Adoption can be a heartbreaking, painful journey. But it can also be the most beautiful and profound experience. I hope by sharing my experiences, and others like mine, adoption will no longer be a taboo subject.

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Space and Time

I feel like a recurring pattern of behaviors happens with this blog. I'll do really good about posting, and then.... I won't do so well for a while. I always have valid and legitimate excuses, but that's all they are.

Today, one of my birthmomma friends posted that some days she just wants to be Haley- not Haley the birthmom. I think I'm the same way. I'm not ashamed of my role, but sometimes I need a little space and time to just be Katelyn. I've felt that way this last month. I have thought of about a million posts that I've wanted to write, and every time I get close to writing, something else comes up. I love being birtmomma Katelyn.... but when life gets out of control, I don't feel like I have the energy to be that. I feel like I've barely got the energy to just be Katelyn.

Today I could give you approximately a million excuses, but the fact is, I am just busy. I'm busy being a wife. I'm busy being a mom. I'm busy sewing and crafting. I'm busy working as a therapist. And as a crisis worker. When I get those rare moments to just sit, all I want to do is sleep or snuggle... not blog.

One of the biggest blessings I have is that whenever I start thinking "I'm too busy to do anything adoption related. I need to just be me" things have a funny way of pushing me to be back in the adoption world. I am assured over and over that THIS is important. And because it's important, the time works itself out.

In the next month, I've got four junior high and high school adoption presentation days scheduled. I've also got a panel discussion for LDS church leaders to learn how to handle unusual situations, like unplanned teenage pregnancy from members of their stakes and wards. I've also got birthmother's day, mother's day, and sweet {O}'s birthday. Yes, he'll be FIVE. Woah. Thanks adoption world for reminding me that I don't get to back out gracefully. I'll be front and center :)

Throw in there our wedding anniversary (Happy one year to us!) and the fact that we're in the final stages of getting into a house and will be moving in May and that I'm working on average almost 65 hours a week, and well, you get the idea. May will be fun. And crazy. And full of adoption related fun as well as personal awesomeness.

Birthmomma Katelyn and Wife Katelyn and StepMom Katelyn and Therapist Katelyn will all be in full force for the next month. Hopefully the blogging will follow :)

What happened to the birthfather

One of the most common questions I get, both when I do adoption presentations in schools and from emails in response to this blog, is: What happened to the birthfather?

He kind of disappeared from the story if you read it all; I talk about him through December, and then again in choosing a family, and then again maybe twice through the last three months of my pregnancy. At the time, it hurt more than words could express to feel like he just didn't care about me. We had talked about getting married, but being told that he'd marry me if I really wanted him to didn't sound very encouraging, so I didn't opt for that.

He did awkward things when I was pregnant, like he'd bring me dinner, but he wouldn't think I'd want to see him, so he'd drop it off on my porch and then send me a text five minutes later letting me know it was there. For me, living alone, the dinner was fine, but having some companionship would have been better.

He and I didn't see eye to eye in a lot of things. We tried to make our relationship work for a while, but eventually that became way too difficult. We lost contact with each other; we didn't know how to connect. I have him to thank for helping me pick Mr R & Mrs S as baby boy's family, however. I almost didn't let him look at adoption profiles with me, but decided it couldn't hurt, and it would be nice to have some input. He picked the fam, and a month later I finally agreed they were the best fit.

He visited me a few times when I  was pregnant. Most notably was just a few days before I had O. The birthfather came over with a friend of his that I was quite close to as well, and they pampered me with back and foot massages. It was really nice to feel like I was cared about.

When I had O, I agreed that the birthfather could come spend some time in the hospital with him. Unfortunately, the birthfather was extremely late from the time he said he'd be there, so I was absolutely furious and hurt when he finally arrived. We didn't say more than five words to each other that entire hour. He left, and that was that.

He sent me a text or two in the first few days after I went home from the hospital, but then we agreed that we should just stop talking. We didn't ever have any real closure, which always left a feeling of something not quite right.

