Saturday, June 18, 2011

Then & Now - The Placement pt. 2 - the Entrustment Ceremony

The “then” part doesn’t even exist in this blog… there was NOTHING like this back then. There was nothing in the placement part where the birthmothers met the Adoptive Parents, or place the child with them. This was unheard of; it just wasn’t done.
But the “Now”… the now is amazing!!!
Now, for those who chose to have it; the placement can be the park that makes or breaks the cycle of grief. I truly believe that in my journey the entrustment ceremony is what made my heart so at ease. Did it make it easier to place him? Hell No!!! BUT, it did make it easier to forge this bond with his new family.
Yes, his entire family.
I remember imagining it being Keaton, and his parents, and my family… but their family was there as well. It made a world of difference. I won’t get into major details here, but I truly felt like not only Keaton, but my whole family was being welcomed into their family as well.
Some of the things that happened were unreal; I have had many people tell me that my journey was very rare, and unheard of in most cases. But I am so happy to have had this journey.
Please, check out more information on Entrustment Ceremonies. And Please feel free to go back into my blog and read about mine.
We spoke vows to each other, we lit a unity candle, we played music, and we cried. We all cried. It was a beautiful marriage of the families together, in a way only mothers can make happen; Birth and Adoptive.
Below are some links you can check out for entrustment ceremonies.
BirthMom Buds – Entrustment Ceremonies
Family Hopes – The Importance of Adoption Placement Ceremonies or Entrustment Ceremonies
Adoptive Families – A Bridge of Love: One Family’s Entrustment Ceremony

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ten & now - Adoption Plan & Placement

