To my son's birth mother: Thank you for choosing us

It is because of her selfless love that we call ourselves parents.

To my son's birth mother: Thank you for choosing us

I wonder, will I get emotional every time my son has a birthday? He's turning two in a couple of weeks and, truthfully, sometimes while he's napping, I pull out his baby albums and get weepy. I can't help it. Like a lot of moms when their child's birthday approaches I find myself reminiscing about when he was born.

Only, I wasn't there on the actual day he was born, I was there the day after. We adopted our son, and I'm proud to say that his birth mother chose us to be his parents.

Parenting is a huge responsibility, and for adoptive parents—it is also a huge honor. I'd imagine that most new parents feel overwhelmed when their baby is first placed in their arms. They might feel inadequate, but also so overpowered with love for this little human. Adoptive parents feel these same feelings, too.

The difference is that our child, our entire beginning parenting experience, is a gift given to us by someone else. We were entrusted to take care of this baby by the first person who ever loved him—his birth mother. It is because of her selfless love that we call ourselves parents.

My husband and I were taken totally by surprise when we were chosen to be our son's parents. Out for what we thought would be a fun and relaxing weekend getaway, we got a phone call saying that a baby had been born the day before, and his birth mother picked us to be his parents. After a very surreal nine-hour drive to the hospital, we found ourselves holding our son in our arms.

And from the minute we saw him, we knew he was meant to be ours. He even smiled at my husband. (I swear!) Like most new parents, we cried happy tears. We smiled and cooed at our little guy.

But even as we focused on our baby, his birth mother was on our minds, too. We were anxious to meet her, although we had no idea how our meeting would go. It was mind-blowing to us that this total stranger had so profoundly altered the course of our entire lives. I tried to imagine the range of complicated emotions she must be feeling—I worried that I would say the wrong thing, but above all I just wanted to make sure that she was okay.

She had already been released from the hospital when we got there, so we arranged to meet her the next morning at a nearby Starbucks. It was a pretty quiet car ride there, as we both tried to fight back our nervousness. If you've ever had to meet a stranger in a public place you know it's an awkward situation at best. Now imagine trying to meet a woman who has just placed her baby with you.

Finding her, introducing ourselves, and sitting down with some coffees was strange for all of us. And yet the feeling of familiarity we had with our son extended to his birth mother too. And despite the intensity of the situation, I think all of us found comfort in each other's company. My husband and I knew right away she was meant to be a part of our lives—and she has been, ever since.

For the next few months, we texted her almost every day with updates on our son's growth. She texted back sharing her feelings of peace with her decision to place him with us. After the first year, contact with her slowed down slightly, as all of our lives continued to evolve. But even so, we still keep in touch with her—through texting, and in person, too. As with any family get-together, these meetings can be emotional and stressful for everyone, but they are always loving. We always leave knowing each other a little better and feeling a little more connected.

When I tell people that we have an "open adoption" (which simply means we keep in contact with our son's birth mother), I often get a fearful reaction. People sometimes ask, "Isn't that weird for you?" with a worried look on their faces. It seems to be ingrained in the collective consciousness that adoption is something secretive.

Many people say that birth parents "give up" their child—a term that open adoption agencies reject because it brings to mind imagery of a birth parent disappearing, never to be heard from again. Although that has been the reality for many adoptions, past and present, it is not the only way. Open adoptions like ours are becoming much more the norm, to everyone's benefit.

I can tell you as my son's mother, that staying in touch with his birth mother does not feel weird. Posting pictures of him on our shared iPhoto account, and reading her comments of "He's so cute," "He's so smart," etc. make me very happy. I am proud to show her how wonderful he is and to assure her that he's doing well. I am grateful to know she is happy with the way we are raising him.

While helping my son rip open his presents at his second birthday party (and fighting off my tears of nostalgia), I will be mindful that no gift could ever equal the gift his birth mother gave to all of us—the gift of family.

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In This Article

    The HATCH Mama collection is everything your pregnant body needs right now

    Their oil is the only thing that stopped my belly from itching as it grew bigger.

    Conz Preti

    Let me start by saying I'm not a fan of moisturizing. I hate being wet and sticky and after applying product to my body, I have to stand around awkwardly until I'm fully air-dried—a practice that is not compatible with having three kids under the age of 3. However, as someone who has carried three children in her body, I also know how much your belly needs hydration as the baby grows.

