Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wow, first week of the new job, long weekend at the beach, and house hunting with my best friends...crazy week! I am so glad that my blog is generating so much talk about adoption! The more comments the better. I simply ask that you be respectful. I want to share a story with you that I've only told a few people. About two years ago, I received a message on facebook from a friend I graduated high school with. She and I had a few classes together, but we never really kept in touch after graduation. So she randomly sends me a message and tells me that her mom is a labor and delivery nurse in our hometown. Her mom was assigned to assist a 17-year-old girl from our high school (I'm not sure who this girl was) as she went into labor at the local hospital. The girl started talking to my friend's mom, and she confessed that since she knew she absolutely could not raise a baby on her own, she was planning on having an abortion. However, after witnessing my entire pregnancy through high school and hearing about my experience with adoption, she ultimately decided to place her baby in an adoption. She admitted that the only reason she did not have an abortion was because of me. I can't help but get teary eyed when I think about that. Can you imagine knowing that you saved a life? It's incomprehensible. There is a person alive today because somebody out there was impacted by seeing what I had gone through. When I hear people say that adoption should never be an option because it causes a lifetime of emotional turmoil for the adopted child, I must disagree. Just as not every single adoption works out perfectly, not every adoption ends horribly either. There are plenty of people who have been adopted that speak positively about their experiences. I absolutely agree that parenting is the best option and I would never encourage somebody to place their child in an adoption if they were ready and willing to provide emotional and financial stability to their child...but unfortunately, there are situations that arise when emotion and financial support cannot be provided by the birth parents. So if adoption is not an option, women are left with only left with only one other option--abortion. And that is not acceptable to me. The way I see it, adoption is a way to save lives. Sure, there will always be the risk that the adopted child will have resentment toward the birth parents...but as we see with the example above, adoption has the power to save lives. I cannot speak for those on the other side of adoption who have that resentment, and my heart truly goes out to them...but I will continue to share my open adoption experience because I know that it has saved lives. After serving as president of Real Choices, a pro-life student organization at NC State aimed to assist student moms, I saw firsthand how little support is available to women who have chosen to raise a child while completing their education. We need to provide these resources so that if a woman does want to raise her child and continue her education, she may. What usually happens is that a woman who unexpectedly becomes pregnant feels trapped and finds that she has no way to raise a child. Although she desperately wants to keep her baby, she knows that she cannot raise a child on her own, so she decides to keep the pregnancy a secret and have an abortion. If you truly believe that adoption should not be an option, I encourage you to get involved in helping young moms who do want to keep their babies. If you feel so strongly against adoption because you had a negative experience with it, I certainly hope that you find the strength to move past your experience and help others in the same situation. Because that's certainly what I've decided to do. So, are there days that I wish I was holding Deanna's hand? Absolutely. I wouldn't be human if I didn't miss her. But by helping student moms who struggle to make ends meet and by knowing that I saved lives, I have found closure and I speak from a place of self-acceptance. I don't think I made the right decision...I know that I made the right decision. I consider myself a woman of deep faith, and I have a close and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The day Deanna was born I made a deal with God. We talked alot about my decision. I prayed, I listened, and I made my decision based on what God told me was right. The only thing I asked of Him was that He would not let me regret my decision. Every faithful, He has not broken His promise. Deanna will ultimately have the final say in whether our open adoption was a success. I won't put words into her mouth or speak for her. She is her own person. We can only put this in God's hands and pray that the love Deanna has been given by so many people in her life will be enough for her to accept the decision I made. God has a plan for each of us, and this is the path that He has chosen. "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved" -Ephesians 1:5,6 It might not be the popular thing to do--to defend life or to promote adoption--but I'm okay with that. If I were to die tomorrow, I would die knowing that I have an incredible relationship with Jesus Christ, that I gave my daughter the gift of life and a wonderful family, and most importantly, that I spent the rest of my life defending what I truly believe is right. "Cowardice asks the question, Is it safe? Expedience asks the question, Is it politic? Vanity asks the question, Is it popular? But conscience asks the question Is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must make it because his conscience tells him that it is right..." -Martin Luther King


