Sunday, November 28, 2010

And It's Not Even My Birthday

Let's face it, there's no way to mention you got a blog award without sounding like a horrible braggart. I can't bear a braggart. I had a rather humorous post written up about getting a blog award, and I referenced Captain Cluck and everything. But in the end, I couldn't bring myself to post it, because it felt a little too self-congratulatory. (This post does as well, but que sera, sera.)

But we talked about gratitude in church today, and I thought, if I just let this go without acknowledging it, I'm being ungrateful. Which I don't mean to be. Because I am super, super grateful to get a blog award. And this one came when I was feeling emotionally fragile and needed a little validation.

And here's my validation!

One of my new fave birth mama blogs is called Carrying a Cat By the Tail, and the blogger, who goes by A Life Being Lived, thought I needed a little pink to balance out Captain Cluck and the Daisy on my sidebar. Wasn't that nice of her?

I mean, like I said, I don't want to brag or anything, but I don't want to be ungrateful, either. And I love cupcakes.

Of course, now I'm supposed to spread the love to 5 other people. Sigh. I hate choosing favorites. Some asked me once on Formspring what my favorite adoption blogs were, and I answered, against my better judgment. I do love the blogs I mentioned, but all I can think of are the countless others I love that I should have mentioned as well. So for now, I'm going to be a weaselling weasel, and weasel out of further nominations. I wish I could give it to all of you the way I did with Captain Cluck, because y'all are awesome.

(Y'all know how awesome you are, right? If you don't, kindly click HERE and start believing. Captain Cluck would love to be CTRL+C-ed and CTRL+V-ed onto your snazzy little corner of the blogging world.)

Would the blogosphere explode if I broke the sacred rules of the Blog Award? Like, if I said, "Hey, readers, you are award-worthy, please take this award for yourselves - all of you!" would that be a bad thing? I mean, if anyone can just take one it probably defeats the purpose of them being awarded. Which is probably why I haven't seen Captain Cluck floating around too much - people like the idea of being chosen for something.

Well, too bad. For now, I choose to abstain from further awarding.

Thanks, ALBL! You and your lovely blog are awesome. As a token of my appreciation, please take a chicken.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Today is Thanksgiving in the United States. I know it's trite and cliché, but I feel the need to count some of my many blessings today.

I am thankful most of all for Roo. She is my favorite little person in the world. She changed my life forever, for the better. I am who I am because of her.

I am thankful for P and M. They are wonderful parents, the very best in the world. They love Roo so very much! She is blessed to be their daughter. I am blessed to know them.

I am thankful for an open adoption. P and M spoil me, really. They have sent me so many great videos of their baby girl. I get to see for myself how happy and clever and loved she is. How awesome is that?

I am thankful for all of the amazing friends I have made since I became a birth mom. Adoption friends are the best.

I am thankful for my family, especially my mother and my big brother Scott. Their love and support have gotten me through hard times and I couldn't have done it without them.

I am thankful for a Father in Heaven who knows me and loves me, and who is always there for me, forever, no matter what.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Happy National Adoption Day!

I've been neglecting my blog lately. Bad blogger! Shame! But I couldn't not post today, even though I am that special kind of tired where it's difficult to string together more than one coherent sentence (bear with me). Because not only is the whole month of November adoption month, but today specifically is National Adoption Day. I think that's what it's called. I'm too lazy to Google it.

(I should warn you, that laziness is probably a pretty good indication of the quality of today's post, so please lower your expectations.)

More than 300 adoptions will be finalized today in the Phoenix area alone. Isn't that awesome? I think this has to be the best day to be a family court judge. So much of their work is to tear families apart. If I were one, I certainly wouldn't mind going to work on a Saturday to put families together.

I personally know of a family whose adoption of a darling boy was finalized today. I am so happy for them! Their finalization takes me back to last December when a judge told P and M that Roo was officially theirs. P and M sent me a few pictures from the courthouse and I remember thinking that the judge looked like a nice man. In the year that has passed, I have seen probably six or seven other courthouse finalization pictures with the same judge, and I always smile when I see him in photographs with these indescribably happy families. I have never met the man, but I will always remember him, because he was the judge who legally, officially, gave Roo a family. I'm sure I'll have more to say about that in a few weeks when it's Roo's one-year anniversary as an official member of the P and M family.

In the adoption blogs I frequent, the focus this month has been on infant adoption, but as I understand it (again, I'm too lazy for Google) the real focus of adoption month is foster children who need forever families. So while I am super happy for the couple I know and their handsome little guy whose adoption is final today, I find myself equally teary-eyed at the thought of older children from the foster-care system who are also getting families today.

