For The Love Of My Birth Mom - Kim's Story

Yesterday we shared with you beautiful words from both a birthmother and a birthfather.  They have such a unique and special relationship with the Jerde Family.  Today we are sharing with you a message from Kim, the adoptive mom, of this amazing birthmother and birthfather's daughter.  What a treat to be able to share so much love from one family.  They are such an example of a healthy open adoption.  Not only do these two women love their daughter equally as much, but they are true friends as well.  Thank you Kim for sharing your heart with us, your love of your birthmom and birthfather,  and welcome back to the blog today.  May God continue to bless you and your family as you seek to adopt again.

My hubby John and I have been married for 14.5 years, I love him so much! It has been the best time of my life. We were sooooo young and in love when we got married, we could not wait to start a family together. All I ever dreamed of was being a mom. We started trying after 6 months of marriage(yes crazy I know), but I really wanted to be a mom. Fast Forward…infertility, drugs, tests, procedures etc. Nothing working…..so we checked into adoption. At first we were VERY hesitant about having an open adoption……we were still in the figuring it all out STAGE. We had just started our paperwork to adopt, when Melanie’s family reached out to us. Melanie is 10 years younger than me and a cousin. We didn’t really grow up together but knew each other. 
 


We actually turned them down SEVERAL times and told them no (even gave them names of other couples). They kept asking and felt like it was right. John and I agreed to fast and pray for a couple of weeks while they were gone on vacation. I went through the motions of “saying” I prayed but my heart was not really in it, after all, I know what is best right? Nope, I guess I don’t. The Lord had other plans…..When I finally humbled myself enough to pray and then listen we received a very powerful confirmation that this daughter was supposed to come to our family…. Wow, okay how do we do this…..? Well we met with Mel and talked everything through just like you would any expecting mom and I just knew this was right. That this would propel us into the most amazing adventure!
 

 


Well it has been adventure. There have been ups and downs and lots of people trying to put in their “2 cents”. Once Mel and I told everyone to back off and let us be, we were able to actually build the MOST AMAZING relationship. I remember in the first years, I felt like I had another daughter or younger sister that I was helping and loving and building this amazing friendship with. As the years have gone by this woman has become one of my best friends. She has taught me so much about love and sacrifice. The deeper our friendship has grown the more we were able to share and confide in one another about our adoption experiences. We shared more about what it was like for each of us: the good, the bad, the ugly and the amazing! I have come to rely on this amazing woman. 
 
Last year we were approached by a single expectant mom, she was making an adoption plan for her child. She expressed her desire to place with us. Melanie helped me so much through this process….she was there for us and gave us so much advice. In the end, after she was discharged from the hospital this girl chose to parent. We were heartbroken for us but KNEW that she made the right choice for her. We felt peace with the outcome even though our hearts were breaking…and we would not be bringing home a little angel. Mel was there with us through it all, she traveled with us and entertained Brooklyn for us, took care of her, and when needed took care of us. Going through this together only deepened our love for each other. I can’t imagine my life now without her friendship, she is like a sister me. 
 
Some people say we are only this close because we knew each other before. Not true. We had to start over and build something out of what we now were to each other…..mommy’s to the same little girl, just with different roles to fulfill. My closeness with her helped me to see both sides of adoption that most don’t experience…..I know that is the same for her. I have been able to understand more than I would have because I experienced my joy, but being related to her family I also saw some of the really hard times. 

 

 

 
This woman is one of the strongest most amazing women I have ever met. Her love and selflessness is never ending. I am blessed she is a part of our family. I am blessed that she is the birth mom of my daughter and that we both get to love her and watch her grow up. I am honored that she CHOSE me to be her daughter’s mom. What more humbling experience can we even go through here in this life? I’m not sure there is one that compares. To the woman that made me a mother first, I love you forever.

 

We are also blessed to have Brooklyn’s birth father Jason and his family in our lives. What a blessing and what a wonderful family. Jason moved away to school and we didn’t get to see him as much but stayed in touch and he called on Brooklyn’s birthday. Even when he was away we were able to spend time with his family periodically. He graduated and moved back last year and it has been so fun to have him play a bigger part in our lives. He is very musically talented and has such a passion for music. He is teaching Brooklyn to play the piano. It is one of her favorite days of the week when Jason comes for lessons. She is always so excited to show him how hard she has worked. I love that she has this wonderful person to love her and help her and teach her. I am grateful that he has taken the time to show Brooklyn that he cares and takes the time to really focus on her when he is with us. It has been fun to witness their relationship grow and evolve this past year. When we visit his house she just wants to play games with him and he jumps right in and lets her lead the way. What a beautiful experience to watch develop, I am excited for what the future holds. Thank you Jason for joining our family and taking part in our lives, and caring enough to make time for us.


What a better way to celebrate love in February than to feature some women we love and admire so much... Birth Moms! We had the privilege of spotlighting some truly amazing women whose stories have truly had an impact on our lives in great ways!

Adoption is Love: Jori's Story as an Adoptee and Birthmom

Today not only do I get to share a beautiful story from an incredible woman as a birthmom, but also as an adoptee.  Jori has one of the most unique perspectives and I love how much it is filled with love and grace.  I love how LIFE has been chosen.  I love reading about God's hand being in the details of her own life.  Jori's has been forever changed through adoption.  As she says in her own words below, her own life from the moment she was born until today has not been by chance.  It has been by purpose - God's purpose.  Please join me in welcoming Jori today.  And seriously, how gorgeous is she! Thank you Jori for sharing your beautiful story with us.  You are one BIG TOUGH GIRL and I hope one day for our paths to cross so I can hug you big.  I love you to pieces.

