Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Agape Project and Blessings in a Basket

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A while ago I got to participate in a wonderful thing called The Agape Project.
The Video was made by Kale Fitch Productions

While working on this project i was able to meet so many wonderful individuals!
Briana Shuman is the beautiful woman who put this entire idea together.

I asked Briana if i could interview her!! here ya go: enjoy!!

What led you to decide to do the Agape project?
 I started 'The Agape Project' because of a prompting or 'impression' that I had.  I woke up in the middle of the night and knew I wanted to do something to 'give back' to those who had placed their children and the idea came to me of the project.  I had watched our own son's birth mom as well as her family and one of my really good friends place. Listening and watching their struggles and emotions that they went through, I wanted to do something small to help.   I thought it would be fun to include people I didn't know in this project, to learn more from different perspectives and thought it would be great to educate others about how much love really exists in adoption.  Not everyone understands it and to be honest, I didn't completely until our family became apart of the adoption world and then our eyes were completely opened.  You know the saying that you never can judge or understand what someone goes through until you walk in their shoes?  Unfortunately no one will ever really get to experience walking in each other's shoes, but my eyes were opened too many things.  One how many woman struggle with infertility, and two how many woman out there have placed and are still needing that constant love and reassurance in their life for their decision.  

What things did you take away from the project? 
 I learned so many things.  I learned that there are SO many organizations out there who are pro adoption.  There are some amazing, incredible stories out there from woman and families from both sides who have had amazing journeys. I also learned that  SO many people are wanting and willing to help.  There are some huge hearts out there.  But the one thing I took away and cherish the most, is the friendships that I have created with some incredible people who have taught me so much.  Not only did I enjoy this project, but I have received hundreds of emails from all parties telling me of their experience, or what the video has done for them to help heal or opened their eyes to adoption and are now considering placing.  To me, relationships are priceless and these amazing birth moms I got to meet, will forever be my friends.  I also had so many people get involved that I will cherish forever!!  

What new things did you learn from the birthmothers you worked with? 
 I learned about life from these girls.  Being an adoptive mom, my world consists mostly of the adoptive families.  I have only known a few birth moms who have shared their stories with me.  But to be honest, it has always been the birth moms that I have loved and wanted to learn more about.  As I watched and listened to these girls stories and journeys, I was amazing.  They took a situation that was very painful, emotional and yet peaceful and made amazing things happen.  The have blogs, organizations, groups, so many things that they are involved in and wanting to help support others and I learned that even through our mistakes, our trials, our sometimes painful journey, that there is always sunshine, there is always a rainbow after the storm and that beautiful things are created after our storms.  They are witnesses of that.  It is something that they took upon themselves, something they wanted to do and they did it.  They are not only beautiful girls on the outside, but so beautiful on the inside and they have and will continue to make a difference for those who have gone through the same thing or those considering placing.  I can honestly say I love these girls!!

If you could say one thing to all birthmothers what would you say?
 Man, what do you say to someone who gave you life.  Meaning, not only did my son's birth mom give him life, she gave me my life back.  There were a lot of tears, pain, fear in my husbands and my path and when I held my sweet little boy, he healed that.  Right then in my arms, I held the piece that was missing in our life...our sweet little baby boy.  So how do you say thank you for that? But, 'Thank You'...for giving more than you will ever realize.  I know things aren't always perfect, and every situation is different, but when it comes down to it, the adoptive mom and the birth mom aren't really that different.  We fight the same emotions, we have the same insecurities and we long for the same thing....but together we heal lots of situations and become strong.  Thank you for your selfless act of giving woman like myself a chance to be mom who would never get that opportunity otherwise.

Briana is an amazing woman and i count my many blessings for having her come into my life. While working with The Agape Project i also met another beautiful person. her name is Ashley. Ashley has a foundation called Blessings in a Basket. I also took an opportunity to interview her!

Briefly (if that is even possible!) tell me your birthmom story.

My birthmom story is pretty typical.  It doesn't get really exciting until after placement but there are a few things that happened during my pregnacy that reminded me over and over that there is a greater hand at work and that THIS baby was supposed to have life, be placed with an amazing family and do great things.  When I found out I was pregnant I had just moved back in with my parents and had started a job working for my dad.  I was terrified.  I was in high school all over again having a conversation with my friends "if I got pregnant I would NEVER have an abortion, I would totally keep it and raise it by myself"...WHAT!!  I could not raise this baby by myself, I obviously can't even take care of myself.  It is amazing what you will justify as the "best" decision when you are stricken with fear...fear of disappointment, anger, hate, guilt, pressure and more. 
I went to an abortion clinic but I was too far along...my ultrasound was reading 20 weeks and it was against the law in Utah after 16 weeks.  I left that place feeling dirty and ashamed but most of all, I was relieved....I knew that there was more in store for this baby and I knew that MY story was going to be bigger and better than that...when I was at a crossroad, I was guided in the right direction...and I chose adoption. 
Briefly explain about your organization.
Blessings in a Basket {BIB} is a 501 (c)(3) Non Profit Organziation.  It is set up to help graft lives together through our birth mom community.  We offer placement baskets, monthly support groups, amazing birth mom retreats, life coaching, placement photos and more!  BIB is a place for birth moms at any stage to come, connect with women around the country, heal and find hope...realizing that they are not alone and that they are Big Tough Girls!
When did you start the organization? 
BIB sent out our very first placement basket on October 3, 2010

Tell us about your group that you have set up.
BTG Support Group is held the 3rd Thursday of EVERY month.  We hold a 2 hour group and I don't care if someone shows up or not I will ALWAYS BE THERE.  It is my way of showing support...for anyone that needs it.  You can come every month or come for a quick lift every 6 months. 
Group was set up for 2 main reasons.  I wanted a place for birth moms to come and connect with other birth moms in the community, the sense of belonging is very powerful escpecially during different stages of your placement. 
The other was to have a place outside of the adoption agency or a church and HASH THE HASH...and trust me, we do plenty of that!  It is one of my favorite things about group...if you need to talk about adoption and being a birth mom great..we will talk about it but there are so many women going through so many things so we talk about it...from relationships, to weight and insecurities, to sex, to raising kids, to personal issues, to religious beliefs and more! 
It is a safe place to come and put it on the line...
We also Skype with other BTG Support Groups that are growing around the country! 
How do you fund bib?
Because BIB is a Non-Profit it is funded strictly off public donation.  That includes product and cash donations.  It has been slow in building recognition so my amazing husband has allowed me to continue with BIB that I love so much funding it through our own pocket. 
How can people help your organization?
ANY donation amount is such a blessing. From $1.00 to anything your heart desires.  Every penny goes back in to BIB to fund baskets, Group, retreats, our 5K and adoption walks and more!  PLUS, you get a tax write-off because of our 501(c)(3) status. 
We really feel that the birth moms deserve to be honored and respected.  We truly believe that they are giving the GREATEST gift that a person can give....a child. What is a few bucks to support a woman willing to give and sacrifice so much!? 

If you could say something to all birthmothers what would you tell them?
 You are a Big Tough Girl!  You have earned that status.  You are so loved and you are not alone! There are people that understand.  We are here to do everything that we can to help you through these incredibly difficult times. 
It gets worse before it gets better, have patience, show yourself some Grace, forgive yourself, be proud of your decision, know that you already stronger than you think or you would have NOT made that decision to place. 
I am a birth mom.  I am proud.  It is an incredible part of me.  I was given a second chance at my life...I changed my story.  What will your story be?
What was your favorite part of participating in the Agape project?
I got to do nothing but celebrate the miracle and love that surround Adoption.  It is a beautiful thing!

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