Parenting

Birth mothers Can Show Love to Their Child Placed for Adoption

Parker Herring, is a Board-Certified Family Law Attorney and Director of the NC-based adoption agency, A Child’s Hope. In this blog, she discusses the most frequent asked questions about adoption that she gets from birth mothers. Plus, shares many of her firsthand experiences as she’s adopted two children of her own.

Parker Herring Answers Questions About AdoptionOne of the questions about adoption I often hear from birth mothers is:

“How can I let my child know how much I love him/her?”

I explain that although she will not be there physically to do the daily tasks that let a child know he/she is loved, there is a lot that can be done before and after the placement to help the child understand the difficult act of choosing adoption. Remember, a child can never have too many people loving him/her. These eight ideas are written as suggestions for birth mothers, but of course, birth fathers can follow the same protocol.

Letters — Write a letter to your child for the adoptive parents to read later. What is most important is that this letter be in your own words and from your heart. Explain why you made this decision, how much you love him/her and how he/she will always be in your heart. My middle son’s birth mother wrote a nicely worded letter on lined paper with a pen. It’s simple and beautiful.

Lifebooks — Consider doing a photo book. Known as a lifebook, these scrapbooks can include photographs of you, your family, and even the birth father. Over time the child can get to know you. For some ideas on photo books, Amazon has a nice selection.  

Make Something for the Child — Making a blanket or giving a stuffed animal to the adoptive family to give to the child is special. The child can keep it, it’s tangible and something you have gifted. If you are okay with parting with a stuffed animal or toy that you had as a child, this can make the gift even more meaningful.

Books About Adoption — Purchase a children’s book about adoption and inscribe inside a message from your heart. Maybe something like: “Never forget how much I love you!” For a list of children’s books, visit amazon and your local library.

Send Clothes and Toys.  Ask the adoptive parents to let you know about sizes for clothes and favorite toys to send to your child. Even something small, but sent on a regular basis honoring an important day or event, will let the child know that they continued to be loved.

Naming the Child — If you are in contact with the adoptive parents, ask them to work with you on choosing a name for the child that either has part of your name, or a name you chose for the baby. Ask the adoptive parents to share with the child how he/she got their name. Names are a sensitive subject. If you are uncomfortable bringing up the suggestion of being involved in the name process, consider asking a counselor for help. If you don’t have a counselor, email or ask the question in a note to the adoptive parents. My oldest son’s birth mother chose a name for him, but never told us. I didn’t know until after the mother’s birth certificate arrived. I’ve told him the name she chose, and he cherishes it. If I’d known of her choice, I would have honored it by using at least one of the names.

Stay in touch. Both with open and semi-open adoptions (hot link to web pages), you can send letters and pictures over the years. Birthday cards, Valentine’s cards, all holidays. Send in advance so the child receives on his/her holiday celebration. Your pictures can show the child how you are doing. I saw one birth mother hold up a sign in a photograph with the lettering “Forever in my Heart”. You can also set up SnapFish, Shutterfly or Flickr accounts to share pictures.

Visits – It is important to always follow through with plans to stay in touch. If you had agreed on visits, follow through. At the visit remember that your emotions may be difficult for the child to understand, so do your best to put the child’s needs first. It’s always good to give a small gift – whether it be a card, coloring book or some other small token. Physically demonstrate your affection for the child at the visit, but take cues from the child. You do not want to make the child feel uncomfortable. If there has been a long time between visits, it may take your child awhile to warm up. Don’t insist that the child call you “mom” – use your first name.

There are many ways show the child that you love and care for him/her as they grow. Determining which will be best for you, the child and the adoptive family is a partnership and should be planned for, as much as possible, before the adoption. Holding open and honest conversations with the adoption agency counselor and the adoptive parents will go a long way in providing you comfort that the child knows how loved they are, as well as providing the child the knowledge of who the birth parents are, where they come from and, most importantly, that they are loved dearly.

