Friday, April 21

On Waiting

My dear friend Erin has encouraged me to post the following piece that I wrote for those of you who are waiting. She did remind me that I should give a tissue alert! So, here you have my thoughts on waiting for a referral from a woman who longed with all her heart to be a mommy and who, at times, thought that it would never happen...

I’ve been thinking about the process of waiting. It’s on my mind because I have several friends who are waiting for their referral from China. Throughout the paperwork phase of the adoption process there are many opportunities to practice patience while waiting. We wait for approvals, paperwork, appointments, and more paperwork. And, finally for one ordinary piece of paper saying that we can indeed adopt a child in China.

There is no denying it; waiting is hard. But, when we are waiting to see the face of our child the wait feels forever and at times unbearable. Waiting for a child to be assigned to us by someone in China is not like waiting to give birth to a child. Although I have never waited to give birth to a child, I’m quite sure this is an accurate statement. In the case of a pregnancy, there is a general idea when the baby will arrive within a few weeks or days. With Chinese adoptions, we start out with a general idea of how long it is taking from the time a dossier is logged until a referral is made, but that timeline is not firm. As we all know, the wait time can increase or decrease at any time, without any warning.

There is a state of initial giddiness at actually sending your dossier to China. I felt as if the stick had finally turned pink or had a plus sign or whatever those pregnancy tests do these days. Milestones are achieved throughout the wait something akin to trimesters. The movement of our dossier through the CCAA offices carries us along through our paper pregnancy. Throughout each phase, anticipation and anxiety escalate with the knowledge that we’re one step closer. The trouble with the “adoption-mesters” is that we don’t know how long each phase will be and ultimately how long we will wait for our child. It is just downright difficult – this waiting.

The adoption process is often described as a rollercoaster ride and the time spent waiting is the triple loop hanging upside down by your ankles part of the ride. It’s exhilarating, you wonder what in the world you have gotten yourself into, you feel like you need to scream and you might possibly throw up at any moment. And, just when you think that you’ve got yourself under control…the ride starts all over again going backwards! What can you do, but hold on tight to the one you love and go for the ride.

My husband and I have two girls who we adopted in China -- our first in December 2003 and our second in November 2005. Sometimes I worry that my words to waiting families seem hollow. The words of encouragement that I offer are not insincere by any means. But, I worry that someone in the midst of a long wait with no conceivable end in site will find it hard to believe that I understand when I already have my children in my arms. I’ve told families that the anxiety of the wait will fade as soon as they gaze upon their child’s face for the first time and it will become a distant foggy memory once your child is placed in your arms. This is true…to a point. While I don’t deliberately live each day with the memory of waiting for each one of my daughters, I can vividly recall the emotions and anxieties that I experienced with each wait. It’s part of the creation of our family of four.

During the wait for our first child, my arms ached with the anticipation of holding her. In the midst of the wait for our second daughter, I started to panic that I wasn’t going to be able to love another child as much and as deep as I loved my first daughter. In the heat of the summer of 2003 I was certain that I would never be a mother as we experienced delay after delay and the rumors ran rampant. The wait time sped up soon after we submitted our dossier for a second time and I panicked that I wasn’t going to be ready to receive a referral in six months. Again, the rumors were widespread.

Ultimately, I got through each wait knowing that God would not present me with more than I could handle. That if I remembered to take time to enjoy what I had at this very moment, the next moment would come and that moment would finally be my child being placed in my arms. And, after that moment there are many more to fill my days.

God bless all of you who are waiting. I am familiar with your hopes and dreams as well as your anxiety and fears. I wish you peace as you wait and look forward to sharing your joy.