Few events in life can compare to the joy of adopting a baby. Having a baby placed in your arms is for many adoptive parents the culmination of a lifelong dream.
But the journey you have to undergo to get there can be a slog. From making peace with your infertility to sharing personal details about your health, finances and relationships, staying upbeat and positive can be a challenge. Particularly if your journey feels like it’s consisted of nothing more than moving from one waiting list to another.
Here are 10 ways to stay hopeful while you’re hoping to get to the finish line.
Surround Yourself With Positive Thoughts and People
This one is obvious, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do. Adopting a baby triggers a wide range of emotions, not only within yourself but also within others. Most people will be excited for you and offer to help in any way they can. But others may question your intentions or even attack you personally about them.
Dealing with negative comments, especially online from people who are opposed to adoption, can take a huge toll on you and your plans to adopt. Just remember that although they may have legitimate comments to make, their story is not your story. As long as you do what’s right legally and morally, you have nothing to be ashamed of. Adoption, just like any life-changing journey, has its share of ups and downs. Surrounding yourself with positive people and positive thoughts will go a long way to helping you feel good about yourself and your journey.
When I was waiting to adopt, everything was fine as long as I kept active. But the moment I stopped, doubts would set in. Why hasn’t anyone chosen us? What are we doing wrong? Why is everyone else finding a match and we’re still waiting?
Asking questions is good. It means challenging the status quo. But when the answers aren’t evident, it can get rather debilitating. Keeping busy can help you avoid feeling stuck. All of a sudden you don’t have time to dwell on the what-ifs, the could-have and should-have-beens. Some people swear by the 20 minute rule — spending 20 minutes a day on something that will get you to your goal. Forget about 20 minutes. For me, even 10 minutes was more than enough time to keep me focused and moving forward.
Join a Support Group
Adopting a baby is a marathon, not a sprint. And often, when you’re in the midst of it, you can lose track of where you are and where you want to go. Joining a support group can provide you with a much-needed compass and network of people with similar interests.
Hooking up with others, whether they be adopting or adoptive parents, can help you feel less alone and be extremely liberating. Suddenly, you realize that those crazy fears you’ve kept to yourself aren’t so crazy after all. Others have experienced and dealt with them, too. Opening yourself up can open doors and take you to places you can’t reach on your own.
Start a Blog
Adopting a baby can be challenging and exhausting. But unless you know someone who has gone through the process, it’s hard to share your frustrations. Unpacking your problems to someone who doesn’t understand the ins and outs of the process could complicate things and end up doing more harm than good to you and your relationship.
Starting a blog can help. Not only will it give you an outlet for your thoughts and feelings. But sharing them online will put you in touch with others who “get” what you’re going through and will be only to help. Plus, documenting your victories, no matter how small they may seem, will help you stay on track and can be useful for those days when you’ve hit a wall and are seeking encouragement and inspiration.
Keep a Journal
Writing a blog is a great way to put your adoption journey into words and make sense of it. But no matter how much you enjoy writing, you may decide that blogging isn’t for you. Adopting a baby forces you to tap into sensitive topics and emotions that you may not want to share publicly with the rest of the word. You may find that some of these issues are even too delicate to share with your partner.
In that case, you may want to chronicle them in a journal. Journaling can help you explore a whole range of intimate thoughts and feelings on your own terms without worrying about how others will react. What’s more, in addition to being a stress killer, keeping a record of your thoughts in a journal could make a wonderful keepsake for you and your child down the road.
Read Adoption Books and Blogs
Reading adoption books and blogs is another proven way to help you feel less lonely when you’re hoping to adopt, especially if your journey feels like it’s at a standstill. Reading other people’s stories, especially their success stories, can take you away from your current problems and show you the possibilities of what can be achieved with a bit of luck and a lot of hard work.
Adoption isn’t easy. There are so many new things you need to learn and adjust to as you go through the process. Reading about how others have successfully navigated the path before you can bring solace and steer you in the right direction. After all, if they could do it, you can too!
Join a Social Media Site
I already talked about the loneliness of adoption and the importance of connecting with others. Being a part of a community allows you to be part of something that’s bigger than yourself. Engaging with other adopting and adoptive parents is an effective way to find support, get answers and generate leads.
Nowadays the easiest way to find like-minded people is to log on social networking site like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Do a search for keywords like “open adoption,” “hope to adopt,” “adopting a baby” or “find a birthmother.” Within seconds, you’ll have a large community of people at your fingertips with whom you can share your hopes and dreams and interact with in real time.
Take a Break
Being proactive can help you stay positive. It can also keep your mind off things when you hit a wall. But sometimes even being proactive isn’t enough. Sometimes, things can seem so bleak that you nothing you do seems to work.
In these instances, you may need to adjust your expectations. Or, if you continue to feel that way, it may signal something bigger –that it’s time to take a break. Stepping away from your adoption journey even for a short period can do wonders for your mind. A new setting can often trigger a new way of looking at things. Doing something else somewhere else can help you recharge your batteries so that you can eventually return with a new mindset and a new approach.
Keep Living Your Life
When you’re waiting to adopt, it’s easy to focus all of your attention on your adoption journey and put your life on hold. Don’t. Whether you realize it or not, life goes on. And for your own sake and your partners, you need to be part of it.
Make the most of your wait. Turn your negative into a positive. Use the down time to do all the things you’ve always wanted to do but never had time for. Take a trip. Enrol in a course. Learn a new skill. Take up a hobby. Once you adopt, you’ll be too busy to do anything but be a full-time parent. So enjoy your time and freedom now, while you still can.
Do Something For Yourself
Some people find a match and adopt right away while some people wait a lot longer. Which will you be? How long will you have to wait? The answer is anyone’s guess. And that uncertainty can be difficult to live with.
When things don’t go your way, it’s easy to blame or second guess yourself. But don’t beat yourself up. First, it won’t change anything. And second, it will wear you down and take time away from things you could be doing.
Keep in mind that you won’t have control over every aspect of your adoption journey. Take control of the things you can and don’t worry about the rest. And don’t let the uncertainty of the process negatively affect your physical or mental health — or your relationship. Communicate openly and honestly with your partner. And take care of yourself by eating well, exercising and getting a good night’s sleep.
When you’re waiting to adopt a baby, sometimes you wonder if you’ll ever see the day when you become a parent. Keeping busy, trying new things, looking after yourself, and allowing yourself to take a break can all help you reach your goal and keep you feeling hopeful along the way.
How are you staying hopeful while you wait to adopt? What are you doing to help you stay positive?