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Being a Birthmother Around the Holidays

As a woman who chose adoption for her baby, the holidays can be difficult. Besides the obvious lack of a child to celebrate the season with, it’s hard to feel festive and fun when you aren’t the person who is with your child for the festive moments. The holidays can be a time where you really feel the emotions of choosing adoption for your baby. 

We are here to let you know it’s ok to be sad and recognize the loss. Addressing the issue head on will help you move forward. 

Here are some tips to help you navigate the season:

• Be sad. Even if placing your child for adoption was your choice, it is still a major life-changing decision. It’s perfectly normal and even helpful to be sad and mourn the loss. 

• Take notice of the happiness you feel when you’re doing things with friends and family. Choosing adoption was a big choice, but it doesn’t have to consume your every thought and feeling. When you’re doing something fun and feeling good, embrace it! You deserve the have happy times! 

• If you have an open relationship with the family who adopted your child, make it a point to create a memory for your child that’s special for the two of you. You could give him or her a gift or if you and the family are open to it, schedule a special dinner or celebration to honor the holiday season together. If you have a closed adoption, you could create your own tradition to honor your child in your own life. 

• Remember you are not alone! There are so many women in your shoes and with Internet chat rooms or local support groups, you can find women who have chosen adoption for their child. It helps to know you are not the only one who is experiencing these feelings of loss.

• Remember above all else, you did not “give up your baby for adoption” or ‘put up your baby for adoption,”  you made the best possible choice for you and your child and you gave your child the ultimate gift of having a family that is equipped to care for your child.

A Baby Step Adoption offers lifetime support to our birthmothers. If you feel overwhelmed with sadness this season, we are here to help. Contact your adoption caseworker or call us at 888-505-2367.

We wish you the most peaceful holiday season! 

Real ID – Important Information for Interstate Adoption Travel

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR OUR CLIENTS:

We have important information regarding the identification card you will need for air travel between states.  If you are considering flying for an interstate adoption, please read this information carefully, and contact us with any questions.

If you live outside PA, please checkhttps://www.dhs.gov/real-idto see if your state’s current ID card allows for interstate air travel or if you will need to upgrade your ID.

Pennsylvania Residents:  Starting October 2020, Pennsylvania residents will need a “REAL ID-compliant” driver’s license or a federally issued ID such as a passport to fly between states.  PennDOT will begin issuing the REAL ID-Compliant driver’s licenses in March 2019.  Currently, you are able to apply for the REAL ID-Compliant driver’s license right away at a PennDOT location, and then in March 2019, when they are available to be issued, you can receive this new ID by mail.  

Information on applying for a REAL ID-Compliant driver’s license today are here. We recommend all PA residents apply for this new ID as soon as possible or make sure they have an updated passport.

More information available here.  Please let us know if you have any questions! Contact us at 888-505-2367 or info@ababystepadoption.com.

 

Who Are Birth Mothers in Adoption?

Who Are Birth Mothers in Adoption?

Our latest blog comes from our friends at Creating a Family and addresses the women and men who allow adoption to be possible, the birth mothers and birth fathers. The adoption process begins with them. Included here is an incredibly poignant story from a birth mother which allows some perspective into her decision to make an adoption plan. 

The part of the adoption triad we hear the least about is the birth parent–birth mothers and birth fathers who made the decision to place their child for adoption. (“Adoption Triad” is adoptionese for the group of people connected through adoption—the adopted person, adoptive parents, and first parents).  Let me stop for a minute to say that some people prefer the term “birth parent” and some prefer “first parent”, some prefer the spelling “birth mother”, and some prefer “birthmother”.  In an attempt to be respectful to everyone, I’ll try to alternate.

There is no “typical” birth mother…

Myths flourish likely from lack of talking about birth mothers and birth fathers and from lack of a place for them to share their stories.  There is no such thing as a typical first mother that we can hold up to represent the whole.  Just as, I might add, there is no typical adoptee or typical adoptive parent.  The human existence is too diverse and complex, and this is never truer than in the adoption experience.

We humans resist generalizations.  Regardless of this resistance and my distrust for homogeneity, from my experience talking with many birth parents in the US (mostly birth mothers) and adoption professionals, this is what I see.  I have not talked with enough birth fathers or birth mothers from other countries to make any generalizations. I should add that I have not found good research to support this information.

… but the average birth mother:

The age range for birth mothers is from early teens to late thirties, with the majority in their mid-20s.

The majority of birthmothers are already parenting at least one child.

