Archive for the ‘Birth Parents’ Category

What Expectant/Birth Parents Should Know About Adoption Search & Reunion

Whether you are a birth parent or are pregnant and considering adoption for your baby, you are likely thinking of your future – Will you have a relationship with your child?  Will your child try to contact you down the road?  Will you want to meet your child once he or she is grown?

Perhaps you are here because you have already started your search, or your child has already tried to get in contact with you.  Search and reunion is an exciting, yet often complicated journey.  For the searcher, this journey takes time, patience, and understanding.  If you are hoping to get in contact with your child, it is important to check the adoption laws in your state.  Talk to experienced professionals at a reputable, open adoption agency that can help you navigate this journey.

For the one who is being searched for, search and reunion most often comes as a surprise.  If you have recently been found by your child, try to keep an open mind throughout this process.  Consider both your child’s feelings and your own readiness.  If and when you are ready, your adoption agency counselors can help prepare you for your adoption reunion.

Even if you are pregnant and anticipating a search in the future, it can help to know what to expect and how to handle search and reunion should it arise. Here are a few things you should know:

Why do Adopted Children Search for their Birth Parents?

As an expectant/birth parent, you may be wondering about the most common reasons a child may search for his or her biological family.  In the majority of cases, it is not because a child is unhappy in an adoptive family.  Rather, it is out of curiosity, belonging, and an inherent need to know more about their identity.  Below are some of the reasons your child may search for you as he or she grows up:

  • Family information – Many children want to know the names of their biological relatives, where they live, what they are like, and if they have birth siblings.
  • Family traits – Many adoptees want to know what their birth parents look and act like, and see if they share any similar physical or personality traits.
  • Medical history – As adoptees grow and have their own children, it becomes crucial for them to know about any genetic diseases or conditions that may run in their family. In the past, adoption records did not always provide this detailed information.
  • Reasons for adoption –Many adoptees search out their birth families to get a better sense of why they were placed for adoption and how the decision was made.
  • Need for a connection – Once adopted children are old enough to maintain a relationship on their own, they may feel the need to reach out to their birth parents. Many feel that meeting their birth parents will help them gain a better sense of self.

Adoption reunions not only help a child find peace of mind, but also help birth parents see and know that their child is doing well.  No matter where you are in the process, it is important to know that adoption reunions are also very emotional experiences.  You may feel overjoyed, relieved, nervous, confused, or all of the above.  Before you reunite with your child, take time to consider your thoughts and feelings.  Sit down with your social worker and decide what this experience will mean to you.  Below is adoption reunion advice from our expert adoption social workers that may help you during this journey:

If you are “found”:

  • Before you connect with your child, prepare mentally and emotionally for what may and may not happen. Talk with others or join a support group of other birth mothers who have gone through this experience.  Know both what to expect and how to set minimal expectations.
  • Do not rush the relationship with your child. While this is a very exciting time for you and your child, try to pace communication.  Research has found that the most successful birthparent-child relationships gave plenty of time between initial contact and the actual adoption reunion, involving only letters and phone calls in the interim.

If you are searching:

  • Use social media cautiously. Social networks such as Facebook have made it much easier for adoption search and reunion to take place.  While searching through these platforms may be tempting, it is not recommended.  Contacting a birth relative for the first-time via social media is most often unsuccessful and can stir many negative emotions for everyone involved.
  • Make sure your child’s adoptive family supports your reunion. Acceptance by his or her family members will be most beneficial to your relationship.
  • Be respectful. Always be mindful of your child, his or her family, and of your own feelings.

As adoption has grown and changed over the years, so have the children who were placed years ago.  Adoptions With Love—a private, open adoption agency— has experienced this growth first-hand.  We have had adoptees that were placed with us years ago come to us at 29 or 30 years old in search of their birth family.  We have seen adoption plans move from closed to open.  Over the last three decades, we have assisted many adoption reunions and fostered many relationships between adoptive parents, adopted children, and birth parents. We are respectful of all parties involved.

At Adoptions With Love, you have the option of establishing contact with your child and his or her adoptive family from the very beginning.  Through open adoption, you can have greater control over when your child will contact you or how often that communication will occur.  You will also have the comfort of knowing your child is healthy and happy.  All the while, your child will have the opportunity to learn about his or her personal history and build a stronger identity because of it.

Adoptions With Love has a special Search and Reunion group to guide children, families, and birth parents like you through this journey.  To find about our counseling and search services, call us toll-free at 1-800-722-7731 or text us confidentially at 1-617-777-0072.


What Challenges Will my Child Face After Adoption?

Are you pregnant and considering adoption for your baby? In your heart, you may feel that adoption is the most positive option for your baby. This choice will allow your child to grow and thrive in a loving, devoted adoptive family. You may know that, through adoption, your child will encounter greater opportunities and experiences than you can offer at this time.

As an expectant/birth mother, you want what is best for your child. Still, you are worried about your child’s happiness and wonder how he or she will feel years down the road. You may worry that adoption will bring your child more problems than it will positivity as he or she grows. So you are asking, “What problems will my child face after the adoption takes place?”

For over 30 years, Adoptions With Love has seen adoptions unfold. We have watched our adopted children grow up to be successful, joyful adults. We have celebrated the good times and worked with them through challenges life brings. We have helped many adoptees find and contact their birth parents. We have witnessed beautiful relationships stem from those reunions.

We want to assure you that, if you choose adoption, your child will have countless positive experiences. In our most recent infographic, we discussed the benefits of adoption and the positive outcomes that adoption can bring to children. We found that adopted children typically lead lives no different from their non-adopted peers. Sometimes, they even have better experiences than the general population.

While they often have positive experiences overall, many adopted children will encounter challenges at different points in their lives. They have experiences that are unique to being adopted, which can then have an impact on their feelings and behaviors growing up. While every child has a different adoption experience, these are three common challenges that adopted children face as they grow.

Feelings of Loss or Grief:

As adopted children mature and try to understand their adoption, many will develop feelings of loss, grief, anger, or anxiety. They may feel as though they lost their birth parents, siblings, language, or culture. This grief may also stir feelings of uncertainty. Adopted children may wonder “What is wrong with me?” or “Will my adoptive parents leave me, too?

Constant communication is essential for adopted children to overcome their anxieties. When adoptive parents acknowledge their child’s emotions and provide an outlet for self-expression, adopted children typically fare well. Those who feel especially secure in their adoptive family or have an open adoption arrangement are also better able to manage their uncertainties.

Issues with Identity Formation:

Identity development begins in childhood and becomes increasingly prominent through the teenage years. Adolescence is when children start to understand and explore who they are, where they came from, and their purpose in life. For adopted children, filling in the blanks can create an extra challenge. Adoptees in closed adoptions may wonder why they were placed for adoption, what became of their biological parents, if they have siblings, and whether they look like their birth family.For adopted children, genetics often hold a particularly special place.

Adoptees often want to know if they resemble their biological family in personality or physical traits. We have heard stories from adoptees who, as children, always looked for their birth families on the streets. Adoptees also want to know their medical backgrounds. Having access to their genetic history allows children to know about any diseases or conditions that may run in their family. For these reasons, open adoption is especially beneficial for adopted children. It gives them tangible answers to important questions.

