I Can See the Horizon 

Sleep found me easily and peacefully. I usually suffer from insomnia and will lay awake for hours praying that slumber will come upon me. A peace I’d never known before washed over me as all of my children were under my roof in the same place at the same time. The people I value and love the most in this world. The ONLY people whose opinions about me I care about. I felt complete and whole.

But sad. Sad for what could have been. Sad for the upcoming goodbye. Sad from what my choice had taken from all of my kids without their permission. There had always been a feeling that someone was missing and while she was here that feeling was gone. But it would soon be back. Nevertheless I tried to revel in how lucky I was to even have this moment, this time, at all.

I have three daughters and two sons. Of all of my children, she is the most like me in every way. It’s almost scary how similar we are. Many times people would comment “its like looking at you when you were her age!” Or “She’s JUST like you at that age!”

And she is.

She’s tenacious, she has no filter, she looks like me, she sounds like me, she has the same mannerisms as me. Admittedly she does have my husband’s nose.

Driving to Taco Bell one day we said the exact same thing at the exact same time with the exact same inflection. That happens within families all the time. Families that you share DNA with. “That’s never happened to me before,” she said with surprise. And it kept happening. My sisters and I are always speaking in stereo. It made me think how sad it would be to go through life without ever hearing someone who sounded like you.

And she’s just like her sisters. When a neighbor started up his motorcycle too closely they all screamed, shook, and started crying. All three of them. All at the same time. DNA is some powerful stuff.

But she’s herself too. It was lovely to hear her talk about the things she loves, the places she’s seen, the people in her life she cares about and how they’ve impacted her.

And still there was this thing hanging in the air. All the shared memories we had that she didn’t. My family is big on talking about “Remember when this happened…” and then proceeding to tell a funny or shocking story. So while she was like us in every way, and fit in perfectly, there was always the elephant in the room that reminded us that she had been gone.

So many mixed emotions. So much to untangle.

My husband was smitten. He reminded me of a new father doting over his infant daughter. Except we had already doted on her when she was born. I can read this man better than anyone and the looks on his face said, “I’m in love with this beautiful creature.” As he should be. She’s pretty amazing if I do say so myself.

And here is where I decided that this blog has served its purpose. For now, anyway.

When I was hurting it was here. When I needed to vent it was here. When I was scared, anxious, worried, happy, hopeful, suffering, it was here. You were here. Some of you lifted me with your thoughts and others pissed me off. And that’s okay. Because sometimes I just needed a good fight and you engaged me.

I know this journey is ever evolving and I’m not completely abandoning this space. There may be a time in the future where I need it regularly again. But this journey is no longer just my own. Now that our lives have come together again, and she is again a part of mine, our stories are intertwined and it’s not up to me what to share.

I have let adoption consume my life. That’s not an entirely bad thing. I’ve found sisterhood and courage in this community. I’ve found courage to stand up, stand out, and help make changes. I will always be an activist. Always. But I’m also a mother and wife. I can’t spread myself too thin so I’ve decided to focus my energy on certain endeavors that will allow me to balance things more equally. I lost my grandfather, who helped raise me, and a beloved pet who was my emotional support animal, this year. The wheels of time don’t stop turning for me to sit behind a computer.

So while I’ve already bowed out of this blogging thing pretty much, I thought I’d leave you all with a happy update. I’ll pop in once in a while. But it’s time to take back my life and focus on where I can really make a change, enjoy my family, and still remain a functional member of society.

 

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Get Baby Kaylee Home to Her Daddy; Miranda and Brad Larsen, Return Kaylee to Her Father

I had decided to spend the majority of this month in a hole, in la la land, safely away from triggering things about adoption. Unfortunately, thanks to some truly horrendous actions of two people, I have decided to not just crawl out of that hole, but to jump out guns-a-blazing.

Just before heading out for work this morning I was made aware of yet another adoption injustice coming from Utah. Go figure, Utah – no way! Surprise, surprise! If you’d like to read more about the back story to this situation, please see the Facebook page Get Baby Kaylee Home to Her Daddy.

