Things I’m Afraid To Tell You: My Thoughts On Adoption and Birth Mothers

As Mother’s Day draws nearer, I find myself getting unexpectedly weepy.

First off, now I’m a mom. A role I wasn’t sure I was ever going to have, certainly one I came to later in life. It’s all now really sinking in.

I’m someone’s mom.

Here’s the part where my experience is different from other mothers and where some deep sadness fills my heart.

In addition to being over the moon about our baby, I can’t help but think about Ruby’s birth mom. And how her loss has been the biggest gift we’ve ever received.

Our precious girl.

Talk about a double-edged sword. Someone else’s loss being your gain? Let’s not even talk about what the kids have lost. Totally does my head in.

A number of people have written so eloquently about what adoption has taught them , about how the adoptive parents (NOT the children) are the lucky ones and honoring their son’s birth mother, that I ask you grab your favorite beverage and read their posts. All these posts brought me to tears and made me want to add my thoughts about adoption and birth mothers which at this point are not very eloquent.

I do have to say that not all of our experiences are the same, however I feel a deep kinship with other adoptive parents. I wanted to highlight some of the ways adoption is heartbreakingly beautiful, with an emphasis on heartbreaking.

Since I’m having some trouble putting together my thoughts on adoption and birth mothers in an eloquent way, I’ll just list them in no particular order. I bring these topics up now because I’ve been an adoptive mama for a while now and believe it or not these have come up. In the spirit of transparency on the internet, many brave bloggers are sharing what they are afraid of. 

I do fear people are going to take offense to what I’m about to say. Some want to tell me our experience as mothers is exactly the same and while there are many commonalities, there are a few huge differences. Some will find out they’ve accidentally stepped on toes because they’ve been curious. Some will find my thoughts presumptuous. So be it.

I’m filing this post under: Things I’m Afraid To Tell You.

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While I do not know my daughter’s birth mother, we are connected and I am forever in her debt. Ruby is a gift. She’s changed me in totally wonderfully unexpected ways.

Sometimes I find myself sobbing because I missed the first nine months with Ruby. She was so well cared for which is a relief, however I ache for that lost time.

Please don’t ask to know the details of a birth mother’s circumstances – it isn’t your business. I am nosy by nature, so I get it. But really, not your (or my) business. It is an awkward moment for everyone involved. That story truly does belong to the adoptive child and when they are old enough may or may not wish to share those intimate details of their past with you.

I know I’ve already over-shared some of Ruby’s history with people because I have been caught off guard. I feel awful about this because it’s not my story to tell. If I’ve shared anything about this history, please do not share with anyone. If I haven’t, please don’t ask.

Please don’t make assumptions about birth mothers. There is no typical story. There is no archetype. They are women just like us, making difficult choices. And for god’s sake, please don’t make comments about how “some” people are “breeding” and are “crackheads” who just irresponsibly give birth multiple times.

Really? sounds like right-wing anti-woman propaganda from the 80s. 

Just stop it.

For all we know, the woman standing next to us in line at the grocery store has an adoption story. For some, it is a secret. I imagine, a painful one. Even without your judgement.

Please don’t judge birth mothers. They may or may not have different life styles than us.  Comments about how you could never give up a child aren’t helpful either. Under certain circumstances, we’d all make tough choices to hopefully better the life of our child.

Please don’t say adoptive parents are lucky or saintly for adopting a child – we really are the lucky ones. We are the ones gaining a child to love.

Please don’t give parenting advice until you are also parenting an adoptive child – some things are just different when you are starting your life from a loss. Also, we lean toward Attachment Parenting and would probably be parenting this way even with a biological child.

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What are you afraid to tell people? Please share in the comments or write a post of your own and link back.

Please know that comment kindness is greatly appreciated.

Thanks to EZ at Creature Comforts for the challenge. And Jess for getting it all started.

43 Things Before 43

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For months I’ve been reading about other people’s Life Lists and wondering if I could ever make one without driving myself crazy with all the achieving and in-my-head competition.

Would my list be cool enough?

Would I really do everything I said I would?

What huge adventures await?

Inspired by Rosie’s birthday list, Sarah’s try new things before her birthday list and Amy’s Life List, I’ve decided to put together a list of things I would like to do before I turn 43.

Why 43 instead of 42?

My birthday is in 4 months and I don’t want to hurt myself getting it all done before then. My list is l-o-n-g, makes me think I needed to start this  thing in my 20s.

