Monday, March 29, 2010

Becca's Story....

One of the best parts of my job is assisting adoptees locate & communicate with birthparents that they may have never met--and know nothing about. For some insight to what reunions are really like, read the words below. This is why I love what I do!


My name is Becca, I’m 20 years old, and I love telling this story. In August of 2009, I decided that I wanted to find my biological parents. I had been seriously thinking about this and talking to my parents about it for about a year. I filled out state paperwork, prayed, and hoped for the best. I kept it to myself – only telling a couple close friends. Time passed, and I received an email from Janelle Basham. She informed me that she would be helping me along the way with this process.

Prior to this process, all I knew about my adoption was my biological mother’s first name, my birthday, how old she was when I was born, and how much I weighed. …Not much! I wrote a brief letter to Janelle, introducing myself to my birth parents, and telling them about me. I also attached some pictures. On October 16, I remember opening my email, and reading one from Janelle. The beginning read, “Just wanted to let you know that I just had two amazing conversations with both Jamie (your birth father) and Stacy (birth mom). They are beyond excited…” I vividly remember reading that line – I screamed! …And I cried. I had no idea what my biological father’s name was!! Knowing a NAME was such a big step, and knowing that they were ‘beyond excited’ was even better. I immediately called the few people that knew about my situation, and went out and celebrated. It was an awesome day.

The following day, I went to check my email. I LOVED seeing Janelle Basham in my inbox... and that day the subject in her email was “Note from Stacy to Becca.” Yes!!! This was my first of many emails from my biological mother. Her email was full of excitement and emotion. I swear that I read it about twenty times that night. I printed it off and took it everywhere I went.

Four days later, I got an email from Janelle… subject: “Note from Jamie to Becca.” Getting emails like this from her was better than anything. Not kidding! Jamie’s email was so eye opening… from the little I told about myself in my first letter to them, Jamie and I were already very similar. We are both EMT’s, both working in the restaurant business (I’m a server, he is a Chef), and we’re both adopted!! Very cool.

For about a month after that, I would email Stacy and Jamie via Janelle numerous times a week. I even got to see pictures of them, which was so amazing. I look exactly like Jamie – minus the fact that he’s bald, and has a beard. I can’t find words to describe it. It was so exciting to get emails from them… I remember taking my laptop to class, just so I wouldn’t miss an email.

November 2009. Three months after I began this process. The 11th was the day I received Stacy and Jamie’s contact information. WOW. . . What a day. I talked to them on the phone!! Talking to each of them was very different and awesome. I remember Stacy being very happy and emotional, and Jamie being cool as a cucumber. I talked to Jamie like I had known him all my life. Stacy and I talked about my parents, and my childhood. Talking to my birth parents was incredible. I can’t describe how awesome it was – definitely a day I’ll never, ever forget. ☺

As if talking to my birth parents wasn’t awesome enough, meeting them was one thousand times better. Two days before thanksgiving, I was at work. A friend of mine, Ashley, came in to score some free food from me, and to keep me company. The restaurant was locked, and she was still there. I assured her that I’d see her when I was done cleaning up, and that she didn’t have to stay. She said she was fine, and stayed and waited for me. While was cleaning, I remember seeing her talking on her phone A LOT. That was weird for Ashley, because she’s a big texter, not a talker! Little did I know, she was giving Jamie directions to my restaurant. I had no idea!! Keep in mind, Jamie lives in Boston. ☺ I remember walking from the back of the restaurant towards the front. Standing in the doorway was Ashley, crying, and a very tall man who looked exactly like me… I’ll never forget what he said, “Recognize me?!” I went straight in for a hug. Of course I recognized him!! It was like looking into a mirror! We went to a restaurant that night and talked until 2 a.m., and then I had all of the next day with him. THAT was better than Christmas. Wow.

I continue to talk to Jamie and Stacy just about every day. I have seen Jamie 4 times now, and I have seen Stacy twice. I met her for the first time in an airport! My connecting flight coming home from Boston, after visiting Jamie, was in Michigan (where she lives)! I think God and had a little hand in that… I had ten minutes with her in Detroit… very surreal. It’s so cool to meet someone you’ve been talking to for months face to face!! Ten minutes was more like a taste…she came to Virginia to meet me again, and my parents two weeks ago. What an experience, for everyone. She met my parents, sister, Grandma, friends, and got to see where I grew up. Very, very, cool.

