Waiting To Adopt: Is There A Right Way To Do It?

Just before I went away earlier this month, I got an email from a waiting adoptive couple saying they wanted to join our “Find A Family” page. They had been waiting for a while to find a match and had nothing to show for their efforts. They thought coming on our site would give them some extra exposure and hopefully a leg up in their quest to connect with a prospective birthmother.

We exchanged emails and when I didn’t hear back from them a week after I returned, I wrote to find out what happened. “Since you were gone, we have been on a whirlwind adventure,” they replied. “We matched last week and our daughter will be coming home in a few weeks. We will keep you in mind if we decide to adopt again. Thanks for your help.”

I share this story not to blow our own horn since we had nothing to do with their match. But rather to show you just how unpredictable connecting with a prospective birthmother can be. One day you’re down in the dumps, wondering if you’ll ever become a parent. And the next day? You’re out running around for diapers.

A long adoption wait vs. a short one

I don’t know how much of a consolation this story is to you if you’ve been waiting a long time to adopt, or even if you’ve been waiting a short time. Let’s face it, when you’re in a holding pattern, when nothing you do seems to be working, the distinction between “long wait” and a “short wait” is immaterial. The fact that you’re still waiting is all that counts. And each day that goes by without making a connection feels like an eternity.

The other reason I mention this story is to point out that good things really do come to those who wait. Remember when your adoption worker told you there’s a child out there for everyone? She really meant it. Where that child is and how he or she comes to you is another matter, but for now let’s just focus on the waiting.

There aren’t too many good things you can say about waiting to adopt. Sure, it builds character.  Sure, it makes you more patient, more appreciative, more considerate of the things you’ve got. Others have written about this as well. But surely there other ways to build character, right?

Perhaps the hardest part about waiting is that it reminds us that despite our best intentions, things really aren’t within our control. Growing up, we were all told that if we worked hard enough or long enough at something, eventually that something would be ours. We would either get it or get better at it.

Each adopting journey is different

Unfortunately, waiting to adopt doesn’t work that way. Things doesn’t get easier or better over time. Each journey unfolds at its own speed, its own pace, according to it own logic and set of rules, regardless of our wants and needs. And yet, think about it: Do you remember how much you hummed and hawed before you took the plunge into adoption? How many times did you circle around it until you finally decided to give adopting a go?

It’s nice to think that now that you’re ready to move forward with your plan, everything will fall nicely into place. But again, that’s not the way adoption, or connecting with a prospective birthmother, works.

When you’re waiting to adopt, there is no fixed time limit on how long you have to wait. Some people find a match in a week. Some find it in a month. Some find it in a year. And some don’t find it at all.

Waiting is hard at any time of the year, of course. But it’s especially hard now, during the summer months, since this is the time when everything slows to a standstill. Your adoption agency may be operating at reduced hours. Your  adoption worker may not even be around. And you — you’re just as anxious to adopt now as you were the rest of the year. Doesn’t anyone realize that?

Recharge your batteries while you wait to adopt

They do. But don’t count on them or anyone else to do your work for you. Use the time now to educate yourself and to explore new ways of moving forward with your adoption plan.

This is the time to recharge your batteries and figure out what do you really want to do. With adoption. And with your life. What do you want to learn? What kind of person or parent do you want to become? Now is the time to put your plan into action. Don’t wait. And don’t wait for anyone to give you permission. Seize the moment while you can and just go out and do it.

Over to you: how is your wait going? Is there a right — or wrong — way to adopt? What tips or tricks do you have for others who are looking to survive the waiting period and jump-start their open adoption journey?