Today marks 18 months into our being officially available as adoptive parents, in terminology our adoption agency uses. It’s not significant marker, but then, yeah, I guess it is. When we joined up with the IAC in March 2013, the average time hopeful adoptive parents would wait to actually become parents was 18 months. Now, I think that time has actually reduced a bit to 15 months. That “average” little statistic, arrived at by numbers they don’t share with the hopeful adoptive folks, is meant to give those getting started a kind of waymarker – some folks adopt earlier, some take a bit longer, but the average (as of when we signed on) was 18 months.
Hmm, I remember thinking, but not with any real concern, as I knew we’d be among those who’d get snatched up before we’d been waiting more than a few months.
Well, now we’re at that “average” moment.
Last week, as my mind ticked down another day closer to the 24th of the month, as it almost always does, keeping track of where we are (we went official on September 24th, 2013), we got a letter from our agency that included these phrases in the first sentence: “We know how difficult the wait can be…” and “because your adoption profile has been in circulation a somewhat longer time than usual…”
Really, IAC? I didn’t even want to keep reading this letter, with its poorly worded statement of the obvious. Even if the ultimate point of it was to “offer extra services” in the form of more marketing and redesigning our letter to an expectant parent. To me, “a somewhat longer time than usual” felt like a thinly veiled “hey, you guys are dragging our percentages down” kind of thing to say.
I may be reading too much into it – wouldn’t be the first time I’ve accused myself of such a thing – but there’s no way this was a feel-good kind of letter. No, “Hey, you know, waiting sucks, but good job, you two, for sticking it out this far! Just keep on keeping on! We’re behind you all the way. To prove it, here’s how we can help…” That would’ve been better. Right? Right. Of course it would be.
Prompted by this letter and the 18-month milestone we didn’t want, I took a trot down memory lane a couple days ago, looking especially at things I had written for my column “The Art of Waiting” on Open Adoption Bloggers (a group that now seems to be defunct). The last columns I wrote were four and five months into our wait – one was titled, “When the Days Feel Darkest: Waiting, and Wrestling with Fear.” Oh, younger self, you think you were wrestling with it then…
What I wrote about there – the whole fear, self-doubt, anxiety, wondering if we’re absolutely invisible thing – now that we’re more than a year from when I wrote that – feels so much deeper now. I didn’t know then what the long haul might entail – I still don’t – the uncertainty is one thing that keeps this so stinking emotionally hard.
Adoption has a lot of moving parts. It’s not lost on either of us that our dream of starting a family, however open we hope the adoption can be, comes at a price for someone else, and possibly that someone’s whole family. I’m not ignoring that, and gripes about the IAC’s wording on their stupid letter aside, I’m not whining. I think I can reiterate, without any change in vocal tone whatsoever, in a statement that I imagine anyone on any side of adoption – pre or post or expectant or birth parent – can agree with, that this whole process is yes, just so stinking emotionally hard.
Ever since I began this blog, almost 160 posts ago, one of my goals was to keep the tone positive and upbeat because this is meant to be a record of how we meet our Littlest, a record of how his or her birthmom and her family came to know more about us. It’s a love story, really, to all of them. And we’re so excited to find out the ending. Or the beginning, depending on how you look at it.
This bit, though, the 18-month bit, is part of the real story, and it’s absolutely, positively no fun. But it’s worth recording. Maybe it’s like the adoption version of “I was in labor with you for 63 hours” or whatever it is you hold over your teenager’s head when they’re being a typical teenager.
In the midst of these swirling thoughts, something directed my attention to this quote the other day. It’s one I wrote down quite a while ago, and while I don’t remember the context of what made me write it down then, it certainly feels like it fits where we are right now:
And maybe, just maybe, if someone out there is on the other side of the adoption story from us, these words will encourage her too. So, we’ll keep on moving forward, and we hope she does too, because there is still a lot of beauty, even right now, when things are – did I mention? – so stinking emotionally hard.