Thursday, March 28, 2013

Adoption is about choice, not coercion


I have a confession. I watch 16 and Pregnant and all the Teen Mom shows. It's so lame, I know, but I like to learn about teen pregnancy and I have a small obsession with reality TV. Anyways, I have been watching the earlier episodes of 16 and pregnant and in the first season, there is the famous episode of Caitlyn & Tyler who chose adoption for their daughter, Carly. Everyone knows them as the big adoptive advocates and also cast members of Teen Mom. I never realized there was also another girl who chose adoption in the 2nd season. I think it is awesome that MTV is willing to show girls who choose to place . I personally would not want cameras in my face during my painfully emotional journey, but I think it is awesome that there are girls who are willing to show the world in depth what their experience was like.

The reason I am sharing this episode and my opinion is because I was truly upset and I felt so bad for this girl. I thought she was treated unfairly by her parents and I feel like she didnt have a fair chance in her decision to place. Let me give you a little background.

Lori was 17 years old and she attended an all girls Catholic high school. She was adopted when she was a newborn and she does not know her birth mom.  Lori became pregnant at 17 by her ex boyfriend, Cory. Lori's parents did not take this news well (what parent would?) they were greatly disappointed and they really wanted Lori to place her son for adoption. Lori and Cory didn't want to place because they were too attached to the baby and couldn't imagine placing him. *I want to add that all of these feelings Lori and Cory are having, I feel, are completely ok and normal. I too had/have lots of attachment to Kinley* Throughout the whole episode, Lori's mom would always add her 2 cents in about adoption and how she needs to choose it because they are not ready to be parents *Valid point* Lori and Cory were broken up and had no plans on getting back together but they felt they were ready to take on the challenge of being parents. Lori's friends wanted to throw her a baby shower and Lori's mom said noway. Her mom said that no one should be excited about her baby because of the way he was being brought into this world (Unmarried, teenagers, etc...) *I was so offended by this. Just because a baby was not conceived or born into an "ideal" family does NOT mean the baby should not be unwelcome. Any and all babies are precious gifts. Even if the baby was parented by drug addicts living in a cardboard box.. All babies should feel welcomed and no woman should feel shamed for their mistakes or decisions. especially by her mother!* Lori was so torn between parenting and adoption because she truly wanted to parent and her parents disapproved. It was getting down to the last months of Lori's pregnancy and she hadn't made an official decision. Her parents kept lecturing Lori about how she needed to be honest with them about what she really wanted. Lori always reassured them that she honestly didn't know what she wanted to do. *In my own experience, I had times when I wasn't sure if adoption was right. I felt a little indecisive at times. I felt for Lori in this way because she WAS being honest with her parents, she just wasn't giving them the answer they wanted to hear.* Cory decided he felt it was best to go through with adoption and Lori felt blindsided because he wasn't on her side. They met with a couple and they seemed to be just right and then a few weeks later- the adoptive couple backed out because they didn't feel it was enough time to start the adoptive process. Lori and Cory felt hurt *I would* and they were questioning their decisions. At this time, they had about 2 weeks until "D- day" and they were kicked back to square one. Cory decided he wanted to parent again and Lori felt stuck because her parents were pressuring her. She ended up picking a couple and when the baby was born, she spent her hospital stay with her son and placed him with his new family.

I felt connected with Lori through out the whole episode, in that we are both birth moms. I however, did NOT agree with her parent's roll in her decision. I know that she was only 17, but I still feel adoption has to be the birthmother's 100% decision. Adoption is a permanent thing and for her to regret her decision is something she would effect for the rest of her life. That is something no girl should have in her life. From watching this episode I wish I could reach out to Lori. I feel she was not given all the appropriate resources she needed to choose adoption and get ready for it. Her mom set a meeting up with another birth mom who had a positive experience, which is a great resource, but I feel like Lori needed to see an adoption counselor and do some research. It seemed like her mom was over bearing and controlling. When Lori was at a doctor's appointment, her doctor told her it wouldn't be a good idea to be with the baby after he was born because it would be too emotionally painful. I was so livid when I heard this. That doctor is an OBGYN NOT a therapist. That doctor doesn't know anything about emotions of a birth mom. I was screaming at the show saying "DON'T LISTEN TO HER!!" all birth moms need to have 100% control over their hospital plan. I was grateful she ended up being with the baby for a few days because I truly feel she would regret those bonding moments. The whole episode was aggravating because Lori never really had the chance to decide for herself. It seemed her mom made all the decisions and her mom wanted Lori to place because of her own personal reputation. Her mom expressed how embarrassed and shameful it felt to have a teen mom for a daughter. What an awful thing to say. I would feel so sad if my parents ever said that to me. At the very end of the episode, it shows Lori and her parents having a conversation post-placement. Her mom said "Aren't you glad all these fears are all gone now?" Oh my, how livid I was after hearing this. ALL FEARS BEHIND? I think her mom is a complete moron. She clearly does not know all the fears and struggles that COME because of placement (see previous blog post). It's not just rainbows and butterflies after placement. It is more like hell. After her mom said that, I am truly convinced she wanted Lori to choose adoption so that she could forget about it like it never happened, which is an absurd way to look at it.

