Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Best For You by Kelsey Stewart

The Best For You, by Kelsey Stewart, is a unique children's book that is written from the birth mother's perspective to a child placed into an adoptive family. It simply, yet delicately, explains how the birth mother found out that she was pregnant at a time that she was young, not married, and wanted her child to be raised in a secure home, by two parents, who would love her child just as much as she did. This book does a masterful job of conveying the love of a birth mother, basic reasons for choosing an adoption plan for a child, how the birth mother decided that she was not ready to parent, what she was looking for in an adoptive family, and the sacrifices that she made to provide the best future for her child.

For parents of an adopted child, this book provides positive affirmation for a child, of any age, and opens the door to an age-appropriate conversation about the child's own birthmother. The concepts and values in this story can be applied to any domestic, infant adoption situation where birth parents voluntarily make an adoption plan. From the beginning pages that read,  "This is a story about love. This is a story about a gift from God that became an even greater gift to a family. This is a story about a beautiful baby whom I gave birth to. This is a story about you."   to the closing statements of,   "Always know that I love you. Adoption does not mean that I gave up. Adoption does not mean you were not loved or not wanted. Adoption means you have more than one family who loves you. Adoption means you will always be in my heart, whatever I may do. Adoption means I wanted the best for you." - the message is one of mutual respect for the birth mother and adoptive parents and one centered around unconditional love for the child.

The illustrations are simple, hand-drawn pictures yet they seem to enhance the authenticity of the story as it is not one driven by commercialism, but rather one directly from the heart of a birth mother. There is one section in the story that references the birth mother placing the child directly with the adoptive family in the hospital setting, which would not directly apply to families who utilized foster care, yet would be a time for adoptive parents to pause for discussion. I give this book a positive recommendation and believe that it fills a gap where literature has not been available in the past. The Best for You is available directly from the publisher for $9.99 at AuthorHouse Publishing, but is also available from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

This book would make a great gift for any adopted child.  Add a personal message to the inside front cover and I am sure any adoptive family will cherish it!

The author, Kelsey Stewart, is the mother of 5 children: a daughter and twin boys that she placed for adoption and two boys that she is raising with her husband. She is an advocate for open adoption and loves to share her positive adoption story with others to show that she has been able to become a healthy, happy, and experience mother. Her personal blog is The Birth Mother Voice.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Exposing myself...

Oh yes, I said it… I am exposing myself. Here goes…. I AM A BIRTHMOTHER! All right, it is out there for the world to see. This “label” isn’t something that naturally comes up in conversation, nor is it something that people feel comfortable talking about. Now where do I find a t-shirt that boasts this new found exposure?!

For two years of my life, I worked at a cotton plant in rural North Carolina. When I left that job, I found myself taking much better care of my clothing and read every label before washing. “Wash with like colors” “Dry Clean only” etc. These labels (or instructions) are placed in the garment so that we can know how to best care for each piece. After my adoption decision, I think I have had many instructions and labels through the different stages of my life.

So back to my Birth Mother label…. It is a label that many of us ladies keep to ourselves, only to share it with a few that we trust through our lives. It is a label that is attached with a tag “Handle with Care” as if we are wool and will be shrink with too much heat. But over time, it is a label that can beam with unconditional love and pride in the choice that we made. For others, this label brings frustration with the mystery of the “what ifs”. Either way, it is our label to wear and soon you will decide if you can be washed with like colors or if you are still dry clean only.

I think I have some laundry to do!

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NIV)

Friday, April 16, 2010

New Adoption Movie....Mother and Child

I received an email from my long-time friend Kelly. She has many years of experience as an adoption professional and is also a FLS birthmother.  Kelly and her husband Jason has been married for almost 11 years and the proud parents of two adorable children.

I just wanted to let you know about a movie (secular, rated R, fiction - from what I can tell) that is coming, probably late spring/early summer, to our areas, that deals with members of the adoption triad - birth parents, adoptive parents, adoptees. My husband told me about it last night.

It looks like teens aren't the target audience, but we all know they do watch R-rated films. However, teens are not the only ones facing crisis pregnancies and more than teens need to embrace adoption.

I am not sure how this movie will resolve itself. I pray this movie is positively impactful and not a glorified Lifetime Movie on the big screen negatively giving one sided views on adoption. However, if it is, maybe it will spark good conversations about and challenges to negative claims against adoption. We just need to be ready with bold and loving responses.

I am curious to see it. I wonder if it is in response to the movie Juno. Even though Juno was crass and crude in parts, it showed the raw side of a birth mother's experience in adoption, which is hard to watch, but ultimately set adoption as a positive option for birth parents. We may not all agree with Juno's means to an end, but the message was still that adoption is a good option that should be explored by those in crisis pregnancy, or at least that's how I saw it.

No matter the outcome with this movie, we can all be thankful that adoption is getting more attention right now in areas other than news, politics and debates about abortion, and offering more opportunities for it to be discussed and considered. Whether we like the movie or not, I hope we will be willing to join in or start some healthy discussions about it with people. I am convinced that even the pro-abortion community can support the adoption option.

The movie is titled "Mother and Child" and here's the link to the movie's site

Monday, April 12, 2010

What is his label?

