Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fostering A Family

"I have seven kids - ages 4-27."

I still think it sounds funny when I say that!

When I was in my 20's I gave birth to four absolutely perfect children.  What more could a mommy want?  Fast forward 10 years - I’d been a single mom for a bit and I met a wonderful man with no children.  He was willing to be a step-dad to my four.  What more could a mommy want?  As my four grew up, I couldn't shake the desire to raise my husband’s children - but I’m not able to carry any more.

At first we were infant adoption all the way.  We got all the paperwork and I started thinking about the fact that there’s a waiting list for newborns.  People are lining up for them.  Because I’d already had newborns I didn't feel that need and frankly, as an older mom I didn't know that I had the time to wait.  In foster care, there are literally thousands of children who need homes right now.

We were licensed as foster parents for about a year and a half before we got a placement of siblings whose parental rights were about to be terminated.  It took a year for the adoption to become finalized but as soon as they walked through our front door, they were mine in my heart.

If you've been doing the math, that’s only 6 right?  About a year ago, we learned of a 20 year old young woman who had aged out of foster care without any type of permanency.  She was going to college and working.  We thought it would be nice to help her out.  She ended up needing a place to stay for a few days that summer and she’s been a part of our family ever since.

When I had those four little babies all those years I never imagined my family would end up looking the way it does now.  I've been very blessed!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Birthmother Support and Resources

Today's post comes from Monika, who is a birth mother through domestic adoption. At Give1 Domestic, we like to support all corners of the adoption triad to learn and grow from each other. Today's post is for any expectant mothers who have relinquished or are considering making an adoption plan (and also those of us who are APs or PAPs to learn from). You can find more of Monika’s writing on her blog, Monika’s Musings (

I was asked to write about resources for birth moms. Unfortunately there are not a lot of resources, but I do have some tips for dealing with the wide range of emotions common to the journey of being a birth mom.

Whether you’re new to the grief of being a birth mom or whether you’ve been a birth mom for a while, it’s most important to realize that you’re not alone and that it’s okay to grieve no matter how long it has been since you relinquished your child. I hope that your child’s parents have realized the importance of you in their child’s life and have continued a relationship with you past the time of your child’s birth and relinquishment. If you have a relationship with your child and his or her parents, that’s wonderful. If you don’t, I’m very sorry to hear that. If you're a birth parent and it was your idea to walk away, I encourage you to reach out to your child and his or her parents. If you are an adoptive parent, I'd consider attempting to contact your child's birth parent(s).

Even if you have an open adoption and are at peace with your decision to relinquish, the grief will never disappear.  You will have days when you feel like you’re at the bottom of a deep dark pit, and you will have days that go smoothly.  There will be events that you will expect to trigger at least a certain amount of grief and there will be times when your grief comes out of the blue and knocks you to your knees.

Come to terms with your decision. It is very important to come to terms with your decision for the best healing.  Even if you feel you were forced into the decision to relinquish, forgiveness is important. Forgive the people you feel controlled your adoption, most importantly yourself, whether you felt in control of the situation or whether you felt like someone else was controlling the situation and outcome. I know from experience that birth moms struggle with self-loathing because they aren’t parenting their child. Though in my own situation I’m at peace with my decision and I was not coerced into making that decision, I still struggle with self-loathing at least occasionally. I’ve found the more forgiveness you can give yourself and others, the more it helps you in your grief journey. You don’t have to confront the people with your forgiveness. Write down how you feel they wronged you. Then write down that you forgive them and mean it. Once you’ve done that, destroy it so you can let that part of the situation go. The same concept and application applies to forgiving yourself.

Reach out and find other birth moms. I didn’t really start healing until I found other women that had been through very similar experiences. Obviously no two experiences are exactly alike no matter how similar the circumstances. However, every birth mom shares the experience of carrying a child in our wombs and then giving that child to someone else who will call that child their own. My caseworker at the agency through which I relinquished told me about BirthMom Buds. Though BirthMom Buds has resources for expectant women considering adoption as well as some resources for adoptive parents, the main focus of the website and group is helping connect birth moms no matter where they live. The founders both live on the East Coast, and I live on the West Coast. I’ve still found that connection with other birth moms that was lacking in my life. You can find BirthMom Buds on their website at . The forums on that website are limited to birth moms, so you have the capability of talking about anything in complete privacy and confidence. Through the forums there is a hosted chat on Monday nights, even though the chat room is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. BirthMom Buds also has a Facebook page that is open to anyone: .  For anyone that would like insights into the thoughts and emotions birth moms may face, I suggest liking BirthMom Buds on Facebook to keep abreast of events and blog posts, and also you can subscribe to the quarterly newsletter.

