What IDoes It Really Feel Like when your Child Reunifies With Their Birth Mom (For Me)

adoptive mom   To take on the legal responsibilities as parent of (a child that is not one’s biological child). That’s the legal definition of adoption..which is so far from the feelings I have as a mom. The minute I laid eyes on all 4 of our children I was in LOVE and I was to be their warrior, their protector, their nurse, their guide through life, That’s what a mom is right? Then why so many times do I get asked..Where is their REAL mom? Aren’t you afraid their REAL mom will come take them..Aren’t you afraid they will want to go back to their REAL mom one day? Why do people think your not a REAL mom when you have adopted? I think an even better question would be..why do people think it’s okay to ask these questions. I know that as adoptive mom’s we are always qualifying who we are, we apologize for not having a birth story, we are always working a little harder to be a better mom.
I’ve always known that my children had another woman in their lives..it would just be a matter of time when and/or if they would have a relationship with them. Our children’s birth moms have ALWAYS had an open invitation to be part of our children’s lives. We have lived in the same community since our children were born and have the same telephone numbers. For reasons of their own each of them chose not to be present. Our oldest son’s birth mom contacted him through Social Media when he was 16. We were able to connect with our twins birth mom through their sister, although she (sister) encouraged us not to because of her lifestyle..but I felt it was important for the boys as adults to know who she was, and let them make their own choices. Our youngest has not met her birth mom yet, and after meeting a sister and hearing how chaotic her life still is our daughter has decided to wait. Our oldest son has encouraged her to wait as well, after his experience.
As an adoption professional I know that offering the opportunity for our children to have a relationship with their birth families is important. Some kids want this and some don’t. Some birth moms want a relationship some don’t. Just like with all family dynamics you make work what needs to work when it’s needed. There are no laws or “have to’s” – adoption is not co parenting. What everyone needs to be looking for is what’s best for the child. I have found from experience that if the situation is safe and a relationship early on is possible it is easier to start when the child is a baby, or toddler. It’s more comfortable for everyone as the years pass and its “normal” . No reason to hide this relationship or make pretend it doesn’t exist..it does and every family going into adoption needs to know this. It is part of adoption.
As my boys were growing up I never felt threatened by the presence of these other women…I was always proud of my children and wanted to have each of these birth moms in our lives..I tried many times to find them without success. So what was it like for me when it did happen?
At first I was excited, I was so excited that we finally had contact with our oldest sons birth mom. We had a short relationship with her when she was pregnant with Kyle and thought we would have an “open adoption ” relationship. It was her choice to not continue the relationship. Do I wish that she would have contacted us first, of course but I was still excited, for our son. I was able to meet with her and at first we found a mutual respect for each other but that changed with some decisions she made, and once that shifted it was difficult to get that mutual respect back. Uncomfortable for me for sure, I wanted this woman to like me, I wanted her to appreciate me, as I appreciated her. I wanted for us to adore each other so my son wouldn’t have to feel like he had to hide his relationship with her or he wouldn’t feel that classic adoptee guilt.
Children are not possessions so they do not belong to anyone. A mom gives birth and she can not or does not want to parent and she has an option of adoption. A woman wants to be a parent and she is there to adopt this child. You love and protect and raise this child with everything you are. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a mom.
As our children grow up they leave, they make a life for themselves and they start to live. That’s what we spend 18 years in preparation for right? It hurts when they leave but we are supposed to feel comfort in who they are and what we have provided, so they can succeed in this moment. My oldest took a little longer to leave and when he did he moved to another country and he moved in with his birth mother. I had 5 days to process this information. I’m being honest when I say..I’m still processing this information. It has nothing to do with whether or not my son loves me. It has nothing to do with whether I want him to be with her or not. I don’t want him to feel guilt, I don’t want him to choose. I know who I am, I know where I’ve been. I know as a woman she is happy to have him in her life. I have tried to process my feelings..I have tried to put my feelings into words. I know this is a day that as an adoptive parent I could expect..it’s one of those tools that I share with others that they have to have, but I am still having a hard time. I see pictures of them together and I am happy for them, and I am sad for me. I am sad that I had to be the disciplinarian, I am sad that I am the one who created boundaries and curfews, I am sad that I am the one who had to look for him when he ran away for a week and now she gets to be the one who makes him smile, she gets to be the one who takes him to see places he has never seen, I am sad that she gets to laugh with him and I had to make sure he graduated high school. I am sad that he has memories of hating me and she doesn’t have this history. And as I say those things, I LOVE that I was the one that was there when he graduated from preschool, rode his first motorcycle, swam in the ocean in Mexico, got his letter jacket, cried with him during his first break up, held his head when he was vomiting after drinking too much – I know that I’m the lucky one. I know that he is able to smile now because we helped him become who he is. I know that there are parts of him that need her love right now to make him stronger and as his mom I appreciate that she is available to provide this But I would be lying to say it doesn’t all feel good..that I don’t have moments of jealousy. My husband doesn’t understand…he asks me why it hurts me to see our son happy. I still don’t have the words…of course I want him happy. I know families whose children have “left the nest” even gone to other countries..does it feel the same? I don’t know.. I only know what it feels like for me.


