Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Keep Sakes

Most people don’t realize that adoptions are a lifelong thing; they don’t just happen at delivery and when you sign the papers. They continue for the rest of your life, and the child’s life.
In my Project Mommy blog (http://projectgoodmom.blogspot.com/) I recently posted a blog on how to keep memories in life, and how photographs and videos just aren’t a safe or sure way to keep those memories for the rest of your life. Well, when it comes to being a BirthMother, sometimes those photographs and videos are all we have. So, we need to keep them and protect them.
When you think of family photo albums, what do you think of? Random pictures, some good, some bad, all clumped into a book that’s kept on the coffee table or book shelves? Maybe, an on-line ordered spiral bound picture book from Walgreens during the half off sale? A Scrap book you spent the weekend crate with your daughter that was put out on display on the coffee table during Christmas?
While these things are a great thing to share, a joy to show off, they aren’t safe. Let’s face it, no photograph or book is. We can do anything we want to try and keep these items safe, but the fact is, anyone could trip or loose balance, spilling coffee, wine, or soda all over the book, ruining at least some of the photos.
So, when we have photos we want to keep safe, what do we do with them? There are a few options.
DVDs. Flash drives, SD cards. But, really, we can’t put everything on these forms of storage.
And if we are being honest, photos of a child you placed for adoption will almost always be more important that your niece shoving her face into birthday cake. Hold on, this isn’t a debate on WHO is more important, it is about what objects are more important.
Well, when we place a child for adoption (open, closed, semi-open, semi-closed, inner-family) there are many moments we will miss of the child’s growing up. The photos we receive from the Adoptive Parents share those moments and memories with us. But, its not just photos, it’s the cards, the letters that come with the photos, and anything else.
After my Birthson was born I found a box from my moms job and I shoved in everything that had to do with him. Papers, folders, hospital cards, life books, scrap books, photo albums, letters to and from his parents, letters to him.
Now, I have this amazing wooden box that holds all of the important things. Things I have received, been given as a gift, or made myself. And now, I would like to share those things with you.
The box itself I got at Pat Catan’s (http://www.patcatans.com/) for only $35. It was the best buy I ever made. You can paint, stain, finish, or varnish them any way you would like, but, I liked keeping mine simple. The plan is, one day, I’ll have Keaton place his hand prints on the box with paint, but nothing more.
Inside I keep Photo Albums filled with pictures that R&H have sent me over the last 4 ½ years.
 I also have a life book I made for him, filled with photos, songs and poems that remind me of him, the paperwork and forms from the adoption

 I also have kept the items I received from both adoption agencies during the matching process
 And I have other cards, packs of photos, and miscellaneous things.

 While my relationship with Keaton and his parents is a good one, I still have to hold on to the memories they are willing to share with me.
 This box may not be a fool proof way to keep them safe – god forbid there is a house fire, my daughter, not the box, would be the first thing I grabbed – it is a way to keep them out of daily harm like spills, muggy boots, dirty fingers, etc.
There are many ways you can preserve photos and keep sakes, this just happens to be the way I keep mine. If you haven’t already, I hope this encourages you to do something for your own memories; be it that of a birth child, adopted child, grandchild, or even a special occasion. The box could be smaller than a show box, or the size of a hope chest, as long as it is special to you, that’s all that matters. 

Meet The Robinsons

I remember when this movie came out. I had no idea it was so strong about adoption, it just looked like a funny movie. As a matter of fact, the only thing I DO remember about the previews was when Luis says, "Your dog wears glasses?" and Grandpa says, "Yea, his insurance wouldn't pay for contacts" Kathleen went around the house saying it for weeks. So, as soon as Alex came up for a visit, I took them both to see it.

Classic!! They both loved it!

But, the movie started to unfold from the opening credits. 

This little boy was "abandon" on the steps of a city orphanage and the movie unravels his young life trying to get adopted with all these interviews with parents looking for a child. He finally gives up, and decided to create an invention that will pull an imagine of his BirthMom from his mind so that he can go looking for her. 

