Sunday, October 16, 2016

Quote of the Week: View is Better from the Top

Thursday, September 29, 2016


It's 2016.  Adoption has been portrayed in the media in several different positive lights in recent years, and adoption stories have become less taboo.  Everywhere you look you can see adoptive families, with their radiating smiles singing the praises of the "selfless woman who placed her child with us."

So why is it still so hard to "come out" as a birth mother sometimes?

I am pretty open about my birth mother status.  I tell everyone as we get to know each other, because it is a part of who I am.  However, it isn't something that I shout from a rooftop for every stranger to hear, mostly because of one experience, and one stereotype:

I placed my middle child.  I was a young, struggling, single Mom, and I was in no place to successfully parent two children at that time.  After my adoption decision, I went on to get married, buy a house, and have a planned pregnancy.

When my youngest was born, she wasn't in the greatest of health so she was sent to a larger hospital with a NICU.  Every family was assigned a social worker to help them with whatever was needed, and (apparently) the social worker does an in depth review of everyone's files before even meeting with you.  She asked me about my family, and when I responded that we had one older child, she pushed me, and pushed me, and pushed me some more.  When I told her of my middle child's adoption, she immediately (seriously, there was no hesitation) asked, "Was CPS involved?"

And that, everyone, is the problem.

In this modern society. there is still the long held stereotype that birth moms are somehow unfit.  That we are incapable, and that we are women who have not come to the decision of adoption because we wanted to, but because we were forced to, or else risked having our children placed in foster care.

I want to fix this, but I just don't know how.  I want to scream from a rooftop that, "I am here!  I'm not unfit!  I loved my child, and I wanted the best for them!  I was realistic about my situation and realized that I wasn't the best!  That's it!"  

But no matter how loud I scream, it seems like the long held idea that I am somehow irresponsible is louder.

I made a great choice when I chose adoption, but I feel like sometimes society is punishing me for doing what was best, and that's a real injustice that is done to birth moms every day.

Photo Credit

Friday, August 12, 2016

Respecting Boundaries

Sometimes I feel like being in a semi-open adoption is just more complicated than it needs to be. Since I moved once my birth son was born, I live halfway across the country from him. The agreement since birth has been that I can send letters and gifts whenever I want and I see pictures of him and keep in touch with his parents. However, they want to wait until he's older to do visits. While I don't really like this arrangement, I appreciate what I do have, I respect it, and would never do anything to cross any boundaries, something that I work very hard at.

But sometimes that gets tricky. In a few weeks, I will be traveling back to where I grew up and to near where my son now lives. I'm so excited to go back and I'm so excited to see my family and eat foods I haven't been able to since I left (I can taste the bagels and the pizza now...), but I also have an overwhelming sense of anxiety about it. What if I get triggered by things I'm not expecting to, or worry the whole time that I'll accidentally run into them? I doubt I will, but still. 

Respecting the boundaries that his parents have set is something that I always take to heart and always something that I try to do. While it is something I want more than absolutely anything in the world, I will not ask to see my birth son while I'm there, and I will do my best to avoid accidentally running into them.

But something that I don't understand is why I can't see his parents? I don't know why the 3 of us can't just catch up and grab lunch together or something. I've brought it up with them before and they told me that they don't know if they'd be comfortable with that. I respected and accepted their decision, but it still hurts. Maybe they thought I was asking to see my birth son, I don't know. It's so important for me to try to still feel connected to them. I hate feeling a sense of disconnect or distance. We'll see what happens, but I won't push and I won't ask again. 

Adoption is something that will never be easy, and it will never be fun. But it is doable, and it is a blessing. This has been a difficult season for me, but I know it will change and I know it will get easier to deal with soon. I'm so grateful for his parents, they are truly great people and I do have so much respect for them. I guess I just wish I didn't miss them all so much.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Hard Words to Say

Trigger warning: This post deals with post placement pregnancy.....

For the past few months, I find myself to be in familiar territory. Yet at the same time, very new territory. Instead of being cryptic about it like I have been with everyone lately, I’ll just say it – I’m pregnant. These past 12 weeks have been an emotional roller coaster for me.

                Despite the fact that this pregnancy was “planned”, and that I am now married, because of the situation I was in just 2 years ago when my son was born, it feels somehow like I’m doing the wrong thing by being pregnant. It has been so confusing for me dealing with all of these emotions. I feel like I’m betraying my son, I feel like I don’t really deserve to parent this baby, and I’m terrified that something is going to happen to take this baby away from me. Some days I feel so scared to connect with this baby because my connection with my birth son was so immediate and so fierce and that has led me to become vulnerable to a lot of hurt and pain. This baby is no more or less wanted than my birth son was, and will be no more or less loved. But I’m not going to lie, it’s almost scarier this time.

