Monday, October 20, 2014

My birthday tattoo and what it represents!



Having children after placing a child for adoption...




Five years ago, as most of you know,  I made the very hard but responsible choice to give my fifth baby up for adoption, leaving me with just the four children I had chosen to parent. Going through the adoption process left me in a whirlwind of emotions as a mom. On one hand I felt like I made the best choice I could for my newborn because instead of living a life in daycare and full of custody disputes I had given him a chance at wholeness.  On the other hand I didn’t know where that left me as a mom.  What If I got remarried? What if my new husband wanted to have more kids? Did I deserve to have more kids? After all I just gave one away right? 

I chose not to date for a period of time after I had my birth son. I felt I needed time to heal and process all the events of the last nine months.  For about two years I just spent time with my kids and allowed my heart to settle. That’s when I met my husband. I didn’t expect to meet someone so soon but it happened and he fit so well into my life that I fell in love with him. 

We had such a special relationship. I loved him so much but I was having a very difficult time with the fact that he had three kids and they were very young. There was a battle going on in my head. I didn’t know if I was worthy or even allowed to have more kids. Wasn’t there some kind of written rule that someone who gave their child up for adoption shouldn’t have more? I was so confused and scared. There was no rule book or instruction book on this subject. How was I going to figure this out? I didn’t want to lose him…he was my answer to prayer. 

We dated for several months and our kids loved each other and our our love grew as well. The more time we spent together the more I started to become more comfortable with the growing feeling that I was about to be a new mom to three more kids, but I kept asking myself “Is this OK?...Am I allowed to be doing this?”

I think every birth mom will face the situation I was in. I am so glad that during this time I had a good support team to help me though this difficult emotional challenge I had in front of me. In my mind I just didn’t feel worthy to be parenting any more kids since I chose not to parent my son.  What I discovered after much prayer and council was that I was worthy. I was capable and I was allowed to have more kids. I discovered that there are moments in our lives that we have to make hard decisions, but that those moments do not define our future. 

Today I am happily married to a wonderful man. I do have eight kids….seven I parent….one I do not…but that is OK because I am just in another “moment” in my life. Things change, people grow, life evolves.

Friday, October 17, 2014

After writing my story......


After my birth son was born and I was starting to just get re-adjusted to my new "normal," I started thinking about what I had just been through. The tragedy of the situation was all over my life physically and emotionally. It was literally a process to just get through each day and start feeling normal again.

The good news is I did start to feel normal again. As the years passed I was able to loose a lot of weight, get a job, and feel human again. Today I feel like my life is steady. I longed for steady for so many years and even though I know that can change at the drop of a dime...it feels good to say that I am happy.

Five years have come and gone since my sweet birth son was born. Ive continued to blog on and off over these years, mostly about my children I have chosen to parent, but a little about the adoption. It hasn't been until recently when I told my complete adoption story here , that I started to realize that I did have a voice. It was apparent that my story was important to share and that someone could benefit from all my sadness and then of course from the beauty of it as well.

About a week ago I received a random email from a man from an adoption agency. The email basically asked if I wanted to collaborate with other birth moms writing articles on different subjects involved with adoption and being a birth mother. These articles would be posted on the agencies blog as well as other adoption related blogs.  I had received a few of these requests before and although I was eager to partner up with other birth moms to do this I never received an answer from these other agencies and nothing came from it. Thinking that this would be the same situation as before I sent a quick email to this gentleman telling him that I would be happy to be involved in such a wonderful cause. Again, I didn't expect to hear from him.....but I did. The same day he sent me a list of subjects to write about and asked me to pick one and submit it.

There were only a few rules that he explained to me in the email. He said that the article had to be on one of the subjects he sent to me and it had to be 400 words or more. That sounded reasonable so I picked a subject and set out writing. This was going to be fun. I was so excited to be part of something that might help out another sweet birth-mother to be.

The article I chose to write was titled: Why open adoption is better for everyone involved. And here is what I wrote.