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Here's a picture of me and my beloved graduation gift from Don... I told you I had an obsession with watermelon. Okay, so I've been asked to blog about how our families have handled the hurtful comments from people about the adoption. I guess we've always had people questioning our open adoption arrangements since the beginning. People don't always believe that it works as wonderfully as we say it does. But I'm here to tell you that it truly does work. Granted, it hasn't always been easy, and there have been some really tough times, but in the end it all comes down to doing what's best for Deanna. It's amazing to think that the love of one little girl resulted in an inseparable bond between four families. That's how we make it work. But then there's always those people who doubt. The ones who honestly can' t believe that something so wonderful could be true, and they simply want to rain on the parade. It's hard not to read into some of the hurtful things people say. Here are some of the things we have heard: "Did you not have a baby because you didn't want to get fat?" (to De). "Won't it be too confusing for Deanna?" "Did you get pregnant on purpose?" "Having a baby is going to hurt like hell!" (don't ever say that to a pregnant woman. ever.) "Aren't you jealous when you let the birth mother see Deanna?" "Why would you ever want to adopt a child that's not your own?" I was very hesitant to do the News and Observer article at first because I know firsthand how nasty people can be. Adoption still carries a stigma, and I just knew that someone out there would say something negative about the article. But then I thought about my favorite quote. And I decided to do the article anyway. The quote? "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather, the judgment that something else is more important than fear." And I thought about how many people the article had the potential to positively impact versus the number of people who would criticize. And I knew the answer. I had to share our story. One of the comments on the News & Observer website said, "I find it extremely strange that the adopters, De and Don, DO consider themselves parents. They are certainly caretakers, but they are not parents. It's sad that so many people have believed the adoption lies and Amy's beautiful daughter will grow up with those same lies, looking at Amy merely as her incubator. If De and Don loved this child so much, why did they take her from her mother? I'm so very sorry that De and Don have not had their own child, but I will not pretend that Amy's daughter is theirs." I try not to read into the comments too much, but really? An incubator? I guess there's no way to handle criticism other than to laugh it off and thank God that we have been so incredibly blessed. The point of an "open" adoption is exactly that--it's OPEN. Which means there are no lies. No strings attached. No having to break the news to Deanna when she's 15 years old that she's been adopted. No no. Open adoption is truth. And truthful is all we have ever been throughout the entire process. And no, I'm not merely an "incubator." I'm a birth mom. And that is so much more! A birth mom puts the needs of her child above her own needs, and that's something to be proud of. I talked to De about handling the criticism. She is so insightful! She said that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But if you know that you the right thing, then none of that really matters. Because at the end of the day, we are the ones who get to hear that beautiful little brown-eyed girl say, "I love you Mama!" and "I love you Amy Hutton!" And I wouldn't have it any other way. :)


Monday, May 11, 2009

First of all....thank you to everyone who sent such kind and thoughtful messages to me after reading the N&O article...I loved reading each and every one of them! This weekend was such a went by way too quickly. Between graduation, graduation parties, families visiting, seeing Don, De, & Deanna, and Mother's Day, I'm not sure where it all went! But I know this much, I'll never forget it in a million years. Deanna gave me a few special things for Tummy Mommy Day this year: A card reading "AMY HV ISE HUTTON WJE HIP HAPPY GRDVUY" which of course means Happy Graduation Amy Hutton. Also, De and Deanna made a beautiful bracelet for me with shiny gray beads. A tiny charm on the clasp of the bracelet said one word: "LIFE" and I thought to myself, what an amazing gift! But Don had a special graduation gift waiting for me when I walked into the Leonard house for my graduation party...he told me to close me eyes and put out my hands. He then placed a large, ripe watermelon in my arms. You may recall that there was a time during my pregnancy that I was obsessed with watermelon. I probably cut into three whole watermelons a week. That's alot of melon! Fond memories. Don came up with an Acronym for dealing with life's difficult situations. He told me after my after graduation, "WWAHD." "What does that mean?" I asked curiously. "What Would Amy Hutton Do? " he said with a huge smile. :) Final thing today. If you or someone you know if experiencing an unplanned pregnancy please contact me! Send me an email at I'd be so happy to speak about my experience and offer my advice and support. Okay, now I'm off to the beach for the week...


Friday, May 8, 2009

Welcome back to the Amstel Light Show! Okay, so the Raleigh News & Observer is doing a big feature story on our open adoption story for Mother's Day this Sunday...yay! It's been such a great experience interviewing with Luci Chavez from the N&O, and I'm really interested to see how the article turns out. I just hope that the article is able to show people what open adoption truly is and more importantly, what it has the potential to become. I'm not saying that open adoption is the answer to every crisis pregnancy situation, but it's at least an option worth exploring. Fun fact: I met with Luci to interview for the story last week at Panera Bread on Walnut Street in Cary, NC...the exact same place that I met Don & De for the first time more than 4 years ago! If you can't pick up a copy, check out on Sunday, May 10. In case you cared: Graduation - Saturday. Mother's Day - Sunday. Vacation - Monday through Sunday. First Day of Real Job - Next Monday Okay, I just realized that my mom, De, Deanna, and myself will all be together on Mother's Day this year and that's never happened before. Last year Deanna gave me a card that read, "happy tummy mommy day!" Isn't she sweet? She must have great parents :) What would YOU like to know about our open adoption? I'm ready and willing to blog about anything you wish. Now, I've already covered cankles, cravings, and cramps. Let's make this interesting. Name that topic please! Mother's Day 2008 in South Carolina^