Self-Esteem:

As they grow, adopted children may face issues with self-esteem. They may view themselves as different, out-of-place, or unwelcome in social circles. At times, they may feel as though they do not fit in with others. This lack of self-confidence usually arises in those who feel embarrassed or ashamed of their adoption.

When adopted children are raised to see their adoption in a positive light, they are more likely to have a better sense-of-self growing up. When adoptees have good relationships with their adoptive and  birth families, they also tend to have higher self-esteem and self-worth.

Through experience and research, we have found that open adoption often brings the most positive outcomes to adopted children. Open adoption gives adoptees a sense of wholeness and helps them overcome any challenges growing up. They can understand who their birth parents really are, rather than fantasizing. Children in open adoptions do not have to question where they came from, what their biological parents look like, or wonder why they were placed for adoption. Instead, they can carry the pride of knowing that both their adoptive and biological families love them unconditionally.

Choosing an open adoption means giving your child an invaluable gift: a sense of self. It means giving your child the opportunity to communicate with you and put all of his or her puzzle pieces together. It means giving your child the chance to get to know you.

While we find open adoption to be very positive, we know that it is not right for everyone. At Adoptions With Love, we also offer semi-open and closed adoption plans to any expectant/birth parents considering adoption. If you would like to discuss your options or learn more about adoption, please call us at 1-800-722-7731.

To learn more about the effects of adoption on children, please download our free eBook by clicking below.

effects of adoption on children

 

 


Navigating Life After Adoption: 9 Tips for Birth Parents

how to cope with adoption

 

Adoption is a lifelong journey, one that brings many emotions, challenges, and precious moments along the way.  If you have recently placed your baby for adoption or are considering making an adoption plan, know that this decision may change your life, your child’s life, and an adoptive family’s life forever.  But by being open, honest, and staying true to yourself, you can make this lifelong journey a positive one.

Read about one woman’s experience after adoption, as she lights the way for expectant/birth parents who are trying to find their “new normal” once again.

How To Find Your New “Normal”

Navigating through life and finding your new “normal” after you place your baby with their adoptive parents is not easy. There will be days you find it hard to get out of bed and times where you feel alone.  I will never forget when I came home from the hospital without Aiden*.  All I could think about was how I am forever changed.  How will I ever be happy again?  How could I ever ‘“go back to life”’ after my maternity leave and feel “normal”.

This is still new to me and I am still finding my way.  That being said, there are a few important lessons I have learned these past 11 months; through my own experiences and through talking to other birth mothers who have gone through and are going through the same thing as me.  Here are a few lessons you need to know in order to find the strength to keep moving forward, and to navigate through this new “normal”.

1. Have Confidence In Yourself and Your Decision

This is the most important rule.  In order to get up out of bed in the morning you need to have confidence in yourself, and the decision you made in order to give your child the best life possible.  I have found that the reason I have more better days than not, is from my confidence.

When you make the hardest decision of your life: adoption for your child, what a lot of people do not realize is all that goes into making that decision.  I did not place Aiden with his adoptive parents because I did not love him, or thought I could not be a great mother to him.  I made a decision to put my son before myself and do what I felt would give him the best life at the time.

I knew from the second I found out I was pregnant, that I would never feel a stronger bond and would never feel more love in my life than I do for my son.  I also knew that I would be an amazing mother.

I could have easily raised Aiden (I say that with hesitation, because I know raising a child is a difficult job, but you get the point).  I had to think realistically about how Aiden would grow up between two biological parents who have no chance of ever getting back together, and between two very different families.  I did not want Aiden to have a lifetime of disappointments from his biological father.  Then— not to mention my biggest fear, custody battles, that could have taken place in his future.  I had to trust myself that I knew what was best for Aiden, and I went with my gut.

I have confidence in the parents I chose to raise Aiden, confidence in the open adoption plan Aiden’s parents and I agreed on, and confidence in the beautiful life Aiden will have with his adoptive family.  The most important thing I have confidence in, is my relationship with Aiden.  I know that Aiden will grow up always knowing me, knowing where he came from, and NEVER questioning that I did not love him from the second I knew he existed.

I am able to get out of bed and find joy in everyday, because I am confident that I did the right thing for my son, and that the decision I made for him came from the deepest place of love you could ever feel for someone or something.

2. Allow Yourself To Cry When You Need To

Not all adoption plans are the same; every plan is special and unique to the child and their families.  When I met my son’s adoptive parents, I made it clear that I needed a very open adoption where I would see Aiden often, and be involved throughout his life.  Luckily, I am beyond blessed with an effortless relationship with Aiden’s parents.  We have blended our families in such a special and unique way, that I know there is no possible way for Aiden to not constantly feel my love.  We have spent holidays together, met for Sunday brunches, weekend barbecues, and even the occasional random night for pizza after work.

Although there is nothing I would change in my decision for Aiden and the relationship I share with my son and his adoptive family, there are still times I find myself struggling to get through the day.  It is important to let yourself feel your feelings.  We are human.  Not every day is going to be easy.  On multiple occasions I have been overwhelmed with my feelings; especially when I go to bed at night and am alone with my thoughts.

Just because you have confidence in your adoption, does not mean you are not allowed to let yourself feel any emotion that might come your way.  When I catch myself getting emotional, it is never for my son, because I know he is exactly where he needs to be.  To be completely honest, I pity cry for myself. And guess what: THAT IS OKAY TOO!

No one ever dreams of having their first child, or any child for that matter, and then placing them with an adoptive couple; not raising them yourself.  I’ll find myself crying missing the little things that I am not a part of in Aiden’s every day.  I’ll find myself crying from a flash back of my pregnancy and feeling so alone.  I’ll find myself crying because I miss Aiden, and I wish I could kiss him up and play with him all day every day.

Then there are the times I sit and let myself have a good selfish cry that I never got to experience the complete happiness and joy that comes with pregnancy; planning out your child’s nursery, having someone throw you a baby shower, indulging in your pregnancy cravings with your partner and eating a whole pizza with bags of sour patch for dinner while watching Fresh Prince of Bel-Air marathons.

There are a million reasons where I find myself crying, and a million more reasons that will come in my future where I will need to have myself a good cry too.  My advice to you is: cry when you need to.  Let yourself feel your emotions, no matter what they are, and do not ever feel silly about it.  Take them as they come and know that there will be a time where you will find peace with your adoption, and that peace will eventually trump the sadness and pain you might be feeling now.

3. Keep Your Faith: Everything Happens For a Reason

I am a true believer that everything happens for a reason.  You were meant to bring this child into this world; God chose you.  I would not have been able to get through my pregnancy, and I would not be able to continue living my life if I did not believe that.

Some days are hard and I have to remind myself to keep faith.  I have to remind myself that this all plays into a bigger plan, and that God’s plan for me and my son are greater and more beautiful than anything I could ever imagine.  I grew up in a home where my parents would constantly tell me and my brothers that our lives are like tapestries.  We look at them through the bottom and see all these random strings and colors that do not make any sense to us.  While we look up and cannot figure out the picture, God is looking at it from the other side and sees a beautiful masterpiece all complete and perfect.  I am convinced that one of the most beautiful pieces in my finished tapestry will be the part where Aiden came into this world.

