Thursday, November 17, 2011

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2011

I am so proud to be a part of this wonderful blogging project this year! 

Adoption bloggers from all ends of the triad, all having unique experiences with adoption, have been paired up and asked to interview one another about their own experiences with adoption.

I was honored to be paired with Deborah, a birth mother to a sweet 7 year old boy.  Deborah writes a beautiful blog at A Birth Mother’s Love.  You can also find my responses to Deborah’s interview on her blog.  I encourage you to check out Deborah’s blog to read her amazing entries and reflections about her journey.
If you are interested in reading other interviews from many more bloggers, a list of the paired bloggers and their interviews are listed *here*.  Thanks you so much to Heather at Production Not Reproduction for organizing this entire project!

Deborah refers to her son as B and B's adoptive parents as C and L.  I hope you enjoy reading Deborah’s powerful responses below!  Deborah, thank you so much for sharing with us all. 

1.  What was your pregnancy like?  Cravings/Sickness/Etc.?
I had the picture perfect pregnancy! Lots of people hate me when I tell them that, but it is true. I did not experience any weird cravings. I kept waiting for them and I was really excited to find out what it was like to wake up in the middle of the night NEEDING to eat pumpkin pie and taco sauce. Although I was excited to experience it I was scared too. I was single living in my parent’s home. I wondered who was going to go to the store for me at 12 am when I needed pickles and ice cream stat! Because of that I am grateful I didn’t have any weird craving.

I really did not get sick from pregnancy. I don’t remember one day of morning sickness. I threw up once in my first trimester from the pre-natals (I took them on an empty stomach and it was more nausea then I could handle). And then I threw up a second time in my third trimester when I had the stomach flu.

Although I did not experience many of the really negative aspects of pregnancy, in my first trimester I was EXTREMELY exhausted. For the first few months I just could not move! It took ever ounce of energy I had to get up and do the littlest things like walk to the powder room. Also another aspect of my pregnancy that I didn’t really notice much were my crazy mood swings. My poor family and B’s poor birth father were the ones who really suffered from it. I was very sensitive to comments made by all.

Over all being pregnant was one of the best times of my life. I know that may sound strange coming from a birth mother and considering the circumstances, but I was never happier then the nine months I was pregnant. I felt a peace and contentment that I had not felt before or since.

2.  What is your best memory of being pregnant with B?

Over the last 8 years my memory of the specific details have faded. So sad. But there are two favorite memories I will always remember about my pregnancy with B. The first one was on February 1st 2004. I was sitting on my parent’s bed watching the super bowl and I felt B move for the very first time! It was one of the best feelings ever. I didn’t tell anyone it was happening. I just sat there and smiled, enjoying it all myself.

The second memory was a few weeks before B was born. I am only 5’3 and so the only place for my belly and growing baby to go was straight out. I was pretty big. I remember sitting back on the couch talking with my family. B just happened to be on one side of my belly making it look extremely lopsided. I looked down and pushed him from one side to the other and you could literally see his little body shift to the other side of my tummy. It is kind of hard to explain, but my family and I all laughed as we watched my belly change shaped as B moved and as I pushed him to different sides of my tummy. The poor thing. It was a wonderful memory because it is one of the only ones I have of my whole family sitting together just enjoying my pregnancy.

Oh one more and then I am done! Promise. I remember that when B would kick sometimes I would push back on the same exact spot. Then he would kick again in response. I’d push a specific spot and he’d kick it. It was kind of like a little game and I LOVED it! It’s amazing how you can see baby’s personalities even before they are born.