I AM Adopted!

If someone asks one of our four children “What’s it like to be adopted?” Their answer is usually “I don’t know” “How do I answer a question like that?” “What’s it like to be you?” I’ve always wondered, because I too am adopted, and I don’t know what it feels like to be anything but me. I stayed in my family of origin, because my adoption happened due to the death of my biological father, but like I hear in a lot of articles written by adoptees, I didn’t have a choice of who was to become my father. My mom remarried, and my “new” “un-biological” father raised me. You can say it’s not the same, I know my medical history…not really – both of my birth parents don’t know who their biological fathers were..my grandfathers were second marriages (relationships) for my grandmothers. All four of our children have more information about their medical background then I do! My birth father had a son before he married my mom, who I met but haven’t seen in 40 years and without doing a search, have no idea where he is. I don’t know if he has children.

Hands make heart shape

I wish there was a way that life could be perfect, that people could fall in love and have children and stay together forever. That they would love them and take care of them and show them how to be good people and good parents so they could go out and repeat the same thing…BUT this is not the reality. People have casual sex, babies are made…there is poverty and abuse and drugs and horrible parents and life really sucks sometimes.

I don’t EVER want to idealize adoption..it is not always rainbows and unicorns – research states it is always better for children to stay in family of origin – my questions is at what cost? Without the possibility of adoption, we would have hundreds of thousands of children without families. I’ve heard people say if we just threw the money into reunifying families that is spent on adoption – we could help these families…possibly some of them – but no not most of them. Abuse is real, addiction is real, life is real. Spend one year working out here..spend one year trying to get a woman off drugs so she can raise her child, one year where her child sits in the same home and watches people in and out buying drugs. one year watching this woman and her child move from motel room to motel room and eviction after eviction. Spend one year assisting her, helping to make a stable environment with no attempts from her to get clean. How long do we wait? How many rooms does this 9 year old deserve to live in. When he tells you he is going to start charging the people coming into his home and taking his food ..is that when? Or is it when mom actually starts making the drugs herself?

I wish we all had third and fourth chances..but I’ve seen enough children abused through these third and fourth chances that I’m not willing to be part of them anymore. Children don’t get to make choices, adults do. Not everyone is ready or willing to be helped….I don’t get to write the Rule Book but I do get to decide what choices I am going to make. I ended up with a pretty good life. I was given opportunities I might not have had, and I Love both my dad’s..the one that helped to create me and the one who provided me guidance and support through life.

Adopted is adopted..there are no degrees of which adoption is less or more …I am an adoptee and I am real.


