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 hospital...it 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!


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Doc McStuffins

 I'm not too sure how familiar you all are with the abundance of shows that play on Disney Junior, but I have a young Minnie Mouse fanatic here, so I have a plethora of Disney Junior knowledge.  The other day, as I was watching the masterpiece that is otherwise known as Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, I saw a commercial for Doc McStuffins.  My attention was drawn to it because this season is featuring an adoption story line.  The McStuffins family is adopting a baby, and viewers will be able to follow the family through the process.

Naturally curious, I started Googling this (isn't that what everyone does?)  Adoptive families are ecstatic about the upcoming season, as the Doc McStuffins crew has done a good amount of research about adoption, proper adoption language, adoptees, and the adoption process.  They feel it will be a great way to normalize adoption with young children.

This is all great, but I wonder what role the birth mother is going to play in this scenario.  If the birth mom were involved in an open adoption with baby McStuffins, I would also be ecstatic.  Not only would this preschool TV show be normalizing adoption for adoptive families, but it would help young children of birth mothers (like my own) to see that their moms aren't different.

I worry, though, that birth families will again be lost.  I worry that, like many stories related to adoption, the McStuffins family will say, “We're adopting!” and then arrive with a happy baby to complete their family.  I worry that there won't be any statements about where Baby McStuffin's came from, and mostly I worry that the adoption will be portrayed as a closed adoption.  Closed adoptions have really decreased tremendously in popularity over the last several years, and I really feel that it would be doing a disservice to adoption to portray it this way.

As a whole, Doc McStuffins has done a nice job of portraying a family that doesn't always subscribe to the norms of society (Mr. McStuffins is a stay at home dad, while his wife is a successful career woman).   I have high hopes for this series, but I'm always hesitant when adoption is portrayed in the media.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Countdown to Seeing Noah

I get to have my third visit with Noah in 11 days!

This visit is going to be different.  My mom is coming and so his Noah's grandma (along with the adoptive mom).  Noah is also going to be walking and speaking actual words.  I just want everything to go perfectly.  I want his grandma to love me.  I don't want to cry when I hear him say "mom" to someone else, even though that IS his mom.   I am excited to see Noah and my mom together, it will be their first time seeing each other since the hospital.

It is scary because I don't know how Noah will react to me.  The last time I saw him was 6 months ago and he was 2 months shy of a year old and didn't cry when I held him or anything.  But now he's WALKING, what?! Crazy how time flies.  I am scared, but also hopeful that my relationship with Noah will grow more, and blessed that his family is driving 4 hours just to see me.

I will never take these visits for granted and although these visits are intimidating, they are also my greatest gift.

My first and second visit with Noah



Lots of Love,

Erin

Monday, March 7, 2016

Quote of the Week: The Next Chapter

"You can't start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.