For those who don't know, both of my children were adopted. There are many different paths towards adoption. For us, the path that made most sense was domestic, open adoption. In a nutshell, this means that we hooked up with an adoption agency, developed a website touting our wonderfulness and waited for a birth mother to choose us to parent her child. Talk about taking a leap of faith.
With adoptions, like many things in life, it's a whole lot of hurry up and wait. We jumped through hoop after hoop to finally "go live" with our website. We got fingerprinted, completed a home study, had physicals, completed draft after draft of our Dear Birthmother letter (a letter which would be provided to potential birthmothers by our adoption agency to help introduce us as an option), and created our website ourselves to cut down on costs. This whole process—from the decision to adopt to being officially ready to be chosen by a birthmother—took about a year, which comparatively is actually pretty fast.
So, after all this activity and proactive work towards our collective goal of adoption, the actual waiting hit us like a pile of bricks. It was like someone had slammed on the brakes during a high-speed chase. We were left reeling and had some major adjusting to do as we moved into the hardest part—the waiting.
This happens a lot in life, though. You might be waiting on a grade in school or for some medical test result or your kid's school placement or on a promised promotion. You might be waiting for the girl or guy of your dreams. But whether you are waiting for something good or something bad, the waiting is tough. I think this is because you are so focused on something that you don't have and there is nothing you can do, in that moment, to get it. You just have to wait. There's a feeling of helplessness, and it's a time when your mind can tend to run rampant with a million different "What if's".
But in the words of Dr. Seuss:
That's not for you!
Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing."
(excert from Dr. Seuss’ Oh The Places You’ll Go, 1990)
Of course, this is much easier said than done. I mean, Dr. Seuss did not exactly go into detail about how to get out of the dreaded Waiting Place. He just says "somehow". Not very helpful, in my opinion. When you are waiting for something you really feel passionate about, the Waiting Place can seem like a prison with no escape.
The truth is that everyone does this a little differently. For me, I received a really great piece of advice when we were waiting to adopt. Basically, I was reminded that even though we were not actually parenting yet, it was never too early to begin being the parents we wanted to be. If I wanted to be a patient parent, I needed to practice patience in the here and now. How could I expect myself to just magically develop patience as a parent when I couldn't do it with a full night's sleep? If I wanted to be a parent who is engaged and helps my kids to live life to the fullest, then I needed to practice living life to the fullest even while we were waiting. Sitting on my couch feeling sorry for myself was definitely not living life to the fullest.
For many people, being single is like this. It can feel excruciating and completely helpless. When you see all your friends happy in their relationships (at least, that's what they're putting on Facebook, right?), you begin to feel like there is something wrong with you. This can be a quick and easy downward spiral. But if you want to have an open, intimate relationship, ask yourself...are you really being as open and vulnerable in your friendships and family relationships as you need to be? This perspective moves the helpless, pointless agony of waiting into something that has purpose and meaning.
Don't get me wrong, it was still hard. There were definitely times when I felt that panicky sadness rise and threaten to overwhelm me. But when that happened, I would ask myself if there was anything I could do, in that exact moment, that would mimic the kind of parent I wanted to be. This calmed me and got me off my woe-is-me toosh like nothing else. In the end, I am forever grateful that we formed our family through adoption for this and many other lessons that would have been missed had making our family come easily.
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