Parenting Doesn't End With Adoption, In Fact, It Is Just Begining

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Absence Makes The Heart Grow........

"Absence makes the heart grow founder". Does it really? Or does absence make the heart grow curious, empty, confused, or just plain hard? I never truly understood this phrase, and in keeping with the theme of Father's Day, I've decided to write about my take on absence, absence of a father.

Of all the misfortunes my life has experienced, I was fortunate enough to have known my father. He was, for what seemed the all too short period of my life, all the things a father should be. He was my teacher, my protector, the one I went to for advice, and when my car broke down, he was a disciplinarian, and the authority figure in our home he was firm, but fair and he had a HUGE heart. My Dad walked us through many storms and sunny days, and at the end of each, stood a man that did the best he could, always. He was young when he married my mother, and young when they divorced, and what seemed even younger, when he died. At 45, he left behind his second wife, myself, my brother and our then 8 year old sister. In our case, absence has made the heart grow lonely, and longing for the father we lost. Willing to give up everything we have in exchange for just one more day. But, at the very least, we will always carry the memories of the days we did.

Brother, Taz, Dad and Me, in really bad 90's attire lol
This is not the case for many, especially adoptees. After reading Rebecca's recent posts, I can see the effects not knowing your biological father can have. Which led me to think about my own children and their father. My girls were victims of my "Broken Chooser", (recently heard this, and thought it to be very appropriate, ty RH) Hannah's only memory of her bio-dad is him throwing a coffee cup at me, and Ashley has no memory of him at all. I used to be happy that they didn't know him, but now, I'm not so sure. Absence makes the heart grow, confused.

I truly, in no way desire they have a relationship with him, but that's my own selfishness. I do however, for identity's sake, wish they knew more, and of course would support them if they decided to find him. But to be honest, I'm hurt. I happen to be "facebook friends" with the "lucky" girl who followed me down that oh so pleasant road, and I was doing what we all do on facebook, looking at her pictures. I stumbled across some pictures of him, one recent, and a few older ones of him with their kids. It bothered me, that he was, and still is, a part of their lives, but ran from our girls. Is that fair, are my children more fortunate, or are hers? Her children will grow up knowing their father, but being let down by him and hurt by his mistakes, while my girls will grow up, creating their own images of him in their heads, and wondering "what if" he was in their lives. Absence makes the heart grow, curious.

Moral of the story is, whether you have a bio-father, adoptive father, father figure or none at all, the father is just as important as the mother. All too often in our society father's are put down, put out, left out or have let us down. I believe we need to put the "F" back in Family. Father's need to be on the list right next to mothers. Their role in the identity of our children is just as important as ours, and I hope I can be as supportive as possible when the time comes for my children to find their father, because when it comes to them, Absence has made my heart grow stronger.

Monday, June 4, 2012

"Had A Bad Day"......

About a year before I began my relationship with Rebecca, and Ashley was living in her then pre-adoptive home, I received, what I consider, one of my most priced possessions. A CD from Ashley. The CD contained some songs that were clearly selected by Ashley herself and some that I now know were chosen by her Dad. This CD, what I like to call, an eclectic mix of great music, came accompanied by a simple card, that read; "I made you this CD. I think of you when I hear Had A Bad Day, it's on here with the other song I like. Love Ashley".

So simple, yet so powerful. I put the CD in and listened from beginning to end. By the 5th song I was in tears, along with my mother who was listening from down the hall. Whether intentional or not, every song spoke to me, as though Ashley were giving me some secret messages, and in some way, maybe she did without even knowing. I pondered over how sad it was that when she heard the song Had A Bad Day, she thought of me. I honestly had grown to dislike the song thanks to American Idol, but listened to the words intently, over and over. For the first time I heard what the song was saying and cried. Here was my daughter, thinking about how my life's a mess, I'm lost, and all I needed was a break, ouch.