    This was especially true with my second pregnancy. My belly popped way sooner (a thing that happens with subsequent pregnancies) and on top of that, I was carrying twins, which meant I became super pregnant super fast. My belly was itching constantly from the skin stretching (I checked with my doctor to make sure I didn't have Cholestasis) and there was no scratching in the world that could ease my discomfort. My doula recommended the HATCH Mama belly oil and changed my life. The oil is nourishing—but more important to me, quick-drying—so I could apply it all over my planet-sized twin belly and get dressed immediately after without having my clothes ruined nor stuck to my body. Because of how much I loved the oil, I tested other products, and let me tell you, they're all equally amazing.

    Curious about the HATCH Mama collection? All of their products are non-toxic and mama-safe, designed to help pregnant people overcome the challenges unique to pregnancy. As their website claims, "from stretch marks to thinning hair, to sleepless nights, we're helping you tackle every prenatal and postnatal beauty issue head-on so you can continue to feel like the best version of you." I'm here for all of this. For the entire Hatch Beauty collection click here.


    Here are my favorite products from HATCH Mama:


    Belly oil

    HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Oil

    Intensely hydrating + fantastic at reducing the appearance of stretch marks and scars, this will be your favorite through pregnancy + beyond.

    $58

    Belly mask

    HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Mask Set

    Not only does it help to minimize the appearance of stretch masks + scars during pregnancy + postpartum, but there is a little non-toxic wink (and that's to you, mama.)

    $42

    Nipple + lip ointment 

    HATCH COLLECTION  Nipple + Lip

    Calming + soothing, this magic sauce is lanolin-free & made of tropical butters and super fruits. I'm not lying when I say you will not want to stop using this, even way after birth.

    $28

    Belly tattoos

    HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Tattoos

    A very rock and roll way to honor your bump. And non-toxic + plant-based at that!

    $18

    This article was originally published in March 2021. It has been updated.

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    Motherly created the flexible online birth class moms need

    The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.

    Taking a birth class is a pregnancy milestone. Whether you've been excited to take a birth class for a long time or have just recently decided that you wanted to take one, sitting down for that first lesson feels big—spoiler alert, this is really happening! But finding time for a birth class isn't as easy as it would seem.

    We know new parents are busy (hello, understatement of the year). Between diaper changes, pediatrician appointments, healing from birth and the general adjustment to #newparentlife, the days can fill up quickly. But a lot of people are caught off guard by how busy pregnancy can be, too! That first trimester is so often full of symptoms—like nausea and fatigue—that can make previously easy or simple tasks exhausting. The second trimester begins and (usually) we start to feel better. But then our days get filled with planning out baby registries and deciding on questions like, "Where will this tiny new human sleep?" And before you know it, it's the third trimester—and, well, then you're in the home stretch. Plus there are so many appointments!

    All this to say that we get how busy you are—and how hard that might make it to fit in a birth class.

    And that's why we created The Motherly Birth Class. The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.


    Think you'll want to watch each lesson a few times over? Great!

    Due date's next week and you need the option to take a birth class very quickly? No problem!

    Like everything at Motherly, we designed this class with you in mind.

    Taught by Certified Nurse-Midwife Diana Spalding (who also wrote "The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama"), this class is broken into 12 lessons—and you get to control how and when you watch them. We'll teach you about what your (amazing) body is up to in labor, how to decide when it's time to head to the hospital or birth center (or when to call your home birth midwife), what your options are for coping with pain and so much more.

    When you sign up for The Motherly Birth Class, you'll get access to a downloadable workbook and meditations. Plus, you'll be invited to join our supportive private online community (where you can chat with the class instructor!)

    Oh, one more thing: Your insurance or flexible spending account might even able to able to cover the cost of this class.

    Pregnancy is wonderful—but it's a lot. You deserve a birth class that works for you and empowers you to have your best birth. Because vaginal or Cesarean, unmedicated or medication, birth is incredible. And you are the star of it all.

    You've got this.

    Sign up for The Motherly Birth Class today!

    The Motherly Birth Class

    pregnant-woman-looking-at-her-belly

    Take our completely digital birth class from the comfort of your living room. We'll help you have your best birth—because you deserve it.

