But the injustice perceived and proclaimed isn't coming from my children. It's resounding. And it's coming from waiting adoptive parents.
Why is it not fair?
- You've paid good money.
- You are better than they are.
- You are entitled to a child.
Let me explain.
It's normal to have feelings of resentment, jealousy, anger, frustration, and confusion during one's adoption journey. The waiting is excruciating at times. Numbing. Even debilitating.
I've been there. I've stalked my agency's waiting-family profile page online. I cringed every time I saw a couple's face with "placement" stamped across their faces. (A family we waited alongside with our first adoption got placed not once, but TWICE, while we waited. REALLY?!?) I would congratulate pregnant or adopting friends and family members with a fake smile on my face while mentally cursing them and their cute baby gifts. I threw epic pity parties. I couldn't figure out why we were passed over AGAIN by ANOTHER expectant mother. I think our profile was viewed over fifteen times in our first year of waiting for our first child.
So, here we go.
Everyone around you is pregnant. Everyone around you is parenting happily with rainbows and butterflies and shooting starts and frolicking unicorns in the background. You are getting an ungodly amount of baby shower invites. And all those pregnant women, they are complaining that they are experiencing nausea or have gained weight or are having a boy instead of a girl. Or worse, your best friend is pregnant with not one, no, but two babies. Twins. TWO. And your seventeen-year-old niece: she's having an "oops" baby with her jobless boyfriend of two months.
And then there are, as I recently heard from one waiting mom, the crap parents. The ones who yell at their kids (maybe even curse at them), who don't engage, who just suck at your definition of parenting. And not only do they suck at parenting now, but they keep. having. babies. The parents who have seven different babies with seven different partners. The parents who let their kids walk around Wal-Mart without shoes. The parents who let their kids suck on cart handles or gulp Mountain Dew. The parents who live in trailers or with Grandma or are living off government assistance.
And then there are the other adoptive families, the ones who get picked before you. And you look at their online profiles and think, "What's so special about them?" You analyze their personal descriptions, the photo of their homes, their weight, their clothing, their obsession with pets or outdoor sports. You snarl. You stamp your mental feet. "What do they have that we don't?"
So then, since the ball is rolling, you build an ever-growing tower in which you lock yourself in so you can, of course, throw more pity parties.
- "I've paid good money!" My hard-earned/donated/fundraised money is just sitting. For what? For a service unfulfilled. For a dream not yet attained. For the social worker to tell me to "be patient." For family members to tell me that my time will come. For someone to say that it must be God's will that we don't have a baby yet. I did everything the agency asked of me. I was fingerprinted, background checked, medically examined. I answered questions. I put covers on my outlets and locked up the cleaning supplies. Dammit, I ordered up a baby, and I expect a baby!
- "I'm better than those other parents." I don't get it. I mean, my profile book shows it all. The nursery is set up and decorated beautifully. We go to freaking Disney once a year! DISNEY! The most magical place on earth! I have researched vaccines and BPA-free bottles and making my own baby food And these other parents with their shoe-less toddlers and their willingness to yell at their children in a store for all to hear...And don't even get me started on teen mothers. Why does a 15-year-old child get to have a baby and I don't? How is that ok?
- "I am entitled to a child." Everyone has the right to be a parent. And apparently, everyone else around me has a child except me. I have done anything and everything to be called "mom," yet I still don't have a baby. I deserve to be a parent after everything I've been through. And no, I don't want an invitation to another baby shower. I hate those stupid games of "guess how big mom's tummy is." When is it my turn?!?
and here's news: the journey doesn't end once you are placed.
You see, you have to find healthy ways NOW to deal with emotions that will resurface time and time and time again throughout the rest of your life.
So, after three adoptions and an ongoing journey in parenting and adoptive parenting, here's where I stand on the issue of "It's not fair!":
1: Recognize the thoughts and the resulting feelings you are having. Don't pretend you aren't struggling. Probably everyone around you knows you are struggling via your comments, the look on your face, your attitude. If it helps, speak your experience to a trusted friend, spouse, or counselor. For me, writing is cathartic. Keep a personal journal or a private blog. (But please, please, do not take out your anger/jealousy out on your friends and family members who are pregnant or parenting. It's not only incredibly hurtful and selfish, but it could ruin relationships with people who would have been rejoicing with you when it became your turn to be a parent. This means no passive-aggressive remarks or Facebook posts! Don't squander others' joy!)
2: Realize that thoughts aren't always a choice, but what you do about them is. As Christians, it's important to reconfigure. Personal responsibility and accountability to Christ are critical, not only when you are waiting for a child, but in all life situations, and particularly in parenting! Begin your healthier pattern now.
3: Give yourself some love and grace. Wasting numerous hours relishing in fear, jealousy, anger, and judgment cloud your vision, take up too much heart-space, and hinder your ability to make the right choices when opportunities come your way. Dr. Phil has said many times on his show that you need to replace bad habits with other habits: healthy habits. You cannot expect to just eliminate bad habits without a healthy replacement. I cannot stress enough (as a mother of three who waited three times for children through adoption, as a type I diabetic, and as a type A personality) the importance of exercise, de-stressing time, dating your spouse, and eating healthy. Pick a healthy habit (or two or three!) to go to when being to slip back into a dark place.
4: Join a support group. Or start a support group. I think it's so important to have a "village" of like-minded friends. This is your safe place to vent, to confess, to rejoice, to encourage, and to educate. This is not the place to gossip, to exclude, or to get your inner "mean girl" on. Contributions of honesty, advice, and support will be much appreciated by all!
5: Step away. You know the saying, "Garbage in, garbage out"? Be very selective about who and what you let in to your heart-space. If you find a particular Facebook group to be overly confrontational and negative, leaving you feeling angry or drained, leave. If you cannot handle attending ANOTHER baby shower, it's ok to decline the invitation. (But if you do, don't make a huge freaking deal about it!) If you find a particular place, like the mall (full of babies and moms and strollers!), triggering for you, go somewhere else. And please, please stop reading other adoptive parent profiles and comparing yourself to them! Give yourself the opportunity to thrive by stepping away from those things and people which don't offer neutral ground or don't fill your heart-space with good stuff. Recognize that you aren't necessarily saying good-bye forever, but you are choosing to intentionally spend your time elsewhere in order to prepare yourself for motherhood and adoptive parenting.
Tend to your hearts, friends.
I believe in you.