Friday, January 28, 2011

Surviving the Wait

I've read Kelly's blog for quite some time but this is the first SUYL I've linked to.  When I saw that adoption was the theme for this week I debated on what to do.  No, I technically don't have an adoption story yet, but I have been in the trenches for a long time.  A very, very long time.  Sometimes I wish I could find a blog where the person had an experience similar to ours but I have yet to find it.  I decided maybe today I needed to be that blog.  I was going to write out our whole story but it got really long.  Instead I decided to put our timeline on the left side and then write about some things I've learned over the last few years....

To sum it up we have been praying for a 2nd child for 67 months.  We are one of the "lucky" ones who had no problem conceiving or delivering our first child but then learned about the world of Secondary Infertility when we were ready to expand our family.  Out of these 57 months 39.5 of them have been spent as a waiting family with an adoption agency.  I know in the scheme of thing we aren't the longest waiters ever and we don't have the saddest story - but still the waiting stinks.  No matter how long it takes - it is a frustrating place to be.

I would say though that I've made some great strides in my relationship with God and how I choose to handle my feelings towards the wait in the last few months.  After our last failed attempt at embryo adoption I knew that I was finally at the point of where I had to say "God, I've done all I can do, it is in Your hands now".  It was freeing to give up the hold that I had on always wondering what our next step should be and should we find another agency, is there anything else we could try etc.  I knew without a doubt we had exhausted all of our resources.  There were no more backup plans.  We had to make a choice - either we continue to wait for the perfect time from God or we give up and quit.  We have decided to persevere and never give up until God tell us differently.

Some are probably thinking "well, they just want the perfect healthy Caucasian baby, that's why their wait has been so long".  Unfortunately no, that is not the case.  We are open to a lot.  We are open to drug abuse, different races, not so pleasant situations.  In fact both babies we have been matched with have been different races.  We have been shown many, many times in many different situations.  I wish I had kept track of how many times our profile has been shown.  But still we wait.  I have no idea why or what God's plan is with all of this, but I have to assume it is something big.  Somehow He will use all of this to His glory - we just hope it is before we are 80! ha ha...

So my contribution today is just some things that I've learned over the years.  Hopefully it can encourage someone else who may be having a rough time with the wait.  Maybe it will help you to learn some of these lessons a little quicker than I did???  I also think it is important though to express that adoption can be a wonderful thing, but it is not pleasant all the time.  You will be forced to make some decisions that really don't seem fair and no one but another adoptive family will even begin to understand.  Even if you have the greatest most understanding family in the world, they will not fully understand what an adoptive family goes through during the wait and the really hard questions you will have to think about.  I'm not saying that to be negative, I'm saying it because it is the truth. 

