Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wedding, Wedding, Wedding

Janessa was first get married.

Megan was second.

Daniella was married early in December.

Persephone married sometime in 2009 also.

That would be 4 girls married that attended the first Birth Mother Retreat. 2008.

Megan's Birthday

Celebrating Megan's birthday at the office

Tawnia, Daniella, Janessa, Gabby, Megan, Tara

"Finding Experience" from Adoptive Mom

Recently 2 of my past Birth Moms found their child on Facebook and made contact. These 2 children are siblings. Birth Moms did not know each other. Below you will find the emails from the Adoptive Mom (edited).

Dear Tawnia,

I wanted to send you an email and let you know how much I appreciated talking with you a couple of weeks ago. I appreciated the information that you gave me concerning Birth Mom (BM). Needless to say, it was an exciting and an emotional week for the our family!

My daughter was thrilled, at first, to be in contact to BM, but for some reason has become reluctant to continue correspondence with her. Even though daughter is 19 years old, she is still immature in some respects. She tends to 'jump in with both feet' initially and then realizes that she maybe she should have taken things a bit more cautiously. Her primary response, in dealing with the uncomfortableness and fear, is avoidance. I know that BM is hurting right now. She took her cue from my daughter’s enthusiasm in the beginning and I think tried to establish a relationship with daughter too quickly. I don't know what the outcome will be as far as daughter wanting to pursue the relationship in the future. That will have to be daughter's choice.

On the other hand, the process with son (17) and his contact with BM is going very well, so far. BM contacted me first. I was able to correspond with her for several days and we both had time to analyze the situation. I was able to let my son read her correspondence to me and he became comfortable enough to begin corresponding with BM. They are being very patient with son and just asking him questions to get to know him better. He is asking questions of them and they are responding with honest, heartfelt answers. It has been a positive experience for all involved, so far.

I guess the reason that I am telling you this is to let you know that if a birthmother contacts you to get advice about contacting the adopted child, especially if the child is still young, please tell them to try and contact the adoptive parents first. This way the adoptive parent can help gage and monitor the process for both the child and the birthparents. The adoptive parents know the child's personality and can help the birthparents know how to properly correspond with the child.

In corresponding with both BMs, they both have expressed to me how much they appreciated your love, concern, help, and counsel through the pregnancy, placement process and beyond. They both have a great love and respect for you. One told me that if it hadn't been for your love, support, and encouragement during a long phone call on the night before daughter was placed with us, we probably wouldn't have received her. Emily also has expressed to me how much you helped her. Thank you!

In corresponding with both BMs, I have realized just how strong their love for the children they placed is. I guess for some reason I thought that love and concern would fade somewhat with time. If anything, it is stronger. I also know that the remorse that they felt when they decided to place their child is still there. I hope though, this has faded somewhat with time. I know that they have thought about and wondered about the child each day since the placement. I am sure it is a great sense of relief to know that their children are safe, healthy and doing well.

Thank you again Tawnia! Thank you for helping us have the experience of being parents to our chidlren. We love them tremendously and we are trying our best to help them become people that will want to make good choices.

Adoptive Mom

Second email..........

Just to let you know, my daughter has had a chance to think things through a little bit more and has again been in contact with BM. I hope that their relationship will progress in a good and comfortable way for both of them.

Another observation that I have made in corresponding with BMs, which I didn't express to you previously, is that the birth mothers hold on to every piece of information or item sent to them about the children that they placed. In fact, I would dare say that they "cling" to it. Both BMs can practically quote to me the letters that I sent to them and have "reminded" me of information that I included about daughter and son that I have long since forgotten. I sent a Christmas card to son's birth parents and family and BM commented to me that she "recognized my writing immediately!" Who would have thought that she would have imprinted in her memory my hand writing?! How wonderful, powerful and divine is a mother's love for a child. Any mother's love, be it a birth mother or an adoptive mother, for I know that my love for my children is just as strong.

Adoptive mom


Response by Tawnia

Thank you for this beautiful email. I love my girls. I also love the adoptive couple, but my focus has been on the healing of the girls. Although they have pre-marital sex, got pregnant and “decided” to place their child for adoption, it did not occur without grief and pain. I have witnesses this over and over for 20 years. I don’t think people understand the feelings on either side of the adoption triangle. LDS Family Services has come a long way since 20 years ago in the open-ness, but the education is lagging behind and I hope to make a difference there this year.

