“Hello, my name is Jaycie and I placed my son Anderson for adoption.”

I almost feel like I’m in some kind of AA meeting and did something wrong when saying that. I have been made to feel ashamed of the decision that I have made by some people.

Why is it like this with today’s generation is something that I will never understand. In a world that is so advanced working towards a future where we could have flying cars and people that live forever…. Why must we look down upon a selfless act that a woman makes for what ever reason… she knows… she won’t be able to take care of her baby… so the woman makes a sacrifice for the child to be placed with a family that can… where she knows that her baby will have everything that she could not give to him/her… 

It has taken me a little over a year to feel comfortable with placing my child for adoption.

I was heart broken at first. I wanted to be a mommy. My husband and I, we love this child and would do whatever we could for this child. We want him. We need him…. But what we want and what we needed at the time were two different things. We were living in a room built for a child that could barely hold the two of us comfortably. I was not working and my husband was working a low-end job. We had no place to call our own at the time. We were living with a friend and had no one to turn to for help. How could we take care of our child. How could we get any kind of help from anyone. We weren’t close to anyone in either of our families. We had no one to go to and be like, “Hey I’m pregnant. I’m not working. He just got a job. We have no food, no home, no money to pay you, but will you keep our child until we are on our feet….” Up and on our feet… lord we still aren’t up and on our feet. We’re still living paycheck to paycheck and wondering how in the heck we are going to put food on the table… 

Now this is the sad part… Ready for a tear jerker…. I’m not sure you are… 

My husband and I kept pushing forward and working on getting our crap together. On August 24th, I went into the hospital… I knew it was time. The nurse was so kind. She took me back and checked me. My water had not broken yet but I was dilated and in labor. She got me all hooked up to the monitor and we heard the baby’s heartbeat. I looked over and saw my husband crying. He just simply shook his head no… I knew that there was nothing we could do for this baby.

It had come down to the day before our child was born for us to finally decide that we were not fit to be parents at that point in time. There was no way we could take care of this child. We couldn’t even take care of ourselves. I had told my nurse that I needed to talk to someone about adoption. That my husband and I had decided upon this and that we needed to make sure everything was taken care of before the child got here. 

My nurse asked if this was something that we had really wanted to do. When I looked at her, she didn’t have to ask again. She told me she would get social services to come speak with me and the process would start there. I was broken. My husband was broken. Did this make us bad people? Would this child grow up to hate us because we didn’t keep him, or would he ever think that we didn’t love him? So many emotions, I was a wreck. 

When it came time to push my husband was standing next to me as well as the nurses and the doctor. Twenty minutes of pushing and our baby was born. My husband and I were so broken and had decided upon a closed adoption that when the baby came out… we had no idea if our baby was a boy or a girl. All I remember is that I heard a cry while my husband and I were weeping in sorrow looking right at each other because we had agreed that if this little baby was going to have its best chance, we needed to not be in the picture at all. And if I was really going to be able to place this baby for adoption, we knew we would change our minds if we saw him/her. So, when I say that neither myself or my husband saw this child on the day it was born. I mean it. All I had to remember from that day is his/her first breath and first cry at birth. No baby to see, didn’t even know what he/she looked like, or if it was a boy or a girl… 

I was at the lowest point I had ever been in my entire life… 

The very next day my husband unfortunately had to go back to work because he had just started his job. I was at the hospital by myself with no one, just my phone and the TV that was in the room and just waiting for the next day to get here so that I could go home. Then, what do you know, my brain started running a million miles an hour. 

I started wondering what in the hell did I just do, would this child ever get to know that I loved him, what in the *^$%#^#$%@$%^^&$^&*&*$^%&#$%%@$#$#!$#^$#^%&$^*(&*^*&#$%$%@#$!%$^&%%&*%&*(^&%#$%$@$#%@$^$%*&%&*(^(&*(*$%^&#^@%~@#$!@#^%&%&()(@#$%@$$%&*&*(%&#$%^#$! Did I just do???? 

I nervously called the social services lady from the hospital phone not knowing what the answer was going to be to my next question. Now mind you, my husband and I did not see our baby at birth since we requested him/her to be immediately taken away into another room.

