Friday, October 29, 2010

adoption

this morning i've been reading a few blogs about adoption, one about the feelings of a new "birthmom", another about the feelings and experiences of seasoned adoptive parents, and other adoption stories. i guess after going through adoption this is something that catches my interest. after reading a few of these blogs i felt the need to express some of my own feelings, because some of them have changed since the day (6 years ago) that i placed OUR sweet little seth. and as a warning, this will be a little jumbled because they are just my own random thoughts a feelings.
EDIT: I JUST WENT THROUGH AND READ THIS AFTER I WAS FINISHED AND IT'S LONG...AND REALLY JUST MY OWN THOUGHTS AFTER READING SOME OTHER BLOGS.
when i first placed seth i didn't feel like i should (or could) ever be happy again. i thought that feeling happy would mean that i was an awful birthmom almost feeling like "if i REALLY loved him wouldn't i be misserable forever because he's not with me anymore?" i don't feel that way now, i know that it's ok to be happy...in fact i feel like being happy shows my love for seth, it shows him that this was a decision that i didn't make lightly and that it was the best choice for both of us. i'm happy about my choice because i see that he is happy and loved.

i didn't think i was supposed to be happy about my choice. placing a child....MY CHILD should be awful, and dark, and sad. not true. it was hard, and part of me was/is sad, but mostly, when i wasn't thinking of myself...i was very happy that he was where i KNEW he was meant to be. sure it hurt(s) to know that he wasn't meant to be with me...that for him i wasn't the best mother...that we weren't the best family for him (knowing that put me in a dark place for a while), but i'm so happy that i was able to be the best birthmother for him, and to place him with his family. for that i'm truly honored.

not all "birthmothers" feel this way...but i LOVE the term birthmother...i think given circumstances as they were/are it's very honorable and beautiful. that's just me.

i was scared to have...for the lack of a better phrase...."my own" child. what if i didn't love him like i loved seth? what if i loved him more? or less? what would that say about me? what if when seth gets older he wonders why i didn't "keep" him but i "kept" another baby...how will that make him feel? now i see that having gone through adoption has made me appreciate being a mother more than i would have....i think i may have taking motherhood for granted had i not gone through adoption. not saying that women who haven't placed or adopted take motherhood for granted, but i know myself enough to know that i might have. i cherish my moments with stone more because i didn't get those moments with seth...in fact i cherish the moments so much that laundry doesn't get folded...and dishes don't get done. and i know that seths parents tell him every day that i didn't place him because i didn't want him....i placed him because i wanted him to have a better life than i could have given him at the time.

i hate what people say "gave your baby up" or "gave your baby away"...my baby is not a sweater or a CD that i didn't want. i PLACED my baby with another family because i love him. it was not a decision that was made lightly or easily. it was the most serious decision i have ever and will ever make. the next person who says i "gave him away" might just get a beat down :)

i have an open adoption with seth and his family (this is sometime i knew i wanted from the beginning, and it was a big reqirement for finding a family for seth). for us that means that we can email, call, visit, send and recieve pictures and gifts at anytime....as long as all parties involved are ok with it. i'm not scared that seths family will all of a sudden want to have a closed adoption. they have made it clear that they want to do what I'M comfortable with. yes life gets in the way sometimes..and we don't always email once a week like we were in the beginning....in fact it's gotten to where it's once a month...but that's ok too. if i was feeling bad about it i think i could tell them. as a birthmom it is hard to ask for things from the adoptive parents tho...no matter how great they are. sometimes i feel like i have no right to ask for pictures and letters and all that because, legally, he isn't my child anymore....but on the other hand....i gave birth to him and placed him with them....so yes...i have a right to those things...and i don't think any adoptive couple would dissagree with that. if you are a birthmom who feel like you need a little more from your adoptive parents....ask!