                Going to doctor appointments is scarier. Now I have to answer questions like “is this your first child?” or “and how is your other child, is he healthy?” Well, I’d assume so, haven’t heard otherwise! Telling my family was horrifying in a different way this time too. When I first told my parents, I had to say it all very quickly in one sentence so they wouldn’t ask questions that I didn’t want to hear. It came out something like “we’re pregnant but it was planned so don’t worry and this needs to be a good thing so I need you to be happy about it”. I think I was more nervous telling them this time than I was last time (granted, last time I did tell them in an email). Facing the public is scarier. People constantly assume that this is my first pregnancy. They like to give me advice on what to expect, and tell me things like that my baby probably won’t be too big because I’m very small. Oh really? Because my son was 8lbs 12oz, so I’d say that’s pretty big! But I don’t say that. I don’t correct them. It hurts too badly to go down that road. I hate the fact that I'm terrified of telling people because I'm afraid of their reaction.

                Around week 6 or so, the baby is the size of a lentil. During that week, I sent my husband a picture of some lentil soup and told him how I really wanted to eat it, but told him I couldn’t do it because it felt like cannibalism. I was half kidding, but waited to eat the soup. Ever since then, we call the baby The Lentil. I hope that loving the Lentil won’t make my birth son feel betrayed in the future. I know how very much and how very strongly I loved my birth son from the very beginning. I’m almost scared that I won’t be able to love the Lentil enough. I have missed my birth son more in these last 12 weeks than I expected to, and there have been a lot of emotions come up for me that I didn’t anticipate.

                I hate the fact that whether a pregnancy is planned or not matters, but it does seem to matter to other people. Yes, my husband and I planned to have this Lentil (although we did think it would take us a little bit longer than…immediately), and no, my birth son was not planned. But you know what? Both of my babies were wanted. And both of my babies are loved. Mom, birth mom, step mom, all of my titles aside. I will always love all of my children more than they can possibly understand, something my own mom used to tell me, and now I do understand. I hope they know that. I hope I will always be a positive person in their lives, someone they can look up to. I may not have it all together, nobody really does. But what I do have is an endless supply of love. And hugs to give. Just ask my husband. I’m sure it drives him crazy sometimes.

Photo Credit

Friday, July 8, 2016

You are Entitled to Your Feelings

Two years post placement, I still find myself suprised when I'm faced with certain triggers and get upset by it. I try to put on a strong face for my family and friends and act like I'm not affected by things or act like certain situations don't upset me when they do. 

 I think a lot of us do this. We act like we’re doing okay. We try to stay strong and we put on a brave face. I hope that we all feel safe enough in our lives and within our support systems to be real with ourselves and with the people close to us. It’s okay to have a bad day. It’s okay to feel sad if we see something that reminds us of our birth children, when we were pregnant with them, or any other memory or trigger that we have. It’s okay to feel it and it’s okay to express it.

                Adoption is a huge part of my life and hiding how I feel on my sad days doesn’t do anyone any good. I’m not being “noble” by swallowing my emotions. Yesterday was an unexpectedly difficult day for me. I was triggered by something that I didn’t expect to be and my negative emotions took me by surprise. But I know I didn’t handle the situation right. What I should have done was talked to my husband about what I was thinking and feeling and just talked it out with him so he could understand what I was going through at the moment. But that isn’t what I did. Instead, I tried to “get over it”. I tried to swallow my emotions and act like it wasn’t a problem. But it was a problem, and because I ignored it, it got bigger and bigger. I ended up redirecting my emotions in the wrong way and picked a fight with my husband over him going to the dentist. It was ridiculous and unnecessary, and could have been prevented by me being honest in the first place. Of course shortly after that, I realized that I was being ridiculous and was honest with him about what was going on and what I was feeling.

                This next season in my life is going to be filled with triggers that will probably make me think of my birthson more and I know I will be more challenged by unexpected hard days than I have been recently. I hope that you know that it’s okay, and necessary, to feel what you need to feel and be open and honest with yourself and those around you. You deserve it. You deserve your good days and you deserve to be able to express yourself on your bad days. Don’t feel guilty for having either of those days. Whether you are feeling happy or sad or anything at all in between, I hope you never feel alone.

                Two years post placement, I still find myself to be so grateful for the fact that good days will always follow the bad days.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Social Media and Adoption

When looking at the world today, it seems like everyone is connected to everything.  It might seem completely natural for some birth families to be connected to adoptive families on social media, but for others it can feel like walking on thin ice.

When I placed my daughter for adoption, the agency that I was using advised that adoptive families and birth families not 'friend' each other on social media.  After placing, I adhered strictly to that guideline for several years.  After my daughter's Mom served as my maid of honor in my wedding in 2013, we both felt as though we had become comfortable enough with each other to engage in social media.

