Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Jazmynn's Story

I was 16 years old when I first found out I was pregnant with my daughter GiGi. I was more than terrified of what was going to happen to me. How was I going to tell my parents? How was I going to finish school? How were my friends going to take the news? So many questions had run through my head and I felt so many emotions. And to put the cherry on the cake, the father was much older than me and my parents despised him. 

Things were not looking good for me. I ended up keeping it a secret for the first five months of my pregnancy. How I managed to do that, I do not know. Until one day my principal called my mom and said she noticed my stomach. The stomach I tried so hard to hide. My mom asked me about it and that's when it all came out. My parents were more than disappointed. 

Things started to take a turn for the better when I decided to contact a local Catholic adoption agency. At first I wanted to keep my child, thinking that the father would be around but that changed as well. When I first met my adoption counselor, I was skeptical of the whole idea. I knew that I would be judged for giving my baby away. T, my adoption counselor gave me hope and my whole mindset changed. I ended up meeting with her a few times a week to discuss my options and figure out a plan. I then became more enthusiastic by the day. Inside, I did feel some discomfort and sadness knowing that my child, my first kid was not going to be living with me. But I knew that this was the right thing to do, not for me, but for my daughter.

I began to embrace my pregnancy regardless of the judgments, put downs and the fact that I was 16. I still had a lot to deal with and I kept some things a secret from certain people but I knew what I was doing was right. I ended up picking a beautiful, loving family. The couple I picked had already adopted two other children and I thought to myself, they are the family. I met with them consistently throughout my pregnancy and I began to think of them as my own family. It hadn't really hit me yet that they were going to be caring for my daughter for the rest of her life, but I knew she would be in good hands. I still wanted to keep a connection with my daughter so I chose to do an open adoption. 

When the day came to place her in the hands of this other family, it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was the day I was being discharged from the hospital. Those two days I spent with her, she had grown on me. I began to hold her close to me and didn't want to let go. I knew I had to enjoy those last few moments with her even though I knew I would be able to see her again someday. When I gave her to her new family, the tears began to fall. I cried so hard my chest began to ache. And then I felt a comforting touch, a hug that meant so much to me. My daughter's new parents had reached over and began to hold me as I let out my cry. 

I can still hear them whispering, "I love you..."



Melody's Story

The smallest decisions we made in life can change our future in ways we never would have dreamed.
For instance, my big life-altering decision came when I decided to try out for my high school's jazz choir when I was leaving the 8th grade. I never wanted to try out, but a friend of mine did so I thought, "Why not?" Little did I know that this decision would affect me every day for the rest of my life in both the best and worst ways possible.

Jazz Choir is where I would meet some of the best people I have ever known who, even 10 years later, I am proud to call my friends. It would open up entire new experiences to me such as musicals, different religions, re-visiting my preschool, my former church, and teaching me to help people through music. I loved performing and I loved putting a smile on someone's face. However, it grew hard for my parents to cart me back and forth all the time since we only had 1 working vehicle and my father's working hours. This is why I began staying after school on days that we had concerts, to take the train instead of my parents in giving me rides. This is also how I met the boy who would change my life.

I met R one day after school while waiting for my fall concert to begin. He was going to be in it too. It was my cousin's birthday and he and I had nothing to do for several hours so, naturally, we gravitated together. That was the first time I became REALLY interested in a boy. This would not be the only first that R would give me. He gave me my first cigarette, first date, first boyfriend, first time, first pregnancy scare, first pregnancy, and my first child.

L was born in the fall, right after I had turned 18. She was beautiful and perfect and the best thing I had ever done with my life....but she wasn't mine.

During my pregnancy, I became the victim of something known as coerced adoption. R's mother, B, was a very manipulative individual. She used to tell me that giving L to her was the best thing I could do, that L would grow to hate me if I kept her, that we would be on welfare, and I would never be able to give her a good life. She also convinced me not to tell my parents about the possible adoption because they would be against it and they weren't good for me, how would they be good for the baby? They would abuse her just like they abused me. B was so adamant about this, she would rarely let me out of the house unless it was to go to school or work. She even kept me in the house when I wanted to go see my grandparents because she was afraid I wouldn't come back and would "take the baby away".

