Friday, September 18, 2009

My baby is growing up

I've been looking at some recent pictures of Ian, and I simply can't believe how much he's growing. I expressed this to Ian's dad Joe the other day, and he agreed with me. We're watching the transition from todder to little boy. For me, it just seems...odd. The transition from baby to toddler wasn't a big deal. It was fun to see Ian's personality develop. It still is, of course. What a charmer! But now this transition feels different. He'll be four in February. Four! I can't quite wrap my head around it.

Being a birthmom is accompanied sometimes by a weird sense of disconnect. Let me try to explain. On the one hand, I'm not Ian's mother. I'm his birthmom. But being a birthmom is an individual state--no two birthmoms have exactly the same relationship with their children. Some are very distant, whether they have a closed or open adoption. Some are a LOT closer. Being several thousand miles apart dictactes a certain amount of the contact being Ian, his parents, and I--if only in the fact that we don't get to visit in person very often.

But more than that, the relationship is...nebulous. For a three-and-seven-month-year-old, Ian seems to have a good grasp on who I am. But our relationship is still distant, and still mainly through his parents. Right now, I connect with Ian mainly through photos and his mom's stories about what he's up to. Video chats are making it possible for Ian and I to connect more, and hopefully that will stay true as he gets older.

What is a birthmom? I've heard some birthmoms compare it to being like a favorite aunt or cousin. An extended relative, but one who cares and who's involved. There's a certain element of that, for sure. It doesn't quite cover the depth of the caring, though. It's not something that necessarily has to be expressed often or ever--it's understood that I care very deeply about Ian. Hopefully Ian understands it too, eventually.

I guess that's the real crux of it--as Ian becomes a little boy, with more independance of thought and action, as he goes to school, as he continues to grow--he and I will be able to form our own relationship. Certainly, his parents will still be involved, will still be present. But as Ian grows, my relationship with him will no longer be solely based on my relationship with his parents. It will be subject to the moods, interests, cares and lack thereof of a young boy.

It's new. It will be different. I'm a little nervous. I'm nervous for the time where Ian doesn't just listen when his parents tell him (in their own words) to like me. I'm nervous about whether he'll actually want to know me, whether he'll even care. I know it will be a roller coaster ride. Every relationship is. But I hope that as Ian grows, I'll still be able to have a relationship with him. Mostly I hope that he'll always know how very much I love him. And of course I hope that he'll love me in return.

What an adventure.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Last night, in a conversation with two of my roommates, I started talking about something that happened during my pregnancy. My one roommate's eyes opened wide and she said, "Wait, what?"

I thought she knew. She moved in later than the other girls, and I guess I told them before she moved in, and just somehow never talked about it around her since she moved in. Seems a miracle to me--since I talk about my volunteer work and stuff all the time.

But suddenly, in the middle of a conversation with the three of us, I was explaining that I had a baby three and a half years ago, and placed him for adoption.

I moved on, let her absorb that. But she brought it back up again after a few minutes, asked a few questions--more educated questions than I usually get, actually. And then the conversation moved on again.

Perhaps I shouldn't have made the assumption. Honestly, I didn't even stop to think as I spoke--it's become more natural, these past months, for me to talk about it. For her, it probably was far more awkward. I kinda sprung it on her. She handled it rather well, all things considered. But I wish I could have told her in a better light!

I'm also facing another conversation soon. I've been seeing a guy. (Okay, friends, don't flip your lids, it's still in the very early stages.) If he's a Facebook stalker at all, he may have already been here. Even on my other blog, I make mention of being a birth mom. I'm not secretive about it. It is slightly awkward, not knowing if he knows or not. But either way, I will need to talk to him about it before long.

The thing is, I've never had this conversation before. I've talked to roommates, I've talked to other friends, I've talked to strangers and reporters and adoptive couples and social workers. But those are all very different from talking about it to an interesting guy who you really really hope won't freak out. All the guys I've dated since placing my son for adoption have already known, or the relationship didn't progress far enough for me to feel like it was necessary to talk to them about it. But now I'm starting to feel this little nudge, like I should talk to him about it. I hope that he'll take it well. But there are no guarantees.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

This is NOT a brag fest. Just thought I should clarify in advance

Please read the title. Now read it one more time.


I have some news. I've been sitting on it for a couple of weeks, because it still didn't feel "official" to me. And I didn't want to seem like I was bragging.

Ready? Here it is.

I've been asked to present at the FSA Northeast Regional Conference. It's taking place in Lebanon, Pennsylvania at the end of October. Adoptive couples, LDS Family Services employees, and hopefully some birth parents will be coming from all over the Northeast to attend.

Shall I be honest? -- I'm the keynote speaker. Yeah...THE keynote speaker. I'll be speaking to all the attendees for an hour. Just me, myself and I.

