A Year of Waiting, a Month of Awareness

It’s been a little over a year since we became an approved waiting family with our adoption agency. Many people have asked how it’s going since we announced our pursuit of adoption back in the spring of 2018, and we’ve done our best to share what we can in those moments, but sometimes there’s nothing going on, or something going on that we can’t share, or we’re just not sure what to say. So I figured I would write a summary of the past year-ish, because I know there are so many of you who care about us and hold us in your thoughts and prayers. THANK YOU for loving and supporting us!!! We can feel it.

There have been highs and lows on our journey, to be sure. We’ve had times of feeling excited and hopeful, imagining the future with joy. Other times we have felt discouraged over the long wait, or not being chosen for a particular situation, or over the deeper feelings that can come up for us related to infertility, the loss of our two babies, or what God is doing in the midst of this when we don’t see it yet.

We’ve gone through phases of preparation in our home— researching and buying a carseat and stroller, clearing furniture out of our spare room, painting and decorating to turn that room into a nursery, assembling the crib, etc. But there have also been times when there’s nothing baby-related going on; nothing to do in the nursery, no word from the agency.

A corner of our nursery

A refresher on how the domestic infant adoption process works: expectant mothers (sometimes with the expectant fathers) come to our agency to explore adoption as an option for them and their baby. Part of that exploration process is to view “profiles” of hopeful adoptive families. (The profile is a photo book the family puts together to show what their life and home are like and why they want to adopt.) Once the expectant parents are ready to look at family profiles, a message is sent to the agency’s waiting families with some basic details about the expectant parents and baby (due date, brief medical history, level of openness desired), and we decide if we’d like our profile to be shown to them. Once they have viewed profiles and taken some time, we are notified if we have been chosen or not, and what the expectant parent is planning to do next. Sometimes they choose to parent, sometimes they choose a family right away from the books they look at, and other times they get it narrowed down to a couple of families they’d like to meet with before making a decision.

Our profile book

(I also want to say this, although it’s a bit of a digression… when the expectant parent/couple selects a family, it doesn’t mean they are officially placing their baby for adoption with that family. They are intending to make that choice, but the choice is not official until the baby is born, the state-mandated waiting period is cleared— usually between 48 to 72 hours— and papers are signed to terminate parental rights. They could still choose to parent their baby, and the baby only has one set of parents until the legal process takes place. When a hopeful adoptive family is selected, they are essentially invited into the expectant mother/couple/family’s space, with the expectant mama in the driver’s seat. I just feel like this is an important explanation to provide.)

In our wait so far, we have seen 19 profile opportunities, and asked for our profile to be shown to 13 of those. Some of the opportunities we passed on were because of high legal risk, medical needs we felt were too much for us to handle, or because the expectant parents wanted a very closed adoption. But each one of them tugged at our heartstrings, for sure.

Something I didn’t foresee was how strongly I would be drawn to pray over these women and how deeply my heart would be touched just by reading a few short lines about their current situations. It really is an honor and privilege to know about and pray for these mothers (and fathers) and babies. For some of them, we may be the only people who know about the pregnancy, or the only people who know they are considering adoption. The pull toward prayer has been very strong; whenever we’re waiting to hear back about a situation I feel the pull at night as I’m falling asleep, first thing when I wake up, and as I go through my daily tasks and wonder what this other woman is doing and feeling as she considers the possibility of adoption. Our prayers are always that the mama/parents can get to a place of peace with their decision, that they will find support for whatever they choose, and of course that everyone will be healthy and safe. I also pray that God will prevail over any toxic outside influences. I imagine it’s hard enough to be expecting a baby and not have a plan; if haters start hating it can only steal peace, and to that I say NO. Often we’re led to pray in other ways based on the details we’re given, but that’s it in a nutshell. We would welcome your joining us in prayer over the women who seek help from our agency. They are supported through whatever choice they make— not only if they choose adoption. I’ve got a longer prayer list at the end of this post, too.

Anyway… as you can guess, we’ve gotten a big fat string of “no” responses so far. (Don’t worry, our social workers use much gentler wording than that!) One time this summer we were in a short stack of 3 profile books that a mama took home to consider, and this fall we were one of two families being considered by an expectant mom, and had the honor of meeting with her so she could see us and ask some follow-up questions. Both of those mothers chose other families, but still, it was an honor to be a tiny little part of that decision for someone, and to pray for her as she walked through a heavy, complex, emotional process.

As I’ve shared about this waiting process with people, most think the “rejection” of not being chosen must be painful. I thought it would be, too, but there’s been a lot more peace than I expected. It’s still hard to hear when we aren’t chosen, but it doesn’t feel personal, or even like rejection. The biggest reason for this is all the education we’ve sought out, specifically stories from birth mothers’ perspectives. It’s hard to feel personally rejected when you know more about the other side, where a mama who has chosen life is trying to decide if she should parent her child or entrust her child to another family for a lifetime. That is in NO way about me. If part of my wait includes waiting for someone to make the choice to place her baby in someone else’s arms, I can find the patience to endure my side of the story until our paths meet. Another surprise for us on this journey to adoption has been how much our hearts have opened toward the expectant parents. For us the purpose of our adopting a baby has expanded to include loving and connecting with Baby’s first family.