3.  How did you find B’s adoptive family?

I actually found B’s parents through his birth father. I had been looking at families for a little while. I had not firmed up my decision to place because in my mind if I didn’t find the perfect couple I knew adoption wasn’t what I was supposed to do. M still did not want to place but I begged him to at least talk to a caseworker at the agency we were placing with and look at a few families.  He finally went in and called me afterwards saying he had three families he liked. There was one he liked the most but wasn’t going to tell me who because he wanted to see if I could pick the couple out when I saw the three profiles he was going to send me. I met with my case worker and read through them and when I read C and L’s profile I fell in love with them. I felt so lucky that they would consider raising my child, which was the complete opposite feeling I had when looking at other couples. I started to cry when C began talking about how much he admired L’s father in their letter. That was something I wanted so badly from M but due to some other circumstances M wasn’t to fond of my dad. I knew that they were the couple to raise my child and it turns out they were the same couple M felt strongly about as well. There is much more to the story but it turns out M was an acquaintance C from years before. I think that was a huge factor allowing M to feel comfortable about our adoption because he still had some connection to the family and to B.

4.  How is your son like you?  Looks?  Personality? Etc?

As a birth mother, I always look for any little sign of me in B. (I wouldn’t be surprised if adoptive mothers do the same thing). But any time I see his face whether in a picture or in person, I am searching to see my self in him. I look for any little thing to connect him to me even if I am the only one who sees it. I think it is natural to look for some tie that still binds you and your sweet child together

Wow, I wrote all that and I STILL haven’t answered the question. I think he has my eyes. I can definitely see my family in him. As far as his personality, I am not quite sure. His parents call him a perfectionist and I think that he may have gotten that from me. He is a sweet sweet little boy, and I’d like to say he gets that from me. But in reality, although I could be sweet as candy, the very next second I could be as mean as a bull dog. I haven’t heard about that about him so I am thinking maybe his sweetness comes from M. Who knows.

5.  How far along were you in your pregnancy when you chose B’s family?

I was almost 7 months when I chose B’s family.

6.  If any, how much help/counseling did you receive before choosing adoption and picking a family?  Was that counseling helpful?

I did receive counseling from my case worker who was an LCSW-C. I saw Marilee, my case worker, about every 2-3 weeks after I found out I was pregnant up until I placed. We talked at great length about my options and feelings regarding what to do in my situation. I did feel like it was helpful. It was so nice to go talk to some one who wasn’t so emotionally invested in the situation like my parents or M. It helped me sort out my own feelings and get a handle on what I was about to do.

7.  How did you feel after making the decision to choose adoption and telling B’s family that you chose them? 

After I read C and L’s profile at the adoption agency and I knew they were the family I was going to choose, I came home and told my mother all about them. Then I sat and looked at their profile over and over for the rest of the day processing the huge decision I had just made and the feelings I felt. Late that night I couldn’t handle it anymore and had to get out of there. It was dark but I went for a walk by myself. Ask I walked is the dark and silence I specifically remember asking God why it was that the woman in the pictures was the one who got to raise my baby. I really liked her, but that was not the point. The point was, I always hoped that I would never find the right family but I did. And when I did, I knew that the best thing was for B to be raised by them although it broke my heart.

When I told C and L I had chosen them it was on the phone in May. This is another experience I will always remember. I remember exactly where I was and what was going on. I wasn’t quite ready to tell them but M was instant.  If we didn’t tell them that day he stated he was not going to sign the adoption paperwork after B was born. I planned on telling them soon but I thought I needed a little bit more time. looking back I am so glad we chose the day we did. I did not want L to have to go through the coming mother’s day morning her empty nursery. That is ultimately why I agreed to tell C and L a little before I was ready to let go.

When we told them it was a wonderful experience. I knew that I loved them and it was the right decision. But then, I went home and what I had just done settled in. I knew that when I told them that was it. I had made a commitment and there would be no backing out for me. I want to clarify, I wasn’t being forced and I knew that in reality I could have changed my mind and my family would have supported my decision, but after I told them I as not going to do that. I could not do that to C and L.

When I came home I felt like there was a whole in my heart. I felt a bit empty. After that call was when it became more real. I had chosen adoption and I had to accept the fact that this child was not going to be mine. It’s not an easy thing.  I do not want this to taint C and L’s feelings about their experience when we told them. I hope that by me expressing my feelings it does not take away from the wonderful feelings they were feeling.

