Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hindsight - why I chose adoption when I did

Often I am asked why we placed Brit if we so badly want a relationship with her.  A very fair question.

The simple answer is: When we chose adoption we chose a permanent solution to a temporary situation.

BF and I had just started dating.  We had been together a matter of weeks when I got pregnant.  There is no excuse for why.  We are old enough to know better, we are educated, we are responsible in most other areas of our lives.  We simply did not communicate well about this area of our relationship.

When I found I was pregnant we were faced with what we felt like was an unbelievable set of circumstances.  Two people, just getting to know each other, newly divorced, raising 5 boys of our own as single parents.  Both over 35 years old and 'done having children'.  Or so we thought.

BF is an accountant. He is calculated.  He plans.  He rationalizes.  And it takes him a REALLY long time to make a commitment to something/someone.  He has to be certain.

I am impulsive.  I love fast and easily.  I believe all things will work out for the best and that people are good.  I trust and forgive easily.  I deal with things only if I have to.  Denial is a preferred method for difficult situations if at all possible. 

So being unexpectedly pregnant threw both of us for a loop.  It didn't fit into any plan BF had for his life, and I simply did not know what to do about it.  We were overwhelmed.

While it is probably an understood, I think it bears stating.  Pregnancy does not induce the most clear thinking of a woman's life.  Hormones wreak havoc.  Thoughts swirl.  Tears come easily.  Insanity is just below the surface.  Small problems can become huge issues resulting in overreaction.  To say the least.

I just couldn't fathom how I was going to be able to parent the 3 boys I had, plus care for a new baby.  I felt like the weight of bearing that load was oppressive.  And not fair to any of the children involved.  Especially this child.

BF was equally overwhelmed.  The idea of parenting a child with someone he had just started dating (I am quite a catch but he didn't realize it yet, lol), was more than he could imagine.

We had a problem (so we thought), so we had to find a solution.  Abortion was not an option for me so that was quickly eliminated.  So we could parent or place this child with another family.

We found ourselves saying over and over again how we wanted this child to have a set of married parents, just like our boys had when they were born.  We wanted him/her to have an idyllic childhood, like we had planned for our boys.  We both hated the fact that our children were now dealing with divorced parents.  We had never wanted that for any of them.

So if we could give this child an advantage instead of a disadvantage by providing her with a loving, intact family from the very beginning, weren't we doing the right thing for her?

That was our justification.

Brit deserved two married parents, just like her brothers had when they were born.

So we made the decision to place without ever seriously considering parenting.  Parenting just didn't seem to be the logical choice.  We believed we should do the 'right thing' for this child, giving her married parents.

We chose her parents, and began developing our relationship with them.  They became a part of our lives.

The abbreviated version of that story would be: A couple wanted to be parents, heard about us, thought we were the solution to their problem (infertility). We saw them as the solution to our need for a married set of parents for our child. 

It was as simple as that.  They were good people, the kind of people we thought would be great parents.  They were like us.  They were willing and able to do what we thought we could not.

Now for the hindsight...

BF and I should have spent alot of time talking about parenting.  We should have let our hearts realize that this was OUR child.  We should have only considered parenting until we could justify why we couldn't parent.

I did not do adequate research.  Once I made the decision that adoption was our choice, I did not want to read horror stories.  I didn't want to hear about anything that would conflict with what I believed would be a fairy tale ending to this story.  So I stopped reading anything except happy adoption supportive literature.

Brit's parents were not done dealing with infertility.  They knew they wanted to be parents.  Adoption was the next logical solution to make that happen.  They had not had any pre-adoption counseling.  They had just begun inquiring about adoption.  They had barely had a chance to process what parenting an adopted child would entail.  I believe they were not yet prepared for becoming parents through adoption (just like we were not prepared to become 'birthparents').  They were ready to be parents.  But being adoptive parents takes a whole heap of fortitude that not everyone is able to handle, especially without professional advice before you enter an adoption relationship.

BF and I had no idea what having a child who we would not be able to have a relationship with would do to us as people.  We had no idea how strong the desire would be for us to have a relationship with our child after she was born. We were convinced this would be a neat and tidy situation.  Child has parents, parents love baby, we are happy for all of them and their perfect world. 

I should have not become so emotionally vested in my relationship with Brit's adoptive mother.  Because every time I had thoughts about keeping Brit, I thought about how it would hurt her mom and I didn't want to hurt her/them.

Although we saw two separate counselors repeatedly, I should have found someone who had extensive birthparent experience.  I should have sought wise counsel.

There are so many more things I could list here.  But it all comes down to this...

If only we would have known then what we know now, the decision would have been different.


BF and I should be parenting Brit.  We should have parented her from the beginning.  We should not have ever entertained the idea of adoption.  We are capable, experienced parents and we should have just pulled ourselves up and said, we can do this.  It might not be ideal, but we can do this.

I am not anti-adoption.  I do believe there are some people who should not or cannot parent children, whether or not they give birth to them.  But what I have realized is that if at all possible, keeping a child with his or her birth family should be the very first choice.  Even if it is hard.

But if it cannot be done, for reasons that are more than just temporary, then the child should still be allowed a relationship with his/her first family.

I made what I thought was the logical choice for Brit's well being based only on the circumstances as they presented themselves at that time.  There was SO much more to consider.  We thought we were doing the right thing.

BF and I are good parents.  We are good providers.  We love our children.  We should have spent more time focusing on that.


The adoption decision is irrevocable (especially in Kansas, there is absolutely no recourse.  Papers are signed 48 hours after birth and there is no revocation period.).

My daughter is being raised by a different family.  That is the reality.

All we can do now is try to make this the very best situation for her.  The decision was made.  Right or wrong.  It's over.

