Angie talked about her “less than perfect” childhood which caused her to experience shame, unworthiness in her life. Angie is now working in her “purpose” in helping other birthmothers like herself. She talked about how “Important it is to be “Heard” as a Birthmother and be shown compassion and care. We sometimes see familiar family dysfunctions repeat themselves. Let’s NOT Repeat History but Change History. Angie manages to see the “positive” in various “negative” circumstances. The decision is all up to you.
BMRT - Angie
Yvonne: [00:00:00] Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Yvonne vivers. I'm your host for birth moms, real talk podcast, a platform for birth moms to share their story, their journey, where they've come from, where they're going, where they're seeking healing, where they're seeking growth in allows them to tell their story. And you're here for moms who are in opened options, close adoptions, young, old, whatever, have never told anyone before.
So I was just so happy to have as I guess today, Angie, and she's going to talk about her story is going to start per se, where she is and where she grew up with and starting from her childhood and moving forward. So welcome Angie. Hi,
Angie: Yvonne. Thank you so much for having me and doing this podcast. It's so important to get the stories and experiences of birth moms out there to the larger community.
My name is Angie Swanson Kiriakos and I use she her pronouns. And I want to acknowledge that I am joining you today from the traditional Dettori of the [00:01:00] Chumash people. I'm also the new executive director of a, an organization, a fiber one C3 and power Alliance. And we exclusively serve birth mothers throughout the state of California, as well as birth moms throughout the country.
So again, I'm really excited to be
Yvonne: Very good. Very good. I think we were talking about where your territory you're in with that. So we have all kinds of story and history. So we move on with that and talking about, share with us where you grew up and how was your life
Angie: as a child?
Sure. I am a gen X-er and I grew up and, uh, orange county, California.
I've lived in California, my entire life. I am an only child. My parents divorced when I was 10. It was a very. Tumultuous chaotic household. I've said a lot that my parents probably shouldn't have married. [00:02:00] They were high school sweethearts and got married, I think a few months after my mother graduated from high school, because that's what you did.
And then the 1960s, and, you know, they were married about 10 years before they had me and they probably should not have had any children. There was a lot of mental, emotional, and physical abuse growing up from my mother. My father was out of the house quite a bit. He worked a lot. And you know, for a long time, I was really resentful of that.
As an adult though, I realized he was probably doing that to preserve his own wellbeing still. It was still there that I was the child where my mother directed all of her race. Boards. I didn't find out until I was probably go gosh, in my early thirties that my mother, I knew my mother was an alcoholic. I always [00:03:00] thought that she started drinking when I was a teenager.
I didn't find out until my early thirties that she had been drinking years before that. So for me, that started putting pieces of the puzzle together. Like I would remember like times where, you know, I was in, I was in the band when I was in elementary school. And after a performance waiting outside a school for, you know, all the parents are coming or caregivers are coming to pick up the kids.
I would, I was always the last child and I would wait and wait and wait. And when it get to the point, then were a teacher or the principal would say, hi, you know, honey, is anybody, is anybody coming to get you? Do you need a ride? And then eventually. You know, she would show up. Um, so there were a lot of instances like that, even, even thinking back to, you know, the police following her home one [00:04:00] night and her having an altercation with the police in our driveway of our home.
How did that affect you? I mean, what impact that cause your advice, you say elementary. So what, 10, 11, 12, that eight.
Angie: have really vivid memories of being a toddler and her, you know, screen, you know, just screaming at me, hit hitting me. Um, those were a lot of my memories and it's, uh, interesting when I've looked back at old photos.
Um, you know, I don't, for most of them, I don't look like a happy child. Um, I was also a very anxious child and, um, but every once in a while, we'll catch glimpses of ones where, you know, I look, I look happy or look what, look like a child we're having fun. But, um, you know, it [00:05:00] really, it really eroded my self esteem, my self worth.
Um, you know, I felt unlovable. And of course I thought when, um, any type of outrage, you know, was always my fault because that's also what my mother always told me, you know? Um, and this, um, and I should say if it's triggering for anybody, I apologize who grew up in the. Type of household, but it's, you know, the con you know, some of the things that we've heard, like you, you know, you've ruined my life or, you know, the divorce is your fault or the blame, lots of blame, lots of blame.
And, um, you know, and I also, again, like having new eyes as, as an adult, um, I remember when my mother, uh, had to find a job after my parents divorced. Now, I think she, I think she worked as a secretary [00:06:00] before I was born, and then she stopped working to raise me. And so she had a significant, you know, number of years, a gap on her resume.
And so I do remember her, you know, coming home from interviews and telling me, um, people questioning, you know, well, why haven't you worked for nine years? And her saying, while I was raising my daughter, And that being, um, frowned upon being dismissed, um, you know, she eventually, you know, did find work, but, you know, I can look back on that being, you know, the early 1980s and how, how hard that must have been for her as well.
Um, that, that challenge of being out of the workforce so long and then, you know, not really being, um, embraced, coming back and just, you know, sexism and misogyny. Yeah.
Yvonne: Did you find yourself, you could have a conversation with her when you got to be maybe a [00:07:00] teenager to talk as mother and daughter?
Angie: No. In fact, um, things became more inf I would think I would say more inflammatory when I was a teenager, because that's when I started having a bit more independence.
Um, some of my own thoughts, some realizations that the way she was treating me. I was not, uh, was not acceptable. It was wrong. I could see from my friends and schoolmates that they didn't have relationships like that with their parents. And, um, yeah, there was also a lot of, um, my mother also, you know, I think she struggled with an undiagnosed eating disorder and she passed on a lot of, uh, body shaming and that shaming to me and put, you know, at eight years old, put me on a diet.
