I made it this far, and have to say that the last year has been the fastest and the slowest year of my enitre life. I learned SOOOOO MUCH since beginning this journey, and thought I'd share some of it. Mainly so I can reflect on it, but if someone picks up something extra, then BONUS!!!
What have I learned in the last year?
1. Adoption is a blessing and a curse. It comforts me and cripples me every single day. I love that there is a "forever family" somewhere that I helped make happen. I do not love the hole it has made in my family.
2. Adoption is a life long decision. Ok, so maybe that should have been a given, but I thought it would be a different life. It sucks some days, but there is a whole lifetime ahead, and maybe things will change.
3. "Greatfulness" is short lived. "Guilt" is forever. Well, hopefully not forever, but after 370 days, my guilt has only gotten worse...not better. And I am pretty sure that greatful people don't pretend like you don't exist.
4. Adoptions are like snowflakes...No two are ever alike. After spending hours upon hours reading blogs and stories, no one has the same story. Everyone is different. And the chances of finding someone "who's been what you've been through" are very small. You have to find your own way.
5. NEVER judge a book by its cover. You may have your own notions of how people are, but even the best of people sometimes turn out not to be the best. And the worst are not always the worst. And that goes for everyone, on all sides. I thought I knew me, and have spent the last year learning that I have weakness I never even knew of.
6. Education is the quickest cure for Ignorance. Know your options. Learn all you can. You cannot blame someone else for your own lack of it...even if you want to.
7. Counseling is a MUST for birthmom's. I don't care if you don't think you need it. You will. I am FINALLY going to start counseling in a few weeks thanks to an amazing woman I found at my new church who is going to get it started for me.
8. When you think you have it all figured out, it will change. Feelings that you thought you had a handle on will bum rush you in the middle of the night. Emotions that you never saw coming will knock the wind out of you. Be prepared to roll with the changes.
9. Drinking makes things worse...not better. Once upon a time (A LONG TIME AGO), I used to have a blast with my friends, drinking the night away. Having not been a big drinker for years, I went back to it this year. Not a good choice. I saw a quote somewhere that said, "I tried to drown my troubles in a bottle, but the little bastards can swim!"...LOL. Mine brought rafts and floaties. Nothing makes your troubles go away until you are ready to let them go away.
10. If someone reaches out to you...Reach Back! While no one has been through your exact journey, there are women who are willing and able to provide "mentoring" of a sort. Embrace it. My self-proclaimed, personal adoption mentor (that's the title I have given her...) has managed on more than one occasion to send me a message or a kind word right at the time I needed it the most. (Thanks Kels)
11. Your friends may mean well, but if they are the ONLY thing you are counting on for support...please have a "plan B". The same goes for family. You will be AMAZED at how well your friends and family may support you in the beginning, but if "too much time" passes and you still haven't "gotten over it", those numbers will rapidly decrease. People will stop calling, stop visiting, stop hanging out, stop remembering what is important to you...and there's not much that you can do about it. Remember...the road to hell was paved with good intentions.
12. If you don't have a relationship with God, now is a good time to start one. I personally, had not stepped into a church in 19 years until two weeks ago. I was raised LDS, and there was no way I was ever going back, having done a million things wrong, and having tattoos, and a deep love for menthol light cigarettes that I am NOT giving up. But a few months ago, when I started realizing I was turning into a big black hole, and was sucking the life out of everything around me, I contacted a friend that I hadn't talked to since high school who is a pastor in his church. And bawled my eyes out to a guy who I was less than nice to back then regarding his beliefs. And then finally went to church on Easter. And cried my eyes out the whole time. The "still small voice" doesnt just live in Mormon Churches. This is a christian church, complete with a band, and nice people, and no judging. The holy spirit has been with me strongly since that day, and I am working on serving his word where I can.
13. If you can touch someone else, even through your own pain...do it! When the birthday started hitting the back of my mind, I tried to find a different avenue to go with it. Instead of the "poor me" approach, I focused on the good parts of adoption, and was blessed to have been able to pair a match with a friend of mine to a couple who deserve to be parents as much as anyone I've ever seen. I don't know if it was divine intervention or not, but I needed a positive outlet, and am so thankful that this arose when it did. It makes me feel good that even though my situation isn't what I wanted, I can still help others have theirs.
14. You cannot "hide" from adoption. Before entering into the role of "birthmom", I wasn't exposed to adoption. I never thought about it. Afterwards, every book, movie, song...it's IN EVERYTHING. Ya gotta get used to it. Or hide in a cave...but that's not really my style.
15. And finally, life can change for the better in a second. Be Ready. Had I not gone through this, I would still probably been a terrible mom to Taryn. I have been given such an amazing second chance with her this last year, and am thankful above all for that. It's never too late to make amends...its never too far gone to fix...and it's never too late to say I am sorry.
Thank you all for your love and support over this last year!