Lifetime Healing President, Ashley Mitchell had the amazing opportunity to film a Ted Talk hosted by The United Way Utah County and the Parent Advocacy Council, filmed at KBYUEleven Studio on BYU Campus. She shares her heart behind our mission and WHY we are fighting for Birth Mothers nationwide, and why you should too!
Using Social Media in your adoption. From our LIVE video on IG.
On today's episode we are taking a question from one of our viewers for an ASK ASHLEY segment.
This question comes in from a Birth Mother in Michigan.
“My son that I placed for adoption is going to be turning one in a few months. This has been the hardest year, I am missing out on SO many things. I really want to celebrate his birthday. Am I allowed to do that? How do YOU celebrate and remember your son on his birthday?”
Ashley validates the feelings of a woman surviving the year of "firsts" as a Birth Mother. She talks about the right that we have to celebrate and honor our children, especially during the birthday months! She shares some tips on ways to celebrate the children, even if you are alone in that celebration.
FROM THE HOST:
I just want you to know that I KNOW how hard the first year can be. When reality sinks in and milestone after milestone rolls out in the first 12 months of our child's life it can slap you in the face. Always remember that just because we are childless through our daily life does not mean that we are NOT mothers! I honor you and validate you and YES! I encourage you to celebrate!!! You are a mother, you have a child turning one....I celebrate Derek's birthday every year. I don't ever miss it. He is with me always and I consider it a great honor to honor him.
Birthdays are hard. I just want to tell the adoptive families that just because I don't reach out or say happy birthday doesn't mean I forgot or don't care. It is quit possibly the worst day of my life. I know that can seem selfish but my grief doesn't care about that. I remember everything on the day that he was born. EVERYTHING. I am celebrating in every way that I know how. Honor me while you honor him.
Meet Amy. Amy is a Birth Mother and placed her daughter in a closed adoption over 20 years ago. She is our latest guest on The Adoption Chat. An Adoption Q and A talk show.
She sits on the Board at Tied At The Heart and has dedicated so much time on post placement support for Birth Mothers but never had that same opportunity presented to her. In fact, the advice she was given after placement will shock you.
She is sharing her powerful story of being reunited with her daughter, the emotional roller coaster and the hope for a future of open adoption.
FROM THE HOST:
I am DEEPLY honored to know Amy personally and to call her a friend! I have watched her grow into an amazing Advocate for Birth Mothers full of love and compassion, while at the same time being incredibly honest about her shortcomings and where she needs to step up and do some work on herself. She has attended several retreats that I have hosted and is a part of our BIG TOUGH GIRL online community. She is a blessing in my life and I KNOW that her story will be a huge inspiration for Birth Mothers navigating reunification! THANK YOU friend for sharing your story with honesty and heart!
On this week's episode we are honored to have Kelly Treadway, a 2 time Adoptive Mother, teacher and the official graphic designer for Lifetime Healing, LLC join us on the set!
Kelly talks to us about the challenges of having two very different Birth Families and how to love them well despite their differences.
We have to remember that we are not all the same and we have different needs, wants, emotions. We have to learn how each individual family needs to be supported.
We were so lucky to have Kelly come on and talk to us about these complex relationships.
From The Host: I have been so blessed to have Kelly in my life. Not only is she our talented graphic designer but she is an amazing Mother in two VERY different open adoptions. I hear from Adoptive Parents all the time asking what to do if one birth parent is more active and involved than the other. I have also seen the tragic cases where one doesn't go as planned so they just close ALL adoptions because it is the "easier thing to do". Kelly shares some powerful insight to these complex relationships and how they have learned to balance the different family members involved.
On today's episode we are honored to have Melinda Payne, a 2 time Birth Mother and Lifestyle/Adoption blogger join us on set.
Even though Melinda was in an unsafe relationship she was determined to beat the statistics. She was smart and and knew she could rise above. But even with the passion and drive that she carried at such a young age the pressures of such a huge decision weighed on her.
After education, prayer and as the abuse in her relationship continued she knew that adoption was going to be the best for her and her child. She shares a powerful message to young women about finding their worth outside of men and physical attraction, about saying NO and having the faith to fight for what you believe in.
FROM THE HOST:
I am so blessed to know Melinda. In the few short months that I started following her I knew that I wanted to get her voice out into the community. She is so smart and mature for her age and is a powerful role model for young women. Having experienced the trials and bullying that come with being pregnant at 16, she showed great class and respect as she decided to rise above. Adoption truly saved Melinda and we are so honored to watch her become an advocate for adoption and Birth Mothers everywhere.
You will be seeing more from her!
On today's episode we are so happy to have a light, short and sweet episode sharing some adoption facts from two kids that are in the throws every day!
Tyler Ann and Oliver Grace are the children of host Ashley Mitchell. She placed her first born , Derek, for adoption almost 12 years ago.
We know that navigating open adoption with other biological children can be hard and we always want to make sure we are keeping the concept "age appropriate". We are giddy about sharing this sweet episode about adoption and what it means to children.
