This guest post is by Jennifer Ruth, a waiting adoptive parent.
Waiting is hard. There is no easy way around that. When you have made a plan and set your course, you want to get going already.
You have considered how adoption will change your life and you are ready to begin creating the image of the life you have created.
The process of waiting for a birthmother to choose you to parent their child leads to anxiety. Is my profile good enough? Am I good enough? Will a birthmother choose me? Will I say and do the right things to make a connection? Will I be a good parent?
In observing veteran couples in the waiting to adopt world, I have noticed two patterns. In some couples, one partner is the worrier and the other is the calming effect. The worrier plans things, makes lists, and asks “what if?”
The partner goes with the flow and is always there to reassure the worrier that worst will not happen, it will all work out, and you do not need to check your website at 3 am.
In other couples, both partners have their good and bad days. Any given day, either partner is equally likely to think “What if no one chooses us? What if birthmothers are afraid of our dogs? Why did I wear that green shirt in our profile? I look like the Jolly Green Giant!”
The secret to success with this kind of couple is that they manage not to both have bad days at the same time.
But what happens when you are waiting solo?
I have only ever wanted two things my whole life; to be a teacher and to be a mom. After 18 years as a teacher, I made the decision to make my other dream a reality.
I realize that being a single mom will not be easy. But I know that if I never have the honor of raising a child, that regret will truly haunt me.
Although I will be parenting on my own, I do have a wonderful support system of family and friends to lean on. My mother has been sewing for this baby from the day my profile went live.
My friends that have been through the adoption process are there to hold my hand through the journey and talk me off the cliff if necessary.
I could not ask for a better team supporting me through my wait.
However, I do have my bad days. In the middle of the work day, my mind will wander to things I need to do to prepare for a baby. (Yesterday, I decided I need to start lifting weights because I will have to carry a baby in a carrier by myself.)
Some nights, I stay awake worrying about that miraculous phone call. I have found that most of my anxiety stems from the fear that a birth mother will never pick me. I’m sure all prospective adoptive parents have this fear.
But for me, this fear accompanies the thought, “Why would anyone pick me by myself?”
On a good day, I can tell you that I am a loving, caring person who has the spirit of a mother- I am just missing a child. (When my goddaughter watches the opening scene in Dumbo and asks, “Where is the baby for that momma?” She is talking about me.)
On a good day, I can tell you how blessed my child will be with love from a family just waiting to embrace a new member.
On a good day, I can list all the amazing experiences my child will have; from camping with my brothers, to spending an afternoon at the museum, to pointing to a map and exploring a new city.
But on a bad day, I worry that not being successful at finding a husband is a predictor of future disappointments. I worry that a birthmother will find me, by myself, simply not enough.
Social workers sometimes compare the wait to be matched with a birthmother with online dating. A birthmother will carefully search through profiles for a prospective adoptive family that speaks to her.
Birthmothers are looking for that all important connection.
I understand that this metaphor is intended to bring a common perspective to the new experiences all adoptive families find themselves in.
However, this metaphor terrifies me. When it is brought up in my support group meetings or trainings, I smile and nod but inside, I am dying.
I tried online dating for many years unsuccessfully. That is why I am adopting on my own. Please understand, I am totally at peace with my decision to pursue motherhood on my own.
Raising a child is what is most important to me. But when the adoption process is compared to online dating, my past failures in relationships feed into the fear that a birthmother will not make a connection with me.
No one picked me to marry. Why would anyone pick me to do something as important as parent a child?
So not having a partner, I have to find my own sense of balance. I have found that keeping busy helps.
If I keep moving through each day and each month without spending too much time “in my head space,” the negative thoughts don’t have time to take root and grow.
One thing that helps me pass the time is to download monthly fitness challenges. Each month is something different; crunches, squats, or planks.
Counting the months helps me to think of moving towards an eventual adoption instead of focusing on the uncertainty of when.
The physical challenge increases endorphins and provided a sense of release on bad days. Plus a push-up challenge helps prepare me to lift the baby carrier!
Being a compulsive list maker, I have a long list of things I want to do in preparation for a new baby.
I made myself a calendar and allotted one item a month; from reading What to Expect When You Are Expecting, to creating a scrapbook, to making a list of questions to ask a pediatrician.
I have something planned to do each month that keeps me busy and focused on the beautiful little family I will have one day.
I can’t say that I know the right way to go through this process, but I am trying to find a way that I can enjoy the nesting process in a healthy way.
I think for me the key is not to leave too much room for negative thoughts to creep in. I need to keep making preparations and moving towards the future with my new little family.
Jennifer Ruth lives in Mckinney, Texas with her Glenn of Imaal Terrier, Paisley. She is learning to wait with grace and dignity to adopt a baby. To learn more, visit her adoption profile.
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