This last weekend, I attended an adoption conference. For the first session, I chose "Adoption Reunions." Really… can you ever hear enough adoption reunion stories? As I took my seat in the second row, I couldn't figure out the dynamics of the panel in front of me. Two younger women, two older women and an older man. As the session started, they were introduced... adoptee, birth mom, adoptive mom, birth moms husband, and birth moms daughter. Hold on... husband of the birth mom? I have watched enough Montel shows to know that they usually do not include the birth mom’s husband in this kind of discussion. What could he possibly add? Each did a wonderful job sharing a five minute intro of who they were and how they fit into the story.....until, it was Geoff’s turn. "Who am I?" he said. "I am Geoff. I am married to the birthmother. I am Elizabeth's (adoptee) half-sister's dad. I have no biological connection to Elizabeth at all. In fact, I have no label like everyone else at this table." Ouch! I was shocked at that comment. After a moment of silence, he went on to share his role on the process...and he is the one I learned the most from.

To give you a visual, Geoff is in his mid 50's, a shorter gentleman that had little hair on his head... but what hair he did have was white. When he smiled, his nose scrunched up and his entire face lit up. This man had my full attention. Geoff shared that for years he listened to his wife when she needed to talk about the adoption, watched his wife cry after giving birth to his daughter, and sometimes walked on eggshells trying to figure out how to fix the situation. Once the letter from the office came that the adoptee wanted communication, he helped his wife juggle the thought of communication after 23 years of knowing nothing, worrying about expectations, trust issues and I am sure much more than he chose to share.

I sat in awe of this man who obviously loved his wife. He went on to share about attending Elizabeth's wedding and introduced himself to people as the birth mom’s husband. He said that everyone in his family has a biological tie to Elizabeth-- except him-- and I think in some ways that disappointed him. As he spoke of Elizabeth and the relationship that they have, he beamed with pride and the love that he had for her was so evident. How amazing that this young lady was loved by so many people... even those not biologically linked to her!

During the next few hours, my mind kept wandering back to what I had heard and questions started running through my own mind. What were my expectations from my own husband in regards to the adoption? Did I assume that just because he married me that he would be comfortable with my past? Did he want to be part of K’s life as well—or was it just a job that I threw on him? Did I just assume that he knew his label and fit comfortably within it?

When I got home, I told him about Geoff and the way that he doesn't have a defined role in the adoption. As I sat at the bottom of the bed, I watched as a huge smile came across his face. "I've been trying to figure it (the label) out for years." Readers, please know my hubby is amazing when it comes to my adoption and because of my profession, it isn't something that I am shy to talk about. It's just something that we never had to talk about.

For the first time, I listened to adoption from my husband’s perspective. What he shared with me made me love and appreciate him even more—and I gained a new found level of respect. No, he has no connection to K biologically but he loves her because she is part of the person that he loves. We had a great...no, fantastic talk about how he feels and it was exactly what I had hoped for. What a true picture of unconditional love...not only of the love he has for me, but also for the daughter I placed. It is almost as if he had to adopt her in his heart in order to love me and the person I am.


"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."  I Cor. 13:13

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Everything to Me....

I got a call from a client a few minutes ago.

"Janelle, have you head "Everything to Me" 

Oh yeah... I know that tune.  It is definitly one of my favorite adoption "friendly" tunes.  If this is the first time you have heard it, expect to tear up a tad. Enjoy!

Have a great day,

~  Janelle

Mark Schultz music video of his song "Everything to Me" dedicated to his birth mother and the most important gift she ever gave him... life.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Donate a dollar to FLS and it won't cost you a penny!

GoodSearch will donate a $1 for every toolbar that is downloaded between April 6th at 9am EST and April 9th at 9am EST up to $5,000!! Please download the toolbar right now by following this link - http://www.goodsearch.com/toolbar/family-life-services-liberty-godparent-foundation

Our new FAMILY LIFE SERVICES-LIBERTY GODPARENT FOUNDATION toolbar is free to download and allows you to raise money for our cause every time you search or shop online! Once added to IE or Firefox, each time you shop at more than 1,300 stores (from Amazon to Zazzle!) a percentage of your purchase will automatically be donated to FLS - at no cost to you (and you may even save money as the toolbar provides coupons and deals as well!). The toolbar also has a search box and each time you search the Internet, about a penny is donated to our organization.

We would be so appreciative if you would download our customized toolbar so we can earn the $1 bonus per toolbar!
And, please pass this along to all of your friends. The two minutes it takes to add this toolbar to your browser can make a lifetime of difference for our cause!

Get the toolbar NOW! http://www.goodsearch.com/toolbar/family-life-services-liberty-godparent-foundation

Monday, April 5, 2010

Chocolate, Butterscotch, Cocoa....Which Shade Are You?

Sometimes the best children's books to incorporate into a family's library are not written specifically on the topic of adoption! Such is the case with The Color of Us by Karen Katz. It is a simple, well-illustrated book that celebrates diversity by recognizing the beauty of the various shades of skin tones that surround us. The main character is a seven-year-old girl, Lena, who takes a walk through her neighborhood with her mother and notices that all people are various shades of brown. They find friends in shades of caramel, French toast, chocolate brown, butterscotch, etc. Is this book making you hungry yet? It is a simplistic view, as diversity is about much more than skin tone, but is an appropriate book for a young child that will help them to recognize our similarities that connect people and celebrate the differences.

I encourage any family affected by adoption to scatter books about diversity on the bookshelf along with the tried and true favorite stories. In time, the books will open the door to questions and conversations that the child can have with their parents. The Colors of Us is available in a paperback and a hardcover version and is an excellent addition to any child's collection of books.