Waiting during Adoption
Ways to cope during the waiting phase of your adoption
Are you good at waiting? Most of us are not. Especially when we are waiting for the child of our dreams! Yet, many parents find themselves waiting while they are in the process of adopting a child. Being an adoptive mom myself, I confess I was terrible at waiting. I tried to tell myself that all this waiting was going to make me a more patient mom. I hope this is true... Nevertheless, it was one of the most difficult phases of the adoption process. No matter how many documents we had to fill out, notary stamps we had to check for accuracy and friends we had to ask for help in writing letters of support, nothing prepared us for the difficulty of waiting.
Now that our children are home, my goal for this article is to support the parents who are still waiting for their child to come home and offer some ideas that may have helped me in hindsight and that others in the adoption community have shared with me.
Read Parenting Books
Reading is one of my favorite hobbies so naturally, it became one of my favorite ways to cope with the wait. It helped to pass time, provided me with new insights and especially information while I was struggling to find answers to so many questions. I read books on how to take care of babies. These books were sometimes hard to read because I didn't know at what age our child would be coming home. Doing such activities as diapering and bathing a baby seemed completely unreal before we had that wiggling little body in our arms!
The adoptive parenting books were very insightful and covered more of the emotional needs of the child rather than the purely physical ones. "Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew" provided me with new insights on adoption from an adoptee's perspective and I'm a better mom for having read it. Some say it tends to focus a bit on the negative but if you take the major points from it and open up to the adoptee's feelings of loss, you will gain a more rounded view on adoption.
"Raising Adopted Children" was a bit dry at times but very thorough and informative. A fun book to read was Baby Bargains as it helped me to prepare our home in concrete ways for a child and save money!
Join Support Groups and Communities
Our adoption agency has set up an online group which allows you to exchange e-mails with other adoptive parents. This group was a great resource of information for us as parents who had already brought their children home, shared their experiences. It was also a wonderful support group, as other waiting parents truly understood the hardship of waiting. Best of all, it provided inspiration and hope as we saw other parents bringing their children home after many paperwork challenges, bureaucratic delays, changes in adoption law, etc.
Even if your adoption agency doesn't have an online group, there are online adoption communities that would provide you with similar support. You will even be able to find other waiting adoptive parents on social networking sites such as facebook and twitter.
Although your wait is not likely to get shorter with an international adoption, with a domestic adoption you would want to get the word out that you are looking to adopt. Some families are creating web pages or fan pages on facebook in the hopes that they will be matched with a birth family who is planning on making an adoption plan for their child. MyAdoptionAdvisor.com recommends: "Don't wait. Be proactive & network & market yourself. You wouldn't "wait" for a job so why not look to adopt?" Social networking sites can be an effective tool in spreading the word.
Prepare for your child's homecoming AKA nesting!
Yes, adoptive moms also have the nesting urge! I personally had a distinct urge to clean before our kids came home; anyone who knows me can tell you this is not how I typically like to spend my energy... Some of us like to enjoy a little shopping therapy to cope with the wait. Even though I may be a bit of a strange duck in that I personally don't consider shopping one of my favorite things to do, I definitely enjoyed shopping for the child of my dreams. There is something about having those soft cotton onesies in your hands that make you feel it may actually happen! Check out these cute baby and kids shirts:
Domestic or International?
Do you think the wait is typically longer for domestic or international adoption?
Pray, Meditate, Reflect
Adoption is an emotional roller coaster. Not knowing when exactly our wait would end was challenging . It was also difficult knowing that we had absolutely no control over the process while it was for someone as close to our hearts as our child! Taking the time to be quiet and reflect can help relax you during stressful times.
Whether you call it praying, meditating or reflecting, reserving this time for yourself is important. A friend gave me a book during our wait, named: "Wait, a journey to discovering the heart of God." This Christian book has many beautiful photographs and slowly leads you through a poem that will touch your heart. It gave me strength during our wait and even though I definitely still didn't like the wait, this special little book kept me going.
With domestic adoption, adoptive families typically wait until they are matched with a birth family or a birth family selects them to parent their child. With international adoption, families are often put on a waiting list and wait their "turn" to be matched to a child. When I was in the middle of the process, I felt curious how long other families may have been waiting. So, I thought it would be interesting to do this little poll. Counting from the moment you filed your initial paperwork, how long have you been waiting?
How long have you been waiting?
Even before we decided to adopt, we enjoyed volunteering for a variety of causes. During our wait, it became a wonderful way to keep busy while giving back to our community . Keeping busy is good when you have too much on your mind and what better way to do it than by improving someone else's life or standing up for a cause you feel passionate about.
When looking for a volunteer job, find out if the opportunity is short-term or long-term, how much flexibility you have in scheduling and how many hours you need to commit to it. In our city, there is an organization that will publish on an online calendar short-term volunteer opportunities that require no training and no additional commitment. You can just sign up for a day that works for you and help out.
Regardless of your choice between a short-term or long-term commitment, you will find that the positive feeling you will receive from doing the job will make you want to volunteer again and it is sure to lift your spirits!