Thursday, February 24, 2011

Did you know that Glenn Beck's son was adopted? Maybe you did. It's probably one of those things that people who know a lot about adoption already knew. But I'm a little slow, and I only just discovered that the other day when I read birth mom Brit's blog. Her post (here) included a fantastic quote from Glenn's address at the 2007 FSA National Conference. You can read both Glenn's and wife Tania's remarks *here* at the American Fork FSA blog. I read them, and while I very much liked the entire text, one thing in particular jumped out at me from the end of Glenn's talk:

I know with everything in me that our children selected us in the premortal existence. I know that we stood around and we were honored when that soul looked at us and said, “I want you as my dad, and I want you as my mom. Somehow or another we’ll find each other.” It’s not just getting any child. It’s sometimes waiting for that soul who is trying desperately to fulfill their side of the bargain and to fulfill what you guys set out to do in the first place and to be reunited with his family for time and all eternity.

Isn't that beautiful? I believe it. I absolutely do, and no one will ever convince me otherwise. My little Roo, this tiny girl I love so very much, wasn't supposed to be my daughter. She was meant to grow in my belly, but she was meant to be with P and M. I know it. She knew it, too. When she met P and M for the first time, it was as if she already knew them. I believe that she did. She knew who was holding her. She knew they already loved her.

As impossibly hard as placement was, I have never doubted for a second that Roo is in the right place, in the right family. I am so grateful that I was led to P and M, because how sad would it be if Roo wasn't their daughter? Last Friday was the first time that I looked in the mirror and saw maybe a little of what people mean when they say that Roo looks like me. It surprised me - it always surprises me to see any of myself in Roo, because she is a [P and M's last name] through and through. She is perfectly suited to their family. She is their daughter. She's exactly what and who I would expect a child of theirs to be. I love it!

I don't think that I could have said so a year ago. Not because it was any less true, but because for a while I clung to the belief that being this happy with where Roo is was some sort of betrayal of my affection for her. I felt like if I willingly, even happily acknowledged that she was where God meant for her to be, it must mean that I loved her less. Lies! Believe me when I say that I would bleed for that little girl in half a heartbeat. There is nothing in this world that I wouldn't do for her. I love her every bit as much as I ever have, with everything I have in me. She has my heart, and she always will.

There are those who say that the idea of adoption being "meant to be" is a crock, that this is all happenstance, people trying to make the best of a bad situation. Maybe it is for some people. I can't speak for anyone but myself. But it's not that way for me. I believe with everything I have in me that my Father in Heaven meant for Roo to grow in my belly but grow up with P and M. I believe that He has a hand in each of our lives, and that He loves us so much more than we can ever begin to understand.

I don't have words to say how grateful I am to be Roo's birth mother. Just by being born, she helped me get to where I needed to be. I'm glad I could return the favor.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


My sister called me a few weeks ago.

That's not a newsflash. She calls on a somewhat regular basis and we'll talk for a while, usually until one of her children attempts to do bodily harm to one of the other two. It's good to talk. I don't know why, but my sister and I get along at least a thousand times better on the phone than we do in person. Perhaps it's something residual from childhood, when I lived to annoy her, and she lived to let me know how annoying she found me. In person, we are awkward personified.

But on the phone it's easier. Maybe it's the thousands of miles between us, the knowledge that if one of us says something stupid, it's easy to avoid each other until the stupidity wears off. On the phone, we can be grown-ups. We can pretend that things between us have always been sunshine and ponies.

I'm told that when I was very young, we got along just fine. My sister didn't like to share things, but I was cute and little and only capable of being a certain kind of annoying. But we shared a room, and the older we got, the less comfortable that room became. We are two very different people, my sister and I. All I wanted in the world was to be just like her. All she wanted was to be left alone. I've lost track of how many hurtful words were exchanged, but I do know exactly how much of my therapy has been spent with me sobbing and asking John (my therapist) why my big sister couldn't just love me.

