What To Do When You’re Waiting For News About An Adoptive Placement

You’ve gotten an e-mail letting you know that a birth mother will be viewing your adoption album and considering you as a prospective adoptive parent for her child.

This is exciting. You’re excited.

You’re also panicked. Not really about the possible arrival of a baby on your doorstep, but more about the mental strain you will experience waiting to hear the news about whether or not you’ve been selected. You’re not awesome at dealing with uncertainty – you like to know what’s going to happen ahead of time, which works out super-well in all areas of your life.

You came up with an action plan to help you deal with this period of uncertainty. and it’s definitely going to work.

  1. Check your phone a lot. As much as you physically can.
  2. Check your email whenever you see the little red 1 notifying you that you have a new e-mail. Get super pissed if it’s a promotional email. Or the stupid New Yorker sending the daily political news that you never read anyway.
  3. Don’t listen to your spouse when she advises you to turn off the notifications so you never see the little red 1.
  4. Have little heart palpitations whenever you get a call from an unknown Maryland number.
  6. Daydream about names for little boys. Make mental to do lists involving cribs and toddler beds.
  7. Consider e-mailing someone from HR to ask about FMLA, and then decide against it so as not to incite any questions you don’t want to answer. You don’t like people to know when you’re waiting to hear. You don’t want anyone to be disappointed. Other than you and your wife.
  8. Check your phone again.  Doesn’t matter if you’re driving.
  9. Notice that you have a call from an unknown local number.  Make sure your heart rate picks up.  Google the number and discover that it’s your pharmacy calling; your prescription is probably ready. Make sure your heart rate slows down again.
  10. Write and share a blog post. Then check your phone a lot to see if anyone’s viewed it or shared it. Because that will be a different reason to check your phone and variety is the spice of life.
  11. It’s been six days.
  12. Repeat steps 1 through 10.
  13. Over and over again.
  14. Get an e-mail. Baby or no baby?
  15. No baby, this time.
  16. Feel heartbreakingly disappointed and relieved at the same time. You’re so sad that this was not your baby, but the waiting is over, and sometimes the knowing is better even when the knowing means pain and hurt.
  17. Wait for the next e-mail.

You’re done with the waiting, this time around. Go back to your wonderful everyday life, and enjoy it. Ignore the little bubble of uncertainty that is always there, reminding you that at any moment a tiny baby may be placed in your arms for you to love forever. No need to worry about that bubble.

But maybe check your e-mail one more time. You never know.

adoption · parenting

Adoptive-Parent-In-Waiting: Part Two

I figured that this month, since I’m focusing on parenting topics, it would be a good time to check in regarding Part Two of my stint as an Adoptive-Parent-In-Waiting.

Tee and I are back on the adoptive parent waiting list, waiting to have a second child placed in our home.

This is exciting. This is HUGE.Worth_the_Wait_wm__63681.1496380714

But also – this is a COMPLETELY different experience, for me, than waiting for Our First Baby was.

We let our friends and family know a few months ago that we were back on the list, waiting for Baby # 2. And now, periodically, friends will check in with me, seeing how the wait is going.

And it is going well. Way, way better than Round 1.

Because I am already a mom. I think that’s the main reason.

Before Teddy came home, I was desperate to be a mom. Desperate. It was the deepest wish of my heart. It was so painful to want to be a mom and to not be able to have that happen.

Now, I have that identity. I AM a mommy. I love being a mommy.

Having a second child will be amazing. But it won’t make me MORE of a mother. I’m already a mother.

And, as much as I want Teddy to have a younger sibling, I am just FULL of love. When a new baby comes, I know my heart will expand. But for now, every bit of it goes to Teddy, Tee, our families, and our friends.

So – it’s different.  It’s a way different feeling. AND I think I learned some things the first time around, since I did pretty much everything wrong with Adoption Wait # 1. Someday, I’ll write a book about everything I did during Adoption Wait # 1, so that other APIWs know what not to do.

I still get butterflies. It’s still challenging to live in a constant state of not knowing if they’ll be a tiny baby in our house tomorrow or if it will be another two years of waiting.

But now – for Adoption Wait # 2- I have a lot more patience and a ton more faith. That makes a big difference.

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adoption · parenting

Good Enough Mom

Ever since Teddy was born, I’ve been planning out his Lifebook in my head.