The one verse, that to this day continues to echo through my mind, when I listen to the song, and think of my past mistakes, and everything I'm doing now is; "So where was the passion when you need it the most, you kick up the leaves and the magic is lost." Where was the passion when I needed it the most? Why is it that now I have more passion than time, but when my children were counting on me, my magic was lost? I can't for the life of me figure it out, but I do know, it won't happen again.

I'm thinking about this today because I've been reminded of other people in my life, that I, at one time, had judged for lacking a passion for their child. At the time, it seemed an unspeakable act, to walk away from your child, to give up and allow others to parent them. But I now understand, that sometimes, the walking away part, was the best thing for the child at the time, and still may be. I know that your emotional state can overpower your reason, and drive you to do things, you wouldn't dream of in your right mind. Although, it is often difficult to let go of that pain, I know it is right to let go of the anger and resentment, for I would be a hypocrite, to do anything less, than that, that was done for me, forgiveness.

 Forgiveness doesn't always make it right, but it does open the door for healing, and to that person, whom I speak of, I offer you forgiveness and I hope you can begin to heal.

 On that great CD, directly following "Had a Bad Day", is a song by Saving Jane, called "Better Day". How appropriately placed on the playlist! After the words of Had a Bad day resonated with me, the words of  "Better Day" fueled my fire. I played that song all day every day, until I heard Ashley's and Hannah's voice sing the words from inside me.........

"It's gona be a better day,
Think I'm gona be OK,
 Got a little air to Breathe,
That's all right with me,
Got a little light to shine,
You can't take what's mine,
 I've been down SO LOW, NO WHERE BUT UP TO GO,
So go ahead bring all the rain,
It's Gona Be A Better Day!"

Enjoy Your Better Day, Live Like Today is Your Last, and Don't Forget to Love Your Children, No Matter Where They Are!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mom's Are Worth A Million!!!

MotherWoman is an organization that has designed and implemented an amazing support group model for mother's, as well as revolutionized the world's view on Post-Partum Depression or what they call Perinatal Emotional Complications. MotherWoman has grown from a local, to national, to internationally recognized organization, for their work with mother's, their model, and their trainings on Perinatal Emotional Complications.

 I am an attendee as well as a facilitator of this amazing support group for mothers. I am currently working with the directors on developing a support group for Adoptive and Birth mothers. I'm sure there's many of you out there that would believe that even Adoptive mothers experience Post-Partum Emotional Complications, just like the Birth mother. It's my new mission to create an environment for  members of the triad to get together and grow in this safe, caring, understanding space, that only MotherWoman could create.

MotherWoman has kicked off their "Moms Are Worth A Million!" Campaign for Mother's Day. I was honored to be a part of the video they created to promote this campaign. Please check me, my babies and three other amazingly strong mother's share some of our stories in this moving video "Moms Are Worth A Million!"

 I hope you enjoy the video, and you might want to keep a tissue handy! Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Roundtable #37 After a Visit

This is the first time I've joined in an Open-Adoption Roundtable prompt, but when Rebecca let me know what it was, I couldn't resist! After a visit, is the perfect topic for me, because I have two completely different open-adoption relationships, one with Ashley, one with Hannah.

Let me start with Ashley. As many of you know, Rebecca and I have been able to develop a close, comfortable relationship with each other, one in which we basically have decided to co-parent our daughter Ashley. Rebecca and her husband do the bulk of the parenting, but have graciously included me in just about every aspect of Ashley's upbringing. So, naturally, visits are a non-event, they happen regularly, and barring nothing major happens, like Ashley asking if I wanted her, there isn't much visit backlash anymore. That being said, the best way I could describe how I feel after a visit with Ashley, is similar to the way I felt when I was a child, after a visit with my grandmother. I always had a good time, I had that warm, fuzzy feeling, only a close loved one can give you, and I knew that next week, I'd be back and get to do it all over again. This is exactly how I feel after a visit with Ashley, like I just left grandma's house.

