Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A letter to my daughter's father

Dear Matt-

Your wife and I had a instant connection, maybe it was because we are both women or maybe it was because we both understood similar griefs. As a matter of fact your letter to birthmothers is what help draw me to your family in the first place. I needed to know that not just the mother, but also the father who was adopting my child, could have some sort of empathy towards me. Not sympathy. I didn't want you to feel sorry for me, I wanted you to just feel for me. In the letter you made mention about  when you discovered that conceiving a biological child would be impossible, you felt like something was stolen from you. That was it! You got it! But if you 'got it' than why was it awkward for me the first time we met?
I practically had no choice on our first face to face. Christine pulled me close to her chest and squeezed, almost refusing to let go! I was comfortable there, not like we meeting for the first time but instead reuniting. Me and you, we shook hands. Why is it that I could not hug you with the same natural effort as Christine? Again, maybe its because we are both women. No, I know that's what it was.
I was raised to believe that a man and woman could not have a friendship. Men and women naturally have 'feelings' for each other, and not friendships. That a platonic relationships between men and women are impossible. When humans "fall in love", it's a romantic gesture.
I cannot speak for you about how you felt that day, but I wanted to make sure that absolutely no feelings for you were started. They didn't. However, that lead to me to build a wall against you. For that, I am truly sorry. So so sorry. Despite my resistance, it did not stop you from loving me. As my belly continued to swell, I was aware of the love but confused on how to accept it.
The wall I had built up around you was shaken on the day of placement. You embraced me the way a father would. I was being cradled by my daughter's father and I felt your love for me so strongly, that for a moment I let my wall down. I allowed myself to feel loved by a man whom did not and will never have romantic feelings for me. And it was okay, better than okay, it was essential! If not for the love that I felt by both you and Christine that day, my path towards healing would have been much longer.
It's been over 8 years and the open relationship I have our daughter has been amazing. I witnessed you taking her to the temple and blessing her. I have seen you play princess games and make amazing shape pancakes. I have seen you patiently teach her the value of hard work and discipline. I have heard the silly names and songs you exchange. I saw you baptize her and confirm her a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I continued to fight this love and keep my wall strong because I was still afraid of how other people would misinterpret.
The other day we had dinner together; Me, a friend of mine, you and Christine. Like always, adoption was being discussed. You made mention to the miracle of Christine's pregnancies, which has given you guys many opportunities. One being able to see more clearly what I, as a birthmother, went through. Carrying a baby for 9 months, hours of labor, and that instant love; only to choose to place her in the arms of another woman 4 days later.  Insinuating how the sacrifice of a birthmother was something great, you made silly bowing motion in my direction. We had a good laugh.
My immediate response was just a formality, "Oh silly Matt." Brushing it off in my head. But this reminded me of something, of how I felt about you when I first learned of you. You were and still are capable of empathy, which I loved about you. The experience of your wife bearing children only gave you a clearer understanding of that empathy. I read this quote by Shim Stewart, (I have no idea who that is) “Loving you as my friend is one of the best parts of my life's story. Because, one day, you will know that friends is much better than a broken relationship." Building that wall could have potentially built a broken relationship and for that, I am sorry. The silly bowing motion gave me a clearer understanding about two things; 1. That you understood that we can love each other. And 2. I have loved you from the beginning because because of your empathy and because of the love you have always given me.After dinner, I hugged you. For the first time I hugged you without any tension. That night my wall was brought down as hard and fervently as the Berlin wall.
Matt, thank you for loving my daughter. Thank you for raising her better than I knew how. Thank you for loving me. Matt, I love you. If people misinterpret that, well than, that's because they are unwilling to learn the different aspects of love. It's something they can dwell on, because I refuse to anymore. Thank you being my friend. Thank you for being my father's daughter.

Love always-

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Her life was not my mistake

On facebook a couple of days ago I read in a comment, of a very heated thread, that disturbed me so much I have to vent here. This is the part that  I warn you about triggers... read lightly. So here it goes. The comment I read was from a dear birthmother friend of mine that had an experience with an adoptive mother. My birthmother friend, Tamra Hyde, was once in a conversation with an Adoptive mom who had a misplaced (that's putting it lightly) opinion about birthmothers. The mom's opinion was that birthmothers are always put on a pedestal. A pedestal that she couldn't understand because as birthmothers we are the ones who screwed up and as adoptive mothers, they are the ones who bailed us out.  ... Let me build it up like this ...