A Lifebook is a keepsake often associated with adoption. When I worked as a social worker with children who were placed with foster families, one of the first things I did was to find out if they had a Lifebook, and create one for them if they didn’t already have one.

The simplest way to explain it is to call it a scrapbook – a book of photos, words, letters, mementos that tells the child’s life story. For children who are placed with foster families, the Lifebook can be a constant – something that follows them and tells their story, which is especially valuable if they don’t have an adult who is a constant in their life to help them to understand their experiences and their memories.

Teddy’s Lifebook would be a little different. It would basically be a book containing his origin story – a book explaining how we came to be a family. Tee and I have had beautiful plans for his Lifebook. I bought a navy blue braided photo album and farm-themed scrapbook paper. I started plotting out the words that we’d write on sticky notes. I ordered some baby photos from Shutterfly.

And then I stopped.

The thing is – I’m not great at scrapbooking. I enjoy it, in theory. I might even like it, if I were at some sort of scrapbooking party and could work on it while chatting with friends. But when I’m home on a Saturday afternoon, enjoying my two hours of down time while Teddy naps, the absolute LAST thing I want to do is make a freaking scrapbook.

Teddy loves being read to, and I am finding that my favorite way to prepare him for upcoming experiences is through books. We read books about adoption day, Christmas, the potty, mindfulness. It’s amazing to watch him make connections, to see how reading a book  about the potty has helped to prepare him for toilet training.

I knew Teddy would love reading his Lifebook – just a simple story, with pictures of him, me, and Tee, explaining how we came to be a family. And I kept feeling increasing pressure that I HAD to get this book made, so that Teddy could read it with us and start to understand his story. We tell him his adoption story regularly – we’re completely open and honest and joyful about how we came to be a family – but I knew that reading a book together repeatedly would be way more impactful for Teddy. Also, kids go through stages. Maybe in a year or so, Teddy won’t even be into books as much as he is today. (Hard to imagine, with me and Tee as his parents, but it could happen.)

So I felt super stressed and overwhelmed, and the Lifebook still wasn’t getting done.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I made a decision: I would make a not-that-great Lifebook.

I would do a sub-par job. I would half-ass it.

Someday, I would make a perfect Lifebook for Teddy. But today, I’d make one that was just good enough.

I picked a day, and I sat down that evening to look at websites. I flirted with a few websites that allow you to self-publish a simple children’s book, and then I abandoned them to use Shutterfly. I’ve created books on Shutterfly before – our adoption album, the one that was shown to prospective birth parents, was made on Shutterfly – and that would be the simplest path to take.

I uploaded a bunch of photos – that took basically an entire evening. The only photos I included were photos of me, Tee, and Teddy. If I included extended family or friends, I’d be worrying about balance and including everyone and where the hell is that one photo of Teddy with all his grandparents. NOPE. Not doing any of that. Keeping it simple.

The next evening, I put the photos in place and I typed out the text. I had Tee read it and she gave me some feedback. I proofread it one more time and ordered it.


I felt amazing for days after I ordered the book. I was so excited for it to arrive, and I was relieved to have that stress off my shoulders.

That task had been on my to-do list for almost two years. All it took was me deciding that I would settled for “good enough,” and it got done.

And you know what? It’s more than good enough. It’s wonderful. Teddy loves looking at his baby pictures and sitting on my lap listening to the story – his story. 

I’m a recovering perfectionist, and it’s a relief when I give myself permission to do B+ work. Especially when it comes to parenting. Because it’s all about showing up. Admitting that you won’t be able to do any of it perfectly, and showing up anyway.

It’s hard. But worth it.






Unanswered #heart #soul #spirit

It’s almost Teddy’s first birthday.  We’re planning a small-but-sweet party with a kiddie pool and a cake covered in flowers.  I am quite certain that at least twice on that day I will weep with joy and gratitude.

Often, we don’t know how heavy a weight we are carrying until it’s lifted.  I’ve been thinking a lot about how difficult the B.T. period was – by B.T., I mean Before Teddy, and specifically the nearly three years between when we attended our first adoption information meeting in September 2013, and the day Teddy came home in July 2016.  That was almost three years of heartache, excitement, tears, hope, despair, and woes.  It was extremely difficult and totally worth it.  And I think I am just beginning to understand the complexity of that experience.

