Bloom Where You are Planted

bloomwhereyouareplanted

“It is a simple phrase, but over the last ten years it has become one that I have clung to in many situations. The image of a flower emerging, no matter where the seed may have landed, is a beautiful and strong one to me. I first read this phrase on a card a teacher gave me when I was pregnant and was trying to decide what to do. It was a simple piece of pale pink construction paper to which she had pasted cut magazine words and letters that formed the phrase next to a picture of a potted flower. It hung in my room for years, even after placement. When I went to college, it hung in my dorm room as a reminder.

You are that seed, my friend. You have been planted in this rocky soil of life right now, but did you know you can still bloom where you are? You can choose to allow water and sunshine to reach you where you are, and allow growth to happen. You are not doomed to darkness forever!”

….Read more at Adoption.NET

Dispelling Myths About Birthmothers

Myths

As a birthmother, I get so frustrated at the negative stigma birthmothers have in society. From movies like Juno, to far-fetched soap opera dramas; I feel like they have it all wrong sometimes. Let’s dispel some of these myths right here, right now.

1.  Birthmothers don’t love their child.  Far, far from the truth! Generally, they love their child so much they choose to put aside their own love for the child in an effort to give him or her the best life possible. They love them enough to let them go into the arms of another parent. The love for their child is actually expressed by choosing adoption.

Read more Myths over at Adoption.NET

An Open Birthday Letter: 10 Years of Adoption, 10 Years of Love

10 Years of Life 10 Years of Adoption

 

Dear Anna,

Today you turn 10 years old. It is currently 8:21 pm and in my busy life of 3 kids, plus babysitting, plus growing a new little blessing, I am just now getting to sit down to write. Right now, I was pushing you into this side of earth.  Pushing you from only mine, into sharing you.  At 9:00 pm, you were born.  It seems fitting that I’m getting to sit and ponder your birth and our years together, and apart, so far during this time frame.

I’ll be honest, this has been one of the hardest birthdays for me than others have been.  The number 10 has haunted me as this day approached, how could so many years have gone by already? It is a milestone. A marker of new territory as you grow into a teenager soon. It’s a marker of what I’ve missed in your daily life, but also what I’ve been privileged to enjoy.  In preparing for this big birthday, I grieved in ways I haven’t in a long time.  Sometimes a birthmother just needs to do that. She needs to cry for the loss, cry for what could of been. But then, after some tears and feeling things she hasn’t felt in years…she’ll feel better. At least I did. In my ten years, though I have had moments of grief, I haven’t lost sight of the fact that our adoption was God’s will. I have peace with that, even now.

This actual birthday itself has been fine though. I spoke with you on the phone and was sent a picture to see how grown up you’ve become in the last 10 years.  Getting to hear your voice always, always makes the soothes the ache of missing you. Hearing you tell me that you love me helps immensely. Thank you and I love you, too!  Today actually was filled with joy for me as I remembered and celebrated all that your presence in my life has been.  God has moved in so many ways simply because you exist. From friendships formed, to the talents and dreams God has planted in my heart, your presence was the beginning of those amazingly beautiful things in my life. Best of all, you are the one who brought me back to Christ. I’m so thankful!

I hope you know how blessed, loved, and special you are!  One day you will use your own writing to tell your own story. I can’t wait to see how your next 10 years unfold, with us together at times, and apart.  I pray that God will protect our relationship and let it bloom into whatever God intends for it to be. I pray that you will grow closer to God as you grow into a young lady. I pray you will form friendships that point each other back to Him. Most of all, I pray you that make wise choices and learn from my mistakes. Without my “mistakes” though, we wouldn’t have you.  You are not a mistake, you are a gift. Praise God for His redemption and bringing so much beauty from a dark place in my life.  You light up my world as well as your parents’. Thank you for your bright smile!

Happy birthday, my first born.

