the possibility for sickness, it should be preventative medicine, not reactive medicine.
  • The child needs to be raised with the full understanding that they are adopted and their birth story.  They should NEVER be told about their birth story/parents through anyone other than their parents.  The identifying information that is explained is based upon the type of adoption that is agreed upon.  If the child is in an open adoption, they need to be raised with the understanding of their birth parents and what role they play in their life.  This should be second nature to them and it should not be a surprise later on in life.
3.  What does adoption reform mean to you and why do you think it's important?

Adoption reform in one word for me means “FREEDOM.”  I used to believe so much in the importance of open adoption and that was the only adoption route to go…after my experience, my opinion has changed.  I now believe that if you are not ready for the responsibility that comes with open adoption, then you should only have a closed or semi-open.  I came extremely close to cutting off physical contact with my child and his family because of how screwed up everything was and it didn't seem like anything was going to change.   This was extremely bad for me emotionally and spiritually, and I did not want these negative feelings to be reflected onto my child. I did not have the opportunity to play an active role in my child’s life for the first nine years with the understanding that I was his birth mother.  My adoption was basically a closed adoption with physical visits.  I felt trapped because I was not his parent and I could not have input into how he was being raised and I could not share how his parent’s actions were affecting me.  There was a lot of fear for a very long time.  I was afraid that if I shared my disappointments, they would “punish” me by taking away contact.  No one should live in that fear.  

The most important thing to me is to make sure that the adoptive parents and the birth parents keep the child’s best interest at heart.  For many of us, the reason why we placed was to give our child a life we could not provide for them.  This is not anything to be played with…adoption is not a game…it should never be hostile, negative, selfish etc.  It should be loving, positive and selfless for the sake of the child.  

Thank you so much Amy!

If you or anyone you know would like to be interviewed for this section, or if you have an important reform topic you would like discussed, please feel free to email me!  I look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Music Monday: A Picture of me (Without You) by George Jones

"Can you picture Heaven with no angels singing
Or a quiet Sunday morning with no church bells ringing
If you've watched as the heart of a child breaks in two
Then you've seen a picture of me without you"

If you have any suggestions for songs to use, feel free to email me or post a comment!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Quote of the Week: New Beginning

“The strings to our past are burned because we need a new beginning.”

If you have any suggestions for quotes, feel free to email me or post a comment!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Coping 4: Reach Out

The first year of being a birthmother is the hardest.  You have to recover from being pregnant.  You have to go through all the hormones.  You have to settle with all the feelings you and those around you are having.  And on top of all that, your child isn't with you.  They're being raised by someone else and it's possibly the most difficult feeling you've ever had in your life.

But after the first year, things calm down a bit.  Your body starts going back to normal.  Hormones start calming down.  Everyone starts settling into the new reality.  And with any luck, you've seen your child a couple of times and know how they are doing and how well things are going.  Slowly, you start to settle into the way life is going to be now.

And if you're very very lucky, you'll find a great support network like BirthMom Buds or a local support group to attend and other birthmothers to talk to.  There really is nothing much like knowing that you are not alone.  In talking to birthmothers who have been through a lot, I have learned that I am not alone in this.  I have found people I can turn to when my emotions run high and I have to face things like first birthdays and walking and going to school for the first time.

And I have been there for other birthmothers.  Women who are in the very same shoes that I once stood, facing the same decisions and uncertainties that I once faced.  I have been there for them in the aftermath.  I have listened to them in the midst of their sadness and confusion.  And I have told them, I've been in that very same spot.  I know what it feels like.  And you will get through this.  This more than anything has taught me that none of us are alone in this.  There is always someone to give a hand.  There is always someone to lend an ear.  And there is always someone's shoulder to cry on.  Even if it is in person, or over the phone, or across the internet, you are not alone.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Running Away

Wild Horse

I feel like running away sometimes. Can anyone relate? It is all just too much... everything in my world seems to be shifting and out of control. While I don't consider myself to be a control freak, I crave routine. I love routine. I am routine. Which causes it's own issues. But that's not where I'm going here.

I am blessed to have a very hardworking husband. And I am thankful for his job. And I mean it. His job has taken him to California almost weekly since about August. And this week I just had enough. He comes home Friday night exhausted, we try and cram all kinds of family stuff and church stuff and home responsibilities into one 48-hour period, and then he's gone again.
Can I get a witness? This is hard stuff.

So this week when he got home I told him I wanted to run away. Even with the responsibilities of children at home, I was teetering on the edge of packing up and bolting. 

