Thoughts about Adoptive Families While Waiting

I read this great article today that was written to friends of waiting adoptive mothers (in my opinion fathers too). Although in her situation it talked specifically about international adoption, a lot of the points carry over for domestic adoption or are similar at least. She listed 12 things you should know if you are a friend of someone waiting, and I wanted to share them here and kind of talk about what it has been like for us as a family. I also think that there are a couple other things to add to the list as well. Click here for original article
1. We are not crazy, we might act like it at times though. Adoption is a stressful process between finding and navigating an agency process at the beginning, getting your home study approved, dealing with updates to your home study every year, struggling through the waiting of getting a contact and making a match agreement with an expectant mom, waiting for a phone call once you are matched that it’s time to go to the hospital, and finally waiting for the adoption to be finalized. After all of that stress if we break down, or just get upset over something seemingly stupid there is a reason and it might have nothing to do with what is going on at that moment in life. Typically, Andy and I take the brunt of each others freak outs but it does still happen when we are with other people at times.  Try not to take it personally and realize that one day we won’t be so stressed out emotionally.
2. We love a child we have never met (or potentially hasn’t even been conceived/born yet). It is difficult to care so much about a child we know nothing about yet but we do. We also care about those children that have been born that have gone to different adoptive families or that have stayed with their birth parents. Getting a contact by an expecting mom is exciting but if it doesn’t end in a match or placement you still have feelings about the baby that won’t be our child; which can be hard to deal with. I still catch myself wondering what happened or how they are growing with their families for the contacts we had last year or earlier this year.
3. For an international adoption you get matched with a child and then you have the long process of more paperwork to do before you can go and finally bring them home. On the other hand domestic adoption we do all the paperwork upfront, then we wait to be matched with an expectant mom, and finally we wait for the baby to be born. In both cases we are parents without children though, and always feeling like we are missing something from our lives. It is hard to want something so bad and be so close to getting it but not knowing when it will finally happen.
4. We as a culture are addicted to phone and email already but it becomes even worse when you are waiting for an adoption. Frantically running to pick up the phone and see if it is a call from our agency or from our 800 telephone number setup for the adoption. When you pick it up though and it is a telemarketer call or not related to adoption at all it can get to be so disappointing. We don’t get excited as often now when it rings because we have had too many phone calls that were not contacts, but you still get that thought in your head maybe this one will be different and it will change our lives for the better forever.
5. Adopting a new born means that typically the child has not had trauma in their life so far. However, depending on how open the communication is after placement the child could experience a sense of loss later in their life still. It is one of the reasons we chose open adoption since there will be contact with the birth family and answers to questions such as where do they come from, what are their birth parents like, why they were placed for adoption, etc.
6. Adoption is definitely not the same as pregnancy. Once we adopt it is not going to be like we can commiserate with you over the difficulties of your pregnancy. Not that you shouldn’t have someone to complain to about what you are going through but someone with fertility issues is not the right person even if they have adopted a child. I wanted to be pregnant and experience all the joys and difficulties that come with it. Telling me that I am lucky that I don’t have to experience X from being pregnant is not helpful (and yes this has happened multiple times). Currently we don’t know when we will have a child in our arms to hold as it could be another month or 2 more years. While we hope it won’t take too much longer there just is no knowing at this point.
7. Questions about when we are going to adopt is not something we can answer other than giving average wait times. Those averages are just that though averages and it could be shorter or much longer since we are waiting to be chosen. While I don’t have a problem answering and talking about the wait there are those that do. I love it when our friends ask questions because it shows that they are thinking about us and the adoption.
8. Even once we are matched and have had a child placed with us it doesn’t mean that it is final. We could potentially lose the child if the birth family chooses to reclaim them. This reclaim period is different depending on what state the baby is born in and can be either short (no time once rights are signed away) to rather long (45 days in Rhode Island I believe). Preparing for this is hard to do and if we have to go through it then it will be gut wrenching. This is why we will not be introducing the baby to anyone, family or friend, until after the reclaim period is over for our placement.
9. I have definitely noticed that my mind does not work the way it once did. You can say that I am getting older and that is why my memory is not what it used to be but I know it is because my mind is never 100% involved on any task that I am working on. There is always a part of my brain thinking/worrying about something related to the adoption.
10. We have heard all the different horror stories about adoption, and we don’t need to hear them again (or the stories about how easy adoption was for someone else). These stories are not helpful or comforting to us as every situation is different and we don’t know what will happen for us. We are already worried enough about what might happen in the adoption process that we don’t need any more anxieties.
11. I have done so much research on the adoption process both before we chose the type of agency (international vs. domestic, open vs. closed, etc.), the actual agency we were going to use (there are a lot of them out there), and what we are open to in our adoption profile (race, gender, age, etc.) until now. There is always more information out there and although I don’t look as often at articles I still feel the need when I see something about adoption to read it. This is one of those times that the internet is both helpful and a hindrance as there is sometimes too much information and it can stress you out.
12. While I think we are brave for putting ourselves through the adoption process and wanting to do it again for a second child, I am also a complete and total mess inside a majority of the time. I am not one for big emotional break downs in public but sometimes it is all I can do to keep myself from losing control. We are choosing to adopt because for me I need to be a mom and Andy needs to be a dad, so while we are brave we are also a little crazy. Adoption is not for the faint of heart, it is hard and messy but in the end we will be parents and whatever we need to do to be that we will do it.
13. Just because we aren’t parents yet doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy being around our friends that are pregnant or already have children. This is something that is different for all waiting parents as some find it too difficult. We however, love to get time with children and play with them as often as possible while we are waiting for our family. Andy is always saying how we are available to baby sit if friends want and he isn’t lying. We have loved the opportunities we have had with friends and family that have taken us up on it.
14. While we wish we could have gotten pregnant we are happy when friends and family have children. We love to celebrate first children or growing families for friends and relatives, and we don’t want people to feel like they need to walk on eggshells to tell us. Even though at times it might be difficult for us to hear the news (because maybe we have been told 5 times in one week that someone else is expecting) we are still happy for all those people that are expecting. The difficult stories for us to hear are people in the news that hurt their own child when there are so many people out there that would have loved to be that child’s parent.

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