But the invention doesn't work, and soon he is whisked away to the future by a boy who needs his help fixing a time machine. Soon he is in a futuristic world where cars fly, Dogs wear eye glasses, men marry puppets, and family fun is had with Meatball cannons at the dinner table (Dude!! Im there with the cannons, I still want to get one for us!!)

In the end he find out this family is his family as a result of an adoption that finally took place. 

He then returns to the past, as promised by his son, to see his BirthMom before she walked away. 

What he decided to do set the curve for the movie. It was, amazing, heart breaking, and made me so happy. 

The ending credits roll with "These Small Wonders" by Rob Thomas. Dear God, that has to be my #1 song now that reminds me of Keaton. 

anyways, if you havent seen the movie, there is lots I havent told you, GO RENT IT!! GO BUY IT!!! Its a must-see, must-own movie!!

You are LOVED,

A reality Check!!!

I want to take a minute to tell you why I am so pissed with the whole Adoption system. 

These agencies that want to "help" pregnant teens, these agencies who want to help place their babies with loving couples - there is one in specific that I follow on Twitter, and I've started responding to their tweets with my own rebuttal. 

I won’t name the source, but I will list just a few of the Tweets that have started to piss me off. 

First, I've noticed that every day, they Tweet to their followers (for instance, I'll use my handle)

@TeeGurl83 we are a support group of moms who consider adoption. If you know a girl who is pregnant and considering adoption, DM us!

Ok, here is my issue with those tweets - 
Are you a support group for BirthMoms, or Adoptive Moms?
Are you supporting the BirthMoms right to choose, or the Adoptive Parents right to have the baby?
Are you offering all the support available to the BirthMom, or are you just offering them the option to place with a loving couple?
Are you offering support after the adoption, or just during the pregnancy?

Look, I’m sorry, I don’t care if the BirthMother is 13 or 31, and she has a right to know of ALL her sources for support. 

Have you told her about Woman Kind? That they will provide her with a crib, diapers, clothes, etc.?

Have you told her about the possibility of getting cash assistance from her state to help pay for some of the items she may need until she is able to work full time?

Have you hooked her up with a counselor who has been 100% honest with her about the ups and downs, and the grieving process?

Have you told her about the support she may, or may not have after placement?

Have you told her about her "waiting period" after Birth, where she can change her mind?

Have you talked to her about Foster Care, until she is on her feet?

Have you let her know about the laws in her state in regards to open adoption? Does she even live in one of the states that do enforce it?

Have you let her openly chose who will be raising her child, or are you pairing her up with who YOU think suits her best?

My adoption story is completely different that any I have heard, but I think every BirthMom - if they so choose - should have the option to have the type of relationship I had. My adoption isn’t perfect - none ever is; it’s not possible. But I think every woman who chooses adoption, every man who chooses adoption, every couple who chooses adoption - Birth or Adoptive parent - they need to know what the other party truly, honestly, expects. 

On the day my son was to leave the hospital, I sat on the edge of my bed, and I shared some thoughts with his Momma (H), and she cried with me, and she ensured me. "Patty, we will never cut contact, we know how hard this is for you, and I know how much you love that little guy. You are always welcome to come see him; you will always be a part of his life." 

But now, 5 years later, the contact went to several times a year, and pictures twice a year, to once visit since August 2009, and it is now March 2012. What hurts the most is when I e-mail them, and get no response, or when I call but no one calls back (I finally stopped calling). I've toyed with sending a letter in the US Mail, but I don’t want to come off as stalker-ish. I don't know if they have received the e-mails, I only know I haven’t gotten any response. 

<<Back in 2010 the (possible) BirthFather contacted them after his mother hired a private detective to find out who they were and where they lived. This all easily tipped off because my ex gave them identifying information that helped. I was horrified. His mother had been asking me for information, but I strung her along until I got in contact with Keaton's parents to find out if it was something they were willing to do. And of course, they weren’t, which I understood and supported 100%. I am also, almost 100% sure, that this is what caused the halt in contact.>>

Things change, his Momma (H) is a full time student, and his Mommy (R) works full time. In the beginning H was a stay at home Mom and R worked full time but was home for lunches. Now both kids are in school, and they are a busy, all American family. Things have changed. 

