Waiting for an adoption can be one of the hardest things you have ever done. Once the paperwork, the interviews, and the meetings are done, and you are just waiting for the phone call or email, time can pass ever so slowly. You are a parent in your heart but not according to the state. You love someone more than life itself, but you haven’t even met them yet. Your child may be in the next town or across the ocean, but he or she isn’t with you yet. The waiting period of your journey can knock you down, but it can also help you grow and develop in ways that you would have never expected. Here are six things that waiting for an adoption does to you.
1. Your patience grows, but your filter shrinks.
You have learned to be so patient. Patient while you wait for your social worker to complete your home study. Patient while you wait for your dossier to be sent overseas. Patient while you fill out your life book that you will show to birth mothers. But, as your patience grows, your filter often shrinks. Those little snide comments that people make like, “Why wouldn’t you adopt from your own country?” or “Why are you fundraising? If you can’t afford the adoption, you can’t afford to be parents” may be met with more sass and sarcasm than you normally would. Patience grown through the waiting process of adopting will often improve your wit game at the same time.
2. Preparedness becomes an understatement.
During the wait, you read books. Lots of books. Adoption books, parenting books, fundraising books, trauma books; all to help you prepare to bring your child home. You set up his or her room, even if you don’t know the age of your child yet. You get a bigger car, an extra car seat, add extra money to the grocery section of your budget, all to prepare for a child you haven’t met yet. You will never be prepared to bring him or her home, but boy will you prepare.
3. Everything reminds you of him or her, sorry not sorry.
That sweet baby in the next aisle at the grocery store looks about the same age as a child you may be matched with. The shirt you are wearing today was made in the country your child was born in. Your neighbor’s best friend’s cousin’s daughter has the same name you have always envisioned choosing for your future daughter. The young mom you see at the gym is exactly who you wish you could be. Everything reminds you of your child, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Don’t apologize. It’s part of being a mom.
4. You become a little more sensitive and a little more easily offended.
When you meet with other mom friends, conversations almost always turn to the kids. But, when you are an adoptive parent in the trenches of waiting, portions of these conversations can be a bit offensive. When other moms are all talking about breastfeeding their newborn, you may just sit there, knowing that your 4-year-old never got to experience the love of a mother as an infant. When they are discussing their 2-year-old’s terrible sleep habits, you long to be tired because your child is waking you up at night. When your friends are chatting about first steps, first foods, and first words, you go home and cry because you know you have missed those moments with your child and will never get them back. Adoption is evidence of a broken world, and your heart is a little more sensitive during the wait.
5. If Target wasn’t your favorite store before, it will be now.
You’ll start creating excuses to go shopping for your children whenever you can. Whether you know if they are a boy or girl, or if you just know that they’ll need socks since they’re human, you will want to shop for them. Shopping helps adoptive parents feel closer to their child, even if they are years away from finalization. So, expect your budget to feel the weight of your adoption, even outside the predicted fees.
6. You’re “refresh” button may get worn out.
When you’re in the waiting period of adoption, the call of a potential match or travel dates can just show up out of the blue. So, this leads to anxious adoptive parents to check their emails (or their phones) way more than they’ve ever checked them before. Your friends may judge how quickly you respond back, or people may make side comments about how often you look at your phone, but you just need to own it. You are a parent of a child that isn’t with you. Check that email, mama.
The waiting period is tough, and it is not for the faint of heart. It may contain long weeks that turn into months. No phone call or email can feel like your soul is being ripped right out of your body. But, the wait will make you stronger. And, knowing that on the other side of the wait is your child, makes the journey well worth it. Hang in there. They’re waiting for you, sass and all, on the other side.