Adoption is not for the faint of heart. It is not some magical, romantic process of finding the perfect child for you, full of hope and wonder and happy expectancy. It may begin like that in the first few weeks, but it quickly ends. If you aren’t hard-headed, driven and willing to fight until you have absolutely nothing left, you’ll just quit. I know I’ve certainly flirted with those feelings of just giving up. Maybe not always on paper, but emotionally.
I’m learning that very much like the grieving process, there are multiple steps and stages to adoption that one goes through emotionally. I won’t yet know them all until we have our babies home with us, in which that will begin an entirely different set of phases. But I know the ones I’ve experienced thus far.
First, there’s the excitement, the child-like giddiness that follows your initial decision to adopt. That “I can’t believe we’re doing this!” feeling that makes you want to jump up and down like a child on Christmas morning.
Next, the physical work begins, much like a full-time job. Researching adoption agencies and different options, different countries and the costs involved. This sucks a lot of the fun right out of the process, and can leave you very overwhelmed on certain days. But the newness of the project is still there, and that keeps you going.
Phase 3 is discouragement. You hear anyone and everyone’s opinion on what your family plans are as you begin to tell people. Your initial excitement and level 10 joy is quickly slapped in the face with the many thoughts and fears of your friends and family. Anger typically comes in this phase. This is in addition to the piles of paper work that you are trying to sort out on your desk.
Phase 4 is a newly discovered drive to conquer. After dealing with the many emotions of phase 3, you pick your injured self back up, more driven and determined than ever, and begin to run once again to those children you know you’re fighting for. This, in a way, is your survival/’mama bear protecting her cubs’ mode. Nothing and no one will get in your way of you and your babies.
Next, after coming down from phase 4 (since you can’t possibly stay there for long), you begin the wait. Not just any wait, but the wait. The biggest wait of your life. Here, time and yourself are your biggest enemies. Time has a way of sucking the life out of you. Not only are dealing with feeling like the babies will never get here, but you’re left with the feelings of your own emptiness. Knowing the longings in your heart, and how far away any resolution feels to you.
This is the stage that I’m in now.
I’ve been battling my own fears, my own spiritual depravity, as I’ve waited. At times, I’ve wondered if it’s even worth it anymore. The work never quits. We still need to apply for more grants and at some point, try to raise funds in order to help with the costs. So many mixed feelings. Ups and downs. Highs and lows. Mostly lows.
We’re hanging in there. Trying. But still we wait. Left to ourselves.