Tag Archives: Bethany Christian Services

World Adoption Day

10 Nov

Dear Little Man,

Yesterday afternoon I was sifting through my Instagram feed when I came across this post from an actress I like:

world adoption day nina

Property of Nina Dobrev

Sharpie smiles? Happy faces? I like both of those! I checked it out and the photo caption indicated that they were celebrating something…World Adoption Day! Yesterday was the first ever World Adoption Day, an organization founded by many, but mostly pioneered by Adopt Together — a foundation that helps families raise money so that they can adopt (yes, having a heart big enough to lead you to adoption can cost a lot of money for the adoptive families!). It is “crowd funded,” meaning that the Adopt Together website raises money through donations of friends, family and even strangers. Yet another reminder of the power of love and the compassion that exists between people around the world :)

World Adoption Day invited people all over the world (and their friends and family) to post a photo of a “hands up smiley face” with the hashtag, “#worldadoptionday” to bring attention to the cause, to the families trying to bring a child home…and to adoption in general!

I was so excited a.k.a I immediately jumped on PicStitch, found some of my favorite photos and made THIS so that I could contribute to World Adoption Day!

WAD instagram

You, me and The B’s across the years!

Any and every foundation that supports, promotes and/or raises money for adoption warms my heart. There are so many elemental, beautiful things about adoption: creating families, helping children, spreading and sharing love, caring for others…adoption is beautiful on so many levels, I could never list them all. Open adoption in particular…I know my son, he knows me (and his birth father, and our parents and friends), and we’ve all gained such amazing extended families out of it. Every one — especially birth mothers! — deserve the opportunity to be part of something as beautiful as this. Little Man even knows to call me his birth mother now (a post on that is absolutely coming!). Sometimes, it’s stunning how lucky I am, and it’s all thanks to adoption. An entire day devoted to bringing awareness to it? I’m absolutely on board.

As I said in my Instagram post…”Open adoption is the thing, y’all. Spread the word!”

Many thanks to Adopt Together, World Adoption Day and all of its founders, organizations and supporters!

And thank YOU, Little Man, for bringing all of this joy to my life in the first place. Happy (technically late) November 9th, 2014, Liam. I love you more than words.

Love,
Renee (“Birth Mom” as you call me now :D)

And, of course, my official photo for #WorldAdoptionDay!

WAD smile

Check out World Adoption Day’s Facebook Page and “like” it to see all of the smiles!

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Happy Autumn!

28 Oct

Dear Little Man,

It’s fall in the beautiful North Carolina mountains, and there’s probably nothing prettier than fall colors in the Blue Ridge. Autumn in WNC means a lot of things: crisp air, cooler temperatures, pumpkins, apple cider, scarves, leaf piles, cold noses, reds, oranges, yellows, browns, cuddles under the blankets and so many other wonderful things. Fall festivals  and country fairs are another autumnal hallmark, and we got to go to one a little over a week ago in Valle Crusis. You came down (or up, technically) with The B’s and we festival’d together near my lovely graduate school. You all slept over and we had a dance party in the A.M. (to One Republic only, per your request) then went for breakfast and a trip through Blowing Rock.

And I rented a camera and became a classic “Facebook mom” — taking hundreds of pictures and posting…like…all of them. Not ashamed. But you probably will be when I pull them out to show to your dates in another decade or so.

*insert evil Halloween-appropriate laugh here*

I love you, kiddo. I can’t wait to see you for trick-or-treating in a few days. You’re coming to my {Grandma M’s and Pop Pop 3’s} house in beautiful Asheville while your parents go to a concert and we get to walk through the neighborhood I trick-or-treated in when I was a kid. It feels very “circle of life” to me…maybe if we have time, you can dress up like Simba and I’ll paint myself purple, learn Swahili and paint shapes on your forehead. Hopefully that reference will make sense to you someday. The Lion King better not be that out of date by the time you’re old enough to read these…

Moral of the story, I am yet again thankful for the beauty of the true openness of our open adoption. Hopefully it’ll catch on so that other families get the extraordinary chance to have a relationship like we all have together.

I love you, to infinity and beyond.

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On Your Third Birthday

22 Jul
Photo by C

Super excited about your balloons this past weekend :) Photo by C

Dear Little Man,

Today is a very special day — today is your birthday! Three years ago around this time I was getting hooked up in the hospital room and you were making your presence very well known every four to five minutes. Now, three years later, I’m sitting in my sunny apartment, drinking coffee, writing you this letter and (thankfully) not in desperate need of an epidural.

This is the first birthday I haven’t physically spent with you. I was there when you turned one, and I was there for part of your last actual birthday, but this year your birthday fell on a Monday — so even though I spent this past weekend with you, it feels a little strange not seeing you on this momentous day. Luckily, J solved that strangeness this morning: when I woke up, she’d sent me a video of you asking for me this morning.

