Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Adoption Blogger Interview Project - From Another Mother

For the record, I am a terrible blogger.  I have great intentions, but I get busy living and then completely blow off the blog.

Despite my on again off again blog presence, one thing I really love about adoption blogging is the annual Adoption Blogger Interview Project that is sponsored by Heather at Open Adoption Bloggers.  It gives me a chance to learn about another person in the adoption world, and I love reading all of the interviews that others do too.

So, in classic Lisa style, I was late submitting questions to my interviewee Valerie who blogs at From Another Mother.  In the same way that it seems she lives her life, Valerie was full of grace and very kind to me and my apparent lack of deadlines.  Just like today when I was supposed to have this post up and ready for a morning deadline to post with the rest of our blogger group.  Oops.

Valerie holds titles from two of the three positions in the adoption triad.  She is an adoptee and a birthmother.  I am always intrigued by adoptees who place children and I am glad I had the opportunity to ask her questions that I have often wondered.

I appreciate Valerie's perspective and the way she has handled her relationship with her first families is commendable.  She is very non-judgmental in her approach to being practically rejected by her birthmother but warmly accepted and included by her birthfather and his entire family.

Without further ado...

Describe your current relationship with your son?  How often do you speak to him, see him and/or communicate with him?I would say that our connection is similar to the one that I have with other long-distance relatives. We do not talk very often, although I keep up with his parents on Facebook. But the line is open--I know that if I wanted to talk/email them, I could. And they know (I hope!) that if they wanted to talk with me or had questions for me, that my proverbial door is wide open. The moments when we do connect are AWESOME. Like, back in September when my husband and I announced that we are expecting, I got an audio recording of Ian's dad telling him, and Ian's reaction to our news. Ian was so stinkin' cute, and getting that little recording made me immensely happy.

If you had the ability to create the 'ideal' open adoption relationship with your son, what would it look like?
The challenge in my situation is distance--my son lives over 2,000 miles away. Last year, I was fortunate enough to visit Ian and his family for his birthday. I stayed in their home for several days, and even went with them to Ian's [adoptive] grandparents' home to stay overnight. I fell in love with their whole family (all over again, in the case of Ian's parents, whom I had felt so close to during my pregnancy).
I guess in my mind, my "ideal" open adoption relationship would be something like that--not me staying in their house, wouldn't that be awful. But during my visit last year, I really felt a sense of family. I got to know Ian and his little brother better than I ever could, at a distance. I got to visit casually with their parents, rather than awkwardly trying to make conversation over the phone or Skype. I had the opportunity to show them my love, to the best of my ability, and to feel theirs in return, rather than just saying it. I can say, "I love you" a hundred times, and still not get anywhere close to the feeling of giving that kid a hug.
With the distance between us, visits are few and most often brief. Unfortunately, that's just life! We all have family members that we wish were closer. I am hopeful that in the future, as Ian gets older, that he and I will be able to form a relationship of our own, even if it remains a distant one.

As an adoptee in reunion with your father, do you wish your adoption situation would have been different?
Honestly? Yes and no.
On the one hand, I really wish I could have grown up knowing my birthdad and his family. They've become an integral part of my life as an adult, but I missed out on all the childhood memories that my sisters share, which I don't have. Beyond that, I wish I hadn't had all the questions, growing up. "Did my birthparents love me? Did they want me? Do they still care about me?"
However, I have to acknowledge that perhaps my situation was for the best. Though my adoption being closed had its challenges, there may have been blessings in disguise. I fought with my parents a lot while I was a teenager. I ran away from home once. I can only imagine what else might have ensued if my birthfamily had been present during that time. Would I have sought refuge with them? Would I have tried to pit my birthparents against my adoptive parents? I shudder to think about the cruelty that I might have inflicted upon my poor parents, considering the trouble I gave them already. I don't know. Mostly I'm just glad that I have been able to reunite at all, and that it has turned out so positively.

Now that you are expecting the first child that you are going to parent, do you anticipate it will change your feelings about your adoption?
I doubt it. When I placed my son, I was a different person, in a very different place. I was 19, I was single, (those were the key factors) I did not have an education, I did not have a steady job, I did not know where I was going or what I wanted out of life. I was scared, and I was ashamed.

I maintain that I could have managed. I could have parented. I was (am?) smart, I had a good support system, and I had the wherewithal to be a good mother. But I didn't base my decision to place Ian for adoption on my abilities. I based that decision on what was best for him.
I wanted Ian to have a mother and a father, who were committed to each other and to their family. I wanted him to have the stability that I wasn't able to provide for him. And if I may be a bit religious for a moment, I had a spiritual confirmation that Ian's parents were the right family for him.
Just because my life is different now, doesn't change any of those things. Ian's family is still Ian's family.

What would you like to see your parented child and your placed child's relationship look like in the future?
I hope they get to know each other. Unless the aforementioned distance changes significantly, they probably won't ever be close. In my mind, it would be like the relationship that I have with my cousins--I have cousins that I'm not super close to, but I still enjoyed hanging out with at family reunions as a kid, and now as an adult, I liked keeping up with them on Facebook. I imagine something like that.

How did your position as an adoptee in reunion influence your decision to place when you faced your unplanned pregnancy?
It was significant, particularly because I was pregnant at the time that I reunited with my birthparents.

I guess for me the biggest thing was recognizing (finally) how much I loved my parents, and what a good life they had given me. It also gave me a lot of closure to meet my birthparents, to hear from them how much they loved me, and get answers to the biggest questions I'd had, growing up in a closed adoption. I recognized at that time how adoption had benefited me, how it truly had been the right thing for me. It helped me to realize that's what I wanted for my son.

What impact has your birth mother's seeming disinterest in relationship with you had on how you interact or plan to interact with your son?
What has actually bothered me the most about the situation with my birthmother is the fact that her children, my biological siblings, do not know that I exist. So not only do I lack a relationship with her, but also with all these people that I am biologically connected to.
I don't need a close relationship with them. I don't need visits or phone calls. But it would be nice to know that if I had a question, that I could get an answer. And that is what I am determined to provide for my son. Even if he never desires a close relationship with me, I always want to be available to him when he needs me. I feel like that's part of my duty as a birthmother.
I was very glad to get to know Valerie and I look forward to finding out more about some of the other Adoption Bloggers.  I hope you take time to read more interviews too!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dear Brit - Halloween

Not too much to say to you today.  Just wanted to take the time to let you know that I am thinking about you and wondering what you are up to these days.