Fast forward to almost two years ago. He hadn't been responding to any emails from the adoptive family, and so I sent him an email to the last known address just letting him know that they would stop emailing him if they didn't get any responses. He emailed me back, and we started emailing back and forth a bit. We talked about where life had taken us in the previous three years since we had last talked. We decided and agreed that we both could benefit from some closure, and made a plan to get together in person. D informed me several times that he just wanted to see that I was really okay.  We got together for lunch one afternoon. Weirdest lunch of my LIFE, but definitely needed. I didn't realize just how much was left unsaid between us until we got together. We talked about O, we talked about us, we talked about all that had happened. We were able to talk about how amazing our son was, and what traits we saw in him from each of us. We talked about his good looks and which of us he looked the most like. We talked about his stubbornness (both of us), his questioning (D), and his picky eating habits (me). The most beneficial part for both of us was to recognize that life really did work out for each of us. I had just finished my first year of grad school, and he was in the process of applying to grad schools.

One of the most eye opening and healing parts of being able to talk to the birthfather three years after our baby was born was to recognize just how much his life was derailed by the pregnancy. There is a tendency to see that the birthmother's life gets thrown off track; her situation is easy to see, and everyone knows she had a baby. Birthfathers, for the most part, don't necessarily have to change or put anything off because of an unplanned pregnancy. For nearly four years, I had thought over and over that D had it easy, that he was able to just move on and act like nothing happened. He didn't have to worry about telling anyone he dated that he had a kid, because it didn't impact his life the same way it impacted mine.  I was wrong.  D admitted to me that he had had an extremely difficult time having a relationship with anyone since we had dated. He told me it took him much longer to finish college than it should have because he was just lost for a while after baby was born.

He wasn't able to just move on and act like nothing happened, because he had wondered every single day if he had made the right choice.

He wondered every single day if his choices had ruined my life.

He wondered every day how things would have been if he would have made the decision to marry me instead of walking away.

For me, that was huge. It was amazing and a relief to feel like he really did care; I hadn't made up the love that we had. I also really liked being able to reassure him that the choice he made led to the best experience of my life, and that I didn't hate, regret, or hold anything against him. I have forgiven him completely for the challenges that came because of his choices and his behaviors. I gave him the permission and reassurance that he could move on, because I had.

We talked occasionally throughout that summer and into fall. When I started dating my now husband, D and I stopped talking. He found out I was engaged (I think because of this blog) and he sent me a text congratulating me. He asked once more if I was really happy and really where I thought I needed to be. I reassured him one more time that I was definitely happy and knew without a doubt that I and O were precisely where we needed to be.

I don't know exactly where D's life has taken him in the last year and a half, but I know he finally has been able to have a solid, long-term relationship with someone. As far as I know, he has moved on and is finally comfortable in the knowledge that he made the best decisions he could.

Is there part of me that (for a LONG time) wondered what if, and asked why he couldn't have just decided to marry me? Absolutely. But there's no doubt in my mind anymore. I know why we couldn't get married. We would have killed each other. We would have grown to hate and regret the decisions we made which led to our marriage . We might have even started to regret our son.  I'm SO grateful I was able to have the experience to place baby for adoption instead. O is in an amazing family who loves and cares for him more than some teenage parents would have been able to. We weren't grown up or mature enough to be able to parent... And although it was difficult and heartbreaking and pretty awful, I'm glad WE made the choice of adoption.

Being Open and Honest: Telling a Friend

As I'm putting together my letters and emails into a manuscript (yes, I'm still doing that) I am finding posts that were just a little too personal to share at the time I started my blog. The more I think about it, however, the more I have decided that some of these are very open and honest about where I was at the time. As you know, that's my entire purpose-- to be open and honest. If you want to know the heartbreak and the fear and my deepest worries when I found out I was 19 and pregnant, you'll find them all in this letter.