I was excited by this turn of events.  I was looking forward to seeing the everyday happenings on my birth daughter, and I was glad that my daughter's Mom felt comfortable enough with me to do this, even though our agency didn't generally recommend it.  The friend request came in and I eagerly accepted, looking forward to seeing extra pictures of my sweet baby girl.

Then I saw them.  Every. Single. One.  I knew when she was going on vacation, I saw photos of her going to preschool, I saw pictures of her with her family.  I immediately felt a pit on my stomach.  I was barraged by their happiness and my loss.

I was committed to remaining 'friends' on social media, since I didn't want to jeopardize the openness that I had been so excited to have.  However, after several days of being barraged by photos, I chose to 'unfollow' my daughter's Mom on Facebook for quite some time.  We were able to remain friends, but I struggled with the lack of control that I had when my birth daughter would pop up on my newsfeed unexpectedly.

It took my several months to acclimate with the idea of being friends on social media once I had a taste of what it was like.  After some time, when I felt more prepared, I 'followed' my birth daughter's Mom again.  We have now been happily 'friended' for several years, with no issues.  The first few months though, our social media interactions served as a bit of a trigger for my grief, which was unexpected.

I know not everyone has the opportunity to be "friends" on social media with their child's family
If you are friends with your birth child's family on social media, how has it worked for you?

Photo Credit

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Love From His Far Away Family

Throughout my journey through adoption, I try to incorporate my birth son into everything I do. I guess it’s my way of keeping him with me and in my heart, even if he isn’t here physically. I never want him to feel like he wasn’t loved, or that we forgot about him, and I want him to always feel as if he has a place in his far away family.
                I have pictures of him in my house, and whenever my step daughter sees one, she gets excited and says his name and says “cute baby!”. I tell her that I think so too. I keep a picture of him in my binder for school, too. That way, every time I get frustrated or overwhelmed, I can remember my motivation and my strength for why I try so hard every day to be the best person I can be. Every day, I wear a bracelet that I made and put on the last day I got to see him and spend time with him. During my wedding, I pinned that bracelet to my bouquet of flowers and kept him with me that way. I also had a few pictures of him in the bridal room. I also have a necklace with his footprints engraved into it that I wear whenever I’m missing him just a little extra.

                I will never be his Mom in the way that I wish I could be, and that’s just a part of my life now. But just because I can’t be there with him every day, that doesn’t mean that I can’t love him and think about him every day. We are all entitled to love and miss our children. Wherever they are, whenever the last time was that we saw them, we are entitled to how we feel about it. Whenever I’m feeling down about it, it always makes me feel better knowing that I’m doing everything I can to make sure that he will one day know how loved he always was. I always remind him in letters, that I hope he’ll read when he’s older, how lucky he is to have two families who love him so much. Adoption will never be easy, but it has taught me how to love in ways I never thought I could have before. And for that, I am grateful.

Photo Credit

Friday, June 3, 2016

Adoption is like the Weather

Adoption is like the weather. It's a constantly changing adventure, and you can always count on it to not be stagnant. Perhaps that's the best and worst thing about it. For some of us, we pray for a change. We beg for things to be different, or better in some way. For others, we're terrified for things to be different because we're so comfortable with how things are now. 

For me, I think it’s both. I have wished for things to be better for as long as my son has been alive, but now I guess I’ve just become so used to the way things are that I’m scared of what a change would mean. I know I want more, I’ll always want more. But right now I don’t think that’s possible. And I’m learning to accept that that’s okay, because nothing is stagnant about this crazy life we live in.

If there’s one guarantee in life, well, I guess it’s that there are no guarantees. Always hang in there and never give up. Don’t give up on your children, don’t give up on your family and friends, and don’t give up on hope. But most importantly, don’t give up on yourself. Things can always get better, just like the weather will always change. It might rain for a week, but the sun always comes out again. The stars are always behind the clouds, even if we can’t see them. I really believe that’s the best thing about life. We can always count on things to get better, and if we hold onto hope long enough, they will.

I’m so grateful for every single picture or small update I get. Those little things give me my motivation to keep going. I may not be able to visit him yet, but one day I will. Even if it takes me 16 more years, I know that reunion will come. That is what I wake up each day and fight for.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Next Baby

When I was getting ready to place my second daughter for adoption, I never gave my future children much thought.  In fact, at that point, I would have been perfectly content to never deal with pregnancy again, as both my pregnancies had been pretty dramatic and ridiculously emotional, mostly due to the volatile relationship I was in.