BF and I put together a Halloween gift box for you and your brothers and sister.  You should have received it by now.  I hope you like all of the treasures we sent.  It would be really nice if we knew when you got the gifts we send, and even nicer if we got pictures of you playing with or wearing those items, just so that we could see that you were able to enjoy them.  Maybe someday you will be able to communicate that back with us when you are older and able to contact us on your own behalf.

It's interesting how almost every time I am out shopping I'm on the lookout for things for you.  I have no real reason to browse through the toddler girl section of stores, but I always do. And while I am there I think about what things you might like now and wonder how big you are.  Just the other day I sent an email to BF and included a link to a shopping site that had adorable John Deere clothes for little girls (BF works for John Deere, so we like to get you things that are related to that.)  In the email I wrote "Our little girl needs some of these!" Interestingly, he had already purchased a couple of the items even before I sent the email.  It seems we both think about you all the time. 

I know I often talk about gifts and sometimes I feel bad that the focus is on 'things' that we get you.  However, since we do not have a personal relationship with you, the only way we are able to show our affection for you is through gift giving and letter writing.  BF will never be a great letter writer (as most boys aren't), so you will just have to get used to the letters coming from me.  But he and I are both gift givers and we love shopping for you.  So at least we have that one way to show you that you are special to us.

I wonder if you have any idea who your gifts come from?  Do your parents ever talk about us?  Do they tell you how much we love you?  Do you know that we wish we could see you more or talk to you?  What do you know about being adopted? Do they show you pictures of us and tell you about us?  Do you know that you have lots of brothers that don't live with you?

I wish we knew more.  I wish we knew what you have been told.  I wish we were an active part of your life story.

Someday that will change.  I hope and pray for that day to come sooner rather than later.  But until then, I hope that letter writing and gift giving all these years will help you later when you wonder why we weren't around for you. Please know it was not our choice.  We would be as involved in your life as we were allowed, if we are ever given that option.

We love you to the moon and back little one, and someday we will shower you with that love, attention and affection, and it won't have to be in the form of gifts.

Sending all of my love!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Open Adoption Blogger Interview Project

I just signed up to be paired with another open adoption blogger for the 2013 Open Adoption Blogger Interview Project.

I am so excited!

I love meeting other bloggers who are connected to adoption, and I have learned so much by participating in this project for several years.

If you are an adoption blogger, sign up today!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Dear Brit

My sweet girl,

It has been so long since I have taken the time to sit down and write you.  Please know it is no indication of how often I think of you.  It is just a matter of sitting down long enough to actually type you a letter.

Today I decided to do a quick update to you using pictures I've taken over the last two months.  So here it goes!

In my last letter to you I told you that I have started dating a new man.  Things are going really well.  Actually, things are absolutely perfect.  He is so good to me and the boys.  He treats me like I am the most special person he knows.  I can't wait for you to meet him.  He will LOVE you.  He has two daughters of his own and he loves them like crazy.  I am sure he will want to spoil you just as much.

I introduced my new special man and his girls to a great store in our city.  It is filled with candy you could only imagine.  Lots of your favorite - CHOCOLATE!

 This summer I had two college baseball players living at my house.  They played for a local summer team in our town and the boys loved watching them play and having them around.  When the baseball season was over, there is a World Series and one of the players was recruited to a team that played in the tournament.  The boys, the new man and one of his girls came to several of the games with me and we watched Jason play.

The boys and I snapped a picture with Jason right before he left to go back to college.

I volunteered as an usher at several of the World Series games.  It was SO HOT!

D was the bat boy for a few of the World Series games.  He got to meet some great players.
The summer finally came to an end and the boys went back to school.  D is a 7th grader and loving the middle school.  LanMan is a freshman and seems to be doing just fine in the big high school.  If they would have let me take their picture on the first day of school, I would have shared it with you here.  But what you will realize with your little brothers at your house, boys don't love pictures being taken, especially when they are super cool and with their friends.

So in August my special new man turned 40 and we had a party for him.  It was a nice night out and his oldest daughter was even able to join us.

This is my favorite picture of the night.  I love how he loves his girls.
A couple of weekends later, I took a trip with my sisters and my mom to celebrate my mom's 60th birthday.  We took my mom to Branson and had a great time.  Someday I hope you will be one of the "girls" that joins us when we take a girls trip!

A picture of all of us together before the Dixieland Stampeded show
While I was in Branson I got you a couple of small gifts.  My sisters laughed when I got you the little kitten.  It was creepy how life like it looked.  They all thought I was crazy for getting it for you, but I liked how it does look real so I thought maybe you could carry it around like it was your pet.  I don't know if you liked it or thought it was creepy, but either way, know that I bought it becuase I thought of you the entire time I was on my trip.  I also got you the little bag of polished rocks because that has been the thing you like best the few times you have visited with us.  Every year we spend time playing in the rock pile in BF's backyard.  Maybe the polished rocks will be special to you.  I can't wait until you are old enough to let us know when you get our packages and let us know if you like the gifts.  Right now we just have to guess. 

I hope you thought sleeping kitty was cute, but if you didn't at least you got the rocks!

I also sent gifts for your brothers and sister.  Wanted to make sure everyone got something.
Once I got back home from the trip, I spent a few days taking care of my friend's chicken.  Yes, I said chicken.  My friend is keeping a chicken in her backyard as a pet.  It makes us all laugh.  She went on vacation for a week so the boys and I would go over and collect the eggs and feed the chicken.  By the end of the week, D wanted to know if he could get a chicken of his own for our backyard. 

Then, the newest news is that the boys and I finally talked the new special man into letting us get a dog!  Our neighbor was fostering a rescue dog that lost its family in a tornado in Oklahoma.  As soon as we met sweet Ella, we were in love.

