Sunday, November 21, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
And now we're taking pictures like this. :)
Saturday, November 13, 2010
I cannot to begin to describe how wonderful an open adoption can be. Ours is truly incredible. We have an amazing birth mom who is loving and so much fun to be around. She feels like my sister (and she calls me that often). Her mom welcomed us with open arms into their family and invites us to family get togethers. I have met a lot of their family and I love it! We also have an incredible birth father. A lot of birth fathers are not involved or if they are, they tend to not participate as much in the openness. Grace's birth father is so wonderful though and texts and emails us on a regular basis to see how we are doing and how Grace is doing. And this weekend we got to have him come visit Grace. It was the most wonderful thing. He told us a lot about himself as a baby and we found out that he and Grace share a love of peas. :) My eyes filled with tears as he told me that because I can't wait to be able to tell her that is why she loves peas so much. I love that she has his mouth and the same shape of face. I love that Grace has Kayla's eyes and nose. And after he left, he sent us a text to say thank you for letting him come over. I can not ever begin to express how grateful we are that he is still in ours and Grace's lives. She is so blessed to have him and his family (and well as Grace's birth mom and family) be there for her and love her as much as Robby and I do. It's so incredible. I can't wait to bring more children into our home and hearts through adoption and bring more birth families. We feel so blessed and loved to have such an amazing open adoption and it would never be possible without Kayla and Austin.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
Being in the delivery room with Grace was incredible. It was one of the best things I have ever experienced. And then Grace came out. I was terrified. After the whole situation with Grace's birth dad wanting to disrupt the adoption and my heart being broken, I was still terrified that something would happen and we would have to go home with empty hands and empty hearts. Because of this, I guarded my heart like crazy. I held Grace only a handful of times in the hospital. I kept trying to have Grace's birth mom hold her and I tried to guard my heart.
Normally after 72 hours, the birth parents relinquish their rights. When talking with Kayla (birth mom) and Austin (birth dad) at 72 hours neither of their family could be there to support them. So we were supposed to push it back another day. I sobbed. I was terrified that one more day would change everything. After bringing Grace home, I just went through the emotions but I couldn't bring myself to sit and stare at her and soak it in. Placement happened at about 76 hours after birth and when Kayla went in the room to sign, I was on the verge of a breakdown. I felt like I was making her tear away her right arm. I know now that she was doing all of this for Grace but then, I was just so terrified. Kayla was back there for over 30 minutes. I felt sure she had changed her mind. When her caseworker came out alone, I knew what I feared had happened. But her caseworker just asked if Kayla could spend time with Grace and she had already signed her papers. At that time, my heart exploded. I felt so many emotions and my heart couldn't contain them all.
After that, I thought I would automatically bond with Grace. I was wrong. I felt so much love for her but I thought it would be more or different. Yet another thing I didn't expect as a mom. I thought it would be automatic and strong. But it did happen. There wasn't one moment that stands out that I can say was the turning point, but over time we've grown closer and closer together. And now, Grace won't go to anyone but me or Robby. She knows I'm her mother and more importantly, I know I'm her mother. There were too many miracles that happened for me to not believe it. It was a long, incredible journey but I would do it again in a heart beat.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
When my husband and I became first-time parents in 1991 of our then five-month-old Guatemalan-born daughter, I felt that after the adoption process I was prepared for anything. On our second day home with our baby, I was extremely proud to finally be able to tour our neighborhood with my new baby in her stroller. Mother and daughter at long last. We barely made it around the corner when two ladies ran from their homes to meet Kahleah and to express to their amazement that "from a distance you look like you could be her mother!" I politely told them that I was her mother. They giggled and said, "No, you know what we mean! HER REAL MOTHER!" Ouch. That hurt.
Then came the questions. "Where are her parents?" "Are her parents dead?" "How much did she cost?" "Why didn't her real parents want her?" "Can her real parents take her back?" "Will her skin get much darker?" "Why didn't you adopt a white baby?" "How old was her real mother?" "Does she have brothers and sisters?" "Will she ever learn to speak English?" "Will you tell her she is adopted?" "Does she have any diseases?" "How tall will she be?" "Who's fault is it that you couldn't get pregnant?" "Did you try IVF?" "Do you suppose that now that you have adopted you will finally have one of your own?" I wanted to scream, "IT'S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!!!!!"
Then came the statements. I guess I should have expected them "That's one lucky little girl you have there! Just imagine the kind of life you saved her from." "There is a special place in heaven for people like you." "It takes a special person to parent a child like that." "I never would have guessed that you were not her parents. Why, you treat her just like she was your own kid!" "I would never adopt! You never know what you are getting." "Adoption is a good cure for infertility! Now maybe you will be blessed with a child of your own!" "Gosh. I hope you know what you are getting yourself into!"
