To The Woman I Didn't Pick,

To the beautiful woman that I didn't pick,

I want you to know that I think about you often.  I want you to know that I loved your profile.  I want you to know that you and your husband were beautiful and that I felt that you had so much to offer.

I want you to know that I poured over your profile.  In a stack of 50 families you stood out, for whatever reason, my heart skipped a beat when I looked at your profile and I knew that you were in the running.

You and your husband were newly weds, married just 2 years.  You were so young and beautiful.  Your husband was serving our country and you were a school teacher.  You lived a happy life in Idaho.  You loved each other, you believed in God and you wanted a baby.

You shared your amazing story with me, an expectant mother...your deepest sadness and yearning for a child.  You shared your heartbreaking story of all of the children that you lost to miscarriage.  You shared the tears and pain of infertility at such a young age!  You opened up about the guilt and shame and anger that you felt about not being able to have a child biologically.  You shared your heart and the heart of your husband.  The tears that you shed together.

And then you shared your story of hope, the hope that a woman like me would pick a woman like you.  That I would find you and be drawn to you, that I would want to meet you and that I would bond with you and love you immediately.  That I would fulfill your dreams of becoming a mother.  You promised me an open adoption, you promised to love my son like he was your own flesh and blood, that he would be raised to love God and that he would know me and always know my love for him.

I want you to know that you stood out.  I want you to know that I wanted to pick you.  I want you to know that I prayed over you and your husband.  I want you to know that I still do.

I think about you often.  You are in my heart, just as present as the woman that I picked to be a mother to my son.  I know you were informed that I was looking at your profile.  I know that you had to live through the rejection.  I want you to know how sorry I am and that you did nothing wrong.

I picked her.  I picked them.  They are amazing people.  They are an amazing family and have been the perfect family for me and for that beautiful boy.

I didn't pick you.  You are amazing people.  You would have been an amazing family and could have been the perfect family for me and that beautiful boy.

I think about you and hope and pray often that you have been picked.  That you found a woman that was like me all those years ago.  That she poured over your profile and cried as I did.  That she was  inspired by you as I was, that they called you and met you and that you have been able to fulfill all those same promises that you made to me.  That she was able to help you become a mother…a mother that you have always dreamed of being.

I didn’t pick you.  I loved you and you touched my heart and inspired me.

I am not sorry for the family I picked, but I am sorry that the decision I made meant that you didn't get picked.  

I never wanted that kind of power.  I never wanted to deem one family worthy of a child and another not.

I wasn't lucky enough to connect with THE family.  I connected with MORE than one family.

I want you to know that after hours of combing through so many families…SO many families with the same desires and hopes and heartbreaks I picked you, I picked you and I picked her.  I had an impossible decision to make.  I was so exhausted, I was so tired, I didn't want to be here, I didn't want to make this choice.  I hated everything about this process.  I want you to know that I wanted to help you both, to be a part of both of your families, I wanted to share in the joy with both of you.  I knew that wasn't possible and it broke me.

I prayed all night, prayed for comfort, for clarity, for understanding, for peace, for direction.  I stared at your faces in the dark.  Finally a restless sleep came over me.  When I felt myself wake in the morning I wished that I could sleep forever.  I knew that I had to face the decision. I knew that I had to be accountable for my actions.  I knew that the consequences were coming to collect.

I sat up and I looked down at your face, and at her face.  And I knew.   My prayers had been answered.  I knew who I was going to pick to be the mother of my son.  And I put your profile back in the pile.

I want you to know that I loved you and I think about you often.  I am sorry that I couldn't pick you.  But even more than that…I hope someone else did.

Ashley

A Birth Mom 13 years later.

To my 14 year old self,

As I sit here living through the end of my 38th year of life I have been thinking about you.  I have been wanting to have a conversation with you for a long time.  

I know you are still in there.  Maybe hiding from all the hard, scary things that you have seen.  

I hope you will come out of hiding, sit, and talk with me.  I want to tell you so many things.  

It is almost impossible for me to remember what life was like then.  Such a different time, an innocent and wonderful time BUT not without its trials as you struggle to find your place, to discover who you are and what possibilities are available to you....I have to tell you that even after all these years later we are still trying to figure that out so cut yourself some slack...it will change more times than you can count.  