Although lack of financial resources is often one reason, it is seldom the sole reason a woman makes an adoption plan.

Perhaps the best way to get a feel for the”typical” first mother is to listen. Here is one story from a woman who was 24 and working full time when she made the decision to place her child for adoption. The beautiful picture at the end is proof that a picture is indeed worth a thousand words.

Not to overstate the obvious, but this mom’s experience is not universal. Some birthmom’s strongly regret the decision to place their child for adoption rather than regretting that they “had” to make this decision. Some birthmom’s do not have the same easy relationship with their child’s adoptive parents. Sadly, some adoptive parents do not honor their initial agreement on openness. One way to hear more voices is to listen to this Creating a Family radio show/podcast with a panel of birthmothers talking about the adoption experience.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I found myself facing an unplanned pregnancy the beginning of 2009. My boyfriend of 5 ½ years offered me no support and started seeing someone else almost immediately.  My family was very supportive and offered to help me parent my child alone if I wanted to. But I felt very strongly that I wanted my child to always have a mom and dad who loves God, loves each other and loves them from the moment they can remember—even if it wasn’t their biological parents.  And if I did decide to be a parent, my child would most likely be in the middle of the dysfunctional relationship between my ex and me.  My baby was (and is) too important, too precious and too perfect to be raised in that environment.  Even though it wasn’t what I wanted, it’s what I felt was the best thing for the life growing inside of me.  When I explained this to them, my parents understood and jumped right in to take care of me.   A pastor at my church put us in touch with an Adoption Agency, and I started to make my adoption plan.

I was set in creating an open adoption so my son would always have the opportunity to know me. The agency gave me profiles of parents who were comfortable with openness too.   They encouraged me to take as much time as I needed and look them over.  As I started to read, I found myself coming back to a couple from a nearby state.  They seemed active, energetic, happy and warm.  I was flattered at how this couple who didn’t know me opened their letter saying “We believe that God can work for good, even in the most difficult and painful situations.  You have walked a difficult and painful road to get to this profile.  We have also.  Yet we have seen God’s faithfulness and you will too.” I immediately felt connected to them.  I felt like they cared about me even though they didn’t know me.  They seemed more concerned about acknowledging my pain than about trying to convince me to give them my baby.  I appreciated that.  It seemed like they knew that this was a difficult thing for me as well.  I knew I wanted to meet them.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when meeting a couple who had been waiting so long to have a child of their own.  Were they going to be weird and ask to touch my stomach?  Were they going to ask me personal questions that would make me uncomfortable?  Were they going to be fake to impress me so I wouldn’t change my mind?

I also worried about what this couple was going to think of me. Were they going to think I was just some girl who was irresponsible and got pregnant?  Were they going to look down on me for being in this situation?  Were they going to think I don’t love my baby?  Was I just going to be “that girl” who is carrying their child?

I can’t tell you how far my fears were from the truth.   The first time I met them they both greeted my parents and I with sincere hugs and we all sat down to get to know each other.  I was worried about the awkwardness but the conversations seemed to be almost effortless.  We shared family stories and photos and I liked them more and more as the afternoon went on.  I remember at one point sitting next to them on the couch and they looked at me and said that this was hard for them to know that in order for them to have the joy of a child I would have to go through something extremely painful.  They really cared about what I was going through.  I couldn’t get over how great these two were and for the first time since finding out I was pregnant I felt good about it.

I gave birth to my beautiful, perfect and extraordinary boy on April 23, 2009 at 8:12pm.  He had 10 fingers, 10 toes and a full head of RED HAIR, just like my mom.  He was alert and awake and just stared at me when I held him.  I never knew what love was until I met him.  He deserved so much and I knew I had found the couple who would give him everything they could.  They came up the next day to meet him and I was extremely nervous.  Now that their baby was here, were they going to forget about me?

It was important to me that I physically place him in his adoptive mom’s arms so I made sure I was holding him when they were brought into the room.  I’ll never forget the look on their faces when they saw him for the first time. She came in first with a huge smile on her face.  She looked at him and looked at me and said congratulations in a soft voice.  Before I could say anything, she asked if she could sit on the bed with me.  I said yes and she sat down and put her arms around both of us.  After a few minutes, I asked if she wanted to hold him and placed him in her arms.  She didn’t move.  She stayed sitting on the bed next to me and talked with me.  It was so comfortable.  The rest is kind of a blur but at some point I know I made sure they were able to take him into another room down the hall and have some time alone.  I knew I loved him but it was really hard to watch them fall in love with him too.  It was comforting but also reminded me of how I was going to have to say goodbye.  My son was admitted to the NICU because he was having trouble keeping food down.  He lost weight and they were even talking about surgery for awhile.  Each day, the 3 of us spent hours by his side.  This amazing adoptive couple was extremely patient and respectful of me and allowed me to gently let go and let them take care of him.