So it came to be when I finally turned 18, a mere 2 weeks before my daughter was born, that I had no way of contacting an attorney when she handed me the adoption papers. So, it was, with no knowledge of what it meant or what I was doing, that I signed away my daughter when she was just 2 weeks old.

It took her over 4 years to finalize the adoption, and over that time I had many thoughts of somehow reversing the adoption, but she kept telling me that I was unfit and if I tried to take my daughter away that she would have me seen as an unfit mother, and ensure that I never saw my daughter again.

Nearly a year and a half after that, B passed away. The woman who stole my daughter was not long for this world. She still lives with her adopted father, P, and his new girlfriend. They treat my L wonderfully and I could not have asked for better parents for her. My animosity is still around quite a bit, but it's ebbing away day by day by day. I am lucky, I know, in the aspect that I get to see my daughter grow up every day. I have been blessed with weekly visits, the ability to take her out to dinner or on special outings, and constant picture and video updates on any milestones I'm not there to witness.

L will be 7 this year and she remains to this day the biggest blessing I have ever known. It's hard to believe it all started when I accompanied a friend to Jazz Choir auditions. So, as a new blogger I'll be sharing my thoughts and views in upcoming posts but today I leave you with a question: What decisions and actions led you to place?


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Grief Cycle Part 1: Denial



We've all heard of it.  We've all been through it at least one if not twice or three times.  Sometimes about the same thing.  But sometimes it's hard to tell what it looks like.  I know I didn't realize what I had been doing for the past three years until I was smack dab in the middle of the fourth step.  But suddenly, there I was, in a room of birthmothers staring at the grief cycle all laid out in simple terms and I realized what had been going on.  So, I thought I might share with you what the grief cycle looked like to me.

Denial.  I know it well.  And right after my son was born, I was smack dab in the middle of it.  Going through pregnancy is painful unto itself.  Childbirth?  Don't even get me started.  But then watching my son be put in another car to ride off with his adoptive parents?  Completely blew every pain I had had to date out of the water.  It was too much.  It was literally too much to handle.  I didn't know how to handle it.  I didn't know if I could handle it.  We are all very lucky that I was living with my parents at the time, because had I not been there, I can guarantee you that I would have been diving to the bottoms of various bottles for a long while.  But I was with my parents.  And they watched me very closely and carefully.

I had to have a c-section after two days of labor, so I got the benefit of Vicodin pills for a while.  I have had an on-again off-again romance with Vicodin before.  And because of that, I am very careful about the point where I'm taking them to numb the pain and when I'm taking them because I want to be numb.  The OB/GYN offered to prescribe me more, but I refused.  The regular doctor also offered to prescribe me more, but I refused again.  I got to the end of the bottle of pills and was able to get about with a few ibuprofen.  So I was satisfied.  But now I needed something else to make my numb.

Enter Netflix.  That wonderful time consumer of all time that you didn't even know existed.  I watched three or four whole runs of shows.  I watched movies of all kinds.  I re-watched whole runs of shows.  I re-watched movies of all kinds and some that I didn't even know existed until I saw them.  I discovered shows I never knew existed.  For the entire rest of July, I allowed myself to eat, take pills, watch Netflix, toodle about on the computer, do odd jobs for my father like organize his documents into well-labeled folders, and find new recipes to cook for my parents on the one night of the week my mother worked late.

The vast majority of my day was spent finding ways to occupy my time so I wouldn't have to think about the monstrous amount of emotional pain that I was in and the fact that sooner or later, preferably sooner, I was going to have to face it all and deal with it.  And this was how I spent the next year.  I got a job.  I got a better job.  I got into grad school.  I moved out of my parents' house.  And then... my boyfriend, the biological father of my child, broke up with me.  It was more a matter of distance and time than anything else.  And he is still my best friend and confidant to this day.  But that was about the time that my denial ended and my anger started.  And that will be covered in next week's entry.