My intention with this list is to remind myself to have more fun, take care of myself and to do things out of the ordinary.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

The List:

1. Take my birthday (March 20th) off – no work, no obligations – just fun.

2. Take an anti-gravity yoga class.

3. Road trip to Portland with Ruby.

4. Take Ruby to see live music.

5. Read 43 books.

6. Put my feet in the ocean with Ruby.

7. Pick berries.

8. Go on retreat.

9. Teach an active yoga class.

10. Go to the movies by myself. {Yep, I’ve never done this. I have, however, gone to a rock show on my own so don’t feel too sorry for me.}

11. Attend a service at a Universal Unitarian church.

12. Explore the Taiwanese culture in Sacramento.

13. Learn 10 words/phrases in Mandarin.

14. Run a 5K.

15. Write a fan letter.

16. Rent a house at the coast or in the mountains.

17. Teach a class on social media and blogging to teachers.

18. Sleep outside.

19. Do a swim workout.

20. Watch my first students graduate from high school.

21. Spend a week away from the Internet.

22. See a play.

23. Go to a sing along at the Crest.

24. Take a photography class.

25. Take a cooking class.

26. Take a private yoga class.

27. Actually make something I’ve pinned on Pinterest.

28. Go to the ballet.

29. Have a family portrait taken.

30. Watch a movie outside in the backyard.

31. Take Ruby on a hike.

32. Help a friend start a blog.

33. Build an outdoor shower.

34. Make a wall of bookshelves in the dining room.

35. Redesign the entryway and make it pretty and useful.

36. Start a mom/play group in Midtown.

37. Teach a class at my gym.

38. Organize the pantry.

39. Get rid of all the shoes I don’t wear because they are uncomfortable.

40. Take a nap in a hammock.

41. Host a baby shower.

42. Take a photo every day.

43. Make the Book of Me into a book.

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Do you make yearly plans? A Life List? Would you like to?

I’d love to hear about yours.

And I’d love for you to join me in making my list a reality. Please let me know if you’d like to do any of my 43 with me.

In Case You Missed It Edition! Volume 35 – Magic, Faith and Pants That Fit, Damnit

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I’ve found some links to posts that made me laugh, cry, think or at least raise an eyebrow. Please click the links and check out the posts. You may find something that rocks your world too.

Leave me some feedback in the form of comments below on what you liked, what you hated and what you’d like to see more of. I’m here to help you find the best of what is online.

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My Best Of…

It’s Not You, It’s The Clothes - If you read nothing else ever again, please read this post by Sally at Already Pretty. It will change your life. Yes, I’m being dramatic. The message is spot on. Write it on your hand next time you go clothes shopping.

There’s Magic There, If We Make It - Sarah from Pink of Perfection has a serious way with words. I’m so happy she is back from her trip and back posting again. This post made me laugh, tear up and feel motivated to be present in the moment.

On Faith - Amy’s personal post on wanting a spiritual home really hit a nerve with me. I, too, have in the last few years been thinking about taking care of my spiritual health and well-being. I’ve mostly been doing it on the yoga mat, however she may be on to something here. For a little background on my feelings on religion.

40 Hours That Are Critical To Your Health and Well Being - Did I ever tell you all about the one where I was so ridiculously ill-suited for my career I was losing handfuls of hair, had an awesome case of acne and chronic tummy troubles?  It wasn’t pretty, so while I understand changing jobs is truly difficult, in some cases, it is absolutely necessary.

Let’s Start With The ABC’s of It - Jennifer Is A Work In Progress participated in the ABC’s of You. Go check out her post and say hi.

How To Make A Good First Impression - they had me at “Stop talking”. Man, I wish someone would have told me earlier in life that listening is way more important than trying to show how smart I am with my incessant chatter. Good to know…. helped a lot with my own personal new school year resolution from last year. Listening is good.

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That is the In Case You Missed It Edition, folks.

Remember to click the links and leave some comments. This is a conversation, you know.

In Case You Missed Edition Archives -click it to see them all.


Teacher Travels: deYoung Museum – Masterpieces From The Musee National Picasso, Paris

What do you get when three teachers travel together?

A whole lot of awesome, that’s what.

Our plan was multifaceted:  Help me with my Summer of Intentionality list, escape the Sacramento heat, enjoy a leisurely lady date and a visit to the deYoung in San Francisco to see the Picasso: Masterpieces From The Musee National Picasso, Paris.

