Is it Time for Me to ‘Throw in the Towel’ on My Dream of Adopting?

How do you know when it's time to quit?

Rachel Galbraith March 06, 2016
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As a hopeful adoptive parent, I have been struggling with something: When is enough, enough? At what point do my husband and I say, “We have now done everything we can. Our time is up. We are no longer hoping to adopt?”

I keep setting deadlines. Drawing lines in the sand. I tell myself (and others) “If we haven’t found a situation by such and such a date, we are DONE. We are emotionally exhausted and can’t physically do it anymore.” And each time, I sincerely mean it. We are done. And then something happens that makes me extend that deadline.

In 2015 my deadline was May. That was when our home study expired. I repeatedly said, “If we haven’t been matched by May, we will not renew our home study. We will be done with our adoption search.” And then out of the blue, at the end of March, we were matched with an expectant mother considering adoption. That consumed our lives until the baby was born in August, and sadly, the adoption did not go through. At that point I said we were really, really done. We had put everything into that situation and had nothing left to give.

For a few weeks, I was done. And then, suddenly, I wasn’t done. I knew in my heart that we had a daughter who was supposed to join our family. I knew my son needed a little sister. So, we slowly inched our way back into the “Hoping to Adopt” arena. Again, I set a deadline. If we hadn’t found a new situation by February of 2016, we would be finished. That was when our contract with Parent Profiles expired, so it seemed like a good cut off point. I said it out loud once again, “Hey EVERYBODY! We will be wrapping up our hopes to adopt in February. Thanks for everything.” And then, we discovered that our contract had been extended through April. So I said it again, “Okay . . . for real this time. If we haven’t been matched up by APRIL, we will be done.”

But really? April is approaching and my heart is dragging its feet at the thought of quitting. My head continues to list all the logical reasons why the time has come to move on with life and leave our adoption hopes behind, but, oh my heart. My heart breaks at the thought of quitting.  I feel lost at this point. Will I ever feel at peace with the idea of ending our search?

On a day when I was particularly troubled by these questions, I decided to post my feelings on my favorite online adoption forum. Most of the comments were other women who were struggling with the same questions. They too had come to a point where they were unsure if they should continue pressing forward with their adoption search, or if the time had come to throw in the towel. However, a few women gave some beautiful words of advice and encouragement, and with their permission, I wanted to share some of it here.

Jenny said:  I, like others, feel like there is no right answer . . . There have been times in my life when I worked so hard for something I knew was right. I KNEW it was right. But it wasn’t working out. Then I said, “That’s it. It’s truly all I can do.” I didn’t feel like I “gave up” but I felt a true sense of handing it over to the Lord. It was totally up to Him. I even said, “There is literally no more I can do and it’s up to You.” It was always on my mind, but I was done. I had done it all. And in His time, this magical thing happened and it all worked out. It happened with our son’s adoption. The similar process happened with my brother for a different issue . . . I’ve seen it many times. It’s like we get to this point where we feel so worn down and in a sense we give up and move on . . . but that desire stays in our heart . . . and it happens. Will this adoption happen? I don’t know. But I have deep faith in a greater process, and in true, humble, desperate submission. There have been few times when I’ve been at that point because I’m a doer! I get stuff done! So I’m always coming up with other ideas to make things happen. But sometimes, all those options are exhausted and I feel completely defeated. If you’re not religious, it can be handing it over to the universe or another greater power . . . but for me in a loving Father in Heaven who knows more than I do. I [just want to] to share that the depths of despair have been deeper for me than I originally thought…and it was THEN that answers came.

Hannah said:  I think the time to throw in the towel is when you can be satisfied without the victory. Let me try to explain what I mean. The time to stop fertility treatments/battle is when you can peacefully say in your heart, “I am okay with never getting pregnant or completing a pregnancy. It might not be what I wanted, I may always feel like I missed out, but if it never happens – well, I can live with that.” And then you find what to do next with your life. For a lot of us, that was moving into the adoption process; for others, it’s finding fulfillment outside parenthood. And I think the time to stop the adoption marathon will be when you can look at your life and say, “If we never bring (another) child into our home, then that will be okay. It might not look like the life I dreamed of, but I can be happy with a different life.” But I think quitting before that is selling yourself short. If your heart is still breaking for something to happen, don’t just leave your heart broken forever. Keep giving it a chance to be fulfilled. Stop when you can accept your heart/life as already full (which will take deep introspection and probably a lot of work and thought adjustment) – if you’re not there, I’d say it isn’t time to stop yet.

Those beautifully spoken words have given me much to ponder as our newest deadline approaches. Has the time come, or do we simply “Let go and let God?” I know that every situation is different. So many factors play into this decision. It’s not something that can be made lightly, but as we search our hearts, and work through our emotions, we will hopefully find peace in our decision—no matter what that decision is. Tonight I’m thankful to have a little more time on my side before my April deadline passes. There is no right answer, but I hope the right answer, for me, comes soon.

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Rachel Galbraith

Rachel Galbraith is a busy mother of five children, one of whom was adopted at birth. She has a Bachelors Degree in social work, and has worked as a medical social worker, specializing in the field of women and children. She was privileged to play a small role in the adoptions that often took place on her hospital unit. Writing has become her own personal form of therapy, and she is excited to combine it with her love of adoption. In her free time, she has a love-hate relationship with distance running. She readily admits to doing it only so she can eat chocolate chip cookies for breakfast.


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