Sunday, November 30, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 30: My Hopes for the Future

Day 30: {My Hopes for the Future}

My hopes for the future...
I hope that I will continue to heal and feel gratitude and happiness for my adoption experience.
I hope that other birth moms will find strength and comfort in hearing my story of closed adoption and reunification.
I hope that birth moms continue to find a voice and don't have to feel ashamed or afraid of what others think.
I hope that I continue to meet new people in the adoption community so I can learn from them.
I hope that to attend more birth mom retreats and other adoption events where I know I will always find solidarity, strength and support.
I hope that I have opportunities to educate others about adoption.
I hope that my relationship with my birth daughter continues to develop and grow and we learn how to navigate the sometimes-complicated waters of post-reunion adoption.
I hope that one day she understands my heart.
I hope that all my children continue to learn about all sides of adoption and become advocates for open adoption one day.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 29: What Keeps Me Going

Day 29: {What Keeps Me Going}
I am not sure I would say that I have ever thought I would just throw the towel in but there certainly have been days that I needed a bit more motivation than others. Every day my motivation is different and I am working hard to create new motivators by using my experience to teach and help others. The important thing is that I JUST.KEEP.GOING. A good birth mom friend of mine shared this thought at our last retreat and it really made me think about my life and how I choose to look at it. We all have trials. We all suffer grief and heartache at some point in our lives. We all get to deal with the outcome of our choices, whether they are good or bad.
I pray every day for the strength to love my choice to place my child because of the joy that it brings to another family and the good life and love it has brought to my daughter. Are there things I would change now? Maybe. Are there times when I wonder how life would be if I had decided to keep her? Absolutely. What keeps me going is the knowledge that my sacrifice was for an important reason that sometimes I can’t even truly understand. In the end, we all belong to God and only He knows the reason for our trials and the ultimate outcome of our choices. It’s our job to see and be grateful for the blessings. What I know in my heart is that everything will be made clear in the end and I will be become whole again. There are blessings to be had that we can’t comprehend. We just have to be patient.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 28: Special Bond

Day 28: {special bond}
I have to say that the person that I have had the most of a bond with through my adoption experience has been my high school boy friend, aka the birth dad. That may be surprising because often in these situations, the "baby daddy" is nowhere to be found. We have had or fair share of ups and downs over the years but I am grateful that we remained friends and that he was supportive as best he could be in our situation. He has always acknowledged her and loved her. Since I had moved to another state to have her, he was not able to see her after she was born and before she was placed for adoption. Their meeting for the first time last year was really special and I am glad I was also there to see it. We have had this experience quite differently and very separately but we definitely share a bond as birth parents of an amazing girl.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 27: What I am Thankful For

Day 27: {What I am Thankful for}
Its the obvious but most profound answer. My family is and always will be my saving grace. I have a really large family. I was raised by parents that both have lots of siblings so I have lots of cousins and was lucky enough to have all my grandparents close to me and a very influential part of my life. Both of my sweet grandmothers are still alive and I miss my grandfathers all the time. I am the oldest of 12 siblings, We are spread around a bit but I have been lucky enough to be able to maintain a good relationship with all of them, as best we can. I have lots of in-laws too that I love and am grateful for how they love my siblings. They all make really cute babies too. We have all been through a lot but we have managed to stay close. Family has always been important to me and they are the place that I run for comfort and safe keeping. I am so blessed to have good relationships with my family. We love, we trust, we rely on each other for strength in hard times and celebrate with each other in good times. I can't imagine life with out them and I am so happy that we get to raise our kids to know each other and to appreciate family like we do. I couldn't possibly make a collage that captures all of my family but this basically illustrates it. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 26: Hardest Day

Day 26: {Hardest Days}
You would think the day I left the hospital empty-handed would be my answer to this and if you had asked me 19 years ago, it was the hardest thing I had ever yet done. That eased up after a while and soon became a distant memory. These days, since reunification, my hardest days are her birthday and Mothers Day. Especially now that she not just an unknown figure in my imagination, while I know she is happy with a family that loves her so much, I just wish sometimes that she was with me. But that day always turns to tomorrow and I always get up and keep going and then see her shining face on Facebook and remember that my choice was made for a reason. Adoption is beautiful...and adoption is hard.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 25: Favorite Memory