But I have an excellent therapist. He helped me to get past so much and understand that I didn't have to hold on to the past - I could let go, I needed to let go, and I would be happier when I did. I let go. I finally felt like I was in a really good place with my sister. I no longer cared if she ever changed. I was happy with me, and I was happy with her.

Then I got pregnant.

I don't remember how much I've said before about my sister's reaction to my pregnancy. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned that she was not in the "I'll support you no matter what" camp. She made a half-joking offer to adopt my baby, and then spent the next several months telling me via e-mail why my baby deserved better than to have me as a mother. Thousands of dollars of therapy flew out the window. It was like I was seven years old again, crying to my mother that my sister had hurt my feelings. (My mother was unwilling as ever to take sides.)

If I thought that placement would ease that particular pain, I was wrong. I was in the lowest place I'd ever been, and I needed love and support more than ever. Instead, what I got (from my sister and the younger of my brothers) was that I'd done the quote-unquote right thing, and I needed to move on.

My depression turned to rage, especially when my sister announced her pregnancy. It took every iota of self-control I possessed to keep from throwing her words right back at her - "I know you think you're attached to this baby because you're pregnant, but ..." being among my favorites. When my niece turned nine weeks old, I fought the beast within me to keep from calling and shouting to my sister, "You've had nine weeks with her. Was it enough for you? Can you possibly begin to imagine not being her mother after this? Why don't you hand your baby to another couple to raise, right now, after two months, and tell me that the so-called right choice should have been clear and easy."

I didn't. I am immensely proud of that fact. No good would have come of it. A few months later my sister sent me e-mail with a sort of apology for her behavior. I don't want to get into it, because it's private, but suffice it to say that her apology irritated me almost more than that for which she apologized. Apparently, e-mail isn't any better than in person for us. It's a telephone call or nothing.

My sister came to the valley for a visit in September. It was marginally less awkward than usual. We did bond a bit during several phone calls about my mother's lightening-fast engagement and wedding. I suppose that the incomprehensibility of my mother's behavior was the common ground we needed to sort of start over. I remembered what I'd learned in therapy, and I decided I could start over as many times as I needed to.

I digress. That's not what I wanted to write about. I love my big sister. We're in a good place now, I think - unless, of course, she reads my blog (doubtful but still possible), and the preceding hurt her feelings. I hope it didn't. It honestly wasn't meant to. There have been enough hurt feelings between us over the years that I'm certainly not aiming to add to them. I really do love my sister. I'm not mad anymore. The past is past. This post was supposed to be a happy thing about something that meant a lot to me, and now I'm just blathering, aren't I?

Again, I digress.

My sister called me a few weeks ago. We shot the proverbial breeze for a few minutes. Then something happened that hit me like a Taser. My sister asked me about Roo. She wanted to know how my visit went, and how Roo was doing. I don't think my sister has ever once asked me for this kind of specific information. I hardly knew what to say. I had so many questions I wanted to fire back at her - why was she asking? Why now? Had she read any of my blog? Was she taking uppers? Did seeing her own little girl grow and change help her to see a sliver of what placement had cost me? Did she feel bad for being like everyone else and pretending I never had a baby at all? I bit them back. I decided I didn't need to know.

I answered her questions - what words Roo knows, how well she's walking, how happy she is, what a great visit we had. It was fantastic - it was glorious! I could hear my niece jabbering in the background, and I asked my sister about her little girl. I talked about my baby, she talked about hers. Just like we were two normal people. Like there had never been any awkwardness between us. Like we were dear old friends.

Like sisters.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Guest Blog Alert!

Today I am guest-posting over at A Love Worth Waiting For, which is my friend Lyndsie's blog. She and her husband are hoping to adopt. They already have so much love and appreciation for adoption, which is awesome. They will be great parents.

My post is *here* if you want to give it a read. There have been several recent guest posts and they're all amazing. You should check them out!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Formspring Revisited: Single Parents

I was asked this question months ago and I thought it was a good one.

Are you friends with any single parents? Is that hard?