A mother of three children, E. Parker Herring has a deep respect and understanding of family law and the adoption process (for which she’s adopted two children of her own). She is the founder and director of A Child’s Hope, a North Carolina licensed adoption agency located in Raleigh that focuses on helping birth mothers and families looking to adopt and answer questions about adoption. A Child’s Hope has placed 332 children since 2000, and is the only North Carolina domestic adoption agency directed by an attorney. Herring is a Board-Certified Family Law Specialist who has practiced family law for nearly 30 years in the Raleigh area. She’s a member of the NC Bar Association, the Wake County Bar Association, and the NC Collaborative Lawyers.

Three Sisters, Three Different Birthmothers, One Happy Family

Over the years, Beth and husband Steve have stayed in touch with A Child’s Hope through Christmas parties, picnics and other functions. Not a day goes by that Beth doesn’t think of A Child’s Hope in some way as she and Steve raise their family of adopted daughters, thanking God for the gift of their three girls.

Adopted Daughters | Three Sisters, Three Birthmothers, One Happy FamilyBeth and Steve’s first daughter came in a whirlwind. In March of 2000, a birthmother called the agency and asked: “Can Beth and Steve come to the hospital and pick up the baby?”

You see, this young woman had not met with an agency counselor. She had not contacted the agency. She had plans to do so, but never did. However, she had gone to the website, read the Waiting Families section with profiles of those looking to adopt. Like so much in life, the unexpected happened, the baby came early.

There were legal matters to be resolved, but the director of A Child’s Hope, E. Parker Herring, located Beth and Steve and asked if they would be interested in taking home a baby that day.

“We were very nervous as it was our first child, and we had only waited a few months,” says Beth.

After Beth and Steve met at the hospital with the birthmother and A Child’s Hope counselor they agreed to become the newborn’s family. Her name was Alexis. She was one of the first adoption placements by A Child’s Hope. “It was so reassuring to know that A Child’s Hope was working on the birthmother’s behalf, as well as ours,” says Steve. “We were so impressed with the people there; the social workers, Parker, Bobby, everyone.”

About two years later, Beth and Steve signed with A Child’s Hope to adopt a second child. This time the adoption was a little more typical. Beth and Steve were matched with a birthmother during pregnancy and Meghan (again named by Beth and Steve) was placed with them a year later.

“By the time we adopted our second daughter we felt a little more confident in what we were doing,” says Beth. “The three of us went to the office and picked her up with big sister, Alexis, leading the way. It was so nice to see our oldest so happy to have a little sister.”

In 2005, this young and vibrant family was ready to welcome home a third child. Thirteen months later they became a family of five. Savannah came home in October of 2006.

“When A Child’s Hope called about our third little girl, we knew our family was complete,” says Steve. “We were driving home from the children’s museum when the social worker called to tell us we had been selected by the birthmother. For the second time, we a went as a family to A Child’s Hope and our daughters met their new little sister.”

“We will always be eternally grateful to the three birthmothers who so unselfishly placed their children for adoption,” says Beth. “These girls have no biology connecting them, but they are sisters in every sense of the word.”

So today, through adoption the Gracey family includes  17, 15 and 11-year-old adopted daughters, and they wouldn’t change a thing. Beth and Steve still remember each time they learned that a birthmother selected them, and the joy they felt in building a family. Beth explains, “The reason we were able to be the family we are is due to the caring, genuine and knowledgeable team at A Child’s Hope, and the birthmothers they so compassionately work with.”

A mother of three children, E. Parker Herring has a deep respect and understanding of family law and the adoption process (for which she’s adopted two children of her own). She is the founder and director of A Child’s Hope, a North Carolina licensed adoption agency located in Raleigh that focuses on helping birthmothers and families looking to adopt. A Child’s Hope has placed 332 children since 2000, and is the only North Carolina domestic adoption agency directed by an attorney. Herring is a Board-Certified Family Law Specialist who has practiced family law for nearly 30 years in the Raleigh area. She’s a member of the N.C. Bar Association, the Wake County Bar Association, and the NC Collaborative Lawyers.