This is the life you and I were given; it is important to accept and embrace it.  Feel special knowing that you are a part of such a beautiful miracle and story.  Your life does not end here.  You think God spent all this time bringing your baby into this world to then just leave you and end your story?? No way— he’s still working… keep the faith.

4. Weed Out The Negative Relationships in Your Life

This is a hard lesson to learn, and sometimes comes with heartbreak.  Sadly, you need to be prepared for the ‘haters’.  Not everyone is going to understand your decision of adoption.  Some people will come out of the woodwork and feel the need to give you their opinions,

“But, you will be an amazing mother!”

“Well, let me play devil’s advocate…”

“But, have you thought of what would happen if…..”

Again, back to rule number one: Have Confidence In Yourself and The Decision You Made.  OF COURSE you have thought of the “what ifs”, and that you very well could be/will be/ and are an amazing mother.  You have been drowning in your own thoughts of how to make this work in your child’s best interest since the day you discovered you were pregnant.  You need to wrap your head around the fact that you and only YOU are going to know what is best.  You might lose some people along the way of this journey that you expected to be holding your hand through all of it, and I am not going to lie, it hurts.

You will have your few haters, but you will also be surprised to see the people who have your back and stand in your corner.  You will be amazed at how much stronger your friendships will grow, and how close your family can become.

I lost, what I thought were, some crucial relationships during my pregnancy.  However, in return I gained the most beautiful relationships I never even knew existed, or were possible.  My group of girlfriends paused their lives in order to be a support system for me.  I had family that I was not as close with before my pregnancy wrap their arms around me, stand up, and fill those crucial roles I felt I had lost.

You have already gone through what will most likely be the hardest decision of your life.  You have experienced what it feels like to truly love someone, and put their needs and best interests 100% before your own.  You really cannot explain these kinds of feelings to anyone in hopes that they will ever understand what it meant for you to make the decision of adoption for your child.

However, if you have family and friends who are willing to try to understand, willing to be there for you to listen if you need to talk, or willing to throw their arms around you and give you a hug when there might not be any words: those are the people you need in your corner.

Surround yourself with as much love as possible.  I mean come on; you made the most selfless decision ever.  Why would you want to waste your time with people who are not like minded? Everyone else who is not there to support you, your child, and the decision that you made in your child’s best interest… BYE!  It’s that simple.

5. Let Go of Grudges

This is not an easy one to do.  Luckily for me, I had a lot of support from my friends and family throughout my pregnancy and after I placed my son with his parents.  As soon as I found out I was pregnant I got in touch with the biological father to let him know.  We met up to talk about every option we had in order to give our baby the best life possible.  After a few initial conversations and talking through our options, the biological father made it clear he wanted no role in this pregnancy, decision of adoption/raising a child, or in a future relationship with my son.

That broke my heart.  Not for me, but for Aiden.  How could ANYONE deny him; this sweet, innocent, beautiful boy.  After that conversation I never heard from him again.  He never reached out to ask how I was, or more importantly, never reached out after the birth of Aiden to know anything about him or if he was healthy.  That moment gave me the clarity I needed to know that I made the best decision of adoption for my son.

This is still new for me, so I am not going to sit here and pretend that the grudge I have for Aiden’s biological father is gone; it is not, but I am working on it.  I am working on letting that grudge go.  I know he is not a part of our adoption story for a reason and he ultimately has nothing to do with me, Aiden, or our family.  I know holding a grudge will only make it harder for me to live a completely full and happy life; embracing this miracle of our special family.

6. Find a New Hobby

This is so important because after you place your baby with their adoptive parents you are going to have a lot of downtime to think on your maternity leave.  This can be a good thing, or a bad thing, but it is important to make plans and stay busy.

It does not mean you are not thinking about your child or you are dismissing what happened, it just means you need to give yourself a break.  You need to find something that makes you happy and can give you joy while keeping busy.  You already did the hardest part; you made the biggest decision for your baby; a lifetime of happiness and security. Now it’s time to do something for YOU!

It can be a cooking class, an art class, riding a bike, going to therapy to talk out your feelings, writing in a journal, joining a kickball team, planning a vacation etc.  For me, I picked up boxing.  I have always been an athlete and sports have always served as some sort of therapy for me.  After Aiden was born I wanted to try something new.  I wanted to do something to help get me back in shape, and get back to my pre-baby body.  I also thought that this would be a good thing to learn in case I never fully got over my own rule of “Let The Grudges Go”, and ran into the biological father…. just kidding 🙂

7. Meet New People

Put yourself out there!  This goes hand in hand with rule number 6: Finding a New Hobby.  After my maternity leave when I moved back into my apartment in the city, I made a huge effort to put myself out there.  I joined the neighborhood volleyball open gym, a boxing club, and a few Social Boston Sports teams.  You could say I gave myself no time to sit and self pity.  That was the best thing I could have done for myself because through all of this I made a new close friend.

We met at one of the open gyms and completely hit it off.  We realized we enjoyed the same type of workouts and together joined the boxing gym, and Social Boston Sports Volleyball and KickBall teams.  I made a new friend that knew nothing of my past and what I had just gone through literally three months before meeting her.  Every night after work we would meet up in our neighborhood and go do a new workout.  After a few months of our friendship I decided I was ready to share my story with her.

Although I wanted her to know my story, I had built up all this stress as she would be the first person I would tell my story to after Aiden was born; she was the first person who was new in my “new normal”.  One night on our way back from boxing, I told her the whole story and all about Aiden.  It was the biggest relief.  In that moment it felt like I never needed to work out again, because I lost all of my pregnancy weight I had been carrying (Ha- I didn’t, but it was that big of a relief to share my story with a new friend)!

It could not have gone better.  She threw her arms around me gave me a huge hug.  She was supportive and amazed at my relationship with Aiden, his parents, and what I had just gone through.  Better yet, I have a new friend who has been added to the list of All The People Who Love Aiden.

8. Be Open To Love

Dating again and being open to finding love has been my biggest fear for myself.  How will I ever meet someone who will understand and want to be a part of my unique family?  How and when in the relationship do I share my story?  I am afraid to be vulnerable, and I am afraid to open up my heart and take the chance that I can get hurt again.  These are all things I do not know, but what I do know is I need to put my fears aside and be open to love because I deserve it.

9. Do You

After going through this adoption experience you are left with a whole new outlook on life.  You just spent all of your energy focusing everything on your child and their future; but remember your own future is just as important.

Give yourself the chance to reevaluate your own life.  Ask yourself what your dreams are.  Ask yourself where you want your life to go.  Ask yourself what is going to make you happy, and then go out there and make the change to do so.

If you can survive the adoption of your child, you can conquer anything else you are afraid of!  This is your time to live.  Drop the guilt, drop the embarrassment, drop the sadness, and drop your fears.  Drop whatever it is that is holding you back, and get back out there and live.  Live for your child, and more importantly, live and love yourself.


A View of Openness: Margot’s Adopted Child Story

The beauty of adoption is that it can come in many different forms, and blossoms in many different ways.  Every adoption story is unique.  This is one adoptee’s story.

adopted children stories
Meet Margot, a beautiful, 29-year-old college-graduate, a loving sister and daughter, who is now pursuing her career in sustainability.  You may have met Margot previously in her birth mother Peggy’s adoption story.  Adoptions With Love first met Margot over 29 years ago, when her semi-open adoption plan began.  We continued our relationship with Margot and her adoptive parents over the years, as Margot thrived and grew to be the successful woman she is today.