A little background first: End of my Senior year in high school I met this dude from Montana, Scott. He was awesome, we liked each other, he drove down from Montana to little ole Nephi, Utah to take me on a date the summer between high school and college, he became a really good friend of mine, etc. We talked on the phone super regularly that summer and early fall. He left on an LDS mission the October I started college (2007-- one year before I found out I was pregnant). Over that first year, we emailed and wrote letters pretty regularly; when I found out I was pregnant in 2008, I knew I needed and wanted to tell him, but was terrified to. When I finally got the guts, this is the email I wrote to him:

Oct 29 2008

Dear Elder Griffiths-

I had every intention of writing you a real letter today... until I remembered I still don't have your address and it's 11:00 at night, so if I wanted to write it today I'd have to hurry. How is everything going for you? I realized earlier that it's been exactly a year since I saw you last... I can't believe it's that long ago! Time has gone by so fast... I still remember that day, and I remember how heartbroken I was that you were leaving and I couldn't talk to you anymore. I'm sure it was much worse for you, since you were leaving EVERYONE, but it was extremely difficult for me to know one of my best friends was leaving for 2 years.

Anyway, for some reason I really feel like it's time to tell you what's going on in my life... Please know that this is extremely hard for me. Not even my parents know what's going on, although they will after I tell them tomorrow (what a day to tell them... right before a big family Halloween party!). I don't know why I feel like I need to tell you this, I know you have so much stuff to think about and do, since you are specifically where you are to do the Lord's work for the people there... Not to help or worry about me. I hope there's a reason you need to know this- I just don't know what that reason is.

Back to the point though... while you have been serving the Lord, improving yourself so much, I haven't. I realized that in the letter you sent you wrote "I have learned what my priorities are." I wish I would have figured out my priorities sooner. Instead, I made some extremely stupid mistakes and have all but ruined my life. Back in March I finally went and talked to my Bishop about everything that had gone on in the past for me with guys. I know you know what I'm talking about. I was finally working everything out, and I was doing so much better. But then I messed up a little. And after you do it once, why not do it again, right?? That was my thinking at least... So I stopped going to the bishop, I kept messing up, I kept doing the same stupid things. I regret it so much Scott... I wish so badly I could change the way things are. Instead, I didn't change anything at all, and I'm having a baby. I've known about this for over a month, but not many others know. Like I said, not even my parents know yet. The guy I'm dating, D, knows about it; we've been trying to figure out what to do since the end of last month. We're working with LDS Family Services to decide if we are getting married, if we're placing the baby for adoption, or if I will single parent.

I never thought I would be making these decisions at the age of barely 19. I never WANTED to be making these decisions... I don't know if I can do it. I'm scared to death to tell my parents. I will disappoint them so much... and I'm scared that they won't realize how much I've disappointed myself too. I guess that's what I'm most afraid of with the entire thing... no one realizes how much I have disappointed myself, how much I have strayed from the goals I had. Instead, people will just see me as pregnant and not married, and will wonder how I fell so low, how I sinned so badly. Of course I have the support of a few great friends, but sometimes I wonder if it's real or if they are pretending just as much as I am. 

I can't go to school in the Spring. I'm losing my scholarship because I've fallen behind. I'm sick ALL the time, I had to cut back on the hours I work because I am so miserable every morning/early afternoon. My entire life is changing, and I'm not sure where it's going. I feel so extremely alone. Maybe that's why I was thinking about you so much lately... because I feel just as alone as I did when you left and I realized how much I depended on talking to you to keep me happy. 

I can't pray anymore. I've tried. I read my scriptures... but I can't make myself pray. It doesn't feel right when I do finally start to pray, so it just makes me feel worse instead of better. My Bishop tells me every week when I go in to talk to him that it will all be alright, that I am still loved, that I am not alone.... but I don't feel it. My counselor at LDS Fam Services has told me that after I tell my parents I will have their love and support, but I don't think I will. I think my mom will hate me for ruining the image that the town sees... and my dad will be so disappointed. I already told Jace and Candice, and they were extremely supportive. I still haven't told Lynley... I don't dare. I'm so sorry to be going on and on about this... I just feel so alone again tonight. D and I have been fighting a lot lately, we never have time to see each other, and I feel like instead of getting closer like we should be (and like I think we both want to be), we're getting further apart.