However, shortly after my birth daughters second birthday I got married to a wonderful man, and by the time she was 3 and a half my youngest daughter was born.  This pregnancy wasn't a surprise, she was meticulously planned.  Yet, for some reason, when I told my family, I was afraid.  I had nothing to be afraid of, I was 23 and married with a mortgage, a job, and a 401K.  I was an adult, in every sense of the word.  I struggled with the idea that this pregnancy would be joyfully embraced though.  I felt that, even though I may have been more prepared, my newest baby didn't deserve more fanfare than my older children.
As my pregnancy progressed, everything terrified me.  If I hadn't felt my baby move for a few hours, I immediately thought the worst.  I couldn't shake the feeling that something terrible was going to happen, even though things were progressing completely normally.  I genuinely felt that, after everything I had been through, there was no way I would finally get my happy ending.

Fast forward a few months and a week long NICU stay, and we were finally able to bring our perfect 8 pound 9 ounce baby girl home.  I was immediately struck by the amount of love I felt for such a tiny little stranger.  When I placed my second child, I spent most of my pregnancy avoiding much of a connection with her.  This time, I embraced the connection fully.  I immersed myself in every piece of Motherhood, from the sleepless nights, to breastfeeding, to diaper changes, and everything in between.

I was in newborn heaven.  I was also completely overwhelmed by the demands of two children.  Although I had quite a age gap between my kids (my oldest was almost 6 when my youngest was born), I still struggled meeting the demands of both my children, while still providing the basic necessities for myself.  My husband was extremely helpful during this time, as he took a month off from work to be with us at home.

This is when it really hit me that my decision to place my second child was the correct one.  I always knew it was, but after I had a taste of parenting multiple children it became even more clear.  I struggled with the demands as a 24 year old married woman with a wonderfully supportive partner.  I have no idea how things would have been if I had attempted this feat as a 20 year old single Mom who had just exited an abusive relationship and was working part time at a pizza place while struggling to afford a single wide trailer.

Since my youngest daughter's birth, ever milestone she has reached has served as another reminder to me that adoption was the best choice for my second baby.  Adoption was the best choice for  my newborn, my crawling baby, my teething baby, my toddler, and every stage that has and will still come.

Has anyone else had a baby after their placement?  What has surprised you about the experience?

Monday, May 23, 2016


BirthMom Buds is very pleased to announce our newest chapter: BMB of Tennessee.

Let me introduce you to Lexi, who will be running the BMB of Tennessee chapter.

My name is Lexi Allen, and I am a birthmother from Knoxville, Tennessee. I placed my son in a private, closed adoption 12 years ago. I walked my journey as a birthmother completely alone for 10 years until I found BirthMom Buds. The support, love, and empowerment I have received since being a member of this organization has helped me tremendously. I only wish it hadn’t taken me a decade to find these amazing women. Therefore, I am starting a chapter of BirthMom Buds in Tennessee in order to provide birthmothers of all walks of life with the support that I wish I had received much sooner.”

For now, there is a private Facebook group and once there is some interest, live meet ups will begin. Send us a private message on Facebook or email Lexi for more information.

Friday, May 20, 2016

My Name Is...

 The definition of the word identity is "the fact of being who or what a person or thing is".  Usually, the first identity that we learn about each other is our name. But, we are so much more than just our names, aren't we?  What I have learned in my short, yet very long, 21 years of life, is that usually, people aren't ashamed of their first identity, their name. When we introduce ourselves, we lead with something along the lines of "Hi, I'm ______. Nice to meet you!" We take ownership of it. So, why then, are we ashamed of our other identities? We all have that one identity that we just keep locked up in the closet, or hidden under the bed. We feel a certain sense of shame about it. But we don’t have to. Everyone has got a past. Everyone has got a story. Yes, some identities may hurt, and some you may wish that you didn’t have. But you have to own it. Each and every single thing that you identify as, whether you are proud of it or try to hide it, has helped to shape you into the beautiful and incredible person you are. So, here is who I am.

I am a birth mom. I am a new wife. I am a step mom. I am a daughter and a sister. I am a student studying physical therapy. I am a little crazy and a little broken sometimes, but that’s okay because I think most of us are. I have made mistakes, but I am not defined by my mistakes.

The best “mistake” I ever made was getting pregnant 2 years ago, when I had just turned 19 days before. The birth father made it clear that parenting was not an option, but other than that, the decision was mine to make. I still laugh about that. I felt very alone in my pregnancy. Even though I was in a relationship with the birth dad, lets call him Paul, I still felt incredibly alone during my pregnancy. Paul and I had just moved to the very center of Philadelphia so that he could go to school. I basically gave up everything and followed him there so he could be my support system. I guess the idea was better in my head than it ended up being in real life.

By early October of 2013, when I was just a few weeks pregnant, I was feeling really alone and desperate for answers. I hadn’t told anybody but Paul at this point, not even my parents. I was in a dark place and just had no idea what to do. I didn’t have insurance, I didn’t have a doctor, and I really couldn’t afford to be pregnant without those things. Since day 1, I wanted the very best for my baby. I hoped that the best could be me, but without the support from Paul, which he refused to give me, I knew I wasn’t enough. That night, I just felt so stuck. I needed something to click, to make sense. I just laid in bed thinking for hours. I needed some kind of sign for what to do next.