Jori's Story {An Adoptee & Birthmom}

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My birth mother showed she loved me by choosing life. She showed me she loved me by placing me for adoption. One of the hardest choices I think a person can make is putting their own feelings and wants behind the needs of their children. I learned this lesson when I became a birth mother myself. A title that I thought I would never share with her. As an adoptee and birth mother my story is a little more unique.

I was in my second year of college when I became pregnant. I was completely devastated and in utter shock. How could this happen I thought. I was so careless. I thought my life was over. I was terribly mistaken. My family was very encouraging and supportive. They made sure that I knew the choice was ultimately mine, to parent or place for adoption. From then on things started falling into place. The Lord's hand was in it from the beginning. I knew early on that this baby I was carrying was not meant for me. He chose the perfect eternal family for Talia. Her parents are close family friends who have two other adopted children. We were all blessed through her adoption. She was my blessing in disguise.  

Six months after I placed Talia for adoption I reunited with my birth mother. It was a dream come true seeing as I had a closed adoption. The first thing I told her when I met her was “thank you”. I thanked her for everything. For allowing her own heart to break so I could have the life she dreamed of. At that exact moment when we hugged for the first time I knew exactly how she felt because I just went through it.

My blessings didn’t end there. The month after I reunited with my birth mother I met and fell madly in love with my husband. 10 months later we were blessed with twin girls. I had the honor of being a mother again at 24. I believe there is no greater calling than motherhood.

That sweet baby girl is now a fun, loving, athletic, talkative 6 year old who I love dearly. I truly believe that I was the only way she could get to her family.

I am so thankful for the gift of adoption and I want the world to know just how bitter sweet adoption can be. My life has truly been blessed by adoption. The song by Michael McLean called “From God’s Arms, to my Arms, to Yours” sums up my entire story. The experience has changed my life forever. She helped me see life in a whole new light and changed the way I was living. I am indeed grateful for the experience that I went through because it has taught me numerous things. I know adoption is not for everyone but it has certainly blessed my life beyond measure. 

My whole life from the moment I was born to where I am today is not by chance. My life is a journey and adoption is a big part of that journey. Through the heartache, pain, tears, unspoken prayers, answered prayers I have found hope, love, forgiveness, and grace. Adoption for some has been a bad experience, for me it was a magnificent gift. A thousand time over I would never go back and change a single thing. I chose adoption because I love her. Adoption is all about love. I am an adoptee and birth mother.
— Jori

Jori resides in Panama City, Florida with her husband and their three beautiful children.  She is also a writer for Adoption.com.  


What a better way to celebrate love in February than to feature some women we love and admire so much... Birth Moms! We had the privilege of spotlighting some truly amazing women whose stories have truly had an impact on our lives in great ways!

True Love: Wynter's Story as a Birthmom

I have the great honor of sharing my friend, Wynter's, story as a birthmom.  Not only do we have a connection through adoption, but also through our writing.  Wynter grew up in a strict Christian home, and when she turned 18 and left for college she began to rebel against herself, her family, and God.  Like other young women, she found herself pregnant at a very crucial time in her life.  It left her feeling ashamed especially after being raised in a Christian home her entire life.  She hid her pregnancy from family and friends, along with the adoption, for over ten years.  But yet again, we see how God takes the ashes and turns them into the most beautiful love stories through adoption.  He redeemed Wynter, and has given her a great ministry through her experience. Please join me in welcoming Wynter to the blog today.  Thank you Wynter for your story, your heart, your ministry, and most of all your love of our Savior shining through them all. 

As a birth mom I have my own story and it is unique. I think that sometimes it is easy to romanticize the ideal adoption scenario; a young girl gets pregnant and loves the baby so much that she decides to give it a better home and life than she can offer. But there is much more to my story than that typical, idealized notion. Frankly, I think if all birth moms were really being honest with you, they would say the same thing. 

I grew up in a stiflingly Christian home, church and private school. As a child and teenager I talked the talk, but deep down inside, I desired to break free and live how the rest of the world lived. So, as soon as I turned eighteen, I rebelled; and thinking I was invincible, I got involved in drinking, drugs and fooling around with boys. Eventually, my poor choices caught up with me and I was suspended from school after my freshman year in college and became pregnant shortly thereafter. But instead of accepting the consequences for my immature behavior and making better decisions, I sunk further into my selfishness and chose to hide my pregnancy from everyone around me except for my best friend.

Hoping that my condition would just go away, I continued in my denial for nearly eight months, resorting even to self-abuse in an attempt to avoid the inevitable. Finally, at God’s urging and my best friend’s pleading, I began to realize that there was no easy way out and that I needed help. So, while back in college, across the country from my home and the only person who knew my secret, I started to take the pregnancy seriously and scrambled to make important decisions. At school, I confided in another friend who helped me take care of myself, find and interview adoptive families and eventually take me to the hospital in time to deliver a tiny, but precious miracle.