I called the number and waited for someone to pick up. “Hello, this is such and such with social services….” Then it just came out like word vomit… “Hello, my name is Jaycie and I just had a baby and I placed the baby up for adoption, and I did not see the baby after it got here, and I regret it and I just really want to know if there is any way that I can see my baby… I’m in room…”

Whatever the room number was… It felt like forever before I got a response but that was just me in my head being dramatic but the lady over the phone knew exactly who I was and all she told me was, “Hunny you haven’t signed anything yet. The baby is still yours. If you want to see the baby, I can bring the baby up to you.” I told her, “yes”, and it wasn’t even ten minutes later that I saw my child for the first time.

A very nice nurse rolled the baby in and the very first question I had was, “is the baby a boy or a girl”, The nurse then told me that I had a baby boy. And he was the best baby boy I had ever seen. So little and just so precious. He looked just like his daddy. And was perfect all the way around. This was my child. My baby. I needed to spend some kind of time with my child before I just let him go for forever. 

I called my husband crying tears of joy over the phone. “It’s a boy he’s so beautiful. I wish you could see him. I’m so sorry. I just couldn’t, I had to see our child. I couldn’t just let him go without knowing who he was or if he was a boy or a girl. There were so many questions. Is he healthy, is he not healthy? Was he too little or was he too big? Husband, I am so sorry I hope I didn’t make you upset.” 

All my husband said was, “I can’t bring myself to meet him but if you want to take pictures and send them to me, I can do that. I love you baby.”  So, I did. I took pictures and sent them to my husband. 

After that, we talked a little bit about our baby and how beautiful he was and how we would miss him and how this was going to be really hard for us and so on. 

I spent more time with Baby Boy (his name at the time because we didn’t name him). Took a lot more pictures and then I wrote a letter to his new parents and to him while he was sleeping in my arms. I don’t remember what I wrote but I know that I was very sad. I was very torn and all I wanted for these new parents of his was to know that I loved him so much and that I would never stop loving him. That his dad and I were married and that he was a part of my life and that we chose a closed adoption just because we didn’t feel good enough for him. We weren’t stable, we were very young and we couldn’t take care of ourselves. Just explaining to whoever these people were that we were human, and we had these feelings and that we just wanted them to know that we did want him. We just could not keep him. 

After that, I called for him to be taken away from the room because I needed to get some sleep because in the morning my husband and I would be signing paperwork with a lawyer to finalize the adoption. 

Of course, Amanda was there as well, and this is mainly where she comes into the story. 

When we decided upon adoption, the hospital put us in contact with the Adoption Support Center. Amanda called me and asked me a bunch of questions. We talked for a little while and basically from my standpoint at that time I made it clear that I did not care which family my child got placed in. All I wanted to know is that the family he was going to would love him and would be great for him and that they be the best family that she could pick for him to go to. I left everything up to her. I couldn’t make any more decisions. I had already made the choice that I was placing my child for adoption and there were really no more decisions that my husband or I could make.

Amanda came in the next day with the lawyer. We signed paperwork and everything. Our lawyer told us at any point in time that if the parties involved decided to make the adoption open that we could and a whole bunch of other stuff but I can’t remember what else said, I was having a really hard day. But I remembered the part where we could make it open and that I could see my son again one day. 

Well, it wasn’t even a week later and I was texting with Amanda about how I couldn’t do the closed adoption like I had thought. I told her that I would like to speak to the parents and if they wanted to email or text or meet or whatever… that I just wanted them to know me and who I was and what their new child’s background was. 

Well Amanda being Amanda she got everything rolling. First, we started emailing anonymously as we didn’t know each other’s names. Well, they knew ours, but we didn’t know Anderson’s name and we didn’t know their names so we just started sharing info back and forth. Very quickly that emailing turned into texting and then before any of us could catch our breath myself, my husband, Amanda, and our sons new family were all meeting at a local restaurant to sit down for the very first time. We literally did everything backwards. It really was the most stressed I had ever been in my life. But we clicked. We had similar views, similar interest and even similar parenting styles. Everything just went better than expected. 

All of this happened over a year ago.

My son is now a little over one. I got to feed my son his first birthday cup cake. I have been involved in almost a weekly basis getting updates. I was involved in almost every aspect of my son’s life. I mean his mom and I just sat down together this past January and decided when we should get his hair cut for the very first time. 

I still feel like Anderson’s mom and Jenelle, his Mommy, has never made me feel like I’m not. She knows that this was hard for me and she’s never kept me from him. We always talk out our differences. We always keep in constant communication and we just make sure that whatever we do is for the betterment of Anderson. 

