Adoption, birth mom, family, mom, teen pregnancy, Uncategorized

Cassidy…birth mom

 

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I met Cassidy this past year at a support group we both attend. It is for birth mothers and adoptees. Her story touched my heart so much. Her strength and life changing decisions left me in aw. She took some tragic moments in her life and changed things for the better…for her daughter…the daughter she would be placing for adoption. Her story is truly beautiful…

Introduce your self! 
Hello! My name is Cassidy and I am 26 years old from Waconia, Minnesota. I am a birth mom as of January 4th, 2018. I graduated in 2010 and quickly made the decision to run far away and go to school in Arizona. (Go Wildcats!) It was a blast and a fabulous school, but I quickly turned around after that first semester and came back home to Minnesota. It just wasn’t for me. I spent 3.5 years up in Moorhead at MSUM (don’t ask how I went from Tucson to Moorhead) and was lucky enough to be able to continue my dance career dancing on the MSUM dance team. I am big into hockey (Go Wild!), coffee, healthy foods, yoga and meditation. Barre is my latest workout obsession as well. My happy place is up north along Lake Superior (Lutsen area to be exact). Seriously, just plop me in the woods for a weekend and that is all that I need. I also love writing and speaking about adoption and the plan I made for my daughter. I am sober as of June 4th, 2017 so that is a huge part of my life as well. Recovery is hard, but completely worth it.

Describe to me what a typical day in life of Cassidy was like before you knew you were pregnant…
Well honestly, my life was quite depressing before I found out I was pregnant. I was living alone in St. Cloud and working full time as a waitress. I was off and on seeing a guy that I had worked with at the same restaurant as well, and it was an incredibly tumultuous relationship. Mainly, my drinking had a lot to do with that as well as his mental health issues. I have not spoken to him since April 24th, 2017 as there is a no contact order. He is aware of Grace, but I have not reached out to him. That’s what happens when you decide to get physical with a woman, and she finds out a month or so later she is pregnant. I hope he can get his life together, but in the end he made things like this.

I moved to St. Cloud June of 2015 to live alone, be independent, work, and go back to school. Instead, my life started to quickly spiral out of control. Within 4 months I got a DWI, found myself knowing what the inside of the Stearns County Jail looked like too well, without a license for over a year and commuting via the bus lines to work at a restaurant downtown. My life revolved around work, riding the bus home, and drinking myself into oblivion every. single. day. I knew I needed to make a change, because everything alcohol had promised me was not happening. Everything kept getting pushed off and it was always “next time” or “tomorrow”. When they say that alcoholism is a progressive disease, it is seriously no joke. It was a pathetic way of life, which is why my daughters name is Grace. She was my saving Grace out of that lifestyle I was living, and for that I am forever grateful for that child.

When did you find out you were pregnant? How did you feel? What was the FIRST thought that ran thru your mind?
It was June 4th. I met my best friend at Granite City and she knew. She said she could tell all along cause I was always tired and not as up to go out and drink. (ha) So after two cocktails full of tequila, I got the liquid courage to take a pregnancy test. We left the restaurant and stopped at Cash Wise right near by. She pushed me to take it right away, so here we were in the Cash Wise bathroom taking a pregnancy test. (Classy!) I couldn’t look at it. I shoved it back into the bag, but as I did I caught a glimpse and could already see a line forming and knew. When we got back to Ally’s I made her look and tell me. She just sat there and said “Well we know what it says”. I honestly felt even more numb. I wanted to get drunk, but now I couldn’t? Which then made me feel suffocated. So I just sat and laid on her couch staring at the ceiling. I laid there for about an hour. Initially, I googled the nearest Planned Parenthood because I thought “I have to get rid of this!! This needs to go away!”. But as I laid there, I became more calm (shockingly). I knew it was going to be a mess and a hard road, but things in the end were going to be alright, and an abortion was not going to happen. The next day I called the Pregnancy Resource Center and met with a warm, friendly lady who educated me on each option and listened as I explained my fears. That Thursday June 8th, I left for inpatient treatment for the next 34 days.