This is the picture we sent to my special man asking him if we could bring her home with us.
He finally said yes, and now Ella is a new member of our family.  She really likes me, and spends lots of her time at my side.  LanMan took this picture just yesterday as she was laying on my legs.
You know what my favorite part of this picture is?  It is the book in the background.  I'm not sure if your parents have shared the book with you, but you have one just like it too.  It is a picture book from your last visit with BF and me.  My new special man has it displayed right next to the bed so it is the first thing I see every morning when I wake up and the last thing I see when I lay down to sleep each night.  It makes me smile to see your precious face so many times a day.

I suppose that is enough for tonight.

Know that I miss you every single day and I cannot wait until the day that you and I can just pick up the phone and call each other, or even better yet, spend time just sitting on the couch talking.  I keep telling myself every day that passes is just one day closer to that day!

I love you to the moon and back!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My new man

For those who have asked, the new man in my life is actually an old friend.  He and I dated very briefly before I started dating BF, and after BF and I established a relationship, my man and I just became really great friends.

He has been there for me during the pregnancy, the adoption plan and the subsequent placement.  Then he has listened to me cry for years and he has remained my friend despite my high maintenance periods where I was a sobbing mess for weeks at a time.

He is so good to me.  I cannot describe what it is like to have someone who is so responsive to my needs.  We talk about EVERYTHING.  He showers me with attention and affection and quite honestly it has taken some getting used to.  It doesn't seem real, but as time goes on, I realize this is what I had wanted all these years and it really is good.

So to put a face to the new character in my story, here is a photo we took last week at a concert.

Look at how he holds me.  I love it. :)

Monday, July 29, 2013

The pictures on the wall

After BF and I ended our romantic relationship a few months ago, I had to revisit his house several times to pick up things I had left behind.

The last trip I made to his house was very difficult for me.  He has redone his house to remove the evidence of us ever living there.

To make his house more homey, he has added lots of pictures on the walls. (Which he never did while we were there living there.  There were no photos of the boys and I on any of his walls. Even after 4 years of relationship.)

I almost couldn't make it through the house.  Every picture frame has pictures of his boys and Brit, as if they are all one big happy family.

First, I want to say how glad I am that he has done that.  In the beginning he wouldn't even put Brit's picture out in our living areas.  At my house, I had photos of all of my kids adorning the walls, including Brit.  She had her spot right next to each of the boys, as an equal in the kinship of our family.  At his house, she was only evident in BF's bedroom until I finally got him to put a photo of her on the end table in the living room when I moved in.

Now, her precious countenance adorns the walls in BF's living room, hallway and probably rooms I have not visited since I left.

I am glad he now embraces the idea that this is his daughter too.

But imagine the bittersweet that is for me.  If he would have embraced that relationship to this little girl 4 years ago, we would be parenting her.

It has been very hard for me not to dwell on that.

Actually, I have to stop myself for letting my thoughts go down that path.  I remind myself that I could have spoken up louder and insisted we raise her, despite what we thought were setbacks that she didn't deserve.

These are the things I wish someone would have told me.  Why doesn't the adoption world share more about grief, loss, regret, and a lifetime of being changed?

The pictures on the wall serve as a reminder.  No matter how many smiles are in the photos, the haunting loss still holds the photo to the wall.

Can you see my heart smiling?

Dear Brit

I haven’t been able to bring myself to writing to you for such a long time.  I have been so sad, hurt and crushed.  Followed by healing and pressing forward with a new beginning.

During all of those phases, you were never more than a moment’s thought away.  Often you were the forefront of my thoughts.

You see BF and I are no longer a couple.  I so desperately wanted to hang onto him because he is my real life connection to you.  But that is not enough.  We don’t actually have you.  And now, I don’t have him either.

But there are lots of times I think of you now.  You would be amazed the space you keep in my heart and in my mind.

When I see my hair curl, I think of you.

When I wear the shirt I wore in the hospital after you were born, I think of you.

When I see a blonde headed toddler with amazing curls running around at your brother’s baseball game, I think of you.

When I drive by the farmer’s market where I once accidentally ran into you and your grandparents, I think of you.

When I lay in bed at night, I think of you.

When someone asks me how many children I have, I think of you.

When any holiday comes, I think of you and wish you were with us.

When I see the boys play with the Little Princess that we watch, I think of you.

When I see toys in the store that I know you like, I think of you.

When I shop online, I choose things for you. (Things I don’t actually purchase, but I wish I could.)

Even when I am sleeping, I think of you.

Dear Brit, know that every single day of my life I will think about you, love you from a distance and my heart will continue to long for a relationship with you that we have been denied up to this point.

Just this weekend the new man in my life said to me that he had never told me this before, but he sure wished that you were his daughter because he would have never let you go.  He has been a long time friend of mine who I dated briefly before I met BF.   After we stopped seeing each other, we became close friends.

I remember how he questioned me several times when I was pregnant with you and asked if I thought I could really do this, and I assured him it would all be ok.  I just didn’t know.  I had no idea what I was doing to you.  I had no idea how it would impact every single one of us for the rest of our lives.  I was just so ignorant.  And deceived by a society that insists that adoption is nothing but love and happy endings for children.

I will always be so sorry for the choice I made.

Brit, I love you to the moon and back.  And someday I hope you know that first hand.

But until then, I will just let the tears flow and know that each tear I shed only represents a minute drop of the pain I feel inside for letting you go.

I love you so very much.  And some day dear Brit, you will know it.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Where to start?

Yes, I have been MIA on this blog.

It has become a strange place for me, because I don't know what to share here and what to put on the private blog.  But to be honest not much has gone on the private blog either.

So here are some of the reasons I have not taken the time to post.

The boys play competitive baseball which has us traveling almost every weekend.  During the week we have practices and league games so we are chronically tired.

We actually got a visit with Brit in April.  It was a magical 3 hours and we have tons of pictures, that I wish I could share, but we have been explicitly requested not to ever share photos of "their daughter".  So they are private.  But let me tell you this, that little girl is amazing.  So kind and tenderhearted.  We just loved her even more after spending time with her.  Like the time before, they came to our house and just brought Brit.  They left their other 3 little ones at home with relatives.

