Friday, December 11, 2015

Research study/survey for Birth parents. Please share!

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Dear Birth Parents, You are invited to take part in a research study about the experiences of birth parents in the United States who have placed a child for adoption. The study aims to investigate the context and effectiveness of counseling practices offered to birth parents prior to placement. The survey is expected to take approximately 20-25 minutes.
Eligibility: Women and men who have relinquished a child for adoption in the United States during the last 25 years (after 1989) and who are over the age of 18 years of age.
Compensation: If you complete the survey, you will be entered into a drawing to win one of six $100 gift cards when the survey concludes. By following the link below and completing the survey, you confirm that you are 18 years of age or older, have read this document, and agree to participate in the study.
Benefit to You: Your will have an opportunity to speak about your experience. This will help us to identify gaps in existing practices and help us to develop better approaches to helping birth parents through the adoption process.
To participate in the survey, please follow this link (from this document, hold the Ctrl key and click the link OR copy and paste the link into your browser):
Information gained in this survey will be completely confidential. That is, no individuals will be identified in the results or reports that come from the study. If you questions about participating in this study, please contact the researchers directly via email or phone: Elissa Madden, PhD – (254) 723-4545 or adoptionstudy@uta.edu. Please note that this study has been approved by the University of Texas at Arlington Institutional Review Board (IRB# 2016-0174).
We sincerely appreciate your time and effort to help establish better practices and make a difference in the experiences of other birth parents.
Regards, Elissa Madden, PhD, LMSW School of Social Work University of Texas at Arlington
Scott Ryan, PhD, MSW, MBA School of Social Work University of Texas at Arlington Note: If you do not qualify for this study but know someone who might, please feel free to forward this message to them; however, we also ask that you keep the content of the message intact so that birth parents have all of the necessary information regarding the study. Thank you!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Re-Live and Reflect Part Deux

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Part 1 was doozy. I wasn't ready for those emotions and now i see why my therapist is having me participate in this homework.

After all the visitors and the ups and downs of being a mother in the hospital, but also knowing I wasn't. The call came. The call from my caseworker to make sure not to take medications and that she would be there early the next morning.

That night my mom had me send Josie to the nursery. Her intentions were pure, she wanted me to rest, and get sleep. But now i regret it. I wish I had held her those few hours more. I wish that more than anything. Those were my last moments with Josie as mine, and they are gone never to be regained. I also remember wanting so badly that through all these visitors, i wanted her birth father there. She deserved to know he cared about her. why was she not good

The next morning I sat on my hospital bed with Alyson and Eric, my mom was sitting in the chair. We were watching Sweet Home Alabama. all of a sudden my heart...it dropped. I knew it was coming. The moment when i signed the papers to no longer be her mom. I quietly got up from the bed where we were all watching a movie, handing Josie to Alyson, and I went into the bathroom.

I looked into that bathroom mirror and said to myself, "Are you really going to do this? Is this honestly what you are about to do?" And a rush of devastation that I will never be able to accurately describe in words overtook my body as I fell to the floor, my legs buckling beneath me.

I was going to finish writing this post, recounting every detail. And a friend instead encouraged me to just recount the feelings, the raw emotions instead. It may not make sense to some, but for me, it will. And that is who i blog for really, is me. I kind of organized them into a rhythm/poem/whatever.

panic, pain, fear and trust
pleas, prayer, weak and then strong
leaning on others, but all by myself
surrounded by many, yet all alone
stupid papers, stupid pen, stupid words again and again
goodbye to my motherhood, am i sure this is right?
why couldn't i have her
why wasn't i ready
why did i have sex with him
why wasn't he here
this is going to hurt, i know it is
i feel the pain already, still more hours of this
dress her all cute, try and make this "fun"
this isn't fun, it f$%^&$#! sucks
standing in a room of people who want her
peace runs through me
then fear
then panic
then sadness
then peace
we exchange gifts, letters, and words
seems surreal, like I'm floating outside my body
take pictures, these moments will live forever
right now i want time to stop.
i hand her over to her brothers
trying not to cry to be strong for them
i should have cried
i could have cried
i didn't need to be strong for anyone
i needed to cry
i needed to sleep
i needed more time with my baby.
got in the car headed to my moms
sat in my dads truck, making conversation, but really not thinking
thoughts going through my head, yet nothing at all
trying to laugh, but no laughs at all

sitting all night
staring at her pictures
scrolling through again and again
where was she now, i had no clue
i wanted to be holding her
in shock
i couldn't cry, couldn't be mad, couldn't sleep
stayed up all night as if in a dream
my little girl was gone. forever.