Start a local support group. Unfortunately there’s online support, but not many in-person support groups. There’s a small list on the BirthMom Buds blog, but it’s solely lacking. If you do start a support group that even meets semi-regularly, I’m certain BirthMom Buds would love to know and spread the word about your group. It doesn’t matter how big or small your group. It can be you and one other birth mom. If you spend time together supporting each other, that’s what defines a support group. I’m fortunate enough to have access to a group through a local LDS Family Services office (though I didn’t relinquish through them and I’m not LDS, they’ve been welcoming). Until recently we would just get together and talk randomly about whatever was on the minds and hearts of the people there that particular evening.

Write. Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, I would also suggest starting a journal. You don’t have to write complete sentences and paragraphs. You can write out single words – whatever comes to mind. You could draw, scribble, or paint. All of those are forms of journaling and I know from experience that keeping a journal is immensely therapeutic. If you find you enjoy writing, you can start a blog. When you start a blog, there are online communities of writers talking about their experiences. I’m unsure if there’s a general forum for the birth moms that blog about closed adoptions, but there is one for birth moms living open adoptions. It’s called Open Adoption Bloggers ( and it’s actually a gathering place for all members of the adoption triad – birth parents, adoptive parents, and even adoptees. Our leader, Heather, provides occasional writing prompts and an extensive blogroll. She’s actually an adoptive mom, and she and her husband have open adoptions with the birth families of all three of their children.

Hopefully the tips I’ve shared with you have been helpful. If anyone has other thoughts, I’d love to hear them!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Featured Family of the Week: Meet the Bolingers!

Please join us in welcoming the Bolinger Family to Give1Save1 as the newest Featured Family of the Week!!!!

Chris and Misty have been married 11 years and have a son and a daughter. Although they are a happy family of four, they still felt that someone was missing. As an adoptee, Chris and his wife Misty felt that adoption was a special part of their family that they wanted to continue. The Bolinger's are fellow BSU alumns (Go Cards!) and live in Zionsville, Indiana.

The Bolinger's have a completed home study with a local adoption agency and are hoping to raise the last funds needed in order to move forward. Their next step is to present their profile to potential birth mothers to see if they might be able to find a match for their family.

Check out Chris and Misty, and the two littlest Bolinger's, Max and Whitney below.....


Let's help get the Bolinger Family a bit closer to adding the 5th member to their family by donating $1 or more at the link below.

From all of us here at Give1Save1, thank you Bolinger Family for sharing your adoption story with us this week!

The Bolinger Family is waiting for a match with a potential birth mother. If you are looking to make an adoption plan and are interested in contacting the Bolinger Family, you can contact their agency, ABL Adoptions c/o Cheryl Reed at 317-507-7628 for more information on their profile.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Adoption After Baby Loss

"To Remember Is Painful, To Forget Is Impossible."

I could apply this to different aspects of my life, but right now it's pertaining to the multiple miscarriages I've had.

Most of the time I'm perfectly accepting of my miscarriages...or my brain just chooses not to process the staggering amount of them I've had since me and Ryan tied the knot in 2006. But then there are some days I grieve deeply. Days where I do shed a few tears. Days where my heart hurts so badly I wonder if that pain will ever go away.

I shouldn't be thinking about that right? I have two beautiful children that God has tremendously blessed our family with by way of adoption. So why do I still have these sad days?

This may come as a total shock to some of you, but I did not adopt Aiden and Abigail to replace the babies I miscarried. They were and will never be my second choice for adding to our family. Over the years I've realized that grieving these little losses was and is okay. It doesn't mean I love Aiden and Abigail less. It just means that I didn't lose Aiden and Abigail like I lost my other babies.