Anyway, I'm so so sorry to have to write you this Scott, I really am... You might hate me after this, or see no reason to write to me... but please know that if you feel like you can be one, I desperately need friends who care about me. There aren't many people that do anymore. Your friendship means a lot to me, there were a lot of times when just talking to you was all I needed to feel okay. I hope you know that, and know how appreciated you actually are. Not just by me I'm sure. You're an amazing guy Elder Griffiths, I really wish I was able to be as great. Thank you for the example you are to me, it means much more than you will ever realize.

With that, I again apologize for talking so much about myself. Please, don't worry about me. I usually am doing much better than I am tonight. Some nights are just harder than others. You have much bigger and greater things to be focusing your time and attention on than some girl in Utah =)  I do, however, hope that you don't completely forget about me.  After all, I was once worth an entire trip to Nephi ;) If possible, I hope to hear from you soon.

Take care-


So, now that everyone knows...

First of all, THANK YOU, for the loving support. The responses I got from sharing my blog and my experience were overwhelming and surprising. I have a tendency to think that people will always respond in the worst possible way. Thank you for proving me wrong. I had no idea that so many people would connect in so many different ways with my experience. Thank you, thank you, thank you.... for being awesome, and especially for sharing the thoughts you've had after reading my blog.

Over the next little while, I will try to post more regularly- I'll be posting more about my sweet boy, my adoption experience, my post-adoption experiences, and I will answer any and all questions. So, if anything has hit you that you are just dying to ask, please feel free. I really am happy to answer pretty much anything.

In exciting news, I've decided to make a "Letters to You" Facebook Page so I can post my blog updates there. I'll also probably post more pictures there than can be found here. So, if you haven't yet, go like it! :) (HERE)

As I prep for the next few weeks of posts, I'm going to ask TWO favors.

First, if there's anyone who you think could benefit from hearing what I have to say, share my blog. I've been shocked by how many emails I've gotten from people saying "I found your blog through... and I am glad you share because of...." Really. People who have nothing in common with me have found similarities between my experience and something they've been through, which is humbling and amazing. I'm a firm believer that my experience was NOT just for me-- but something to use to connect with others. You can help with that.

My second request is pretty simple: Can you comment/message/email me with any suggestions for posts. I love answering those burning questions ;)  Please and Thank You!

To Everyone Who Didn't Know

To Everyone Who Didn't Know,

Publishing or not publishing this post has been a debate in my mind for an extremely long time. It's a risk I finally feel ready to take. If you find it necessary to judge me, that's okay by me. I know the experiences I have had are exactly what I needed to become the person I am. I learned more about sacrifice and love and the love of my Heavenly Father for each and every one of his children than I could have learned any other way. And I'm grateful for that. I am tired of keeping this life-changing experience a secret from people who know me. This is a major part of who I am.

So who am I? I'm a social worker. I'm a wife. I'm a step-mom. And I'm a birthmomma. My two boys are only 8 days apart. I love them both dearly-- the one I carried and placed, and the one I jumped in head first with when he was 3. Everyone knows I'm a step-mom, but very very few people in my everyday life know I'm a birthmomma. And I'm ready to change that.

The abbreviated version of where I have been and where I now am:

In September 2008, I found out I was pregnant. It was a month before I turned 19. My boyfriend at the time {D} and I had not been dating very long; to say it was an unplanned and unexpected pregnancy is an understatement. I was just starting my 2nd year at Weber State, and had no clue what to do from there. After telling my parents, we agreed that no one really needed to know yet. {D} and I were talking about getting married, so there didn't seem to be any need to announce to everyone that I was having a baby prior to getting married. We continued to talk about marriage through December, at which point I decided marriage was not going to be an option for us. {D} told me that he would marry me if I really wanted him to, but only because I wanted him to, not because he felt like he should. That didn't scream love and happily ever after, so I opted to not take him up on that. I then decided to single parent, and that was my decision for about a month.  From the week I found out I was having a baby through this point, I had been seeing a caseworker at LDSFS and attending birthparent support groups, as well as single parent support groups, every single week. I agreed with my caseworker in January that I would consider adoption, since I really didn't know what to do or what the best decision was for my baby.