During spring and early summer I was also planning a wedding for June 7th. BF and I had set that date and were going to have a small gathering and a party at our house after the event.  This was hinging upon our new in-ground pool construction that is going on in the backyard.  The pool construction has constantly been pushed back because of rain.  So it was not ready in time for the June 7th date for a party (at that point we just had a huge hole in the backyard).

But, BF and I were also having some intense private conversations over the past few months.  Mostly revolving around communication and my need for emotional intimacy.  Ultimately it ended us in a counselor's office and the results of that counseling was that we determined it was best if we part ways.

So, instead of having a wedding on June 7th, I was fully moved into my own house with my boys.  We left with nothing but our beds and our clothes because when I moved in with BF a year ago, I gave away everything I owned because it was all a duplicate.

BF was amazing about helping us get established in the new house.  He moved me, did some maintenance and provided some homeowner essentials he knew I wouldn't have like a mower, grill, weed eater and all kinds of miscellany.

My friends are who really carried the ball with getting us set up in our home.  In the period of two weeks, I went from no furniture or kitchen items, to a fully furnished home.  It was unreal how everyone rallied around me and has provided at my time of great need.

The boys are doing pretty well. LanMan still struggles with betrayal.  He was very hurt that we created a family, he allowed his heart to think we were a family, and the rug got pulled out from under him.  He misses his 'brother' and it bothers him greatly when BF comes over to our house to work on things because he feels like if BF wasn't committed to marriage, then he needs to just let us move on.

I have a dear male friend who has been a friend for a while, including during my pregnancy and subsequent adoption crisis.  This friend has listened to me cry for years.  He has been my sounding board for my relationship with BF and he has picked me up off the floor more than once as I weep about the loss of Brit.  So since the breakup with BF, this friend has been around, helping with my boys and just generally supporting us.  I have watched LanMan's apprehension of the situation and he finally told me one day that he really likes this friend of mine, but he doesn't want to trust his heart to let him into our lives because it is too hard when someone walks out.

I have assured him that this man and I have been friends through the toughest of times and have plowed through anyway, so he is safe to like.  But just LanMan's words made me realize how damaged he is by the relationship breakup.

My other two boys are completely unfazed by the loss of BF and family.  They never really connected anyway, so they have just moved on to the next thing.

Since we moved into the new house, we have had two more 20 year old college students join us.  They are baseball players who play for a local summer team and we are their host family.  The boys love having them around, but it sure makes for lots of late nights.  Not only do I have a 20 year old son of my own living with me, but the other two college boys often bring friends over and they stay up way too late.  Good thing I really like them. :)

My youngest boy moved into my sister's house for the summer.  He wanted some aunt and cousins time, so we are giving it to him. We still go to his games and he will be with me again this weekend, but he is enjoying the autonomy of being with his aunt (she only lives 15 minutes away).  It has been good for all of us to have him away for a while.  I hope when he returns we can all resume a normal and healthy relationship.  Right now his brothers are pretty angry with him for being so hateful when he is around, and honestly it has been hard for me too.  The week he moved out, he broke out a window in my new basement by throwing a pack of gum at his brother's head.  That was interesting.

To add insult to injury, two days after the window incident, a pipe broke and flooded through the ceiling of my house, followed by two hours later having the sewer back up.  I was swimming in water for about 6 hours.  It all got fixed, but it was a fiasco.

Then the final blow came when we received a short email from Brit's father telling us they were going to be moving about 3 hours away.  It came at a time when I was reeling from the loss of my relationship with BF, transitioning to the new house, and trying to make it through the crazy summer schedule, while still trying to work full time.

There were many things about the move announcement that really hurt.  Things I cannot share here.  But I am processing.  I guess my life is just about adapting to loss these days.

So there you have it.

That is where I stand right now.  But the good news is, I am still standing.  And I plan on standing tall, and being able to trust my heart to someone else again in the future.  I will not let the loss of this relationship completely define me, like the adoption loss has.  I will never heal from relinquishing my daughter, but I will heal from the loss of BF.  We are very kind to one another and I expect we will continue to be good friends.

I will try to do better about posting more often, but I know I can make no promises of anything right now.  I am in survival mode and plan to stay here for a bit.

I will post more on the private site, so if you haven't already, send me an email at lisaanne119@gmail.com and I will add you to the approved reader list.  I am just trying to protect that blog from Brit's family.  So I may ask you a few follow up questions when you email just to make sure you are someone I can trust has no connection to our story.

Thank you for understanding.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Openess in adoption as defined by my friends

It has been a while since I last posted here.  This blog has become a strange place for me, because it used to be a place where I would share my heart about MY story, but it has now changed to a place where I feel like I can talk about adoption, openness and loss, but not with personal anecdotes.

With that said, if you are a follower of this blog who wants to continue to follow my personal story it is now found on a private blog that is protected.  You can gain access by emailing me at lisaanne119@gmail.com and letting me know who you are and what your connection is to my blog or to adoption.  I do not intend to keep anyone out, but instead just protect our privacy by not allowing anyone who has intimate knowledge of our situation in real life.  Only select IRL friends have access to the blog so if you are someone who wants to continue to follow, don't hesitate to ask.

With that said, I know I say it over and over again, but one of the amazing things that has come from my adoption experience is the friendships I have developed with other mothers; mothers of loss, birthmothers who are in satisfying open adoptions, adoptees and surprisingly, the close relationships I have created with a couple of adoptive mothers.

Two of these friends are Amber at Bumber's Bumblings, and L at What Makes a Real Family

A couple of weeks ago, both responded to an Open Adoption Roundtable  that asked bloggers to post about what openness in adoption means to them.  My dear friend Amber has this to say in her post What is openness?  L also responded with her quick, but succinct answer What Openness Means to Me.

Both of these women embrace openness in adoption and because of that, they experience fullness of relationship.  Both relationship with their children and relationship with their children's extended families.  I love reading their stories.  I hope you can take time to read some of their posts too.  It is worth the time invested.

