For over a year following our first adoption, I was quite content. Scratch that–I was way beyond content. Although I experienced a bit of what I now know was likely post-adoption depression (another story for another day), I mostly felt like warm, beautiful sunlight had washed over me and wrapped up the best of dreams come true. I look upon that time as a great healing for my heart. The five-year journey to find our son was, at best, heart-breaking and laden with grief. I had gone from aching daily for a child to spending every moment I could holding him in my arms. It seemed like the wave that brought warmth also carried away a great deal of the pain. Years of longing subsided. Not only was I grateful for a child, I felt strongly that I had been waiting for this child, and therefore things worked out perfectly, and I knew why my wait had been so long.
Our adoption agency generally asked couples to wait a year between having a placement and pursuing a subsequent adoption. This was to allow time for bonding and adjustment in the home. Prior to that first placement, we anticipated wanting to turn in our second application and get the ball rolling as soon as we could. I was sure I would be in the office with all the necessary paperwork right at the year mark but, with the peace I felt mothering my little boy, I was suddenly in no hurry as his first birthday approached. The sweetness of finally tasting motherhood was so rich! However, when our son was nearly 18-months old, we got a call from our caseworker. We learned that our license would be expiring soon and we had to decide whether to renew now or begin all over again later on. It made absolute sense to save ourselves from having to start from scratch, so we decided to go ahead and renew.
For some reason, I felt we had endured enough the first time around. I thought that surely the second sojourn would be much faster and easier. In hindsight, my naïveté makes me chuckle at myself. Still basking in the afterglow of long-awaited parenthood (especially since our baby had become a toddler who slept soundly through each night), we were optimistic that if we began the search proactively, we would have success finding our next child with a great deal less struggle.
Our first child was born in 2006, a time when adoption was evolving in America. More members of the adoption triad (birth families, adoptive families, and adoptees) were beginning to embrace the benefits of openness, honesty, and transparency. We’d had a positive experience connecting with our son’s loving birth family without restriction when just a year or so before, it was rare to have any contact not facilitated by the adoption agency.
We had become involved with a local support group and considered ourselves open-adoption advocates. We were already very vocal about our openness, but we tried to do anything we could to be available for the right birth family to find us. We sent quarterly emails to family and friends reminding them we were still hoping to adopt. We kept a family blog with links to all our adoption information so any friends or family reading would always have access to it. We created a family adoption website and started spotlighting other waiting couples (because we believed in adoption karma!) Time was spent checking foster care heart gallery listings, and we inquired about multiple waiting children with a disappointing lack of response. We got updated family portraits taken as often as we could afford and kept our online profiles up to date. We made multiple sets of pass-along cards and even sent them out in all our Christmas cards. We left them at movie rental kiosks and on grocery store bulletin boards. Not only did we share our own cards, but we requested that online adoption friends send us their cards, and we passed them out, too.
We found ourselves on a mission to advocate for adoption as an honorable option wherever we went. We even enlisted family members, encouraging them to be proactive in sharing our information and awareness about adoption in general. Once I went to lunch with my parents, and my mom surprised me by leaving one of our cards with the tip.
A year went by, and my positive attitude began to wane. Little did we know that the next year was only going to get more challenging. We experienced a failed match over the next couple of months (again, another story for another day). We were saddened when things fell through but recommitted to doing all we could to find our next child.
More time passed. The frustration began to set in. We felt like we had done everything we could. We still had no success, but we felt there was another child meant for our family. We knew of other couples having placements with what appeared to be much less struggle. It got harder and harder. Because there was a five-year age gap between my closest sibling and me, I hoped my kids would be more like two to three years apart. When our oldest turned three, I felt I was losing hope.
But then, on a Thursday afternoon around 4:00, about a week after my son’s third birthday, my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but for some reason I picked up anyway. That phone call led to meeting our daughter less than 24 hours later. Once I held her in my arms, I felt a familiar warmth. I was reminded immediately that we had not been searching for any child. We had been searching for the one that belonged in our family, and when I felt as though I was bathing in the sun again, I knew we’d found her.
Have you felt discouraged at times in your wait? What have you done to be proactive and keep a positive attitude?