And that's something [00:08:00] that really stuck with me for decades that I am just now either beginning to unravel,
Yvonne: I, did you have a cent of the household you grew up and having an only child that this was normal until you saw other things outside your family?
Angie: You know, so it kind of varied. I remember having, I loved my first grade teacher.
Her name was Mrs. Byrne. I still remember her. She was, so
Yvonne: I remember our first grade teachers. Mine was Mrs. Lee first grade teacher. Yeah.
Angie: Okay. I still wrote, my sixth grade teacher was a Mrs. Lee's. She was fabulous too. Um, but I remember she was so kind and lovely and had such a wonderful demeanor and was so patient.
I really struck, like, I really struggled to learn how to read. Um, I don't know if there was an [00:09:00] diagnosed learning disability for me, but I really struggled, but she was still so kind and patient and. Felt like she believed in me. So it have those moments where I would look, you know, be in class and I would look at her and I would think, I bet, Mrs.
Bert doesn't yell at her kids. Like either I knew she was a mom. I knew she was a mommy, but, um, you know, I bet she doesn't yell at them. I bet she doesn't hit her kids. And then I would go, you know, so I'd have these brief blips of clarity or, or a greater self-awareness and then it would, and then just the negative self-talk would seep back in, you know, that I would hear from my mother.
Yvonne: Did you have any friends while you're a teenager of it to develop friendships or was that easy for you?
Angie: Hard. Oh, elementary school was so rough for me. I was teased a lot. I was bullied. Um, I was [00:10:00] very, very shy, very anxious, but you know, and I also had the mother that didn't allow anybody over to our home.
Um, because she, it was very much, um, you know, how, how do things look to the outside world? So the outside world, you know, she was very, she was very physically beautiful dressed very well. Um, our home was immaculate for a time being, but, um, if you really, you know, saw behind the doors, it was just dysfunctional chaos.
And so I didn't, yeah, it was probably people probably thought I was a weird kid, so yeah. I, you know, I read a lot, I love to books and I loved loved music. And, um, it wasn't until, uh, in eighth grade we moved. So my, you know, because of the divorce had to sell the family home and, uh, we moved and I had to change school [00:11:00] districts.
And that was probably one of the best things for me, because. I had, um, started getting a little bit more outgoing. Um, I learned how to, I, you know, use a little bit of makeup. So I think it was probably feeling a little bit better about myself. Um, and then I met, um, there's my wonderful friend, Kelly. We're still friends to this day, but she was one of the first people that I met at my new school.
And then from there, um, began to develop more friendships and be, be a little bit more outgoing. Um, have a little bit more fun, even though there was, you know, again, chaos at home, um, you know, took as many opportunities that I could to be out of my home to be away.
Yvonne: So what was your best thing you liked about school?
Angie: I really enjoyed. I had for the most part, some [00:12:00] really wonderful English teachers up until 12th grade. Um, they were fantastic. Had, you know, some good hit, I really excelled. They did really well in English and history. Math was a struggle for me. Um, had a lot of sexist math teachers, which I didn't realize back then.
That was part of the issue. Um, I was believe it or not. I was a cheerleader for a couple of years and I had a lot of fun with that.
Yvonne: You stepped out if you stepped out for cheerleader now that I did. Yeah. Yeah.
Angie: Thank you. I really liked, um, I really liked the performance aspect of it. So, so, you know, I like dancing and cheering.
Um, I'd still, didn't quite fit in with, um, you know, you say cheerleader, I'm sure people have, you know, their stereotypes, but I think. Hang, you know, I didn't hang around with the football player [00:13:00] or, um, not, you know, not with all the other chill. I had some other fellow cheerleaders that were friends, but not, you know, all of them and still had, um, you know, my other friends that weren't, you know, involved in school, activities like that.
But, um, that made a couple of years of high school
Yvonne: fun. Okay, good. Good, good. So move on into, when did you have a boyfriend or start relationship all of that at two, you having
Angie: a, your child? Sure. So I, you know, I grew up, you know, and I think there's still a messaging today, but, you know, especially growing up in the seventies, eighties, nineties for a lot of, um, girls and young women, Your, you know, if you don't have a boyfriend, if you're not loved by a boy, you're nothing, you have no meaning.
And so I didn't have a lot of love at home. So I [00:14:00] really wanted to, um, find that love from someone else. I, you know, always because of my mother and her disordered eating her focus on, uh, you know, appearances and, you know, she would often tell me, you know, I'm, she would say about herself, I'm beautiful.
You're ugly. So I was also constantly hearing messages that you're ugly. You're ugly. You're I believe so for
Yvonne: me, did she hear those same messages when she was growing?
Angie: You know, I, I'm not sure I'm not too. And I could probably talk about this for hours, but she. Um, you know, going back to what I mentioned serve, you know, I didn't, wasn't allowed to have other kids over at home.
She also, um, isolated herself and me from her family, um, as well as, uh, you know, cause when my father divorced my father [00:15:00] and mother divorced, he ma he remarried fairly quickly. Um, that person had three children and he pretty much for the rest of his life focused parenting those children. So I didn't have her for most of my life.
I didn't have a relationship with my father. Um, and also didn't know my mother's side of the family. So she, I would hear stories from her about her childhood, where, you know, mirrored a lot of how she treated me. Um, when I was in my early thirties, I had the opportunity to. Meet, uh, one of her siblings who was close in age to her and they had, they had a different recollection that she was the last child.
Last child was six and that she was adored and in his word spoiled. Okay. Because the other siblings had grown up, uh, were significantly older and grew up during the depression. Right. So I [00:16:00] have, and I still don't, I still have so many missing, missing pieces of my, my family history. Um, so I don't to answer that question, I'm not sure.
I'm not sure what she heard.