With all of that said, there are ways in which this wait IS about me. Even though I’m coming from a position of privilege and am content to wait, God still cares about the desire and condition of my heart. The hardest part of not being chosen is that we have to keep waiting. Every opportunity that comes up brings the possibility to get off this seemingly never-ending ride, and the tunnel seems dark and long when we hear another “no.” It doesn’t feel personal in terms of an expectant mother not liking me or anything like that, but it can feel personal in terms of my relationship with and beliefs about God. This is where the real wrestling comes in and I have to confront false ideas I didn’t even realize I held. The gifts God has brought out of discouragement, loss, and waiting have been rich: hope, faith, humility, truth, patience, and so much more.

Another gift I’ve received from the time spent waiting has been all the education I can take in. Some of it has been in the form of books, conferences or webinars, and some of it has been from our agency or other organizations, but the richest education has come from listening to voices from the adoption community: adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents who are walking ahead of me on the path and are sharing their stories with courage and generosity.

From adoptees I learn to listen and validate, and to hold space for any pain or confusion our future child(ren) might feel related to their adoption while still celebrating who they are and their place in our family. From birth parents I learn the importance of keeping promises and being an open and generous “host” as an adoptive parent someday. From adoptive parents I get a glimpse into what it looks like to honor first families, to hold grief with joy, to shepherd a little person into who they were made to be, and of course the practical things like how to answer or deflect nosy grocery store questions. Adoptive parents also encourage me to keep waiting for the little one who will become mine, because while we can’t know the “why” of everything in this world, it seems pretty universal that a lot of things make sense once you meet your child.  I am SO thankful that God led me to all of these voices. Through my listening God is growing my heart in compassion, understanding, patience, grace, humility and hope.

Today actually marks the start of National Adoption Awareness month, and I’d love for you to learn along with me as I prepare myself to someday become an adoptive parent. Last year was the first time I followed along with #naam, and in a word it was overwhelming. It was my first time hearing some of these different perspectives on adoption, and I was thrown for a loop. I leaned in to listen, even when it was uncomfortable, but I didn’t feel like I had much to say since I was still pretty new to the space, and my mind sometimes reeled from all the processing.

This year I have more understanding, more perspective, and a little more to say, although I’m still not sure how valuable it is— there are definitely other voices worth listening to that have WAY more experience and authority.

So: if you don’t know much about what adoption looks like these days, or how adopted people or birth families view adoption, please consider checking out Instagram this month. It’s where the conversations and change are really happening. I’ll be there listening and occasionally speaking up, and will share some of the voices I think are important to listen to. You can find me as @deep_delightful_life, or search for #naam19. I hope I can shine a light on adoption issues and provide some encouragement for anyone who’s in the shoes I wore last year— new to the adoption conversation and Overwhelmed. Please reach out if you’d like to talk.

How to pray: As I said at the start, we have so many amazing people supporting us on this journey, and we are forever thankful. If you’re holding us in your hearts, here is how you can join us in hope and prayer…

-For us we ask for patience, peace, hope, and strength for the wait ahead of us, however long it might be. It can be a heavy thing to hold at times, and we aren’t always able to share what we’re going through since it involves confidential details about someone else’s life.

-We are asking God to prepare us to parent the unique baby who ends up joining our family, and asking for a healthy and trusting relationship between our child and family and at least some members of their biological family

-Our families and community: may God prepare everyone who will be part of our child’s life to support them as they grow

-For the expectant mother and father who will eventually choose to place with us, and for their families, we pray for peace, wisdom, and support for the decisions they will face and the road they will walk before and after placement

-For Baby we pray for healthy development, peace, safety, and for loving and informed adults to help them through birth, adoption, and growing up

-We pray for our agency’s social workers as they strive to operate ethically and with compassion for expectant/birth families and waiting/adoptive families. This is a tall order!!!

-For the process of being selected, meeting expectant mom/family, waiting for birth, meeting Baby, etc. we pray for grace on all sides as we walk through that delicate process in agency offices and hospital rooms

-Thinking past birth and placement to the newborn days, we pray for ALL involved. There will be joy, but there will be grief— baby separated from mama, mama without her baby, and two new clueless parents holding an infinitely precious and undeserved gift.

I’d better stop before I cry. Yes, adoption is beautiful, but it’s so very complex.

This is not a complete list… I could think and pray forever and not come up with all the hopes, desires, and requests that populate my prayers… but this should get you started!

THANK YOU for reading. If you’re also in the adoption wait, considering adoption, or would like to connect for any reason, please reach out here or on Instagram.