My name is Sterling, I'm 22-years-old, and I am the birthmother to the most gorgeous little boy in the world. I started this blog to share my experiences, thoughts, and help myself move forward after placing my sweet little boy. If this is your first time visiting my blog, I invite you to read my story (top of the left column). Feel free to comment with questions or requests. If you follow me, I'll follow you!

Monday, November 22, 2010

I just knew.

This is a very short post, but I feel that I need to share my feelings.

I've never been one to get hit-over-the-head confirmations from the Lord about anything. Ever.

I'm rarely one to get the warm, fuzzy feeling.

But when I made the decision to place David into Dave and Amy's arms, and I prayed to know that it was true...

I just knew. While my heart was breaking, I also felt an incredible peace settle over me. For the first time in months (possibly years), I could think clearly. I felt strong.

I knew long before I asked and prayed. Most birthmothers do. But, had I not prayed and actively sought the confirmation I so desired, I may not have been able to stick with my decision. Since that time, I have learned to rely on the Lord in all that I do. That's not to say that I DO always rely on the Lord (still working on that..), but I know that it is absolutely necessary.

Almost one year ago, I met Dave and Amy for the first time. It has been a beautiful, albeit difficult, journey. And I am so grateful for that journey.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ode to Birthfathers (Ben)

Many stories I read involve a mean, manipulating, or absentee birthfather.  I sympathize with these stories, but I also realize that I haven't really told much about Bo's birthfather, my best friend, Ben.

While I don't know what our relationship will look like in the coming years, I can honestly say that I love and respect Ben so much. It wasn't always that way, and he wasn't always perfect during everything. (But hey... neither was I.)

The first part of my pregnancy was rocky. Our relationship had been shaky before learning I was pregnant, and when we found out... well. Everything was downhill for a while. I'm sure every birthmother (or any girl who has gone through a heartbreaking breakup) will understand when I say this -> I don't like to think about those first few months, and to be completely honest, I've forgotten most of it. I remember the important parts, such as when Ben decided he wasn't ready to be a father or a husband. I was angry. I was devastated. I felt like my life was over. Well, as upsetting as all of that was, it was necessary. For me. For both of us. Had we gotten married at the time, it likely would have ended in divorce. Then where would my sweet Bo (David) be? Exactly where we didn't want him to be.

Let's fast forward. When I started looking at family profiles, Ben wanted to be involved and have a say. I was upset about that for a while, but in retrospect I realize it was because he truly did care about what happened to our little boy. I sent him profile after profile, and each was rejected. When I found Dave and Amy, I was so in love with them that I didn't tell Ben for a little while. I didn't want him to say no. So, I waited a few weeks, until I really decided I liked them, and I showed him. He liked them, too. He forwarded the profile to his parents. Everyone liked them. Having that approval took a huge load off my shoulders, but that was by no means the end of it.

Just as I went back and forth on parenting, Ben went back and forth on whether we should stay together and be a family, or not. How do you explain the feelings that you go through in those situations? I'm proud to say we never stopped talking. We fought all the time... we were both hurting and confused. More me. Maybe. I don't know. I can't talk for another person's feelings. But I'll admit, Ben pissed me off to no end.

During that time, before I met Dave and Amy in person, I planned two different times to tell them. Both times I couldn't bring myself to do it, and Ben got upset. He would get all ready emotionally, brace himself... and uh, I would chicken out. Well, we fought some more. I got so angry... there was a lot of anger.

When I met Dave and Amy, Ben was with me. He bribed me with ice cream to get me out of the car. Then bribed me with Aggie ice cream to get me away from the car and into Chili's (where we met Dave and Amy).

Dave and Ben connected immediately. Their lives are very similar... from where they grew up, to what they got/are getting their undergrad degree in, to attending/aiming to attend law school. My heart was put at peace about that, anyway. I knew Ben loved them as much as I did. I could feel it. When we left Chili's, I burst into tears and fell into Ben's arms. His eyes got teary (sorry if you ever read this, Ben! But they did). We both agreed that if we place, Dave and Amy are the ones. We both felt it. We both knew it. I had Ben's support... which meant so much to me.