went back to my apartment with Aly
was in pain, couldn't use the bathroom
at least now i could cry
stupid kid came over to ask me on a date
i don't want to go on a freaking date
i just had a kid two days ago
why doesn't anyone get what's going on
why did i start classes 3 days after giving birth
i cry, i pretend i am okay, i sob, i pretend
i have sex with randoms, hoping it will help
realize i am an idiot
bad relationships
improper grieving
thankful for group once a week
boundaries jessa. you need better boundaries.

3 months in I see her
finally feel some peace
she is happy, she is okay
her parents aren't going to keep her from me.
6 months in i see her
i feel better still
i start my blogging journey
and meet my future husband

Monday, November 23, 2015

Re-live and Reflect

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Lately i have been having a very difficult time with life in general. This whole year has been kind of a wreck. I am lucky enough to work an incredible job, have started my non profit, and have children and a husband who are understanding. Those things, those are all fantastic. But this year, has come with great challenge.

Because of my challenging year I have sought therapy again, just once a week to air out my feelings, get feedback, and to remember that this adoption journey...is a journey. Life...is ever changing. There are ebbs and there are flows. It will never always be perfect and it will never always be wonderful.

I was so blessed and lucky to have a counselor that I finally love and adore. She is AMAZEBALLS. Any who, one of the things she asked me to do was to re-write my feelings on placement. Reason being she knows writing is cathartic for me and I enjoy it, and she thinks that i may need to just go through those feelings once again 7.5 years later. So below is my placement story. this is going to be raw, unfiltered, and vulnerable. This is me as clear as you will get it.

When I chose to place, it did not come easy. I knew it was what my mother and my bishop wanted me to do, but was it what I wanted to do. After much thought, research, prayer, and discussion with myself, i decided it was what i felt was best. My baby belonged in a different family and that was a hard pill to swallow. I had always loved kids, I had always wanted to be a mother, but now was not my time.

There were several reasons I did choose adoption. Most if not all are too personal and for me too discuss with Josie, but they were real legitimate reasons.

I chose the couple and I remember feeling it throughout my whole body, that this was her mom and this was her dad and those adorable chubby faced, dimpled kids, they were her brothers. I KNEW IT. I KNOW IT.

Now i am ready to talk about it.
The hospital.
grieving afterwards.
it was dark. it was difficult. and i know very strongly what it feels like to break your heart.

I woke up early on August 20, 2008 ready to be induced. I was oddly excited. Alyson played a mash up (because mash ups were all the rage), of Let's Get Ready To Rumble. We danced. But while we danced i felt it. Sheer panic. Panic in my heart, that the time had finally come. I wanted time to stand still, and at moments, it felt like it did.

We drove to my mom's hotel in town, it was the hotel behind the 7-11 on 400 North. We went to the continental breakfast and I ate. I knew I wasn't supposed to, but my mom who had 6 kids before, told me to go for it and just eat light. I was glad. As we sat through breakfast i vaguely remember joking about certain things unrelated and related to child birth, but in my heart i remember feeling that panic. the panic of the unknown. the panic of the fact that i was about to give birth and i was only just barely nineteen years old. panic realizing that i had just spent the last 9 months as a vessel for a child {{who the hell had that idea? I was so irresponsible. I mean damn, i think i ate sooooooo much crap. }}

We all got in the car and drove over to Logan Regional. I walked up to those huge glass sliding doors and Alyson, my mom, and I rode the elevator to the second floor. They walked us into the room. They had me undress into a hospital gown, and my mom took a picture, it was my last picture of me pregnant with Josie.