Love always,

Your Birthmomma

A Rewriting of Our Adoption Story

My first article is published at Adoption.Net! Will you head over there to leave some comment love?

I chose adoption

 

I still remember the night I found out I was pregnant with my birthdaughter, whom I’ll call Anna. Despite my age of only 16 years old, a boyfriend who wasn’t interested anymore, a junior in high school, not having a job, or even a drivers license, I found myself happy. On that dark October night at a friend’s house, I remember falling in love with the little person growing in my belly as quickly as the positive line appeared on that stick. At 18 years old when a pregnancy test showed another positive line,“Oh crap!” was more like my response…but that is another story. At 16, I was naïve. Blissfully naïve that love would be enough for this new baby and me. After all, wanting to be loved was how I got into this predicament in the first place and a baby would always love me. Right?

Read more here over at adoption.Net!

Counting Our Blessings

countingourblessings2

Our family is super excited to announce another blessing will be joining us in February!  While we all felt we would have another eventually, we were shocked to see it happen this month.  I didn’t feel pregnant at all and only took a test to prove to myself that my period would come, but low and behold there were 2 lines!

I told Mark and the kids that night by playing a family game of hangman, where I had them guess the word “Pregnant.”  When the word finally was obvious, Mark said, “Really? For real?”  The kids didn’t get it wasn’t just a game and I was trying to tell them something so I said, “Do you know what this means? Mommy has a baby in her tummy!” Then the happy screams and jumping commenced.

Jaxson is very set on this being his baby brother and has already named him Jordan. We’ll see about that! Savannah is so excited to have another baby in our house, she is such a great big sister and helper as it is. She is also excited to share the same month as this baby for birthdays! Ashlyn can say “baby” but that’s about the extent of her knowing her world is going to change :-)

Thanks for sharing in our joy!

 

Adoption: Do I Love Her Less?

Adoption Do I Love Her Less

I’m an open book when it comes to my adoption and most of my life, for the simple fact that I want to be real and honest in hopes that it helps encourage others to know they aren’t alone, or dare I say, even change a life.

Recently I was having coffee with a sweet church friend and as we talked about the daily motherhood blessings and battles or my most recent interaction with Anna, she said, “Can I ask you a question…do you love her less?”

“Her” meaning my Anna.

My answer?

No. I don’t love her less. The love is absolutely, unequivocally the same as my other children.  I treasure her presence and smile just as I do my others. I loved my pregnancy with her and holding her just as I have held all my newborns. I bonded with her in those months watching her roll in my womb, and I cherished the velvety feel of her chubby cheeks when I stroked them with my finger just after her birth.

Now, of course, there is a difference.  She isn’t in my daily life. I don’t know her latest favorite color, her teacher’s name, or  have seen her latest drawing hanging in her room. What is different is our bond, our connection.  While I know the core of my parented children’s being intimately, I am not there to know her heart all the time.  There is absolutely love binding us together, but she is in many ways basically a child of friend’s that I adore and enjoy company with. Simply put, the relationship is kinda like having a niece. A very special, loved niece. One that you adore spending time with and spending money on and wanting to know more, but at the end of the day…she is theirs.

I believe Anna and I have a deep underling connection, a connection that can only come from hearing the beating of my heart from inside and me feeling her feet from within. We know we are blood related and want to know each other more, but we aren’t 100% there as I am able to do and be for the children I parent since they are around everyday. Over the years as she gets older, I have hope that that connection will deepen even more and blossom into a beautiful friendship. I have faith the best is yet to come for us!

And remember: Adoption is about love. It is my love for her that I chose the life for her– us– that I did.  

10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Years of Open Adoption

10 Things I've Learned in 10 Years of Open Adoption

I’ve got an article over at America Adopts spotlighting the things that I’ve learned in our open adoption relationship.  If you are in an open adoption, what would you add?