I can't say what the statistics are nationwide but I remember reading that in Arizona there are more than 10,000 children in foster care. Doesn't that just break your heart? I'm not going to get all "I believe that children are our future" here, but I do think that every child is precious, and every child deserves a family and unconditional love.

Next week is Thanksgiving, but I am going to be extra-thankful a little early, because as I understand, that sort of thing is not only allowed but encouraged in some circles. I am so thankful for adoption! I am thankful that Roo has an amazing family and all the love in the world. I am thankful for the great life she has and for her happiness. I am thankful for ppen adoption, because it means we all get to be happy - P and M, Roo, and me. I am thankful for P and M, for the great parents that they are, and for their love for each other and for their children. Because of the choice I made - because I was sad for a little while - we can all have what God wants most for us. We can be happy.

I am thankful for adoption in general. It's an imperfect system, I'm not going to lie. But for me - and for my Roo, and her parents and sister - it was the best thing in the world. For my mother, it was the best thing in the world. For at least thirty families I know, it was the best thing in the world. Adoption doesn't always work, but when it does, it is a beautiful thing.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Up the Hill

I was asked some time ago about grief after placement. More specifically, I was asked what changed for me. What is it that helped me get past the worst of the pain, helped me to turn around, to feel happy again. I've been thinking about it for a while. I wasn't sure I wanted to answer, because it is a story that is meaningful to me personally but that might sound kind of ridiculous when written out. But I thought I'd give it a try anyway, in the hope that maybe someone will read it who is hurting, and I can help them hurt a little less.

The days right after placement were absolute hell for me. To say that I was unhappy would be an understatement of epic proportions. After a week or so, and after the first visit, things got a little easier, but I certainly wouldn't say life got a lot easier after that. It didn't. It sucked less. As time passed, pain started to seep away little by little like a slow leak.

And then, a few months after placement, I hit a standstill. I wasn't as depressed as I'd been immediately post-placement, but I didn't seem to be getting any happier, either. My hike back up the hill of mental health hit a roadblock. No matter what I did or how hard I tried, I couldn't seem to get more than halfway up said metaphorical hill.

It was frustrating, and with that frustration came a number of other little things that acted as a mini landslide, which succeeded in knocking me back down the hill a few feet. I managed to climb back up to the peak I'd reached previously, but nothing in heaven or earth worked to get me to the top of that darned hill. I was ready to give up and pitch a tent.

I grew more and more frustrated and when the opportunity arose to do a school outreach presentation I nearly didn't take it. How, I thought, was I supposed to tell class after class of teenagers that adoption had made me happy when I didn't feel happy at all? I was beginning to think I was never going to be really happy ever again.

But something inside of me wouldn't let me say no, and so off I went, with a caseworker or two and a birth mom who had placed nearly 8 years ago. The birth mom, N, was someone whose story I'd heard before on more than one occasion and I liked and respected her. Since placement, N had married and had three children, and her story gave me hope for my own future. In my crabbiness, I think I'd have snapped at any other birth mom I might have presented with but for some reason I didn't mind N.

I told my story first, and if I was slightly less enthusiastic than normal no one noticed or at the very least no one said anything. After I finished, I gave a small smile and took my seat as N told her story.

It was the same story I'd heard her tell many times before, and I found myself drifting a bit. Then she got to the end. She told the kids that she had worried that the pain of placement would ruin her forever, that it would break her, and she would be forever broken.

Then N said three words I'm sure I must have heard before: "I'm not broken."

Such small words, but she said them with such force, such conviction that I felt them in my soul. I knew N wasn't just repeating a phrase she'd heart before. She was stating the absolute, irrefutable truth. She was NOT broken.

I can't explain it, but those three words changed something in me that day. They grew both roots in my heart and wings to carry them to my mind. They echoed in my head for hours. "I'm not broken."

Was I broken? I didn't want to be. I desperately didn't want to be. It felt wrong to me that I should go through so much pain and heartache and not come through it a stronger, better person. Being broken seemed wrong.

I decided something important that day. I decided that no matter how long it took me to climb that dratted hill, I would climb it. I would not give up, because I was not broken either.

The day N said those words - "I'm not broken" - was a turning point in my grief. I don't think it was until she said them that I realized I wasn't broken, either. I could be, if I so chose, but I didn't have to be broken, not for a second, if I didn't want it. I decided I didn't want it.