I got my sign. Weeks before this day, I was scrolling through Facebook and remembered seeing something that my cousin had posted. She posted a link to a website and said that one of her coworkers was looking to adopt, and she was helping him get the word out. I didn’t think anything of it when I saw it at a quick first glance, I don’t even think I comprehended it. I really never considered adoption until that exact moment, on October 1st, 2013, when I remembered what I had seen. I immediately called my cousin and said “don’t worry, this isn’t about me, but I was wondering if you knew who these people personally who are looking to adopt”. She told me she did, and told me a little bit about their family and how great they are. So I spent a long time looking through their website. It was now pretty late in the evening, but I sent them an email telling then who I was and about my situation. I prayed that they would contact me back somehow that evening, because honestly, that was our last hope.

They did. Days later, they drove to Philly from their home in Manhattan and sat with Paul and me in a local park for hours. It was the most uncomfortable “first date” in the world at first, but it quickly became very natural and I think we all fell in love with each other. After that day, I felt relieved. I knew my child would be okay. I honestly had the thought of “wow, I wish these guys were MY parents."

I think we all have moments in our life when we can pinpoint a change. The moment I met the future adoptive parents, everything changed. I didn’t feel so alone anymore. I was still terrified, but now of different things, things that I could handle. That day, I stopped being an “I”. Now it was a “we”.

My adoption story is far from perfect, and I feel sad about it very often. But as often as I’m sad and hurt by it, I’m so incredibly grateful for it. Before my son, I was lost. I let my mistakes and my pain define who I was. I have learned so much from striving to be great for him. He is my motivation, my courage, and the reason I’m a fighter now. One day, I’m going to meet this beautiful boy that I created through more than just pictures. I will be able to stand up before him, and tell him all that I am now because of him.

Now, I am strong. I have determination and drive. I am his birth mom. I am a wife to the best husband I could have dreamed of, and a step mom to a crazy but beautiful little girl. I am someone who has big dreams and never gives up hope, even when it’s hard to find. These are my identities. The good ones and the bad ones. This is who I am, and I’m proud of it.

My name is Jackie and I'm a new blogger here at BirthMom Buds. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Living in Fear

I live in a constant state of fear and anxiety.

When my phone rings, the anxiety leaves. When I receive pictures, the axiety leaves.

But sometimes my phone doesn’t ring and no pictures come in.

Visit delays, excuses, visit delays, excuses.

I have no control.

Communication is my everything.

I just want my phone to ring again.  I want to see his face again.

Friday, May 13, 2016

On the Outside Looking In

I believe all birth mothers feel like they are on the outside of their child's lives at one point or another. As my son has grown older I have come to accept this constant feeling that envelopes me. I'm not exactly sure how we go through different phases on our journey or what makes us move into these phases, but I have noticed very clearly a change in these kind of feelings within the past year. 
Siena WindowWhen my son was a baby our connection was undeniable. It is still very much a special connection, but he had lost someof the innocence that comes with being a baby. He didn't have to deal with titles or what other people (including his adoptive parents) felt about our relationship. He wasn't confused by anything, nor did he worry about anything other than what he felt. It was clear he felt a comfort in my arms that he did not feel so fully anywhere else. He spent countless hours sleeping in my arms, or just looking into my eyes. It was as if nothing else mattered and he felt safe, and at home close to me. While I still believe this is true, things have become a little more complicated with age. 

Now my son considers the feelings of others. He wonders about the different names people call me, my daughters, my parents, and other family. He worries about how his feelings will change things. While he is still too young to fully communicate all of this, as his birth mother I have no doubt these things are going on. I see it in his eyes. I can feel it in his heart. He wants to be everything I know he feels for me, but he is hesitant at times because of these things. I have had to reflect a great deal on this to understand what is going on, but for me, this explains why at times I feel like I am on the outside looking in. 

There are other obvious reasons, given that I do not live in the city where we visit him. It is not my home that we spend our time in. I am not the parent who makes daily decisions for him, and I do not take part in each and every aspect of his life. However, I feel that as the years go by the fact that this is the way adoption is, should not change the fact that I gave everything so that he could have this life. I gave my heart. It is painful to feel as if I am simply an onlooker into the world of a family I have nothing to do with, when the reality is that without my love, they would not be a family. 

As holidays and milestones approach, I think of the pictures I receive each year and the stories I hear. I await these again this year and the bittersweet feeling that follows. I am beyond blessed to have these stories and see these pictures, but they are real reminders that I am on the outside looking in. I will not experience these things with him, and my daughters will miss another special event with their big brother. What hurts even more is knowing that if we were to spend a special holiday together, we would still be there on the outside looking in. 