Six years ago, I found myself speechless and hurt many times. I was bewildered, frustrated and hurt. What gives people the right to single out my family, in very public situations, and to expect responses to very intrusive personal matters? I just don't understand it. We seem to know enough to not ask people such questions as, how much did you pay for your house? What is your salary? How much did you pay for your car? Further, I would never ask someone how many months they had "tried" before they conceived a child, but they feel that they can put me on the spot and ask me these questions.
Now that my daughter is six years old and the proud sister to 3-year-old Colombian-born Tristan, she is an innocent witness to this invasion. She is extremely proud of her little brother and sees him for exactly what he is-her brother. Recently, a man in a shopping center took a long look at me, and then my children, then back to me. With Kahleah standing beside me, listening intently, he asked, "Are they yours?" "Yes." "Are they brother and sister?" My Kahleah put a protective hand on her brother's shoulder and replied, "Yes, he is my baby brother." The man looked to me and said, "They don't look alike, they can't be real brother and sister!" I glanced at Kahleah and then firmly, yet calmly stated, "They are brother and sister." He seemed puzzled and continued with "But they're not blood brother and sister, right?" I realized at this point what was truly important was what my children were getting from the conversation. It was time to end the interrogation. Smiling at my children we proceeded to walk away. I ended the conversation with, "Sir, trust me. They are real brother and sister. Please remember when you engage me in these conversations... I am an adult. I know what you are "trying" to say. My children are young and are listening. The hurt in their eyes is much worse than the pain of skinning their knees or falling off a bike. It is much harder to put a Band-Aid on their hearts or self-esteem."
So many times someone comes up to my precious children to inform them what a "lucky little girl/boy" she/he is. I am quick to jump in with, "No, it is their father and I who are lucky to be blessed with them!" It is true that not everyone we meet is malicious, but I must be on guard. I used to love when my daughter was a baby and people would stop me and exclaim, "What beautiful black eyes she has! Look at that straight black hair! Nice brown skin!" Although I thought these were positive comments, by the age of four, my daughter had had enough. One day, in our community, after having numerous people make these same observations over and over again, Kahleah buried her face in my stomach, overwhelmed. She said she was tired of people "always" pointing out the same things: her hair, eyes and skin. I realized that they were pointing out her racial differences, and her differences from me, her mother. She was reading between the lines on her own. Maybe this was just her perception, but she was feeling it.
I ask you, what child deserves to be made to feel different simply because of race? Or to intimate in their presence that their parents are doing an act of charity by adopting them? My children's birth histories belong to them, and only them. Why can't people accept us as a family, built with love and a lifelong commitment? Is this so very hard to understand?
Leceta Chisolm Guibaault lives in Quebec, Canada and is a member of The Federation of Quebec Adoptive Parents. She is a mother of two children - Kahleah born in Guatemala & Tristan born in Colombia.
© Adoption Today
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Most birth mothers who place their babies for adoption are teenagers. Most birth mothers who choose adoption are in their early twenties, although women of all ages make this decision.
Birth parents who place their babies for adoption are abandoning their responsibility and taking the “easy way out.” There is no easy way out of unplanned pregnancy; any option involves emotional pain. Most birth mothers who do not choose abortion make the choice initially to parent their babies. Those who choose adoption do so after taking some time to carefully consider their options and the best interests of their child. Adoption is a courageous, loving choice which shows that the birth mother takes seriously the responsibility to be a parent.
An adoptive parent cannot love a child as much as a biological parent can. Love is not based on biology. Many loving relationships are between individuals who are not related to each other, such as husbands and wives. The love of a parent comes from preparing for a child and selflessly nurturing and caring for that child.
A birth mother can reclaim her child after adoption. Once a birth mother’s rights have been terminated, she cannot reclaim her child. Cases of birth parents obtaining custody after adoption are extremely rare and are exaggerated by the media.
After a child has been placed, a birth mother cannot have any contact with the child. Adoption practices have changed over the years. Today most birth mothers have some contact with their children. Arrangements are agreed upon by the birth mother and the adoptive parents and are based upon the needs and desires of all concerned.
Children who were adopted are more likely to have physical or emotional challenges. It is impossible to predict how any child will turn out, whether biological or adopted. Generally, children who were adopted as infants are as emotionally healthy as children who were not adopted. Children who were adopted when older may have challenges resulting from adverse conditions in their early lives, such as neglect, abuse, or lack of attachment. These challenges do not result from the adoption itself.
Birth mothers never recover from the emotional pain of placing a child for adoption. Birth mothers who choose adoption go through a grieving process, which is a healthy way of dealing with loss. But most birth mothers also report finding peace in the knowledge that they did all in their power to provide the best life possible for their child. They find that the experience gives them the strength and confidence to face other challenges throughout their lives.