I am friends with two single mothers, but they're both also birth mothers, so that situation isn't hard. Both chose adoption for their second children because they knew firsthand how hard single parenting was. I respect them greatly. I think that the decision to place must be that much harder when you're a mother already, and you know you can be a single parent.

Beyond those I consider friends, I am acquainted with several single mothers, and I don't wish to sound insensitive, but seeing how hard their lives are makes me happy that Roo doesn't have to deal with the drama of having a single mom. So, far from it being hard for me, it actually helps reinforce the decision I made. I don't envy them their lives for a second. If it works for them, fine, but it's not something I wanted for myself or for my baby.

That's how I feel now. Things were different when I was pregnant and considering adoption. Seeing single mothers was a lot harder. I always sort of felt that adoption was right, and I was certainly pressured by some people to choose adoption. I'd see single moms, many of them younger and less stable than I was, and I'd think, how come they get to keep their babies and I don't? Why did they get congratulations when all I get is warnings and unsolicited advice? It seemed grossly unfair. It still does, actually. I am a firm believer that if a woman announces she's pregnant, she should be congratulated almost no matter what her circumstances (almost, because sometimes bad things happen that result in a pregnancy). I don't care if she's single, on welfare, living in a van down by the river and has five other children. Babies are awesome. Congratulations are in order (she's already pregnant, so being a jerk about it, even if you feel she's made a mistake, won't change a darn thing).

I digress.

It bothered me that the girls I'd worked with at the hair salon, girls barely out of their teens with strange tattoos and piercings and ex-con boyfriends, got to keep their surprise babies and I, essentially a good, responsible girl, had to give mine up.

But I don't feel that way any more. I wouldn't trade lives with any of them. I didn't give my baby up. I gave her the best life I could. I didn't want her to have a single mother, even if that single mother was me.

Monday, February 7, 2011


When you're a birth mom, you're going to get certain questions. Plenty of them are stupid and insulting and irritating, but you get used to them after a while. You come up with your own carefully crafted responses or ways to brush them off, and they're neither a big deal, nor very thought-provoking.

But some of the questions you get are worth sincere responses, and some of them are worth pondering. I get asked one of those questions every now and then - if I could go back and do it all over again, would I still place Roo with P and M? The answer is, absolutely, unequivocally yes. I would do it again in a second, no question. It has been the best thing in the world for Roo, and things haven't worked out too badly for me, either.

There's another question that sometimes goes along with the first, and it's one I want to answer today. If I found out tomorrow that I was pregnant, would I choose adoption again? Of course, if I found out tomorrow that I was pregnant, I would probably feature prominently in a number of medical journals as the first case of human parthenogenesis. (I cannot even believe that word passed my spell check.) I'm stronger now than I used to be. I can't conceive (no pun intended) of ever again being in a position where I would have to consider adoption.

I don't mean to disparage any birth moms who are in that position, though. Every person and every situation is different. I am NOT going to judge. I know of a strong, amazing woman who has placed two children. I am in awe of her strength. But in my case, with the person I am now, if I'm ever pregnant again, my husband is going to be the first person I tell.

But let's just say that's not the case. Let's pretend I ended up in a similar situation to the one I was in a couple of years ago. Would I place a second child for adoption? Obviously, things have worked out well with Roo's situation. I'd like to say that because of that, a repeat scenario would automatically mean adoption, no question, and the decision would be easy.

I'm not sure it would. I'm sure that adoption would be among the first thoughts to cross my mind, but I doubt very much that the decision would be an easy one. Adoption is never an easy choice. I still remember the acute pain of placement. It's not so far behind me that I can't remember it with clarity. I don't think I could quickly decide to put myself through that again. When I told family members I was pregnant, they all seemed to think the right choice was obvious - of course I was going to place my baby. How could I even think about anything else?

I could think about other things because I loved my baby so much already, and I wanted to be her mommy. Just thinking about being separated from my little girl was too much for me to handle when I was pregnant. It was too upsetting. I would love a second child just as much, and want to be his or her mommy just as badly. I don't think it would be a single iota less painful to consider adoption the second time around. I think it might actually be more painful, because I'd imagine that doing it all a second time would bring back the pain of the first time, and I would miss Roo that much more.

