The Process of Becoming Real

Cover of Brene Brown's books, "Daring Greatly."

“As I look back on what I’ve learned about shame, gender, and worthiness, the greatest lesson is this: If we’re going to find our way out of shame and back to each other, vulnerability is the path and courage is the light. To set down those lists of what we’re supposed to be is brave. To love ourselves and support each other in the process of becoming real is perhaps the greatest single act of daring greatly.”
― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

I don’t write many letters to you lately, but today I echo Dr. Brown’s words: If we are ever to find our way back to each other, past the shame that is the essence of adoption, it is because we support each other in the process of becoming real to each other again.

So today, I set down the list of what a “good” LDS birth mother is supposed to be. I set down the stony expectations of my religion and my culture. They have sought to invalidate our connection, to convince both of us that we are no longer real to each other.

But you are real. Just as Poppy is my real daughter, so are you. You are not a ghost nor a lost daughter. Your presence in this world carries weight and significance.

You are real. You are worthy. You are loved. 

Just as you are.

Know that you are supported in your quest for wholeness, that my love for you is an ever burning blaze, even in your darkest of moments.

You are real. You are worthy. You are loved. 

Just as you are.


Dear Person Who Found This Blog by Searching for, “does giving your child for adoption makes you a bad person”

Dear Anonymous Search Engine User:

In short, no.

It doesn’t make you a bad person, per se, to give your child up for adoption, especially if you have not been told the full truth about the potential risks adoption brings your relinquished child’s life, not to mention anything about yours.  What you need to know is that adoption will break you in ways you did not know you could be broken. Adoption can also break your child in ways that you had no idea a child could be broken. This damage – this breaking along the fault lines of your soul – compounds across the years. It is not a one time thing. It gets bigger as it spreads, like a tsunami traveling across a deep ocean.

And while you are not “bad” for choosing to relinquish your child for adoption without full knowledge of the truth, you will be treated as if you were “bad.” The moment you sign the voluntary termination of parental rights paperwork, you will be treated like there was something defective in you, which is why you don’t deserve to have any kind of relationship with your child. After all, what kind of woman gives their baby to strangers????

And when you wake up from the adoption-industry induced anesthesia and discover the depth of injury you have caused your child and you are crazy with grief, society (and even perhaps the adoptive parents and your once-upon-a-time child) will point at that grief as “evidence” that you were “bad” and didn’t “deserve” your child.

So think carefully about the adoption “decision” and the potential long-term devastation you are inviting into your child’s life, even if you think you are choosing “good” adoptive parents. Your child wants only you. You and you alone. Be your child’s hero. Not some white infertile couple who has a slick advertising book on some corner of the internet, boasting about all their Stuff and all the Things.

Your. Baby. Wants. You. Your. Baby. Needs. You.

And, if after saturating yourself in the true facts of the cost of adoption to your child’s long-term mental health, you still relinquish your child for adoption? Then yes, yes you are a bad person.


One Who Wishes She Had Been Told the Truth 23 Years Ago

A Strange, Sad, Question I Hope No One Has Asked

From the blog post:

“Bullshit aside, when we love someone, we don’t take something precious away from them, especially when we have the power to help them keep it. When we love someone, we want to keep them in our lives and have a close relationship with them and support them and help them and ensure they’re happy to the best of our ability. Pausing in the middle of one’s day to go all dewy-eyed and say “It sure was nice of ol’ What’s-Her-Name to make us a family” isn’t the same thing at all.
The sad fact is, it’s not easy to respect people like single mothers, because society tells us they are the root of the nation’s ills, the cause of poverty and crime (and cancer and acne and terrorism). Single mothers in a patriarchy can be respected, of course, but it doesn’t come easy to most of us. And the hard fact is this: The better-off we are, the less likely we are to care about single mothers AND the more likely we are to be able to adopt. You flat-out cannot respect someone when you know her back is to the wall and you stand to gain from your not helping her. You can’t love her, either.



Do Adoptive Families Respect Birth Mothers? is an author-not-listed page on a not-at-all-coercive baby-trolling site called “Adoption For My Baby” (sorry, “ADOPTION FOR MY BABY”). This essay is horrible. It’s really, truly awful. Content warning: “Birth mother,” “birth mother” used to signify a woman who has not relinquished for adoption, coercion, falsehood, mountains of smarm, and disregard for any and all forms of human decency.

This bizarre question, essay aside, makes the spiky urchin very sad. It makes me sad because I can’t imagine asking it unless I were already half-coerced into doing an adoption I didn’t want to do. I can only imagine a woman thinking: OK, I’ve accepted that my baby will be better off without me because I’m single and/or poor, like society says. I’ve accepted that the solution for this is to pick a pretty couple out of a book, let them lovebomb me for a…

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She Asks for Bread

Hmmmm….This sounds a lot like the LDS church and the LDSFS’s treatment of single expectant mothers. It also parallels the church’s teaching that adoption
“blesses” the birth parents and the child in this life and in eternity and that it should be considered a gift to all involved. Sacred, even.

Is it really a gift and blessing to be severed from your heritage, your ancestors, your people, and your mother for eternity, thanks to the sealing ordinance? Is it really a gift and blessing to be severed from your child, your future grandchildren, and your descendants for eternity?  Is having your existence expunged from history, a complete and total annihilation of your motherhood – from a legal and a doctrinal point of view  – really a gift?

Most of us with any heart or conscience would say no, those are not true gifts nor are they blessings.

Yet these are the gifts and blessings a Mormon god and his people give the most vulnerable of among the church, single mothers and their newborn children. She asks the Mormon god for bread, but is given a stone instead.

After all, she got herself into this mess. She can live with the consequences.

Consider the Shades of Grief

Empty row boat docked at dusk.