That's not to say that my pain is all gone or that there are no hard days and no tears. Certainly there are hard days! Certainly I cry! I still grieve a little. I think I'm entitled to; after all, my heart was broken. My heart was broken. But I was not.

My Father in Heaven asked me to exercise more faith than I thought I possessed and place my precious daughter with two people I had never met. He gave me the strength to do it. He saw me through the hard times afterward. I am not broken. He fixed me. I am whole.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Formspring Revisited: What the H?

I'm not very good at remembering people's names. Or, if I remember their names, I don't remember their faces. For some reason, these rather important things are hard for me to get the first time or two. But one thing I always remember about a person I meet is his or her birthday.

Tomorrow is H's birthday. I don't think I'll ever forget that. I seem to get a lot of questions about H on my Formspring. Here are a few of them, in honor (if that's the right word) of his birthday.

On your blog what does H stand for? I mean it is obviously the birthfathers name but what is it?

I decided a long time ago I was never going to use my ex's name on my blog, and I haven't changed my mind. H stands for Him. Simple as that.

If you are my friend on Facebook (be my friend?), and you look back far enough, should you ever be that bored, you can find him. But I don't use his real name here and I never will. If you are dying of curiosity and would like a hint, I'll tell you that his name is also a verb.

Did the birth father help you pick a couple to place with?


No, he certainly did not. He was willing to be involved as much as the law required if I single parented, but if I went with adoption he didn't want a thing to do with me or the baby. And then it turned out he didn't want a thing to do with me during the pregnancy anyway.

So, no. He wasn't involved at all. With anything, least of all the adoption.

I'm not sure how much of a fan of adoption he ever was, actually. I had him served with paperwork that said I planned on placing, and he let it slide. He later accused me of manipulating him out of signing it, and told me that if I was thinking about adoption, I should just sign all my rights over to him. Because apparently to him, if I was considering adoption, it meant I didn't care about the baby and just didn't want to be a mother. Blah.

Was the birth father there when the placement happened?
He wasn't. When I placed, I hadn't seen him for nearly a year.

Does the birth father get the same openness you do?
Not that I'm aware of. I haven't seen him in almost two years and I haven't communicated with him in more than one year, so I can't be sure, but it would very much surprise me. I don't think Roo's parents even know his last name. Well, maybe they do. I can't remember everything I told them about him. I would certainly tell them if they wanted to know. But I'm not aware of any contact.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

In Which I Whine Like a Whining Whiner, and Give Up

I didn't post yesterday. I didn't post yesterday, and when I realized that, I panicked. The challenge! I thought. I missed a day. What to do? I wasn't sure. And then I thought, how ridiculous is this? I am getting stressed out because I skipped a single day of blogging! One day! How ridiculous is it to post every single day?

Today is Saturday - six days into November, and I am already complaining about Mrs. R's challenge to post every day. Actually, I think I've been complaining about it since the 2nd. I'm not usually such a whiner. I apologize.

I think that part of my problem is that I've got a lot of good posts that I have worked hard on. I feel like if I post one every day, I'm wasting them and all the work I've put in. So I have a feeling that about half of what I post this month is going to be sort of a throwaway so I don't use up all the best stuff. Also, I feel like the really good posts might get lost with so many other posts going up. Like my post from the 1st, In Which I Answer A Question No One Asked. I'm proud of it, but I feel like it got lost in the shuffle. I'm not really happy about that. I'm not really happy about using filler or throwaway posts. I post as often as I do in a regular month because I don't want to blog just for the sake of blogging. I like to have something useful or relevant to say. If I don't, I don't say anything at all (for the most part).

I'm not quite sure what to do. I don't want my blog cluttered with throwaway posts. I don't think it's worth it just to be able to say that I blogged every day for a month. And in any case, I'm not sure today even counts since I'm not blogging about adoption, I'm blogging about blogging. Blah. I am not usually a quitter or a giver-upper, but I think I may make an exception in this case. I like the idea of a whole month of blogging about adoption, but at the same time, I think, around here, every month is a whole month about adoption. Not one post per day, maybe, but it's not as though I routinely post about anything else. This is an adoption blog; I post about adoption.