Those 2 weeks in the hospital were horribly stressful for all of us, but turned out to be one of the biggest blessings…it allowed us to develop a respect and trust for each other that’s unexplainable.  He started to do better and was released a little while after.  I signed the adoption papers while he was still in the NICU, on May 5, 2009. I still can’t sign my name to a check, letter or greeting card without cringing and thinking of that day.  It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

Since the adoption, my son’s parent’s and I remain close.  Through an amazing suggestion by our adoption agency, they created a blog for me and post pictures and updates frequently.  We talk on the phone and text periodically but I try really hard to give them respect and space so they can be a family.  I let them call me and treasure the times they do.  But the nice thing is, I know if I ever want to pick up the phone and call them, they wouldn’t mind.  And that makes it really easy to back off.  I know they haven’t forgotten about me.  I see them every few months, and my whole family will be staying an amazing 2 days at their home next month to celebrate our little boy’s 2nd Birthday.  My son’s mom put it best when she said we are family to one another and recognize that by our openness this blessed boy will have “more love in his life, than mysteries in his past.”  So true.

Now I’m not saying that any of this is easy.  The assumption that birthparents goes back to their normal lives after placing a child is absurd; nothing about my life is normal now.  Even though I am confident in my decision, placing my son for adoption created a hole in my life that will never go away.  I am a mother, without my child, and the pain can be overwhelming at times.  My parents and siblings struggle with this just as much as I do, and probably more in different ways.  Their love and support was and still is unconditional throughout this process, but I know it was hard for them to let go of their grandchild and nephew too.  We miss him tremendously and think about him all the time.  There are days I hurt more than others and nights where I can’t sleep.  But if I had to do it all over again to have my son and meet his parents, I would.  All three of them have changed my life.   Even though he won’t be with me physically, he will always be close to my heart and the best thing about my life.  And knowing he is loved and a part of their family makes my heart smile.  This picture captures our relationship. My son’s mom titled it “The Four of Us Facing the World.”

Mother’s Day Isn’t Always A Celebration

Today’s blog post comes from our friends at Creating a Family, the online infertility and adoption education nonprofit and addresses how not every woman is gloriously happy on Mother’s Day. Throughout our journey here at A Baby Step Adoption of helping all types of people on their path to parenthood, we have seen first hand the sadness of infertility faced by a couple. We also have worked with countless birthmothers who struggle with their decision to choose adoption versus abortion or adoption over the choice to parent themselves. There are so many instances where women feel loss on Mother’s Day. For these women, Mother’s Day isn’t always a bed of pink roses. For the complete article, click here. 

Mother’s Day is Not Always a Day of Celebration

Mother’s Day can bring with it many unhappy emotions for those of us dealing with loss.

It’s not just the infertile who find this day painful, but also anyone who has lost a child or is estranged from a child.

Women whose children are struggling with addiction or are in jail often find Mother’s Day sad too since some feel like failures as a mother.

Single women who want to be a mom and feel time passing them by feel their loss more intensely on this day set aside to celebrate the joys of motherhood.

Moms who have placed their children through adoption may feel their empty arms more intensely on Mother’s Day.

And then there is the view from the other side of the mother/child relationship: women who have lost their mothers or are estranged from their mothers may dread this day that reminds them of their loss.

Suffering Silently Through Mother’s Day

I thought of how myopic I’ve been. As a daughter, I liked having a day to honor my mother. As a mom, I liked having a day where my kids and husband honor me. As someone immersed in the world of infertility and adoption, I was aware of how Mother’s Day affects the infertile and birthmothers. If I had taken the time to think it through, I would have realized of course, that they aren’t alone in their suffering, but honestly, I hadn’t taken this time.

So many who suffer through Mother’s Day are invisible. Other than your close friends, you don’t know who has had three miscarriages, or hasn’t spoken to her mother in years, or doesn’t hear from her grown son other than once a year, or who placed a child for adoption years before.  But then pain is often invisible unless you’re the one feeling it, isn’t it?

Mother’s Day can be a time of feelings of great loss and sorrow.

