I don’t like being hungry. When I’m hungry, I get distracted. My focus is completely off. All I think about is fixing that problem . . . the problem of the rumbling stomach. I am consumed with consuming . . . something. If I’m not somewhere I can grab a bite, sometimes I’ll just drink water. That will cover up the hunger for some time, but what I really need is calories. I’m not always ravenous, but when I am, it’s distracting. Obviously my body and mind are working together to tell me something.

Can you relate?

To be honest, I’m rarely this hungry. But there are other things I’ve hungered for. There are things that my heart and mind have tried to tell me about. And one of those things is having children. The whole “baby hungry” thing is real—and believe it or not, it’s NOT because people go around wanting to eat babies. No. That’s just weird. But there is a hunger for a certain presence in my life, a certain someone who I’m yet to meet.

After our first adoption, we were deliriously happy and things were good. But then that stirring began to happen again. It was distracting. My focus shifted, and I began to feel that uneasy feeling in my stomach—that feeling that says, “Let’s do this again. You aren’t done.” It’s a happy and excited feeling, but it’s also really scary. And no matter what I did to try to suppress, or cover up, this feeling . . . it always returned. Because what we really needed was to move forward and begin the adoption process again.

Having a baby sounded great. Starting our adoption process wasn’t as appealing. Because there’s adoption—making new connections, uniting families, love—and there’s adoption—uncertainty, hopelessness, heartbreak. Anyone who has been through adoption already knows that with as much joy as comes with the whole experience, there is also an equal part of tears. Even if things go “smoothly,” you can’t hold your new baby and not be humbled and heartbroken as you realize the sacrifice that just occurred.

For parents, I think there’s always some kind of feeling—something internal that, once triggered, is hard to turn off. It is that thing that constantly whispers, “You aren’t finished.” And that happens again, and for some again and again and again . . . until you actually ARE done having children. Recognizing the feeling is the easy part. It’s the next part that can get tricky. Having the child, now that’s not the easiest step for many. For some, it’s a smooth transition from not-pregnant to double-lines-on-the-pee-stick-pregnant. But for a lot of us who are reading this article, it’s not so simple. And feeling like it’s time to have another baby and feeling ready to begin the adoption process again are two very different, and often conflicting, feelings.

We are currently going through the adoption process again. It’s been long and uneventful. It has taken hours of paperwork, fingerprinting, home visits, etc. This will, hopefully, be our third adoption. Callie’s placement was fast. We waited only eight months. Micah’s placement took many years. And this? Well, we’ll see. Each time we felt these little spiritual nudges. They came as thoughts and feelings that our family was incomplete and it was just time to start again.

How do you know if you’re ready to start the adoption process again? I suppose there are some definite items you can check off from a list that will help you determine if you’re ready:

* Do you want children?

* Do you have a criminal background?

* Do you have a support system for midnight diaper blow-outs?

But I believe, for the most part, knowing if you are ready to begin the adoption process for the first, third, or last time is all about that one phrase that is overly stated, season after season, in The Bachelor: You just need to “go with your heart.” Because it’s true. When all is said and done, you will know if you’re ready to take on the hour after tedious hour of paperwork, background checks, and repetitive training. You will know because you won’t be able to sleep until you do. And you won’t be able to get it off your mind. And your heart will begin to ache a bit because something is missing. At first it’s small, but that missing piece grows bigger and bigger until it is filled.

So, how do you know? You don’t. But your heart does. Listen to that.