I hope you made it to Charlotte a couple of weeks ago for the annual BMB Retreat. Going there feels like going home to me. It's amazing...we all look different, are from different parts of the country and have different backgrounds. But I feel more accepted in that place than many other places in my life. Thanks to all of you who were there and made it possible.
A mommy robin built a nest outside my kitchen window the week before I left for Charlotte. She fought the odds of wind, terrible location and the constant struggle to keep her next in tact. When she finally succeeded, I thought I saw a smug smile on her face as she sat in her nest built under an overhang in the pouring rain.
Upon returning from Charlotte, I checked on her to find three scrawny, ugly baby birds. I couldn't even see them the first couple of weeks until mommy or daddy brought home some worms. Then I could see them push up their heads, open their beaks, and disappear again.
A couple weeks later, the babies weren't so ugly anymore. Their feathers had come in nice and fluffy. They continued to let mommy and daddy feed them, but there was hardly any room left in the nest. The chirped to each other and while there was some pushing going on when a parent brought home the food, they all got to eat and grew.
Earlier this week I noticed not only were the babies getting big, but they would take turns flapping their wings while remaining in the safety of their nest. I guess they were getting ready for the big event.
Well this morning while standing at the sink, I noticed the nest was empty. It kind of made me sad because watching the birds had brought me some pleasure over the weeks. But it also reminded me a lot of this group. We are all in various stages of growth and nourishment and flight. But I love how we care about and care for one another.
Hope you are taking time to enjoy this fresh season.
It is hard to believe
that BirthMom Buds has been hosting retreats for 10 whole years now! I,
for one, am very grateful for the presence this group of women have had in my
years as a birthmom, thanks to the founders Coley and Leilani. The theme for
this year’s retreat was a celebration and it truly was a celebration during the
retreat. We celebrated our founder's friendship that lead to so many
other friendships forming and, of course, the love we have for our children
that bonds us as birthmothers.
The retreat itself
started on Friday, but there were a bunch of us who arrived through out
the day on Thursday to meet and greet each other and get acquainted with
Charlotte before the activities started happening. The weather upon
arriving was gorgeous, perfect for our get together. Thursday is always
pretty low key, so upon the suggestion of Melanie, we decided to have dinner at
a lovely restaurant called Dish. The food was amazing, and the setting
was very homey. Perfect! Afterwards, most of us capped off the
night with a trip to the Melting Pot for some chocolatey goodness!
was pretty relaxed as well. Since our festivities didn't kick off till
later in the day, a few of us went to get manicures or pedicures, while others
opted to get massages. We all pretty much did our own thing in little
groups until the Pajama Party Mxer. The food, which was delicious, was provided
by The Hilton where we were all dressed up in our pajamas for the pajama party.
We had a selection of meatballs, egg rolls, cheeses, fruits and more.
Delicious! When we were done eating, we were pleasantly surprised
by an adorable dance intro by Lani and Coley (mimicking how Ellen dances into
each show) followed by an even cuter Hashtag skit Jimmy Fallon style!
(This is the year of the hashtag after all!)
After the skit we played
really fun, quirky games. My favorite was How to Spell Your Name...With
Your Butt. It was hilarious and really fun for those of us, like myself,
who have absolutely no dance skills. We also checked to see what we all
had in our purses, and played a fun game seeing what we could remember about
another person when we were back to back. We also had some yummy cupcakes
once again provided by Gigi's. Yum!
After that, we all got
changed and did different things for the night. I, personally, went
swimming with a few friends and then we finished the night getting some
munchies at Buffalo Wild Wings.
Saturday we had
an early start on the busiest day of the retreat. Walking into the room,
I saw that it was decorated with fun hot pink, orange, and yellow party
decorations for the occasion. As usual, the handmade center pieces and
fun touches didn't go unnoticed! Throughout the day we enjoyed hearing the fun
facts on Coley and Lani's friendship, how BirthMom Buds and the retreats came
to be, how their logo was designed, and the Bible verse that lead their vision:
After our early
morning welcome, we split into our always awesome breakout sessions. I (Leah) lead
one on Coping with Grief and Anxiety, while Amanda A. lead a session downstairs
about How to Cope with an Adoption that Suddenly Changes. During the
second session, Amy S. lead a group Navigating Relationships as a Birthmom
while Terri G. spoke about Boundaries as a Birthmom.
Then it was my
personal favorite time of the day: craft time! This year we made birthday
date books using a page for each month to remember special birthdays.
Each month was already printed with lines on photo paper and hooked
together with a ring; our challenge was to decorate the plain cardboard front
and backs! For some, decorating came easily and for others it was a
challenge indeed, but they all turned out beautiful and will be useful.
Our lunch was a
delicious meal of grilled chicken, steamed vegetables, pasta salad, garden
salad, fresh potato chips, and sandwiches. The cake provided by Desserts byDebolt was phenomenal. I had the carrot cake and it was the best I have
ever had! After stuffing our bellies and mingling with our new and old
friends, we headed outside for the annual balloon release. We each had written
a note to our child, or for whomever we felt the need to send a message up into
the sky for, and tied our pieces of paper to the string. After a prayer lead by
Lani, we released them to go wherever they go. It is always a touching
moment for many ladies attending!
Once back inside it
was time to settle in as we were surprised with guest speaker Patti Hawn
(Goldie Hawn's sister!), who is a birthmom who placed back in the 1950's when
it was a very closed and hush-hush era for adoption. She spoke of her reunion with
her birthson 40 years later and has written a book based on her experiences called,
“Good Girls Don't,” of which she read several moving passages from as she told
her story. We then were able to ask questions and get to know her heart
more, as well as get signatures and take pictures with her!
Next, we heard more from
Coley and Lani as they spoke of how their friendship began and how it has lead
us to today. The monologue they did of how they first reached out and met
over the internet was heart-rending and I know we could all relate to their
loneliness that sparked their bond. It was wonderful to hear the behind the
scenes of Birthmom Buds and their friendship!
excitement, we watched the 2014 Slideshow and then had the candlelight
ceremony. As each woman lit the candle of the woman next to them and said
a word in honor of their child, it lit the darkness of the room and the
darkness within our hearts that many of us face. Those traditions can be
filled with emotional moments, and that certainly was true for me this year. It
is so good to know, and see, that we are not alone!
After a few hours
break, whether to nap or have some one-on-one chat time back in the hotel
rooms, we had dinner at BlackFinn as we did in 2013. Once again, it was
wonderful food and company!
Each year the group
grows in size at the retreats, it is amazing to think of how many lives BirthMom
Buds has touched over the last 10 years. I look forward to another 10 plus
years of BirthMom Buds Retreats.