You are so beautiful.  Yes you are beautiful on the outside and yes you will continue to grow into that look BUT that is NOT all you are.  You have a light inside of you...A very bright light.  There will be years when that light is almost completely snubbed out...by yourself, by others, by lies.  You must understand that your outside beauty is not your worth.  You put that identity on yourself.  At some point around the age you are now you started to believe that the ONLY thing you had to offer anyone was the way you looked.  It became who you were and you sacrificed so much to make that lie truth.  The light grows dim.  

Even now at 38 I find myself overcome with the lie that if I don't look a certain way that people wont listen, wont take me seriously, wont pay attention to me, wont like me and that terrifies me.  It terrifies me to be invisible.  But I am not....my light is bright and it shows...not because of how I look but because of who I am, my energy, my passion, my voice and my desire to help others.  

Even now I am convinced that I can’t process all the emotion of my life without substance support. That I am not strong enough to cope with all that life throws at me without it. THAT IS A LIE. I am stronger that I know and that I don’t give myself enough credit!! I can build emotional resilience and I will succeed.

 Even now, at this young age of 14 you are starting to do the "self-hate" talk.  You are already so judgmental, so hard on yourself, so insecure and scared.  I am so sorry to tell you that there will be many many years that you will hate yourself.  That you will barely be able to look at yourself in the mirror.  

Oh my darling if only I could change those years for you.  If only we knew then what we know now.  If only you could see the path that was waiting for you and your life.....but maybe just maybe those years of hate was the only way to turn to years of discovery and love.  Perspective.  

i wish I could say that we went on to reach our fullest potential.  I wish I could tell you that we did everything we ever dreamed of doing.  I wish I could say that life just worked out for us.  Maybe I could tell you the ending now, but I will wait....

For many years you will experience so much pain and suffering.  You will break in ways that no one should ever experience.  You will cry and wail in agony over so much that was lost.  You will harm yourself in others in tragic ways.  You will have great grief and shame in that.  

You will think you have found love only to be broken down, stripped of light and love and respect.  You will come to care very little about yourself and your worth.  You will lose that bright, funny, and caring heart for a long time.  

You will want to die.  

You will try.  

You will fail.  

And then, my darling.  My beautiful Ashley, something happens.  LIFE happens to you in a way that you thought would never happen for you.  YOU, the forgotten are NOT abandoned...you have been tested, you are being prepped, you are ready to do ALL that you are meant to do.  

It is not the picture you have now in that clean and pure thought of yours.  In some ways it will leave you filled with regret of opportunities lost or missed.  BUT in some ways it will make your heart and spirit SOAR like nothing you have ever felt.  

You will know GREAT LOVE in your life.  You will spend the best years of your life with the best love of your life.  You will be honored and respected and restored.  You will walk into motherhood in a new form that you thought was lost forever.  And you will embrace ALL of your children.  Being a mother will challenge you and push you and infuriate you but it will keep the flame burning bright.  THEY ARE FUEL TO YOUR FIRE.  

You will look in the mirror one day and finally see YOU.  See you in a way that you haven't since you were your age. You will see the light.  THAT IS ALL YOU WILL SEE.  You will see the love of your Savior.  You will, for the first time in your life start to understand his atoning sacrifice.  You will be deeply humbled by His love and you will know the truth of the lies that the enemy shared for so long.  You were meant for so much more and Satan would have done anything to keep you from living that divine potential.  

My dear Ashley, please remember that you have a family that loves you and that has truly sacrificed SO much to love you.  You are NOT alone in this journey.  You try to be so brave and strong, you try but there are just going to be times in your life that it is not possible.  

You will become a Big Tough Girl™  but that will not be done on your own.  Embrace the love, support, prayers and helping hand from others.  You will have many opportunities to pay it forward.  

YOU CAN DO THIS.  YOU WILL SURVIVE ALL THAT IS COMING TO YOU.  It wont be easy and it wont be anything that you wanted or planned for but I have watched a strength from you that I didn't know existed in a woman.   

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Live Q and A with Kindred + Co in Instagram

Hi friends!!  We had some technically difficulty with the 24 hour replay but we are SO happy that I was able to save the video to my phone.  You wont be able to see comments from the IG LIVE but this video plays all the way through.  It is LOADED with amazing information.  

THANK YOU to Kindred + Co for allowing me a space with their community and for all of the fantastic questions!!  

A glimpse....

Sharing my heart, my reality...even in my joy and love...there is still great loss and emptiness.

3 weeks ago today my son that I placed for adoption was able to come and stay with my family....for 4 days.  I have a few things that have been weighing on my heart.  

