Friday, October 31, 2014

BMB Reform Blog: The Reunion Roller Coaster

For those of you who don't know me, I reunited with my newly teen-aged daughter this past year.  It was both amazing and traumatic, happy and sad.  It opened my eyes to a lot of those what ifs, and boy did it give me some answers I didn't want, and wasn't prepared to hear.  Don't get me wrong, reuniting with my beautiful girl was priceless and I am so happy we're forming the open bond now that we should have had from birth.  But one of the things they don't put in those brochures are the
emotional pitfalls a lot of us will encounter.  And, for some of us, those reunions don't turn out happy. Sometimes our kids don't want to know us.  Or sometimes, sadly, we find them too late.  I remember hearing people tell me "It's alright, you will see her again" and I wonder how many of us were also told that, and how many of us had that promise broken either by people themselves or by unfortunate circumstances.

Another thing I would like to point out, something I'm very vocal about, is the term "better life" and how I think it's grossly unfair to use this in terms of adoption.  And, no, I am not saying that our children don't have good lives.  But the point is, sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.  One thing I became acutely aware of during my reunion was that my daughter has a different life, not a better one.  When agencies or adoption pro's tell expectant mothers this, it's almost like saying 'you would give them an awful life.'   And if there's one thing I know, it's that unless you are a true, honest to God psychic, you have no way of knowing the validity of that statement.  And often, as was in my case, we come to realize we could have been amazing parents to our children.  Or that the parents who raised our children, often don't live up to those 'better standards'  No, I am not saying all AP's are bad, not in the slightest.  I'm simply saying we don't know and to put that thought in our head that they are better, we are worse when you're pregnant is coercive.  And it slaps you in the face upon reunion if you realize that that better life is just plain...different.

Another thing they don't tell you is the roller coaster of emotions you might feel upon reunion.  Boy, I was not prepared for those.  All of a sudden your precious baby is now a full blown adult (or in my case young lady).  They can now vocalize their thoughts, their emotions.  Which is a wonderful thing, but sometimes not always what we are ready or wanting to hear.  I don't want to get too personal in this blog, but I will say that not everything I saw and heard was wonderful.  Things I wanted for her, experiences I didn't want her to have - she has had.  And that was a big dose of reality that sent me spiraling for a bit.  The anger I felt at the system, at myself, at God was overwhelming.  Almost as bad as the initial months after relinquishment.

I want to end this by saying I am over the moon that I have my daughter back in my life.  And she is as well.  At the end of the day, I know that whatever obstacles arise we can work through them together.  The amount of love she has for me both surprised and overwhelmed me.  For that, I am blessed.



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







Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Lie of Irrelevancy



Recently I attended a conference of sorts that was looking for ways to reach the younger generation, specifically those in their 20s. Now the organizers, attenders and most speakers were in their 60s so the generation gap is noticeable.

My situation is that I'm not 60. And I'm not 20. I'm somewhere in between. Yet the conference organizers were not focusing on reaching ME. They were focusing on reaching those younger than me. Much much younger.

Because of the way my brain works, it took me a couple days to sort out all the information I had heard and been bombarded with. And it left me feeling irrelevant. As in unimportant. Such a yucky word. And so deflating for someone who walks everyday in her purpose.

But my friend was quick to come alongside me and remind me that that lie of irrelevancy was straight from the pit of hell. We all matter. We are all important to God. And we all have a specific plan and purpose for our lives. Just because I'm not 60 or 20 does not take me out of the game.

Are you feeling irrelevant today? Is something making you feel that you don't matter? or that you are not important? It's a lie. Don't fall for it.




Photo credit

Monday, October 27, 2014

Music Monday: Broken by Seether feat. Amy Lee



"I wanted you to know that I love the way you laugh
I wanna hold you high and steal your pain away
I keep your photograph and I know it serves me well
I wanna hold you high and steal your pain

Because I'm broken when I'm lonesome
And I don't feel right when you're gone away

You've gone away, you don't feel me here, anymore"


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


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Quote of the Week: Don't Stand In Your Sunshine!




"Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one's own sunshine."










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





Saturday, October 25, 2014

Accepting who I am...

"I am a... birthmother.  Yes, I am a birthmother.  Hi, I'm a birthmother!  Yes, I'm a birthmother.  A birthmother is part of what I am.  That's not the only thing that I am, but that is part of it."

Welcome to my brain ladies.  And yes, it is just this nutty in here.

The above statement is kind of a rewind, a playback to a different point in time.  After placing my son for adoption, it was hard to even say to myself that I was as birthmother.  I had to spend a good amount of time getting used to the title myself.  It wasn't taking over my whole identity.  But it was now a part of me that was never going to go away.  And it was a part I needed to learn to accept.  So I spent a good amount of time practicing saying and explaining what I am now.

