“Hope is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all – “

-Emily Dickinson

Hope is a fickle thing. Strong today, weak tomorrow. If I could, I’d bottle it up and pass it out (with a 32 oz fountain coke, of course). Sadly, I can’t. But I CAN bring you a fountain drink and tell you what has helped me stay hopeful, especially with keeping the hope alive throughout your adoption journey.

First, let me tell you something I wish someone had told me when we were navigating the emotions from a reversed adoption and a failed placement:

It is OKAY if you have moments, days, weeks, whatever, when you don’t feel hopeful. I’d say it’s darn near impossible to be hopeful always, always, always. This is where family and friends step in. Let others who love you carry the hope when you can’t.  I know you are strong, but it’s okay to lean on others.

Your adoption journey is unique to you, and not every suggestion I make in this article will work regarding your personal situation.  However, it’s my desire that some will help you stay hopeful when everything seems to be falling apart.

Let others who love you carry the hope when you can’t.

After my husband and I experienced a reversed adoption, our caseworker encouraged me to speak to a therapist. At first I felt ridiculous for even entertaining the thought. Surely I just needed to toughen up and move on? If you feel you need a third party to talk to (it can be hard your spouse/partner is just as hurt as you) as well as act as a witness to your pain, a trained therapist can help. Even if you need someone to simply sit in silence with you, a therapist can help. If you have a caseworker, ask them for recommendations. A therapist can give you ways to cope with the hard emotions, as well as help you find ways to foster hope.

I have been a big journal writer throughout my life, and something I’ve tried to be consistent with is keeping a gratitude journal. In no way do I mean for this suggestion to feel trite, because I know you are grateful for your life and all the marvelous things in it. But writing down five to ten things you are grateful for daily seriously helps encourage positive, hopeful feelings. I know, I know, I was skeptical too, but it has done a lot of amazing things for me. In fact, journaling period can help you keep the hope. There is something about physically writing your thoughts and feelings down on paper that can bring peace and comfort to your heart. I think it’s so important to document the struggles in life just as much as you do the times of peace and prosperity. Go get yourself a cute notebook from Target and give it a try.

I’ve also found that when I feel productive I tend to feel better about life in general. While you are waiting for your family to grow, try out a new hobby or project that keeps your mind busy. Before my son joined our family, I decided to try photography. A good friend of mine is a professional photographer and she recommended a reliable DSLR. I didn’t go into this thinking I would ever be able to charge for my work. I just wanted to learn and grow. After work, I’d go on nature walks and photographer anything I found beautiful. I picked my friend’s brain, read a few books, even read the entire user manual for my Nikon D90. I still take nature walks with my camera when I feel the pressures of life weighing down on my shoulders. Have a productive, engaging outlet can help you see beautiful and hope in the everyday life.

Find the positive and HOLD. ON. TIGHT. Positivity leads to hope. I realize that this, too, might sound trite, but from the bottom of my heart I know this is true. I’ve had a long journey, friends. A long, painful, and dark journey. So when I say find the positive and hold on, I say it knowing that your pain is real. Your pain is validated. But your pain has a purpose. Find that purpose. Find the positive. Like I stated at the beginning, you aren’t expected to be positive every day all day.  You have friends and family who can help when the days are darker. If you feel like you don’t have anyone that can do this for you, contact me. Find the positive even if it’s as simple as, “Hey, I get to take a hot shower and a nap today.” Let that positivity, as small as it may be, help you find hope when everything feels as if it’s falling apart. Like Emily Dickinson so beautifully put it:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.