I'm glad to say that while the urge did not pass on its own, I was able to help it along. Not matter your home situation, if you feel like running away, these are the things that helped me keep moving forward instead of skipping out:

  • Routine. This is very important to me and on my own with the children, homeschooling and all of out other responsibilities, I have to find a way to manage it all. So I figured out a routine that includes time to and for myself.
  • Take care of you. Of course I love my girls. But after pouring out to them all day, I'm tired. I've been much firmer on my boundaries without daddy around. They go to bed at a certain time and stay there. I am up front with them that mommy needs time alone. For me, this also includes exercise, so I build that into my daily/weekly schedule.
  • Bookshelf your time. As an introvert, I require more alone time than many people. So I have structured my days to include time alone at the beginning and the end of each day. Knowing I will have that time helps me get through the rough patches.
  • Plan a getaway. While I'm not able to run away right now, planning our next family time away helps me mentally. And in the meantime when my husband is home, I find ways to be out on my own for a few hours.
I know the particulars of our lives may look different, but we all get stuck and we all need time away. Running away when we feel like it probably is not the best answer, but getting the mental space we need sure helps.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Music Monday: Without You by Mariah Carey

"No I can't forget tomorrow
When I think of all my sorrow
When I had you there
But then I let you go"

If you have any suggestions for songs to use, feel free to email me or post a comment!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Quote of the Week: My Last Words

“If I were dying, my last words would be: Have faith and pursue the unknown end.” 

If you have any suggestions for quotes, feel free to email me or post a comment!

Friday, February 13, 2015

BMB Reform Blog: Meet Jane!

Greetings again readers!  This week we have an interview with Jane.  She has been an nmom for 15 years now, and has been outspoken about adoption reform and family preservation for quite some time!  Let's see what she has to say!

1.  Please tell us your name and a brief intro to your story. 

My name is Jane.  15 years ago, I gave birth to my beautiful daughter.  Amid a lot of coercion, I was forced to give her up.  I had been threatened with lawsuits if I didn't give her up, as well as constantly told how her life with me would be horrible and her life with her AP's would be so much better.  It was all a lie, as I would be and am a wonderful mother.  I was told it would be a semi open adoption, but that quickly turned to closed.

2.  Are there any aspects of adoption you would like to see changed?  This can be within your own journey or adoption as a whole.

Tons.  Ideally, I would like to see the focus switch to foster children.  Children that NEED homes.
 Often times adoption is about finding babies for wanting families, when it should be about finding homes for needy children.  Take the money out of it.  Get rid of pre-birth matching as it makes us feel more obligated to give people our children, instead of allowing us to think without that added stress. I would love to see an organization start up to be matched with expectant moms and show them the ropes of how to make it with your child.  How to manage your money, parenting tips, etc.  Let's give these women tools to show them they CAN parent.  Show them both sides of the equation and let them make a decision with open knowledge.  Make open adoption agreements legally binding everywhere.  Stop pressuring women to make a decision right then and there in the hospital.  There is so much.  So so much.

3.  What does adoption reform mean to you and why do you think it's important?

Adoption reform means working together towards a common goal to get coercion out of adoption.  I think it's important because women today are STILL getting coerced, lied to, manipulated and that needs to stop.

Thanks so much Jane!

If you or anyone you know would like to be interviewed for this section, or if you have an important reform topic you would like discussed, please feel free to email me!  I look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

2015 BMB Retreat

The 2015 BirthMom Buds Retreat is quickly coming up! It will be Friday, May 1, 2015 - Sunday, May 3-2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Additional details and more information for the 2015 BMB Retreat are now can be viewed here

We're also currently accepting sponsors as well as donations of items for door prizes and goodie bags. If you are interested in contributing, please email BMB.

You can also make donations via our Go Fund Me page here

Monday, February 9, 2015

Music Monday: Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd

"How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl,
Year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found
The same old fears.
Wish you were here."

If you have any suggestions for songs to use, feel free to email me or post a comment!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Quote of the Week: Acceptance

"Life happens at the rate of acceptance." 

If you have any suggestions for quotes, feel free to email me or post a comment!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Coping 3: Talk to Others

Talking to others, at least for the first few months, can be really intimidating.  It was hard to talk to my family about it because they had lost something too.  It was hard to talk to my friends since hardly any of them knew and none of them were birthmothers.  Talking to anyone in the health care profession was a crap shoot to see what they would or wouldn't say in response to, "Yes, I've given birth, but that child doesn't live with me."  Talking to counselors was helpful, but none were birthmothers and hardly any had dealt with birthmothers before.  The one birthmother support group near me was a good two hour drive away and at the time didn't have many people in it.  I gave birth in July and it wasn't until February that I met any birthmothers that I felt like I could have a conversation with.