How I would have reacted...
confused gifs photo:  tumblr_l7x4t6koBf1qbhz93.gif

How I would have felt...
angry gifs photo:  tumblr_llkf97A9cU1qhmk5d.gif

What I would have thinking...
 come at me bro gifs photo: come at me bro GoT bro.gif

What I would have liked to do...
punching gifs photo: Hermione punching Draco HermionepunchingDraco.gif

What I actually would have done...
leaving gifs photo: Hyde leaving 2h3u0jn.gif

I did screw up. I had unprotected sex with a man I wasn't going to spend my life with. Because of the unprotected sex, we conceived a life. A life that I wasn't prepared to care for, especially alone. That life was not the mistake!!! Again, so not to be misunderstood...  


   Is unprotected sex wrong? The answer, No! The mistake I made was having bad timing. Participating in unprotected sex with a man, who I was not married to, was my mistake. My daughter was my grace! My daughter was my salvation. My daughter was my everything. While she was everything to me, I was not able or prepared to be everything for her. Which is why I placed her for adoption.
    The Latter Day Saints have received guidelines that read,"Unwed parents who do not marry should not be counseled to keep the infant as a condition of repentance or out of an obligation to care for one’s own." If you believe this to be true, than isn't it fair to say that my personal forgiveness from our Heavenly Father, was not contingent upon the placement of my daughter? Allow me to educate the ignorant woman who so boldly spoke to Tamyra. My daughter's mother, did not bail me out! I bailed myself out! Through excruciating and dedicated repentance, I gained forgiveness from my Heavenly Father. I learned what, not who, was my mistake and we all know that with every choice comes consequence. Her conception wasn't my consequence; THAT, I felt on the day of placement. Because of my impatience and rebelliousness, I missed many opportunities in raising my child. I would not nurse her or kiss her goodnight. I would not teach her how to tie her shoes or pull out her first tooth. I would not be there for her first heartbreak or to help plan her wedding.
   Martha Brockenbrough, Seattle author and founder of National Grammar Day; poetically wrote, "When you miss someone, they leave a person-shaped hole behind in the world that nothing can ever fill."  I was left with a 6 pound 19 inch hole in my heart. (If that doesn't sound very big, keep in mind the average human heart is 1 half pound and 5 inches around.) I sure did miss my little girl and with an open wound I trudged through the repentance process. How ironic is it, that because of the mistake I made, I was given the opportunity for repentance? Aren't we all given that same opportunity? Humans do not have the power to bail other humans out of their mistakes. An LDS song, Gently Raise the Sacred Strain, reads, "Tho your sins be crimson red, Oh, repent, and he’ll forgive."
HE'LL FORGIVE!  How blind this women is, to have been mislead to believe so much fallacy about adoption. How sad is it, that she targets birthmothers with toxic information and opinions. How lucky we are to have such a merciful and loving Heavenly Father. That we may be able to not just be forgiven but we can heal though the atonement. Every pain in life, from ignorant comments to loss of a child, has the potential to be restored through the atonement. How great it is that our Heavenly Father, does not put me or Tamra in the same light as the adoptive mother did. 
    In times like these, when offense happens it important to remember we must learn to forgive as we have been forgiven. Latter Day Saints also have been commanded to repent. Neil Anderson, a member of the Quorum of  the Twelve Apostles, said,"For most, repentance is more a journey than a one-time event. It is not easy. To change is difficult. It requires running into the wind, swimming upstream. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. Repentance is turning away from some things, such as dishonesty, pride, anger, and impure thoughts, and turning toward other things, such as kindness, unselfishness, patience, and spirituality. It is “re-turning” toward God."
  So now that I have vented, you must excuse me... I have some repenting to do.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Stay Calm and Compare On