I’ve been struggling today. We’ve just what I would call finished up..with two adoption plans. One that we worked on for 7 months, the other just a few weeks. By finish up, I mean consents have been signed and are irrevocable in both plans. The adoption won’t be finalized for 6 months or more and our relationship with the families and the birth moms will continue a life time. I’m struggling because a lot of emotion and time go into an adoption plan, whether it lasts 7 months or it lasts just a few weeks. Like post adoption/post pregnancy blues, I get a sort of depression too. I know it’s time to work on the next plan, time to network, time to reach out to or individuals I haven’t had time for..but I don’t feel ready yet. Then I remembered I have a blog! I could write my thoughts on here and say what I needed to say. I thought I would try to explain what goes into working with a mom for 7 months…..or two weeks. I know I’ve written about this before – so please humor me, I find it therapeutic.
When someone calls us and wants to talk about adoption….we first find out what is going on in this woman’s life. If possible we schedule a face to face within a couple of days. It is much easier to read a story with someone sitting in front of you. Many times this is the last meeting we have. We provide information about what adoption is and what it isn’t and they may decide at that point it isn’t for them. If we do have a second meeting, we talk about what kind of resources are available to parent..who is important in their life, are there significant female relationships close by, what about the father of the baby and his family. We ask them what resources they are using now. We also talk about histories of drug use and mental illness. We do a lot of fact finding and listening. With all of this info we leave and start doing background checks. We look for current jail time, warrants, past jail times etc. We look into facebook pages and anything else we can find online. Sometimes you can’t find it right away, it takes time. If after a second meeting someone wants to move forward with an adoption plan, we start to put it into place. We look at what her expense needs are, we look at what kind of family she wants, what kind of future as far as openness goes, and we start assisting with looking for a family for her. During this process if she is homeless we ask for help in the community for donations. We visit food banks for food boxes, we start setting up counseling and Dr’s appointments. We start looking for housing. Housing is usually the hardest because many of the women we work with have had evictions, bad credit , no history of income. Rents are really high in California, especially the Bay Area. It can takes months to find a landlord to take a chance, and not compromise our mom’s confidentiality where the adoption plan is concerned. Once mom finds a family (which yes could be a family we are working with) then all of the legal components are put into place. It is decided whether its going to be an agency placement or an independent placement. This is usually determined by the adopting family. Either way, an attorney is involved and/or an agency is involved and all expenses are filtered through one of these entities. EVERYTHING is documented. If it’s to be an independent placement, then an Adoption Service Provider sits with the expectant mom and explains the process and makes sure mom is not being coerced. If its an agency placement then mom is seen by an agency Social Worker. We continue to provide support and case management on a day to day basis. We facilitate the relationship between mom and family. We set up appointments and provide transportation. We go out to lunch or dinner on a regular basis, this can provide a lot of insight about what is going on with mom, how she’s feeling about her adoption plan and whether she needs more help. We get mom to counseling and treatment if she will accept it- you can’t force someone to seek drug treatment. We get mom to court if needed. If mom is in jail we do jail visits, and court room visits to keep everyone up to date. If mom needs to be moved we find a new place and move her. All the while keeping everyone updated and as involved as possible. If mom needs bus passes we get them to her. We take her to get her food boxes. We communicate with landlords and attorneys and anyone else that needs to be communicated with. We read between the lines…one of the most important parts of what we do and we filter what needs to be communicated. As I tell our families, some of your expectant moms life may have nothing to do with the adoption plan, and frankly is not anyone’s business except hers, she is not being hired – she still has free will and can make her own choices, even when they are not good ones. We will ALWAYS provide what information we feel is important to the adoption plan. We listen to the adoptive family, we provide support and updates as needed. Communication is key to a good adoption plan, even when circumstances have gone in directions we had hoped they wouldn’t if you can keep communication open it can work. I think the most important thing for people to understand is that we aren’t in positions to judge, we don’t have to agree with the life that some of our moms live. They come to us to do an adoption plan and that is what we assist with. It’s our opinion when professionals are involved in the plan, it is more of an experience, a journey, a path. We want everyone when possible to not necessarily have a kum – by-ya moment but recognize that what’s happening is a life altering event for all members involved. We’re working with human beings, not numbers. I don’t have to agree with the lifestyle the mom I’m working with has chosen, but I am certainly not her judge. My role is to help her with her plan, help her get through this journey with less pain as possible and hope to uplift her circumstances while doing so. My role is to help our adoptive family understand what is happening as best as they can, to filter the chaos and make their way into parenting this new baby as crisis free as possible.
We don’t force people or bribe them with the promise of a new car to sign consents, we don’t go out and pass out cards to pregnant women to come to us to do an adoption. We don’t talk families into matching with a particular situation..we don’t make false promises to families about matching times, and we are honest about what fees are involved. We don’t lie about the number of adoptions we do or how we do business. We provide community outreach with the help of diapers and formula. We help provide shelter for women in need. We give FREE parenting classes for families involved in child welfare.
At the end of the day I am very happy with what we do in our community and the families we help to adopt. And I am happy I have a blog because I feel much better now. 🙂

