Random thoughts on a homemaker's journey

Adoption: What Does it Feel Like?

on November 9, 2012

My friend’s question caught me off guard. She asked, “What does adoption feel like?”  In eight years since we first began our adoption application, no one has ever asked me that. Oh, let me tell you adoption certainly spans the spectrum of feelings and emotions! Maybe you are going through your adoption process and wonder if your experience is “normal.” Perhaps, a friend or family member is traveling through adoption, and you’d like some insight.

Adoption feels surreal. You have begun the process submitting the application and preparing your home for the home study. Perhaps you have even reached the waiting list. You are “expecting” but not pregnant. You anticipate the child who will come home; but can’t check its development status on a pregnancy site. You want to begin getting your child’s room ready; but don’t even know what age to expect. You’ve been matched with your child internationally, but they are miles away. You have their picture; but can’t hold them. You can’t put your hand on your belly and feel them kick.

Sometimes the adoption process feels lonely. People who have not experienced it often do not understand, even people who are close with you. People mindlessly say dumb things. As the process grows long  you may withdraw. Others can also be fearful and withdraw from you due to inaccurate information they’ve heard or painful experiences of their own. Some friends or family members may be too afraid to celebrate with you or even get to know your child until it’s all “final.” In some families, the race of the child you have chosen to adopt can even cause division.

Vulnerability often rears its face throughout adoption too. The adoption application is very long and ridiculously personal. Childhood, parental relationships, financial details, and marital intimacy are all discussed with a complete stranger during the home study. You and your spouse have to decide age, health status, race, and more for the child you desire to adopt. If your answers don’t match, you have to face them together and delve into them to learn why. Later in the process, you may feel your family is at the mercy of agencies, lawyers, birthfamilies, and social workers. Long waits and periods of miscommunication with those involved accelerate the anxiety and fear.

Yet, there are incredibly happy or positive feelings in adoption too. Let me take you back to when my sweet girl was four days old. We got the call that we could come to the hospital to see her! Wow! I can still remember the anxiety and excitement! Trying to get there without speeding. Holding my husband’s clammy hand in the car. (Praying for safety in the terrible storm when  newscasters were actually telling people not to go out if they didn’t have to. Believe me. We had to!)  Trying to hurry into the hospital without actually running and causing a scene!

I remember feeling overwhelmed as I looked through the nursery window seeing  a tiny bundle swaddled in a blanket. Meeting her birthmother. Knowing that whatever the circumstances, by God’s grace this woman chose to allow our baby girl to live!  Holding that very tiny baby in my arms and realizing that I was holding, actually holding in my arms, an exact answer to years of prayer. Seeing my husband hold our baby girl the first time and knowing he was wrapped around her pinky finger in the first seconds. Overwhelming joy and love!

Peace also marked our adoption, the incredible peace that God gave us. Truly experiencing the peace beyond comprehension mentioned in Philippians 4. Encouragement also surrounded us from our friends and family. Many prayed for us. Financial gifts or extra jobs provided right when another payment was due. Family who showed up with pizza and sat with us when we thought we were losing her. Friends and church family that brought a brand new car seat, handmade blankets, a bag full of newborn supplies, a Winnie the Pooh collection hardcover edition, and more even before she was officially home. A surprise party given to us when everything was final.

The specifics of our journey are not the same for anyone else. However, I’m sure our feelings and emotions are pretty common and normal. You, or someone you know, are experiencing similar feelings. But hear me when I tell you it is worth it. All the emotions, all the feelings, all the “I can’t believe a stranger is asking me this,” is worth it. If you are a believer, God is bigger than your feelings. He will give his peace. He will send other believers to encourage you. He knows the end of your journey and knows your child already! He has led you this far, and he will not leave you. Keep the big picture in mind. A child needs a family. You can be that family!


One response to “Adoption: What Does it Feel Like?

  1. […] Sarah Andrews answers the question: “What does adoption feel like?” […]

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