Monday, July 17, 2017

Dear Sugar: Meet Birth Mother and Big Tough Girl Ashley Mitchell

 Dear Sugar,

I'm so excited to share with you my interview with Ashley Mitchell. Perhaps you've heard of her already? She's a birth mother and the owner of the fabulous BIG TOUGH GIRL brand. As if she's not powerhouse enough, there's even more fabulousness to this incredible lady!  Meet Ashley:  

Rachel:  Ashley, tell me about yourself!

Ashley:  My name is Ashley Mitchell and I live in the beautiful state of Utah.  Minus a few "lost years" I have lived here my entire life and I love it.  My mom and dad have been together since the 9th grade. They are an amazing example of love, consistency and dedication!  I have two older brothers and a younger sister.  We are all very very good friends and I am so thankful for them!  I am 37 years old.  I am married to the love of my life, John aka Amazing Grace and we have two magical kids, our daughter Tyler (7) and our son Oliver (5).  We live a very simple yet very full and busy life.  I love to travel, paint, bing on Netflix and jammie days!  I truly believe that College Football is the greatest sport on the planet and my one of my bucket list items is to have my picture taken at every College Football Stadium in the country, thus combining two great loves-travel and sports!  One more thing you really need to know....I love snow and I think it is the most magical thing that exists.  

Rachel:  Big Tough Girl (BTG) is everywhere I look!  Tell me first about your connection to adoption.

Ashley:  In 2006 after finding myself in an unplanned pregnancy I made the decision to place my first born child for adoption.  This single act changed the course of my life forever.  After years of grief and suffering I started to heal, started to educate myself and I started to find a voice.  I soon found that I was not alone in my struggle, not just with adoption but in life.  It has been so powerful and healing for me to share my journey through the very complex relationships of adoption.  I am speak all over the country and work primarily on education the professionals on how to better serve women, for life, post placement.  

Rachel:  And what is your life's mission?  What are you passionate about?

Ashley:PASSION ON TOP OF PASSION.  That is what a lot of people say about me when they really get to know me!  I am a pretty simple person and I just want to be lit up!  I want to be inspired and I want to inspire!  My goal would be that every woman in the world would adopt the title of Big Tough Girl.  We are not about perfection and competition!  We are about hope and community.  We are about REAL women sharing REAL struggle...that is what makes us Big Tough Girls, because we show up daily to fight the good fight!

My favorite word in the dictionary is MOXIE and my mantra is: IS THE JUICE WORTH THE SQUEEZE?"  It is all about the determination and courage to go after what you want, learning to say no to what you don't want and being your own authentic self through it all!

Rachel:  There is so much "noise" in adoption these days. It's hard for parents-by-adoption to "get it right."  What advice can you offer those who choose to adopt?  

Ashley:  The best advice I can offer is that there is NO right way!  There is no manual or step-by-step process to do it right but we can always strive to do it well. Drown out the noise and listen to your own heart.  YOU KNOW if you are doing your best, and you know if you can be doing better!  The hardest thing about adoption is that NO adoption is alike.   We need to stop with the expectations and comparisons.  Your adoption will never look like another and that is ok.  Stay open, stay teachable, stay compassionate and optimistic.  Recognize that you can't fix everything, that you don't know everything and please cut yourself some slack!  This requires great patience, great flexibility and great forgiveness.  

Rachel:  What are some of the top adoption resources you recommend? 

Ashley:  Obviously I am going to shamelessly plug for myself!  Big Tough Girl / Lifetime Healing are a great resource.  There are many places to find information.  I always tend to educate myself through national sites like NCFA and Family to Family Support Network for information, radio interviews, blogs and statistics.  Education is key to feeling successful!  As you are looking through sites and reading blogs remember that the personal blogs are just that, personal. They are sharing their experiences and emotions and are not meant to be taken as standard best practices. 

Cheers to Big Tough Girls, education, and Ashley's commitment to empowering women!  

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