Friday, September 30, 2011

....After my gift

Last weekend I attended a birth mom retreat; it was the first ever, hosted by the group "After the Gift", through the Catholic Diocese of Wichita (Kansas). For those of you who are trying to process this last statement, allow me to clarify in layman's terms: it was a retreat for women who chose adoption for their children. It was the first retreat of its kind, for the Wichita Diocese. I grew up near Wichita (Halstead, to be exact), therefor the Wichita Diocese has a special place in my heart. It's a fabulous diocese; one that has something like 55 seminarians (young men in the seminary pursing vocations in the priesthood) and a beautiful Spiritual Life Center. To put this in perspective to other dioceses that I've lived in: Salina Diocese (Kansas) has maybe 4 (?) seminarians, while Pueblo has possibly 6 (?). Wichita is blessed. Incredibly.

For those who are still trying to jump over that hump in their mind (So, you're saying you've had a kid?), I'll clarify again. Yes, I have had a child. Yes, I chose adoption for this child. No, it's not like foster care. Yes, I chose the family. No, I do not text his parents daily for updates. No, I'll never get over "it". No, I haven't regreted one day since April 29, 2009. No, I do not think I'm selfish. No, I do not think I'll be a "bad parent", because I chose adoption for my son. Yes, I am in communication with his parents (Aaron met them in August 2010). So, that answers the next question "Does Aaron know?!" Of course, he knows. His family knows. My family knows. Now, you do as well. Aren't we all special?

For me, adoption was a no brainer. I was at a point in my life where there recently was no male in the home. Yes, I was financially able to support a child. However, again, there was no male in the home. Shocking to many, my mother suggested adoption quickly after it was apparent that I and another person were not going to work our relationship and issues out. At first, I was offended that she'd suggest me, a woman with pursing a Masters degree, me, a women who had a good full time position with benefits, would consider adoption. I had always dreamed that the girl who chose adoption was 16, addicted to drugs, from a broken home, and a high school drop out. I was NOT one of "those" type of people. Heavens no. I went to mass every Sunday; I was active with St. Thomas More parish, reading at mass. I was a pretty person with a beautiful future. I was NOT one of those girls. Ew. I had a COACH bag collection (real Coach bags). I had a perfect life.

Yet, I did not. I did not have the perfect life for the child that I had no previous plans for. My life was just starting to pick up speed, after a painful relationship, for both me and him. I was starting clean. Fresh slate. So many boys, so little time. Yet, my life was put on hold for the most precious boy, my son. The deciding question as to whether to choose adoption or parenting for my child was from my mom "Were there ever any times in your life that you were happy that your Dad was there, in the house?" I could have been sarcastic and responded that I'd prefer he wasn't there as much as he was (I was an envelope pusher and Daddy was the disciplinarian in the house). But, in all seriousness, that question made the decision. He would be given a better life if I made this decision.

Now, for those of you who were raised in single parent homes, I am not throwing ash and dust and blame on your situation. I am not raising myself to an elitist snob position and claiming that in ALL situations, a child is better off with TWO parents in the home. In MY situation, a child would not be given the best opportunity at a healthy emotional life. Again, the relationships in my life (at that time) were not healthy. The child would have no stability and would grow up in homes where his parents resented and blamed the other. Holidays would be split; harsh biter words would be said.

This retreat was a beautiful blessing for my grieving process; to be around women who all chose adoption for their children, was priceless. These women ranged from age 65 to 17. Each women's adoption was different; some have extremely open adoptions, while others have closed and do not know where their child is. However, we all made the unique decision for our children to be given a better chance at life. I was informed by some that I was selfish for choosing adoption; that I was running from the challenge of parenting. Something that we all learn, is that everyone has an opinion for the decisions we made. God bless.

I suppose the purpose of this post, is to 1) inform you of this amazing organization (After the Gift) and hope that someone will know someone who may benefit from the experience of attending a retreat hosted by this group. I plan to become more involved with the women and this group, in hopes that I am able to reach out a hand to a women who needs support, as I did. 2) continuing to share my story, constantly helps with my grieving process. Again, I'll never be over it. Everyday, I grieve. I feel that those of you who have lost a child or family member would agree. Everyday, the grieving process continues and it never does "stop".

I feel that I should again encourage you, that if you know someone who is considering the three options that are available to pregnant women and you feel that they may benefit from communicating with me, let me know. I'm always willing and wanting to help other girls who need someone to talk with who has "been there". Because, I've been there........

Survived that.