November was a bit of a rough month for me. I participated in Ashley Mitchell‘s Adoption Awareness Month Photo-a-Day Challenge. I somehow managed to get all of my posts up on the days they were supposed to go up, even if it wound up being at night. Granted, I did snag the sneak peek preview of Ashley’s prompts when she put them on her Insta-story in like September and started working on them then. So, I definitely had time to prep everything before they went up…
Nov 1 – Accountability
Nov 2 – Broken
Nov 3 – Community
Nov 4 – DNA
Nov 5 – Ethics
Nov 6 – Fake
Nov 7 – Growth
Nov 8 – Honor
Nov 9 – Ignorance
Nov 10 – Jealousy
Nov 11 – Kindness
Nov 12 – Language
Nov 13 – Motives
Nov 14 – Navigation
Nov 15 – Options
Nov 16 – Promises
Nov 17 – Questions
Nov 18 – Roles, Rights, Responsibilities
Nov 19 – Stereotypes
Nov 20 – Timing
Nov 21 – Unknown
Nov 22 – Vulnerable
Nov 23 – Worth
Nov 24 – eXcuses
Nov 25 – Yearning
Nov 26 – Zip It
I’ll come back later once I’ve pulled myself together and share some thoughts on the month.
1. Get a cup of tea and whine about how blogging is hard for as long as it takes to drink it. (You could even turn this whining into a blog post… *nudge*nudge*)
2. White down ideas you have. They don’t all have to be used. I’ve had ideas that I’ve looked back at later and wondered why I thought I could write about that.
3. Look at what kind of posts you enjoy reading – write down what you like about them and how you could do something similar.
4. Take a few simple ones and start making the lists or trying to bullet point a draft.
5. Look at pictures of nature and imagine what you would be doing if you were there. Write it out.
6. Make a list of your favorite authors, books, artists, songs, tv shows, movies, etc.
7. Review a product/service that you think other people are interested in or should know about.
8. Tell a story of something you’ve been through that could potentially help other people.
9. Make a playlist of songs for a certain activity or feeling. Either list the songs and artists or link your Spotify.
10. Forget you were making this list for over a month… Then come back to it, look it over, and decide if it needs more work (I think we’re good), and post.
Q: How do you navigate birthday and holiday gifts?
A: Her birthfather and I do give her gifts, but really only when we see her twice a year for our visits. Those visits coincide fairly well with her birthday and a holiday, so that’s what we like to do.
We try to talk with her parents about what she likes or something like that before we buy her presents, but they tend to just be things that are age appropriate and that she’ll enjoy.
Q: Does your child and their parents give you gifts? Do you do the same?
A: We have received a couple of gifts from them over the years. But, no, they typically do not give us gifts. Some people might take issue with that, but I don’t. They are committed to honoring us, loving us, and praying for us. That means more than any tangible gift could.
I think we have given her adoptive parents one gift since placement. And that’s not because we don’t love them, I promise. Right now I think we’re just focusing on loving her and that’s something that can be addressed in the future if we choose to go that route.
Q: Have you ever spent extended time with your child and their family – for example, a long weekend vacation?
A: I have never spent more than a few hours with my daughter and her parents. I think I would like to do a vacation of some sort with them, at some point. But with our daughter only being 4 right now, it’s not something that’s on the radar for the near future.
Q: Is there something you wish you had known about adoption prior to placing your child?
A: This is kind of a difficult question for me. I’ve learned so much about adoption since planning my daughter. I think the one thing I wish I’d known before placing, was really just another birthmom. A woman who had gone through this before who could tell me what she’d seen, heard, experienced.
Q: Did your anxiety get worse due to pregnancy hormones?
A: Not really. Before my pregnancy, I wasn’t really dealing with anxiety like I am now. But I did notice that my depression kind of disappeared while I was pregnant, which is not entirely uncommon. My body was producing different hormones and they were, I guess, leaving me with more serotonin than before. So I definitely noticed a decided slide back down after, but that was also exacerbated by placing my daughter.
Okay, I’ve waited like two weeks, and haven’t gotten any more questions. This is what usually happens though… I’m going to go ahead and post this – because I can always edit it later or make another Q&A post if people ever do come back to me with questions.
So, here are the three questions people asked me, and what I could say to answer as best I could.
Q: How do you deal with your child aging so much so quickly between visits?
A: I’ve never actually been asked this question before. But even from the beginning, I was getting updates every three months, so I still was getting pictures of her between our visits every six months. Then last year after I mentioned something to them about setting up an Instagram, they created one a few months later. Even going three months in the beginning seemed like a long time, but I knew that I would see her again.