I looked at one adoptive couple profile and fell in LOVE. They were an amazing family, just waiting and hoping for a baby. I realized immediately that they were so ready and prepared for a baby.... and I also realized immediately that I wasn't prepared for or ready for a baby. This changed my thinking about single parenting and adoption... I finally stopped thinking about me. Up until this point, it had been all about me. I wanted to be a parent. I wanted my baby to know how much I loved him. I didn't think I was strong enough to place a baby for adoption. I didn't want to deal with the heartache that clearly accompanied adoption. I couldn't even dream of not being there every day as baby grew up.  When I recognized this, I stopped thinking about me and started thinking about my baby. He deserved a two parent household. He needed parents who were ready for him and knew what they were doing. He deserved a stay at home mom. He needed a home where he could reach his potential, without hearing from his parent(s) what a struggle it was to provide.

Although I fell in love with the first couple I saw, it took another two months before I found the family my baby boy was supposed to be with. This entire time, no one outside of my immediate family and very few friends knew I was expecting. I had agreed that I didn't really care to answer all the questions of what my plans were and what I was considering when I was in between single parenting and adoption. By the time I had decided on adoption, I was 7 months along, and it seemed really weird to tell everyone at that point. There was also the awkwardness of explaining to people or having people see you're pregnant, but then not having a baby to show for that pregnancy. Because of this, I spent very little time in Nephi, and even less time in Nephi outside of my parents' home.

I got to spend two months really getting to know the adoptive family. When I finally had my baby boy on May 26, 2009, I was absolutely and completely sure that I had made the right decision and that baby {O} was in the family he needed to be in (much more about this process in other posts). My parents and the adoptive parents were in the hospital when I had {O}. That was an experience I will forever cherish.

After three days, I literally placed my baby boy into the arms of his mother and let them leave the hospital. I went home with empty arms and a broken heart. I spent the next three weeks at home with my parents and then took a road trip to Oregon with them. By this point, telling anyone that I had a baby seemed pointless. Yes, I had a baby, No, I did not have the baby any longer. Explaining that process just wounded my already fragile self a little too much. So I agreed that no one needed to know.

Five years later, I'm ready. I'm ready to own this part of me. I'm ready to shout to the world that I am a birthmomma, and I am proud of that fact. I have been extremely involved in the adoption community for years now, but very few people who knew me before I had {O} know this about me. At the time, it seemed like telling people would just be counterproductive, as I would then have to answer questions about adoption and openness and if I see my baby, etc. Now, however, I recognize that it's time I did speak out.

Adoption is an amazing thing. I still get to see my baby boy, and I get updates from his family regularly. He's adorable and intelligent and amazing. I love him with my whole heart. I won't say that it's been an easy thing for me. It's heartbreaking and awful and, yes, wonderful, to place a child for adoption.

In the last 5 years, I've been able to watch my baby boy grow up into a little boy, and now he's right on the edge of just being a boy. In that time, I graduated from Weber State and went on to get my Masters from the U of U. I married my amazing hubby in the Oquirrh Mountain Temple nine months ago and suddenly became step-mom to our little man. I've used my experiences to talk with junior high and high school students in Davis County. I've also used my experiences to help educate prospective adoptive families. I've reached out and become part of the amazing community of birthmoms, both here in Utah and across the country. I've grown, I've changed, and I've learned.

If you're wondering why you never knew this about me, don't worry. You're not alone. I wasn't willing to open myself up to judgment or criticism or questions (well-intended or not). I was scared that people would think less of me because I was a teen pregnancy. I wasn't to a point where I felt comfortable enough with myself to tell the world that I am a birthmomma. So now, I'm telling you. Yes, I made some mistakes, and ended up pregnant and single at the age of 19. It was a hard, hard nine months for me, and it's been an amazing nearly five years since then. Of course I've had my ups and downs, but the ups far outweigh the downs. I wouldn't change anything about my experience. It truly shaped who I am today and taught me lessons I couldn't learn any other way.

If this changes your opinion of me for the worst, well, I'm sorry for you. I will not apologize for having a baby, and I won't apologize for placing him for adoption. I am sorry if you feel like you've been deceived. I hope you can recognize that I did the best I could in the situation. There are so many people in my life who don't know I went through this experience-- and I'm excited to change that.