Day 25: {Favorite Memory}

Some of my favorite memories were on days when I would receive a packet of pictures and a letter from my birth daughters family the first year after placement. I was living in an apartment with roommates my freshman year at college. The envelope always came from LDS Family Services so when one would arrive in the mail, my roommates, all of whom had become familiar with my experience in the previous few months and knew what that packet meant, would be so happy and excited for me and we would gather around while I opened it and they would look at her pictures and share some pretty precious moments just talking about her and about what she must be like. They would hug me and love me and try to be supportive in the best way they possibly could. I really appreciate that now.  Those were the moments when I could proudly talk about what I had experienced and not feel like I had to hide it. As time went on and I no longer got pictures, I had a much harder time feeling like I could share openly or even show people pictures of her. It was easier to just not. I am so grateful for the encouragement and the opportunity I have had to openly share my story now.

Another of my favorite memories was the day that I received the next envelope from Family Services in October of 2012. I almost passed out when I saw it because it was from out of nowhere.  I was not expecting it. When I opened the envelope, this picture fell out onto my lap and I just lost it.  I knew who it was.  There was no question in my mind.  It took me a few minutes to regain my composure before I could even start to read the letter that was included.  It was from her mom.  The feeling of elation and joy that day was indescribable.  It was a life-changing moment.  I loved that day and the days and weeks that followed when we began to communicate through email and get reacquainted.  

Monday, November 24, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 24: Closure

Day 24: {Closure}
Closure to me implies the desire to find an end or close a door and move on. I don't believe that closure, in the true sense of the word, is something any birth mother can hope to find in her adoption experience. Peace, calm and reassurance, yes, but true closure is nearly impossible when there are such strong connections and powerful emotions involved in the placement process. I haven't met one birth mother yet that truly desires to move on and never look back.
My adoption experience has been developing and evolving since that day I placed her with her parents. I don't expect any of that to come to a close, but rather to continue to open up and grow over time.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 23: Something that Reminds Me of Them

Day 23: {Something that Reminds me of them}
She was born in St George, UT where I was living with my grandparents the last 4 months of my pregnancy. I wasn't told where they lived but I felt confident that it was somewhat nearby. When I received my last packet of pictures from her 1st birthday, there was a picture of her sitting on red rock that illuminated her darling red head of hair. For those that haven't been there, Southern Utah is surrounded by gorgeous, unique scenery that you can't find anywhere else.
Over the years I have visited St George often since my grandparents have continued to live there. Every time I visited or drove through I would think of them, knowing they were somewhere nearby. I knew they were looking at the same gorgeous scenery that I had grown to love for the few months that I lived there. The red rocks of Utah remind me of her and of them. Its her home.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 22: What Adoption Means to Me

Day 22: {What adoption means to me}
What does adoption mean to me? This is a tricky one because it has been such a difficult and amazing whirlwind of an experience. I love this quote. For me adoption has created HOPE, required COURAGE, taught SACRIFICE and caused HEARTACHE. But in the end I have witnessed and believe whole-heartedly that adoption means creating FAMILY and adoption is about LOVE.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 21: What I Would Change

Day 21: {What I would change}
I wish so badly that I had sought support back when I surely needed it most and told myself that I didn’t. I have looked back on my journals over that time and what I read was that I was a silly 17 year old girl. I had no idea what the magnitude of the experience I had just had was. Once I had made an adoption plan and knew that my life could go on after placement day, I thought I was home-free. I was independent and thought I understood how everything was going to be. I never let myself feel anything about the baby that I had placed in another’s arms. I knew she was perfect and with people that loved her and I knew I didn’t need to worry about her, so I didn’t.
I learned a new term today: “disenfranchised grief”. This is when grief is connected with a loss which cannot be openly acknowledged, publicly mourned or socially supported. Now that I am older and oh-so-much wiser and my emotions have been forced to reach a boiling point, I know that support was always what I had needed, or more so, someone to help me see the truth of what I was ignoring for so long and disenfranchised grief is exactly what that was. To those around me, I probably have always seemed like a very well put-together person (and I thought so too) but the truth is, I have always been really good at hiding my pain and the amount of grief I felt after experiencing what I never truly recognized as a loss. Now that I can understand what I was feeling and that it is a normal process that I am experiencing, I can look at it with my mature eyes and see that its ok and I AM OK. The support I have had from those that are experiencing the same things has been priceless. There are still hard days, but as grieving goes, the hard days pass and get easier and I can more easily appreciate the present and look forward to the future.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 20: Turning Point

