National Adoption Month Series: StandUpGirl and Love’s Choice

http://www.standupgirl.com

StandUpGirl is a 501(c)3 charitable organization dedicated to providing pregnant or at risk adolescent and young adult women with insight into alternatives to abortion. The mission is to change hearts and save lives by educating young women on the development of the unborn child and alternatives to abortion. Standupgirl.com is a rapidly growing website whose scope is world-wide. We have volunteer “StandUpGirls” who moderate the site’s chat rooms, blogs, forums and respond to emails – from across the United States as well as in Canada, Africa and Japan.

Young women from all over the world are coming to StandUpGirl looking for information about pregnancy. They find educational material, real answers to their questions, and a community of women they can talk to about their unplanned pregnancies. StandUpGirl.com currently has over three million visitors each year, and while it is a great encouragement to see this many young people coming to the site, we are barely scratching the surface of the potential number of visitors on the internet.

Perhaps the most important component of the website is the real-life stories of girls facing their own crisis pregnancies and how our StandUpGirl team provides personal and individual guidance and encouragement to help these women make a choice that they and their baby can live with. The team provides visitors with contact information of local pro-life pregnancy centers where they can get the support and resources they need to journey through their pregnancy. Most guests remain on the site an average of 23 minutes, looking at phenomenal fetal development photography, life-like illustrations and remarkable videos. StandUpGirl.com is one of the most visited abortion-related website in the world! This energetic and beautifully designed website can now be viewed in several foreign languages and the StandUpGirl App can be downloaded from the Android and Apple markets.

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http://www.loveschoice.com

Love’s Choice was created to take an honest look at the painful beauty of adoption, and to provide tools to help each woman honestly assess the choices before her.

For girls out there that might feel overwhelmed as they try to make the best plan for their child, Love’s Choice is here to help and encourage, providing facts about adoption and tools to help them plan for birth, and either adoption or parenting. And, most importantly, Love’s Choice shares personal stories from real people who have experienced adoption –  adopted children, adoptive parents, and other birthmothers.

We want the girls that visit Love’s Choice to make an informed, confident decision about adoption or parenting. If they choose parenting, we hope the process of answering hard questions will make them a better, more intentional mother.

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StandUpGirl and Love’s Choice are not adoption agencies, nor are they in any way affiliated with any adoption placement programs. For more information about them, please visit them at www.standupgirl.com and www.loveschoice.com and on Facebook and https://www.facebook.com/standupgirl.

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National Adoption Month Series: BraveLove – Telling the Story of Birth Mothers

The idea of BraveLove began in 2012, with a small group of people working with a local pregnancy resource center in Dallas, Texas. They witnessed their clients weren’t even considering adoption as an option when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. This observation was consistent with the National Council for Adoption’s Fact Book, which says only 2% of women faced with an unplanned pregnancy choose adoption. So often the brave act of placing a baby for adoption is viewed in a negative light, when in reality it is a selfless, difficult, and loving act a mother can make for her child. The story of the birth mother needs to be told.

As an adoptive mother, I have two adopted children and two biological children. My husband and I are immeasurably grateful to the women who carried our babies, and delivered them into this world, so I have a huge heart for these brave women who place their children for adoption. I started BraveLove to change the way our culture thinks about adoption and the women who choose to place.

Our mission is to change the perception of adoption through honest, informative, and hopeful communication that conveys the heroism and bravery a birth mother displays when she places her child with a loving family through adoption.

The heartbreaking truth is that many women facing unplanned pregnancy feel unable to care for a child. Sometimes the single-most loving thing a mother can do is place her child with a caring, eager adoptive family. We aim to invite and empower women to choose adoption.

If I could convey one message to birth parents it would be that you are loved, respected, and honored.  We recognize what you did as a great act of love for your child, and we want others to see you as the brave loving person you really are.  You gave your child what you yourself could not give.  There is no greater act of selflessness.