Adopting & Raising a Child with Special Needs – Things to Know

There are many adoptive parents who have taken on the loving and demanding job of adopting and raising a child with special needs. In my mind, these parents are as special as the children they adopt.

What I hear frequently from adoptive parents who are offered the opportunity to adopt a child born with special needs is that if they had given birth to the child then they wouldn’t hesitate to jump right in, even though they know it’s going to be demanding. And even as adoptive parents, they think of the child as their own almost from the start and they become fierce advocates. For many, it’s a lifetime commitment.

One of my favorite memories as an adoption agency director is seeing a three year old named Matthew laughing at a local mall as he tried to run away from his parents, Jack and Peggy. His parents smiled broadly. They were so proud. He was a beautiful toddler, with black curls and a smile that was big and open. And he didn’t walk, he ran.

“And this is the child that we were told might never walk,” Peggy said. “And look at him now. We have to run to keep up.”

The family added another son by adoption, Michael, a few years later. Now the brothers are best friends. Michael was born with a life threatening physical condition called esophageal fistula. He was airlifted shortly after birth to a major medical center. Jack and Peggy were with him while he had seven operations, first to connect his esophagus to his stomach and then later to remove a finger that didn’t function and construct a thumb from his index finger. He still has challenges swallowing and has had four procedures in the last two years.

Jack and Peggy’s time and heart commitment has been enormous. But Michael is now thirteen years old and doing well!

“You have to take on what you feel you can handle,” Peggy said recently. “We feel blessed. “

What do your adopted children want from you as the adoptive parent?

Now that the adoption agency I founded here in North Carolina is 16 years old, and now that my two adopted sons are teenagers, I’ve learned a bit about what adoptees (adopted children) want over time from me as an adoptive mother. Every adoption situation is different, but there are some common threads:

Adoptees want to hear their birth story:

Birthdays and holidays like Christmas and Easter can be hard for adoptees. That is why we encourage adoptive parents in open adoptions to send photographs and update them three times a year at a minimum – the child’s birthday, and Christmas and Easter. We get the most inquiries from birthmothers who have placed their children on the child’s birthday and around the holidays.

And if you are adopted, hearing the story about the first time you as an adoptive mother saw you and held you is very important. Share these details. Share photographs from the hospital if you were lucky enough to be there and also share photographs from placement day (or “Gotcha day!” as they’re sometimes called).

Adoptees want to be reassured that you will never abandon them:

For adoptees, I think there is often the question of why didn’t she keep me? It’s especially important with adopted children that their adopted parents remind them frequently that adoption is forever. I tell my sons that “I will always be there for you” and when one of them acts out or makes a mistake, I let them know that there is nothing they can do that will stop me from loving them. It’s my mantra, and no matter how they act out, I repeat it.

Adoptees deserve to know why they were placed for adoption:

It’s important for adopted parents to share what they know about what was behind the birthparents’ decision to place them for adoption rather than raise the child. Whether she was an unwed teenager or a woman struggling with addictions, domestic violence or poverty, information about why there was an adoption helps adoptees cope with the reality that they couldn’t be raised in their birth family.

When the facts behind placement are especially dire – rape and incest, abuse by a birthparent, etc. the facts can be shared at a later time in development when the child can understand. In the meantime, if the adopted parents met the birthmother, telling the child about shared physical characteristics you observed is a link that helps an adoptee feel connected.

Adoptees need to know that they were not a mistake:

No one is a mistake. But I think for adopted children it can look and feel that way. Little do they know that many pregnancies are not planned, whether there is an adoption or not. But when you are an adoptee, it’s important to state the obvious often and without reserve – “I am so glad you were born! You have made me so happy! And I will always love you!”

When I told my son this recently, he challenged me. “But I was a mistake!” he yelled.

