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Managing the Wait
April 4, 2018
Beginning on an adoption journey can cause many feelings including excitement, nervousness, joy, fear, apprehension, and so many other emotions. Many adoptive parents waiting to be matched or waiting to bring their child home often share one very important feeling: impatience. It is difficult to guess how long an adoption journey may take. For some, they await their child for a few months, while other wait years. The National Adoption Center website states that it can take anywhere from two to seven years for a healthy infant to be placed with an adoptive family. Time ranges based on where a family is located, what challenges may be facing the child, the age of the child, etc. In short, adoptive families may be waiting for a long time to bring their child home, and that time can be daunting.
In the March 2017 issue of Adoptive Families Magazine, there was an article titled, “Keeping Your Spirits Up During the Wait” where several adoptive families gave examples of some of the things they did to pass the time while they waited to be matched with an adoptive child. Examples included:
-Make checklists of projects to complete around the house before the child’s arrival.
Clearing out those gutters or sorting closets will be last thing on any new parent’s mind when their child comes home. One adoptive mother explained that she and her husband made a list of things to do each week to keep them busy. They probably even felt lighter knowing that so many of their household projects were taken care of.
-Read other adoptive families’ success stories.
Success stories are everywhere. There are so many books, podcasts, websites, and social media platforms that are available. For many adoptive families, it can be helpful to see how the process panned out for someone else that walked in their shoes before them. It can also provide hope for the family.
-Complete a bucket list of “lasts” for the couple (or the family) before the child’s arrival.
If a couple awaits the arrival of their first child, they could pass the time by doing some of the things that they may not as easily be able to do once their child has been placed. One adoptive mother said that she and her husband spent time hiking the “non-stroller friendly” trails that they enjoyed. Other couples may go to their favorite restaurants, travel somewhere they have never been or even just participate in hobbies that they love. Families that are waiting on their second, third, fourth or subsequent children may plan activities to do together as a family to celebrate. If the parent(s) are concerned about their children’s adjustment to a new child in the family, they might take the time before the adoptive child’s arrival to spend one-on-one, quality time with the child(ren) and answer any questions they may have.
-Work extra shifts or additional jobs to save additional money (or to serve as a distraction).
Adoption can be pricey, and parenting is definitely pricey. Taking on extra shifts at work or even starting an additional or part-time job might help the family to be more financially prepared. The extra work may also provide a welcome distraction from the wait.
-Write in a book or create a scrapbook for the child.
Many adoptive parents enjoy creating a scrapbook or writing in a journal for their adoptive child while they wait for their arrival. Writing down thoughts about the child, plans for the future or feelings about the process can be cathartic for the adoptive family. In addition, it might be a good thing to share with the child once they are placed because it shows them that the family was thinking about them throughout the entire journey. It can create a sense of belonging that many adoptive children can benefit from.
-Join online message boards or support groups.
No one knows or understands what an adoptive family endures like another adoptive family. Getting plugged into a community of people that are experiencing the same highs and lows is incredibly valuable. There are countless online message boards to turn to if a family does not have time or is not comfortable going to an in-person support group. If parents are looking for in-person support groups, there are a multitude of those as well. Families can look to their community resources, including their churches. If a support group does not exist or does not fit their needs, the family could even start their own. It is likely that there are other families nearby that are also seeking support.
-Talk about it.
If you are in the waiting, know that you are not alone. It sometimes seems easier to keep your feelings inside, taking each new step in solitude. But there can be great relief in letting it go. If there are not people in your circle that you feel comfortable talking to, seek out groups and even individual families that have walked in your shoes before. If you are not willing to get into a group or reach out to those you do not know well, reach out to your family or friends. They may not know exactly what to say, and they may not be able to completely understand what you are going through, but if they love you, it is likely that they can at least listen. Sometimes you do not need answers, you just need to speak.