Looking back, I am so ecstatic that I went about doing this in August last year. I’ve met half siblings, and now I have two people in my life now that I never want to leave, and a new understanding about where I’ve ‘come from.’ Finding them was one of the best things I’ve ever decided to do. ☺

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Are we there yet?

I found out Thursday evening that I would be able to get out of town for a few days. After the last few weeks that I have had, I couldn't have packed fast enough! With two kids in the car and a dog in the back, we said goodbye to the Burg and headed north to Maryland.

Just as we were crossing the state line, Carson (age 10) pipes up, "Mom, why did you have a baby when you were in high school?" OMGosh.... where do these random questions come from? I looked back to see Emma totally mesmerized by her DS and felt pretty confident I could handle his questions. I have always answered his questions honestly and appropriately for his age & thought I was ready for just about anything. The one question that got me...."What is his (birthfathers) name?" As we cruised up the highway, my heart pounded. Why was it so hard to answer such a simple question? I assume because that is a part of my past that I don't want to expose him to but one that I refuse to hide from him. After about 15 minutes of questions and talking, he dazed out the window and I said a quick prayer that he would process everything I said in a healthy way. After a few moments of silence and changing lanes on the highway, I said to him "Carson, you can always ask me or dad anything about K or that situation & we will always answer you honestly."

I often am asked how to talk to biological children about the child placed for adoption years prior. I wish I had the perfect answer so I would be prepared for the next round of questions from my kids.

The best advice I can offer is:
1) Be honest
2) Don't give too much info, just what is right for his/her age.
3) Let them know that they can always ask you anything...keep the lines of communication open
4) Pray about it so you are always prepared for those moments!

Has this happened to you? Any advice that you want to share?
Have a great weekend!


Friday, March 26, 2010

A day she had been waiting for....

One of the best days around the office is when birthparents visit with the adoptive family. The most memorable visits-- and most emotional!-- are when the birthparents have that first visit after/since the placement day. Read below as Jordan shares her words about visiting the adoptive family and the child she placed three months prior.


Driving up to the adoption agency, everything hit me all at once. As my boyfriend and I pulled into the parking lot, I realized exactly what I was doing. The day I had been waiting for, for months was finally here, and I was scared to death. I thought about how hard this was going to be, and that’s when I lost it. I turned to Stephan (birthfather), and told him “I can’t do this.” He reassured me I would be fine, but I wasn’t convinced. I sat in the car crying until my caseworkers came and got me, and told me I needed to go into the house. As I got out of the car, and walked through the door, I saw the little boy who I had been missing so much, and at that moment I felt 100 times better.

After getting over my initial nerves, everything went smoothly, and better than I imagined. I had a great time with Jesse and Jenny, and Stephan and I got to hold and feed Elijah Quinn. We hung out at the agency, and went out for lunch. I felt like Elijah’s parents were part of my family. I got to see how much they loved him, and how awesome they were at being parents. I got to hear Elijah Quinn laugh, and see him smile. It was awesome. I couldn’t of asked for a better visit.

When it was time to leave, I was heart broken. I had already said goodbye to Elijah once, and I didn’t want to do it again. As they walked out the door, I felt like a wreck. I sat down on the couch, and cried as Stephan held me. I felt empty, it was so hard for me to let them leave. After a little while, I was able to think about how well the visit went, and how much I loved seeing Elijah Quinn, even if it was only for a little while. I am so glad I decided to see him. I love having new memories of him, and being able to picture exactly what he looks like in my head. I can’t wait for my next visit.

Jesse, Jenny, Jordan and Stephan with Baby Elijah

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A constant reminder…

Yesterday I went to my daughter’s school to help the class with an art project. As I walked through the front door, I took a moment to introduce myself to a volunteer. After sharing my name and seeing the bag of supplies in my hands, she smiled and asked,

How many children do you have?”

It doesn’t matter how often I hear that question, I am always reminded that I have 2 + 1… two children that I parent and one that I placed for adoption. I smiled proudly and responded “me and my husband have two”. Notice the way I responded…. “me and my husband”.