"Comparison is the thief of joy." Theodore Roosevelt

Sorry President Roosevelt, I disagree with you. I respect you and your cowboy like 
attitude of carrying sticks while speaking softly. But recently I have learned that comparing yourself to others is not so horrible. Did you not compare the speed and strength of the horses when you herded the cattle? Did you not compare the guns you packed on your hunting trips? Or how about those big sticks that you carried around? I'm sure the different tasks required by you would have you consider the dimension of the stick that had to be carried.
Comparison is a natural part of life in order to weed out what is good vs. what is bad. As humans we need this, but we also need to understand this: When comparing ourselves, human vs. humans, it does not need to be good vs bad, but instead good vs. good.
As a birthmother, I am guilty of comparing myself to adoptive mothers. I had a list of self made myths that I believed, especially in the beginning. Comparisons, that when made would make me bitter and sometimes even angry towards the mothers raising adopted children. It was always so easy to find ways they were better or happier. Then, like an instinct, I would start to bring them down to bring myself up. Only resulting in resentment, distrust, and malice towards good women. Good mothers.
During my first face to face with my Rose's parents there was one moment that will haunt me forever. When I looked at the face of my Rose's soon to be amazing mother and told her, "I am not placing her because she needs a mother. I would make a great mother, I know I would. What she needs is a father in the picture, I cannot guarantee that." YIKES!! I had been placing wrongful judgement on this innocent women, a women I needed to like me I might add, only to make myself feel better. The fact of the matter is that; yes, I am a good mom. (Toot Toot) But I wasn't meant to be Rose's mom. At the time I couldn't understand that. Through time I have come to see this and rejoice in it.
I was recently introduced to a set of skills that I wish I had back then. Karen Eddington is a friend of mine and a Self Worth Analyst who has recently come out with a checklist that teaches the skills of comparison. See below.

I LOVE this list!!! A few years back I came to a conclusion that both birth mothers and adoptive mothers go through very similar stages of grief and pain. The details and circumstance may be different, very different, but there is so much about the two situations that are the same. I have ultimately come to the opinion that its is loss. The loss of a child is something that both mothers have felt. As a birthmother, I could not raise my own child. As an adoptive mother, she could not conceive, carry, or give birth to her own child. Both of these loses are so excruciatingly painful that only the Atonement of our Savior can heal  them. It was this thinking that allowed me to come closer to Rose's mother, to be her friends.
Karen's list has helped me to better organize my thoughts and better understand what I should have done in the past and what I will do in the future. This is how I can break down this list when it comes to the two mothers of the adoption triad.

1. Find the similarities- The pain of empty arms. The absent sounds of a baby's cry.  The mother bear instinct stolen. The love of a child. Joy in family unity. The comfort of the Saviors Atonement.

2. Learn- Learn about each other; their likes and dislikes, wishes and hopes, comforts and discomforts. Learn about the child; did she sit on the bladder or hang in the ribs? Does she eat her peas and carrots or does she prefer strained peaches? Learn about open adoption and the blessings it brings.

3. Celebrate imperfect vs. imperfect- Neither mother had the ideal situation. Neither mother is a perfect mother. Lift each other up in your imperfections. Heavenly Father does not expect perfection in this lifetime, He only expects us to strive for it.

4. Make it about them- Put yourself in their shoes. Feel their pain. Understand this adoption, is NOT about you alone. Celebrate the birthmother for choosing life over other choices, for staying healthy during pregnancy, and for being strong during delivery. Celebrate the adoptive mother for going the distance of filling out every single piece of paper, for stressing over pictures and profiles that were created just for birthparents, and for happily and lovingly raising this baby in righteousness.

Comparison only robs a person of greater joy when practiced incorrectly. As participants in adoption there is so much comparing that can happen. Let us remember to go through the checklist every time we get caught in the web of negative comparison. Let us uplift and help each other by learning to love and see each other as children of God. It's like my friend, Karen Eddington said in a recent interview with Brooke Walker from Studio 5. Karen explained, "People will give the answer, 'Don't compare yourself to others,' over and over. When really we should be saying that we matter so much"..."It's hard because we see all the people around us but we've got to learn that we matter."
We do matter. I matter and you matter. Christ has commanded us to love one another. He has also promised that those who humble themselves will be exalted. I challenge you to use this checklist, humble yourself and start spreading the love.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Off Topic

This is post has nothing to do with adoption or birthmothering. I know, I know. Kinda breaking the rules of blogging. But I was recently asked to help a friend, this is something that I must address. Something I have to tell my readers about. I will even write a birthmom related post about it later, I promise... later. But for now...