A Story of Reunion

It’s always interesting to me when a new family comes to us for assistance with adoption and we ask what they know about adoption, and what they want in an adoption. There are families who have heard all of the horror stories of birth families and there are families who have read every book on Open Adoption and want a full blown relationship with mom because that’s what’s best for child. End of the line is Family is Family, Birth, Adoptive, Step, By Marriage and like everything in life these relationships cannot be controlled. What may start out one way – ends up another.

We have four children by adoption, each with a different level of openness. This weekend we had a reunion after 21 yrs with our twins birth mom. I have been talking with her for over a year now on Facebook. She had a daughter that was 4 when the boys were placed with us that we reunited with a few years ago and this daughter has come and stayed at our home. I have been in contact with their birth father and he was ok with just that and nothing else. There are some paternal siblings that myself and the boys have been in virtual contact. Twenty one years ago next month we were chosen within a 48 hrs period to parent these boys. We knew nothing about them except that they had been born prematurely.  We didn’t care, we were presented and chosen and rented a van to go pick them up 3 hours away. We met with mom for the first time, saw the boys and went to a park to talk. We had lunch at Red Robin’s and drove home just a few hours later with the boys. They were 4 months old.

There was about 6 months to a year of contact after that. We helped her find stable housing, she got a new job. Her first child at the time was living between her and her ex husband. We received cards and letters from her. By two to three years the communication stopped. Phone numbers get disconnected, there are no forwarding addresses. Life happens. Fast forward to now, we met again at a park. We drove 3 hrs to meet with her, she was late and I was worried for my sons that she was not going to show. An hour and a half later than the time we arranged I was able to get in touch with her, drove to her apt and picked her up. This reunion for me was much different than our oldest sons birth mom. I don’t know if it has been life’s circumstances or age (maturity) or just personalities. I felt like we have known each other for years. I did not feel uncomfortable at all. She was very nervous, I could not tell this, it was what she shared with me.  The visit went well, one son did more talking than the other (the quiet one did not initially want to go, he decided at the last min) the one that did most of the talking is the son struggling with addiction, something his birth mother has struggled with for 23 years. She was able to share this with him. She was able to share why she decided on adoption, that it wasn’t an easy decision but it wasn’t hard either knowing that she wasn’t going to have any support from family members even though they told her she would. She was able to tell them that she did feel shame, but never regret and that when people ask family and debbieher how many children she had , she always said 3. She told them that she was happy for them, that they had a family who loves them, and most powerfully that if she hadn’t made the decision for adoption that she knows they would have ended up in the foster care system and she would never know what happened to them. They learned about their family medical history and they were able to ask her questions that they pondered with over the years..Reno point blank no holding back asked her “why did you drink while you were pregnant?”