I truly hope that Lori was able to come to peace with her placement and I really hope that she had some kind of say in her situation. I am a big adoption advocate, but not in the event of coercion. Even if Lori was 17 years old, her baby is 100% hers and not her mother's and she shouldn't feel forced to do things her mother's way; Especially when it comes to adoption, when it permanent. I so wish I could give her a little insight on adoption and a huge hug for that matter.

I know that reality TV shows don't show what really goes on 100%, so all my opinions are based on what was televised, but the way MTV portrayed her story, I was totally upset. All birth moms need time to research adoption and feel confident about their choice and also get ready for the "hand over". It's the hardest thing a woman will ever do and something that can't just be chosen because her mom or dad said she needs to. It's a HUGE life decision that effects EVERY aspect of her life forever. That's why I created the quote- "Adoption is about choice, not coercion" I included the link to the episode below, if you are interested in watching it!

16 and Pregnant (Season 2) | Ep. 5 | Lori: Lori's parents want her to choose adoption, but as someone who was adopted herself, Lori doesn't want her baby to be haunted by all that's haunted her. But with an unreliable ex-boyfriend, she eventually realizes it may be the only option.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Fears

Everyone has at least one fear. Whether it be heights, spiders, the dark, or the boogy man. Before I placed Kinley for adoption I had these fears also. The dark and heights being a few. After placement though- I have developed a few more that are bit bigger than the lack of light or looking over ledges. I always thought I was being silly, but the more I have expressed publicly, I have found lots of other birthmothers have the same fears.

1. Not being able to be a mom
I have heard stories of women giving birth normally with no complications and then having something go wrong after delivery and they can no longer have children or women who's bodies just don't want to have babies again. I always fear that my body will only be able to have one child and that was Kinley, who I'm not parenting. I've also feared that I would marry a man that is sterile. It's close to impossible that these things would happen, but it's always in the back of my mind.

2. Kinley feeling unwanted
I've been learning a lot about the different sides of adoption and I have come across a few angry adoptees. They express how they feel unwanted and confused about their adoption and don't know why their birthmothers 'gave them up'. There's also anger involved when expressing their feelings and they just can't understand why they were placed with their adopted family. I sometimes fear Kinley will feel this way when she is older. I fear that she will be bitter towards me and feel alone and never be able to forgive me or understand my reasonings for adoption.

Toby and Nicole are amazing people and they are doing a wonderful job at raising my princess. I know that they will tell Kinley everything and be open to her about this whole journey and I know that they will do everything in their power to provide Kinley with enough love that she won't ever have to feel lonely or unwanted. This is one of the biggest reasons for my blog- to write down my feelings so that Kinley will be able to come and read what is going through my mind and know that placing her was everything but abandonment and not wanting her. I make it a priority to send her at least a letter often to update her on my life and to express my love to her. My door will always be open for her. I can't wait for her to become older and be able to ask me questions and things.

3. Finding someone who will accept me and my decisions
This fear has been booted out because I have found an amazing man who supports and accepts my past. But before I met him, I feared I would find an amazing guy and build a great relationship with him and then tell him about Kinley and have him back out of the relationship or judge me harshly. It's pretty big news to tell someone you had a baby and placed her. It brings 'having baggage' to a whole new level. There are lots of emotional ups and downs they have to be patient with and lots of sympathy and understanding that comes right along with it. I also feared that I would tell a guy about Kinley and they wouldn't be supportive of the open adoption. I was scared they would think it was weird to have visits and contact with this baby that wasn't even theirs.