"I'm a birthmother.  My son was placed for adoption when he was born and it's an open adoption and it was the best decision for him at the time."

The early days were tough.  First there were medical professionals who aren't that difficult.  Then there were old friends.  Then new friends.  Employers.  Co-workers.  More new friends.

In the early days it almost all came out as one word: "I'mabirthmotherandmysonisfineandIgettoseehim."  Yeah, that was really clear.  The questions seemed invasive even though I answered with a smile.  And somewhere in the back of my head I was always worried that I was being silently judged for this.

But as time went on, it got easier.  I got less and less afraid of the reactions people would have as the good reactions far out weighed the bad.  I got used to the questions and am now able to tell the difference between those who just don't know and those who are trying to peck away at my decisions and defenses.  And these days if they are silently judging me, I do a passable job at not caring about it.  In the end it was my decision and not theirs.  They were not there and therefore have no say in what I did.

Telling people that I'm a birthmother, to this day, is a gamble.  And it's one that for now I'm still willing to play.  I am more confident now in who I am and what I did and why I did it.  Those who try to argue with me are very calmly told the facts and what would have happened had things gone differently.  If still not convinced, I move on and try to put them behind me.  The simple fact is this is not going to change.  This is a part of who I am now.  It's something I will have to deal with every single day.  And those who know me and want to know everything there is to know, they need to know and accept this too.

We shouldn't be ashamed of being birthmothers.  But I do completely understand that desire to just push it away and not deal with it.  Sometimes it's necessary when dealing with people who are closed-minded or judgemental.  But other times, it is something that needs to be said.  I hope all of you find acceptance from everyone you talk to about this.  And I am with you when people can't understand and treat you poorly.  But do remember this: you should never be ashamed of being everything that you are.  And that includes being a birthmother.

I am a librarian, a writer, a teacher, a musician, a knitter, a dreamer, a thinker, and a birthmother.  But most of all.  I am human and deserving of respect just like everyone else.  None of these things make me any less than anyone else.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Music Monday: The Promise by When In Rome



"If you need a friend
Don't look to a stranger
You know in the end
I'll always be there

And when you're in doubt
And when you're in danger
Take a look all around
And I'll be there"


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


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Quote of the Week: Illuminate

"You cannot hate, argue, reason, fight, complain or yell at a dark room enough to illuminate it - only by shining a Light is darkness overcome. Be that Light."










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




Saturday, October 18, 2014

That's the Dumbest Question I've Ever Heard...



I call myself the queen of the stupid question.  I say this because when I'm learning something new, I often have to have it explained to me two or three times.  And I find it easier to look stupid and say, "Could you tell me that piece just one more time?  I'm just drawing a blank today," than struggle on and on and possibly do something wrong.  But then there are other stupid questions, like the ones I and other birthmothers get.  Sometimes people are well-meaning, sometimes they just don't know, and other times, I'm just not sure what they are thinking or why they are being so judgmental.  Here's a couple examples for your perusal.

"Do you have visitation rights?"

This is one that I heard.  The person was actually trying to be nice.  And granted, that's what happens in a divorce or a custody battle.  And I really had to struggle to not be a jerk.  But I did reply with, "This is not a divorce.  I signed away all rights to my child.  I signed the papers and he's no longer mine; he's theirs."  They looked at me like I had snakes growing out of my ears.  I wasn't sure how I was not being clear or how this didn't make sense.   This was an adoption.  Not a "he'll just stay over there until I get my act together and I can get him back" kind of situation.  This was permanent.  And I've had to spend a good amount of time explaining that, especially it seems to people who are mothers themselves.

"When will they tell them who their "real" parents are?"

Okay, first of all, my son's adoptive parents ARE his real parents.  They have been raising him for the past four years and doing an excellent job of it too.  He calls them Momma and Daddy.  That makes them his parents.  My ex and I are his birthparents.  Very simple.  As for when he will be told, that is a discussion that I've had with them and we are working on it.  With other birthmothers I've heard different stories.  Every kid is different.  Every set of parents is different.  And we all deal with things different ways.  And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.  When he knows the whole crazy story is going to be a long way down the line.  Along the way he'll be told he's adopted.  That he was in my tummy.  And that all of us love him very very much.  And for him, this will be his normal.

"Are you sure this is what's good for your kid?"

I beg of you, resist the urge to slap the person who asks you this.  I know it is tempting.  Believe me.  But assault charges are a lot less fun and more expensive.  Now, obviously, this person has never had any experience with adoption and more than likely has bought into the "the family must stay together for the good of the child" kind of myths that we all battle with.  I know that I did the right thing for my child.  Others know this too.  I'm not saying that I don't have doubts.  Every other day I have to remind myself of why and all the reasons that this was the best decision.  But in the end, yes, this was the best thing for my child.  And if they can't see it, then ask them as nicely as you can to keep their opinions to themselves.