I could see in their birth mom’s eyes that she was tired, I imagine I would have been exhausted too. She was afraid initially that the boys would be angry with her. They aren’t- not for choosing adoption. I’m not sure what the future brings, I’m not sure who will stay in contact with who. I do know that it was the right time for everyone. I do know that I love this woman for trusting me with her boys. I do know that I love my sons and feel grateful for the opportunity to raise them, and I do know that I am very proud of them for fighting to live that day that they were born even though it was 13 weeks too early.


Who is Doing Adoption Right?

Spend some time researching adoption on the internet and you can easily get pulled into the abyss. There are websites for any angle you want to look at. There are blogs from adoptive parents, adults who are adopted, adopt reform supporters, adoption reunion supporters, therapists and consultants who have their own theories and ideas of how everyone should feel, research supporting loss and grief, Christians who support orphan adoption and those who feel that those Christians supporting this belief are nothing but Child Traffickers, it goes on and on. Then there are all of the books written about Open Adoption – and what to do for a successful adoption.  So who is right? How are we supposed to do adoption? Should we be doing adoption? Who are we supposed to believe?

This is what I have learned as a  woman who experienced infertility and 3 unsuccessful medical attempts at pregnancy, as an RN who has been present (and delivered personally)at the birth of 100’s of babies, as an advocate and educational support of fostering and adoptive parents in Child Welfare, as a woman who has worked directly with other women who have had their children removed by the court, as a mentor to foster youth now having their own children, as an advocate for women (and fathers) in active and recovering addiction, as a facilitator working with families who want to adopt and women who come voluntarily to me to relinquish a child in an adoption plan, and as a mother of 4 through adoption who all have a different “Open Adoption” with their birth families: There is no single way to do an adoption. We have laws to abide by to avoid child trafficking, we have statues that prohibit how much we can provide in assistance to women who choose adoption to prevent baby selling. Those are important. But Open Adoption can mean many things, and until we meet the people involved in each adoption plan, there is no “right way”.

Adoption should always be Child Centered, meaning – all of the adults involved should be making a decision based on what is best for the child, baby being born. We have enough research today vs back in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s even to understand that having a relationship, or knowledge of birth history provides an adopted individual with a greater ability to cope or survive. But a cookie cutter approach is not always best for everyone. There are just as many birth moms who are comfortable with the choice they made, until someone tells them they shouldn’t be. There are adopted adults who don’t suffer the day to day trauma that some anti adoption advocates would like for you to believe all adopted individuals  feel. In fact if you tell them there are not any problems they will tell you it’s because an adoptee doesn’t want to create a problem. Just as there are variations in families or individuals who have not been adopted, there are variations in those that have been.

We have many families come to us after reading books or researching on line and most of these families are clearly split into two groups. Both of these sets have a specific mind of what they are expecting or looking for. There is the family that has received no grief and loss support surrounding the years of infertility, they are hesitant to adopt but know no other way to start a family. They don’t want to do fost adopt because they can’t bear the thought of finally having a child in their home and then losing them. They also have a very long list of expectations : age of mom, ethnicity, absolutely no drug history or even cigarettes, some alcohol okay. No mental illness. They may want to meet mom but not necessary. They will always want a picture though and some knowledge of the health and development of the other children. Visits will not be included in the post adoption contact but they will provide pictures and letters. This last request made because they don’t want their child being confused about who the parents are. The other family reads about Open Adoption , attends some orientations and then decides this – they must have a relationship with their birth mom(who by the way is not a birth mom until she places for adoption). They want to meet her before they decide on a “match” to make sure they all get along, because this will be someone who is in their life as well as the child. They want to know the complete family history, when all medical appointments are and attend those visits when possible. They are the ones most open to trans racial adoption and some drug use.  They want a hospital plan drawn up and a post contact agreement in place right away. All of these things because they know it is best for the child. So which one of these adoptions is the right way? They both are…and there are many other plans that will be right too.