And then there's Hannah. I wish I could say I was as close with her adoptive parents as I am with Rebecca and her husband. I think about it often, and it pains me to know that there is potential for a blissful relationship via open-adoption, and I'm not even close when it comes to this family. In fact, bliss is the furthest thing from my mind when I think of a visit with Hannah. Not that the visit itself was all bad, I've only had one in the past three years, but it was awkward and scripted, so far from what I have with Ashley, it hurt. I went in to the visit with high hopes, nervous as hell, but willing to give it my best. We all, both parents, myself, and Hannah had dinner together, in a very public restaurant, far from either one of our homes. I understood their fear, and just took what I could get, anything to see my daughter. We had, what only could be referred to as interesting conversation, they paid for my meal, (which was very nice of them) I repeatedly hugged my sweet child, I hugged both her parents, I whispered my love for her in her ear as we embraced one final time, while she spoke her true feelings, only through her eyes, and like she was almost instructed to do so, she excused herself to the restroom, and followed me with her gaze, wearily out of the restaurant.

That is when the horror began. I walked sobbing to my car, I sat in it for a moment trying to regain my composure, but knew I had to move, for they would probably freak if I saw them leave the restaurant. As I drove away I felt a wide range of emotions, but the one that stood out the most was guilt, guilt and fear. Guilt that I had put my child in this position, she clearly has hidden, or maybe not so hidden, desires to be with me, and I created a situation where that's just not possible. This guilt is sometimes, and at that moment, extremely overwhelming, so much so that I had to stop at the nearest Dunkin Donuts to throw up. The fear, the fear was from a couple things, first and foremost, I was scared I'd never, ever see her again, which is entirely possible, and the second was fear over what is really happening in her life. I couldn't shake the feeling, that gut feeling every mother gets, that something just isn't right. I guess, I might never really know.

I had over an hour drive home, and on the way my emotions flowed like a roller coaster. I was angry, sad, helpless, happy that I got to see her, devastated that I got to see her, sick, scared, disgusted with myself, worried about her, I was pretty much a big mess. I felt bad, that I was so happy with Ashley's placement and so upset about Hannah's. I felt like a monster because I didn't want to fight to get Ashley back, but wanted to dive head first in to the law library to try and find some loop-hole that could get Hannah home to me. I can only compare the way I felt after this visit to the way I felt the day I had to sign over my parental rights. I felt like a failure, I wanted to die, only difference was this time I had Recovery, and Rebecca.

I immediately brought my thoughts and feelings to Rebecca. At this time we were still in the beginning months of our relationship, but it was already strong enough for me to share my true feelings with her. I told her exactly how I felt, and my guilt over wanting to fight for Hannah. I wasn't sure what kind of response I would get, but it was exactly the one I needed. She reassured me that I was NORMAL for feeling that way, that she was crying for me, and she sent me a hug via text, along with some other amazing words of wisdom, only Rebecca could come up with. She is such an amazingly insightful, and caring woman, I'd be lost in the adoption world without her. Her kind words, respect for my feelings, and thoughtfulness helped me see the good in this experience, and somehow managed to change my feelings, just enough, to truly appreciate the time I spent with my daughter, Hannah, and she gave me a glimmer, a small one, but a glimmer of hope that maybe I will see her again, and if I didn't, 18 isn't that far away.

I know someday I will look back on these painful years separated from Hannah, and these joyful times with my adopted family, well Ashley's adopted family (it's mine too!) and I will smile, because the contrast between the two won't matter anymore. I am confident all my children will come find me, whether they already know where I am, or they have to come looking, we'll be together. How I felt after the visit, will just be a a part of the past, a short stop on my journey through open-adoption, a journey that has reshaped my life in so many ways, no matter what the cost may have been, I'm grateful to be on this road. How does it feel? There are no words.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I Have A Family......