I'm not exactly sure what triggered my aching heart today, but by the time it turned dark outside I couldn't stand it anymore. I had to cry out some of my grief. Tears were beginning to push their way out of my eyeballs even though I was trying to ignore it. I had to go somewhere...preferably a room with a locked door ;)  Then I remembered the ultrasound pictures I have of 1 of my losses. I put them in a drawer in my room so that's where I shut myself up and cried it out. Not two minutes into my crying session my precious Aiden started trying to beat the door down yelling..."mommy, you locked me out!" :) That child can always put a smile on my face no matter what circumstances I am facing. I began trying to swipe at the tears that were still flowing and trying to get a grip on my emotions. I kept asking myself what in the world was I still doing locked in my room crying for babies that have been long gone when I have two beautiful children just outside that locked door? Two beautiful children I could hold, hug, and kiss. Two beautiful children who are very much alive and well.

I'll just say this...I obviously survived these multiple miscarriages...and I'm sure there will be more in the future...but as a mama I have every right to grieve what I lost. No matter how many children we fill our home and lives with (adopted and/or biological) part of my heart will always ache for these losses. ALL of them. Time heals wounds to the point where it doesn't hurt every single second of every single day, but no matter how much time passes I will always ache, and at times deeply grieve for what I've lost and it's okay to do that! It doesn't make me a bad mama. I'd like to think that it will show my children when they get older and begin to understand more about their adoptions that it is okay for them to grieve the family they lost.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Failed Placement - Recovered Finances

Adoption is hard. When you are adopting domestically you may go through one match with an expectant mother (or more) before you are able to adopt.

In 2009, my husband and I had a failed placement when trying to adopt domestically. What that means is that, as the adoptive parents, we paid all of our legal fees once we were matched with an expectant mother up until the point of relinquishment. When the child's mother did not relinquish, our adoption was left uncompleted. We had spent approximately over $8,000 in legal fees with our lawyer (we were doing an independent adoption) as well as for our home study. 

Starting over with adoption is difficult after having a failed placement. We knew we had to keep moving forward, but financially, it was difficult as well. At an adoption seminar we attended after our failed placement, we were told by a coordinator that 50% of domestic adoptions would fall through before relinquishment due to the child's parents changing their mind. We thought to many times would this happen? And if so, how could we keep moving forward financially with spent legal fees after each match?

Luckily, we found out that we could recoup some of the funds we had spent on legal fees from our tax refund that year. I often hear of adoptive parents in a similar situation we were in that did not know this was possible. I am no legal or finance expert for sure, but I wanted to make you aware of an option that might work for you as well. Also, with all the chances to the adoption tax refund in recent years, this option might not still be available or available for long for some families. I think it is worth looking into, although, for families who have had a failed placement and may be able to receive some or all of their expenses refunded.

The IRS Form 8839 has additional information about qualified adoption expenses. Read the section under the heading, "Attempted Adoption of US Children." 

For more information about the adoption tax credit, see the IRS Adoption Benefits FAQ as well as the resources at Creating A Family.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Worth The Wait

Like most people that look into adoption.....I can't have babies.

We're infertile.

There. I said it. It's in black and white.

For the longest time I couldn't say it. I wouldn't acknowledge it. I thought that if I acknowledged it, maybe it would be true. A definite set in stone sort of thing. A sort of, I have a uterus yet it's just sort of taking up space sort of thing.

Finding out you have infertility is hard. For me, the hardest parts were knowing that I couldn't do something everyone else seemed able to do. I took for granted the times I pushed family planning back in my mind, in our married lives, because we always seemed to have time later for that talk. But once you realize that you want something you can't have, it's like trying to hold onto wet sand.

I spent a long time and a lot of energy trying to hold onto something I never had.

What I want to say today, to those who are still waiting for their children......whether it is from pregnancy, or adoption, or fostering, or surrogacy, or however you are building your that it's going to be worth the wait.

Pregnancy for us - it never happened. Yet the children I have now in our home are loved more than I ever thought I'd have the capacity to love a person. They didn't come into our family in the way I thought we would have created it, yet I know that they came at the exact time we were supposed to meet. I don't mean to take away from the hurts that are caused by adoption, or those from infertility, but I do know that both our our stories merged in a way that allowed all our hearts to mend. There really is no other way I can describe it.

Does my family look like I had pictured it? Absolutely not. I had no idea what was in store for us when we disembarked the fertility roller coaster to pursue adoption. I also had no idea that the first time I would hold my children wouldn't be in a maternity ward.....but in an airport, and on another continent.

I look at my children now, all three of them and I think........I can't believe you're here. I waited for you for so long. I hope you always know how much we hoped for you. All of you. We just didn't know at time time what all the wait was for.

You were totally, absolutely worth the wait.