WE HAVE MOVED!!! We are getting a whole new look and have a new blog...it isn't pretty yet but it will be!! This blog will no longer be in use starting June 1, 2012. Come on over to

See you there!!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Our Blog has MOVED!

Hi everyone! 
We are making some BIG changes to BIB and we are so excited!  Please join us on our new blog at
www.bigtoughgirl.blogspot.com or check out our website at www.blessingsinabasket.org!

See you there!!!! 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mothers Weekend!

It is a big weekend for mother’s!...it is even a bigger weekend if you are a birth mother.  I have been reading so many amazing posts about Mother’s Day and have had the incredible opportunity to have one of my favorite posts that I have written published on two amazing sites.  You can see all about them at America Adopts.com and Or So She Says.  It is a post about my journey as a birth mother having a son and now being a wife and a mother and finally having a son of my own!  Thank you for the love and support and for publishing my post…it was an honor and a great joy in my life!

As I have been reading through the hundreds of posts done during the month of May I have seen some amazing heartfelt posts and some sad angry posts…all about their roles as mothers.  It has been confusing to me and has made me question the angle that I celebrate on this incredible weekend. 

I realize more and more how out of the “norm” my family life was and still is.  How much love and support that I had at home.  As I have grown older and have struggled with my own family relationships over the years I have come to understand that to me FAMILY is the ONLY thing that matters!!!!   I believe that almost to a fault!  In fact my dad and I are very old fashioned and we sort of live by the quote from Wyatt Earp “ there is family and everyone else are just strangers”.  I believe that and treat my family as such.  I have learned though that the word family is subjective.  My “family” has grown in ways that I never would have imagined to my amazing Big Tough Girl family to my church family, to the amazing adoption world and Derek’s family and the list goes on. 

I am so blessed to have so many amazing women in my life…examples of Mothers.  I am proud to know and love so many birth moms.  I know that all of our stories are so different, even if the end result is the same, but we all traveled different paths.  I know that NOT ALL ADOPTION STORIES have a happy ending.  There is GREAT LOVE in Adoption but there is also GREAT PAIN.  I want the women that have great pain to know that I love you and pray for you often.  I can only understand what I have experienced but I am always here to support you and love you and lift you if I can!  I found this INCREDIBLE poem that I thought summed up some of the love, joy AND pain felt by a birth mother:

I knew it was happening.. before I had proof it was happening
I knew I couldn't do it before anyone told me I couldn't do it
Not because I didn't want to but Because I was so young
Not because I didn't love you. Simply, because I was not ready I knew you would suffer in some way..
I knew i loved you from day one
I didn't know how to tell anyone or what to do
I knew I would face turmoil much more than that of which was already felt inside
I knew they wouldn't understand
I just knew I loved you and wanted you to someday understand
The truth came out and just as I knew they wouldn't, they didn't understand
I wanted adoption because I loved you.
I have never felt so alone....
I knew i wasn't
I did the best for you each and every day
Then came the day that I knew..
I knew you were a beautiful girl
I knew before anyone else knew
Then that day came that I felt you moving...
I knew this would surely be the hardest thing I'd ever do
I knew adoption would cause me Heartache I just knew
That day came
I knew it was going to be your Birthday..
I knew I was strong enough I just knew
OMG.. Is this really Happening..
I knew your Daddy needed to be there
I saw your beautiful face
I knew I needed more strength..
I never knew I'd feel this kind of love I really never knew
I needed to make so many critical decisions...
I knew I had to do it
The love in my heart gave me the strength i needed
I cried... O how I cried.. Is this the right choice?
How do I go on without her??
Who will love her like I do??
Can I keep her? Can this work? Can I do it?
I knew I couldn't
I knew they would love you.
I knew you'd be ok.
I knew I had to say Goodbye
I held you tight and kissed your tiny face I held your tiny hand in mine
I loved you from day one. I will love you for a lifetime.
I felt so empty for so long
I knew only one other person could feel that emptiness
I knew your Daddy felt it too
I knew i couldn't possibly make it through this I'd surely give up
I knew one day we'd meet again and I knew for you I had to go on.
I love you with all the love in my heart.
I hope you Know this...