Margot came to Adoptions With Love at sixteen years old with a heart full of love and great hope to meet her birth mother, Peggy.  With her adoptive parents by her side, we began the search and reunion process.  Margot met Peggy for the first time on Valentine’s Day—and it was truly a reunion meant for the books.  This is Margot’s story about opening her adoption, getting to know her birth family, and finding her missing puzzle pieces at last.

Opening my Adoption

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know I was adopted. For me growing up, it was always just a fact: that my birth mother gave me up for adoption because she loved me, and that my adoptive parents are crazy about me. I am very much a Kenney. Friends who have known me for years comment on their disbelief that my brother Adam and I are not biologically related. We share so many mannerisms; so many inside jokes, and truly bring out the ten-year-old in each other. We almost have too much fun when left to our own devices. As much as I felt loved and fulfilled in my adopted family, there was always what I described as a hole in my heart. Knowing that my birth mother Peggy gave me up out of love, but not quite understanding what that meant, left me with a lot of curiosity. I grew up with very little knowledge about her; I thought about her constantly and sometimes had fantasies that I had crossed paths with her when I saw someone whom I resembled on the street or in a magazine.

Biology has always been a strange thing for me. Most people don’t understand what it is to go through your childhood not quite looking like anyone in your life. Don’t get me wrong- I do resemble my parents Dan and Ginger, and my brother Adam–especially when we start talking. Strangers have often commented on the resemblance, but knowing that I don’t share a biological connection with my family—not seeing anyone with my very unique nose, little round “monkey ears”, or hazel eyes—was challenging. In science class, I could do the family tree exercise because I have an amazing family, but when asked to compare my biology to that of my family I simply wasn’t able to participate. It singled me out. I remember studying genetic traits like a widow’s peak, or bent finger, and then noticing how both of my pinkies have a defined curve. Not being able to examine the fingers of relatives for the same traits was painful. As superficial as I’ve always thought it sounded, I did want to find people with my genetic traits. More than anything, I just wanted to know Peggy. I wanted to know who she was, what she loved to do, the people who were important to her.

I had always thought that I had to wait until I was eighteen to search, but when I was sixteen, in my snooping I found a document that I hadn’t seen before with information on my birth family. I think I sat with the knowledge for a week, cooking up a half-baked plan with a friend to go on a road trip to find Peggy. Finally, I just talked to my parents and grilled them on everything they knew (once again). My mom got a photograph out of the fire safe of Peggy and me when I was a baby. I looked into the face of a very young, very curly-haired, and very strong woman. Her face looked calm and determined; she had a clear sense of purpose. I simply had to know her.

My parents agreed to stand by my side through the process of contacting Adoptions With Love, the organization that had placed me years before. I’m pretty sure we met with Amy. I forget if we did a few counselling sessions before or after we met with her, but I do remember that we all wanted to be sure that I was ready for this life-changing process. A couple of things that were crystal clear in my mind were that I was embarking on this adventure with no hopes or expectations, and also that I wanted to be sensitive to my parents and make sure they did not feel underappreciated or threatened. Instinctively, I knew that I wasn’t prepared for the disappointment if Peggy did not want to meet me. For all I knew, she wasn’t even alive. I prepared for the worst.

Amy spoke with my parents and me, and decided that we were ready as a family to initiate this step. She told me that she would call Peggy and that we were to wait for next steps. For some reason, the process moved very slowly; this drove sixteen-year-old me absolutely nuts. In the time that I held my breath waiting to hear if Peggy wanted to get to know me, I wrote her a letter. I told her about who I was at the time; I reassured her that I knew she gave me up out of love, and that I was not at all upset with her decision, but that I simply wanted to know her. Biology was very much on my mind (after being frustrated and embarrassed in class) so I traced my left hand, bent pinky and all.

We finally received word that Peggy did in fact want to establish contact, and that my letter had been sent. I was delighted! I got a letter back from Peggy, where she had also traced her hand. I remember putting my hand in her trace in disbelief. One day when I got home from school my mom said that she had spoken with Peggy that afternoon. It spoke volumes to us both that Peggy had the sensitivity and foresight to call the house when she knew I would be at school to make sure that my mom was really, really okay with this. She didn’t feel comfortable simply calling me without including my mom in the process. I called Peggy later that night, and the conversation mainly consisted on both sides of “oh my god, I can’t believe I’m talking to you!” To this day, I have never been more nervous making a phone call. We coordinated schedules to meet a couple of weekends from then, and the first day that we were free just happened to be Valentine’s Day.

February 14th, 2003 just might have been the longest morning of my life. My family left the house to allow Peggy and me to meet in private for the first time, and I must have changed my outfit fifteen times, running to a spot sitting at the top of the stairs, back to the bathroom mirror to make sure that my face hadn’t run away, about every other minute. I remember really not wanting to seem creepy and staring through the window at the driveway, but eventually I couldn’t take it anymore. I went downstairs and peeked through the lace curtains, staring down the street.

That Valentine’s Day there wasn’t much snow on the ground, just the crunchy brown remnants of leaves, stark branches, and a clear blue sky above. That day reminds me of my favorite line from my favorite Pablo Neruda Poem “I love you like the plant that doesn’t bloom, but carries the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself.” That tight love lay coiled in my heart and ready to spring free. A jeep pulled up the street and stopped in front of my house. I had wanted so badly to “be cool” and wait for her to ring the doorbell, but that tightly wound love sprang free when Peggy stepped from the car, and I burst out the door to meet her–enveloping her in my arms, and in the warmth of my yearning and love.

I’ll never forget the smell of her, so soft, clean, and heavenly, and the feel of holding her for the first time. Peggy is a person of big personality and small stature, standing at 4’11”. It is somewhat shocking to reach for your birth mother to find that she is shorter than you. She has this amazing curly hair, and hugging her (if you are ever lucky enough to do so) is hugging a tiny woman with a mass of lovely curls. At that time she was also very pregnant. We held each other tightly with our eyes closed for some time. I don’t think that either of us was really ready to pull back and take a good look at each other; it was just too much. We reveled in the warmth of our hug, and the strength of our bond. The hole in my heart began to fill. When we finally did pull back to look at each other, all I saw were big blue eyes. They were just the shape of mine, but such a different color–and they were brilliant to look into.

There it was! My nose! Or maybe it was I who had her nose, but nonetheless it was magnificent to see it on her face. The rest of her face is absolutely lovely, but the eyes and the nose spring forth in my mind’s eye as my first memory of seeing my biological mother’s face. I’m amazed how clear the memory is thirteen years later. I don’t think that we cried quite yet; both of us were just too shocked. I finally looked past her to see a very tall, blonde Midwestern man desperately trying to regain his composure. It might just be the most adorable thing I have ever seen, and it gave me a sense of peace to see how much Tom clearly loved Peggy.

Tom, my dad, and my brother are the three men I blame for being 29 and single. It is hard to imagine anyone coming close to their kindheartedness and the sweet way in which each of them love me. Tom helped Peggy get a box out of the trunk, and then drove off without a word (I later found out that he couldn’t speak for fear of losing it).