Day 20: {Turning Point}
One of the biggest turning points in my story is when it became time to tell the rest of my family that I would soon be reunited with my birth daughter, many of which didn't know about her at all. It was about this time of year in 2012 that it I finally shared this part of my life openly with my brother and sister in-laws. That is basically what started the reality that she was going to be part of my life from then on and “stuff” got real for me. It was really new at that time and I still had no idea when any of them would actually get to meet her in the flesh, but I needed to get it out there and make sure they knew that this invisible member of our family was going to become a little more visible at some point.
I didn’t actually tell my kids anything until I knew for certain when I would be meeting her. I do wish that I had told them previously that they had a sister but I never really knew how to do it. Knowing I would meet her soon made it the right time. Braiden was first and 13 at the time. At first he thought I was playing a mean joke on him when I handed him her picture and asked if he had any idea who it could be. When I told him and he finally decided that I wasn’t making it up, he instantly wanted to send her a friend request on Facebook. That very night they started chatting and the first thing he said to her was something like “Hey, so you are my big sister?” while he had big tears rolling down his face. Then I knew he would be ok with it. That was when I realized that everyone was going to be ok with this new thing. Why had I worried for so long needlessly? Talk about turning points…

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 19: Life After Placement

Day 19: {life after placement}
My hopes for my life after placement were all based around turning what I thought was my tragedy into my fairy tale. Is my life a fairy tale now? Not really...but its pretty darn good.
The day of placement, I went home with my Grandma and slept for about 3 days. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I went home to California for a couple weeks to be with my mom while I physically healed and then made plans to return to Utah to live with family and try to get ready for college. I got a letter one day from a high school friend asking me if I was interested in moving to Provo and being her roommate. I was so excited!! That opportunity to get back to "being my age" was the very thing I needed at the time and until then, I wasn't sure how it would happen. I registered for school, signed my lease and packed up my little car to meet them in Provo. Those college years were so fun for me and I have no doubt that my friend was prompted to contact me for a reason because she knew I needed her. She is one of my best friends to this day. Its thanks to the people that were there to give me encouragement that I kept pressing forward during that fragile time.
That was 19 years ago. I have since graduated college, married and had 4 more awesome kids and have a great career. Life has not been perfect, but it has been good. Would I have accomplished all these things if I had chose to parent her? Maybe. But everything happens for a reason and things have a way of turning out, even when they feel like they can't. I have finally come to realize that my experience was not a tragedy. It was a blessing. A blessing that made me who I am today and led me to the life I have today. Life is what you make it and there is, most certainly, life after placement for a birth mother.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 18: Making a Difference

Day 18: {Making a Difference}
In May of this year I stumbled upon an event on Facebook for a Birth Mom Retreat that was being planning for July and that it was happening in a house up the street from me! I knew it was something that I was meant to happen upon. I immediately messaged the organizer to find out if I was too late to get in and I wasn’t. I then proceeded to send “friend’ requests to a ton of people who were involved in it. I had no idea who any of these women were, I only knew they were birth moms like me and that I had been led to them for a reason. It was just about the first time I had planned to be in a place with other women who had placed a child for adoption. I was terrified but very excited.
I attended, and it was awesome and eye-opening. It made me realize a lot of things about myself and gave me the courage to face what I was feeling then teach myself to heal old wounds. Since then, I have joined many other adoption related Facebook groups, attended a Birth Parent Meet up Luncheon, attended another retreat and recently attended a conference held by United for Adoption. All of these experiences have set me on a high of sorts. I love hearing other peoples stories and I am excited to share my experience and begin to advocate for the beautiful gift that adoption is.
I have a lot to learn and am still working on myself and many aspects of my own adoption relationship, but I know I have the ability to make a difference. I have already been approached by a couple other women who have had similar experiences as me and are feeling just a little more brave about beginning their healing and sharing process. I can’t wait for what the future brings and what opportunities are in store for me. I know that my test today will be my testimony tomorrow. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 17: Birthday