I hesitated and then recovered. “Not to your dad and me,” I said. “God made you just for us.”

Adoption & Parents: Will my child hate me?

There are a multitude of misconceptions about adoption that can cause worry for both prospective birth parents or adopting families. Adoptive parents might wonder if they will be able to love an adopted child as much as their biological children, and sometimes birth parents worry that their adopted child will have ill feelings toward them.

However, some are working to fight that preconceived notion. The U.S. Department of Health and Services has published the most recent statistics from the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents (NSAP). This is the first of its kind, an empirical study with verifiable data that can be used to fight common misunderstandings that birth parents and adoptive families have about the adoptive process. These stats show that many of the more widespread misconceptions are simply incorrect.

Here a a few general adoption misconceptions: 

“Will the adopted child enjoy as much love as a biological child?”

This is an expected feeling that both the adoptive family and birth parents share before adopting. Any fear of the adoptive family not caring for a child simply because it doesn’t have their genes are quickly gone as soon as the adoptive parents first sees their child. This is true for almost every adoption! 

Just watch how the adoptive parents interact with the adopted child: Nearly 75% of adopted children ages one to five are read to or sang to every day, compared with only half of non-adopted children who receive the same attention from their biological parents. That’s amazing!

Moreover, well over 50% of all adopted children eat dinner with their families at least 6 days per week.

It’s no surprise that adoption statistics show how much adoptive parents cherish the time they have with their children. And it shows, because they appreciate every day the opportunity to be a mom and a dad. They are the first ones at their son’s team’s practice, and they are in the front row of their daughter’s play. Their lives simply revolve around their kids. 

“My child will hate me because I placed her for adoption?”

This notion comes about from people and media that are inexperienced in adoption, or simply too caught up in Hollywood depictions of the adoption process. A family member or a friend who might not agree with a pregnant woman’s desire to place her child for adoption might try to claim that the child might hate the parent if this were to happen. And some television shows and movies have unjustly portrayed adopted kids in this way as well. 

But here are the facts: around nine out of ten adopted children ages 5 and older have good, positive feelings about their adoption. Most adopted children are raised in happy homes by loving adoptive parents, so why would an adopted child hate his birth parents, the ones who provided him with a great life and his mom and dad? Think about it.

A few more points about adoption myths:

-The best way to ensure that your child knows that you love him or her is to give the adoptive parents something – a letter or a life book – that will show your love and express how you feel. In the letter you can explain why you made the decision to place for adoption.

-In “open adoptions” you can over the years show your love and affection by staying in touch. Look up studies on how adoptive children feel and quote from it. (Adoption Institute, Adoptive Families, etc.) Follow up with communication over the years that can be passed on to your child as he grows.

-Cases where the adopted child doesn’t know why the adoption plan was made are more likely to result in anger towards the birth parents, so make sure that you provide a letter and pictures, and express how you feel.

Things on a Birth Mother’s Mind

Ask almost any pregnant woman and she’ll tell you: her mind races from anxiety to anticipation in a heartbeat. For a pregnant woman who has decided to place her child for adoption, the emotional roller coaster may have even greater ups and downs.

Deciding on Adoption Details

Birth mothers may need to decide on a family for their child. In an open adoption, the most common kind, the birth mother may meet many adoptive families, trying to decide which one will be a good fit for the baby. The birth mothers must determine what legal issues to negotiate related to the adoption, such as type and frequency of communication or visits.

Dealing with Questions About the Decision

In addition, birth mothers must face the barrage of questions such as “what are you going to name the baby” and other questions that assume the woman will raise the baby. Does she explain to everyone who asks that she has made the difficult, but loving decision to place her child for adoption? Does she say nothing or lie, just to avoid getting into a potential conversation or debate?

It’s not just strangers a birth mother may have to defend her decision to, but family and friends as well. Although adoption is a deeply personal issue, it’s not uncommon for others to offer opinions about what the birth mother should do. Most birth mothers, however, have given this option a great deal of thought and have done significant research before coming to the decision that this is in the best interest of the child. Rather than receiving criticism, birth mothers should receive support.