Peggy and I finally went into the house on our own to set about the process of getting to know each other. She had a box of memories prepared for me, and she told me the story of her relationship with my birth-father Chris, her pregnancy, and how hard she worked to learn about open adoption in a time where closed adoption was the norm, and Rhode Island had a mandatory foster care stay of 2 months– something she found unacceptable. She told me of her struggle to find an agency that would allow her a place in the process of finding my family. Hearing of her dedication and drive to provide for me all of those years ago was incredible. We discussed what might come next in our relationship, and she told me that there was a huge Irish-Catholic family waiting to meet me if I was comfortable with it.

At the time, my sister Helena was four years old. Despite his initial reservations, Tom allowed me to be introduced as Helena’s big sister. I got to meet my sister Allison the day after she was born. After a lifetime of being the little sister, being a big sister brought so much joy and pride into my life. I don’t remember exactly when I met the rest of Peggy’s family, but my whole adoptive family was invited out to a pavilion in Rhode Island for what felt to me like a blending of families. Not just me, but my parents and brother were embraced. It was an overwhelming and wonderful day, to meet my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and many cousins. My parents had met Peggy along with my birth grandparents John and Marie prior to my adoption, and had very warm memories of them. Seeing them bonding was wonderful. I have always said that our reunion has been like getting in-laws. We are all so much happier and stronger for it.margot and peggy

As an adoptee I feel blessed to truly understand that blood does not make a family, it has allowed my heart to be open, and to make friends who feel like family wherever I go. I decided to go to the University of San Francisco just a couple of years after meeting Peggy and her family, and I moved out to San Francisco at age eighteen.

It was an incredibly tough decision for me; I had just become a sister, and I felt torn. A part of me still feels guilty for moving so far away from Helena and Allison, especially since as an adoptee I understand abandonment issues more than most. I hope that my independence, and the work that I do in sustainability, gives them something to look up to. It warms my heart to hear that Allison wants to be a marine biologist when she grows up, and to see how excited Helena was to tell me about the college she is interested in attending because of the green buildings on campus. In the end we all do the best that we can, and this is truly a blessed family that I am a part of.

The decision to reunite with my birth family was one that my family and I did together. It was not a decision we took lightly, and I think that my resolution to have low expectations made the elation at my instant bond with Peggy that much sweeter. In reconnecting recently with Amy and Adoptions With Love, I was shocked to learn of their upcoming thirty-year anniversary. We have truly been with them since the beginning as one of their first adoptions. They made our semi-open adoption possible in a time when it was controversial and rare. They made our reunion and blended family possible, we are lucky to have them in our family’s life.

 


State by State: How to Place Your Baby for Adoption in Ohio

Are you pregnant and considering adoption?  As an expectant mother, you want the best possible life for your baby, but know that you are not ready to raise a child at this time.  You feel that adoption is the most positive choice for your baby, but do not know where to start.  You have come to the right place.

Adoptions With Love is a licensed, non-profit adoption agency serving expectant/birth parents in Ohio.  Whether you are considering your options or are ready to make an adoption plan, we are here to help you along the way.

As an expectant/birth parent, you likely have many thoughts and questions about the adoption process in Ohio:  How do I make an adoption plan?  Who can help me with this pregnancy?  Can I choose the family for my baby?  At Adoptions With Love, we believe that a well-informed decision is the best decision. That is why we are here to answer all of your questions free from fear or pressure.  We can educate you as you explore all of your options and help you make the most positive plan for your child.

There are specific steps you will need to take to place your baby for adoption in Ohio.  As an adoption agency serving Ohio, we can help you understand the adoption process and make sure you are comfortable with each decision made along the way.  We have created this short guide to show you some of the steps you can take if you decide to make an adoption plan in Ohio.

1. Choose an adoption agency.

Before you begin your adoption plan, you will need to choose a reputable, licensed adoption agency.  The right adoption agency will support you throughout this entire journey – before, during, and after the birth of your baby.  If you need financial assistance, your adoption agency should offer you help.  Under Ohio law, adoption agencies can assist with certain living expenses (such as rent, utilities, food, and transportation) for expectant mothers.

It is important to choose an adoption agency that will discuss your options with you, listen to your wishes, and use those to help you make the perfect adoption plan.  It should be an agency that you trust, one that will respect any choice that you make in the end.

2. Meet with an adoption counselor.

Once you choose an adoption agency, you can begin your adoption plan.  As an expectant/birth parent, you should meet with a licensed, compassionate adoption social worker at your agency of choice.  This social worker will walk you through your options, educate you on your birth mother rights, and help you understand what to expect before, during, and after the adoption takes place.  Your adoption counselor will also give you the option to design the type of adoption plan you want: an open adoption, semi-open adoption, or closed adoption plan.  You can also select the family of your child if you wish.

3. Choose an adoptive family.

In Ohio, you always have the option to choose an adoptive family for your baby.  Your agency will show you the waiting families who best meet your wishes and expectations.  If and when you choose an adoptive family, you can speak to them through email, phone, or meet them in-person.  This is completely up to you and your comfort level.

No matter the family you choose, you can rest assured your baby will be placed in a loving, secure home environment.  In Ohio, it is required that all potential adoptive families complete a thorough home study.  At Adoptions With Love, we carefully screen and interview all prospective families to ensure the safety and stability of their home.

4. Understand the laws of your area.

Adoption laws and regulations vary state to state.  It is important to find an adoption agency that  is specifically trained in and knowledgeable about the laws of your area.

In Ohio, no parent can sign legal adoption documents until at least 72 hours after the baby is born.  This helps to ensure that birth parents are confident in their decision.  Once consent for the adoption is given, birth parents cannot change their minds.  That is why, at Adoptions With Love, we want you to be completely certain that you are making the best possible decision for your child.

5. Make a post-adoption plan.

If you choose to make an adoption plan with Adoptions With Love, you will have the option of meeting your child’s adoptive family and establishing a plan for communication following your baby’s adoption.  During counseling, our trained social workers will help you design a post-adoption plan for contact with your child and his or her adoptive family.  We also encourage and offer post-placement counseling.

Adoption can be the start of an emotional journey and the beginning of several lifelong relationships.  Adoptions With Love can help you navigate these new emotions and relationships after your baby’s adoption takes place.  As part of your post-adoption plan, we offer ongoing, confidential counseling services at no cost to you.  You can view our other free services here.

At Adoptions With Love, we want you to know how proud we are, and how proud you should be, of your choice.  We are always here for you.  Whether you are pregnant or have already given birth to your baby, it is never too late to start your adoption plan. Call us at 800-722-7731 or text us confidentially at 617-777-0072.

This is our State by State Adoption blog series.  To learn about the different areas we service, or to find the specific steps of adoption in your state, please visit adoptionswithlove.org/areas-we-service.


The Benefits of Adoption for Adopted Children [Infographic]

impact of adoption on children

Are you pregnant and considering adoption?  Right now, you may be scared and overwhelmed.  You already have so much love for your baby.  You want to choose the life that is best for your child, but you do not know what life that is.  You are worried you cannot give your baby the life that he or she deserves.  If you choose adoption, you may worry that your child will not understand your choice.

Many birth parents fear that their child will never understand their adoption decision.  Some are scared that their child will grow up angry, lonely, or hurt because of it.  While adoptees do have many different emotions and thoughts about their adoption, 9 out of 10 adopted children express “positive” or “mostly positive” feelings overall.