On a personal front, I am dealing with my adoption grief very well these days.  I am reading several books about open adoption.  I have contacted several people asking about adoption facilitators and referrals to ones in my area (haven't found one yet - let me know if you know anyone in Kansas please).  I have had a couple of my adoptive mom friend offer to fly here and try to sit down and talk with me and Brit's family.  (I told you I have great friends!)

I have also continued to tell myself that we are just a couple years into this process and I still have time to re-establish a relationship with our daughter and her family.

On her birthday two weeks ago, I was really struggling and BF kindly reminded me that her birthday is not a day to MOURN but a day to CELEBRATE her life.  And while her life is not shared by us, it will be some day.  He is right.  So I remind myself, SOMEDAY.

This is not where I expected to be.  This is not what I expected to be struggling through.  Adoption is not what I expected it to be.  The rainbows and unicorns never arrived for me.

But as I told a friend just this week - I AM BEING REFINED BY GOD FOR GREAT THINGS!

These difficulties and the pain will be worth it someday.  I must claim that.  Because otherwise the pain could be unbearable.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

It is possible to love the whole family and not just the child

I have met some very amazing women since I became part of the adoption world.

Strong women.
Bold women.
Loving women.
Women willing to sacrifice their comfort for the sake of their children.

As you might guess, my favorite women (aside from my sisters in pain, birthmothers), are the mom's who get open adoption and why it is such a loving choice for their child.

Today, the first blog post I read is one that will stay with  me for a long time.  It was posted by my friend Brooke.  I was so glad to read it first thing.  It started my day right.

Choosing to Love More Than One

What Brooke doesn't tell you in this post is that she WORKS HARD to maintain this relationship with her child's first family.

I have watched Brooke reach out and be left waiting for a response for months.  Her daughters first family is sometimes hard to love.  But rather than give up, she LOVES HARD.

She doesn't give up.  It is not easy for her, but in the end, she has found that it is rewarding.  And her hope is that in the end, the person who will ultimately reap the benefit is their daughter.

Another blog I stopped by this morning also talks about loving a birthfamily, even when it hurts.  I love the honesty in this mom's posts about how sometimes it hurts her heart, but it's worth it.  I especially like one of her posts where she talks about how one of her child's birthfamily members has become one of her closest friends through this.

Tears of/and Joy

And as those who read my blog regularly know, this woman is one of my adoption world heroes.  She counsels prospective adoptive families about the beauty of open adoption. And boy does she live it!

Tell me how awesome her girls must feel knowing that at their house they count down the days until their birthmoms arrive for a visit.  What an example of unselfish love is this mother portraying!

Our journey to parenthood

When I look at the pictures on her blog and see her daughters curled up in the lap of their birthmother it makes me melt.

I wish we could get the world to realize that there are so many adopted children who would benefit from the fullness of open adoptions with their birthfamilies.  (Yes, I know there are some situations where it would be a complete detriment to the safety or well being of the child in the case of abuse or excessive addiction.)

But even beautiful relationships can come from adoptions that started as foster placements.  As displayed by the UBER AMAZING Rebecca Hawkes.  Her daughter's first mother had addiction issues that resulted in the removal of her children from her home.  Now Rebecca and her daughter's original mother work together to support women to parent.  And Ashley has the love of two moms.

Ashley's Moms

Open adoption is hard, because it is unselfish.

I am so glad that there are so many families who are willing to work through it, and in return they realize they have just opened themselves up to another family full of love.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Memorable quotes from this week

The trauma of what has gone down for our family this week has been great.  But what has been greater is the OUTPOURING of love and support.

Seriously.  You. People. Rock.

My heart is broken.  Yet you hold it together in your hands and tell me we can put it back together.

The amount of love and support has been AMAZING.  The private messages, the personal visits, the FB love.  All of it.  It makes me realize there is an entire community of people who love me, my family and who can appreciate the beauty of open adoption done well.

Thank you everyone.

But because I told myself I would not cry today if at all possible, I thought I would post some memorable quotes that have been said the last few days.  Some are funny, some are profound.  Some hurt.  But I think I am going to start keeping a log of quotes, because each of them means something to me.

Here we go...

"I think my toes are clausterphobic! I never wear closed toe shoes." -Brooke

"I swear to Mormon Jesus I will get in my car and come shank them." -Michelle (PS, This cracked me UP! And if someone thinks she is talking about them, don't worry, she live in Arizona and has no intentions of shanking anyone.  It was just an expression of love.)

"When relationships disintegrate, the devil is involved.  He wants nothing more than for relationships to go bad." -Pastor Rick (paraphrased, since I couldn't write fast enough as he preached.)

"I will treat others with kindness" -the main point I had to teach at Sunday School this week (yes, God is working on me!)

"I tried to put myself in the adoptive parent's shoes and see this from their perspective.  So I re-read your blog.  And I cried. I decided that if you were my daughter's birth mother, I wouldn't even hesitate, I would call you and say "How can we fix this?, Because I see how much you love our girl and how you are hurting." -Brooke

"It's no longer 'box wine' the classy term is 'Cardboardeaux'". -Cynthia

"This is one you can't do over. Forgive yourself and move forward as the fantastic woman you are.  A woman who would never harm anyone.  Trust who you are, let go of what you did." -Bob

"Moms survive everything." - Rick

"My dear sweet virtual friend. I didn't go to the mailbox until today. I found your card. You have no idea what it means to me to have connected with you. During everything you are going through, you still find time to remember others. One day, I hope the kindness and righteousness that we are trying to pass on to others will be returned, as will our children come back to us. Much ♥ my dear friend. ♥ Thank you. ♥" -Lynn

There are so many more that I am sure will come to mind as the week progresses.  But for now, these are the ones I can remember.

Thank you my friends.

Some changes to the blog

After much consideration, there will be changes to my blog.

This blog will remain, as will the majority of its history, with the exception of posts that are extremely personal to my adoption situation.

I will go through the blog throughout this week and start cleaning that up.

With that said, I will continue to blog my intimate and personal feelings elsewhere.

This blog will serve as a more public place for me to talk about adoption as a whole, and even my perspective on adoption as a birthmother.