FROM THE HOST:
I am so excited to have my sweet babies on the show today!! It has been the most humbling experiences watching all three of my children together. I was so afraid that it was going to be too much, that they weren't going to understand, that they were going to hurt....but ALL of my children have taught me something so amazing...they are stronger than we give them credit for. They understand more that maybe we do, and they LOVE so freely.
I think in adoption we use the children as an excuse to keep up our walls, to keep our distance and to keep our hearts protected. But we are missing so much love, so much hope, so much FAMILY.
I am not perfect and don't always know what I am doing but I do love our conversations about adoption, I love that they are teaching me and that they LOVE their brother, Derek, even if he is not with us!
On today's episode we are excited to welcome back Adoptee, John Grace to the show.
On his last episode John talked about what it was like to be married to and support a Birth Mother, host Ashley Mitchell. You can watch that episode HERE.
John was adopted by his step father when he was very young. He spent his childhood believing in the reality that his parents painted for him. But everything changed when he was 12 years old.
After finding a letter written by an ex of his father he read the word BASTARD and everything he knew as truth went up in smoke.
John shares his thought process through finding out he was adopted, to learning to adjust to the fact hat he may never have the truth and questions that he has about who he is as a person.
FROM THE HOST:
I am so grateful to welcome my amazing husband back on the show with me for this episode. So often the camera is turned to me and the conversation is about the Birth Mother but today I am so blessed to share my husband's story. He is the strongest person I know. After everything that he has been through he is still an optimist, he still believes deeply in love and has fought so hard to break the cycles of his upbringing. He believes that he is NOT a product of his environment, that he can create a reality based on endless possibility.
I love you, John. Our paths have been difficult but with each other we have overcome and will continue to stand strong and keep fighting the good fight!
As we wrap up National Adoption Month we are just blown away and a bit exhausted!
You can follow all the amazing stories by following #lifetimehealingadoption
We have had a VERY busy month that included the launch of The Adoption Chat and our annual ABC photo-a-day challenge on social media!
We had ALL sides of the triad participate this year in all different seasons of their adoption journey.
You can follow all the amazing stories by following #lifetimehealingadoption
We had over 1200 posts, over 8 hours of live video conversation with hundreds of families, over 500 private messages and some amazing features including The Adoption Advocate hosted by the National Council for Adoption, #Facesofadoption hosted by Helpusadopt.org, Kindred + Co, and Adopt A Love Story.
Not to mention our amazing training that took place this month with some inspiring professionals in California for our post placement training and curriculum.
What are they saying in California??
We can't thank you enough for everything that you have done to support us.
We look forward to taking some time off with our families for the month of December but we have so many amazing things plans for 2018 so stay tuned!
We had hundreds of people join our LIVE video conversations and they were so powerful.
We wanted to share those with you so you didn't miss out on our conversations.
LH President, Ashley Mitchell has been such a powerful voice this month and has been so gracious in sharing her journey so vulnerably and honestly!
We hope you will take some time to watch.
On today's episode we are joined with adoptive mother, Andi Lambert.
Andi and her husband Rob Lambert of Rob Lambert Films adopted their beautiful daughter two years ago and are a beautiful example of loving their daughter's birth mother well. They navigate an amazing open adoption.
But Andi didn't always have a mindset of open adoption. Starting the adoption process can be so overwhelming and there are so many questions. She shares her search through social media accounts and google to then finding Faithful Adoption Consultants (FAC). They were able to answer all of their questions, be a safe place for them to process all the unknown and then in the long run becoming a key piece for their adoption journey.
This is a must watch for any hopeful adoptive couple. Andi shares how their heart was turned to open adoption, how she became a part of the biological family..not the other way around and with great humility shares her fears of navigating open adoption.
FROM THE HOST:
I adore Andi and her husband. She is an amazing example of a mother that loves her child and honors deeply her story, which includes her biological family. She sets an incredible example of love and service. She connects deeply at the heart of people and their family is a powerful love story.
I am so thankful to her for her honesty and willingness to be vulnerable to the fact that she was fearful of open adoption, that she was uneducated and turned off by the conversation. What I love about her the most? She was willing to put her own thoughts aside, was willing to open her heart to listen, to pray with her husband and to take the time to understand. She went from a closed adoption mindset to an open adoption heart. I look up to her more than she will every know. She is an incredible example and I am honored to call the Lambert's my friends.
On today's episode we are taking a question from one of our viewers for an ASK ASHLEY segment.
This question comes in from an Adoptive Mother in Minnesota.
Ashley talks about how grief can attach to people that were involved in the event of placement. She knows how much the adoptive parents want to love their children's birth parents well but they can't SAVE them. It is not the responsibility of the adoptive mother to do that. She can love her, honor her commitments and support her but she can't save her. Birth parents need more help than they are capable of offering.
