1. What brought you to adoption?
( Birth Mom)
Well. I was single and pregnant. My mom asked me if I wanted to go to LDS Family Services to talk to a counselor and so I did. And I wasn't so sure on adoption for about the first 4 months of my pregnancy. It was mentioned here and there but it always made mad or sad. I was very closed minded at first. But my heart began to soften as soon as I found out that Valery and Dustinn were looking to adopt.
Like many other couples, infertility brought us to adoption.
We had been blessed with one biological son but hoped for more children. Starting the adoption process felt natural and right.
Back in 2004, I was a senior at BYU. I was walking home from class one day and saw a toddler, wearing just a diaper, running back and forth across the street. I carried him to the side of the road and hung out with him until I met his mother. His mother, "N" was in dire straits. "N" and I became friends but even more so, her son "Angel" and I became friends. I'd regularly pick him up to go to the park or McDonald's. Sometimes when I returned with Angel I couldn't find "N" and Angel would stay with me (and my college roommates, haha) overnight.
Dustinn came into the picture and together we continued to visit Angel as "N" hopped from place to place in the Salt Lake valley, and as Angel was in and out of foster care.
In 2008 "N" and Angel moved again, except this time no one knew where they went. I haven't seen or heard from "N" or Angel since. But I miss him. I still keep my eyes peeled for him when we're in Utah. I can't help but think about how old he's turning every December 16th. I wonder what he's like and how he is doing in school. I wonder if anyone is helping him with his homework and reminding him that he is good and smart and important.
Dustinn and I pray that he's okay because we know often he was not.
The moral of this story is twofold:
1. I knew long ago that a child did not have to be biologically mine to love him/her with all my heart.
2. I know what it's like to wonder how a child is doing. We wouldn't ever want Stefanie to feel like that. While we're aware that open adoption isn't for everyone, it was important to us that Stefanie had that option.
2.What do you want out of the adoption relationship with each other.
(Birth Mom) I wanted a really close friendship like BFF's. Someone I can call and talk to even if I was having a bad day and needed a friend. I think our friendship has blossomed more and I think of Val as like my soul sister. :)
(Adoptive Mom) Stef appreciates updates, pictures, visits and generally to have a continuing relationship with Olivia.
We don't have any expectations of things we'd like Stefanie to do for us/Olivia. However, she has done many wonderful and thoughtful things for us. She loves us and Bradshaw. She remembers and cares about important things in our life. She makes us feel special by spending time with us.
Generally, everyone in the adoption triad wants respect, understanding, patience and forgiveness (Dustinn and I are most definitely fallible!)
We are hopeful that an open adoption will help comfort and reassure Stefanie of her choice. We are hopeful that an open adoption will give Olivia answers, confidence and peace.
3.What do you both want for the child that was placed for adoption?
(Birth Mom) I want her to be happy and to know that she's always loved from all different sorts of families. Your blood doesn't define your family. It's those that are closest to you. I want her to WANT to know where she comes from and that it's an awesome thing that she's adopted
(Incidentally, prior to Olivia's birth we were on a long car ride with Stefanie and we all took turns making wishes for Olivia.)
Olivia's just a toddler now. We want her world to be warm, welcoming, friendly. We want Olivia to feel safe.
As she grows, we want her to be able to discover her talents and interests and to find joy and fulfillment in using them to help others.
We want her to know that she is a beloved daughter of God. That she is of divine worth.
We want her to know that God was aware of her birth and life. That He will hear and answer her prayers.
We want her to have the confidence that comes from knowing who she is and knowing what life is about.
We want her to know that she is dearly loved by her parents, siblings, birth mom, birth dad, and all of her extended family (birth family definitely included.)
We want her to know being adopted makes her special.
4.How is your relation ship with each other?
(Birth Mom) With Val (the adoptive mom) We're like sisters. With Olivia (birthdaughter) she's only 13 months old. But I know she'll always grow up knowing who I am and that we'll be super close. Not so much a mother/daughter relationship but maybe like an aunt/niece relationship. Sounds weird. I hated that idea at first. But it makes sense.
(Adoptive Mom) Good! Right, Stef?
We communicate primarily via email. Which works really well for me. (While I am not a shy person. I tend to shy away from the phone.)
