This guest post is by Madeleine Melcher, an adoptive mother and author.
Having been adopted myself, I somehow felt prepared as my husband and I began the process ourselves. What I learned was, I wasn’t.
Some things were much harder than I expected and others could have been easier had I known a little more. It took me a lot of tears and banging my head against a proverbial wall to figure some of it out.
More of it I realized as a Monday morning quarterback, looooong into the process. It is actually pretty amazing that I made it through one adoption, much less three, with all my hair (I can’t say the same for my husband) and most of my sanity.
So, while I had to learn these things the hard way, maybe giving you a glimpse into what I wish I could go back and tell myself will help you, as you make these first steps on your adoption journey.
1. Things are rarely as easy or as hard as your agency or attorney make them appear to be.
Let things happen. No one knows what YOUR exact experience is going to be, not even them.
2. Don’t wait on your spouse to get the ball rolling on paperwork.
There is almost always one half of the couple that is more motivated to get through it. Just do it. Mark where he or she needs to sign with little sticky notes and move on to the finger prints portion of this process. If you are a hopeful single parent, you are already motivated and I bet, some of that great support system you have created will cheer you on or help you out with this, as well!
3. As a follow up to #2. Don’t get your feelings hurt if your spouse does not participate as much in this process as you do.
It is not necessarily indicative of them wanting it any less– he or she just wants less to do with the process and that is o.k.. I had my perfectly indexed adoption binder and could tell you at any given point what we had completed and what still needed to be done. I needed to be “that person” in the process, it made me feel productive, but don’t resent your spouse if they don’t need that. My husband did very little of any of it prior to our being chosen, but he could not have been more excited to become a dad and could not love our children more and that is what is important.
4. Listen to other people’s adoption stories, good and bad, realizing that EVERY story is different.
The fact that your hairdresser’s niece’s adoption fell apart when the expectant mother chose to parent or the fact that the person that spoke at your adoption orientation was chosen in a week, does not mean your adoption will go the same. The best expectation is truly to go in without an expectation of how things will go. It is life. It will happen the way it happens. We went through adoptions for all three of our children and none of the stories are the same. Your story will come. Remember, even the best stories have bumpy parts before the happy endings.
5. You ARE good enough.
I know the tendency as you look at other people’s profiles to question what impact your weight, your house, your dog have on your being chosen. STOP. YOU are good enough, but you have to be you. You have to show you. The things that are unique to your life (even if they feel hum-drum to you) are likely the things that will make you stand out. If you have not been chosen yet it is not because you are not good enough, it is that the right expectant mother has not found you yet.
6. Enjoy this time. Make time for some date nights.
They will be few and far between later. Do things just for you, because when you are a parent, someone else will always come first. No matter how our children come to us, when they do, life changes forever. Enjoy this last bit of time with things just the way they are. If you are waiting on a 2nd or third child, take time for one more bedtime story, one more push on the swings, an afternoon blanket fort, because soon there will be another person in need of attention too.
7. Go to your strengths and lean on others when you need to.
I tend to be very headstrong and like to take care of things in my “get it done yesterday” fashion and not rely on others, this is not the best way to enter in to every part of the adoption process. While it worked for the paperwork and home study portion, it did not work for the wait. Patience is not one of my virtues and I am a worrier by nature. I have to tell you neither of those traits are particularly helpful once your home study and your profile are completed. When I worried, fretted or felt I could not stand it one more minute, I found a greater peace through my husband’s strength. He could approach things with an “it will happen when it happens” attitude and be o.k.. He could just believe. When you are weak, let someone around you hold you up, and don’t judge yourself for it.
Madeleine Melcher is a mommy, owner of Our Journey to You Custom Adoption Portfolios/Profiles, the Queen of driveway kickball and a hater of planning dinner. Melcher is also the author of How To Create A Successul Adoption Portfolio, has written for many adoption resources and most recently her writing has been featured at Scary Mommy. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.