Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wow...I can't believe the turn out we had last night at the Mary Meehan event! Thanks to everyone who came to listen to a spectacular woman who had a lot to say about why liberals and feminists should defend the unborn. The question and answer session at the end was my favorite part! Incredibly insightful. And a local high school teacher even offered extra credit to his students for coming. It gives me hope to see how many young people are getting educated and becoming involved in the pro-life movement. One point that Ms. Meehan made is the fact that liberals have a long history of defending "the little guy" (anti-slavery movement, yes?). So why should the issue of abortion be any different? Are the unborn not the most vulnerable and helpless of all? Food for thought. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm against abortion. But even more than just being opposed to abortion, I am for finding alternatives and choices that don't hurt women. Abortion hurts women, and therefore I don't recognize it as a real choice. According to Feminists for Life of America, "abortion is a reflection that we have not met the needs of women." I think we need to stop arguing about whether abortion is right or wrong, and start doing something to solve the problem. Because that's what it is--a huge problem. Abortion is such a hotly debated and sensitive issue, and I'm well aware of what I'm up against. But that's the's such an important issue to me that I don't care what's popular and what's not. And I don't care if you agree with me or not. What I do care about are the women. The women who are going through crisis pregnancy situations just like I did four years ago. I would never want to promote an option, like abortion, that ended up hurting them (emotionally, physically, psychologically, etc. etc. etc.) even further. My heart truly goes out to any woman who is dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. It makes me hurt to think that someone out there is going through the same emotions and struggle that I went through. I never want to hear a woman say, "if only I had known about open adoption, I would have never gotten an abortion..." I can only hope that my story and my passion for helping women will change at least one abortion-minded woman's decision and that she will chose the best choice of all--life! There are so many couples out there looking to adopt. And even more couples than ever before are open to the idea of having an open adoption. What a wonderful option to explore! Mary Meehan says, "speak with your own voice and sing your own song." ...I think I'll do just that!


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The NCSU student mom meet and greet went wonderfully on Friday! Thank you to the student moms and to the Real Choices members who came to help out and make the event a success! This is only the beginning of a great social network for student moms! Tonight's the BIG night: Mary Meehan presents: "why liberals and feminists should defend the unborn" at Talley Student Center (Walnut Room) at 7:00 p.m. Please come and show your support for Real Choices and our parenting students at NC State! email for more information -Amstel


Friday, April 24, 2009

I stayed up until 12:00am last night painting the free expression tunnel at NC State to advertise for the Student Mom Meet and Greet. I hope that people see it and decide to stop by today! I'd like to think I didn't put my right arm through that much trauma for nothing. Today is the last day of classes ever for my entire undergraduate college career. It's sort of bittersweet. Four years ago I didn't think I was even going to college. I was going to be a stay at home mom, working part-time and taking care of a beautiful baby girl. But things didn't work out the way that I had planned. And I couldn't be more thankful for that. "If you want to hear God laugh tell him your plans," right? I never cried after high school graduation because I was ready to get out. I couldn't wait to move away from the criticism, the whispers and the stares. I saw my classmates' teary eyes at graduation and it just didn't affect me. It was like in the movie The Holiday when Cameron Diaz cannot muster a tear for the life of her. Sure, I was sad to move away from all of my friends and the people who truly cared about me, but I was numb. I didn't have any emotion. Today, I feel alive again. I come from a place of self-acceptance and empathy for other women dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. It's been an amazing four years, and I'm finally ready to graduate. But I think the real journey has just begun. And today, it's going to be hard not to cry...


