By the time you decide to start the adoption journey, you may have already been waiting to become parents for a long time. When you finally sign an agency contract, pay some fees and are ready to start: then comes more waiting. There is waiting for paperwork to be completed, home studies to be scheduled, criminal clearances to come in, and letters to be approved. All this waiting is only the precursor to the big wait and that is for a birth parent to contact you and then for the right birth parent to contact you.
So how do we handle the wait? The reality is that there will be days when the wait is just hard and no amount of ideas will help you. But you can do things that help you put the wait into perspective.
First of all realizing that there is a process and that there are many others who have gone before you and have eventually adopted can help you. There are professionals there to help you achieve your goals and they have helped many others and know the journey first hand.
When you finally get yourself officially out there for birth parent contact it can be very exciting at first, but after a while you may feel a little down. Before you had your profile approved you were somewhat in control of getting paperwork completed, uploading pictures, and creating a letter. Now when there is nothing to do but wait for the phone to ring or an email to come it, time seems to slow way down. This kind of wait can sometimes seem like a free fall wait. There is nothing you can do, things are out of your control and waiting for a date somewhere out there in the dark is really hard to do.
There are things you can do to help yourself cope with the seemingly endless wait. Making little goals with a time line attached will help. Make goals that you can put on a calendar, this helps you see an end in sight. These goals can be about the adoption like marketing using Facebook or Youtube videos, or they can have nothing to do with the adoption like finishing a project around the house, going on a trip, or reading a book. The really helpful thing is to have a timeline when you will accomplish that task. This will help you focus on something you can see the end of. This will give you a sense of satisfaction while you wait for a call from a birth parent that you have no control over.
Finding ways to be kind to yourself and your partner are very essential. Everyone is in a different place during the journey of adoption. Some can busy themselves with work and life and appear to be handling the wait just fine. Others can get highly focused on wanting to be a parent that they feel at a loss. Allowing yourself to process the wait in a way that helps you is truly important as well as permitting your partner and other family members to do this too. Taking time to discuss ways to help each other and being understanding of one another’s needs, will help you have a more productive wait time. It is often too easy to take out frustration on those we love and are the closest to us. Recognizing that a partner or family member are struggling then responding with encouragement or space can really help.
Thinking of the wait in a positive way can also help. Waiting is part of the journey. This is a time to prepare to be parents. Remembering that you will be parents is important. You may get discouraged at times but meeting with other adoptive parents who have completed an adoption can give you hope. You will be able to see that adoption does happen and you will be parents. Some have found that making a journal or scrapbook of the wait helps them focus on the positive part of the wait and remember to enjoy the journey and look forward to the destination.
They say that hindsight is 20/20. Well I have to agree it is better once your baby is placed in your arms. Just like women who have gone through childbirth report that when the baby is placed in their arms all the pain of the labor and delivery fade somewhat, this is also true of the “wait” for adoptive parents. This has been my experience. Notice I said fade not completely erase. You will remember the time you waited, but the negativity will decrease and you will most likely decide it was worth it.
Be cautious not to compare your wait time to anyone else’s. Everyone has heard about the adopted parents who got contacted and placed with a baby the week they were in circulation. It is difficult to hear those kinds of successes especially if you have been waiting more than a year. Remembering that everyone’s journey is unique and special to them is important for your own sanity and will help with the wait. Your baby will come and it will be at the right time for you.
Finally while you are waiting make sure to remember to take time for your family. Don’t put off things you want and need to do. Life goes on and so should you. Being part of the adoptive parent waiting club is unique and can come with challenges. Find a friend who is going through it or who has gone through it. Rely on others who have been there and most importantly trust in the process. Many, many families have been blessed with the right baby through adoption. Trust that it will happen for you too. You are not alone. Just as a butterfly must face the long wait in the cocoon and then struggle to emerge, eventually the butterfly is strong, beautiful and completely unique just like each of our families will be after the long wait is over.