This guest post is by Rachel Garlinghouse, an adoptive parent and author
As Madeleine Melcher and I composed Encouragement for the Adoption and Parenting Journey: 52 Devotions and a Journal, we were taken back to our waiting days. Those never-ending, relentless days.
Between the two of us, we have waited six times (and counting) for “the call” that would tell us we were parents by adoption. Each adoption was different, but there was something that remained consistent: the emotions we faced.
It is so hard to wait for the phone call or e-mail that notified you that you are now a mom or dad.
You want to do something, anything, just to feel like you are progressing toward mother or fatherhood.
You hear of other families being matched or referred or female friends announcing pregnancies, and the Big Green Monster makes its home in your heart and mind.
You wonder if your day will ever come, if you will ever hear a little one call you “mom” or “dad.”
Whether you grow angry (for major or minor things) toward your adoption professional, your partner, your co-worker, or even yourself, anger will arise.
Your mind will run a million-miles-per-hour with “what if” questions which you answer with worst case scenarios.
You might feel distrust toward adoption in general, your adoption professional, the expectant parent you are matched with, or even question yourself and your ability to make the right choices.
At times you may simply shut down, walking around feeling numb and unmoved by the events and situations around you, chosen as an avenue of self-protection.
You may also feel immense empathy for birth and expectant parents, adoptees, and fellow adoptive parents as you delve more and more into the world of adoption and its many intricacies.
You might feel annoyed at the intrusive nature of the home study process, annoyance that you have not yet been placed or at your sister-in-law’s pregnancy announcement, etc.
The problem isn’t feeling. The problem isn’t experiencing what many of us who adopt experience. The problem is letting ugliness produced by these emotions take root in your heart and move from the occasional to habit.
As you battle through your adoption journey (and yes, it is most certainly a battle at times!), there are some things you can proactively do to make sure that when some of these emotions crop up, you are able to handle them in a productive and healthy manner.
1. Lean on your adoption village. Who do you have in “your corner” who understands the adoption journey? If you aren’t already part of an adoption support group, now is the time to join!
2. Share your struggles with your partner. The pair of you are in this journey together. Rely on one another’s strength, patience, and wisdom.
3. Date yourself. Don’t get so lost in the adoption journey that you forget how wonderful you are! Enjoy your favorite activities and take care of your body, soul, and mind. Make a list of your favorites, post the list somewhere visible, and check something off the list on a weekly basis.
4. Talk to your adoption professional. The person who is helping you navigate your adoption journey should be able to provide you with answers, suggestions, support, and resources.
5. Walk away. If something is causing you an immense amount of jealousy, for example, take a break from that person or thing. You are in charge of yourself, so make good decisions when it comes to your own attitude!
6. Nest. Many parents-to-be take comfort in preparing their child’s bedroom, being the star of a preparing-for-baby-shower, researching baby names and pediatricians, etc. It’s okay to be excited for your future baby. Re-directing your time and energy in these ways can help you fill that “need to progress” hole in your heart.
Rachel Garlinghouse is the author of three books, including Encouragement for the Adoption and Parenting Journey: 52 Devotions and a Journal (co-authored with Madeleine Melcher). Her work has appeared on MSNBC, NPR, Huffington Post, Babble, Scary Mommy, Huffington Post Live, ABCnews.com, My Brown Baby, Medium, The Good Men Project, and many more. Rachel and her family of five live in St. Louis; learn more at White Sugar, Brown Sugar and follow Rachel on Twitter @whitebrownsugar.
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