There is no right or wrong way to do an adoption plan IF everyone is acting morally and ethically. We are working with real people here. There are so many dynamics that influence an adoption plan that I share with families- you have to be flexible. I think it’s important to gather information, to read, to store facts. I think all of this needs to be put in what I call our “adoptive parenting toolbox” . What I think is most important though is to remain open to all potential situations. You may envision having birthdays and holidays together and meet a mom who wants to do an adoption plan with the same intentions and then in a year or two that all changes. Our lives change year after year so I ask families to remain open to ALL possibilities when considering whether they want to move forward in an adoption plan. If you have a focus or an idea of how your plan is supposed to go you shut yourself out to many other possibilities. Open Adoption is what’s best for our children, and this means many things – mostly sharing of information. There are going to be times when physical contact is not safe…do you avoid adopting a child where this might be the case? There may be a time when you meet mom during the pregnancy and then after the baby is born , she does not want to remain active in your life…does this mess up your adoption plan?

Our children all have an Open Adoption. Kyle : we meet Sarah when she was 6 months pregnant, we spent time with her, I was in the delivery room. She disappeared after Kyle was born and resurfaced when he was 16. We had a turbulent couple of years trying to develop this relationship. Kyle would not even agree to do anything but text and communicate online for a year. He is 22 now and they spent a month together in Ecuador, they send emails to each other. He has a relationship with a couple of her sisters and we have a relationship with two of is cousins and one aunt.  Our twins came to us a t 4 months old, we met their birth mom and then communicated with her for the first year. She then disappeared. When they were 17 Alex a birth sister contacted them on Facebook, we have since had her over to stay and I communicate with B. Mom. They don’t want to. The birth father knows about them, I have communicated with him but he does not want a relationship. Kaylee came to us through foster care, her family was initially involved with a reunification plan, we had an older sister with us too. She was eventually reunified after 1.5 yrs and we were chosen to adopt Kaylee. We have a relationship with an older sister and some of her younger ones. I have been in touch with B Mom but she is not in a situation right now where she wants to reach back. These are all open adoptions. I can’t force anyone to be who they are or have a relationship that they don’t want to have, and beyond the normal dysfunction of a “normal” family my kids are good with who they are. They don’t feel like they are missing out, they don’t feel special because they are adopted, they feel loved and we feel blessed.

Books are good to have as a resource, other peoples experience is good to listen to, research is important because it provides us with tools and a base from which to work from. What’s most important is that you come into adoption with the same understanding as you have of marriage or any other relationship. We grow, we change and we need to be open to many scenarios. Just because something is someway one day it may not be the next.

What is PC in Adoption?

One can make themselves crazy if they spend a day online researching adoption.

What IS adoption? Is it right? Is it wrong? Have Adoption Professionals created such an industry that they can’t be trusted? Why does it cost money? Who deserves to be able to adopt? What is a Birth Mom? What is an Expectant Mom? Where is the father and what do you mean you don’t know who he is? What are his rights? Are mom’s coerced in to relinquishing? Could they parent if they were provided with resources? Were they provided counseling? Were they provided housing? Were they provided respite? Did they get bought off because you offered assistance with expenses? Should pre -birth expenses be offered to mom’s , or does this make them feel responsible to place after delivery? Should families meet with mom’s? Is it a good idea to establish a relationship and have an open honest dialogue? Should adoption be an option? Should all women just parent? What about drug use? Mental illness? Does it matter whether she has family support? What are her reasons for wanting to do this? Does she have a criminal history? Where are her other children? Are they healthy? Can we look at pictures of her and them? Why hasn’t she gone to any prenatal visits? Can’t we make her do that? Can we require drug screening? How did she find you? Why did she pick us? What if she decides not to go through with the adoption plan? What do we call a woman who has relinquished? A birth mom, a first mom, a mom? DO we celebrate two different days for moms?

Do all adopted children feel like they don’t belong? Do all adopted children feel like they “owe it to their adoptive parents to be gracious and not ask questions about birth family? Do all adopted kids who were exposed to drugs in utero have ADHD or learning disabilities? Do all adopted children grow up hating that they were adopted? Do adopted children always end up having an identity crisis?