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Once you found out you were pregnant, what plans did you have in mind? What were the feelings? Thoughts?
For most of my pregnancy I was in pure shock, major denial, and had tremendous amounts of shame. I found out I was pregnant 4 days before leaving for treatment. I already felt like a total piece of crap because I couldn’t get my life together and the only accomplishment I had on my list was out drinking most people at the bar. I went to treatment and told my nurse at intake I had just found out I was pregnant. I was going to tackle the treatment experience and go from there once I was discharged. I was so scared because I honestly did not know what to expect. I was never a baby person, never got baby fever or wanted to hold newborns when they came around. I hardly babysat when I was younger, so I really had no experience around little ones. I never imagined being a single mom, newly sober either. So I had tossed around the idea of adoption in my head, but it seemed like it would be impossible to find a family that I would actually like and trust. I honestly just kept getting through each day hoping for a sign from God. I had kind of planned on raising Grace on my own and making it work, because I really didn’t see how any other option would play out. All the good things that work out perfectly only happen in the movies.

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Open adoption seems to be more popular these days. You are part of an open adoption…how does that work? Is it enough? Is it hard? What are the pros and cons of open adoption?
So I knew from the start of looking into adoption that I would only do an open adoption plan. Closed was completely out of the question. For someone who was really contemplating raising her own child, I just couldn’t imagine placing my child with a family and never knowing anything for over 18 years.
We have an agreement (sort of like a contract) and in that agreement I have certain things put in place that I knew I wanted. At least once a month visits, updates (via text, email, social media, etc.), gifts from my family to Grace would be okay, things like that. Basically a relationship and connection to her! It works out great. Wendy is friends with myself and family via social media so we can all see updates on Grace there. Ben and Wendy are really good about texting and updating me on things. I still have this excitement, and maybe it will never go away, that whenever Wendy texts me I get giddy like a little girl and jump to grab my phone. I’ve never gotten like that over a guy texting me!

Open adoption is great and amazing, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But it has that side of it that is hard. Being able to watch Grace grow, but also watching her grow and bond with her family. It can be hard at times when I go to visit and she may be getting hungry or tired and starting to get fussy. She cries and reaches for her mom or dad, and it honestly tears at my heart.
I know more at the beginning when I was adjusting to being a new mom with no baby at home, when Wendy would post a picture of Grace and all of the comments would flood about how beautiful she was, what a gift, etc. The comments are amazing, but there’s that side of me that thinks “these people are talking about MY child!” “She wouldn’t be theirs if it wasn’t for me”. It is incredibly negative, but also incredibly honest coming from a birth mom. I don’t know if that will ever go away.
Open adoption takes a lot of work, communicating, and understanding. You have to understand that you made that choice for someone else to be your child’s parents and that it is NOT co-parenting. That has been the most helpful piece of information or advice, I suppose, I learned from the agency I placed through.

I think being open and honest from the start with the child about their adoption plan is a total game changer. I know I chose parents for Grace that will follow through with that. They talk about it at a young age with her older brother, who was also adopted. I am also prepared for when Grace will want to ask about her birth father and that story. She deserves to know and it is her right. My hopes is that she will have enough of what she needs from her adoptive family and my family being there for her as well. I definitely wouldn’t blame her for wanting to know where she comes from, because I would want to know as well.

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What keeps you moving forward emotionally? Support groups? Self care?
I have to stay busy. Once I have that free time, lingering thoughts come in. I work two jobs and am big on attending support groups. I go to two different adoption support groups and I recently went through the adoption speakers training through Bellis. November 15th is my first classroom I will be speaking to about my adoption plan! I am also big on fitness. I have a membership at YogaFit and all of my time, outside of work and support groups, is spent at the studio. I also recently just completed YogaBarre Teacher Training, where I became certified to teach YogaBarre at my studio. I plan to audition to be a teacher at YogaFit before the end of the year. Self care is huge for me, too. It’s learning to say “No” and taking time for yourself. I do things that make me feel good–manicures, pedicures, facials and peels. I spent years not taking care of myself while I was drinking, so it’s fun to be able to take pride in taking care of my skin, body, and health now.