In the same regard, if I could convey one message to adoptive parents it would be that your child can only benefit from knowing how loved they are by all the parents (adoptive and birth) in the equation.  Every child in an adoptive situation, domestic or international, has a birth mother and birth father somewhere out there. The existence of these individuals needs to weigh upon adoptive parents as they seek to rear their children. It makes me sad that we may never know the birth parents of our adopted children. We may never be able to thank them or show them the incredible fruit of their sacrifice. As much as we are the mommies and daddies to our children, there are two other very important people out there that need to be honored, talked about, and recognized for the role they played in the child’s existence in your family.

BraveLove is so much more than I ever thought it would be!  At the very beginning, we were not quite sure who BraveLove should be targeting.  Everybody is an influencer. Everybody plays a role in a birth mother’s choice to place for adoption. Our perceptions affect the decisions others make. We want BraveLove’s message to touch everybody in a birth parent’s sphere of influence — grandparents, teachers, pastors, friends and family, so that when birth parents decide to place for adoption, they have a network of support that can walk with them through this hard decision.  This is not just a movement for birth mothers – it’s for everybody. As we began researching and asking questions, it became loud and clear that the birth parent story was one that needed to be told. It is our honor to provide a platform of support and encouragement to these unsung heroes of adoption.

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Ellen Porter, the Founder of BraveLove, lives in Dallas, TX with her family and works with a dynamic team to run the organization. For more information about them and to read some amazing stories, letters and interviews with real birth moms, please visit them at www.bravelove.com and connect with them on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

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November is Adoption Month and M2M Wants to Hear From YOU

There is nothing more beautiful to me than the strong women who make up the two sides of adoption motherhood. First, the woman who makes the brave choice to endure 9 months of pregnancy and several hours of labor pains to give life and a future to a child, and then hand him or her over to another. And secondly, the woman who receives that baby to love and raise as if it were her own flesh and blood. Both are mothers and both deserve to have a whole month to celebrate their roles. Of course there are so many other influencing components in the complexity of adoption…the adoptee themselves, siblings, aunts and uncles and grandparents on both sides, adoption counselors, agencies, legal team and caseworkers. The list can go on and on. Adoption touches so many different people and in many diverse ways.

It is one of my favorite causes to champion for, partly because of my own experiences with adoption. You can read more about that here, or for ALL the messy details, you can order a copy of the book I wrote about my journey to choosing adoption here or as an ebook for Kindle here.

As we approach the adoption month of November, I want to devote the whole 30 days to others’ stories that honor it…Birth mothers, adoptive mothers, adoptees, or anyone listed above or forgotten that either play a role in helping to support adoption or has been touched by it in some way.

If you or someone you know has a story of adoption or works for or has been impacted by a reputable adoption organization that they would like to share about on M2M during the month of November, please contact me, I would love to feature them! You can email me at wynterkaiser@gmail.com.
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And now for the monthly Motherhood Monday Link Up!
Please also visit M2M on Twitter @made2mother and like on Facebook.com/madetomother!

MMLinkUp
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Grab the Link Up button!

The Made to Mother Project is dedicated to encouraging, supporting and inspiring women by sharing their stories of motherhood. I hope that this link-up will continue to grow our community of mothers. Please read the guidelines below for information on how to join!

LINK UP GUIDELINES

  • Please post family-friendly topics/websites. Bonus points if they have to do with mothering!
  • Be sure to link back to your blog post not your homepage.
  • Share the Linky love – visit a page or two linked up here and leave them a nice comment.
  • Oh, and a link back to Made to Mother using the button above or a sweet shout-out would be awesome, too!

A Little M2M Guest Post Action AND A Motherhood Monday LinkUp

Other than motherhood in general, my all-time favorite cause is for birthmothers. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like and I am passionate about championing birth moms all over the world as often and shamelessly as I can! As such, I have the joy and pleasure to network with, speak at and write for a lot of really great birth mother and adoption organizations. Some of my favorites are BraveLove, Called to Love and most recently, America Adopts. I love to take whatever opportunity I can to encourage, support and defend the cause of birth moms as all parties in the adoption triad move toward emotional and spiritual healing and closure. If you are interested in speaking with me further about adoption and birth mothers, please feel free to contact me at wynterkaiser@gmail.com!

