I was 42 and my husband 51 when we decided that adoption was the right thing for our family of two. I had always known that I wanted to adopt a child, to me it was a beautiful way to create a family. I had been thinking about becoming a parent since my twenties but life didn’t work out to build a family until I was past 40. In essence, I’d been dreaming about becoming a parent for twenty years! My husband and I were on the same page: adoption….open adoption from Wisconsin…infant. It was finally happening, this life event that had eluded me for two decades, we were going to be parents and have our own family!
Initially the waiting was fun, I was always doing something for the adoption process. I’m a doer, so working on our homestudy was something very satisfying. I found the list of things I needed to make, prepare and fill out very rewarding. I was actively working towards being a parent and the more I completed on the homestudy checklists the closer I was to making the reality of being a parent come true. From taking parenting classes together, working on several birth family introduction letters/books to filling out and turning in all the paper work… this process lasted us nine months, nine months of active busyness that I genuinely enjoyed!
I remember the day when our homestudy was complete, I secretly thought, “We are going to be different then the multitudes of other adoptive parents who have gone before us, a birth family is going to see our profile in the next few weeks and we’ll be parents soon, I can feel it!”. Then three months went by and then five and then our first Christmas in silent waiting. We’d been shown to many birth families but no one had asked to meet with us. The rejection started to creep in. I would call our social worker asking, “Is there something more we could do? Should we take new pictures? Post different pictures on our adoption page? Are we too old? Do we not have the right interests/hobbies/jobs?”. I was embarrassed to tell people, even my husband, how often I was thinking about adoption and becoming a parent. If I was honest with myself, I was thinking about it many times a day for months on end. However, when friends or family would ask how things were going I would put on a happy, positive expression and tell them that we were certainly learning a lot about patience and the right baby would come when it was time. I could say these words out loud but I was not able to trust in them to bring myself relief.
Days before Christmas 2014, nine months after our homestudy was complete, I had received a text from a friend saying that she wanted me to know that she’d been praying for our adoption. Up until this point I had not let anyone know of my deepening sadness over our wait, not even my husband. I had never shed a tear or a said a negative word, I was always the picture of positivity. The beautiful text my friend sent and Christmas being days away I realized I had again set a timeframe in my mind without knowing it, that we’d for sure have a baby by Christmas. And now this season was here, with all of it’s glitter and emphasis on children and we did not have a child, in fact we had had no interest from birth families at all. I broke down. I cried for days. My husband had no idea what to think of my outburst, I finally told him about my silent grief. I expressed my concern that there was no place for grief in the celebration of Christmas, how was I going to function at the very soon coming family celebrations? I fell deep into depression for three days. I was scared what would happen when Christmas Eve arrived, how could I possibly put on a happy face? What if someone asked about the adoption process and how it was going? I didn’t want to cry in front of family. I needed to allow myself to grieve, something I had not outwardly ever done, so I let myself grieve and cry, it felt like a death. And then as quickly as it had come, this outward sadness, it seemed that I could manage and I somehow enjoyed the holiday.
Within a few months of Christmas we experienced the absolute joy of being matched with a birth family and the planning to become parents was in full swing! And then a few months later the match dissolved, the birth family decided to parent the baby that was expected. This news was devastating, I struggled with what I was to do with myself each day. The past few months I was preparing for a baby and now I didn’t know how to fill my time, what was I doing, who was I? I was dealing with accepting that we might never become parents. I began to wonder if we weren’t supposed to be parents, had we made a mistake to pursue adoption?
By summer I was sinking, struggling somedays to function. I had started seeing a life coach about a year prior to work on my emotions and to put into perspective my expectations of the process of adoption. It was hard work, I often felt that it was getting harder than easier as I needed to dig deeply into why waiting for a child engulfed my emotions. In the end, I am not sure that I did a good job with the waiting, it was hard, but I can say that I worked very hard at “waiting well”.
Listed below are a few things that I did to try to “wait well”:
- Prayer - I am a doer, so if I want something I just figure out how to get it, work hard and reach the goal. With adoption I could not use this method to get to the end result. I had to trust, be patient, others were in control and this was tremendously hard for me. I am a Christian and found that time in prayer, persistent prayer was really a way for me to be still and accept that I was not in control and that I could trust in the process. It was a calming tool that I used daily.
- Be thankful for all that I already have. One day I started writing a list of everything I was thankful for in my life and I listed 74 things. 74!!! When I was having a difficult day I would reread this list and it would bring me hope and peace in knowing that my life was pretty amazing and having a baby come home was not the only good thing in our life.
- Prepare - In the waiting I could be preparing. I had tons of time to prepare for being a parent. Taking time to travel, read, take parenting classes, researching the best things to buy for baby, visiting family, preparing the nursery, learning more about open adoption, spending time with my spouse.
- Keep perspective….when it’s time for our baby to come home, our baby will come home. I needed to trust in this truth and had to remind myself of this daily.
- Press On! Keep moving ahead. There are things to be done today…ways to grow, serve others and learn new things that are always right in front of us but we can easily miss them or ignore them as we are worrying about tomorrow. The question I posed to myself is how can you grow right where you stand right now? Don’t waste your wait!
August 2015 brought great blessing as we welcomed a daughter into our family! The perfect little girl and the perfect birth family. It would be easy now to say that the wait was worth it and went by fast. Well, the wait was worth it! But it did not go by fast and it wasn’t easy. There is value in waiting; it builds patience and the capacity to endure. Times of waiting for something else in the future will be inevitable, our hope is that we will not waste the wait and wait well.