Total Shock & Awe

I got off my monthly Bethany birthmom group call and took my coffee mug back downstairs. I had a piece of mail from BraveLove on the table, and dad asked what BraveLove is.

I didn’t know what to say. He’s never really been one to want to know about my adoption. So I said I wasn’t sure how to tell him cause it’s a difficult subject. It’s a birthmom education group.

There was a discussion about how he didn’t want to know anything about my adoption in the beginning. He admitted that was true. He was glad I didn’t have an abortion, but he was distressed I “gave it away”. I was somewhat offended and said “‘it’ is a girl”. I didn’t go into the whole “I didn’t give her away I placed her” correction, but maybe another day. Somewhere in the future.

I figure since we’d already blown open the adoption doors, I told him I would be getting off early next Friday and getting in a Zoom with my adoption agency to speak to couples who are hoping to be approved to adopt.

He then blew my mind and said he would like to meet her one day. So I shared her name and just a few pictures – the first was from our visit last month and the first words he said were “she doesn’t look like you.” (I wasn’t even sure what to say to that. Mom said she sees more of David in her as she grows up.) Dad asked how often I see her, and where they live, and if I buy her birthday/Christmas presents. So he can help me buy the presents.

Then mom said that adoptive dad is a pastor. I said he used to be at a church up here on 123 but now they’re building their own church down there. They bought the land during lockdown and should be breaking ground soon for the building.

Dad asked me if I talk to them a lot after I shared about their church. Well, I follow their church’s Instagram account.. That didn’t answer his question. We email every now and then.

I’m in total shock and awe…

I spent most of 2019 (subconsciously) letting go of the expectation he’d come around, and had finally accepted that he wouldn’t be involved in her life. 14 months later he drops this information on me. I had fully released those expectations, so now he’s exceeded anything I had.

It’s a lot to take in.

It’s a MAJOR thing to process.

It means that things aren’t the same anymore.

I have to adjust to a whole new reality.

I used to stop talking about adoption-related things if he was around. I would out my phone down or change apps if I had a picture of her up on the screen and he walked by. These are behaviors that have been ingrained for six and a half years. Now they’re not really necessary. And I don’t know what to think, or what to feel, or what to do.

I mean, you could have knocked me over with a feather.

I would have never expected that from him.

Ever.

National Adoption Month Posts

November was a bit of a rough month for me. I participated in Ashley Mitchell‘s Adoption Awareness Month Photo-a-Day Challenge. I somehow managed to get all of my posts up on the days they were supposed to go up, even if it wound up being at night. Granted, I did snag the sneak peek preview of Ashley’s prompts when she put them on her Insta-story in like September and started working on them then. So, I definitely had time to prep everything before they went up…

Nov 1 – Accountability
Nov 2 – Broken
Nov 3 – Community
Nov 4 – DNA
Nov 5 – Ethics
Nov 6 – Fake
Nov 7 – Growth
Nov 8 – Honor
Nov 9 – Ignorance
Nov 10 – Jealousy
Nov 11 – Kindness
Nov 12 – Language
Nov 13 – Motives
Nov 14 – Navigation
Nov 15 – Options
Nov 16 – Promises
Nov 17 – Questions
Nov 18 – Roles, Rights, Responsibilities
Nov 19 – Stereotypes
Nov 20 – Timing
Nov 21 – Unknown
Nov 22 – Vulnerable
Nov 23 – Worth
Nov 24 – eXcuses
Nov 25 – Yearning
Nov 26 – Zip It

I’ll come back later once I’ve pulled myself together and share some thoughts on the month.

South Dakota

South Dakota recently passed legislation that allows adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQIA couples. It passed, 43-20-7.

I know there are people in the world today who have very different opinions about the community than I do, but that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to share with you my feelings and opinions about the bill that SD has passed.


 

I talked with my sister about this and she said, “I wish this was something no one had to feel any way about because I wish it wasn’t a thing that happened.” And that’s how I feel about it too. But as a birthmom, maybe I have stronger feelings than someone who doesn’t know the adoption process or have any connection to it.