Just last week I had the opportunity to do a guest blog post for America Adopts and I chose to speak on the misconceptions of birth mothers in our culture. Here is what I wrote:

As a birth mom I have my own story and it is unique. I think that sometimes it is easy to romanticize the ideal adoption scenario; a young girl gets pregnant and loves the baby so much that she decides to give it a better home and life than she can offer. But there is much more to my story than that typical, idealized notion. And, frankly, I think if all birth moms were really being honest with you, they would say the same thing.

I grew up in a stiflingly Christian home, church and private school. As a child and teenager I talked the talk, but deep down inside, I desired to break free and live how the rest of the world lived. So, as soon as I turned eighteen, I rebelled; and thinking I was invincible, I got involved in drinking, drugs and fooling around with boys. Eventually, my poor choices caught up with me. I was suspended from school after my freshman year in college and became pregnant shortly thereafter….

{Click here to continue reading over at America Adopts!}

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And now for the Link Up! Please also visit M2M on Twitter @made2mother and like on Facebook.com/madetomother!

Made to Mother
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Grab the Link Up button!

The Made to Mother Project is dedicated to encouraging, supporting and inspiring women by sharing their stories of motherhood. I hope that this link-up will continue to grow our community of mothers. Please read the guidelines below for information on how to join!

Link Up Guidelines

  • Please post family-friendly topics/websites. Bonus points if they have to do with mothering!
  • Be sure to link back to your blog post not your homepage.
  • Share the Linky love – visit a page or two linked up here and leave them a nice comment.
  • Oh, and a link back to Made to Mother using the button above or a sweet shout-out would be awesome, too!

Open Adoption: A Living Miracle – Megan’s Story

2007 was a horrible, terrible, no good year. Well, except for the fact that my handsome son, John Henry, was born and I didn’t die. That pretty much sums up the year. After a pregnancy plagued by a rare neurological disorder brought on by high levels of progesterone, we were sternly warned to never attempt another pregnancy. They needn’t have said a single thing to us; one was more than enough.

Our extended family had been blessed by adoption several times and we knew before John Henry was ever born that any future children would come to us through adoption. We began filling out our mountains of paperwork before John Henry was a year old and approved to adopt in January of 2009, knowing that the average wait time for a domestic adoption was a little over two years. We also knew that couples who were proactive in their adoption efforts often decreased that wait significantly. I have an MBA with an emphasis in entrepreneurship and social marketing. So we learned everything we could about domestic adoption and I threw the full force of my education and experience into promoting our desire to adopt.

One of the things that couples looking to adopt domestically are rarely told is that most of them will go through at least one failed adoption. Laws in this country protect the rights of the birth parents (as they should) to parent their child until after the birth of the baby, depending on the state, for as long as six months. (Three to seven days is a more common waiting time before a birth parent can sign relinquishment papers.)
My husband, Lincoln, and I are just over achievers, I guess. In 2009 we suffered through four failed adoptions and by November of 2009 we pulled all of our profiles down. We weren’t giving up, but we were heart broken. We needed some healing time. I believe that God often lets us get to that brokenhearted stage so that we will truly recognize and appreciate a miracle when he sends it to us.

In December of 2009 I got a call from our agency. I didn’t respond right away because I thought they were only calling to tell us that we needed to renew our home study and I didn’t want to think about that right then. A few days later I got several phone messages and an urgent email from our case worker to “Call her right away!” I finally did.
Because we had matched the very specific requirements of a potential birth mother they had sent our profile to her. She wanted to talk to us, and more so, she wanted to place with us! WHAT? We were so excited, and yet so afraid to open our hearts once again.
I talked to Lisa (*not her real name*) on the phone for the first time a week or so later and it was as if we were long lost friends. Her story was heartbreaking and I mourned with her. We spent the next several weeks getting to know her through email and over the phone.

