UAC spring conference

On March 26, I was blessed to go to the Utah Adoption Council spring conference. Words cannot rightly state the emotions or experience I had, but I will try.

When I arrived I felt out of place and unsure what I was doing there, it was a little terrifying. I walked up to the table and just stood there trying to figure out where I was supposed to be. One of the reps noticed I was lost and directed me to get my name tag and folder for the event then directed me to another table to sign in for hours for foster, adoptive, and professionals. When I told her I was a birth parent, she seemed to have gotten excited and thanked me for coming. It made me feel better about being there. I was further impressed and surprised when she directed me over to breakfast. I knew lunch was served but didn’t expect breakfast too.

After breakfast and a welcoming ceremony in the ballroom, I went to my first session - Opening a closed adoption by Tamra Hyde. I first met Tamra on the BTG cruise in January, although she was not there with our group it was wonderful to connect with her then. I was impressed with her story of reuniting with her son after a closed adoption of many years.  This topic was one I definitely needed to hear at this stage in my adoption journey.

What I learned is there is no “how to...” for open adoptions or reuniting. We as humans constantly want to compare ours to theirs. We need to stop comparing, don’t let regrets win. We have so much hope and fear. We need to overcome the fear. “Isn’t it better for both parties to be completely open?” Some questions you may ask yourself when the time comes to open are: What is my role? What is the life I want for them? Don’t hope/want to be a parent, you aren’t their parent. Just be there as a resource to them. And it’s ok to want to be their friend, but give it time to develop; you are a stranger to them. And remember, “What I gave him was right.” Look for the beauty in the disappointments, the blessings and the hardships.

In the second session, I got a peek into what it is like for the adopted child through an adoptee panel. A lot of adoptees have a fear of adoptive parents being hurt in a search for the birthparents. Some also have anger for “how could anyone give up their child?” There is also either an Idealized or Demonized version of the parent that placed the child. One thing that was a question on a lot of birth parents minds was; how did the adoptee feel when finding out about subsequent children? I know personally when I was getting ready to have children with my spouse 3 years after placing I was terrified that my child may feel like I was replacing him. The panels reply was, “pin pointing why they were placed helps in understanding why they were placed and others kept.” One of the adoptees on the panel was also a social worker and she suggested the book The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child by Nancy Verrier. It discusses how there is a vital bound, Physical and Psychological between a birthmother and child. How even children placed at birth will retain memories of the separation from the mother, and how these memories will have an effect on the child physically and emotionally. What I took from this session is that more adoption awareness and education needs to be spread for all parties of the triad.

After an amazing lunch and awards ceremony for adoption advocates in the community, I went to my final session of the day. I was sad I would not be able to attend the next day’s group of sessions, because so much healing and buried emotions and memories were brought up.

The final session was presented by Gina Crotts, who is the founder of Birth Mother Baskets. I was incredibly impressed with Gina’s story and surprised by how much of it mirrored my own. Gina is also biologically related to my birth son’s adoptive parents. So it was cool to connect with her.
Gina Presented on “Defending your decision, and why you don’t have to.” I learned a lot about whom I was then and who I am now in my placement journey. She made me think and remember the little things I had nearly forgotten. She shared this amazing quote that has stuck with me and I remind myself daily. “Courage, dear heart.” –CS Lewis. Courage, Courage I had in making my decision, and courage that what I did was right. Courage to not have regrets.  

There are so many birth parent stigmas and negativity out there, and we need not have to defend our decision to any of them, only to ourselves. She gave us some tips on dealing with the negativity and for owning our Decision.

Dealing with Negativity
Tip #1: Don’t engage/Stoop to their level
Tip #2: Resist judgment (Not only those judging you, but judging others as well.)
Tip #3: Compassion
Tip #4: Educate (positive or just say no)
“Dwelling on the negative contributes to it’s power.”

Owning your Decision
Tip#1: Take Responsibility for your situation and your decision
Tip#2: Set Boundaries ( Know when enough is enough, and don’t take on more than you can handle.)
Tip#3: Face the emotions (it’s going to be a roller coaster, and burying them prohibits healing. Accept them, Feel them and grow from them.)
Tip#4: Bumps in the road (no one’s story is perfect and there will be bumps learn how to handle them.)
“There’s no need to be perfect to inspire others. Let people get inspired by how you deal with your imperfections.”

At the end of the day, I was an emotional wreck to say the least. Every time I think I am at a place of peace I realize I still have some healing and growing to do. It was an amazing experience one I hope to do again in the future.          

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