8.  After making a decision and choosing B’s family did you ever reconsider your decision?

Yes. I thought about changing my mind. I wanted my baby more then anything. It was the hardest after placement when my whole body hurt to hold him. During the 30 day period the state gave me to change my mind I picked up the phone to call many times. But I ultimately when it came down to it I could not do it. I could not make L walk out of a hospital empty handed again and after placement, I reminded myself how heart broken C and L would be. I couldn’t do that to them. I wasn’t prepared for the pain I would feel after placement, but I told myself it was worth it for B.

9.  How much of a relationship did you build with B’s adoptive parents before he was born?  What type of contact did you have?  If you had contact with them, did that feel supportive/comforting to you?

I really did not have much of a relationship with B’s adoptive parents before his birth. One reason was because adoptions were not quite as open 7 ½ year ago through my agency. After we told them we had chosen them to be B’s parent’s I sent them a letter with his ultra sound pictures and a list of fun facts about his pregnancy. Like that he first moved during the super bowl and green grapes made him do somersaults. Then they sent me the sweetest care package. It had a note explaining that they wanted to be able to have a night of relaxation. L filled it with popcorn, potpourri, a scented candle, a gift card to blockbuster, and other fun little treats. It was the most wonderful thing ever! I really did feel supported and comforted. The thought that they had reached out to me and thought of me meant so much. Obviously I ate the goodies and rented a movie, but I still have the basket, candle, potpourri, and things because it made me so happy.

10.  How did you all come to an agreement on the level/type of openness there would be in your relationship? 
We definitely did not have a meeting to sit down and talk about the amount of openness. The first time I met C and L was in the hospital as I was in the beginning stages of labor. In my mind I still pictured adoption as closed. Open adoption back then were not as open or popular as they are now. I had been preparing myself to not talk to or see my son for the next 18 years. So when L asked me in the hospital room if I was open to B contacting me some time down the road if he wanted to have a relationship with me I was all about that! She then explained how long and how often she planned to send me pictures and updates. That basically was the only verbal communication we had about the amount of contact there would be. After that we just kind of let things happen and work themselves out. It worked out just fine for me, but it is not what I would suggest a birth mother to do with her adoptive parents. Especially now that adoptions are way more open. Although it is impossible to know exactly how much contact you will need or want though out the years it is very important to express your expectations and desires of how much contact you want to the couple. Very important!

11.  Do you have the same level of openness as you did right after B was born?  If not, how has the openness of the relationship changed/evolved through the years?

You know, I think we do have a very similar amount of openness. We live in different parts of the country and we don’t we do not write each other every other week like we did right after B was born because both L and I have very busy lives and we don’t need as much contact as we did right after B was born.  But as far as “openness” it is very similar to what it was after placement.

12.  What was it like for you to know that B’s adoptive parents were celebrating and joyful about your son while at the same time you were grieving B?

I don’t remember feeling angry but there is a good possibility I had my moments. I tend to forget about those times on a regular basis. For the most part I was too sad to be angry or jealous. There were many times I would think about how happy they were and it would make me not so sad. But then there were times that I just didn’t care they would happy. People would often say, “Deborah, think about the gift you gave them and how happy you made them”. And my response would be, “Yes. I know they are happy but I don’t care. Right now I am sad”. So what was it like? Really it depended on the day.

13.  Do you feel that B’s parents respected your grief and supported you through your grief after placement?
I tried to protect them and not express my grief to them as much as possible. I knew that they were already aware that I was hurting, but I had a wonderful support system to turn to and didn’t feel like it was their responsibility to take on my grief. I wanted them to enjoy B and this new chapter in their lives. I wanted them to grow and develop as a family rather then have to constantly be worrying about the sad birth mother who kept calling. They did however respect my grief and they did support me through it by the constant letters and pictures they sent me. The constant updates (this was back before the time of facebook. It’s strange to think about) was the greatest gift of support and healing they could give me.

