Hindsight is 20/20
Our adoption story started out as many adoption stories begin. My husband and I wanted to open our home to more children. We already had 2 biological children, but our hearts had opened to the hope of adopting one more child. We quickly got to work researching adoption and foster care agencies.
I would spend hours reading mission statements and processes and posting on Facebook groups and websites for any and all agencies near our hometown. I messaged friends and acquaintances who were foster or adoptive parents. I quickly immersed myself in articles, blog posts, and books about adoption. It became an obsession. Our family dinnertime conversation often centered around the topic of adoption, and as our minds digested information, the love in our hearts grew for the children who would someday become our own. It was a whirlwind.
We sought counsel from others and confided in our closest friends. We turned to our families and eventually shared our desire for adoption with anyone who would listen. Our journey started more than 8 years ago; we have learned a lot along the way. We have not walked this road perfectly, and there are many things I wish I would’ve done differently, but we have taken small steps every day towards a better future. It may be messy, but it has been beautiful!
Here are 5 Things I Would Do Differently in My Adoption Journey
1. Trust the Process
When you finally make the commitment to begin the adoption process, it is really like drinking from a fire hose. There is so much to learn and so much to do! Once you align with an agency, you will have a pretty long to-do list and several classes to complete.
There is a reason for every part of this process. You will gain a wealth of information and likely be able to ask a million questions. This is invaluable. The education component of the process will help to shed light on the many things you don’t know, so it is super important to listen during this time, even though it may feel tedious. When my husband and I were in this part of the process, we didn’t fully surrender to all of the lessons we were learning. I remember wishing that time would speed up–so I was not very present and I rushed through parts of it.
2. Embrace the Waiting
Once we had completed the home study, classes, and paperwork, we began the waiting process. During this time, I spent hours scrolling through the websites featuring kids who were waiting for adoption. I obsessed with the profiles I had read and grew attached to children I would never meet.
The waiting was so hard. However, just like how the time it takes to complete the training classes and paperwork is important, the time it takes for your family to be matched with a child is valuable too. I was so eager to control the outcome that I spent a lot of the waiting period stressed and impatient. If I would have embraced the time of waiting, I would have been able to use my time to better mentally and physically prepare for our future children.
3. Fight Fear
Fear has a way of sneaking into many aspects of the adoption process. The unknowns feel risky and can often be overwhelming. There were many times I let the fear overcome my willingness to say “yes” and take a step of faith; I wish I would’ve handled that differently. Of course, there is a lot to fear. You are saying “yes” to a child whom you may not know and who may have experienced trauma at some level. You are opening your heart and home to a child, and that comes with fear. It is only natural. Learning to balance the hard truths and make wise decisions rather than fearful reactions is challenging. When fear would cause me to react anxiously, it stole my peace. When peace was gone, fear ran rampant. It is a vicious cycle and can be unbearable.
4. Invest in Relationships
During the waiting process, much like the 9 months of pregnancy, you have an opportunity to invest in the relationships you have with your partner, spouse, and any children who are in your home. Looking back, I was so hyper-focused on what was to come that I missed out on time I could have been intentionally connecting with my husband and biological children. The time you spend anticipating the arrival of your adoptive children is a rollercoaster of emotion, conviction, decision, and waiting. It is part of the journey that will affect each member of the family differently. Looking back, I desperately wish I would have taken that time to really connect with my husband and biological kids. The process is long and hard. Taking the time to talk to my biological kids about what they thought and how the process would be for them would have given me the opportunity to help them understand what was going on.
5. Be Present
The need to prepare for and the anticipation of future changes had a way of overtaking the day-to-day for me. I found myself daydreaming of things to come. I wish I would have taken the time to take in the beauty of our family as it was before our adoption. There was a simple beauty in the ease and comfort that we had back then. I really wish I would have embraced it.
It is true: hindsight really is 20/20. I am so thankful for the journey we have had thus far, and while there are things I wish I would have done differently, I am grateful for the experiences we have had. No matter how your journey is shaped, it is important to breathe, take it all in, and appreciate the steps you have walked to get to where you are now.