 Well of course I have a family, we all do! Every family may look different, but they all started out the same. Each one has a biological mother and biological father, grandparents, and great grandparents, some have siblings, and cousins, aunts and uncles. This is the way biology works, we each have an ancestry, that is our family.

My family consists of many members. I have a mother, and she has a mother. I had a father, who I lost six years ago, and he had parents too. My father was the baby of eight, and my mother is one of four. My parents had two children, myself and my brother. They divorced, and remarried, so I then had a step-father and step-mother. Both couples had more children, my mother had eight, my father had one, and so my family grew, a lot.

By the time I was 19 I had started my own family. I had my first child, my second, and before my 25 birthday my family had grown and I had given birth to five children. Here is where my family became different, and my children went to live in new families, temporary ones.

At this point in my life I became very distant from my original family and my own. I could not handle the damage I had done to mine and in turn took it out on the ones I loved. Not directly, but by not being present, my family spent countless hours worrying about me, getting the random phone call at 3am, from me saying I'm stranded somewhere, severely intoxicated. There was a few times my mother, who worked nights, driving, came to my rescue, just to have me disappear again, when I had found someplace else to go.

I hurt my family, all of them, not to mention the heart ache they felt over the loss of my children. This devastated them, and eventually, one by one, they no longer wanted to be my family, and instead of  their phone calls, I received their prayers. Prayers, that some day, I would be well again, and come back to the family.

During my time estranged from my family, my children, were struggling to find a family that fit. My boys stayed securely with their grandmother, but the girls were bouncing from one foster family to another. This damaged their views on family as well as destroyed their trust in anyone that called themselves "Their Family". Finally, both of my girls nestled in to their own forever families, and the challenges of learning to have a family again began.

Fortunately, my family's prayers for "someday" did come, but it came because, my family was going to grow again. My pregnancy for Tyler saved my life, and in turn, saved my relationship with my family, sort-of. Of course the damage that had been done already, was hard to forget, and my family and I just don't share the same bond we had before. They love me for who I am, and I love them, but there are often times when I feel I just don't fit in.

After meeting my daughter Ashley's adoptive mother, Rebecca, I started believing the word family can mean many things. Family isn't just the one you were born into, but rather the one that has chosen you. I've also found that sometimes, this family might even be a better fit than your bio-family.

I recently had the honor of attending a Seder dinner at Rebecca's house. This was a big event for me, not only was it my first Seder, but there was going to be other friends and family there. I was a little nervous about being the "birth mom" at the party. I happy to say, once I was there, that thought never crossed my mind. I wasn't the "birth mom" but rather, just a family member! I was welcomed by everyone there, and when Rebecca shared the nature of our relationship, everyone at the table just smiled and acted as though this were perfectly normal. At that moment I realized this is normal, it is normal for our family, my family, the one I share with Rebecca, her husband, her daughter, my boys, and our daughter, Ashley. We are no different then the family next door, except, perhaps, we've chosen to be family, we've designed it ourselves, without knowing what the final outcome might look like, but to us, it's perfectly beautiful.

I couldn't have planned it better, and I'm happy to say, finally...........                                                  
         I have a family.                                    

Friday, March 23, 2012

Some Where Out There......

In the movie American Tail, Fivel has lost his family. As he sits atop the Statue of Liberty he sings the song, "Some Where Out There" to the beautiful night sky, thinking of his family, while some where, out there, his sister and family are singing the same song about him, looking at the same night sky. Fivel is unaware of his family's location, even though they're close by, and he feels reunification is a seemingly endless battle, but he still has hope. I know how he feels! I can't even begin to count the many times I have gazed at the stars, hearing that song in my head, and thought of my children, some where, out there. My children, some place in this world, looking at the same stars I am, sharing the same sky, but not sharing the same home.