Apples or oranges. Liberals or Republicans. Pradda or Gucci. Compare and contrast. You do it. I know you do. We all do. We all find ourselves in situations that we are comparing ourselves to others. People will tell you to not judge a book by its cover but when your at the library what do you find yourself doing? ... Exactly! When you find yourself resenting a person, yourself included, based from what you can see, what do you do? Normally my first response would be to say, "STOP IT!" But now, I have a completely different outlook on the idea of comparing ourselves. Thanks to my good friend Karen Eddingtion. Karen is a Self-Worth Analyst and a Mom Comedian, (her facebook page is  go like it!). She has studied, reasearched, and written a book about understanding self worth. In her years of study she has found the skill to comparing ourselves is to do so positively because, as Karen said, "That one person matters. We matter!" She goes on to explain that if we are going to compare, than to do so the right way. Karen made a checklist, pictured below, to help with this idea.

 Karen asked me to put her checklist to the test for 1 week. I first had to backtrack and realized if I had these skills during my sons surgery I may have been able to avoid self shot shot arrow to the heart. I took my son to have a club foot related surgery. He was born with club feet and this has been our 3rd time trying to fix his feet. I was very worried and very sick that day. The day of the surgery I had the right?! So, I went to the hospital in my slippers, hair just combed to the side, no make up, and in comfy clothes. I looked like death in a hand basket and vomiting in front of the doctors only made things so so much better. :/ Jack was soon taken back surgery and my husband and I were escorted to the family waiting room.
In the waiting room there was another mom. She was beautiful. Her hair was perfect. Her clothes were trendy. She was talking about her cooking and pinterest projects. Worst of all, she was listening to her father read scriptures. Ugh. Major eye roll. Sitting, laying, there on the couch in the fetal position trying hard to keep my tea and crackers from not coming up; I became resentful of this perfect little mom. My thought were, "This must be her only child, the only explantion why she looks so good and has time for pinterest. Her child must be here for an easy surgery, why else would she be so happy?"
About an hour later the nurse came out to get the other mom. "AHA!" More thoughts to myself, "It was an easier surgery. Her child is done before mine. Yea, I have it way hardy little miss molly mormon, little mrs. perfection. Enjoy your prefect little family. I'll just lay here and suffer."
Pretty pathetic, I know. But hey to defend myself, I was sick with the flu my head wasnt all the way there.
Some more time passes and the same mom comes back to the waiting area but this time with her daughter lovingly in her arms. More petty little thoughts, "The perfect little family, with the perfect mom, comes out with her perfect daughter, in her perfect ... oh wait. Is her daughter... missing... a foot. Holy. Freaking. Crap... her foot was just amputated! HER FOOT WAS JUST AMPUTATED?!!"

Wanna know how I felt?


Kinda like that.

I felt like the worst kind of person. Sick or not, I am a bad person.
If I had Karen's checklist before this happened, this is what I could have done.

1. Find the similarity: We are both mothers. We both have children receiving surgeries. We both love our children.
2. Learn: I could have learned from this mother. She was calm and collected, reading scriptures with her family. I prob could have found peace and comfort from reading scripture as well.
3. Celebrate imperfect vs. imperfect:  She is not perfect. I now know she does not have a perfect situation. She will have to teach and painfully watch her daughter struggle and triumph in life with only one foot.
4. Make it about them: If only I could have seen her as a mother who loves her child. A mother who, just like myself, is genuinely concerned for the welfare of her daughter.

Going through this humbling experience and then learning how I could have better handled the situation, has better prepared me for the next time I find my self comparing myself. Thank you Karen. Thank you for teaching my that I don't have to just stop judging the covers of books, but rather to love them all for who and what they are. The number one most important principle I took from all this was, we are all children of God. We do matter! We matter to the world. We matter to ourselves! We matter to our families! We matter to Heavenly Father! We matter! I matter!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Numb (Prequel Part 3)