So as you sit in church this Sunday or at a restaurant surrounded by your family at your celebration lunch, look around you.  Really look at the people who are there and recognize that not all are celebrating.  Also notice who isn’t there; who is holed up at home watching a Law & Ordermarathon with a gallon of Ben & Jerry’s because it is simply too painful to participate.

 

My #1 Pet Peeve in Infertility and Adoption – From Creating a Family

Our latest blog post comes from Dawn Davenport from our partner resource, Creating a Family and addresses the sometimes irritating comments made by others when a couple is facing infertility. What’s already a frustrating process can be escalated when you have people inserting their two cents, even though their heart may be in the right place. No real answer here. Just sometimes nice to know you’re not alone! 

My #1 Pet Peeve in Infertility and Adoption – From Creating a Family

Does unwelcomed and uneducated advice in your infertility struggle drive you absolutely up the wall??

Imagine this scenario:

You’ve been trying to get pregnant for 2 years. After about 6 months you start reading everything you can find about trying to conceive, download 3 (not 1, not 2, but 3) ovulation apps on your phone, ban hot baths and bike riding for your husband, and buy ovulation predictor kits in bulk. At about the one-year mark you see your gynecologist, start on oral medications, and start researching fertility treatment. At the two-year mark, it’s safe to say you know enough about fertility to give a TED Talk. You share your struggle with a co-worker who says “Have you tried raising your legs after sex—it really works!”

Or this scenario:

You went through years of failed fertility treatment, and then slowly but surely started researching and discussing your next options. You agonized over every option and start saving every penny. You settle at long last on domestic infant adoption, and have by now sat through endless informational meetings, joined a couple of online forum, and could probably write a book about adoption. You share that you are waiting for a domestic infant adoption and your acquaintance says “Have you thought about surrogacy or adopting from China—they are basically giving those kids away.”

ARGHH!!

The “have you thought of” and “have you tried” questions drive me NUTS! The assumption that I would not have thought my decision out thoroughly tried every reasonable approach, and researched the heck out of every possible option is insulting!

I Am Being Petty

Before you say it, let me beat you to the punch– I know I’m being petty. I totally realize that people are trying to help rather than trying to insult. They haven’t walked this path, so they have no way to really know how much work is behind every decision. They sense our pain and frustration, and they want to do something. In my better moments, I know this.

In my not so better moments I want to shout—DON’T GIVE ADVICE WHEN YOU ARE CLUELESS!

What I Want to Say

“You mean you have to have sex to get pregnant—Oh, gross!

Or

“No, it never occurred to me to think about surrogacy or international adoption. I prefer to make the biggest and most expensive decision of my life using a Ouija Board.”

What I Should Say

Knowing as I do that most people are not trying to drive me to drink, I should use this as a teachable moment to help make life better for the next poor soul they want to “help”. I should respond with:

“Infertility is, unfortunately, a disease that no amount of hip raising will cure. We are seeing many medical specialists and exploring many options. Thanks for your concern.”

Or

“There are advantages and disadvantages to all types of adoption and surrogacy. No country has an over supply of children now. We’ve done more research than you can imagine, and feel comfortable with our decision, but thanks for your concern.”

Tell me that I’m not alone: does unwelcome advice drive anyone else batty?

First published in 2015; updated in 2018. Image credit: Charlyn Wee

12/02/2018  | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog, Infertility, Infertility Blog | 9 Comments

The Adoption Preparation Checklist

Our latest blog entry comes from the site, Considering Adoption, which offers many helpful tidbits and articles about the adoption process. This helpful article offers an adoption checklist to make sure you are prepared for adoption. 

The Adoption Preparation Checklist

Adopting a child is a major life change, and as such, there’s a lot of preparation that comes with it. If you are just now beginning to think about growing your family through adoption, the following is an adoption preparation checklist that should help you understand what you’ll need to complete beforehand.

Fully grieve infertility.

Many families come to the adoption decision only after a long, painful struggle with infertility. If this is the case for you, it’s important that you fully grieve your inability to have a child biologically before beginning the adoption process. You should never attempt to adopt a child unless you are fully and completely committed to adoption.

Be on the same page as your spouse about your adoption plan. 

Just as it’s important for each family member to be ready to move forward with adoption, it’s also key that each spouse is on the same page about how to go about it. Do you want to adopt domestically, internationally, or through foster care? Do you want to adopt an infant or an older child? Do you have a preference on sex? All of these things should be discussed before ever contacting an adoption professional.

Be just as excited to grow through adoption as you would’ve been to grow biologically. 

You shouldn’t just be resigned to adding to your family through adoption. You should be ecstatic!

Understand that there will be highs and lows in the adoption process. 