I would love to allow you, my friends, to follow my new personal blog.  It is a 'by invitation only" blog and I will be vetting persons interested in joining.  If you are not an IRL friend, then I just ask you add either your blog or facebook page info when you ask to be invited to the blog, because I am specifically trying to avoid allowing those who are offended by my intimate feelings from reading about them.

The truth is, my feelings, and the feeling of my family will not go away.  They will also not be silenced.  They will however be silenced to those who cannot handle it.

So if you want to know the painful truth of what hurts our hearts, please follow along.

The truth of adoption needs to be told, even if it hurts.

You have all been so good to me so I hope you move over with me to the new place.

Send me an email at lisaanne119@gmail.com if you want an invite to the new blog.

Now for the work of cleaning all of this up.

Friday, March 1, 2013

She couldn't have said it better

This morning I was refreshed and encouraged to read an amazing blog post from an mom who has created a family through adoption.  This adoptive mother has amazing insight and maturity about what it takes to be an adoptive parent.  But more than anything, her philosophies go back to what it takes to be a good human being.  Respect and love for others.  Putting others needs above your own, particularly in the case of a child.

Here is the full blog post What makes a real family

I pulled out some of my favorite paragraphs from this blog post...

"we wanted an open ongoing relationship with our child’s birth family … not just for us, but for our child and what it would mean to them."

I love how they are specifically choosing a path that puts their daughters' needs first.

"Over the years I have met both in person and through cyberspace, many women who have made the loving decision to place a child born to them to be raised by another. 
But for these women the promises spoken or unspoken have been broken. The families that they met and chose to parent their child have walked away or at least closed the door just enough not allowing a relationship between the child and birth parents to grow and blossom.
 It is so sad to watch from a distance to see the affect this has on these individuals. And to think what will become of these children kept from their birth family not by their choosing. When they are older will the have to secretly seek out their birth family?"

That is just what my heart desires, the ability to have a relationship with our daughter that has the opportunity to grow and blossom as she grows and blossoms.

"We met many young people and adults who had been adopted in a system that did not allow an ongoing relationship after the child/baby’s placement. Those in charge thought it best for the birth mother/family and the child to not know each other for a variety of reasons. 
What did we hear from these people? How much a piece of them was missing … they loved the families they were raised in but somehow couldn’t find their whole selves … some were able to try and reach out to birth family with the help of their parents and some had to do it in secret because they knew their parents were afraid of what would happen when a reunion happened that choices might be made to love birth family more than the family they knew."

I hope our daughter never has to feel the conflict of wanting to be able to love her birth family,but feeling like she is betraying her adoptive family.  However, I am afraid that if we, the birth family, is specifically kept at a distance, the inference is that we are people that are not OK to love.  We are a threat to their family.  Which is absolutely not what we would ever plan to do.  We too want our daughter to feel whole and able to love anyone and everyone that she wants.

In families, we don't wait to let our children decide if they want to meet their grandparents or aunts and uncles.  We introduce them to their family members all along.  We encourage them to develop a relationship with those people, because they are family.  Then as adults, our children can decide how much contact they wish to continue to have with their extended families.  But we did our job as parents exposing them to their family who loves them.  It would seem ridiculous if I said to my sisters "We have decided to wait until our kids are old enough to decide for themselves whether or not they want to know you."  It would just seem illogical.  So I am so taken back when I hear adoptive parents who say that to birth families.

"And so it is with a heavy heart that I read or hear how an adoptive couple close the door just enough not to allow an in-person relationship between the child and their birth family. I have seen and heard the fear of adoptive and hopeful adoptive couples at conferences or in chance meetings. I don’t understand their fear … how can you turn your back on the family that chose you to be the parents of their child? How can you close the door to your child and not allow them to know all of their family?"

Like the author, I just cannot understand this.  We were good enough to be your friends prior to relinquishment, but now that we have entrusted our child with you, we are no longer the kind of people you want our daughter to know?...

"As we are learning as our children grow from babies, they begin to understand more and more of their story when you talk about it (and hopefully you are sharing with them their story of their life). There will be questions of why this or why that? 
You will see the strong physical resemblance of your child to their birth family … relish in it! 
 Our daughters now 6 and 4 years old brighten and smile when you share with each of them some action they’ve done or said that resembles their birth mother or father. Don’t steal this from your child it will help make them whole!"

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Valentine package

Dear Brit,

We got an email from your dad last night telling us what you are up to these days.  Sounds like you have finally mastered the big girl pants. Hooray for no more diapers!

I chuckled as I read about you and your little brother emptying out the dresser and putting all the clothes in the crib.  Sounds like the kind of thing that would happen in a house full of toddlers.

Your dad also said that you are quite the chatty girl now.  And your response to everything is "really".

But by far our favorite line in the entire email was when he told us you have an imaginary chicken that you chase through the house.  I laughed and laughed when I heard that.

I looked up at BF and I said "I wonder who she gets THAT from!"

He immediately looked back and me and said "She gets her curly hair from me, and her eyes from me, but there is absolutely no question that she gets chasing imaginary chickens through the house from YOU!"

He's probably right.

I hope you got your Valentine's Day package that we sent to you.  We just love picking out special things for you and we delight in imagining you playing with them, reading them, wearing them or eating them.

The entire package of Valentine fun
The chocolates taped to a Valentine plate
 This time I included chocolates, which I hope brought you great joy.  It is funny to me because I don't like chocolate at all so I don't even think about sending it to you, but from what I have heard, you seem to love chocolate enough to make up for chocolate that I don't eat!

Our card to you
Your hair clips

We also included hair clips and piggy tail holders, not that you like to wear them, but we felt like we should at least send them to try to help you tame that crazy mass of curls that we love so much!

Only one more month until your third birthday.  It is amazing how you are growing up.  We anxiously await being able to have a visit with you again.  And more than anything we long for the day that we can have an ongoing relationship with you.  We keep telling ourselves that each day that passes is another day closer to that relationship we long for.  We want you to be able to know first hand the love we have for you.

Thinking about and loving you from a distance.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Long time no post

Yes, I am alive and well.  Thank you to everyone who left comments and sent me private messages.  It was so nice to see that so many people even noticed that I have been quiet.