I believe that there are as many adoption journeys as there are colors in the rainbow. From one share to another, no single line is the same. As the colors blend, a new one is formed, and a new use is found for the color. New names, new uses, new additions, new findings….
Have you ever found yourself going through the stages of grief, and thinking, “I don’t remember this being one of the stages”? Well, I think the stages of grief weren’t set out around adoption.
When you think of someone who is grieving, it is someone who has lost a loved one to death, divorce, or a serious illness that may, or may not have, resulted in death. But that isn’t where it ends, is it? Women know that it doesn’t end there…
In the time before Roe v. Wade women of all ages, who, if were found pregnant out of wedlock, and without a suitable boy to marry, were forced into maternity homes and had their children taken away from them. There were not explained the process of grief, they were simply told, they must forget and move on. There would be no talking about it, there was no mention of a pregnancy, or an adoption. It was simply a last minute stay with a sick aunt who needed help. But those women, those women who had their babies ripped from their arms without option, they didn’t have a grieving process… they didn’t get to grieve; they didn’t get to go through the stages with support.
I am ever so thankful, that my adoption took place in 2006, a time when women have the right to choose, the right to be picky, the right to be involved, and the right to make a decision with options. I was given a list of social services that would give a free crib, free clothes, free diapers, free formula, etc. In the time before Roe v. Wade, there was no list of services handed to the unwed mother, only a feeling of shame that was placed on her, and only her; this pregnancy was her doing and she should be made to know so.
In 2006, I got to log onto the internet and search for a couple who I thought would raise my son the same way I would. I got to call them and speak to them with no one else forcing me into this. I got to browse through profiles as if I was looking for the perfect fitting pair of jeans in a Penny’s catalog.  I got to read all about how they spent their day, look at photos of their family, read about the kids they may, or may not already have.
In the time before Roe v. Wade there was no talking to perspective parents, there was no asking who they were, what do they look like, what kind of jobdoes the father have? There was only a pregnancy, a labor and delivery, and a few short days to say good-bye, if you were lucky. There were no follow up visits, no photos, no yearly updates. These children most likely grew up never knowing they were adopted; or if they were informed, they had no record to go back and find their birth mother.
In 2006, I got to share my Doctor visits, and birthing plan with my son’s parents and even his sister’s (my daughter, and theirs). I got to watch as these two sisters, soon to be welcoming a little brother, would take turns finding the baby’s heart beat at the mid-wife checkups.  We would share afternoons together at the appointments, and sometimes dinner, laughing and comparing notes on the relationship we were building. I remember clear as it was yesterday the one time I said to R, “Im still trying to find a reason not to pick you and H, but I can’t find one.” She smiled and said, “Then stop looking!” And, I did.
In the time before Roe v. Wade there were no one to hold your hand at doctor visits, only the doctors who were usually cold and cruel to the “bad girl” who was not in this home for un-wed mothers. There was no sharing the adoption or birth plan with anyone, not even your family. There was no laughing around a dinner table after appointments, talking about hopes for the future. There was only silence.
In 2006, I said hello, and cried, as I had my son placed on my chest, and yelled for everyone to stop when the nurse tried to cut the umbilical cord. Keaton’s Mommy and Momma were in the room during the entire labor and delivery, and I had no intentions on letting anyone BUT his Mommy cut that cord! His Momma was my birthing coach, holding one hand, while my Mom held my other. His Momma coaching me to breath, while my Mom stood close, telling me I could do it, just a little bit more. Both helping me when my emotions wanted to take over and give up.
…. For in this same room, May 10, 2004, I gave birth to a 10 lb. baby boy, Alexander Thomas… my two sons, who would forever change my life.
In the time before Roe v. Wade, there was no joyful delivery, no time to say hello, no one coaching you in breathing. No one encouraged you, and shared in your joys and sorrow. No one was there to help you through it. You were left to your own; you were left to deal with things on your own.
In 2006, Keaton’s Momma and I sat on the edge of my hospital bed, while he lay sleeping in the bed side crib. And we cried with each other; vowing that we would always make sure Keaton knew how much he was loved. She cried because, she knew how hard this was; I love my son so much, I wanted nothing more than to be able to care for him, but I couldn’t. She knew the selfless love I was enduring was the most painful kind. And I knew, she would always make sure that he knew how much he is loved. We shared tears, hugs, and promises to always stay in touch, always visit when the time allows, and always keep each other posted on any life changing events that might be of interest. We talked about what the first visit might look like, or the first phone call. She promised lots of photos and e-mails. And she never broke her promise!!
In the time before Roe v. Wade there was nothing. A room shared with 4 other un-wed mothers who gave birth about the same time as you. You got four cold lonely days in the hospital, with visits with your baby for feedings, and a discharge at the end. There was no contact with the adoptive parents; there were no letters, or photos, no phone calls, or e-mails. There was nothing.
You see, my family knew about the pregnancy, they knew about the adoption, they knew everything. There was so secret; I was not ashamed to say I had this child inside of me, because the more and more I got to know R&H, the more and more I realized, the protection we used, and any other devices we may have had at our disposal would have been no good. This child, Keaton, growing in my belly, was created by God, for R&H, and it was my blessing, and curse, to give this child to them.
The blessing came in the form of a family; I wanted my son to have siblings, and he would. I wanted my son to have a mother who would love him just as much as I would, he got two! I wanted my son to never need or want for anything, and they were able to provide that for them. I was not able to care for this child that God placed in my womb, but I was blessed to find a family, rather, I was blessed to have God point me in the direction of this family, who could.
The Curse is plain and simple; I had to say, good-bye. I have to grieve. Yes, “have” not “had”. As BirthMothers, I don’t believe we ever end our grieving process; open, closed, semi-open, inner-family – I don’t think we will ever stop grieving for the child who once laid in our womb, but never in our home.