Yvonne: And I, I asked that question because a lot of times that generational dysfunction will move from generation to generation because I'll say this is that people will share or treat others as they have been treated. So as if they don't know any other way, so unless they're shown another way for they, they will do what they know to do.
And so when you said that comment about, she would say, I am pretty or beautiful in your ugly, ah, that came from somewhere. So,
Angie: yeah, and that, that generational trauma that will tie in a bit to, to my, to my birth mother, um, story, uh, you know, so with that, so, you know, look [00:17:00] looking for love for love from all the one blaze and also didn't have any, um, you know, I didn't have any mirror, you know, mirroring of what a functional, loving, caring relationship was like.
So I was just often getting
Angie: with guys that were, you know, emotionally or physically abusive and thinking, oh, well this is. This is how this is how I deserve to be treated.
Yvonne: Um, so it wasn't out of line or you didn't see it at being out of lie? No, I'm not supposed to be treated this way. Right.
Angie: Right. Okay. And so I moved out, um, I always, even as a child, I always knew I didn't want to remain in the city where I grew up. And so when I was, and I think it was 19, I, I left my mother's home and I moved in with a boyfriend and we were, I was with him for, oh, I think about eight years. [00:18:00] Um, he was a few years older than me.
We shouldn't have been in a relationship that long. Um, there was some physical abuse, a lot of emotional abuse. Um, you know, when I look back on my end, you know, there were things that, um, times where I wasn't very kind or times where. You know, I probably instigated some of the situations, um, that still doesn't give that person the right to how he treated me.
Um, but that, you know, again, a lot of chaos, a lot of trauma, um, even when we were breaking up that I often tell people, I said it was like an episode of Jerry Springer. Do you remember that talk show that cheers, no troops were thrown, but it was just when it's one of those things, I look back on my wife and it's like, oh, I'm sick.
I'm so embarrassed. And even for that, even for that [00:19:00] person that I was with, like, he, he didn't deserve that, you know how that happened, but that's, that's another story. Um, but, but going back to where I thought, oh, I always need, I need the love. I need the love. I need to be validated by, by having a boyfriend.
So before. I ended that eight year relationship. I started dating someone else at that time. So that, that was not, you know, that was wrong for me to do. And that person, I thought, oh, I've met the love of my life and broke up with the fellow had been with for eight years, um, was then exclusively dating this new fella.
Then we got the idea that we should move in together. And not only should we move in together, we should move to a new city. And what age were you then? Right. So I was [00:20:00] 25 and I had been, I had been in and out of community college. Um, you know, I would sign, sign up for classes and I would drop out. Um, you know, I'd sign up for one quarter.
I would take a class or two and, you know, do fairly well, but then maybe, you know, not go back the next quarter. And I was working, I worked in restaurants for a long time. I was a food server. I, um, did a little bit of of management. I probably wasn't very good at it back then, but that's what I did for a long time.
So I had been working at this restaurant for five or six years had, um, just some really fabulous people that worked there, had some great friendships. And, um, you know, during that time I was also without a home because the ex-boyfriend and I had to leave our home. So it was also sort of just couch surfing.
I [00:21:00] had some friends that would let me, you know, stay with them for a few weeks or a few months. Um, so that probably, you know, fueled the energy to. Go away, move away with this new boyfriend. Um, so we, um, decided to do that and found an apartment in a city about stolen California, but about, probably about a hundred, 200 miles away from everybody.
And how was this client, you know,
Yvonne: how do you decide? Um,
Angie: it had been someplace that I, he, he lived there for a bit, um, and it's a beautiful area, you know, lots of recreation. Um, you know, when some of the great things about California as you can be very close to the beach, you'd be, can be close to the mountains, not too far from the desert.
Um, and we had gone to those place a few times, so it was very [00:22:00] romanticized, you know, I thought, oh, this is where we'll start our new life together and we'll get married and everything will be perfect. Um, there was so many hindsight, you know, so many red flags along the way, even, even, even some friends going, why do you like him?
Why I read really don't think he's good for you, but okay,
Yvonne: you're going to go. Were you able to give him the answer of why?
Angie: Yeah, I would kind of fumble through and I think, you know, they were right, but I think also part of me was like, oh, folks just don't want me to be happy or they don't know the real him.
Um, and so we moved away and, um, I got a job fairly, fairly quickly. It was in some little souvenir chotchkies shop in this very high tourist area. Um, and I think I had only been working there maybe maybe [00:23:00] two weeks. And we're still very new just in this new city for a couple of weeks. And. He, my boyfriend was, but we only had one car and he was supposed to pick me up from work and he showed up very drunk and I, and I knew he was a drinker and I was so embarrassed and also worried that I was going to get fired from this new job and not to mention how terrifying that he drove.
So drunk, you know? So when we, um, got back home, he, he, I remember he passed out in bed and I was, I was enraged at that point because, you know, he embarrassed me. He could have hurt somebody driving could have, you know, damaged my car, all the things. So I remember I had. [00:24:00] Um, I had started making a grilled cheese.
It's so interesting how these little things that stick in our memories. Right. And so I put that on the stove and then, you know, we had just moved. So we're still settling in, there's still some boxes and things that I remember, I had some clothes and I was so upset, but I started just like throwing clothes on top of him and he's on the bed, passed out.
And there was, I, you know, not the most healthy, not the most functional, but just being so like, didn't know how to, well, one, I couldn't, there was no reasoning with someone when he threw that drunk he's passed out. Um, but me also not having the language, the words to say, here's why this was so upsetting to me and I can't happen again.
So throwing clothes on him, I go, um, in the kitchen to check on my sandwich and all of a sudden he grabs me and he is. [00:25:00] Um, so angry and was just screaming at me. And then the things that you're saying are like, you're, you know, you're nothing without me, you know, we moved here, we couldn't move here unless it was me and just on and on and on and shaking me at a one point.