Here’s the run down –

Colby and his girlfriend were expecting a baby and expecting to parent together. However, his girlfriend’s parents had other things in mind. After bringing the baby home from the hospital, his girlfriend, somehow, some way, decided (after talking to her parents) that she wanted to put the baby up for adoption. She told Colby of these wishes and he insisted on parenting and did just that, for a couple of weeks, until law enforcement came and removed the baby to be given to Miranda & Brad Larsen.

Miranda and Brad both knew that Kaylee’s father didn’t want to give her up. His name is on her birth certificate and paternity has been established. However, as those well-versed in adoption laws know, Utah plays by its own rules and, essentially, gives fathers next to nothing as far as father’s rights are concerned.

This didn’t seem to bother Miranda and Brad in the least. They wanted the baby and they made sure they got the baby. Who cares about if I’m taking someone else’s child against their will who NEVER CONSENTED TO AN ADOPTION, right? In my opinion, Miranda and Brad Larsen represent all that is evil in the world of adoption. Ethics thrown out the window to fulfill their selfish desires.

Upon doing some minor digging, you can see that, at least, Miranda has been “child shopping” for a some time.

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This was a post from this past February about an older child seeking a forever family. Miranda was tagged in it by a friend or family member and her reply is, “Seriously, Serenity (last name omitted)? Now I have to pray about it and ask Dad (name of dad tagged and omitted here). Ask Dad? That’s odd. This seems like something you would say if you were a child considering getting a puppy. “Ugh, thanks for showing me the cute little puppy who needs a home!! Now I have to pray about it and get permission from Dad!! LOL!” At least that’s how it reads to me.

Here is Miranda and Brad’s adoption.com profile:

http://adoption.com/profiles/BradandMirandaLarsen31711-3527

I’m sure that it will soon be taken down so here are a few screen shots for your viewing pleasure.

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“Congratulations on your adoption!!” Suck it adoption.com

This should read, “Congratulations on kidnapping someone else’s child!”

But seriously, isn’t that what they just did? They legally kidnapped someone else’s child because of the unconstitutional laws that allow Utah to get away with this crap. Not only unconstitutional, but a clear violation of civil rights – the right to parent one’s own child!

Within hours of this story getting out, there are thousand’s of likes on the Facebook page created for Colby’s fight, and thousands of dollars for his legal fees have been raised. Within hours of this story getting out, Miranda and Brad deactivated their Facebook profiles (one can only guess why) and created new ones – that aren’t so super secret and will probably be deactivated shortly as well.

Brad appears to be the assistant principal of Thomas Edison Charter School. Do you have your children enrolled here? Will you still continue to support a school that employees someone who would steal someone else’s child? Just throwing that out there.

As you can see, the public is not happy:

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Not quite sure I agree with the “great people” analysis on these two.

So, there it is. Pretty simple. In black in white. Just because they could, they did. Without any true concern with the true and real father of this child.

But Colby is fighting back. He has retained a fantastic lawyer, Wes Hutchins. Sadly, I do expect this to be a long drawn out battle, like they all are. His legal fees will surely be insurmountable. To donate directly to Colby’s legal fund you can mail donations to:

Wesley D. Hutchins

Attorney

6751 South Adventure Way

West Jordan, Utah  84081

If you’re more comfortable donating online there is a GoFundMe set up and you can visit that page here: https://www.gofundme.com/g8b7btmk?rcid=5cad896b96a54b1181f69a8f8c110407

Where does this leave us? I am calling on ALL ethical adoptive families to speak out against this injustice. This puts a smear on ALL of you if you sit back and say nothing, allow it to happen. No matter what you think of me and my blog, if you sit back and say nothing, you are just as bad as them.

I am calling on everyone in the adoption community to rally around this father and give him the love, support, and guidance he will surely need in the coming months. If you are able to donate monetarily that is always helpful as well, but it is not required to be an integral part of his journey. Share his page, share this post, lend an ear, offer support, just do something.