I had been a Christian my entire life, but God was never as real to me as He became in those 37 weeks at twenty years of age. No matter how hard I tried to deny Him or the presence of that angel baby, God was always there with me, silently waiting for me to let go and submit to His leading. He protected the child inside me from my mistreatment and when I finally did give up control, He provided within days the help and people I needed to find that little miracle a forever home. God’s hand was over every detail; even allowing me to keep complete confidentiality from everyone at school and at home. In fact, until I wrote a memoir about it in 2011, my secret stayed hidden from nearly all of my family and friends for over ten years!

I kept that secret for all those years because I was ashamed. Ashamed that a good, Christian girl got pregnant in the first place and then even more ashamed for keeping it a secret. As the years went on, the shame, just like a lie, kept building and building until I very clearly heard God tell me that I didn’t have to live with it any longer. Jesus wanted to take my secret and turn it into a beautiful story of His unyielding love, forgiveness, provision and transformation. And now, there is no more shame, just thankfulness and the desire to encourage others who have been or currently are in a similar situation. And perhaps even help change the misconception of adoption and birth mothers.

For those who have not given a child up for adoption, I hope my story gives a glimpse of the wide range of birth moms that are out there. We are not cookie cutters; we all have different stories and different lives. Every birth mom has had their own, very unique adoption experience. Some may very well have been like the typical story, greatly anguished by their decision to give up their baby and still want connection with him/her and the adopting family. Others may not want any contact or because of substance addiction, incarceration or even international adoption may not be allowed to have any. Still others may be like me; although I have always appreciated any communication I get from the family, have never really felt a need for it.

There is such a spectrum of birth mothers and they should be treated as such. I want to urge adoptive and foster moms to listen to the stories of the birth moms they encounter and reflectively and prayerfully engage with them, not based on preconceived notions or glamorized ideals, but from where they are coming and where they are at now. That, in itself is the biggest thank you that one can offer the birth mom of their adoptive child.

Wynter is married to Jonathan and they live in Forest Grove, Oregon with their three children. She founded The Made to Mother Project (M2M), which is dedicated to encouraging, supporting and inspiring women by sharing their diverse stories of motherhood. And for ALL the messy details on her adoption journey, you can check out her memoir The Secret Inside Me or on Kindle, too!


What a better way to celebrate love in February than to feature some women we love and admire so much... Birth Moms! We had the privilege of spotlighting some truly amazing women whose stories have truly had an impact on our lives in great ways!

For the Love of My Birthmom {Melinda's Story}

Today I have the honor of sharing always beautiful words from my dear friend Melinda with you.  Many in the adoption community know her well and know her amazing heart.  She is one of the sweetest friends I've ever had and a fellow Georgia resident that I've now had the pleasure of actually meeting.  She is the mommy to Logan who could pass as Ethan's long lost brother - seriously their antics are just alike and they are FULL of energy!  Today she is sharing about her relationship with Logan's birthmom, April, as well as her love of all birthmoms.  And it's just that - at the center of all adoptions should be LOVE.  Please join me in welcoming Melinda back to our blog today.  I love you and am blessed to call you my friend.

"We came together as strangers but we leave as eternal friends.”

This was my graduation motto way back in 1993. That’s right, 22 years ago in May (for those of you doing the math, yes, that makes me almost 40).  At the time, the most significant people in my life were my family and my classmates. As cliche as it may sound, most of the people in my itty bitty class of 72 were as much family as those that I was biologically linked to in my life.

Perhaps this is why I never thought one second about loving someone not biologically connected to me.   Perhaps that is why I understood that family can be about blood, but it isn’t always. Perhaps that is why the course of adoption came so naturally to me.

My husband and I met Logan’s birth mom just two months before his birth. The day we met wasn’t rainbows and sunshine. There were tears. There was pain. There was sadness. But in all of this…there was faith and hope.   We quickly came to love each other in a way that even I never thought I could love another.

Choosing to place her child with our family?  That was something that broke her heart into a million pieces.  “Why?”  “How could she do that?”  These are questions that my husband and I have often been asked in the (almost) four years of my son’s existence.  My answer is always this:  She did it because she loved him more than she loved herself and she put his needs above her very own.  After all, that IS what mothers DO.

I can’t for one moment imagine that I know what that was like (is like) for her. I do know what it is like to love a child as your very own for ten years and to have to walk away.  I can only imagine that this pain is multiplied times one hundred when it is the baby you have felt growing in your very womb.

That silly motto from my graduation has played in my mind many times since the day Logan was born.  It has much more meaning to me now than it did on the day I first heard it.  Even more than friends…we left as FAMILY.  We love hard in this family.   We don’t know how to love halfway.   April is very much the same in this respect.

April may not ever know the depth of my love for her, but because of her decision to choose LIFE for her baby, I am a mother. I get to hug my sweet son every single day. I get to see his smile and the love for me in his eyes. After twelve years of waiting for I child, I am blessed to hear someone call me “Mama”.

When I see glimpses of her in Logan it makes my heart smile. I love to see pieces of her in him when they come shining through.   Some may think of that as painful, perhaps. To me, it is a constant reminder that this child is loved the world over. He is loved by two mothers, two families, and by many hearts.

I know a multitude of birth mothers and am so blessed to call many of them friends. As I meet more and more of these amazing women through the years, I learn that I have so much to learn from each and every one of them. Not all circumstances are pretty. Not all placements are kind and beautiful. Some of them are pretty ugly. But the majority of all adoption placements is done with one focus: LOVE.