Friday, December 25, 2009

3 Weddings

I attended 3 weddings this year of past birth mothers. All 3 girls attended the first birth mother retreat. Congratultions to all 3.


Tara and Tawnia
The Ta Ta Girls

I was given a new responsibility at work. I am now the Adoption Manager, which means I will supervise all adoption services for LDS Family Services. The change started in April 2009. With the help of Tara, we have reorganized our program and materials for birth parents. We laugh when we get together and have a good time. Sometimes we take road trips for work and talk our heads off with ideas of something new to do for the girls. Some of our new ideas include making a birth mom quilt each year with each birth mom making a block; involving FSA more for support; give each girl a binder to “personalize” and keep her important information in as well as help with the grief process. We are including with moms on the FSA board and in helping with the changes.

We hope to bring the same enthusiasm to the adoptive couple work in 2010. Tara and I have been reading and preparing classes to educate the adoptive couples on what a birth mother is experiencing. We plan to launch that in January.

Something else I have notice this year is more phone calls for people searching or wanting information. We cannot give out identifying information at the office, but the people are directed to WARM of In this age of computerized information, more and more people and reaching out for more to find or be found


Rich, a co-worker, teased me and said I was a birth mother grandma. How you ask???

I worked briefly with a young woman that transferred to another office to keep things confidential. As the process continued, I was called upon to work with the birth father. In order to “bond” with him and seek his cooperation, I knew he was a hunter/sport mans/fisher man/outdoors man, as was my brother. We shared stories to get acquainted. Birth father did not want to place, but said he would cooperate with adoption if my brother would adoption his child. Much to my surprise, I called birth mom and my brother and a beautiful baby boy eventually came into my family through this birth mom and dad.

Fast forward to the present…………birth mom and I keep in contact a little. She has fertility issues and lost a pregnancy. Her husband is diagnosed with cancer which puts a hold on further pregnancy plans. They decide to try the adoption process. The study would be completed by another office.

I was sitting in my office one day, meeting with a new birth mom for the first visit. She said she was determined to do adoption—it was the best for her child. I listened to her. She said she had already met a family. I listened. When she told me the adoptive family lived in another state, I thought to myself, I need to show her some of our couples. The couple she met was a friend of her sister and I didn’t want her to try to please her sister. I asked a few more questions and suddenly realized that the couple this birth mom had chosen by the birth mom mentioned in paragraph #2. I was so excited and animated inside my body that I found it hard to contain myself. I continued to “calmly” ask questions to make sure my assumption was correct. I glowed when I realized that my nephew’s birth mother might soon be an adoptive mother.

After several months and some occasional contact from all parties, a baby girl was born the end of the year and placed with her new family. Hence, I am a birth mother grandma.

I must say it was interesting for me, as I am sure it was for adoptive mom, to see the different sides of the coin. As a birth mom, she wanted more openness. As an adoptive mom, she wanted some confidentiality and privacy. All parties are working towards a comfortable balance.

I guess when I have worked here for so long, I might be a part of many interesting things.
Adoptive mom sent me a sweet card……”You have helped me so much in my life. Knowing you has forever changed me. Thank you. I love you.” Reading that and hearing those same words occasionally from other girls, makes this difficult work all worth it. There is no way I feel the same pain that my girls feel, but I am exposed to it over and over. I watch them struggle. I pray for their future success and happiness as they work through their grief.

I NEVER thought I would work with birth moms for 20 years.
Now, I find that I cannot leave.
You girl ROCK!
Go forward with strength and confidence.
Remember you sacrifice and build your future.
No one can fully understand your experience.
But, you are the master of your future.
Make it great!


A previous entry was title “Clara”. In reality, the name is Caprice. She has given me permission to use her name. Since the entry 9/20, Caprice and I were able to meet up again at the FSA conference in Portland. It was so good to see her, even if it was briefly. After our first phone call, she connected to my blog and discovered that her placed daughter was also connected to my blog. Her daughter, MeMe had come to me as part of her senior project to be a positive voice for adoption. MeMe met some of my current birth moms and spoke last year at an FSA event. She created a blog for her senior project and I added it to my Birth Mom blog. Caprice was surprised when she put 2+2 together and realized this young girl was daughter she placed 19 years ago.