  • Go in to it prepared to wait.  We all hope to be the family who is placed as soon as their face appears on the website, but that only happens for a small few.  Try to remember it will happen on God's time not yours.
  • Research, read about, listen and learn from others about adoption. Even read opinions from others that you may not agree with.  You will learn that your views will change during the wait.  BUT do this in small doses.  Too much information at one time is overwhelming.  You will only end up upset and confused. 
  • If you are like me and don't want to look at anything baby related until the baby comes home that is completely ok.  But one suggestion would be to find a family member/friend who would buy you a few essential hospital things  and pack them in a plain bag that you can stash in your house.  After two losses I finally developed this system.  Next time we get a call we will be prepared to go, but won't have the emotional stress of yet again sorting through the baby clothes.
  • You will get tired of the wait.  No matter how good you try to keep your attitude it will get hard.  There are days you will cry from sadness, want to throw things in anger and actually feel at peace with the wait.  Sometimes these phases last weeks, sometimes all three happen in the same 15 minutes.  But you will survive it.
  • Is is expensive - and I'm not talking about the agency fees here.  When you count every trip, every profile copy, every stinkin' HIV test (6 between the two of us since 07) it adds up.  Just be prepared.  That total sum from the agency includes none of that.
  • Even in you are matched and it seems like God has lined everything up it still may not work.  BUT remember that God wanted your paths to cross for a reason.  Maybe you are the only ones who will ever pray on a consistent basis for that baby and their family.  Take that responsibility seriously and do it! 
  • You can and you will do more than you ever thought you could.  God will lead you through it.  I will admit that I've read blogs or online forum posts where people have waited 2 months, throw a big fit saying that they can't take it any more and then bam they get a placement.  Then all the people on the online forums say God is wonderful because he knew you were at your breaking point and he sent you a baby.  So I tried their method before.  I've thrown some doozies and told God I was at my absolute lowest at that moment.  And like I don't appreciate my child throwing a fit, either did God.  Instead of getting my way I heard him say "get up and get it together, I will give you the strength to get through it".  And He does.  Every time I start to think I won't survive I hear Him say Yes you will!!!
  • If you are like us and have another child DO NOT put off the big trips until you think your family is complete.  We finally reached that point in 2009.  We wanted to do the Disneyland thing and finally knew the time was right.  Cade was almost 8.  If we waited for another one to be old enough to go Cade would be in HS and the magic would be gone.  So we made the most extravagant financial decision we ever had and flew to California.  I think Jay and I would both agree on this - we could loose our jobs and our house tomorrow, but we would never ever regret going to Disneyland. It was the greatest trip. And after seeing it with my own eyes I will never do Disneyland with a stroller!  Talk about a nightmare (just a little bit of extra advice there).
  • It is disappointing to be rejected time and time again.  Even though you know that God will put all the right people in the right place at the right time it still stinks.  None of us wake up each day and think "boy, I hope someone really dislikes me today".  It gets hard to not take it personally.  Sometimes I think the choice could be between us and a pack of wolves and the wolves would be the ones picked!  I have no idea why....we shower, we wear deodorant, we have normal jobs and pretty normal lives.  Jay is a teacher, I am a loan officer....Jay likes football, I'm a typical mom who's only hobby is whatever activity her child is doing (ha ha).  But seriously, what is wrong with us?  We have one child that I think has turned out really really great.  Not that we did anything special to make that happen, we have just loved him like any other parent does.  So why don't people like us?  I have to constantly remind myself that was not our baby.  God did not intend for us to raise that child.  And when that doesn't work I take the advice of a friend and tell myself...well, it was just another ugly baby!! :)
  • Research all the different types of drugs and their effects on development.  Just because you think there are no drugs used in a situation the baby could test positive at birth.  Have an idea of what you would do in that situation.  I know from personal experience how stressful this can be.  When you add that on to the other normal stress of any adoption situation it is hard.  A lot of decisions have to be made in a short time frame.
  • But with that being said also remember that the birth family has chosen you for a reason.  There is something about you that has made them trust you enough to give you their child.  Take that responsibility seriously if you have to make one of those hard decisions.  Again, from personal experience I know this is hard.  And I still feel guilt about a decision we had to make and I wonder daily if the mom has/can/will forgive us?
  • Be very careful what you say if you tell people that you are being shown or if you are picked.  Once it is said it can't be unsaid.  What if you are picked for that situation?  Will you really want people to know everything that you knew about the details?  Probably not.
  • And most importantly never ever loose your faith that God will get you through it.  Even with all of what we have been through I still feel that God is going to bless us at some point.  I don't know when, I don't know how, it may not be the way we think it should be, but it will happen!
I know this is getting really long, but I want to add a couple more things for friends and family members of those who are adopting....
  • When a couple tells you they are going to adopt just be happy for them.  Don't give them a lecture on why you think white couples should not raise black kids or any other adoption advice - like how hereditary mental illness is.  Again, that is something that once it is said can't be unsaid.  Those kinds of comments can seriously hurt your relationship with that couple.  Once they have a child their 1st responsibility will be to raise the baby in a safe environment.  If they feel you are negative towards them or their family they will cut off contact with you.
  • And I can't stress this one enough - Don't ask nosy questions.  There are a lot of things that adoptive families will not share about their child's history.  It is no one's business except for the parents and the child.  Sorry, but not even grandparents need to know everything.  When you ask questions you put the parents in an awkward situation.  They have to lie - and no one likes to lie, but they also have to protect their child. So don't ask.  Just be confident in the fact that the adoptive family does know everything that the agency knows and as long as they are comfortable with it, then you need to be comfortable with it.  It does not matter in the least to you if the child was drug exposed or if you know all there is to know about the birthfather or even if the mother has other children.  All you need to know is that this adoptive finally has the baby they have prayed for for years and years.  Your job is  to love the baby and not worry about the other stuff.  Because it just doesn't matter.  And if/when the day comes that the child is ready to share his full story he will share it with those who loved him for him without knowing every detail in the past.
So for all those in the process or thinking about it Good Luck - you are on quite the adventure which will be full of ups and downs.  But I know you know it will be worth it in the end - just like I do.  When I finally hold the son/daughter that God intended to be in our family it will be magical.  And so worth the wait!


cdketchie said...

Thank you so much for posting this. We are in the "waiting process" right now, and I find myself in one of the frustrated periods. Your post helped me refocus on what the truth is, that God is in control and knows the plan. Praying that your wait is over soon, but for peace and comfort in the wait.

a Tonggu Momma said...

I loved your list! As a family adopting through China's non-special needs program (waiting 55 months so far, with about 4 more to go), I totally *get* this post. (And I have to add that we went to Disney this summer! For exactly this reason! It was perfect timing for our six-year-old, also adopted from China, and we are so glad we didn't hold off anymore.)

Peter and Nancy said...

Just wanted you to know that you have company in the wait! March will be the 2-year mark in our wait for another daughter from India . . . this is not for the faint of heart. I often prayed to be more patient, and I guess God is helping me learn day by day. Hang in there, and God bless you for opening your hearts and lives to a child.