We are often told to never judge a book by its cover. We are told that you never know someone’s reasons for their decisions unless you have walked in their shoes. I can’t think of another circumstance where this rings more true than in adoption.

I will always stand behind adoption and the loving, amazing, wonderful women that we call “birth moms”.   I will always jump to their defense and I will always speak out for their rights. I’ve been told not to glamorize birth mothers. I’ve been told to “keep it real”. This is me, keeping it “real”.

Love? It doesn’t have to have limitations. And me? I love adoption. 


What a better way to celebrate love in February than to feature some women we love and admire so much... Birth Moms! We had the privilege of spotlighting some truly amazing women whose stories have truly had an impact on our lives in great ways!

I Loved Him More {Lauren's Story as a Birthmom}

I cannot believe it is the last week of February and that this series is going to come to an end.  The most amazing thing is that I am slammed full of stories until then and will likely run over a couple of days because I still have a few surprises to sprinkle around.  Not to mention my words for our Chloe to close things out (for now).

With that said, I've been so anxious to share Lauren's story today.  She posted it while back in one of our adoption groups on Facebook and I asked if I could share it for this month's series and she has graciously allowed me to.  The more I've seen from Lauren, the more she reminds me so much of our own birthmom.  She's very matter of fact, strong, independent, and smart.  They have been through many of the same things and are at such the same phase in life.  Lauren, I love your real words and for always bearing your soul so freely. Thank you for the perspective you lend (especially to me), and for allowing me to share your story today.  You are an amazing young woman.
  

Unlike most adoption stories, I did not place because of lack of support and lack of financial stability. I actually have both of those things.

My first choice was termination. What lead me down the path of leaning towards placement, was actually a series of hurtful events. One of the events being my doctor actually telling me I was a *selfish* woman for wanting to terminate. All in all, when I decided adoption was the way I was going to go, it was SOLELY to give my brother and his wife the chance to be parents. Of course I believe that children should have two parents, and of course I could not give my son "everything", but that wasn't the reason I did this.

During my pregnancy I felt guilt. I told people that I was placing my child, because my child deserved more than I could offer. In all reality, I could offer my son just as much as my brother and his wife (minus two parents). I felt guilty because I was perfectly capable of parenting, but yet I didn't want to.

When I think about what I did, I shouldn't feel guilty. Me placing my son was TRULY an unselfish thing. I followed through with my pregnancy, I have endured a tremendous amount of heartbreak, and will continue to grieve for the rest of my life, just because of the love I have for my family. I felt guilty when I thought of terminating, only because I knew my brother and his wife had shed tears because they were without a child.

I shouldn't be so hard on myself. I could have terminated. I could have saved myself this pain, but I didn't. I sacrificed my heart, to fill the hearts of others.

As the delivery date came closer, my soul actually turned dark. I lay in bed and would cry myself to sleep. I would wake up in the morning and tears would run down my face. When I would shower my crying would fade in with the sound of the running water. I knew when I would give birth, my heart would die. I saw myself turning into a walking body with no soul.

The moment I looked at my son, ALL of those thoughts disappeared. The first thought I had that came to my mind, was that he was not meant for me. There was no doubt in my mind that he was meant to be in my brothers and his wife's arms. A huge sense of relief came to my heart. I was okay going home without him. Although all these feelings do not come without having guilt that I am completely fine without parenting him, I feel that God rewarded me. I didn't have to choose this. My choice didn't have to be adoption. I could have saved myself from this life time of pain, but I didn't. I am NOT selfish.

I am grieving. I do get overwhelmed with emotions. Sometimes I snap into this "reality" and think "omg...what have I done..." The full adoption hasn't gone through yet. I have signed over guardianship 2 times. Both times I feel sad. In all reality I could back out now. I feel proud in my decision. I feel proud that was decision really does not come with second thoughts. I feel grateful. The moment I placed him in their arms, was the moment I grew up.

I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.

xoxo

I love you James!


What a better way to celebrate love in February than to feature some women we love and admire so much... Birth Moms! We had the privilege of spotlighting some truly amazing women whose stories have truly had an impact on our lives in great ways!

For the Love of My Birthmom {Terra's Story}

This woman doesn't need much of an introduction to many of us because she has touched thousands of lives through her heart for adoption already.  Today a dear friend to many, Terra Cooper, is sharing words of love for their birthmom, Lauren.  Like many of us, they have an open adoption and it has been nothing but a positive addition to their family.  Terra is a phenomenal wedding photographer in Utah, facilities and is an integral part of many adoption forums, is also a Staff Storyteller for Adoption.com, chairs United for Adoption, and most of all is a fantastic wife, mother, and friend.  I am blessed to work alongside her.  This month Terra is also featuring a series at Adoption.com called The Real Birthmoms Project, which I will definitely be sharing as I wrap up the For the Love of Birthmoms Series so stay tuned for that.  Thank you Terra for your words for Lauren today and for all that you do to promote and encourage positive relationships in the adoption community.  May God continue to bless you and your family, which Lauren is such a huge part of.  