Keeping Themselves and Their Babies Healthy

Most birth mothers are deeply committed to keeping their babies healthy, and marvel at the baby’s growth. The mothers know they must take care of themselves and their babies—by eating well, exercising, going to regular prenatal doctor’s visits and taking pre-natal vitamins. If a birth mother needs bed rest or special care, she must figure out how to manage work, other children or commitments while keeping her unborn baby safe.

Worrying About the Baby’s Reaction Later in Life

Will the baby, once grown, understand why adoption was the best choice? Even when the birth mother is at peace with the decision, she still may wonder if the child will understand. The birth mother has no illusions: she knows it will be difficult not raising her child, but many birth parents find that staying in touch with the adoptive family makes it a little easier. In addition, with the opportunity to communicate with the child through an open adoption, a birth parent can convey the reasons for the sacrifice.

A birth mother has many things on her mind because she, like every mother, wants to ensure the best outcome for her child.

If you are considering adoption and want to learn more, or need support, please call A Child’s Hope in Raleigh, NC. Our understanding counselors can provide the information you need to make the right decision for you and your child throughout the North Carolina area. Dial our 24-hour hotline at 877-890-4673 or text “pregnant” to 919-971-4396.

Pregnancy: What to Know about The Second Trimester

Looking-out-window---blk-and-whiteThe second trimester of pregnancy often feels like the best. You may no longer get morning sickness, and you may now enjoy a hearty appetite along with a resurgence of energy. You also are starting to see visible changes in your body as the baby grows, but you don’t yet have some of the late stage discomforts.

Baby’s Development in the Second Trimester

The second trimester begins in week 13 and goes to about week 28. During this time, the baby continues phenomenal growth as the systems that are now in place continue to develop. Sweat glands develop, and eyebrows, eyelashes and fingernails start to grow. Other internal organs that have already formed continue to mature.

The skin becomes less transparent as necessary fat accumulates. The baby begins to have sleeping and waking cycles. Although the baby may have begun to move at the end of the first trimester, during the second trimester, you can begin to detect the movement. Doctors can find the baby’s heartbeat with a stethoscope.

By the end of the second trimester, the baby measures a little over a foot—about 14 inches in length and weighs about 2 ¼ pounds. For comparison, the baby is about the size of a whole cauliflower.

Changes for You During the Second Trimester

Just as the baby is undergoing amazing growth during the second trimester, your body changes to support that growth.

Some of the changes you’ll notice may include larger breasts, stretch marks and finally, a baby “bump.” You may also notice skin changes, almost as if you were in puberty all over again. You may get more frequent bladder or kidney infections and leg cramps as your body adjusts to the increased work it is doing.

Toward the end of the second trimester, you may feel aches as the ligaments in your abdomen stretch to accommodate the growing belly. You may also begin to feel a temporary tightening, or mild contractions, called Braxton-Hicks, which help prepare your body for delivery. As the baby takes up more room, squeezing your stomach and lung area, you may feel indigestion and occasional breathlessness.

By the end of the second trimester, most women are wearing maternity clothes and the pregnancy is real and undeniable.

Making Use of “Honeymoon” Period

Without the frequent nausea and exhaustion of the first trimester, and yet before the tiredness and discomfort of the third trimester, the second trimester is one of the best times to plan for your baby. For women who are considering placing their child with an adoptive family, this is an important time in the information gathering and decision making process. A Child’s Hope can help. Our empathetic counselors can listen and provide the information you need to make the right decision for you and your child.

To learn more, please call our 24-hour hotline at 877-890-4673 or text “pregnant” to 919-971-4396.

The Journey to Becoming a Parent Through Adoption!