That question is a constant reminder of K--a good reminder, just something that makes me think of her. I do think of K often... it doesn’t have to be a birthday or holiday. It can be a simple question that takes me to thoughts of her.

On a funny note, if my youngest daughter is around, she often answers for me (and very boldly), “3. I have an older sister that doesn’t live with us. She was adopted…..” and I just stand there smiling knowing that for Emma, this is her way to brag about her older sister.

So, if you are an adoptee and ever wondered, “Does my birth mother think about me?”

Of course we do! And at the strangest times….

~ Janelle


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Moving Forward...

For the last few days, I have been pondering how birthparents are able to move on with life after making an adoption plan for a child. What tools does it take to be able to move forward? Adoption is a loss and sometimes how to get over that loss, seems impossible.

Here is all I could come up with:

I had to be still before I could move forward. And in my stillness, I grasped acceptance.

What? Yes, I had to be still before I could take my next big steps in life. With any loss, you need time to process the event, adjust your dreams and learn to find a new normal. I needed time to grieve, to regroup, to breathe…. But I mainly needed time to accept what had happened. During my time of stillness, I was able to accept the decision I had made. Once I could accept my adoption decision fully, I was able to move forward. I was able to find peace and I was able to empower myself to move forward.

Do you agree?


“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. “ (Psalm 46:1)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Coyote in the backyard...

I was woken up this morning by the pitter-patter of feet running up the stairs and straight to my side of the bed.
“Mom, Mom, Mommy. I just saw a coyote run by the backdoor!”

Oh, he was in such a tizzy! With my eyes still closed, I mumbled in a non-believing tone, “Carson do you really think it was a coyote?”

As I rolled over, I found myself almost annoyed that my son’s imagination had caused me to wake up 3 minutes before the buzz of my alarm. He jumped to my bedroom window, pulled the curtain open and started to scan the backyard for the animal he claimed to have just seen.
“Mom, he was this high, solid black….”

My son truly believed that he saw a real live, black, beastly coyote just a step away from our back door. As I laid in bed hoping that I could get those last 2 minutes of sleep, I was reminded of my own Heavenly Father and how I must appear to him when I believe I have a “coyote in my backyard”. Sometimes I get overwhelmed, scared and concerned....I start to worry about matters I cannot control. What I see as huge dangers and obstacles, my Heavenly Father knows are figments of my earthly imagination. Naturally we worry about the big things, the small things… the things we think we see looming around us. I was reminded of Proverbs 3:5-6:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take."

As my alarm began to buzz, I hit the snooze and asked Carson to come over to my side of the bed again. This time, he jumped onto the bed with me as I put my arms around him and we talked about what I think it was….a loose dog.

Slowly, Carson started to agree with me and his fears were calmed. Yes, it definitely could have been a dog. Aren’t you glad that just like my son could come to me with fears, we have a Heavenly Father to run to?


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Journey of a Birthmother: Chrizar's Story

warning: this testimony will make you cry, but it's tears of joy, you'll need a couple of tissues when you read this.

Journey of a Birthmother...
~Chrizar's story~
I have definitely struggled between parenting and placing, but I knew I couldn’t make this decision on my own, I had to rely on God for help. Deciding between what’s best for my baby and me whas really hard. It’s something I don’t want to go through again. I could provide for my baby and support him, but I wanted to go to school. I was basically being pulled at every direction. If you mapped out my whole entire decision making process through this, you would get lost. This was something that I needed to sit down, and pray about, it wasn’t a flip a coin decision, this was like a life or death thing.

My family is very old fashioned. Rules and traditions must be kept the same throughout generations, it’s just how everything is. I have at least heard all my aunts and uncles say “If she’s old enough to have sex, she’s old enough to keep a baby” or “I could keep the baby, and then she can see the baby anytime she wants and then get him back when she’s ready.” so in the back of my head I’m saying NO! ignore them, it’s going to make you cry and make things worst with your decision.