before i was a birthmom i didn't know much about adoption...i didn't think about adoption, but when it did pop into my head the image was a big room full of cold looking cribs..and a couple would walk through and pick a baby they liked...like at the pound. i think i knew this wasn't really how it works (at least not around here). but i never wanted that kind of situation for my baby....i HAD to pick the family for him and i HAD to be the one to hand him over to his parents or this wasn't going to happen. i'm sure every agency does things differently...but i got EXACTLY what i wanted. for the most part...any good agency will work with the birthmom and adoptive parents and find something that works. they gave me all kinds of options to make sure i was comfortable and things went the way i needed them to.
(lets not judge my hair or the way i look in this pic....i had just given birth and placed my baby in the arms of another couple...recognize)

when i was pregnant, before i got into adoption..i thought that all agencys were just out to make up my mind for me....to push adoption down my throat till i gave in.....this wasn't the case. at least not with the agency i went through. in fact i went to some counseling sessions with my case worker and they worked with me to think of a way that would work for parenting my child...only after that did we start talking about adoption.

i love talking about my story. i know people are afraid to ask questions or bring it up for fear of upsetting me....but it doesn't upset. yes i might cry, but it's not because i'm sad...it's just still very emotional. but i love the memories, and i don't mind the questions at all. i think a lot of birthmoms are this way. ask us questions...we would love to tell you about our little miricles.

and last...(because i know this is really long)...i don't, for even one second regret my decision. if i was given the chance to go back and do things differently...i wouldn't...i wouldn't even go back and not get pregnant (is that bad?). seth is an amazing little boy, and this is the way he was brought here....i would not take that back. it was hard and painful and downright gutwrenching for me...but if that is the way he was to come to this earth and be with his family....then i'm happy to be the one to bring him here, and i'm so happy that i get to be a small part of his life. adoption was a gift for me too...not just for seth, and not just for seth's parents and family....i think for everyone involved it was a gift. at least that's how i look at it.

i guess the bottom line is that everyone involved in adoption will have a different opinion depending on the way it went for them. but for me...it went as well as it could have in that situation.

11 comments:

A Life Being Lived said...

I love this post....I echo a lot of your thoughts...there is sadness about being a birthmother but I don't regret it either. I would not take it back. There are complex issues and emotions in adoption but I am honored to have had the strength to bring my daughter into the world and place her with her parents. Of course placing a baby is super hard, it's a human and natural maternal instict to want to be with your child. The one part I think that gets pushed to the side is the fact that the majority of the time these were unplanned pregnancies...a human life hung in the balance. "It went as well as it could have" (as you said) is the way I feel about my placement experience too.

Beth Willmore said...

You're an amazing person Ashley and you're so strong. Someday I'll have to tell you about the adoption story I was involved in, but reading your blog makes me feel better about the whole experience and the outcome. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

Holly said...

Beautiful. Thanks for sharing Ashley.

Shalee said...

I LOVE adoption :) You are awesome.

Mirah Riben said...

Ashely,

You say:

"sometimes i feel like i have no right to ask for pictures and letters and all that because, legally, he isn't my child anymore....but on the other hand....i gave birth to him and placed him with them....so yes...i have a right to those things...and i don't think any adoptive couple would dissagree with that. if you are a birthmom who feel like you need a little more from your adoptive parents....ask!"

The fact that you gave birth to Seth gives you NO legal rights whatsoever. You happen to be fortunate. Seth's adoptive parents fill your needs. But others do not, even when ASKED! You just got LUCKY. It's a crap shoot! AND...it's only six years and dwindling down to monthly emails...

Courts do not enforce open adoption contact agreements. Adoptive parents have no legal obligation to uphold them and they are broken all the time leaving mothers feeling betrayed and heartbroken and very sorry they ever allowed their child to be adopted at all. Have you read THOSE stories?

It is saddens me that you lack compassion for your sisters who are not o fortunate...as it so easily could have bene you...

Adoption is NOT like being a non-custodial parent in a divorce. They have rights. Birthmothers do not. before the adoption takes place you sign a relinquishment of ALL your rights! So you have no rights. No right to letters, emails, photos or visits.

Some mothers find it painful to visit their child after adoption and hear them call someone else Mommy. You didn't mention anything about visitation. An adoption isn't truly open unless you and the child are in direct face-to-face contact. Photos exchanges alone are under the heading semi-open adoption. Does Seth know you are in contact??

And what about Seth. You claim you are happy because you believe this was all best for him. You start your post saying you have read blogs of birthmothers and adoptive parents. What about adoptees? Have you read how THEY feel about all of this?