I had an amazing glimpse.  A glimpse into what it would look like to have my son in my home day after day.  A glimpse into a life of caring for and loving all of my children together.  A glimpse into his world and all of our similarities.  A glimpse into a powerful sibling bond and relationship. 

A glimpse into being his mother. 

And it wrecked me. 

 I am deeply blessed that I have the opportunity to grow in an open adoption relationship.  That my children get to know their brother, that he gets to know me and that I get to watch the mother of my son raise him into the amazing young man that he is.  

12 years ago, when I walked out of the hospital empty bellied and empty armed I had NO idea the journey that was coming. 

When I said goodbye to that 3 day old baby boy I had no choice but to treat it like it was my last glance.  I memorized him, cried over him, begged him for forgiveness and tried to calm that nagging and deep rooted fear that I would never see him again and that he would hate me forever.  

What I learned was that I had my own journey to take before I could come back to him.  

3 weeks ago when he was here I found myself memorizing him, crying in my bed as he slept in his, my heart pleading and begging quietly.  I know I will see him again, but when he left....after 4 simple days in my home....I was empty all over again.  

I feel like my adoption journey has been like receiving a guilt verdict when I am innocent.  

Do I get to see him and know him?  YES

Do I know that his mom and dad love him deeply?  YES

Do I believe that he is happy and adjusted?  YES

Do I believe that I made the VERY best decision that I could when I was pregnant?  YES

DOES ANY OF THAT MAKE THIS BETTER OR EASIER?  NO.

It is all a consolation prize for not doing my best. 

Am I lucky?  YES

Am I blessed in my life?  YES

Have things "worked out" for me?  YES

DOES ANY OF THAT MAKE THIS BETTER?  NO.

I think one of the biggest lies that we tell ourselves is that TIME HEALS.  I don't believe that to be true.  I think God heals, and I think we heal and circumstance heals.... But I believe that time plays ugly tricks on you.    Let me see if I can break that down.  

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Grief.  I grieve my son today as much as I did when I left him at the hospital.  I miss him daily, I think about him daily, I would love him with me daily.  I don't know how to live in a world where my heart doesn't pull to him.  

BUT I have expanded.  God has worked in my life.  I have learned and healed and found acceptance and understand my triggers and how to best cope with the emotions that arise.  I have EXPANDED around the grief...but for me, the grief is the same, I am the one that has changed.   

Here is where I think time is dangerous.  A simple glimpse opened a window to all the "possibility" of what my life could have looked like.  BUT that is a lie.  If I had parented my son, what I was able to experience is not what my reality would have been....

I wouldn't have moved to Nashville, I wouldn't have met my husband, I wouldn't have become a mother to my two other children, and I wouldn't have the joy I have in my life.  I know these concrete facts to be true.

BUT at what cost?  The loss of my son to achieve all that is wonderful in my life?  

I have been wrestling with that question all month!!!  

Reflection is powerful, understanding how far we have come is motivation to keep moving forward but looking back....telling myself that I COULD HAVE DONE IT...I could have parented him.  It is not a fair sense of reality.  I am saying that I could have parented him NOW, with everything that is working in my life.

AT THE TIME that I was pregnant I was NOT in this space.  My circumstance has changed.  

Could I parent him now? YES

Is that reality?  NO.  

IS THAT HELPFUL FOR MY LIFE?  No.  

So here we are.  Processing this month.  Reflecting on what could have been.  Understanding and accepting truth about my life and what brought me here, the choices that have made up my reality and learning to expand more and more.  

THE MORE I EXPAND AROUND MY GRIEF THE MORE ROOM FOR LOVE AND OPPORTUNITY.

Derek,

Until next time my dear.  You are in my heart.  You are always with me, a part of me.  I see reminders of you around my home in pictures and gifts and origami birds that you love to make for the kids.  I can't ever make it what maybe it should have been...but here we are, doing the best we can and making it work.  Thank you for showing up.  Thank you for wanting me in your life.  No matter where this takes us...I am here.  I don't deserve it and you don't owe me anything but I am honored to be in your life, to know you and to be able to share my life with you.  I love you, care about you and am always wishing you the very best...

I don't know.  People say this is an easy out.  That by placing my son for adoption I am dumping all of my responsibility on someone else because I was too selfish to step up and do it myself.  Maybe they are right. 

Or maybe my personal hell is a punishment that out ways the verdict.  

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