Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunshine in a Bottle: Open Adoption Interview

This year is my first time participating in the Open Adoption Interview Project! I've found so many of the adoption-related blogs that I consistently follow from reading these interviews, so I decided to sign up this year and participate.

Those who sign up are randomly matched together to interview each other. Fun! New friends! I was matched up with Sarah from Sunshine in a Bottle. She's a two-time birth mama. I was so honored to interview her and delve into her story and learn from her experience.

Since there are so many participants, they've broken all the interviews up into 3 different groups. Sarah's and my interviews will be listed in the second group, which will be posted HERE (<-- the link will be up 11:00 am Eastern time on November 19). The first group of interviews are already up! You can read those HERE. I'm about to head on over and start reading! I love all the different perspectives. I learn so much from these. :)

Sarah interviewed me and it will be up on her site by Tuesday (find it HERE).

Here is my interview with Sarah! I think her positivity is contagious. She's an abuse survivor, something I can relate to. So reading her words were really therapeutic for me. It is worth the read! Very inspiring. Love to have "met" her!

Can you talk about your experience with adoption in a nutshell?
Adoption has been a part of my life for awhile, my aunt, who is 5 years older than me, placed a son for adoption when I was younger. We had lots of family friends that adopted kids, whether domestically or internationally. I was familiar with adoption in positive ways, not the horror stories that are usually portrayed on TV or in movies or that you hear about in the news. I saw it positively.
When I was ultimately faced with my own choice to parent, abort or place, at 19 years old, my initial reaction was out of fear & guilt & the disappointment I thought I would be bringing on my family to be an unwed mother. Unfortunately, adoption wasn't my first thought even though I knew it to be a positive choice. I went so far to make an abortion appointment against everything I believed to be true about the value of life because I was terrified & blinded in to thinking I had no other option & had to hide it, fix it, make it go away. However, God had other plans for my daughter & the truth was brought to light in a miraculous way & I ended up choosing adoption.  
When I was faced again with the same decision 10 months after she was born, I couldn't help but want them to be together because 19 months wouldn't have made a difference in the maturity level I had (not) attained. Instead, I had been destructive to myself, not dealing with anything or trying to find healing or support that birthmama's need so desperately. I shut it all out & off & just plastered a fake smile on my face & kept destroying myself underneath it.  Had I kept either of them, brought them in to my pain....I would have tried to be the best mom I could, yes, but when you don't even love yourself it's super hard to truly & genuinely be able to care for & love someone else, especially a child, who deserves a true chance at life with all of the resources needed to provide for them adequately & abundantly. 
I couldn't do that to them. Not financially, not emotionally, not spiritually & not mentally. I was not intended to raise them. I would have caused far more bad than good in their lives in that time in my life & the last 12 & 10 years since. I'm so unbelievably, to the ends of the earth, eternally, forever & ever amen thankful for their parents. They have given me the gift of knowing they would be amazingly taken care of everyday. No one is perfect. No parent is perfect, ever. But they were the perfect fit for those two sweet souls & who they were supposed to spend their lives with as their mom & dad.  
Adoption, to me, equals circles of love around children. In my journey, it became more than just creating a family of the adoptive couple with the kids but of creating a family. Period. We all became family. They are my family through Jesus & us being brought together to travel this journey together. I love them with my whole heart. They love me & my family as their own. I feel so blessed that my experience with adoption has been so positive. Has it been easy, absolutely not, did I struggle, without a shadow of a doubt, but when I look back now on the last 13 years, I see so much beauty from what was & could have stayed ashes. I.Love.Adoption. 
You talk about adoption exposing a lot of your weaknesses and helping you learn to love yourself, grow as a person, and heal from abuse. What do you think you've learned the most during your pursuit of healing from past abuses and the grief of adoption? What would you go back and tell yourself (at any point) if you had the chance?  
What I have learned in my healing journey thus far, cause it's far from over, it's definitely a continual, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly activity, but up to this point one of the biggest things I've taken away is that no matter what has been done to me, what I've done to myself, what's been in or out of my control, I still had to make these choices to get here. I chose not to deal with my grief for a very long time, whether from my adoption or past abuses or damaging relationships or fill-in-the-blank really. I was a rug brusher. Problem is, when you start brushing enough things under a rug, you start tripping over them, big time!  