You are LOVED,

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Adoption; Then & Now series

I have to admit, when I first found out I was pregnant, adoption was not my first choice. I couldn’t hand my baby to someone who was going to make a 500 yard pass across the hospital to people I didn’t even know! I was only a few weeks along, but I already knew I loved my baby. And I couldn’t just let anyone have him. In the time before Roe v. Wade
I sat down at the computer and figured I might as well look into it anyways, because, as it was, I couldn’t even support my daughter and myself. So, away I went. -> Enter key word, “Adoption”
“Pet Adoption”
“Animal Adoption”
“International Adoption”
“Open Adoption”
“Closed Adoption”
Wait, what is open adoption?
Yep, those two words changed my mind that very minute; Open Adoption.
You can get photos, updates, letters in the mail, and visits?!?!?
I had no idea, not in my wildest dreams that you could visit with the child you gave up for adoption. (Yes, I said gave up, bear with me!)
I remember finding a few websites where you could browse through families like you were picking out a gift for someone. “How strange”, was the only thing I remember thinking. It was like I was shopping for a family for my child. Didn’t the adoptive family usually shop for a baby for their family??
After a few days, I sent a few e-mails, but never got any response. Apparently I wasn’t appealing enough for their taste in breeds.
Then, I found a website for the Independent Adoption Center in Illinois, or the IAC for short. They too, like many of the other web sites, had profiles of families you could browse through. After searching and searching, I finally came across a profile, and there was a family picture of two Mommies, and a daughter from their first adoption; all three with big beautiful smiles and glowing eyes, as if to say “Here we are! We have been waiting for you!!” And waiting they were…

Later I found out that, for some odd reason, their profile had not been working, and had JUST started working the day I started to search on the IAC web site.
Well, I looked, and looked, and looked some more. But I always ended up reading their profile. Finally, I sent an e-mail to them, and H responded within minutes. I was shocked, scared, worried. Now that I made contact, did it mean I had to go through with it? Did it mean they now, by some odd adoption right, had claim to my child?
Well, they didn’t. They made it pretty clear that this was not a legal thing until the baby was born, and they were there, for now, as a resource. Weather I decided to pick them or not, they were willing to help answer any questions I had. And, they did.
The rest if history, or course. Because now, they are, in my opinion, the best parents I could have chosen for my son J
SO, the point is, between then and now, so much has changed. We as a society have grown so much more empathetic. We understand the need for a parent and child to have a bond, Birth or Adoptive.  Yes, Parent, not just the Mother.
I’m sorry, but it’s not just the BirthMother who suffers some sort of loss or grief. I really would LOVE to hear from some Birthfathers who have gone through the process of placing a child up for adoption.
Oh… did you see the change in jargon? Rather than “Giving away” I said “placing”. Yes, because it has changed!
From the early days until now, we have made so much progress in the placement of children in Adoption. Unfortunately, there are instances where the child, for its own safety is taken from the parent, and given (by the agency or church) to an adoptive family. But, when it comes to a mother, who is putting the needs of her child, before the wants of her heart, she is going through this heart wrenching process, of placing her child, in the best home possible, so that they are loved, and cared for.
In the time before Roe v. Wade the mothers didn’t have that option, and the fathers being a part of the decision was mostly unheard of. But now, that’s all changed. While you rarely ever heard of a Birthfather being part of the adoption plan, it does happen. This isn’t 1950 when it was the entire girls fault, and she was sent away as part of the punishment for doing this.
You see, between then and now, so much has changed; the rights, the information given to the birth mother, to the adoptive parents, the involvement of the birth father, the involvement of the families.
I encourage you, if you haven’t already to read the book “The Girls who Went Away” by Ann Fessler, an adoptee from the pre Row v. Wade era. I also encourage you to go back, and read my journey as a birth mother; my ups and downs, the ins and outs. Dig into the involvement I was able to have during the process. Then, come back, and read these blogs, my “Then and Now” blogs, so that you can really see how different things are.
I have pulled a lot of my info from books, and articles and web sites. But I want to hear from people as well. So, if you have a story you want to share, if you are a BirthMother, a BirthFather, and Adoptive Parent, an adoptee, or a member of either the Birth or Adoptive family, come forward and share your story. I would be more than happy to share your story here; I would gladly keep it anonymous and short, sharing as much detail as you wish, or simply one sentence that sums it up for you.
But, if you are able to write, I encourage you to have a blog. Make an alias and create a blog, use whatever name you wish, but please, share your story. If your child is 2 years old, or 62 years old, people need to hear your story, and you need to be heard.
Please, come out; come out, where ever you are.
The time to talk is now; the time to listen is NOW.
This next set of blog titled “Then and Now” are going to look at the differences between adoption Then (In the time before Roe v. Wade) and Now….
I hope you enjoy them!! Please leave comments if you want to add anything!

