Saturday, May 28, 2011

Checking off Year One

Hello All, and good morning. It's been awhile I know. I've been thinking long and hard about what to write. Finally, I've decided to write about what I've been experiencing the past few weeks as we draw closer and closer to Sophie's first birthday. . .

Throughout the past few years I've had the opportunity to meet several wonderful birth mothers; each blessed with their own unique adoption experience. Some have shared mixed emotions about their child's first birthday, for some it was hard, for some it was easy. For me, it's something i can't describe with any one word. On June 1st, at 9:08 p.m. it will be the exact year anniversary of the moment Sophie ShaNae Matheson was born. It's almost surreal to think about, and feels almost as if the entire event took place in another dimension. Every now and then I drive past the hospital in Murray where it all took place, and I look at it with a disconnected sense of familiarity. In other words, I know my life changed in a room there on the third floor, but it's as if the memory has been faintly painted over. Whether that's a blessing from God or my subconscious attempting to avoid the pain associated with said memory, i'll never know. What I do know is, no matter the emotions I experienced those three days in the hospital, it was unlike anything I've ever been through, and it will never fully leave me.

As I draw nearer to Sophie's first birthday I've tried to write, journal, and scrap book every moment with/about her that has taken place over the past 12 months. I feel as if I'm almost scrambling to solidify every memory with her so as to never lose it. I want to remember everything. I want all those special moments to be in solid form so she can look at them with me someday and I can describe every detail shown within the pictures. I know she may never understand how much she means to me, how can she? But that won't stop me from telling her a million times over how much I love her and how special she is to so many people.

Sophie will be celebrating her first birthday at my house this year, on the Fourth, with a BBQ, cake, and gifts. My family and I couldn't be more excited to celebrate this time with her and her family. I'm looking forward to watching her destroy her first birthday cake, ripping open gifts (with the help of her older brothers of course:)), and soaking in more attention than a one year old should be able to handle. I can't wait to post new pictures so all can see how much she's grown and how beautiful she's become. I love her with all my heart, and seeing her learn and grow with that baby-tooth smile on her face has made all the pain I experienced through placing her, seem more than worth it. I look at the past year with a sense of accomplishment and pure gratitude; hoping for only better with the future and years to come. Perhaps I'll feel a sting of sadness on her first birthday, knowing that though I've been a part of so much, I've missed even more. But that's because I'm not her mom. I'm not her brother, and I'm not her father. And that's what happens when you choose adoption. I know that, and I acknowledge this fact, but I'll let myself cry, because at least then I know I'm alive and normal.

The past week or so I've been re-reading all my pregnancy journals and blog posts. I almost figure this year mark is the perfect time to cleanse myself, emotionally speaking. So, call me crazy, but I've been TRYING to make myself remember all the pain, joy, heart ache, and love. I want to cry, I want to laugh, I want to feel it all again so I can REMEMBER. The past year I've been so busy going to college and working full time that I never really faced what I was feeling. And now that I'm out of school for the summer, and I don't work as much, I realize this is the time to work on ME. To make sure I'm OKAY before I head back into reality with a new home, roommates, harder classes, and a different job. So, that being said, I'd like to re-post part of an old blog post I wrote describing Sophie's placement. After all, it was the single most defining moment of my life. As I signed away my rights on June 4th, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. my dad turned to me with tears in his eyes and said, "That's the most selfless thing I've ever seen anyone do." Perhaps I couldn't embrace that fact at the time, but I do now, and I've never been more proud of myself then I am on this year anniversary as I look back and see what I was able to give Sophie by placing her with the family hand picked by God, chosen through me.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sophie ShaNae Matheson

"...I was in the hospital for three days. By noon on Friday, I was released. Once home, I was able to spend a few hours with Sophie before heading to the adoption placement. We took a nap, curled up on my parents bed, and then woke to bathe and get dressed. 5:00 p.m. was our scheduled time to meet at LDS Family Services and do placement. We arrived on time and while I was signing paper work, Sophie's birth father was in another room with Sophie and the Mathesons, saying his goodbyes. Once that was over, my parents, Sophie, and I met with the Mathesons in what they call the "group room". We exchanged gifts and spent some time together talking, exchanging memories. Then, I asked to have some alone time with Sophie. Everyone (meaning Troy, Rebecca, my mom and dad, and our case workers) left the room while I shared some final moments with Sophie. I talked to her, I prayed for strength, and I fed her a bottle. After about 20 minutes I was ready to go. I felt like I was dragging out the pain. So I called them back in and I handed Sophie to Rebecca, exchanged tight hugs, and left. And that was it. Sophie was gone.

