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. 

– Jennifer (Astrid Beemom)

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The Promise

I told myself I wouldn’t cry. I didn’t want to scare her. I didn’t want her to think this stranger was emotionally unstable. Then I worried if I didn’t let myself cry she’d think maybe I was emotionally inept. 

I changed my shirt 3 times. I was about to change it a fourth time when I decided that nothing would be good enough so I may as well save myself the trouble. I spent a great deal of time worrying that she’d find me reprehensible or think, “This lady is ugly. I got handed some bad genes.”

I spent days cleaning the house. I couldn’t seem to get it clean enough. Never mind that teenagers hardly pay attention to details such as clean baseboards, I was sure she would glance down and think, “this house is too dirty. I can’t stay in such filth.”

I loaded our little family into the truck and we stopped by the florist. My husband, her father, wanted to have roses for the first time he held his “baby who’s not a baby anymore” in his arms again. 

I handed him the card to fill out and watched him hesitate and struggle for the right words. “Just write ‘Love, J'” I instructed him. Relief washed over his face and he did what I said. 

When we arrived at the airport I thought maybe I was dreaming. There was no way I could be this lucky. In just a few short moments she would be standing face to face with us. It felt as if we were holding the winning lottery ticket. Guilt briefly touched my heart as I thought of my other first mom friends, women I have grown to love, who don’t have what I was about to or who may never will. What did I ever do to deserve to be this lucky?

The text message came. “We’re about to land.” I looked out the window of the airport and saw a plane coming in from the right direction. As it came closer I glanced at my husband. He looked terrified. As it’s wheels touched the ground his eyes became red and the tears could no longer be contained. 

I told myself I wouldn’t cry. He was making this plan harder to stick to. 

People could be seen walking down the long corridor, behind glass doors. A man in a suit, a woman in a dress. They were hard to distinguish until they were closer. 

But I spotted her before anyone would think I could definitively say it was her. I knew it was. I pointed. She came closer. Her gait was as familiar as my own. The way she swung her arms was like looking in a mirror. 

The first moment I saw her


I wanted to run through the gate doors, airport security be damned! Her pace quickened as she saw us all standing and waiting. We were completely oblivious to other passengers as we blocked the way out with our bodies. 

And then she was in my arms. I couldn’t stop the tears and hers flowed freely as well. I momentarily pulled away to put my hands on her face and stare into her striking eyes. She. Is. Amazingly. Beautiful. 

She was in my arms again. She was real. I could feel her. The warmth of her body. The texture of her hair on my face. Could it ever get any better than this? This moment would never happen again. This was it. It was absolute perfection. Divine. 

Over the years a song had always stuck in my head and reminded me of her. I had dreamed of this moment for years. And in my dreams the song would play. I now know how fitting the song is. 

“Together again

It would feel so good to be

In your arms

Where all my journeys end

If you can make a promise

If it’s one that you can keep

I vow to come for you

If you wait for me”

-The Promise, by Tracy Chapman

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?”

 

Adoption Romance and the Subtle and Pervasive Influence We Are All Subjected To

When us “older” birthmoms try to tell pregnant women, who are planning on giving up their babies, that they have fallen for the coercion of the industry, we are often faced with opposition. Whether that industry is agencies, attorneys, or the media, in general, they all seem to parrot the same types of statements.

“I’m not even working with an agency so how is it possible for them to coerce me?”

“I’m not being coerced, I made this decision before I even contacted an agency.”

“That’s not possible because I’m running the show and everything that is happening is because I want it to happen.”

When you tell them that their views on adoption have been shaped by the subtle messages being conveyed by the industry, they deny ever really thinking about adoption until they became pregnant. Even our media, it seems, has been charmed by the industry.

I’m sure, by now, you’ve all seen the photographs that were posted showing a happy adoptive couple with the new baby that was “delivered to them” via the stork. Yes, the stork. Their words, not mine. In fact, it was a “stork drop” adoption. This term is used in the adoption community to describe an adoption that occurs when the mom has made no earlier adoption plans. It varies slightly, how much background information is known about the mother and father of the baby in question. I’ve done some reading up on forums about how prospective adoptive parents feel about these type of adoptions. The general response seems to be “but what if I get a defective baby because I don’t know the background.” The Olson family, however, was okay with a stork drop adoption and that is how we all came to learn about their vague story.

This story went viral. This stork drop adoption with the perfectly staged and edited photos made to make adoption look like a fairy tale. I looked into the couple who adopted a bit. It seems that one of their sons (they have 2 biological sons) was born with Spina Bifida. Because they didn’t want to risk having another baby with birth defects they did not conceive again. But that’s now where their story stops. They just felt their family wasn’t “complete” without a third child because that had always been the plan. They never come outright and say it, but not only did they want to adopt so they could get a “perfect” child, it seems that only a girl would suffice. Although it seems to now be gone, as of yesterday their website included terminology for an expectant mother that eluded that they only wanted a girl. A final line said something like, “We can’t wait to adopt our little girl!” Additionally, a YouCaring page set up for them says, “Help David and Sarah complete their family and bring their little girl home!  Your contribution of any kind will help towards the costs involved with this process.” Only a girl would do, I guess. Sounds like they wanted the mail order perfect baby to me.

