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.

Do You Really Want to Adopt?

Today is one of my favorite little boys first birthdays..he is the son of one of my favorite families and one of my favorite birth moms. He is cute, bright, healthy and one of the luckiest boys on earth. He has so many people that love him. He is supposed to be here and one day I’m sure will share with us why.

I met his birth mom when she was 5 months pregnant. She was in jail, had been for a month or so and would be for another month. I remember talking with her… sassy, honest and I immediately liked her. It doesn’t matter what the charges were, but I think they were drug related. D had a history of many years of drug use (addiction). She has a daughter who was being raised by another relative but she still had contact with. By the time I met D she had some sobriety under her belt and knew why she needed to do an adoption plan with this baby. I never know for sure how an adoption plan will turn out. I can only use my assessment skills and the “calling” that I feel I have been given. In the end, I am not God. But with D I always felt strongly that she would place. She said it all when she told me ” I don’t know how to love myself right now..how can I possibly care for another human being” She also did not want to risk making the same mistakes she felt she had made with her daughter. Now that she was sober, she wanted to regain some of her trust and respect. She wanted to provide this son with a family who straight out of the box could provide for him unconditionally.
D was open to all types of families, which we thought would make it easy to find for her. What the next few weeks brought though were frustration and made D feel like maybe she wasn’t supposed to follow through with an adoption plan. I think it’s important at this time to disclose the fact that D is a Caucasian woman under 40, we also knew that the father although not involved was also Caucasian. She had a history of methamphetamine use during the first few months of pregnancy but had been testing clean since month 3. Her expenses were low and the adoption costs over all were within budget for most families waiting to adopt.
We initially found a “traditional” couple, no children..who were provided with all of the information about D and her prenatal history. We provided them with our contract and the attorney who would be representing D contract. No surprises, she choose them and that weekend we received communication from them that they had taken the attorneys contract to someone else and felt there were “red flags” in it, could we take D away from that attorney and do the adoption without them? When we responded NO, that D had chosen that attorney, it would be unethical to do such a thing, they posted on a National Adoption Magazine website that the situation may be a scam, that they had matched with this mom and that we would not do anything to help them. Of note on this too is that we had not been contracted by them, we had presented them upfront with no fees involved and that to manipulate a client away from someone they have trusted to help them with one of the most important decisions in a lifetime, would be immoral, unethical and just downright deceitful..was not something we wanted to be part of. That conversation was a good indicator to me that this was not the right family for D or her baby. By the way, there are no “RED FLAGS” in this attorneys contract, and we have done many many successful adoptions with them.
The second family we were to match with D were a same sex male couple who had adopted before. We had matched them with two moms previously who decided to parent, so I can understand some hesitation on their part. Again D chose them and was ready to move forward in the adoption plan..when they decided to withdraw. Their reason….they felt it was too expensive given that she had a drug history. No comment from me….. ok some comment, babies are not priced in adoption. Adoption professional collect fees for services provided – period.
The third couple again was a same sex couple no children both female. All information was provided up front with no application fees, couple was presented and chosen, there was a phone call and then the family decided to back out..it just didn’t feel right to them.
After putting D through the disappointment of choosing three families and having each one of them back out, I turned to a family I knew had wanted to adopt. They were living in a state that I knew as a facilitator I could not work with BUT I also knew how important it was for D to find a family for her son, she had worked so hard on her sobriety and loved this little boy, I had grown to love her. I approached this family and told them about the situation. I knew this family held adoption in their hearts and would want this baby boy, regardless. We talked…I referred them to D’s attorney and they matched. We stepped away as a professional and remained only as a friend.
I watched this family learn to love each other and anticipate the arrival of a brand new life. Last year today he was born. We cried, we cried and we cried. He is beautiful..no flaws.
D has continued to be in recovery since she decided in jail she was going to reclaim her life. This is a completely Open Adoption and D and the adoptive family talk regularly and share pictures on facebook.
Three families backed out on this adoption plan…I know that one year later two of them still have not adopted. We see this daily, people passing on situations because of one thing or another. So I question, are you adopting because you want a family? Because you want to raise children?
Adoption is not about shopping for the best situation, there is no best situation..even those of you who are waiting for the college student who just wants to get on with her life. Because adoption is always a risk, we never know if the placement is going to be successful. We never know if mom is going to go to her appointments, if she will follow through with drug testing, if she is telling us the truth about anything or everything. Adoption is a risk, just like IVF is a risk. You don’t get back the medical fees if it doesn’t work. Adoption is not the same as surrogacy, we can’t make a mom do something, her pregnancy is not for you..adoption is about being gifted a child for whom you get to love and take responsibility for raising, for guiding through life..
Happy Birthday J..we are so grateful you found YOUR family and we are so grateful that we were allowed to be part of it!