FROM THE HOST:
I love and honor the adoptive parents so much. Those that truly strive to do it well. Unfortunately we typically only hear of the families that didn't honor their commitments, that don't show up and that don't respect the birth mother and her role in the life of the child that was adopted. It is so hard for me to watch birth mothers suffer because the adoptive parents can't show up. THIS IS A REAL PROBLEM in this community. Insecurity, jealousy, grief, resentment, FEAR...you name it, these complex relationships have it. BUT that does not mean that we don't do everything on our power to love them well.
However, it is not the responsibility of the adoptive parents to SAVE the birth parents. We need more help than you can provide. We have to take responsibility for our own healing. Healthier birth mothers create a healthier adoption triad. WE HAVE WORK TO DO!
Today we are joined by husband, John Grace. His wife, host Ashley Mitchell, is a Birth Mother and an active national advocate on adoption reform and education. Through the past 9 years of building a life together, part of their journey has included throwing an open adoption relationship into the mix.
John talks about his support and love for his wife, her passion, and being a protector in an industry that is not always kind.
He is a balance to his wife's passion.
He talks openly about how "normal" it is that adoption is a part of his wife and that he has to accept all of it. We do not compartmentalize those that we love. It is all or nothing in this relationship. John shares his thoughts on the open adoption visits that he is able to be a part of with his wife and kids. Even with the concerns of emotional trials he still believes that they are always worth the time and energy and effort to show up. More often than not, they are good, even if they are challenging.
FROM THE HOST:
It was such an honor to have my husband on the set with me today. He has been such an amazing support and I know that I am very blessed. He shows up in every way. He is home with the kids when I travel, he helps me write and process my thoughts, he hops on live with our community of women, he shares on social media and he knows when I just need a hug. He is level headed and calm, he is rational and steady. He is the most consistent thing in my life of emotional ups and downs. He has such a wide range of adoption experience in his own life and he is so matter of fact in his stance, in his support and in his boundaries. To have him be such a huge part of my open adoption relationship with Derek and his family is MORE than I could have ever dreamed and I am so blessed. They have welcomed him like he has just always been a part of it and I can't imagine it any other way.
Adoption is complex and messy. It is never as black and white as we would like it to be and it IS personal. Understanding and ACCEPTING our rights, roles and responsibilities are the only way that we can maintain healthier open adoption relationships.
And that is the goal right? But who are the open adoptions really for? The parents? Yes. BUT I think we forget that this is about the children, not us!
I placed my son for adoption over 11 years ago. When I made that decision I made it for me. I told myself it was best for HIM, but it was really for me. (I have always claimed to be the only selfish birth mother) Maybe he is better off, maybe he isn't. I don't pretend to know what our life would have been like, but I am also not going to claim that he is worse off with them.
But we are getting off track because this isn't an US vs. THEM thing. It is a family thing, a WE thing.
Really up until the last 2 or 3 years our open adoption relationship has been dictated by two women...the mothers. All of our thoughts, opinions, conflicts, insecurities and jealousy (mine not hers...although I know they exist on the other side too.) were brought to the table and it determined the kind of openness we would have year after year.
If I was in the throws of grief, the relationship was non-existent. If they were making plans to be in town, we must have a visit. If we were missing each other, we would contact each other.
We made the decisions for him. We determined what was best for him.
Now he is older. He has a voice and his voice matters.
Lets no pretend that even at a young age that these children don't understand loss, grief, abandonment, biological connection and family. Lets not pretend that they can't express feelings or desires for understanding and connection.
Lets stop using "protection for our children" as a form of avoiding our own insecurities and jealousy.
So why the disconnect? Why are so many open adoptions changing from what was "agreed" upon at delivery? Well I am sure we could list ALL the reasons including adoptive parents backed out of their side of the arrangement, the birth parents went crazy and we need to do what is best for the child, we were blocked from social media, she stopped responding to messages so we just stopped sending them, we have one child with a closed adoption so we feel it is fair to close both so there are no hard questions....
Seriously I could go on and on and on through the blame game of why dynamics of open adoption change.
BUT I believe that the issue is that none of the involved parties clearly understand the concept of adoption.
If it is really about the child we must honor the 3 R's of adoption:
Rights, Roles, and Responsibilities
RIGHTS: This is an easier one to explain but a harder one to accept. When it comes to the legal rights of the biological parents we know that rights are relinquished at birth or time of placement depending on state law. I know that when I relinquished my rights that it literally meant that I have NO rights to the child. I have no rights to visits, opinions, parental advice, treatment, care etc etc etc. I do not exist as far as legal rights to a child are concerned.
Openness in adoption does not provide a loophole in that relinquishment. It isn't about getting around the law to regain rights. Openness in adoption is a privilege given to the birth parent from the adoptive parent. We are not owed anything and we don't have the right to anything. Legally speaking. Those rights have been passed to the adoptive parents. AND they are granted full authority to make decisions for the child based on their instinct as the parent.
When I placed my son for adoption I asked ONE thing of the family "please take care of him and love him...and make sure he knows that I love him." IF THEY ARE DOING THAT, THEY ARE DOING EVERYTHING!