I want the world to know about my daughter's amazing birth mom, Lauren.  Being a birth mom is one part of her story, but it isn't the only amazing thing about her.  Lauren has one of the kindest hearts of anyone I've ever met.  She only sees the good in people and is kind to everyone she meets.  Lauren LOVES animals and pretty much anything that is cute.  She has a childlike appreciation for new things and that makes her really fun to be around, especially at Disneyland!  She is loyal and loves her family and friends deeply.  She would do anything for them and often puts their needs above her own.  She has a really cute laugh and smiley eyes-like she can smile with her eyes even without smiling.  I'm not sure how we lucked out by having her join our family through adoption, but I feel so blessed that we did!  I am so grateful that we are able to have such an open relationship and I just know that it will be amazing for our daughter when she gets older.  Our daughter loves her LaLa very much already and she isn't even two.  She loves to talk to her on the phone and tell her about Elmo and her belly.  I love seeing the bond they already have and can't wait to see how it develops through the years.  We love you Lauren!!!

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What a better way to celebrate love in February than to feature some women we love and admire so much... Birth Moms! We had the privilege of spotlighting some truly amazing women whose stories have truly had an impact on our lives in great ways!

Arising From The Ashes {Roanne's Story as a Birthmom}

Tears, tears, tears...they continue each day with these amazing birthmom stories.  Today I have the great honor of sharing my dear friend, Roanne's, story as a birthmom.  Like many young women she found herself pregnant and alone at a crucial time in her life.  The birthfather left her alone after they discussed abortion only to find out it was too late.  Time and time again we see how God takes the ashes and turns them into the most beautiful love stories through adoption.  Roanne has survived much brokenness, yet has risen to become one of the strongest women I've ever met. Through her becoming a birthmom, it catapulted her into the brave and Big Tough Girl that she is today.  She has a wonderful open adoption with her birthson and his family and continues to share of their love for one another every chance she gets.  Thank you Roanne for allowing me to share your incredible story today.  I love you and you are an amazing friend - I am truly honored.  And I continue to learn so much from you.  May God continue to bless you and your precious family.

My name is Roanne and I am a Proud birth mom! I am a Big Tough Girl!

I was 19 years old when I found out I was pregnant. I was informed by the doctors as I was trying to enlist in the NY Army National Guard. When I told my boyfriend at the time, we decided to look into abortion. When we went to the doctors office, I was told that I was at least four months along. Abortion was not an option.  We talked about raising our unborn child together. We picked out names. When I was around seven months along, the birthfather announced to me that he was leaving. His parents gave him $300 to walk away and forget about us both. I was alone and terrified. I was heartbroken. I was losing my best friend. I moved home to my parents. My mom and I sat and talked about what I was going to do. My parents told me that it was my decision and they would support my decision.

I told my mom that I wasn't ready to care for a child. I decided that adoption was the best option for the child. I wanted him to have more than I could provide. I wanted him to have two parents. He deserved more than I could give him. But, I just knew I had to know my child. I couldn't wonder every time I saw a child. My mom told me about open adoption. We started to research open adoption. My midwife gave me a name of a lawyer. I went to see him and he attempted to talk me out of an open adoption. During this time my mom went to a nursing class for her work. The teacher and a couple of the other students were talking about wanting children. The teacher mentioned she was looking to adopt. My mom really liked her and approached her about me. My mom came home and told me about her. That evening I called her and we talked about everything. I felt comfortable.

The next day I called my lawyer to set up a meeting. He once again tried talking me out of it. I was persistent. We met a week later. My parents and I spent a few hours talking with the couple. They brought pictures to show me. I felt comfortable with them. It felt like I had always known them. As we were leaving they asked what I was thinking. I told them they were the perfect family. After they left I told my lawyer that they were the couple for me. I didn't look at any other couples. I just knew in my heart that they were the perfect family.

The day I was induced, they called me every couple of hours to check on me. When my birth son was born they came to the hospital. They went by the nursery to see their new son. Then they came to see me. They walked into my room with an angel, a locket and a dozen roses. Ten red roses and two white roses. A red rose for every pound their new son weighed and the two white roses for how close they held me to their hearts. The angel was because they felt I was their angel. They came every day to see both of us in the hospital. At the time, in NY either the lawyer, the adoption agency or the birth mom has to carry the child out of the hospital. I carried my birth son out with his mom walking next to me. When we got to our cars I handed her newborn son to her and told her that here was her new son. The day after we were released from the hospital I went to court to sign the papers. My mom and my birthsons parents were there to support me. They were all in tears as I told the judge this was what I wanted with a smile.

A couple of months after I placed, I was living alone for the first time in my life. I was trying to work through my grief and depression. One night my whole world was turned upside down. As I came home from work and unlocked my door, my neighbor forced his way into my apartment. That night he sexually assaulted me. I was devastated and felt more alone than I ever had. The very first people I thought to call were my birthson's parents. They called my parents for me. My mom showed up at my door with my black Great Dane and we called the cops together. For years I allowed him to take what strength I had left. I tried to allow myself to heal by burying it. It is still very hard for me to talk about.

Two years later I allowed my demons to consume me. I attempted suicide. I slit my wrists because I didn't want to feel it anymore. I believed I couldn't handle the pain anymore. My best friend saved my life that night. She made me call and talk to a therapist that was offered through our work. My best friend also sat and reminded me how amazing of a person I am. I am thankful that she was there for me. She still reminds me every so often. I feel this helped me push to make my adoption the way it is. I needed the extra love and support and thankfully my birthson's family was willing to give me their love.