What started as one of the worst days of my life actually saved me. I LOVE my son’s family. I love them all to pieces. I couldn’t have asked for a better family. I don’t have to act like he isn’t my son. I don’t get slammed for saying, “OHHHH, look at MY baby”. I don’t get shamed for giving him up. Jenelle and her husband just love me and my family and I couldn’t ask for anything better. 

The moral of this story is that each birth parent(s) has a story.

Always remind yourself that whether you are in a closed adoption or an open adoption that the woman who gave birth to your new baby went through some kind of hell to have to make this decision. No one just decides one day oh… hmmm… I don’t think I want this child…. That is never the case. We all have our reasons. We all have some kind of story…. And even if your child’s birth parent doesn’t show it. Our children will always have a place in our hearts, and we love them very very much. 

Your decision to adopt is saving not only the mother’s life (father’s life) but you’re saving that child’s life and from me as a birth mom I just want to say thank you. Even though you will never meet me. What you are doing for this child in deciding you and your family want to adopt will change the child’s life forever. I could not wish for a better life for my son. He will always know just how much I love him. And all I ask is that you do the same for your child when you get to hold them for the first time. Make sure you let them know how much their parents loved them and still love them. 

After writing this I just want to say one more time. “Hello, my name is Jaycie. I had my child on August 25th, 2017, and I love him more and more every day. I am BIRTHMOM STRONG.”

“You’re Active!”

When we finally read these words in an e-mail we knew that everything was becoming very real. We had been waiting months to get to this day. The countless hours of paperwork to go along with all the appointments and numerous ASC meetings had all led up to this point.

We felt like activation day was kind of like the starting line to our adoption story.  

We couldn’t wait to reach these milestones; activation day, getting matched, meeting an Expectant Mother, and then signing day, but knew with each milestone would come a ton of emotions and realization that things could change in a moment’s notice.

After the very first meeting with ASC we knew the biggest thing we would have do is be patient, and neither of us are great at that. Talking with other adoptive parents that we knew and had met during our ASC meetings we knew that it could take several months or even over a year before we would get selected by a potential Expectant Mother. We just continuously prayed and held on to faith that our future Birth Mother could be looking at our profile at any second.

Our prayers were answered very quickly.

It only took a week before we received the call that we had been picked and an Expectant Mother wanted to meet us. The level of excitement and joy we had during and after that call is indescribable. We had prayed for this woman and baby for so long and our prayers were finally being answered. With that phone call we had reached our next milestone.

Sitting in the waiting area of the restaurant waiting to see/meet this Expectant Mother for the very first time we were filled with a very nervous but calm feeling. The kind that you usually feel before a job interview you really want or before the start of a big game. We had months of education and training that had prepared us for this moment but the nervousness was still there.

Then this beautiful tiny woman walked through the door and flashed this big smile and it kind of put everything at ease. We instantly saw how strong and confident she was and we knew that our part in all of this was easy. We just had to show up but this woman was thinking about making the ultimate sacrifice. She was doing something so selfless that we would never be able to fully understand her feelings and emotions that she was going through. All we knew is that we were and still are truly thankful for her.

The feelings we felt when saw ‘MATCHED’ in big orange letters on the ASC website were 100 times better than the activation e-mail. 

We had 3 months before a beautiful baby girl would make her entrance into the world and we were excited to be able to spend those months getting to know not only this Expectant Mother better but also the Expectant Father. We knew a lot of adoptive families don’t get the chance to know the Expectant Father so we felt truly blessed that we were lucky enough to know him.

During those 3 months we really learned how strong and amazing people they both are. We quickly stopped seeing them just as this couple who might possibly give us the most selfless gift ever but as family. Up to this point everything had gone the way that we had wanted but the realization that they could decide to parent was always in the back of our mind. Trying to keep our emotions in check was by far the hardest part during this time. We tried not to get too excited or buy a bunch of stuff before everything was finalized.

Coming up with a plan for what we would do if they decided to parent was extremely hard but we both knew that it had to be done. Being prepared for every situation that might occur even though it was very hard was very necessary. With all the different emotions you really need someone strong to lean on and that’s where your spouse comes into play. There were a lot of days when one of us would be up and positive but the other would be a bit negative. On these days is when we really needed each other but we always knew that no matter what we would get the baby we were meant to have. 