Life is about choices. Adoption is about choices. Do we do open, semi-open, closed? Do I choose a family from the state I live in or should I open my window further? Do I choose adoption in the first place? Etc. But all of it starts with the choices of how we treat ourselves. How we love ourselves. How we allow others to treat us. What we find our worth in. How we allow things that happen to us to effect us & catapult us in to other choices that we may not be prepared for but still have to make. My daddy always says, "Do the next right thing." We all have to choose to make the next right choice in our lives.  
I opted to take the hard route. The hardest possible route. Because I chose to believe lies that either I told myself or others told me & reinforced with actions & words or lack of either, I allowed it to happen because I didn't believe I deserved any better. It was a perpetual cycle of constant destruction of my self-control, my self-esteem & my overall view of myself. It was skewed beyond belief.  
If I could go back & tell myself anything it would probably be to have spoken up about being raped less than a month before my 18th birthday. I didn't tell my parents for 3 years & in that time I destructed so bad that I got pregnant twice with two different guys because I never dealt with the pain, shame,  suffering, self blaming & fault placing that came from being taken advantage of like that. Being confused about if I could even call it rape because it was someone I knew, a close friend, someone I trusted would never hurt me, someone I had willingly let in to my house, was an even harder struggle. I just stuffed it down & brushed it under my rug & it began a perpetuating cycle of continual abuse that I allowed because it's all I felt I was worth. After all, I thought, if one of my closest friends couldn't respect me, why should I bother respecting myself. & thus began my downward spiral.  
However, had all of this not happened the way that it did, I wouldn't have MR3 (that's my adoptive family, M name, 3 R names....I've called them that for years now :)) & I can honestly say that my life is so much more full knowing them & having them in it. 
What misconceptions about adoption and birth mothers would you like to squash? How do you deal with ignorance and/or negativity as you try to uplift others and share your story?  
There are so many pre-conceived notions about birthmoms. Sadly, there are many people who don't even know what a birthmom is & when it's explained that it's someone who chooses to place her baby through adoption, it's usually, "So you gave your baby away?" We are usually thought to be unfit, abandoners,  drug addicts, sluts, baby sellers, selfish, bad mothers, you name it, & while some times these things may be true about some birthmoms, the majority are not these things at all. Not even close.   
In the last year, I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the most real, loving, sacrificial, inspiring, genuine, motherly, & incredible women I have ever known. We all have such wildly different stories but that common thread of love woven throughout each one of us choosing adoption for a child or children, for a variety of reasons, shines brightly through. They want to change the face & stigmas of birthmama's just as much as I do. For people to see that most of us did it because we truly loved our children so much that we had to do everything in our power to provide the best life for them. & we had the strength, clarity of mind & heart wrenching ability to let go & allow them that better life.
I could go on about this for days about this but the short of the long of it is that we wanted better. Better than we knew we could offer at the time. Better than our best was able to reach. & that is humbling on all levels to admit but it's genuine & it's truth. My best was not good enough at that time. It was not the child's fault that it was conceived. Bringing a baby in to a bad situation hoping to make it better is not healthy in any way, shape, or form. Not for the parents but mostly not for the baby. But the child still deserves a chance at life. To grow up & make mistakes & learn & love & cry & laugh & LIVE. So, to have made a child suffer because of my own selfishness to feel like I needed to keep them for me would have been wrong on so many levels.  
The motherly thing is to protect. I had to protect them from the heartache I would have caused them because I was causing it to myself continuously & it would have been completely unfair to them to have to watch that growing up as an example of how to treat yourself. I wanted better for them. Yes, even better than the one who had carried them for 9 months & shared their DNA. They deserved more than just shared DNA. They deserved a chance at a genuine life full of opportunities. That's what I wish every child could have.  
As for ignorance & negativity, I can not determine people's opinions. I can educate in love & speak truth about what I know but ultimately, people accepting me or my story is not up to me, nor should it be something I worry about in using my voice, simply because the people who NEED to hear my story will only hear it properly if I share it. It's my story. Who else could share it more effectively than me. If naysayers or adoption haters or judgey judgmentalers want to rain on my parade, which they have & I know will continue to do, I just have to smile & think that the only opinion that matters to me is Jesus' & He thinks my story is beautiful. Plus, some people get super uncomfortable when people who have faced many things in their life, & still face life positively & with hope & care & compassion, are encountered. Mine is a story of redemption & grace & love & sacrifice & family & yes, heartache & pain, but you have to have the bad in order to appreciate the good. 