In February I flew to Alaska several days before Lisa was scheduled to be induced. Those were precious days for me. The day I first saw her in person there was no awkwardness; we hugged as if we had known each other our whole lives and fell into the happy and comfortable conversation of old friends.
Lincoln and I spent the entire day in the hospital with Lisa the day she was induced. It was a slow and painful labor and we did what we could to make her more comfortable. Finally, more than twelve hours after her initial induction, they gave her an epidural and things moved fast from there. Our son, Leo was born late at night. I was with Lisa as she delivered. I got to cut the umbilical cord and it was one of the most miraculous experiences of my life. I cried as they handed this precious baby to Lisa. A baby who would bond two mothers together for life.
She held him and I kissed her and told her how amazing she was, and then she handed him to the nurse. I was torn. Should I go with the baby or should I stay with Lisa? As a true mother, Lisa told me what to do. I called Lincoln to come into the room and we assisted as the nurse cleaned, measured and swaddled our newborn son.

Megan

The next few days were a whirlwind of emotions. If you were under the impression that a person can only feel one emotion at a time, let me assure you that you are wrong. I was flooded by every emotion known to man, often hitting me in waves, one after another, without respite. But in the chaos of feelings swirling around the adults, the perfect calm of a sweet, new baby anchored us and we moved forward.
Lincoln had to return to Washington to his job and our older son. I stayed behind in Alaska, waiting for clearance to leave the state and for an opening on a flight back to the lower 48. Lisa and I spent at least part of everyday together. We took turns holding our precious boy, kissing him, feeding him and smelling him.
Some might think this would have been difficult for Lisa; spending so much time with the child she had carried, nurtured and given birth to, but would not be parenting. I’m sure it wasn’t the easiest thing in the world, but she cherished the time to tell him how much she loved him and to say goodbye. Like most birth mothers, Lisa is an amazingly strong woman.
Some might think this would have been difficult for me, ‘allowing’ Leo’s birth mother to spend so much time with him, to cuddle him and to bond with him. Some might assume I would feel threatened or anxious that she would change her mind. But they would be wrong. I would not have had it any other way.

Lisa and I share the bond of motherhood; each of us giving Leo something that the other could not. We both love our son fiercely, and each of us have and will continue to make great sacrifices to ensure he is given the very best we can give him.
Leo is now four years old. He is a little tank, full of energy and kisses for his mama. He loves dinosaurs and puzzles. I talk to Lisa often, on the phone and online. I try to get Leo to talk to her too, but the most we ever get out of him is “hi!” before he is off running again. We are also friends on Facebook. She watches Leo grow and shares in the journey. I get support from her as I parent, someone to ask about medical concerns and best of all, the knowledge that Leo will know his birth mama and know how much he is loved by both of us. We are planning a vacation together for later this year.

Adoption is a miracle. Open adoption is a living miracle. It takes work. It takes strength. Its rewards are infinite.

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Megan is a mother who, in her search to grow her family, has become very passionate about adoption. She wants others to have access to the fruits of her obsessive need to educate herself on such an important topic.
She is married to the most wonderful man on the planet (who is terribly good looking as a bonus!) and is called Mama by a precocious and delightful six year-old and a loving and sweet four year-old little tank.
You can find more information about adoption from some of Megan’s favorite blogs, http://adoptionfyi.blogspot.com and http://birthmothers4adoption.blogspot.com.

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Brave Love: Championing the Cause of the Birth Mom