(Most often when upset over my child) "Shouldn't you be over this by now?  This was your choice after all."

Again, please resist any and all temptations to do anything other than explain very firmly why this is a situation that will continue to be difficult.  Placing a child for adoption is not something anyone heals over quickly.  And along the way there are more wounds and more things that one misses.  Healing over this takes years, as I've illustrated on this very blog.  And even now there are still bad days for me.  My only suggestion there is to either try to explain this, or relocate and find other friends who have historically shown more tact and understanding when it comes to your situation.

Other choice questions that I collected in writing this were:

"Are the parents afraid you're doing to steal him/her away?"

"Can't you get him/her back one day?"

"Did you get paid for him/her?"

To which the obvious answers are, "No.  No.  And what are you talking about??  NO!"

In the end, some people are well-meaning and don't understand.  Some people just have no tact at all.  And some people just want to push other people's buttons.  I certainly learned that when I was waiting tables.  My best suggestion for every dumb question you get, try to explain as best you can.  If they don't get it, ask them to keep their questions and opinions to themselves and move on.  It isn't fun.  It isn't pleasant.  But it's one of the unfortunate things we have to live with.

Do share your worst questions in the comments or give your best (or craziest) answers to the ones that were listed above.  And I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Be Who You Are



I feel like I write about this all the time, but I promise I looked back to make sure. It doesn't look like I've written anything like this for a couple months at least! 

It probably feels that way because God is always teaching me, and I think this is one of the Big Lessons for my year: Be who I am. 

Just like you, I am special and unique and created for a purpose. God knew what he was doing when he made me stubborn and introverted and all the other sometimes-annoying qualities about me. I am who I am and this has been a year of resting in that. Now that's not to say that I'm always growing and trying to be a better version of myself, but there are just some things about me that I cannot change.

Take my age for example. I am aging and trying to come to terms with it. Last week I went to a different dance class than I normally attend and was pleased to see a brand new instructor. She and I had attended class together many times, but now she would be teaching! I figured she would be good and I was right.

In the middle of class, about the time I think the instructor is trying to kill me, it suddenly occurred to me what was happening. I was following her and doing what she said instead of doing my own workout. In any kind of aerobic exercise there is a wide range in which to operate. I push myself as much as I can while also listening to my body. Well I was not doing that. I was doing her workout. And it was too much!

It's sometimes mentally hard for me to realize I just can't jump around as much as I used to. But the more important issue here is that I continue to exercise and take care of my body. It is not reasonable for me to try and keep up with someone who is half my age. Some ladies can do it, but I am not one of them.

In your life, remember that you are who you are. Rest in the fact that God knew what he was doing when he made you a particular way. Don't wear yourself out constantly trying to be someone else or something you're not. It's ok to be you. You are the only one like you.






Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Jealousy

Recently I found out that an acquaintance of mine from high school was pregnant and considering adoption. When I found this out I reached out and told her my thoughts and opinions and gave her my support in whatever decision she made. It was even weirder that we had the same due date (only a year later) and she was also having a girl. I felt happy that for once I might actually be able to talk to and know someone else who was a birth mom. A few months later she had changed her mind and decided to parent her baby. I don't know why it had such a profound effect on me. I am a huge advocate for a woman making the right decision for herself whatever that decision may be. This weekend she gave birth to a healthy baby girl a few weeks early. Seeing the pictures just about broke my heart. It was hard to even look at them. I was so jealous that she had her daughter and was going to take her home from the hospital. She was going to do everything I wish I could do but was not able to at the time. I felt crazy for feeling this way because to be honest I was never really close with this girl in the first place, but I felt so devastated by watching this girls story unfold on Facebook. I kept thinking that it wasn't fair. I wanted to hold my baby and take her home from the hospital and raise her but I was in no place to do so at the time, and it hurt to watch this girl almost exactly a year later who was going to parent.

I spent most of my weekend upset and it just didn't make a lot of sense to me and I felt so crazy I didn't want to tell any of my friends or family about how I was feeling. I know I am not the first birth mom out there to experience jealousy but this was the first time I had experienced it in such a strong way. I wanted to be happy for this girl but it felt impossible for me. I felt terrible in so many different ways this weekend. I have had some time to think and I know that these are just more issues that we birth moms have to deal with and something I am going to have to work on in my life too. I know that the decision I made was right for my daughter and I, and I have to respect that she made the right decision for her. I wouldn't trade the life my daughter has for anything.