Do all adoptive parents feel “entitled”? Do all adoptive parents lie to birth moms telling them they will have an open adoption and then close it up?  Are all adoptive parents Saints? Do all women who can’t get pregnant think they deserve to adopt a child? Should all women not able to achieve a pregnancy be allowed to adopt? Should families who can’t have children through pregnancy adopt only children from foster care who are already waiting for homes? Should adoptive families have to pay professional fees for the work done in an adoption? And should should be able to set these fees? Should adoptive families be able to pick and choose from situations or should there be a waiting list that when your number is called that is your child?

What about adoption professionals – should they get paid for the work that they do or should it all be volunteer? Should adoption facilitators and attorneys all be non profit? Should the expectant mom pay for services instead of the adoptive family? (would this remove the impression of coercion?) What should be the role of the adoption professional? Do agencies, attorneys and facilitators talk women into placement? Are there any ethical reputable professionals and what qualifications make that so?

My opinion, and believe me there are a thousand and one opinions for any direction we take in this. There are anti adoption blogs and pro adoption blogs, there are blogs and forums for women who have placed that are furious that they did and there are groups that continue to be happy with their decision, there are adoptee organizations, blogs and forums for individuals who are proud of adoption and have gone on to work in it and of course those that feel that everything that is wrong in life is because of adoption.  There are agencies, attorneys, consultants and facilitators who we are happy to work with everyday and those who we have learned to stay away from.

I believe adoption has to be an option. I believe that there are women who get pregnant that can never -ever be a parent, and that there are women once provided some support will create loving environments for their children. I believe there are people who want to adopt who will be the best parents ever and should be given an opportunity to do this through adoption and  there are parents who want to adopt that I hope never have the opportunity. I do not believe adoption should be FREE. I believe that if a women needs some assistance to help her live at a normal comfortable standard while pregnant, she deserves that. I believe that whenever possible an adoption should be open and children can love and be loved by many. I believe that women deserve respect for coming to terms that they are not able to care for an individual on a daily basis 365 days a year and forever because that is what parenting is, and that should be supported – not shamed. I believe that because a woman makes an adoption plan does not mean that she will always be comfortable with this choice, that she will be sad, that when she sees pictures of her baby she will wish she was raising her/him. I also believe that acknowledging this does not mean that she should have not chosen adoption, or that if someone had provided resources instead of adoption information she could be parenting. When it all comes down to it…..

I strongly believe adoption has to be an option. I also believe that it can and is a healthy option in many circumstances for all involved. I say this as a mom through adoption, an adoption professional and a person who has worked in child welfare. A person who has worked with many women..who aren’t ready now and may never be – to parent. Parenting isn’t a right like a driver’s license. Children are not possessions, whether biological or adopted.

So I’m not asking for any one’s opinion about any of this. I am proud of my beliefs. I am not interested in being PC to fit in. I believe in adoption!

There are two of us……….Moms that is

This is probably one of the hardest things I have ever written. Several times I wondered whether I should actually put the words down on paper and whether I should share them with the entire world. I decided to share because I think these feelings are important, I try to share honestly even when I think it may make others turn away. I wanted to share so that those who have had the same moments will know they aren’t the only ones. If I have learned anything in the many therapy sessions I have attended over the years is that feelings are feelings and no one gets to decide whether they are right or wrong..they just are. But I am a control freak (something I work on daily) I spend many hours justifying my thoughts and how they may or may not affect someone else. I think one of the biggest reasons I struggle with this particular subject though is because of what I do for a living. I spend all my waking hours supporting expectant-birth parents and educating adoptive parents on the importance of this relationship. It’s easy to get up on my soapbox and tell everyone else how they should react, or how they should feel. Not so easy to deal with my own feelings. So in the end I have decided to SHARE so that we can all recognize that no matter how ” politically correct” we want to be – we can have “slips” we can detour from what the therapists and professionals and bloggers and all other adoption related material says because we are human. In rereading this I think I may have just tried to justify this feeling but who cares it is who I am………