 I thought it was so powerful and I am thankful for words like these….when I am always so lost in thought…there are others that express the moments perfectly!  Thank you to whoever wrote this poem…I am honored to share it today! 
I truly believe that we as women are all mothers.  That is is in our divine nature to be a mother.  I know that no matter how motherhood finds us, it is the most magical and wonderful thing.  I know that I am blessed and have children of my own but I KNOW that I have been able to "mother" in so many ways outside of my family...I know there are many waiting for a chance to be a mother and I want you to know that you already are.  I know that it may not be in the form that you had planned for yourself but for now, embrace it......share it......use that talent.....we are BLESSED WOMEN! 

I want you all to know....from the bottom of my heart that I love all the women and mothers that cross my path...I pray for you and think of you often!!!  I pray that you will all find the joy in motherhood that I have....in whatever capacity that presents itself to you! 

A soecial thank you to a few women in my life.
My mother.  I think that my mom and I had a typical relationship growing up.  Tons of love and support with plenty of bumping heads and disagreements.  I am certain that I caused her way more than the allotted amount of pain that a child should be able to inflict on their mother….the pain that was caused lasted way past my teen and high school years and I know still stings today.  BUT today I can say that my mom and I are in a beautiful place and are great friends!!!  My mom is the ultimate Big Tough Girl.  She actually is the one that helped me decide on that phrase…it was one that we used many times in life…claiming that we were big tough girls before we stepped up to the plate of any big challenge.  We knew that we could survive…my mom, sister and I used that phrase a lot in our house…and still do to this day.  I am blessed to have my mother.  I don’t know what else I can say about her except that she is strong, and faithful and has been one of the best examples of a woman and a mother in my life!

Derek’s mother.  What do you say about the woman that adopted your child.  I have been reading so many posts by adoptive families and birth moms about the “Adoptive Mother” celebrating Mother’s Day.  For some it is a painful and sad day, knowing that there is a void…a day celebrating our natural birth right and not having a child in their life.  I am so honored to have been able to bless her with a boy.  She is the most amazing woman and I owe her everything...I owe her the second chance at life that she gave me!!!  I love her and honor her in every way possible!  What an amazing person and I couldn't have picked a better mother to raise our son! 
....I know I have been rambling and jumping around during this post and I am sorry!....this is so sensitive to me and I have been crying all day...I am so blessed and I LOVE MY BABIES and so grateful to be a mother and a birth mother....
....nothing left to say.....

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Agape Project

"Agape is a Greek word for a particular type of love.  Agape’ love is love that is based upon principle and is, by far, the noblest type of love.  Agape’ love is unselfish and is more than just an emotional response."

Since I have started BIB I have focused on the birth moms, healing, forward movement, soul work and more.  I am surprised at how rarely I get to take the time and do nothing but CELEBRATE Adoption and the amazing lives that are touched by Adoption every single day.  BIB had the incredible opportunity to play a very small part in a HUGE project with an even BIGGER heart behind the scenes. 

You can read all the details about The Agape Project HERE.

I wanted to take some time to share my thoughts on the project as well as share some incredible photos and of course the amazing video that is sweeping the nation and touching hearts across the country! 

Congratulations to Briana Marie Shuman. 
You are heaven sent and watched over by butterflies! 

I am a birth mom.  I placed my son 6 years ago and I never really understood the “adoption triangle” until I really got involved in this crazy ADOPTION COMMUNITY!  It truly has changed my life!  I come across people every single day that eat, sleep and breathe adoption….every time we look at a child it feels our heart and soul with answered prayers, every time we meet a birth mom we shed tears of hope and connection, every time we see family we are forever bound by love and support and life changing respect for one another!  It has been the most incredible journey of selfless love, Agape’ love!  I forget sometimes, and I try not to pat myself on the back very often, but I really forget just how amazing being a birth mom is.  What an incredible sacrifice is made, what gift is actually being given…I am honored and PROUD to be a birth mom.  I forget sometimes how amazing the adoptive families are.  What an incredible sacrifice is made, what an incredible fight is fought to receive such an amazing gift.  I forget sometimes how amazing it is that the children that are adopted were given LIFE.  That they have a chance to be a person, that they are loved by TWO amazing sides of this triangle!  Adoption has truly become a part of me and my life.  It inspires me, humbles me, motivates me and touches me in ways that I can never express….sacred feelings of love, support and respect to all three corners of the “adoption triangle”