I'm a pretty open book about my adoption experiences. I can just hope that if you have any comments about this, you'll share them with me, not behind my back. Thanks for your understanding support.


I'm nervous

Big changes coming soon. I'm tired of adoption being a secretive part of me. I hate that I can't openly comment on facebook posts because it could show up on one of my friend's newsfeeds that I commented on this adoption post. I hate that this life changing experience is something I've been trained to see as shameful and secretive. It happened. It's a big part of me. And I'm ready to own that. A post will be coming very very soon titled "To Everyone Who Didn't Know". It will be the letter I've been forming for years about my experience and why so few people know about it. There are many members of my extended family that have no idea. There are countless friends, especially from high school, that have no idea. And I'm tired of that. I'm ready to join in on conversations about pregnancy and birth and my children. I am a birthmomma, and I am extremely proud of that. I wouldn't be me without it. And soon, very soon, the link to this blog will be posted on my Facebook. I'd be lying if I didn't say it scares me.... As much as I wish I wasn't, I'm always a little nervous about how people will react or respond to something this personal. But I'm going to lay it on the line. Take a risk. Jump in head first.

We will see what happens from there! <3

Shout out to my friends

Thanks friends for the kind words and support. To say last week was hard is a huge understatement. I cried more last week than I have in months..... But, this is a new week, and things are a little better.

Other than the jealousy and pain at seeing my sister's happiness and feeling excluded from that, I had another step back in the waiting game last week. My hubby and I went to talk to a mortgage person, and found out that our hopes of being in a house by June aren't going to be realized. Thank you student debt for helping our debt-to-income ratio be BARELY above the limit of what any mortgage company will finance. So, instead of moving forward and getting into a house and starting to have some stability (which is a precursor to finally being able to have a baby of my own) we will be renting again. For another year at least, probably closer to two. To say I was devastated is another wonderful understatement. 

Maybe it's the hormones, maybe it's the feeling I have deep down that it's time, maybe it's just the disappointment that seemed to hit over and over and over last week.... Whatever it is, I would like to never repeat last week. Ever. 

I cried every day last week. I cried in front of my best friend, who will tell you she's only seen me cry a handful of times. I cried so hard I made myself sick the night after talking to the mortgage person. My husband, bless his heart, was more than a little confused as to why I was so devastated.

I didn't know how to explain it, but I think I do now. I had a lot of hopes resting on getting into a house. A house for me equals stability. It means I'm moving past the renting random places and changing and moving annually. It means there are roots. And with roots, comes the tree. A house, in my mind, is the first step in our "becoming a family" path. A house is where dreams begin. 

I feel cheated. I feel like everyone else is moving on and growing up and I'm just stuck. I've made all the right choices. I placed baby O for adoption because it was the right thing for us. I graduated from college and then from grad school because it was the next step. I dumped my ex after 2.5 years because it was the right thing for me. I met, dated, and married my hubby because it was the right choice for us. For the last five years I have made the best choices I could. And now I'm angry that even when you make all the right choices, life doesn't go the way you want it to. The next step is getting a house and having a baby. And now I get to wait years for that to happen. After already waiting 5.

I told the mister I was just disappointed, but that's not entirely true. I'm disappointed. I'm hurt. I'm angry. I'm frustrated. I'm confused. I just feel really let down. Most of that is because of my unreasonable expectations and hopes, and I know that. But really. My hubby is going to be 30 this year and I'm going to be 25. In the world of Mormons, we are already old. And now we get to wait years before we get to move past the student/newlywed/just starting out phase. I'm angry.

That said, I'm trying really hard to have a better attitude this week. I know in the long run, this time will feel so tiny. And I had all of last week to mope around and do absolutely nothing. So this week, I'm sewing a baby blessing outfit for a friend's soon to arrive baby boy, I'm dying some onesies I sold online, and I'm finishing baby presents for my new niece Jade. And I'm working 11 shifts in the next 10 days. And then I'm Flying to Houston to spend a week snuggling my new niece and sister. And even though I'm still astoundingly jealous, I'm thrilled to be going. Because nothing could make me happier than having a tiny baby in my arms--- even if she's not mine.