Monday, August 16, 2010

guest blogger: my experience at the ntl FSA conference

todays guest blogger is the author of diary of a birthmom. i found her from stalking myself on google, i found my 'quote' on her blog and left a lil message for her via comment love, and boom, a new awesome birthmom sisterhood friendship was born. I asked her to share her take away thoughts form the ntl FSA conference because i wasnt able to attend :( maybe next year! thanks lady for sharing with us! ~adoption luvs

FSA National Conference

I want to thank Desha (birthMOM) for inviting me to guest blog. Before I even knew who she was, I found a quote of hers that I used when I announced to my son’s parents that I would be placing with them. It is – “He is mine in a way that he will never be hers. Yet, he is hers in a way that he will never be mine. And so, together, we are Motherhood.” 

I’m still not entirely sure what this post will really be about, but I told a lot of people that I would post about the conference. So, here goes! 

I had school Friday during the day, so I only made it to one breakout-session that day. It was “How To Tell Your Children Your Adoption Story”. Wow, exactly what I need to hear! 

I was shocked that so many people were in attendance, actually. I had read that in previous years, not many birthmothers showed up. I felt like I was among kindred spirits in that class! Not to mention, my wonderful caseworker, Julie, accompanied me. 

Discussions were brought up about how and when to tell your children your adoption story, how to plant seeds about adoption being a positive thing, and how to reassure your children they will not be “given away”. A few points I wrote down were: 

• Tell your children sooner rather than later – at a younger age, they are able to process the idea at their own level. 
• Learn to tell your story in a positive light, never act ashamed of what you did. 
• Plant seeds – tell stories about adoption, read your children books about adoption, make sure they know being placed for adoption isn’t a punishment. (i.e., “I hope mom and dad give you up for adoption!” so sad! I remember my brothers and sisters telling me I was adopted, with the intention of making me feel like I didn’t belong. Oh, how I know differently!)
• Tell your children your adoption story in third person when they are very young, then as they get older you can tell them “That was me.” 

It was a great class, though I wish I had taken more notes! 

Julie and I spent some time in the FSA store, where I *FINALLY* met my adoption crush – Lindsey Redfern!!! (Yes, she IS just as beautiful and awesome in person!) 

That night, “Jane” met up with me and we attended the banquet with her mother. Of course, I introduced myself to the people sitting at the table. One adoptive mom was there with her mother, and the other group at our table included none other than Martina Muir, the woman who presented in the class I had gone to. Yay! She was amazing to talk to. 

*Very Cool Experience Alert* 
So I went to the bathroom, and on my way out the door I noticed this girl just staring at me, turning to her husband and whispering, then looking at me again. I kept thinking, “Do I know her…?”

After about 20 minutes of this, and as I was DEEPLY involved with my delicious chocolate-mousse cheescake, I felt a tap on my shoulder. The girl who had been whispering and looking at me introduced herself as Brittney, then said, “I think we both know David and Amy?” … WOW! Instantly I wanted to hug her. She knew my couple! (Yes, I call them MINE! Haha) She had been in their stake, and had been struggling with infertility right along with Amy. She and her husband are now looking to adopt. (Search Wade and Brittney, Utah on the itsaboutlove.org website)

I love LOVE love when these things happen. Apparently she recognized me from my Facebook picture, because I had written on Amy’s wall. Go social networking! 

After the banquet, I went home with the intention of writing about the day. Then I realized I hadn’t even experienced the conference – so instead I went straight to bed. (see where procrastination gets me? A week and a half later…)

“Jane” couldn’t make it the next day because she was learning where babies come from (Childbirth Class, teehee)

Chelsea, one of the most WONDERFUL girls I’ve met in group, placed her little boy in November. She agreed to join me at the conference, and we had a GREAT day! 

The keynote address of the conference made me cry – of course – even though Brandon Doman coaches at BYU (I bleed RED, sorry!) What an amazing story! Just what I needed to hear to remind myself that children are being placed with loving families who want so badly to be parents. (It is NOT abandonment, so never let those mean anti-adoption people tell you otherwise!)

Next, we went to the “Husbands of Birthmothers” class. What amazing men! Two very cool things happened here – Chelsea recognized a boy she had gone to school with sitting in the room. She whispered to me, “I know he was adopted, but why is he here?” The answer? His birthmother was sitting to the left of him, and his birthmother’s husband was on the panel! How neat! They found each other two years ago. Wow! 