The Adoption Wait Logistics

We attended an information meeting with the adoption agency in September 2013.  A few weeks after that, we started gathering paperwork to submit and completing tasks (physicals, fingerprinting) so that the home study process could be initiated.  We then completed a home study (lots of paperwork, family interviews with a social worker, many really personal and borderline offensive questions from agency reps), which took several months.  We made an adoptive parent album – a Shutterfly book telling birthmothers who we were so that they could consider us as adoptive parents for their child.  We were officially approved and on the wait list by April 2014.

Then, while we were waiting, we’d be periodically contacted by the adoption agency when there was a birthmother who would be looking at our book.  (We weren’t always contacted; sometimes our book was shown without our knowing.)

The first call was in August 2014.  The last call was in June 2016.

Each time we were contacted by the agency, no matter how hard I tried not to, I got swept away in a whirlwind of hope and fear and fantasy.  I’d get a strong sense of purpose – I’d start taking care of myself better, trying to get a good night’s sleep and making sure I was exercising, so I’d be feeling healthy and strong whenever the answer, yes or no, was delivered.  I was preparing myself for motherhood and bracing myself for disappointment.  But during these times, I was usually filled with optimism and hope that This Baby would be Our Baby.

Only to be crushed when I found out that the baby we were waiting to hear about was, once again, not Our Baby.

Holidays & Fantasies

We spent approximately two years on the Waiting Adoptive Family List – two years waiting for Teddy.  That was two Christmases, two Thanksgivings, two birthdays.  Much as I tried to live in the moment and enjoy our time without kids, my mind, body, heart, and soul were all ready for motherhood.  And I wasn’t a mother.

That pretty much sucked.

One of the worst moments was Christmas Eve 2014.  We’d gotten an e-mail about a baby girl who was in the hospital and would be ready for placement soon; this was a week or two before Christmas.

I mean – come on.  With my rich imagination and propensity for fantasy, you can predict what happened next.  I spent two weeks living out a Lifetime movie in my head.  Our Baby would come home ON CHRISTMAS DAY.  Wrapped in blankets with a bow on its head.  The Facebook post was practically writing itself in my head.  The joy of that imagined Christmas day was almost tangible.

Of course, that’s not what happened.  I spent Christmas Day 2014 in a bit of a depression because we found out (sort of) on Christmas Eve that This Baby was not Our Baby.  Fantasy crushed.  Holiday spoiled.

I spent the 2016 holiday season with Teddy in my arms, experiencing flashes of gratitude that this holiday season was one of warmth and celebration and not just another string of events to survive.  How horrible those days would have been if Teddy hadn’t come home yet.  The anguish of being a mother without a child, and the self-esteem hit I’d take every time we weren’t chosen to be a parent to a child who needed a family – I was so grateful that those experiences were behind me.2216994b6172fbdd54a20e31034323d8

One of the silliest and sweetest moments of the 2016 holiday season was during our Thanksgiving trip to Vegas.  (EVERY BABY SHOULD SPEND THEIR FIRST THANKSGIVING IN VEGAS.  It’s a thing.)  As per usual, my family spent a chunk of the day re-watching all the Thanksgiving episodes of FRIENDS – the one with Brad Pitt, the one where they play football, the one where all the potatoes are ruined.  My family loves FRIENDS.  It’s not Thanksgiving without someone adding “YAMS!” or “potatoes are ruined, potatoes are ruined, potatoes are ruined” or “these are my Thanksgiving pants” into the discourse.

So we were all half-watching, and trying to make Teddy smile, and chit-chatting, when I realized we were halfway through the episode when Phoebe, Rachel, Ross, and Joey are all late to Thanksgiving.  And Monica and Chandler are angry with them.  And it’s all hysterical.  I’ve watched FRIENDS so many times that I usually start laughing nonsensically about ten seconds before a funny line is said.

While we were sitting there, about ten seconds before it happened, I suddenly realized that the phone in Monica and Chandler’s apartment is about to ring.  It’s going to be the adoption agency telling them that they’re getting a baby.

I gasped a little, remembering and thinking to myself that I was not emotionally prepared for what was coming.  I think my sister realized it at the same moment.  Then Monica hangs up the phone and cries out, “We’re getting a baby!”

WATERWORKS.  Tears streaming down my face as I cuddled Teddy to me and Tee and he looked at us with wide and smiling eyes.  I hope I never forget the ridiculous silliness and joy of that moment.