Briana Marie is part of this triangle.  She is an adoptive mother who had a dream to give back, to give thanks…if that is even possible considering the amazingness that is adoption…but somehow she found a way.  She reached out to so many people and BIB was very lucky to be a part of that family to make her dream a reality!!!  It was a chance to do nothing but celebrate Adoption!!!  I am truly honored to have our name on such an amazing gift to the adoption world…to be able to say thanks and to celebrate the adoptive families, the birth moms and most importantly the AMAZING children that were given a chance at life….that have blessed us all!!! 

There were so many amazing pictures taken of the beautiful and awesome Big Tough Girls and I am so proud of them and their amazing photo shoots that they got to take part in!!! 

 I had the amazing opportunity to sit and talk with the girls.  I got to share a little bit of my story and talked to all of them about the AMAZING Support Groups that BIB hosts every month!!!  I was honored to share thoughts with all of them!! 
This is the video that was put together to showcase the incredible love on all sides of the triangle of adoption.  It is truly incredible!!!  Thank you to Kale Fitch Productions for putting together this fabulous film. 

The biggest reminder to me that I am a part…a small part but still a part of something amazing are things like this project..because what happens is I get to stand and introduce myself, share gifts with the Big Tough Girls that I love so much…I have the Agape Project donate the remaining funds to Blessings in a Basket, I have people I have never met giving me hugs, thanking me, donating cash straight from their pockets, so many thank you cards of love and appreciation.  I don’t know where this organization is heading but I do know that I am supposed to be a part of it.  I have had many prayers answered and I have found my true calling. 

I am honored and PROUD to be a birth mom, I am honored and PROUD to know and support and love many adoptive families and birth moms nationwide, I LOVE Blessings in a Basket and pray that it may continue to grow into the Organization that I dream it can be…..I am HUMBLED and BLESSED to be a part of this incredible project-The Agape Project.  Briana Marie was truly inspired.  I am blessed to be a part of the Adoption Community and have been able to create a new family circle through this incredible journey!  Let us all celebrate Adoption together through Agape LOVE!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Be Still.....

As I sit here thinking about my life I am tired. I love my life, I have been through some things and seen some things that people never see in ten life times. I don't know if that makes me lucky or stupid, maybe a little bit of both. Emotional stress can take a lot out of a person. I find it hard sometimes to get a grip on the things around me...I get so overwhelmed. I was driving in my car the other day and a Tim McGraw song came on over the radio....I had tears streaming down my face....I love music for that...nothing can touch your soul like music can, nothing triggers memories, pain, happiness, love like a song. The chorus REALLY hit me and I just had to write about it....

"When the road gets crazy And tries to break me And I've had all I can stand I can close my eyes no matter where I am And just be still"

BE STILL....we are in such a damn hurry all the time, we are so worked up and running from place to place, we get ourselves so stressed and overwhelmed and I understand that there are things to do....but you have to stop, breathe, listen, ponder, reflect, admire what it is that you are doing, who it is that you have become, where it is that you are going! Satan isn't going to stop...he doesn't take a day off, he doesn't think...oh, I am going to lay off Ashley because she is having a bad day...he is going to play on that...he finds strength in that...so when we are broken down and we can't stand, where do we get our strength...who do we listen to? I can promise that if we can't BE STILL every once in awhile then we wont hear it....so right this second...stop what you are doing...don't think, turn off the radio, the tv, the dishwasher, the cell phone...AND..........


....................................................B E S T I LL ........................................................................................

................................................... Find somewhere that you can stand, sit, kneel...and be still.............


Listen for it, that strength that drives you, the reason that you get out of bed every day and take a second to breathe that in.

