adoption · self-care

Why I Sometimes Delete Facebook #Adoptive-Parent-In-Waiting #strategies

Survival Strategy # 1: There are days (or weeks or months) when I delete Facebook from my phone.

It’s a self-help technique that I sometimes find necessary.

First and foremost, I sometimes find Facebook overwhelming with relation to the adoption wait.  There are way too many adorable babies and birth announcements and pregnancy announcements – and while I share in the joy of my family and my friends whose families are growing, it’s not necessary for me to see that the sister of the guy who sat next to me in high school biology just had a baby boy.  I wish them all the best – but, if I’m in a good mood and distracted from my adoption #woes, the last thing I need is a reminder that Our Baby hasn’t come home yet.

It’s not just the baby stuff, though.  The whole phenomenon of Facebook is sometimes overwhelming to me.  b99bb9ecabbaa40de552970f3939088eI know that people generally only post the best, happiest, most exciting things going on in their lives – but I can’t help it, sometimes looking at the best in others’ lives makes me think about what’s missing in mine.  And I find it way easier to just delete Facebook on those days than to access my self-confidence and my faith to combat those feelings of comparison or jealousy.

Luckily for me, I mostly use Facebook on my phone, so deleting the app from my phone means that I won’t check Facebook until I download the app again.  (Although sometimes I check it just to see if anyone has “liked” my blog posts!)  It’s trickier if you’re someone who uses Facebook via multiple devices, like laptops and iPads and desktop computers.

beefy-ecards-annoy-meThis week feels like a non-Facebook week.  The wait feels pretty overwhelming right now, and I think it is, for me and for Tee.  I’ve been doing a lot of ‘hiding’ on Facebook – not de-friending people, but hiding the posts of acquaintances with newborn babes.  Sometimes I think that this is avoidant or unhealthy – but not often.  Most of the time, I recognize that this is healthy and necessary for me – a strategy to help to get through the months of waiting that have passed and those to come.

adoption · self-care

#Adoptive-Parent-In-Waiting

There are days when I feel desperately sad and frustrated and done with this adoption wait.

Much of this desperation has to do with my own expectations.  I expected that our adoption wait would be shorter.  I expected that things would work out the way I wanted them to, and when they haven’t worked out according to my timeline, I get overwhelmed and I feel like something major is wrong with me or with my life.

My expectations are related to my sense of entitlement.  I think we all have a little of this in us, and it’s our job to do reality checks and to keep ourselves grounded.

Being a mother is not something I am entitled to; there are probably lots of people out there who want to be a mother and are not able to.  Being a mother before I am 35 is not something I am entitled to.  Being a mother without having to wait too long is not something I’m entitled to; when I am throwing myself a pity party, I remind myself that there are people struggling with infertility, people who’ve been waiting for their adoptive child for years, etc.  21-600x600

I keep reminding myself of a Cheryl Strayed quote; she included these words in a Dear Sugar letter to a writer whose sense of entitlement contributed significantly to her struggles.  “You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt with,” she writes.  “You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you’re holding.”

Sometimes, I am so busy worrying about when Our Baby will come or why Our Baby hasn’t come yet that I forget that life is still going on all around me.  The game of life isn’t on pause while I wait; I’m living it.  And I have so, so much to be grateful for.

adoption

#Adoptive-Parent-In-Waiting #woes #hopes

The funny thing about documenting the trials and tribulations of the adoption wait is that once Our Baby comes home, not only will all these trials and tribulations seem and be worth it, I also will likely not even remember them.

This is something I’m extremely grateful for – my tendency to remember the good times in life and forget the bad and the stressful.

My memory can be funny like this.  In general, my ability to remember things varies; I forget to complete important tasks, but I’m great with names and faces.  (I often lament the fact that my long-term memory isn’t great; I don’t want to ever forget precious memories, especially memories I have of my dad.)

Anyway, at times when I find myself documenting the woes of the adoption wait, it seems a little ironic to me – documenting things that I will, most likely, quickly forget once Our Baby is home.