Day 17: {Birthday}

Her actual BIRTH DAY was pretty cray cray.  I was induced so that my mom could be there. She was in town from California on my due and had to leave to get home to her job but I still was not progressing much.  I remember BEGGING my doctor the week before (which I am sure included tears and maybe even a little foot stomping) to please induce me while my mom was in town. He told me that if I came in for my next appointment and had shown any amount of progress that he would schedule it.  Sure enough, at my next appointment, I had progressed enough that he felt it was safe to induce labor.  So early on the morning of April 11, 1995 I went to the hospital and they started me on pitosin.   After hours of labor and little progression to the point that they were talking about sending me home, things FINALLY started happening.  Honestly, I dont remember all the details.  I was fairly drugged and I didn't understand a whole lot of what everything meant anyway but my mom and my Grandma were there with me the entire time supporting me, being my advocates and labor coaches.  It was scary and it was really painful.  Knowing what I know now as a nurse, inducing me was probably not the best idea for a 1st time mom, but I am so grateful that it worked the way it did so that my mom could be there with me.  She was born late and I was so tired but I didn't want to sleep and I asked them to keep her with me so I could bathe her, feed her and take care of her while we were in the hospital. 

I got pictures up until her 1st birthday.  Every year after that on her day I would sing her a quiet Happy Birthday song and often could expect an email or something from her birth dad telling me he was thinking about her too.  As she got older I would try to picture in my head what she was looking like, what her favorite things were and what she was doing or getting for her birthday and I always knew they were thinking about me on her birthday too. 

This year on her 19th birthday her mom sent me a beautiful message that I want to share: "Amy, April 11, 1995 was the best day of my life….because of you. You gave me the most precious gift a person can give to another, and I could never repay you enough. I can only say thank you. Thank you for being the answer to my most tender, sincere, heart-broken, prayer – to be a mother. Every year that she celebrates another birthday, I think of you – just as I am today."

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 16: Song

Day 16: {Song}
I just freaking love this song because its so catchy and sweet. But related to adoption, there is a lot of 'choosing' going on. 'I Choose You'- Sara Bareilles. 

Let the bough break, let it come down crashing
Let the sun fade out to a dark sky
I can't say I'd even notice it was absent
Cause I could live by the light in your eyes

I'll unfold before you
What I've strung together
The very first words
Of a lifelong love letter

Tell the world that we finally got it all right
I choose you
I will become yours and you will become mine
I choose you
I choose you

There was a time when I would have believed them
If they told me you could not come true
Just love's illusion
But then you found me and everything changed
And I believe in something again

My whole heart
Will be yours forever
This is a beautiful start
To a lifelong love letter

Tell the world that we finally got it all right
I choose you
I will become yours and you will become mine
I choose you
I choose you

We are not perfect
We'll learn from our mistakes
And as long as it takes
I will prove my love to you

I am not scared of the elements
I am under-prepared, but I am willing
And even better
I get to be the other half of you

Tell the world that we finally got it all right
I choose you
I will become yours and you will become mine
I choose you
I choose you
I choose you

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 15: Lessons Learned

Day 15: {Lessons learned}
I don't even need to write anything. This says it perfectly.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Birth Mom Photo A Day 14: Moment of Courage

Day 14: {Moment of courage}
My moment of courage was on November 1st when I made the decision, as scary as it has been, to completely bare my soul and tell my story of discovery and healing through this experience on Facebook. I have hesitated every time I have hit the "post" button because I know who will read these posts. Those people include family, neighbors, church friends, co-workers, high school friends, college friends, other friends that I just met randomly and it includes those most intimately involved in this adoption. I have been terrified of judgement my entire life and have never felt good enough to not be judged. But I decided that day that I needed to tell my story because to someone, somewhere, it is profound and speaks volumes about feelings that they might still be working through. Also, even though this all "happened" almost 20 years ago, I am not over it, it is still profound to me and will forever be a scar on my heart.
I love this quote I got from the Birth Parent Meet Up that I attended in August. This is a wound that I am trying my very hardest to heal, in the only way I know how. I am not asking for pity or even for anyone to admire me or care. These are my real, raw emotions. Thank you for taking this journey with me.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 13: Openness