In the past, adoption was kept secret.  The majority of adopted children did not know they were adopted and for this reason, did not grow up understanding their birth mother’s decision.  They were not able to learn information about their birthparents or ever meet their birth mothers.  Today, over 97 percent of children know they are adopted.  From an early age, these children are able to ask questions, appreciate, and be proud of their adoption.

Adoptions With Love designed this infographic to show you the positive effects of adoption and the benefits it can bring to your child as he or she grows.  By reading these facts, we hope you will find comfort in knowing the healthy, enriching experiences adopted children can have.

If you choose to make an adoption plan for your child, rest assured that your child will thrive in a safe and loving home.  Your child will likely come to understand that you gave him or her the best life that you could possibly give.  At Adoptions With Love, remember that you, as an expectant or birth mother, always have the option to be a part of that life.

To learn more about the benefits of adoption for children or to begin your adoption plan, contact Amy, Nancy, Amelia, or Claudia at 1-800-722-7731 or text us confidentially at 1-617-777-0072.

 

 


State by State: How to Place Your Baby for Adoption in Kentucky

Are you facing an unplanned pregnancy?  Perhaps the most important thing to know as an expectant mother in Kentucky is that you have options.  No matter what you decide for your baby, know that the choice is always yours to make.  At Adoptions With Love, we want you to know that you will never have to make this choice alone.  We are here to listen and answer questions, to educate you on adoption in Kentucky, and to help you make the most positive, long-term decision for you and your baby.

If you are contemplating making an adoption plan, you have come to the right place.  Adoptions With Love is a licensed, non-profit adoption agency who helps expectant/birth parents nationwide find the best possible homes for their children.  In the state of Kentucky, there are specific steps you will need to take to place your baby for adoption.  You do not have to go through this on your own.  As a reputable adoption agency serving Kentucky for over 30 years, we can help guide you through this journey.  We are here to ensure that you understand the adoption process and are comfortable with each decision made along the way.

We have created this short guide to show you some of the steps you can take if you decide to make an adoption plan in the state of Kentucky:

1. Choose an adoption agency.

As you begin your adoption plan, your first step will be to choose the right adoption support.  There are many adoption professionals who can help you, but it is important to find someone that you truly trust throughout this unexpected journey.  Choose an adoption agency that will discuss your options with you, listen to your wishes, and respect any choice you make.  Select an adoption agency that will also educate you on the adoption laws of your area, and provide you the assistance you need and deserve.

2. Meet with an adoption counselor.

As you begin your adoption plan, you should meet regularly with a licensed, compassionate adoption social worker.  At Adoptions With Love, we feel this is a crucial part of the adoption process.  We want to make sure that you have the opportunity to consider all of your choices, learn about all of your birth mother rights, and understand exactly what to expect before, during, and after an adoption takes place.

3. Understand the adoption laws in Kentucky.

Adoption laws vary state to state.  In Kentucky, no parent can sign legal adoption documents until at least 72 hours after the baby is born.  Adoptions With Love recommends that you take time to rest after your baby’s birth before making this decision.

There are many other laws about the financial aid you may receive, your rights and responsibilities as an expectant/birth mother, as well as the rights of your baby’s biological father.  For this reason, it is crucial to work with an adoption agency that has attorneys specifically trained in the state of Kentucky.

4. Choose an Adoptive Family

At Adoptions With Love, you will always have the opportunity to choose an adoptive family for your baby.  After listening to your wishes and vision of the perfect family, we will send you detailed photo albums and personal profiles from the waiting families the best meet your needs.  Once you choose a family for your baby, you can speak to them through email, phone, or meet them in-person.  This is completely up to you.

No matter what family you choose, rest assured you will be placing your baby in a loving, safe and secure home.  In Kentucky, it is required that all potential adoptive families are thoroughly screened by a licensed adoption agency.  All families at Adoptions With Love have gone through an extensive home study process as well as a series of background checks to ensure the safety and stability of their home.

5. Make a Post-Placement Plan

If you choose to design an adoption plan with Adoptions With Love, you will have the option of meeting your child’s adoptive family and establishing a plan for communication following your baby’s adoption.  Whether you choose an open adoption, semi-open adoption, or closed adoption plan, our trained social workers will help you as you consider all of your options for post-adoption contact with your child, his or her adoptive family, and our adoption agency professionals.

If you choose adoption for your baby, we encourage you to pursue counseling and support services after your baby is placed.  Adoptions With Love offers ongoing, confidential counseling services that are available at no cost to you.  We can help you navigate emotions, communication, and a relationship after the adoption takes place.  We will always be here for you.

Whether you just found out you are pregnant, are in your final trimester, or have already given birth to your baby, it is never too late to start an adoption plan. Contact Amy, Nancy, Claudia, or Amelia today at 1-800-722-7731 for more information on adoption in Kentucky.

This is our State by State Adoption blog series.  To learn about the different areas we service, or to find the specific steps of adoption in your state, please visit adoptionswithlove.org/areas-we-service.


Is Your Baby at Risk for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome?

As the opioid epidemic rises in our society, we are meeting its youngest victims: babies born with NAS.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, or NAS, is a drug withdrawal syndrome that affects newborns.  It happens when a baby is exposed to drugs while in the womb.  When a pregnant woman takes drugs, the substance passes through her bloodstream, through the placenta, and directly to the fetus.  Once the baby is born, he or she will experience severe drug withdrawal and in many cases, the pain that is associated with it.

You may be wondering; “Why should I care about NAS?” or “What drugs can cause NAS?”  Perhaps you are here because you believe your baby may be at risk.  Whether you have a history of drug use or have been prescribed pain medication by your doctor, it is important to know the risks that drugs can pose for your baby.

NAS is most often caused by opioid use during pregnancy.  Opioids are painkillers commonly used to relieve pain.  They come in the form of morphine, oxycodone, and codeine.  Opioid drugs can range from legal, regulated prescriptions such as Vicodin all the way to illicit street drugs like Heroin.  When an expectant mother takes these kinds of drugs, she puts her baby at risk for many health problems including low birth weight, respiratory problems, birth defects, and seizures.  Examples of substances that can cause NAS are listed below.

Prescription Drugs that Can Cause Withdrawal Symptoms in Babies Include (but are not limited to):

  • Vicodin
  • Kadian
  • Avinza
  • OxyContin
  • Percocet
  • Sleeping pills (Xanax)
  • Antidepressants

Recreational Substances that Can Cause Withdrawal Symptoms in Babies Include (but are not limited to):

  • Amphetamines (Cocaine)
  • Alcohol
  • Heroin
  • Methadone

There has been a five-fold increase in opioid use among pregnant women since the year 2000.  Many women are prescribed pain relievers during pregnancies.  Others take drugs before knowing they are pregnant.  Unfortunately, this drug use has led to the birth of many NAS babies.  From 2000 to 2012, an estimated 21,732 infants were born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.  This means that approximately every 25 minutes, one baby suffering from opioid withdrawal was born to this world.