NewbornAs a child, I dreamed of becoming many things: a doctor, a ballerina, and a marine biologist, but, more than anything else in the world, I wanted to be a mom someday. However, as a teen, I realized that due to being born with heart defects, my dream of becoming a mom, at least biologically, may not be possible. At the time, I did not know anyone who was adopted, but, starting in college, I began to hear more and more about adoption and met both children and adults who were adopted. When I got married just after graduating, two family members and my best friend offered to be surrogates for my husband and me when we were ready to start a family, but by that time I knew that someday I was meant to become a mom through adoption!

My husband and I adopted our first child, Bella, seven and-a-half years ago through A Child’s Hope. Though the whole process took less than 6 months, it was not without its ups and downs. Just before we matched with Bella’s birth mother, we were matched with another birth mother whom we met but who ultimately chose to parent. It was hard to get past the pain of this revocation, but about a month later we became parents to our beautiful Bella, who does not look like us due to her Honduran heritage, but whose personality is a perfect combination of my husband’s and my own.

Two and-a-half years later, we adopted our son, Carter, again through A Child’s Hope. This time we knew we wanted a Hispanic child so that Bella could have a sibling that shared her wonderful heritage that we had learned so much about during the first few years of her life. Carter was born about 6 weeks early, less than a week after we matched with his birth mother. He had some health issues the few first years of his life but is now an always on the go, a super-ready for Kindergarten 5-year-old.

While Bella and Carter truly made my dream of becoming a mother come true, being one of four children, I felt that I had room for more children in my heart and we had more room in our house. Bella, while having a great bond with her brother, wished all the time for “a baby sister named Maia.” So when Carter turned 3, we decided to start the adoption process again, this time specifically with the goal of adopting a little girl. We decided to sign with an adoption referral service this time to find a birth mother in a different state with a shorter revocation period than NC and ended up matching with a birth mother in NV. Like her brother, Carter, Maia Jane could not wait to join our family and ended up being born at Thanksgiving instead of around Christmas when her birth mother was scheduled to have a C-section. We ended up spending about 2 weeks in NV with my mom, Bella, and Carter, the first week of which Maia was in the NICU. Since we had gotten to know everyone at A Child’s Hope so well, we had Bobby Mills finalize our adoption of Maia in NC.

Not a day goes by that I do not look at my kids and think how lucky I am to be their mother but also how it all really seems meant to be! There is no doubt that adoption is a roller coaster, and I am not a big fan of roller coasters, but, as I have been told about childbirth, once your child is in your arms, the joy you experience erases from your mind any pain you experienced.

Thank you to Lyla and her family for sharing their story with us!

Do you have a story you’d like to tell?  Email us at blog.ach@foryourlife.com.  Visit us at www.AChildsHope.com, or call our Birth Mother Hotline at 1-877-890-HOPE (4976) so one of our adoption counselors can answer your questions confidentially.

Please remember that this is a public site open to anyone; therefore, anything you post can be seen by anyone.

Adoption vs Parenting: Making The Best Choice

PregnantIt’s one of the most difficult decisions a woman with an unexpected pregnancy can face: whether to keep the baby or to place the child for adoption. Most women in this situation have already decided to carry the baby to term, and are trying to figure out what the best option is once the baby is born.

And, as much as it is a deeply emotional decision, it should also be a pragmatic one, one that considers both the short and long-term effects. Here are some important aspects to consider.