The Olson family isn’t the subject of my post, however. I am using their story as an example for the real point of this article. Their story went VIRAL. Their photos are being praised by the masses around the world. The photographer made them look like movie stars and she did a fantastic job of promoting domestic infant adoption as a fairy tale. In this case, though, a picture is not worth a thousand words. It’s the words the pictures stay silent about where my concern lies.

I wouldn’t doubt if millions of people have seen these photos and read this story. Nowhere is the birthmother mentioned, not even a specific thank you to her directly from the Olson’s. Her story or the stories of other birthmothers are not shared. Adoptee stories are not shared. The term “birthfather” isn’t mentioned at all. I can’t help but wonder if he is even aware he has a child or if his consent was even obtained ethically. Other adoptive parents are mentioned and how great they are. This story irresponsibly glorifies adoption. It is subconsciously influencing and coercing the decisions of many mothers and mothers that will come.

I ran across this in a birthmother support group:

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The first picture is her original post. First, I don’t even want to get into the psychology behind deciding on adoption when you’ve literally JUST found out you’re pregnant. I don’t think a decision like that should be rushed into so quickly. How could she have possibly done an adequate amount of research to come to that decision? Notice everyone encouraging her. Notice how she can’t wait to make some kind of an announcement and incorporate adoption. This is the hero complex of adoption. The way the media portrays things, the way the industry wants them to portray things, is that a birthmother is a hero and she is doing something so wonderful for other people who would otherwise not be able to do it for themselves. Only part of this is true. Someone else would not be able to do that for themselves. But, you see, this is part of the coercion of the industry in general. Become the hero of not only your OWN story, but the hero of someone else’s as well. Grant someone a wish!! Be that genie in a bottle! I’m sorry, baby’s are not presents to be gifted to other people.

Notice the comment from the original poster in the third picture. She wants to make an announcement about her choice of adoption with a stork. A stork. A stork. Let that sink in. Coincidentally this was posted just days after the news story about the Olson’s was released. Did their story have some sort of influence on her? Is she missing something in her life that she needs to fill? Does she need to place value on herself by going through with an adoption plan? Maybe millions of people will be praising her. And if they aren’t praising her specifically, she will fit into that “birthmom” club. Even if she hasn’t given birth. She has declared herself a birthmom. Certainly the thousands of comments on the articles and Facebook posts about the Olson’s would include her as well. “Birthmothers are so brave!” or “Birthmothers are so selfless!” This young woman has romanticized adoption. Why shouldn’t she? Everyone else is. Everyone else is ooohing and aaaahing and goozing over these viral photos. Why would she not want to be included in that to fill a void of value in her life?

Most women do not even publicly announce their pregnancy, save close family or friends, until they are safely past the date where miscarriage is still a risk. Typically this is 12 weeks. This woman is planning on not only announcing her pregnancy on Facebook well before that mark, she is also incorporating adoption into it. She’s not excited to announce her pregnancy (which would be understandable) she is excited to announce the adoption. I simply cannot understand how anyone would be excited about being pregnant and not being able to parent the child you were carrying. I wasn’t excited. I was sad. It wasn’t something I “couldn’t wait to announce.” Throughout my entire pregnancy I prayed for a miracle to happen before my daughter was born so that I wouldn’t have to go through with an adoption. I wasn’t excited.

The portrayals of adoption that make the headlines are mushy gushy adoptive parent gets what they wanted and all their dreams come true. It doesn’t show what happens to the other parties. It doesn’t show suicides, depression, self-harm, medical illnesses that could have been avoided if a solid medical record was available. It doesn’t show PTSD, sleepless nights, the hole in your heart, or the tears that flow – for  years and years and years. It is portrayed as a fairy tale. It has subtly and pervasively influenced the public opinion over years and years. But it is far from accurate. It is like a coercion that has happened to the majority of the public. It lives in everyone’s subconscious. It thrives there. Who needs an agency to coerce your opinions when the coercion has happened since you could see pictures and understand words.

Of course, this is not just the Olson’s fault. Their story is one. I have only used it as an example. We are bombarded with stories such as these, images such as these, day in and day out.

Some may ask, “Why shouldn’t we be encouraging young mothers to give up their children if they aren’t financially stable or married?”

To that I say, why do they deserve less to be a mother? Why do their children deserve less than to be raised within their biological family? What are you doing to help preserve these families and give women the tools they need to overcome their obstacles?

Babies are not blank slates. Mothers do not forget. Adoption isn’t a black and white photo.

For the Fathers

For the fathers who were never made aware they had a child, this one’s for you.

For the fathers who fought like hell to keep their children but the adoption industry won out, this one’s for you.

For the fathers who felt they had no other choice, this one’s for you.

For the fathers who were tricked, coerced, or lied to, this one’s for you.

For the fathers who were accused of horrible things so that the industry could obtain your child, this one’s for you.

For the fathers who are still fighting a David & Goliath battle, this one’s for you.

For the fathers who are about to embark down the path of hell but don’t know it yet, this one’s for you.

To the overlooked, under-represented, swept under the rug fathers out there, I see you. I hear you. Happy Father’s Day. This one’s for you.