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Real Choices is a student organization that advocates resources for pregnant, parenting and post-abortive women on campus and in the community. As president, I've been working tirelessly to host two final events on campus at NC State before I try not to wipe-out in my heels during my graduation ceremony on May 9th. Here's a brief description of those amazing upcoming events: 1) NCSU Student Mom Meet & Greet - Are you both a student and a mom? Real Choices is hosting NCSU's first 'Student Mom Meet & Greet" at Lake Johnson Park (Shelter 1 to the left of the boathouse) on Friday April 24, 2009 from 5-7:00 p.m. All student moms, their children, and anyone who wants to join Real Choices is welcome to attend this free event. Dinner, refreshments and fun will be provided so please come help us establish a strong network of support for student moms on campus! Also, if you'd like to cook/bake something for the event, it would be much appreciated. Contact for more information. 2) Liberals for life? That's right! Washington D.C. native and freelance writer, Mary Meehan, will present "Why Liberals and Feminists Should Defend the Unborn" at NC State University. The event will be held in the Walnut Room of Talley Student Center at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday April 28, 2009. An engaging question and answer session will follow Ms. Meehan's presentation. Pro-life? Pro-choice? It doesn't matter....we encourage all students, faculty and community members to attend this free event. Contact or visit -------------------------- Your presence at both of these events would mean soooooo much to me. I'd love you forever if you came to support a cause that I am so passionate about. Also, I want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has given me positive feedback on Amstel Life. I cannot tell you how much it means to have your support and encouragement, so thank you! If you've been reading my blog often, please become a follower! Or even link it to your facebook page. It's time to spread the good news about open adoption and you can make that happen. Love you guys! Amstel :)


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

So it's June of 2005. I'm 8 months pregnant, I look like I swallowed a basketball, and I'm at the Montour Heights Country Club in Pittsburgh with Robbie's family. It's right before my high school graduation, and I'm trying to enjoy the last few days in Moon Township before I have to make the final move to North Carolina to have the babe. I have on my navy blue Mimi Maternity swimsuit (the cutest swimwear you'll ever see on a pregnant woman) and I'm wading in the pool with Robbie's sister Jacqueline (who happens to be my best friend) and some of her younger cousins. Robbie's 7-year-old cousin swims up to me, looks me up and down, and then asks, "Are you going to have a baby?" Uh-oh, how the heck am I going to explain this one? "Umm, yes, I'm going to have a baby." She then asks, "Well are you married?" BIG uh-oh. "No, I'm not married, but I'm old enough to be married," I cautiously explained to her. 'Well then how come you're going to have a baby?" Yikes...she's a spry one! I knew I couldn't explain the real story to a 7-year-old, so I sort of gave her an answer that I quickly made up on the spot. Words just started pouring out. "Remember how God asked Mary if she would have a baby named Jesus, and Mary said yes? Well God asked me if I would have a baby...and I told him that I would. So now I'm going to have a baby for a family who really wants a baby to love." Wow. I thought about what I had just said. I was surprised at how quickly I came up with an answer. Pat on the back for me! Except, wait a minute! I just compared myself to the Virgin Mary! That was probably a huge sin in itself! But I couldn't think of anything better to tell such an innocent little girl. She looks up at me and seems quite satisfied with my answer. "Oh," she says with acceptance. "Whew, she bought it!" I thought triumphantly. No more explaining to do! But after pondering my answer for a minute longer, she turns around and asks me mischievously, "Does Robbie know you're going to have a baby?" "Uhhh, yes, I'm pretty sure he does" I said trying to hold back a huge smile.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Immediately after the incident happened with Dr. Parker, (and after finally removing myself from the fetal position on the bench outside Ledford Hall) I decided I had to tell someone what happened. I had nowhere to turn except the Meredith College Counseling Center. I had always made it a point to avoid that place. It was sort of creepy looking, I always told myself that counseling was for people who weren't mentally tough enough to cope with their problems. "I'm tough enough," I thought stubbornly. But this day was different. I stumbled into the counseling center, fighting back tears. After telling the receptionist what happened, she was absolutely astounded at how I was treated by a member of their faculty. I decided to mention the fact that I just had a baby who was placed in an adoption to make the story more applicable to why I was reacting this way. When I finished telling the whole story, I finally realized just how much I had been through. I always had this defense mechanism that sort of allowed me to pretend like it wasn't true. That I never actually had a baby and that I wasn't actually dealing with the aftermath of giving Deanna away. But on that particular day, I finally accepted what I had been through and I completely broke down. The receptionist went to get another counselor, and I realized that I must have caused quite a stir that day. I'm sure they were used to girls coming in to address issues associated with transitioning to college life or about issues related to depression or anxiety. But never about something like this! "Hi, I'm Amy. I just had a baby out of wedlock, placed her in an adoption, I'm dealing with depression, I hate your school, oh, and a member of your faculty just told me I didn't care about kids. Do you have anything to take care of that?" I was assigned to a counselor named Angel, who had young kids of her own. Apparently, the receptionist thought that would help us to make a connection. Angel and I talked for a long time, and I agreed to meet with her again. I couldn't deny the connection. It sort of felt like I was chatting with an old friend. A friend who cared about my problems and helped me to realize that I was being too hard on myself. We met every two weeks until I finished at Meredith the following spring. It was the only way I was able to cope with my decision. I felt a little bit better every time I went to see Angel, and that's what kept me coming back. When I transferred to NC State, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Angel had coincidentally accepted a job at NC State Counseling Center. We continued with our sessions for the next two years, and I slowly tapered off after that. It was sad that I didn't need her anymore, but it was such an incredible accomplishment to finally be in such an accepting place in my life! In preparation to graduate college in two weeks, I've been attempting to tie up all of those loose ends. I decided to make an appointment with Angel this past week to update her on my life. I hadn't seen her for about a year, so I was anxious to give her the great news about where my life is going! When we met on Friday morning, it was just like old times, except instead of telling her about all of the bad things in my life, I told her about all of the good things. Granted, I still have alot of things I need to work on, and I'll never be perfect, but I can finally speak about my decision from a place of self-acceptance. A self-acceptance that I could have never achieved without her. I used to be ashamed to tell people that I went to the counseling center, but that's not the case anymore. Counseling is something that I am proud to promote. After all, Angel is really and truly the only reason I have been able to move forward with my life and to accept my decision, and I cannot thank her enough. I encourage anyone who is dealing with a problem, no matter how big or small, to visit their school counseling center. After all, as Angel always expressed to me, "counseling is for normal people with normal problems!" Meeting with Angel a final time has given me the last bit of closure that I needed to know that I'm okay. I'm now ready to go out with a bang from NC State University and to share my wonderful open adoption story with the world. "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear." -Ambrose Redmoon