I will not undermine her parents.  They are her parents now.  I will support them, and love them.  That's what families do.  I will do my part to make this the very best relationship I can.  Even when it's hard.

I have no blame for anyone but myself.  I made the decision.  I am now living the consequences of that decision.  The regret and grief is self-inflicted.

So onward. 

Now, we are going to do everything in our power to be available to that little girl.  We are going to work on our relationship with her parents.  We are vested.  We will not just give up on the idea of an open adoption just because it is hard.  Families work through relationship struggles.  We are committed to filling whatever role we are allowed to have in the life of sweet Brit.  We are going to continue to love her to pieces.  And hopefully, that will not have to be from afar.

Final thoughts:
Please do not read the preceding and make any assumption that I am against adoption.  There are people who should be parents.  People who may not give birth to a child, but who love the child in their life as if they did.

Adoption is not an innately bad thing.  On the contrary, I believe that adoption can be a beautiful thing.  I derive so much joy from reading about my friends who have beautiful, healthy, open adoptions.  Not perfect adoption relationships.  But they make the best of what they have.  Just like any of us do as parents.  They respect the role of everyone in the adoption relationship and they are child centric, focusing on what is best for the child, not just what is least painful for the adults.

Because of my research and now very personal interest in adoption relationships, I have also developed a heart for children in foster care.  Those children DESERVE families who love them.  Forever families.  I am so thankful there are good people who are willing to take on that role for those children.

There are no manuals for life (with the exception of the Bible, which I should read more!).  We are all just trying to do the best we can, adapting as we go along.

Life is complicated and people are messy.  We are all doing what we think is best. 

And everyone should be treated with a little more grace and compassion.  Everyone.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Being a birthmom at Christmas = emotional trainwreck at any given moment

The boys showing off their new bags
As a whole we had a great Christmas.  The boys got along beautifully and got everything their hearts desired.  My BF absolutely stepped up this Christmas season, welcoming me and the boys into his home for an entire week, making us all feel like the family we plan to be someday.  He was so good to all of us, generous and inclusive.  I think I may have fallen even more in love with him as the week progressed.

While it was good and happy most of the time, I will admit, I had a few breakdowns. 

The first was at the beginning of the break when it became apparent that we would not be seeing Brit this holiday season.  We were hopeful that it would work for her family to come over and let us give her the gifts we chose for her (and a couple for her siblings).  However, the week of Christmas we finally got a note from them saying their schedule just didn't allow the time.  It was very hard on both BF and me.  We had both been very hopeful that it would work out.  We had waited several weeks to see if our request for them to join us for a little time would be doable.  Apparently it just didn't work for them.

So we mailed the gifts.  Mailed them to their home, which happens to be about 7 miles from our home.  It broke our hearts.  ALOT.  BF did a great job consoling me.  It required holding me as I sobbed for hours until I finally fell asleep.  Followed by a second day filled with tears at work.

But I had to move on.  We have a house full of boys who are here with me now who needed me to pull it together.  So I did.

Many happy memories were made before breakdown number two.

As we were getting ready to leave the house to head to BF's family Christmas, BF handed me the photo book that I had created for both of our mothers which included a year full of pictures of Brit.  He said to me that we should probably wait until later to give it to his mom. So let's guess what that started?... Yep, the floodgates.  He was right.  The nieces and nephews at her house would be confused because they barely remember me being pregnant.  And explaining who the baby was in the pictures would be complicated. Timing would be better later.  BUT.  That was all I needed to go into orbit. 

I already missed Brit dearly that Christmas Eve, and suddenly I had a catalyst to start the tears.  Again, BF wrapped his arms around me and told me he knows this is hard.  I cried for a few minutes, walked around out in the cold, pulled myself together and headed over to his mom's.  I also partook in a glass of wine which calmed my nerves enough that I could participate in holiday festivities.

Again, we enjoyed a nice Christmas Eve and when we woke up Christmas morning I did pretty well.  Until after all the boys' stockings were unloaded and they all scattered to their rooms.  As soon as they were out of sight, I found myself back in bed, curled up in a ball, crying softly into my pillow.  BF came looking for me after a while and again, just held me until it passed.  All I could think was that we were missing someone.  Everything was not OK.

I am so glad that he realizes that there is no fixing this.  Nothing he can say or do will make it better.  My heart is missing a piece.  It is gone and there is a painful hole there.  Most of the time I can function covering the hole with being busy.  But when family events happen, and we have all of our children together, I feel like there is a ghost child missing.  And unfortunately I cannot call her, or see her to reassure myself that everything is OK.

I know that Brit is loved and well cared for.  But I miss her and want to know her personally.  We love her too.  And I wish she knew us.  I wish she knew her brothers.

Sunday night I woke up from a deep sleep because I was dreaming of Brit and I realized I have no idea what her voice sounds like.  I couldn't go back to sleep with the nagging feeling of how I just needed to see her.  To know her.

I know that how things are today are not necessarily how they will always be.  That this distance between Brit's family and us may not always exist.

But living through this is really painful.  And waiting is so very hard.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

To all who have read my blog, commented or just prayed silently for me,

I appreciate all that you have and continue to do to encourage me.

You have all been so kind and supportive, thank you.

I will admit that I have done little but cry for almost 24 hours.  But the few moments of joy that I am able to salvage from my day generally involve words of encouragement from all of you.

I am trying very hard to hand this over to God because I am not doing a good job of bearing the burden on my own.

Yet, I find that being here, in this ocean of grief is a hard place to leave when you don't see anything but ocean all around.

Thank you again for the prayers, for all of us.

Truly that is the only thing that will change what exists here.

I cannot do it on my own power.  I cannot WILL someone to extend me grace.  I cannot beg for someone to WANT to have a relationship with me.