Stefanie lives in Utah, where a lot of my extended family also lives so we've visited Utah several times in the past year and have typically been able to see Stefanie and her family multiple times each visit. So we've had the chance to meet and get to know her boyfriend/fiance/now husband, to play games (hurrah for Kingsburg!) and catch up in person.
5. What would be advice you would give to other women considering adoption?
(Birth Mom) It's hard and take the time to know you're doing what's best for YOU and for YOUR BABY. You will be affected by it but your baby will be affected more by your choices. I would advise you to do a pro/cons list. Get counseling. Go to groups, if there are any available in your community. Write in your journal. Pray often. Do what it is that will help you.
6. What would be your advice to other hopeful adoptive couples?
(Birth Mom) After having gone through the adoption process and meeting so many wonderful couples. I know that you all have that precious spirit waiting to be born with you. And they're as excited as you are. I know times will be tough and it'll get discouraging but don't lose faith.
My other advice (it's going to be kind of harsh and to the point): Do NOT lead your birthmom on. Do NOT promise her something that you can't follow through with. Do NOT promise her an open adoption with all intentions to close it up after. We canNOT have PEACE without all the PIECES. A birthmom will find you that will fit into your family if that's what you like. Be true to yourself. We made all the promises and followed through with the adoption and gave you what you wanted. All we ask is that you return the favor. If you don't feel comfortable with an open adoption, research it. Find out more about it. You are most likely feeling uneasy because of the unknown. It's a wonderful experience and you would truely miss out and so will your future child.
(Adoptive Mom) Keep a journal! Daily if possible. You will go through the whole gamut of emotions and see miracles that you'll want to remember--and even more so you'll experience things that you'll want to be able to tell your adopted child.
The more you write, the more you'll see.
I would especially note the "warm fuzzies" (such as sweet quotes your child's birth family says, special connections you have with the birth family, first impressions, etc.)
Plus, you never know if something you've written will someday be an answer your child seeks.
7. How open is your adoption? What does OPEN mean to you?
(Birth Mom) I think it's super open. We don't live in the same state. But being as far away as we are, it's still close. We actually knew each other before. Dustinn (adoptive dad) is best friends with my brother in-law. And they found out I was pregnant and looking at options through my sister. I knew they were the perfect family already. Before I had Olivia, I flew out to Virginia and stayed with them for a week. Me and Val would call each other and E-mail. We both blog and she sends me pictures or will tell me something new about Olivia and sends me updates. It's awesome. When they're in town, we see each other. They let me babysit Olivia a few days after I had Olivia.
(Adoptive Mom) I believe it would be labeled as "very open."
We've seen each other many times since Olivia's been born. We've been in each other's homes. We love each other's extended family. We follow each other's blogs. We send pictures and give updates. We talk on the phone but mostly email.
8. What does your Open adoption look like today? Has anything changed? More open? Less open?
(Birth Mom) Today. It hasn't changed much. Except that our schedules are just so busy. She is taking care of two kids. I recently just got married. But when we have time we will E-mail. It's so convient just when you're on the computer and you only have a short amount of time that you can always get back on and E-mail back when you have time. I feel bad if she calls and I can't answer and I don't call back. And I don't want Dustinn or Val to feel obligated that they have to call me back right away and that I'll be angry forever. I know they'll get back to me when they can. They're great. I'm sure we're both nervous about stepping on eachother's toes but nothing too horrible has gone wrong. Haha.
(Adoptive Mom) It's only been a year. I guess the biggest change is my husband is now an MBA student--so we're on a student budget and will be traveling less this year than we did last year. Otherwise nothing has changed.
9. What were your insecurities about placing for adoption and about adopting?
(Birth Mom) I was afraid that Olivia wouldn't know that I loved her or that I didn't know who I was. That Dustinn and Val decided that I was somehow a threat (or a psycho) to her and their family and would cut off all contact. I'm afraid that later on that when Olivia gets older that she will choose on her own that she doesn't want contact with me. I don't want it to be that somehow a huge fight will happen and we won't ever talk to each other again.
(Adoptive Mom) -First we worried that we wouldn't be chosen by a birth mother.