I've been going through some struggles recently, and I seem to find myself thinking of the little lives I lost quite frequently these days. I think it's human nature to replay your hurts and mistakes through your head when times are tough. Lately, I've been thinking that it's not fair, things are different now, they should be home, wishing I could change the past, hoping for a magic wand to make it all right, or better yet, I'd love to wake up and realize this was just a bad dream, but it's not, losing my children is a reality, and this pain, is very real.

It's times like this that I am especially grateful for my relationship with Rebecca. Because of her kind, open heart, I can talk to and see Ashley, whenever she's available. This is amazing, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't jealous of Rebecca and her husband. It's a funny place to be in, to have so much love and admiration for two people, to have absolute joy over the fact that these people I love taking care of my baby girl, but at the same time, wish there was never a need to have met them. (I in no way regret my daughter's placement, or my fantastic relationship with her mother, just speaking from the bio-mom perspective) I wish I could have met them at church or the PTA instead of having to meet them because I failed as a parent. None the less, Ashley is still a part of my life, I'm still her mother, and I'm happy to be sharing her with such wonderful, amazing, brave, courageous, persistent, and consistent people, that love her unconditionally, just like I do.

And then there's Hannah. I go to bed at night knowing Ashley is safe, and in a good place. But with Hannah, I know nothing. There is a complete lack of communication between myself and her parents. Not a day goes by that I don't worry about what's going on with her. I worry, so much, that she thinks I don't care about her, or I don't love her and think about her constantly. I want to hold her in my arms, like I can with Ashley. I long for my child all the time, and I wonder is she some where out there, longing for me? Does she think of me as much as I think of her? Is she ever going to be able to forgive me for losing her? Does she, like Ashley, worry I didn't want her? Does she know how hard I fought for her? Will she ever understand?

As I sit, starring up at the same big sky that my children are under, and ponder these difficult questions, I know without a shadow of doubt, my children are still my children. And for everything I've done wrong, I've done twice as much to get better. Life is just testing me right now, on patience, tolerance and acceptance, and for my children's sake and my own, I will pass this test. I will never give up or give in to the dark thoughts I sometimes have about myself and my past. I will use those feelings as fuel for my fire, to fight for change of a broken system, to pave the way for mother's and families, to make sure they receive the help they deserve to stay together. I will succeed.  

So, in this journey of healing, I acknowledge I have been given this path for a reason, and my children, no matter where they might be, are travelling this path with me So even when this path gets bumpy, as it is right now, I will continue to follow it, wherever it may take me, trusting that my children are indeed "some where out there", and we will someday wish upon the same bright star, together as a family, with their forever families there too. In the meantime, I will continue to have faith like Fivel, and know that love will see us through.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Well after my last post, it seems I've given all of you a lesson in patience!

I'm very sorry for the delay in my post, but life has been giving me lemons, so I've been very busy making lemonade. Hopefully it ends soon, because I'm afraid I might run out of sugar! None the less, life will go on, and I have plenty to be joyful for.

So, next to the birth of my son, the second best thing that has happened so far this year is the Department of Children and Families, did not find ANY evidence to support the alligations of neglect of my children. Thank God , they finally understand I have made huge CHANGES in my life and they are for real! Also, on Feb. 1st I flew down to Washington D.C. and sat on a panel for the TV show, Road to Recovery! It was awesome, and it will be airing on June 6th. For your local listing of the show, check out click on TV show and put in your city for your listing. I hope you all can tune in for my television debute!

I have so much I need to share, but I have two little ones DEMANDING my attention. So, I shall return, and in the meantime, please check out my new found favorite person, Josh Shipp. He was left at the hospital as an infant, bounced through 7 foster homes, and finally was adopted. He's now a youth speaker and TV host, of Jump Shipp on Halogen network. Check him out at or on facebook, or youtube. I think he has an amazing story of adoption through foster care, it's great to see successful people rise out of the system!

I hope everyone out there is doing great, hug your children, and enjoy life!!!

Look for me in the upcoming MotherWoman's Mother's Day video, coming soon at