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!

Parenting as an Adoptive Parent – Does the Insecruity ever go Away?

I know I’ve said this before, BUT parenting is the most difficult job in the world- seriously, I think it’s harder than being President of the United States! AT least with that job whatever mistakes you have made , in 4 yrs you get to quit. Everyone thinks it’s harder when the kids are smaller, younger. I think it’s harder when they get older. If you have to work do it when they are young, preschool is good. You need to be home with them when they start middle school. That’s when all the fun really begins. Until then, they love you, they like you.

Someone asked our oldest son once “what’s it feel like to be adopted?” His response – “How would I know? I don’t have anything to compare it too?” I thought that was a pretty good answer. The same really applies to being an adoptive parent, if you aren’t parenting any biological children. But in my experience as both an adoption educator and an adoptive mom, there is a difference. Somewhere in the back of my mind no matter how far back I tuck it, or how well the day has gone, is that little thought ” does he wish I weren’t his mom” “does he feel like he got the shaft” “am I second best”. I know that there of some of you adoptive moms out there thinking to yourself – “I’ll never feel that way” “I’m completely secure about how my child loves me” Rather than trying to discourage those thoughts (or roll my eyes and laugh, with that -ya wait till you get into adolescence) I’m going to let you keep them for now, because I remember them, and I remember how powerful I felt when I had them. Now don’t worry too much , or feel that sorry for me. I don’t feel that way all the time, but I’m honest enough to admit that it does affect some of the tough decisions I have to make, tolerating certain behaviors from our children and I’m almost always the parent who gives the benefit of the doubt (what might they be going through right now that made them make that stupid, stupid decision) I spent a yr in therapy talking about my co-dependency issues and still I struggle. You ask now, is it just her personality…..maybe? I’ll never really know, because I am who I am, which is a daily work in progress. I do know my children love me, I do understand my limitations and my perceptions, and my abilities. What I have found helpful with my insecurities, is talking with other adoptive parents, reading as much as I can and considering how I could use the information with my family – and I encourage you too as an adoptive parent, to reach out when you need to. To talk with someone else who will understand how you feel, when you have doubts. Our boys are grown now and our daughter has not. Most days I know we have done a good job. They complain, but they are all still here , under our roof at the end of the day.

What Happens When We Get a New Referral?

One of the adoption attorneys we know has started a facebook page chronicling each time he gets a new referral. The purpose of which is to share with families how much time and work goes into working with a new mom. I think it’s a great idea, and as a professional I like seeing that many of the things we do are the same, or even reading something and then thinking hmm maybe we should try this, or maybe we should have done that. As a facilitator I’m not in an “agency office” everyday to share my emotions or ideas, so long story short I “like” his idea and his posts. I’m not going to start doing that on ours, as I enjoy providing updates about our families and articles about adoption support and references to other resources. Maybe that’s the nurse in me? But I will share one piece of a journey with you, just so you can see that we spend a considerable amount of time with the women we work with..many who may choose to go a different path, before we even try to start finding a family for them.

We feel strongly about adoption. We feel that it can be a very positive experience for the adoptive family, the birth mom and the child when everything is transparent and honest. Because of this we are as honest with the women who come to us for guidance. We understand that there are many birth moms and adopted children who feel adoption should have never been the answer for them. I believe that, but I also believe that adoption is not always the reason those individuals are sad, and life is hard. It may have contributed, we don’t know that there would have been a better outcome if the adoption had never occurred. That’s all I’m going to say about that. That all said, women have to be given options and information about outcomes before an informed decision can be made. The hardest part about this is that so many women come to adoption because of a major crisis in their lives.
We always ask why adoption? What do they know about adoption? Do they know anyone who is adopted?
Do they understand that it is a life long commitment and not a foster care situation? Do they have any friends or family members who could raise this child and where is the father of the baby?