Hello! My name is Rebekah. I am 39 years old and I am a mom to five wonderful children. Four of those children I chose to parent, and my fifth child I chose not to parent. My birth son is now five years old so I write this article with quite a bit of perspective on the subject of open adoption.

In my ninth week of pregnancy I started to consider adoption. It was such a foreign word to me and I didn’t know much about it. I did know that I had questions that had to be answered before I was to fully commit to placing my sweet baby up for adoption. One of the questions that had to be answered was, “Would my baby have any emotional damage in later years if I put him up for adoption?” I was very concerned about how he would feel about his life and the choices I was about to make for him.

So I set out to answer this question.



The first thing I did was look up the definition of adoption. That should help right?



According to Wikipedia.org, the definition of adoption is as follows: Adoption is a process whereby a person assumes the parenting of another, usually a child, from that person’s biological or legal parent or parents, and, In doing, permanently transfers all rights and responsibilities, along with filiation, from the biological parent or parents. 



Sigh!!



 That’s not what I was looking for. I needed something more personal…I needed to talk to someone who had been adopted. You can always read books and articles but I wanted to know exactly what was going to happen to my baby if I gave him up for adoption. What was he going to feel when he was fifteen or twenty or thirty? What damage will I cause to him by doing this if any at all. So I scowered the internet looking for anyone who was adopted who would talk to me.  I found what I was looking for. 



I spoke to several people who had been adopted…and I got the same answer from all of them. It usually went something like this. “Ive actually had a great life. My adoptive parents were always kind to me and I had a wonderful childhood….but….Im sad that I don’t know where I came from.”



A bell went off in my head. These people did NOT have bad lives…in fact they had very fulfilling lives but there was one thing that was missing…ROOTS!! Everyone wants to know where they came from. The sadness that these people were describing to me was something I could solve for my son if I gave him up for adoption. If…I went with adoption it would have to be open…very open. I didn’t want him to ever wonder where he came from. So when the time came to make my decision it was easy. I had my proof, and open adoption was my choice and I am so glad I did. My birth son is five years old now and we have a wonderful open relationship. He asks me questions (yes at five years old he is very inquisitive) and I am able to answer them honestly. My son will grow up never wondering where he came from. I hope as the years pass I am able to continue this open relationship with my birth son and his family.



Open adoption has helped me in more ways than one. I have four other children ages 8-18. One of the hardest things I have ever had to do was to tell my children they were going to have to say good-bye to their brother. Open adoption gave them the opportunity to always stay in contact with their youngest brother despite the fact that he was part of another loving family.



 My son will grow up never wondering where he came from. I thank God for open adoption.



Thank you for reading,

Rebekah Bancroft

http://wheredoibegain.blogspot.com/

You can find the published article here

I attached it in a word document and emailed it over. I hoped they would like it. I really don't see myself as a good writer. I write from my heart and that's all I can offer really. 

The same day I received an email from the agency saying that they LOVED the article and asked where they could submit the payment? PAYMENT? I didn't know there was payment involved. I was so excited. Not only was I getting the pleasure of using my voice and my story to help other people but I was getting paid to do it. What a dream. 

Two days later they emailed me back and said they would like me to write another article. There are no words that explain how honored I am to be able to do this. I hope that someone, somewhere, read my story and finds hope and encouragement.

 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Part 7: Birth day...saying goodbye and a video of pictures!




The weeks that followed were hard for me physically. I had gained so much weight. By the time I hit week 38 I was weighing in at about 319 pounds. With all this extra, very unhealthy, weight came high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia. These conditions were not good for me or the baby. 

In one of my many conversations that week with Rebekah I told her that it was possible that on my next doctors appointment they would send me to the hospital for an induction. I wanted her and Ben to be prepared. It was really important to me for them to be there. 

Emotionally I was spent. The anxiety of the situation was more than I can handle. I am pretty sure that is why I gained so much weight and why my blood pressure spiked so high. I felt so bad for my kids. They were really upset about the whole situation. I knew what I was putting them through was horrible. How could I possibly make them say goodbye to their brother. They had watched him grow in my belly. They had felt him move and they had seen the pictures from the ultrasound. They knew he was real. I was so heartbroken for them…and for me.

