Meet Ashley from Blessings in a Basket!
I loved getting to know Ashley through her website and her blog. I especially respected that she is willing to "to there" on some of the really difficult aspects of adoption. I was very impressed that she has taken a hard time in her life (placing her son for adoption) and decided to do what she could to not only help herself, but to help others. So, she created a non-profit organization that helps birth mothers feel honored, respected and supported. Please take some time to read through her questions and then go check out her blog to get to know her better!
Q: I sense a theme in a few of your recent posts that you don't want to be "labeled" or stuck in a particular pro/anti adoption corner. How would you describe your current thoughts and feelings about adoption as a whole and how has that changed since you placed your child in 2006?
A: I am a believer in CHOICE and I do not believe that what is right for one is right for another. I also know that once a choice is made, no matter the justifications of that choice, it doesn't always go down as smooth as another. I believe in respect and support no matter the path. So many want to "fight" their side and I can't do that. Their pain is real, whether on the adoptive side or the birth parent side or the adoptee side! Because I am a birth mom I feel that it is my job to show at least respect for another birth mom because I know how real their pain is. Adoption has changed so much, even since the 7.5 short years ago that I placed. People that are grieving adoption 20 years ago are in a totally different "generation of adoption". We have to take each case as it comes, it is all so different and each story is SO unique even if the end result is the same.
Q: If you could only tell ONE thing to each part of the "adoption triad", what would they be?
A: To the Birth Parent: when the choice is made and the papers are signed there is no going back. Find acceptance in your story. I truly believe that is the first stage in your healing. Acceptance. Once you can own your story and what has happened then you can start to put the pieces back together. You can't go back...so you really have two options-remain stuck in pain and grief or find a way to move forward and build a "Life after placement".
To the Adoptive Parents: Your journey is so sad and painful to me. There is great jealousy that can come from an adoptive mother to a birth mother because we can bare children. It is not our fault. We are not trying to hurt you. Please know that there is truly no way that you can repay to price that has been paid to you when you receive a child...but we shouldn't ask you to. We chose adoption and that is not your fault. You don't need to be afraid of us. We pray that you will keep your integrity with any open adoption promises that you make BUT please remember and this is the most important- YOU ARE THE PARENT. We chose you and expect you to do what you believe is the very best for the child, just as we did when we were the parent. Take that child as your own and don't look back. It is not your responsibility to "fix us" or "heal us". We have to get there on our own.
To the Adoptee: I know that one of the biggest fears as a birth mom is the possible resentment that will come from you as you get older and start to understand. I pray for two things-1. that your parents talk about me and your being adopted with the upmost respect and love so that you know that it is sacred and special! and 2-that is nothing else, you will be able to be grateful for the life-the very breath that you are breathing and will be able to move on from that. I can't speak for every birth mother but I have worked with hundreds and hundreds of them...and love WAS not the missing piece in their decision. That was the driving force so find peace in that.
Q: I love your organization, "Blessings in a Basket". What has been the most rewarding part of working along side other mothers who are making this choice?
A: It has been the most humbling experience of my life and I truly believe that this is my mission in life. There is great power in a community that is based on a common foundation and these women, a Big Tough Girl™ as we like to call them, have lifted each other up more than I ever imagined. We learn and heal so much from each other and our unique experiences and strengths. I am the lucky one to be able to know these women, to love these women, to serve these women.
Q: What has been the most difficult part of being so involved in other's experiences?
A: There is great pain in this work. It is never easy and it certainly is not always bright and shiny. We deal daily with guilt and shame, regret and anger, pain and loss. I relive some of those things almost daily as I work with these women. But I never believe that we are ever "done" healing...and I am just peeling back the layers of my own journey and it is because of this work that I get to go deeper into that. Making me stronger on the other side.
Q: A non adoption question! (Because we all need a little perspective in life.) What is the thing you are most passionate about in life that has NOTHING to do with adoption?
A: I have a firm foundation of God and I have great faith in my Savior's Atonement. I have to believe that regardless of the things that I have done, choices that I have made that there is eternal salvation waiting for me. If not my shame and guilt would eat me alive. Family is EVERYTHING. As my dad always says "There is family and the rest are just strangers". I am lucky enough to have my family grow beyond blood. My husband is my "Amazing Grace". I know without a doubt in my soul that he is the reason that I am here, doing the work that I am doing. I love him, I serve him and it is reciprocated far more than what is received.
And above all- I believe that "Where much is given, much is required"...and my dear friends, believe me when I say I have been given much!!!
Thank you Ashley!