Monday, May 4, 2009

I usually hold onto things for a long time. Emotions, memories, physical objects, what have you. So I went up into the Leonard's attic to clean out some of my belongings that I've had stored up there since freshman year. And what did I find? My maternity clothes! All of them. I almost cried when I saw them. I remembered trying to squeeze into my old jeans until I absolutely could not fit into them anymore. Deanna was getting too big for my regular clothes, and I was feeling awful about myself. Mrs. Leonard took me out and generously treated me to a new outfit every once in a while. I might have been an emotional train wreck, but hell if I didn't look good while I was doing it! I decided to wash all of the clothes and donate them to a local crisis pregnancy center. It was a tough thing for me to do, since I like to hold onto things. But I realized that someone else needs them more than I do now, and I hope they bring someone the same joy that I felt while wearing them. Let's take a look back into the archives and see what I looked like as a pregnant 18-year-old...Warning: I've never publicly released these photos (you should feel very lucky!) My baby shower at the Leonard's home in June of 2005. Senior Blast-Off celebration after high school graduation. Best friends at my high school graduation! Robbie's mom, Mary Beth, and I at my baby shower. My older sister, Michelle, and I at my high school graduation. Leonard home...location of my and De's baby shower and home to my maternity clothes for the past 4 years. There's plenty more where that came from too! Stay tuned...I'll be releasing hospital picture as soon as I muster up the courage... Amstel


Friday, May 1, 2009

I never realized how incredibly hot the North Carolina summers were until I moved down here in May of 2005. I was seven months pregnant at the time, and while the pregnancy had gone pretty smoothly (physically) for the first seven months (minus the morning sickness), things starting getting tough toward the homestretch. I moved in with Robbie's family and we (Deanna and I) had the privilege of sharing a room with Robbie's sister, Jacqueline. Jacks is about a year and a half younger than me, but I never really noticed the age diff. The three of us shared a king sized bed, and let me tell you, that thing wasn't big enough for the three of us! We rolled over each other, kicked each other, and probably could have injured each other pretty badly. Deanna, Jacqueline and I really bonded during that time. And Deanna seemed to enjoy kicking me in the right rib every day and night. I swear she had size 13 feet in the womb, or at least that's what it felt like. But I wasn't mad about it...I was actually proud because I knew that little babe would be an amazing swimmer someday. Okay, so the complicated part. I'm a pretty small person. 5'4", slim/athletic build with narrow hips. Robbie on the other hand, is 6'1", muscular, over 200 lbs on a good day. He's a pretty large person. Unfortunately for me, Deanna takes after Robbie. And my body wasn't made to carry that size baby! I developed severe cankles (my calves went straight down to my ankles) during those hot North Carolina months. Not only that, but Deanna also decided to shift her weight to my right side, which caused my right leg to swell even more. About a week before I was due, my doctor noticed the swelling and was worried that I had a blood clot in my leg. She ordered me to the emergency room where they decided to give me a blood thinner just in case. But wait, they didn't just give me the blood thinner. They injected the blood thinner into my very pregnant abdomen. "Wait..where are you putting that needle? Can't we talk about this?!" Ouch. It hurt, but the physical pain was nothing compared to the emotional pain I had endured. So I dealt with it. But here's the real kicker (no pun intended)...I wasn't allowed to have an epidural for 24 hours after receiving the blood thinner. In other words, if I went into labor within the next 24 hours, I wouldn't be able to have drugs during the delivery. On that note, Mrs. Leonard pushed me out of the hospital in a wheelchair (I got the star treatment!) and she ordered me to bed rest on their large blue living room couch as soon as we got home. I knew that I wanted the drugs, so I tried to lay completely still. I stared up at the ceiling fan. Sigh. This was going to be a long 24 hours. I looked down at my stomach and I saw Deanna kicking me again. As frustrating as the kicking was sometimes, it made me excited because I knew there was a real person in there. "Now you just stay in there or else!" I threatened the little babe. "Don't even think of coming out of there until your due date next week." "Kick your feet if you understand!" Good. De and Don came over to the Leonards when they heard things were getting a little complicated. They were visibly concerned about me and they could tell how uncomfortable I was. De talked to me and helped me to stay strong. She always knows the right things to say. Don asked if he could bring me anything. "Yes," I replied. "Bring me the head of a pig and a fiddle." No, just kidding I didn't say that. But that would have been pretty funny. What I did say, was, "Hawaiian Punch, please!" I don't know what came over me, but I had to have Hawaiian Punch (Tahitian Treat) immediately. It was the most intense craving ever. Lo and behold, Don trekked out to the local grocery store and bought me an entire gallon of Hawaiian Punch. For the entire week before Deanna was born, Don remembered to bring me my Hawaiian Punch. While it might seem like a small, silly gesture, it actually was one of my fondest memories of the entire pregnancy. Because of the Hawaiian Punch, I knew that Don was going to be the type of dad who would do absolutely anything for his daughter. And that was the type of person I wanted to raise Deanna. Don still reminds me of the Hawaiian Punch debacle from time to time, and it always makes me smile. I was irrational, emotional, unruly, and stubborn. But I wouldn't have had it any other way. Next weekend, Don, De, Deanna, my family, and the Leonard family are coming to my graduation ceremony at NC State. Who knows, maybe we'll all share a celebratory toast afterwards? If so, I'd like for nothing more than a nice tall glass of Hawaiian Punch to celebrate.