Posts Tagged ‘Birth Family’
November 6, 2009 | By: Liz
I’ve had a lot going on recently — between travelling for work, representing clients, and getting ready to launch an egg donation agency my plate is pretty full — on top of which I have family issues and a back that doesn’t really want to let me stand up straight (a metaphor for my life if ever there was one). I was talking to my coach about how overwhelmed I feel and how does a business owner, lawyer, any professional person in general deal with that. I also feel that a recent visit to Dr. Chung to address my own reproductive issues brought up a lot of memories and feelings which just added to feeling like I couldn’t manage my own life. I know we all get there sometimes. The days you don’t want to get out of bed, the days you want to take a mental health day from work, the days nothing goes right and you find yourself digging through your pocket book for chocolate or xanax or both! LOL!
My coach gave me a lot to think about and work on and I must say that we worked through many of my personal issues surrounding feeling overwhelmed and now I am feeling much more empowered, but the bottom line I think was that I was (1) avoiding facing the issues and work that were bugging me ; (2) I wasn’t taking time for myself (hello Martyr Liz); and (3) I wasn’t taking time to look around me and feel grateful for things.
So this morning, as I do almost every morning, I sat down for my meditation time (which I will admit I haven’t had in over a month because of the demands of work) and I looked out the window of my sun porch and NOTICED the beautiful yellow and orange trees outside my windows. Literally overnight they had gone from green to the amazing mix of colors, they are blazing with light and color and reminding me of the limitless capacity we all have for change. Feeling overwhelmed is only a feeling. Feelings are not facts, and they do not usually accurately represent where we are in our leaves. If the trees in my backyard can go from spring green to autumn blazing bold orange and gold overnight, than so can we. We can go from feeling overwhelmed, stuck, frustrated, anxious, or even despair at the stress in our lives presented by childlessness, infertility, infertility treatment, worries about follicle counts and E2 levels, birth mothers not returning our calls, our adoption cell phones not ringing, our agency calling to tell us our referral has been delayed (again) . . . whatever it is . . . to recognizing that we really are all okay, everything is perfect in our lives right now and that we are safe and not alone. It doesn’t take much. For me all it took was taking a break and looking and really seeing outside the window of my world. That tree changed overnight. Nothing is permanent or forever. Those leaves will be gone in a few days leaving me with new views to ponder. Tomorrow your E2 level will be different, you might get a call that a spot opened up on a dr’s wait list, or your referral might come in from your agency.
Take a moment and look at something outside of your normal consciousness. Something you take for granted, something you ignore. Notice how beautiful and miraculous it is. The write down what you noticed about it, and then write down everything that is making you feel overwhelmed or stuck.
Next, write down the opposite of everything that is making you feel overwhelmed or stuck. Write down the way you want it to be. That tree in my yard changed overnight. In a few days it will change again. It reminded me that our lives our fluid and constantly moving. Our feelings are just feelings. Write them down, then write down what you want the reality to be. I bet you anything that just like the blazing fire of autumnal glory outside my window that is transfixing me and inspiring me, the thing you look at will change your perspective as well and you will see or remember that the list of what you want is moving closer to you every second.
And if that didn’t work . . . just remember this adage someone once told me. Imagine you are swimming in the ocean toward the shore. But the current is so strong that as you swim you get no closer to land. However, every stroke of your arms and kick of your legs fighting that current is making your legs and arms stronger. When that current releases you, you will literally fly through the water toward the land at a speed you cannot comprehend right now. Every stroke is building muscle. Every breathe is keeping you strong. Because nothing is permanent and that current will disappear and you will be swimming faster toward your dreams and goals than you can even begin to comprehend now as you fight with that current. Surrender to the current.
Filed under: Peace to Parenthood
February 10, 2009 | By: Liz
Starting an adoption plan isn’t easy stuff for anyone. Most prospective adoptive parents come to the process carrying a hefty amount of baggage. Whether it is from infertility treatment, or being an “older” adoptive parent, or our marital status, most of us are really scared about what a birth family may think about us and who we are. There is no doubt that the fear of rejection is daunting. It’s amazing what we do to ourselves through this process. How we compartmentalize our personalities and our features and try to “predict” what it is that might make us more appealing to a birth family or what might make us less “pickable”. It has gotten so out-of-control in some respects that I now lovingly call it the “Pickable-Factor” or the “Pickable List.”
The Pickable Factor is anything that we think might disqualify us or make us less attractive to a birth family, ultimately causing her to choose another adoptive parent(s) over us. Every one of us has our own list of “pickables” that we think will make our wait take longer. I don’t care what is on your “Pickable Factor” or your “Pickable List”. The Pickable Factor is a myth! Birth families usually don’t care as much about what’s on our Pickable List as we do.