I feel that adoption should be available to anyone who wants to expand their family that way, LGBTQIA couples included. I honestly don’t understand why people would say that they’re not worthy of being able to adopt. It pains me to think that. LGBTQIA couples can be amazing parents, just like heterosexual couples.

Why are they different? To me, they’re not.

When I chose the family to place my daughter, I felt it that they were right. It wouldn’t have happened with the agency we used, but if the family I fell for had been part of the LGBTQIA community, it wouldn’t have mattered. At all. I knew they were right because I just felt it in my heart and my gut.

But South Dakota passing this bill that legally allows discrimination against these couples is preventing prospective birthmoms from having that same moment when looking through profiles as they just connect and know they’re right. It’s forcing couples to go through lawyers, which can be more expensive and take more time and effort.

I have a good friend, Courtney of Living Queer, who is part of the LGBTQIA community, so I asked them a few questions.

Q: As part of the LGBTQIA community, would you and your partner consider adoption?
       A: Yes we would

Q: Because you can technically pass as female, would you make it known to the agency that you are an LGBTQIA couple or would you fear discrimination and not tell?
       A: I honestly would probably fear discrimination and not tell unless I had continued my transition and couldn’t pass anymore


 

In doing more research, I’ve discovered that other states (Michigan, North Dakota, and Virginia) have similar bills that allow discrimination without fear of retribution. I wasn’t aware of this, and it bothers me. I live in one of those states.

It will also allow agencies to discriminate against single and divorced people, couples who engage in premarital sex, interfaith couples, and anyone else whose behavior or identity violates an agency’s “religious belief or moral conviction.”

Sen. Alan Solano is a Republican from Rapid City. He wrote the bill with help from a staff member of Catholic Social Services. They are an agency who will only place infants with couples who are opposite sex, married at least two years, and unable to conceive children on their own, among other requirements.


 

I don’t know why I thought that this was something new, or that similar things hadn’t already happened in other states, but even days/weeks later, it makes me upset. I hate the idea that there are couples out there who are being denied the chance to adopt. There are so many couples (straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, of differing faiths, it doesn’t matter) who are wanting to adopt, but there are these rules that are preventing them from doing so with certain agencies.

And yes, I understand that there are other ways to adopt than private agencies. But that could require going through the state foster system, and that can cause more stress than necessary.

Yes, every child deserves a loving home, but some couples just don’t have it in them to handle the foster system. Especially if the child is older and can go back to their case worker and say they don’t like the family they’re with. That may be something the couple isn’t emotionally ready to face.

#AdoptionTalk – Navigating Open Adoption & My Feelings

 

It’s never an easy thing to navigate through open adoption, especially if it’s the first time for all involved.

My birth daughter’s adoptive parents and I are currently navigating our open adoption. We are always re-evaluating things as she grows up. For example, our visits for the first two years were lunches in restaurants. Then we realized that that wasn’t going to work since she was more active an independent. So our most recent visit also included letting her run around a play area in the mall.

Things will continue to change as she gets older, and that’s how it should be. What works now when she’s a toddler won’t be the same as whatever works when she’s eleven or twelve.

I’ve seen other open adoptions through social media that are very different from mine, but that’s the nature of the situation. Every adoption, every family, every birthmom, they all vibe differently and their structures vary.


I was originally scared of open adoption, and didn’t think that I wanted one. I had heard so many horror stories about adoptive parents who would go back on their word about updates and visits and communication. Leaving the birthmom or birthparents hurt and clueless and wondering what happened.

But now, two and a half years into my open adoption, I honestly love it. We don’t have one where we talk or see each other all the time. We get together twice a year. They send updates halfway between visits. If something major happens, I know I can email them and they’ll respond within a few days. I’ve done it when family members were very ill or passed away.

At this point, I couldn’t imagine if I had gone with a closed adoption. The pain of not knowing what my daughter looks like or who she’s growing up to be. It would be too much to bear.

I know that it’s not for everyone one, and that’s perfectly fine. But it is definitely something that I would encourage birthmoms to think about when making an adoption plan for their child.


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