Merry CHRISTmas!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." - Isaiah 9:6

Merry Christmas from Amstel, De, Deanna, Don, our family & friends... and the whoopee cushions!  Many blessings to you and your family this holiday season.


November is National Adoption Month!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Did you know that November is National Adoption month?  In honor of National Adoption month, I'm happy to share a piece I wrote for Adoption Advocate, a publication of the National Council For Adoption.  Hot off the press and just released today!  Special thanks to Nicole Callahan for asking me to do this.

The article is titled: My Perspective on Open Adoption and Recommendations for Birthparents

Hoping that I represented the birthmother voice well.  Let me know what you guys think. :)

Allow me to brag...

Friday, September 30, 2011

Allow me to take a moment to brag on little babe... Yes, these are real. :)
News anchor, gymnast, swimmer, surfer, musician...and now: billboard model! 
Is there anything she can't do?

Adoption Symposium - this weekend!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's finally here!  In case you've been living under a rock these past weeks, I'm co-presenting "How to De-Freakify Open Adoption" with Lori Holden at the Open Adoption Symposium "Realities, Possibilities and Challenges" taking place September 23-24, 2011 at the University of Richmond School of Law.  
Lori Holden is a mom via adoption to two children. She was named a Top 10 Must-Read Mom by Parenting magazine and writes extensively about open adoption parenting at WriteMindOpenHeart. Lori has published several articles in Adoptive Families magazine and is the Open Adoption Examiner.  We are very excited to be opening a dialogue in our community about the many facets of adoption!  
Are any of my online adoption/blogger friends out there planning on attending the conference this weekend?  Shoot me an email if you are! 

Labor Day Plans

Friday, September 9, 2011

Lucky me!  I visited Don, De, & Deanna this past Monday on my way back to Raleigh from Charleston. It was absolutely splendid.  Deanna is getting so big, and I honestly can't believe how mature she is.  She just turned six-years-old this past July, and her first day of 1st grade was Wednesday. Where has the time gone?  Tell me, where!?!

Even though I've watched Deanna grow up in periodic increments since she was born, every time I see her I can't believe how much she has matured and grown since the previous visit.  It makes me feel a little bit sad to think that she's not a baby anymore. I still laugh when I reminisce about her "younger" years, when she was rocking a Joe Dirt mullet because her hair didn't grow in on the top of her head.  And the way she slobbered the mushy sweet potato baby food out of her mouth when Don and De tried to feed her. Those precious moments will not soon be forgotten.  Now, at six-years-old, she is old enough to start asking questions and making observations about adoption.  De told me that after watching the movie "Orphan Annie" a few weeks ago, Deanna decided she was going to save her money "to buy an orphan." Such an altruistic little babe.

By nature, Deanna is very inquisitive and curious.  During our visit this past weekend, Deanna and I were alone, playing with dolls in her playroom.  At one point, she said to me, "let's pretend these kids are adopted." Although I was completely taken off-guard, I held back my "surprised face." I smiled and said, "okay" and we continued playing.  Afterwards, when I was in Deanna's bathroom, freshening up before going out to dinner, I heard a little knock at the door. Deanna let herself into the bathroom and closed the door behind her.  Just the two of us stood there, looking at each other in the large bathroom mirror. I smiled in the mirror, looking down at Deanna. She was quiet for a few minutes, and became almost uncharacteristically shy.  She studied me as I ran the brush through my hair and applied some gloss to my lips.  Then she broke her silence.  "AmyHutton, who is your mom?" she asked.  I looked down at her, knowing that she was trying to make sense of our relationship.  "My mom is Mi Mi" (Maureen) I answered.  I bent down and asked her if she wanted some lip gloss.  She broke into a huge smile, and I started applying the pink sparkly gloss to her lips.  Then she looked up and said, "Oh... I thought your mom was BeBe."

I couldn't help but laugh. "BeBe" (Mary Beth) is Robbie's mom. I've always been close with Bebe, as she was there for me during some of the darkest moments of my entire life, before and after Deanna's placement.  BeBe stuck beside me through it all, mentoring and coaching me through the entire 9 months of pregnancy and beyond. Heck, she was right by my side during childbirth.  How can you not be close to someone after an experience like that?!  I will be forever thankful and grateful for the guidance, provision, and entertainment she provided me during those times. At eight months pregnant, when I had the worst cankles (my ankles were the same size as my calves) because my legs were swollen during the sweltering hot North Carolina summer, Mary Beth would take me shopping and she would push me around in a wheelchair while people laughed and stared at the huge pregnant woman being pushed around Nordstrom.  Bebe helped me to adjust to life after placement, and she went above and beyond to help me get back on my feet and into a better place. Looking back, I see how Deanna could be confused.  I laughed and told Deanna that BeBe is Robbie's mom.  Deanna thought for a minute.  I could see her wheels turning. "How do you know her?" she asked.  Ah, kids.  "I know her because Robbie introduced me to her when I was in high school," I explained. I went on to do a silly impression of how we met, followed by a tickle-fest to top things off.  Deanna smiled and laughed, and she seemed to accept my answer for what it was. I think she is starting to figure out more about her relationship to Robbie and his family, but she's not sure exactly how it all works.