I encourage you today...as you are stressing about pregnancy, bills, boyfriends, husbands, dirty dishes, crying babies, counselor sessions, cancer, car trouble...LIFE...as you are stressing about life I encourage you to find a place that you can close your eyes and be still...listen, feel, love, laugh...take a second to recognize your inner strength...whatever that may be for you...give thanks, give recognition, give praise.....give 5 seconds.....just BE STILL.....

Life will still be waiting for you when you open your eyes...but it is a hell of a lot harder to get through the day without taking that 5 seconds to place focus on what is most important...and I can promise that it is NOT the dirty dishes, or the bills, or the car trouble....it isn't even about you.....

I love you all and close my eyes and am "still" for you every day!!! I know where my inner strength comes from and who gives it to me freely....

God Bless you always!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I am a birth mom??....REALLY??

I am amazed every day when I wake up that this is my life!  From all my past experiences to all my everyday lifestyles, I am amazed and surprised.  There are so many new followers to BIB and so many emails with so many questions so I thought I would share some things about myself...my journey and my great passions!!  {it could be a long one...with lots of rambling!}

*as always for a post like this....I am putting the famous Ashley disclaimer...you may not like what you read, I make no apologies for my opinions, my experiences or my life!  :)  LOVE YOU!

Ok....So as I was saying...I can't believe that this is my life.  I have been thinking so much about the past and the experiences that I have had and I am amazed that I am not under the table at the bottom of a bottle right now....been there, done that...but I am proud of myself that as I reflect now I don't feel like I need to go there to cope...which really is a miracle in itself.  (will talk more about that in a minute)

When I sit down at my computer and start answering emails from other birth moms or adoptive parents through BIB I cry and cry and I sit in shock...really???  This is my life??  I am a birth mom and I am sharing such incredible or heartbreaking stories??  WOW...how did this happen??  (well we ALL know HOW it happened...I will save you the Sex Education talk)...but HOW DID THIS HAPPEN??!!!!  I spent so much time trying to hide that fact that I was pregnant...and then tried to hide the fact that I had a baby...in fact it wasn't until about the end of 2010 that I went public with the fact that I was a birth mom...that I had been through so much...that I was reaching out to help others.  It wasn't that I was ashamed but I was such a MESS that I couldn't even look in the mirror let alone try and help others to do the same. 

So many things have been pulling on me lately....so many things have me doubting myself and who I am...what I am....where I should or shouldn't be....I have been in a funk lately and I have been trying to figure out what needs to happen to get out of it....

I am learning that the month of April kind of puts me in that funk....that no matter how happy I am or how great life is going...this time of year is always hard for me.  I know that Derek is happy and healthy and amazing and has the most amazing family....and it is NOT that I changed my mind or think that I made a bad decision...I think that maybe I should be doing more...be doing better....be NOT affected by all of it so many years later...and then I realize that it is ok to be affected by it...that I should be, that I would not be the kind of person I am or have the heart that I do if I didn't care.  I don't know how you couldn't. 

Being a mother is so hard....I have been feeling very tired and my two kids are exhausting....and financial stress is tiring and I miss my husband every day when he leaves and goes to work and all I want to do is lay in bed....

Yesterday I was thinking about how I "have a brain" and all I do is change butts and pick up after kids and make bottles....that is it..I feel like I get dumber every day!  But now as the kids are napping and I am sitting here on my computer writing to you and reading emails from other birth moms I realize that I am so so lucky to get to stay at home with my children...that I am so lucky that my husband has a job to go to every day...that I am so lucky to run this humble little organization just because I want to ...

It has been interesting as I have opened up about my story and shared so many personal things how many people have turned their backs...have not been the friend to me that they once were.  I don't know if it is because it is an uncomfortable topic, or because I am so open about it, or because they just don't know how to deal but I heard a talk from President Uchtdorff of the LDS First Presidency and he was talking about a bumper sticker that he once saw and I thought it was brilliant...

"Don't judge me because I sin differently than you!"