“I want Nay Nay,” you said. “I want Nay-Nay to come to Liam’s house.”

Now I know it’s your birthday, but that video was probably the best birthday present I could have ever gotten.

So, on your third birthday, I want you to know something you will eventually get tired of hearing because I have told you (and will continue to tell you) so often: I love you so very much, I couldn’t be prouder of you or happier to be your mom.  The day you were born was the happiest day of my life. Even with the physical pain that preceded your birth or the sadness that followed it when you were placed, that day — July 22, 2010 — was just our day. A day when I only thought of you, no “before” and no “after.” Just you and me and your birth.

When you finally emerged, I remember listening for your cry to know that you were alright and being so relieved when I heard it. When I first held you to my chest, I remember that I counted your fingers and toes to make sure you had ten of each, fascinated by how impossibly small they were. But mostly, I remember seeing you for the first time. I remember when they lifted you up and I finally got to look at you, finally got to see the Little Man I had only felt, only imagined.

It took my breath away.

I was stunned. You were real. You were a person. You existed and I was instantly enamored with you. I have never loved anything so immediately or so fully as I loved you in that moment. It was the kind of moment that writers and poets and literary moguls describe as the moment when time slows down and everything around you just fades away. Everything but that one person that you instantly know you’re in love with. It’s true. I don’t remember what the nurses were saying. I don’t remember what my parents were doing. I don’t remember any of the other noises or sights. I just remember you. I remember seeing you, hearing you and just being…in awe. I was in awe of you — there’s really no other way to describe it. I was in awe but more so, I was in love, and I knew it without really having to know it. It was that instantaneous. It was that pure.

And it’s only grown since then.

I love you more and more with every day, every word, every step, every picture, every video, every visit, every smile, every laugh, every touch, every look. This day three years ago was the most incredible day of my life. Bringing you into this world will forever be the best thing I’ve ever done, followed by placing with with The B’s — the beautiful family that is celebrating you today just as much as I am. They are the family that knows exactly what I mean when I say how completely my love for you overtook me, because the same thing happened to them the first time they saw you. And now, three years later, we’re family. And we play and talk and care and hug and love, tied together at the center that is you. Who knew one little (adorable) blonde boy could create an entire family?

So today we celebrate you. We celebrate your birth. We celebrate that indescribable love we’ve had for you since Day One. And I celebrate that moment at 5:41 PM when I finally got to lay eyes on my beautiful, incredible son. When I finally got to fall in love with the boy instead of just the kicks and the ultrasounds. When I finally got to meet you.

You are my everything, Liam Hudson. Happy Birthday Little Man <3

Seconds after I first laid eyes on you. And so it began... :)

Seconds after I first laid eyes on you. And so it began… :)

The Audience in Their Underwear

21 Oct

“I feel like I should make one of those ‘imagine-the-audience-in-their-underwear’ jokes, but I feel like that might be mildly inappropriate.”

That is what I opened with at my banquet speech Friday night. That was the first thing I said. Yep. My opening line was about underwear.

When I think about it, I have an image of the real me on stage actually saying it, but I also see an imaginary, invisible me trying to catch the words as they come out of my mouth and shove them back in, silently whispering, “Oh my God! Shut up!”

I’ll defend myself by saying that this banquet hall was packed. One-hundred-and-fifty people, easily, all affiliated with Bethany Christian Services (the adoption agency I worked with), all staring eagerly up at me. I honestly don’t mind speaking in front of people, especially when I’m speaking about a topic that I’m passionate about (like you!), but that doesn’t stop me from getting nervous (and making bad underwear jokes). Likewise, being nervous doesn’t stop me from talking about the things I believe are important — and raising awareness about open adoption is certainly one of those things.

I love telling our story. I love telling the part where it was just you and me and those seven months we spent growing together. I love telling the part where The B’s and I met and how we came together as a family. I even like telling the parts that were difficult for me: having to sign the adoption papers, trudging through those ten days, and missing you all the time.

But my favorite part of telling our story is seeing the looks on the faces of others as I tell them about the relationship I’ve had with The B’s since the adoption became official. They all look a little…stunned. Wide eyes that look a little incredulous, even a few dropped jaws here and there. But they’re stunned in a happy kind of way: Like they didn’t know that adoption stories could turn out that wonderfully, or like they’re thrilled to hear that happy endings aren’t just for the movies.

I love seeing that look because I know that there is one more person out there who knows that adoption has changed people’s lives for the better. When I hear about adoption in my classes at school (if I hear about it at all, which is rare), the only things I hear are negative: negative impacts on the child as they grow up, negative impacts on the birth mother after her child is gone, abuse, neglect…the list goes on. And the sad part is that they’re not entirely wrong. In some cases, things end up that way: bad families, damaged children, etc. But that’s why I feel it is so important to share our story. Because if awareness is raised and optimism is spread, maybe the stigma can be lifted and people can learn about how openness can really change everything.