What have your experiences with jealousy been like? Is it harder to deal with new babies in your own family?



Photo Credit

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

BMB Reform Blog: Meet L!

Hello again everyone!  I'm back with another reform blog.  This time I have another interview with another great friend of mine, L.  She has been a first mom for about as long as I have, and she is an
AMAZING woman and support system for me!

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

L, first mom to a beautiful 10 year old who didn't think of adoption until she listened to her ex – boyfriend (boyfriend at the time) that he would only do an open adoption.

Are there any aspects of adoption you would like to see changed?  

“Open” adoption that actually is open and not have 50 different terms as there are states

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

It means actually having some say in my life and not have it be governed by others


Thanks so much L!  


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




Monday, October 13, 2014

Music Monday: Not Ready To Make Nice by The Dixie Chicks



"Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I'm not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I'm still waiting

I'm through with doubt
There's nothing left for me to figure out
I've paid a price
And I'll keep paying

I'm not ready to make nice
I'm not ready to back down
I'm still mad as hell and
I don't have time to go round and round and round
It's too late to make it right
I probably wouldn't if I could
'Cause I'm mad as hell
Can't bring myself to do what it is you think I should"


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




Sunday, October 12, 2014

Quote of the Week: Vision








"Most people take the limits of their vision to be the limits of the world. A few do not. Join them."










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




Saturday, October 11, 2014

Support Groups


Last night I went to the support group that is run by the adoption agency I placed through.  It's a ways from my home and traffic isn't always pleasant.  But I was determined.  It had been a while since I had been to our support group.  Also, there was a time there when the adoption agency wasn't having meetings.  But I am really glad that they have started these up again.

At the support group there were three counselors and four birthmothers.  One of the birthmothers I have known for three years now.  To say she has supported and helped me through my journey is an understatement.  Her daughter is several years older than my child and thus she understood many of the things I went through in the first few months and years.  She is one of the reasons that I keep coming back to this group.  But I also come back to try to repay that debt and help others just as she helped me.

The best thing about a birthmother support group is that there are other birthmothers are there.  It's hard to find other birthmothers who are willing to talk about their experiences and their lives.  We don't exactly go out wearing signs so we can find each other.  If I've found birthmothers outside of the group, it was quite by accident and most likely because I said something about being a birthmother myself.  We're a very closed bunch.  We play this secret very close to the chest and are always mindful of how others react and what they may say to us.  Because of that, it's hard to find people we can talk to about being a birthmother.

The support of friends and family is invaluable and I am not discrediting that.  I have been extremely lucky in my circle of friends and in my family.  But there are times when they just can't understand.  Usually that's about the time I turn to the circle of birthmothers that I know and vent to them.  There are just some things that only other birthmothers will understand.  Why it hurts when you hear a baby cry.  Why Christmas and kids toys make you a little distant.  Why visits are great things, but at the same time are painful things too.  And how it can break your heart to watch your child grow up over the years as you finally come to terms with everything that's happened.

I hope all of you have not only found support amongst your friends and family, but also in the birthmother community itself.  We're all very different.  We come from many different worlds.  But we all have one thing in common.  And we can understand each other within seconds.  If you don't have a support group near where you live, please reach out online.  This site is very good for finding other birthmothers who will understand you.  If you need to reach out to someone who understands, please do.  Every single one of us has been in your shoes, thinking the same thoughts, and crying the very same tears.  We remember and we understand.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Be flexible!



I have heard this expression more times than I care to count. Whenever I'm in a tight spot or a stressful situation, invariably someone will remind me to be flexible. Many times my immediate reaction is to tell them to shut up. But other times it helps.

So what does it mean to be flexible? The dictionary defines it as capable of being bent, usually without breaking; adaptable; pliable. It's easy to think about this description as it relates to a ruler, let's say, or even the latest iPhone. But how exactly does it apply to me?

Well recently we were on a Family Road Trip, which if  you know anything about me, you know I just love. But things weren't going according to plan. (It's funny how even on a 'vacation' or 'time away' we still have expectations, isn't it?) Anyway, at the moment we were sitting on the interstate not moving, the thought popped into my head to 'be flexible'. Ugh! I wanted that voice to keep quiet! But since I had nothing other to do than to be still and think, I asked myself (quietly of course) what does it mean to be flexible in this situation?

It was then that I came up with my own definition. Ready? Here it is. To be flexible means to stop holding on so tightly to what I want or think I want. Ha! How does that feel? Yep, it was a little startling to me too. But as soon as I relaxed my grip on the plan I had in my head, I was able to stop stressing over the fact we weren't moving and start enjoying the beauty of the mountains all around me.

Try it today. Take one thing you are hanging onto tightly and relax your grip just a little. You may be surprised as what happens.




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