We have so much love in our relationship and my son is an amazing gift. Him and I share a special bond. I see it also with my daughters. The pain I feel is never by anything he has done, but rather the circumstances that surround our relationship, most of which is entirely outside of my control. So I will carry on! I enjoy all the moments we share and choose to not let the painful ones hurt me too much. While there is often sadness within my joy, I would not trade it for a world without the love of my little boy. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Building Friendships through Adoption

People who hear about my adoption say, "Wow you are so strong!" The truth is, I was only able to get where I am today with the online and in person community of birthmothers who have supported me from my sons first breath to now.

I found out early on in my pregnancy that there was not many people who could give me advice on what to expect after the adoption because well, they weren't birth moms.  Once I found my therapist, who has been a birthmother for 40 years, I felt so much more at ease knowing what to expect after the adoption, ways to cope, and it just felt amazing to talk to someone who had been there.

Not long after having Noah, I attended the BirthMom Buds retreat as well as in- person support groups at a local adoption agency.  Needless to say, I had met a huge group of strong, intelligent women who I could now talk to about everything I had been holding back from my family.  I love my family and friends but it's hard for anyone to relate to someone who has not been there.  

Having a friend who is a birth mom is unlike any friendship I have had.  When I talk about my son, I don't feel like she is looking at me and pitying me or holding anything back because she doesn't know what to say.  When I talk to my support system of birthmothers, I feel listened to and know that they can relate to my situation.

Having a strong support system to lean on is key after placing! There are so many online support groups and retreats in all different parts of the U.S. for this reason.  

Surround yourself with people who get it!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

2016 BMB Retreat Recap

We had an amazing time at the 2016 Birthmom Buds Retreat from April 29th-May 1st in Charlotte, North Carolina.  This year's theme was Sole Sisters: Never Walk the Journey Alone.  Every table decorated at the retreat represented a different kind of shoe.  It was definitely loved by the ladies witha BIG shoe space in their closets!!

We kicked things off with a Mixer on Friday night at the NC Music Factory where we caught up, ate barbecue, and played "Minute to Win it"! All of the ladies were separated into two teams and one at a time, each team had to send one person up to complete against one from the other where they played ridiculous games for 1 minute against each other.  I felt bad for the people in the next room because we were definitely NOT quiet, haha! It was hilarious and a lot of fun!

Saturday morning, we kicked the day off with an activity in which a stack of cards was passed around the room, with each card having a different shoe.  Each lady picked out a shoe that she believed represented her the best.  We all then went around the room and explained why we chose the shoe we did.  Next, we headed out into our breakout session!  This year, Amy Schumaker led a session titled, "Identifying your Support System".  Betty Phillips  taught others some helpful strategies she has used to get through the holidays.  Jennifer Abbe shared how vision boards helped her picture her future and helped others make their own boards to be a reminder of their dreams and goals for the future.  Leah Outten and Amy Schumaker led a discussion with others on adoptions down the road to help navigate topics such as relationship changes and maintaining boundaries.  After breakout sessions, we moved on to craft time where everyone made their own!!  Next, we all moved to a yummy italian bar complete with salad, garlic bread, and two different kinds of pastas.

We started the afternoon portion of the day with a balloon release where attendees wrote a prayer, wish, or dream for their child on a slip of paper, tied it to a balloon, prayed, and then released it.  Leilani shared a devotion she wrote describing the different friends in your life and relating them to different types of shoes. Amy Schumaker, fellow birthmom, shared her story. Next, local adoptive mom, Ginny Chole and her daughter, Lindsay Smith (also an adoptive mom) spoke beautifully, sharing their hearts and love for the birth moms of their children.  I can personally say that everyone in that room was touched by their words.

We then watched the 2016 slideshow Coley created and afterward held the candlelight ceremony.  We ended the day, by announcing the 2016 Buddy of the Year.  Congratulations to Leah Outten!


That evening, we went to Mellow Mushroom for dinner as a group.  This was a time in which we reflected on the weekend, laughed, and got to know more about each other!  We ended the festivities on Sunday morning with a bittersweet farewell breakfast.

We want to take a moment to thank everyone who played a part in making this year's retreat a success.  Thanks to all the birth moms who attended, the sponsors and contributors who helped pull off this event, and the many people who donated items for our gift bags.  Special thanks to Melanie Mosberg, our event coordinator.

This event would not have been possible without each of you!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Noah's Box

I have a special box for Noah.  This box contains everything I have of him.  In it is the scrapbook I made for him, letters to him from my family, the photo album that made me choose his adoptive parents when I was pregnant, his footprints and hospital band, and letters I have written to him.

Where do I keep this box? 

In my bedroom closet.  Does does that mean I am ashamed of my son and don't want to share his pictures? Not at all!