Having acceptance in that right will be crucial to know your role in the life of the child(ren)
ROLES: Now having said all that I have said about rights I think we leave out a HUGE piece. We all play a ROLE in the life of the child and every role is EQUAL in importance. There is not ONE person in the life of the child that holds more value than the other.
THE CHILD HOLDS ALL THE VALUE and so every role matters in the development, health and understanding in the life of the child(ren) placed for adoption. Whether someone has legal rights or not is irrelevant when it comes to the needs and desires of the child.
Let me be clear. If there is real danger in the openness of the relationship, close it. If there is a real threat of long term damage, close it.
But you have to live with yourself. Only you know the truth. Is it danger or damaging? Or is it insecurity and fear? THERE IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE.
You can still honor the role of the birth parent even if that open relationship is not possible. You can still love them well and honor their role in the life of the child even if a physical relationship is not possible. The question is, will you?
As a birth mother, I have a roll to play. Whether you want me there or not...My part of his story matters. You can't escape it and you can't cover it up!...We are not the bad guy of this story. Yes I know, there are awful things that birth mothers have done, maybe even damaging to the health of the child...but there is more...and we are all battling demons.
RESPONSIBILITIES: We have a responsibility to each other, and we have a responsibility to the child.
Forget the legal rights. Forget the roles. WE OWE IT TO EACH OTHER TO BE BETTER!!!
We are in this....we are a part of this together whether we want it or not, whether we like it or not...so we can do more, be more....
When I went through my "Jerry Springer" years of grief I closed myself off from the adoption, from him. I said no, and I never showed up and I ignored calls and texts and meetings. As I started to heal I wanted more...I needed more...and when I asked for more THEY SAID YES! They had been waiting for me, they had been waiting until I was ready and the door was always left open. The only reason that we have the relationship that we do is because THEY SAID YES...they were better for me when I didn't deserve it.
It is not about obligation, it is not about "owing", it is not about responding and giving out of guilt or forced to show up because of manipulation (yes, birth mothers are master manipulators).
This is about love. A deep and undeniable connection of love and respect. A connection that doesn't exist in any other relationship. A dynamic that you wont find any where else.
We know that adoption is built in grief and pain. But why can't adoption continue to grow in love and support and healing?
So much of the damage that is done through adoption is done through hurting each other. "Hurting people hurt people." So, if we know this to be true then why don't we stop hurting each other, why don't we support each other in healthy and healing relationships...not just for us but for our children!
Always show up. Always educate yourself deeper on the 3 R's of adoption. Even if there is a disconnect....don't let that be because of you. Show up for each other and show up for the children. After all, isn't that what we all claim that adoption is about??
One of the number one things that the adoption professionals are going to hear is that they are NOT the right people to host post-placement care!
I disagree for many reasons...and that is one of the passionate thoughts that brought this training to life.
We asked this question on our FB pages:
IF your agency, lawyer, hospital or adoption professional had offered FREE LIFETIME post placement care, had consistent structured support groups monthly, and helped you get in touch with other women that were going through all the same emotions of grief and trauma and healing...WOULD YOU HAVE STAYED WITH THEM FOR YOUR POST PLACEMENT CARE?
I want to share the results from our small poll.
In a post that generated roughly 60 comments there was only 5 woman that said NO and the rest answered with a YES. In fact here are a few of the reactions....
- Can I answer yes a million times?
- YES YES YES YES YES
- Yes. The whole reason I'm in school right now is to gain the tools to help create a world where lifetime care is a given. We deserve to be cared for the way we were while we were pregnant
- Yes!! 23 years later they still support me!
- Yes!!!!! They don't really prepare you for what life could look like after placement
- Yes!! A thousand times Yes!!
- Yes! I would also add giving you a platform to share your story, strength, and the complexities you face. Sharing to educate can be very therapeutic and mutually beneficial to the full adoption community and beyond.
- Hell, yes!!!!
- 100% YES
You get the idea....
The adoption agencies NEED to offer lifetime post placement care if they are going to claim ETHICAL BEST PRACTICES! AND it is wanted and needed....
We are helping them every step of the way with our training and curriculum!
Sometimes it all feels like a dream. I have questioned my sanity over the years of whether or not what happened ACTUALLY happened. I have wondered if you were just a story I made up so that I could feel like there was some rhyme reason for the terrible things that have happened in my life.
But you are real. I am your mother and our story did happen!
During the time that I was pregnant you were still a shameful secret. I would hide during the day from anyone who might "discover you". But at night, when it was just the two of us I would free my belly from the layers of clothing and I would talk to you, I would feel you move and I would listen....listen for any guidance you could give me.
I did not understand it then, but the decision that I was going to make was going to effect BOTH OF US greatly. I knew it had pros for me, I knew what the results of placing you for adoption would mean for me as far as freedom from responsibility and care. But I didn't understand the emotional hell that I would be putting on myself...or on you.
Please know that I didn't know.