After agreeing on Dave and Amy, we still fought. Not nearly as much, and not about the stupid little things anymore. (Of course, in retrospect, the things we did fight about were still stupid little things.) As we got closer and closer to my due date, tensions rose. We both got scared. Ben wanted things to be planned, so that he could be there the whole time, and wouldn't have to miss school. I got upset about it, told him over and over that I wanted to go into labor naturally... not on his time.

Well, I was induced. Because of family difficulties, it was a decision I made with my mom. That weekend changed my relationship with Ben forever.

Ben got to the hospital an hour after I checked in. He brought me Lindt chocolates (cruel... because I couldn't eat them!) and chocolate milk (still cruel...) and cards. He only left my side to get me more ice in a cup. He sat next to me the entire 10 hours I was in labor. He held my hand and stroked my hair during heavy contractions. When the moment came to deliver, Ben held my hand and stood at my head the entire time.

When David finally arrived, Ben went straight with him to the warming table. The cord had been around his neck, and we were worried. He didn't leave David's side from the warming table, to my arms, to the nursery. He gave him his first bath. He held his hand for the first time. He got peed on for the first time. I don't think Ben said more than two words for the first hour of David's life.

The first night, Ben and I were alone with David. After watching "The Jungle Book" 12 times, I tried to get some sleep. Ben held David on the couch. (Ben, I know you'll hate this... and I'm sorry but it's so endearing!) ... When he thought I was asleep, Ben sobbed. He sang to David, talked to him, and cried to our little boy. My heart melted. He loved our little boy. He was going to hurt at placement, too. I had been worried that he wouldn't feel anything. Seeing and feeling the love he had for David gave me strength. I would not be alone.

The second day, Ben was protective of David. We had many visitors. Ben didn't leave the room where David was, excepting a few hours that we let him go to the nursery so that we could get a tiny bit of sleep.

The morning of placement, I was a wreck. I was breaking. Ben held me, held David, and held us together. He helped my mom put David in the carseat. He carried the carseat while I was wheeled outside. He sat in the backseat with us as my mom drove us to the agency for placement. He wrapped me in his arms when we stepped out of the car, couldn't get the carseat unbuckled, and wrapped David in a blanket to get him inside away from the cold... because that dang carseat seriously would NOT come out.

Ben held his arm around me and we alternated holding David while we spent an hour and a half alone with him saying goodbye. He held David and cried with me as I signed the papers. He didn't tell me not to. He didn't ask me to change my mind.

A week earlier... I had asked Ben (and everyone else in my support circle) to please not save me. I knew what was right, and I didn't want to have an out. I would be fragile, vulnerable, and I would take any way out of the pain that I could.

A week later, I told Ben that if he had told me to not sign, I wouldn't have. He said he knew. He said he wanted to tell me to not sign so much, but he knew I didn't want to be saved. He knew David was meant to be with Dave and Amy. He knew we couldn't parent David with a "maybe" on our relationship. He respected my desire to be the sole decision-maker that day. And I am so grateful.

Ben's dad gave me a blessing of comfort before the actual placement. Lynn wasn't present as I had planned, and I had asked Ben if it would be alright if I had his dad would give me a blessing. He squeezed my hand and said he thought it was a good idea.

Ben sat next to me when Dave and Amy entered the room. When the moment came to place David into Amy's arms, I looked at Ben. He nodded, and scooped up our little boy. He kissed him, blinked back tears, and told him he loved him. He then handed him to me, I did the same, and he had his arm around my waist as I placed David into Amy's arms.

Ben came home with me after placement. We talked for a few minutes, embraced each other, and he drove back to Logan. He called when he got back to his apartment, and we cried together on the phone. We had done family prayers in the hospital, and we did a family prayer over the phone that night. And every night for the next couple weeks.

Over the next few months, Ben and I helped build each other. I cried to him. He held me when I was sad and aching. He ooh'd and ahh'd over pictures of David with me. We traveled to visit his sister together. We got pulled over twice together.

When Ben left to work in Texas for the summer, I wasn't sure how I would survive. We had both changed so much, and we had helped each other through the most difficult time of our life. How could my best friend be so far away?

The summer was a good summer. We stayed close. Over the summer, we planned to get engaged and married when Ben got home. As the summer drew to a close, I got scared and became uncertain about things. After a lot of prayer, I told Ben we couldn't get married. I wasn't ready. Ben was so kind about it, and promised to be there for me no matter what. He was aching, though.