14.  What was B’s birth like?

B was just over a week late. I went in to be induced and the first 3 hours were not so bad. I normally have very low blood pressure and B’s heart rate dropped a little more then my midwife was comfortable with. I was on oxygen for a good amount of the labor. Because B was a week late he had had a bowel movement in utero and so they called the specialists in. After an hour of pretty bad contractions I got an epidural. 45 minutes after that he was born. He had the cord wrapped around his neck but my midwife was able to get it unwrapped with out any complications. He was blue and went straight to the specialists. After he was checked out and ok they handed him to my mom. My sister and mom were admiring him and loving him until I said, “Um, mom. Can I hold my baby?”

15.  What support did you have at the hospital?

I had my parents, friends, my caseworker/therapist, and many members from my church who came to visit me. I received the most visitors out of anyone in the hospital in the 3 day period I was there. The hospital social worker came to visit me but I was not really interested in chatting to much with her. I was taken care of.

16.  Was anything special done at the hospital?  Ceremony, Gifts Exchanged, Blessing, etc.?

We had a placement ceremony. We exchanged gifts and warm thoughts and then I placed B with his parents.

17.  What type of support did you receive after placement?

After placement I received support from my family and friends. I could have gone to see my counselor I saw before placement but I didn’t go see her more then twice. I don’t know why.

18.  I think you wrote that you have attended support groups.  If so, were they helpful and why?  And do you still attend?

There were no support groups in the state I placed in after I placed. I began attending a support group about 2 years ago. It was helpful but my role was more to provide support to recent birth mothers.

19.  Do you have any sort of rituals/remembrances/mementos that provide you with peace/comfort?
At placement C and L gave me a teddy bear. B has one just like it. My teddy bear wears a t-shirt B wore in the hospital. When I need a little extra comfort I cuddle up in my bed and hold that little bear as tight as I can.  

20.  How has your faith played a role in your journey?

My faith has been HUGE in my journey. It has been a big source of strength to me. The faith and personal experiences I have had is the thing that has carried me through my lowest times when i did not think I could make it.

21.  Are you comfortable with the current level of openness you share with B and his family?

That is a great question. To be completely honest I do not know. It is something I have been thinking about for a little over a year. I just don’t know. It is hard to figure out how I feel about the amount of openness we have and I go back and forth between being comfortable with it and wanting more.

22.  What songs/quotes/poems have brought you peace/comfort on this journey?

The first song that gave me comfort right after B’s placement was a love song by Jessica Simpson. It is called I have loved you. As soon as I heard the chorus of the song my mind went to my sweet baby boy.

“If I never see your face

If wings take you away from me

And tomorrow never happens, baby

If the world comes tumbling down

And crumbles all around us

Fate turns cruel

You're on your knees

So desperate for one truth

Know that I have loved you”

Also of course “My Wish” by rascal flatts. There is a song that is popular in the LDS adoption community. It is called “From my heart to yours” By Micheal McLaen. I hate it! When I listened to it right after placement the first lines just got to me. I didn’t feel like they didn’t fit my situation. The rest of the song is fine. But the beginning of the song ruins it for me. I have looked for a long time for a song about adoption specifically that I liked better and 7 years later I finally found it! It’s called “It was love” by Heartbound.