There will always be people in opposition of truth. This is my truth. I have to share it regardless because I know that even if it helps one person, even if it touches one heart, even it makes one person think differently in a positive way about adoption & birthmama's & birthfamilies, or helps someone seek help or choose the next right choice, or most importantly see the beauty of Jesus & the miracles He can do in people's lives, even through dark things that we deal with, get put through or put ourselves through, THAT is what matters to me. I choose to just smile & continue to spread my sunshine truth. Rainclouds, lightning, thunder, hurricanes...I choose to shine that light of Love.
What part(s) of your adoption experience are you most happy with?
Going in to the profile reading process I thought, who am I to have people's fate in my hands of who gets a baby & who doesn't after waiting for so long (or so short, in my couples case!) or struggling for so long, trying, desperately hoping for a baby? & here I was just knocked up at 19 & how unfair it seemed for these couples to be so ready & prepared & capable in so many ways of having a baby & yet unable to. There could not have been a more incredible couple in that stack though than my couple.  
I am so happy they chose to adopt. I am so happy I waited that extra week to look at more profiles after the new class of hopeful adoptive couples completed theirs. I am so happy they are Ry & Roo's parents. I am so happy that they became family & we are all so close. I am so happy that they love me unconditionally & support me. I am so happy that they are a part of my story. I wish I could bottle our connection & their appreciation & gratitude & our respect for each other & give it to all birthmamas & hopeful adoptive couples because our relationship has brought me so much comfort & they've been so open with me & with the kids & there hasn't been secrecy or shame or guilt or hiding, it's been honest, genuine & candid from day one, just like it should be. 
I'm also so happy that I'm finally finding healing. It's taken a long time to get to this place. I've been at peace with my decision for as long as it's been made but finding happiness within myself in regards to my journey has taken a lot longer. I'm so thankful that my adoption story has brought me to this place though. I've learned more about myself than I think I possibly ever could have without it.  
I love your positivity! How do you cultivate such a positive attitude, even when life happens and we make mistakes and other people's choices affect us as well? What would you say is your life's motto? 
There's an amazing quote by Robert Brault that I love so much, partially because I was a dancer for 12 years when I was younger, but more so because of the incredible relevancy it has in my life & in how I view things:  
"Optimist: Someone who figures that taking a step backwards after taking a step forwards is not a disaster, it's a cha-cha." 
That is why I stay positive. Life is a dance. Sometimes we misstep, sometimes we fall, sometimes we get our toes stepped on or step on others, but sometimes we dance it as if our feet were made to do only that. It's those moments that keep me positive & looking forward. Those moments are the moments worth striving for. When that next right step turns in to a beautiful expression of who we are, whether the catalyst is something painful or something lovely, it's the ebbs & flows that bring together the harmony of the dance. But being negative all the times can only breed more negativity. & negativity is exhausting!  
People are often shocked when hearing my story after knowing me in life context outside of my story. Most people see me as sunshine in a bottle & when they hear of the things I've been through, that I've wallowed in, that I've experienced & had to endure, they are baffled by my optimism. Honestly, I'm a bit confused by it myself sometimes. But I know that it truly comes from a strength that is not within my own power. It is truly Jesus giving me the ability to wake up every morning thankful for this journey & wanting to allow Him to work through my story. Of course I have bad days, everyone does, but even in my darkest hours there has always been this still small light burning within me. Whether I truly believed it to be there or felt it or not. It's Love. Even in my most awful, horrible, direst of situations, no matter how I've tried to cover it, no matter who has snuffed it out or stifled it, He's always relit it, even when I didn't think I could keep going. 
I use to plaster a smile on my face as a mask I wore to ward off questions or people thinking I didn't have it together, because, well, I didn't, at all & I believed the lie that I had to deal with it alone & that no one would understand or I was shamed or shaming myself in to silence & hopelessness. Now I smile because I know that even in my imperfections & missteps & failings & advantages being taken of me & people abandoning me & the hurt & the pain & the heartache that I & others have caused me, that there has still been such positivity & good that has come from it in the end. Seriously, so much good. I am truly blessed, even in my struggles & through my continual healing, for it is TRUE beauty from ashes.  

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