After a long 3 months we finally got the phone call that we had been waiting for.

Our Expectant Mother’s water had broken and this beautiful baby was going to make her entrance into the world.

Being at the hospital was a stressful but exciting time. Can’t really put into words how lucky we felt that we got to share those 4 days with her Birth Parents and we all got to experience the whole thing together. The hard part about the whole thing was knowing that this beautiful baby girl was not really ours until everything had been signed. We just had to remember that no matter what happened we were supposed to be at that hospital for a reason. Whether that reason was to become the adoptive parents of this new baby or to just be there and support her amazing Birth Parents.

It was very difficult to keep all emotions in check and not get too high or too low. As soon as we saw this beautiful baby girl we were instantly in love with her but again the realization that this whole thing might not work out the way we had planned is still in the back of our mind. We leaned on each other and prayer to help really get us through everything. As rough and exhausting as those 4 days were I wouldn’t trade them for the world. We really got to bond even more with her Birth Parents and got to know them on a more intimate level. Those days in the hospital we really grew into a big family and when they decided to sign and make us the adoptive parents of their baby girl it just sealed the deal that we would be a big happy family for life. 

Watching our Birth Parents walk down the hallway out of the hospital after signing was by far the hardest and most emotional time for us.

We had been through so much the past 3 months and especially the past 4 days but nothing ASC could have done really prepared us for that moment. I wish there was a perfect way to describe that moment but there is not. We were so happy that we finally had a baby and our family had grown but we were so sad and heartbroken for her Birth Parents. That moment was by far the roughest.

Getting in the car and heading home is when everything really hit us. We were going home with a baby!

We also knew that we had to start telling her immediately how amazing her birth story is and how amazing her Birth Parents are.

Open adoption is such a terrific thing and we feel blessed that her Birth Parents want to stay in her life and continue to see her and be updated on her. Every Sunday when we check in with them feels like a family reunion. We share pictures and stories and learn new things to tell our sweet baby girl about them. 

Adoption is a continuous education not only for us and how we can make ourselves the best adoptive parents possible but also how we educate everybody around us. We are so excited to watch our daughter grow and to tell her how amazing she is and how unique her story is. We watch her now with her facial expressions and we look at each other and say that’s the same look her Birth Mother makes. Adoption is a beautiful thing and we are so blessed to be party of the adoption community.

We had finally got through everything and now we wake up every morning thanking the Lord for our beautiful daughter and her amazing Birth Parents.  

Is It Too Late?

“I was terrified and humiliated.  I was lost and couldn’t even muster up the courage to call anyone and ask a question about placing my baby for adoption.”

Amanda here. I wanted to share Casey’s story, because she is my definition of a strong, brave woman. She is the reason I do the job I do, and why I am passionate about adoption. 

Casey goes on to say, “I wanted to know if it was too late to make a plan for adoption. I saw an ad for the Adoption Support Center. I didn’t realize it was an adoption agency. I just thought I could text and ask a few questions.  I was so embarrassed to be 39 weeks pregnant. I gave my boyfriend way too long to prove that he was going to step up.  The contractions had started and I was in a panic. 

I actually started texting Amanda from the labor room. She made me feel confident that I could say what I needed to say. I realized I needed that adoption agency and I needed them to take care of everything. Amanda helped me realize that this was my baby and I could do this for him!”

 After Casey delivered her son, I had the opportunity to meet her and her son at the hospital. I had the joy of putting my arms around her and validating her thoughts and fears. Casey told me she wanted to continue making an adoption plan, and she narrowed her choice to two potential families from profiles I had brought to show her.

As I watched, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by emotion.

I knew those families on those profiles. I knew how much they wanted to become parents through adoption. I knew the elation that would be coming when I made the call that would change their lives forever.

Yet I also knew as I watched that strong young woman cradling her son while reading those profiles that unspeakable sadness would be coming too. As I watched her tears fall onto the little pink and blue hat, I gave her every opportunity to say “I can’t do this. I’m taking my son home.” 

Then the miracle happened.

The miracle that I have been privileged to see hundreds of time. Through the tears, the mamma uber strength kicked in, and Casey made her choice. Choosing her favorite of the two families, she said, “I know this is right for my baby. Please call them. I want to meet them, and I want them to get to know their son.”

