If you have struggled with infertility, waiting is not a new concept. You’ve waited to take a pregnancy test month after month, you waited at doctor's offices hoping for an answer, you waited to cycle just right for fertility treatments, and so on. So when you finally decide adoption is the path for your family to meet your baby, it’s tough to handle more waiting! Especially when everything feels so out of your control. At least while you are filling out the mounds of paperwork to get on the list at your agency, you have something to be doing. As exciting as it is to “get on the list”, you wake up the next day and there is little you can do to influence how quickly you will be matched and how successful that match will be. Kind of depressing right? But, have no fear! There are some things you can do, or avoid, to make the waiting process more manageable. I’m so grateful for my friend Karen who has helped share her own adoption experience with me to create the tips below.
1) Realize the wait is a roller coaster. This is something we said at least a thousand times while we waited and have talked about before on my blog. You have the highs of completing your home study and getting “on the list”, the first profile showing, the call that you’ve been matched, the first meeting with the birth mother, the doctors appointments, the birth of your child. But, you also have the lows of waiting for your profile to be shown – sometimes with months of inactivity, the birth mother who changes her mind, the excruciating 48+ hours. The ups and downs are an unavoidable part of the process. Try your best to minimize emotional reactions to the dips by surrounding yourselves with supportive friends and family.
2) Find distractions. We also tried our best to distract ourselves with things we knew would be much less frequent once we had a baby (date nights, vacations). Make a playlist of songs to listen to on tough days and hopeful days. Working out and retail therapy always helps too! Personally, the weekend of the due date we had been given by our first birth mother we planned a trip so we wouldn’t be in town thinking about what might have been. As religious couples, we also spent a lot of time at church and meeting with our Priest, knowing it was out of our control and in God’s hands.
3) Pray Pray Pray. Enough said. :)
4) Avoid situations you know you can’t handle. We also tried to avoid putting ourselves in situations we knew would be emotionally difficult for us — I said no to several baby showers, especially after the failed placement. As happy as I was for my friends, I just knew it was more than I could handle. We also asked our friends to wait until after we had been placed with the baby to have a shower of our own.
5) Prepare yourself to be a parent. Just because you could have one month or one year, not nine specific months to prepare, you will still want to spend time researching general and adoptive parenting.
6) Time your baby preparations. We didn’t buy anything for the baby or set up the nursery until we were feeling extremely confident with our second match. On the flip side, others find setting up the nursery in a great way to pass the time. Others wait for the baby to come home. Do what works for your family, but realize there are pros & cons to each approach!
7) Too much of a good thing… Most agencies will provide you with status updates on your profile showing status through some form or fashion – website, emails, phone calls, etc. You can get a fair amount of data. But, too frequent of updates is not always a good thing, especially if you haven’t had a lot of activity or are passed up for other families. We *tried* not to look at the profile showing log every day or week — seriously, it’s too easy to drive yourself crazy!
8) Celebrate your peaks!!! In our cases, we were never going to see a positive pregnancy test, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t experience any of the joys of being an expectant parent. Take adoption announcement photos as a couple. Email the sonogram pictures to friends and family. If you can, attend doctors appointment with your birthmom. Go to a newborn childcare class with your mom or friend. Create a baby registry. Relish the scent of his first load of laundry.
9) Repeat your mantra. The wait will be SOOOO worth it! As I've said before, the best part about adopting is that the question changes from IF it will happen to WHEN. Adopting our son is absolutely the hardest experience we have ever been through, but it also the most rewarding. I know Karen feels the same way. We never knew we could feel so much love until we locked eyes with our boys, all of the waiting was completely worth it!!!