Want to hear my least favorite word? Patience. As we waited for our adoption match, it was my least favorite thing to hear: “Be patient.” (“Least favorite” is a huge understatement. I usually found myself imagining doing the Karate Kid sweep-the-leg move on the offender. I never did it, mind you, and I knew people were trying to be helpful; it just became one of those rage-triggering phrases for me.) One day, after listening to me air my patience grievances, a friend encouraged me to channel that frustration into something good. 

After throwing around several ideas, my husband and I came up with the idea of the Waiting Bucket. We bought two large identical Tupperware jars. Each time we thought about our future child, we would add an item to each bucket. We hoped one day that one would sit on the shelf in our child’s room and the other would be with his birth mother so that she would see how much our child was loved even before we had ever met.

We started by adding pennies; one each with the year of our births, a penny with the year of our wedding. We added a root beer barrel candy because my husband loves them. And then we found that what we really wanted to add were the things that triggered flashes of our hope for this child. It started to fill with things like a “Believe” medallion I received at church. We added a rock from outside our favorite restaurant, where we had talked about how different it would be to eat there with a child someday. Then a guitar pick thrown to the audience following the end of our favorite band’s concert. A ring I had painted with my niece on one of their visits to our home.

We shared our waiting buckets with our families and asked if they would each add items, because they, too, were anxiously awaiting and loving the child we hoped would join us. Our awesome families pounced into action! Checking the mail over the next month became my favorite activity. It was so much fun to see what our parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews had chosen to send. What would they choose to add  to the bucket? We received miniature race cars from one nephew, a favorite fashion ring from a niece. Special little treasures chosen specifically as expressions of love from each individual to both our hopeful child and his cherished birth mom. It was comforting to see it slowly fill with items and know that I wasn’t waiting alone.

It was heartwarming to watch our buckets fill with love. I had not expected how overwhelming it would be for me to walk past those buckets each day and see how many moments of love, of hope, happened in my life. More than I had ever imagined. What had started as a project to show love for a future child and birth mother had become a visual lesson for me about how much love I felt each day. So many of those items represented a person I loved and who loved me. A person who loved me enough they would play along with my silly waiting game. In a very real way, those buckets became symbols of love.  A physical manifestation of hope sat right there in our living room.  We did not yet have a child to hold in our arms, but we did have a place where all of that love accumulated and blossomed.