AND I'm presenting in two breakout sessions. One is just me, a rehash of one of my sessions from the national conference, talking about what birth parents wish adoptive couples knew. The second I'll have two FAB co-presenters--Jen and Joe, my son's adoptive parents. We'll be talking about communication in open adoptions.

Can I tell you how EXCITED I am??? Nervous, sure. I need to start the back-of-my-brain-thinkings that will eventually lead to awesome presentations. But really, I'm just so excited. A) to have yet another amazing opportunity to talk about adoption, share my story, and hopefully improve adoption for other people. And B) I get to see these most precious members of my family! I haven't seen them since last August. So even though our time will be very limited, I'm still super thrilled to spend time with them. AND I get to see Ian in his Halloween costume. =)

So, expect more posts as we get closer and I start freaking out. I'm not too worried about the breakout sessions, those are low-stress after the national conference. I am FAR more worried about an hour at the pulpit by myself. Just sayin!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

OAR#6: Epilogue

I just wanted to mention that I have another name--the name that my birth parents gave me at birth, the name they thought of me by for 19 years before we met. The first name is a name I have always loved. It's a name I might give a daughter of mine someday. It's like my secret-code-name. I am V, but I am also A. It's just a part of me--a part I don't think about all that often, but still a piece of who I am. It's a tangible sort of connection to my birth parents. In those short few days after my birth, I belonged to them, and they named me. So it's not a name that I go by, but it's still mine.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Open Adoption Roundtable #6: Naming

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It's designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You can find out more over at Production, Not Reproduction. The new prompt is: Write about names/naming and open adoption.

This prompt comes from a post by Heather a while back, talking about the naming of her adopted children. I found it so interesting! At first I didn't quite know what to think, but it's been rolling around in the back of my brain for awhile now.

My son's adoptive parents named the baby while I was still pregnant. They asked for my opinion, and for the father's opinion, but then THEY chose the name for the baby.

I didn't realize until reading Heather's post and the comments on it that there was another way to do things.

A few days ago, I went through and read the journal I kept through my pregnancy. I haven't read this journal since I closed it three and a half years ago. It was overwhelming, the emotions contained therein. I had forgotten a lot of things that happened--probably repressed a lot of them, in fact.

One interesting entry was about this very issue. I wrote about how Sean--my baby's father--was really agitated about the naming issue. He wanted so badly to have some say in what the baby's name was. I wrote how I felt similarly, though less strongly than Sean. I wrote how Jen and Joe consulted us on what they had decided to name the baby, and how I felt just the slightest bit of regret that they hadn't listened to the names that Sean and I liked.

Please don't mistake me. Jen and Joe chose a wonderful name, and it fits him perfectly. Looking back, I certainly wouldn't change his name just to suit what I liked and preferred at the time. I think they did try to include us--but in the end, he is their son, and it was their decision to make.

I guess the conclusion that I have come to is that how WE did it worked for US, but I can see how others would want to go about it differently. I appreciate the love and respect that many adoptive parents show to birth parents by including them and honoring them through the naming process. I am grateful to all adoptive parents who seek to treat birth parents in such a manner. And in the end, I believe that was the intent of my adoptive couple as well. Regardless, I love them to pieces. =)


Suddenly, abortion is all around me. Yesterday, I dealt personally with a crisis situation. This morning, a guy friend and I were talking, and he told me he was really upset yesterday because he was talking to a girl who is planning to get an abortion today.

He really upset me. He said that he told this girl that she needed to grow up and be held accountable for her actions. And soon he refused to talk to her at all, and said, "i didnt want to talk to her anymore about it, i was fed up with her and her foolishness and told her not to talk to me any more, i cant have peolpe like that in my life"

And other people told him he did the right thing.

I'm so confused. Deeply, morally confused.

I jumped to the defense. It was my natural instinctual reaction. I felt like this girl needed to be cared for. That she needed another opinion, guidance, wake-up call. That he should have convinced her to talk to someone--a bishop, a counselor, a I was offended by his rejection of her.

But am I so right? I'm not a specialist, a social worker. I have absolutely no authority to speak in this matter. Why do I think I know anything about how to help these women?

I placed my baby for adoption. I believe in that decision more than I believe in anything not gospel-related. I know, from that self-same gospel, that adoption was the right decision to make. I know from personal experience that it's NOT a decision I could have made alone. So it seems pretty natural to me that someone who is considering abortion may desperately need counsel, support and love. But who am I to say? I never considered abortion. It went against the very fiber of my being. So how can I possibly presume to empathize with someone in this situation?

I still feel so strongly that his rejection helped nobody. But what do I know? I wasn't there. I don't know her, I don't know the situation. It is not my place to say. But I still feel this deep, terrible uncertainty. I want to help--I ALWAYS want to help--but I need to make sure that I'm doing so to the best of my ability.