I have been so blessed to have found a guy who is so open minded and understanding towards my decisions with Kinley. Grant was a friend throughout my pregnancy and he was a friend after. He has made room in his heart not only for me, but for sweet Kinley. He is so willing and excited to come to visits with me. He gets a huge smile when I receive pictures of her, and he is most of all so patient with my emotional side with the adoption. He wasn't there for the placement, but he has done all he can to try and understand the adoption. He doesn't know 100% what I go through and feel, but he is always there to wipe my tears and just hold me when it has been a rough day. I was so so scared I would always be alone and that no one would be kind-hearted enough to step up and take care of me, but I was proven wrong(thanks babe).


These have been my biggest worries and I have come to realize that a lot of other birth moms have the same fears. I'm not saying that all birthmothers have all these same exact fears, I'm just saying that it is so interesting that through one similar life-changing experience (placement)  birth mothers can relate so well to one another.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Why Now?

I'm usually very positive in my posts, but I've been pretty frustrated and stressed the past little while. So if you don't want to hear me rant a bit- then you should just close the window right now. I've said before that birth moms have such crazy emotions that are up and down and they come very sudden and at random times. Sometimes you will be having a great day and out of nowhere, sad and lonely feelings sneak up from behind and hit you in the face! Anyways- I've been having those kinds of 'sneak attacks' lately.

About a month ago I received the most shocking and quite scary phone call. From who you may ask birth dad. *gasp* yeah I know my jaw dropped to the floor too. I panicked. My heart was beating out of my chest and my mouth got so dry. Not because of excitement, but out of pure fear! Let me remind you, I hadn't heard a single word from this person in over a year! The last words spoken to me were 'don't ever talk to me again. I don't care about you or that baby'. When I saw his name on my phone I about died. I pushed the ignore button because I didn't know what the heck to do.

I waited a few minutes before I called him back. I had to prepare myself for what he had to say. I was hoping he butt dialed me or something. What could he possibly need to talk about after a year? I had been so mad and wanted him to call or show some interest in Kinley, and now that that was possibly happening, I panicked. Do you blame me though?

I called back and he told me that he wanted to meet Kinley. He didn't know her name until I told him. He didn't know really anything about her. He had never seen a picture of her, didn't know who she was, nothing. It was so strange that I was talking to him. The result of the conversation was that I'd give his email to Toby and Nicole and they could handle everything. I don't want to be the middle man for the rest of Kinley's life and also, Toby and Nicole are her parents and they are the ones who have all the say that goes on. I told him that I wanted to be there if he was ever allowed to meet her, and he agreed. I emailed him a few pictures of Kinley so that he knew what she looked like. He kind of apologized for what had happened between us and asked if we could just forget about the past and move on. And let me tell you how angry this made me. Do you all remember the long post I made a few months ago about how much anger and hatred I had for him and his fiancĂ©? This situation isn't something we can just 'put in the past' or 'forget about'. Maybe if we just had a bad break up or something, but this is all about A PERSON! MY baby! Abandoning me, ignoring, and not caring about  a child is much bigger than a break up or something like that. It made me so angry that he could just think I could drop all hard feelings. If he called me a few months earlier I would have never given him the time of day and told him he missed all his chances, which he really did in all reality. He was so mean to me and refused to make an adoption plan with the case worker. He flat out refused to come see Kinley in the hospital. I told him I was working on the forgiving part and I was working on moving on.

So this brings me to why the heck I'm blogging about this. I would think him wanting to all of a sudden be involved would patch up so much of the heartache, but it has done everything but that. I've felt so jealous, angry, sad, and I have found myself looking back and playing the what-if game. I don't think birth dad realizes that if he would have come around way earlier, I could be holding my pretty girl in my arms. I could be her mom. I never would have placed her and my life would be so much different. If he wanted to be involved, I wouldn't stay awake at night crying because I miss my baby.

This brings me to my next question- Why now? Why after so long did you decide to be involved? Why all of a sudden is Kinley important to you? Why did you run away? Why did you deny her? Why couldn't you have been a man and stepped up? Why wasn't Kinley that important to you before?