Friday, November 5, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
A 19-year-old unwed mother, whom we’ll call Charlotte, recently placed her baby girl for adoption through LDS Family Services. She shared her difficult experience with the New Era. Charlotte realizes that her violation of the law of chastity has complicated her life. But she has taken the necessary steps to receive, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, forgiveness and healing of spirit. This article focuses on her adoption decision, not on the process of her repentance.
I can still remember the day I found out I was pregnant. I was filled with dread and shock and fear. When I told my boyfriend the test was positive, we both sat in silence for a long time.
He finally hugged me, but I was too shocked to cry. I remember saying, “So what’s next? Should we get married?”
He was just as shocked as I was. He asked me if there were any other options besides marriage. I was upset by that because I assumed he was referring to abortion, which was out of the question.
A few days after I found out I was pregnant, I decided to tell my mom. It was a Sunday night, and we were lying down in the family room, tired after a long weekend of moving. Suddenly I said, “Mom, I need to tell you something.”
She asked, “What?”
I hesitated, then said, “I’m pregnant.”
She didn’t cry at first, but after we started talking, she started to cry but stayed calm enough for us to talk. I had been afraid she would be upset, but she was loving and supportive.
My mom later told my dad, and he came into my room and hugged me and offered his love and support. Just weeks before I found out I was pregnant, he had given me a birthday card in which he wrote that he was proud of me. I remember reading that card and being sad at the thought of disappointing him.
As the days passed, Charlotte started thinking of her options: to get married, to be a single parent, or to place her baby for adoption. She determined that a successful marriage was not possible for her, so she followed her doctor’s advice to go to LDS Family Services to discuss her options. Charlotte started seeing a counselor there named Kathy (name has been changed).
For a couple of weeks, Kathy and I talked about single parenting. She gave me a lot of articles and worksheets that dealt with the emotional, physical, and financial aspects of raising a child. I knew my parents would help support my baby and me, but it was scary to think, “What if I had to do it on my own?”
We discussed the pros and cons of single parenting. “Where would I live?” “Would the baby be a source of contention between me and my parents?” “Would I work full time?” “What about child care?” and so on.
We discussed how I might have to live with my parents and how girls struggle with that. Young mothers worry about their mothers taking over and being the mother of the child, and that can cause a lot of contention between the two. I also wondered if I would be able to go to college if I were a single mom. I would probably have to work full time, which wouldn’t make it easy to go to school.
Kathy asked me what appealed to me about single parenting. As I thought about it, all my reasons for choosing to be a single parent were selfish. They all boiled down to the fact that I’d have my baby with me. The problem with that is, I knew she wasn’t just mine. My baby was Heavenly Father’s child.
In my next couple of appointments with Kathy, we talked about adoption and how that process works. Finally, after weeks of meeting with Kathy, I felt that I had a good idea of what was involved with adoption and with single parenting.
Being a single parent would be hard, as would placing my baby for adoption. So I prayed about this decision continually. I put off deciding to place my baby for adoption because it was a difficult decision I didn’t want to make right away.
I came to the decision to place my baby for adoption after months of soul searching, deep thought, and lots of prayer. It took me a long time to feel like I had an answer. Even when I knew I had an answer, I sometimes wanted to not follow it. But I knew it was what I needed to do.
One night I was looking at one of my favorite pictures of the Savior. It shows Him with a little boy sitting on His knee looking up at Him. As I looked at that picture I could imagine my own child sitting up in heaven on the Lord’s knee. I realized that my baby would be coming to me straight from God’s arms. I began to realize the worth of the soul I was carrying. It was easy at that moment for me to forget my own cares and concerns and see the bigger picture. I knew I needed to place my baby for adoption, so I began to pray for the strength to be able to do it.
At my next meeting with Kathy, I told her my decision.
After deciding on adoption, Charlotte met with her bishop.
I put off talking to my bishop for a long time because I felt like I needed to know what I was doing and, as silly as this sounds, I felt like I wasn’t worthy to talk to him. It would have been better if I had talked with him months earlier, but my emotions were in turmoil. I was embarrassed about breaking the law of chastity, angry at myself and my boyfriend for the mistake we had made, and resentful about being pregnant. I was confused and just didn’t feel ready to talk with my bishop.
But then, a few months before I was due, my bishop called me in to see him. I took the opportunity to confess, and he heard me with compassion. He also helped confirm that adoption was right for me and my baby. Immediately after talking to him, I asked myself, “Why didn’t I do that earlier?!” Had I talked to him earlier, he would’ve been such a help to me throughout my decision-making and repentance process. Instead, I was punishing myself and holding myself back from receiving revelation through him.