Made to Mother is dedicated to supporting, encouraging and inspiring all mothers. And I believe that one of the greatest unsung mothering heroes is the birth mom. Being a birth mom myself I understand the spectrum of birth mothers that are out there from the drug-addicted or homeless woman to the scared 16 year old or anyone else not ready to be a mother…and every birth mom in between. Birth mothers are not cookie cutters and each of them have their own, unique story. But they do share one, valiant trait; they chose life for the baby inside them, no matter how unwanted or unplanned it was.
Our culture today makes it so easy for a woman to abort; even young teenagers can now get an abortion without their parent’s consent. And what’s worse? The state will pay for it!!! But who pays the emotional price tag? The woman is most always alone in that.
For over ten years I kept secret the fact that I was a birth mom to a little boy 13 years ago, and with it, I held on to fear, shame and self-loathing all those years. But when I finally wrote my book and became honest with my friends and family who had no idea about my past, I was overwhelmed by the weight that was lifted from me and the peace of no longer having to live in the shadow of my secret. And since then, I have been blessed beyond measure to see God use that story and transform it into a beautiful testimony of His endless Grace, provision and healing.
In the time since I have also been able to meet some amazing people and organizations, one of which I want to share today. Brave Love is an incredible nonprofit whose mission is to change the perception of adoption through honest, informative, and hopeful communication that conveys the heroism and bravery a birth mother displays when she places her child with a loving family through adoption. They believe that often the brave act of placing a baby for adoption is viewed in a negative light, when in reality it is a selfless, difficult, and loving act a birth mother can make for her child. Preach it, sisters and I will turn the pages!
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I have been blessed to share my own story with them and be a part of a wonderful group of people that can champion and give a voice to thousands of other women who are still trapped by grief, fear and shame. Please click on the button above and check out this amazing organization and be a part of the life-changing work they are doing for adoption and mothers everywhere. You can read my featured story on Brave Love’s blog here.

Every Woman Has A Mama-Heart

I started this project because I realized that in my thirty-ahem-something years, I have been positively influenced by many women, but I have also had the joy to be able to encourage and mentor others as well. I believe that women were designed by God for close relationships…not just with their spouses and biological or adopted children, but with all kinds of other people. As women, we problem-solve through communication, find comfort and are encouraged by community and we are wired for emotional attachment, nurturing and taking care of others. It is my sincere belief that you do not have to have a child to be a mother. A mother is simply a woman who loves, guides, supports and reassures someone else, regardless of relation, legality or age. So in that regard, every woman is a mother and we were made to mother.

The opportunity to mother follows us throughout our lives and we all have our own unique and moving stories about the women who mothered us and the people we have a chance to mother as well. These stories are inspiring and heartwarming and whether they move us to laughter or to tears, they exude a powerful message of hope and ignite a spirit of comradery among women on the huge and diverse battlefield that we call ‘a mother’s love.’
This made me think that there should be a place where women can come together, even if it is through a computer screen. A place where women can read about each other’s trials and triumphs and feel encouraged, uplifted and find strength in that they are not alone; that someone else has experienced the joys or heartaches they are going through and be refreshed and renewed knowing there are others out there with the same struggles. That there is life on the other side! Stories of motherhood and the bond of womankind can be like that. Since the beginning of time, women have been encouraged, supported and influenced by other women. I want to share those stories.

I’ll kick this off by sharing mine and I hope that perhaps you’ll let me share yours.

I am who I am today because of several women’s impact on me over the course of my entire life; first, by my own mother, who I followed around and idolized as most little girls do. I wanted to watch and help with everything she did whether it was cooking, cleaning or the way she lived her life. As I grew, so did the number of influential “mothers” for me; babysitters, aunts, other girls’ moms, teachers and the cool, teenage girls that I looked up to and wanted to be just like. As I grew into young adulthood, I found more women to admire; famous personalities, my new sister-in-law and older friends that I could turn to for advice and mentoring. Sometimes it was just an acquaintance or someone I hardly knew that would be in my life for only a brief time, but, even today, I could say they had a large impact on the adult I would become. And, even now, I am still being impacted every day by the women I interact with, shaping who I will become tomorrow and years down the road.

My own evolution into motherhood started when I was very young. I grew up the youngest child in my immediate family and as such, I never got to experience having younger siblings to take care of. That always sort of bothered me, so I made up for it by pretending that my dolls, younger cousins and some of my little friends were my little sisters and brothers. While my peers and I dreamed of being doctors, astronauts or ballerinas when we grew up, new dreams came and went, but the thing that always stuck in the back of my mind was to become a wife and mother. Even as a young kid, I loved small children. In middle school, I began volunteering in my church’s nursery and babysitting for family friends. By high school, I had several, regular families that I babysat weekly and I spent many hours imagining the man of my dreams, our wedding and finally, the family of 3 or 4 kids that we would have and raise together.