Grief is a universal experience. We all walk through these shadows at one point or another. We all eventually experience its awkward, faltering steps. A Facebook friend, Kristen Shill, penned these words in memory of the passing of her mother, but I have a feeling many of my natural mother friends recognize the experience of walking away empty handed, having not yet made peace with the young person’s grief we now carry in our grownup bodies.

Abide with me today? Twenty years of grief is a lot to hold. In the early hours of the morning twenty years ago, my mom’s organs shut down as her body stopped fighting leukemia. Her name was Alicia.


I hold up memories of her like paint chips against the walls of my life.
Most are faded and wan,
A few red as heartsblood.
Mostly I tuck them carefully into a drawer,
To pull out now and again
As I consider the shades of grief.

Grief is not a destination.
It’s not the journey or even the load.
Grief is the vessel,
Carrying one so gently through shock
And later dashed against the shores of sorrow.
I’m on a one-woman voyage through desolation.

The work of grief is a lonely business,
As I stand in the produce aisle squeezing tomatoes
And tumble down the wormhole of memory,
Hands still and eyes pinwheels of loss and regret.
“Ma’am, can I help you with something? ”
“Oh. No. Thank you. There’s nothing you can do for me.”
I walk away with empty hands.

I have not made peace with the child’s grief housed in a woman’s body.
I lean away from her pain, her confusion–adult problems in a child’s body.
I cannot remember.
I cannot remember.
I cannot remember.
I cannot forget.

I set course on the good ship Grief,
A reluctant sailor through uncharted waters,
Dashed against the shores of sorrow,
Grasping the rudder
And trying to remember the feeling of the sun on my face once more.

Interestingly, I have found those who have lost a child or mother to death tend to be the most compassionate and understanding of the natural mother’s plight. Perhaps it is true, that great suffering can open open the doorway to compassion for others. Perhaps mindful surrender to the grief (as so exquisitely exemplified by Kristen’s poem) really does open up the gate to a sacred place where we can simply be  – be more tolerant, be more loving, be more accepting – with each other in our shared suffering.

Shadows Taller Than Our Souls

The Friday before she was killed in a car accident on I-15 in Utah, my sister informed me that when she died she wanted one song played at her funeral: Stairway to Heaven.

Did she know she would be gone within 26 hours, catapulted into eternity like a fierce star shooting across the sky? How? And why this song? What turn of phrase made a vibrant 18-year old girl extract a promise from her younger sister that this song – THIS SONG – should be played when she died?

I don’t know the answers to those questions, but what I do know is this: I have felt my sister’s presence surrounding me today, buoying me up, celebrating my professional successes with me (and there have been many today), while tending my broken mother-heart on this anniversary of my beloved daughter’s birth.  She’s reminded me to relax into the sharpness of adoption loss and that tightening against this moment makes the pain more intense. I can almost hear her say to me, “Just breathe little sister, breathe.”

And by coincidence, an article featuring Heart’s cover of Stairway to Heaven came across my Facebook feed this evening. I listened. I wept. And then I finally looked up the lyrics to this song. Now I am left wondering if perhaps this song wasn’t for her, but a message from her for those of us she left behind. For me.

“And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our souls
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last
When all are one and one is all…”

I’ve spent the last twenty-three years watching my shadow grow longer and listening very hard. I think I can finally hear the tune. She whispers, “Everything will turn out just as it should. Nothing is lost. Nothing is wasted. The alchemy of the dark emotions will eventually yield gold. Patience, patience, and yet again – patience.”

Tonight, on Ms. Feverfew’s birthday, this is a message I needed to hear.

Happy birthday, Ms. Feverfew. I have a feeling Carolyn would have been crazy about you.

Guilt, Coercion, Threats – A New Mom Changes Her Mind – SOS In Action

“Bottom line is this, Clara is worthy of parenting her child and her child is worthy of staying in his original family, of keeping that family intact. When this is a possibility it should always be this way. Adoption should always and only be a last resort.”

If only I known this twenty years ago, instead of buying into the craptastic coercive lies of LDS bishops and the LDS culture. At least Clara and her little one are together, though. I can be grateful for that tonight.

Musings of a Birthmom: The Honest Ramblings of a First Mother

As some of you may know, we are in the process of legitimizing our grassroots organization called Saving Our Sisters (SOS). The goal of SOS is to help vulnerable women avoid adoption relinquishment. Over the past couple of years the organization’s brain child and front-runner, Lynn Johansenn, has helped dozens of women, that had decided to utilize adoption, to keep their babies and successfully parent. SOS offers whatever support is needed to achieve this. Sometimes the support is emotional, sometimes financial, and sometimes legal. Most people who have been helping with this are members of the adoption community themselves. They include birth/first/natural mothers, adoptees, and even a couple of adoptive parents. When the alarm call is sounded, this vast network of people contributes to what is needed and we always end up with enough for the new mom.

Initially, when hearing about an expectant mother who is set on an…

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First Post: Being Open About Open Adoption: An Adoptee Blog

Another adult who grew up in an open adoption begin to speak her truth. I am constantly humbled by the courage and strength of Lost Daughters who have found their voice.


Logic versus basic human emotion

How can something that makes complete logical sense still hurt so much? This is a constant battle in my mind and has been for most of my life. I knew I was adopted before I had any idea what the word even meant. I knew that it somehow made me different and I knew that I was the only one in the family who was this thing, “adopted.” For the first decade of my life, I thought little of it. I was blissfully unaware of everything being adopted meant. I was simply the youngest daughter in a family of six. I didn’t know that I had gone by a different name for the first month of my life. I didn’t know that my biological mother was a family member and that everyone else in the family knew who she was, but didn’t know when or…

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