This guest blog is by Kay, a hopeful adoptive parent.
Let’s be honest, we can all work on our patience a little bit, but waiting for a successful adoption match and placement is a challenge.
After almost ten years of marriage and eight years of trying and waiting to become parents, we’ve come to understand why patience is a virtue. There seem to be alternating waves of optimism, despair, and hopelessness as time moves on.
Throughout these ups and downs during our wait, we’ve found a few helpful things to pass the time in a more positive, pleasant, and productive manner. We’ve chosen to find joy in the waiting, as the good things in life are worth the wait.
Spend time with the little ones in your life
Give the parents around you some time for themselves, while you spend some time with your nephews, nieces, family friends, and other babies, infants, or children in your life.
Though this can sometimes create melancholy, choose to find joy in the moments you share with these children and become comfortable with interacting with them, playing with them, holding them, and observing them.
Slow down and try to absorb their excitement and sense of awe and wonder with the world. Let your inner child emerge and be creative with them: Make projects, color, cook together, crawl around on your hands and knees, build forts, plant in the dirt.
Be fully present in the time you have with them and then appreciate your ability to go home afterward and enjoy your night’s rest.
Reflect on what makes a great parent
Look around you at the parents in your life and reflect upon what you believe makes a great parent and identify qualities you want to embody as an adoptive parent.
Discover your own areas for improvement, and educate yourself on important parenting techniques needed to care for your adopted infant/child/teen.
Take the time to learn the differences in parenting an adopted infant who has experienced trauma. Reflect upon the idea of an open adoption, the importance this has to the development of your child, and how you want to approach the adoption triad.
There are excellent resources for preparing yourself for this task including: The Connected Child and The Connected Parent by Karen Purvis, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption by Lori Holden and Crystal Hass, and many webinars and podcasts on CreatingaFamily.org and through the Center for Adoption Support and Education.
Work through your grief
While we may feel we have moved past the trauma and distress of our infertility struggles, it’s important to acknowledge them and truly work through the sadness.
Once we finally have our little bundle of joy, our grief over the loss of the ability for a biological child, our “dream” child, can resurface just when we are trying to form an attachment and bond with the infant we have in our home.
Work through the tough questions and come to grips with the loss of control and loss of future you had originally hoped for your family.
There are multiple books, podcasts, and webinars that address infertility grief, but our favorites are: He Remembers the Barren, by Katie Schermann, and the podcast/interview from CreatingaFamily.org with Carole Lieber Wilkins titled: “Coming to Terms with Infertility Grief Before You Adopt.”
Seek out a marriage and family therapist who specializes in infertility and adoption or find support through your spiritual leader in your church.
We found the love, support, prayers, and encouragement of our pastor, friends, and family extremely helpful as we worked through our grief, even though they hadn’t experienced exactly what we have.
Don’t forget to reach out to those around you who are also struggling, and find solace in shared sadness and understanding of the challenging journey into parenthood. There are plenty of blogs, support pages and Facebook groups that can facilitate this cathartic interaction with fellow waiting parents.
Research baby products and what to expect as a parent
Poll your friends, family, neighbors, and look up reviews for most preferred baby brands of necessities like laundry soap, lotion, creams, nose suction devices, baby food grinders, bottle warmers, etc.
Determine what products you are most comfortable with and the pros and cons of the different varieties. Become knowledgeable on the different formula types and the latest recommendations for introducing solid foods to infants or how to deal with typical food issues and aversions with you child.
Read books like What to Expect-The First Year in addition to webinars and podcasts that discuss fostering attachment with your adopted infant.
While this may seem futile or premature to some extent, it has helped us feel better prepared, distracted us from feeling hopeless, and left us believing we were accomplishing something of value, as opposed to passively waiting.
Continue to network/advertise
Work on your marketing strategy, as uncomfortable as that may sound, as your active participation in spreading your profile online, in person, and via word of mouth may shorten the duration of this waiting period.
Utilize online profile marketing services like America Adopts!, create your own free website or blog through WordPress and have your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or other social media platform friends/followers share your link.
Create a catchy hashtag to speed up the spread like: #johnandkayawaittheday. Create “hoping to adopt” business cards to post in public places (if allowed in your state), and mail them to family and friends at Christmas time or with other holiday cards to post in their local areas.
Have Fun and find the joy in the waiting
Take time with your spouse to enjoy dates, watch movies, hike, travel, laugh and grow in your relationship.
While this whole adoption journey can be very trying and stressful, don’t forget to cherish your partner now during this time before children as your focus will be on your infant/child in the many years to come.
Keep the lines of communication open as you work through your emotions and endure the challenges of waiting. Most of all, try to find the joy in each other and joy in the waiting!
Kay is a hopeful prospective adoptive mom who works part time as an oncology nurse during the week. She enjoys spending time with her husband and two dogs gardening, hiking, cooking, and strives to find contentment with their current life situation while waiting to grow as a family. Learn more about Kay here.
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