T.S. Eliot was wrong. April isn’t the cruellest month. May is, at least if you’re waiting to adopt.
For weeks now, you’ve probably heard it: the endless drumbeat of Mother’s Day messages — in stores, on radio and TV, and online. And in the next few days it will only get louder.
For many people Sunday is a day of celebration. But if you’re a woman waiting to adopt it’s a day you’d just as soon forget — yet another reminder that you’re NOT a mom.
Depending on how long you’ve been waiting, you probably have at least one painful Mother’s Day story to share. Here’s ours: Years ago when we were struggling with infertility, one of our family members was celebrating the birth of her child.
As happy as we were for her, we found it difficult to be around her. Maybe it was the way that all of her conversations revolved around her baby. Or maybe it was the way she insisted on having us hold her baby, even though she was aware of what we were going through.
When we mentioned that getting together for Mother’s Day might be difficult for us, another relative shot back, “What do you want her to do — hide the baby in the closet?”
Hopefully you’ll have an easier time this weekend. But if you’re waiting to adopt and need a lift, here are some tips to help you survive the holiday and all the hoopla surrounding it.
Remind yourself that you’re on the right track
Mother’s Day is one of those holidays where it’s easy to focus on what you don’t have. But rather than dwell on the negatives, focus on the positives. Think about where you were at this time last year and how far you’ve come since then. Think about what you’ve achieved, no matter how small it may seem to you. Take pride in your progress, whether it’s making the transition from infertility to adoption, finding an agency, completing your home study or starting your parent profile. Remind yourself that today, and every day, you’re one step closer to reaching your goal and becoming a mother.
Avoid uncomfortable situations
This is the weekend to show the moms in your life how much you love them. But if the thought of wading through the Mother’s Day card section fills you with dread or the sight of another baby carriage or pregnant woman reduces you to tears, take a time out. Minimize your time at stores and with family, if need be, and outsource Mother’s Day-related tasks to others. Don’t feel guilty about it. Your moms will understand. What is Mother’s Day after all — just another day on the calendar? There are 364 other days to pay tribute to your moms. This week, if the going gets tough, protect yourself and put yourself first.
Be prepared for questions
As with most family-related events, brace yourself for lots of family-related questions. Including the dreaded “kids” questions — “Which ones are your kids?” Do you have kids?” Are you trying to have kids?” etc. Even though the questions may sound intrusive, for the most part people don’t mean anything by them — they’re just trying to be friendly or make small talk. Don’t get offended. Arm yourself with answers. Especially if some of those questions come across as insensitive. Don’t let others dicate how you feel about yourself on this day — or on any other day, for that matter.
Lean on your support system
If you find Mother’s Day or the days ahead of it difficult to deal with, don’t suffer in silence. What you’re going through is perfectly normal. Just because you feel out of step with the rest of the world doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. Thousands of other mothers-to-be are experiencing similar feelings. And thousands of others who became parents through open adoption have felt it, too. If you’re feeling blue, inadequate or anxious, reach out to others who are or have been in your shoes. Join an online support group or discussion forum. Connecting with other adopting and adoptive parents will lift your spirits — and make you feel less lonely.
Use the day as an opportunity to share your story and network
Once your story is out there, you can’t control how people will react it. Most people don’t know or understand how open adoption works so be prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt. Rather than get mad at things they might say, use the holiday as a chance to educate them. It’s the perfect time to do it. Tell them that you’re struggling with infertility. There’s a good chance they will have already suspected it. You can even take it one step further: tell them about about your plan to adopt and how open adoption matches work. Who knows, they may know of a pregnant women with an adoption plan and help you with your networking efforts.
Take your plan to the next phase
Just because you’re waiting to adopt doesn’t mean you have to just sit there and, well, wait. Rather than get stuck in a funk, use Mother’s Day as an impetus to move your adoption plan forward. If your profile has been sitting unfinished for the last few weeks, commit yourself to getting it done. If you haven’t heard from your social worker lately, give her a call and get an update. If your advertisng campaign hasn’t gotten the results you were hoping for, look at other ways to get your message out. The next stage of your adoption journey begins now. Empower yourself by taking control of your future.
Mother’s Day is about mothers, but it’s also about mothers-to-be. That means you. Open adoption isn’t for everyone. It’s a hard road to go down. So give yourself a pat on the back and go out and celebrate yourself. Treat yourself to a day at the spa or go away with your partner for the weekend. Do something that makes YOU feel special. Because you, too, will be a mom one day.
Unlike infertility treatments where you had no control over the outcome, adoption will allow you to become a mom — as long as you keep going. Don’t give up. And don’t get down. Instead, use Mother’s Day as a reminder of how far you’ve come in your journey and as an opportunity to map out where you want to go next.