Day 13:  {Openness}

‘Openness’ is not a concept I am terribly familiar with when it comes to adoption.  As I have mentioned, my adoption was closed, meaning I knew no names or identifying information and other than some pictures and letters in the first year, there was no contact whatsoever. If you had asked my 17-year-old self, I would have told you that I was happy to “let them be” and I was.  I always thought that my existence in her life would have been cumbersome and distracting to her progression and to mine and the best advice I had been given was to “move on” so that’s what I did. Trust and faith were all I had along with a few precious memories of my baby girl.   I coped by knowing that we were both in good places and it felt better that way.

Since being reunited, my eyes have been opened to the emotional consequences of having had a closed adoption.  Yes, we both have had good lives, there is no disputing it.  What more could I have wanted but for her to be safe and happy with a family that loved her?  I soon realized that the blank space of time between when my tiny baby left my arms in the hospital to when I met the young woman that I know today, cannot be filled.  I see pictures of her and the memories that their family has created but as much as I want them to be, they are not my memories.  Knowing her now has made me realize how much of her life I missed and that realization has been very difficult for me.  Since I was not able to actually see her with her family and grasp what her life looked like over time, I was not able to grasp the fact that she is no longer mine.   Even now, those words sting a little, but I have learned how to cope and look at what I have NOW and not what I missed.  It’s a daily choice and I still hope and pray that she continues to want an open relationship with me as an adult.  We are navigating what that looks like and figuring it out as we go.  Openness is not always perfect, but the ability to grow and foster relationships over time is what this life is all about and I see it now as being particularly important in an adoption relationship.

On another note, I have created my own path to 'openness' by learning to openly share my story, thus this challenge. I love how it makes me feel and I love how others have responded to it. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 12: Easiest Decision

Day 12: {Easiest Decision}
I always knew that I wanted to be reunited with my daughter when the time was right. When anyone has asked over the years I would always say, "I don't want to barge in on her life unexpected or unwelcomed so I will let her come to me." I had planned on that not being until she was at least 21, but left myself open to the possibility it would be sooner or maybe never.
When I was contacted by her mom 6 months before her 18th birthday and we felt out the situation, I told her immediately that my desire was to meet them. How could I not? I have never forgotten her. It is etched all over my medical records that I have not only had 4 babies, but 5. I have an empty space in my heart that I needed to but a band-aid on by seeing with my own eyes that she is happy and healthy and safe. I had seen pictures of her, but I needed to see her, hold her, talk to her...make her real again. I needed to know her and I needed my family to know her. That was, by far, the easiest decision.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 11: Life Before Adoption

Day 11: {Life Before Adoption}

Rather than talking about my life before my actual adoption, I want to focus on my life prior to engulfing myself in this world of support and adoption-related information that has just happened in the last few months. Before then, I didn’t know the adoption process was so dang complicated and what kind of heartache potential adoptive parents inevitably experience through it. I had no idea that open adoption was “the thing” now and assumed everyone had the same closed adoption situation as I did. I have learned that EVERY adoption relationship is different and has its own complexities, whether open or closed. I have learned that there are negative people out there that will thrive on negativity and try to put down those in search for the positive. But I also found out that there are so many that have been affected by adoption around me that LIVE in the positive and LOVE it. They share their stories, lend an understanding ear, wipe my tears and encourage me to get to a place where I can say that I love adoption. I would never go back.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 9: Support

Day 9: Support

This one is easy and so appropriate since I am on my way home from a Birth Mother Retreat.  My family has always been and always will be my greatest support system.  My mom and grandma were there when she was born.  My dad and sister were there shortly after.  My Grandma held my hand and hugged me on placement day then drove me to her house where I slept for 2 days straight.  She was my saving grace during that time. 

I wish I could say I had a lot fellow birth mother support after placement, but I didn't know it existed. I found support in my friends and family, in the best way they knew how but I didn't know I needed support then.  Not many knew my story, and I rarely shared it.  In the last couple years though, I have discovered an amazing support system of birth mothers who have helped me realize that what I have felt after reunification is normal and ok. As I become more open and share my story, I feel like I am becoming a magnet for support.  My oppenness is encouraging them to also be more open and know that I am ok and I WANT to talk about it. My family is always there when I need them, but a special bond has grown with these ladies that can fully understand my heart without explanation.  