I am absolutely sick and tired of seeing these stories. What has our world come to? In the United States of America, babies are being taken from their parents with no just cause because someone else wants them. How long do we allow this to continue before we rise up, as a nation, and say NO MORE! How long before we go down that slippery slope and YOUR child is next? Or your grandchild? Or your niece or nephew?

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“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” -Desmond Tutu

To the Larsen family,

I am begging you to do the right thing, the ethical thing. Maybe you had a momentary lapse of sanity. You CAN redeem yourself and reunite this father with his daughter. You have the power to do so. It doesn’t need to drag out in court for months or years. I have complete confidence that it will not end in your favor so you are only delaying the inevitable. Please return Kaylee to her father. Restore my faith in humanity. Restore my faith, please.

I’ll leave you with a post from my blog that deals with how God feels about situations like this. Seeing as the Larsens appear to be deeply religious people of the LDS faith.

A Tale of Two Women and a Wise and Blessed King

Two women came before King Solomon. Both had given birth on the same day, three days before, but the first woman’s baby had died. Now the women were fighting over the living baby. King Solomon decided that the best way to figure out who would keep the child was to tell the women the baby would be cut in half. One half of the child would go to the first woman, and one half would go to the second woman. The true mother of the baby, the birth mother, cried out to the King. She would relinquish her rights to her child, to save his life. King Solomon, who is often referred to as the wisest man who ever lived because God blessed him with unsurpassed wisdom, saw the passion of the birth mother, and he did the right thing. He gave the baby to his own mother, the one with the selfless love, the one that would rather surrender her baby than see him die. King Solomon had no intention of hurting the baby. He had no intention of giving the baby to the more “deserving” parent. He just wanted to identify the true mother of the child. The woman who gave birth to the baby. It was a clever ploy.

When I think about recent cases in the media I can’t help but think of the shocking similarities with King Solomon’s story. You have two women, one is the true mother of the child, one woman is so desperate for a baby that she is willing to steal the child of another, no matter the consequences to the child, or the child’s true mother. I wonder if King Solomon thought about what kind of mother a woman who steals another person’s child would make? Maybe that’s part of the reason he wanted to be absolutely certain he was returning the child to his mother, and not the crazed woman who attempted to kidnap the child.

The Bible does speak favorably on adoption. Think of baby Moses in his basket, (Exodus 2: 1-10) swept down the river, and adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter. He obviously went on to do amazing things in the name of God and eventually returned to his natural family, the family of his origin. Esther, (Book of Esther) who was adopted by her cousin, was also a tool of God. But in almost every circumstance of ordained adoption in the Bible, there was a life or death situation that led to the adoption. Moses’ mother faced the reality that her son would die if she didn’t send him away. Esther was an orphan. Both of her parents were dead. God still chose to keep her in her family, and she was adopted by her cousin. The Bible only shows support for adoption of true orphans, or in the case of extreme circumstance. You will find infertile women in the Bible, (Hannah and Sarah are two examples.) but nowhere in either of their stories does God tell them to take the baby of another woman, let alone forcefully take a baby from its mother.

Adoption is a wonderful way for a child, an orphan in genuine need, to find a loving home. It should not be used as a tool to separate a child from the loving embrace of his mother.

It’s very clear how God feels about children. When the disciples tried to prevent women from bringing their babies and small children to Jesus, he grew angry and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Mathew 19:14, emphasis added.) He did not leave until he laid hands on the children. He takes especial interest in the fatherless child and defenseless women. Psalm 68:5 says, “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.”