Being a birth mom is an emotional roller coaster. There are still triggers that I deal with. I suffered from depression in the beginning and hid it from my birth son and his family. They were my happy place and I didn't want them to know how much I hurt. Leaving after a visit was very hard in the beginning. I felt my heart break all over again. Over time it has become easier on me emotionally. I have discovered so many things about who I am. I found strength that I didn't know that I had until I needed it. In the beginning it was very hard for me to be a birthmom. I always thought of how they felt. I understood that they may feel threatened by me and did everything I could to show them how amazing they are as parents. I understood that I had to step back and was no longer a parent to the child. I never thought of my birthson as my son. Our relationship is very special.

 

The adoption has always been open. I knew I was blessed with how open it was from day one. They invited me to their house at least once every couple of months. They would treat me out to lunches. They told everyone who I was. I dreaded the first Mother's Day after he was born. My birthsons parents made a huge deal out of Birthmother's Day for me. We celebrated together. They have continued this tradition. The last few years I have spent birthmothers day with my birthson and my youngest son. My birth son was born on December 16. He was our Christmas miracle. Last year I started a new tradition with his mom and took her to lunch on Birthmother's Day. I wanted to celebrate with her how amazing of a mother she is. We celebrated each other and had a wonderful time. I was told that I will forever have a special place in their hearts and in their lives. We are family always and forever.

My birth son is 17 years old. He is an amazing young man. His family is my family. I can't imagine my life without them. They are amazing. My birth son was the ring bearer at my wedding. He is a big brother to not only their other four children but to my youngest. We text every day. He is becoming one of my best friends. I treasure every moment with him and look forward to our time together. We have a special bond that we both treasure. His parents have done an amazing job raising him.

Over time my journey has become easier. There are still hard days, but I know I am not alone. I have an amazing support system. I belong to positive support groups. I have a special group of women that I call my sisters now. I have a wonderful extended family. We celebrate every Christmas Eve as a family. They have opened their home not only to myself and my parents, but to my siblings and in-laws. I am invited to all of their family gatherings and special events. I consider my open adoption my first marriage. It has taken a lot of hard work and time to build the relationship and trust with my chosen family. I can honestly say that I have never regretted my decision to place my birthson. I learned so much about who I am because of my journey. I am proud to be a birthmom. My only regret is that I didn't have his mom there for his birth. Having a successful open adoption is like having a successful marriage. You have to think of what is best for everyone. I always put their feelings before mine. It was hard and hurt at first. Now, it just comes naturally. They have done the same with me.

I am told often that I was selfless in my decision but I wasn't. I had unconditional love for this child and believed in my heart that he deserved better than I could provide. When I had my second child, many of these same emotions came to the surface. How could I parent after placement. Didn't this child deserve what my first born child deserved. My situation was different. I still deal with this daily. I love both of my boys with all my heart. They are my miracles. I can't imagine my life without either of them. My birth son is the one person who reminds me daily how great of a mom I am to his little brother.

When I married my husband I wanted a family more than anything. Our son entered our lives almost exactly a year after. After my little one was born, we tried for another child. I had two miscarriages in a six month period. I was told to be thankful for the two children I gave birth to. I am always thankful for both of them. Only a handful of people in my life know about the second miscarriage. I was asked to hide it to protect a couple of family members cause they couldn't handle a second loss so close to the first one and just before Christmas. I regret following this request. It was very hard on me emotionally due to the time of year.

 

Open adoption taught me about unconditional love, not only of a child but of another family. My amazing family that I am blessed to have. I can never thank them enough for all their love and for the amazing job they have done. Seeing my birth son with my son is music to my soul. Seeing the love that they have for each other is amazing.  Adoption is not an easy choice or journey. Do the research first. Know what you are going into. If you put the hard work in from all sides it can be amazing and beautiful. I'm proud to be a birthmom!


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What a better way to celebrate love in February than to feature some women we love and admire so much... Birth Moms! We had the privilege of spotlighting some truly amazing women whose stories have truly had an impact on our lives in great ways!

For the Love of My Birthmom {Annie's Story}

I don't know about you, but these stories have just been amazing this month and I have several more to share.  It's been such a great example of love and how God is in the details of adoption.  I've cried possibly more than all of the posts I've ever done combined.  I'm so touched and moved.  Today I have the honor of sharing another post written by an adoptive mom for the love of her birthmom.  It's beautiful and another example of us opening up our hearts, letting go of hurt, and allowing God to work in our lives.  I'm thrilled to share these heart felt words by my sweet friend Annie.  She is sharing a little bit about her story and then how she and her birthmother, Mary, found one another and are now both "baby mamas" as they call one another to their son, Makai (who by the way is absolutely adorable).  One again, God has blown me away.  Thank you Annie for sharing your story with us today, and thank you Mary for the amazing example you are and continue to be for so many other young women.  

Four and a half years into our marriage, I was told that I needed an emergency hysterectomy. The endometriosis had taken over my reproductive organs and I was in danger of massive internal bleeding from a large ovarian cyst and tears from endometrial adhesions. Fast forward through the uterus grieving and failed pregnancy mourning and we come to year seven and eight. We fostered-to-adopt two vibrant, wildy free and deeply loving kiddos (at separate times). They renewed our spirits and breathed hope back into our souls. When they left to be adopted by family members, our hearts once again mourned parenthood and the little bodies that once shared our home with us. I started out the momentous year ten of our marriage in a maddening depression. I was furious at God for not engineering my life in the way that I had planned, angry at my body for failing me and just plain mad at being sad all the time. February 14. That is the day that changed our lives and brought our stunningly strong birth mom into our lives. Mary sent me a private message through Facebook saying that she and I shared a mutual friend and upon telling our mutual friend of her pregnancy & adoption plan, our friend gave her my name and how to contact me. My disbelieving eyes were glued to my phone screen for several minutes before I drew up enough courage to respond. After years of infertility, failed adoption attempts and two birth moms choosing to parent--could THIS one be THE one?! It was. 

