I’ve recently been reading back over some of the referral letters that friends and family wrote about Dustin and I for our Home Study report, and of course, I start tearing up immediately upon reading their kind words. Sometimes I forget that we’re not alone on this journey, and I’m thankful that I get these physical reminders, like those letters, to bring the truth back into focus. That Dustin and I are not an island in the middle of a turbulent sea, being asked to navigate the wind and waves on our own. I’ve often reflected that when Dustin and I experienced loss and infertility early on in our marriage, it kind of set a precedence for how we approach life and the unknown. When something big arises, such as our adoption journey, we tend to immediately and quietly knuckle down into survivor mode. And by “survivor mode” I mean that we focus inward and stay there. We find the position of moving forward in a tunnel or a vacuum completely natural for us and it’s only when we need to come up for air that we realize we are stressed out and lonely. We so easily forget that we have family and friends who want to walk along side us and are just waiting for us to ask.
Have you ever felt like this? Have you ever been stressed out and had no clue that you were, in fact, stressed? Has tragedy or trauma developed the vacuum life for you?
Right now, in our adoption journey, we are in what is called the “Waiting To Match” phase, and it feels like we may be in this phase for a really long time. The waiting, as it always does, tends to incite a new kind of fear in Dustin and I. We are constantly asking ourselves, Are we doing the right thing? Is this really going to happen? Should we be doing this another way? And just to lay it out there, I have absolutely no clear answer to any of those questions. I think the “Waiting To Match” phase should really be called the “Try To Stay Sane” phase. At the core of me I know it’s good that we ask ourselves the hard questions, that we probe our motives and intentions regularly because the moment we said yes to adoption is the moment that we decided that our lives were going to need to expand. We have that future child to think about and consider, as well as that child’s birth family. It isn’t just about us anymore. That scares the crap out of me. Anyone who has experienced trauma or loss can high five me here, because we all know that once that one shoe fell, it’s really hard not to live life like the other shoe is gonna fall at any moment. Adoption is forcing me to face that other shoe, but I can’t guarantee it won’t go flying off the shelf somewhere in the near future.
Dustin and I have presented to 6 different expectant mothers in the past few months. For those who don’t know what presenting to an expectant or birth mom looks like, here’s a little diagram to help paint the picture:
This diagram is a very crude depiction of what actually happens, it’s super basic but it helps paint the picture for those who aren’t familiar with the adoption process, and it especially pertains to how Dustin and I view our list of priorities in this waiting to match process. For Dustin and I, our first consideration is always going to be the adopted child, how what we choose today will affect and inform their future. We will always strive to do our best in considering the adopted child first. Please note that this diagram does not represent the myriad of motives, intentions, and reasons behind the hopeful adoptive parents reasons for choosing adoption, nor does it depict the myriad of motives, intentions, and reasons that an expectant mother chooses to adopt out her child. Those reasons are nuanced, private and very valid. This image is just to give an idea of where Dustin and I are at. We start by receiving the Expectant/Birth Mother situations via our agency/consultant. Before those situations are sent to us though, they are first vetted by our consultant/agency to see who amongst their waiting hopeful adoptive families would be a good fit for this particular expectant/birth mom’s situation. Once we have read over a situation and we decide that we might be a good fit, we then ask to have our profile book presented to the expectant/birth mom. The agency/lawyer she is working with will then show her the profile book and she will decide who she wants, amongst the many or few who have chosen to present to her, to adopt her child. Once that decision has been made, and if we are chosen, then we are no longer in the “Waiting To Match” phase, but have moved on to the “Matched” phase. We then await the birth of the baby, or if the child is already born, we travel to pick the child up and bring the child home.
I’m not gonna lie, it’s a really weird process. Hear me out, I don’t mean that in a negative sense. I just mean that this is not a natural progression of things…, or at least it doesn’t feel natural. And that is ok…., it just takes some getting used to and it definitely brings on a new kind of stress that I have never experienced before. Most of the time I don’t realize I’m stressed out until I’m staring at the fridge and crying for no apparent reason. Then the light bulb seems to flicker on and I think to myself, “Aha! This must mean I’m stressed out!” Learning to manage an unknown stress is a whole new ball game for us. We’re having to choose to learn new ways of extending grace and patience towards each other. For example, if Dustin needs to kill some giant bugs from a post-apocalyptic universe for a minute, I’m gonna give him that minute. If I’m suddenly getting manic about painting a wall or building a piece of furniture, Dustin’s gonna get me bath bombs to help me relax away the crazy in a hot bath. We need each other and we really need our family and friends. This is unfortunate, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve actually been taken aback in surprise when one of our friends or family members says to us, “we want to be here for you, don’t do this alone.” Surprised. It’s as if I don’t get that people love us, even in the hard things. Even in the things they don’t understand. They still want to be here, in it, with us. So this is a post to say a big FAT thank you to all of our friends and family who have, and are, supporting us. Your prayers, your conversation, your thoughts, even your gifts of time and money have meant the world to us. Thank you for reminding us that we don’t need to be a lonely island, fending for ourselves and trying to continue our adoption journey alone. We literally could not do this without you and I can’t wait to introduce our future little mini to a whole tribe of people who will love him/her.
It’s an absolute privilege to get to adopt. It’s hard. It’s messy. But it is a privilege that Dustin and I don’t take lightly, and more than anything, we need you. Our tribe. Our family.