The Adoption Wait & Grief

Throughout the two years of waiting, I frequently found myself comparing the adoption wait to the first year after my dad died.

They were very different experiences.  One was dealing with a hole that had been left.  The other was about a hole I worried would never be filled.  They weren’t the same experience – not even close.  But there was at least one common factor: my answer to the question “How are you?” during this time period.  Because the answer was often “fine ” but never quite”good.”

I was confused when my brain started making connections between these experiences.  The adoption wait is not the death of a parent.  However, I think there was crossover in the fact that each experience involved a dull ache that was only understandable to others who were going through it.  For several years, I always always always had an undercurrent of sadness involved in everything I did.  And while my experience of grief is that it gets microscopically, incrementally easier with each passing day – my experience of the adoption wait was that it grew harder and harder the longer we waited.

No advice made it any better – it couldn’t, really.  Sometimes it helped to talk with other Parents-In-Waiting.  Sometimes it helped when others expressed faith that it would all work out – because my faith was running on empty.  Sometimes it helped when people graciously ignored the tears that sometimes streamed down my cheeks involuntarily when someone asked how I was doing.

I’m profoundly grateful to all the souls who allowed me to just be during the wait.  The ones who let me be sad, be hopeful, be angry, be irrational, be depressed.  The people who reassured me that my dream would come true.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Spirituality & The Wait

I have a complicated relationship with religion and spirituality.  I believe that a higher power works in my life, guiding me, and helping me to know the next right thing to do.  But I don’t call that higher power God. And I don’t subscribe to any organized religion and likely never will.

However, when shit hits the fan, I pray.  And I don’t worry about who I’m praying to – my dad, my nana, God, the universe, the gracious and loving force that I believe guides my every step – doesn’t matter who,  I just pray my ass off.

And when I pray, I aspire to pray only for knowledge of what the universe wants and the power to carry that out.

But that’s not how the prayers usually end up coming out.

During the wait, I tried my best to pray “the right way.”  Tee and I would hold hands before dinner, knowing there was a baby out there whose biological mom was deciding what family to pick, and we’d pray out loud, “Please help this baby to be happy, healthy, and to find its family.”  That was the Out Loud Prayer.

But inside, I begged the universe, each time, for This Baby to be Our Baby.  THIS ONE.  THIS BABY.  Not the next one.  I’d waited too long, and I longed to be a mother way too much to wait any longer.

While waiting for Teddy, I prayed at least a dozen times for babies to come home to me and Tee who were not Teddy.

Let me repeat that: I prayed at least a dozen times for my child to be some other kid who was not Teddy.  

How insane is that?!

I prayed.  And my prayers were not answered – not the way I asked for them to be answered.  Those babies did not come home to us.  The wait went on.  There were at least a dozen unanswered prayers, each of them breaking my heart just a little bit.  And I got angry and frustrated and I started to think that my dream of being a mom would never come true.

8x11_TrustTheTiming_shop_1024x1024This is the center of my reckoning.  This is the lesson of my life.  This is why I cry with gratitude when I listen to Unanswered Prayers, a country song I’ve loved since college.  We don’t know what’s best for us.  We don’t really know what we want or need when we pray.  I try, when I pray, to just pray for guidance to do the next right thing, but I fail to do this almost every time.  I have a plan, and I pray to the universe, asking for my plan to come true.  And then I look at Teddy, my ever-present reminder that sometimes what we pray for is not what we need or what we want or what is meant to be.  And I try to remember to trust the timing of my life.

Writing & The Weight

The wait.  The weight.  The heaviness of those three years of being an Adoptive-Parent-In-Waiting has been lifted, and Our Baby is home.  I am bursting with gratitude and joy.

I started this blog in March 2015.  At that point, we’d been officially waiting for Our Baby for about a year, and I needed an outlet – a safe space to write and to explore my feelings.  The blog saved me a little every day.  Writing saved me a little every day.  Writing about the stupid things people said that made me cry.  Writing about how bad I felt about myself every time we weren’t picked to be parents.  Writing about how I worried it would simple never happen.  It helped me, to verbalize my difficulties and to share them in writing.

However – there is something that worried me.

I have worried that writing about my experience might discourage someone from adopting.  And that’s the last thing I’d ever want.  The wait was incredibly hard, but also, adopting Teddy is one of the best things that I’ve ever done.

I stopped worrying when I thought hard about my own journey.