Job laments the truly wicked, and part of his description of the behavior of a damnable person is, “The fatherless child is snatched from the breast; the infant of the poor is seized for a debt.” (Job 24:9) Someone who would take a defenseless, fatherless child from the breast of his mother, in exchange for money owed is listed as one of the many horrible and evil things a person might do to deserve punishment from God. He also mentions people who “drive away the orphan’s donkey and take the widow’s ox in pledge. They thrust the needy from the path and force all the poor of the land into hiding.” (Job 24:3-4) Clearly bullying and harassing single women and their young children, the meek and defenseless, is considered a detestable act. Other comparable sins he mentions in the same chapter are theft, murder, and adultery.

And how does God handle those who harm children? Those who would steal a child from its family? Exodus 21:16 says, “He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.” How much harder will the Lord come down on someone who would kidnap one of his fatherless children?

Proverbs 127:3-5 says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”  If the mother wants her child, and she is fit, what right does another woman have to pilfer the blessings given to someone by God for their own selfish desires? When considering the plight of women coerced into signing away their parental rights you need to ask yourself, “How would King Solomon rule in these cases?”

 

Behind the Curtain: Jessalynn Bills Speight

There’s an article going around from the Huffington Post. It’s entitled, “How Do Women Feel After Placing Their Baby For Adoption?”  The article was written by  who is the co-founder and CEO of an organization called Binti which claims it “uses technology to improve the adoption process and encourage empathy and understanding among members of the adoption triad.”

In this article, Curcuru interviews two first moms who have written a book called, “Birthparent’s Guide to Grief: A 12-Step Process.”  This book was written by Jessalynn Bills Speight and Alysia Foote. I’ve seen the article circulating in some adoption communities and support groups. Each time it pops up I cringe.

I’ve read the article. In my opinion, 90% of it is absolute garbage and is not applicable to the majority of first moms more than 5 years into an adoption. There was a lot the article left out, as far as a background on Jessalynn, a background that many don’t know about but that I’ve heard from friends who have had personal run-ins with this woman. We’ll get to that in a moment.

Jessalynn starts the article by sharing her story. This isn’t the first time Jessalynn has made her way into major media outlets touting her “birthmother rainbows.” In March of 2014 she was featured in an article in Cosmopolitan. For the subject of this post, we’ll focus on the HuffPost article.

The biggest red flag was when Jessalynn was asked about the father of the child she relinquished. She states that he and his family were against the adoption and there is no other mention of him after this. No, “He eventually came around and realized it was what was best.” No, “He was a very bad man and his rights were involuntarily terminated.” The fact remains that the LDS church has a long history of ignoring the rights of fathers when it comes to adoption. They will conceal, deceive, and lie, if needed, to facilitate an adoption. Utah, the state that has the highest population of LDS believers, even has the most horrible laws for adoption, especially for fathers. Women who are planning an adoption, where the father opposes, are often times sent to live in Utah, paid for by the adoption agency, to supersede the rights of the father as he would be problematic if the mother remained in her home state and the adoption would be threatened. So, when Jessalynn made no other mention of the father of her child, other than how he opposed the adoption, many questions came to mind. I do not know her story and it may be that everything was done ethically when it comes to the father. However, it does seem odd that no other information is given. One can’t help but wonder how that all went down.

The second thing I took issue with is this statement: “My birthdaughter calls me Jessa. She knows I’m not her Mom.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Adoption does not erase the fact that you are someone’s mother. You may not be their active parent, but you are still their mother. DNA doesn’t lie.

There is another quote that makes me, literally, ill. “I see so many birthparents who struggle to move forward because they are still thinking ‘I’m the parent’ and then they see the adoptive parent is using a certain brand of diapers and that bothers them. They can get hung up on different decisions adoptive parents make. They may still call themselves ‘Mom’ to the child.” I am the mom to my child. I wonder why Jessalynn spends so much time making sure that moms who relinquished understand they aren’t a mom anymore.

And again: “You are no longer the Mom. You are the birth mom.”

Thou doth protest too much.

The scariest statement in that article? “Jessa is also a Binti Birthmother Advisor, where she is a mentor to expectant women considering placing their child for adoption and other birthmothers.” You may wonder why. It’s terrifying to think of Jessalynn advising or counseling anyone considering adoption.