To all who are in the first tender stages of placing for adoption.  I know exactly where you are and I know exactly where you have been.  So do a lot of women on this site.  However you escape into your denial, be it as simple as Netflix or a more serious and harmful route, know that you will never get any judgments from me about it.  I understand.  I understand every which way that one can slip away from the world and try to deny everything.  And I hope none of you take this as a judgement, but to those who are on a more serious and harmful route, without condoning it, I do understand it.  If you have taken one of the more harmful routes, I do beg of you to get help.  There are fantastic groups out there to help you and there are people there who know what it is like.  Please don't ever think that you are alone in this or that no one will understand you.  There are people who understand and you should never feel like you need to go at this alone.  My love and prayers and thoughts are with all of you, no matter where you are.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Music Monday: Wild One by Faith Hill


"She's a wild one with an angel's face
She's a woman-child in a state of grace
When she was 3 years old on her daddy's knee
He said you can be anything you want to be
She's a wild one, runnin' free"


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



Sunday, August 17, 2014

Quote of the Week: The Quest for Certainty





"The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers."








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



Saturday, August 16, 2014

Depression and Suicide - There is Help!

I'm sure by now, everyone has heard the tragic news about Robin Williams, a brilliant light that lost his battle with depression. Often times when I hear of  the death of a celebrity, I think "Oh, that's sad," but there's a level of disconnect about it.  I don't know that person really.  I feel bad for their family members, I might look up a movie or a song of theirs.  But at the end of the day, I move on. Not in a cruel, heartless way.   Just....well....I didn't know them.  

This one, though...this one hit me hard.  I have known for a long time of Robin's struggle with depression and addiction.  Two things that I, too, struggle with.  I'm not an addict, but I am the child of addicts and I suffer from PTSD which comes with giant waves of depression.  I have dealt with suicidal idealizations for most of my life and it is exhausting.  I came close to losing my own battle with this five times in my life.  Each time more brutal than the last.  I still deal with the self-loathing that comes with those, but I am happy to say that I am miles away from wanting to end my own life anymore.  

But, if I'm being honest, Robin Williams death reminded me how easy it is to lose that battle.  One setback, one loss can send me spiraling back into the depths of a depression so dark, I feel as if there's no way out and that people would be better off without me.  Robin's death hit so hard.  I felt as if I lost a mentor, that person who was overcoming his demons.  Oh, how he made us all laugh and smile.  Sure, he struggled but he worked to overcome that.  And then...we lost him.  One setback...

I know I'm not alone in this.  On my Facebook page I saw the collective shockwave and I knew a lot of us were feeling this profound loss.  Not because Robin was a celebrity but because, at the root of it, Robin was like us, those of us living with mental illness.   He was a bright light,  he made us laugh, and he made us realize that living with this was possible, even on your worst days.  So I think that's why it hit ME so hard.

With that said, I want you all to know how precious your life is.  At my darkest, I felt as if I had nobody.  I really didn't at the time.  But look at what I have now.  A wonderful husband, other mommas I met through FB adoption groups, and here at BirthMom Buds, my SISTERS!  They hold me up.  I wouldn't have that if I had lost that battle.  And if I lost it now, they would mourn.  So, I'm here to tell you....we care.  The sisterhood of women who have placed/relinquished/lost their children to adoption is huge and when we lose one of us..we all feel it.  So please know you're important.  
                                                                                                                     
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with thoughts of suicide or harming yourself PLEASE reach out.  Tell someone.  Because your life is priceless.  If you need help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.




Thursday, August 14, 2014

Facing my fear


Hello ladies. This week I'd like to take a break from our talk about boundaries and go a different direction. Something so much easier. Or not.

A recent phone call from a dear friend brought me to my knees again. Her and her boyfriend had had another knock-down-drag-out sort of fight. While he's never been abusive, their relationship has always been super-intense. Know what I mean? Things are either super great or going to hell. It's a total crapshoot.

Anyway, I got a call from her after one such fight and tearfully she said, "It's over I guess," something I have heard more than once. As the details of their latest encounter unfolded, I felt anger and even something that may be construed as rage well up inside of me. I wanted to punch him, honestly. I guess we all have that in our nature when pushed to a certain point.