-Shortly after Stefanie chose us, she flew from Utah to Virginia to spend time with us. I was worried if my bath tub was clean. I was worried if my cooking tasted good. I worried whether she was bored. I was worried about what she thought of our parenting. Mostly, I was worried if it was a week long interview. (Murphy's Law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Within hours of Stef arriving, she saw our son's worst behavior. ever. And she still placed with us!!! The week was extremely fun: the highlights being the times she opened up to us regarding what she was feeling and thinking.)
-During Stefanie's pregnancy, we worried about placement HARD. Every woman who goes through that is a superhero in my book.)
-Now, mostly we worry about letting Stefanie down. Not in terms of parenting or who we are. More in terms of maintaining the relationship (ie sending enough/the right pictures, finding the balance between visiting Stefanie without neglecting other relatives we have in Utah, etc.)
(And new worries will likely crop up as Olivia grows up. :)
10. How are you (the birth mom) known to the child? Are you called by name? a nickname? Are you known as the birth mom?
(Birth Mom) I'm just Stefanie. Nothing to special right now just because Olivia is barely one. I'm sure she'll just know me as Stefanie and she'll know that I'm her birthmom. She won't ever call me mom because I'm not raising her, Val is. Val is her mom.
Olivia is only 13 months old so she does't talk a lot. :)
Stef and I talked about what she'd prefer. We decided Olivia will call her "Stef/Stefanie" and of course she will know that Stefanie is her birth mother, her angel.
11. Did you both come up with a story together on how the child would know he/she was placed for adoption and why? Or did just the AParent?
(Birth Mom) I haven't even thought about it. Haha. I know that Dustinn and Val will do a great job with that and that I don't really have to worry about it.
(Adoptive Mom) Stefanie made Olivia a beautiful picture album.
With Olivia, there will never be a "big reveal." She will always know that she's adopted, has a birth mother and birth father who love her dearly, and that she came to our family in a very special way.
12.Who named the child?
(Birth Mom) We both sort of did. What happened was that when I was planning on parenting. I was going to name her Olivia Nicole. Nic is the birthfather and so Nicole would be after him. I told Val that after I decided to place. And they decided to keep the first name Olivia and to change her middle name to Kate after Val's great-grandmother and her sister. It didn't upset me. I was kind of unsure about it at first and I didn't know if I liked how it sounded together. But it grew on me. And I look at her and she's DEFINITELY an Olivia Kate. Not an Olivia Nicole.
(Adoptive Mom)We named her together.
It makes me laugh to remember this detail about the night we'd found out Stefanie was placing with us. That day, out of the blue, we'd received a package in the mail. When we opened the package we saw an ultrasound picture and the caption "it's a girl!" Beneath the picture was a letter that started "I wanted to let you know what you're having." (Thinking about it still gives me chills.)
We had company in town so Dustinn and I went out walking in the dark, warm summer night to call Stefanie. After squeals, tears and excitedly talking at the same time, she asked, "so....what are you going to name her?" "Oh Stef, we have no idea! We just found out we're going to be parents a few minutes ago."
We spent the next couple of days thinking about it. Stefanie had told us "if I was keeping her I would name her Olivia" but she in no way pressured us to choose that name. We'd previously planned on giving all our children family names. Then we had this "ah-ha!" moment: Olivia would be a family name--from Stefanie's side. (It also helped that we think Olivia is a beautiful name.)
Olivia's middle name is Kate after my Great Grandmother and my sister. A lot of people don't know their great grandparents very well but that is not the case for me. I spent many summers having sleep-overs at her house, eating her delicious cooking, doing cartwheels in her yard, and eating vegetables straight from their garden. Only after my own bout with infertility were my eyes opened to my Great Grandma's trials with wanting children. She was always cheerful and charitable.
13.Anything else you want to add?
Yes! You asked specifically for a birth mom and adoptive parent story combined, so I focused on the relationship between Stefanie and I.
However, Olivia's story is incomplete without her amazing birth dad!
We got to know him and became friends before Olivia was born and continue to communicate and see him often. He loves Olivia very much.
He recently got married and he & his wife are an important part of our lives.
10 Days Until Forever | Favorite LDS Adoption Book
5 months ago