The adoption process can be long and, sometimes, tough. Understand, though, that it will all be worth it in the end, and prepare to take it in stride.

Decide how to communicate your adoption decision to your loved ones. 

You are going to need a support system as you go through the adoption journey. Friends and family members may have concerns, so let them address those, and then let them be excited with you about the idea of adopting!

If you have other children, make sure they understand what’s happening. 

How you do so will depend largely on the ages of your other children and whether they’ve encountered adoption before. Make sure they’re excited about gaining a new brother or sister.

Be sure that you meet the legal requirements for adoption in your state. 

Each state has different requirements for adoption in terms of age, marital status and more. Familiarize yourself with the adoption requirements in your state and whether or not you meet them.

Have a plan to pay for the adoption. 

Adoption can be expensive. Will the cost come from your savings? Will you apply for grants or the Adoption Tax Credit? Do you plan to hold fundraisers? Also, check to see if your work offers any adoption-related benefits.

Complete a home study in your state. 

No matter which type of adoption you pursue, you must have a completed home study. This is essentially an assessment of your readiness to adopt that happens in three phases: a documentation stage that includes background checks, a home inspection and interviews with each family member living in the home.

Ensure that you have a bedroom or space for a new baby. 

While the room doesn’t need to be decorated or fully stocked, it’s important that you have a designated space in your home for him or her to fill.

Plan for childcare if neither you nor your spouse will be a stay-at-home parent.

Of course, you don’t always know when the adoption process will finish and when your child will come home. However, you should have a game plan for when he or she does arrive. Will you take time off from work? Will you need a sitter immediately? Can you afford quality childcare?

Purchase the basic necessities to raise a baby. 

Don’t go overboard with baby items. It can be painful to see a tiny little dress or room decked out in baby blue when you haven’t been matched with a child yet. However, do make sure you have the basics at home so that if you do get a call in the middle of the night, you’ll be able to care for your child until you can shop for the rest.

Adoption preparation can be scary, but we promise, it will all be worth it. For more information about how to best prepare to bring your child home, speak with your adoption professional.

Who are Birthmothers in Adoption?

Our first blog post of 2018 comes from our friends at Creating a Family who explore the unsung hero(es) of the adoption process, the birthparents. It’s so important as an adoptive family to honor these men and women who choose to place their baby for adoption. 

Here is the article: 

The part of the adoption triad we hear the least about is the birth parent–birth mothers and birth fathers who made the decision to place their child for adoption. (“Adoption Triad” is adoptionese for the group of people connected through adoption—the adopted person, adoptive parents, and first parents).  Let me stop for a minute to say that some people prefer the term “birth parent” and some prefer “first parent”, some prefer the spelling “birth mother”, and some prefer “birthmother”.  In an attempt to be respectful to everyone, I’ll try to alternate.

There is no “typical” birth mother…

Myths flourish likely from lack of talking about birth mothers and birth fathers and from lack of a place for them to share their stories.  There is no such thing as a typical first mother that we can hold up to represent the whole.  Just as, I might add, there is no typical adoptee or typical adoptive parent.  The human existence is too diverse and complex, and this is never truer than in the adoption experience.

We humans resist generalizations.  Regardless of this resistance and my distrust for homogeneity, from my experience talking with many birth parents in the US (mostly birth mothers) and adoption professionals, this is what I see.  I have not talked with enough birth fathers or birth mothers from other countries to make any generalizations. I should add that I have not found good research to support this information.

… but the average birth mother:

The age range for birth mothers is from early teens to late thirties, with the majority in their mid-20s.

The majority of birthmothers are already parenting at least one child.

Although lack of financial resources is often one reason, it is seldom the sole reason a woman makes an adoption plan.

Perhaps the best way to get a feel for the”typical” first mother is to listen. Here is one story from a woman who was 24 and working full time when she made the decision to place her child for adoption. The beautiful picture at the end is proof that a picture is indeed worth a thousand words.

Not to overstate the obvious, but this mom’s experience is not universal. Some birthmom’s strongly regret the decision to place their child for adoption rather than regretting that they “had” to make this decision. Some birthmom’s do not have the same easy relationship with their child’s adoptive parents. Sadly, some adoptive parents do not honor their initial agreement on openness. One way to hear more voices is to listen to this Creating a Family radio show/podcast with a panel of birthmothers talking about the adoption experience.