So I have to let God handle that. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Thank you my adoptive mom friends

I really did think I was better.  My thoughts were clearing and I had hope for my future relationship with my daughter's parents.

Then it hit again.  I felt as if I was standing on a train track enjoying the beautiful day, and BAM the train strikes me as I stand still.

It is a paralyzing feeling to know that as a birthparent you have absolutely no 'rights' in the adoption relationship.  You can only be the recipient of good will. 

So you have to just sit back and hope that good will is extended to you.  Sometimes it is, and other times you are hit by a train.  Either way, you must grin and bear it.  Because this is what you chose when you chose adoption for your child.


I am trying to brush off from my emotional train wreck and figure out what good can come from this latest bout of pain and heartbreak.  And one thing surfaced immediately.  There are some super great adoptive moms out there who 'get' open adoption.  They are moms whose hearts are filled with love for not only their children, but for the families of their children.

And when my heart break is really bad, I appreciate how each of them dusts me off and says, "This is not how it should be. What is happening here is not how adoption works best."

They give me virtual hugs and encouragement.  And they remind me that adoption can be beautiful and not just heartbreaking.

So below is a letter to my adoptive mom friends who understand the precious relationship that they have with their child's birthparents.  I am so grateful for all of you and the love and support you extend me in my darkest hours.

To my dear adoptive mother friends,

First and foremost, thank you for loving our children.

Thank you for making the conscious decision to open your heart to more than just a child.  But instead opening your heart to the child and his/her entire family.

Thank you for having a tender place in your heart that makes you desire to invest in knowing your child's birth families, and allowing your hearts to love them, warts and all.

Thank you for not allowing insecurity or our selfish human nature get in the way of a meaningful relationship with your child's birthfamily.

Thank you for understanding that we (birthparents) are all flawed people who will let you down, say things that hurt, and do things that you may not understand.  Thank you for forgiving us anyway.  Often many times over.

Thank you for not listening to the nay-sayers who tell you that this is YOUR child and you don't need to have a relationship with his/her birthfamily.

Thank you for putting your child's needs first, even when it is tough.  And scary.  And not easy.

Thank you for realizing that your hard work and painful investment in a relationship with your child's birthfamily will pay dividends later.  Maybe much later (after many heartbreaks of your own), but in the end, it was the right thing to do.

Thank you for seeing the beauty in us for who we are to your child; the child's first families.

Thank you for doing the right thing, and not necessarily the easy thing, even when given the chance.

And finally, thank you for educating others about how beautiful open adoption can be. 

With heartfelt love,

An appreciative birthmom

Below are links to three of the most encouraging women who have helped me through some of the hardest days of my life.  You are all such amazing women and mothers.  THANK YOU!




Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Friends through shared grief

This morning I pulled up one of my favorite blogs The Chronicles of Munchkinland which is written by another birthmother.  Jenna is real with her words.  She has a great open adoption relationship with her daughter and her daughter's adoptive mother.  Even so, she is like so many of us and often debilitated by grief.  I appreciate that she shares how her adoption relationship impacts not only her, but also her children and husband.

Today she was posting about her reaction to an episode of GL.E.E. Click here for the full blog post.

I don't watch the show, but I understand it is currently dealing with a teen birthmother who has been very erratic with her behavior about her child (another hot topic here in blogosphere).  You probably know the storyline better than me, so I will just leave it at that.

Jenna's comments today about this fictional birthmother resonated to my soul. Tears streamed down my face as I read them.  I would like to think these are not universal truths about all birthmothers, but I must say that from the ones I have interacted with, these statements are so very true.

In her post, Jenna is referring to the birthmother character in the show, and she says...

"Yes, she’s hurting. Yes, she’s a freaking mess. You don’t relinquish your child without some kind of freaking mess. The best of us are able to talk it out with unbiased counselors who have experience with birth parent grief and loss. The worst of us… they don’t make it. The ones in between, the majority of us, try to find ways to piece it all together, to make it work, to enjoy the good, to grieve the bad, to somehow make some sense of the hurt, the pain and the fear. Some of us hide the freaking mess better than others.

Sometimes even those who are masters of disguise fall apart in public sometimes when we’re poked or prodded or put on display as some kind of role model — for the good or the bad.

And I can assure you that not one of us wants to be a freaking mess.

I don’t enjoy the hole in my heart. I don’t like how, as her* birthday draws near (*note, her daughter), my first instinct is to hole up within myself, curl into a ball and hold very still until it all passes. I don’t wish this pain, this hurt, this emptiness on even my worst of enemies.

I understand those who lash out in anger. I understand those who put on the happy face. I understand those who turn to alcohol or drugs. I understand those who put on the ambivalent face of disinterest."
Jenna continues with the lament of my heart. She encapsulates the loneliness and longing that I have for someone to help me live through the pain of a child lost.

 "I understand that all of that comes back to the hurt, the ache and wanting someone, anyone — just one damn person — to understand how it feels. To ask you if you’re okay. To sit in silence with you as you stare at her picture on her birthday."
Her words cut to my soul.  She said out loud the things that my heart screams.

I am thankful that I have connected with a friend here in blog land that fits the bill as that person who understands.  I know I can call or text her on those dark days and she will not tell me that it will all be OK, because we know it is not OK.

I am one of the lucky few.  If you can consider it lucky at all.

And if you asked either one of us, we would both tell you that we wish that we never had this common reason to become friends.  We are over 1,000 miles apart, but bound at heart by a grief that thankfully few others can understand.

So in the spirit of thankfulness, I will say, I am thankful for my friend W's Birthmom.  And the other blog friends I have met here.