  Work, home, party. Work, home, party. Work, home, party.
I felt like I was living three lives. My home life, I was still the obedient and quite child my mother and father had raised me to be. Work life, there was a certain level of professionalism that I didn't show anywhere else, after all I needed money to party.  Party life was just that, P.A.R.T.Y!!!
  One morning after making my bed I had a strong feeling to stash my journal in the trunk of my car. My mother had a history of reading my journal, Now I need to take a moment to defend my mother. I understand that she probably sensed that something was wrong. Her motherly intuition kicked in and knew I had a deep, dark, and scary secret. I wish now that I would not have mistaken that concern she had for betrayal. I had a history of not talking or sharing my feelings with my mother. Now, The nosy reader will be thinking right about now,Why not? Well, that's another story. Let's continue the original story.
  I convince myself that taking my journal with me to work was silly and paranoid. Hoping now that I am an adult my mother will be better at respecting my privacy. I went to work without another thought of that journal.
  A few hours later as I was cooking some french fries when my manager call me back into the office and hand me the office phone. Which was only intended for emergency purposes. On the other line were the sobs and heavy voice of my mother and father, ordering my immediate return home. When I asked why, all I heard was. "We read your journal." I rushed out the restaurant at full speed crying harder than I had in a long time. My co-workers and managers only had time to shoot worried looks my way.
   It was about an hour drive home, so I had some time to think. And, MAN! Did I think! I thought and thought and thought. I thought about how I hated my parents, myself, my life. I thought of the hurtful things I have written about them and the destructive secret life that I was living. Focused on the road ahead of me I started to fall into a deep and dark trance, becoming hypnotized by the yellow line passing under my vehicle. I felt like I was floating, lost in my dark and lonely dream world as if I were truly asleep. The numbing feeling that overwhelmed me was welcomed by trance.
  I remember how easy it was to make the decision when I saw the oncoming semi truck. The horn of the truck was getting louder but sounded as if I was in a tunnel. The headlights were frantically flashing. As the screeching and smoke coming from the tires of the truck I thought about how poetic this would be, seeing how my dad is a truck driver. A slight smile emerged in the corner of  my mouth as the driver had slammed on the brakes. My right foot felt heavier, resulting in my car going almost 100 mph. 
  All at once, the face of my youngest sister popped into my head. Crying, wearing all black, sitting in church.  I couldn't do that to her, at only 10 years old it seemed unfair and wrong to confound her with death of her sister by suicide. Just as effectively as a glass of cold water, my dream had been abruptly interrupted when I snapped into reality. My dream was in fact a nightmare. I pulled my steering wheel as hard as I could over to the left; slamming my foot on the break with such force I would have thought my foot touched pavement. The smell of burning rubber filled the air as I jostled the car right and left trying to find steady ground.
  The car finally came to a stop and the dust around the car settled. It was then I noticed how white my knuckles and cramped my fingers were. I didn't even notice that I had stopped crying but my eyes were still swollen red from before. I just went through a hurricane of emotions but I was still numb. I decided I would face my parents, but I would not talk. I made a decision. I would do what I always did. I would bury this. I decided, just as I always did, nobody cares and it didn't matter.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day

Last weekend was mother's day weekend. I say weekend because, as a birthmother, I am appreciated both Saturday and Sunday. Mother's day, by my husband and boys, and the day before is the unofficial official birthmother's day.
There are always mixed emotions with this weekend; anger and guilt, emptiness and fulfillment, happiness and sadness. I am angry that my Rose does not call me "mommy." I feel guilty that I am raising three boys without her. I feel empty because I have one child that is not with me on this day. Sadness will overwhelm me when I realize these things are true, and it's painful and lonely. Then I hear her voice, wishing me a "Happy Birthmother's day" I remember why I choose to place her. I remember that through the pain I will find happiness. It's true that every storm has a rainbow and my Rose is my rainbow. 
It was my rainbow that helped lead me to my pot of gold. My big heaping pot of happy joyful gold! My family, my husband, and our three sons. 
My mother's day weekend will mainly remind me of two things.
First. I am the mother of three beautiful little boys! I am reminded of that every time I am brought every single dandelion in every single lawn;  every time my oldest reads his books to me, every time I see the permanent marker on the bathroom wall from my middle son, and every time I bring my baby close to sing him a lullaby. I am gently reminded by my sons that I am their mother and they love me for it. 
Second. I am the birthmother of one amazing little girl! I get the privilege of watching her grow into a beautiful daughter of God. I get to be there as an influence in her life,  so that she may be stronger then me. That she will always remember who she is. I don't get to mother her in the same sense that I get to mother my sons but it's because I wasn't prepared for her. Her mother was! Her mother is amazing. Her mother is one of my closest, dearest, and a sincere friend. If not for her, then I would have never realized just how important my role as a birthmother is. 
I have been blessed by four of the most amazing of God's souls. I am the mother of three sons, three warriors of God. I am the birthmother of a daughter of God. I am happy! Kids playing with bubbles, kind of happy. Baby's first laugh, kind of happy. Being in the temple, kind of happy. I am so immensely happy, and if being this happy meant that I had to go through sadness, loneliness, and anger; then I will take it. Without bad there is no good. Without sadness there is no happiness. I have struggled with great sadness so that I may obtain great happiness. I have obtained it, and I intend to keep it. Forever!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Life Lesson