I stepped out into the hall to make the joy-filled call. “I am at the hospital,” I said. “A brave woman has delivered a baby and chosen you to adopt him. Come on over to the hospital to meet your son and his extraordinary birth mama.”

This is the miracle of adoption.

Not every adoption story starts in the hospital, like Casey’s does. Some start months before. Some start in the months after delivery.

But every single adoption story begins with a woman knowing she wants to give her child more than she can at that time. Every single adoption story is a story of strength and sacrifice. The privilege of being a part of an adoption story stays with me. 

So here is to the Caseys of the world. May their strength and courage continue to burn bright.  

When we look at Isaiah, we know.

I remember the day I received that call from Leah.  At the time, 3 potential expectant moms had chosen us as their first pick.  Leah scrolled through their names…one women was due in July…one in September…and then the last women… December.  At that moment, I remember thinking… it’s going to be December.  Sure enough, the first two brave women chose to parent their children.  

Once October rolled around, we finally had the opportunity to meet with the expectant mom that was due in December.  

Immediately after leaving our first meeting, we locked in.  There was something special about this woman.  She spoke of this child, as if he was already ours. I remember her saying, “this is your child, I’m just carrying him.”  I knew that our expectant mom could change her mind at any time, but for some reason we felt this calm come over us.  We grew to love this woman and we knew that no matter what she would choose, we would support her.  She was going to give this precious child life and we knew that whatever was to happen was already written in God’s plan.  We know all stories are different, but it’s amazing that after all10 years of marriage, of our fertility struggles, the pain and grief of watching others enter parenthood, and anxiousness, upon entering adoption, this was ourtime.  

Our son was brought into this world on December 8th, exactly one day after his due date. 

Jason and I got to be in the delivery room.  As soon as he was born, the nurses rushed him to the nursery.  The plan was for me to go be with him, but I wanted to remain by her side.  After a few minutes, she looked at me and encouraged me to go to the nursery to be with my new family.  She is the strongest woman I have ever met.

After signing, we had the privilege of taking our birth mom back to her home, while our son stayed in the nursery.  

I remember hugging her and looking into her eyes with so much thankfulness and gratitude for this precious gift.  Our son is over 9 weeks old now and HE IS PERFECT.  God made him to fit perfectly in our arms.  

I send texts and emails to our birth mom on a weekly basis, just because I miss getting to visit with her.  

I find myself wanting to know how her week is going, how her kids are getting along with school, and that she is happy.  At this time, we aren’t exactly sure how much contact she will continue to have, but we will always be open to whatever makes her comfortable.  She was there at the beginning and whether she is here physically or not, she will forever be on our minds, and in our hearts.

After a few weeks of being home, I was listening to an online sermon.  

Pastor Brian spoke about Zechariah and Elizabeth.  They longed for a child, probably much longer than me and Jason!  An angel appeared before Zechariah and told him that their prayers had been heard by God. God was fulfilling His promises. God had fulfilled their personal desire to have a child, but even greater than theirdesire, was God’s desire…His eternal plan for their son, who would become John the Baptist.  God fulfilled our want for a child too, but even more importantly is that there is an amazing story and journey ahead for our son, Isaiah.  We look back and laugh… why, after all the challenges we’ve faced?  WHY IS THIS THE PERFECT TIME?! 

When we look at Isaiah, we know. And if you saw our son, you would know too… 

Ryan & Megan’s Pre and Post Adoption Refection…

“What a whirlwind last year was at this time…. our basement had water from the massive amount of rain and we were dealing with all the emotions/feelings/thoughts as we knew our Birthmom was close to her due date. If you’ve ever been through an adoption, you understand the uncertainty of it all.

I remember clearly believing with all my heart that no matter what the outcome (whether she chose to parent the child or if she chose to move forward with the adoption), God placed us in her life for a reason.  And because of that, we wanted to love, support and pray for her the best that we could.  We definitely went on an emotional rollercoaster ride the few days that followed his birth. But the time we were able to spend with his birthmom was priceless. We were able to connect with her on such a deep level.

The first night we were at the hospital, she was was only allowed one person in her room and she chose me.  So we spent almost the whole night talking heart to heart… about her hopes, dreams and fears about adoption and about life. I was able to reassure her that we were going to love her and support whatever decision she ended up making. It was a powerful time and I know without a doubt it was God ordained. 