At the time my girls and I were on a very long walk, which was probably a good place for me to be. They were riding their bikes and when not on the phone with my friend, I was talking, out loud, to God and I guess anyone else who was listening. After a few minutes of fuming about the situation, I realized my problem was not anger. Or even rage. It was fear. I was afraid.

Fear is often at the root of many of our emotions. But usually we don't like to admit it. Instead of saying we are afraid, we say we are 'angry' or 'frustrated' or 'at the end of our rope'. And sometimes we are those things. But sometimes we are just afraid and either don't know it or are afraid (ha!) to admit it because we think it will make us look weak.

So what do we do? As a Christ follower, I know that God knows everything about me. He knows when I'm afraid even when I don't realize it. By telling him the truth I am showing that I trust him and his plan for my life even when I can't see it.

So what does that look like? For me that night, on that walk, it looked like saying out loud that I was afraid and naming my fears. Not simply a blanket, "Lord, I'm afraid," but a specific naming of what I was afraid of.

As I trusted those scary things to God, he brought back my peace. I was once again able to look around and enjoy the beautiful evening, the cool breeze and the view of my children being children. He can do that for you if you will trust him with your fears, too.




Photo credit

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

To Be Brave


This week I finally did something I had been intending on doing since getting home from the hospital after giving birth to my son.

Those who have known me a while and know my adoption story know it all started with one thing: the bravery and honesty of a woman I already held in high esteem.  She was a former boss of mine, and it was just chance that we ran into each other in a parking lot and began talking.  At this point, I looked like I was hiding a beach ball under my t-shirt, and my boss was no fool.  So when she asked me how I was doing I was honest and said,

“Well, obviously, I’m pregnant.  Didn’t intend to get like this, but that’s what happened.  And right now I’m trying to decide whether to keep the kid and raise it or to place it for adoption.  But right now I just have no idea what to do.”

To my surprise she replied, “Well, I don’t wave it around like a flag, but I placed a child for adoption when I was about your age.”

She went on to tell me that she had gone to a home for unwed mothers, as many did in the 60s.  She gave birth, gave up her child, then a year later got married, and had a child of her own.  Her son would later track her down in his adult life and they have a fantastic relationship to this day.  And it may sound weird, but at that moment the first thought that went through my head was, “So, this is actually survivable.”

Don’t ask me why.  I don’t know to this day.  But before that moment, whenever I thought about placing my child for adoption, I just imagined my life stopping there.  I couldn’t fathom living past that day.  I couldn’t fathom what my life would be like without this child I had been carrying.  I wasn’t sure that I even deserved to keep going after doing that.  Obviously, I don’t believe that anymore.  But at the time, all manner of thoughts were going through my head and I wasn’t sure how to sort it all out.

Most of all, I was looking at doing something that none of my friends had ever done.  All of them, if they got unexpectedly pregnant, dealt with it in other ways.  I even know a few of their kids by name.  If any of them ever thought about adoption, none of them ever said it or just never said it to me.  But when my old boss told me that she had done the same thing and had in fact lived on, I was finally able to break the constant loop in my head that had been driving me crazy.  It was only two days later that my boyfriend and I would have the discussion in which we decided placing our son for adoption was the best idea.

As you know, my son just turned 4.  And Wednesday was his first day of school.  Tuesday, I finally sat myself down and wrote the message I had been intending to write for four years.  My old boss and I are friends on Facebook and have been so for a long while now.  But I never did tell her what had happened after seeing her in the parking lot.  Tuesday I finally pulled together all my thoughts and wrote her a message thanking her for sharing her story with me.  I also told her that she was the reason I finally pulled together the bravery and courage to do what needed to be done for my child.  I even sent her a picture of him from his recent birthday party.  Unsurprisingly, she wrote me back a very positive message and was glad that I had told her and had likewise shared my story with her.  She agreed that at times, we each have to do what we think is best.  She also sent me a link to her son’s blog that details his search and finding of not only her, but also his birth father.

