Welcome to our corner of the web! Here you will learn about our family and our journey of a family member adoption. In July of 2010, after 9 years of trying to add to our family and 5 years after we started our adoption journey, we welcomed baby Emily Rose. Emily's birth mom is Sharon's adopted sister. We look forward to someday adopting more children but for now, we are enjoying our time together as a family of 4!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Forgotten Family ***Guest Blogger

Today's guest poster is a very dear friend of mine. We have known eachother for going on 20 years now. When she contacted me and asked if she could guest post I jumped at the chance to have her do just that. You see, she is not the "typical" part of the adoption triad. When you hear about the triad, you hear about the birthparents, adoptive parents and of course the adoptee. What you don't hear about are, as my dear friend puts it, "the forgotten family". The extended part of the birthfamilies. The ones who stand by and watch their loved one go through heartache and have an aching heart themselves. So grab your tissues, if you're like me, you'll need them. Thank you my sweet friend for opening your heart and soul with this post.


I have read the posts for the past couple of years that Sharon has up when she does her adoption month stuff. I’m not related to adoption in the traditional sense so I’ve never really felt like sharing my/our story. But as the years have gone on, every year I think, I should share our heartache. So finally this year I am.

Because this story is not fully mine I am asking Sharon to not use my name, and will change other names so as not to cause pain to anyone who knows me and this story is partially theirs. See, the thing I have learned about adoption is it is never just one person’s story. Adoption has come a long way, and many people now give more credit and love to birth mom’s. That wasn’t always the case. But there are the “forgotten family” in adoption too. These are the people that aren’t allowed to feel, hurt, miss, long, share, etc in the process. I am part of that group. But there are others who are even more. My mom is the one I am really writing for. But let me back up and tell the story that isn’t mine to share, yet is so much mine it has defined me...I think you will understand more when I’m done.

When M got pregnant and struggled with what to do, certain things were expected of those around her. She had been engaged to the dad for a couple years. He wasn’t making progress towards the date part of the wedding though. So when she got pregnant she figured that was the next obvious step. They were practically living together anyway. But he had other things in mind. His answer and the advice very vocally given from his family was to abort the pregnancy. I can’t remember how many times M was told, “No one would want your baby anyway”. This all proved one thing to M; not to abort but not to marry. So the question M struggled with was do it on her own, or give her baby up for adoption. M turned to her family for advice. But no matter what her family said they seemed to be judging and wrong. It got to where M’s family did not feel like they were allowed to have an opinion. M’s family understood that this was her choice, this was something she would need to live with for the rest of her life. They really didn’t want to make that decision for M, they just wanted to support and help her through the process. It was not easy for M, no one will deny that, in fact everyone was very sensitive to that. But NO ONE thought about how difficult it was for M’s family. If you tell M that you would support her though the adoption if that was what she choose, then you were pushing her to give up her baby because you felt you were better than her with the choices you made. If you told her you would do what you could to help her raise the baby if that’s what she choose than you were agreeing with his family that the only place the baby would be loved was by those who gave him life since they “had to love the child”. I knew through all this that she was struggling, but it was heartbreaking to watch my mom no longer be allowed her opinion. My mom has always felt that giving a baby up for adoption was the correct thing in a situation. But if she said anything about the possibility of adoption she was pushing her belief on M.

After much time, M decided that the right thing in her life was to give the baby up for adoption. This brought on months more of pain and heartache to our family. M was met by more struggles in this process than I’d ever heard anyone. She tried to go through reputable agencies but was met with obstacle after obstacle. We learned that no agency, no matter who it is run by is immune from bad employees. This was particularly hard when she was met by so many obstacles from the agency run by our church. Our church feels very strongly in adoption, so why would they make it so difficult for her to place her baby with them. She finally found a family she was happy with. She spend the last 3 months of her pregnancy communicating with them through the agency. M had one seemingly strange, but very important request to any family who adopted her child. They couldn’t have a pet cat. It’s a long story, but M is severely allergic and the dad’s family spent years trying to convince her she was crazy and it was all in her head, just move in with his parents and their 10 cats, you’ll grow out of the allergy. So this became a huge issue. What if M’s baby was allergic, what would the family do given the choice of pet cat or new kid. I know, to all of us out there whose lives are touched by adoption on the receiving end you think, that’s just crazy who wouldn’t choose the baby over the pet. The family she choose had a pet cat, but they said it was an outdoor cat and they weren’t really attached and they would give it away not a big deal. They had three dogs also so it wasn’t like the other kids would be loosing their only pet.

But then the unthinkable happened. One week before her due date, the family contacted her and told her they decided they just couldn’t give up the cat for the baby. It was too much to ask of them. She shock M and those around her felt was overwhelming. She then was posed with all those same questions she had struggled to come to answers with all over again. Did I make the right decision to place, how do I know that I’m making the best choice for my baby, would no one really be able to love my baby like I can, can another family really think of my child as theirs not just a gift/pet they are to take care of. It had taken M months to find this family that she felt good about how was she supposed to do this with only a week until the baby was set to arrive. That’s when I really got drawn into the mix. As you probably have guessed, I’m M’s sister. But I moved away from the family years before all this so I wasn’t really “in” the situation like everyone else was who lived there with her. M called me and asked me if I could help her. She didn’t know how to even start this over again and couldn’t bear the thought of fighting with adoption agencies again to get info on families with so little time while she was working full time. So the matter was turned over to me to help her find a family for her baby.