Deanna is a very smart little girl, and I know that she will eventually start understanding more about the biological connections she has with me, Robbie, and with our families  She'll get it someday. But for now, I just want for her to be an innocent little six-year-old without a care in the world.  I want her to realize how much she is loved, even if she doesn't understand why or how. Whether you're a mother or a birthmother, all you can really hope for, at the end of the day, is for your child to be happy and to feel loved. Deanna is happy, she is loved, and she has more people in this world who love her than she will ever know.  Time will tell how our relationships evolve as she gets older.  The future is uncertain, but I am firm in my belief that our circumstances aren't just the result of luck or chance, but rather, the result of a bigger, greater plan for each of our lives.

Ephesians 1 teaches us about God's ultimate plan.

"In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory."

-Ephesians 1: 5-12

Adoption Symposium - Sept. 23rd & 24th!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Have you heard the news?  I'm co-presenting "How to De-Freakify Open Adoption" with Lori Holden at the Open Adoption Symposium "Realities, Possibilities and Challenges" taking place September 23-24, 2011 at the University of Richmond School of Law.  
Lori Holden is a mom via adoption to two children. She was named a Top 10 Must-Read Mom by Parenting magazine and writes extensively about open adoption parenting at WriteMindOpenHeart. Lori has published several articles in Adoptive Families magazine and is the Open Adoption Examiner.  We are very excited to be opening a dialogue in our community about the many facets of adoption!  
Attendees are expected to be adoptees, birth/first parents, adoptive parents, adoption professionals, therapists, researchers, educators, media professionals, advocates, attorneys, policy makers and legislators. Registration is $85 for the two-day symposium and includes lunches. Registration is open through September 9.

Jim Gritter (LifeGivers, The Spirit of Open Adoption) and Adam Pertman (Adoption Nation) are the keynote speakers at the Open Adoption Symposium. 

Organizer Rebecca Ricardo, Director of Coordinators2Inc (and Richmond Adoptive Families Examiner) says that "attendees will have opportunities to discuss, from multiple viewpoints, adoption as a lifelong process. We do not intend for this symposium to discuss only open adoption nor to only discussion adoption from a positive or negative perspective. We will have a wide range of perspectives to give a full view of the complexity of the issues and to allow attendees an opportunity to consider adoption from a perspective other than their own."

Besides the keynote sessions there are more than 20 workshops presented. Some topics include:
  • Tips from the Trenches: Finding Middle Ground in Open Adoptive Parenting
  • How to De-Freakify Open Adoption
  • Open Adoption: An examination of First/Birth Mothers experiences
  • International Adoption: The journey to raising a secure & resilient child
  • Older Children Adoptions: Opening their truth
  • Openness Options when building a family through third party reproduction
  • My First/Birth Mother Friended Me!: How families can manage contact from Facebook & other media
  • Under the Microscope: Adoption practices during the Baby Scoop Era pertaining to surrendering mothers
A full list of workshops and presenters is available at www.C2ADOPT.ORG.

See you when I see you

Friday, August 12, 2011

So...I'm in love with Jason Aldean (and his newest album, My Kind of Party).  There's one song in particular that reminded me of open adoption the first time I heard it. The song is called "See You When I See You."  If you want to hear a snippet of this musical snack, scroll all the way down to the bottom of my blog and click on this song on my playlist.  If you're a birthmom in an open adoption, this song is definitely worth a listen.