 I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle the birth emotionally. I didn’t even know how I was going to handle giving him away. There were so many unknowns. Because of this I decided it was probably best to send my big kids to their dads house in Arizona for the summer and then I would be able to handle their emotions when they got back. I was barely hanging on. 

Just as predicted my doctors appointment came and my blood pressure was dangerously high. I was sent immediately to the hospital. On the way there I made the all important call to Rebekah and Ben that went something like this:


“Rebekah, you need to drive all night long. The baby is coming tomorrow.”

I can only imagine how hard that was for them. I believe they were in Texas visiting family and friends. The drive would be long and hard but I'm sure very worth it. 

Birth day!!

Almost all my family was there with me. I was so grateful. I didn’t want to be alone. I had no intentions of having a painful birth, the situation itself was painful enough, so I opted for an epidural as soon as they would allow me to. This also allowed for a very peaceful time for everyone to visit and talk. We very much enjoyed ourselves. Rebekah and Ben arrived around ten in the morning looking very tired. I knew they had driven all night long but I cried when Rebekah walked in the door. I wanted her to hold my hand. We had become very close. 

Hour after hour went by and the baby still had not come. At one point, because of my weight, my epidural came out from the shifting of my body. The contraction pain made me so sad and I cried. Graciously, the placed another one for me and I was comfortable again. 

Lunch time had come and gone and I knew everyone was hungry. I of course was not allowed to eat so I told everyone that I thought it was probably safe to go and eat. I was only about six centimeters and I sure we had several hours of waiting left. Rebekah and Ben agreed and left to go to the cafeteria to get some drinks and food. 

I laid there on my very uncomfortable bed and tried to relax. That did not last long. I started to feel some very uncomfortable pressure and had to call for the nurse. She came in and checked me and I had unexpectedly gone from 6 centimeters to 10 in less than one hour. 

“Everyone is gone.” I said to the nurse. “Can you please go find them.”

That part makes me laugh. I was certain everyone was going to miss it. Isn't that just the typical story??

Fortunately, my wonderful nurse was able to track Rebekah and Ben down. They ran into the room looking just as surprised as we all were. 

It was time to push!!

I have pushed out five babies in my lifetime…and none of them took longer than 30 minutes to show there sweet faces. Tyrus was no different. He came out in less than 20 minutes and cried loud and strong. The room was filled with joy and tears and amazement. He looked pale to me at first but he pinked up quickly. His hair was jet black and looked long and curly (later we would find out it was straight as a board and stood up like a Mohawk.) His eyes were dark…so dark they looked black.

They set him on my stomach. I looked at Rebekah and told her she could hold him first…she said to me “Rebekah, you need to hold him first. I have a lifetime with him.” It was a gift to me to get to hold him first, to get to look at him and touch him and check him out. He was beautiful!!!
When I felt comfortable, they took him and weighed him, and wrapped him in a hospital blanket. Everyone took turns holding him and marveling at how perfect he was. 

We spent 24 hours in the hospital. I let Ben and Rebekah have all the firsts. I wanted them to change his diaper first, dress him first, and have their first night with him. They had a room right beside mine. I could hear every time he cried and every time they got up to comfort him. I had four other children and I had experienced a lot of firsts in my life…this was their time and I enjoyed watching.

Leaving the hospital was harder than I imagined. I had just signed my parental rights away and now I had to walk out of the hospital alone. It was so weird to not have a baby with me, even though I just had one. I just kept telling myself as I got into the car…”you just have to get home…then you will be OK.” But it was not OK. Nothing was OK. I was not prepared for the emotional breakdown I would have for the next three days. I was very grateful I had decided to send away the kids for the summer. I could not handle my emotions and theirs too. The crying I did for the next three days was not the kind of crying I  had ever done before. It felt like someone was ripping my heart out. I cried and cried until I literally didn’t have tears coming out of my eyes any more. My mom was very worried about me. She wanted to help but there was literally nothing she could do for me. I told her “mom, I think I just have to be sad for awhile.”  Im sure it broke her heart to see her daughter in so much pain. 