I climbed into bed, they hooked me up to all the monitors, started my IV, and it began. the labor process began. Honestly, no matter how hard i try i don't remember a lot between that and the birth. I remember Aly sitting in the bed with me a lot watching movies with me. She was so diligent to make sure i was taken care of. I remember my mom spending her time there with me. I *think* I remember Josie's parents coming to visit me. I remember my bio dad and my step dad being there intermittently in the room (but who wants to be around all that madness anyways lol). Finally, it was time to start pushing.

Originally I had wanted her parents in there, but the pushing itself took hours...not minutes..hours. the actual pushing. Aly and my mom held my legs as i pushed, part of me didn't care to try very hard because part of me didn't want her here yet. I was shaking, i needed oxygen, i was crying, i threw up. My doctor threatened me with a c-section so i finally got my shit together yelled at the doctor to "get her out of me", and she came out. At 11:18 pm. My body literally had no ounce of energy left in it, her and my family stood in the hallway, and a her cries were heard. I don't remember what her cries sounded like. I wish now i was more coherent so i could retain that memory. I remember I had to get 56 stitches. The doctors and nurses were cleaning everything up and they pushed the little bassinet over to the door so everyone could see.

One thing I do remember very clearly, is laying on that hospital bed, my body recovering from the traumatic birth experience. My eyes could barely open and I could hardly move. I remember seeing her mom and dad stand next to my bedside holding that perfect little girl. I remember seeing the love in their eyes for her. the love for me. and feeling the love of God above permeate that room. There was love.

The next day was also a blur. I regret that I had so many people come to visit. I wish I had taken more time for me to just enjoy being her mom. But I am that kind of person, i didn't want anyone to feel shorted. I had family, friends, etc all come and love on her. She was a busy newborn. I am glad all that happened, but I wish so badly i would've taken more time for just me and my Josie. more time to just hold her and love on her. to talk to her. to smell her. to feel her chubby thighs. to look into her pretty eyes. I needed that time, and I did not give that time to myself.

Even thought i didn't give myself that time, I know she knew she was loved. She had to have been able to feel that love throughout her entire body. She was so fresh from heaven above, she knew how loved, wanted, and cared for she was. 

Then her brothers came to meet her. Her brothers are very important in my adoption story. The minute I chose to place with them, they were my brothers. They are my little brothers and nobody NOBODY ever mess with them. They mean the world to me and I love them endlessly. At one point while they were there to visit, we had a silly altercation. 

K&L walked in to meet their baby sister that they had waited for. Enter mean nurse. She says *think grumpy old witch voice from one of those scary old kid shows* "Only siblings are allowed in here." 
Me *in my shocked but, immaboutta get grumpy, voice, " they are her siblings" Then we continued the altercation where she accused me of being too young to have them, we explained adoption and i tried to not throat punch her. And in they came to finally meet their baby sister without the stupid wench in our way. 

This was their sister. I felt it in my heart. from the minute those smiles started and those dimples emerged, this was their sister. They loved her instantly. And my heart stopped. I think it was at this moment i realized just how much this was really going to hurt and just how much this really needed to happen. My heart didn't want to say good bye to that happiness, that feeling of being her mom, that feeling of showing everyone MY cute baby, my perfect daughter. 
She was now their sister, their daughter, and my birth daughter. 

And then i saw this: 
This was her daughter. I chose her to be her mother. Josie was meant for her all along. This is her baby. This is the baby they had prayed for. She was going to stay up late feeding her, comforting her, and singing to her. She was going to teach her how to be a young woman, how to learn for herself, how to trust her gut, and how to love others. Josie was meant for B. I know that as this moment happened, angels were wrapped around me and God was simultaneously hurting desperately and smiling joyfully. I now understood what an oxy-moron was. It was bitter of all the bitter. It was the nastiest damn dark chocolate I have ever tasted. But it was also sweet pure joy, not to be matched by any other. 

These two moments above were the "beginning of the end for me"

To Be Continued.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Pain in the Beauty

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A little over a month ago I had the ability {because of 5 amazing women} to see my sweet Josie. We were passing her neck of the woods and there i sat in her living room with her whole family. I was ecstatic. My heart beating  pounding like it has every other time I have gotten to see her. This time it was 7 days after she turned 7.