For the next half hour, I was glued to the screen, reading this man’s account of his happy life, always knowing that he was adopted and always knowing that if he went looking for his birth family, his adoptive family would be, and was, completely supportive.  Then he found them and reconnected with them.  The happiness and the joy and the connections that connected them without even realizing it were amazing.

The most amazing thing to me was the unshakable bravery I found in his words.  In their story, I just found mountains and mountains of incredible bravery.  They had both been searching and found each other.  Then they finally met each other and got know each other.  There were questions and finally answers for the both of them.  And to this day they keep in touch.

I’m extremely lucky in that my son’s adoptive family is so willing to have me around for parties and visits and going out to dinner.  I’m also extremely lucky that this happened to me in a time when open adoption is an option.  And yet, there is still a distance between my son and I.  That’s really what this made me realize.  While I won’t have nearly as large of a gap to travel to get to know my son and for him to get to know me over the years, I know there are going to be times that will be difficult and awkward.  I know that sooner or later there will be a reckoning for me.  There will be things I will have to explain to my son as he gets older that will be a little bit difficult.  And there will be questions for me that I will have to answer.  And they are answers that he has a right to.  I’m only hoping that I have half the bravery that my boss and her son did when it comes time.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Music Monday: Battle Born by Five Finger Death Punch



"Once upon a time I swore I had a heart
Long before the world I know tore it all apart,
Once upon a time there was a part of me I shared
Years before they took away the part of me that cared

I've been a thousand places
And shook a million hands,
I don't know where I'm going
But I know just where I've been."


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



Sunday, August 10, 2014

Quote of the Week: Love





“In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone.”








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



Saturday, August 9, 2014

BMB Reform Blog: An Expectant Mother's Rights

Howdy folks!  It's me again, with another BirthMom Buds reform blog.

When I started this blog, I received an email from a momma I've known for awhile now bringing up a couple pretty valid points in terms of reform:  An expectant mother's right to change her mind, and the timeline of signing the TPR (terminating parental rights.) 

To quote:  "One of the things I have seen on many of the sites is slamming an expectant mom for changing their minds. I keep seeing nasty remarks about girls having to sign away their rights before the baby is born. NOT.  But, I believe instead a woman should have the right to change their minds for up to 6 months after signing, I believe a girl should not be able to sign for 6 months after the birth giving them ample time to decide that it is the right decision for them."


Photo Credit
I also agree that a woman should have ample time to make this life altering decision, without coercion or outside influence.  So many factors come into play when signing early, like post partum depression, drugs during labor and delivery, and the emotional state of a woman when she's given birth.  In any other legally binding contract, all of these things would nullify said contract, but not in adoption.  I think a woman needs time to make this decision without those factors influencing her state of mind.  It also makes her easily persuaded and I would like to think that people would want her making a decision like this when she's of sound mind.  

And I cannot tell you how much I agree with not slamming a woman for changing her mind.   Speaking legally here (because I believe a woman is a mother for life), when we give birth we are mothers until that TPR is signed.  We have the RIGHT to choose which course we take.  Pregnancy and considering adoption are two very confusing things to a woman faced with an unplanned, but very much wanted pregnancy.  I think a lot of people could use some lessons in patience and compassion during this time, and respect should be given whether she chooses adoption, or chooses to parent.  Judgement just adds to the coercion.

So, readers.   What are your thoughts on this?  Remember to keep it respectful please!


If you have any comments or suggestions for a reform blog, or if you would like to be interviewed please feel free to comment below or send me an email!



Monday, August 4, 2014

Music Monday: My Wish by Rascal Flatts



"My wish for you
Is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
You never need to carry more than you can hold

And while you're out there gettin' where you're gettin' to
I hope you know somebody loves you
And wants the same things too
Yeah, this is my wish"


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


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Quote of the Week: Be Happy!




"Praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and sorrow come and go like the wind. To be happy, rest like a giant tree, in the midst of them all."








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



Saturday, August 2, 2014

Take Care of Yourself

This post is really for everyone, those who have just placed and those who placed years ago.  And before I begin, I make one plea to all of you: please, take care of yourselves.