If for some reason you are unable to hear Jason's magical pipes, here are the lyrics to the first part of the song:

Let's don't say goodbye
I hate the way it sounds
So, if you don't mind
Let's just say for now

See you when I see you
Another place, some other time
If I ever get down your way
Or you're ever up around mine
We'll laugh about the old days
And catch up on the new
Yeah, I'll see you when I see you
And I hope its some day soon'

This song reminds me alot of Deanna's adoptive mother, De.  I remember the day Don and De left the hospital with Deanna after she was born.  Though most of the details of that day are a sad, blurry memory for me, there is one positive thing I clearly remember. De made it point to not say goodbye when they left the hospital with Deanna.  Instead, De hugged me and said, "I love you, and I'll see ya soon."  And ever since that day, we continue to say, "see ya soon" instead of goodbye when we see each other.  Just a few weeks ago, De called to catch me up on all of the latest and greatest Deanna stories. After chatting it up for a good 45 minutes about Deanna's 6th birthday party at the beach, her new-found love of all animals (especially horses), and how she is already selling their chickens' eggs to all of the neighbors, I smiled when De said "see ya soon" before we hung up.  Sometimes it's the little things that mean the most. You know what I mean?  I'm so thankful for De and for the way that she is always in-tune to what other people are thinking and feeling, and how she just knows the perfect thing to say.  Even if it's just three little words at the end of a phone call.

Amy & De, July 2005

De, Deanna (cheesy-poof mouth), Amy, Spring 2011

See you when I see you
Another place, some other time
If I ever get down your way
Or you're ever up around mine
We'll laugh about the old days
And catch up on the new
Yeah, I'll see you when I see you
And I hope its some day soon'

Two pink lines and six years later...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Two pink lines and six years later.  Today is Deanna's 6th birthday.  It's hard to summarize the past six years in just a few words. Amazing. Difficult. Wonderful. Sad. Exciting. Empty. Fulfilling. Satisfying. Bittersweet.  It's been a roller coaster of emotion since I began this open adoption journey six years ago.

On July 11, 2005, I didn't really know what to expect in terms of what our open adoption would be like; there were so many uncertainties and unknowns.  I only knew two things for sure: 1) It would be incredibly difficult for me to deal with the fact that I wouldn't be raising my daughter and 2) I would never be the same after what I had gone through at 18.

And I was so right.

To say that I had a difficult time coping with the loss of Deanna would be the understatement of the year. There were days where I didn't want to live and I didn't know how I was going to make it through. And I was forever changed by what I had gone through. But these truths don't change the fact that I still believe I made the right decision for my daughter. Six years later, I can happily say that I am at peace with myself and with my decision.  I absolutely adore Deanna's parents and extended family, and I wouldn't change the past for anything.  I have been forever changed because of what I've gone through...but I mean that in the best way possible. What God has done in my life these past few years is nothing short of amazing.  He has taken an impossible and heartbreaking situation and used it for His good.  "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace"  Ephesians 1:7

The Purpose Driven Connection is a website and blog by Rick Warren, (author of The Purpose Driven Life). Warren writes a Daily Hope called: "A Mission You Need to Accept."  Here's my favorite snippet:

"God has a purpose for the hurts you’ve gone through. He wants you to use them to help others –Who better to help someone struggling with alcoholism than someone who has fought that battle? Who better to help someone with a special needs child than a parent with a special needs child? Who better to support someone in the middle of a failing marriage than someone who experienced the pain of a marriage that fell apart? Who better to offer hope to a child who feels unworthy in school than someone who grew up feeling unworthy in school?

God wants to use the very things you are most embarrassed or ashamed of to encourage other people. While we think we encourage other people with our strength, it’s often those things we want to keep hidden that speak to them. They can relate and find hope when they see how God has brought you through those times of trial and used you in spite of your weaknesses.

What will be your life mission? Your life mission is telling other how Jesus helped you overcome the challenges of your life. The good news of the Gospel is as simple as letting people know salvation is a free gift; that you don’t have to earn your way to heaven. It’s telling people how God wants them to live forever with him and that everything they’ve ever done wrong can be erased by God’s grace."

Everything you have ever done wrong can be erased by God's grace.  What a powerful and hope-filled message! 

It's so hard for me to believe that Deanna is six-years-old.  I honestly can't believe how quickly time has flown by.  It's so easy to get caught up in the past; wondering why things happened the way they did and revisiting the dreaded "what ifs."  I know because I did it for years.  But today is a brand new day, and being at peace with my decision means that I am finally able to move forward with my life.  Not looking back, but also not forgetting where I've been.  When you take a step back to look at the big picture and realize that God has a bigger (and better) plan for your life, it's so much easier to accept and move past whatever it is that you've been through.  Today is July 11, 2011, and I know two things for sure...

1) God is good all the time and 2) All the time, God is good. 

Happy birthday Miss Deanna Marie!

"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  Plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11 

Rambunctious little babe playing at the beach.  What a life!

It is well with my soul

I was featured at BirthMom Buds!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

BirthMom Buds is an organization and website that provides peer counseling, support, encouragement, and friendship to pregnant women considering adoption as well as women who have already placed children for adoption. 

It was a huge honor for me to be featured as a guest-blogger at BirthMom Buds Blog.