We pulled up in the car, I opened the door. The most beautiful child you will ever lay eyes on came running straight at me and leapt into my arms. I held her for a minute. Tearing up. She will never know what those 5 minutes did for my heart. She was as excited to see me as I was her.

I owe her love for me to her parents. They speak well of me, they make me a known person in their family. They have always welcomed me with open arms and generous love. They have never denied me a picture, call, video, or visit. They go out of their way to make our adoption smooth. To them, I am just another "aunt" or "cousin", but to them I am also special. I am Josie's birth mom.

Anyways, I walk into their house. I give her parents a hug. I rush downstairs to joke around with her big brothers, who have grown a good 10 feet since I placed, then go back upstairs to talk with my Josie and her parents.

She tells me about her birthday, her books, her life. And there I sit, listening, but also absorbing. Her hair is so perfectly curly and textured. Her skin is the most gorgeous shade of brown and is so soft. Her voice is music to my ears. Her personality is me as a kid. She is a {brown} mini-me. But she isn't just a mini-me, she also has awesome traits from her birthfather (his charming smile) and her parents (sense of humor and passion for life). Those thirty minutes were marvelous.

Yet when i left, My heart...it ached. My heart was soaring when i was with her then it crashed to the ground in the car on the way home. There i sat in the same room as my birth daughter and i realized, all this beauty I was taking in. all this perfect. I am missing out on that every second of every day. The thought of that shattered my heart.

Although her parents do a kick-ass job at keeping me involved. Way better of a job than i ever fathomed. These moments come. I crash. When crashed i let myself slip into the "What-if's" and the "Why's". Even though deep down in my heart I know it was the right decision, and I will never regret placing or doubt my decision to place, I am allowed these moments of hurt. I am allowed to have moments of wonder and questions.

Gosh I miss her. I wish i could hug her tight everyday. I wish i could tell her every day how beautiful she is, how perfect she is, how smart she is, and how loved she is. I wish i could tell her that not a day goes by I don't think about her. I wish i could tell her how many lives were forever changed because of her. Most importantly I wish I could tell her that her parents are the best.

While i will miss out on a lot, i am forever grateful i don't miss out on all. That is enough to keep me going. To show her that her life, her placement, my decision, it was not in vain. It was for love.

"Just because it burns, doesn't mean you're gonna die"

Sunday, September 13, 2015

adoption isn't "fun"

I am apart of many adoption groups online. I like to learn perspectives and share my own. It is a great way to gain and give support. Tonight I saw something that sadly, I have seen before. The scenario goes like this, a person chooses to get pregnant on purpose so that they can place for adoption. They are using their own eggs and they are finding some stranger's sperm or using artificial insemination, so they can place a child for adoption. Tonight's situation was a family member doesn't want to be a mom but wants her legacy to live on, so she is going to get pregnant via artificial insemination to then turn around an place.

People. I get it. We all have our own choices and decisions, but ADOPTION IS NOT FUN.

It isn't something that anyone should want to go through. It isn't pure joy and happiness. It isn't an easy peasy quick handoff. It is pain, emotion, debilitating grief, and sadness. Are there happy parts that can happen? Yes. Is it a great option if you are in an unplanned pregnancy and don't see marriage, abortion, or single parenting as an option? Yes. Is it something I would wish on my worst enemy? NO!

To clarify before you start commenting on my page about surrogacy... The situation proposed above is NOT surrogacy. Surrogacy involves someone else's DNA, Surrogacy is contracts and formalities. The surrogate mother does not have the legal right to change her mind. The surrogate mother does not make choices for the child once born. Surrogacy is business. It is a great option for many people and I am not in any way shape or form saying surrogacy is bad, but surrogacy is not adoption. I repeat. Surrogacy is NOT adoption.

Adoption is finding yourself in a pregnancy you are not prepared for. You do not see abortion, parenting, or marriage as an option for yourself, so you choose adoption. It isn't some flippant decision you make on a whim. It is a big f#%^*%$#! deal.

I love adoption in my life now. I have learned to live with it as a new normal. I wouldn't take back my decision for the world because my birth daughter is happy and well loved and I was not at a place where I could parent her. I am not however, pro-adoption. I am pro informed choice. Inform yourselves and others that adoption is an option, and what it entails.