He put his hands around my neck and I blacked out and I came to, I ran to the bathroom and locked myself in the bathroom at this point, my sandwich, more that grilled cheese that's now that's now burning. The smoke alarms are going off. Um, I still, I still don't to this day, we lived in a small apartment complex and sort of a quiet area.
I still don't know. Did anybody hear any of my neighbors? You know, did, I don't know. I don't know how they could not have
Yvonne: heard. Was that your question? Did they hear what was going on with, [00:26:00]
Angie: uh, just the, the, the, that fight, the yelling, the screaming, and then adding to that, the smoke alarm going off. Right.
Um, and so I remember,
Yvonne: was that a concern that they would have heard all this stuff going on? Why didn't they come to help?
Angie: It's I think at the time, I think it was a mix of both, you know, it's why isn't anybody coming to just check, but also that, that shame and that embarrassment, like, oh, no, like people are gonna think, quote unquote, like I'm crazy.
Or, you know, we're, um, you know, we're we're trouble and
Yvonne: D did con if you go back to your chap.
Angie: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. And so I remember, you know, sitting, sitting on the bathroom floor, shaking and crying. And thinking, oh, oh [00:27:00] no. What have I gotten myself into? What have I done? And then more shame. I can't go back home.
My, everybody will say, I told you so, oh my God, people were right. I shouldn't have moved here with him. I shouldn't be with him. And, um, yeah, I carried a lot. I've, I've been someone who's had, you know, carried a lot of shame and a lot of secrets, you know, starting from a very young age and, um, just feeling really, really scared, really dejected and not knowing what my next step was going to be.
So during this time, you know, as he's, and he's also struggling to find work, um, I wouldn't find out till, you know, few months later years later, he. Um, he lied quite a bit and I, you know, I'm not going to give him, I'm not a psychologist or a [00:28:00] psychiatrist. I'm not going to try and diagnose him. But, um, he, he is a person that had tremendous issues.
And, um, so during this time I'm just trying to, um, be a good girlfriend and not upset him. And, you know, I'm working a really, you know, a low, low paying job. I'm not having any success, you know, finding something that's a bit more stable. He's, he's struggling to find work. Um, we're then struggling to pay rent sometimes struggling to find money for food.
And, and during this time, so the months are passing. I, um, not having my period. And I tell myself that, oh, it's stress, I'm anxious. I've always been an anxious person. Okay. It's just the stress. And then I [00:29:00] start having really what would be really horrible morning sickness anytime of day, not just the mornings, still telling myself I'm stressed.
Oh, it's anxiety. And it took me, it took me a while. It took me a few months before I actually went and took a pregnancy test because I thought, oh, wow. Oh, there's no way I can be pregnant, even though we're not using any birth control.
Yvonne: Was that the denial in your life?
Angie: Absolutely. Absolutely. Okay. Um, I grew up, I grew up in a FA a lot of people, uh, steeped in denial, family.
It's still something I have to be. I really, you know, conscious that I don't, I don't go that path, you know, even now, um, you know, he was, you know, not necessarily very supportive or didn't make it easy for me to access birth control. [00:30:00] Um, but I thought, oh, it'll be fine. And I don't want to upset, you know, I don't want to upset him.
Everything's everything will be okay. Everything was not okay. Yeah. So when I, you know, finally received the positive pregnancy test, I initially wanted to have an abortion. Um, when I looked at, so when I looked at everything, the abuse, you know, his alcoholism, um, lack of, you know, struggling to pay rent, struggling to have food, my family history, you know, because I, you know, a certain, you know, I kept seeing these cycles of abuse and was certain that I would be, I was terrified.
I'd be like my mother.
Yvonne: Um, I want to talk, you felt as if you would be the same type of mother.
Angie: I was terrified of [00:31:00] that. I was terrified that I would, in some way, you know, harm my child, whether, you know, mentally or emotionally, I didn't think I would, you know, hit a child B you know, do that, but just the.
You know, mentally and emotionally, and then also hating, you know, I hated myself, you know, that was another piece of it. Um, that I didn't think I was necessarily capable of, of anything really, you know, of any, any, any, you know, goodness,
Yvonne: of course, to me. Cause she talked about how you realize the effect it had on you on how you retrieved it.
And I think just, just presupposing on whether that would make a difference than, well, I'm going to be different.
Angie: Right, right. Um, I didn't, I think [00:32:00] I went to that place of just being terrified. I would be like her and you know, one of the greatest and you know, some of these guys, I dated one of the greatest insults that they would throw at me sometimes was you're just like your mother, even my father would say that to me too.
You're just like your mother. That is not what I wanted to hear.
Yvonne: You know, that's assuming they knew your mother. They did, right?
Angie: Yeah. They had, yeah, they had met her, um, you know, aside from her, she had great fashion sense and I picked that up from her, you know, that I will, I'll take that, but, but I did not want to be like her in any way.
And you know, so, uh, the, the boyfriend or, you know, my child's birth father, um, he kept telling me, okay, we'll get, I'll get the money, I'll get the money. So you can have an abortion. Okay. And seeming like this was also, um, [00:33:00] something he agreed with, but the weeks are passing and they're passing and I'm getting the same.
Oh, sure, sure. I'll get that for you. And then finally, um, I D I can't recall how I found out, but I learned that you could apply in California. You could apply for Medi-Cal and metal Medi-Cal would cover the cost of an abortion. So I needed to get another positive pregnancy test and start the, you know, the steps to get Medi-Cal so I could have an abortion.
And when I went to, um, I worked, so this is kind of where my journey, well, my journey with planned parenthood started before, but that was the next step. And my, um, relationship with planned parenthood. I went there. I was too far along in my pregnancy. Um, and I remember bursting into tears. I was terrified and said, I I'm going to have to, I can't, I can't do this.