Check it out by clicking here -->; Spotlight Blogger: Meet Amy H.  Enjoy!

On Mother's Day, Honor Moms Who Chose Adoption Over Abortion

Friday, May 6, 2011

I found this article on, and I just had to share! 

On Mother’s Day, Honor Moms Who Chose Adoption Over Abortion

Article written by Kristan Hawkins | Washington, DC | | 5/3/11

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and this year be sure to honor all mothers, grandmothers, daughters, and birthmothers. Amanda Lord, Field Coordinator with Students for Life of America explains the importance of reaching out to all mothers, including birthmother’s this year:

Nearly every American can tell you why we celebrate Mother’s Day. People use it as a day to honor their mother, grandmother, stepmother, or someone else they view as a mother figure.

But there is one type of mother that is commonly forgotten. These mothers watch as other women receive handmade cards, flowers, breakfasts in bed, and family brunches. On Mother’s Day, they don’t receive a card made by their child, no burnt pancakes covered in maple syrup, and there isn’t a single flower to put into a vase.

Some of these forgotten mothers will spend this May 8th in tears.

The mothers I’m speaking of are Birthmoms, women who place a child for adoption. Generally, these mothers are not celebrated on Mother’s Day.  It’s not because people are cold-hearted or thoughtless toward birthmoms. Rather, most don’t know how to respond. They think it might be insensitive to say anything to a birthmom on Mother’s Day. Others are simply unaware of the birthmoms around them.

Birthmoms never celebrated their baby’s first word. They could not guide them in their first steps. They didn’t pack their child’s lunch for the first day of school. They weren’t there to take prom pictures. But they are still Mothers. They should be honored as much as mothers who parent their children. They made the ultimate and most selfless sacrifice in order that their child may live and thrive.

As a Birthmother, I am so grateful to be surrounded by people who honor me as a mother. Every year I am honored in one way or another – flowers, cards, or even dinner.  Having someone celebrate my motherhood reminds me that I am not alone on a day that can sometimes be painful.

This year, my organization – Students for Life of America – has expanded our annual Mother’s Day Postcard campaign giving individuals the opportunity to not only thank their mothers and grandmothers for choosing Life but to thank their birthmothers or a birthmother they have never met. View the postcard here.

It is my hope that there will come a day when all mothers are honored on Mother’s Day, and I believe that receiving a ‘thank you’ via an organization that helps save the lives of babies like my son would be a blessing.

To view this article on, click here!

Adoption Cards!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Hello fellow birthmoms! Reminder: Sunday, May 8th is Mother's Day, which of course means that Saturday, May 7th is Birthmother's Day! 

Below is an important message from Coley Strickland, Founder & Executive Director of Birthmom Buds.   

Dear Friends, 

Just a quick note to let you know that we have adoption cards for purchase in a new Etsy store, Heartmark Designs. Currently we have Birthmother's Day cards, cards appropriate for birthmothers to give their child's adoptive Mother for Mother's Day, and a few cards specifically for reunited birthmothers and their children. We will be adding other cards as we create them. We're currently working on some special cards appropriate for birthmothers to give their children on their birthday, which has been requested numerous times!

Feel free to spread the word about our cards. Bulk orders are available for adoption professionals.  Proceeds from the cards benefits BirthMom Buds. 

Use the code "BMOMBUDS" at checkout to receive 15% off your purchase. 

Coley Strickland,
Founder & Executive Director
BirthMom Buds

The Feminist Case Against Abortion

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Feminist Case Against Abortion -- Tonight at 7:00 pm at UNC Chapel Hill, Serrin M. Foster, president of Feminists for Life, will present her speech, "The Feminist Case Against Abortion," which has been anthologized in "Women's Rights" under the series "Great Speeches in History."  

Serrin has led Feminists for Life of America since 1994. Under her leadership, Feminists for Life has successfully advocated benefits for poor and pregnant women through the State Child Health Insurance Program, worked in coalition with other women's organizations to defeat the mandatory "family cap" and other punitive child exclusion provisions in welfare reform, and helped to prevent poverty and coerced abortions due to threats to withhold child support through passage of the Enhanced Child Support Act.

Serrin served on the National Taskforce Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, which worked to pass the Violence Against Women Act, and testified before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee in support of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, also known as "Laci and Conner’s Law."

Feminists for Life helped to introduce groundbreaking legislation—The Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act—that inspired Pregnancy Assistance Fund grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service. The grants will help put into hyper-drive new pro-woman solutions on campus.

The creator of the Women Deserve Better® than Abortion campaign has appeared on C-SPAN, CNN International, FOX News and ABC World News Tonight as an outspoken opponent of pregnancy discrimination and has focused on developing on-campus resources and support for under served pregnant and parenting students.