Now, I feel like it’s getting slightly more difficult. I think it’s because I know how much of a personality she has, how independent she is, how sassy she is, how brilliant she is. But I can’t really complain because I do get to see her, and we do have an open adoption.
However, I’ve learned that I need a couple of days before I see them to mentally prepare and after to emotionally decompress/recover. How I do that each time looks different.
Q: Did you experience assumptions about your experience or micro-aggressions during the process of finding adoptive parents for your child? (Like people making comments on what is/what they assume to be things like your economic status, relationship status, mental health status, etc.)
A: I didn’t tell very many people about my pregnancy. I was able to get away with it because I carried very small, and was able to hide it with hoodies. The few people I did tell, were incredibly supportive. I think I told even fewer people about the process of choosing the adoptive parents. That was something that no one but the birthfather and I had a say in.
Plus, a lot of people who don’t know much about adoption (this included myself before I was in contact with the agency I used) aren’t aware that the birthmom can choose the family to raise her child. They make profile books for the agency so that birthmoms have something to look though and help them make their decision.
Q: How did you navigate post-pregnancy conversations with people who assumed you were parenting a child (if these conversations even happened)?
A: Pretty much everyone who knew about my pregnancy knew that I was going to place my daughter. So I’ve been lucky in that I haven’t really had to deal with anyone assuming that I was going to be parenting and then having to tell them different.
Okay. So, I’ve been absent from here for a long time.
Like, a LONG TIME. I don’t really have much of an excuse.
I’d like to say it’s because I had an office job for like 6/7 months in 2017, but that only explains part of it.
Honestly, I just haven’t really felt like I have anything to say that’s worth sharing with everyone. But I want to come back to blogging, even if there’s no real schedule to my posts. Even one a month would be better than things have been lately.
I could’ve been on here talking about my mental health, but I just simply didn’t have the energy for it.
I could’ve blogged about my 25th birthday, but I’d just recently lost my job; then, I crashed my truck that night on the way to my boyfriend’s house.
I could’ve blogged about how I figured out with my therapist that things surrounding my accident triggered memories from my daughter’s adoption which led to PTSD.
I could’ve blogged in February about the cruise I’d just come back from, but I felt like that would’ve been weird because I’d never talked about it previously and I was unemployed so I was afraid of questions about how I’d paid for it.
I could’ve blogged recently about my anger surrounding adoption, but I wasn’t sure how to put it into words that made sense (aside from the letter I sent to my daughter’s adoptive parents).
But I’m here now, and I’ve got a couple post ideas I want to work on. After posting in a group, I want to do something like “Ten Steps to Blogging When You Don’t Feel Like Blogging” and I also want to do a birthmom q&a. I’ve tried to do a post answering questions from people about birthmoms, but no one ever left enough questions for me. So I’m hoping that this time will be different, but I’m not counting on anything.
I’ll attempt to briefly explain the “I could’ve blogged about …” topics from above.
My mental health – To be honest, I can’t briefly explain this here. It would probably take its own post, and I’m not up for that yet.
My 25th birthday – I was let go from my job a week before my birthday. On my way to my boyfriend’s house to celebrate my birthday, I sneezed and crashed into the back of the van in front of me. (Yes, I know how ridiculous this sounds, but it’s the truth…) The only silver lining was that the firemen were cute haha.
PTSD – The paramedics who came to the scene didn’t pay any attention to me because the woman in the vehicle I’d hit made such a ridiculous scene that she hogged all their attention. Which reminded me of how my dad tried to ignore the fact that my daughter even exists. It all comes down to being ignored when I needed people to acknowledge the pain I was in – emotional or physical pain.
Cruise I’d just come back from – I was lucky enough to be able to score a ticket to the BTG™ Soul Cruise 2018 with Ashley Mitchell. It was a lot of firsts for me and it was a super fun adventure. I’ll probably eventually do a post about it here.
My anger surrounding adoption – This one is a bit difficult, because I can’t tell you exactly what triggered it. I was encountering conversations and posts on Facebook that were leaving me angry or confused about how many emotions I was feeling. We’re counting down the days until our July visit, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to go. I didn’t want the memories to be tainted with anger and confusion, while knowing I was pretending to be okay.
So I sent an email to the adoptive parents, even though I was terrified to. They thanked me for my honesty. Birthfather is gonna make plans for July with them, keeping me in the loop so if I want to come I know what’s going on. If I don’t go, the adoptive parents and I will play by ear trying to find some extra time for me before January.
Welp, I think that’s all I can do for right now… Hopefully I’ll be back to y’all soon with another post.
