This year I participated in the Adoption Bloggers Interview Project again. I was paired with an amazing birthmother (or tummy mommy as her daughter refers to her) named Betty Anne Davidson who blogs at http://bettyannescott.blogspot.com/ Betty Anne placed her daughter Chloe for adoption 7 years ago and has an open adoption with her parents. She and her husband Scott now have a son, James, who is a year and a half old, as well as a new baby girl that is due to be born ANY DAY! Please head on over to her blog and show her some blog love (and to check out the tons of sweet new baby pictures that I'm sure will appear shortly!). She blogs about adoption, motherhood, and life in general as a NICU nurse.
Check out the other bloggers who participated in the interview project by going to the link below.
1. What kind of a relationship do you have with Chloe? How often do you have contact and what kind?
Hmm...great question. I would describe our relationship as "acquaintances". She knows who I am. I know who she is. We hear lots ABOUT each other, but we don't really know each other all that well. Her parents have very open conversations with her about me whenever Chloe asks a question. I really appreciate their openness with her. It seems to me that she knows talking about me, or adoption, is not a taboo subject at all. It's part of her life story.
We see each other 2-3 times a year. Sometimes we (Chloe and her family, me and my family) meet up somewhere, like a park, and have a picnic and hang out for a few hours. Last year I went to their house (about 30 minutes from mine) to watch a Christmas parade. In the earlier years of her life, I went to their house frequently for game nights and other social gatherings. Her and her family came to my wedding, which meant THE WORLD to me
2. Do you wish you had more/less contact with her or are you happy with the amount of contact you have now?
I definitely wish I had more interaction with her than I do. She's this little person that has impacted my life more than anyone else on the planet and I want to know all about her. However, if I want to know her and I want to her to know me, we have to spend some time together! Hearing OF each other through mutual people isn't quite enough to have our own relationship. (Her mom and I talk and text way more frequently than we actually get together.) I feel it's important to mention that I can't blame anybody but myself for the amount of time I do or do not spend with Chloe. She is very, very available to me. She doesn't live far away. Her parents are reeeeally open to her having a relationship with me. The only barriers are time and effort. When Chloe was younger, I was single. I spent a lot more time with her then. Now that I'm married, working, and have a family of my own, time gets away from me. I hope and pray that our lack of face to face time doesn't translate to her as a lack of caring or interest on my part.
3. Has Chloe asked why you placed her for adoption? If so, how old was she when she asked and did you or her adoptive parents answer her? What was their/your answer?
She hasn't asked that yet. At least not of me. I'm not sure if her mom has fielded such a question in their many conversations about adoption. I look forward to the day she asks me this and DREAD that day all at the same time. My fear is that she won't understand. That she'll believe the lie that "I just didn't want her." That is so ridiculously absurd and couldn't be further from the truth. The truth is that I wanted more for her than I could provide at that time. I wanted a stable home environment with a mom AND a dad. Her mom may argue with me over this, but I believe I could have done the mother-role as well as her mom does. What I couldn't offer her, though, was the modeling of a healthy relationship with a husband, or a healthy relationship with a dad. Besides my inability to financially and emotionally provide for Chloe and I, the father/daughter relationship played a HUGE role in my decision to place Chloe for adoption.
4. What kind of a relationship do you have with Chloe's parents? How often do you talk/see each other?You mention in your blog that you met them through your parents' church. Do you still go to the same church?
I cannot say enough kind things about Chloe's parents. They are such incredibly giving, gracious, loving people. They allowed me to be so involved with Chloe the first year, which meant the world to me. They didn't seem to feel "threatened" by me having a relationship with Chloe directly. That speaks volumes to me about them. Melissa, Chloe's mom, and I touch base mostly through email and texting. We usually reconnect every 2 or 3 months or so. We don't all go to the same church anymore.