I think that's good enough. It's good enough for me, anyway, and I very much doubt that when Roo is older and reads this she'll be disappointed that I didn't force out a month of 30 crappy posts. I think she'd rather read ten to twelve good ones. I know I would. And I'd rather write them as well. So, hello to National Adoption Month, and goodbye to Mrs. R's Adoption Month challenge. Those of you who are keeping at it, good for you. I'm going to just keep on doing my thing.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Question Every Birth Mom Gets Asked

This one's borrowed from my Formspring, and I've expanded the answer. I have a feeling this is going to happen a lot this month.

When you found out you were pregnant did you think about getting an abortion?

Short answer: nope.

Long answer: Define "consider." Did abortion cross my mind? Absolutely. Was it ever an option for me? Absolutely not.

H let me know that he would have been okay with an abortion. I seem to recall that he offered to pay for one if that's what I chose. I've told that to people and they all seem to think it was just awful of him. I don't, because I know him (or rather, I thought I used to). I believe that was just his messed-up way of trying to help.

But ever since I was aware of things like unplanned pregnancies and abortions, I have known that I could never, ever have an abortion. I've always found abortion to be very morally yucky. I wanted Roo before I even found out I was pregnant. Nothing in this world could have changed that.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Who's the Boss?

I took the "Blog every day for adoption month" challenge last year, and it was actually not as hard as I thought. So this year I thought, I can do this, no problem.

But there is a problem. Today is November 3rd, and I already feel like I've run out of things to say. So I'm going to be a weasel and use some of my Formspring questions and answers to fill in the days. I'm not always feeling chatty when I answer questions, so I may expand my answers here on my blog as I feel it's appropriate. Today, for instance. I've added a bit and explained a bit more. Well, okay, a LOT more.

Here's the question for today:

Do Roo's parents do anything as parents that you don't agree with or that you wouldn't do as a parent?

Not that I'm aware of. But it's not as though I've got nanny-cams on them and see their every move. It's certainly possible. When I was meeting couples, and when I met with P and M, I asked questions about the aspects of parenting that were most important to me. For instance, I feel very strongly that spanking is wrong. So I asked about it. P and M are smart people. They've read and studied about child discipline and what children respond best to, which is NOT spanking.

But back to the question - do they do anything I disagree with as far as parenting? If they did, I'd live with it. Parenting is their job and their call, not mine. One of the classes I attended at the national FSA conference in July was about communicating with adoptive couples. Someone asked a question about what to do if you disagree with their parenting styles or philosophies, and the instructor addressed it. I thought her answer was sort of nice, but at the same time I think she failed to mention something important - once you place your child for adoption, you don't get to decide how they're raised. I think that some misinformed birth moms mistake openness for co-parenting. That is absolutely, 100% not the way things go. There's a difference between contact and custody. I gave up the right to a say in how Roo is raised when I signed my rights away. If I wasn't okay with that, I wouldn't have signed.

I wouldn't tell my brothers or sister how to raise their children, and these are people that I routinely talk smack about and tease. I'm certainly not about to tell P and M - my little Roo's parents! - how to raise their children. That would be quite an insult to their intelligence to assume that I know more about parenting - that I know what's best. What is best is for them to decide! I daresay that at this point in time, they know much better than I do how to be good parents. I trusted them enough to place my baby with them, so obviously I trust their judgment and I honestly think they are the best parents in the world to Roo and her sister.

The instructor of the aforementioned class gave examples of polite ways of suggesting certain parenting ideas, but I think that even that is a bit much. It is simply not my place. I don't have that kind of nerve, and I don't want it.

So, you might ask, is a birth mom out of luck? Well, yes. That's why it's so important for her to make sure she chooses the family with whom she feels the most comfortable. For example, if an expectant mother meets with a couple she loves but they vote Green Party and she knows it's going to bug her for the next twenty years, she might consider meeting with other couples. She needs to know what things are the most important to her in potential parents for her child - what things are deal-breakers, and what things she can live with.

I think I've used about four times as many words as I needed to answer that question. I think I'm done now.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

How Will She Feel?

I have about forty drafts of blog posts waiting to be finished, edited, polished, and published. At least five of them are different versions of the same post, which I scrapped months ago but have yet to delete. I know all this because I just went through my drafts to see what I might be able to use for this month of blogging.

I have to say, I'm not very excited with what I've got. Today is only November 2nd, so I've got a bit of time to figure something out. In the meantime, I thought I'd answer a few of the questions I've been asked. Maybe by the time I've gone through the list I'll have thought of ideas for the rest of the month!

As usual, I've paraphrased:

I'm sure you've come across the same blogs I have written by adult adoptees who feel cheated or harmed by "the system" in their adoptions. Do you ever read these and worry about what your daughter will think when she's older?