Our oldest son just returned from Ecuador after spending for the second time in his life a 3 week period with his birth mom. She is an American citizen living over there. This son just turned 21 and 2 days later, for the first time went on a trip , a trip abroad by himself, the week of Christmas. His first encounter with his birth mom was when he was 16. She contacted him on My Space without contacting us first. We have a great relationship with him and he immediately shared this. I had no problems with her contacting him, we had been trying for years to find her. (come to find out she was only an hour away!) My wish though is that she would have contacted us first, to find out if he was in a place emotionally to do this. Being the adoption professional that I was, I was excited and supported contact. Many things when on to happen in the next year..some not so good. In hind site I wish I had monitored things more closely and set boundaries for everyone’s sake. There were many positive things that came of out this time..of course our son was finally able to meet his birth mom and find out some answers about his biological family, he met aunts and cousins too. A lot of questions about who she was got answered for him. Even though we had spent time with His birth mom before he was born and could share some of that, it of course is never enough. Having been though this with my own children I fully support Open Adoption and ongoing relationships when it is appropriate (and safe). It also provided a lot of answers to some of his behavior. It also provided us with some medical history and an opportunity to seek treatment, which would be a blessing. So from that time age 17 to now 21 he has communicated with his birth mom over email from time to time.
We were able to Skype with him a few times while he was over there. He was having a good time but of course was feeling a little home sick. On the day he was supposed to be home, we got a call from him saying his flight was cancelled and he couldn’t get on another flight for 5 days! He was upset, tired and I could tell frazzled. This of course was making me a bit anxious and worried for several reasons…I wanted to hug him and tell him it was okay…i knew how much medication he had with him…..he was out of money……and we were leaving for a family vacation in just a week. Was he going to get home in time and what kind of shape emotionally was he going to be in when he got home. First things first we wanted to make sure he was safe, was his birth mom still with him and did he have a place to stay in the city for the next 4 nights. His birth mom wanted him to travel back to her home (6 hrs from airport) with her and return closer to date. Being in the city was very anxiety producing to her. He did not want to do this, she got upset and left. We spent the next few hours depositing funds into his bank account, communicating with a hotel in the area and securing his lodging. SO this is where the reason for my story comes in……when I asked about what happened between him and his birth mom, and what the circumstances of her leaving so abruptly were..he made this comment” She wanted me to go back home with her..I didn’t want to be that far from the airport..even P said – YOUR MOM is being unreasonable” There I said it out loud…while I was spending all of this effort and time in making sure he was safe, he called someone else his mom. Okay so how many of you are saying to yourself – what’s the big deal? She is his mom..I know that, but it hit me in the gut like nothing else. I’m used to people asking inappropriate comments or the forever question “where’s his REAL mom”. You don’t think you’ll ever get used to that question as an adoptive mom but you do.  I have always known that no matter how many bandaids I apply, or how many tears I wipe away, or how many nights I have stayed awake hoping he is ok and worrying about whether I provided him with the right tools to become a good man, that he is not just mine. He is hers too. I have always known that , and I can stand in front of a group of people and talk for hours about the dynamics of adoption and what you have to be prepared for. But even with all that knowledge, even with all these years, even with all the families I have counseled….I don’t think I have the words to describe how that moment felt to me. I tried to talk to my husband about it, he tried to make me feel better, and he was right when he said..that our son has never questioned what my relationship is with him. Still….

So I share this just to confirm – we are all vulnerable, all of us. There are expectations about what relationships should be like in adoption, but when it comes down to it, we are people. We all have our own feelings. We know how we are supposed to feel, what happens when it doesn’t happen the way the book says it supposed to happen? Does it make it wrong? I know my son loves me, and I know he loves his birth mom and I love that he is able to love both of us.