I believed with my whole heart that I was making the best decision for both of us....I still do believe that.
That was my job as your mother. To make decisions for you.
I am so glad that you have a voice now. That you get to talk about what you want and need. That you get to know me and our family now. That you get to feel everything that you need to feel and that you have so much support in those feelings moving forward.
When I poured over your family's profile a line was written just for me and I humbly read it through tears:
Through great miracles and humble hearts they have honored that promise. They have allowed you and I to continue our story. I never thought that would be possible. I believed that our grief stricken goodbye at the hospital would be the end....
It was just the beginning.
Through pain, anger, tears, abandonment, grief, questions, sleepless nights and more (from both of us) we are allowed to know each other, to love each other and to continue this journey of family without regret, competition and without secret.
I am open to you. My heart, my story, my shame and my redemption...it is open to you.
As you continue to grow and blossom into the amazing young man that I always knew you could be it is my deepest and sincerest prayer that you will come to know me, to share the desires of your heart and the thoughts you are yearning to know.
I honor you and I honor what you need and want to know.
I pray that God continues to bless our path. That is stays clear of the enemy and the powers he would use to keep us apart.
There isn't a day that goes by that I don't shed a tear of love and appreciation for your family. They have given you a beautiful life....they loved you in ways that I was not capable...they have provided in ways that were not accessible and they have honored me in ways that are not human.
I love you. You are always with me. We have so much more to do, to share, to live...and I can't wait to stand with you as it all unfolds.
Today I had a friend ask if I had a "tip sheet" for women that had made an adoption plan and were heading to the hospital. Something that would help them understand their rights and what they can and can't do for themselves or for the baby.
I posted this on FB:
BIRTH MOTHER FRIENDS! When we were in the hospital delivering our babies that we placed for adoption WE HAD RIGHTS until we didn't.
If you could give "tips" to a delivering mother that has made an adoption plan about things she should or shouldn't do with the new baby and for herself BEFORE she signs the paperwork what would you suggest??
Thank you for sharing your thoughts! xo
THE RESPONSE WAS OVERWHELMING!!! I have been sitting here in tears all morning as these brave friends shared regrets, anger for lack of communication and education, hope for those that will face these challenges and more!
Bottom line: I AM THE MOTHER. EVEN IF I HAVE MADE AN ADOPTION PLAN I HAVE THE RIGHT TO CALL THE SHOTS FOR ME AND MY CHILD UNTIL I RELINQUISH MY RIGHTS....IF THAT HURTS YOUR FEELINGS OR SCARES YOU OR MAKES YOU INSECURE, TOO BAD.
I can change my mind.
A million times.
I can feed my child and change my child and take proud mama newborn pics of my child.
If you are adopting my child you will have a lifetime of moments, a lifetime of parenting. This is MY TIME! By allowing me to bond, to love, to mother, to connect and to say goodbye is a gift you can give me.
I wanted to have a place that ALL The comments were shared that would educate, be a resource and still provide privacy....so here you are, the response to my question on FB.
*a very special thank you to the amazing birth mothers all over the country (and some adoptive parents and professionals) that shared their heart with us on this topic! (each bullet point came from a different woman, sharing her unique needs and regrets. Each placement is so different. FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU!
- Take. As. Many. Pictures. And. Videos. As. You. Can.
- Spend as much time as you can with the baby. Write letters while your feeling the emotions.
- Write lots of things down like write letters to send later or that they will see later in life
- Take time for your self.. ask the adoptive parents or a member of your family to have a photographer there so you have very special pictures with everyone and you don't have to worry about taking them! Spend time all together. Take time alone just you and baby but spend the majority of the time all together it makes transition easier!
- Spend some time alone with the baby before letting everyone else see it
- Feel free to breastfeed and bond with your baby. Take a ton of pictures. Spend time alone with them and spend time with the adoptive family if that's what you want. Make sure you know that YOU are the one driving the bus and you are allowed to make a different decision if that's what you want.
- Make sure to be your own advocate. I chose not to see my girl. I was not on the maternity floor after she was born. I chose to have my son (10 months old) brought to my room to have a baby to hold. Each is different and stick to what YOU choose
- Spend alone time. Take pictures. I wish I had pictures
- Spend time alone with the baby. Take lots of pictures. Write everything down. Cry if you need to.
- Makes me so sad. I lived at a maternity home, delivered at on campus hospital. I was knocked out once I crowned, delivered and awoke in recovery. Didn't see my baby until the 4th day. I actually signed papers before holding her for fear I wouldn't have the strength once I held her. I would tell her to sniff her baby, hug her baby, take lots of pictures, dress the baby, diaper baby. Soak in each moment before relinquishing.
- Be there when the adoptive family sees the child for the first time. Physically Hand that child to them. Forever my favorite moment. Also as many have already said, spend as much time alone with your child as you can !
