You always hear that the waiting is the hardest part of the adoption process. Waiting for paperwork to get processed. Waiting for a social worker to approve everything. Waiting for the fire marshall, the health department, the FBI fingerprinting office. Waiting to be matched with the child who will become your son or daughter. Waiting for the judge to bang a gavel and make it official. Waiting on a new birth certificate, a new social security card. The adoption process is certainly full of waiting, and the waiting can be nerve-wracking, but (for me at least), that was not the hardest part. Here are a few of the toughest moments along my adoption journey—ones that I did not expect.
Since I adopted my daughter from foster care, she had lived with me for several months before the adoption was finalized. When finalization day finally rolled around, I felt SO much pressure. I wanted everything to be perfect. Her hair. Her outfit. Her behavior. The weather. You know, everything. This felt like the most important day of my entire life. Spoiler alert: Everything will not go according to plan on finalization day. And that’s OK. If I had it to do over again, I would tell myself to take a deep breath. Was it an important day? Yes. But it was just the start of the forever that my daughter and I get to share. A forever full of perfect moments and not-so-perfect ones.
Before I entered the adoption world, I always just thought that birthdays were fun—especially when you are a kid. I did not expect the overwhelming emotions that continue to flood in on my daughter’s birthday. Overwhelming sadness that I was not there when she was born. And overwhelming gratitude for the mama who chose life for her. And those are just my feelings! Add to that my daughter’s big feelings, and birthdays can be very, very tough. Give yourself (and your child) permission to feel however you feel and to do what feels right on that day—whether it’s a giant celebration with all the trappings or a quiet night snuggling on the couch.
I was a mess on my first Mother’s Day as a mom. Everyone was so happy for me. The flowers and the texts and the happy, smiling faces were meant well. But I was overcome with the realization that my own journey to parenthood meant that someone else was missing out on that chance. My own joy, the beautiful daughter who had shown me corners of my heart that I had not known before, was another mama’s great, great loss. This is another one of those days when you just have to trust your intuition. You may feel like a celebratory lunch out. Or you may need to stay home and let yourself feel it all.
It’s true, the adoption journey is a roller coaster. So much joy and so much heartache all mingled together. Treat yourself kindly. Take a deep breath. Hang on tight. And enjoy the ride!