Now here we are, trying to decide where we go from here. It seems our timing is always off of each other. But whatever happens, I respect Ben. I love Ben. He has been my best friend, my support, my confidant and, of course, baby-daddy. He is close to Dave and Amy, and I'm grateful Bo (David) will always know his birthfather. We had a lot of problems, we fought, and a lot of bad decisions were made. But Ben never left my side in the hospital. He never left my side at placement. And he never left my side after placement. I am grateful for my baby's birthfather. A strong man.

Ben, wherever our roads take us... Thank you for the good times and being there when I needed it. (I still want to kick your butt sometimes for the bad times, though. Just so's we're clear. ;-) )


Monday, November 15, 2010

Why Open Adoption - Holly

I've only recently become close with Holly... but our conversations have ranged from deep and profound to completely silly. I've stood by and had to watch their heartache, and have wished there was something I could do. Holly and I had a brief discussion about how she hasn't always been supportive of open adoption. That sparked my interest, and I asked her to write her story of deciding open adoption was a good choice for them. Here it is. Visit her blog *HERE*  or her adoption profile blog *HERE* . I can't wait for these two to become parents! 

Nathan and I had briefly discussed adoption while we were dating – because I knew that there was a chance I’d never be able to conceive and I wanted to make sure it wasn’t a deal breaker for him (lucky for me it wasn’t!).  But in 2006 we had our first serious discussions about adoption as the option for us.  We’d been trying to get pregnant for a year and a half, had finally gotten pregnant but lost the baby.  We talked more about adoption then, than we had to that point in our relationship.  We were pretty sure we knewwhat we wanted, but decided to start doing a little research anyway.  We liked the idea of international adoption because there was no “messiness with a birth family”.  We wanted to adopt a child that looked as much like us as possible, so we were thinking Eastern Europe.  We were not going to keep the adoption a secret, but we were by no means going to openly advertise that we had adopted.  Open adoption made us very nervous.  We thought it would be scary to have the birthmother know our name…because she would for sure come to our house one day and take the baby back.  We thought she would judge us for the way we were raising the child, and would tell us we were horrible parents.  We thought she should give birth, never see the baby, never see us and just forget it ever happened.  We thought anything different from that would cause more harm than good.  
We bought two books to help us decide which country we were going to adopt from (because at this point we were still set on international adoption).  One book (The Complete Adoption Book, which I reviewed on my blog last week) had information on domestic and international adoption and because I wanted to make sure we were making the right choice, I read both sections.  The book mentioned how adoption had evolved over the last 10 years or so, the relationships becoming more open between birth families and adoptive families.  At first this seemed so crazy to me…how could that possibly be a good thing?  I was curious, so I loaned another book from the library, it was called Dear Birthmother.  This small book (only like 120 pages or so) changed our minds forever about adoption.   The book dispels a lot of the myths about adoption, and discusses openly about how good open adoption really is for all involved.  I devoured the book quickly and passed it to Nathan to read.  After he was finished we talked and talked…and talked about our feelings towards adoption and realized that the more we learned about open adoption, the more we loved the idea.
I am a practical person.  I think logically, and very matter of fact.  All emotional reasoning aside (I’ll get to those in a sec) open adoption just makes sense.  For instance, if your child all of a sudden gets very ill and you take them to the doctor and they ask for a family history you might be in big trouble.  In a closed adoption you likely wouldn’t have that information.  But if your relationship is open, a quick phone call, email or letter could get you all the answers you need.  Also, knowing where they got their eyes from and whose grin they have is something every child wants to know.  It’s better to be able to tell the child the story about their adoption and how many people love them, instead of treating it like a shameful act that should be forgotten.  But ultimately for me, wanting a closed adoption now seemed so horribly selfish.  Here was a woman who was making this huge sacrifice, giving us something we could not do for ourselves and we wanted to say “Thanks.  Have a nice life” ??  Now Nathan and I are of the opinion that the more people that can love our children, the better! 
We kept trying infertility treatments for another two years and in 2008 finally came to peace with what seemed to be our destiny: to adopt.  We do not see it as a second choice, or a backup plan.  We are excited that we get to be one of the chosen few who get to take part in the beautiful miracle that is adoption.  We are no longer shy about adoption, in fact I think some of our family and friends probably think we talk too much about it.  We hear stories about other families who have wonderful relationships with their birth families and hope we can be as lucky as them.  We realize that one thing that makes people nervous about us is the fact that Nathan is in the military and we move often.  We fear that a woman looking at us as a possible set of parents for her baby would think that with all the moves we would forget about her.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Yes, being in the military does mean we’ll move a lot.  And it does take extra effort to keep in contact with those we no longer see on a day to day basis, but good thing for us we live in such a fabulous day and age.  With Skype, texting, Facebook, blogging, airplanes, trains and long road trips it makes staying in contact a little easier.  Plus – we’re ALWAYS up for visitors and we will get to live in some pretty awesome places (Hawaii anyone??). 
As our opinions about open adoption have changed we’ve also realized that a lot of people’s haven’t.  We hear concerns from others now, that mirror things that used to scare us.  But we’ve found that generally a little bit of open, honest conversation helps calm concerns quite a bit.  We’re doing our part to help spread the word that open adoption is fantastic, and can’t wait for the day we have an open relationship with our child’s birth family to prove it!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hoping to Adopt - Wade and Brittney