How perfect is that statement!  I know that we all go through very hard times.  I know that we all cope and deal with things differently....lately, I have REALLY NEEDED THAT DRINK.  That statement was a staple in my life.. "I need a drink" that is how I coped...and now I say it and my hubby and I laugh a little but he knows it is serious when I say that...and he will hug me and love on me and do whatever he can to ease my pain...knowing that the old staple is not where I need to be....but man I really need that drink this month! 

I am glad that I don't take that drink...I am glad that I have different things to cling to...but it is still hard....I talk a lot about BREAKING THAT CYCLE...getting out of old habbits and creating new, healthy choices that keep you out of trouble.  That is how I became a birth mom...I was in a cycle of co-dependence, I craved the attention of others and I would do anything to please them.  I thought this meant that I was the COOLEST girlfriend in the world...I was casual and just one of the guys and would let the boy do what ever, when ever...and I was funny and pretty and fun and could be anyone you wanted me to be!!!  As I have done my own soul work and have broke out of that cycle I realize how lucky I am to find a husband that loves me for me....not who I think he wants me to be...I think that is what is so different...besides our connecting beliefs on so many different levels...I AM ME.....
At some point in any co-dependant situation you forget who you are supposed to be and with whom...so you get caught...get caught trying to please everyone...and you find yourself in situations that you shouldn't be in...

Now I have to stay away from those places and people that tend to bring that worse side of me out...I have learned that no matter how whole I feel there are going to be times that I really need that drink and i am going to have to fight the urge to throw myself back in those cycles...

Alot of people have decided that I am a birth mom and that defines who I am ....that it is some way to describe me or my person...I am not sure how I feel about that.  I am a birth mom...it is something that I did...there are many things that I have done that people don't use to define me...I am not the
" drunk girl" or the "married to her third husband girl" or whatever else it may be...but I am a birth mom.  It is part of who I am...it is a huge part of who I am...it is not something that you can escape..it is always going to be there, no matter how much I decide to embrace it, there is always going to be  a child out there in the world that I decided to give life to, to give to a family...he will always be there!  BUT I don't like to focus and talk about the act of being a birth mom...the sex, the birth, the adoption {all amazing and important parts of my story} but I like to focus on the soul work...the "what comes next" part. 

I have to keep moving forward.....

I am all about the moving forward...I am all about breaking those cycles and getting into new healthy life choices...I am all about learning from our mistakes...even if we had to make a million to get it finally figured out...I am all about healing and NOT dwelling. 

I can't believe this is my life.  I can't believe that every April I get into a funk because I gave birth to an amazing and beautiful boy...that I placed him in the arms of another woman...that I walked away signging over all parental rights to that child that lived within me for 9 months...I can't believe that there are so many of us that share a similar back ground...that have the same defining act that makes up part of who they are...This whole world was not even real to me.....was only something that you saw on a movie or a hallmark special....a woman getting pregnant and placing it for adoption....NOW it is every where!!!  I can't go anywhere without hearing a story or finding another like me, or seeing something that is related...I started a whole organization just for that purpose....

This is my life!!!!.....this is a part of who I am...this isn't just one chapter in my life...there will be brief mention in EVERY chapter that I write...I am not ashamed of this but is sometimes hits me that it is such a huge part of who I am..of who I have become...what I am known for. 

I am a Big Tough Girl....I have learned to be one....In the face of great adversity, I am a Big Tough Girl. 

This is my life.........then, now and moving forward.......I gotta get out of this funk and see the great blessing that it truly is...

...but for now it is a heavy burden that weighs on my heart!!!

{thank you to bravegirlsclub for the image}

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

6 years....

Today is Derek's birthday.  For those of you that are new to BIB....Derek is my son that I placed for adoption....he is 6 years old today.

This time of year is always extra emotional for me and a VERY busy time of year.  January my husband and I celebrate our son's birthday, in February it is MY season and my daughters birthday, March is anniversary month and April is all about Derek! 

