Motherhood Survey Results – Feedback from Carolyn

In our ongoing survey of women, we ask two questions to first-time moms of age 35 or better to see the range of perspectives and ideas that women across the country have on the core topic of this website and upcoming book.

Sharon: Did you get any Advanced Maternal Age stamp or have that label applied to you? 

Carolyn.: I adopted so I did not have such a stamp.

Sharon: Do you identify yourself as an “Older Mom”? If yes, what does that mean to you?

Carolyn: Yes.  Generally when I use the phrase “older mom” I am comparing my age to the mothers of most of my daughter’s friends.

Share your thoughts – we’d love to hear from you

Jess’ Story

Jess and her son

Jess and her son

Originally published on the blog for Without Child, The Advanced Maternal Age Project brings our audience a unique story of motherhood.

I knew well before I met my husband that I would have trouble conceiving.

I found out in my early twenties that I had PCOS, making conception a challenge. After divorcing my college sweetheart after a four-year starter marriage, I started to stock away money just in case I never met Mr. Right.

I knew I wanted to be a mother, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to be someone’s wife again.

So, I made a plan; an adoption plan.

A few of my friends had adopted children from Guatemala. The children were healthy and the parents were happy. I wanted to be a mother, so adoption seemed like the right choice for me as a single woman.

I set my mind on adopting a baby from Guatemala as soon as I had enough money saved for the entire process.

A couple of years later, when I had almost met my adoption goal, I found Mr. Right and got married. We immediately attempted to start our family the old fashioned way. It didn’t work.

After years of infertility treatments and pregnancy loss, we decided to stop trying and make a new plan. At first we considered surrogacy. Then we decided to let go of our genetics (easier said than done for many, including my husband) and begin the adoption process.

Although rare, it was relatively easy for me to transition from infertility and loss to adoption.

I had made that decision years before and even had my adoption savings still in the bank “just in case” adoption would become our path.

I never felt a strong attachment to my genes or the need to pass them along. My sister did a lovely job of that for our family.

Having lost a baby in the beginning of my third trimester was a major factor in my ability to move forward with adoption. The odds of losing another baby were high for me and I had zero interest in going through that again.

I wanted and needed to know that there would be a baby at the end of whatever road we chose.

Adoption offered the best odds to ensure that would happen.

As for my husband and his family, giving up on having a biological child was a challenge to say the least. Being an only child, he felt a huge responsibility to pass on his genes along with his family name.

For him, adoption meant the end of his family’s Danish heritage and bloodline. There was an extreme finality to our decision that affected him deeply. Therefore, committing to the process took him much longer.

I don’t think he was truly convinced that we made the right decision until we met our son and he showed the fighting spirit, resilience, strength, and intelligence that surpassed either of our gene pools.

My son is our child – without a doubt.

He has a fabulous sense of humor. He loves robots (like my husband) and wants to play the guitar (like me). He is my right hand man in the kitchen and loves trail running with my husband. He is like us in so many ways.

And parenting him is just as challenging, rewarding, exhausting, and amazing no matter whose blood is pumping through is little body.

Transracial parenting does come with its ups and downs, which is a topic for a future post. But for the most part, the day to day parenting is exactly the same no matter if a child is adopted or not.

Bottom line: it’s the hardest job I’ve ever had and it makes me constantly question my decisions, intelligence, and abilities…and I love it!

People tell me and my husband all the time how lucky our son is to have loving parents, a safe home, and an endless supply of nutritious food at his disposal. We typically reply, “We are the lucky ones!”

If you are reading this and contemplating adoption as your next step toward parenthood, perhaps one day you will look into the face of a child that looks nothing like you and hear the word, “Mama” or “Dada”, and feel like the luckiest person on the face of the earth.

Jess Pedersen is a health coach, amateur guitarist, lover of words, part-time marketing guru, and addict of real wholesome tasty food. She also loves to help all women find and nourish their inner Mama, is a contributor to this website and writes for her own BeMamaBeWell.com, She is on Facebook, and on Twitter via @BeMamaBeWell.

Share your own story.

An Interview: Jeany’s* Story

 

Co-founder Sharon Interviewed Jeany about Her Story.


Sharon: Tell me about your family and who is in it?

 

Jeany: My family includes me, my husband Donald, and our 1-year-old biological son named Donel. My husband has two children from a former relationship, a son aged 19 and a daughter aged 12, who do not live in our home.

 

Sharon:  At what age did you start trying to start a family?

Jeany: When I was 34 we started to try to conceive. I had married at age 31. My husband is 8 years older than me and he had a preference not to be changing diapers at age 50. He had been through that with his other children, my step-children. We had no idea how long it would take for me to get pregnant. I knew that my age might be a factor.

Sharon: What life choices or circumstances led you to that point?

