At twenty-one years old, Hope O Baker made one of the hardest decisions a person can make: she placed her son for adoption. She lived with her son’s adoptive mother while she was pregnant and pursued an open adoption. After her son was born, Hope tried to resume her life.
But the difficulty of letting her child go gnawed at Hope. Even though she had it together on the outside — graduating college and excelling in her career — on the inside she was battling a destructive cycle of depression and addiction. When life was at its darkest, Hope managed to find her way back to the light. It’s a journey she continues to this day.
Now, in Finding Hope: A Birthmother’s Journey into the Light, Hope shows how messy and chaotically beautiful adoption can be, by sharing the authentic details of her remarkable story. From her struggles, you’ll see how community can help you rebuild and be reminded of how important it is to find your voice and speak up for what you need when life hands you unexpected difficulties. I sat down with Hope to see what inspired her to write her book, her favorite idea that she shares in Finding Hope, and how that idea has changed her life.
What happened that made you decide to write the book? What was the exact moment when you realized these ideas needed to get out there?
The biggest reason I wrote this book was I went through a good part of the last six years feeling alone, feeling like I had nobody to talk to. I couldn’t share my problems. And the reason why is because when you place a child for adoption, you have to make that conscious choice to do that. You make the choice. I always questioned: Do I have the right to feel sad? To feel upset? To struggle? I went through a lot of this alone. I didn’t share how I was feeling and that led to a lot of the problems I had. When I started having conversations with people, doing research online, and reading books, I realized that everybody out there has this pain.
A lot of times, we don’t share it with people because we’re ashamed or we don’t feel like we can. We don’t live in a society where it’s okay to talk about your feelings. When I came to this realization, I saw that I didn’t have to be alone all these years. I could have spoke up and gotten help. I want to tell my story so that people see they’re not alone.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a woman, man, young, old, or in-between. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you live — everybody has pain, and a lot of people go through that pain alone. So how do we find ways to make sure that people know that their pain is their pain, and that it’s okay to have those feelings? Yes, I chose to place my son for adoption, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not entitled to feel grief and share my emotions and feel like they’re okay.
What’s your favorite specific, actionable idea in the book?
I used to wake up every morning and say to myself: You’re a bad person. You’re an addict. You’re all of these negative things. That’s what my mind went to in the morning. When I thought about my son, I felt all of these terrible feelings about myself and that set up the rest of my day. When you’re starting your morning like that, and you’re going throughout the day thinking these negative thoughts, your days are going to reflect those thoughts. After reading a lot from female mentors like Reese Witherspoon, I decided to wake up the next morning and tell myself: You’re beautiful. You’re healthy. You’re happy. You’re intelligent. You’re kind. You’re worthy.
In my book it says if you change your mindset, you can change your life. So every morning I woke up and I said these five to six things out loud in the mirror to myself. I’d say them in the car, and I’d trick myself. I would tell myself, you are happy and I would trick myself.
This went on for about a year. One day, I woke up and I actually felt those things. I truly felt those things. It took a while of me saying them out loud, but eventually I felt them and they became real. That became my reality. So every day when I wake up now, no matter what hardships I have, I tell myself those five to six things and I go about my day. I want people to know that saying your “I am” statements changes your mindset and can change your life.
What’s a story of how you’ve applied this lesson in your own life? What has this lesson done for you?
These “I am” statements are so impactful. When I look at my everyday life, whether it’s my full-time job or my relationships, changing my mindset has helped me see that the universe is there to support me. It’s there to support you, too. You just have to believe it.
You have to believe that first off, you are not alone. Number two, your pain is your pain and that is 100% validated. Nobody can tell you that your pain is not valid because it’s how you feel, and it’s okay to feel that pain. It’s okay to have emotions. Thirdly, believe that you can change your life. You really can change your life. Maybe you’re an adopted child and you’re dealing with that rejection. Maybe you were an addict, maybe you’re going through depression. Maybe your spouse left you, maybe you left your spouse, maybe you were fired. We all go through these hardships. And how often do we go through them alone?
It’s time to speak up, talk to a friend, or find a therapist. Speak about what you’re going through. I think if we all spoke about our true feelings and shared what was going on in our life and tried to get help, I think everybody would be a lot happier. Imagine if you could start your day with, I am happy. I am worthy. I am intelligent. I am beautiful. I am okay. Imagine if everybody did that every day, what kind of society we would live in. I just want to get that message out there.
For more advice on going through life’s difficulties, you can find Finding Hope: A Birthmother’s Journey into the Light on Amazon.