When I began to get involved in the adoption community, I slowly became aware that there was a “queen bee” in the LDS adoption world. Her name was Jessalynn and those who would cross her would pay dearly. Her power was contained, mostly, to moms who had relinquished in the LDS community. She had formed strong alliances with powerful adoptive parents and made sure to fully invest herself into the lives of these first moms. Under the guise of “helping” she would obtain contact information about their children’s adoptive parents and often be a “go-between” for the parties to come to a mutual understanding to facilitate openness. All of this sounds good, right? Well, for one, Jessalynn’s way of facilitating, as its been told to me, was to put the first mom in her place. She renders her powerless and totally at the will of the adoptive parents, no matter what promises had been made. Then there is the more pervasive side to Jessalynn.

I’ve had three first moms share their stories of Jessalynn. The variation in each mother’s story is minor. For the most part, it is pretty much the same story. Often times first moms need to vent their frustrations, their struggles, their insecurities. Sometimes this involves being mad at adoptive parents and sometimes with good cause. Not because they “don’t like the brand of diapers they’re using” as Jessalynn claims. Sometimes the need to vent is because contact is being withheld because the adoptive parents don’t like that the birthmom has come out of the closet as lesbian/transgender/transexual. Sometimes the venting is because a certain level of openness was promised and the adoptive parents are not keeping up their end of the deal. So, yes, justified anger. So, we have these women venting in these private groups sometimes. We have Jessalynn, with contact information of adoptive parents. Then we have open adoptions slamming shut in first mom’s faces because Jessalynn feels the need to run back and share screen shots from these private groups with these adoptive mothers. Yes, you read that right. As it’s been told to me, Jessalynn’s favorite pastime is finding negative comments by first moms and then finding out who their child’s adoptive parents are so she can send it to them and damage the relationship. I even caught her, under an assumed and fake name, in a group I admin, a while back, doing this same thing. Of course she denied it wholeheartedly.

I wonder if she feels it’s her duty to put every first mom in her place. I wonder where this passive-aggressive deceitful behavior comes from. Then I remember that all the rainbows and glitter she keeps showering on herself has not allowed for the truth to be present in her life. Maybe that’s why. I know of at least 3 first moms who have had their openness with their children greatly diminished or cut off altogether as a direct result of Jessalynn’s meddling. It’s truly vile.

When I see these articles featuring the “great birthmom” Jessalynn, I can’t help but puke a little in my mouth knowing the damage she has done in so many people’s lives. Advising expectant mothers? She says in the article. “Every woman has the right to choose. I am pro-informed choice. I believe every woman needs to be fully informed on all her choices: abortion, adoption, single parenting, and married parenting. Our job as citizens of the world is not to decide for them. You can say, ‘I know about this topic, here was my experience,’ but don’t force a decision or judgement on us. I know lots of birthmothers who had people from their communities try to influence their decisions.” Oh how I laughed. Jessalynn is a master of coercion. Reportedly she is a master at finding babies for prospective adoptive parents and actively farms them for people. Choice? Informed choice? Seriously?

The adoption community has remained silent about this woman for too long. Jessalynn Bills Speight is dangerous. She will be sunshine and rainbows to your face until you threaten the adoption machine that she is running. The machine now includes royalties for interviews, money from her organization, Tied at the Heart, and now a book. The book should be entitled, “12 Steps to Stay in Your Place So I Don’t Show Your Child’s Adoptive Parents That You’re Not Being a Good Little BeeMommy.”  Jessalynn is now profiting off adoption. Behind the scenes who knows what is going on. We do know, supposedly, as its been told to me, for some twisted reason, she destroys open adoptions, and helps find babies for people who are looking. We know she’s written a book. We know she does interviews for fancy magazines and newspapers. We can assume some things given that.