- You can say yes or no to anything you want. Just because you are planning to place, does NOT make you any less of a parent/mother! Don't let nurses and doctors make decisions for you. Don't be afraid to call them out for talking over/around you instead of to you directly. Don't feel like you can't take maternity or newborn pictures or do any of the other traditional things new mothers do when they have a baby! YOU ARE THE PARENT UNTIL YOU SIGN YOUR NAME!
- Personally - I spent as much time taking care of Marissa in the hospital as I could before I couldn't - I took on every aspect of her care, held her close , talked to her , sang to her, cried and imprinted as much of myself on her as I could hoping that somewhere deep down she would retain some type of memory of the love that I have for her- it's probably not for everyone but for me it helped - I know that I had that extra time with her that she was still all mine .
- The second night in the hospital I chose to have no one there with me, not even my family. I spent the whole night with her just her and I and when I look back I'm so glad I chose to have that alone time.
- I wish i would have limited the number of visitors in my room even though i had a private room i had a lot of people in my room and i wish i would have used that time for just me and abby
- Also, have someone there to take pictures. My mom took pictures of actual placement of me handing her over to her parents and they are priceless to me. Being able to see our true raw facial expressions and everything is something that helps me feel and remember on the days I feel numb and in denial
- take lots of pictures (including one with the adoptive family), allow yourself to feel how you feel, cry, hold the baby, love him and celebrate the child, do not let anyone pressure you to do anything you don't want to, allow visitors but kick me out if you feel overwhelmed. It goes by so fast so enjoy every minute
- This is all breathtaking Ashley! Beautiful stories and advice. I can't imagine the selflessness this takes! Being an adoptive parent of foster kids-- it's so different! We have really tried to find as much happy stories to tell our children. We never talk badly about their parents... though, privately, I do wish my children's birth parents were as brave as you women were! If they would have been adopted at birth I am sure a lot of trauma and abuse would have been prevented. You're an amazing REAL raw emotion woman! Bless you all!!!
- I am an adoptive momma. I hope this is okay. I would recommend soaking it all in. Meaning take all the alone time you need. It's always kind to consider your adoptive couple but at this time its all about you!!! Excuse them whenever needed!!! Take all the time you need, even if its longer than your original plan. Your adoptive couple have each other and will be okay. This time is all about you Momma and your baby! Everyone has different wants and needs at this time and you never really know what they are until your in that moment. There is no wrong need. Allow yourself to need and to feel what you feel unbased on someone elses experience or by someones presence. Make sure to educate your hospital team about your needs. This is your time...
- To make sure that EVERYONE knows her wishes ... I told everyone that i wanted to hold the twins first and it didnt happen.... and the nurses assumed that i didnt want to see the twins when they were born. So Nichole had to say something to them before they wisked the twins to the NICU
- The only in hospital regret I have besides leaving without him is not breastfeeding. I didn't think I could or that it was ok... I wish I had been told it was ok for me to do that.
- The only thing I don't have enough of is pictures! I allowed the adoptive parents in as soon as I was setup in my room, they helped me care for him during the day while I was still in the hospital. I LOVED it this way. ❤It created an immediate bond among us all.
- Take time talk to your baby and keep as many things as the hospital let's you keep. I still smell his blanket even though it's been 13 years .
- Yes ! Along with pictures those are the best it was discouraged to breast feed then . Time is everything to me I know it's different with other birth mothers .
- One more thing... i was mom until i signed my rights over. And i had to make the decisions for the twins. I would check with their moms but in the end i had the say.
- My advice is before you sign you have ultimate control and if you don't want people there aka extended family, friends, adoptive couple. And once they sign the papers to respect the couple you placed with as the parents, that last part has benefited me and our relationship so much
- As an adoption facilitator I am thrilled with this thread, not surprised because its Miss Ashley Mitchell! I let our families know the hospital plan is just that a plan, and to wait to see what happens in the hospital. I'm excited with all this feedback....Im always learning, no matter how long I've been doing this.
- Request to be the first one to hold her.
The night before you place should be ALL yours. Take time alone, spill that heart, kiss, snuggle and soak that moment in.
Pick out their special going home outfit.
And the act of physically placing the baby in the adoptive families arms is huge!!
- For me, it was really nice to have 24 hours alone with him & my family. I invited the adoptive family the next day. But just taking that time of just him and I was amazing. Holding him while he got his first bottle in the NICU, and things like that. It was beautiful. It was something I know I needed after carrying him through pregnancy. Also being there when the adoptive family saw him for the first time. Handing him to them, it was empowering. Spend as much time as possible with the baby! Also advocating for myself was hard, but one of my friends was a nurse on my floor. She canceled the lactation consultant appointment and some other things like "bringing baby home" etc etc classes. That was a major bullet dodged.
- Lauren had great advice! Totally agree. Also, my stepmom and social worker made sure that the nurses that attended us knew the adoption plan and to include BOTH of us in giving information (diapering, cord car, etc.) and also being conscious of language. I wish that I had known that Breastfeeding and/or pumping was an option. I wanted SO bad for my birth daughter to have breastmilk but no one told me I had that option. I was bandaged up soon after.