The story of me becoming an adoptive parent actually started a long, long time ago.  I was a kid the first time I learned that there were kids who didn’t have parents.  (I assume the movie Annie was involved.)  And I decided that when I was a grown-up, I wanted to adopt.  I have always, always wanted to adopt a child.  For as long as I can remember.

But then – I was a grown-up.  And Tee and I considered our options.  And I knew, from my professional work, from my personal experiences, from my self-knowledge, that being an Adoptive-Parent-In-Waiting was going to be excruciating for me, because:

a) I hate waiting.  For anything.  I never once ate a Belgian waffle in my university’s dining hall.  Because the line was TOO DAMN LONG, I was hungry, and I wanted to eat now.

b) I am extremely insecure and I think everything is all about me.  I knew I would take it personally every time we were not chosen to be parents.

What saved me from myself was Tee.  She wanted to adopt.  And I did, too – adoption felt so right to me, more so than pregnancy, surrogacy, or any of the other ways to start a family.  But I was so scared of the wait.  Luckily, the universe was looking out for me.  Because there was really only one thing that could keep me on the path that was meant to be – Tee wanted to adopt.  She was brave, and she helped me to be brave, too.  She helped me to realize that adopting was what I wanted to do, and she reminded me that we can do hard things.

The thing is – if you’re like me, and you feel called to be an adoptive parent – then you’re going to do it.

Nothing’s going to discourage you.  No one’s going to scare you away.  If I learned only one thing from this wait, it’s that there are mysterious forces at work, always, that are helping us to stay on our path – to follow the flow – to come home to ourselves.

If your hope and dream is to adopt a child, do it.  Message me so I can tell you every amazing reason why you should.

The Beginning

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while.  I couldn’t until now.

And it’s still not perfect.  I’ve read and re-read my own words, thinking, “No, this isn’t right.  This isn’t showing how utterly joyful I am.  My point is ambiguous.  It doesn’t make any sense.”

Maybe it doesn’t.  But the wait has given me a lot of gifts.  One of them is the realization that sharing my words helps me.  Even if they’re not proofread.  Even if they’re not perfect.  There is no perfect.

One of the other gifts of the wait is my faith.  I now have an ever-present reminder that things happen the way they’re meant to happen, and that the universe’s plan is often way, way better than the plan crafted in my head.

The biggest gift of all is Teddy himself.  I haven’t written that much yet about my quirky, silly, giggly, skeptical little boy.  I’m sure I will write about him more as he grows.  This is only the beginning.  More will be revealed.


adoption · family

All The Feels #heart

Last year, my 2016 Mother’s Day was difficult.

Tee and I spend every Sunday from May through November at the Catonsville Farmers Market.  Which I love.  However – any farmers market is a hot bed of pregnant women and young mothers.  Last year, when I was an Adoptive-Parent-In-Waiting – and had been for over two years –  I spent the entirety of the market wishing others a happy mother’s day to others and then desperately seeking reassurance from the universe that Our Baby was coming.

Because it felt like Our Baby would NEVER EVER EVER COME.

Now, Our Baby is home.  And he’s sweet and smart and wonderful.  And I feel a tremendous amount of joy just being at the farmers market, watching Teddy crawl around and climb into vegetable crates and (oops) eat fistfuls of dirt out of a pepper plant.

But today – sitting at market, watching Teddy, and surreally receiving happy mother’s day greetings from everyone I saw – I couldn’t help thinking of last year.  Of how sincerely desperate and sad I felt.  Because, while Teddy was completely and totally worth the wait – that period of sadness and longing was no less painful because of the wonderfulness I have now.  It was heart-wrenching to be a wannabe mom waiting for Her Baby.

As a member of the DPS, I always have an awareness on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day of people who are feeling the pain of being without a living parent.  But this year, I wish I could find all the moms-waiting-for-Their-Baby in the world and give them a hug.  Even knowing that if the mom of a ten-month-old had tried to console me last Mother’s Day, I would have kicked her in the shins pretty hard.

Anyway – today, on my first mother’s-day-as-a-mother, I am joyful and grateful for all my blessings.  And I am filled with empathy for those still waiting for Their Baby, and I wish I could fill them with the faith that I could not grasp on all my mother’s days as an Adoptive-Parent-In-Waiting.

Oh – and thank you, sweet Teddy, for giving me my faith back.  ❤