I fully expect to receive backlash from Jessalynn and her cronies after publishing this. Jessalynn isn’t the sparkling, squeaky clean, beemommy she portrays herself to be. Her hands are dirty. Don’t let her fool you. She is cunning, deceitful, and full of it. And she certainly doesn’t speak for me or the majority of first moms out there.

PRESS RELEASE: Concerned United Birthparents Partners with Saving Our Sisters

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The vision of Saving Our Sisters, founded by Lynn Johansenn, that has garnered overwhelming support from the adoption community, is coming to fruition with the help of Concerned United Birthparents (otherwise known as “CUB”). I am happy to say that, as of today, Saving Our Sisters (otherwise known as “SOS”) is officially partnering with CUB. I am so excited about this new partnership and know that good things are in the future of the adoption community. I’m sure there will be many questions and this post is to help answer them.

How does this partnership change CUB’s vision?

It doesn’t. It enhances it.

CUB’s official mission statement:

“Concerned United Birthparents, Inc. provides support for all family members separated by adoption; resources to help prevent unnecessary family separations; education about the life-long impact on all who are affected by adoption; and advocates for fair and ethical adoption laws, policies, and practices.”

As you can see, SOS will help to enhance this mission. CUB has been, and will continue to do, wonderful work in the adoption community. SOS will provide concrete tools in the prevention of unnecessary family separations via adoption.

What changes are coming to SOS because of this partnership?

There are many things that will be changing, but so much is staying the same. SOS will now have the ability to keep organized in all facets such as accounting and the ability to easily collect tax-deductible donations via the web. Additionally, SOS will gain heavy exposure benefiting from the many relationships that CUB has been able to create, maintain, and evolve over the last nearly 40 years. Part of this exposure includes SOS being launched on the CUB website, whereas, in the past, SOS has had a limited Internet presence relying on Facebook and blog posts to keep members up to date. Because of CUB’s gracious partnership, SOS will be able to continue the great work we do, focusing on moms and families, without worrying about the technicalities of website maintenance, accounting, and other things. All of these things enable SOS to focus on preserving families.

NEW THINGS

There is now an official SOS membership. If you visit the CUB website and wish to join CUB as a member you will now see “Saving Our Sisters/CUB Membership” as an option. This will give you all of the same benefits and perks of an official CUB membership. The annual membership fee is $40 and, as CUB states, “By becoming a member, you add your voice to the chorus, which seeks to educate the public about the life-long effects of adoption on everyone in the triad. We welcome adopted individuals and their family members, adoptive parents and professionals. Your membership helps us host an annual retreat for learning, healing and drawing strength from one another, and produce our quarterly newsletter, the Communicator.”  We can now add, “Helping families stay together” as one of the perks of a CUB/SOS membership.

Because CUB has taken a huge leap of faith by partnering with SOS, we have to do our best to ensure, when at all possible, that those we come in contact with are aware that all of our members are volunteers and that we are experienced in dealing with the sensitive situations we encounter. Paid SOS members will soon have the choice to go through training and become official Sisters on the Ground or “SOG’s.” These are our “boots on the ground” people who vet new moms, face to face, and stay in contact with them as long as the mother requests while she is making strides to improving her own situation. . The most pertinent part of becoming an SOG is the implication of a “code of conduct” so that you and all members of CUB/SOS can rest assured that we are conducting ourselves ethically and respectfully while representing the CUB/SOS name and reputation. By agreeing to go through CUB/SOS training the risk becomes minimal for our organization which will allow us to keep our non-profit status and continue to help families for years to come.

Just as before, you are not required to become a paid member to donate money or items, refer moms to SOS or participate in other ways. We are all one big community and it is that sentiment that we want to hold onto. Without our donors we would not exist. Without our eyes and ears, that are all of you, we would not know where to find our moms. You are important. The membership is not to exclude anyone.

Online donations of monetary value will now go through the CUB website and you may be able to deduct your donations on your federal taxes. Be sure to indicate, while donating, that you will need a receipt. You should contact your tax adviser for clarification. SOS can also accept monetary donations, by USPS mail, straight to CUB. Just indicate it is a donation for SOS.