- It's different for everyone but that plan in place in the hospital is essential. (I know Lauren Bujorian up there) but for me I wanted Abby's AP at the hospital (planned C-Section) and i wanted them to be the first to hold her. She belonged to them, not me, and that was important to me. I think being able to articulate your choices-have them written down in case you go from normal delivery to a c-section, etc. One time the staff came into my room to take her for a test (she was not in nursery but in Brooke and Todd's room) and the doctor goes "um, where's the baby" and I said "with her adoptive parents next door" The poor doctor! I took it all in stride but she was embarrased and she said "They really should have a post it on your file. I'm so sorry". She was clearly embarrassed and felt terrible. I have always been close with ABby's parents so it wasn't a big deal to me but I can imagine situations like that would be debilitating to others. Also staff sensitivity for the nursing staff. Mine was great but the day I was signing papers and to go home my blood pressure was through the roof and they were concerned and I finally said "Can we just do this after I sign my paperwork???" and the nurses finally got it. I just think so much has changed in the adoption world that the hospital staff needs to be made aware of it beforehand , especially in healthy open adoptions. We are all humans, be kind to each other, be compassionate.
- Best advice is for her to remember SHE IS IN CHARGE! Until she signs she is the boss on EVERYTHING. I had aps in delivery, but I held him first. I chose to share first feeding with amom and adad cut the cord. I allowed their family to come to the hospital because I wanted things as close to a normal delivery for amom. I wanted them there more, but they insisted I had time with just our son, I am grateful they did. I will say I did not like something in the papers, so I refused to sign until the words were changed. I think everyone got lost for a min because I refused, but all was changed to what I wanted and all is well. Everyone has different wants and needs, I would tell her to stay strong, she matters, and she is boss.
- Speak up for how you envision your stay to go. How much time you want baby in the room (nursery or sleep in your room...your room or APs room), Who gets to do each of "the firsts" (holding, feeding, outfit, diaper..), how much alone time you want...how much visiting time you want...
- Ask for your Adoption plan to be put on your file so you don't have to explain at every shift change (this was thankfully, only an issue once for me)
- Take lots of pictures. Even if you find it too difficult to look at the pictures for awhile, they are a treasure to have for you, and your birthchild may want them too. And make sure you are in the pictures. Don't worry about how you look. You just gave birth, no one expects you to look glamorous!
- Don't feel guilty for wanting lots of alone time with baby if you want it. Take all the time you feel you need. It is great to share those memories, but you may need your time to bond and love and cry and soak in those sweet memories of the little miracle you just brought into the world.
- You don't have to sign at the hospital if you don't want to. You don't have to be wheeled out of the hospital with empty arms and deal with the hospital's discharge procedures. You can sign later. You can meet in a hotel room or the agency or one of your houses and sign there and then not deal with any of the hospital's legal procedures after TPR is signed. I wish I had done this because the hospital I delivered at was very cold and procedural when it came to discharge time. I just wanted to hand my baby to his mom and they complicated it with their rules....
- One thing I wish I had done was take more time with my baby. I requested time alone with him so the couple (and her parents) left, but family kept visiting and the nurses kept coming in, so all in all, I only got about 30 mins by myself. I wish I would have said no to giving him back so soon so I could spend a little more time with him. Make sure you stand up for yourself if there's something you want or need, make sure you speak up! Your feelings and needs matter too!
- I wished I held her more. I wished I had fought to feed and care for her when the nurses ignored my requests...advocate for yourself or bring an advocate with you!
- Reading all these stories makes me cry. I chose the adoptive parents based off their description. Never got to meet them. They didn't come to Arizona until after I signed the papers. Had no one at the hospital with me. I had chose to not see my daughter until the amazing case worker from the agency talked me into it. Which I'm very thankful she did. My advise. Use your voice. Make sure your wants and needs are being taken care of. Cherish every second of every minute that you get with your baby. Love you Ashley Mitchell.
- This is what I am hearing all of you saying:This is your child. For some that means you want and need to care for that child 24/7 and for others that means you send the baby to a separate room with the adoptive parents. No one plan for everyone It is about doing what YOU need. And what you NEED may change Day to day at the hospital and even hour to hour. I know not everyone is but that is why I am a big proponent of agency adoptions and not private. Hear me out, Because if the agency respects you, the case worker serves as the middle man to do the dirty work. Baby with ap's and you decide you want her to yourself over night. She goes and makes that happen. Obviously she helps each party to understand the others feelings and emotions but ultimately she is about clearing the path so you can drive your bus however you want. Sometimes that means you decide to place and sometimes not. That's OK. As agencies we tell ap's. This just isn't your time or your baby YET. It will happen.
- I'm an adoptive mom so hopefully this is ok to make a comment. You women are so AMAZING! Your STRONG and so SELFLESS. So on behalf of all adoptive parents THANK YOU-YOU ARE LOVED MORE THAN WE CAN EXPRESS!