Jeany:  I worked hard to get my Ph.D. in psychology when I was 28 and launched my career in my hometown of Washington, D.C, working with children enrolled in special education programs ranging from newborns through 21 years of age. I moved to Texas and found myself working at the Texas Youth Commission, counseling troubled kids, many of whom had records of violent criminal behavior. While working with these challenging cases, I had no desire to have children of my own. My work seemed to deter me from having children earlier, plus I wanted to be in a stable relationship.

Sharon: Why did you decide to have a child?

 

Jeany:  We were ready as a couple plus I had a new job, which I currently hold, training foster parents on issues around children’s mental health and supporting those with trauma. I cover a wide range of topics in my courses for foster parents. Someday I might seek to foster and adopt a child as well, though I would wait until my son is around 4 years of age. My father is a retired social worker who worked with foster children, many of whom I got to meet and play with in my childhood.


Sharon: Describe any of the challenges you may have encountered along the way.

 

Jeany: I was first pregnant in April 2009 and it was just a few weeks until I miscarried. Though an early loss, it was painful and caused some depression for me. I was determined to try again and had Donald’s support; however, his work then and now takes him to the Middle East regularly. We worked hard to time his vacations around my ovulation cycle, but that wasn’t always easy! On at least one occasion, he changed his schedule to be home for us to try to conceive.

Sharon: Please share your feelings from that process: getting AMA label, experiences with medical professionals, etc.

 

Jeany: When we conceived Donel in August 2010, I knew that there were additional risks around an advanced maternal age birth. I proactively took a number of measures while trying to conceive, including losing weight and exercising. I did yoga, took herbs and got some chiropractic care to improve my body’s alignment. I really took care of myself and was prepared. Our family of medical doctors were a bit skeptical, but I don’t regret taking these measures to be healthy.

The biggest challenge we faced was my preeclampsia diagnosis, which I sense may have been caused by my age. It was disappointing and made us change our birth plans from seeking natural childbirth in a birthing center to having Donel delivered in a hospital by an OB. Then, when in labor Donel’s heart rate slowed and I suddenly needed an emergency c-section. This was a big disappointment!

Sharon: Looking back on the process…do you see things differently? Is there anything you would do differently? Have your feelings changed? If so, how?


Jeany: 
I was able to deal with my early fears about having a child, removing the perceptions I had in my early career from working with troubled youth.

I had self doubt after the c-section and blamed my age. It had been my dream to have natural childbirth. I wonder if preeclampsia would have been my diagnosis at an earlier age?

Sharon:  Thinking back, do you feel good about your choice or are there things that you regret?

Jeany: I regret that I might not be able to have another child. It’s uncertain how much support I’ll receive from my husband to conceive again, or to foster and adopt. We’re talking about it now.I did it the best way for me, in terms of waiting to be married, being well into my career and certainly past my fears about the troubled children I counseled early on.


Sharon: Now that your child is 1-year old, what has been your experience as a parent? How might this be reflective of your maturity or other factors?

Jeany: My son is a delight and like all toddlers, can be quite challenging at the same time. Some days when my husband is traveling, it can be trying caring for a 1-year-old on my own. Once he’s in bed and I have time to rest and reflect and then realize that he is a true blessing. There are many women that cannot have children and I am truly happy with my choices.

Thank you for interviewing me and may I encourage other women of color to be a part of your project?

Sharon: Absolutely. We encourage this and thank you Jeany!

Jeany* was a first-time mother at age 36 and has a background in counseling psychology and works with foster families and children. She asked to be interviewed for The Advanced Maternal Age Project, which we did by phone on May 24, 2012.

Share your story.

Are You Ready to Consider Adoption?

Source: etsy.com via Leisha on Pinterest

By Jess Pedersen. Originally published on the blog for Without Child, The Advanced Maternal Age Project brings some important considerations and questions to ask yourself:

Giving up the dream to have a biological child can be intense.

For most people it is an incredibly difficult decision for many reasons:

  • After years of trying, how do you know when to say it’s time to stop?
  • Never having the opportunity to experience pregnancy and childbirth can be heartbreaking.
  • You may feel anger and resentment toward your body for not working the way you thought it should.
  • You may feel attached to your genetics, so not having a child that resembles you or your spouse may be an issue for you.
  • You may feel pressure from family members to keep trying even though you’ve reached the end of your baby-making rope.
  • Depending upon how you choose to form your family, you may have to endure insensitive comments from friends who haven’t been in your shoes.
  • Grief often accompanies the choice to stop trying to conceive, so be kind and patient with yourself and your spouse as you transition to another path toward parenthood.

When you know you’re ready to begin the journey.

Never fear…there are a few things that you can do to make the transition to adoption easier:

  • Connect with friends who have adopted and ask them a million questions, they won’t mind!
  • Start researching the adoption process by checking out different agencies online.
  • Include local agencies in your search; you will need one for the homestudy portion of the process.
  • Request information packets from the agencies that look good to you.
  • Determine your preference regarding domestic versus international adoption.
  • Find adoption support groups in your area (local agencies are great resources for these groups).
  • Keep a journal or, if you’re the sharing type, blog about the process to keep friends and family involved.
  • Stay connected with your spouse regarding your hopes and dreams for parenthood!