So here is how I met Wade and Brittney...

It's Friday, about 6:00 pm, at the 2010 National FSA Conference. There I am, chatting away with the ladies at my table and enjoying my stuffed pork, and I notice a girl from another table staring me down. She turned and whispered to her husband, then stared at me again. I diverted my eyes, thinking 'uhh... k.'

Then, I decide that I need to go to the bathroom. The entire trip across the conference hall she's looking at me. What the crap! Who does this girl think she is?! Well, I made it to the bathroom, and when I walk back in she's glancing at me again. By this time I'm thinking, "Okay, I know I'm looking a little rough right now, but c'mon..."

Not five minutes later, someone taps on my shoulder. I look to see who it is, and it's creeper herself. Okay, and for the record, creeper is one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen. She smiles at me and says, "I think we both know David and Amy?" well... uhm... okay, she wasn't creeper anymore. Turns out she recognized me from my picture in posts I'd made on Amy's wall. So I get all teary-eyed and we start talking about how they went through infertility together and were in the same stake in Logan and all that good stuff... the reason she'd been looking at me was because she 1) wasn't sure if I was who she thought I was, and 2) was trying to get up the guts to come talk to me. Which I found hilarious. Well Brittney's husband, Wade, had finally talked her into saying hi. She gave me a pass-a-long card, and we went on our way.

But, the thing that completely caught me off guard was how infectious her smile was. She was one of those people who just glows from goodness. I wanted to just hug her. For real.

Wade and Brittney have been waiting for five years for their first baby. Please keep them in mind. :-)

Wade and Brittney's Profile

 Brittney is a 5th grade teacher
 Wade is a Production Manager and studying graphic design

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Just thinking.

I'm not good at the post-a-day thing. But I'm an adoption advocate, and I've been talking about and supporting adoption every day all month. So I'm trying.

Tonight I started thinking about how I'm doing - emotionally, mentally, spiritually. I'm an emotional person. It's just part of who I've become. I cry when something tugs at my heartstrings. That's not to say I start bawling in public. I usually save my tears for when I'm in my car or alone in my room. My girls at group see me cry every week. They are good tears, though. I cry when I talk about any part of my adoption experience. I cry when I talk about Dave and Amy. I cry especially when I talk about Bo. Someone who touches your life so much is bound to have that much of an impact. I was only his mom for two days, but those two days gave me enough memories to last a lifetime.

This holiday season is going to be a little hard. I told my girls at group the other day that I don't know what I was thinking last year - putting all of my important events on or around holidays. The day after Thanksgiving, I met Dave and Amy for the first time. I told them I was placing with them on Christmas Eve. The day before New Year's Eve, they went to group and dinner with me, and met Lynn for the first (and only) time. How can I top that?! I guess every holiday from now on will just have to be a competition. I fully expect Christmas this year to be difficult. I miss Lynn. So much.

I do have some bright spots for Christmas this year. Sometime during the Christmas holiday, I'll see Dave, Amy, and Bo. I'll spend the major holidays with the Kraaima side of the family (Lynn's side). I'll get to go snowboarding this year. My mom and I will get to spend a lot of time together.