When Mary contacted us, she was twenty and knew that she wouldn't be able to raise a child on her own. She had seen our pictures with our foster children on Facebook and chosen us based on our love for them. She told me that when she saw the pictures, she knew that we'd be able to love her child unconditionally and that she knew we'd be amazing parents. We talked every day from February 14th through the month of August when she moved from Georgia to Florida to be with us until the birth. She became ingrained in our hearts and our family. She has been trampled on by life but, still she fights to stand. I know no other woman as strong as she and our son is going to grow up knowing that her strength and love for him allowed us to be his parents. There is no greater gift from a woman than to bestow the responsibility of caring and loving her child onto another. Her sacrifice still rocks my heart to its very depths. I love that woman with such an intensity that I know it could only come from God. His "delays" were laying the foundation of her decision to choose us. Without the hysterectomy, we probably wouldn't have fostered and without fostering, Mary wouldn't have witnessed our willingness to love another woman's child. God has been engineering my life with us, Makai and Mary always on His mind. Wow, God. 


What a better way to celebrate love in February than to feature some women we love and admire so much... Birth Moms! We had the privilege of spotlighting some truly amazing women whose stories have truly had an impact on our lives in great ways!

I Gave Her More {Catarina's Story as a Birthmom}

Today I'm so happy to be able to share my sweet friend and fellow Alabama native, Catarina's story as a birthmom.  Already at such a young age she has shown so much leadership in the adoption community.  She has one of the most loving hearts and sweet spirits of anyone I've ever met.  Catarina is beautiful inside and out and is going to be a tremendous leader and inspiration for many other birthmoms and individuals in the adoption triad.  She has a beautiful open adoption with her birthdaughter, Katherine.  I'm truly honored to be able to share part of her story with you today.  To read more about Catarina and her amazing story, be sure to visit her blog Becoming a Birthmom and follow along her journey.  She is now the Chair for the Alabama Chapter of United for Adoption where I will be working with her a lot from the Georgia Chapter, and keep watching for lots more from this young woman.  We will be seeing more and more of her!  Thank you Catarina for allowing me to share your story, and I'm blessed to call you a dear friend.  

 

I had recently broken up with my boyfriend and moved out. I wasn't in a relationship. I was still hurting, still missing my ex. I was confused. I was on an anti-depressant, so originally I believed my medicine was messing up my cycle. The thought I was pregnant didn't even run through my head. I went into work one day and smelled the chicken frying, and instantly became nauseous. I freaked out thinking what if this is morning sickness? Sure enough it was, I got my coworker to run to the store and buy pregnancy tests. Of course the first one instantly said I was, the second did too. So did a third test. I didn't cry. I just instantly thought what am I going to do? The guy was in a relationship. I was still in love with my ex. I called my ex the next morning and met him before work and told him. His reaction, was totally unexpected. He loved me, he wanted to be with me still. I told the father later and he and I did not see eye to eye. I knew one thing for sure I loved this baby already.

Originally I was set on the idea I was keeping my little girl. I thought I could support her. I wanted to give her the world. Seeing that first ultrasound was magical. Hearing her heartbeat, was wonderful. Feeling her kicks, indescribable. Between us buying a house, and everything I thought things were perfect. But, in reality my boyfriend didn't have enough money to support us for me to stay at home. And I didn't make enough to pay for daycare. So, when my car broke down, and between dental issues.. Reality sank in. I realized, what I needed to do for my little girl. I needed to give her more than I could personally give her myself. So, I decided on adoption. I had thought about it before, I just didn't think I had it in me. I loved her so much, though and I never wanted her to see her family struggle to pay bills, or pay for field trips, or pay for clothes or her makeup, or her a car one day, or her college. I wanted so much more for her. I wanted her to have a younger couple who were financially stable, and loved each other very much. I wanted her to grow up in a Christian home. I wanted her to not have a broken family. While everything didn't turn out quit the way I expected, they turned out for the best for my little precious girl. I wouldn't change anything.

So, we found her parents via mutual friends. Tucker, my boyfriend talked to him and asked important questions. They set it up for us to go eat at Olive Garden together. I was so anxious, and nervous. What if they met me and decided they didn't like me, and I loved them? My mind was racing on the way. Tucker explained that I was shy at first, so they'd be prepared. What if it was awkward though? I asked them questions, like how they met, and how long they'd been married. I asked about their older daughter, they showed me pictures of her. They spoke so lovingly of her. I told them I wanted an open adoption. They were perfectly fine with that. I asked if they went to church and where, they were very involved in church. I could tell their world revolves around her. They were amazing. I loved them. When we got in the car Tucker told me he loved them and he thought they were the ones. I told him I knew they were the ones. So when we got home, he made the call for me, I knew I would cry and get upset, and I didn't want to do that over the phone. So, he called and I could hear the excitement on the phone. Tears swelled up in my eyes. This was really happening. I was really going to place my daughter for adoption. I found the perfect couple. I sobbed into Tucker's shirt, he held me and stroked my hair. This was going to be hard I knew it. But I felt such a feeling of relief we had found her parents. I felt so much better knowing that she was going to be in good hands. My little precious baby was going to have a wonderful family. My heart was breaking, but swelling with love at the same time. It's truly an indescribable feeling.