There will be a question and answer discussion after the talk.  The event will be held from 7:00 - 8:30pm at UNC Chapel Hill (103 Bingham). 
If you can make it to this event, it will be worth your time!    

**The event is being hosted by Carolina Students for Life. 

I've been thinking...

Monday, February 14, 2011

I remember when I used to have time to blog.  That was fun.  When I used to have time to blog.

In all seriousness, you may have noticed that I've been a little M.I.A. lately.  Part of the reason is because I've had alot going on in my life, and I'm still learning the tricky concept of balancing work, life, and blogging.  And the other part is just the simple fact that I've had a serious case of blogger burnout.  The good news is that I really have missed Amstel Life and writing about my experience with open adoption, and I'm excited to get back into the swing of things.  So here it goes. 

I've been thinking about Deanna lot lately.  I'm not sure why.  I'm thinking that it may have to do with the fact that I've finally reached the point in my life where I could potentially support someone other than myself, financially and emotionally.  And also because I have ALOT of friends who are having babies this year.  Sometimes it's hard to see friends going through the experience of pregnancy...and enjoying it.  My pregnancy experience was very different.  

One thing I've learned about being a birthmother is that unexpected waves of sadness can happen suddenly, at any moment, an without warning.  (Although, I've come to find out that they tend to occur more frequently in times of excessive drinking, lack of sleep, and stress).  I went to a baby shower a few months ago.  I think it was only the third baby shower I had ever been to (other than my own).   Before heading into the baby shower, I was excited to celebrate.  But I didn't realized how hard it would be for me until I found myself in the actual "baby shower" moment.  I had no idea how difficult it would be to sit there and watch a cute little pregnant woman opening presents and just radiating happiness and joy.   I think I lasted 15 or 20 minutes, and then I quietly excused myself and headed for the restroom... where I had a small pity party before pulling myself together and bolting for the exit.  I wasn't prepared for that to happen, and I was actually pretty embarrassed that I had allowed my emotions to get the best of me.  When you're a birthmom, I guess you have to learn to expect the unexpected. 

A few days ago I went to get some pictures developed at the drug store.  I wandered around aimlessly while I waited.  I entered the Valentine's Day aisle, and I started looking around at the ginormous (is that a word?) selection of Valentine candies, gifts, and cards galore.  My thoughts wandered, and I began thinking about Valentine's Day when I was a child.  I fondly remembered the way my mom used to leave presents for my sisters and I at the breakfast table every morning of a big holiday.  I remember walking sleepily down the stairs and bursting with excitement upon seeing the little gifts and candy hearts, packaged so nicely, sitting there on the kitchen table.  Suddenly, without warning, I was overcome by sadness.  I started thinking about how I wished that I had the opportunity to do that for Deanna -- to surprise her with little gifts on the morning of a holiday.  It caught me off guard because I haven't felt that kind of sadness for a long time. I mean a long time!  I didn't feel too embarrassed though, because I'm sure the Rite Aid employees are probably used to random women getting all emotional and teary-eyed in the Valentine's Day aisle.  

If there's one thing I know to be true about birthmothers, it's that we never forget.  Yes, it gets easier as time goes on, but you never really forget. I remember that I cried a few times every single day in the weeks after Deanna was born.  And then I probably cried once a day during freshman year of college.  Then I cried once a week sophomore year... and weeks turned to months and months turned to years, and suddenly it's been five and a half years since Deanna was born.  To tell you the truth, I hardly ever get emotional or upset anymore.  I truly have peace of mind in knowing that this is the way things were supposed to work out, and I know that Don, De and Deanna are doing great!  But every once and again, and without warning, those ugly adoption demons come out of nowhere and remind me of what I have been through.  Yes, even in the middle of Rite Aid. 

This past weekend marked the six year anniversary of meeting Don and De for the very first time. I think De has a special intuition when it comes to knowing how I'm feeling.  Even though she's an entire state away, she sent me a text saying that she's been thinking of me alot lately and asked if there was anything she could be praying about.  It's funny -- I'd been thinking alot about her recently too.  The nice thing about open adoption is that I can tell De exactly how I'm feeling (although writing how I'm feeling comes much more naturally). :)

I decided to send Deanna a special box of Valentine's Day goodies -- just like my mom used to do for me.  Except instead of seeing Deanna open them, I get to hear the stories from Don and De (or watch the videos on facebook).  And I'm okay with that.  Just like I had my own special memories of Valentine's Day, Deanna will also have her own special memories that Don and De will be a part of.   More updates to come...

 Happy Valentine's Day!