Caprice was planning to attend FSA so we could meet in person again. She called about a month prior to let me know that he MeMe had been asked to speak at the FSA conference. Oh, my gosh! Thank goodness Caprice is a prayerful woman. She decided to attend, but be invisible at the conference so that her daughter would not meet her.

Several days after the conference, Meme called to let me know that she would be interesting in meeting her birth mother someday. Caprice had prepared a letter for such a day and I passed that letter on to the family. Before too long, they were exchanging words and hope to meet in person on the daughter’s birthday.

Caprice hopes to be an Outreach Specialist in her stake in Oregon. We were so glad to see each other again. There are happy and sad points to this story---all of which I hope come out in a book someday. I hope to help share the experiences that birth mothers’ have had in the adoption world. Due to some inaccurate shared information, Caprice and I lost contact for many years, but now look forward to staying connected.


No word from Dr. Phil, but Emmy has decided to write her birth mother story. I am excited for her. There just doesn’t seem to be too many birth mother books out there. I think the world is in a “awakening” time as adoption explodes into a new a positive view. Good luck in the writing, Emmy! Maybe I will eventually get my stories organized and printed. Until then, blogging works for me.


The regional Families Supporting Adoption took place in Portland this year in November. Tara and I attended. We met 2 new birth moms there and shared our room with 2 past birth moms. We even stayed an extra night to do a little shopping and relax. (Found some great fabric shops) I have asked that Tara be added to the Regional FSA board in order to bring more for birth mothers to the next conference. We also have a birth mother on our local FSA board. Families Supporting Adoption is learning to involve all parts of the adoption triangle. I hope to see continued improvements as ideas are shared and information brings growth.

Oh no, now what?

Last month I received a phone call from a past birth mom. she didn't expect me to remember her-------but I did. I asked her name. NO, not that one, your maiden name. Once she said it, I recalled my experience with her. Some of my girls, I have limited contact with but I still remembered Sheri from trying to find a family for her child with limited time and a difficult birth father. She found that family and placed her child. She was surprised I remembered her. (I have come to realize that birth moms often feel they are insignificant in this process and deserve nothing for their sacrifice.)

Her call was prompted from another birth mom that I had experience with several years ago. This birth mom placed through a different state (LDS FS) and was referred to me for reunification counseling. Her child had wanted to meet her and the law required (Texas) that they each have counseling prior to the meeting. During our "counseling time", we briefly became acquainted and she helped me work with another birth mom in her area.

This same birth mom (in paragraph #2) became acquainted with birth mom Shari. Not knowing the full story, Shari was concerned that her 17 yr. old child would suddenly come into her life and didn't feel prepared for any surprises. She is now a mother of 2 children and happily married for 13 years. She runs a day care in her home. Shari recalled that some time ago she felt worried about her child and contacted me. At that time, the couple was applying to re-adopt, so I was aware that her child was doing well. She appreciated that information and no longer worried. She told me that all that mattered to her was that her child had a good live and knew where he came from. Sometimes a little information bring much peace.

Thanks for calling!

Search and Find

In the last few months, I had 2 birth moms that did not know each other find the child they placed. The 2 "found" children are siblings. The birth moms found them by searching through facebook with limited information they deducted through the years. I became a part of the "finding" when the adoptive mom asked for proof of their identity, which lead to me.

Many good things have happened through this:

1. Aubrie and Emily have "found" a loved one. I believe it has been scary, difficult and amazing. The "finding" is new, but at this time, they communicate through email and facebook. The children are 17 and 19 years old and had some adjusting to do in this addition in their life. The most joyous thing for birth moms: the child appreciated birth mom for placing and their child was well and happy. (Birth moms are on my facebook account.)

2. The adoptive mom learned more about what it is like for a birth mom to place a child. Hooray and thanks for sharing. This will be shared in another blog.

3. I have a little more contact with "my girls" when exciting things happen.

4. Over the 20 years of working in birth parent services, I have seen changes and hope for continued education and growth. I expect 2010 will bring many changes and perhaps more "findings".