There are many of you.  Some birthmothers, some adoptive mothers.  Others are just people who have found my blog and prayed for my heart and encouraged me, simply because they were touched by my story.

But today, my heart is heavy for all of us who have relinquished a child and are now living with the consquences of that decision. I wish I could sit in silence next to each one of you as we all hold the pictures of our children and we greive their loss.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dear Brit, I'm sorry.

Dearest Brit,

It is the holiday season again. Thanksgiving just past, Christmas looming around the corner and Halloween is a not-so-distant memory.  It is a great time of year to be a kid.

Last year at this time, I was pretty much a mess.  I haven't gone back to look at my posts from that time, but I know for a fact that tears were my mainstay.  I missed you so much and wanted you with us so badly.

I must say, not much of that has changed.  I cry less (just because I think my tear supply is permanently diminished).  But the the longing for you is the same.

While it might seem silly, Halloween was hard this year.  There were a few reasons why, but one at the top of the list was because we didn't get to see you all dressed up.  We had all the boys, in costume and together.  But you were missing.

I know your parents took you out and you had a blast.  They told us about it about a month later when we got our monthly update about you.  But for weeks preceding, your (birth)father and I talked about what we thought you might be dressed up as and how you would like walking around getting candy. And the night of Halloween we sure thought about you and wondered how it was going.

This weekend when we were celebrating Thanksgiving, I found that while I have so much to be thankful for, my thoughts always come right back to you and how I wish you were here with us.

Your brothers D and LanMan - your cousin A also at the table.
If you look closely your (birth)father is in the background.
 I wanted you to be making gingerbread houses with your brothers at Nana's house. 

LanMan with your cousin B
I wanted you to be running around with your cousin who is 2 weeks younger than you.  I wanted to hear the two of you talking to each other in that language that toddlers speak to each other while playing with toys. 

I wanted to hold you on my lap while you napped from shear exhaustion from all of the busyness of the day.

Instead of that, when we took pictures, you were missing.  You didn't get to sit at the table with us.  You weren't rolling around on the floor playing with your brothers.  We weren't passing you around from aunt to aunt, oogling over how positively adorable you are.

Me and all my sisters (your aunts) and my mom (your gma)
Thankfully our family doesn't pretend like you don't exist, just because you aren't here.  We all love you so much.  We talk about you and what your parents have told us you are doing now.  We look at your pictures.  We speculate about what it is like to hear your voice.  We talk about how very cute you are and how you look like us.  And of course, all of your aunts ask time and again when I think we might be able to see you.

I sure hope that my counselor is right when she says that the way things are right now is not necessarily how they will be forever.  I don't know if I can bear the thought of not having a relationship with you for much longer.  And you are only 20 months old!

I am glad you have great parents who adopted you.  I know they take very good care of you and that you are happy.  For that, I suppose I am thankful.

But I won't pretend that I don't want a do-over when it comes to choosing to let you be raised in a different family.  The problem is, there are no do-overs with adoption.  We chose that path for you and now we are all living the consequences.  Thankfully your consequences are unnoticeable right now.  You are young and happy.  We are the only ones visibly grieved by your loss.  I do know that this will not always be the case.  As time goes on, you will be the one who is conflicted and forced to deal with all of the issues that are inherent to those who are adopted.

I would guess that someday you are going to wonder how we felt about our decision to place you with another family. I hope that you know that just because we chose adoption when we did, it does not mean we ever stopped loving you or that we didn't think about you all day, every day.

We all miss you.  Every one of us.  Adoption has not just changed me, but it has changed all of us.  Your (birth) father, your brothers, your grandparents, our extended families and even our closest friends.  We miss you.  We wish you were here with us, part of the family you were born into.

But you are not with us.  You don't get to share in the family get-togethers.  And it is our own fault.  We did what we thought was best for you at the time.  Unfortunately we didn't realize the consequences of that decision.  We were wrong.  We could have and should have raised you.  But we can't fix it now. 

What we can do is be ready and available for the moment when we are allow a little access to you by your parents.  And we hope and pray that once you are capable of having a say in it, that you will want to have a relationship with us too.

Now to be clear.  This has little or nothing to do with your adoptive parents.  They are so good to you.  They love you and care for you just exactly how we wanted you to be loved by two married parents.  They are excellent parents as far as we can tell (and we believe it to be so).  All that I am saying is that I wish you would have stayed with us.  Even if it was hard.  Even if we weren't married and you had to be shuttled between two homes.  In hindsight, that is nothing compared to the complication we have created by choosing a completely different family to raise you.

Me and your (birth)father at Jessica's wedding
So please know my dear, sweet Brit, we have loved you every single day.  If we could, we would rewind and make alot of different decisions.  The greatest of those being never letting you go.  I am so sorry that this is your reality now and that we are the ones responsible for it.  We are going to do everything in our limited power to make this adoption story turn out the very best it can.  We want only the best for you.

I hope that we are so available to you that you never wonder about our love and commitment to you.  I hope that you are allowed time with our family so you can know first hand all of your family and how much we all love you.  If there is any way to make this adoption story happy for you, we will do whatever it takes.

We love you dear Brit.  More than can ever be put to words.


Your first mother

P.S.  On a single happy note, I got more Christmas gifts for you last night.  Your (birth)father and I have already been shopping for you for several weeks (he actually bought your first present without me around!).  We finally figured out what gift to get you this past weekend and last night I found exactly what we were looking for.  When I bought it, I immediately went over to his house and had to show it off.  We can't wait for you to get it.  Maybe we will even get to see you open it, maybe...

Friday, November 18, 2011

My interview

I thought I would ad a link back to the post of the interview I did with Sheeps Eating Me.  I know I mentioned it before, but it was just great being paired with someone who totally embraces open adoption.

