We have reached a new phase of our adoption process. We are officially on the waitlist. Officially. We can find our online profile on our adoption agency’s website. I saw a huge chunk of money disappear from our checking account and knew it was the fee that put us on the waitlist. Our profile books are no longer sitting on our counter, but are in the hands of the people who will one day give them to birthmothers looking for a family. In all ways, it is official. We are waiting.
Along with this new phase comes a slew of new emotions. A lot of them are positive. There is relief in knowing that we don’t have to fill out any more forms. There is a calm that has settled over me because I know that there is nothing hanging over our heads that we need to finish. There is an incredible excitement in knowing that there is now the potential for birth families to see the profile that we worked so hard on and feel so proud of. All of these things swirl around my mind and bring this wonderful sense of accomplishment and excitement to both Carla and me.
That being said, I have also experienced a whole bunch of new emotions that are less positive. Emotions that I need to give myself a chance to adjust to. For example, I now need to adjust to the feeling of uncertainty. It is a hard feeling for me to deal with. As a very good friend of mine recently said, “Jess, you don’t deal well with uncertainty.” It’s true. While I have never been one who has needed to know every detail of what is going to happen next, I have always been a person who benefits from having a rough outline. So this idea that from this day forward anything can happen is a real challenge for me. If someone told me that I would be waiting for exactly two years and three months, I would have no problem waiting. But, that isn’t the way it works. I could be waiting for two years, but I could also be waiting for less than one year, or I could be waiting for three years. There is no way to know. And that not knowing is going to be one of the hardest things for me.
Besides the uncertainty, there is also just the idea of waiting that has become a struggle. When we were still in the home study phase of things, I didn’t have to think about whether or not birth families were looking at our profile at that moment or whether birth families were choosing not to look at our profile at that moment. Now, I find myself consumed with thoughts of birth families and thoughts of who will see our profile and when they will see it and what they will think of it. I am hoping that once being on the wait list isn’t so new for us anymore, I won’t think about it quite as often. But for now, the thoughts fill my head most hours of the day and night.
Carla and I are also now faced with making decisions about what we want to do right away and what we want to wait on. For example, we have to decide when to do what in the room that will one day be our baby’s room. There are parts of both of us that want to be prepared. We feel like we will feel better knowing that things are ready for whenever our baby comes. But at the same time, we want to make sure that we aren’t doing things that will only make us feel sad knowing that there isn’t a baby here yet. So, we have painted the room already. We have cleaned out the closet. We have moved the cats’ litter box out of the room (the cats were only a little bit mad about this). These are things that we know we can handle. It won’t make sad to see yellow walls instead of blue ones. It won’t make us sad to have a closet that isn’t holding all of our luggage and other random things. These things won’t be reminders of how long will have been waiting. Other things are harder to decide. When do order the crib? When do we start hanging up artwork? These decisions take a little bit more work for me.
While figuring this all out, one of the greatest decisions we came to involved a new tradition that Carla came up with. One of the images that excited me most about being a mother is the image of sitting and reading with our child. Carla knows my passion for children’s literature as a teacher and she knows how that has translated into a passion for bringing children’s literature to our own child. It is something that she is equally excited about. So, she came up with the idea that each month that we are on the waitlist, we will go to our favorite bookstore and each pick out one book for our child. That way, each month that we wait will bring us two new books that we will one day be able to share with our child. The day we got on the waiting we went right over to the Women and Children First Bookstore and choose our first books. It felt right. It was a great way to celebrate. And our first books already sit happily in the room that will one day be our nursery.
So with this new phase, we are learning new ways to navigate the waters of the adoption journey. We are finding ways to be okay in this uncertainty. Every time we reach a new part of adoption, it takes a while to settle into it. It takes some time to figure out the best way to handle the emotions that come along with it. But each time, we find our own way through. We find out what works for us. I have become less concerned with what we are “supposed” to be feeling and more concerned with how we actually are feeling. I don’t worry as much about what people say we should be doing, instead I focus more on what feels right for us to be doing. That shift in thinking has made a world of difference for me.
Jess and Carla live in the suburbs of Chicago, where they think more and more about babies every day. You can follow Jess’ adoption adventure here in her previous posts or at her blog, Two Mommies Trying to Adopt.