How to Survive Adoption Preparation
It’s no secret that the adoption process is long, tiresome, and emotionally strenuous. And after all of that work and effort, a baby is never guaranteed. In the beginning you may experience an abundance of excitement as you learn about and pursue something new. But over time the paperwork, expenses, and unknowns start piling up. The excitement of it all fades a bit. You may find yourself feeling weary, fearful, and wondering where this journey is leading you. You may compare yourselves to random strangers you’ve eagerly connected with over your new-found passion of adoption. You’ll see couples who are holding a new baby in their arms after waiting only two weeks. You’ll see others with a picture-perfect open adoption. You’ll see slideshows of someone else’s profile book and start to rethink your design choices. And for me, the hardest part was the endless (and often time insensitive) questions from families, friends, and people on social media who know nothing about adoption. When will you have a baby? Can you choose if it’s a boy or girl? Do you have to keep talking to the mom after baby is born? Do you think you’ll be able to love someone else’s child as much as if you had a biological child? Aren’t you going to miss out on the whole pregnancy experience??
Shall I continue? I’d rather not. You know these questions. At this point in our journey, I didn’t have my comebacks ready. I didn’t have answers to a lot of the questions we received. This made the process even harder. I feel this is especially hard for a couple coming to adoption after infertility. Infertility is hard enough, is it not?? Your hearts are broken, weary, and your questioning whether you’ll ever have the perfect baby in your arms. I know all of these feelings.
Here are some ways to care for yourself and stay motivated through the process.
Self-Care. Yes, I’m a huge fan of self-care. Self-care is essential for our survival and emotional health. I believe this is especially true when we’re experiencing situations that take up a lot of our mental capacity. It’s greatly needed during times of uncertainty and stress. The adoption process absolutely qualifies as stressful. Make yourself and your relationship with your spouse a priority. Get plenty of rest, do the things that fill your soul. Spend quiet time together. Eat healthy to support your body and emotions. Declutter your environment and calendar to clear space for more important things. You are worth it.
Take some time to heal. I’ve passed this advice along to so many people. I believe that infertility is only a channel of which God leads couples to adoption. It’s beautiful and worth the heartache. But there is devastating heartache in infertility and adoption. If you’re coming from the dark shadows of infertility, consider taking some time to heal before you jump in to the adoption process. Maybe a few weeks will be enough. Maybe a few months. Gather some strength and energy and allow your heart to heal. You’ll have more mental capacity and feel less overwhelmed by the adoption process.
Connect with others. This is key. Find a tribe of fellow adoptive parents. Often times, agencies will organize social events for all their hopeful adoptive families. Attend. Even if you don’t feel like it. Turn to social media. Find a positive Facebook group, such as Mighty Mamas by Adoption, or an adoption-related Instagram account. Connect with fellow mamas who know exactly how you’re feeling – the overwhelm feeling of paperwork and cost, the anxieties of the unknowns, the excitement.
Plan for baby. This is the opposite of what I hear some hopeful adoptive families say. Some say that it’s simply too hard to get together a nursery and walk by it every day seeing it empty. For me, though, this is a huge motivator and kept me going when days were filled with doubt. I browsed Pinterest for ideas, I looked at paint colors, and bought a few cute baby outfits. This fueled my excitement. This kept me motivated and I felt as if this was the one thing I could “control” in the process.
Have some fun. Buy those concert tickets you’ve been talking about for years, take a weekend trip, check out the comedy club you’ve been talking about! After all, once baby arrives you won’t have quite as much free time. Enjoy these last weeks/months as a childless couple or family of 3 or whatever you are. I know this is difficult when you’re desperate for a baby in your arms, but even when it feels hard and impossible, adoption isn’t a reason to lose joy in all those days spent waiting and wondering. These are valuable, irreplaceable days of your life. Find joy.