My adoption planning process started at about 5-6 months, just because I was due in February, and the holidays are going to get in the way. Going through the papers was pretty boring I must say, but my caseworker Erica made them funny sometimes. I remember going through the albums, I wanted a family that lived in Virginia, stay at home mom, at least one child, Christian, and close as as a family and with extended family. I didn’t just choose families according to what they look like, this and that. I waited for that click in my mind, and heart that I knew this was the family, and when my baby would kick me in the ribs, that was a sign I asked God to give me when this was the family. It took me a couple of days to find the perfect family for him. Then, BAM there it was, my baby kicked me, and there was the click. This is the family, there names we’re Craig and Marti. They adopted their first daughter through Family Life Services, and they just clicked. When I interviewed them, I was nervous but yet excited to meet them. We had lunch together with my caseworker, Cindy, adoption case worker, Erica, Deanne, Craig and Marti. Throughout lunch my baby just kept kicking me like NO TOMORROW, I couldn’t really concentrate on much, it just hurt. But I knew I felt comfortable with them having my child.

I was going to tell them that I choose them as a family through a cute picture and card, but 8 days after meeting them at lunch I went into labor, 2 weeks before my due date. I gave birth to the CUTEST baby boy in my world. When I got into the Mother Baby Unit at Virginia Baptist, and took myself a nap, Erica came in, and I told the family on the phone that I choose them as a family. Craig and Marti were so excited, and thankful their prayers were answered. The next day I receive flowers, a picture of them, and a card. We decided to name him Jesse Taylor

I did cry when I was discharged from the hospital, I wanted time to just freeze, I wanted to continue holding and hugging Jesse Taylor, I didn’t want to let go, but I knew time wouldn’t freeze. It was time to go home, I cried in the car, and I held back tears during lunch with my mom. It was hard, besides the fact I had the baby blues, but man I didn’t want to cry, but I remember Cindy and Erica saying it’s good to cry, it means that you love him. All I could do was cry. I cried for two nights when I got home. All I could do was go back to what happened at the hospital, the smell of him, the sweet and peaceful look he has when he sleeps, the smile he gave me when I first said I love you to him. It broke me down.

Enough crying, it was time to find the birthfather and get him to sign papers. I knew my baby was going to be put in safe care with the foster mom. I just wanted to get the papers signed so he could be with his new family ASAP. The papers were signed 2 weeks later and then the following week I would get to see Jesse Taylor on Placement day.

March 5th was one of the happiest days I’ll always remember, it was finally placement day! In the car I would count down the miles from the GPS until we get to Lynchburg. I was just SO excited to see my baby and to see how happy Craig and Marti and their family will be. Holding him again just felt amazing, I wanted time to stop again, just so I could hold him and talk to him, and give him kisses. But then the time came, when I would come out with the baby, present him to everyone, and place him in the mom’s arms. The smile on their faces when I saw the family, that moment when I was presenting the baby, seeing the smiles on everyone’s face, seeing the smiles on the family and looking down at my baby, everything was becoming a reality. It was a happy day, the day Jesse Taylor finally united with his new family.

From placement day to now, I still have tears of joy. I thank God for everything he has given to me especially my first child, Craig and Marti, my family, Family Life Services, and The Liberty Godparent home. Without these I wouldn’t be the person I would be right now. He isn’t placed with a family but he’s placed in God’s hands, I gave him to God and this puts my mind at peace.

Adoption is such a beautiful thing, You see the miracle of life and watch that little bundle of life be with a loving and solid family. I can’t wait to see him again, every moment is a precious memory locked in my heart forever.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Through the Eyes of a Birth Grandmother...Looking Back 16 Years...

I can hardly imagine how hard it must have been for my 16-year-old daughter to carry the secret of her pregnancy for weeks before she told me and her Dad. Probably almost as hard as it was to finally tell us. I still feel sad when I think about the emotional battles she went through alone.

In fact, sadness overwhelmed me as I absorbed the news. Sadness for her and grief about the loss of the dreams I had for her. Mostly sadness about the loss of her innocence that could never be recovered.

What I wasn't sad about was that her personal battles had brought her to the conclusion that she couldn't abort her baby. She had also realized that she wasn't ready to parent and wanted to place her child for adoption. For me to absorb all that information in a span of a minute or two was terrifying and reassuring at the same time. Granted, she had made some lousy decisions that got her into this situation, but now she was seriously considering what would be best for her unborn child. She'd done a lot of growing up in the weeks after she took the pregnancy test that revealed that her life was about to undergo a massive change.