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Someone recently inquired, "aren't you worried that Deanna will never have a normal life?" Hmmm. What does normal mean anyway? Does having 4 grandmas, 4 grandpas, 2 moms, 2 dads, 7 aunts, too many cousins to count, and a boat load of people who care about Deanna qualify her to be plagued as not normal? Truth be told, when is the last time we heard about a "normal" family? As De mentions in our open adoption website, today, most of us have at least one person in our family who is either a step someone, a half brother or sister, is a single parent, has special needs, is married to someone from a different country or culture, doesn't have children, has adopted children, has a child out of wedlock (ahem ahem), are grandparents raising grand kids, has a life partner, etc. etc. etc. If anything, Deanna has more people that care about her than any other person I know. What a lucky little girl! And the best part about it is that she'll always know how special she is and how many people truly care about her. If that's what "not normal" means, then sign me up today. Here's a picture of Deanna and her biological 2nd cousin Caroline. Caroline is Robbie's mom's (Mary Beth) sister's (Aunt Barbara) daughter who lives in Pittsburgh. When Deanna and Caroline get together it's probably one of the cutest things in the entire world. They love each other! Precious.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Welcome welcome welcome welcome welcome! Amstel is back in action after a mini-holiday-hiatus. Thanks for coming back to see what’s going on in my crazy life!

I had a long drive to South Carolina to visit my aunt, cousins, and immediate family members for Easter Break. Driving (in addition to blogging) is extremely therapeutic for me. I get me some Rascal Flatts for the drive and I just go to town! Anyway, I got to thinking about how the heck I ended up where I am today. Gosh, I never in a million years would have guessed that I’d be speaking about open adoption and my decision with such self-acceptance. I realized that because of the open adoption and the willingness of Don and De to allow me to remain in Deanna’s life, I have been granted a second chance.

