Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Dear birthmother letter... from a birthmom

First, I would like to correct some terms and call it a "Dear expectant mom" letter. A woman is an expectant mom, and then a mom until the moment she terminates her parental rights. THEN and only then is she a birthmom. No matter how certain she is about placement, I believe that it is (mostly accidentally) coercion to call a pregnant woman a birthmom.Second, D and G have decided to start the process to adopt again. They asked if I would be comfortable writing a letter to go with theirs to prospective birthmoms, and I of course agreed. I believe in adoption 100%. It gave so many people the very best in life, and the joy far overshadows the pain involved. I want A to have a sibling desperately, and I know the timing needs to be soon. SO- here it is, rough draft at least.

Dear Expectant Mom,

First, please know that I am praying for you and my heart aches for the painful decision you’re making. I remember being there, and I know that no one completely gets what you’re going through. I know people keep telling you how much they respect you for making such a selfless decision, and you probably don’t know that to do with that; I didn’t and still don’t. But I will tell you this: creating my daughter, giving birth to her, choosing adoption, and choosing D and G to be her parents has been the best thing I’ve done with my life. Every picture I get, update I read, and visit I have with her reaffirms that by choosing adoption, I have given her everything I imagined but couldn’t do for her. She is happy, and she has a Mom and Dad that love her more than life itself and are always present for her.It warms my heart to see the adoration in A’s eyes for her Daddy and the way she lights up when he enters the room. I love seeing all the time that D spends with her and knowing that when she needed it, D was willing and able to take a sabbatical from work to care for her. These are things I couldn’t have done for her. I love that D makes all her organic food from scratch and puts hours of research into providing A the best educational material, the most up-to-date safety precautions, the most non-toxic products, the healthiest food choices.

All that to say, I love D and G. We have become family. You can rest assured that if trust them with your baby, they will follow through with what they say. The early days of adoption aren’t easy for anyone involved, but they stuck by me to work out the fantastic relationship we have now. They have always put A before themselves, which is all I think I could ask for as a birthmom.
I pray that A gets a sibling, and know that adoption is the route for that to happen. In the darkest days of my life my siblings have been a source of strength and unconditional love and friendship. I know that when our parents are gone I will have them, and I want that so desperately for A. She lights up around other children and is so happy laughing, playing, and loving on them.
I want you to know that should you choose adoption for your baby and choose this family for him or her, you will gain their entire family. You can know from experience that they will stay true to their word. You’ll also gain me as a friend and confidant so that you don’t have to go through it alone. Your baby will be loved beyond what you can imagine and given every opportunity you could ask for. He or she will have an older sister with more love than I’ve ever seen in a child, and will never live life alone.
with love,

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Love is such an inadequate word

I saw A Sunday, which was of course amazing. It had been two months this time- 9 weeks to be exact. Every time the stretch of time without her gets longer, it certainly grows me as a person. I'm hoping to maintain monthly visits until she's at least a year, but I know that just like this time that may not always be practical with our schedules.

A is sitting up on her own and wants to constantly be standing with assistance, though she can pull herself up a bit. She took to me quickly and we played and snuggled and laughed together for a few hours. She let me give her kisses and snuggle her tightly, which she apparently only does with D&G. She didn't fuss for D at all, but relaxed into my arms and touched my face, my hair, my locket. She wanted to look at my face, and "chatted" happily while we were together. I love little things like this that prove that she remembers me. No matter what, we will always have an unbreakable bond. Our relationship with continue to grow, and this will be one very loved child.

She's incredibly beautiful. She is advanced well beyond her age. Part of that is just her being a bright child. The other part is being in a home with parents that have the time and resourced and love to foster and encourage her intelligence. She is affectionate and funny, making little jokes and laughing at them. I recorded myself reading a book and gave it to her, so she intently listened to it with obvious pleasure. She grinned at the pandas on it, and laughed when her hands made a squeaking sound on the paper. When D tucked her into bed, I could hear her crying because she wasn't ready to say goodbye. I of course melted at the bottom of the stairs to once again be saying goodbye to my daughter, and to hear her crying for me for the first time. I have to say, though, it's so reassuring to see that she does truly want me in her life. This affirms that open adoption was the right option and is best for her. She calmed down and was ultimately happy to be in her Mommy's arms.

