Adoptimist.com families, I congratulate you for having the heart to begin the adoption journey. One of my friends acknowledged, “Everything about adoption is hard, except loving the child.” I agree, and I think you are in the hardest part of the whole experience: the mysterious, incalculable WAIT. But, The Wait will strengthen you. The Wait will educate you. The Wait will make you better parents.
I hate to wait. If a restaurant hostess hands me a buzzer, I beg my family to eat in the bar. In the springtime, I purchase and plant all my annuals on the same day to rush the bloom of color in my yard. My computer often locks up because I open too many windows and the applications can’t match the speed of my commands.
My husband, Jeff, and I had our first child, Houston, in January 2002. That same year, we began trying to conceive a second child, and, for the next six years, endured costly, embarrassing infertility treatments with no success. From 2002 to 2008, life routinely schooled me on grief, prayer, tolerating thoughtless comments, and overcoming intense emotional pain. Then we began the domestic adoption process. You can imagine that the adoption route was a significant challenge for an impatient person like me, already weary and tired of waiting for a baby.
The next two years proved to be the greatest education of my life, and I would like to share a few of the lessons I learned.
Lesson #1: Ask for help. You need it, you deserve it, and people are happy help you. Who doesn’t want to be part of a sweet adoption story? The prayer committee at my church, our friends, our doctors, the copy shop down the street, and even our veterinarian played a part in bringing our son home, once I asked.
Lesson #2: Trust other people. My husband is a procrastinator, but he eventually did everything I asked of him, and did it beautifully. Family members, social workers, clergy, and physicians have the same goal you do: a healthy child in a healthy home, but not necessarily on your schedule. Give them time.
Lesson #3: When we become frustrated as we wait in lines, we are likely focused on ourselves. We think, “Hurry up! Now I’ll have to lug my groceries through the rain, or “Great, now I am going to be late for work.” Instead of obsessing over your goal (which is totally worth obsessing over), concentrate on serving other people, especially the birth family. After you meet your child’s birthparents, your mind may still wander in worry that they will change their minds. That is normal. But, instead of panicking for you, pray for them.
The Wait allows hopeful parents time to become just that — parents. When you welcome your baby, you will need help. Ask for it. When you have to work, get the flu, or just need a break, you will have to depend on other people. Trust them. Take time now to master the most important parenting skill of all — putting someone else’s needs ahead of your own. Focus on the birth family.
In May 2010, on Jeff’s birthday, we welcomed our second child, Scotty. I thank God, social workers, selfless birthparents, and The Wait, for preparing me, not only to have a baby, but also to be my baby’s mother.
In order to encourage, enlighten, and even entertain adoptive families, I narrate my family’s adoption journey in my book, The Eye of Adoption: the true story of my turbulent wait for a baby. I hope that, by reading my post and perhaps my book, the lessons I learned will help you as you endure The Wait.