Life didn’t seem the same. I felt like there was a piece of me missing. I didn’t know what to do.
Rebekah and Ben spent as much time as they could with me while they waited the three or four days required by law before they left the state with their new bundle of joy. I enjoyed the little time we had together. They were really enjoying parenting. A few times Rebekah asked me “Are you sure? Are you sure you want to give him to us?”  She was always thinking of me. I would always answer her with a “Yes, Im sure.” I knew I had made the right decision…but sometimes we have to make decisions that are not very easy and sometimes they are very painful. 

Saying good bye was bittersweet. Rebekah said to me on the day she left “I feel so bad…it’s the happiest day of our lives, but it’s the saddest day of yours.” We hugged, and cried, and said our good byes and then….they were gone. 

I was left with an empty home. A body that was still recovering from just having a baby, and no baby to hold. I became very angry. I was so angry at Ron. He caused all this unhappiness and I was the one who carried the brunt of it. 

I had not spoke to Ron since the day I asked him to sign the papers. He knew the baby was born (I cant remember who told him) and he requested to see the baby before Rebekah and Ben left town. I was so angry that he got to see the baby. I know that sounds horrible but I just didn’t feel like he deserved to. Looking back now I am glad that he did get to hold Tyrus. No matter how horrible of a person I thought he was, Tyrus will have pictures of his birth dad holding him. That’s all that matters and Im glad now that Rebekah and Ben decided to meet with Ron before they left. 

Several months after the birth I was driving down the road listening to music with my windows down and I heard my name being called. I turned the music down and looked to my right. In a big black tow truck sat Ron looking at me. I cringed at the sight of him. He only said one sentence to me…he said,

“The baby is beautiful.”

I looked at him and I responded,

“I know,”

And I drove off hoping to never see him again…and five years later I haven’t. 

It took a long time for my heart to mend, but the good news is that God has restored my life. I dont always make decisions that are good for me but God seems to always pick me up and put me back in a safe place. There is a song that I used to listen to over and over again...its by Ray Boltz and its called "The anchor holds." The chorus goes like this:

The anchor holds
Though the ship is battered
The anchor holds
Though the sails are torn
I have fallen on my knees
as I face the raging sees
But the anchor holds
In spite of the storm

God has always been my "anchor," my steady guide through life.

Thank you for reading my story. Please enjoy this picture video Ive put together.
I title it “My adoption story in pictures!”
 
God bless!!!



Part 6: We finally meet...




I got my answer the very same day.  Here are the words of a woman who I would soon learn was filled with so much kindness and love. This was the woman who would be the mother to my soon to be born son, and yes, ironically, we had the same name with the same rare spelling. God really knows how to make things interesting. 

“Hi, Rebekah, it's Rebekah!
First of all, I have only ever met one other person that spelled her name the same way as mine...That definitely makes us instant friends!  :)

I'm not really sure what to say here...My heart is beating out of my chest and I haven't been able to stop thinking about you since our agency called us a couple of hours ago....I'm afraid I might say too much....or too little...that I'll scare you with my exuberance or shock you with my calm.  I don't know what "adoption etiquette" would say about how our first conversation should go...All I know how to do is speak from the heart, so here I go...

Never in a million years would I have thought that our match would come from a birth mom who found me in blog world.  I'm stunned.  I started my blog so that one day I could make a book for our baby, in hopes that it would express just how much we went through for him/her.  Little did I know how therapeutic the writing would become for me.  I think I, unknowingly, was a people pleaser.  I would paste a smile on my face and walk around telling people I was doing great...but inside I was a hollow pit that just could not understand why having/adopting a baby had to be so difficult.  My blog has given me confidence to come out from behind the smoky glass and just be real and raw with the way I'm feeling.  That being said, when the agency called and said you were requesting us after reading my blog, it instantaneously felt right!  I mean, we put a lot of time into our profile for the agency (hours and hours, in fact), but even that only gives a small glimpse of who we really are as people.  My blog is so intimate...and personal (sometimes I questions why I let a gazillion strangers in on all of it!)  If you truly read through our blog and picked Ben and I to parent your baby, you have such a closer look into our life than anyone else who may come across our profile. 