Now before you go dismissing me altogether, please keep in mind that I have been on both sides of the fence. I am an adoptive parent twice over and I am adoption advocate and professional. And I can count the number of times on one hand that a birth mother has “rejected” an adoptive parent because of a “Pickable-Factor.” I don’t mean in any way shape or form to dismiss the fears that give rise to our list of Pickable Factors. I do want to reassure you that most, if not all of the time, what we think is going to disqualify us or make it harder to be chosen by a birth mother are not really what birth families are focusing on when trying to find a forever home for their baby.
Among those of us who may have even greater fears regarding rejection by birth parents are prospective adoptive parents who are cancer survivors or who have some physical disability. You may think that having had cancer makes you somehow less “pickable” than another adoptive parent. But in my experience, it really isn’t true. The right birth mother is not going to care about your medical history. Just like the fact that she’s probably not as likely to care about your religion, or your age or anything else on the list you’ve created. She’s going to pick you because of some inarticulable, beautiful quality in you, one that is completely separate and distinct from your medical profile. Or, maybe she chooses you because of a random baseball cap you’re wearing in one of the photographs in your dear birth mother letter or your adoptive parent profile. (And yes, it can be that random.) My point is this, what most birth families want and what we think they want, are vastly different. Your Pickable Factors are exactly that, your Pickable Factors, no matter how consequential you may think they are.
I recently gave a seminar on adoption advertising. Although the crowd was relatively small, it was a diverse group, including three women who are cancer survivors. Two of these women have children through adoption and the third was waiting to be picked by a birth family. One of the women was very open about her experience (we’ll call her “Adoptive Mom A”). Adoptive Mom A talked about how scared she was that a birth mom would reject her and all the things on her “pickable” list. Her greatest concern, however, was that the birth mom wouldn’t want to place a baby with her because of her history of cancer. She also had been afraid that her age, her physical appearance and her religion would ultimately (and always) cause a birth parent to choose another adoptive couple. Much to her surprise, however, she and her husband met their first birth mother within a few months of starting their search. And they met their second birth mother – for their second adoption – fairly quickly too. Surprising to her, neither of the birth mothers with whom she and her husband made adoption plans, cared about her history of cancer, nor her religion nor her age. The other adoptive mom who is a cancer survivor, Adoptive Mom B, also spoke about what it was like to search for a birth parent with this (as she put it) “elephant in the room.” When she and her partner finally met the birth mother who chose them to parent her baby, the birth mom didn’t ask a single question about the cancer even after Adoptive Mom B brought it up. What made these birth families look past something like a history of cancer? Adoptive Mom A said that her first birth mother chose them because she just felt more “comfortable” with Adoptive Mom A and her husband; their birth mom felt less “judged” by Adoptive Mom A and hubby than she had when she met with other prospective adoptive parents. Adoptive Mom B said that their child’s birth mother says she picked them because they looked like a fun family and that their child would live an active, fun-filled life. Cancer, apparently, wasn’t on these birth parents “Pickable List.”
What these two women shared is consistent with a recent informal survey published in Adoptive Families Magazine. The survey presented the birth parents’ perspective and what they are thinking when they choose adoptive parents (see Adoptive Families Magazine September/October 2008 issue at p.40). Among the criteria Adoptive Families presented as important to birth parents were a stable and financially secure home life for the child.
Everything we list among our Pickable Factors is legitimate, to us. But it isn’t always relevant for birth families. A dear friend (Mel from Stirrup Queens) emailed me about this issue, and I took some time to really think about it. I put myself back in “waiting mode” and I thought about things from the birth parent perspective. Ultimately, I think what brings us together with our children’s birth parents is largely out of our control and that is very hard to deal with. We can obsess about just about anything and everything as part of this process; it is so hard to live a life with so little control about how, when and where we’re going to become a mom or a dad. But the reality is that at the end of the day the obsessing and worrying is for nothing. Cancer, your religion, your marital status are all aspects of who you are, but they don’t define you. It’s what defines you as a whole – not just itemized, compartmentalized things on a list, even elephant sized things – that make a fit for a forever family. The right birth family for your situation usually is the birth family that sees the whole you and looks past elephants and minutia to see who you really are and what you have to offer a baby, even if the essence of you is somehow inarticulably summed up by the beautiful baseball cap you’re wearing in the picture you threw into your profile at the last minute.
Filed under: adoption