Support is another big thing for me. I have a huge support system of people that honestly keeps me going. Granted, I do have family who do not speak to me or have yet to reach out regarding my adoption plan, which makes it difficult and frustrating. But truthfully, I know what I have done for Grace was right for her and if you have negativity surrounding MY decision for MY daughter, then that’s on you. Understanding that toxicity is not worth it! I have zero time for that.

Ten years from now- where do you see your relationship with the adoptive family and your daughter? 20 years from now?
This is hard for me because I live by “One day at a Time”. Once I look into the future it usually starts to make me panic. HOPEFULLY things are still well and visits are still a thing. I am aware that my life will change once I am ready to have a family of my own and monthly visits might be hard. Who knows where I’ll be at in life?! But I plan on never leaving Grace behind. She will always know who I am and I can only hope that she will understand how incredibly difficult this was for me. I did it all for her out of hopes that she will have a fantastic life. When I think of down the line when I’m in my 40’s+…I hope that I have a big family who are close with and love Grace as much as I do. I picture the holidays and having all of my children under one roof celebrating. Grace would never be treated differently, she would be as one with the rest of us.

If you could give any advice to a young girl facing an unplanned pregnancy, what would it be?
Take a deep breath. Weigh your options. Take your time. Do your research and look into what is best for YOU. Not for the birth father, your parents, your teacher, grandparents, siblings, etc. I was very pleased with the Pregnancy Resource Center and the information I received on each option. It helped me to take a moment and truly think about the 3 options us women have, and what really would work for me. In the end, it is YOUR decision. You are the woman and the one growing the life inside of your body.

 

Thank you Cassidy for sharing your story. The more different sides of adoption and situations we hear about – the more understanding we all have about the topic 

 

 

 

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Adoption, birth mom, family, infertility, marriage, mom, teen pregnancy, Uncategorized

The Lingo Ate My Baby….

  It is funny how the choice of words people use can make a huge difference in what they say or ask. I have been humored, hurt and angered by the the wording and questions people to choose to use.  All along this journey of teen pregnancy, infertility and adoption, I have come to realize language and the way we comment, ask and label situations is so important. Some people really have no idea that what they are saying is hurtful or even not politically correct. I would like to address some of these.

Lets talk teen pregnancy, shall we? When you learn of a teen (or even a young girl surprised with pregnancy) do not say “oh. eeh. geez. wow. what are you going to do!?” with a face that looks like you just ate something terrible. A young girl is already scared and feeling as tho they did something wrong and let down people. You do not need to be one of them. A simple “You are? Are you ok? Is there anything I can do?” or a simple “I’m here for you” is plenty. A hug doesn’t hurt either! If this girl chooses to keep the baby after weighing options and thinking it over, then be supportive – offer advice or even resources that can help. Don’t be “You ARE?! You are so young! It is hard work – blah blah blah”.  If she chooses adoption for her baby, the words “gave up” “giving up” are not favorable. It is not an old out of date sweater that is going to Goodwill. It is not chocolate they are giving up for lent. It is a young human being that is loved and the choice to choose adoption was carefully decided. You mourn the loss and are equally happy for the couple that will be this child’s family. It is a very emotional time. the comment “Oh, you’ll be fine! You will have other children when the time is right.” is NOT OK. You can’t replace that baby. It is a part of you that will always be.

Ok, let’s talk infertility, shall we? I remember when Mike and I were trying to conceive, it seemed as tho EVERYONE around us was getting pregnant. People would ask all the time “When are you two going to have kids?” Little did they know we were trying and failing. (wait, let me clarify….we knew HOW, just those pesky sperm and eggs didn’t want to do their part).