You are LOVED,

Monday, June 13, 2011

Remembering the BirthMom

I sit here in almost tears, after reading only the first 6 pages of “The Girls Who Went Away: The hidden history of Women who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades before Roe v. Wade” by Ann Fessler.
I beg you, be it that you are a Child of adoption, a Birth mother, Adoptive Mother, or any other family member; read this book!
I was ready to read a stale story of a matter-of-fact adoption where the baby was swept away and there was a long long fight for information. Wrong…
My heart stings were pulled from page 2.
This woman Ann, has, so far as I have learned, a Mother who has a heart that aches for the BirthMother. For the child’s first 3 birthdays there was an extra candle placed on the cake for the mother? I have never heard of such a thing; such a beautiful remembrance of the life being celebrated. A life that has roots somewhere else longing to know if this child is ok; The celebration of not just one life, but two.
Sometimes I wonder if or how the BirthMothers of today are celebrated in the adoptive family.
It hurts to know that some of these families do not even let the child know they are adopted; do they know what they are keeping from them? It is not just about pictures and updates about the child, but there are updates about the birth family as well.
What if there are significant health concerns that are hereditary and could be passed along to the birth child? Or, what if there are health concerns that have arisen in the birth child that the doctor informs the parents, “This is a health concern for future children as well.” That information needs to be passed along.
How can these things be kept?
I applaud those who keep an open adoption, even if it is private. If this is a private intimate relationship the two mothers share, or a forged bond both families have created, it is one that needs to be made.
I understand that there are times when the BirthMother is just emotionally unable to have an open adoption, times when the child who is placed was conceived in a non-consensual way. But health is still a concern; physical, and mental.
I sometimes find myself crying, simply imagining Keaton calling another woman Mommy. But then I remember, I was blessed with the ability to chose his parents. I had months to spend time with them; at doctors appointments, social outings, dinners, etc. We all wanted to make sure this bond was best for him. And thankfully, it was not rushed, it was not a quiet thing, it was not a secret. I was able to speak out about it, and be loud about it.
I may not have screamed from the roof tops “I am placing my baby up for adoption!!!” But every time someone asked me how far along I was, and if I was excited, I smiled, said yes, and shared the adoption plan.
I didn’t need anyones approval, I needed more so, to hear it come out of my own mouth. Is this really what I was going to do? Was I really about to hand my child to this couple, and give up all my rights to him? Was I really going to agree to miss out on his first word, first tooth, first step, etc? Was I really willing to do all this, when just 2 years prior, I had given birth to a son, and after it proving to be too much of an emotional strain, lost him to his father? Was I giving up my son?
Giving up?
Giving away?
Saying Good bye?
Leaving Behind?
Left behind…
Left behind is perfect…
I remember sitting on the front porch, leaving my case manager in the dining room of my parent’s house. I wanted them to bring my son home, or I wanted to go with them. I felt like, I was, Left Behind.
I remember crying, thinking, they signed the papers, I hadn’t. I wanted to make them bring him back, I wanted to hold my son a little more, I wanted to sing to him once more, I wanted to feed him again, I wanted to count all his fingers and toes again. I wanted to hold him one last time…
My fear was, they had what they wanted. And as my case manager said, all of the promises we made, the adoption plan we made, it was all on faith and trust. There was no legally binding contract saying they had to send photos, make phone calls, or schedule visits. What if they never called me again? What if they never e-mailed me?
I finally got up, and walked back in, and signed the papers. I had no choice. I had nothing for him here; they had everything for him there.
I couldn’t even provide for my daughter who lived with me. Looking back now, I honestly don’t even know where her clothes or shoes came from. I know everything logical points to my mother providing these things. But, I was never able to provide them.
I remember the night of the entrustment ceremony, I showered, and walked out into the hallway, and heard my mother crying from her bedroom. I walked in, and knew she was crying for her grandson who had left our life. I don’t remember what she said to me, I just remember telling her “The best support you gave me, was supporting my decision.” We both cried for a while, and finally, we both needed sleep.
The first phone call I made was at almost 10pm.
First I said sorry for calling so late, and what I was expecting was rules to be laid out right away; this is when you can call, this is how much notice we need, etc, etc, etc. Instead I got, “Oh girl! We were just watching some DVR shows and feeding the little man.” I was relieved. I cryed, I asked questions, I cried, I laughed, I asked questions. It was as if a million pounds were lifted from my shoulders, and heart.