I had spent the past 9 months preparing for that final moment. The moment when I'd literally have to say goodbye and relinquish my parental rights. Well, I can tell you that no amount of counseling could have prepared me for the real thing. It was the most heart breaking moment of my life. Living through that first night without Sophie was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. My arms literally ached to hold her in my arms. The memories of her sweet little face and her big beautiful eyes looking up at me caused me so much emotional pain that it actually became physical. I couldn't breathe and I couldn't function. I barely made it through that first night. I was screaming out prayers to just make it through with out going insane. It's only been two days now, and it's still extremely hard, but I can already feel Heavenly Father easing my pain. I know that the pain will never fully leave me, but I do know that it will fade to a point where I can start to live again...this whole thing has been really hard for not only me, but my family as well. It's been an amazing, hard journey for all of us.

I want everyone to know how much the Mathesons mean to me. The adoption itself was/is extremely agonizing and painful, but the Mathesons have made it 100 times easier. They have opened their hearts and arms to me and my family. They text me pictures of Sophie every few hours just to reassure me that she's alive and safe. They allow me any kind of contact I need to fully heal from this experience, and not just me, but my family as well. They have become another branch to our family...She's my little angel, my most precious gift. I have entrusted her to a family that can offer her more than I ever could. I've heard several other birth moms say that their adoptions were made easier because they felt like they were carrying some one else's baby. Well, I never felt like that. I have always felt like Sophie was my daughter, fully and completely, and that I was her mother. And THAT is why I had to make the choice. The choice that no one else could that would determine the quality of her future. As her mother, I had to choose what was best, since she lacked the ability to choose for herself. I know that I love Sophie with all my heart. I have never experienced this kind of love before now. It is incredible. And it is because I love her that I was able to let her go. I put her needs before my own, and though extremely painful and heart breaking, it was right. And I know I'll be blessed for it. I can't wait to create more and more memories with her throughout her life. I am so blessed to even have that choice. Thank you Troy and Rebecca. Thank you for taking such good care of her, and me."

And that's that. I'm moving forward with my life, without forgetting all I've experienced and everyone that's blessed my life. I look up to so many others who have placed a child for adoption and painted beautiful futures for themselves. Life is hard and we all go through hard things, it's how we over come them and come out of them that matters. So, have I done the best I can with what I had throughout year one? Check:)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Q&A for a Birth Mom

So today as I was browsing through some blogs I came upon one written by a birth mother friend of mine. She did a Q&A post that I thought was extremely interesting and helpful. I hope she doesn't mind me copying the questions, but be sure I did not copy the answers:) these are my own thoughts and experiences. And this past year I've been going around to different high schools doing adoption presentations for the Utah Adoption Council and I have been asked every single one of these questions by high school students curious to learn more. anyway, i'll get on with it now, my answers to some birth mother questions:)

1.What emotions did you experience when you initially found out about the pregnancy?

Fear. Anger. Sadness. Uncertainty. But mostly Fear. I was so young and so unprepared to raise a child. I knew right away I was going to have to look into all my options and get the support of my family. I think telling my parents was the hardest part. Every time I think about that moment I still feel sick and I start to shake, reminiscent of the way I felt during that petrifying moment. I also remember the exact moment I looked down at that stick and saw that much unwanted plus sign. To be honest, I threw up, and couldn't control my shaking hands and legs. I walked out of the bathroom to look the birth father in the eye and that's when I knew he wasn't ready either. The look on his face read, "CRAP." Long story short, he didn't stick around long because he didn't know how to handle the situation. The emotions that came with that type of abandonment were awful, heartbreaking. I had never felt so alone in my life, a feeling which lasted the whole nine months.

2. Did you plan for single-parenting or marriage?

Neither. Well for the most part. I definitely thought about single parenting several times but never felt right about it and knew I couldn't provide everything two parents could. As for marriage, it wasn't even an option. The birth father and I were not at a place in our relationship where that would have worked out. We didn't have the money, the jobs, or most importantly the love. We weren't in love. And that's key to any marriage.