* insert sound affect: Needle screech across a record album……WAIT! Let’s back up a bit. After people get married, not all of them WANT to have kids and a family. So why assume they do. When you think about the question “So when are you two going to have kids?”… you are asking quite a personal question that really is none of your business!

Ok…back to infertility… our first doctor we saw after months of trying said “Ah, relax! Light some candles…it will happen”. Gee, ok. We never thought of that one. (eye roll) Then we moved onto charting my temp EVERY morning, Mike getting his sperm tested, getting shots, taking pills and having mandatory sex. Let me just tell you – sex on command is not as great as some of you think. Sure we would giggle and laugh at first. The thought of a literal nooner was hysterical. But 6 years later…there was no laughing. So when a couple is going through all that and crying every month when the test comes back negative… a person asking “When are you two going to have kids?”  may get a punch to the throat – so don’t be surprised by it! Especially once we found out I was the problem and couldn’t get pregnant. I actually had people ask me “So are you going to find the baby you put up for adoption?” …to those people I say “Are you on drugs!?!?” Because why on earth would I disrupt a plan that I carefully chose and had a hard time coming to terms with? Not to mention being so selfish to disrupt a young child’s life because of something I couldn’t have.

If you do know a couple is struggling, always asking how it is going is really just a reminder of how long and painful their journey is. Remember, that the couple is different from your aunt’s niece’s friend who went through infertility…Trust me, WHEN there is news to share, that couple will be the ones screaming it from the rooftops, skywriting it and will be so excited to share the news. It is their news to share… not your question to be answered.

Adoption. This area of conversation has SO MANY things to address. Grab a cup of coffee, have a seat and let’s educate! First thing right out of the gate when we told people we were adopting was “Oh, you’ll get pregnant now for sure!!” To these people asking I say “No, we have medical proof we wont and I am not the Virgin Mary” and “We closed that painful door we struggled with for 6 years, made some closure and moved forward by opening the door labeled ADOPTION – why would you rip the band aid off that wound we are finally healing from!?”

We chose to adopt from South Korea. (That means they are ASIAN, not oriental. Oriental is a type of rug people!!) We didn’t need our child to look like us. To us, that was not important. To some it is. But we would get comments like “Oh. why wouldn’t you adopt from here and then your child might look like you?” During the process people would comment/ask “I heard it is expensive! How much does it cost!?!?”  – first off all, adoption fees are usually on a sliding fee. So it is different for everyone. And, WHAT BUSINESS IS IT OF YOURS?! That is just a rude question…period. Unless of course you are asking because you too are thinking about adoption and want advice.

This is a good one too. Once we had our daughter – who again was Korean – 5 months old. People would constantly ask “Will she speak English?” Ok, let’s stop and think about this. A.) She doesn’t even speak yet and B.) We know maybe 2 words in Korean.  We would also get “Is she adopted?” Well, first off all I do not walk up to a mother in Target an just randomly ask “Did you give birth to your son?” – I must say tho – 90% of the people asking that particular question were adopting or had an immediate family member or friend that was. So we had an immediate connection about it. But remember, still a strange question to ask.

Oh here is a good one!! Once we adopted our second daughter we would get the age ol’ favorite question “Are they sisters!?”…. Let’s step back and look at this. I am at Target (yes I do shop there a lot) and I approach a mom with two boys (or girls) and just randomly ask “Are they brothers?”… the mom would probably look at me and slowly say “ummm, yeah?!” – and stare at me like why on earth are you asking. Ok, back to me now. When people ask this question I know what they want to know is: Are they birth sisters? I get it. But again, why is it someone’s business? And to our family and to each other…YES they are sisters.

“Will they ever find their REAL moms?” – I assume people mean their BIRTH mothers. We are both REAL moms. One of us gave birth and one of us raised and loved unconditionally. Maybe someday my girls will want to meet their birth mother and make the emotional journey and I will beside them sharing all the beauty of it with them.

“They are so lucky you saved and adopted them” – um, no. We are the lucky ones. They made our family whole. WE decided on adoption because WE wanted children and WE wanted a family. We are not fostering a hurt and sick animal here.