These questions have been circulating through my mind so much! It makes me so mad and sad that if he would have been there a year earlier, things would have been so different. I feel like he doesn't understand everything that goes into adoption. He has no bond with Kinley other than donating sperm. He was never there to feel her kick, he was never there to see her ultrasounds, her heart beat. He never even met her! He refused! and he CHOSE that! I gave him so much opportunity and so many chances and he declined every one of them. He doesn't know the hurt that went into placing her. He doesn't understand it one bit. He wasn't there, he doesn't know what it feels like to have your heart ripped out of your heart or what is like to see your most prized possession go home with someone else. He doesn't know what it is like to feel so empty and a part of your heart missing forever.

And he thinks I can just forget about it and move on?

Ever since that phone call, so many emotions I've buried and tried to hide came out and it feels nice to write them down.

I know that everything in this adoption has worked out 100% how it was supposed to and I know that it was truly meant to be, but there is always that what-if in the back ground. I don't regret placing Kinley, I wouldn't change it at all, but still. I always think of all these questions and scenarios of if she were with me, and they all end up better if she was placed.

If I parented, who knows when birth dad would come around? I would have the struggle of a single young mom, her dad would be in and out of her life, shortly after Kinley was born, birth dad went to jail for domestic violence...it sickens me to think Kinley could have been in the middle of that. Kinley wouldn't be able to be sealed to me and Grant in the temple, she probably wouldn't be taught about Heavenly Father and Jesus at her dad's house and she would be bounced around houses. Especially hearing Toby and Nicole's story and how adoption had blessed their lives, and how happy they are with her, I wouldn't change that. I just don't want to come across as regretting my decision because I don't and like I said, I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I'm just saying I still wonder...which I need to stop doing because it does no good.

I've said time and time again that all of this has been for Kinley. And it 100% has been. If it were up to me, I never would have answered that phone call. I would have ignored it and he would have been out of luck. I never would have sent him pictures, given him the time of day or even given Toby and Nicole his email. I could have just ignored everything. But because this adoption wasn't about me, I went out of my comfort zone and did this. For who? Kinley Lyn. She deserves to know her roots. She deserves to know where she gets her olive skin and beautiful dark eyes. I don't want her to grow up and wonder about her birth dad and why he never cared. I feel by giving Toby and Nicole his contact info. I did my part. I love Kinley so much that I'm setting my issues aside and giving her a resource to fall back on later and so she doesn't have to wonder. It's going to be hard to know birth dad potentially has a relationship with her, but it's what my princess deserves right?

Sorry for the negative post, but I feel like raw emotions are key in telling the world about birth mothers and the struggles they face post placement. Its not just a happily ever after, it's a life-long struggle we fight after we leave the hospital. It's tough, but as long as my Pooky has the best life ever, I would do it a million times and I will fight for her happiness.

On a happier note, Kinley is  8 months old today!


Friday, March 1, 2013

The Past 7 Months part 2

One small mistake on the last post- I had one more visit before Christmas! It was in the end of September! I went to Utah to meet my boyfriend's family and Nicole and Toby were happy to fit in a visit! We met at Temple Square again! They didn't want Grant, my boyfriend, to meet Kinley yet, just so that she wasn't being introduced to so many random guys. Totally understandable and I'm grateful that they are so protective of her! I got to temple square and I was so anxious to see them. I showed up way early because I was so excited. We met outside by the reflecting pool and when they lifted the cover of Kinley's car seat there she was...greeting me with the biggest. My heart melted. this was the first time I had ever seen her smile, other than pictures. Man I love that girl so much! We went inside the Joseph Smith Building and visited and played with Kinley.

I absolutely love this picture! Nicole and Toby always catch the great candid moments
This smile is what greeted me when I first saw her! Melts my heart!
Birth mama and birth daughter
her legs were so long and skinny! Kind of like a chicken! 
Another facial expression that melts my heart. A sleeping princess. 
Kinley 4 months old!

Kinley 5 months old


The next visit was on Dec. 23rd. This was the longest I had ever gone without seeing my peanut. that 3 months was the hardest 3 months ever! I missed Kinley so much and I wanted to hold her and touch her soft skin. Her adoption was final a week or so previous and The LDS church has a tradition where babies are blessed. Kind of like a dedication in other religions. Toby couldn't bless her until the adoption was final so they did this shortly after. A baby's blessing is a mile stone in the LDS religion and family usually comes to watch and support. Toby and Nicole invited me to come to it and they allowed Grant to come because we had gotten engaged a few months earlier. I was so excited. I got to be in the same place as the 2 people I loved the most in the world. My mom and sister, Jaala, came as well. We walked into the church and I B-lined it to Kinley and her family. I hadn't seen her in 3 months! Tears streamed down my face! She looked so beautiful in all white! I was over come with so much happiness and peace! Kinley was supposed to be with the C family.