I found myself facing an unplanned pregnancy the beginning of 2009. My boyfriend of 5 ½ years offered me no support and started seeing someone else almost immediately.  My family was very supportive and offered to help me parent my child alone if I wanted to. But I felt very strongly that I wanted my child to always have a mom and dad who loves God, loves each other and loves them from the moment they can remember—even if it wasn’t their biological parents.  And if I did decide to be a parent, my child would most likely be in the middle of the dysfunctional relationship between my ex and me.  My baby was (and is) too important, too precious and too perfect to be raised in that environment.  Even though it wasn’t what I wanted, it’s what I felt was the best thing for the life growing inside of me.  When I explained this to them, my parents understood and jumped right in to take care of me.   A pastor at my church put us in touch with an Adoption Agency, and I started to make my adoption plan.

I was set in creating an open adoption so my son would always have the opportunity to know me. The agency gave me profiles of parents who were comfortable with openness too.   They encouraged me to take as much time as I needed and look them over.  As I started to read, I found myself coming back to a couple from a nearby state.  They seemed active, energetic, happy and warm.  I was flattered at how this couple who didn’t know me opened their letter saying “We believe that God can work for good, even in the most difficult and painful situations.  You have walked a difficult and painful road to get to this profile.  We have also.  Yet we have seen God’s faithfulness and you will too.” I immediately felt connected to them.  I felt like they cared about me even though they didn’t know me.  They seemed more concerned about acknowledging my pain than about trying to convince me to give them my baby.  I appreciated that.  It seemed like they knew that this was a difficult thing for me as well.  I knew I wanted to meet them.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when meeting a couple who had been waiting so long to have a child of their own.  Were they going to be weird and ask to touch my stomach?  Were they going to ask me personal questions that would make me uncomfortable?  Were they going to be fake to impress me so I wouldn’t change my mind?

I also worried about what this couple was going to think of me. Were they going to think I was just some girl who was irresponsible and got pregnant?  Were they going to look down on me for being in this situation?  Were they going to think I don’t love my baby?  Was I just going to be “that girl” who is carrying their child?

I can’t tell you how far my fears were from the truth.   The first time I met them they both greeted my parents and I with sincere hugs and we all sat down to get to know each other.  I was worried about the awkwardness but the conversations seemed to be almost effortless.  We shared family stories and photos and I liked them more and more as the afternoon went on.  I remember at one point sitting next to them on the couch and they looked at me and said that this was hard for them to know that in order for them to have the joy of a child I would have to go through something extremely painful.  They really cared about what I was going through.  I couldn’t get over how great these two were and for the first time since finding out I was pregnant I felt good about it.

I gave birth to my beautiful, perfect and extraordinary boy on April 23, 2009 at 8:12pm.  He had 10 fingers, 10 toes and a full head of RED HAIR, just like my mom.  He was alert and awake and just stared at me when I held him.  I never knew what love was until I met him.  He deserved so much and I knew I had found the couple who would give him everything they could.  They came up the next day to meet him and I was extremely nervous.  Now that their baby was here, were they going to forget about me?

It was important to me that I physically place him in his adoptive mom’s arms so I made sure I was holding him when they were brought into the room.  I’ll never forget the look on their faces when they saw him for the first time. She came in first with a huge smile on her face.  She looked at him and looked at me and said congratulations in a soft voice.  Before I could say anything, she asked if she could sit on the bed with me.  I said yes and she sat down and put her arms around both of us.  After a few minutes, I asked if she wanted to hold him and placed him in her arms.  She didn’t move.  She stayed sitting on the bed next to me and talked with me.  It was so comfortable.  The rest is kind of a blur but at some point I know I made sure they were able to take him into another room down the hall and have some time alone.  I knew I loved him but it was really hard to watch them fall in love with him too.  It was comforting but also reminded me of how I was going to have to say goodbye.  My son was admitted to the NICU because he was having trouble keeping food down.  He lost weight and they were even talking about surgery for awhile.  Each day, the 3 of us spent hours by his side.  This amazing adoptive couple was extremely patient and respectful of me and allowed me to gently let go and let them take care of him.

Those 2 weeks in the hospital were horribly stressful for all of us, but turned out to be one of the biggest blessings…it allowed us to develop a respect and trust for each other that’s unexplainable.  He started to do better and was released a little while after.  I signed the adoption papers while he was still in the NICU, on May 5, 2009. I still can’t sign my name to a check, letter or greeting card without cringing and thinking of that day.  It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

Since the adoption, my son’s parent’s and I remain close.  Through an amazing suggestion by our adoption agency, they created a blog for me and post pictures and updates frequently.  We talk on the phone and text periodically but I try really hard to give them respect and space so they can be a family.  I let them call me and treasure the times they do.  But the nice thing is, I know if I ever want to pick up the phone and call them, they wouldn’t mind.  And that makes it really easy to back off.  I know they haven’t forgotten about me.  I see them every few months, and my whole family will be staying an amazing 2 days at their home next month to celebrate our little boy’s 2nd Birthday.  My son’s mom put it best when she said we are family to one another and recognize that by our openness this blessed boy will have “more love in his life, than mysteries in his past.”  So true.