I also got to meet Alli, another one of my adoption crushes. (Blogging – it’s pretty much the bomb). Her husband was on the panel, and she and their little girl, Eva, blushed as he talked about how much he loves them both. 

These were such good guys! They each focused on the fact that they absolutely adore their wives, and see their adoption stories as the thing that makes them even stronger. They admire the courage and selflessness required of such an act. Wonderful men. All you birthmothers reading this, HOLD OUT FOR THOSE GUYS! They are out there, they are amazing, and they will LOVE you for what you’ve done, they won’t just “not mind” or think it “doesn’t matter”. They will see you as the strong, courageous woman you are! DO NOT SETTLE for less than a SON of GOD! (why? Because you’re the daughter of a KING!)

Next we ate lunch with Julie (I love that woman so much…!) then headed off to our second-to-last session. This one was “Healing and Grieving”. We laughed, we cried… we all connected (that is, the birthparents and families) through the grief we’ve gone through. Although we all know that what we’ve done truly is best for our children, it is OK to grieve! It is okay to feel a sadness, a loss, and the “empty arms” feeling. Suggestions for helping during the grieving process (which will last the rest of your lives, and that is expected) are:

• Talk about your experience. 
• Remember the things that gave you comfort before placement, and the things that helped reaffirm your decision after. 
• Write letters
• Expect to feel sadness at random times. Anticipate a little grief during anniversaries, holidays, birthdays, etc. 
• Never lose your faith in our Heavenly Father, and remember that what you have done is not just a temporal thing – it is eternal. Because of your sacrifice, there is now a beautiful, eternal family. 

After that session, Chelsea and I attended a session that was difficult for us. It was titled, “Who you are is NOT what you’ve done”. The title, at first, made me think that what I did, what I went through to give David life and a family, does not define me. I kept thinking, “how does it NOT define me? It’s a huge part of who I am now!”… Luckily, Martina Muir taught this one, too. She explained that who we are – daughters of a loving, eternal Heavenly Father, with a divine and spiritual nature – is not complemented by the mistakes we make. When people say, “Wow, I can’t believe I did that. It’s just not who I am!”, that is the idea of this phrase. “Who you are is NOT what you’ve done.” 

I try to remember this. Why did I mess up in the first place? It’s not who I am. I am so much better than my mistakes. The great part? That is why repentance is available to us. True repentance – that is, a broken heart and a contrite spirit. (anyone can say they’re sorry). 

Oh , that’s another thing… It’s important to remember that the baby is not a mistake. A child is NEVER a mistake. The action was the mistake, so trying to say you’re sorry for having your baby? It just doesn’t make sense… 

Unfortunately, I had to work that afternoon so I was unable to make it to the birthparent panel. I know some amazing women were on it. 

The most important thing that was reiterated many times – the grieving process takes time. No matter how “right” your placement for adoption was, you will grieve. Women are, by nature, meant to nurture. By raw instinct, we feel the need to care for others. When our bodies are getting prepared to deliver a child, something in our subconscious prepares us to hold and protect a small being. Perhaps that is the most painful part – empty arms after placement. But what I’ve had to remember, and what others have reminded me, is that it is OK to grieve for YEARS… but it’s also okay to find joy in what you’ve done. You have placed a child into the arms of a family who may not have ever been able to do that for themselves. You have filled that “empty arm” void for another family. What a miracle. What a blessing! 

If you were involved in a closed adoption, then extra faith that the Lord (or other higher power you believe in) will provide the absolute best may be required. 

"Remember, it's okay to miss him and long for him. More importantly, it's okay when you start moving forward with your life. Your love for him will never fade... but the pain will. It may never go away, but one day, you'll wake up and do something normal." – Chelsea Kendall


Alli said...

ha ha ha! i love that i'm one of your "adoption crushes" you're so cute.

Lindsey from The R House said...

ADOPTION CRUSHHHHHH!!!! i love it. i am blushing and giggling and smiling over here in my office.


you are hilarious and awesome!

Kim said...

I just came across this post from my friend! I loved reading this. Thanks for sharing!!

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