Another reason this visit was so special was because Toby and Nicole's parents and siblings were there. I had never met their family before and it was so amazing to feel welcomed by their family. It gave me such peace of mind knowing the C family was comfortable enough to have me meet their extended family. I first met Toby's dad, who is also the bishop of their ward. He gave me the biggest hug and whispered in my ear 'Thank you for Kinley. Our family is so happy and complete'. Him and I started crying. I can't tell you how amazing that moment was. It really hit me that I didn't just complete the C family, but I gave their parents a grand daughter, their brothers and sisters a niece and their nieces and nephews a cousin. I preceded down the line and met Toby's mom, brothers, sisters, Nicole's mom and dad, who also gave me huge tight hugs and lots of gratitude, and then also I met Nicole's siblings. I couldn't tell you any of their names and nor could I ever recognize them in public if I ever was in their presence, but all I can say is that I loved all of them! I made sure I gave them a hug instead of a hand shake. I have to love them, they love my kin as their own, and for that, I love them dearly.  It was so fun to hold Kinley during the church meeting. Even though she slept most of the way through it, I loved having her in my arms. The blessing, that Toby gave her was beautiful. I thought I would be so sad that she no longer had my last name, but instead I felt so much peace. Her new last name fits her better than Gladden, I thought. Listening to his blessing to his and Nicole's daughter was nothing but happiness. I mean, it always tugs at my heart that I can't be Kinley's mom, but I couldn't have picked two better people to fill in my spot.
Can you see why I started bawling when I saw her? she had grown SO much in that 3 months!

I love those lips

My sister, Jaala, and baby K:)

My mom and Kinley

The C family and I
The new and improved C family


My two favorite ladies

Gahh that face!:)


After church, they invited us to come over to their parent's house. My mom and sister had to get back to Colorado, so just Grant and I went. We just went over and spent more time visiting and Grant and I spoiled her with Christmas presents. That weekend was probably the best Christmas present I could ever ask for. I had so much happiness. And I was so grateful Toby and Nicole were so open and welcoming us into their family and their private home!

She enjoyed the wrapping paper more than the actual presents

Birth mom and Birth daughter again

Favorite pic! 

Playing
she fell asleep



and woke up still happy
I love elephants so I got her a Dumbo stuffed animal when I went to Disneyland 
she insists on eating her feet!

I think she kind of looks like Yoda here hehe


My mom made Taylee some PJ pants and we got her a sister shirt!
This was a week before my visit at the court house getting all legal! AKA Kinley's 'Gotcha day'

this was a few days after our visit when Nicole and Toby went to the temple and Kinley was sealed to them  and they became an eternal family 
Nicole Face Timed me so I could watch Kinley eat baby food for the first time! It was so cool to be able to experience that with them!



Kinley 6 months old

Kinley's 6 month mile marker is significant because it is also my birthday! I love that we can share half birthdays:) It's crazy to think the next 6 month mile marker is her 1st birthday and my 20 1/2 birthday!

Kinley 7 months
So crazy that she can sit up!

The next time I saw them was just a couple weeks ago! I was in Utah because I went through the temple for the first time and like always, Nicole and Toby were willing to meet up with Grant and I at Temple Square. It was a short visit because we were on our way out of town and they were on their way to a super bowl get together. I didn't care though, as long as I got to hold my pretty girl! She had learned to scoot a week or so previous, so it was fun to have her army crawl to me! And of course, I loved having Grant there to share this happy time.
Love that girl so much!


I love that Grant can love her also:)

Lovers

One big happy family
 I have said time and time again how grateful I am for having such a great adoption! I am so grateful for the C family and their understanding of how much I love Kinley and how open they are for me to come see her as often! I am also so happy with how they are always a text or phone call away! Here are some other pictures I've received over the past little while!

I sent her a Valentines day care package with a bunny that I recorded my voice in. It said "Happy Valentines day pretty girl! I love and miss you so much" They sent me pics of her opening it

Future model

Big girl learned to crawl
In about a week she will be turning 8 months! Time flies so much! I love her so much and I cant wait till I get to see her again! Which will probably be in April:)