Having decided to place her baby for adoption, Charlotte started looking at profiles of adoptive parents. Adoptive parents give LDS Family Services a collage of family pictures, a letter to the birth parents, and an information sheet about themselves.
After four or five weeks of looking at profiles, I narrowed them down to two families I was considering and praying about. One family seemed fun, an adorable family. But when I read the other family’s letter, I felt the Spirit so strongly. I felt like I knew the adoptive parents before I met them.
I had been praying to know which family to choose. It was hard to get an answer to my prayers. I felt as though the Lord wasn’t going to give me a really strong answer because He wanted me to make the decision. So I did, and I knew it was right because of that spirit I felt when I read the family’s letter.
About a month before I gave birth, I wrote the family a letter saying I had chosen them and wanted them to pray about being the parents of my baby. I got an answer from them in three days. I guess they didn’t need to pray about it as long as I did! They said they knew the decision was right the moment they read my letter.
We met each other a few weeks before I gave birth, and we bonded immediately. At LDS Family Services, my parents and I met the adoptive parents and their six-year-old daughter. We visited for about two hours, talking and getting to know each other. The day after we met each other, they wrote me a letter saying how good they felt about everything. They said it was an answer to their prayers.
After I gave birth to my baby girl, I had a couple days with her to myself. The night before the placement was hard. I was holding the baby, thinking, “How am I going to do this? Will I be able to do this?” I was praying for strength.
The next step was placement, the meeting at LDS Family Services when the birth mother gives the baby to the adoptive parents. Charlotte’s parents and sister came with her, and the adoptive couple’s parents were there too.
The first one to hold my baby was the adoptive family’s six-year-old daughter. I wanted my baby to have a sister, so I thought it was important that she hold her baby sister first. Our families then spent an hour talking, getting acquainted, and taking pictures.
At the end of our visit, I held my baby for the last time and then gave her to her adoptive mom. I felt a sense of relief and knew that I was doing the right thing. I saw love and joy on the parents’ faces. It was great for them to get their baby, but I could see pain in their eyes for me. I knew they could feel my sacrifice. I’ll never forget the look in their eyes as I gave them a hug and left. They were so grateful.
I didn’t really feel sad—until that night, when the shock had passed. That night was the hardest part of the process for me. My thoughts were racing, and I was very emotional. I was wondering if my daughter was eating regularly. In the hospital she didn’t have an appetite. I wondered if she was crying or if she was content.
The next day, Kathy came to my house with a letter and a packet of pictures from the adoptive family. The letter answered all the questions that had been racing through my mind the night before. I felt better immediately.
Six months after Charlotte placed her baby for adoption, she says:
It has been a gradual healing process for me, both spiritually and emotionally. Every week seems to get better. I feel more confidence in my relationship with the Lord, and I’m still getting letters and pictures from the adoptive family. I have gone back to college full time and back to work part time.
Placing my baby for adoption was hard, but I felt it was right. I was guided by the Spirit. It’s amazing how it worked out so well.
To learn how LDS Family Services can help, visit www.itsaboutlove.org or call 1-800-537-2229. All of the services are free and do not require a bishop’s referral. Those dealing with morality problems should actively seek the counsel of their bishop.
Teen Mothers and Adopted Children
• Young women who place their babies for adoption are more likely to complete high school and go on to higher education. They are more likely than single mothers to have a job and less likely to live in poverty or receive government help. They are also less likely to get pregnant again before they’re married.
• Children who are raised by a mother and a father are less likely to be involved in crime or pre-marital sexual behavior. They are more likely to develop better intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically.
• Children of unwed mothers who keep their babies have more problems later in life than those who are adopted. They are more likely to have a child out of wedlock, drop out of high school, and have emotional or behavioral problems.
• Teen mothers are not able to give themselves or their children as many opportunities in life. They usually don’t have the financial or emotional resources that children need to grow up to be happy, successful adults.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Monday, November 1, 2010
I am such a terrible mom. Lol. I didn't get a single picture of the whole family dressed for Halloween! I know, right? Terrible. But to be honest, I spent months trying to come up with a costume for the 3 of us and I had nothing. So 30 minutes before the ward Trunk or Treat, I was scrounging around the house trying to find something for Robby and I to wear. Grace was dressed as a cute little cow and I couldn't believe how many comments we got on how cute she was. Ok, I can believe it because she is seriously the cutest baby ever. :) Robby went as a Soccer Player. He had a soccer jersey from his mission and he carried around my soccer ball from high school. I went as a leopard. I wore ears and a tail and painted on some whiskers. Hopefully next year we will have a cute picture of the 3 (or more depending if we are chosen again) of us and we will be dressed SUPER cute! :)