This was mostly a post about what's going through my mind. I'm nostalgic. Here's a link to the song that goes with a book I gave Bo at placement. The entire time I was in Florida, it was stuck in my head. (Other Florida stories to follow, now that I've written them in my journal).

Snuggle Puppy Song 

And as a side note, I think this song is adorable.

This Ain't No Love Song

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sometimes, life is so busy...

that you have to double-dip. :-) The aforementioned Miss Angie featured my story on her blog yesterday. I am so excited! Here it is, for your reading pleasure. Also, you should read around on her blog. She has a lot of good reads.
Click here for my story on Angie's blog

Happy Adoption Month!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lovely Miss Angie

I met Angie on the WWW when I was helping a friend search families for her little girl. I have been blessed to become friends with Angie, and I hope to meet her SOON! Below is her beautiful posts about the anticipation and longing of parenthood. After that is an AMAZING giveaway!

Clayton and Angie's Blog 

It's a beautiful day to love adoption. <3

Monday, November 1, 2010

27 minutes (and kickoff to National Adoption Month!)

I wrote this last night, but figured it would be an alright kickoff post. Happy National Adoption Month!

So right now my computer says I have 27 minutes of battery left. That means of the 1 hour and 54 minutes left of my flight to Dallas, I’m going to devote a whole 22 minutes to a blog post. 

Where do I even start? This week has been more amazing than I ever dreamed it could be. Not many birthmothers get to visit their children in a tropical paradise. I am so blessed. I don’t know how I came to deserve this. I feel like I can never be grateful enough for the situation I’m in. 

When I said goodbye today, I kept thinking, “How will this ever get easier?” … It never will. I don’t think it will ever get easier saying goodbye to my baby. Even when I have children of my own (that is, children I will raise), I will always consider Bo my baby. He is David and Amy’s son, but he will always be my baby. 

I’ll admit, I’m a total mess right now. I’ve been (unsuccessfully) fighting tears since earlier this afternoon. Holding Bo and kissing him, telling him how much I love him (and maybe he knows and can feel it), and just staring at that perfect little boy was so bittersweet. Thankfully, I’ve learned how to recognize when to say goodbye. I hate drawing out goodbye. 

So, here I am. In a few hours, I will touch down in Utah. I will run to my mom (yes, I’m 21 and I still run to my mom!), collapse in her arms, and together we’ll check the baggage claim. I’ll tell her everything I can remember on the drive back home. Tonight, I’ll sleep in my own bed. Tomorrow I will wake up, get ready for school, and start my first day of nail tech. I’ll be on the hair floor for a few hours, then I’ll go home to my house. So will be the next seven weeks. Then, sometime around Christmas, I’ll see David, Amy, and Bo again. I’m already starting a countdown. 

Something I thought about as I took off, though, is this – If I barely know Bo, and I feel an incredible longing to be near him… How does my mom feel when her baby is gone? If this is anything like how my mom feels when I’m away from her, I do not thank her enough for the unconditional love she has for me. 

One fun thing David and Amy told me was this – Bo only kisses them, and me. He gives this awesome sloppy, wet, full-mouth kiss that just melts my heart. Besides his parents, I’m the only one he gives those to. My heart feels like it could burst. He is truly the happiest little boy, and I am so grateful to be in his life. I am so grateful to David and Amy for allowing me to be a part of his life. I would not (emotionally, mentally, and spiritually) be where I am today if I weren’t for their trust and love for me. They trust me to be a good example to him, and to never try to undermine them as parents. 

I made a promise at placement that he would always be proud of me. He will. I will never do anything that could break that trust David and Amy have in me. I know now how important families are. I know how important the timing for families is. 

Amazingly, I also know that I will be a good mother. I won’t be perfect, and I won’t be extraordinary, but I know how to love. I know what it feels like to love someone so much I would do anything for their happiness. I will be a good mom… someday. 

Throughout this next week, I’ll post fun little stories from my trip. For now, I’ll just post a few pictures. They say it better than I possibly could. 
 On our way to the airport. All smiles! 

 I made a fleecy owl for him - and he loves it! 

 David, Amy, Bo, and I. So amazing that we could all be together.


 Giving kisses back. 

 She's like a sister and best friend.

 Still sleeps like a stinkbug!

 Sexy momma and her son at the beach!
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