It’s sometimes tricky to write about adoption as an adoptive parent. We have a tendency to err on this side of happily-ever-after at the expense of real, honest truth. There are plenty of happy moments along the adoption journey. Adoption is beautiful. You will love your child with more ferocity than you can imagine. Adoption is also hard. Some days, it is really, really hard. If you are beginning the journey to adoption, it’s OK to know this too. Here are three moments of frustration that you will likely encounter along the way:

The Tedious Paperwork Moment 

No matter what type of adoption you pursue, you will face a mountain of paperwork. It will need to be signed, stamped, notarized, and taken to various government buildings for approval. Sometimes it will get lost (always keep copies). Sometimes it will accidentally get shuffled to the bottom of a pile (keep your social worker on speed dial—the squeaky wheel gets the grease). Sometimes it will require information that you have written 50 times before (write it again). Sometimes it will move so slowly through the cogs in the wheel of bureaucracy that you will want to pull your hair out (try not to do that!). Paperwork is tedious. “The system” can be infuriating. Take a deep breath. Grin and bear it. Your child is worth it. Your family—your forever family—is worth it.

The Waiting Moment

Lots of people will tell you that the waiting is the hardest part of the adoption journey (spoiler alert: parenting your child will be harder). Waiting for your social worker to call back. Waiting for a referral. Waiting for a court date. It is a weird feeling, the waiting . . . all breathless and expansive. A time of missing one that you have not yet met. Make the most of this time. Seriously. Do all the things. Paint the house. Clean the bathroom. Go on vacation. Run a marathon. Meet up with friends. Eat in fancy restaurants. Get a pedicure. I know it sounds crazy, but all of these things will feel so much less important (and so much harder to actually do) once your child is home. Seize those waiting moments and make the best of them.

The Misunderstood Moment

This one can look lots of different ways. It might be an offhand remark by a friend that if their ideal plan doesn’t work out, they will “just adopt.” It might be the blatant stares as your conspicuous family enters a restaurant. It might be the over-normalization of a well-meaning stranger as they witness a trauma-induced rage and tell you glibly that “all kids have rough days.” It might be the isolation of dealing with a child’s challenging behaviors alone because you want desperately to be the super parent you described to your social worker. Parenting is hard. Adoptive parenting is hard. Sometimes people, well-meaning people, just don’t understand what’s happening at any given moment. It’s OK. Take a deep breath. Do what you know is right for your child and your family. You don’t have to educate every misguided stranger on the complexities of adoption. Sometimes it’s enough to smile and bite your tongue (sometimes, truthfully, this is a huge victory because of how very, very hard it is in the middle of the misunderstood moment).

Adoption is beautiful. And hard. This is all true. There will be moments of frustration—sometimes many moments at a time. They will pass. And they will come again. And it’s OK. Your happily-ever-after will likely be more hard-fought than the one you imagined. But that makes it all the sweeter. And that’s the truth.