Alas, here are some of my woes:

Woe Number Eight: The whole ‘hurry up and wait’ phenomenon.

We attended our first information meeting with our agency, Adoptions Together, in September 2013.  Immediately following the meeting, we initiated the adoption application process.  It took us several months – from September through December – to get all of our paperwork completed and submitted.  Then, in January 2014, our social worker started our home study process, which involves her coming out to visit us several times, and even more paperwork needing to be completed.  The home study was completed, finalized, and submitted in April 2014.

Those eight months – from September 2013 to April 2014 – were busy and stressful, especially for people who hate errands and paperwork as much as Tee and I do.  I love that we are adopting a child, but I experienced a lot of anxiety related to having to be “approved” as adoptive parents.  So I was relieved and thankful once our home study was officially approved, because it meant the chaos of pulling paperwork together, as well as my anxiety over us being approved, could cease.

Then, after all that chaos and craziness, it’s time to wait.

And wait.  And wait.  And wait.  756

While our home study was still in process, the agency warned us about how hard the wait would be.  But I didn’t quite believe them.  I couldn’t imagine anything being worse than that anxiety and craziness.

And I wouldn’t really say that the wait is worse – but it is extremely difficult.  However – let me end this woe on a positive note – there’s no doubt in my mind that Our Baby is worth the wait.  🙂

Woe Number Nine: This woe isn’t always a woe, but it’s something interesting I’ve noticed.

In previous posts, I’ve talked about the effect of evil technology on the adoption wait – how I will refresh my e-mail on my phone constantly, like every two minutes, to see if there’s an e-mail from the adoption agency.

There’s a bittersweet moment that occurs every weekday.  It’s the moment when I realize that the work day is done – meaning that there will not be any more adoption e-mails coming that day.  Usually, it’s around six o’clock – the time that I imagine the agency social workers will be packing up their things and heading home for the day.  Sometimes, it might stretch to 6:30 or 7:00 in my mind, but never later.

That moment is disappointing, of course, because it means there will not be any news of Our Baby that day.  However – there’s also a sense of relief in that moment.  Not “thank goodness, Our Baby’s not coming today” – I never feel like that!  It’s more like: “You can stop checking your phone every two minutes.  Our Baby is coming, but there won’t be any more news about Our Baby today.”  On Fridays, it’s even more meaningful, because it means we won’t be getting any adoption e-mails for the next two days.

I am grateful, at those moments, to feel a sense of relief from my compulsive e-mail checking, relief which I am usually unable to grant myself.  I’ve tried taking my e-mail off my phone – I’ve tried putting my phone away, where I won’t think about it – but I always end up checking it regularly, and feeling a jolt of disappointment when there’s no adoption news waiting.

Sidebar: Listing these woes is incredibly therapeutic for me, but it doesn’t really fit with my efforts to be positive and to not complain.  For balance, I am introducing my Hopes!

Hope Number One: This past Christmas, one of my stocking stuffers from Tee was this adorable book called Mommy, Mama, and Me.  It is precious and sweet, and I can’t wait to read it to Our Baby.  (Or, to have Tee read it to both of us while we fall asleep together.  Yeah – that’s better.)

adoption

#Adoptive-Parent-In-Waiting

So I’ve been thinking a lot about the adoption wait process.  We’ve been waiting for a little over a year (about 14 months), and lately we’ve been getting an increased number of e-mails from the adoption agency with potential placements.  Which is great – because, you know, maybe that means Our Baby is coming home sooner rather than later?  But it also means that our whirlwind is getting crazier and more intense.

I’ve been considering compiling some of the lessons I’ve learned and stressors I’ve experienced during the wait in some way.  There are definitely books out there on adoption, but to date I haven’t picked any up that have really vibed with me.  So, we’ll see – maybe someday I’ll put it all down on the page and try to help other Adoptive-Parents-In-Waiting in an optimistic and light-hearted way.