No adoption goes as planned - if one did, then I am sure someone would write a book about it and set the bar for future adoptions. 

I believe every BirthMom goes into the adoption thinking the following

- My baby's parents will keep me updated as we discussed (whatever the BirthMom feels comfortable for)
- My baby's parents will never shut me out of his/her life
- My baby's parents will always let me know when anything important happens (medical, mile stones, etc.)
- My baby's parents will always be a part of my life
- My baby's parents will _________________________________________. 
(fill in the blank and leave it in a comment, I would LOVE to know what you always expected from your child’s parents)

I believe every Adoptive Parent goes into the adoption thinking the following

- This is our child now, and we are going to love it more than anyone.
- This is a blessing to our family, we are so happy to have this child in our home.
- The BirthMother will have to understand if we chose to change the openness of the adoption.
- The BirthMother doesn’t need to know everything; after all she placed instead of keeping.
- The BirthMother knew what she was doing; she had access to all her support options. 
- If the BirthMom wants to contact us, she will. 
- This child is ours now, and _______________________________________________.
- The BirthMom ________________________________________________________.
(If you’re an adoptive parent, PLEASE, leave comments below. I am a BirthMom, and I can only go by what MY personal thoughts are.)

And right now, I won’t even venture to think of what my son, or any adoptee would think, but please, post comments below. 

What do you remember about when you found out?
Did you always know?
If not, how old were you when you found out?
Did you have contact with your BirthMom?
Was the contact a positive or negative experience? 
Did you have photos of her?
What about you’re BirthFather?
Did you have contact with him?
Do you know anything about him?

Back to the tweets -
This whole rant was to prove, no adoption goes as planned, and all parties need to know that, even the adoptees when they are old enough!!!!

But sometimes, adoption agencies make the BirthMom feel like she has no other choice, or like adoption is the BEST choice for the child. But what if the BMom would utilize the available resources and could raise the child? 

It makes me sick when people, agencies, or groups make it seem like. "Your child will have such a better life if you place it with this couple who had a 6-digit income" No, bullshit. My daughter lives with my fiancé and I, and our total income is less than $22K a year (that includes our food stamps and my state-disability check). But I can’t tell you how many times I have read comments, or blogs that make me cry thinking, I've cheated my daughter out of some amazing life. 

It makes me feel like a shitty mom because I kept her, and gave Keaton this amazing life. I've even sat there and thought "I wonder if R&H would take Kathleen? I wonder if they could give her the kind of life she deserves to have.

WTF?!?! Are you serious?

YES! I am serious!! This is what a BirthMom goes through. These are the thoughts that go through my mind. Not all BirthMoms have children prior to adoption. But I did, and that’s how I feel when I read some of the post by agencies and groups. 

And here are some of them from the group I mentioned on Twitter.
(Most of their tweets cut off, so if it looks cut of, it is exactly how I copy and pasted it.)

"Adopted children are more likely to live in neighborhoods that are safe, that have amenities and are in good physical condition than are..."

>>> Seriously?? My fiancé and I live in a great neighborhood where Kat is safe to play at the park, and even walk to the corner store on her own.

"Birth mothers are no more likely to suffer negative psychological consequences, such as depression, than are mothers who rear children as..."

>>> Nope, if you’re going to finish that with "as their own", that’s crap. I went through postpartum depression and it lasted a few weeks to a few months. But I placed over 5 years ago, and I still spend days crying, missing him, and wishing he were here with me and my family.

"Birth mothers have higher educational aspirations, are more likely to finish school, and less likely to live in poverty and receive... "

>>> Receive what? Cash assistance? It’s the only thing I can think that would fit as a rebuttal to the term "poverty". I personally would LOVE to know what group of BirthMoms you’re studying. Because according to the US census, d I’ll quote the US Census report from 2012 (pg. 14) “The official poverty rate in 2010 was 15.1 percent—up from 14.3 percent in 2009. This was the third consecutive annual increase in the poverty rate. Since 2007, the poverty rate has increased by 2.6 percentage points, from 12.5 percent to 15.1 percent”. You can’t expect me to believe that any part of this census asked the question “Have you, in the last 10 years, surrendered a child into adoption?” So how do you know what percentage of BirthMoms is, or isn’t living in poverty?