It's amazing to me that the same word used to describe this sometimes overwhelming affection I have for my daughter is used to describe one's affection for Pumpkin Spice Latte or a football team. Love doesn't begin to describe this feeling that lights up my life and gives it the kind of meaning one dreams of finding in life. It inspires me to be more, to make a difference in the world because I now know that I can. I'm so blessed to watch this beautiful little girl grow up. She's such a joy.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

When did I start feeling normal again?

Somewhere along my path of grief, fear, joy, and change, I started feeling "normal" again. Now, I'm not one to typically be a fan of normal. I have always been told growing up that normal is for those who are afraid to be themselves, and I agree. But it takes a toll on one's mental health to constantly work to be happy, to not fall apart, and to always feel like you are not 100% human anymore because you have lived through something no one around you has. Even the best adoptions result in PTSD- hospitals, babies, pregnancy, and a myriad of triggers specific to you and your baby are not safe for a while. And this is not normal. How do you carry a normal conversation with a 20-something whose biggest concern is whether this passive-aggressive status on facebook is indeed directed at her when you just grew a human and then sent her home to a new Mommy? It's tough at first, and you feel a level of confidence that it will always be this way. The best solace you find is that triggers no longer send you into a tailspin. They now instead feel like someone sitting on your chest, which is much more manageable. So you hope that in time it will feel more like a squeeze and you'll get better at faking normalcy. But you know what? You don't. The pain does lessen. Sometimes, it's a squeeze. Sometimes it's an elephant on your chest, but this happens less and less. Sometimes it's fond thoughts when you see a book your daughter would love.  One day, you realize out of nowhere that you are a real person again! You have joy... so much joy in your life.  You have relationships and a life of your own, and you aren't faking it any more. You have menial concerns again like that jerk at starbucks that gets your order wrong every. time. Oh, and you're a birthmom, which is pretty awesome because you grew an amazing little person who loves you and made a family where there was before hurt. So your family is bigger now, and life goes on.

Ways to help birthmom

I recently posted this to a forum I'm on, and decided to share here, too. If you are considering adoption or have adopted, these are things you can do to help ease the grief of your child's birthmom and give her some joy:

1. Lots of pics, esp. of LO. Fam pics are nice sometimes to see how happy everyone is, but I like mostly pics of LO because it gives me joy to stare into her face.

2. As detailed updates as you can handle. I love knowing her sleep schedule, what she's eating, how her health is, and what milestones she's reaching. It helps me feel like I'm not missing everything.

3. A memento. A's Mom gave me a locket with her initials monogrammed on the back. It was discreet so I could avoid questions, but I had a piece of her with me everywhere I went. I love it even now. She also got me an engraved picture frame with a pic of A, which I love. I recommend the locket above any other gift. Doesn't have to be expensive or fancy, either. But I would have never been able to afford even a cheap locket and wouldn't have something like that for myself.

4. Thank her. Let her know if you're grateful for her, and why. A lot of the pain of being a birthmom is the guilt of feeling like a burden. She'll hopefully thank you for giving her LO everything.

5. Sometimes, space. Sometimes, contact hurts too much. Sometimes we need a bit of space to get ourselves back together. Please don't get angry or give up on her. Keep doing what you normally do, and in time she'll hopefully come around. It's so important for her to know that's it's OK to have space and that the door will still be open when she's ready.

6. Patience and forgiveness. I know this is very hard on you, too. She knows and respects that, but sometimes being a birthmom takes every bit of your being and you don't have much left over for everyone else. She may say or do things to offend you, so please know that it's not intentional. She'll probably realize it later and beat herself up for it. Doesn't mean you can't lovingly say something, but patience is so huge. I want to do nothing but love and support and help A's Mom, but I know quite often I HAVE been a burden to her and have said things not realizing they would hurt. She's done the same, and I've used all the patience I could to work through it and get to the fantastic place we're in now.