Welcome to the ride, my friends; welcome to the ride.
We knew that this adoption business would be a roller coaster. We’ve been told all about that. Read all about that. We’ve even experienced a mini-roller coaster (like the kid-kind) in our own decision to adopt and throughout all of the classes and prep-work during the Home Study. But I feel like we’ve now been officially inaugurated. Or Freshmen-hazed. Or Sorority-Sister pledged or rushed or whatever it is. We’ve officially hopped aboard the adoption roller coaster ride, and I can see that – like most roller coasters – it may be a little crazy at times but also really fun. (For the record, in clarifying this analogy: in real life I’m not a risk-taker or an adrenaline-junkie. I’m an ENORMOUS wuss and I HATE roller coasters. The adoption one may – hopefully – be the last one I ever ride).
On Saturday night, we had dinner at the Olive Garden – ‘cuz, you know, when you’re there, you’re family! I believe we were still studying the menus when it happened. I was suddenly hit with the most overwhelming, physical sensation of KNOWING that I’ve ever experienced. It seriously was such a MOMENT that I kind of dropped the menu and gasped a little bit. I have never EVER had something like this before. Mike glanced at me with concern and questioning.
I kind of shook my head in disbelief and explained, “Wow. I’ve never felt anything like that before. It’s like I suddenly FEEL something with Baby Girl. Like it could happen soon…really soon. I mean, maybe we won’t be getting her THIS week, but I really feel like something could happen. And I feel ready. All of a sudden, I just feel ready.”
This is the best way I can describe it: It’s like that moment for an expectant mother, when you feel your baby kick or hiccup within you for the first time. You KNEW you were pregnant, you KNEW there was a baby growing inside of you, but when you FEEL it, you just really, really KNOW. It’s magical. And this? This was that kind of a moment.
I looked at Mike kind of still frozen and in awe of what just happened. I immediately wanted to reassure myself, to not get my hopes up too much. “I mean, maybe nothing major will happen this week, but I just feel like there will be SOME sort of adoption news.” There really hadn’t been much of anything for quite a while.
Mike slowly nodded his head and said, “I had the exact same feeling two days ago – on Thursday. I just suddenly felt like: it’s gonna happen soon. Or something is, anyway.” He had it too, huh? Hmmmm. Could this be….?
I continued to feel that way for a couple of days, but nothing had happened. And then, I got home from the gym on Tuesday morning and turned on Kara-my-laptop. I knew, I KNEW that there would be an email from our social worker Joy. I’ve never been one to have ‘psychic tendencies’ but I KNEW with 100% certainty that she’d sent an email. I would’ve bet oodles of money on it and woulda cleaned up!
So, I wasn’t surprised at all to see the email from Joy telling us that a baby girl had been born LAST THURSDAY (the same day Mike had the “feeling”) and that most likely the birth family would not be able to parent, so they were working on finding a foster-to-adopt family. (I can’t go into the details but this is one of those possible situations for us – a little bit nutty, where we could potentially find out about “her” and within just a couple of days, bring a baby home. I have this funny image in my head of picking Matthew up from the bus stop after school and SURPRISE! “Matthew, meet your baby sister!!” It’s an awesome picture.)
I tried – I really did – I tried SO hard not to get my hopes up. Because I KNOW that this situation can – and probably will happen – numerous times. A birth mom comes in, knows she’s having a girl, sounds great, we submit our family profile book, we don’t get picked. We DO get picked, we’re matched with a birth mom and within 48 hours after the birth, she changes her mind. Heart breaking. We end up with a foster-to-adopt situation which we THOUGHT had low-to-no legal risks (birth family wouldn’t be reunited) only to find out that some distant relative stepped up to parent. These are all scary, yet very possible situations for us. This is the roller coaster.
What made this so much harder was the FEELING. Mike and I have NEVER EVER felt like it was SO RIGHT. I’m thankful that the feelings of hopeful, eager anticipation only lasted about an hour. (What if it had gone on for days?!) Joy had sent the email at 10am, I’d seen it at noon and by 1pm, we had learned that it was all a no-go. Someone in the birth family HAD stepped up to parent.
I kept telling myself the planned-inner monologue, “It wasn’t meant to be. She wasn’t The One. It’ll happen when God wants it to happen, etc. We wish that baby girl the best and hope that birth family can keep it together…so she doesn’t end up in Foster Care later…It just wasn’t meant to be.” But it was still pretty sucky. Especially because of that darn FEELING. So, what WAS that feeling? Now I just felt kinda foolish. Who are WE to think that after only four months of waiting, we’d get picked and pass up all these families who have potentially been waiting for over a year or more?! Who are WE to just assume that the first “really good”/newborn situation would automatically be ours? Can we be any more full of ourselves?! So, what was WITH THIS STINKIN’ FEELING? Was it just God’s way of helping us feel ready? More ready than we’ve ever felt? But why did I KNOW Joy would send an email? Why did Mike have The FEELING on the exact day that that baby girl was born? How amazing would that have been to be able to tell our adopted daughter years from now, that we KNEW. We KNEW without a question of a doubt that our baby girl had been born, that she’d come into this world and was ours. What if we don’t have that feeling again? What if when we do find “The One” it’s with way less pomp and circumstance? I’ve read about that too, of course, that people adopting expect and assume that they’ll “know” right away, that they will instantaneously feel unconditional feelings of parental love for their adopted child the moment they see them or hold them for the first time…and that doesn’t always happen. Just like postpartum depression, having to do bed rest in the hospital, things don’t always work out as easily and joyfully as you’d want for this most amazing moment.
I had told myself that I wouldn’t get my hopes up. Like everything else in my life – our wedding (spending our wedding night in the ER, Mike being diagnosed with cancer, cancelling our Honeymoon, having to go through Chemo and Radiation as newlyweds), our first born (being told we were having a girl, being mentally prepared for months, KNOWING this little Abigail Madeline inside of me, and then finding out that surprise – and a wonderful one, OF COURSE! – Abigail is actually Matthew), spending the second pregnancy in the hospital, and then worst of all suffering Postpartum Depression…when I feel like I should be the happiest I’m just incapable of feeling that way. Knowing that now, I can’t even remember Zachary’s first year. It’s like an awful dark haze that’s more of a feeling than any sort of clear memory. It’s not fair. The expectations. Am I crazy to have expectations? To hope for the best? Do I need to get to a cynical place where I always just expect and assume the worst? Have I become a bitter human being when OBVIOUSLY my life has been so unbelievably blessed?? I have an incredible marriage to the most-faith-filled, strong man. We have two healthy, wonderful, amazing little boys. We’ve been blessed with financial security. Sure, we feel like affording college for our kids seems like a somewhat unobtainable goal. Sure, we buy a lot of our clothes second-hand or at least always on sale. Sure, it’ll be a while before we pay off our new (used) minivan. But we HAVE those things. So, why do I expect more? Why should I get happiness AND things to go easily and smoothly? Who am I to think that my suffering is worse than others? It’s not a contest…and even if it WAS a contest…I wouldn’t win. There are millions (billions?) who suffer on a daily basis more than I’ve suffered my whole life.
SO (deep breath), we wait. We try not to get our hopes up, but we will. This is part of the adoption process. You can’t guard your heart SO MUCH that you stop caring. You want to be excited. You want to be able to tell your daughter that “we knew.” We knew that you were the one that God wanted us to have. You have been and always will be OURS. And that will happen. It will. But for now we wait. And we ride.