When I was growing up, my family only made two or three visits to Delaware to hang out with my Uncle Chuck. Still, a bit of advice he gave me when I was 7 or 8 years old has stayed with me, especially as my husband and I wait for an expectant mom to choose us as adoptive parents. “Inch by inch, life is a cinch. Yard by yard, it is very hard,” Uncle Chuck told me.
Uncle Chuck was right.
The months of waiting and waiting and waiting are very hard. We sometimes feel like we’ve always been waiting for a mom to choose us, even though we’ve been waiting for less than a year. Like many prospective parents hoping for a private domestic adoption, we spend nights updating our profile, adding photos to our website and Facebook page, and dialing our 800 number to make sure it’s still working. And we wait.
I’ve found that keeping a sentence-a-day journal eases the anxiety of adoption’s big wait and has even helped turn this excruciating wait into a special time in our lives. Journaling a single sentence every day helped us turn the “yards” of waiting to cinchy inches, and I think a one-sentence-a-day journal can help you, too.
You don’t really need instructions from me about how to keep a sentence-a-day journal to record your adoption journey. It’s simple. Pick up a journal and write in today’s date and a sentence about your adoption journey. Why?
#1 It allows you to track your progress. For most of us, adoption starts off feeling like a sprint, but then you settle in to a marathon. Even the littlest milestone (“An expectant mom’s lawyer emailed us!” “We took pictures for our website in the park with our friends and their adorable son.”) is important. When the waiting gets grating, I like to flip back a few months or even a week and see the progress we’re making.
#2 It helps create a sense of mindful balance. The simple act of writing a single sentence helps to create a sense of balance and calm. Writing down my fears and frustrations with this process helps me release anxiety and stress.
#3 It provides a place to record the people and places you discover on your adoption journey. There’s a practical side to this sentence-a-day habit, too. I use the journal to record people who inspire and help us along the way. We can use this journal to help tell our child the way she or he came to us, in an age-appropriate way. (Yes, I write about the less-helpful and strange experiences, too. “Fingerprinted for home study. Everyone else there was being fingerprinted before going to jail.”) Won’t it be great to flip through your journal to make sure you send birth announcements to the people you met during your adoption process?
#4 It isn’t expensive. There are beautiful clothbound “Five Year Sentence-A-Day Journals” available at many stores for under $25 (that’s what I’m using), or you could use an old-fashioned school composition book that will set you back less than a dollar.
#5 It sets this special time apart. Outwardly our lives have not changed. We’re still riding the subway to work, cooking dinner, and continuing with our regular lives. Yet our hearts are beating faster and our minds are buzzing! While we will never have the markers of a pregnancy, this waiting is special time. Journaling helps to mark this time as special as significant. We’re sitting on the cusp of dad-hood and could not be more excited.
Does journaling or other creative pursuits help you feel better about all the waiting in your adoption process? I hope that breaking the process down into inch-sized sentences will make it a cinch!