Talk about the weight of the world being put on your shoulders. I prayed about what to do. The answer was strong and clear. Tell everyone you know about her and ask them to tell everyone they know about her, DON’T waste your time with agencies. It was not the answer I expected, yet it was the most clear answer I had ever gotten. So I emailed everyone I knew, I called everyone I knew, I asked them all to email and call everyone they knew. The info we gave out was simple. My sister M was looking for a family to adopt her baby. Anyone who is ready to have a baby in their home in a week to please get me a copy of their profile info or to know how to find their profile info online. I was just litterally in the information gathering person who then would spend hours going through each family with her. I never had anything to do with the choice of who ended up with her baby. I was on the phone from 6 am until 10pm with out breaks almost for days straight. Emails were coming in like crazy. I don’t remember how many families we got info for. It was easily in the high hundreds if not the thousands. Most were from people who knew someone who was looking. Only 1/3 or less was I actually contacted by those who wanted to adopt. It was the greatest answer to her prayer. She went from no one wants my baby to this. It restored her faith in the human race.

In the end the family who ended up with the baby was not actually one that anyone told us about, yet she would not have found them had it not been for my pleas. See a I was told first names of a couple and the number of kids and the agency to see the profile online. I’m not sure where the mistake was made but the number of children was changed. She couldn’t find that family. But she found another one that just seemed right. She talked to them and it felt right. She asked them, “What are your feeling on pets” She didn’t want to guide the answer. But their answer was, “We have a dog, and like animals but since “Dad” is allergic to cats the kids have to be content with that.” That sealed the deal. Someone could understand her child and put a possible allergy above other needs. Less than 6 hours after that decision was made she went into labor. It took some phone calls to high officials including the president of the church to get their profile released from the agency to do an adoption through a lawyer. Contrary to what they had been told, it actually cost the family less than had they gone through the agency. The family hopped in a motorhome and drove to the state where M lived to meet their new baby. They did not arrive until the day after. I hopped in a car and drove up to be there with her through it. I took some very special pictures of my nephew and his “first family” . These pictures are the most precious things to my siblings and my mom.

See here is what I told that whole story to tell you about. My mom and I never got to see another picture of him. We never have gotten to read letters about how he is doing. This was M’s baby and her loss, and so everything has been done according to her needs and desires. She receives pictures but it’s too painful for her to share them with us. I understand that, and honestly I don’t begrudge her that. However my mom lost her grandson, and I lost my nephew that day. Knowing he is where he is supposed to be does bring us much peace. But I still miss him. I know my mom misses him like crazy. But we aren’t allowed to miss him, we aren’t allowed to have comfort in seeing and hearing how well he is doing in his new family, every is quick to offer support to my sister, being extra sensitive when they talked about babies, pregnancies etc. But no one thought about my mom and how many nights she has spent crying over the loss of her grandson. No one thinks about how hard it is on her. My mom knew this was the right decision. She has supported the decision and has no regrets on the decision. That’s not it at all. But she still misses him and longs for him at times. It’s been 8 1/2 years since he was born. It’s not something that is consuming to us. It’s just periodically my mom will call me to talk about her grandson she knows nothing about. My mom did the right thing in letting my sister make her own decision. She did the right thing in not fighting against it for her own desires to see him overrule what was best for him. Yet, in the end she is left with just an empty spot in her heart for her grandson she can never know and that can never know her love for him.

So my desire to share this story that isn’t really mine I guess is to point out that no matter where you are in the adoption “family”, my belief is that it is still your story. My nephew being placed for adoption has changed and defined who I am today. I am a stronger better person for having supported my family through the process, and worked not to judge even when I don’t understand all the decisions that are made. But, no matter where you are, take a minute to remember the forgotten members of the adoption family..the grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, sister and brother of the birth mom. They all sacrificed their heart for the process too.

Loving Aunt, sister and daughter in a birth family

1 comment:

birthmomforever said...

Thank you for sharing your part of the story. I know that adoption doesn't just affect the birthmom/dad, adoptee and adoptive parents. I placed my son almost 8 years ago. I live with my sister most my pregnancy. She was at all my appointments and my coach. My mom and sister came to therapy with me at the agency and looked at the family profiles. I am the one that made the decision to place and to what family well really Heavenly Father did. I know that my mom lost her first grandson and all my siblings lost their first nephew. My grandma lost her first great grandson and they have all felt a loss. I am able to share pictures and letters with my family that wants to see it and most do. I am glad that you were able to support your sister and feel at peace. I'm sure you were a true blessing to her. I don't know what I would have done with out my sister by my side.