“100 percent of all birth mothers have the right to choose the amount of openness

>>> That’s not true. Only 20 states have laws about open adoption, and not all of them enforce it. The open adoption laws are to protect and help nurture the child, not protect the rights of the BirthMom. When we sign those papers, we have NO RIGHTS to the child, or updates. An open adoption is based on hope and faith, the child’s life, and ours, is now in the hands of the Adoptive parents.

“Well over half of all adopted children eat dinner with their families at least six days per week.

>>> Again, not sure where you are getting these statistics, but of all the kids I know (none of which are involved in adoption) through my daughters school class eat dinner with their parents every night. I for one make sure, even if her Dad is working, that Kathleen and I eat dinner together every night that she is home. So I would venture to say, well over half of children who lives with their biological parents eat dinner with their families (parents) at least six days per week. <I hate that this group is trying to make adoption look so glamorous for the children.>

“Nearly 3 out of every 4 adopted children ages 0-5 are read to or sang to every day, compared with only half of non-adopted children who...

>>> Kathleen & I’s favorite thing to do is read together, and her favorite thing for me to do is sing to her at night. And she is 9 years old. Guess what? Every day (except for the birth of my other children and caring for my AH son) I sang to her, and read to her. I started reading and singing to her when she was just days old. Baby Einstein was my FAVORITE!!!

“There is…nothing to suggest that mothering cannot be shared by several people.” - DM us if you are pregnant and considering adoption <3

>>> But there is. It’s called the law. Once we (BirthMoms) sign over custody it is, like I said before, by hope and faith that we get to share that child’s life with their Adoptive Parents. There is nothing except for our dreams, which tells us we can share parenting. But let’s be honest, when we place, we KNOW we are no longer that child’s parent. And yes, I use the word “Parent” the same as “Mothering” because Mothering is taking care of a child, being a “Mother” can mean anything from giving birth, to raising a child. We, as BirthMothers, know we are giving birth (Lord knows we go through all the emotions from a positive test, to pushing, to holding the child if we choose), but after we sign those papers, we know we will no longer parent those children. And while we may want to take part in the parenting, and we may want to be involved with that, the honest truth is, we won’t be.

“Your children need your presence more than your presents.” – Jesse Jackson, adopted child

>>> I wish someone would drill this into adoptive parent’s heads. I know I chose R&H because they were (and still are) amazing from the day I met them, and still were at our last visit. I remember telling R at dinner one night, “I keep waiting for something to show up that makes me want to change my mind, but I cant. You’re perfect.” Her response? “Well, stop looking!”  But now, I look back and I think of the ups & downs of our life and relationship, and I just think, “How could they do this? How could they cut the communication back to so little? How could they think I would ever do anything to harm Keaton?” Well, the truth is, I chose them because I knew they would always do what they feel is best for him, and I have to trust them. At this time, my presence isn’t as important to them, but I wish they knew how important it was to me.

“Every child deserves a family, love, home and a great life. If you are afraid you cannot provide that for a child, consider adoption.

>>> If you are afraid you cannot provide that for a child, let’s talk about the resources that are out there which could help you. Let’s sit down and logically and realistically think about how much help your family is willing to give. If neither of those things are feasible then let’s explore Adoption, and what that looks like, realistically, not through rose colored glasses.

And these ones really get me;

“We love you mommies who are pregnant and considering adoption. If you direct message us, it is a safe place for you to talk with fellow moms

“Ladies who are pregnant and considering adoption, how are you feeling? Direct message us.

There is no doubt in my mind that being adopted affects parenting in a profound way.

>>> Tweets like the three above really bother me. It’s almost like they are pulling in the pregnant teens in to show them this wonderful, amazing, beautiful world of adoption. But in reality, it’s not like that. There are ups & downs, and there is depression, grief, loss, all associated with placement. Someone needs to be open and honest with these teens.

Side Note – these are all since March 9th (just 4 days)

But now, I have to tell you, in my own experience, from a BirthMom who is 100% completely open and honest about my journey; it is the most emotional rollercoaster I have ever ridden, but knowing my child is being cared for in a way I wasn’t able to, and loved by two people who I chose for him, it is the most amazingly tragic thing I have ever done.