  1. Are you financially able to raise a child? Babies and children are expensive. It costs an average of $245,000 to take care of a child up to age 18, not including college tuition. Some birth parents, recognizing that they are unable to financially provide for the baby, find that adoption ultimately provides the baby with more lifelong opportunities.
  1. Do you have a realistic action plan for either decision–keeping or placing your child? If you plan to keep the baby, have you determined where you’ll live and what you’ll do for childcare? Will you have to quit school or work, or rely on someone for financial support? Do you have the support of family and friends? What changes will you need to make to your lifestyle to accommodate a baby, and are you prepared for those adjustments?If you are considering placing your child for adoption, have you looked at the different types of arrangements in your state, i.e. open, closed, to see which one you are most comfortable with? Have you talked with an adoption lawyer to find out what your options are, including how much say you have in the adoption process?
  1. Do you have any automatic emotional reactions that make one option seem impossible? Some birth parents feel the idea of “giving up” a baby makes them seem unloving. However, many adoptive parents will vouch that placing a child with a nurturing family is one of the most loving things a person can do. The stigma associated with unplanned pregnancy, adoption and single parenting is diminishing, which gives you the flexibility to make the best decision for you and the child; not based on society’s expectations.
  1. How will either decision affect you, even years from now? This is both an emotional and a pragmatic question. Logistically, keeping a baby may mean the end—or at least the delay of your education, or moving back home with your parents while you raise your child. Will you resent these sacrifices? On the other hand, what will it mean for you if your place the baby with a family—will you be satisfied with the amount of contact you have, based on your agreement? Will your child be happy with their adoptive family? Will you tell any current or future children about their adopted sibling? How will you feel if they want to meet, or don’t want to? Will the child want to meet you—or not, and how do you feel about that?

Deciding whether to raise a child yourself or choose an adoptive family is undoubtedly tough. But the right decision—the one that provides the best future for that baby…that child…that teenager…that adult—comes not only from your gut and your heart, but most importantly, from your head.

If you would like to talk with someone to explore your options, please contact A Child’s Hope. Our compassionate counselors can provide the support you need to make the best decision. Call our 24 hour hotline at 877-890-4673, or visit our website, A Child’s Hope.

Every Mother / Child Love Story is Beautiful, but Ours is My Favorite

ACH-blog-247 years ago, a wonderful woman who was not able to carry a pregnancy to term, had a newborn baby girl placed in her arms, and a love story unfolded that spanned 40 years.

People seem fascinated when they find out I’m adopted. It was always such an inconsequential thing to me. A detail. My mom was my mom, my dad was my dad, and I never gave it much thought.

ACH-blog3My parents made a point of openly discussing the fact that I was adopted from a very young age, so it was a very natural, non-dramatic thing for me. I was told that my biological mother was single, and loved me enough to want the very best for me, so she made sure I was placed in a home with two parents.

ACHblog5My parents went on to adopt a baby boy two years later, and then months after that, ironically became pregnant and gave birth to a second baby boy. So I grew up with two siblings, in a sweet little house in North Florida. My father was a machinist, and my mom kept other children at home, and sewed and baked for extra money, so that she could stay home with us. We didn’t have much money, but it was a happy childhood.

ACHblog4Years later, my mother and I had the typical turbulent relationship common in the teenaged years. But by the time I went to college, I was calling home every other day. There was just no one on earth that reveled in the minutia of my life like my mother.

Years later, when I got married, she made my wedding dress. It was a labor of love, and she told me afterward that she alternated stitches and tears.

I went on to have four girls myself, and my mother was a doting grandmother. She taught my girls to sew, and enjoyed making the same bunny cakes for them each Easter that she’d made for us growing up.

ACH-blogSeven years ago, I got the call that my mother was rushed to the hospital with a life threatening complication of diabetes. I rushed to her side, and rarely left the hospital for the three weeks that she was ill. We lost her in December that year, three weeks before Christmas. It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever experienced and I miss her every day. But I am so enormously grateful for all the years that I had with her. She was my best friend, my greatest cheerleader, and a wonderful role model to me as I mother my own children.

ACH-blog-1I often reflect on the tremendous amount of time, energy and sacrifice children require, and the fact that a woman who did not have to, spent four decades loving me with everything in her. Contrary to the idea that adopted children may feel abandoned, I felt so loved, so treasured, and so wanted. I give thanks every day for my biological mother who cared enough to want the best for me, and made the supreme sacrifice of making sure that I grew up in a loving family. She made the right decision, and I’m so grateful for her wisdom.

 

 

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