Being in her first trimester, there was still a lot of time for Janelle to consider all the options. I am so grateful that she had the guidance and support of counselors and social workers who had an abundance of expertise and experience in the area of crisis pregnancy. They helped her make an extremely important decision--one that would affect the rest of her life, the life of her unborn child, and the lives of those of us close to her. I realized there was no perfect solution available, but she was resolved to make the best decision among those available to her.

Although Janelle gave careful consideration to the possibility of parenting, her experiences with adoptive families we knew kept bringing her back to the same conclusion—that she wanted her child to be raised with the security, stability, values, and love she could get in a family with both a mother and father. It encouraged me to hear Janelle saying she wanted her child to have the kind of family in which she'd been raised. (I was going through my own struggles, because being a mother had been the most important thing in my life, and it was hard to comprehend how we got where we were.)

While I was still reeling, Janelle was making her decision. And I emphasize—it was her decision. We knew she was the one who would have to live with that decision every day of her life, so we tried not to pressure her either way. Fortunately, we all shared beliefs about the sanctity of life and the value of family, as well as a positive concept of adoption, and the decision she was making was consistent with those beliefs, so it was not a hard one for us to support.

Sure, she wavered from time to time, and so did we. There were hard times during the pregnancy, but the hardest grieving came after the "K's" birth and during the time until the adoption was finalized. Those weeks were agony for me and for Janelle. There were plenty of times when the emotional pain was overwhelming, and both of us were ready to reverse the plan. But at those times, Janelle would remind herself of the reasons why this was the best choice for her and for K, and I'd remember what a wonderful gift Janelle was giving to the family she'd chosen for K, and we'd cry our way through it.

I thought my heart couldn't hurt any more than it did because of being separated from Janelle during her pregnancy (she chose to move into a maternity home), but the placement day was absolutely heart-breaking, as this separation from K seemed so final. The adoption was closed, so we couldn't be there to share the celebration of K joining her new family, nor did we expect to see her again for at least 18 years—if ever.

What we were rejoicing about was the family Janelle had chosen for K—a solid Christian family whose values and lifestyle matched Janelle's preferences and hopes. Janelle was entrusting K, our first grandchild, to people we had grown to love, although we'd never met them.

Sixteen years have passed since that day. Yes, K is now 16 herself, and so much has changed. The laws have been revised, and we had the privilege of being reunited with K years ago. So now, not only am I able to pray for K and her family every day, just as I pray for my daughters and their husbands and offspring, but we communicate with her and her family and see them a couple times a year. Our relationship with her is not as close or as familiar as our relationships with our other grandchildren, but we cherish her. It's a blessing to know that we can be in touch with her, and to know that the choice that Janelle made was the right choice.

FLS has a button!

Happy St. Patrick's Day Everyone~
If you haven't stumbled across it already, Family Life Services also has a blog geared more toward adoptive families.  Make sure to click on the FLS "button" to check it out... and please pass on to anyone that would find it beneficial.
Have a great day,

I want to say a special "thank you" to our friend, Erin, who is also a waiting adoptive mom in our adoption program. She offered to help us out by designing a button for our new blog. You can find the code to post it on your own blog on the sidebar, if you wish (and I do hope that you wish to do that). I have no idea how to create a button and she whipped it out like it was no big deal. Just think - two weeks ago I didn't really know what a blog or a button was - with God, anything is possible. Thanks again, Erin


Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Full Surrender...

Surrender is such an unpopular word. By using that word, people often think of losing or giving up. As young adults, we are pushed to never give up so to surrender is something almost unnatural—or feels like the wrong choice.

At some points in our lives, we will surrender to something or someone… or for birth mother’s we surrender our parental rights to becoming Mom. I am currently reading through The Purpose Driven Life. In today’s chapter Rick Warren shared that the heart of worship is to surrender to God. He wants us to “give ourselves to Him, not out of fear or duty but in love.” Immediately I was reminded of the day almost 17 years ago that I was on my bed and surrendered to God whatever plans He had for me and the little life inside of me. I was weak, completely drained and ready to hand the control to someone much greater than myself.  By surrendering, I knew that I needed to make an adoption plan.