I'm going to have to place the baby for [00:34:00] adoption. And I remember. Um, one of the employees, you know, pulling me aside into an office and I remember she was so kind and judgment free and you know, said, okay, well, let's, let's talk, you know, is this really, are you sure? Are you sure you can't parent, you know, let's talk about, do you have a support system?
I said, no, I don't have, I don't have anyone. I don't have anything here. You know, listed out all the struggles we were having and, you know, and that kind of, you know, was the end of that conversation. But, um, I still just remember her being so, so sensitive and kind, and, um, that really stuck with me. You know, I remember that, that, that genuine kindness and, um, concern.
Yvonne: so an Angie, you, you mentioned for, as her bullying your side and simply [00:35:00] talking to you and seemingly as a small thing, but that was a big thing. It
Angie: was, uh, it was so huge. And I w I mean, I wish I don't remember the person's name. You know, I do remember the, the location, the city, but I don't remember her name at all, but, um,
Yvonne: yeah, I bring that up because we talk about here.
Talk about that here on north real talk, the reality. When someone is facing, being unplanned, what do you want to call it? Pregnancy of what to do when they're talking to someone, they need someone to hear this. Absolutely. Is a person not a number. Why you, when, or no, I say no eye contact us. I've had so, but it's like, uh, yes.
Talk to me. What is, what can you. Yeah,
Angie: right. Yeah. I I'll never forget. Forget, I can't remember her in my name, but her name, but I'll never forget her. Um, and so I went [00:36:00] home and, you know, told my boyfriend what was happening. And I said, I think, you know, we're not capable of raising this child. And I think we should place the baby for adoption.
And he said, okay. And I don't recall him giving really any pushback. And, um, this is back in the day, I didn't have access to internet. This was still the early days of the internet, but I remember pulling out the yellow pages. And for anyone who doesn't know the
Yvonne: then there was a separate yellow pages for the white pages and the yellow pages, teaching, uh, people who are younger than 40 the
Angie: millennials, the, the zeros, all of them, um, just her. And I remember like, and I had nothing, I was so uneducated and so ignorant [00:37:00] about adoption. I had known, you know, here or there maybe have met a couple people that said they were adoptees, never had deep conversations with them.
What I saw in the media, you know, which the media does a whore, horrible portrayal of, uh, in general of birth, birth mothers and adoption. And so I went into this just really ignorant. Um, I found an attorney, um, in the same city and I didn't, I didn't, you know, hindsight, again, hindsight, I didn't, I didn't look up other attorneys or speak with other attorneys.
I just went with the first one, um, which I don't recommend. And so it was an independent adoption and I met with the attorney and he gave me several, um, you know, I suppose now things are online for peop for prospective adoptive parents, but he gave me binders binders of [00:38:00] people and started looking, you know, reading about all these couples, you know, looking to adopt and landed on a couple that I liked their profile and agreed to meet with them.
And those subsequently became the people that adopted my dog.
Angie: well here, you know, going back to being an educated, I, I, at the time said, I don't think I want visits. I thought, I thought that would be too confusing to the child because this is what I saw on television or read in articles. Um, I know now that that wouldn't be the case. So, um, I also thought, oh, and I think this from a lot of birth mothers too, that they don't want to [00:39:00] quote unquote bother.
I don't want to bother the adoptive parents. So I also had that cause keep in mind too. I think my self esteem is just in the gutter, right? So I'm thinking, oh, you know, oh gosh, they don't want to hear from me because I'm a bad person. So I said, uh, I want photos and letters two times a year, big mistake, definitely not enough and no visits and that they agreed to that.
And, um, again, that is not what I would have done. Okay. How has it
Yvonne: been, did you get the, uh, the pictures twice a year?
Angie: You know, I, I, I really struggled in the, you know, another part of the story. This isn't unusual. I really struggled when I came home from the hospital without my baby about my daughter,
Yvonne: empty arm syndrome is a [00:40:00] syndrome for birth mothers writes, leaving the hospital with empty
Angie: and no one I, I had, I did not have anyone advocating for me.
I did not have my own representation. Yeah, we use the same attorney because in California, dual representation is still allowed. Um, I do not recommend that everybody and, you know, in any legal transaction, people need to have their own advocates, their own representation. Yes. And no one prepared me that, you know, you hear and it's still, still even happens today.
If you look at, um, various websites or literature, often of, um, adoption agencies, adoption attorneys, crisis pregnancy centers, it's very vague information. And I don't, this is my [00:41:00] opinion. I don't believe it allows the pregnant person to be fully informed. So I never, I never saw anything. You know, you would see something like, you'll be sad, you know, you'll be sad for a little bit.
But you'll know, knowing that your child is safe, you know, safe. I didn't know my child was safe, but knowing your child is safe and happy, you'll be fine. You'll move on.
Yvonne: You'll move on. You'll move
Angie: on. And so when I got home from the hospital and I think I was just, you know, when you labor, you're in a lot of pain, you know, it's quite painful.
Even with, even, even with medication it's quite painful. And so
Yvonne: bringing life into it's this
Angie: tremendous force, and then you're not. And you know, for me, um, I was fortunate. I didn't have pain, you know, [00:42:00] after I didn't have long lasting pain after delivery or physical pain, I should say, you know, just probably.
You know, nothing that I needed to stay in the hospital or have, you know, additional medication to help, you know, manage that pain. But then, so I think I still had sort of maybe the endorphins of like, oh, you know, I'm no longer in physical pain. And so I remember, you know, I stayed overnight in the hospital.