When we first meet, we give a brief description about who we are and what we do. We offer a short description of what would happen should they choose adoption and we provide examples of other families and women we have worked with..both who have placed and who haven’t. We get a brief history from them about what is going on and what they hope adoption would accomplish. We provide them with references( women we have worked with) so that they can talk directly to another woman who has gone through an adoption plan. The women we refer them too are very honest. They don’t sugar coat their feelings or the pain they have experienced because of their adoption plan. We leave with this information and another appointment made to discuss any questions or concerns they may have.
When we come back together for the next meeting, most women have decided or not what they want to do. If they want to consider an adoption plan, we then start talking about what that would look like, what kind of relationship they want, what are their needs at this time? It’s still not time to match though, we need medical records which could take up to 2 weeks to obtain. If they have not gotten any medical care then we help them to start this process. During this time we are looking into their backgrounds, listening to them talk, listening for inconsistency or not in their stories and histories. Talking to other people in their lives. The more people that are supportive of this plan the easier it will be for mom if this is what she decides, if friends and family are not supportive then we need to discuss if adoption really is the best option. All of the above can burn through a few weeks. Sometimes in the middle of all of this I might start asking our families if they would be interested in this particular situation should it go to an adoption plan. Depending on the woman we may or may not have her start to fill out paperwork on this second visit or we might wait until the third or fourth. We always ask them to fill out the standard forms for the State of California, one of our intakes, a medical release form, a statement of understanding that entering an adoption plan and taking financial assistance without the intention of following through with an adoption plan (which is much different than delivering and changing their mind) is committing fraud and punishable by law, a statement that they are working exclusively with us to find them a family and support their adoption plan (if they choose to discontinue our relationship and work with someone else then we need that in writing) and finally we look at what type of financial assistance they will need.
We try to obtain as much information about the father of the baby as possible. The best case scenario is that he is and wants to be involved. If not we simply get the information and then leave it up to the agency or attorney to decide on legal plan of action. There are several different thoughts about this. We are not attorneys and WILL NOT practice law.
If mom needs to go to the Dr still we may go with her to her appointment as a source of support. If she needs to stabilize her housing we might be helping her with this.

When it comes time to start matching, we ask our moms to choose at least two or three families to start with. We then start setting up a meeting or a phone call. All of our phone calls are facilitated at first. Once a relationship is established families and moms can talk on their own , have email contact etc. as long as it’s ok with the legal team. Some attorneys advise against this. Matches can take anywhere from a week – up to 2 months depending on requirements of mom and then finding the right family. Mom may like a family and then the family isn’t completely comfortable with all of the details, then we start all over. Facilitating matches is much more than finding people and setting up meetings. Everyone’s schedule has to be taken in to regards, once the individuals talk the families may then need to discuss this with an attorney and this can take several days, then comes all of the legal paperwork. We may spend a week and a half on a situation only to get to a point where someone gets “cold feet” or it’s happening too fast and it scares them and then the match falls apart and we start all over again. We may do all of this and mom matches and then she decides maybe adoption isn’t the best..or a friend has found them the perfect family..or a friend may know someone from their church. As I’ve said many many times..we are working with human beings and because of this, we cannot make promises. We can follow a procedure, and use experience with each new experience but in the end…we cannot make promises of an outcome until it happens.

Once this part is all done we then just support the plan, make sure mom is going to her appointments (or not – because adoption is not surrogacy we cannot mandate this occur) develop a hospital plan, make sure all the players are on board with the health team, social work team etc. and wait for delivery. We try to be there if geographically capable. If not we are available by phone.

We find this part to be the most emotionally draining. Once again there is an anticipated outcome but we all know that something else can happen. I always remind our moms that they do have a right to change their minds, but I will be there to remind them of why they made their adoption plans. Babies come with this chemica/hormone that no matter what they look or smell like – they are the most beautiful thing in the world, they melt the hearts of everyone around. A woman who has never gone through a relinquishment can know what it is going to feel like to be present in that moment or to walk away from the hospital empty handed. As a facilitator my heart is heavy and happy at the same time, happy beyond words for the family who has been waiting for this moment. Heavy for the mom who has spent 9 months growing this baby. When mom goes home she still continues to get support from us. We encourage counseling and a referral to a local organization for birth moms. We have a monthly support group at our Resource Center. Some of our moms go on to work with us, writing blogs and being a resource for other new moms. We have found that those who do this tend to have an easier time with healing and grieving.

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.