Throughout this last year we have been able to continue a relationship with her and it has been so beautiful. She is such an incredible, strong woman with so much love to give. So not only do we celebrate Kendell today, but we honor her as well! 

Both of our birthmom’s are two of the most selfless women we know. We love them dearly and are so grateful for the precious gifts of life they have given us. 

Kendell – you brought so much joy to our lives. You make us laugh on a daily basis. You are sweet and have been such a happy baby. We thank God often for choosing you to be in our family. We pray you come to know Jesus at an early age and that you love and serve him all the days of your life!

We are so proud to be your mommy and daddy and we love you!!”

It’s February

A month known to celebrate love, women’s heart health, chocolate, canned food, pies, dental health, and spay and neuter awareness.

In fact, one website, Holiday Insights, lists twelve special awareness campaigns celebrated in this one short month. (www.holidayinsights.com).

Probably the most important on this list is the official designation of Black History Month.

February gives us the ability to celebrate Black History Month.

There are special activities designated at sites throughout the state. The website Visit Indy (www.visitindy.com) suggests a tour of Indiana Avenue and the Madame Walker Theater Center or a visit to the Crispus Attacks Museum.

Visit Fort Wayne (www.visitfortwayne.com) offers the African/African-American Historical Society or Allen County Public Library as great places commemorate this part of our history.  

Live in South Bend? On February 23, 2019 there is a musical celebration of the African diaspora at the IUSB Civil Rights Heritage Center at 3:00 in the afternoon.  

For our southern Indiana families, Bloomington offers a fully packed schedule of activities that can be found at    https://bloomington.in.gov/sites/default/files/2019-01/2019%20BHM%20Calendar_draft

Is there a better way to honor and celebrate Black History month?

What about having conversations about race?

Looking at historical figures who have made significant societal contributions is important, but hundreds of thousands of people live their lives without the rest of us knowing about them.

What is their experience of living day to day? What does a person of a different race or ethnicity think about you? How do you define racism? Do you see examples of segregation around you? How will you raise your children to embrace their own culture and celebrate the cultures of others? 

How will you be celebrating Black History Month?

Love Makes the World Go Around…

(and how to help keep it spinning) 

Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching!

Have you bought a card for your sweetie? Found a babysitter and made your dinner reservations yet? Bought the roses and candy? Remembered to send your child’s birth mom a card and warm greetings? (Hey, this is an adoption related blog! Of course, we were going to slip that in there!) 

While there are multiple explanations of how the holiday started, including at least three different saints martyred on February 14, it has been linked to romance since Medieval England when Chaucer wrote the Canterbury Tales. Over time, celebrating this holiday has morphed into sharing love with anyone significant in our lives, not only romantic partners. 

According to a February 5, 2019 article on the website retailcustomerexperience.com, “Consumers are projected to spend more than ever on Valentine’s Day yet fewer will be celebrating the annual February love event.” This same website projects Americans will spend $20.7 billion on Valentine’s spending this year, or an average of $196.61 per person on this holiday. 

On the other hand, showing love does not have to involve spending money.

Homemade Valentine’s Cards are another tradition that dates back at least a couple hundred years! With today’s technology, it’s even easier to snap a photo, decorate it, and send it on to someone needing a smile. 

Which brings us back to sharing the love with birth families.

It’s not too late to send something through ASC, if that’s how you normally communicate. It’s definitely not too late to send something directly, if that’s how you normally communicate. 

Not yet matched or directly involved in an adoption?

There are still ways to spread a little love. Volunteer at your local pregnancy care center, donate to a women’s shelter, or get involved with any cause that is close to your heart. After all, the world could always use a little more kindness. 

So whether you spend the holiday as a romantic extravaganza or a cozy time with family remember that ten different song writers who claim “love makes the world go ‘round” can’t be wrong. We all need to do our part to keep that world spinning.

All You Need Is… Empathy?

(Also known as Empathy Makes the World Go ‘Round?)

Why is it that there are no great songs written about empathy?

Love may make you go weak in the knees, but empathy builds connections and helps you through the rough spots.

Empathy is the ability to relate to another person in the midst of their pain.

If you’ve ever had any experience with adoption—as an adoptee, a birth parent, an adoptive parent, or professional, empathy is a foundation on which to build the rest of the relationships.