I love, love, love sharing pictures of him growing up with anyone who asks, he is my pride and joy! 

However, Noah's box has more than that.  It has hospital pictures, letters, things from the is a box of painful, beautiful memories that I have to take a deep breath before looking at.  I have to prepare myself before opening his scrapbook, before reading the beautiful letters, and before holding the hospital band he was wearing when I gave him to his parents.

It is a painfully beautiful box of memories.  It symbolizes the beginning of this journey, which has not grown to be much more beautiful than painful.  Is it still painful?  Absolutely, depends on the day.

This is a long road, but with each day that I know my son is being loved by two parents, I feel stronger.  With each photo or visit, I feel happier.

Every time I get to add a new memory with Noah to the box, I feel stronger.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Moment I Knew

Some of you may have read this title and assumed I would be writing about when I found out I was pregnant, but that involves a not so classy CVS bathroom with my best friend that isn't my favorite thing to share, haha!

When did you know that you had met your son/daughter's future parents? I remember it like it was yesterday.

I had looked through a few books of families and honestly, I had a feeling they were the ones before I even met them.  They were a hopeful couple who had struggled with infertility and wanted a baby to complete their family more than anything.  The woman was a a 7th grade special education teacher who coached middle school basketball and the man was a police sergeant.  They lived in Savannah, Georgia, which was about 4 hours from me.

I remember worrying about how I would greet them, do I hug them? Do I shake their hand? This was so small but it was the first impression and I wanted it to be absolutely perfect.  And it was.  I was told beforehand that the lady from the adoptive agency would be prompting us throughout the meeting to keep it going nicely and allowing us to get to know each other.  I do not remember her saying one word throughout the meeting because with my mom, the future adoptive parents, and myself, she couldn't get a word in!! I had a list of questions I came in with and I remember asking them question after question and they said an honest response every time, not trying to give me the perfect answer.  In my eyes, it was the perfect response every time though!

We had so much in common.  

When they left, I remember them giving me their phone numbers, address, and emails.  This is such a rare blessing.  They both gave me long hugs, I think we both knew.  On the way home, I texted them ultrasound pictures of Noah.

 I couldn't wait to see them as a family.

Photo Credit

Thursday, March 31, 2016

First Quarter Newsletter

The 1st Quarter Newsletter for 2 016 is now available for your viewing pleasure. Check it out here

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Getting Through the First Year

My first year after placing Noah was excruciating.  Now he is only 16 months old, but I think the reason why the first year seemed to be so hard is because it is a year of the basic "firsts".  Any time he accomplishes something (ex. walking), I feel proud with a small pain in my heart.  It's just tough not being there to see it,

And if you are going through the first year, know that it WILL get better.  Although at times I felt angry and depressed, I also felt happy at others!  It's a roller coaster, but I have some suggestions of things below that I did during the first year that really helped me.  I hope they help you too!

1. Write to your child. 
I cannot emphasize this enough.  Writing allowed me to fully express my emotion and thoughts without holding back (thinking people were judging me).  I also can show Noah my letters to him when he's older so he knows how much I do think about him.  He will have these letters forever.

2. Make a scrapbook.
One word- therapy.  I had two visits with Noah, but got monthly pictures.  This was life changing because it was like I was actually there.  It was so therapeutic for me to just go through the process of picking up the printed pictures, adding fun captions, and placing them in there.  I was doing something for him, which I don't get to do that often.  I made this book with his footprints, hospital bracelet, our printed entrustment ceremony (the handing off at the hospital), and pictures from the time he was seconds alive on this Earth to his one year birthday.  I can't wait to give this to him.

3. CRY
Sounds weird, but crying was the most freeing feeling for me after Noah's birth.  I was so in shock that when I signed my rights away, I wasn't feeling anything.  It hadn't hit me what I was doing.  I had prepared myself for that moment, but I had no idea what it would feel like to be a mom.  I did not actually cry until 3 weeks after he was born.  There were just so many emotions going at once, so when I was finally able to process my loss- I literally just sat in my car and cried.  I found a safe place to cry because I didn't want my family to hear me.  I love my family to death and I just didn't want to upset them.  I also was able to cry when I wrote letters.  Holding all that grief is exhausting, and when I finally let it out little by little- I felt amazing.

4. Keep busy!
Hang out with your friends, watch dumb YouTube videos when you're sad just to laugh, go on road trip, apply for some of your dream jobs!  Just make sure that when you know you are going to have a tough day, surround yourself with positive people to try to lift you up.

5. Let yourself move forward
You placed your child for important reasons.  Remember why you placed him/her and live your life the best you can.  I know it is very hard to move forward with your life after such a loss, believe me.  I did this by applying for a teaching position.  This was moving forward for me.  Am I moving on from my son? No way! I will always want him in my life.  But I chose to place him to give him the best life, so now I want to have the best life I can too :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Dear Society

I did not want to place my child.  I did not want to give up my rights to be his mom.  