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 8: Adoptive Parents

Day 8: Adoptive Parents

After giving some basic guidelines for preference (ie race, religion, number of kids at home) I was given some files of families to make a selection from.  I don't recall a whole lot of details from that time, but I do remember that it took me a couple weeks to scour through the files and consider each detail about the people whose lives I was peaking into and trying to imagine handing my child over to.  It struck me hard to know that I held in my hand all these families that were equally as hopeful for a child to come to their family.  My choice would make a major difference in the life of my child AND whatever family I chose.  I always felt good about my final choice.  When I met I them I realized that she and I looked like we could be sisters and they were both so kind and so grateful.  

Since my adoption was closed I knew very few details about the personal experience of the parents I chose.  I only ever knew what I felt and experienced on the day of her placement. I wasn't ever able to hear THEIR story until being reunited.  Since having heard that story  I have gained a new appreciation for the joy they were experiencing on what was one of the most painful days of my life.  I learned that our pain was equal.  I had lost a child by my own choice, but her struggle with infertility was never something she had chosen and on that day she gained the realization of a life long dream.  I'm so grateful for the example of strength and love that they are to me and for being in the right place at the right time.  

Friday, November 07, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 7: That "+" Sign

Day 7:  That "+" Sign

I am not sure what I can say here.  All I can recall was on that day when I finally decided that I should probably take a pregnancy test (after a couple weeks of feeling absolutely wretched) it was the scariest stick I had ever peed on and I DID NOT believe it could be possible.  In my haste and confusion, I left all the evidence in my moms bathroom. Lets just say, she found out shortly after. I know it was a huge wrench thrown in my family, particularly for my mom.  She tells me now that she suspected something was not right with me, even before she found out and her dreaded fears were confirmed the second she spotted the wrapper in the garbage. I tried to blame it on my sister but it was easily proven otherwise.

Its the worst feeling, knowing that you screwed up royal and that there really is no 'undoing' what is done.  You just have to go with it, and figure out your next move and FORGIVE yourself.  It doesn't do much good to consider all the woulda, shoulda, coulda scenarios either.  I learned the hard way that EVERY choice I make has a direct consequence. Good or bad, that's just the fact. For those that may need to hear it, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  Seek support, educate yourself so that you can find peace in the choice that you make, whatever it may be.

One of my favorite quotes from Juno.

How Dr Seuss would have explained pregnancy.  This makes me laugh.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 6: My Happy Place

Day 6: My Happy Place

You thought I was gonna say Disneyland, didnt you?  Well, I do love Disneyland but, my happiest of places are the rare moments when I can get all 5 of my children together in the same place.  Its so amazing to look at each of them, individually and collectively, and marvel at how different they each are but how they each share some similar traits. Until we were reunited, that piece was always missing for me.  Something felt not quite right.   I live for the time when I can see them all be close to each other, particularly as adults, regardless of the different circumstances by which they were raised.

Its interesting how my young kids have learned to accept my first daughter.  I don't know if they actually understand that she is their flesh and blood, but somehow something must compute because since they "discovered" her, they want to know her, they ask about her, they talk about the next time they will get to see her and Paige is relieved to know that she actually isn't the only girl! Its all been a bit more straight-forward for Braiden.  He is old enough to comprehend the situation so after the initial shock, for some reason he is relieved to know that he isn't the oldest and, of course, they have a blast when they are together. I am certain that she is a good influence and role model for him.  She came around right at the perfect time for him.

These crazy kids are my happy place.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 5: Fears

Day 5:  Fears

I believe that fear comes from things unknown and adoption is a big one.  Throughout the course of my pregnancy, placement, life after placement and life since reunion, I have seen TONS of fears come and go.   So many questions would often go through my head:  Will I ever see her again? Will I only ever know her as a baby? Will she want to know me? Will she be angry with me?  Will she like me?  Will she like us?  Will she want me there? Will she ever NEED me?  Will this pain in my chest ever go away?  Will I ever feel whole again?  So many questions...