This image encapsulates how I feel these days:

17661_10103167049234750_9182879348399406520_nI want to feel serene and peaceful and light-hearted.  I want my Higher Power to help me feel that way.  And I want her to hurry up and do it so I can enjoy my life!   Bluebird_in_Flight_by_princessmononokesan

I’ve heard that bluebirds are harbingers of happiness.  Nearly every day for the past month, I’ve spotted a bluebird (possibly an Eastern Bluebird, per Tee and our friend The Naturalist) as I’ve turned into the driveway toward our house.  I love bluebirds; they give me a jolt of joy like no other bird.  And I am hopeful that this bluebird is telling me that happiness is coming to our home.

adoption

#progressnotperfection #Adoptive-Parent-In-Waiting

When we have these adoption blips – these moments when there’s a potential placement – my tendency is to spiral.  I get super excited and hopeful and optimistic, and then, if/when the placement doesn’t happen, I get disappointed, dejected, despondent, and hopeless.

That’s not the way I want to feel.acttheway

I am going to attempt to exercise a resolution – act the way I want to feel – in order to more peacefully and calmly deal with these blips/heartaches/disappointments.

So – how do I want to feel?

-I want to feel prepared, not overwhelmed.

-I don’t want to be negative and pessimistic, telling myself This placement probably won’t happen.  But I also don’t want to tell myself, This is it!  This is going to be Our Baby!  (Which I frequently do.)

-I want to have faith that, whether or not this particular placement works out, Our Baby is still on its way.  Hope-Desktop-Wallpaper-1920

-I want to be able to wait for news without the kind of desperate attachment that ends in either agony or ecstasy.  If I have faith that Our Baby is coming home, then I can wait for news of a placement with some detachment; if the news is “no placement,” then this baby was not Our Baby, and I can be happy and thankful that this baby found Its Home.

This will be incredibly difficult for me.  But, the next time a potential placement is in the mix – a blip on the adoption wait radar – I will remind myself of how I want to feel, and I will do my best to act that way.

adoption

#hopes #woes #Adoptive-Parent-In-Waiting

Last night, I had another adoption dream.  (This one was very specific; we actually met a birth mother.  Tweaks.)  And recently, I’ve had a few difficult adoption moments.

Woe Number Six: The things people say.

I am surrounded by kind and beautiful people in my life.  I often feel blessed and grateful for this.  My family and my friends predominantly have good boundaries, and are respectful and loving and kind.

And yet – there are things people say that are extremely hard to hear when you’re an Adoptive-Parent-In-Waiting.  No one is intending to upset me, but there have been various moments when I’ve thought, If I could say it without hurting their feelings, I would tell this person why what they’ve said is hurtful.

Recently I was at a BBQ with a few acquaintances, and holding an adorable, smiley six-month-old child, whose parents I barely knew.  His mother, sweet and kind and smiling, came to check on him.  I told her how adorable and sweet and lovable her son was, and she thanked me proudly.  I then joked to her about being a “flight risk” – that her little one was so sweet, I was at risk of running away with him.

She laughed.  “Ha!  You don’t want that.  He’s awake all night crying; you wouldn’t want to deal with that part.”

She didn’t mean anything by it.  I’m not even sure if she knows that Tee and I have been waiting for over a year for Our Baby to come home.  She was being chatty and friendly.

And yet – obviously – I wanted to kick her in the shins and run away.

Because I do want to be up all night with a screaming six-month-old baby.  I do want to spend all afternoon dealing with a tantrumming, napless toddler.  I do want to have to plan six weeks in advance for a date night with my wife.

I want all of those things.

She is not the first or the only to say something similar, and I’ve decided that it’s the “you” that’s the hardest for me – You don’t want to be up all night.  I have lots of friends with babies, and I don’t begrudge any of them complaining or venting about lack of sleep, challenging children, or anything else.  But it hurts me for someone to say, You don’t want to deal with ____.  There is literally nothing that a mother can be dealing with – no stress, no heartache, no headache – that would keep me from desperately wanting to be a mommy.