Now I’m not saying that any of this is easy.  The assumption that birthparents goes back to their normal lives after placing a child is absurd; nothing about my life is normal now.  Even though I am confident in my decision, placing my son for adoption created a hole in my life that will never go away.  I am a mother, without my child, and the pain can be overwhelming at times.  My parents and siblings struggle with this just as much as I do, and probably more in different ways.  Their love and support was and still is unconditional throughout this process, but I know it was hard for them to let go of their grandchild and nephew too.  We miss him tremendously and think about him all the time.  There are days I hurt more than others and nights where I can’t sleep.  But if I had to do it all over again to have my son and meet his parents, I would.  All three of them have changed my life.   Even though he won’t be with me physically, he will always be close to my heart and the best thing about my life.  And knowing he is loved and a part of their family makes my heart smile.  This picture captures our relationship. My son’s mom titled it “The Four of Us Facing the World.”

Being a Birthmother Around the Holidays

Being a Birthmother Around the Holidays

As a birthmother, we know the holiday season can be difficult. We see images of smiling families celebrating the holidays everywhere, and it’s tough to visualize the baby you placed for adoption with another family.  The good news is you can (and will) get through this time and thrive. 

Here are some tips for being a birthmother during the holiday season:

1. Embrace the Emotions

You may feel like you gave up your baby for adoption, but it’s important to realize you gave your baby a gift of being with a family who  can take care of them. You may also take solace knowing you’ve given the gift of a baby to a family who probably couldn’t have a baby otherwise. You have made an incredible sacrifice, so by no means, did you “give up your baby for adoption.” You gave your baby every chance to a good life. It is important to allow yourself to grieve though. Even if placing your baby for adoption was your choice, it is still ok to recognize the loss. 

2. Enjoy the Holidays! 

Don’t feel guilty when you realize you’ve laughed and had a great time with friends and family. It’s beneficial to you as a birthmother to enjoy the season and embrace the relationships you have with the people you love.

3. Take Care of Yourself

If you are feeling sad or stressed after placing your baby for adoption, don’t forget to take time for yourself. Get a pedicure, enjoy a favorite sweet, give yourself some time to just be and do something that serves you.

4. Start a Tradition with the Child You Placed for Adoption

If you have an open adoption, try to do something to honor your child during the holiday season. You could send them a special gift or ornament. If your open adoption includes visits, take some time to see the child. Knowing they are happy and healthy may help you feel good about the choice you made to place your baby for adoption. 

5. Remember, You are not Alone

There are many people in your shoes, and sometimes, it helps to know your feelings are shared by other birthmothers. Consider reaching out to those women who can share their experience.  Check out organizations like BirthMom Buds for support. If you feel so overwhelmed, you can always reach out to your adoption caseworker. We are here to help! 

Remember you did not give up your baby for adoption; You gave your baby a chance for a life of health and happiness. Contact us anytime to talk. 

Best wishes for a peaceful holiday season!

New Adoption Ad Airs in Berks County

A Baby Step Adoption has made it to the small screen! With the help of Bozeken Productions, our new ad is running on MTV, BET, E! and other channels throughout Berks County. 

We are so excited that our message of hope for women facing unplanned pregnancy is reaching our friends throughout Berks County. More than anything, we hope women understand adoption is not about giving up, it’s about making a plan for you and your baby. 

Click here to see the commercial!

Moving on From a Failed Adoption

It’s heartbreaking, but there are times when an adoption match doesn’t come to fruition. Our latest blog post comes from Adoptive Families and tells the story of a mother’s journey of a failed adoption.  

“A Lesson from Loss”

A heartbreaking failed match with an expectant mother helped me see that I was truly at peace with having my sons through adoption rather than giving birth.

It was an ominous forecast. On any other day we wouldn’t have thought about getting in the car, let alone taking it for a ride on the highway. But this was the day I was due – along with the birth mother – to be in the delivery room to meet our third son.