I got to see my son on a Saturday this year for his birthday.  I saw him again the following Tuesday.  His parents and I got together for dinner so that we could chat and watch him play in the huge sandbox at the restaurant that we had picked.  It was just time to have some conversation and talk about the fact that my son will be starting school this year.

Just like that, the weight of four years gone past had hit me in the chest and I realized that time was flying away from me much faster than I ever thought it would.  Add to this friends seeing pictures of him and once again exclaiming to me how much he looks like me.  He still does look like me.  As I watch him get older, I see myself in him.  I see my mannerisms.  I see my creativity.  I see my attitude.  I see my stubbornness.  This visit hurt.  And it hurt in ways I hadn't expected.

Every time I part company with him, I have to turn away before I watch them drive away.  It’s because of the first time he left me.  I simply couldn't watch them drive away from the hospital the day they took him home because I knew I would run after their van trying to get him back.  It was something I had to force myself to do.  Once home, I had to heal and learn how to be me again.

Part of this was learning how to actually care for myself.  I believe that I've mentioned before that I was living in my parents’ house at the time.  Part of the downside to that was that we were all hurt.  And we all deal with hurt in very different ways.  While my mother wanted me to talk to her, I wanted nothing more than to be left alone.  This was mostly due to the fact that talking to her would mean her then telling me how it affected her and effectively making me feel insanely guilty about everything, which wasn't what I needed at the time.  Much like Terri has pointed out in her recent posts about boundaries, for the first time, I had to put down boundaries with my parents.  I had to say to them, “No, you don’t get to talk about this with me.”  They were hurt and they were upset and I don’t know that they ever fully understood.  But it doesn't really matter anymore.  It’s been a while now since all of that happened.  Slowly I began writing again.  I found complicated knitting patterns and tackled them.  I looked at pictures of my son as he grew by the day.  I planned visits and I cried tears with the door shut and I learned how to survive and later, how to live.

Over time I have learned better ways of taking care of myself.  I've learned that talking to trusted friends and shutting myself up for a few days will always help me close those wounds that have been reopened during a visit.  I've learned that in the days after the visit I always need to be careful about where I expend my energies.  If I’m not careful, the emotional and mental hang-over from seeing him can last days and days.  That’s what’s happened this time.  My summer has been a very busy one, and the fall only promises more.  But I know it’s not just the business.  This visit really brought home to me the fact that my son is growing up faster than I ever imagined he would.  This weekend will be less busy than the last several have been.  But there are still things to do.  And most of all, I have to remember to carve out time to rest, reflect, and heal once again.

I hope that all of you feel less alone when you read this.  No matter how many years go by, this is always a difficult thing to live with.  In order to survive this, we always need to remember to seek out help when we need it and to learn how to take care of ourselves.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Boundaries are hard work!


I know I’ve been on a boundaries and limit-setting path lately but only because that’s where I am in my life. While I don’t want to beat a dead horse, after spending the weekend with my mom something very important came to me and I had to share it with you. I’ve talked about the types of boundaries and who to set limits with. We’ve also talked about moving the line when needed and how to reinforce those limits.
But I have neglected the obvious and it’s this: Keeping boundaries is h-a-r-d work. A week with my mother has served as a good reminder. It’s hard work to be ok with constant discomfort. My whole weekend with my mom was awkward because I refuse to give in to her demands that I live a certain way and speak a certain way. It is uncomfortable to constantly watch someone you love bang their head against your boundary.

Furthermore, it is painful to feel the distance between you and that family member or that person you love because you refuse to give in to whatever they want you to do or say or be.
Why am I telling you this? Because if you feel this way, then you are doing it exactly right! Yay for you! I can tell you after a week of living in this constant state of being on guard I am exhausted to the point of tears. I am sad that I feel so far removed from my mom. But I am proud of myself for holding my ground. I feel excited that I am healthy enough to stand up for myself with someone who says she loves me acts that way.

You are not alone. You can do this. You may not get it right the first time. Or the sixteenth. But keep trying. Don’t give up. You can do it!