Getting to know this momma made me smile.

My interview with Sheeps Eating Me

Thursday, November 17, 2011

There are good men in adoption

Just a quick thing I thought about today.

I love that BF and Brit's father have a relationship.  Albeit a manly relationship which includes little talk about feelings, just sports talk and casual interaction.

They text and email each other about Brit's dad's coaching experiences and about football.  You know, boy stuff.

But when the going gets tough, it is those two who calm the mommas and work together to figure out a solution.  It usually includes a beer, but I love that too.  When the going gets tough, they step up.

I don't have to tell BF to be involved.  He will make a first move.  Now, he doesn't do it often, but that is the difference between an impulsive Lisa and a calculated BF.  He shows through actions that he is committed to being a good birthfather to our daughter.  She is one of his own, even if she is growing up in another home.

I am lucky that I have a BF in my life who wants to stay connected to his daughter's father.  And even more lucky that our daughter has a father who is willing to communicate with us directly.

Men in adoption get very little credit.  I am proud of the two men in my adoption relationship.  Both of them are willing to show that they love that little girl.

It makes my heart happy.  Brit is very lucky.

Open Adoption Blogger Interview Project - November 2011

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2011

I have never done an online interview project before.  But for someone who loves to get to know people, this project was amazing.   I signed on for the Open Adoption Blogger Interview Project sponsored by Heather at Production Not Reproduction and let me tell you, it was great!

I was matched with a mom who blogs at Sheeps Eating Me.  Sheeps Eating Me and her partner are parenting two children with special needs who they adopted through domestic adoptions.  One was infant adoption, the other adoption through the foster care system.

Sheeps Eating Me is beautifully flawed, just like all of us and I love how she is honest and forthright.  She is also committed to open adoption, even from the foster care system. 

Parents who are committed to open adoption are all heroes in my eyes.

Below are the questions I posed to Sheeps Eating Me and her answers.  All of you who read my blog know I am wordy, so I apologize in advance for the length of our interview. 

I also have highlighted a couple of things that she said that I found incredibly profound.  I just love her approach to adoption.  It overjoys my heart to see a mother who really gets the spirit of open adoption.

I was struck by the following paragraph in one of your posts…

“I suddenly understood that I could never get in the way of my own children having that experience*. I didn’t know yet how I was going to get out of the way (6 years later I’m still learning that) but I was very clear that I would support my children in whatever way they needed to get to see that they smiled just like their own mother.”

*referencing that while sitting across the table from her mother, Sheeps Eating Me realized that they share the same smile

You state that you aren’t sure how you were going to ‘get out of the way’ so your child(ren) could know their own mother.  Two parts of that are intriguing to me.  First, the getting out of the way idea.  And secondly, that you call your son’s birthmother his mother. 

Do you find that you still have to make conscious decisions and/or be deliberate to have your son ‘know’ his birthfamily, or has time made this easier with the building of relationships?

While I think the flow of the relationship is much more natural than it was a few years ago, my son is young enough - and we live far enough away - that we have to be pretty deliberate about making sure he knows his family. We talk about them all the time, and try to make a point of doing it often outside of the context of adoption. So he'll sing a song, and then I'll say "You have a great singing voice. You must have gotten that from Mommy C. - she's a great singer." I hope as he gets older that he'll be able to take more of the initiative, but for now it still needs quite a bit of facilitation. Since we adopted my daughter through foster care a year and a half ago, we have slowly started to open the relationship with her family, and she's young enough that I don't think she's quite getting it yet. My hope is that eventually they will each have independent relationships with their families and I'll be able to take on the role of supporting those relationships in whatever way makes sense.

How do you refer to the children’s birth parents?  Are you uncomfortable calling them ‘his mother’ or ‘his grandparents’?

Our congregation has a slogan that reads "say what you mean and mean what you say." We've used that to be very deliberate about what we call all the people involved, and decided that, in talking with our children, there was no need to use names to distinguish legal vs biological relationships. So we talk with our children about how lucky they are to have 3 moms - their Mamadee, their Mama, and Mommy C. or Mommy J. (depending on which of our kids we're talking to).
Sometimes people ask if our children get confused by this, but usually it's the adults who are confused. For the kids, it's just more people around to love them.

I have an exceptionally close relationship with my ex-husband’s first wife.  It developed while I was married to him. During that time she and I became close friends.  We realized that we both loved the same children.  She loved my kids just as I loved hers. 

I found that there was no rivalry about who was the ‘real mom’ because she and I both trusted the other to support each other.  We knew that no matter whose physical custody the child was in, we both would make parenting decisions based on the best for the child. 
I never felt like she was resentful of me as the step-mother because I was good about preserving the role of mother for her.  While I parented her children (and loved them like my own), I knew she was their mother and I respected her role that way.  (I hope that all makes sense.  It is a bit wordy and awkward.) 

I think I would say we learned a mutual respect for each other and the unique role we each had in the lives of the children we were raising.

I know that adoption is not like step parenting, as the child is not being parented by the biological parent.  But I firmly believe there are similarities when it comes to respect and unique roles we each have in the life of the child.  With that said…

Do you think that since your children have two mothers in their immediate household it is easier for you to embrace the birthmothers of your children, as you can see how each mother brings something different and unique to the child?

Yes!  Every couple has to work out their roles in a co-parenting relationship, and when there are 2 moms involved, there are some unique aspects of this. So when there are 3 moms there are ways in which it can feel like an extension of that same process.  We are 3 very different people, and while I wouldn't want to speak for my son's Mommy C., I can say that both my partner and I have been very aware of the different things the 3 of us bring to our son.