Woe Number Seven: Giving Adoptive-Parents-In-Waiting irrational hope.

Recently, we met with our adoption home study social worker for our home study update.  Having to have this meeting was a bummer for Tee and me.  Our bummed-out-ness doesn’t really make sense.  Even if our baby had already come home, we would have to have our home study updated, since we plan to adopt at least two babies with our agency.

However, we were both hoping that our baby would have come home before that year marker arrived.

We chatted with the social worker (SW) about preparations we’d made.  We explained that we’d obtained certain items – a small amount of clothing, hand-me-down bottles and bathtubs from friends, cloth diapers – but that we were holding off on other things, like a crib, a glider, baby carriers.  We explained that we wanted to be ready – but maybe not too ready – not so ready that we were just sitting around idly, waiting for Our Baby to come with no other preparations to think about or dream about.

The SW listened, and then responded.  “I think you should give yourself permission to get ready,” she said encouragingly.  “The average wait for families is about a year and a half.”  (For us, waiting a year and a half would mean that Our Baby came home in September 2015, approximately.)

“Maybe I’ll be your good luck charm,” she said, smiling warmly at us.  “I just finished another family’s home study update, and they got matched with Their Baby a week later.”

Pause.

Pause.

Why would she say that to us?!

Of course, the day our update was completed, we got a call about a baby.  Of course, my heart soared and my brain went crazy with thoughts and hopes.  Maybe the SW is our good luck charm!  This is it.  This is fate!  This is perfect timing.  This will be an amazing and beautiful and charming story to tell. 

Then, too, what I always do, is I let my imagination run wild.  I think about all the reasons why this day, this week, are the PERFECT WEEK for Our Baby to come home.  My mom is visiting this week – she could come over and visit and help!  We have several loved ones who just had babies – all our babies will be around the same age!  It’s coming to the end of the school year -now is a perfect time to take FMLA leave!

Then, it doesn’t happen, and I’m disappointed.

However – I still feel reassured by her giving us ‘permission’ to get ourselves ready.  She’s been doing this a long time, and she has no reason to be inaccurate with us about the average experience of the Adoptive-Parents-In-Waiting she’s worked with.  So – we’re getting ready.  And waiting.  And hoping.

adoption

#Adoptive-Parent-In-Waiting #woes

Note: This post was originally drafted months ago.  Every now and then, as I’m dealing with my adoption woes, I add a detail or two to the post.  I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to post it.  Not all of my adoption woes are included here – but a lot of them are.  And I am hopeful that soon my woes will be replaced with joy beyond belief. 

When I was little, I always wanted to adopt, ever since I learned that there were 62650704d928fce19f67ec98cc471a55children who were born without parents able to give them the care and love I’d been given.  My heart was big and I was certain that adoption was how I would build my family; this was long before I realized (surprise!) that I would be in a same-sex marriage.  🙂

However, as an adult, considering the decision, I was much more ambiguous.

A lot of aspects of the process were scary and overwhelming to me.  As a clinical social worker, I’ve facilitated adoptions.  I had a good understanding of the massive amount of paperwork required, and the process by which adoptive parents need to prove that they have the potential to be amazing, above-average parents.  I can be extremely sensitive and defensive, and I don’t like other people looking at my life and making judgments about it.  So when Tee and I debated our options for growing our family, I wasn’t 100% pro-adoption.  I thought the anxiety of needing to be “approved” as a parent would be difficult for me (it was), and I thought the waiting period for an adoptive placement would be agonizing (it is)

I am insanely and eternally grateful that Tee felt so strongly about us adopting.  I’ve had a lot of time throughout the past year to think about this decision, to doubt myself, and to wonder if other options (in vitro, surrogacy) would have been better options for us, and I’ve come back around to the decision 6a5bbabd9644baab448be2819d468af2that I really made when I was only five or six years old – that adoption is an amazing and wonderful and beautiful way to grow a family, and that it is the way Tee and I are meant to grow our family.  If Tee hadn’t felt so passionate, we may have gone down another path, and I don’t think that path would have felt as right and as good as this one does, painful as it’s been during this waiting period.