The choice wasn’t because I was scared of being a mom or feeling that other people thought adoption would be best… it was that I loved her so much. I knew surrendering my decision to God was the best option--- the only real option. I prayed that whatever He wanted for the baby (parenting or adoption), He had to the  bust open doors or to slam them shut. Instead of trying harder to make a plan happen, I trusted harder.

When I came to grips with the full surrender, I was given a peace-- a peace that passeth all understanding. (Phil 4:7) I was given grace and mercy like I hadn’t ever known before. The pain was still there. The hurt was still real. But I had confidence that if I gave this decision to God, He would use it for His glory. Surrendering is not for cowards and isn’t always a negative word... in fact, surrendering often makes you stronger in the end.


Adoption Memory Book...

Deanne recently came across a great adoption memory book for an adopted child that I wanted to pass on to you. What a great gift idea for a birth parent to fill in the information and pass on for the adoptive family!  The book is available in four styles (2 for boys and 2 for girls) and can be customized to make the information applicable to your child's own unique adoption story. It provides an opportunity to record all of the information that would typically be found in a baby book through the child's first year, with the addition of adoption-specific pages... including pages about the birth family.
This would make a wonderful gift for an adoptive family but most important, your child! What a great way to re-visit these memories and create a keepsake for an older child who may not have a baby book already, or would be a wonderful and sentimental gift from a birth family to the child.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Happy Adoption Day, Jesse Taylor!

Last friday was an exciting day at FLS - placement day! These are the days that we work for...days that remind us why we do, what we do!  Deanne put it best when she described placement day as "the ultimate celebration of God's faithfulness to a birth family, an adoptive family, and a precious child."  I couldn't have said it better.

The Godparent Home was adorned with baby blue decorations and photos of a tiny miracle - Jesse Taylor (3 weeks old). For the birth mother, Chrizar, some of the sweetest moments took place just before placement. She had an oppurtunity to visit with the baby and make sure that he was dressed perfectly to meet his new parents.  Many pictures were taken and she enjoyed her alone time with the adorable Jesse. The adoptive family, Craig and Marti, gathered with their five-year-old daughter, Chloe, and their extended family in nervous anticipation of meeting the newest member of the family. Once Jesse Taylor entered the room in Chrizar's arms, everyone is captivated by the baby and the quiet strength of his birth mother, an amazing young woman whom we all have grown to love and adore. This is a celebration.

Feel free to look at the pictures on the right of the blog. Congratulations to Craig, Marti, and Chloe! Chrizar, you really are an amazing young lady


I Samuel 1:27 "For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to Him." 

Walk For Life 2010

The 10th Annual Walk for Life has been scheduled for Saturday, May 1st at the Liberty University Outdoor Track. We need you to help us reach the goal of $55,000! All of the money raised through individual donations and corporate sponsorships will go directly to the Liberty Godparent Home and Family Life Services. If you can make plans to join us in Lynchburg on that day, please do - it's a wonderful way to contribute, as a family, to pro-life efforts in the community and beyond.

Our agency is challenging each walker or family to raise at least $100. This can be done by asking for donations, of any size, from co-workers, family members, neighbors, and members of your church family. If you own or work for a business that would be willing to become a corporate sponsor for the event, please contact Sheree Bryant for more information at

If you plan to attend, please email Deanne at and let her know so we can ensure that you receive a brochure with information you will need to record sponsorships and register under FLS. We hope to see you there - set a goal and start working toward it!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Come On and Follow Along...

Welcome to the Family Life Services Blog - The Journey of a Birthmother! As we have been brainstorming about various ways to connect our ministry with our clients, supporters, and friends, a blog seemed like the best way to accomplish this goal. Various staff members and birth parents will be contributing and we plan to update it at least weekly so you can be up tp date with the happenings of FLS.  This will be a great window into the life of adoption through the eyes of a birth parent.  We will also keep you up to date with happenings of FLS, pictures from recent placements, and reviews on adoption related books, etc.

It is my hope that birth families will be able to celebrate, discuss, be honest, even share frustrations... but most important-- we heal from our adoption experience and move forward while supporting each other.  I will share my own journey of where adoption has taken me over the last 17 years... celebrate my great memories and expose the sadness that I have felt along the way.

So, come on and follow along as we take this journey together...