Author’s note: This post is partially inspired by a writing prompt on openadoptionbloggers.com. The prompt was simply to “Write about open adoption and time.”
It also presents a good opportunity to share a song from one of my favorite bands. Stick with me…hopefully it will all make sense in the end.
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Whenever we have shared news with family, friends, and co-workers about being in an adoption process (i.e. somewhere between filling out that first form and when we see our child for the first time), the conversation inevitably turns to time*.
This makes sense as adoption does not track time on the same clock as traditional pregnancy. The path of the adoptive parent (foster, domestic, international, etc.) along with a plethora of other factors all play a role in speeding or slowing the adoption clock. If you don’t know somebody who has been through adoption, it’s tough to understand why some adoptions take weeks and others take years.
*The cynical side of me thinks these conversations gravitate to time so easily because time questions are much safer than the questions people really want to ask: “Why?” and “How much?” But I’m getting off track…
Ask most adoptive parents about time, and they’ll tell you about The Wait. The Wait is the stretch of time between reaching the summit of Mount Paperwork and the tearful bliss of Gotcha Day. The Wait can be a few days or multiple years. The Wait is rarely in any hurry.
Nine months seem like a long time to wait for a baby, but with traditional pregnancy you have a date that you can point to. A date you can circle on the calendar and count down to. A date you (and your employer) can plan around. People in The Wait do not have the luxury. The Wait hates planners.
For most people, The Wait sucks. Yes, there are lots of adoptions that take far less than nine months, but you usually have no idea of that going in. The Wait loves to keep you guessing. For both of our adoptions, we entered into The Wait with a vague timetable of “anywhere between six and twelve months” before we would be matched*
*Okay….before we go too much farther, I need to have full disclosure. This is not going to be easy for some of you to read, but if I’m going to post this on an Open Adoption blog site, I need to be open. Here goes:
Our “wait” between the time our agency sent out our profiles (i.e. when we were considered waiting) and the phone call letting us know about a potential match with our daughter can be easily measured in days. That you could count on one hand. Even if you only had four fingers on that hand.
Yep, our profiles went out on the Friday before Memorial Day (2009) and I received the call from our agency on the day after Memorial Day. It’s okay if you want to hate us – I’m pretty sure I would be insanely jealous with hate if we had spent years living with The Wait. If it helps, I had emergency back surgery before we could take placement…but that’s another story for another day.
There is no secret formula for surviving The Wait. Our agency encouraged us to consider ourselves “paper pregnant” and go through the mental and physical processes (baby showers, nesting, preparing a nursery, etc.) to get ready for our child’s arrival. For the most part, that is what we did throughout the process as my wife (correctly) assumed that we would be matched early.
But what if our long weekend of a wait had truly stretched into The Wait? Do you try to put The Wait in your pocket and go on living your life? I can see how detaching yourself from the stress and uncertainty of The Wait could be a viable survival tactic to avoid the anticipation and anxiety from consuming you. Or is The Wait always there? Some days it lurks in a corner, just barely visible, while other days it stands squarely on your chest? I just don’t know.
I think we can all agree that The Wait sucks for most adoptive parents, but my opinion is that it is even worse for parents adopting internationally. First, there is all of the bureaucratic red tape that exists between two countries. Second comes the anxiety over the country itself – will it be free from war, disease, natural disaster, or governmental instability.
But the worst part would have to be accepting a match to a child and (depending on the country/program) receiving a picture or some video of your child. Then you must wait another six months before you can hold him in your arms. That is just The Wait being cruel.
So for those of you currently in the midst of The Wait, or for those who remember how fun it was, I’d like to share a song that I wish would have been around when we were going through the process. It’s called “I’ll Wait Forever”.
The song is by The Nadas, a longtime indie band from Des Moines, IA, and appears on their new album Lovejoy Revival. To the best of my knowledge, nobody in the band has an adoption tie, and judging by the other tracks on Lovejoy, the song was not intended with an adoption slant. Yet, every time I listen to “I’ll Wait Forever”, I cannot help by think of our two waits, and how the end results were worth every agonizing second.
I’ll wait forever.
‘Til you come true.
I’ll wait forever.
Beautifully written and very moving. “Paper pregnant” is my new favorite term. 🙂
Thank you, that means a lot.
I think it’s interesting that your agency told you to consider yourselves “paper pregnant.” There was recently a huge discussion on the Creating a Family Facebook page about that term, and whether or not it’s disrespectful to expectant mothers. I stayed out of that part of the debate.
And yes, I do have to hate you a little bit for the 4 day match. We waited 19 months for our daughter, with one failed match and one scam. But that’s OK. 🙂
I bet that was an interesting discussion. Maybe the infertility jaded me, but I’m not going to lose a lot of sleep over expectant biological mothers being disrespected by adoptive parents using “paper pregnant”.
As much as those 19 months had to be an agonizing pile of suck, I’m guessing you’d do it all over again for your daughter.
Don’t know how I missed this post. It’s amazing and so so true.
Thanks! I’ll be honest…I was thinking of your family when I wrote it. Even though I’ve been through two adoptions, I just can’t imagine what it would be like to see your son’s picture, but not be able to go bring him home.