They started coming and picking me up for doctor visits. We built a relationship. I felt like not only were they adopting my little girl, but like I was family. I enjoyed listening to her tell stories of work. I looked forward time to our time together. I decided I wanted them there, if they wanted to be there when she was born. I wanted her to have that skin to skin moment with her. I felt like that was something she should share with her mom. They rented a hospital room so that they could spend the nights up there. I wanted her to stay in their room, unless I asked for her. I wanted to make this a great experience for them. I wanted them to experience everything as much as possible. I wanted this hospital experience to revolve around them.

Catarina now has a beautiful open adoption with her daughter and adoptive parents.  To continue reading more about her story (including the day her daughter was born) click here.


What a better way to celebrate love in February than to feature some women we love and admire so much... Birth Moms! We had the privilege of spotlighting some truly amazing women whose stories have truly had an impact on our lives in great ways!

Open Hearts, Open Homes: A Birthmother & Birthfather's Message

My friend Kim messaged me right away wanting to share something about the love of their birthmom, Melanie, for our series this month.  She also told me about the message that Melanie had written for their blog, A Little Bit of Jerde Family, and that I could share it as well.    Well I read not only the message from Melanie but also the message from their birthfather, Jason.  We all know that many times birthfathers are not as involved (if at all) and to have one write about their open adoption blew me away.  The words from both of them are so beautiful and exactly what we all wish for our relationships.  So today I am so grateful to be able to share not only words from an amazing birthmom and her open relationship with this family, but also those of an incredible birthfather.  Melanie and Jason thank you so much for your words, and Kim thank you for allowing us to share them from your blog today. 

A Birthmom's Message {Melanie}

It's hard to know what to write. I have so many stories to tell. I remember when I first found out I was pregnant, I felt I was in a daze. Surely this couldn't be my life, had I really just become another pregnant teen statistic. What was I going to do. The first few months of my pregnancy were some of the scariest and most uncertain moments of my life. I was fortunate to have a good support network, loving family and access to a counseling center. Through months of counseling I came to the heart wrenching conclusion that adoption was my life path. Adoption may not be the answer for everyone but at my young age of seventeen It was my answer.

By being open and allowing myself to be in tune to realize the best for Brooklyn was with a family and not a teenage mother, I was able to find that Brooklyn had more than one mother. When I found Kim peace came to me. I was instantly in love. I knew then that she was the mother meant for the child that I was so carefully creating and bringing to this earth. I felt Brooklyn had chosen me to be the earthly vessel that brought her to her family. I discovered that we don't own each other but we agree to help each other along the way in this mortal realm. Through my time with Kim, it became clear to me that this was something we had agreed to long before. We were fortunate to share the pregnancy together, and when it came time time to give birth, she was one I had by my side. I wish every woman could experience a birth mother/adoptive mother relationship. It is filled with so much love, sacrifice and endearment, even time cannot dampen or whittle it away. I feel as though Kim is my adoptive mother not Brooklyn's. I was the one who was adopted into the family.

Placing Brooklyn for adoption was the hardest thing I ever had to do but in return my entire adoption experience has given me so much more. I was given a second chance to discover my passions and to connect with the world. If it were not for my journey I wouldn't have chosen to study Fine art sculpture in San Francisco at the Academy of Art. I wouldn't have traveled to Europe, Nicaragua, Australia or received my Yoga teacher training in India. But most importantly, my experience of adoption allowed me to glimpse my authentic self. The self who is selfless, who could make the ultimate sacrifice, who is only love. I met the divine in me which is within each of us. Having Brooklyn be a part of my life inspires me to be the best person I can be for her, to follow all my passions, and to know and accomplish my souls work here.

Everyone has to find their own path and I'm so grateful to have found mine.

A Birthfather's Message {Jason}

The decision Melanie and I made to place our daughter for adoption is the most difficult thing either of us has ever done. The situation we put ourselves into is not one I would wish anyone to endure, but despite its difficulties and the severity of its consequences, the pregnancy and the resultant effects on all of our lives have become the greatest source of motivation and strength in my life.

Once we made the decision to place, we faced another difficult choice – what sort of couple could we trust to love and raise the baby that might have been ours? This question plagued us for a time until Kim and John came into the picture. I knew long before we had completed the placement process that the Jerde’s were wonderful, loving, and happy people.

They were happy. I think that is what has stood out to me most for these many years since the placement. As a couple, they are playful and optimistic and delightful. They have an established home that feels, above anything else, comfortable and warm. I knew all of this before Brooklyn became their first child, but I have come to appreciate it more than I can aptly express in words.

The love that we all share for Brooklyn and for each other, and my desire to make these wonderful people – who will forever be a major influence in my life – inspire me to work harder and do better in my everyday life. It is a well of emotion from which I am revitalized and through which I have come to understand more about my existence and myself than I have through any other facet of my life.  I will forever be grateful for the Jerde’s and for the love that abounds in their household and their lives.


What a better way to celebrate love in February than to feature some women we love and admire so much... Birth Moms! We had the privilege of spotlighting some truly amazing women whose stories have truly had an impact on our lives in great ways!