I think I was probably discharged late afternoon the next day. Um, by then my, my daughter was, you know, with the prospective adoptive parents and I remember coming home and yeah, just, you know, the wave of grief hitting me and postpartum depression. I was already someone who had, I had undiagnosed depression and anxiety, you know, I've, I've said a few times here, like it was just a very anxious child and young adult.[00:43:00]
Um, and I was completely devastated. And I don't even know if devastated covers it. You know, I was sobbing. Um, I couldn't get off the couch.
Yvonne: I, and we were still
Angie: together. And I remember thinking, I never said it out loud to anybody by, I remember thinking I want, I want to die and I didn't have a plan. I didn't necessarily think I was going to try to end my life, but I remember, uh, you know, sort of praying to, you know, a higher power to please, please just, I don't want to wake up, please.
Just let me die. The pain was so hard. It was immense. And I still in and I'll share this. Um, I remember the, you know, the second day in the [00:44:00] hospital, Um, the last time that I had, I held my daughter when she was an infant in my arms. I remember handing her over to the adoptive mother and watching the adoptive mom walk out of the hospital room with my daughter.
So you experienced Passy to that?
Yvonne: Yes, that was hard.
Angie: It is etched in my brain and I have never forgotten that I had for many months nightmares, just reoccurring dreams of that image. And even to this day, so my child is now 24, even to this day when I'm I'm under, if I'm under tremendous stress. Or having, you know, an anxious period in my life.
Um, I will, I will still have [00:45:00] those dreams. I won't have them for many, many months or years. And then when I'm in times of stress, like just one evening, you know, there's that image that pops up in my dream.
Yvonne: So how are you a union with your child? How does it transpire after you had her she's with her adopted parents?
Walk me on that journey since
Angie: then. Sure. So I, uh, received, you continue to receive, uh, twice a year letters and photos. Um, I didn't have any visits, unfortunately. Um, the first year they did send photos every month. I ended up requesting that because I want it, you know, babies changed so, so quickly and I wanted to see her development.
You know, at least, or that first year. Um, and then when my daughter was [00:46:00] 12, um, her adoptive father reached out to me, sent me a message and shared that they were planning her bat mitzvah and they were creating some, some type of video photo montage, you know, to play for, for the party. And he said, would you be interested in a copy?
And I said wrote back, of course, yes, we'd love, you know, absolutely. We'd love to have that. And, and this was back when, um, you would receive a CD, a disc,
Angie: And so I remember he mailed one and it wouldn't play in my computer, you know, and then I had to, and I even felt like I remember being embarrassed. Like again, like, you know, still these feelings of know. Issues with self-esteem and feeling like I'm a bother and I'm a burden. And I remember being so embarrassed going back and asking, you know, gosh, I know I'm not sure what's wrong with the disc isn't working.
And he said, I'll [00:47:00] send another one. He sent a second one and that one didn't work.
Yvonne: So I still teach you ever see it. I saw a
Angie: tiny, there was like a little tiny blip that played. And I remember it was of my daughter and one of her friends and, and I'm just like hearing like two seconds of her voice was just so incredible though.
But now seeing this, like this tween going from where I had just all these, like, you know, still photos of her development to like, oh, here's this fully formed person, you know, who's, um, you know, about to venture into this new part of her life. Um, So about a year, let's say about a year or so later, her adoptive father reached out to me again and said, um, I'm going to be in California.
My daughter was born in California. That was [00:48:00] most of her childhood. She lived in another state. Um, so her adoptive father reached out and said, I'm going to be in California for some business and actually, um, and visiting some other people throughout the state and indicated that my daughter wanted to meet me if I was open to that.
And so I said, of course, of course, of course, of course. Um, and so she was about 14, 14 and a half at that time. And that was just so I, I probably, I don't have all the words for it, but it was just. Wonderful and beautiful. And I also remember, and her, and I will laugh about this now, but I remember being so anxious so that the plan was to first, I would meet with her and her adoptive father over lunch.
And then later in the evening, we'd all meet up with my husband. And I remember driving to the [00:49:00] restaurant and telling, calling my husband and saying, I I'm so scared. I'm going to throw up. And he, you know, he's just always been so loving and supportive and, um, said, I know it's scary, but you're going to be fine.
And this is really, really exciting. And. And it turns out my, my daughter had shared with me that she was also going through the, oh no, I'm going to throw it the same type of anxiety. So now we can kind of laugh that we were both sort of having these moments of, you know, oh, we're going to vomit yeah.
Yvonne: with my son. And I, it was like, uh, we're meeting in a different place on the midway between us. And I think we were met. It was like, I haven't slept in three days. He said, I haven't eaten, you know? Right. You know that I'm not hearing adoptive mom.
Angie: I, yeah, that's good. Good listening. Um, so I [00:50:00] haven't had much contact with her at all over all these years. I've I have seen her one time. I had the op my husband and I had the opportunity, um, a few years ago to go to the state where they lived, um, for a long weekend. And at that time, Uh, the adoptive parents had divorced and I saw the adoptive mom, uh, during that visit.
And that was several years ago and have not had communication with her since then. And, uh, she lives in a different area, um, then my daughter. Okay. Yeah. So, um, so yeah, it was a lot of, mostly most of my communication has been with her adoptive father. Okay. Yeah. Um, yeah. And I remember, uh, you know, one of the first things she asked was, [00:51:00] um, to know a little bit of information about her birth father and I really, you know, I went back to that place of, and then I guess here here's something where I was different than my mother.
So remember in those few seconds, when she said, oh, what can you tell me about, you know, I, my birth father and I had my horrific experiences with him, and I also remembered how my mother would say really horrible things about my father and then turn around and say, and you're just like him. So in that moment, I said, well, here's what I remember.
