Thursday, October 25, 2007

What to Expect While You Are Waiting To Adopt (some good info)

A friend on a message board I frequent shared this article with me. It's on iVillage, and is about the adoption process. More specifically what to expect while you are waiting to adopt. For someone who is starting to think about adoption, or someone who wants to know more about how an adoptive parent feels, it can be a really good article. A lot of it rings true for us, and it's a great way to share with others what we go and have gone through as we journey through this process to build our family. Here's the article, it's written by a woman who has children both biologically and through adoption:


When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I ran out to buy a beautiful journal. In it, I tracked the growth of my belly, doctor's visits, countdown to the due date, and of course the details of my labor and delivery.

When my husband and I began talking about having another child, I knew I wanted to keep another pregnancy journal. Our second child, however, did not come as planned. After secondary infertility and nearly seven years of trying to conceive we made the decision to adopt a baby. This "pregnancy" did not last nine months; it came without any what-to-expect guidelines. I was "expecting" all right, but certainly not in the conventional way. I could not relate to any of the available nine-month countdown journals. So, I decided to create my own.

Through my journaling and sharing with others in similar situations, I found that there are indeed somewhat predictable stages of an adoption pregnancy.

Stage One: Asking Yourself Questions
The first trimester, so to speak, of an adoption expectancy may take a few minutes or several years. Some men and women say that they always knew they would adopt; it was just a matter of when. I have also met couples who have been, and still are, thinking about adoption for 10 years. Still others, like my husband and me, make the decision easily to have a child and to try fertility treatments when unable to become pregnant. Pursuing adoption, however, was not as instantaneous for us.

My biggest fear throughout pregnancy with my first child was, Would I be a good mother? My biggest fear in my adoption expectancy was, Will I feel like this child's mother? Could I bond with a child not born to me? Would I treat my birth child differently, and would my adopted child grow up feeling injustice in our family? Worst of all, could I handle my emotions if and when my child wanted to meet the birth family? I feared my role as a mother would be short-lived.

Ask yourself what matters, a pregnancy or a child? Will I feel like less of a person if I cannot make a baby? Have I mourned the child we cannot conceive? Is adoption our last resort, or do we want it regardless of our ability to conceive?

Stage Two: Who Will This Child Be?
The second trimester of your expectancy resembles a physical pregnancy's: You imagine LIFE. You don't grow a belly, rather a mound of paperwork. You're through with doctors poking at your body, but social workers poke around your home. No more research into medical miracles; now it's finding how to build your family. You start to imagine what kind of parent you will be. You wonder, Who will this child be?

You are moving into unknown territory, and it is natural to be filled with questions, fears and even doubts. You will be judged if your home and marriage are fit for a child, if you will be a fit parent. You will be asked about your feelings on issues that you may never before have given a second thought. You might have no idea what race your child will be, or his heritage or what she might look like. You'll probably stare at every child on the street and wonder, Will mine look like that?

You might have nightmares about your baby being born with two heads, seven toes or polka dots. You'll have to come to terms with heart-wrenching questions like, Can I parent a disabled child? What about a baby born with AIDS? A birth defect? Of all the children born in this world, which will be mine to love and raise?

Somewhere out there a child waits for you. You have taken a huge step toward that child; now feel the movement in the universe that will connect you.

Stage Three: The Waiting Game
Try to think of this stage as your last hurrah to prepare for the moment when you will get that phone call, when the agency or attorney will match you, when the birth mother will go into labor. IT WILL HAPPEN.

Compose a letter to your waiting child during this time. If you have little ones, encourage them to write to their future sibling. Ask your parents also to write to their coming grandchild.

Welcome the child into your life and family before s/he arrives, just as you would if you carried her in your womb. Throw yourself a baby shower. Ready your home for your new bundle. Buy diapers, sprinkle baby powder around the room, wash some baby clothes with extra gentle soap. Do whatever it takes to make it feel real.

Stage Four: It's a Boy, a Girl, a Miracle!
No matter how ready you think you are, you're not ready for this. As many times as you have answered the telephone before the first ring ended, and thought, "This could be the call," it will be the time that you grab it running out the door when the voice on the other end breaks the news you've been waiting for. It will be the day that the mail sits on your counter for hours before you remember it when a picture or video of your child appears. Even if you are in the delivery room, watching the birth of your baby, once he or she is placed in your arms, your heart will skip a beat and you will wonder, "How did I get here?!"

How you got there is nothing short of a miracle. The miracle of childbirth. The miracle of adoption. And it will take your breath away.

Stage Five: Joyful Beginnings, Bittersweet Endings
After childbirth, many women go through postpartum blues. Though it may be hard to imagine feeling anything other than pure joy once your long-awaited adopted child is in your arms, don't be surprised when you shed tears the first few weeks. Hormones may not be causing the tears, but you will nonetheless feel mixed up.

The first time I saw my daughter, she was two days old, sleeping in a car seat, her two pink feet sticking out beneath a blanket. Sitting next to her, lovingly stroking those precious feet, was her birth mother. My heart went out not at first to this dear infant but to the incredibly courageous and loving woman who had just given birth. I was truly paralyzed for a moment at the magnitude of love surrounding the three of us, this adoption triad.

Don't be afraid to feel the loss and sadness for your child and the birth parents. Cry for joyful beginnings. And cry for bittersweet endings.

An adoption pregnancy is not obvious to everyone. Often without a due date, it is a pregnancy of the heart and soul. I hope that my book, Till There Was You: An Adoption Expectancy Journal, will inspire you to explore your own time of waiting that you will share one day with the child who grew in your heart.

--By Rebecca Lyn Gold


Annie said...

Wonderful article. I love the idea of an adoption journal like a pregnancy journal. thanks for sharing this.

EJ said...

As we WAIT for being accepted by our agency, my heart and mind leads to all kind og questions. I am glad that you shared this with everyone.