    $79

    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    Keeping kids entertained is a battle for all seasons. When it's warm and sunny, the options seem endless. Get them outside and get them moving. When it's cold or rainy, it gets a little tricker.

    So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best toys for toddlers and kids that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, many are Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these indoor outdoor toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.


    Secret Agent play set

    Plan-Toys-Secret-agent-play-set

    This set has everything your little secret agent needs to solve whatever case they might encounter: an ID badge, finger scanner, walkie-talkie handset, L-shaped scale and coloring comic (a printable file is also available for online download) along with a handy belt to carry it all along. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

    $40

    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

    $40

    Stepping Stones

    Stepping-stones

    Kiddos can jump, stretch, climb and balance with these non-slip stepping stones. The 20-piece set can be arranged in countless configurations to create obstacle courses, games or whatever they can dream up.

    $99.99

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

    $120

    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

    $30

    Sensory play set

    kidoozie-sand-and-splash-activity-table

    Filled with sand or water, this compact-sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

    $19.95

    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

    $121

    Foam pogo stick

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    Designed for ages 3 and up, My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord "stick" is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don't let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.

    $16.99

    Dumptruck 

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    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyard or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? It's made from recycled plastic milk cartons.

    $22

    Hopper ball

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    Burn off all that extra energy hippity hopping across the lawn or the living room! This hopper ball is one of the top rated versions on Amazon as it's thicker and more durable than most. It also comes with a hand pump to make inflation quick and easy.

    $14.99

    Pull-along ducks

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    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

    $16.99

    Rocking chair seesaw

    Slidewhizzer-rocking-chair-seesaw

    This built-to-last rocking seesaw is a fun way to get the wiggles out in the grass or in the playroom. The sturdy design can support up to 77 pounds, so even older kiddos can get in on the action.

    $79.99

    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

    $79.99

    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

    $30

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    13 Halloween game ideas for any spooktacular soirée

    There is no shortage of fun things to do during Halloween!

    Elva Etienne/Getty

    Halloween games are the best games. Are you looking for ideas to keep your little monsters entertained? Or perhaps you're more interested in Halloween games for grown-ups for a fun get-together sans kiddos?

    And if you're looking for Halloween games that the whole family can take part in—don't worry, we've got you covered.


    The best thing about the fall is that no matter where you live, it's typically not too cold to still have fun outside. And even if there is a bit of a nip in the air toward the end of October, there are still plenty of fun games you can move inside, too.

    Whether you're into DIY-ing a Halloween game or two, or you'd rather just save yourself some time and get some games with the click of a button, there are plenty of silly, spooky ideas coming your way.

    Halloween candy quiz

    Now this is fun one for anyone! If you're having a Halloween party for kids and adults, you can pass these out to the kiddos and keep them occupied with a quiz like this. Or team up with them and see which grown-up/little goblin team can name them all!

    Bobbing for apples—a classic

    And look, you can even make it COVID-safe by giving bobbers their own individual bowls!

    Giant spider ring toss

    Amazon

    Inflatables? Check. Giant, goofy-looking arachnid? Check. Endless laughs and rounds of fun? Check and check.

    $14

    Bite-Me game for kids + adults

    Amazon

    Each player tries to bite and "infect" the other players—humans, zombies, werewolves, and vampires, respectively. Can you survive long enough to win? Get this game and find out. (Anyone else think the creepiest thing on the game box cover is the little girl? No? Just me?)

    $25

    Fall Bingo

    This simple game combines the autumn season with Halloween staples (monsters and candy, oh my!). It's perfect for little ones to take part in at a party, at school, or just because!

    Halloween scavenger hunt

    The possibilities are endless! You could have your kids case the entire neighborhood or keep things to just the house and your backyard. Come up with a list of items for the whole family to find, and watch the entertainment unfold. (Bonus points to whoever buys a toy skeleton and buries it.)

    Pin the eyeball on the zombie

    Amazon

    Donkeys are so last year! Keep things creepy by blindfolding everyone, getting them dizzy, and laugh as they try to match up an eyeball to the socket of the undead. Fun for the whole family! For this price, you can't beat it.