Honestly? Every so often I do. There are no guarantees in life. I can't say definitively that Roo won't ever have negative feelings towards me as she gets older. I don't think it's likely at all, but you can't always predict these things.

And sometimes, if I'm having a more emotional day, I'll think about it more. I should mention, I don't actually read those blogs, for the same reason that I don't ever watch those videos that PETA produces about how animals on farms are mistreated: I don't enjoy seeing - or reading about - the pain and suffering of a living creature. Nothing in the world that I can do will take away the pain of these people, and reading about their pain just makes me feel miserable.


My mother has been a great comfort to me when I've been a worrying worried worrywart. She was adopted as a baby, and she reassures me that she has nothing but love and respect for her birth mother, that being adopted was the best thing in the world for her - even though her birth mother could have raised her and been an excellent mother, that she has never suffered or felt damaged by being adopted.

I know and know of other adult adoptees as well, and not one of the ones I know personally are of the angry, wounded ilk. I think what it comes down to is the parents, and how the issue of adoption is handled. Roo has phenomenal parents. I quite honestly wish they could have adopted me, too. And she will always know that she was adopted, and why, and who I am. It will never be a secret, or something to be ashamed of. Any questions she has about where she came from will be answered. And like I said, she's got great parents, who have read more books about adoption than I even know exist. They will be able to explain things to her in an appropriate way as she grows.

Honestly, as much help as my mother is, P and M are the reason I worry as little as I do. I could not possibly have found better parents than they. There are, as I said, no guarantees in life, and only time will tell what sort of person Roo becomes. But I placed Roo with her parents because they were the only people I met that I trusted implicitly to raise my baby to be a strong, smart, well-adjusted, content and happy woman. I feel confident that as Roo grows up, she will understand her adoption, and that it will be a non-issue.

Monday, November 1, 2010

In Which I Answer a Question No One Asked

I'm a little late in the day to post, but today is still November 1st, and this still counts as a post for today. I think it's a good one to kick off National Adoption Month as well.

I was asked not long ago to explain what open adoption means to me.

I'm sure that the person who asked was hoping for a definition of sorts - what do I consider to be an open adoption? How would I classify their idea of it? What are the requirements that I personally have for an adoption to qualify as open?

Well, too bad, question asker, because this is my blog, and I am obstinate. When I read the question, although I was certain of the context, I couldn't answer it that way. When I read the question, answers came to my mind. They're probably not the answers that you (whoever you are) were looking for, but they're what I've got. I've got answers to the question that no one has asked but that needs to be asked.

What does open adoption mean to me?

Open adoption means that any time I want to, I can turn on my computer, open the right file and watch Roo take a few shaky steps, or watch her dance with her sister, wiggling her hips and squealing with glee.

Open adoption means if I want to know how she's doing, all I have to do is ask.

Open adoption means I know the baby I placed, the person I love most in the world, is a happy, healthy, clever, sweet, gorgeous toddler.

Open adoption means Roo will never wonder who her birth mother is, what I look like, what sort of person I am, and why I placed her. She will know.

Open adoption means I will never wonder who my baby is, what she looks like, and whether she has a good life. I will know.

Open adoption means I know, every single day, that I made the right choice for Roo, because open adoption brings peace and reassurance.

Open adoption means that when I grieve, I grieve for the right reasons, not the wrong ones. I grieve out of love, not regret, out of sadness for myself, not for my baby.

Open adoption means that Roo is happy, and it means that Roo's mommy and daddy are happy, and it means that Roo's birth mom is happy. It's win-win-win. We all get to be happy. We all get to have peace and joy.

Open adoption means that if something needs to be said, it's said, and we make adjustments, and we're happy again, even happier than before.

Open adoption means that Roo is loved by more people than she will ever know. It means she gets to meet some of the ones who love her who are not her forever family, and that the rest of them that don't get to meet her still know who she is and that she is happy. Open adoption means an abundance of love for Roo and for all of her families.

Open adoption means that even though my heart broke, it's healed stronger than it was before. It means that I am a better, stronger person, for Roo and for her parents. It means I try every day to be someone they can be proud of.

Open adoption means I never have to wonder and I never have to worry. Open adoption is the happiest sad, and the happiest happy.

Open adoption means that placement wasn't goodbye; it was hello.

(And if you keep having the tagline "Love means never having to say your sorry" stuck in your head after reading this list, don't worry, I do too. And it's crap, because love means saying you're sorry whether you really are or not.)