My birthdaughter’s 10th birthday is coming in just a few weeks!   As her parents and I have been on this journey with our daughter at the center, here is what I have learned in 10 years of being in an open adoption:

 

Communication is key. Just as it is with every relationship, communication is essential to a positive and successful open adoption.  This is key from the first meeting and well into the years later!  Both sides need to know about what they are or are not comfortable with openness wise.  Both need to know the boundaries of either side. Will there be letters and pictures twice a year? How often will we visit? What is it okay for your birthchild to call you?  Is it okay to share pictures on Facebook?  This can mean a lot of tough conversations, but it is so helpful to know where each other stands.

 {Read the rest here at America Adopts!}

The Oyster & the Pearl: What Will You Do With Your Sand?

Photo credit: Abi Skipp via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo credit: Abi Skipp via Flickr Creative Commons

My counselor once told me of how the oyster forms a pearl. It starts with a grain of sand finding its way inside, causing it much pain.  That grain of sand is what an unplanned pregnancy can be, abuse, adoption, heartache, depression, death of a loved one, illness, job loss…you name it. Our life has heartache…setbacks…pain.  But what does the oyster do? It turns it over and over, smoothing the edges and giving it a beautiful shine so that one day it can offer something beautiful to others.  That is what I aim to do with my hurts, by the grace and guidance of God. It definitely is not an easy process, it can be agonizing at times as salt water touches my wounded heart. But in the end, it is worth it.

In some areas I see that pearl already, like in my adoption plan and how He uses it to help other birth moms to heal or giving a positive voice for adoption. In other areas, I am still turning my grain of sand over and over, waiting for the day that peace and beauty is there to offer those going through something similar.  Life is full of pain, but what will you do with it?

Have hope that one day your hurts will become a pearl too…

something beautiful that you can offer others. 

The Oyster & the Pearl

There once was an oyster
Whose story I tell,
Who found that some sand
Had got into his shell.
It was only a grain,
But it gave him great pain.
For oysters have feelings
Although they’re so plain.

Now, did he berate
The harsh working of fate
That had brought him
To such a deplorable state?
Did he curse at the government,
Cry for election,
And claim that the sea should
Have given him protection?

No – he sad to himself
As he lay on a shell,
Since I cannot remove it,
I shall try to improve it.
Now the years have rolled around,
As the years always do,
And he came to his ultimate
Destiny – stew.

And the small grain of sand
That had bothered him so
Was a beautiful pearl
All richly aglow.
Now the tale has a moral;
For isn’t it grand
What an oyster can do
With a morsel of sand?

What couldn’t we do
If we’d only begin
With some of the things
That get under our skin.

 Author: Unknown

Adoption Openness Doesn’t Always Numb the Ache

Photo credit: seyed mostafa zamani via Flickr Creative Commons.

Photo credit: seyed mostafa zamani via Flickr Creative Commons.

I’ve always had peace with my decision of adoption because I absolutely feel I did what the Lord called me to do and He has granted me peace in return.  I know I did what was best for her and for myself 10 years ago.

But that doesn’t mean it is always easy.

I miss her. 

The absence in our daily lives, the silence of how she is doing today, her smiling face around our dinner table, her big blue eyes not here to look at me as my other children do. I just miss her. I want to know her more. Most days, I am content and okay knowing she is exactly where she is supposed to be.  Most days, I am so busy in my own life that the silence isn’t so loud to my soul. Most days, just knowing that I can call or email if I need to helps.

But, oh, how this 10 year milestone is getting to me.  Her birthday is next month.  

Yesterday was the always treasured and much anticipated Birthmom Buds Retreat. As usual, it was amazing.  Catching up with old friends and making new ones, sharing our stories and our hearts. Finding the common thread of our love for our children despite the differences in our details, it bonds us like nothing else ever will. That feeling of connecting never gets old! God brought some amazing women into my life, thanks to my decision of adoption.

