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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Rule Book on Adoption...

Guess What?!! There isn't one!....which is why I think that this process is so difficult and so different for every single person on every end of this process! I have been talking over the last few weeks with a handful of adoptive families and birthmoms and there are a few things that we wish that could be made clear! We wish that there was a RULE BOOK written because maybe if it was a RULE we would all be able to get over things easier, be aware when we have crossed the line and could be more accepting of the outcome!...and with ourselves!....we would have to right?? Because it is the rule??!!! I have decided to write my OWN rule book....there are things that I have been thinking about, things that I have seen in birthmoms and things that I have seen with adoptive families...and of course things that I experienced myself that I may have done differently if I would have know...If I would have had a book!

*as always this is the ASHLEY disclaimer...this is my own opinion (with a few others mixed in) so please just take it for that!


Chapter 1: Boundaries

I wish I could have been prepared for the boundaries...during the adoption process all LINES are smudged, stepped on, erased and zig-zagged! It is hard to see where and when cross the line...when there needs to be a second grade boundary talk. Don't touch others, keep your personal space, don't take things or claim things that aren't yours...that sort of thing. If there was a RULE about boundaries it would be easier to know what we can do and say and what we shouldn't and let go of! For example: claiming the baby as "my own". Am I allowed to keeping saying that it is "my baby" when I signed over the parental rights...I gave that baby to someone else, the baby has a mother now....it is no longer "my baby" Am I crossing the line, am I disrespecting the boundaries of the adoptive mother by claiming that baby as MINE instead of HERS...she has waited her whole life, she has been praying and waiting to call a baby her own for longer than we were having sex and getting pregnant...

How many rights should the adoptive parents give us as birthmoms? I know that in the big picture many adoptive families feel that they owe the birthmom everything...how can you ever repay a person for GIVING them a child...but at the same time, they are THE PARENTS...they are the family now! Once the paperwork is signed THEY are in control of the situation NOT the birthmom! We have no say in what happens with the child, if they don't want us to see their baby, if they don't want to send letters, if they don't want you to claim the baby YOU don't get to argue that, be mad about that, you don't get to disrespect that...we signed over our rights to those things....it is up to the adoptive families. I want the adoptive families to understand that it is OK for them to set boundaries because as birthmoms we are going to cross all kinds of lines if we are not clear on what is ok and acceptable. PLEASE adoptive families...set boundaries...make it clear what you are comfortable with and what you are not...don't feel guilty!! You are in charge, you are the parents...you need to do what is best for you and your family, the baby and surrounding family and friends! You DO NOT OWE US ANYTHING and we should never try and blackmail you into time, interaction, claim. Give us some boudaries...help us understand the needs of your family..Help us to know what YOU are comfortable with...after all, you are the mom!!!

Chapter 2: Accepting Emotions

No one ever tells you what is the appropriate time to deal, heal and what and when to feel. There are no rules...but there should be, maybe if we were told that there is only 6 months allowed for grieving then we would be able to get over it faster, we would be able to move on and not spend so much time down on ourselves and those around us! I just finished reading the most amazing book....AND I totally recommend it to ANY birthmom that is trying to get perspective! In this book a dying man is telling a younger, healthy man about emotion and perspective. How to accept emotion, acknowledge the emotion for what it is and then move on..it is a great way to view our feelings...The book is Tuesdays with Morrie!

(from the book)

"Yes. Detaching myself. And this is important-not just for someone like me who is dying but for someone like you that is perfectly healthy. Learn to detach."
He opened his eyes . He exhaled. " You know what the Buddhists say? Don't cling to things, because everything is impermanent."
But wait I said. Aren't you always talking about experiencing life? All the good emotions, all the bad ones?
Well, how can you do that if you are detached?
"Ah. Your thinking, Mitch. But detachment doesn't mean you don't let the experience penetrate you. On the contrary, you let it penetrate you fully. That's how you are able to leave it."
"If you hold back on the emotions--if you don't allow yourself to go all the way through them--you can never get to being detached, you're too busy being afraid."

We must learn to let ourselves feel the emotion, experience it to the fullest and then detach, let it go, move on from it...detach. It is really a simple concept if we are able to really let the emotion run its course, effect us the way it is supposed to and then leave us. Let yourself cry, let yourself be mad, be sad, be confused and guilty...let it take over your body and let it wash it all over you..then detach..let it go!

Chapter 3: Make it Meaningful

"So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning."

Ghandi said that every time he went to sleep he died...and when he woke up in the morning he was re-born. What a perspective to wake up every morning with fresh eyes, new challenges, a new life. It is amazing the perspective you have when you are in the service of others, instead of yourself.

We live under the guilt of the adoption, we deal with issues in all areas..why do we hold ourselves back, why do we think that we don't deserve to live a meaningful life?..guess what? WE DO! My favorite new rule of this book, don't become a slave to anything or anyone around you..create something that gives YOU purpose...do something in your life that makes you happy and makes you realize that you have meaning! If you were going to die...you would hope that your life had meaning...that people will remember the things that you have done, the people that you have touched and loved...ARE YOU DOING THAT? Don't wait...time is fleeting!

The truth is...there is NO RULE BOOK! There are no rights and wrongs...there are things that are harder to get through than others, there are things that we are not sure if it is ok to do or not....but we do the best we can.
Write your own rule book! Keep in mind yourself, your emotion and your dreams...and then write it and stick to it!

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