How often do we get second chances? I never did growing up. If I messed up, I never had the chance to fix it. I learned from my mistakes and I moved on. When I screwed up big time senior year, I didn’t expect a second chance at all. I knew what I had done could not be fixed, and that was that. But after the adoption, and after a year-long “pity me” session of wallowing in my sorrow and the pain of losing my daughter, something snapped. I’ll tell you why. During my freshman year at Meredith College, I was struggling to cope with the decision I had made. All of my close friends at school knew about Deanna. I loved talking about Deanna, but I never really let anyone in on the difficult part. The part that still hurt. I made it a point to shed my tears behind closed doors, where nobody could see me falling apart.

I had two big dreams when I got to college: to become a news anchorwoman or to become an elementary school teacher. I was at a crossroads and I needed guidance. I arranged a meeting with a professor in the Education Department to talk about the possibility of majoring in Communication and getting my teaching license so I could do either one. I was not prepared for what happened next. During our meeting, this woman, Dr. Parker, asked me which I would rather do. I excitedly thought about my future. “I guess I’d like to try for the broadcasting first, and if that doesn’t work out I’d love to try teaching. But I’d honestly be happy doing either one.” She immediately took her glasses off and stared me down. “Miss Hutton, if you think education is something you can just ‘fall back on,’ then I suggest you find another career. Teaching is for those who honestly care about children.”

Wow. Stunned. Silence. Tears. “But, that’s not what I meant…I do care about children!” I fought through the tears. Did she have any idea what I had been through for the past year of my life? When I left her office, I found my way blindly through the hallway. Everything was a blur. It was after 5:00 pm, so nobody was around on campus. I curled up on a bench outside of Ledford Hall and I bawled my eyes out. I had reached the lowest point I had ever been in my entire life. The head of the Education Department just told me I didn't care enough about children to become a teacher.

When I had the strength to get off of the bench that day, something in me snapped. If this woman who didn’t even know me thought I didn’t care about children, what did others think? Did they think I didn't care about children too? And what would Deanna think of me years down the road? That I didn’t care enough about her to keep her? I decided on that day that I was leaving Meredith College and I was never looking back. I made it a point to do everything in my power to prove to myself and to Deanna that I had made the right decision.

I got involved and I went above and beyond what I ever thought possible. I transferred to NC State and became president of Real Choices, a student organization that advocates resources for pregnant and parenting students on campus. I became arch regent of the Golden Chain Society, the highest honor bestowed upon the top 12 rising seniors at NC State. I volunteered at and established alliances with local crisis pregnancy centers, and I taught 8th grade Sunday school. I interned as Community Content Liaison, Video Expert Intern, and News Desk Intern at NBC 17 and Communication Intern at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society during four separate internships. I worked as a Public Relations Representative for Raleigh Neurology, a sports reporter for Wolf TV, and I helped to create the NCSU Service-Learning Funding Committee, a committee that provides grants to students wishing to participate in a service-learning experience with a local nonprofit. I started speaking openly about my experience with open adoption, I began going to church every week, and I remembered to thank God every single day. But most importantly, I did all of these things while still maintaining a relationship with the most important little girl in the world.

It took me an awful long time to mentally overcome that experience with Dr. Parker. And since then, I’ve encountered many “Dr. Parkers” (roadblocks, challenges) during the past 4 years of my Amstel Life. But each and every one of these experiences has given me the motivation to do more than I ever thought possible. If I saw Dr. Parker today, I wouldn't be mad. I'd probably just tell her thank you. Thank you for giving me the kick in the ass that I needed to stop wallowing in my sorrow and to go out and make something of my life. For helping me to realize that I actually did have a second chance.

Oh yeah, and I really do care about children.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

De approached my with a great idea this past December when we were in Birmingham Alabama for the bowl game to cheer on Robbie during his last NC STATE football game. After the game, as everyone was enjoying celebratory beverages at the Sheraton Hotel, De told me that she had an idea to start a website about our open adoption. She envisioned the website explaining what open adoption is and how our open adoption has worked out. It would include pictures, details about our story, and frequently asked questions. She also wanted to include Robbie's, Don's, De's, and my family's answers to specific questions pertaining to their feelings before, during, and after the adoption of Miss Deanna Marie. Well thanks to De and her amazing web design skills, the website is now a reality! It's still a work in progress, but here it is: Check back often, as the page will be continually updated. Hopefully you will get a glimpse into everything that our wonderful open adoption entails. Enjoy!