Babies born with NAS are difficult to comfort.  They cry excessively, have trouble eating and sleeping, and are often feverish or nauseous for days after birth.  For these reasons, NAS babies are required to stay in the hospital much longer than the average newborn.  Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome typically keeps babies in the hospital for 17 days, compared to the average two days for healthy newborns.  This extended hospital stay can become costly for many families.  When a child is born with NAS, it is reported to the Department of Children and Families. As a result, many NAS babies are placed in the DCF foster care system.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome can happen to any baby that is exposed to drugs, from mothers of all walks of life.  Even if you take a legal opioid exactly as your provider tells you to do, there is still a risk for NAS in your baby.  Do not blame yourself.  As you continue your pregnancy, know that there is still an opportunity to make your situation a positive one.  There are resources to make a better life for you and your baby.

If you are pregnant and have used any of the drugs that can cause NAS, talk to your health care provider right away.  Keep your doctor informed about any substances or prescription medications that you take.  If you are experiencing any health problems, make sure your doctor knows that you are pregnant, to ensure each prescription issued is safe for your baby.  If you are pregnant and addicted to drugs, talk to your doctor about a regulated drug treatment plan.  Do not be afraid to consult your doctor.  He or she is there to help you and your baby, without judgment. Remember, all doctors have a patient confidentiality policy.  What you tell your doctor is classified information and will be kept safe.

If you do not have a health care provider at this time, do not worry.  There are drop-in health clinics and walk-in centers available to care for you and your baby.  If you believe your baby is at risk for NAS and are not able to give your child the life or healthcare that he or she needs, you may consider making an adoption plan.  Choosing adoption will allow you to give your baby the stable environment that he or she deserves to heal and grow.  Adoptions With Love can help you find a reputable doctor who understands both your emotional and physical needs.  We will also cover any uninsured medical expenses once you complete the adoption.

Our mission at Adoptions With Love is to find the best home for each and every child.  If you are at all concerned for your baby or your baby’s future, adoption may prove to be the best choice for you.  Your baby can go from the hospital to a waiting adoptive family and avoid foster care.  We can help you find a loving, stable adoptive family that is  ready to raise your child.  With a private, open adoption, you will always know that your child is thriving and that you made the best decision for your child at this moment in time.

If you have any questions regarding Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, or if you or someone you know is pregnant and suffering from opioid addiction, please do not hesitate to call us confidentially at 1-800-722-7731 or text us at 1-617-777-0072.  Adoptions With Love is available 24/7 to listen, discuss your options, and help you make a positive plan for you and your baby.


How a Private Adoption Agency Can Be Involved with Your Adoption Plan

Adoption is a courageous, selfless decision.  It is a choice that requires great love and resolution, and a decision that only a mother can make.  You do not have to make this decision alone.

If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, you may be feeling overwhelmed or unsure of your next step.  You may not know where you can turn for support.  Whether you are considering your options or simply looking for information on your various unplanned pregnancy options, a compassionate, private adoption agency can help.  Trained social workers can sit down with you to discuss your options, educate you on the process, and if you choose, help you design a perfect adoption plan for your baby.

As an expectant mother, you may be hesitant to work with an adoption agency.  You may know exactly what you want for your baby, but worry that an adoption professional will not fulfill your wishes.

At Adoptions With Love, we believe that your adoption plan should be just that—completely yours.  You deserve to feel comfortable and confident with every decision made and every step taken throughout the adoption process.  You deserve to make your decisions free of pressure.  You deserve to be respected for every decision you make.  You deserve to know that your adoption plan is secure and will be followed by everyone involved.

The right private adoption agency will not only guide you throughout the adoption process but also ensure that your wishes for your baby are met.  When choosing an adoption agency, ask about their involvement with your adoption plan.

Adoptions With Love will guide you through the process.  You can count on us to:

  • Educate you on your many options. Our respectful, unbiased social workers will walk you through each of your unplanned pregnancy options to ensure that you are making the best decision for you and your baby.
  • Explain the adoption process. If you choose to make an adoption plan, our trained staff will educate you regarding each step of the adoption process. From pregnancy care to telling the father, legal considerations to your hospital plan. We will prepare you for the entire adoption journey.
  • Listen to your wishes. We invite you to tell us all about the type of family you want for your baby. Your wishes are important to us and will always be respected. This is your adoption plan. Our role as an adoption agency is only to help guide you through the process, and ensure that you make the best possible decisions for you and your baby.
  • Show you waiting adoptive families. At our private adoption agency, we require all potential adoptive families to complete a thorough home screening process.  This assures us that they are safe, stable, and ready to raise a child.  Once we approve a family, we ask them to create personal Profile Books.  These Profile Books contain personal information, photo albums, and letters written to expectant mothers like you.  At your request, we will mail you a careful selection of Profile Books based on the type of family you want for your baby.
  • Design an adoption plan. At Adoptions With Love, you always have the choice to make an open, semi-open, or closed adoption plan for your baby. We will counsel you on your many adoption plan options.
  • Create legal, binding contracts. Every decision you make for your baby should be respected, and our goal is to give you  peace of mind.  That is why Adoptions With Love writes legal, binding contracts regarding post-adoption contact.  If you want to receive letters and pictures from your child’s adoptive family, we want to make sure they respect that wish.
  • Always be here for you. After the placement of your baby, we will continue to extend a loving hand to you. We offer free counseling services for birth parents in the weeks following their baby’s adoption.  You can always call us or visit us for adoption support.  In fact, we welcome you to stay in touch.  Women who have placed their child thirty years ago are still able to contact Adoptions With Love.  We will always be here for you.

As an expectant mother, you have every say in who will raise your baby and how your adoption plan will work.  You have the right to keep in touch with your baby’s adoptive family, as well as receive letters and photos of your child over the years.  These are all decisions that you can make when designing your adoption plan.

Adoptions With Love, as a private, non-profit adoption agency, can help guide you along the way.  Download our free guide, How to Choose an Adoption Agency, or contact us today.

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Celebrating a Mother’s Love on Mother’s Day: A Birth Mother Story

My name is Erica, and I am not your traditional “mom”.  I am a single 23-year-old who lives and works in downtown Boston, but I am what some would call a “birthmother”.  On this Mothers Day I am going to get out of bed and stand tall with my shoulders back.  I am going to have a smile on my face with a heart full of love, and be just as proud of my son and my family as any other mother out there, because this is a day to celebrate. birth mother’s day

I have always shared a special bond with my mother.  Even as a 23-year-old adult, all my friends and family will tell you that the relationship I share with my mom is extraordinary.

When my mom was only 17 years-old her mother died of breast cancer.  My mom grew up looking up to her older sister as a mother figure to be there for her when her mother was not able to be.  Throughout her major milestones of her college graduation, engagement, wedding, birth of my two brothers and myself, my mom found her mother figure in her older sister and friends.  From her nontraditional maternal role models throughout her years, she managed to fully grasp what it meant to truly be a mother when it was her turn.

Now, I am not your traditional “mom”.  I am a single 23-year-old who lives and works in downtown Boston, but I am what some would call a “birthmother”.  I placed my son with his adoptive parents five days after his birth last summer; July of 2015.  During those five days of taking care of my son in the hospital, I experienced the truest of miracles: a mother’s love.

When I discovered I was pregnant it was a complete shock.  My life drastically flipped and the next three months my 24/7 turned into planning out the rest of my son’s and my life. I needed the support of my parents throughout the remainder of my pregnancy, which made me hit the pause button on my life, pack up out of the city, and move back into my childhood home with my parents.