Would adoption be an automatic, a given? Absolutely not.

But the fact is, this hypothetical second child would deserve everything that Roo deserves. How could I deny baby #2 the things I insisted on for Roo? Baby #2 would be just as precious, just as loved - just as deserving of the kind of life Roo has. How could I justify placing Roo but parenting a second child? I couldn't. My own pain would be as selfish a reason the second time as it was the first.

I think that ultimately I would have to place a second child, too, for the sake of that child and my own peace of mind. But it would be an agonizing process, and knowing what I was in for would likely make it that much worse. That's why I am never going to be in that position again. I didn't enjoy it the first time. It's not going to happen again.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Unrealistic Expectations

Someone e-mailed me a question a few weeks ago and I've been sort of sitting on it since then, unsure of exactly how to answer it because I'm unsure of exactly what the point of the question was.

But I've been thinking about it, and I've got an idea or two about what I want to say, and so here it is.

The question (I've paraphrased):
Do you ever think that your blog might give birthmothers an unrealistic idea about openness and their relationship with their baby's adoptive parents? Or that potential adoptive parents might get wrong ideas about their birth mom's maturity and the relationship they might have?

My knee-jerk response is to be a bit defensive - understandably, in my opinion. My story and the people in it are all precious to me, and I turn into an angry mama bear if I feel like my adoption story is being criticized at all. Take exception to me and my personality and attitude if you want, but you'd just better leave P and M out of it.

But as I've thought about it, I think I can sort of see where this question is going. Mine is a happy adoption story. Maybe it seems too good to be true to people who have had unhappy adoption experiences. Of course, I think y'all know how I feel about people who let their bad experiences ruin things for the rest of us. But I thought, maybe the question-asker is in the pre-placement phase of adoption and isn't sure what to expect. I like that point of view better, and that's the one I will respectfully address here.

As I said, Roo's adoption story is a happy one. It started off as a happy sad, and now it's mostly a happy happy. This is my blog, and I tell the adoption story I know best. I've tried to emphasize that my story is just that: mine. I don't pretend to speak for anyone else, or set myself up as an example of how everyone's adoption should be. I'm not saying, this is how your adoption should be, or how it could be. I'm saying, this is how mine is - it's imperfect, but it works.

I'm acutely aware that my situation is what many would consider a best-case scenario. I know that a lot of people aren't as lucky as I am in that regard. But you know what? There are a lot of negative, angry adoption stories clogging the internet, and I feel like my happy story helps to balance them out.

Every adoption is different, because every person is different and they're going to relate to other people differently. My story - Roo's story - is the way it is because of who I am, and who P and M are. The only adoption in the world that is going to be like Roo's is ... well, Roo's. I do think that maybe my story is an example of the potential that there is in an open adoption and of the kind of growth and healing that openness can foster. If all the parties involved are mature and willing to communicate with each other and be honest, open adoption can be an amazing, wonderful thing.

But it depends on who you are, and where you are in life, and if you're willing to work for it. You get out of a relationship just what you put into it. I'm not going to say that my relationship with Roo's parents is perfect - far from it, with my lousy people skills! - but I do feel like it gets better as time passes. It is continually evolving, and I do feel like we're in a place where if anything needed to change or needed to be said, it could probably be changed or said. I think that's the important thing - not that we're at some level of openness that others perceive to be ideal, but that what we've got works for us, and that we're comfortable discussing things when we need to.

I'll say it again - my relationship with P and M is far from perfect. But no relationship is perfect! Not a single one. People are imperfect. I am an abysmal communicator, and I made mistakes early on in our relationship that I'd take back if I could. But we love each other. They are Roo's parents, and I love them. No matter what happens, I know that P and M love me, too, and most important, they love Roo. I'm not going to say that love conquers all, but it helps.

So, I guess the short answer (I'm no good at those) is that, no, I don't think it does. I'm going to credit my blog readers with being smart enough to know I'm just one person writing about one experience.