People need to understand that adoption isn't fun. It actually kinda sucks sometimes. Adoption is love, open adoption is great, but it isn't fun.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

I Made Her a Mother, She Made Me a Better One.

Mother's Day is here...Birth Mother's day is here...whichever one you celebrate, it can still be a hard time of year for many different people. Those struggling with infertility, placement, or just not wanting children in particular, this day brings emotions, questions, and so much confusion. 

On August 20, 2008, I had a perfect baby girl. I, at that moment in time, was her mother. For those short moments in the hospital, i held her, i kissed her, i talked to her. People shared the joy with me in the hospital. Lots of people hugged on her. 24 hours later i made the choice to do what I felt was best, as her mother, and place her for adoption. 

I made her mom a mother (again..she already had two children) and that moment I was forever changed. 

That day i learned the real lesson of motherhood. 

Motherhood is:
Putting your child before your self
Making sure your child has a safe and stable environment
Giving your child love
Making hard decisions

Motherhood to me are those qualities first and foremost, before anything else. I was willing to do the hardest thing I have ever done, to give her what every child should expect from their mother. 

Another way that my adoption has affected my mothering is by teaching me how precious every moment is. I absorb every little thing possible. 

Every word Josie, Mina, or Evan (My birthdaughter and two children) Is either the funniest, cutest, or most heartwarming thing I have ever heard (in my opinion). Every dance they do is just perfect. Every milestone is so brilliant I want to scream it from the rooftops. Moments, are what make motherhood and I feel   I KNOW, that I would not have learned that lesson had it not been for my adoption. 

The last thing I got out of my adoption, is a cohort in this thing called motherhood. "B" Josie's mom, has been an incredible addition to my life. I love that I can talk to her about anything and not feel judged. I love that she was the first person I told when I found out I was pregnant again. I love that she is not afraid to tell me when Josie does something horrendously naughty. She is open about everything. She is not afraid, threatened, or scared to be honest. 

My relationship with B (and my open adoption in general) reminds me of this scripture

B is patient with me (and our sometimes spicy little J).
She is kind and always thinks of me when it's a big event.
She never boasts or shows envy towards me.
She is humble.
She is never rude or self-seeking, instead she is always trying to help J and myself.
She always protects J from anything that may come her way. 
She always trusts me that I am not going to go psycho on her. :)
She always hopes the best for me and my family. 
She always perseveres. Sometimes I pull away and she makes sure I know that she is there.

LOVE NEVER FAILS...it just doesn't. When things are done with love, they will succeed. 

I decided to ask some birth parents what they like best about the adopting mom in their adoption: 

  • I love the adoptive mom because she is one of my biggest supports. No matter where my life takes me she is there in my corner.
  • I love the woman who parents my child because she loves me and appreciates me. She has not once ever made me feel like my emotions were invalid or broken a promise. I love her because she thinks I have done her the biggest favor when in reality she has done something for me I can never thank her for. I love her because she makes my son feel so loved and whole. I love her because she is exactly what I pictured in my mind when I was thinking of potential adoptive families. There are so many reasons I love adoption but she is a big part of it.
  •  I love the adoptive mom because she makes not only makes my son's life better but mine.
  • I love the adoptive mom because she and I will forever be connected in an act of love.

Then I decided to ask to say what being a mother means to them:

  • Being a mother means unconditional love, compassion and lots of kisses, hugs and snuggles
  • Being a mother means having to worry every minute of everyday about how your heart and soul now walks outside your body.
  • Being a mother is love. It is not genetics, distance, or material things. Being a mother is in the heart, it is that unconditional love for your child.
  • Being a mother means loving unconditionally and without regard for your own needs or desires.

Motherhood/Birth-Motherhood/Parenthood...It all derives from one thing, that is 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

And The Walls Came Tumbling Down

Sometimes I feel like I pour my whole heart out on the internet. Sometimes I feel like people know everything about me. I divulge a lot. I recently though, have been feeling the need to share a little more about what I am doing now, and why it feels so important. 

When I placed Josie, I wanted to do something with my life to show her it was for something. To show her that she created a story, a ripple effect of sorts. I wanted her to be a driving force. And at the end of the day, I only do anything to make my kids, my husband, Josie, and God happy. If other people are happy with it, YAY. If not, who cares. 