He was a wonderful swimmer. He was a really great swimmer. I can't, I'm a horrible swimmer. I can't somewhat well, but I see that you, you like to swim. You're a good swimmer. I S I saw that in letters and photos, so that, oh, that's probably where you get it from. And, you know, I said, he really, he [00:52:00] really loved his family a lot.
He had a big family and was really, um, really dedicated to them. And I said, he could be really fun and silly, you know, um, And that's,
Yvonne: I, I, I thank you for doing that because as I say, we, we all have components of up down sideways or whatever, but something we have, we have a lot more good than bad. I think everyone, this my opinion, I think everyone comes through to the students or with bringing good things and really putting that in perspective of, as you just, you turned into swimming.
That was awesome to let them know that's maybe where you got that from. Yeah.
Angie: Right. You know, I will say, you know, it's a whole, you know, the birth father and I broke up about probably about nine, 10 months after she was born. And it had, I think, made this really half-hearted attempt to reunite, [00:53:00] um, you know, a few months after that.
But that, that in itself is a whole other story that was just continued chaos, trauma abuse. Um, I will say I can look back. Um, and I haven't had contact with him since I think 1999 and a month, a month before our daughter was born, his father died. And again, he was, he was very close with his, his family. He adored his father.
Um, so when I'm far away now, many years after the situation, I can, I can look back and think about what was, I have no idea, like what his grief was like his grief process to lose his father a really sudden death. And then a month later, you know, his first child is born and he's not parenting that first child.[00:54:00]
So I, you know, I. I have no idea, like what that
Yvonne: was like for him, trauma on both sides, right? Relationship. Where were you needed with your daughter now? It's
Angie: it's going well, it's going well. Um, she is now, uh, she recently graduated from college and she, uh, was living, she went to school in California only, maybe a couple hours away from me.
So it was really, uh, just really wonderful to, you know, every four, six weeks or so, you know, be able to visit with her or, yeah, she'd come up and visit, um, you know, visit my husband and I and our city. And, um, she moved to a different state. And so I was really disappointed that she didn't stay in California, but I'm hoping she'll, she'll come back someday.
Um, but she's having a new [00:55:00] adventure and a new city and. Um, my husband and I had the opportunity to visit her for a couple of days, um, last month. And, you know, it's really, um, you know, I really have, you know, I have moments of sadness that I have moments of sadness that I didn't parent her. Um, I have moments of sadness that I didn't have visits, you know, growing up that he didn't get to see her growing up, um, as, you know, a child and a teenager or an early teenager.
Um, but it's been really, it's been really cool seeing her grow into a young adult, you know, even seeing, seeing her, her growth and her maturity, um, from the time she started college to where she is now and seeing her become her, her own person with her own ideas and, um, [00:56:00] That's been really cool.
Yvonne: You getting to hear your child as an
Yes. Did you have any other children? I did not.
Yvonne: same here. Yeah. Yeah.
Angie: Yeah. I went through, um, you know, I went through a stage where I thought I didn't, you know, I didn't want children, but I went, you know, very, I will say I'll back that up. I will say like shortly after I add her, my daughter, I thought, oh, do I want another baby?
And you know, do it, but then thought, no, that that's not the route to go for me. You know, and, um, and I mean like several, like a few months after she was born, which I think, I think a lot of birth moms, you know, have that feeling. Um, and it is, it is wise that I did not cook. And then for a long time thought I didn't want to have children.
And that was something my husband and I had agreed on. [00:57:00] And then shortly after we got married, both of us thought, oh, well, maybe we do, but we do want to have a baby. And then, you know, it just, it just wasn't in the cards for us. Um, so, but, but that's okay.
Yvonne: Yeah. Well, Angie, you've shared your journey and what a journey that we all have with that.
But as we know here on birth moms real talk, we have a hot topic, so, and which really, we put a word out there, a phrase, and we talk about it realistically, the real talk here. What's your word, but de. Anger anger. Woo
Yvonne: Now that can just go ring around the roses, the world and, and we've got a different perspective of it.
Well, then that's here. What is anger? What does that word do for you? Or just talk about anger?
Angie: Well, I think for a lot of women, girls and women we're [00:58:00] told not to be angry and we're told that being angry is ugly or it makes others feel uncomfortable or, you know, or we're told to suppress our anger or that, you know where again, I'll say that, that word that I do not like crazy that we're crazy if we're angry.
And I see that as a way of just silencing people in particular. In particular women and girls and, and definitely, you know, members of the BiPAP community and it's invalidating. And what I've often said when I've talked to, um, not just birth moms, but other people, you know, if you're angry, it's usually because there's been some sort of injustice that's occurred.
Yvonne: Absolutely. Does it make you angry when you be told not to be angry [00:59:00]
Angie: 100%. Talk about
Angie: Well, that to me is really just, again, a way to silence or, um, control to control me or someone else. Um, you know, I've heard I've been called the angry birth mom before. Um, I've heard other birth moms called that I've heard adoptees called angry, angry , but again, it goes back to if someone.
If there's an injustice, if there's a systemic issue that is causing harm, you know, harm to people is not allowing them to lead their most fulfilled lives to lead healthy, happy lives. Like, yeah, that's an issue. That's something to be angry about. And, you know, for me, you know, part of how, um, I found my way [01:00:00] to, you know, how I found my way to eventually becoming an, you know, I worked for planned parenthood for 13 years before.
Um, I stepped into this new role, um, a few months ago. And so again, it's, it's, you know, where there spaces where people are. Um, you know, are not having, you know, proper factual information, um, or given the ability to make decisions for themselves. Um, when people have that taken away, that's very upsetting to me.
Um, and so what I saw as I connected with empower Alliance many years ago, um, that was first attending one of their, their, uh, one of our, uh, therapeutic retreats. And at that time I, you know, before then I had never met another to my knowledge and other birth mother. [01:01:00] And so I remember attending my first couple of retreats and I think it was during the second retreat where there was a young woman who had placed her, uh, infant, maybe a few, a few months prior.