Amazingly tragic because, while I would NEVER change my mind, there is always something I think about, that I wish I had done different.

Like what? I’ll make a blog of it; I don’t think it fits here with this one.

But I hope, and pray, that pregnant teens, or any pregnant woman considering adoption reaches out to various resources to really understand, and get a real view on life as a BirthMom.

Search blogs! Research different blogs! Read Books!

And I encourage Adoptive parents to do the same.

High light spot –

When I was pregnant, I chose a couple before I chose an agency (another blog I will write), and once I got hooked up with their agency (about 4 weeks after communicating with them), the agency then hooked me up with a BirthMoms support group.

The groups name is BirthMomBuds. They are, for lack of a work that fits, amazing, fantastic, incredible, encouraging, supportive, and loving. All those words wrapped up, and then some.

Again, that’s a Blog I will write, according to my own personal experience with the group.
In the end, please, if you are pregnant and don’t know if you can care for the child, look into your resources, and don’t let anyone push you into adoption. You always have the right to change your mind. And you have a right to choose.

You are LOVED,

TeeGurl83 on Twitter

Monday, March 12, 2012

"I have a dream"... The Triad Blog

“I have a dream….” is the start to one of the most amazing speeches, given by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But I think everyone has a dream. My daughter has a dream that she will win the talent show, my fiancé has a dream that “gay marriage” will be legal one day so we can be recognized, my mom has a dream that one day I will be straight (LOL); but I have my own dream.

I have a dream that one day, all members of the adoption triad would come together and understand each other’s walk of life. Sadly, my dream is the hardest of all. Not all members can fully sympathize with the others.

A woman who cannot bear a child is grieving a loss of a child who she cannot birth.

A woman who places a child for adoption is grieving a loss of a child who she bore and placed with another 

A child/adult who was adopted cannot understand fully the reasoning behind their BirthMother placing them, not have they felt the pain of being unable to have a child.

A adoptee who grows up and is unable to have a child, and decided to adopt, or who grows up and has a child that they feel they need to place in adoption for whatever reason – that is the only way they could fully understand the pain, but never the circumstances. Neither of which do I want my son to go through, EVER.

I think the closest we could come to this, and I wish someone would just do it, is write a book, with families who are willing to be fully open about the adoption and the circumstances surrounding it. The parents, and why they chose the adoption path, the BirthMother, and why she chose to place her child, and the Adoptee, and how they felt growing up know, or not knowing, and how they feel, as an adult.

I will always and forever be 100% open and honest with ANYONE who ask about my adoption. When I am asked how many children I have, I proudly say “I have three, Kathleen lives with me, Alex lives with his father, and Keaton was placed in adoption when he was born. But it’s an open adoption, so I get e-mails, photos, visits, it’s really great.”

I’m an open-mouthed advocate for Open Adoption. If it’s possible, and mentally possible for the BirthMom, then I think it should be the only option. But there is only one problem with that – Adoption is legal, the type of adoption, is not.

I remember with my adoption process (which I will go into detail with the next blog) was a long drawn out one. I met Keaton’s parents at only 12 weeks, and they took the whole journey with me. I knew, before our first physical meeting, that they were the ones for  my son. There was no question about it.

Many BirthMom’s grow older, and wish they had made a different decision, but me? I will never change my mind about the women I entrusted my son’s life with.  I chose them and God chose me. I wouldn’t go back on that for anything. I love all three of them, and I know Keaton is right where he belongs.

The situation that brought me to them was so different, so special, so, strange, that there was no other option for me. I can only hope that all other BirthMothers could find such peace with their adoption as I have found with mine.

As ANY relationship, we have had our ups and downs, and I have my insecurities. But I pray on it, and I feel blessed, in the end, to know that I was picked to bless this family with the son they had been waiting for.

In my next blog I’m going to go over my journey again, using clips from my older blogs. I hope it helps you all understand why I found so much peace with my journey. I have had many, many people tell me this adoption is clearly, and completely UNIQUE, and after hearing other’s journey, I have to agree. 

You are LOVED,