Alicia {4th grade teacher/textile artist/owner of Spirit House Designs}, Amy {high school English teacher/blogger extraordinaire Just a Titch} and I {yoga teacher/school teacher on parental leave – holy crap!} were super excited to see this exhibit and to not have to travel to Paris to do so.

Travel tips from Sacramento to the deYoung Museum {AKA a whole lot less expensive than a trip to Paris!}

1. To make sure you can get into the exhibit, please order your tickets online before you go. $25 for the general public and $15 for members. Or special pricing for others – see link for details.

2. The tickets are time and date stamped so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get there.

3. Know that even on a midday Tuesday, you’ll be swimming in people. {I was surprised and wondered why everyone wasn’t at work. Forgot about all the tourists!}

4. Need to know how to get to the deYoung? Check out my post on getting to the Academy of Sciences. They are in the same part of Golden Gate Park.

5. Once you finish with the exhibit, be sure to check out the deYoung Cafe for a glass of wine and lunch. We did.

The wine totally helped us get over the weird goat thing Picasso had going on.

Pretty sure the polenta was loaded with dairy. My taste buds were dancing!

Other things to while in San Francisco:

Giggle at the Segway silliness.

Dig your feet into the sand at Ocean Beach {get back on the N-Judah and head all the way down to the beach}.

How do you spend your time in San Francisco?

In Case You Missed It Edition! Volume 29

click for artist and purchasing information

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Each week I’ll give you links to posts that made me laugh, cry, think or at least raise an eyebrow. Please click the links and check out the posts. You may find something that rocks your world too.

Leave me some feedback in the form of comments below on what you liked, what you hated and what you’d like to see more of. I’m here to help you find the best of what is online.

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Strange how going back to work helped me settle and actually feel rested. Pretty sure the routine and predictable schedule helped me get grounded. Is this true for you too or am I becoming one of my third graders?

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My Best Of…

Smoking As Dirty Pranayama from Elephant Journal. I know it’s controversial, but seriously, smokers pay attention to their breath way more than most. I found this so compelling.

Smore’s Cake In A Jar from How Sweet It Is –  Are you kidding me???? Who wants to de-dairy this for me? I’m still shaking my head at the absolute brilliance.

Renewal - from Namaste *Heather – sounds like the theme from this week’s class. Rest, rest, rest instead of go, go, go.

7 Tips for Giving Effective Praise from the Happiness Project. Check out the comments too. Good stuff.

Just A Titch is Ms. April, TGBTS’s Featured Teacher – love her.

Summer break is on my mind and so is travel. Jenna from This Is My Happiness recently posted on her travels to and in Brazil. 

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That is the In Case You Missed It Edition for this week, folks.

Remember to click the links and leave some comments. This is a conversation, you know.

In Case You Missed Edition Archives -click it to see them all.


Just A Titch: On the Mat – An Interview with Amy Estes, Part 2

Teachers.

Don’t you just love them?

I know I do.

There are those that inspire me and those that make me laugh. Some help me solve problems in my classroom and others that help me solve problems in my life.

I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite teachers here.

Teachers in studios, classrooms and in the world at large. These are the folks you will see featured in my new series of interviews here at Teacher Goes Back to School.

I hope you enjoy these teachers as much as I do!

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Have you met Amy yet? She’s April’s Featured Teacher and kick ass high school teacher.

In case you missed it, here’s PART 1.

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When did you start practicing yoga?

My first yoga class was in 2004. It was a Bikram class and even though it was hot and scary, I loved it.

Why did you start?

True confessions: a girl I worked with told me she knew someone who lost 20 lbs in two months doing Bikram. Since I’d have given my left arm to do that, I thought a yoga class seemed pretty reasonable.

I went a few times and on my third session, I found myself laying in corpse pose crying (and not just from the heat!) [Ed. note: What is up with all the crying in yoga?] and realized that it wasn’t just a physical thing happening. I was hooked and used to get up at 5 AM every single day to go to hot yoga before work.

Where did you practice?

I initially started at Bikram Yoga Granite Bay because I was living in Rocklin. When I moved to Midtown in 2004, I moved to Yoga Loka, where I practiced for nearly two years. I tried out It’s All Yoga because I wanted a break from Bikram and then for a variety of reasons, I stopped coming to IAY and/or doing yoga at all.