At one point when I was a young teenager, Elisabeth Elliot, famous author and wife to martyred missionary Jim Elliot, came to our church to speak at a ministry to women conference. My mom and I attended her session themed, “Called To Be Mothers.” She said to us that all women in some way are called by God to be mothers and that it, more than any other job, is the highest esteemed profession we could ever receive. No matter how young or how old we are, whether we marry and have children of our own or not, that calling never expires. It simply shifts to fit a different part to play in different people’s lives, but whatever the role, being a mother to someone will always come out of it. It is how we were created; it is what we are called to be.
Even as a child, Ms. Elliot’s words rang so clear to me and only strengthened my resolve in the life I wanted some day. Of course, in true immature young adult fashion, I was distracted from this goal many times over the next few years. But even amidst high school graduation, college days, frat parties, sorority rush, college graduation and first jobs, the desire to follow my calling to be a mother was always in the back of my mind. I would examine my life and ask myself, would this boyfriend be my future husband? Is this city a good place to raise a family? Would this job hire me if they knew I plan to quit as soon as I have our first baby?

There were a couple of undeniable setbacks in my ideal situation. As a freshman in college at 18, I thought I had found “the one,” but after a series of bad choices and inevitable consequences, I ended up suspended from school, broken hearted and back home with my parents. I dated other guys, made more foolish choices and got pregnant at 20. It was not the way I had imagined my family would start, nor was it with the man of my dreams. I was still in college so had no home to raise the baby in, aside from my parent’s, or a job to support it. As such, it was not an option in my mind to keep the baby and I never even considered raising it as my own. I knew there was a good family out there and when I found them and placed him in their arms and they took him home, I did not grieve about being unable to keep him. I was his mother, but he was not mine to keep; my role in his life was to simply carry him for someone else. You can read more about that story here.
I learned from that experience that I wanted to have a family the right way, so I worked harder and prayed more fervently for that to happen one day. I wish I could say that I never made any more mistakes, but of course that wouldn’t be true. However, I did get the wonderful pleasure to mother in other ways. I continued to volunteer as a mentor to young kids in my church and a cabin counselor at my favorite summer youth camp. And, eventually I became an aunt, which was the best and most favorite mothering role up until that time.

When I met my husband and had children of our own, I felt my mama-heart complete being able to do what I had dreamt long ago; stay home and raise them each day. Of course it is by no means an easy job. Sometimes I feel like it is as full of frustration and helplessness as it is joy and happiness. I am by no means a perfect mother. I make mistakes and have to ask for my children’s forgiveness daily, but I have never felt a love for anyone in the way I feel love for my children. It is indescribable. I would do anything, become anyone and sacrifice everything for them. When they hurt physically or emotionally, I literally feel the same pain in my heart. And when their little faces light up with excitement, joy or happiness at a new discovery, accomplishment or thrill, I am right there with them, experiencing it for the first time again.

As our children grow and we add to our community of neighbors and friends, I continue to have the pleasure of mothering others. From the kids I get to teach and play with in Sunday school at church, to helping a friend by watching her kids, or even being able to encourage young adults and mothers that I meet through doing life with others. I am living the calling that I had as a young girl and continuing the legacy of motherhood I received by the women who in many ways were mothers to me. And I enjoy being able to pass the torch of motherhood on to my own daughters and the other girls and young women I meet, just as we are called by scripture to do in Titus 2:4. I also hope to accomplish this through the Made to Mother Project, by allowing women all over the world to share and be encouraged and inspired by the diverse stories of different kinds of mothers. Would you like to add your voice? If so, I would love to hear from you! You can email me at wynter@madetomother.com, and for more information about Made to Mother or to read the many amazing stories that have already been submitted, please visit the website, www.madetomother.com.

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