Few things come to mind when I think about what made my adoption experience difficult. I choose to remember the good things now that I am here on the other side, but if I were honest with myself, then I would remember that there were difficult times during the journey too.I think the number one difficult thing for those going through the adoption journey is the unknown element. There is no way to know when and how your baby will come into this world. In my personal experience not knowing the time or way my child was to come was the single most difficult thing. We ask ourselves, will our baby be born tomorrow or in three years? Will our baby be born exposed to drugs or alcohol? Who will be the extended family of our child? What are the genetic characteristics our child will have? Will our child be born close or far away? All these questions and so many more are some of the things that make adoption difficult.
The one thing I have found that helps with the unknown elements of adoption is to acknowledge them and let them go. There are some things in your control and many things in the adoption journey that are not. At some point during my journey, I remember reaching a place where I reluctantly let the process happen and accepted the wait and the unknowns. By no means was this easy and it was a slow process. I had many experiences that caused me to adjust my thinking and accept the things I could not change and find the positive in the moment. Acceptance is really hard, especially when you are longing for something and have been actively seeking that thing for so long. Acceptance is also not solid. What I mean by that is some days you are firm in your conviction of acceptance of the journey and some days you are not. Over time the key is to have more days of acceptance and less days of worry and anxiety.
The difficulties of adoption might weigh you down. Some might struggle with grief associated with your own loss of the ability to have a child. For some the difficulty may be struggling with allowing your child’s birth parents in his/her life and being open to a different family definition. Some of us struggle with the financial commitment to adoption and wonder why you have to have a child this way when others seem to achieve parenthood in a much simpler way.
These feelings are valid and normal. The difficulties in adoption can become mountains of achievement in the end. You can reach the time when you say to yourself, “I struggled through those feelings and found peace.” Is this Easy? No. Achievable? Absolutely!
Even now as I long for another child and think of starting the adoption journey once again I see the reality of difficulties. I know there will be times of uncertainty and unknown, but I also know eventually things will happen that will be the right situation for me and my family. Adoption is difficult, but Oh so worth it!
Finding ways to make it through the low days can help you. Some ideas include:
- Taking a vacation from the adoption journey. This can help especially if you have been waiting for a while. Go somewhere, or just take a break from checking statistics and surfing the Internet. Make sure you get the alerts to your phone and email if a birth mother contacts you, then stop thinking about it for a while. Assign another family member to help answer the phones and emails. Easier said than done, but really good for your soul.
- Go to support group where others on the journey are. It is good to talk to others going through the same things you are. It is also good to see the adoption successes.
- Try a new outreach method you have not done before, such as setting up a facebook account just for your adoption journey, sending greeting cards to all your friends and relatives telling them again that you’re looking to adopt, or re-design your letter if it has been a while.
- Talk to a counselor or arrange a time to meet with your adoption social worker to discuss the feelings you are having.
- Spend time doing something that brings you joy not associated with having a baby, such as hiking, shopping, time with family or friends, or travel.
- Discuss with your partner or family ways to help you when you are feeling low and obsessing on the adoption, such as a phone call or text message to help snap you out of the negative thoughts.
- For those who have adopted and are struggling, seek support of others who have adopted and find support through your social worker.
These are just some ideas that may help you on your adoption journey. For some the difficulties are very minimal and for other they can seem insurmountable. Be aware that everyone is at a different place and avoid comparisons of your journey with others. Remember the adoption journey is a marathon and not a sprint. Reach out for help and be kind to yourself. There are difficulties in any endeavor that is truly worth it, and adoption is truly worth it.