While an expectant or birth parent may not understand the pain of infertility, they can understand the sadness that this brings to the adopting family. While an adoptive parent may not fully understand the circumstances in an expectant mother’s life that lead her to consider making an adoption plan, they can listen and relate to the pain of the difficulty. Neither the birth parents or adoptive parents may fully understand the feelings the adopted child has regarding their identity, but being able to offer empathy connects both sets of parents to the child.

Empathy is understanding and showing concern for other.

It helps build bridges and resolves conflicts. To be empathetic involves being present and limiting distractions. 

Empathy may not make it to hit song status, but it will definitely keep adoption relationships on a healthy track. 

Noted author and speaker Brene Brown explains empathy in this charming video. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw

Roots and Wings

There is a frequently quoted inspirational saying which asserts the two greatest gifts we can give our children are roots and wings. This has been interpreted to mean as parents we provide the foundation for our children so that they can develop into their own personalities and be able to chase their own dreams.

When our children are young, we make all their decisions for them.

What they wear, what they eat, where they sleep, their schedule…all of these things are determined by parents. After all, babies don’t choose their own onesies! As they grow, they begin to make their own choices. Sometimes we agree with these choices, sometimes we don’t. Have you ever seen a pre-schooler who has dressed herself in her favorite outfit?

Adoption adds another layer to all of this.

Adoptees have roots with both their birth AND adoptive families. Both sets of parents contribute to the person that the child becomes.

But what about wings?

What happens when all the days and years of love and choices and decisions made are done and the child—who had no voice or choice in the adoption to begin with—is now an adult?

When the adoptee becomes an adult, the decision for contact with birth families and adoptive families becomes their own. The person who was adopted at birth or during their childhood now can say if they want to meet their birth families or not. They can continue to develop adult relationships with the parents who raised them, or they can become distant from them. They can embrace the circumstances of their lives, or they may choose to reinvent themselves and have little to do with either birth or adoptive families.

These newfound wings can be stressful for both sets of parents.

Will the adoptee want to meet the birth family? Some birth parents want to meet; some birth parents do not want to meet. Will the adoptive parents welcome the birth parents in their adult child’s life? Or will this be stressful and unwelcome to the adoptive parents?

Many of the answers to these questions depend on how the adoptive family tended to the roots.

Did they water the seeds of love planted by the birth family? Did they provide opportunity for discussions about identity and adoption? Did they speak of the birth family with gratitude, kindness and respect?  

Some adult adoptees use their wings and fly toward their birth families. Others fly in a different direction. Yet the flight does not have to be between the two families who gave the adoptee roots; the adoptee can fly along side both. 

Grief and Anger

Most people recognize sadness as a part of grief.

If you see someone crying, it’s easy to make the assumption that something is wrong. Tears and sadness are a combination that everyone seems to understand. 

Anger is also a part of grief.

It’s that little understood part, because let’s face it. No one likes to be around an angry person. It’s like standing next to a can of pop that has exploded. It’s unpredictable. You don’t know where the pop will spray or what kind of mess it will cause.

Anger is one of those things that build.

One little thing after another adds to the emotions that are stirring inside, and it only takes one thing to cause an explosion. 

So what can be done to prevent an anger explosion? 

First, know that being angry is perfectly ok.

Own your feeling! Anger is just an emotion. A powerful one, sure. But so is joy.

After a loss, it is quite natural to feel anger. A word of caution, though. If expressing your anger causes you to hurt yourself or someone else, you may need to do some damage repair. Apologize for the action, but don’t apologize for the emotion. If you apologize for the emotion, you may find yourself caught in a cycle of rising anger that has nowhere else to go.  

Second, recognize anger for what it is.

As we tell toddlers, “use your words”! Recognizing and naming anger takes away some of the unpredictability associated with how anger is expressed. Mark Twain famously said “When angry count four; when very angry swear.” This is really good advice! Swearing gives voice to the anger and is a way to express it without it building up inside to a greater level.

Third, know that anger doesn’t last forever.

Remember that other old saying, “what comes up, must come down?” We aren’t designed to stay in a heightened emotional state forever. Think back to your last ugly cry. Did you need a good long nap afterward? That’s because our bodies aren’t designed to carry that much intensity all the time.

Finally, find someone with whom you can safely let off this anger.

A close friend, a counselor or a therapist are good places to start. If your anger is related to adoption, find a therapist who understands adoption issues and can help you find ways to express it.