I have learned that once I let the fear subside, peace finds its way in.   Adoption is not all rainbows and roses.  Adoption is hard. I have to work hard every day to let the peace stay and not chase it away.  There will still be unknowns and there will always be. There hard days and there are days where I love the choice I made. I have to make the daily choice to see the rainbows and smell the roses.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 4: First Photo

Day 4:  First Photo

I have 2 "first" photos that I treasure and I have framed in my room.  One is us on placement day, and the other is us on reunion day.  Lots of years lie in between these two pictures, but so many fewer than I had imagined.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 3: Debunking Stereotypes

Day 3:  Debunking Stereotypes

What is your stereotypical birth mom?  Look around.  There is no mold that any birth mother fits into.  Any woman sitting next to you or living next door, working with you, or the mother of your kids best friend might have a similar story to tell.  I would say that until fairly recently, being open about placing a child was not very widely acceptable and most adoptions were not open.  I spent a lot of years making sure that nobody knew my "secret" because I was so afraid of the judgement that would be placed on me. I even moved far from where my family was so that I could start a new life. As I have become more open about being a birth mother, there has been judgement in some cases, those are few in comparison to the number of people that have come forward that wanted to love and listen and share their own stories of healing and hope.

I was recently introduced to a community of birth mothers and found that while we all have very different stories and are at very different places in our lives, we all share a certain level of understanding for each other that anyone who isn't a birth parent could ever fathom.  I am so grateful for them.  I am so grateful to finally be ok with sharing this part of me and learning to not place stereotypes on MYSELF.

Its still scary, and I still fear judgement.  But I don't fit into any stereotype.  This I know. I am just me.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 2: Why I chose adoption

Day 2:  Why I chose adoption

Simply put, adoption was an option that gave me peace at a time when I was filled with shame and turmoil for the choices I had made that would not only have a profound effect on my life, but now another life was involved.  I found strength in the knowledge that something beautiful would come from an experience that was so painful for me.  From the second I met the 2 beautiful people that would be her parents, I was certain just how much they loved her and longed for her.  I knew that they would always remind her just how much she was loved even before she was loved by them. 

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Birth Mom Photo a Day 1: About Me

November brings with it a lot of reasons to celebrate, but one that is fairly new to me is National Adoption Awareness Month.  Adoption has played a large part in my life and so, I want to do this activity that many of my fellow birth mothers are taking part in.  It has only been for a couple years that I have even been open about this part of me, but I feel like now is a good opportunity to bare my soul on the matter in the hopes that it may touch even one person that might need to hear it. I am also posting this on my blog because I think all of these talking points are things that I want my children to know about me.  It helps me in my healing process and gives me strength to just be who I am, without shame, without guilt; even if it is with 796 of my closest Facebook friends (an anyone who might read my blog).  So, with shaking hands and racing heart, here go my 30 days of #birthmomphotoaday.

Day 1- About me:  I was almost 17 when I discovered I was pregnant.  I placed my baby girl into a closed adoption through LDS Family Services in April of 1995.  I was able to choose the adoptive parents and gave birth in Southern Utah while living with my grandparents.  I spent 2 days in the hospital with her before the social worker came to take her to her new family.  I decided to stay in Utah to go to college where I graduated and eventually was married and had 4 more children.  While I had never forgotten about my baby girl, the nature of closed adoption allowed me to just move on with life, which was what I thought was that best thing to do, and really I had no idea if I would truly ever meet her.  I was preparing myself for the possibility that it may never happen, with the hope in the back of my mind that someday a red-head would come knocking on my door, looking for me. Well, it didn't happen exactly that way, but it happened.  In February 2013, after her mom made contact with me,  I finally met that little baby girl again, only she had become a beautiful 17 year old young woman...and very red-head.   The past couple years has been a blessing and a trial for me as I now learn to navigate what has become an open adoption, even though my daughter is now an adult. I realized that I am not as 'over it' as I always thought I was. I realized that I missed her so much more than I ever even knew. I realized that the hole in my heart was so much bigger than anyone could have convinced me a few years ago. I realized that I now have to be stronger than I ever thought possible and on some days, it just doesn't happen.I realized that I was good enough to be her mother but I chose to give her more than I was able.  My adoption is love, faith, healing, grief and gratitude to the good people who love my daughter and have made her the amazing person she is and that loved me enough to bring her back into my life.