I know I always say that you are my inspiration, but I really mean it. The reason I love to do these talks and give these speeches and attend these banquets and info meetings and fundraisers is because I have you. You are a miracle, but not just my miracle. You’re a miracle for The B’s and their friends and family, too. Your existence has brought so many people together which, in turn, has spread so much love and happiness…how can anybody not want to share that? Personally, I like to sing your praises from the rooftops (or through social media, the new age “rooftop”) and judging by the great feedback I got on Friday after the rest of my speech, maybe your story will become someone else’s miracle too.

But hopefully, when that person retells the story I told them — about you and me and the wonderful family I found in The B’s and through open adoption — they’ll leave out the part about the underwear.

The Business of Being a Brother

15 Feb

 Your biological dad, C, has two adopted siblings. He’s the oldest – he has a younger sister and a younger brother, both of whom were adopted by his parents. When C and I dated, I got to know his siblings pretty well. They’re both great kids – actually, C is about six years older than his little brother, just like you and Sports Man.

 After I had been working with my adoption agency for a while, Bethany Christian Services, they had me go through “prospective family profiles.” Moms and dads who were looking for a little one to bring home would put together “books” that would tell birthmothers a little bit about themselves. The B’s had the coolest book by far (I still have it), but one of the many reasons I chose them was actually your big brother, Sports Man.

 When I was first considering adoption, I thought that if I went through with it, I wanted you to go to a family that had no kids. I thought that a couple without kids would appreciate you more since you’d be their “first.”

 But then one day, my dad – you call him Pop-Pop 3 – made an offhanded comment about couples who already had a child. He said, “If a couple already has a child and he or she is still alive, I’d say that’s a pretty good track record.” I found it humorous, but the more I thought about it, the more truth I found in it.

 I always wished I’d had a sibling. I thought it would be fun to grow up with someone, to have someone to share secrets with or play games with, someone who would always stick up for you and have your back, someone who would never judge you too harshly, who would always be there for you – I thought it would be like having a built-in best friend. Of course, never actually having a sibling, my idea of one is rather idealized; I know siblings get annoyed with one another and fight and call each other names. But I figured the days when you’re each other’s best friend would make the rest of it worth it.

 I picked The B’s to be your family for many other reasons that I’ll tell you about some day, but the fact that you would have a big brother was definitely one of them. It was comforting for me to know that you would always have a playmate, a “partner in crime,” someone a little closer to your age who could teach you the fun stuff about being a kid. And if anyone knows about fun kid stuff, it’s Sports Man.

 Sports Man has his name for a reason – he is a sports encyclopedia. He knows stats for every NFL or NBA team. He knows who plays what positions now, who played them in the past, how many winning seasons each team has, how tall every NBA player is, how many yards every NFL player has, the history of Super Bowl wins…I am astounded by his intellect most of the time. Maybe even a little intimidated. We met him when he was six and now at eight years old, he’s only gotten cooler. He loves to play games and learn things, and most of all, he loves to do those things with you.

 And he was so, so excited to get you as a younger brother. J and E told me all about how, before he even knew about you, he would go on and on about the things he wanted to teach his little brother or sister, or the games he would play with him or her when he finally got a younger sibling. The same August your adoption became official, Sports Man had to go back to school and he cried on his first day because he didn’t want to leave you. So on the days that you two fight or get annoyed with each other, just remember – you were a dream come true to him.

 And even more than that, Sports Man was a dream come true for me. It made me feel like I could truly give you absolutely everything by placing you with The B’s. As if J and E weren’t blessing enough, I got to give you something I never had. And Sports Man is a gift to me because he is a gift to you – you love him to pieces. You follow him around and play with his toys and you want to do the things he does. Sometimes, he is the only one who can make you smile. I’ve seen him make you laugh when you’re in the middle of crying. He loves you and you love him and one day, I hope that you’ll be the closest of friends. Grown men who come home for Thanksgiving and joke about the “younger days.”

 And not only that but I got siblings out of this deal too. I got a brother in E, and I finally got the sister I’d always wanted in J. While I may not have grown up with them, I tell my secrets to J. We go shopping together and go to lunch together and talk about the future together. She is on my speed dial and we talk frequently in between visits. I swap music with E. We have our morning routine of coffee and chit chat whenever I come to your house for a weekend. He send me cute, e-mail videos of you. I share stories and joy and laughter with both of them. I love them and they, like you, are my gift.

 I suppose this means that Pop-Pop 3 does have some wisdom in him after all ;)

The first time Sports Man met you at your adoption ceremony :)

 

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