The bottom line with all of this is, be mindful of the comments and questions you ask. Be educated on the language and terms you use. You don’t always know what people are going through.

Adoption, birth mom, family, mom, teen pregnancy, Uncategorized

Teen Moms…

Teen Pregnancy  When you discover your pregnant, you should be excited! You share the news with your significant other and family. There are baby showers, gifts, decorating a nursery and waiting with anticipation for that glorious moment when you hear your child’s first cry. The first cry that says “I’m here!” – you are my momma! Unless you are 17 and its the very last thing you planned on. I never got to experience the excitement of being pregnant, just the unexpected, scared and unknown of it all.  I was that scared 17 year old. I am now a 45 year old woman with a birth son who is almost 27 that I met 4 years ago and two young daughters just entering the teen years… who are adopted. I love all my children beyond words.

I think of my daughters and someday they will have boyfriends. I want to say “Don’t have sex until your married!!” – but we all know the reality of it all. I will say “Don’t have sex until you are old enough to understand the magnitude of it all – make sure you are in love and it is with the person you want your life to be with”. It is not an act to become popular, to make a boy like you more or even to prove you are someone you are not. It’s not just something you do because everyone else is doing it – it doesn’t mean anything or it’s no big deal. Even using birth control of any sort doesn’t guarantee you will not get pregnant.

I was fortunate – in that my parents were there for me. They helped me with important decisions. They didn’t shun me, kick me to the curb or make me feel shamed. Were they thrilled their 17 year old daughter was pregnant? absolutely not. It was something that we went through and got through. It was life changing and emotional. Many emotions that I am experiencing NOW 27 years later. Because the “plan” I had knowing my son would have a better life with a couple that was READY to be parents got me through it. I knew that he would be loved, taken care of and given everything he needed – everything I wasn’t capable of at 17. Knowing my decision made sense and that my love for him would give him a better life, I was able to cope emotionally.

Some young girls are not so lucky. I am currently reading a book now about woman back in the late 50’s and 60’s that we shunned, sent away and were told there was NO OTHER CHOICE but to relinquish their rights to their child. No one talked about it. You were considered a “bad girl” or “used merchandise” – who on earth would want to marry a girl that had a baby out of wedlock. Thank God times have changed. But have they changed too much?? Now you can watch a show on MTV called Teen Moms…REALLY!?!?!?  A show that glamorizes it all – they get paid to show their loves on TV – get covers to magazines ??? Don’t get me wrong, some young woman (and men) choose to keep their babies at young ages and it works out – they DO survive and have a wonderful life – my son had that with his father and his father’s wife…my child’s mother.  But most teens do not.They have no job, quit school or rely on the grandparents to take care of the child. They struggle.

I want to say to teens that find themselves in this position that they have choices. That your child’s needs are so much more important that your wants. For some it is hard to understand that. But I am here to tell you, yes it is hard to go thru. You feel alone, scared and like your life may be over. There is always someone that WILL support you, help you and guide you. My hope that it is your family like I had. If it isn’t, then find someone who it is. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

To parents….No parent wants to learn their teenage daughter is pregnant. You bring up your child with love, morals, faith and it can still happen. Do you want to have a pregnant teen? Of course not….but if you do…you need to put your feelings aside and BE THERE. Again – putting the needs of your child first so they can do that for their child. Be the support they need – find them a doctor, a counselor and be the support they need – the love and support you promised to give then when you had them. Parents – it is ok to feel disappointed, scared and upset…but BE THERE for them…help them.

To the young teens that it worked out for to keep your baby and you could give it all that he/she may have needed – I am envious and proud of you for doing it. It… is…hard. My son’s father did that. At the time I thought my plan was so much better for him. But he grew up to be this amazing young man with parents who did give him what I couldn’t. they are my heroes – as corny as that sounds… I admire them, I respect them and I also feel saddened that I thought my plan was better. I believe that they raised him to be a loving forgiving person – which allows him and I to have a relationship now in life.