23.  If there is one thing you could change about B’s adoption and the experience as a whole, what would it be?
This is a hard question. There are only maybe one or two things I would change. But the thing I will share with the class is that I wish I had taken more time for myself with my baby in the hospital after he was born. I wanted so much for his parents to be able to experience the very first days of his life. I wanted them to enjoy it as well as be able to ask him all the questions he might have about his birth or the first few days after his life. I encouraged them to come and see us as much as possible. And then I was there were my family and friends. I had a constant flow of visitors coming to see me and my baby. When C and L weren’t there I didn’t have much time with B to myself. In fact the only real alone time I remember was the night before placement and my sister was even asleep in the room with us. I have never felt so desperate in my life. I was so desperate to remember every little wrinkle and roll on his body. I didn’t want to forget a thing about him and I realized the time I had with him was very short. It felt like the minutes I had with him were flying by and I could not catch them. It was probably the worst feeling ever. I am brought to tears every time I think about it. So if I could only change one thing I would have been a little more selfish and taken more time with him by myself.

24.  What is your relationship like now with B and his family?
My relationship is good. It has been stronger and I had felt more connected and secure to them but right now it is still pretty good.

25.  How do you feel about B’s parents?

Well I think they are great! I obviously wouldn’t have placed my son with them if I didn’t think that. They are wonderful and I have an immense amount of love and respect for both of them!!  

26.  Does B’s birth father have a current relationship with B and his family?  How is the same and/or different from your relationship?

He does have a current relationship with B’s family. I know he receives updates and goes to some of B’s sports events. He sends B a card and money on his birthday every year, but that is honestly all I am aware of. His relationship as far as I know is pretty similar to mine.

27.  Do any extended members of your family have a relationship with B and his adoptive family?
My father reads C and L’s blog and they all love getting updates from me. Every time L sends me pictures in the mail it’s like Christmas and every one wants to take their turn looking at them.

28.  What is B like now as a 7 year old?
He is a sweet boy. And I am not just saying that. He has such a tender heart and is filled with compassion for people around him. He is a sports fanatic! (He gets that from both his dads). He loves his little sister and his parents very much. Last time I talked to him he told me he didn’t like school that much but I am hoping it gets better for him. He propably is the best 7 year old in the world! Just sayin!

29.  Do you know how B feels about his adoption?

I don’t know. I think that would be a really cool thing to find out.

30.  What are some hopes and dreams you have for B?

I want him to grow up knowing that he is loved by both his parents and his birth parents. I want him to have a deep testimony of the gospel Jesus Christ. I want him to get married in the temple and have a family and be happy. I don’t care what else he does with his life. As long as he knows he is loved very deeply, has a testimony of Jesus Christ, and is happy, that is all I could ever ask for.

31.  What are some hopes and dreams you have for yourself?

I have always always wanted to be a mom. From the time I was a little girl everything I did was to prepare myself to be a better mom. When ever news reporters or church officials would speak about what it takes to be a good parent my ears would perk up and I would pay special attention. I never pictured a career. I always imagined myself staying at home devoting everything I had to giving my children the best I could give. When I was so young and about to be a mother, I realized what it really means to be a mother. It means you have to put your child’s needs above your own wants. That’s what I did for B. Okay, that was a bit of a tangent. The moral of the story is I look forward to the day I will get married and have a family of my own.

 32.  What do you want B to know most about you in general?
I want him to know that I love him. I want him to know that I think about him every day. I want him to know that I am happy but I miss him. I want him to know that I have tried so hard to be the best person I can be for him.

33.  If anything, what would have made this adoption journey easier/better for you?

I don’t know how to answer that question. Placing your baby with some one else is hard. There is no way around it. I has been a tough journey. It is one that I know I will be traveling on the rest of my life. I am glad I let myself feel. I am glad I had hard moments because it helped me to heal much better then if I had not allowed myself to feel the heartbreaking feelings that are a package deal with adoption. I can’t think of a single thing that would have made it easier because whatever that thing is I still did not and do not have my baby in my arms. I do not regret the hard road I’ve traveled. Like I said, it has helped me heal and it has given me greater empathy for others. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

34.  What have been some of the most positive aspects of choosing open adoption?

My adoption is actually a semi open adoption. I think there are many positive aspects. I get to watch B grow and he will always know where he came from and that I love him! What more could I ask for? Those are all the positives I need.

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