I can count our panel at the conference as a success, I think. There were no fisticuffs between panel members or the audience, even though the topic turned to adoption language and ethical parties (always hot button topics) a few times. For the most part, people were listening and sharing (and laughing with one another, not at one another!). Even my Husband was vastly interested in what was being shared and we had a great talk over coffee afterwards. (Coffee! Without a two year old saying, “Hot! Hot!” It was an adult day out. Shocking!)
I was the last of four to speak. Even though I went to college for broadcast communications and worked in the field before leaving to stay home with the above mentioned Temperature Gauge, I’m usually more comfortable behind the scenes. I can read a prompter though it’s been awhile. I did all of my reports in a well-spoken manner. But then I worked behind the scenes at our news station. And I think I got a little too comfortable there!
As the third mom was speaking on Saturday afternoon, my hands began to leak water. Not just sweat; leak water. Yes, it felt that bad. When it was my turn, I got up to speak and, thankfully, still had a voice. I made some (lame attempt at a) joke about going into labor and the presence of my Husband who is a paramedic… and in I jumped!
I read to fast at times. I tripped over some words. I misread one sentence and almost referred to birth mothers as “sometimes people.” (I did fix it by pausing, saying, “No, they’re always people.” And on I went!) But afterwards, even as I read through the final paragraph, I felt some calm wash over me. Then we had to begin the question and answer session. More sweating.
We had asked, prior to starting, if there were any bloggers in the room. Very few had raised their hands. However, during the first part of the presentation, more and more had quietly filed into the room, filling it up with a decent amount of people. As the discussion started, we found that we had quite a few bloggers (and uber-interesting ones at that) and, much to my calming pleasure, some birth mothers as well! As the conversation began and flowed from one topic to the other, I felt more at ease.
No one came up to me and said anything nasty. In fact, one blessed soul actually said something along the lines of, “It’s nice to see the birth mother voice represented here.” I could have gotten up and hugged that lady.
One birth mother and one man (with an unstated attachment to adoption) questioned the panel’s use of first mother even though we had used the terms birth and first interchangeably in our presentations. We tried to explain its use and some of the reasoning behind it. The explanations were somehow getting lost in translation. So, we then talked about that one post that got everyone’s feathers in a ruffle when I said that birth parents, individually or on the whole, should be able to choose their own titles. They agreed; choosing your own titles made the most sense of all.
In all, it was a great experience. I learned a lot from the other mothers on my co-panel. I learned a lot from the questions and statements given by our audience. I met some vastly interesting people. On a personal level, I got to eat at my favorite non-fancy restaurant (Primanti Brothers, anyone?), visit the university where past family has attended and where my brother is currently attending and spend a day with my Husband as he supported one of my passions. I proved to myself that I could still speak in front of a group of people, anxiety be darned. And people proved to me that they don’t always verbalize their inappropriate thoughts into nasty comments! (Unlike on the internet!)
I may have to go out into the real world more often! Maybe.
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