Monday, August 29, 2011

What I learned at the 2011 FSA Conference

I am finally home from my tour of the western states. It is good to be home! The first thing people have seemed to ask me when they see me is "How did your class/presentation go?" I know they ask because they love me and want to know but honestly it is the thing I wish they didn't ask. According to my very supportive friends and family who came, it went well. They said, it was real and not sugar coated and.....well I can't remember what else they said. It is good and reassuring to hear that but to me..... it wasn't my best.

What do I think? I think it went ok. I've done better adoption presentations but it wasn't a failure. Over all I am glad that I did it. It was a bit of a challenging subject for me because I feel like my strength is found more in the topic of what to do post placement and dealing with the ups and downs of that. But I learned that I do know a thing or two about pregnancy and adoption plans. Huh. Who knew?

As for the rest of the conference, it was good. It was a fun change to have Meg, her husband, and of course my sister there with me. After the conference C asked me what I had learned. I quickly tried to think of something and the only response I could come up with was..."nothing". I think that's because my mind was probably on a hundred different things during those two days that it was hard for me to focus in the classes.

However, when I read over my notes I remembered I did learn two things and I even wrote them down so i would not forget them! Looks like I need to look into ginkgo biloba. For those of you who are still reading and are interested these are my two take aways from the conference.

First!

Saturday morning Meg, Matthew, and I went to a grief and healing class because it was the only one we were remotely interested in. I sat there thinking that it had been a while since I went through the intense feelings the presenter was talking about. It was a process that happened so long ago for me, and the realizations she was talking about were one's I had realized already. I was feeling pretty dang good about myself and decided I could check out. And so I did. Until the presenter read a quote. I don't remember who it was by....sorry. It said, "You wont be the same person after this event, but why would you want to be?" Right then, I woke up and my immediate reaction was, "Why WOULDN'T I want to be?!" That's when I realized ther is something I haven't quite let go enough to stop grieving.

I don't grieve B anymore. Don't get me wrong. I still think about him and have days where I miss him, but my heart doesn't hurt anymore. I don't ache every time I think about him. However, I still grieve some one. I still grieve the girl I was before I was pregnant. This grief has nothing to do with the adoption and began long before I found out I was pregnant. The only connection it has to adoption is the fact that it transformed from an unconscious grief to a conscious grief at an adoption conference. I realized that I still actively grieve my 18 year old, naive, bubbly self when that loss of innocence so plainly stares me in the face. I am still dealing with the consequences of no longer having my innocence. I still find my self thinking about the what if's. There was a part of me that was lost during that time. I grieve that loss. There are still times I am brought to tears by the thought. It is hard for me to really describe my thoughts about this with out getting too personal but this is the first big take home I got.

Now that I have shared that with you I must say it is still a new thing for me. I mean, yeah I have dealt with it for the last 8 years, but it is new that I am actually aware I am grieving. It is still raw and I feel vulnerable. I love and appreciate your comments (actually I crave them) but  in this situation any comments that dismiss the thoughts and feelings I described above in your kind efforts to make me feel better are better left unsaid. This is a time where I need you to only listen and say, I am sorry you hurt and leave it at that.

The second take home I got from the conference was more of a relief. It was in the communication class (a class about how to effectively communicate with adoptive parents and vica versa). The presenter (a Birth Mother) wasn't really talking about communicating and I don't remember exactly what she said now, but it helped me realize that I should not feel guilty. Ever since I've become more active in the adoption world I have felt an unsettled feeling that I now reacognize as guilt. As adoptions are becoming more and more open I feel like birth mothers are talking more and more about their birth children. And although I learned early on not to compare my adoption to another and I try really hard not to.... I still sometimes do. And I felt guilty because these women are so active in their birth children's lives and I am not. I felt guilty because B is not the center of my life. I still love him more then I love anyone on this planet, but he is not the center of my world. He is the center of his mother's world. She is the one who lives to take care of him and that is ok. That is great actually! It felt good to realize that. It also felt good to realize that I feel guilty that it takes me forever to write a post about adoption because frankly, I do not think about adoption everyday. And some days I have nothing to say about it. And that is ok too. I walked away from that class feeling uplifted and a little freed.

At this point in the post I am exhausted (and I'm sure you are too) so I am going to go to bed. Have a wonderful night!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

National FSA Conference--Go!

I have a big trip coming up and I am very excited! In a week I will be flying out to Colorado and driving with Meg to spend time in Utah and then on my own to good old Idaho.

While I am in Utah we will be attending the Families Supporting Adoption Conference. I am very excited to go this year because last year was great! I would highly suggest it to every one.

For birth parents (they don't forget the birth fathers there) it helps remind you that you are not alone. I have never been in a room with so many other birth mothers. There are other women that understand your pain. It was uplifting, and insightful, and healing. Last year I sat there wishing Meg was with me to experience the highs and lows of the conference. I wanted her to be as up lifted and blessed as I felt. I am so excited to be able to attend the conference with Meg this year. If you are a birth mother GO! You'll learn how to deal better. You'll find even more peace and comfort in your decision and make more wonderful supportive friends. If you need a friend to sit by and hold your hand, email me. Meg will sit on one side and I will sit on the other.

For adoptive parents (or perspective adoptive parents) it helps to educate! It helps you understand birth parents so much more. It gives you ideas on how to strengthen your relationship with your child's birth parents and better communicate your needs, thoughts, and desires regarding your ever evolving relationship. You'll learn about the benefits of open adoption. You'll learn how to introduce the fact your child was adopted to them. You will be brought to tears and feel the spirit. C and L were two more people I wished were at the conference with me last year. Not necessarily because they need education, but because I love them and felt closer to them even though they were not there. I wanted them to be uplifted by the stories and insights too.

For adopted children (really it's for adult or teen adoptive children) it reminds you of how much you are loved by your birth parents. It reminds you that you are so special and so important that your birth parents did what ever they needed to to give you the best. You will learn that your birth parents think of you often and will never forget about you. It will give you more insight to how to deal with being an adoptive child.

For friends and supporter it will give you a better idea of how to be there for what ever member of the triad you happen to be closely related to.

If you are a perspective birth mother/father/grand mother/etc PLEASE come! There is something for you. I will be teaching a class with my wonderful co presenter Alli, called Step by Step: Pregnancy to Placement. We will give you many helpful tips and suggestions to help you in your decision making process. It will be great!

It is next weekend! I can't believe it is so close. Because there is an awesome Fillet Mignon dinner after the sessions Friday night you need to register to help the conference people prepare. the cost is $45 a person and no charge to birth parents and their families.

Visit familiessupportingadoption.blogspot.com for more information on the conference and registration.

*Man, I should get paid for all the promoting I have done for these guys! Then again seeing all the members of my adoption family next weekend is payment enough. -so cheesy! :D