I had to.  I had to give my baby boy a father.  I had to give him the best life possible because he is an angel.

I am not a high school dropout.  I did not grow up having "daddy issues".  I am not worthless.

I had my Masters Degree in Elementary education when I placed my son.  I grew up with the most amazing dad in the world, which is why I wanted to give my child the same.  I am worthy of love and respect just like everyone else.

I did not place my son and walk away.  I did not make this decision because it was the easy way out.

The easy way out? I see my son, the love of my life, twice a year.  I hold him twice a year.  I kiss him twice a year.  I say "I love you" to him twice a year.  And I am considered one of the lucky ones!

It is an impossible choice. Do I regret it?  Never.

My impossible choice gave him more than I could have ever imagined.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

What are We Called?

When I talk about my story with others, I say, "Hi, my name is Elsa, and I'm a birthmother."

Sometimes they don't know what that word means.  And I calmly explain that it means I had a child and placed that child for adoption rather than parent the child myself.  At that point, they get it.

I have a group on Facebook that I call the Birthparent Support Group.  I go to meetings that are called Birthmother Support Group meetings.  I also attend meetings with another group that includes birthparents, adoptive parents, and adoptees, which are called Three Strand meetings.  The vast majority of people who are there are birthmoms and we are called that.  No one has ever really raised an objection to it.

It wasn't until I got more into the birthmother community that I realized that some people have negative feelings towards the word "birthmother."  From what I can tell, this negative connotation happened more often in the past when placing a child for adoption was a hidden and shameful thing.  Some still don't like the name.

As a result, I've seen several alternative names come up: first mother, natural mother, and the ever adorable tummy mommy.

I don't mind the term birthmother or birthmom.  It seems to me to be an accurate description of myself.  But I can see how others might take it negatively or remember the negative connotations around it.  And I started wondering, is there another name that you like to use?  Is there something that fits you?

I want to make this clear: I do not believe there is a right or wrong opinion in this situation.  I believe you should choose the term you feel most comfortable with.  But the question came up in my mind and I wanted to know, which name do you prefer?

I hope you all are having a great weekend and hope to hear from you soon!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Birthday Party

It's that time of year again for me.  In a week my birth daughter will be having her fifth birthday.  I would say that the time has flown, but in reality, it hasn't.  I have spent the last 5 years moving forward, and forward progress isn't always the fastest type of progress.  I'm blessed to be able to celebrate with my birth daughter at her birthday party.  I know that some birth moms aren't granted that luxury, so I feel fortunate that I even have the opportunity.  That doesn't change the emotional struggle that usually comes following this event though.

I do well for the party.  I enjoy visiting with my daughter's parents and other family members, and I love watching my kids all together in one place.  We usually eat a nice lunch, open gifts, and then sing the compulsory "Happy Birthday," before eating cake and ice cream.

The happy birthday song makes me tear up, pretty much every year.  Yes, I know that it's a happy song, and yes, I know that we are celebrating.  There's just something about the chorus of happy birthday that reminds me of everything that I have missed.  For me, it isn't just a song.  It's a reminder of the last 365 days that I didn't bring my birth daughter to school, or brush her hair, or have a seat for her at my dinner table.

I struggle with grief around the time of her birthday, not because I regret my decision, but because I miss all of the moments that everyone else takes for granted.  I miss the time we haven't spent together, the movies we haven't watched together, and the hugs that I will never receive.
Around my daughter's birthday, I miss her more.  And the Happy Birthday song is there to prove it.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Who are We?

Recently, I was at a birthparent support group and was told there was a girl who should have been there, but didn't show.  I thought back to the first time I went to a birthparent support group meeting.

In all honesty, the first time I went, no one else showed.  It was me and two birthmother counselors at the adoption agency.  We ate the pizza and tried to talk.  But it wasn't what I had been looking for.

It was a few months before I would go back again.  When I finally did, I was not the only birthmother there.  There were three others.  And the next time there were four others, including one who has been my closest friend in this journey.  I have made other friends and their help has been immeasurable.

But I remember the first time I walked into a room and knew that I wouldn't be the only birthmother there.  I was frightened.  The thing is, I only knew one other birthmother when I gave birth to my son.  I wasn't sure who I would meet.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  And that truly scared me.

But what I found is that birthmothers are from just about every walk of life you can imagine.  All of us are different.  All of us came to this decision for different reasons.  All of us have our own story.  And that is a wonderful thing.

So if you're a new birthmother and you have been concerned about going to a group meeting, I encourage you to go.  You won't know who you will find there.  But that's a good thing.  If you don't feel like you will fit in, I promise, you will.  We're all different.  But we're all birthmothers.  And that's what ties us all together.

I hope you all have a great weekend!