I had a quick FB conversation with a dear friend and birth mom in Arizona and I was telling her that I can never really decide how I feel on Derek's big day...and that it changes every year.  She brilliantly explains to me that depending on the stage that we are in with our own lives kind of determones how we feel on those big days!  I think about Derek often throughout my daily routines because it is a part of me...BUT the birthday is a little different...A LOT DIFFERENT...for me any way. 

But she was right....I can think of years during Derek's birthday that were horrible and I didn't even want to get out of bed....and there were years that I cry and remember a lot but am at peace and am very happy.  Ever since my son Oliver was born I have been spending a lot more time thinking of Derek and thinking about him and his dad....me and my dad and my husband and Ollie. 

I got to talk with Derek's mom on the phone yesterday....I don't think we have ever had a conversation that doens't have tears shed at one point or another!  It always brings me so much peace to talk to her to know that he is happy, adjusted and so so loved....then he got on the phone and I got to talk to him...we started talking and this is what he says to his mother "Mom, who is this?" hahaha....then as soon as he hears my name the conversation changes and he is happier to talk to me and share all of his birthday wishes! 

I have been sitting here and I have been wanting to write this amazing, emotional and profound post about how I feel this year but I can't really describe how I feel this year!  I have the usual tears, and sadness and smiles and peace and feelings of loss but that is all normal birth mom stuff.....this year there was more.....something different....and I can't put my finger on it!  hmmmmmm

I guess we will have something to sort through during GROUP this month!!  Thank goodness for GROUP! 

I love Derek, I am proud of him and who he is becoming....I give all the credit to his amazing mother!!!  I could not have picked a better family for him and I feel so blessed to have been inspired in my choice. 

I can't believe that being a birth mom is part of who I am........a post coming soon I think!..

..to be continued!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Pushing Junk Piles Around!...

Hello all of my beautiful Big Tough Girls, friends and followers!  I am so inspired to sit and write to you today...although I am NOT sure what I am really going to write about!  haha!  I just know that it has been awhile and I wanted to share some thoughts! 

I have been thinking about my life....next stage.....BIG CHANGES....and I have been trying to find a balance, priorities.....good luck right????  I feel think I get to do all these amazing things but I am kind of walking around in a haze right now....sort of in this funk that I can't get out of!  Do you have a place in your house that is the "junk collector" like a desk or a table and when you go to clean it up.....all you really do is SHIFT PILES AROUND??? That is what my life feels like right now....that I am just shifting junk piles from one place to the next!  I am sure you have NO idea what I am talking about!  :) 

I have really taken some time over these past few days to think about my  life....the new stage that I am in....and have tried to put it into perspective.  In GROUP we have been talking about our "word" for 2012 and have been writing mission statements for our lives using that word....I was reading my mission statement and was STARING at my word which is Simplify and realized that it is already the month of April and I haven't done ANYTHING to simplify my life....if anything it has gotten crazier and my "junk piles" that I just keep pushing around are getting bigger and bigger!!!  So....what do I need to do?????

I need to take a look......

{all images from bravegirlsclub.com}

I know that life is full of JUNK PILES!  I know that somedays we have a clear desk and then other days we can't even see our desk!!  I WANT A CLEAN DESK EVERY DAY!!!!  I really need to learn to throw out the junk piles that are getting in the way....that are keeping me from asking the really hard, important questions!  The junk piles are creating so much noise that I can't hear myself think......I can't hear what it is that I really want!!! 

I am coming into a very busy time in my life......and I need to have less junk so that I can do that which is most important to me!!! 

Derek is going to be 6 years old in just a few days!!!!  SIX!!  Six years ago I was in the hospital giving birth to the most amazing and beautiful boy......and placing him in the arms of his mother!....one of the most amazing women that I have ever met...A Big Tough Girl all the way!  I can't even put into words right now how I am feeling about Derek turning six....about how much my life has changed...about how I forget to think about him during the day when I am pushing my junk piles around....about how much I miss him....about how grateful I am that he is where he is....SO many things.....they may have to come in a birthday post in a few days if I can go there emotionally!! 

I am off to throw some junk away!!  I love you all so much...I pray that you are living in a junk free place...that you are able to hear what it is that you really need and want!!! 

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