Unless you’re waiting to adopt. In that case, this time of the year is anything but relaxing.
It’s hard to take it easy when everywhere around you families are celebrating the season with their children, and you’re not.
Makes you wonder what you’re missing out on and when will your turn ever come.
At least that’s how I felt when my wife and I were waiting to adopt.
We wanted to start a family more than anything else in the world, but we had no idea when, or whether, it would happen.
Our infertility treatments, which we began with a sense of hope and optimism, had come to a dead end. What was to say adoption would be any different?
Infertility can take a toll on even the strongest of individuals, forcing you to question everything about yourself and leaving you feeling isolated, inadequate and unworthy.
For me, it became a metaphor for everything in my life that had gone wrong, or at least had gone differently from what I had expected.
I didn’t feel good about it, and I didn’t feel good about myself.
Diving into adoption
So when we started our adoption journey, we dove into it head first and did whatever we could. It was like we were making up for lost time.
We read books, attended seminars, met with other adoptive couples, and created an adoption profile.
Staying active wasn’t just a strategy. It was a survival tactic.
It made us feel like we were being productive, like we were making progress. If we weren’t doing something and moving forward, it felt like we were falling behind.
When you want something as badly as we wanted to start a family, it’s hard to think about anything else. And the harder it is to achieve your goal, the more you want to succeed.
But eventually I came to realize that focusing on our adoption journey 24/7 was doing us more harm than good.
This time, I really was missing out on other things. Focusing all of my attention on finding a match wasn’t going to change a thing or bring us closer to our goal.
But more importantly, it was making me miserable, difficult to be around.
Our infertility wasn’t our fault
I realized that our infertility wasn’t our fault. It wasn’t something we had chosen. It wasn’t a character flaw.
So why I was acting as if it was? And why was I punishing myself for it?
It’s easy to dwell on the setbacks you experience in life and take everything else for granted.
But the setbacks are what count. They’re what help you learn and grow.
I had a choice. I could continue to be miserable. Or I could make the most of our down time and do something that would make us both feel good about ourselves and the place we were at.
I chose the latter.
And so instead of spending the holidays feeling sorry for myself and thinking about what we didn’t have, I took a holiday from our adoption journey and focused on ourselves instead.
We put together a list of all the things we really wanted to do but never had time for during the year.
Friends we wanted to visit.
Books we wanted to read.
Cafes we wanted to visit.
And so, for the next week, we saw friends.
We read books.
We went out for dinner.
We watched movies.
We visited our favorite stores and took long walks with our dog.
Putting our adoption outreach on hold didn’t hurt us
Spending time away from our adoption journey didn’t hinder us. It energized us.
And it reminded us about all the things we loved about each other and about what brought us together in the first place.
Even though there were times when it felt like we would never become parents, we knew that if we kept going, if we didn’t give up, one day we would reach our goal and be successful.
And, sure enough, one day a few months later, when we least expected it, we did.
I don’t know if taking a break and focusing on our needs helped us find a match. But it sure didn’t hurt.
And so, that week while everyone celebrated the holiday their way, we celebrated it our way — taking care of ourselves.
Wishing you and yours all the best this holiday, however you decide to spend it.
What helped you get through the holidays when you were waiting to adopt? What coping mechanisms worked for you? Leave your comments in the section below.