I started with hosting small adoptive couple retreats. I was terrified, highly unqualified, poor, and yet I felt like it needed to be done. I knew it was something I needed to do. So with the help of some good friends and my good husband, I made it happen. 

I took a break for a while, still blogging. Then I got the drive to host retreats again from my friend. This time Birth Parent retreats! I was stoked. I planned the retreat with some very amazing people who i could not have done it without. The first one we had no money to finish the retreat with, 250 dollars to be exact. Yet, because of some very generous businesses we were able to fund it and make it happen. 

One of the businesses was Courageous Choice which is a sister company to Adoption Network Law Center. Adoption Network Law Center has gotten a bad rep in some circles because of previous things by previous owners, but this company does amazing things to help the people they are involved with. In July of 2014 I was brought on by ANLC to start helping with their birth mother services. They knew they were lacking in a few areas and wanted to fix it. We started an awesome Birth Mother Mentoring Program. This means that the expectant mothers who decide to place with them are connected with a birth mother who has already been through the process. We speak to them, answer any questions they have, and are there when they need someone to cry to. I have seen beautiful friendships come from this mentoring program. 

In fact I asked a few of the women who have been mentored to share their feelings on the mentoring program. 

E said : I'm so blessed to have Nicole in my life because she can turn my day around when I'm down. She doesn't make me feel bad because I have the feelings I have. Nicole just accepts them and sympathizes with me. I can always count on Nicole to be there for me, she gives me advice on how to get through the bad days. Nicole just makes me smile by how she sets examples for other Birthmoms. overall Nicole continues to be a strong and amazing woman, mother and friend.

L said: Having a mentor, especially one like Amanda is probably one of the greatest tools and gifts I was given within the whole placement process. It's having a diary to vent to that listens and understands and gives you the best advice that you can receive at the time. Whenever I felt alone or anything it's like Amanda knew some how and she'd text me and check up on me. We talk about everything, even things not regarding my baby or adoption or my feelings about it all, it's much more than that. She's beyond a mentor to me, she's a friend, a friend who I bond with on such a deeper level than anyone else because she knows what I'm going through and if I ever need to talk about it I know she is the first person I will go to because she understands unlike any other person would.

I love that what I do matters. I love being excited to go to work on Monday. I work on planning retreats and helping birth mothers connect EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

There are some people who don't understand what I do, and that is okay. Because the people who know me, who really know me, know that when it comes down to it, I will give the shirt off of my back for anyone who needed it. I would do anything I can to help a birth mom regardless of who she is and where she comes from. Because, no one deserves to feel alone. No one deserves to feel that they don't have support.

I will never be everyone's favorite person ever. I know there are some people who question what I do. But I know, the company I work for is AMAZING. They truly care about every person they come in contact with. They donate their own time an money to make these retreats happen. They are ethical. Most importantly, they care about birth parents. A LOT. They are always looking for opportunities to learn and be a better company. So awesome!

I love all you birth mamas, birth dads, adopting parents, hopeful adopting parents, adoptees, I care about all of you. We are all on the same team. We all want better ethics, education, and understanding within our world. So let's be on the same team. Let's be warriors TOGETHER.

Monday, April 13, 2015

bring her home!

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Adoption comes in all shapes, sizes, and... species!

click here >>> http://www.youcaring.com/pet-expenses/bring-pitsie-home-/336656

It's time, adoption community. 
It's time for you to give back! 
Jessa and I have both given selflessly to you over the years,
and we have never asked for anything in return. 
Until now. 
In a joint effort once again, we have embarked on a new project, but we cant don't it alone. 

You can be the difference.
You can make it happen.
You can bring Pitsie home to California to live in a forever home with Jessa.

Follow the link to donate right now, not later, you'll forget later. do it now!
Then share the link with your friends and family so that they can do the same!

Every small donation adds up to make a huge difference. 

http://www.youcaring.com/pet-expenses/bring-pitsie-home-/336656 <<< click here

ps Jessa's bday is soon, so really you don't have any excuses.
Pitsie and her Haitian manmi, Desha
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