One thing my daughter shares with her mother is that they are both Deaf. While we have and will continue to do everything we can to make sure she grows up feeling part of the Deaf community, we will always be supportive allies - I hope that she'll be able to connect with her mother as someone who shares this really significant piece of her lives. This isn't something we could ever give her.

I loved your post about mourning the loss of an idea of what your life or future would have looked like.  I find myself having to rewrite my history all the time.  And it is very painful some times.
My greatest area of mourning is for the relationship I envision having with my daughter vs. the reality of what is.  The following statement from you blog hit me like a ton of bricks.

“I’m trying to forgive myself for mourning, even when it seems pointless. I had a story in my head, and I can’t just let go of it all at once.

I want to learn how to let myself mourn and see the real stuff at the same time.”

I would guess that adoptive parents, even those who do not have a child with special needs, probably deal with the loss of how they thought their family would be created.  Even you stated in your blog that you just assumed you would give birth to your first child and adopt subsequent children.  You had to process that you would not give birth but would instead create a family through adoption alone.

After years of having to practice mourning and moving forward at the same time (so as not to miss the beauty of today), have you found that it gets easier or is grieving the ‘what could have been’ still just as hard today?

I am still such a work in process on this one, but yes, it gets easier. As far as adoption goes, once in a while I think about what it might be like to have a child who looks like me, but honestly I have these two lovely streaks of energy moving through my house and my life all day long and I can't possibly imagine loving another being more than I love these two. Any of those fantasies are just passing thoughts. It took me about 2 weeks of real soul-searching before I was able to let go of the fantasy of giving birth to my first child - so that was not a terribly hard one for me, though I know it is for many people.

In terms of parenting children with special needs, it does feel different. I admit that every time one of my children runs up against a new obstacle, I wish their lives were easier. And there are many times, like when we're fighting with a school system over services, when I wish our lives were easier too. This is definitely a place where the grieving is harder for me to let go of - which is kind of ironic, given that we were actually looking for a Deaf child for our second adoption. I was shocked a few months after her placement to realize that I was mourning, because I had walked into the situation with - I thought - my eyes wide open.

Do you think that adoptive parents have to do this mourning and moving on more than biological parents just based on the nature of adoption?  If so, is there any advice you would give a prospective adoptive parent to prepare them for this?

I would certainly think that's the case for folks who have dealt with infertility, but not having been through that process I can't really speak to that. One thing I can say about this, having talked with a number of friends who have turned to adoption after infertility, is: you really need to be okay with parenting a child you have no biological connection to. If you're still holding out a secret (or not-so-secret) hope that you'll get and stay pregnant, it's hard to muster the emotional energy you need for an adoption process without getting resentful. There's a real difference between turning whole-heartedly to something that was not your plan A and turning to something as a second choice. You don't ever want your child to feel like they were your second choice.
In terms of open adoption, I think coming to an acceptance of the fact that you will never be your child's only family is really critical. You don't even have to understand everything that means before you adopt (I can't imagine how you would), but I think understanding that different parents play different roles in your child's life, and that this doesn't threaten YOUR connection to your child, is tremendously helpful.

You reference how you worry that the last visit you had with your son’s biological family might be the last, so you want to capture every detail of it to share with him.  Your statements and actions indicate that you believe that maintaining your children’s biological relationships is critical to your children’s wellbeing.  You even mention that you worry that some day it could suddenly end.  Obviously you are irrationally committed to open adoption.

Why do you believe that open adoption is so important to for your children?

I DO feel like maintaining these relationships is critical to my children's well-being, though I want to be clear that I believe that the *spirit* of openness when a truly open relationship is not possible is also important. Throughout adolescence and as an adult, I've been constantly learning new things about different family members that teach me more about myself and help me feel rooted. When my son developed a rash after someone gave him shrimp, the first thing we did was call his mom, who reported that she gets the same rash when she eats shellfish. And when we met my daughter's aunts, they told us that, like my daughter, they all refuse to wear their hearing aids. Of course adoptees can have a similar experience with their adoptive families, since it's not all about nature, but nurture is only part of the story too. Everyone should be able to know who they are and where they came from. 

Even beyond that, my wife and I have talked for years about the day when one of our children asks why they're not with their biological family, and we can say "let's call them and talk with them about it." We can talk a blue streak about how much their families love them and why they didn't "keep" them, but I want our children to be able to hear it from their own parents. They deserve that.

Do you have boundaries, spoken or unspoken, that you know would cause you to discontinue maintaining a relationship with their birth families?  If so, what would those be?

Safety is the obvious one. My daughter, unlike my son, was removed from her family's care by the foster care system, so we were (and still are) very cautious in our approach to ensure that we were not opening the door to anything unsafe. But given the relationship we've slowly developed with her mom over the past year (on Facebook), we don't have any reason to think that there are safety concerns.

I think when they're little it's easy to tell what's safe. As they get older - particularly if they develop more independent relationships with their families, I imagine it will get a lot harder to ascertain what is safe, and of course we won't have our fingers in every detail the way we do now.

It's very difficult to imagine other reasons to end my children's relationships with any family members by birth or adoption.

This is by far my favorite entry that I have read from your blog.  I firmly believe these words and thoughts should be shared with every adoptive family.  You encapsulate so well how open adoption is a lifelong commitment.  The good and the bad.  We all must hang in there.  For the sake of our children, we cannot throw in the towel.  I love these statements…
“The director of the adoption agency said to us: “It’s a long life.” Meaning, in open adoption, things can change. Hang in there. Wait it out.

They feel like family. It hasn’t always been easy to navigate, and there have been times when we couldn’t reach them, times when we went a few months without contact. But for five years, they’ve hung in, and we’ve hung in, and we’ve stopped worrying that they’ll disappear.