I found you and Michelle via Twitter, and decided to come back. I’ve slowly gotten more into it and am trying desperately to make it a weekly, regular thing. I think that yoga is hard for me to commit to, because it’s not just a physical workout, all the emotional stuff comes out, too and that can be a little intense for a Wednesday afternoon, you know?

[Ed.note: Yoga can ruin your life as you know it. – as per Michelle].

How has your practice evolved over time?

I love Bikram, and still go occasionally, but I think that often times, the emphasis in that class is about pushing really hard and finding your max. I often feel insecure in those classes because I’m a curvy girl and I can’t do some of the poses.

I prefer to be a lot more gentle with myself. Yoga isn’t just a “workout” — it’s a time when I feel really connected to my body and all of those feelings I have around it, both positive and negative. Also, my practice has changed — positively — since attending Michelle’s classes because I really do feel safe there to bring all my “stuff” because she’s incredibly nurturing, and also a friend.

The older I get, the more okay I am with myself and my particular body and feelings, and that makes yoga more of a joy and less of a competition or place to push myself.

Do you have a home practice? What is it like? How often? Where? How’d you start and how do you keep at it?

My home practice has increased since I started going to CrossFit, simply because I need to stretch all the time. It’s usually a few poses at night, in my living room, with terrible reality TV on in the background. I know, not very yogi-like, but it’s better than nothing, no?

[Ed.Note: Always].

What’s your favorite pose? Why?

Tree and Warrior make me feel really strong and grounded. I love Pigeon because my hips and low back are always tight. I also look forward to a long Savasana after a good practice.

What’s your least favorite pose?

Downward facing dog is my least favorite. Actually, anything inverted at all. It makes the blood rush to my head and I hate that feeling. This probably means I need to do them more, right?

[Ed. note: Or you could kill the dog and NEVER do it again].

What other blogs do your read? Why?

I read well over 100 blogs, so listing them all would take forever. My absolute favorite blogs are Yes and Yes (because she’s smart, funny, and insightful), Mimi Smartypants (because she makes me laugh out loud) and Caffeinate Me (because the author is one of my best friends, and I think she’s an insanely talented writer). I tend to read blogs that I find inspiring but also real.

I love lifestyle blogs, but I also need to feel like I could have the author over for dinner and they wouldn’t judge my pile of laundry. I like blogs that are funny, well-written and helpful in some way, or blogs that belong to people I hold dear (and usually fall into one of those categories anyways!).

Who or what inspires you?

I think working in a profession where I’m forced to be creative is good for inspiration—teenagers see the world so differently than I do, and also, kids are brutally honest about how they’re feeling, which definitely inspires thoughts. Otherwise, I find inspiration in a good book, a song that makes me want to dance or cry, conversations with my closest friends, a long drive on a sunny day, in cooking or baking, during a long bath or shower and the things that I write off-line, in my paper journal.

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If you’d like to learn more about Amy check out her blog, Just A Titch.

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Please leave any questions or comment love below – we’d love to hear from you.

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INTERVIEW ARCHIVES:

March 2010 Anna Guest-Jelley, Founder Curvy Yoga

February 2011: Jed Brewer, Public School Teacher/Music Executive

December 2010: Madeleine Lohman, Yoga Teacher/Massage Therapist

November 2010: Alicia Herrera - 4th grade teacher/Textile Artist - Spirit House Designs.

October 2010: Ryan Fong - Teaching Assistant/PhD Candidate in English at UC Davis.

September 2010: Michelle Marlahan- Proprietress/Fairy Queen of It’s All Yoga in Sacramento, California.

Just A Titch of Awesome: An Interview with Amy Estes

Teachers.

Don’t you just love them?

I know I do.

There are those that inspire me and those that make me laugh. Some help me solve problems in my classroom and others that help me solve problems in my life.

I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite teachers here.

Teachers in studios, classrooms and in the world at large. These are the folks you will see featured in my series of interviews here at Teacher Goes Back to School.

I hope you enjoy these teachers as much as I do!

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Have you met Amy? She’s the sassy writer for Just A Titch and a high school English teacher.

She kills me. So, so funny. I wish she would have been my teacher.

Meet Amy Estes -April’s TGBTS Featured Teacher.

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What and where do you teach?

I currently teach 9th grade English and 9-12 grade Speech in Stockton, CA.

What is your teaching history?

I had always thought I wanted to teach English, but as the end of college approached, I felt unsure and decided to work for awhile before getting a credential. I tutored students aged kindergarten to adult in reading when I was first out of college and really enjoyed it.