If you are reading this and contemplating adoption as your next step toward parenthood, perhaps one day you will look into the face of a child that looks nothing like you and hear the word, “Mama” or “Dada”, and feel like the luckiest person on the face of the earth.

Jess Pedersen is a health coach, amateur guitarist, lover of words, part-time marketing guru, and addict of real wholesome tasty food.She also loves to help all women find and nourish their inner Mama, is a contributor to this website and writes for her own BeMamaBeWell.com, She is on Facebook, and on Twitter via @BeMamaBeWell.

Writing Prompts for Submissions

Here are some prompts to help guide you in your writing.  These are meant to help get you thinking about your story.  Please don’t feel like we want you to answer all these questions or let them limit your story in any way!

Happy writing!  We look forward to reading your story.

-Sharon and Jennifer

 

  • Tell us about your family and who is in it (names not necessary).


  • At what age did you start trying to start a family?


  • What life choices or circumstances led you to that point?

 

  • Do you have biological and/or foster and/or adoptive children in your home?

 

  • Why did you decide to have a child?

 

  • Describe any of the challenges you may have encountered along the way.


  • Share your feelings from that process:  getting AMA label, experiences with medical professionals, etc.



  • How did the process affect your relationship with your spouse or partner? Friends? Family?

 

  • Looking back on the process:

-Do you see things differently?

-Is there anything you would do differently?

-Have your feelings changed? If so, how?

  

  • Thinking back, do you feel good about your choice or are there things that maybe you regret?

 

  • Now that your child is X years old, what has been your experience as a parent? How might this be reflective of your maturity or other factors?

 


Michelle’s Story

Our daughter was born a month after my husband and I were married, hundreds of miles away from us, to people who sowed the seeds of abuse and neglect. During our daughter’s early years, my husband and I were traveling, hiking, biking, remodeling a house — and not planning to add anyone else to it.

We became a cliche, and changed plans as we neared 40. After learning about foreign and domestic adoption options, we decided to invest in the U.S. foster care system. I am compelled to tell this story because many friends told us that they contemplated adoption, but were afraid of “bonding problems” from social services kids.

Stories of foreign orphans being sent back to their home country or to a ranch in Montana should send a clear message that attachment disorder is not unique to U.S. orphans.

Our adoption search began with the Adoption Exchange website, which posts pictures and profiles of children in foster care, who are available for adoption.

It took a year of looking and a couple false-start inquiries before a 10-year-old girl sounded like a match for us. After interviewing us, the social workers agreed and chose us for Rachel (not her real name). Rachel had been a “system kid” for over half her life, and frankly, her history and file scared the heck out of me and my husband. However, Rachel had my husband before we got to hello.

He said solution-oriented, man things like, “Look, she’s 10, and we’re 40. Plus, there’s one of her and two of us.”

We did not romanticize adoption or anything about this process. Completing a home study and working through the social services requirements will try anyone’s patience. Gestation is faster.

We also did not expect Rachel to be grateful for her new life. These children have lost everything, and if they have bonded with their foster parents, then they may lose them during the adoption process.

We did our homework by going for pre-adoption counseling, reading and taking a required foster parent class. “Parenting the Hurt Child” is a must read for anyone contemplating adopting children with an abuse history. Hurt children have complex emotional ages, are often medicated for their behaviors, and may not be bonded to people. Our daughter came to us with a few psychological labels and her own pharmacy in the plastic pill sorting case that made us wonder if we were adopting a child, a war veteran, or an 80-year-old.

Our adoption was finalized a few months ago and Rachel turned out to be quite a bright and resilient character. We eliminated her medications and have been working with her on filling emotional gaps, which is rewarding for all of us and exhausting for me and my husband.

Here’s a peek at what this looks like. When she pitches a fit that looks like something a 3-year-old would do, she gets a toddler time out. I’ve seen “Super Nanny,” so I know to have her sit quietly for three minutes.

Rachel plays Legos with her dad like a 5-year-old. She asked me to hold and rock her like a baby. On a recent shopping trip, I bought her women’s size 9 shoes, a bra, and a baby blanket to wrap her in as I rock her.

This is our reality and it likely sounds odd. However, this is the kind of therapeutic parenting she needs to fill in the patchwork of emotional holes that her birth family handed her, and to be a good parent to her future children.

I still get the “waiting child” update from Adoption Exchange and see more young people who could have promising and productive lives if people invest in them. My only regret in adopting our daughter is the sadness that comes from knowing that I will not have the years or the energy left in me to devote to another child after Rachel is launched into society. Perhaps someone reading this will.

 

Share your story.