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.

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.

NaBloPoMo – Day 30

Make a list of 30 things that make you smile

  1. good books
  2. new episodes of my favorite show(s) on Netflix
  3. perfume
  4. LuLaRoe
  5. shea/cocoa butter
  6. cozy blankets
  7. hoodies
  8. coffee
  9. free stuff for hosting parties
  10. perfectly applying lipstick first try
  11. hugs
  12. birth control I don’t have to worry about daily
  13. catching up with friends
  14. seeing former teachers I really liked
  15. snuggling little tiny babies
  16. Thanksgiving at my aunt’s house
  17. The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime
  18. jeans that fit perfectly
  19. perfectly painted nails 
  20. putting feelings down on paper
  21. driving “back country” roads
  22. knee socks
  23. boots 
  24. music that fits the mood prefectly
  25. crawling into bed after a long day
  26. sweater/hoodie weather
  27. YouTube stationary hauls & posts on IG
  28. sentimental gifts
  29. getting new pictures of my daughter
  30. when I get to see my daughter

My Answers to a Project Done Last Year

Originally I wasn’t going to post this for a couple weeks, but I feel like I need to put a post up, and this one is ready to go.


So, I haven’t really talked too much about this before (other than my Adoption Misconceptions post), but I feel like I should be talking about it more than I do. It’s a big part of who I am, and it’s not something that’s ever going to go away or change.

I am a birth mom.

I will not give details about my child or their adoptive family until I obtain permission form them and potentially the agency, but I can still answer these questions from The Real Birth Moms Project for you.


Part One – How old were you when you placed?
What were some of the reasons you placed your child for adoption?

I was 21 when I placed my daughter for adoption.
I knew that the birthfather and I weren’t ready to raise a child, in any way, We would’ve loved her with everything we had, but we wanted more for her than we could’ve provided.


Part Two – What stood out about the family you chose?

I don’t know that any one thing really stood out about the family I chose for my child. I just felt connected to them from the start. Almost 11 months after placement, I started really trying to figure out what it was. I finally came to the conclusion that it was how they chose to open their letter with “Deaf Friend,” rather than the “Dear Birthmother/Expectant Parent(s)”. Their letter just felt more sincere, genuine, personal.


Part Three – What are things that others have done or said to make your healing easier?

  • They told me I’d made such a selfless decision**
  • They get excited about my getting new pictures of my child
  • They tell me it’s normal to go through periods where I miss them so much I cry
  • They let me ramble on about things I’ve probably mentioned before
  • Most of them acknowledge the fact that I’m still a mom in ways
  • My child’s adoptive parents made a card for me for my first Birth Mother’s Day after they were born

Part Four – What are things that others have done or said to make your healing harder?

  • Ignore the fact that my adoption ever happened
  • Say that seeing my child is a terrible thing
  • Tell me (indirectly) that I essentially made a wrong decision
  • Making me feel like I can’t let my family find out because “placing a child for adoption is something to be ashamed of and keep hidden”

Part Five – What is something you wish others knew about birthmoms?

We’re not all drug-addicted teens. Some of us are girls, or women, who wound up in the situation unintentionally. We have plans for our lives that haven’t necessarily been put in place yet, so we did the best we could for our child by placing them for adoption.


Part Six – What helps you live your life in your new normal?

  • Knowing that I’ve given my child a better life than I could’ve provided
  • Getting updates from their adoptive parents
  • Having a good relationship with their parents
  • Still having contact with their birthfather
  • Being able to talk to people about and write about, my experience with adoption

Part Seven – Is your adoption closed, semi-open, or open?

My adoption is a cross between semi-open and open. We’re honestly still trying to figure out what we’re doing on that front.


Part Eight – What is your biggest fear in adoption?

Before meeting their parents, I was afraid that they would be raised not knowing who I am or that my decision was made out of love. But after meeting them, I knew that those fears wouldn’t come true. They wanted to have a relationship, and knowing that makes me feel reassured that my cild won’t grow up clueless about me, or to resent me for my decision.


Part Nine – What is something about yourself that you love?

I’m on the Board of Directors for the amazing mental health nonprofit organization Stigma Fighters. I’m the Publication Director for our anthologies.


** I have opinions about this, but I will do another post about it in the future.