3. Why did you consider adoption? Did you consider abortion as an option?

Because adoption held the answers to all my fears. I wanted Sophie to be sealed to two parents, and have a family that could give her everything I couldn't. That was the main reason I considered adoption. There was no way I could support a baby seeing as I didn't even have enough money for myself. My family was in no way financially prepared to help raise my daughter either. I would have had to find a place to stay and I would have had to worked full time, never being home with my daughter. With adoption, I was able to pick the perfect family for Sophie. One that was excellent at teaching their children gospel principles, one that was financially stable, and one with younger kids and a stay at home mom. It pains me to say abortion was my first option. AND FOR ONLY ONE REASON. I had been told by my doctors for years that if I was to get pregnant, the risk of dying during labor and delivery would be huge (due to pre-existing medical conditions). So, I had to consider abortion. Was I willing to risk my life for a baby I wasn't going to raise? Yes. Even after months of "You need to value your life and consider abortion ShaNae" from my doctors and OBGYN, I stuck with yes. I couldn't do it. I could never live with myself if I knew I had taken a human life.

4. What were your major concerns when considering adoption?

If I was ever going to see my daughter again. If I was going to find the right family and especially, if I could go through with it. Adoption is hard, there's no sugar coating it. It was the hardest thing I've ever done and probably ever will do. It took months of emotional preparation and counseling which still wasn't enough for the moment I relinquished my rights and placed her in the arms of another. I was scared I'd find a family that looked perfect on the outside but would break all their promises for an open adoption once the papers were signed. I didn't want to be left in the dust, I wanted a family that would be open and honest with me for the rest of our lives; a family I could learn to love and be a part of. Thankfully, I found that with the Mathesons and now, i always miss them just as much as I miss Sophie.

5. Did you have any specifications when searching for your adoptive couple?

DEFINITELY. I wanted them to be LDS. I wanted them to be financially stable (this was so important to me because my family never was, and I didn't want that for my daughter). I wanted them to have at least one other child. And I wanted the mother to be stay at home (something else I never had). Those were the most important stipulations, though I wasn't close minded to families who didn't fit the criteria:) I was really open to just about anything, I knew that my Heavenly Father would guide me to the right family no matter who they were.

6. How long into the pregnancy did you wait before selecting a couple?

I found the Mathesons when I had seven weeks left of my pregnancy. I believe it was April 8th that I announced that they were expecting and Sophie was born June 1st. I started looking for couples though, when I was only two months pregnant.

7. Looking at the way your birth child is being raised, are there any parenting practices you disagree with? Or value differences?

No. And that's because I chose them to be her parents. That means trusting them to do what's right. I support whatever they choose to do as her parents. That's my place as her birth mother. And to be honest, from what I've seen, they're better parents then I could have ever imagined in the beginning.

8. Is there anything you would change about your current placement?

Heck no. I am taken care of, my family's taken care of, and most importantly, Sophie is taken care of. With the placement situation we have, it's a win for everybody, and that's how it should be.

9. How do you feel about the adoptive parents? Is the relationship open/closed? Would you change the current arrangement?

I love them, more than words can describe. They were the answer to my prayers. They are my dear friends and really, they're just like family. The relationship is very open, we base it off trust and honesty. If one of us has a problem with the other, we voice it, diplomatically of course:) and there's never any harm done, only an increase in respect. I wouldn't change anything about the arrangement we have. Well, perhaps I'd make our lives a bit less stressful so Rebecca and I could hang out more haha but other than that, i've been so blessed.

10. How was your family effected by the adoption?

Oh jeez...More than I wanted. It was the hardest thing to watch them feel any kind of pain relating to the adoption. Sophie was my parent's first grandchild, my sibling's first niece. They hurt too. They tried as best they could to be strong for me but sometimes it was hard. The worst part, was watching my mom try to mask her pain. She cried with me on more than one occasion, which I preferred to having her hide it. they were all very supportive and they have all fallen in love with the Mathesons just as much as I have. It has meant the world to me to have them on board with my decision.

11. Do you want to have more children?

HEAVENS YES. I would be devastated to find out I couldn't. But if that does happen, because it does, I would definitely look into adoption. I want to raise a family of my own someday when the timing is right.

12. How would you feel if you were unable to conceive again? Would you consider adopting?

Oops, just answered this. I would be heart broken if I couldn't conceive again. Just like any other adoptive couple. I'm sure it's one of the hardest trials to go through, not being able to have kids, but thank goodness there are other ways to start families. But yes, if that were to happen, I would most definitely consider adoption.

Well, that's the end of my little Q&A. Till next time!