We’ve all stopped being afraid of each other. This relationship that I was terrified of in theory – before we did our home study, before we knew anyone living open adoption, before we laid eyes on the people who made us parents – is one of the most gratifying ones I’ve ever had.”

I love what you wrote here "for the sake of our children we can't throw in the towel." It's almost like an in-law relationship, in that you may adore them, you may hate them, but for better or worse someone you would give your life for came from them. So you make it work because it isn't about you.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Date night with the new old man

Tonight is the first date night BF and I have had since we reconciled.

I cannot wait.  We have talked about it for 2 weeks now.

I'm afraid I may have set the bar high.  But this new BF that I am dating, he might just pull it off.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Brit's OBC

After Brit was born, I sent off to get her birth certificate.  Because adoptions in Kansas are not completely final until 30 days after TPR, I had a short window of opportunity to be legally entitled to it.

So I made my online request and paid the fee.

Around the time she was legally adopted by her parents, I received it in the mail.

Because I did that, my daughter will always have her OBC.  No legal system can prevent her from getting it, because I got it for her.  Thankfully my state will allow her to get it when she is 18, but if she ever wanted to see if before then, her birthfather and I have it in our hands.

I am so glad I did that.  So glad I had the mental clarity during the darkest hours of my life to realize I could and should get her birth certificate.

It now rests protected in BF's safe deposit box.  And we have a scanned copy of it too, just in case.

It makes me so happy to look at it and see her name with BF's last name.  And to see our names listed as her mother and father.

Looking at it reminds me of the nasty registrar who insisted I give her my last name.  BF was sitting right next to me, and she made a big stink about how a baby born to an unwed mother should have the mother's last name.

Thankfully I was not an impressionable teen mother.  I looked at her and said that he is her father and we want her to have his last name.  I also told her that even though he didn't have to, I wanted him to sign it.  I wanted Brit to have both of our signatures on that birth certificate.

She silenced and we filled it out exactly how we wanted it.

So there birth registrar.

It is amazing how much a simple birth certificate document can mean to a person.

Now if only everyone could have access to their OBC...

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Had a busy weekend enjoying the 'new' relationship with BF.  Not sure where he found all of this attentiveness, but I LOVE it.  It is like dating a new man, but with 2.5 years of history together.  I almost hate to speak of it out loud for fear of jinxing it, but it has been so very nice.

So while sitting at one of D's football games this weekend, I receive a text message with photo from BF.  And what is the picture of?... BRIT!

Apparently her dad sent BF this picture of her playing in gma and gpa's backyard.  It is adorable.  But it is the fact that he sent it that is so overwhelming to me.

Brit's dad was thoughtful enough to send a quick text with a picture of Brit to us, unrequested and unexpected.  They have never ever sent us a picture via text before.  All of our correspondence has been via email and according to schedule (for the most part).

But yesterday, out of the blue, a cute picture of sweet little Brit playing in the dirt.  I wanted to cry tears of joy.

That is exactly what I have wanted.  To have the kind of relationship with them that they would automatically thing to share an adorable picture with us, for no other reason than because they know we would love it as much as they do.

Then to top off the evening, we also received an email from Brit's mom with photos of Brit from Halloween.  She sent us pictures, not according to schedule, but because she knew we would like to see them, in response to BF's email to them on Halloween.  She also sent a nice, quick message.

I cannot describe the joy it brought me.

It is amazing how much peace it also brought my distraught soul.  To have an interaction that appears to be friendly and sincere.  I can hardly stand how full it makes my heart feel.

Progress, in the right direction for once.

I am so very happy.

Friday, November 4, 2011

This week recap

This week in bullet points:
  • BF came out of nowhere and told me he wanted me back and wants to work toward a forever family for all of us.  I told him I didn't know if I could or should after all the heartbreak of the last 2.5 years.
  • I had a great night out with my daughter and her friends for her bachelorette party.
  • Had a complete meltdown when I realized how hard it was to know that BF was willing to work things out and I was undecided.  It tormented me. I decided that giving BF another try is what my heart wants.  Had a talk with him and we decided we are both all in.  Made my heart happy.
  • I broke My Guy's heart when I told him I was going to try to work things out with BF.  He was devastated.  Poor guy.  Did nothing wrong, was perfect and attentive.  And he still got the shaft.  Lots of guilt for me.
  • LanMan made the middle school basketball team (a big deal here in our little town, 85 tried out, 28 made it)
  • My son J told me he will never speak to me again because I made the wrong choice by letting My Guy go.  He is crazy about him (as are all my kids).
  • D and mommy had huge fights several days this week and he is grounded from all pleasure activities for the next two weeks.
  • Got into a verbal fight with the ex-husband about his lack of parenting support.  Pretty sure it had zero impact on him.  He left for another two week vacation and made the comment that he hoped the boys live through two full weeks with me.  I could have kicked him.  He never appreciates all the time and energy I put into parenting our boys.  He just criticizes.
  • I made my Brit photo book for Christmas gifts.  It made me happy and sad at the same time.  Sure wish I knew her more than just through pictures.
  • Halloween is hard when you miss a child.  Sure wish her parents would have sent a picture of her in her costume. BF even sent them a nice note on Halloween telling them to have a great first trick or treat experience with her.  He mentioned it would be nice to see a picture of all of them.  :(
Looking forward to the weekend and next week being full of more joy than heartache.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Not many more kiddo Halloweens for me.  Some moms would be sad about that.  I am delighted to think I will no longer have to spend money on a one time use costume.

L and D trick or treated with BF's kids.  They had a great time.  L and BF's oldest son conspired their costumes together a few weeks ago.  They looked adorable.