5. What kind of a relationship do your parents have with Chloe and her parents?
Chloe and her brother Shiloh both call my parents Meemaw and Poopah, just like my nieces do. They have grown up knowing my parents as another set of grandparents, although I'm sure the relationship connection is a little fuzzy to them. My mom provided child care for Shiloh and Chloe at various points. (ex: 1 or 2 days/week for a few months when Chloe was a baby. then 1 day every other week when Chloe was 6 or 7.) I love that my parents have gained another grandson through their relationship with Chloe and her parents. My parents knew Alvin and Melissa before I did. It was through their connection at church that I was able to know of them and picked them as parents for Chloe.
6. What does Chloe call you? Did you choose the name, her parents, or Chloe herself?
Chloe calls me Betty Anne. In her first few months of life, Chloe's parents and I had that conversation. They asked me what I wanted her to call me. Without hesitation I answered "Betty Anne". I didn't want to be labeled an "Aunt" or "Cousin" or some other relative that I really wasn't. I absolutely wasn't comfortable with "mom", because I didn't feel that was true of our relationship. She grew in my belly. I birthed her. Yes, that makes me her biological mother. But to me, "mom" is a term for whoever is there at 2am holding and rocking the crying child, making day to day parenting decisions on behalf of the child. That's not me. So we settled on her calling me by name. I think her parents do use the term "birthmother" as well when describing our relationship. In the past few years sometime, Chloe took a liking to the term "tummy mommy", as she understood she grew in my tummy before living with her parents.
7. Does Chloe wonder why she was adopted, but James and new baby on the way were not? How have you/do you plan to explain that to her?
If she hasn't already wondered this, I'm sure she will at some point. I think it's a great question and I hope she asks me one day. As I explained (in question 3), it all had to do with life circumstances at the time she was born. I'm now in a place (stable home, financially secure--or at least MORE so than before!, emotionally much more stable, married to an amazing man) to provide a loving home to a child. I think as a young adult, she will be able to understand this. I don't know, though, about her comprehension of this at age 8. Everything is so concrete to 8 year olds!
8. What has helped you cope during your hardest moments of grief?
Faith, supportive family and friends, reading adoption related blogs online, and TIME. These things all have played an important role in helping me get through the really rough days.
9. Have you ever wished you made a different decision or regretted the decision you did make?
Yes and no. I have always felt very assured of the decision I made to place Chloe for adoption, but that has certainly been painful at times. The day I left the hospital without Chloe was without a doubt the worst day of my life. It was so unnatural. It hurt.so.badly. I wanted to get her back to ease the pain! But at the same time, I knew that the decision I made was the right one, and "getting her back" wasn't in her best interests, it would just serve my own needs better. So I cried and mourned the loss of raising this incredible child. And (like I mentioned in #8) through faith, supportive family and friends and reading about other people's adoption stories online, time passed and the pain eased up significantly. With each passing year, the pain subsided a little and peace and contentment prevailed about the situation and my decision. Then I got married. Sometime during the first year, I was taken aback by my renewed grief and sadness I felt about Chloe. I think what was happening was that I knew beyond any doubt that I could not parent a newborn at the time I had Chloe. However, 4 years later when I got married and was in a much more stable situation, I could parent a 4 year old. I had to remind myself that if it was the right decision to place Chloe for adoption when she was born, it was still the right decision 4 years later. After repeating that to myself over and over, peace and contentment returned.
10. What does your husband think about open adoption?
Based on my husband's grunting answer from the couch just now, I guess we'll skip this question. Short answer: he's for it. But apparently he's not interested in elaborating at this time. :)
11. In your job as a NICU nurse, have you ever had the opportunity to counsel other women facing the same tough decisions as you did?
I have encountered a few birth mothers in my nursing career thus far. I haven't really shared my story with any of them because I wasn't sure of the appropriateness of that (since this is my place of employment and usually I was caring for the birth mother's baby). In each case I made sure the social worker involved with the birth mother knew that I was more than willing to talk with them or just listen.