The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

December is here. And that means only one thing: The holidays are just around the corner.

Yikes! Are you ready?

So how are you making out with your holiday shopping? Are you dreading it? For most people, the next few weeks are all about being stuck in long lines at the mall or on the road listening to Andy Williams sing “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

Clearly, he never tried to adopt.

For hopeful adoptive parents, this is without a doubt the toughest time of the year. (With the weeks leading up to Mother’s and Father’s Day not too far behind).

The holiday season is supposed to represent a time of hope and family. But if you’re hoping to start a family through open adoption, it’s anything but.

Forget about December 25. December 26 is the day that can’t come soon enough for waiting parents. Sure, this month is a stressful time for lots of people. But if you’re on a waiting list to adopt, even the most ordinary things can become extraordinarily difficult to deal with.

Fielding questions
You may not be asked it today. You may not be asked it tomorrow. But between now and Christmas, I can assure you will be asked it. What’s more, you’ll hear others ask it, too.

  • What are you and your kids doing for the holidays?
  • What are you getting your kids?
  • How excited are your kids?

Buying gifts
It’s fun to buy a gift for a child. Who doesn’t like it? But when all the gifts you’re picking out are for other people’s children, it can get a little depressing.

Being bombarded by ads
Even if there aren’t any children on your gift list, you can’t escape all of the pre-Christmas hype and hoopla aimed at new parents. It’s hard to walk by yet another Baby Gap ad for a Christmas sleeper and not think about how cute your baby would look in it — only to remind yourself that you’ll need to wait another year to get one.

Everything is in your face, and yet out of reach. But there are ways to deal with it.

Don’t take the questions personally
Questions and conversations about kids are a fact of life at Christmas time — or, for that matter, at any time of the year. Nothing says you need to take part in them. At the same time, it can’t hurt to listen to what people are talking about. After all, when your time to parent comes along, it could come in handy.

Find joy in other people’s happiness 
Buying gifts for other people’s children is no picnic when you’re waiting for word about your own. But just think of how their faces will light up when they unwrap their presents. And besides, there are a lot of worse places to spend your free time than in a store full of fun toys.

Take notes for later
Being deluged by ads for things you can’t buy is another seasonal annoyance. But it’s never too early to take note of what’s out there and to start getting yourself prepared. A Christmas sleepover may be beyond your reach right now. Still, there are plenty of other items you’ll need to start thinking about for when you do become a parent.

Now it’s your turn: what do you think of this time of the year? Waiting parents, what’s the least wonderful part of it for you? Adoptive parents, what advice and coping tips can you offer? Please leave your comments in the section below.

(Photo: Glenn Waters)