Before ducking inside, we snapped a photo of the snow-covered hospital. When we got to the congested waiting area, we spotted the birth mother and her mother waving to us like old friends. We joined them and soon found ourselves chatting about the weather, school closings, and the name we’d chosen for the baby.

Soon after a nurse called away the birth mother, another nurse offered me a pair of navy blue scrubs. I changed in a bathroom, and was escorted to a room where the birth mother was resting, her IV in place. I sat beside the bed, not believing I was having this moment.

The attending anesthesiologist explained the effects and risks of the medication she was about to administer, then turned to me and asked, “And who might you be?” I cast a glance at the birth mother, who nodded her approval. I said, “She has made an adoption plan for this baby, and I am the lucky adoptive mom.” The doctor turned to the birth mother and said, her voice full of emotion, “You are doing a very good thing.”

Right From The Start

My husband and I met the birth mother and her mother just eight days earlier, at our adoption agency. The large meeting space seemed to shrink as we began our conversation. The two women asked us a series of questions that had clearly been on their minds. With each answer, we could see their shoulders relaxing as they became increasingly comfortable with us. They were happy that I was a teacher, and that we were already parents to two boys. Everything about the match felt right. Awkward pauses soon gave way to laughter and the sharing of family photos.

Together, our families happily agreed to a level of openness that had not been possible with our older sons’ birth families. And then, the birth mother offered the most amazing gift – she asked us to be present at the baby’s birth.

So there we were, eight days later, my husband and the birth mother’s mom settling in for the long wait, armed with pocketbooks, coats, pillows, and overnight bags. I followed the birth mother from the IV room to the operating room, where I was greeted by bright lights, white walls, beeping machinery, and unexpectedly cool air. I sat on the stool the hospital had placed in the room and rested my hand on the birth mother’s head.

The pale blue curtain draped in front of the birth mother’s chin began to undulate. All I could see were the tops of doctors’ heads and heaving shoulders. Within moments, we heard jubilant exhalations, then the baby’s cry. I peeped over the curtain. He was beautiful, big, and healthy. I was invited to touch him – his first contact with human skin without the barrier of a latex glove – then to cut the umbilical cord.

Change of Heart

When the birth mother made her decision to parent, 48 hours later, we were as surprised as we were saddened.

The night before, my husband and I brought our three- and four-year-old sons to visit the birth mother in the hospital. She introduced them to the baby as his “new brothers.” At the end of that visit, we left with the new-parent packet the hospital had given her – coupons for formula and diapers, parenting magazines – and a profound sense of trust and hope.

The next morning, between classes, I called the hospital to inquire about the baby’s night. I was about to check on the birth mother when my cell phone rang. It was my social worker. She said that she had received word that the birth mother “may have had a change of heart.” I had to teach for the next three hours while our agency gathered all the details they could.

After experiencing a failed adoption match, the only question you can ask is the perennial and existential “Why?” As the mother of two children by adoption, I believe that there is a reason our children find us and we them. Though it was painful, I could reconcile the fact that this baby was simply not ours. The question I could not answer is why I was in the delivery room. I had believed I was a participant, fortunate to be present for the birth of our third child. But, in two days’ time, I was relegated to the role of spectator, a mere audience member, and I couldn’t fathom why.

The Gift of Knowing

One day, the answer emerged. Perhaps I uncovered it through steady reflection, perhaps I found it in my children’s faces. I don’t know. But what I do know is that, as an adoptive mother, I have had to field my share of questions – about the process, the birth parents, the cost, bonding. And I welcome them all. But there is one question I’ve been asked by only a close few: “Don’t you wish you could have carried and given birth to your sons?”

I always blithely answered, “No.” Without minimizing pregnancy, labor, and the miracle of birth, I firmly believe that a parent’s work begins when her child comes home. I’ve also always known that, more than “having a baby,” I wanted to “be a mother.” Still, I was aware that my reasonable responses had no basis in fact or comparison.

Until now. In the delivery room on that snowy January morning, I didn’t find myself wishing that I were the one giving birth. When the baby emerged, I didn’t sigh and think, “If only….”

Although this birth mother made the decision to parent, she left us with a gift nonetheless. I didn’t give birth to my sons. And I now know that I am being truthful when I tell them or others that I am at peace with my experience of adoption vs pregnancy. It will be up to my sons to decide whether they feel the same, but having a mother who is secure in her role may go a long way in helping them reconcile whatever feelings do emerge.

My husband and I are proud of the journeys we took to form our family; adoption was truly the right path for us. That knowledge is a gift to be treasured, and one I will never forget.

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