So still very, very, very new. Very raw grieving. Um, I remember her curled up on the floor sobbing and saying, I don't understand why I'm still sad. I was told it would get better. Why, why am I so sad? Why am I depressed? Yeah. And I remember this birth mom was maybe just a couple years older than my daughter.
And I thought, you know, and we didn't, you know, I know we have limited time, but there's so much more, I'd have to say about the adoption process, um, that I went through and seeing this young woman and thinking, [01:02:00] oh, you know, like this is wrong that this young person during this time was told the same lies I was told who was not given adequate information and the same.
Like going back for decades, you know, you think of, you know, the women from the baby scoop era, like the same thing you'll move on. You'll be fine. And no, this is a lifelong,
Yvonne: they were alive. They were lying. They were locked.
Angie: So when someone lies to you or will purposely withholds information, there is a right.
There is a right. Absolute right to be angry about that. Justified
Yvonne: anger, justified anger. And the thing of it, as we say it may, it makes me, that's why I asked you, do you get angry when people tell you not to get angry and I would turn my head, what do you think? I mean, really? What do you expect me to do?
What are you saying? Yeah. So [01:03:00] talk more about empower Alliance. We wind up here and what shirts you offer as well as what things are you putting into place to really. I might've guessed it as best as you can.
Angie: Yeah. So we, so the organization, um, was founded in 2007 and you know, I'm happy to say that, uh, I am the first birth mother to be in the executive director role.
So that's very, it's very exciting. Thank you. Thank
Angie: Thank you. It's um, it's an honor, uh, that I do not take lightly. And right now our board of directors is 50% birth moms and we'll be, um, electing some new members very soon. So we're actually anticipating that number of birth moms on the board to go up a little bit more.
So, um, we have, uh, you know, a great representation of, of our clients on the board and we [01:04:00] offer. Um, the handful of services. So we had, I had mentioned our therapeutic retreats. Um, so these are weak on re uh, retreats for birth moms at no, no charge to them, um, where they are in a space with, uh, other, uh, women who have placed or lost a child to adoption.
Um, again, acknowledging like you had mentioned that everybody's experience is uniquely their own, um, but it's a space for them to attend, um, educational and therapeutic workshops, um, topics related to, you know, um, mental wellness adoption, but also looking at the birth mother as a whole person. So there's also opportunities for different type of, of movement and, and art and having, you know, smaller groups where you're talking about different topics that may or may not intersect with adoption.[01:05:00]
And it they're really, really transformative, you know, for, for myself and for many others, that's often the first time they're meeting another birth mom for some that may be the first time they've shared their child's name with other people. That may be the only time of year that they feel they can openly talk about their child or children.
Right. And that's, so that, that is so huge. And it's also heartbreaking that for some, they feel like only, you know, this one time a year that I can, what I can get from this retreat that that's where I have that space to do. So. Um, unfortunately with COVID, you know, and heard this from so many, um, everything has been moved to the virtual platform and we're really hoping crossing our fingers that in the fall.
[01:06:00] You know, infection rates will be lower. We won't keep having all these different variants and that we can hold, you know, in person retreat again. So at this time we're offering, um, you know, retreats and virtual gatherings and check-ins for, for birth moms. Um, we also have, um, for some clients to be, uh, to be eligible for our academic and counseling grants, um, both moms do need to be living in California or have placed their child or children in California, or were pregnant, um, living in California while they were pregnant.
Um, but we offer, um, academic grants and vocational grants are for folks who are, um, going back to school, continuing their education. Um, maybe going through a certification process or vocational school, we have, um, some monies available. Um, to help them with their school [01:07:00] expenses. Um, or if someone's, you know, working on getting their GED, we can, you know, provide some funds for that.
Um, as well as if someone needs, you know, someone gets a new, a new job and maybe it's a job where they're required to buy certain items of clothing for the uniform. Like we can help with that because I know I've been in that position. You know, I said, I worked in restaurants for a long time where you got the job, but now I need to buy these pants and shoes that I don't have money for, you know?
Yvonne: Yeah. And what I'm hearing and know that empower Alliance offers that support and that's what's needed on all different facets, all different facets. When someone knows they got there. I like to say they have a village behind them when they may occur. That's where that, that positiveness to say, Hey, there's someone I can call.
And that's what we say. Gradually empower Alliance. This has been awesome aims and G it has, it has. Thank you so much for [01:08:00] sharing your story because as we say, we all the same, but we're different. We're all the same. We're different. So your story is going to help someone listening out there because you're not the only one, unfortunately gone through issues and shame and all of that childhood.
And you broke through, you broke through. So congratulate you pat yourself on the back from when style have come to where you are today, where you are today. Thank you so much. You've been listening into birth moms, real talk. I'm your host, Yvonne rivers. And we've been so happy to have Angie on today.
Who's director of empower Alliance out of California. So tune in. If you'd like to share your story going on, website, birth moms, real talk, and who share your story? Follow us on Facebook on LinkedIn, on Instagram every other Saturday, we're on live Facebook. So if you'd like to come on, our [01:09:00] Facebook is either really, we've got the triad coming in on February.
Uh, we've got Dottie's birth moms, adoptive boss. We don't talk together. We're going to all talk together. So thank you for tuning in. Please listen to our podcasts, give us a good review, pass it on, share it with others. And we're here for you. We are here together. Join our birth moms. We'll talk village.
That's a private group. We have that. We do a monthly zoom. We started last month when they're reading the primal wound and discussing it. So we really have this village going with that. So thanks for tuning in I'm to Yvonne rivers to you next time.