But, my heart still hurt.
My stomach was still empty.
I still cried.
I still slept with his hospital blanket sometimes.
I still clung to his hospital bracelet.
I still wanted my baby boy home with me.
Well, here I am, almost 5 ½ years later, and all those things still apply; yes, even the baby blanket. If you have read my past blogs you know the journey I have taken, the ups and downs; Not only with the adoption, but with my depression and mental illness as well.
You see, all of these things have built me into the woman I am today; scars and all.
I refuse to be silent and still, I must be loud and on the move; Even if only via my blog.
I applaud all of you birth mothers out there who put the needs of your child before the needs of your heart; and I applaud you adoptive parents who put the needs of your BirthMother right next to the needs of your child. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Adoption doesn't DEFINE me

I find myself going back to this every once in a while.
Reminding myself, and others, that my life isn't just about Adoption.

I also have two other children, and a great big family.

Which this blog focuses on mostly my adoption trials, ups and downs, there are other aspects of my life that others should be aware of.

Kathleen is 8 years old, and the angel in my life. In the darkest days of my depression, her smile and hug and whisper "It will be ok" makes me realize a) how lucky I am, and b) how sadly she has had to grow up too fast. I pray that everything we have been thought as a family, including the adoption, makes her a stronger woman when she grows up.

Alexander is 7, and while he lives with his father about 3 hours away, he is still my shining star. He is truly Daddys little man' loves wrestling and sports, two things I can happily do without LOL.
It is very hard to have an active relationship with him, because they are so far away, and I dont drive. But, I call him when I can, and when its possible. And recently his father and I have been able to open up communications between us, so its been a lot easier. Alex and I used to have short phone conversations, but lately they are getting longer, and more detailed, more fun even. We used to have short 5 minute calls, "How are you?" "Whats new?" "how is school?" "I miss you"
But lately, they have been longer, full of laughs, and smiles, and stories about what we are doing. He is all boy, and not a talker, but when we get on the phone, its like we can open out minds, and close our eyes, and we can be sitting next to each other.

My sister is getting ready to welcome her second baby boy, and her first son is already 15!!
My brother who was on American Idol still dabbles in music, but is settling down more into the work force, as the music industry is not as easy as you may think.
My other brother who was diagnosed with Remissive MS back in October still fights every day to get back to 100% him! He has gone from a wheelchair to using just a cane in just a few short months!
Mom and Dad still live in the same house, and we often use it as the gathering place the family doings 
We will soon be using it for Andrews 27th birthday party!!!

See - My life isn't only about Adoption! Go to my profile and check out all my other blogs!

I have a personal blog about other things as well, so be sure to check there for more about me :-)

I hope to see some new followers on my other blog!

You are LOVED,