Friday, April 3, 2009

My roommate Emily and I sort of laughed it off when we heard the announcement in church last summer. "We are in desperate need of Sunday school teachers. Requires very little time commitment and a whole lot of fun!" We sat there half smiling and nervously nudging each other. 'We couldn't...we shouldn't...well....maybe?" Teaching a class of 8th graders has been a lot of fun, but it has also been fairly challenging. These kids ask us tough questions that nobody really knows the answer to. "What happens when we get to heaven?" "How do we know which religion is the right one?" And my personal fav, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" Hmmm. "Why do bad things happen to good people?" I remember this question going through my head repeatedly when I found out I was pregnant. "Why me?" I thought about all the people I knew who were sexually active, many of whom didn't use protection and had multiple partners. In my mind, I contrasted my situation with theirs. Here I was, a genuinely good Catholic girl who was in a committed, long-term relationship of one year, had always used protection, and could count the number of times I engaged in that type of "activity" on one hand. One hand. Sure, I meandered off the straight and narrow path once or twice, but did this slight error in judgment warrant me having to lose everything? I didn't think so, and I stayed mad for a long time. During the past few weeks, I slowly began piecing together a series of "coincidences." I thought about the things that happened to get me where I am today. I remembered that during my senior year of high school, I had given a passionate speech opposing abortion to the entire school right before the 2004 Presidential debate. It was right after school on that exact same day that I found out I was pregnant. I don't think I was a very likely candidate to experience an unplanned pregnancy in the first place. The odds were stacked so high against me and I thought that I had done everything the right way. Seriously, less than 5 times? Are you kidding me? That never happens. I thought back to the speech I gave. Was it just a coincidence that I happened to find out about my pregnancy on the exact same day? Or was it something more--an opportunity to show others a little something about standing up for what you believe in and practicing what you preach. Don and De usually kept their desire to adopt pretty "hush, hush." When they randomly met Robbie's parents at a Christmas party in 2004, they asked Don and De why they didn't have children. They decided to open up and be honest about it. They didn't have to, but for one reason or another, they felt comfortable enough to disclose that personal information with their new acquaintances. Mr. Leonard offered to notify his sister-in-law in Pennsylvania, who is an Ob/Gyn who has placed many babies in successful adoptions, that De and Don were looking to adopt. Less than two months later, Don and De find out that Amy and Robbie are having a baby. More coincidences. De and I are almost exactly the same height. Don and I both have light hair and bright blue eyes. De and Robbie both have dark brown hair and pretty brown eyes that are squinty when they smile. My family and De's family are both pretty quiet and reserved. Don's family and Robbie's family are larger and louder. It turns out that Robbie would go on to play Division I football at NC State, the same school Don graduated from and has lifetime rights and season tickets. You want more? De and Deanna have the same blood type. Pretty crazy, huh? So back to the question, why do bad things happen to good people? Looking back at my experiences, I stumbled upon an answer that I was satisfied with. This actually wasn't a bad thing at all. In fact, it was the best thing that has ever happened to me. But I didn't realize it until now. I spent so much time being angry and questioning that I never really saw that God had a plan for me. I've come to find that He knew exactly what He was doing all along. So, God doesn't make bad things happen to good people. Everything we are faced with, whether good or bad, happens for a reason; it's all just a test of our trust and faith in Him. Perhaps God has something greater in store for us than we could ever possibly imagine for ourselves. Each challenge is an opportunity for us to take our seemingly impossible situations and turn them into positive examples for others to learn from. I may not have all of the answers for my 8th graders, but drawing from my past experiences has helped me to try and find answers for those though questions. And if I still don't know the answer? "Why don't you ask Miss Emily?" I tell them :)