You only know how YOU feel and you are happy. Good for you! But Seth is the one who gets to decide if this was good for Seth. Seth needs to come to terms with knowing you CHOSE - voluntarily, not under any pressure or court order - to give him to others.

His side of this story is yet to be written..I can only hope it is as happy as yours. Not all adoptees are happy having to deal with what was done to them and the life of an adoptee...

Everything in life is a trade off. there are no win-wins. But, you are happy...

I hope you always are. The honeymoon phase can last decades. But when i ends it can be a painful reality of all you've lost. For some that doesn't hit home until they are unable to have other children or it negatively impacts their lives in other ways...

Mirah Riben, author, THE STORK MARKET: America's Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry

Jacqueline Clark said...

I gave up my daughter for adoption the year before you did. I love your words on adoption! My experience with my adoption agency was the most wonderful thing! I picked my parents, met them before birth, and placed that sweet baby girl in their arms. I'm glad you had a good experience as well and still get to see your son! You are an amazing woman and mother!

mcguire family said...

ashley thank you for sharing. being an adopted child i love hearing the birth mothers side. WOW IM SO PISSED at the comment that Mirah Riben left. so mad i cant even think. some people like her dont understand. thank you so much for your post and im sure seth understands that you love him and you did what needed to be done.

A Life Being Lived said...

I'm really mad at the comment Mariah left as well. ADOPTION IS DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE. I refuse to let other adoption experiences cloud my own growth, grief, healing, or otherwise. What point did Maria have except to belittle birthmothers??? Grrr. Not nice, lady!

Tracie said...

Ashley, Seth is so lucky you are his birth mother. Stone is lucky to have you as his birth mother and mother. Any child who comes into your life will be lucky. I'm not so thrilled with Mirah's comments, but everyone gets to have their own opinion I guess.

I love this post--and I love the comfort you bring with your posts. I loved seeing your family with Seth, and the picture with you and Seth just after his birth is absolutely PRICELESS.

...and don't think you don't have compassion for others in the adoption process...Mirah doesn't know you -- neither do I -- but it is so obvious through other posts that you have great compassion, love, kindness, and goodness in your soul (just like your dear mother has).

Thank God for birth mothers who care enough to place their precious little ones in good homes and make a life-long sacrifice for the good of their child.

May you have peace and joy in your life always!

ashley said...

i don't usually leave comments on my own posts, but i wanted to thank those of you who had nice things to say...and i'm a little suprised that so many of you read my blog. haha. i also just wanted to say a few things to mirah...i do appreciate your comments and perspective. i guess i should clarify saying that this was MY experience and MY feelings. i know that some stories aren't as happy as mine is...and i have great compassion for those women who don't get what they want and need from their adoptive couples (shame on those couples). no...birthmothers don't get legal rights to anything after an adoption is final...when i said that the birthmother has a right to ask for more...i meant they should feel comfortable asking...there is nothing legally that can be done if the couple refuses, but at least the birthmother can try (there is nothing legally saying you can't ask). also...i know what constitutes an open adoption...i have an open adoption. i have face to face contact with seth when it works out for both parties (we are respectful for eachothers time). yes he knows i'm in contact (he sends me a birthday card every year with his own handwrighting in it), and yes i know that he is happy where he is, and i know that he has a great life. adoption does not have to be the way you described it...if you work with the right agency it can work out so all parties are happy with the outcome. yes i know that there are always situations that once a couple has a sweet baby placed with them they could go back on their promises (there should legal rights that protects the birthmother too) and if they do...well in my opinion they aren't a very grateful or respectful couple. as birthmothers we do what we can to make the best of an extreamly hard and painful situation...and shame on you, mirah for painting adoption in a very negative light. yes things can go wrong in this situation...but birthmothers need people out there to help them make the best instead of tearing them down and telling them that they have no rights and will never get what they want. with the right people behind us, birthmothers can have a good experience too.

birthmothertalks said...

I am one of the birthmothers that knows all too well how adoptive couples don't always keep their words. I also know that there are so many different sides to adoption and all sides can feel different. Ashley I think you handled the comment that was a harsh really well.