How to Donate Online Online

Visit the CUB website and click on the “DONATE” tab.  You will have the option to click on Saving Our Sisters to have 100% of your donation allocated to SOS.

In Summary

I know this all seems so technical. By organizing, dotting our “i’s” and crossing our “t’s” we assure that we can help as many families as possible and that no mistakes are made that would risk the organization altogether.

These last few years have given SOS valuable lessons on how to best help mothers and the varying situations they may be in. We have learned so much. We have made mistakes, we have trusted when we shouldn’t have. Everything that is happening today is a direct result from those very important lessons. We want to protect our community, our donors, our organization, and, of course, the families we are helping.

This is an exciting time for Saving Our Sisters and Concerned United Birthparents. Together we are a force to be reckoned with. Together we can change our culture, our society, and work to fulfill our mission statement, together. Please join us in this exciting endeavor!

If you wish to become an official SOS member, and have a possibility of becoming a Sister On the Ground, please click on this link: Cubirthparents Sign Up

If you wish to donate to SOS please click on this link: Donate to SOS

If you wish to be part of the discussion and/or offer support in other ways, please visit: SOS Facebook page

http://www.cubirthparents.org

http://facebook.com/adoptionSOS

**If you are reading this post on Musings of the Lame, it is a syndicated post. To visit the links please scroll to the top of the page and click on “Beemom” to see the original post with hyperlinks included.**

Top 5 Things Not To Say To A Birthmother

Here we go again. Another blog post about what NOT to say to a birth/first/natural mother. Right? Wrong. I’ve seen them done a few times. The lists. What not to say to an adoptive mother. What not to say to a birthmother. What not to say to an adoptee. I can’t speak for others in the adoption community, but I can speak from a personal place as a first mom. While some things on these lists ring true with me, there just wasn’t one that truly felt all-encompassing or “complete.” Some even had things included that just grossed me out. So, in true Letterman style, here is my top FIVE list of things NOT to say or do to a first mom.

Avoiding Talking About the Child She Has Lost to Adoption Altogether.

Okay, so maybe this isn’t what not to say but it sure is what not to do. Some people truly don’t know how to approach the subject and don’t want to say the wrong thing. Instead they choose to not say anything at all. Even though we have been through a tremendous loss, we still want you to acknowledge our child. We want you to ask questions about them. Even if we have no information, whatsoever, we want to be asked. “Have you received any new pictures of [insert child’s name here]? How are you doing this time of the year without [insert child’s name here]? What do you think [insert child’s name here] looks like now?” It’s really quite simple. Living in a world where you are the only one who acknowledges your child’s existence can be miserable and lonely. Just because they are out of sight does not mean they are out of mind. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. It’s an ambiguous loss for us. There really is no closure. By asking us questions about our child, you acknowledge our pain, acknowledge our child, and open the door for further conversation if we feel up to it. If you don’t know what to say, just say so! “I’m not really sure what to say, but I was wondering if you wanted to talk about [insert child’s name here].” Even if the answer is, “I’m not really ready to talk about that” we will be over the moon that you asked. Really, we will. When people bring up our children in casual conversation it affirms to us that they do exist. They are real. We didn’t dream it up. Sometimes those are the only things that get us through the night.  Furthermore, for some women, it was a shameful thing to have a baby that was then lost to adoption. Many were ridiculed, sent away to be hidden and give birth, and chastised. Talking about their child, as a normal, positive, everyday thing, helps them to break those barriers they have battled their whole lives. It helps them to see themselves through a different set of eyes. Not the eyes that passed judgement and condemnation. Yes, talk about our children. Please do.