I would have to say, please take your time, all the time you need. This is your time to be his/her mom. You don't have to share anytime or moments with anyone you don't want to. We can wait! This is your time to be mama bear! Also, I know every situation is different and it is ultimately up to you -but for me something I would have loved to do or have is a picture with both Birthmom/dad and adoptive parents. Our Birthmom didn't want to see us with her son. He was in the NICU so we never were all together. I wish for our son we had at least one picture of us all. Him and his two moms! Our Birthmom didn't want any pictures of her with him either, but her case worker grabbed our camera from us as they were leaving and talked her into going to the NICU and getting a few before she left the hospital. He is 3 1/2 and now that we have an open adoption we are glad that there is at least a few for her and our son. So my advice, get a lot of pictures- even if you never want to look at them again because if you do change your mind you can't go back and get those moments back.
- All of the above a great. I definitely want to emphasize that anything to do with the baby should be discussed with you present, including discharge instructions. Until you sign the papers, that is your baby. I was upset because the nurses gave the discharge instructions to the adoptive parents outside of the room, without me there. I didn't sign papers until a week after we were discharged.
- I would say don't have the adoptive family in the hospital and don't sign away your rights in the hospital...due to all the hormones during and after birth along with the drugs that are given for labor pains, it could cloud your judgment, but that's just my opinion. For birth mother's that wish to have the adoptive parents there, make sure they respect your wishes 100% and be flexable and understanding that things do change and that the child still belongs to the birth mother that carried the baby for 9 months and that she has the right to change her mind. Give her all the time she wants or needs with her child.
- After working as an adoption professional, I would say she needs to have an advocate for her, who is not representing the adoptive family--a person present that is fighting for what she wants, not what her plan is because those two things might be different. I get that women are emotional during that time, but I have seen so many birth plans change for the better. Hold your baby. Demand time alone with your baby. Breastfeed. Room in. Whatever she wants to do, she should be able to do it. The adoptive parents will get the rest of this child's life to hold him, this is your time, take it. The truth is that it is her baby. I would also say she does not/should not feel in any way responsible for the PROSPECTIVE adoptive couple. If she is wavering in her decision, which is possible and normal and totally acceptable, she should feel free to do that. This is a huge decision. Having her advocate there to talk with her about her wishes can help her maintain clarity and, if needed, rework her plan. The prospective adoptive parents were fine before her and they will be fine after her. If she is getting pressure from them or someone representing them, she needs to take some time and think through things. You can take time and place when you are sure everything is the way you want it, but you can never go back once that time is up. Do not feel pressured. Period. Make this decision freely.
- Spend some alone time with the baby.
- To remember it's ok to change her mind at any time before she can't.
- Spend time with the adoptive family! Even if you want a closed adoption. You may change your mind! Become a family. It will make life after with them easier.
I think one of the strangest questions that I get asked as a Birth Mother is "Do you still think about him?".
What a silly question........Here is a glimpse into a day in the life of ME.
6: 00 AM - Wake up thinking of him.
Do not stop thinking about him all day.
11:00 PM - Go to bed thinking of him.
My life is a mess. Chaos personified. Raise your hand if you can relate?!
My daily life consists of my kids, my husband, keeping house, my business, my community, my personal time and anything and everything else that needs to be done!
I have to say that I have come to believe that balance is bull shit! I am pulled all over the place and I can never predict who or what is going to demand my time AND it is never the same from one day to the next.
I can get up and put on all my hats and get to work on a daily basis. I can get up and face all that the day throws at me. I can get my kids off to school and do the mom thing, I can kiss the hubby as he goes off to work, I can help in my daughter's classroom and jump on a phone call. I can squeeze in an interview and write a feature blog post. I can prepare meals and clean the house. I can attend city council meetings and church activities. I can fold laundry and do the dishes.
“But every single day of my life, during all the business and the demands he is there. He is in the back of my mind. He is with me when I am caring for my kids. He is with me when I am working. He is with me when I am out and about in the community. HE IS ALWAYS WITH ME. ”
When I stop for a minute in my day, when things get quiet, when I have my time I am allowed to reflect on everything that I have. All of the incredible blessings that I have received over the years.
But I am also able to reflect on all that I have lost, all that I am living without.
It is a strange thing to live in the shoes of a Birth Mother. I am so many things....so much more than the title. BUT with that constant pull, that constant reminder that he is exists, that he is out there...it is hard to be more than that.
It has been almost 11 years since I walked away from him at the hospital. And that visual of looking back over my shoulder and seeing that newborn baby boy drift from my sight has haunted me all this time.
Some days, some moments, some times....I wish I could turn it off, I wish it wasn't my life on the daily, I wish that things were different....BUT THEY AREN'T. I live with that decision every single day of my life.....and how empty would my life be if he wasn't with me on the daily? That constant companion that is in my mind and in my heart.
I love my son every second of every day of my life.
It will never change. It will never go away.
6: 00 AM - Wake up thinking of him.
Do not stop thinking about him all day.
11:00 PM - Go to bed thinking of him.