    $5

    Hocus Pocus board game

    Amazon

    Take it, take all my money! I will unapologetically beat humans of all ages while embodying my inner Winifred. How cool is this game? Everyone's favorite Halloween movie is now a board game anyone can play (and if it's not your favorite Halloween movie, it should be).

    $12

    A DIY escape room

    It's a panicking good time! Bring the excitement and adrenalin from real-life escape rooms to your house. You can make it as difficult or as simple as you want, and watch all of your guests team up to try and figure a way out in time. (Warning: game could get funnier AND scarier with spiked punch.)

    Halloween bean bag toss

    Amazon

    It's like a silly, spooky, carnival-version of cornhole. You can play outside or inside, and it keeps kids of all ages entertained for awhile. Whoever loses the championship round has to bob for apples in the toilet (I don't make the rules).

    $19

    Pick your poison (adult game)

    Amazon

    This NSFW, NSFK (Not Safe For Kids) game is a gag-worthy good time! This card game is centered around unfathomable "What would you rather do?" scenarios (so yeah, this is for after the little monsters go to bed). Three or more players compete to create the hardest scenario possible by combining two "Poison" cards. It's like Cards Against Humanity, but you have to use your brain.

    $14

    Don't get stabbed! (Yes, that's the real name)

    Amazon

    While we're on the grown-up game train, here's a good one! This is a party game where you get to "kill" your family and friends—inspired by the classic horror movies of the '70s, '80s, and '90s it's actually pretty lighthearted and fun.

    $25

    Card game + craft night

    Keep things on-brand for the holiday but low-key at the same time. Buy a bunch of cheap card games (you can easily find themed games), Halloween craft supplies, and have a few people over for a cozy night of spooktacular fun.


    Entertainment

    Car seat safety isn't a gray area: Why one mom's story is going viral

    She texted her husband to remind him to tighten the straps. Minutes later, he was in a car crash.

    This story was originally published on August 01, 2018

    For most parenting tasks, there's more than one way to get things done. This is important to remember if you're parenting with a partner who has a totally different laundry system than you do or packs the diaper bag in a way that makes no sense to you. It's not the end of the world if the onesies are hung instead of folded or if the bottles are in the wrong pocket. We have to give our partners room to do things their way, too.

    But when it comes to buckling our kids in their car seats, there really is only one way—the safe way—and one mama is thankful that she reminded her partner of that just in time.


    Rebecca Tafaro Boyer is a new mom and nurse at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. On her first day back at work after maternity leave she asked her husband to send her hourly updates on how her 3-month-old son, William, was doing on his first day without her.

    When her husband texted her a photo of William in his car seat, Tafaro Boyer knew she had to let her husband know that there's really only one way to buckle a baby in. "My nagging wife reply was to correct William's position in the car seat—the straps were too loose and the chest clip was way too low. And because I know my husband, I'm sure that he laughed at me and rolled his eyes before tightening the car seat and fixing the chest clip," she wrote in a now viral Facebook post about the experience.

    Just 15 minutes after her husband fixed the straps, he and little William were in a collision.

    According to Tafaro Boyer, an unlicensed, uninsured driver pulled into oncoming traffic attempting to make an illegal left turn, and although her husband slammed on the brakes at nearly 50 miles an hour, he just didn't have enough time to stop and hit the other car.

    "My precious little bundle of joy was so well restrained in his car seat, THAT HE DIDN'T EVEN WAKE UP. Even with the impact of the two cars, William only received a minor jolt - so insignificant that he was able to continue on with his nap," Tafaro Boyer wrote.

    Her husband was injured, but baby William was snug in his Britax B Safe 35 car seat. Had the straps been left as they were, it could have been a different story.

    "I am so thankful that my husband took the extra one minute that was necessary to put William in his car seat safely," she Tafaro Boyer explained. "I truly believe that the reason my family is at home sitting on the couch with a pair of crutches instead of down at the hospital is because of my annoying nagging mom voice."

    Fellow moms are all up in the comments of Tafaro Boyer's post tagging thier partners and leaving notes like, "This is why I nag."

    It's not nagging if it's a safety issue.

    Sometimes our partners (or our child's grandparents or babysitters) just don't know that something isn't safe. We've got to tell them when they're doing something we know could hurt our child. That's a text worth sending. The ones about the way your significant other folds the laundry wrong, those are the texts you might want to keep to yourself.

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      Car Seat Safety