My first job doing any sort of “real” teaching was working at an art center for developmentally disabled adults. I taught Life Skills, like health and budgeting, and eventually, some creative writing. My time there ended unexpectedly, and I went into massage therapy because the idea of nurturing others and building my own business was really appealing to me. I had a successful practice for a year while sharing a space with two other therapists, but when my studio situation changed, I started feeling unhappy and realized that I missed teaching.

Finally, I got a job working in a classroom at a group home for emotionally disturbed girls ages 12-17. It was by far the most challenging job I’ve ever held but it also confirmed that teaching was where I belonged.

I enrolled in a credential program that gave me two weeks of training and then threw me in a 7th grade classroom to teach while earning my credential. It was awesome and scary, but I loved what I was doing, despite crying nearly everyday from fear and exhaustion.

I taught middle school for three years before being laid off due to budget. Over last summer, I found a job working for a local online newspaper, writing and doing social media. Since those are my hobbies, I thought I’d love a job doing them.

When my district started school last year, I found myself feeling incredibly sad. I had a hard time seeing my teacher friends and hearing about school because I missed it so much. After a few months of feeling sad and a lot of soul-searching, I decided to see if I could go back to teaching. I called my former district and they had an open position teaching high school English. It literally took me 15 minutes to get set up with the job and I came back to the classroom in November 2010. I don’t plan on leaving ever again. Every time I’ve tried to deviate, I’ve come right back so I’ll consider it a lesson learned. I feel fortunate to know what my passion is and to have a chance to do it.

What brought you to teaching?

My third grade teacher was a really incredible woman. She really “got me” as a person (we’re still close to this day!) and encouraged me in reading, writing and generally just being myself. I loved watching her and I thought as a little girl that I wanted to do that, too. As I got older, I continued to love English so teaching it seemed like a natural fit.

As an educator, I like teaching grammar and reading and writing, but I actually live for those other moments. Teaching adolescents means there is a lot of room to impact their journey in some crucial times. I really love it when I get to talk about life with students, and as a young teacher, I think I have a bit of an “in.” I can totally quote Lil Wayne and Ke$ha, we all watch the same TV shows and it’s easy to relate.

I think that teenagers are remarkable people—really smart and funny, and the time I have with them is a gift. I come to work everyday because I love nurturing them and seeing these awkward, gangly, pre-people turn into intelligent, caring, competent young adults. It’s a joy when they trust you enough to ask your opinion and (sometimes) listen. It’s a demanding job, emotionally and time-wise, but I find it so fulfilling.

 Tell us about your blog.

I write over at Just A Titch. I started a blog when I was 22 and it existed solely on MySpace. I got my first Blogger account shortly there after, where I wrote as Coffee and Sunshine for years before switching into several more anonymous accounts. I’d die a thousand deaths before letting anyone read my accounts of my early 20′s because GOOD LORD.

So dramatic!

I quit blogging all together for awhile before friends starting asking me if I was still writing and encouraging me to get back to it. I purchased my own domain in March 2009 and started posting there for my friends to read. I got hooked up with a group called 20-Something Bloggers and found a lot of blogs to read through that, and suddenly, it seemed like a lot of people enjoyed reading my blog, too!

Just A Titch is my mom’s phrase for “a little bit” so I think of it as my place to write about all the little bits and pieces of my life. My content is pretty varied because I write about my life and my thoughts, and god knows there’s no real “niche” there.

I try to write really honestly and be vulnerable about what I’m *actually* thinking about. I’ve met some of the best people in my life via the Internet (is that weird?) and had some crazy experiences as a result of my little corner of the blog world.

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If you’d like to learn more about Amy check out her blog, Just a Titch, and be sure to stick around for part 2 – coming soon!

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Please leave any questions or comment love below – we’d love to hear from you.

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INTERVIEW ARCHIVES:

March 2011 Anna Guest-Jelley Brilliant Mind behind Curvy Yoga

February 2011 Jed Brewer Teacher/Musician/Music Executive/Yogi

December 2010: Madeleine Lohman, Yoga Teacher/Massage Therapist

November 2010: Alicia Herrera - 4th grade teacher/Textile Artist - Spirit House Designs.

October 2010: Ryan Fong - Teaching Assistant/PhD Candidate in English at UC Davis.

September 2010: Michelle Marlahan- Proprietress/Fairy Queen of It’s All Yoga in Sacramento, California.