Me, my sister and our friend
on our weekend getaway
There is no dramatic reason for the lack of posting.  It is just the reality of a very busy life with our boys.  My every minute seems to be filled with ball practices, games and meetings of every kind.  We also had some sad days as one of my son's friends was killed in a car accident.  BF and I went away for a weekend with my sister and some friends, which was great fun.  There just always seems to be something that keeps us so busy.  But all in all, we have been well and just living and loving each other.

I have been a bit more active on the FB side of adoption land lately.  I am part of several adoption related groups and I have also been researching and reading so much about adoption, specifically how adoption affects adoptees.  One of my favorite new blogs is Adoptee Restoration.  The author, Deanna Shrodes, is amazing.  She says it like it is, which is often not how our society wants to hear it.  I am always anxious for her next post.  She is bold and outspoken, and I think she seriously ROCKS.  I love her Christian perspective on adoption.  Very different from what you would expect.  If you are involved in adoption in any way I suggest you follow her.  It is challenging to me every time I read her blog posts.

During my quiet time away from my blog, I have also been chatting back and forth with some of my adoptive mom friends and a couple of birthmother friends.  It seems like it has been a really tough month for lots of us.

I will say that one of my super amazing adoptive mom friends did have a great experience when her daughter's birthmother emailed back after months of complete silence.  It was so wonderful and heartbreaking at the same time to see how my friend was longing for a connection to her daughter's first family and how the silence was just killing her.  Then the email came in, followed by an exchange of text messages and now hopefully there can be continued conversation between the two of them.

This particular adoptive mother and I were texting each other and she shared with me the text exchange she had just had with her daughter's first mother and I will admit, I cried as I read one of the messages she sent to her daughter's first mother.  She said "Well let me know if you have any questions or want a picture or something.  You're her mom too, we want you in our family!"

Yes, an adoptive mom said that to her daughter's first mother.

And it isn't just lip service.  This adoptive mom has over and over again talked to me about how she doesn't know how to have more interaction with her daughter's first family.  She has written letters and sent emails and she just sits and waits to hear back.  She desperately wants her daughter to know her other family too.  That is one lucky little girl.  She has a mom who gets it.  Her mom wants her to feel whole, knowing all of the things that make her who she is.  I am so glad she has become my friend.

So with that, I am going to sign off for today, because I need to head home to my boys.  But I have a blog post that I have been dying to write about birthmothers that I may try to sit down and sort through this evening.

And above all else, I will sit with my phone in my hand just waiting for the email update, since today is the 25th...

BF and me under the neon lights on our trip
My sweet LanMan after his
last basketball game of the season

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dear Brit

Dear Brit,

Just wanted to let you know that I bought your first birthday gift this weekend.  Yes, I realize your birthday isn't until 2 months from now, but I just loved it.

BF and I talked about it on Saturday and we are excited to customize it for you.

But my favorite part is that it is sitting on top of my dresser and I see it all the time.  It is a little reminder of you.  And the thought that it will sit on your dresser someday soon makes me smile.

We love you so much!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A letter to other adoptive parents

The following was posted on Birthmothers 4 Adoption blog last week.  I just now read it and I am in awe of this anonymous adoptive mother and her insight.  However I have 'met' many adoptive mothers like her, and they have real, satisfying relationships with their child's birthfamilies.  It can be a thing of extraordinary beauty, I know it because I see it.  My favorite line from this letter is highlighted.  So very true...

A letter to Other Adoptive Parents

There is an issue that has been weighing on my mind lately. I have heard from a number of birthmothers who chose open adoption who feel forgotten by and disconnected from the families that adopted their baby. Some have had promises broken, some do not have the contact that was discussed, others have felt that they have become an afterthought or no thought given to them at all. It is heart breaking to see their longing to participate in a relationship.

I know that as parents we are busy. I get it- babies take time, there is sleep deprivation and the search for the elusive binkies and time to shower. Then as time goes by there is school, sports, practices, activities, figuring out what is for dinner, homework, grocery shopping, work and still finding time to shower. I get it-  we are parenting- loving, worrying, teaching, helping, hoping. It is all encompassing. Free time and social time can often disappear. It is joyous and wonderful and the most difficult thing- to be the parent we want to be. But we can’t forget- we are able to be a parent to this child because of the sacrifice of another. There is another who loves your child, who worries and hopes and loves.

Now I am not asking you to continually worship at the pedestal of   “birthmother”- this idea is distasteful to everyone involved- what I am asking you to do is to remove the pedestal and recognize that your child’s birthmother is a human being with whom you can have a real human relationship. Will this relationship look the same for every adoptive family? Of course not. Every family, every birthmother, every child is different. But what we can, as adoptive families do, is to get to know our child’s birthmother and find out what her needs are, what her hopes are and be open to this relationship evolving. I am begging you not to forget that placement was a beginning, not an ending.

I am asking every adoptive family to examine their feelings, attitudes and relationships in regards to birthparents. What is keeping us from having a real relationship? A relationship with give and take? Acknowledgement of the role they play in the creation of our families? Again this will look different for everyone, but ask yourself if what you are giving is truly what is wanted, what is truly your best effort? Is a few email updates a year really what is wanted? Is that really a relationship?

Unless your child’s birthmother tells you, I have always found that more is better than less. What keeps you from giving more? Is it fear? Fear of what? The unknown? Fear of the “worst case adoption scenario”- which for the record happens mostly on tv. Is it fear of being hurt or your child being hurt? Are you fearful of managing another relationship? Of boundaries? That someone (maybe you, maybe them) might say something inappropriate or hurtful? Is it fear that by including your child’s birthmother, it somehow makes your family less, instead of more? 

Adoption is about love, not fear. As we open our hearts to our children- how can we not open our hearts to their birthmother? How can we not let her know of our love by thoughtful communication and acknowledgement?  Will our children’s birthmother always be in our first thoughts daily? Not usually- that place is often reserved for our children, but she should not be relegated to our last thoughts or not thought of at all. Our children’s birthmothers should not be a box to check off- yep, sent the yearly update- but we should have a sincere desire to let her know who our child is becoming. Be secure in your role in your child’s life. We share our children with many people- grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, teachers, coaches, why would we shut out the very person who gave them life?