To be honest, I was kind of scared of talking to other birthmothers.  I was 27.  My child's father was still my boyfriend at the time and today is still my best friend.  The family I had picked was amazing about communication and sending photos and such.  There was no great drama.  There were no insane circumstances.  It was simply the matter of two people in the wrong place at the wrong time with not enough resources to help them.  I was worried about being the only one.

But when I did finally come to a meeting where there were other birthmothers, I realized one important fact: we are all completely different from each other.  No one's story matches the other's.  Everyone came to this in a different way.  Everyone had different reactions to it.  Everyone had different experiences with family, friends, co-workers, boyfriends, adoptive families.  Every single one of us is different.

The important thing, the thing that connects all of us, is that we are birthmothers.  However we came to it, whatever circumstances we were in, whoever we had to deal with, we all made a choice for our child.  We chose to place them with people that we had met recently.  We chose to be braver than we have ever been and chose a path most don't.  We chose to defy society, our friends, our families, and sometimes our own instincts, and make a choice that many will never understand.

But there are many who do.  And I encourage each and every one of you to talk to each other.  Go to support groups and talk to other birthmothers.  Talk to your friends.  Talk to your family.  Just talk to anyone and shine a light in this corner of the world that doesn't often get revealed.  A lot of birthmothers still live in shame and have stigma placed on them by society and, worst of all, family.  But at the end of the day, this isn't a shameful thing that we did.  This was the bravest thing we have probably ever done and possibly ever will do.  When the time came, we did what we knew was right for our children.  And that's all we could do.

It sounds trite to say we're all in this together, but we really are.  We've all been to the same place.  We all know the same pain.  And we are all here for each other.  That's one of the great things I've found about the birthmother community.  There is an unending well of support here.  And any of you who are new to all this.  Believe me.  We've all been there.  We know what it's like.  And you can talk to us any time you need to.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Movie reviews

Recently I have found myself becoming a lot more interested in the way adoption and birth mothers are portrayed in the media. For the most part it isn't that good. So as often as I can I try to find and watch as many movies as I can that have any link to adoption.

I have seen two movies that really stuck with me. Mother and Child and Philomena.

Mother and Child is a movie that involves three stories that intertwine. A birth mother who placed her daughter 37 years ago in a closed adoption, a woman who was adopted at birth and a young couple trying to adopt a baby. The stories are all interesting and for the most part I found that the characters were believable. It is easy to relate to most of them. There were moments however that I got a little lost and I felt like they went a weird direction with the characters. I would recommend this movie if you are ever bored and want something to do,  however I would not recommend going out of your way to see this movie. I did cry just to warn you but I am also a very sensitive person, especially about any kind of adoption story.

Philomena is an amazing movie. It is about a woman who was forced into placing her young son up for adoption. He was basically taken from her and 50 years later she decides that she wants to find out what happened to her son. I feel like talking about it just does not do it any justice. I cried through out the whole thing, just to warn you guys again, but I loved every minute of it. You feel her pain and you know where she is coming from. The feeling of just wanting to know that your child is okay. The actors do an amazing job showing the real raw emotion and the ugly side of closed adoptions. Did I also mention that this movie is a true story? It makes me want to cry just thinking about it! Philomena is a must see movie for anyone and it is definitely a must see for us birth moms!

For me watching movies about adoption helps me. It helps me to see other stories, even if they are not true. Birth mothers are not always painted in a positive light and so it is nice to see movies that paint a picture of the loving and caring birth mom and not the lady who abandoned her baby, because none of us are like that.  I hope that one day we can make our story known more and then adoption won't be as taboo to talk about.

Photo credit

Monday, February 2, 2015

Music Monday: Never Had a Dream Come True by S Club 7

"I never had a dream come true
Till the day that I found you
Even though I pretend that I moved on
You'll always be my baby

I never found the words to say
You're the one I think about each day
And I know no matter where life takes me to
A part of me will always be with you"

If you have any suggestions for songs to use, feel free to email me or post a comment!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Quote of the Week: Be Friendly

“Don’t wait for people to be friendly, show them how.”

If you have any suggestions for quotes, feel free to email me or post a comment!