That said, here is a random list of my waiting adoptive parent woes, in no particular order:

Woe Number One: Every time we get a heads up (usually an e-mail) about a baby that might be our baby, my mind starts to wander.  I think, Wouldn’t this be the best time of year to have a new baby?  Wouldn’t this baby’s birthday be so meaningful and special to us?  Wouldn’t this situation be so amazing and perfect?

And then, it doesn’t work out.  So I have to either mourn the perfect situation passing us by, or tell myself that nothing was really perfect about that situation after all.

Woe Number Two: Inevitably, I run into someone who knows that Tee and I are adopting, but doesn’t see us or talk to us on a regular basis.  Now, I am making an effort to cut down on complaining, so I will not focus on the people who ask us, hopefully, “Any news?!?!?!”  They are well-intentioned, but inadvertently a265a8bcfe4f766e09b35681587322a3upsetting.

I will instead focus on those who understand that if there is good news to share, I will likely volunteer it within the first twenty seconds of our conversation.  When those people do want to inquire about Tee and me and the adoption process, they say something open-ended, like “How’s it going?” or more direct, like “How’s the wait?”  The answer to “Any news?!?!?!” is a big downer.  Asking me how I’m coping with the wait is acknowledging the really hard thing I’m going through and giving me an opening to talk about it if I need to.   This might be different for other Adoptive-Parents-In-Waiting, of course.

Woe Number Three: Technology sucks.  Our initial contact from the adoption agency is always e-mail, and thanks to my fancy iPhone, my e-mail is always right there in my pocket.  The e-mails from Adoptions Together go to my shared e-mail account with Tee, so any time there is a new e-mail in that particular inbox, my heart skips a beat, or leaps, or just gets really excited and joyful and hopeful – and then, it’s not our baby.  Sometimes it’s bad news – we’re not getting a baby we’d been waiting to hear about – or, more likely, it’s some sort of article or evite or other junk e-mail.  Getting e-mail spam has never been so heart-wrenching.

Woe Number Four: Landmarks.

All year long during 2014, my secret unspoken hope was that I’d be a mother by Christmas.  It didn’t happen.

Every upcoming landmark is hard.  Today, as I’m writing this, is Mother’s Day and I vaguely remember thinking, on Mother’s Day last year, Maybe I’ll be a mom by this time next year.  I thought this way about Christmas, my birthday, Valentine’s Day, the birth of my baby niece – it’s impossible (I think?) not to think this way.  Unless I just pretend holidays don’t exist until our baby comes home?  (Just now, I got a vision of Halloween, a holiday I usually care nothing about.  Will we have a little one to dress up this Halloween?  Stupid landmarks.)

Woe Number Five: This woe is very specific to Tee and me, and I’m not sure if this is an actual thing, or if it’s just something I’ve made up in my head, but: Farmers Markets are FULL OF PREGNANT WOMEN.

Seriously.  I’ve never seen anything like it.

I don’t know what it is, but I suspect it has something to do with waiting mothers wanting to take special care of their bodies by eating organic, fresh vegetables and meats.  And, as I said, maybe I just made this up in my head?  But the ratio of pregnant-to-unpregnant women in the world, compared to the ratio of pregnant-to-unpregnant women at farmers markets – THERE IS A SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE.  I’m telling you.

This is lovely, obv – waiting mothers taking good care of their bodies and their babes.  The only part that’s not lovely is when you’re an Adoptive-Parent-In-Waiting, and you’re a farmer, and you’re at the market wit756h your wife during a down moment, and all you can think about is, When is our baby coming home to us? – and then you look up and your next THREE customers are all pregnant moms.  Seriously?  Is the universe laughing at me?  (Of course not – it’s not all about me.  #ProgressNotPerfection)

My joy and my hope are way stronger than my fear and my woes.  And I can’t wait until the day when I can whisper into our baby’s ear, “You were so worth the wait.”