After telling my therapist that my depression has gotten so much worse, and I’m afraid that I’ll fall back into self-harm habits again, she sent me these two lists:
If you self-harm to express pain and intense emotions
- Paint, draw, or scribble on a big piece of paper with red ink or paint
- Start a journal in which to express your feelings
- Compose a poem or song to say what you feel
- Write down any negative feelings and then rip the paper up
- Listen to music that expresses what you’re feeling
To calm and soothe yourself
- Take a bath or hot shower
- Pet or cuddle with a dog or cat
- Wrap yourself in a warm blanket
- Massage your neck, hands, and feet
- Listen to calming music
- Put a ziploc bag full of ice under your arm, by your armpit and hold it there for 1 min
Whether any of these things are going to truly work or not, I have yet to find out. But I do intend on really trying to keep myself from repeating history. That would be a setback that no one wants.
Even with these coping methods, the temptation is still there. It always is. They’re simply other ways of releasing the pent up emotions that could lead to self-harm.
The longer I sit and binge watch shows on Netflix, the more confused I get about how I feel. There can so often be such a lack of motivation to do anything when you feel this low. And that’s what I’m dealing with.
But as the nights get later, and everyone I talked to goes to sleep, the depression rises and the voices in my head start to come back and get louder. They’re difficult to ignore. They tell me things that I already think on my own. But somehow those things just seem more intense, and sometimes even more true, when it seems like those things are coming from a voice other than my own.
I am still alive.
I just haven’t really posted anything here since I started my new job back in April.
I don’t know how often posts will be, or what they’ll be about.
But I know that they need to happen every so often for me to stay sane.
I think my next one is a letter to someone very near to my heart.
It’ll be up when it goes up.
Writing it will take some time…
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South Dakota recently passed legislation that allows adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQIA couples. It passed, 43-20-7.
I know there are people in the world today who have very different opinions about the community than I do, but that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to share with you my feelings and opinions about the bill that SD has passed.
I talked with my sister about this and she said, “I wish this was something no one had to feel any way about because I wish it wasn’t a thing that happened.” And that’s how I feel about it too. But as a birthmom, maybe I have stronger feelings than someone who doesn’t know the adoption process or have any connection to it.
I feel that adoption should be available to anyone who wants to expand their family that way, LGBTQIA couples included. I honestly don’t understand why people would say that they’re not worthy of being able to adopt. It pains me to think that. LGBTQIA couples can be amazing parents, just like heterosexual couples.
Why are they different? To me, they’re not.
When I chose the family to place my daughter, I felt it that they were right. It wouldn’t have happened with the agency we used, but if the family I fell for had been part of the LGBTQIA community, it wouldn’t have mattered. At all. I knew they were right because I just felt it in my heart and my gut.
But South Dakota passing this bill that legally allows discrimination against these couples is preventing prospective birthmoms from having that same moment when looking through profiles as they just connect and know they’re right. It’s forcing couples to go through lawyers, which can be more expensive and take more time and effort.
I have a good friend, Courtney of Living Queer, who is part of the LGBTQIA community, so I asked them a few questions.
Q: As part of the LGBTQIA community, would you and your partner consider adoption?
A: Yes we would
Q: Because you can technically pass as female, would you make it known to the agency that you are an LGBTQIA couple or would you fear discrimination and not tell?
A: I honestly would probably fear discrimination and not tell unless I had continued my transition and couldn’t pass anymore
In doing more research, I’ve discovered that other states (Michigan, North Dakota, and Virginia) have similar bills that allow discrimination without fear of retribution. I wasn’t aware of this, and it bothers me. I live in one of those states.
It will also allow agencies to discriminate against single and divorced people, couples who engage in premarital sex, interfaith couples, and anyone else whose behavior or identity violates an agency’s “religious belief or moral conviction.”
Sen. Alan Solano is a Republican from Rapid City. He wrote the bill with help from a staff member of Catholic Social Services. They are an agency who will only place infants with couples who are opposite sex, married at least two years, and unable to conceive children on their own, among other requirements.
I don’t know why I thought that this was something new, or that similar things hadn’t already happened in other states, but even days/weeks later, it makes me upset. I hate the idea that there are couples out there who are being denied the chance to adopt. There are so many couples (straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, of differing faiths, it doesn’t matter) who are wanting to adopt, but there are these rules that are preventing them from doing so with certain agencies.
And yes, I understand that there are other ways to adopt than private agencies. But that could require going through the state foster system, and that can cause more stress than necessary.
Yes, every child deserves a loving home, but some couples just don’t have it in them to handle the foster system. Especially if the child is older and can go back to their case worker and say they don’t like the family they’re with. That may be something the couple isn’t emotionally ready to face.