But, everywhere I looked around the room yesterday was the number 10. You see, it is Birthmom Buds 10 year anniversary as well. At times, all I could see was the number 10 staring at me in bright happy colors, reminding me over and over how long it has been since my world changed with her presence so close and forming inside me. I could only think about how 10 years ago she was still in my belly, growing her last few pounds before delivery. A time when she was still only mine, I didn’t have to share just yet. I could only think about what all I have missed these last 10 years.

Of course, I’m so thankful for what I haven’t missed thanks to our open adoption. I know I am blessed. I know. I have been there for every birthday. I have been there for first solid food feedings as a baby, I’ve given her bottles and rocked her to sleep.  I have seen her artwork and watched her sing and play. I’ve heard her tell me she loves me. Those memories absolutely help, but it doesn’t always numb the ache for her presence in our daily lives.

I can’t remember the last time I cried about her not being with me, I honestly think it has been years and it was most likely on a birthday. Birthdays are hard for birth moms, ya know.  Today I did. I sobbed in church–the snotty ugly crying– as music played worshiping our Father. The song talked of how in brokeness we can hear Him more and how much we need Him.  How true that is for me…both 10 years ago as I made this decision for us and now as I feel the weight of that decision.

I trust that this Anna shaped hole will be filled with His presence tonight– and always.  He lead me down this path 10 years ago and so I will continue to trust His guidance for the next 10 years (and many more, I hope!).

Worship During Labor Playlist: Oceans

Worship Songs For Labor Oceans by Hillsong United ;; TheGraceBond

One of the most popular posts so far has been my Worship During Birth: My Playlist.  It has been pinned a few times on Pintrest (I mean, ten re-pins is better than my normal zero, right?), I’m glad to see it has helped at least 10 people inspire their own playlists and Christ-centered births!

We do feel like we have been called to have one more child, for which I am both ecstatic and fearful since I do struggle with anxiety as it is. The adjustment of adding a new little one to our family has proven to be just that…a huge adjustment each time. But, with each child God also reveals and teaches big things to me as a woman and a mother.  This process– this journey– of refining He has me on is worth it regardless if it is tough at times. In 2 Corinthians 7, Paul wrote about having a figural thorn in his flesh. He never revealed what that thorn was, but for me, mine is this anxiety (which is getting better day by day as He is teaching me how I tick inside, praise the Lord!).  It is what keeps me humble before God, clinging to Him and not being too proud in my own doing.

That said, since I’m pretty sure that I will be going through pregnancy and labor one more time, I’m always on the look out to add more songs that are calm, soothing, and focus my heart on Him for birth one day. Lately the new song by Hillsong United, “Oceans,” has been playing a lot on my radio. One blurry-eyed morning as the new day sun shined after dropping off my oldest at school, the lyrics eased their way from my ears to my heart and I realized how the lyrics would be perfect for labor one day.

In the natural birthing community, some people prefer to use another name for “contractions” since that name often brings a negative association and the mother may expect and experience more pain. (There are studies that show women in other cultures who didn’t know labor should hurt, didn’t hurt during birth!).  One word some people use instead is waves.  Contractions come and go, rise and fall, just as waves do as they rush upon the shore and then gently return back where they came from.  It is for this image I believe “Oceans” is one of the best songs yet added to my Worship During Labor Playlist.

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Isn’t that beautiful?  It sums up exactly what I desire in labor, to call on Him for strength and to keep me above the waves of my body.  And when transition nears and it feels like the waves will take over me, I want that reminder that I will still rest in His strong arms to help me and my new baby through. The rest of the lyrics are awesome, too, but this part speaks to me the most.

Obviously, this song is so relatable in any circumstance you may be facing in your life right now.  How comforting that image is, whether it is a daily struggle to find joy in the journey you are on or whether it is a challenging season of a tragedy surrounding your family, God will not let the waters touch your eyes. He gives us rest in His arms. We are His, and He is ours!  He will guide us into the unknown.

What was your favorite music during labor? 

  • May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14