Don’t Withhold Personal Stories of Grief For Fear of Making Her Feel Bad

No one likes to be tiptoed around. Sometimes people can be super aware of the “adoption situation” and feel bad sharing their own loss stories. Sometimes their personal loss, they think, can pale in comparison to the first mom’s loss. This may be true sometimes but, as human beings, one thing we are great at is empathizing with each other. Sharing stories of personal loss with one another will sometimes find you at the beginning of a road called “healing.” Sometimes others are further in their journey and can offer some great advice or encouraging words. And sometimes being able to be the one to offer the encouraging words assists in your own personal journey of healing. Don’t be afraid of her grief (shoot, don’t be afraid of yours). Know it is a normal part of life when there is a loss. Know that tremendous learning can be gained from it as well as compassion, empathy, kindness, and understanding. Don’t rob each other of these opportunities. Open the door of grief together. Explore what’s inside and walk with each other on that path.

Avoid the Cliche Comments

“You can always have more children.”

“It was part of God’s plan.”

“What you did was brave and selfless.”

You know, all the things you’ll see pouring out of rainbow-colored lips on every “feel-good” adoption story you’ll ever read online. But here’s the deal. 1) Some women can’t always have more children. It’s called secondary infertility and it’s prominent among first moms. Even if she can have more, it doesn’t take away the pain of the one she lost. 2) You aren’t God and you don’t know His plan. And even if it was part of His plan (which I wholeheartedly believe 99% of domestic infant adoptions, done the way they are in America, are not) does that make her pain less? 3) It’s really not that brave when you have no other choice. Imagine standing at the edge of a cliff. The drop is 200 feet. Someone pushes you. You survive the fall. Someone tells you that you were brave to choose to jump off that cliff. Huh? You didn’t choose to jump, you had no choice, someone pushed you. That’s kind of how adoption works. Anyone who truly had any choice, at all, would have parented their child. No one wants to give away their child and go through this grief. They had NO CHOICE. And selfless? Well, it’s a horse a piece. It can’t be selfless because that means parenting a baby is selfish. Still….does this make her grief go away? Do not invalidate a mother’s grief from her adoption loss by throwing out the cliché statements that run a muck in the adoption world. It doesn’t help. Instead say, “I’m sorry you are hurting. No one will ever be able to replace [insert child’s name here] and I am sorry for that. Your circumstances were really crappy and that really sucks.” Validate their grief. Give them permission to have these feelings by affirming it to them. It DOES suck. It WAS crappy. And you ARE sorry they are hurting, right?

Who?

This one probably irks me the most. “Who?” When you openly say something about your child such as, “[Insert child’s name here] started horseback riding lessons last month! He’s doing really well!” If a first mom is talking to you in this context, about her child, it is going to be assumed that you know of the child she is talking about. Your response of, “Who?” says to her that you don’t care enough to remember her child’s name just because she isn’t parenting them. This will also make her less likely to openly discuss her child with you in the future (see my first list entry). Whenever I get this response I have to then say, “you know, the child I gave up for adoption.” Saying those words cuts like a knife. Usually it’s the only way I can make people understand who I’m talking about. Then I become a little angry at them. Come on, really? You don’t care enough to know who I’m talking about? I know I don’t bring her up much, but how long have we known each other? Please….at least remember her child’s name.

You Gave Him/Her a Better Life

You don’t know that. No one knows that unless they own a crystal ball or can time travel. The outcome of one’s life compared to the potential outcome of a potentially different life is something we, as mere humans, are not privy to. Even if that weren’t true, would you like me to tell you that you should have given your children up for adoption so they would have had a better life than what you’re giving them? Maybe they would have been better off with someone making $200,000 a year instead of the measly $70,000 you’re pulling in. Are you divorced? Your children would have been better off if you had given them up for adoption. Then they would have had a two-parent household. Oh! I know! It’s never too late! You should give your children up for adoption so they can have a better life. Do you see how asinine that sounds? Saying “You gave your child a better life” is probably the most cruel things you can say to a first mom. It reaffirms, to her, all the things the industry told her. She wasn’t good enough and her child is better off without her. In most situations, this simply isn’t true. Instead of saying, “You gave your child a better life” how about just not saying anything at all.

#ShoutYourAdoption