I cannot tell you the joy that filled my heart with the possibility of getting linked with your family.  This process is so long and emotional that it starts to feel like it will never happen...that maybe there's something wrong with us...or maybe we weren't meant to be parents.  If for no other reason but to offer hope, you have brought so much light to our hearts...thank you!

As far as "picking" you, Ben and I have no reservations and welcome the opportunity to continue conversations!  We knew that flying out-of-state might be an option and we're open to it. (I've never actually been to Colorado and would jump at the chance to go! I hear the mountains are breathtaking!)  Ben and I were prepared to be a part of doctor visits and offer as much support as desired by the birth mom.  The distance will probably limit those possibilities, but we will do whatever we can to support you across the miles!  As far as openness goes, we are flexible.  Adoption Associates is actually a "semi-open" adoption agency (the only exception would be birth mothers that wish to keep the adoption closed).  Semi-open means that we are required to meet with the birth mother one time before the baby is born and then we are to provide her with pictures and letters 4 times a year for the first two years and then twice a year after that.  Anything more is determined between the adopting family and the birth mom.  We completely understand your reasons for wanting to have a more open relationship, especially for your kids.  We can talk about this more, but it certainly would not stand in the way of us adopting your baby.  Not only would updates help you and your kids see how the baby was doing, I think they would be really helpful in giving the baby a full picture of who he/she is.  I have heard of other adopting parents that keep pictures of the baby's family in the nursery, along with scrapbooks, so that there is never a question on just how much everyone loves him/her!

Rebekah, I have to say....I read through your blog and looked through all your myspace pictures, and I'm so impressed.  I am so impressed with the strength I see in you....and the unparalleled love for your kids.  You are exactly the kind of mom that I would "pick" if I was given the opportunity! 

Is there anything specific that you would like to know about Ben and me?
We are looking forward to talking with you more!

Lots of Love,
Rebekah

If we had only known then what we know now there wouldn’t have been so many questions. I think open adoption was scary for the both of us. I wanted an open adoption for the sake of my children but I didn’t want to be an imposition on this soon to be new family of three. I wanted them to have the privacy they deserved but I just wanted glimpses into their lives here and there. 

The next few months were filled with lots of phone calls, letters, presents and happiness. Ben, Rebekah and I were just so eager to meet each other. It was so exciting. A trip was planned to meet in the next coming weeks. 


In the background of all the fun commotion I was preparing myself. I knew what was to come was going to be challenging…well….more than challenging. I was expecting it to be the hardest thing I would ever have to go through. I desperately tried to find more and more birth moms to talk to in hopes of preparing myself for the end….for the good bye. I was not looking forward to it. 

In the meantime we prepared for our trip. Me and my kids were so excited we could hardly stand it. I remember the day vividly. I had made crock pot sloppy joes in case anyone was hungry and we had planned a day of fun all focused on my kids. I wanted to make sure they had fun and I wanted to make sure they got to know Ben and Rebekah. Not only did I have to prepare myself to give my child to another couple…I had to prepare my three young children to say goodbye to their brother. This was going to be tough. 

The day came and Rebekah and Ben walked through my door. They never said a thing about my run down apartment or the size of my overgrown pregnant body….we only embraced in a very long and meaningful hug. We were family…I could already tell. 

Here are some pictures from our fun day!


 We attended my churches Easter play, ate pizza, rode go-carts and just enjoyed each others company.
 The kids seemed to really enjoy themselves.

 The time came for them to say good-bye. The next time we would see them would be "birth day."
It was hard saying good-bye. I felt very close to them and I was feeling quite lonely and anxious for what was to come. It was a scary place to be in.

Click here for Part 7!