By the time I reached adoption, I had spent almost four years trying to become a mother. Fertility was some of the worst chapters in my life full of physical, emotional and financial turmoil. As a potential single parent going this alone, I know that I wore out some loved ones. Most conversations with me were depressing because I was transfixed about trying to become pregnant. With adoption, this did not stop, but the conversation changed.
During my adoption training, we learned how we could not predict when this could happen, but we were advised to become prepared since it could happen any moment. I remember hearing stories of couples and single parents meeting their birth mothers mere weeks after their adoption profile and brochure became available. Their stories were full of surprise and wonder. One day, they were just driving to work and by the end of the day, they were on the path to becoming someone’s parent.
This was a huge change from fertility. Nothing happens that fast. Instead, you are constantly waiting and testing for your fertile cycle to come around again. This change settled into my heart with pure joy. I loved the idea that any day, my life could change. Turns out that I loved this idea too much.
I supervise a department of people at work. Out of the nine of us, I had been there the longest. There were things that I did that no one on the campus did. If I went out on maternity leave, someone else was going to have to get those things done. My mind raced as I made numerous lists out my responsibilities.
Slowly I started to wear out my employees. They were gracious enough not to complain, but I put them through some wild rides. For instance, a crisis happened during a weekend with a technology outage. During this crisis, I was out of town at a dance workshop with my phone on mute. My staff blew up my phone waiting for me to reply to put a solution into place. This event taught me that not enough people in my department had the means to report problems to our vendors. This situation needed to be fixed. Instead of just giving more people access, I held a meeting with the entire staff quizzing them about how to handle events like this without me. I wanted to feel good about being away for several months and not worry that the department was falling apart.
It wasn’t just one meeting though, it was many meetings. One time, I held two of those meetings on one day. My employees were assigned appointments to come to my office to learn my set-up like how I file things in my file cabinet, how to find report templates on my computer and how to decipher our budget in case things had to be purchased. You would think that I was leaving that week with the sense of urgency I had around getting everyone ready around me.
All of this was happening during my FIRST MONTH being eligible to adopt. My online profile just appeared on the website and my brochure was still warm from the printer. It was a bit like Chicken Little believing that any moment, the sky was going to fall and everything was going to be harder without me around.
Eventually, I calmed down. It took a while, but I learned to pace myself around my co-workers. In the end, they did great. Things ran smoothly without me though I was relieved that they were glad when I returned and reclaimed my tasks. Being away taught me to trust others to figure out scenarios and find the best solutions for the problems. Things didn’t have to go my way all of the time. My co-workers are great people who are full of ideas on how to solve things. I had to relax more and trust that they were going to figure things out.
Once you become eligible to adopt, one of the most difficult tasks you will be able to complete is to relax and enjoy your last moments of freedom. My adoption counselor told me in training to enjoy this time, schedule some vacations and try not to focus on adoption things all of the time. The wait for adoption is primarily out of my control. It was hard to do, but some days I succeeded. My strategy now was to work out as much as I could before the baby arrived. Running was now running training for many 5K events and even my first 10K. I auditioned for a dance troupe and performed in public more.
Still, the wait was HARD. At least with fertility, there were tasks that I had to do. For example, as my inseminations approached, I had to go to the doctor more often and take drugs at specific times of the day. Having a task gave me somewhere to place my focus. With adoption, it was like dating waiting for the phone to ring.
My final wait time was 16 months, 2 weeks and several days. The average wait time for a single parent is 14 months. When 14 month mark came and went, I was heartsick. My adoption phone line that I created, a toll-free number that my birth mother could use anywhere at anytime, never really rung besides two random calls. One of those calls came from a prison asking me to accept the charges, the next was a fax line trying to call me.
In the end, you can’t predict the future. You don’t know what is going to happen or when. Be mindful of not wearing out the people who love you. Yes, they are here to be supportive, but don’t make every conversation about your misery about having to wait so long to become a parent. Make yourself useful and busy during this time. Take excellent care of yourself. Do some impulsive things that you can never do as a parent. Things will happen, typically when you least expect it.