   There is one life lesson that I am always having to relearn. Who I am. Who am I? Well, I'm Carla, 5 feet and 4 inches, I am a wife, a mother, a birthmother, a daughter, a sister, an in-law, a friend. I enjoy embroidery, small sewing projects, reading, writing, walks, running, (none of these things I do often enough) and over all keeping busy. My new favorite food is smoked salmon and I will consume chocolate like it's oxygen. I just became a realtor and am very excited to start that chapter in my life. My boys are the love of my life, all four of them. (Including the old ball and chain.) I can't stand a messy bathroom, hate sitting through a bad movie, am a horrible driver, I really REALLY hate dubstep, and laundry is my arch nemesis. Is this who I am? Are these the qualities that make me Carla?
   There are only a few things in the above paragraph that I did not choose for myself, like being a daughter and sister, my height, and my enslavement to chocolate. I do not believe that the choices I have made in my life make me who I am. I mean who, exactly, was I born to be? Was I born to be a wife? Was I born to be a birthmother? Was I born to be a bad driver? Was I born to be a realtor? Was I born to be run? NO! I choose each and every single one of those. If I was to believe I was born to be any one of those things then I would have to admit in believing in fate. I don't. I believe life is a series of events that has presented me with choices. Choices that will inevitably have consequences.
    Consequence, in my book, is not a word for condemnation. I chose to pick up a needle one day and thread it; next thing I know it was a picture on a scrap of fabric made from string. I chose to go to school so I can have a business card with the word "realtor" underneath it. I choose to be an overly cautious driver, thus getting passed and honked at a lot. I choose to not see myself for what I am, for who I truly was born to be. I guess I do believe in sort of fate but not an earthly fate. I was born with one purpose in life, with one goal that I seem to forget often. My purpose in life is to use my talents and learn from my short comings to be a stronger daughter of God, so that I may  reach the superb goal of a heavenly and eternal existence with my Father in Heaven. Can I call that fate? No, I don't believe so. By calling it fate it means, I have no choice. It would mean God would be a liar. There was an epic battle in the preexistence, that resulted in casting out Lucifer, so that we may have choice here on earth. My eternal existence is limited to the choices I make in my life.
    I cannot choose WHO I was born to be, I was born as a daughter of God. I can choose WHAT kind of daughter I will be. I am a daughter of God! It's up to me to make a conscience decision to value the value that my Heavenly Father has for me. I don't need to understand it, I just need to value it. To trust it, to essentially, trust him.
  Why do I forget this so often? Because I listen to all the crap. I focus too much on the list in the first paragraph to give me purpose and value. Value does not need to be found. Value, I have learned recently, it is a birthright. My Heavenly Father values me as a daughter of God just because I am one. He find joys in my marriage, mothering, sewing, and I am positive that he too loves a raspberry chocolate truffle. He guides me with patience while my boys pee on the ground around the toilets and he calms my nerves in heavy traffic. He will either find joy from my choices or give me the tools I need to make me better.
   I am a daughter of God, who loves me and I love him. I struggle to live the value of divine nature and Satan knows it. Ronald Reagan said, "Evil is powerless when the good are unafraid." To be honest, I am afraid. However; I have come to learn that when I put my trust in the Lord and when I trust in the value he sees in me, I am less afraid. There is one shred of knowledge I should always remember, one place I can place my trust, and one tool I can beat Satan with its this; I am a Daughter of God!