I will never forget seven months into my pregnancy when I found myself waking up on Mother’s Day morning feeling sad and confused about my own identity.  I was leaning towards adoption, and had already met the couple who would ultimately be my son’s future mom and dad.  I was 99% sure that I was going through with this adoption, but I had not made the official announcement yet.  Everyone seemed to have an idea that adoption was going to be my decision, as I was continuing to build a relationship with my son’s future parents.  I had even made plans for them to come to my parents’ house for a barbecue the following weekend with one of my brothers.

It was a Sunday morning and my parents were at church.  I went downstairs to my parents’ kitchen and put on a pot of decaf coffee.  I planned to surprise my mom when she got home from church with a special homemade Mother’s Day breakfast.  I finished cooking and sat down with tears in my eyes writing my mom her Mother’s Day card. Writing has always been my ‘thing’.  I put a lot of thought into every card I pick out and what exactly I want to write in it.  It became custom that every time I wrote a card to my parents I somehow manage to get a little choked up, however, this time it was different.  I felt overwhelmed with gratitude for all of my mother’s love and support through this difficult time.  I thought to myself—how amazingly lucky am I?  I have parents who are incredibly accepting of adversity, and a mother who will literally hold my hand through everything when I need her.

I wiped a tear from under my eye and smiled at the thought of how ridiculous my mom had been since the day I found out I was pregnant.

On days where I found it hard to smile, my mom would dedicate her whole entire day to trying to make me laugh.  I would be sitting at the kitchen table working, only to be quickly interrupted by the whole house shaking to the surround sound system blaring “Caught Up” by Usher.  “It’s time to dance!  Get up. We haven’t had a dance party in a while.”  And there she was—singing her heart out and dancing around the living room.  She would not stop until my face was lit with a smile and I was out there dancing right next to her.

When I could not sleep at night and needed to talk, my mom would be right there with me.  She would stay up until one in the morning listening to me repeat the same feelings, worries, and concerns over and over to her; yet, somehow she would continue to come up with something new to say to help ease my mind. On nights where I had nothing to say, but still could not sleep, she would lay in my bed and stare up at the ceiling with me until my eyelids got too heavy to keep open.

There was even one time I had a doctor’s appointment and on our way down to Boston she pulled over to our local farm stand to get our favorite ice cream.  On our way home from the appointment I began to cry about how scared I was for all this change that would be taking place in my life in only a few short weeks.  She got off the exit in our town and made a right turn.  “Where are you going?  You missed the turn” I said.  “I know, we’re going to get some more ice cream… we need it tonight.”

As I was writing her card, I felt so blessed for my mother.  Despite the gratitude I was feeling for my mom, I was still confused about my own identity and what exactly I should be feeling on this day.

“We’re home!” I hear my mom say, I signed my name at the end of her card and turned around to see my mom and dad walking into the kitchen with huge smiles on their faces.  “Happy Mother’s Day” I said, as I walked over to give my mom a hug.  “Thank you!” My mom leaned in and kissed me.  “Happy Mother’s Day to you, Erica.”  She pulled her hands out from behind her back and gave me a bouquet of flowers and my favorite candies. “I’m your mom, and you are Aiden’s* mom.  This will always be our day from now on— welcome to the club!”

There are many things I have learned from my mother throughout my 23 years.  How to tame my crazy curls.  How to apply makeup and do the perfect cat eye with my gel eyeliner.  How to jam out in the car to Stevie Wonder after a bad day. How to be optimistic when something does not seem to be going your way.  How to trust in God and keep faith in times where you feel alone.  How to be thoughtful and think of others before yourself.  How to keep a list of all the things I am grateful for and pull it out to read when I am feeling down.  How to be kind.  How to love unconditionally.  I can go on and on, but the most important thing my mom has ever taught me, through no lesson at all, is: how to be a mother.

When I made my final decision on adoption, my mom told me this year would be a year of firsts.  My new role as a Mère would take time to get used to.  Some days will be harder than others, but most days will be so beautiful that they will make up for the hard days.

She is right.  There are many occasions where my mind wanders to all of the moments that have and will take place during this year of ‘Aiden’s firsts’. It is an unexplainable feeling knowing most of these events I will not traditionally be a part of. Memories like Aiden’s first bath at home, his first laugh, first holidays, the first time he can sit up on his own, his first tooth growing in, the first time he crawls, the first time he tries solid foods, the first time he reaches up on his own to be held and embraced.  These are all things your typical mother is there for; for me it is a little different.  Sometimes it can be sad, because I wish I could know all the details of every little thing that goes on in Aiden’s every day.

On these days I dig deep to find the strength to remind myself of how blessed I am to be a part of Mia*, Nate*, and Aiden’s lives.  I remember how lucky I am that Mia and Nate make me and my family feel just as important and special to them as their own families.  I know I can pull out my phone and send a quick text to Mia, knowing she will respond with a beautiful picture of Aiden and tell me how excited they are to get together again soon.

I watch my son with his mother and it is impossible not to notice his natural connection with her.  The way his big brown eyes look up at her with love.  The way he laughs when he catches her smile, and the way his body relaxes when she picks him up and holds him close to her chest.  The bond they share is breath taking.  There has not been a time where I have been around my son and his mom where I do not notice myself getting choked up.  It does not happen because I am sad, or jealous.  I get choked up, because I am able to share this maternal connection with such an amazing woman who encourages my relationship with my son.  I get choked up at the thought that God chose me to bring together this family, and be a part of such a beautiful story of love.

As Mother’s Day gets closer I know I am going to have family members, friends, and coworkers who might not know how to approach me on this special day.  I know they will wonder whether or not they should wish me a happy Mother’s Day, not knowing if it would upset me, because I do not raise Aiden.

On this Mother’s Day I am going to get out of bed and stand tall with my shoulders back.  I am going to have a smile on my face with a heart full of love, and be just as proud of my son and my family as any other mother out there, because this is a day to celebrate.

I will celebrate my Grandmother in heaven who looks down and watches over her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.  I will celebrate my Memere who just became a great grandmother through the birth of Aiden. I will celebrate my aunts who have made sacrifices for their families throughout the years. I will celebrate my cousins who I have looked up to my whole life and have enjoyed watching become mothers.  I will celebrate my mom who has been my rock, role model, and best friend for the past 23 years.  I will celebrate my son’s mother, Mia, who has taught me that there is no such thing as too much love.  Who has given me the security and identity I was always looking for, by acknowledging my maternal love for Aiden and suggesting for me the title of, Mère.

Although I am not your traditional mother, this day is just as much mine as it is any other mother’s out there.  One thing I have learned about being a mother from all of these amazing women in my life, and the most important thing that we all have in common, is: a mother’s love.

It is selfless and pure.  We love genuinely, emotionally, and unconditionally.  We love so deeply that we do not hesitate to make sacrifices for our children in order to give them the best life possible.

So, if you happen to see me on this special day, do not be afraid to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day, because I will be celebrating.  I will be celebrating for myself, and for all the other mothers and ‘birthmothers’ out there who share a mother’s love.

Happy Mother’s Day to you, Mia.  You are Aiden’s mom, and I am Aiden’s Mère. This will always be our day from now on— welcome to the club!