BF's son and L as Mario and Luigi

L and D - brotherly love

BF's youngest son, D and their friend Jack
Even little Princess was trick or treating last night.  Her momma used the costume I borrowed for her.  She was a hit.

Added 11/7/11

Just had to add Brit in her costume to my Halloween picture collection - even though we didn't see her that night.  We did get a follow up photo the week later.  She is so stinkin' cute!

What does a girl do?

Crazy stuff presents itself to me.  Crisis and conflict seem to be my companion.  I am sure my counselor has a diagnosis for that and I would guess it is a disorder of some type.

So today (when I am in a good place mentally, for whatever reason), I have decided to pick up my bag full of crisis and conflict and carry it with me on this journey called life.

An update:
Things are going really well with My Guy (thank you blog friends for naming him).  He is attentive, kind and my kids still love him.  He spends every waking minute with us.  It is so nice having someone who is head over heels crazy about me.

Pretty sure any girl who was in this relationship would be spinning in love.

But not this girl.  Oh no.  We can't have a nice, normal fellow courting me. That would be simple.  Down right boring.

We need to sprinkle in a healthy dose of tragedy or unresolved conflict.

And like every good story reads, the plot must develop and take an unexpected turn...

How about a sordid history?   Add unrequited love too.  Yes, that would work.

Real momma, daughter and ex-step momma
Saturday night I went to my daughter's bachelorette party.  Super fun.  I went with her 'real' mom (I was her step mom).  We had a blast.  Two 40 year old women and eight 23 year old girls.  It was awesome.

My Guy met me downtown after 11pm.  Really hit it off with my daughter and between the two of them, they enjoyed many drinks together.

My Guy and me at the bar
So I drive him home back to my house where he decides to spill his whole life story to me (at 3am).  Amazing what too much alcohol will do to you.  He talked without ceasing for 2 hours.  Not even kidding.

Here is what I learned.  He has been in jail.  Yes jail.  For 3 years.  Yes, 3 YEARS! He got into a fight (apparently he has gotten into many fights), and he harmed someone very badly.  Fortunately it was not permanent, but it could have been devastating.

He was a model prisoner and now speaks about violence and consequences to students.  He was released from jail and immediately resumed his coaching position at a local community college.  Seems his home town felt he was rehabilitated.

That was 11 years ago.

Tell me, what does a girl do with that kind of information?

Gut reaction...RUN.

Intellectual reaction:  Use compassion and know that I have made poor decisions in the past too.  He has paid his penalty and is a better person because of it.  He seems to be a very good man.  He has gotten into no trouble since then and was even married to a woman who is in the corrections line of work.  She believed he was different.  Enough so that she married him.  Is this mine to judge?

I also understand that having a father who was a professional fighter in Las Vegas probably played a big part in his fighter mentality during those years.  He had seen it modeled. Not trying to justify,  but it helps me understand why he may have been that way.

But still.  It is lingering in the back of my mind.

Now to back track.  BF came over Friday night while I was cleaning house.  It was totally unexpected.  He just chatted with me while I was doing dishes.

Then he says "I wanted to come over and talk to you about something."

I could tell it was getting deep, fast.

Reader.s Dig.est version, he has thought about it and he thinks he might be ready to really give this commitment thing a shot.

Remembering the good times
I was crushed.  I have finally gotten to a place where I was going to try to move on.  Let my heart be available to another man.

And BF walks in and the wound reopens.

I still love him.  ALOT.  He has an incredibly huge piece of my heart that I have never taken back.

Gut reaction: Tell him yes, I'm in, and send MG packing (remember, this conversation with BF happened before the newsflash about the time in jail).

Intellectual reaction: Question why it has taken losing me 3 times to get him to this place.  And wonder if this is really a turning point, or if he is just lonely without me. 

Note: BF would be on a top 10 list somewhere of guys least likely to be considered a player.  He is about as sincere and honest as they come. He just has TERRIBLE commitment issues.  So that is not why he would be coming back to me now.  He has no intentions of dating anyone else and hasn't in all the times we have been apart.

So I told him I needed to think about it.  Because I wasn't sure my heart could handle it again.  The idea of opening myself back up to him and for the end result to be the same (I love you, but I can't bear the thought of blending our families.).

Then Saturday happened.

Sunday I was in a trance.  Wounded to my core.  Confused and conflicted.

Yesterday I was supposed to trick or treat with BF and all of our kids while my oldest son went to an NFL game with My Guy. 

But that afternoon, BF sends me an email telling me that he needs space from me and he would prefer I just drop the kids off to him and he will bring them back home to me.

I felt like I was taking punches left and right.

So what do I do?  Start crying.  Without ceasing.  Enough that my young children even showed me compassion.  (Interestingly, their first question was  "Is this because you miss Brit?")

So now I am here.

I want BF back.  I want my life back.  The life that I thought I would always have with him.  I want the story that I had written in my head that included the two of us getting old together.

However, he will never be attentive like MG.  In 2.5 years, BF has never shown me as much attention and affection as MG has in the past 3 weeks.  MG is crazy about me and would take a bullet for me right now.  He doesn't need time to think about it.  He isn't worried that it might be too hard to have a blended family.  He simply knows he is crazy about me and he would do anything to keep me and make it work.

So what does a girl do?

This girl gets another Diet Coke and keeps a tissue box close.  And emails BF and tells him she wants him back. (Please don't judge, I love him and can't imagine life without him.)

My letter to BF was followed by a returned email that said he cannot deal with my email right now because he had computer problems and work and has to restore his system.  He cannot put the effort into a response to me while he is dealing with a work crisis.

Back to the Diet Coke and tissues.  And reading text messages that are coming in left and right from MG, telling me how much he thinks about me and how special I am.

Twisted.  This little world I live in.

Someone please save me from myself.