I have met many birthmothers and I have yet to meet one who wants to “co-parent”. Their sincerest desire is to know and have a relationship with you and the child that they placed for adoption. That is why they chose open adoption. It is not to interfere with your family. They will never forget the baby they placed, the baby they broke their own hearts for. Please don’t forget them. I am not asking you to be best friends, but I am asking that you keep your promises, that you open your heart, that you acknowledge this unique human relationship, that you create what works in your family for the entire adoption triad, not just what is easiest in your busy life. Please remember that we are all human and we will all make mistakes, but we can put forth our best effort. I have different relationships with my children’s birthmothers- one is easy, one is not as easy- I sometimes have to remind myself not to be offended, as I believe she means no offense- but I can’t imagine not having and maintaining regular contact. I believe that this is best for me, for them and for my children.

Please, families, if you have lost contact, lessened contact or pulled away, even unintentionally, consider the effect this has had on your child’s birthmother and what effect it may have on your child, now and in the future. Can you imagine how a birthmother feels when the adoptive family doesn’t even send pictures anymore? Examine your interactions, are they sincere? Can you do more?

Please let faith replace fear and let open adoption be a joy in your life.


An Adoptive Mom

Friday, January 18, 2013

Dear Brit

Dearest Brit,

Usually when I sit down to write you a letter, I have something in particular in mind.  Today I do not have anything to share.  Honestly, I am writing because you have been on my mind without ceasing for weeks now.  My heart aches with love for you that I am unable to share with you in person.

I know the holidays have alot to do with that, because that is when we want to be with our extended family.  And obviously we have no interaction with you at all at this point.  Needless to say, we miss you.  We wish so desperately that we could have a visit with you during that time just so we could let you know how much we love you too.  The kind of visit that families have during the holidays.  We continue to hope and pray that someday soon that will happen.

We did send you your Christmas gifts and we hope that you got to enjoy them.  I loved picking out your outfit.  BF, J (your oldest brother) and I all went to a special store called Sparkle and spent all kinds of time looking for the perfect thing to get you.  It was funny to watch the big boys looking at tutus, sparkle shirts, tights and shoes.  For what it's worth, BF found the adorable little shoes for you and they might be my favorite part of the outfit.  He was pretty proud that he found shoes to match the crazy shirt we got you.  I hope you love them as much as we did.  They might be a little big right now, but I'm sure they are still fun for dress up.  We would sure love to see a picture of you wearing the outfit someday.

We all three laughed out loud as I picked out the bow to include with the outfit because we have never seen you with any kind of fancy hair bow, and your hair is crazy and out of control.  I had never seen a white blonde afro until we saw yours.  Your hair cracks us up every time we see a picture of it

I was also so very proud of BF again this year because he picked out your LeapPad and accessories to go with it.  He was so excited the day he brought it home because he had found online that you could download games from your favorite TV show O.omiZo.omi.  I hope your parents were able to download that for you and I also hope you like using your fancy little electronic pad.  If you ever come to visit, make sure you bring it with you because that is exactly what your brothers do all day long.  They all walk around with their i.Pads, often wearing their own headsets, playing games, or listening to music.  Now that their teachers use the iP.ads for school work, they even use them at night to do their homework.  We are a fully electronic household now!  You would fit in perfectly with your own little device. :)

The little wooden doll set that we sent to you was an impulse buy that we just loved because the character that you dress up has the same name as your middle name.  When I walked by the set in the store I immediately stopped and had to get it for you.  I hope you like dressing her up.  It sure looked like fun.

We have had lots and lots of talk about you around our house the last couple of weeks.  It makes me so happy when we say your name and talk about how we hope our future includes knowing you better.  BF and I have talked ALOT about that lately.  The boys chime in from time to time and will often ask if we have heard anything from your parents.  They too still have hope that maybe soon we might get a little more access to you and your family.  We keep praying.

So as I wrap up today, I thought I would share a few photos with you so you can know what your brothers look like right now.  LanMan and B are both 13 right now and they are as silly as can be.  I love how they are best of friends.  They crack us up every single day.  They are so much fun, and so very funny, especially when they are together.  This is a picture of the the outfits that the two of them wore to our family Christmas celebration.  They wanted to make a holiday statement.  I think they did.  Everyone got a good laugh out of it.

 D won't let me take his picture anymore.  So usually I have to sneak up on him and rarely does the picture turn out.  But this one I was able to snap of him after a basketball game last weekend.  We were at the bowling alley having a huge family gathering because my sister who lives in California was in town for a few days.

Your brother T will always let me take his picture.  This is a piggy bank that he got for Christmas.  He really likes the Kansas City Chiefs which is unfortunate since they can't seem to win games.  Maybe by the time you are older they will be a better team.  We can only hope!

This is a picture of me and 3 of my 4 sisters and our dad.  One of the girls had to work.  The girl with the red hair is the sister from California.  She's the only one who doesn't live here locally with us.  She is an  actress and singer in California.  Just this week she found out they are using a song she recently recorded in a new Disney movie coming out soon.  It has Selena Gomez in it.  We will have to watch for it to come out.  You'll love meeting her someday.  She's so interesting.

My dad also got all of us girls fun hats for Christmas.  This picture has the sister who was missing from the first photo in it (far left), but my sister from California wasn't in town yet when we opened the hats so she is missing from this photo.  One of these days all 5 of us will be together for a group picture!  The baby I am holding is my youngest sister's (the girl sitting next to me) newborn daughter.  We are crazy in love with her and all fight to hold her.

And finally a photo of me and BF.  Sometimes I think he may not ever fully smile.  Bless his heart, he just always looks like smiling is hard for him.  I will tell you that he really is a happy guy, so I'm not quite sure why his smile looks so forced.  I love him anyway. <3

So we hope you know how very much we love you and we are looking forward to the day that we can shower you with that love and include you in some of our special family gatherings.  You are never far from our minds and you are always in our hearts.

We love you so much and can't wait for our relationship to develop with you.

Much love to you,

Lisa and BF