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waiting game
mental anguish
negative emotions
time parents
waiting period
little girl
short time
phone call
Adoption Waiting Game
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Adoption Waiting Game

Janey described her adoption waiting period as "mental labor". She described it this way - "After I had completed all the paperwork and was matched with a beautiful little girl, I thought I would be united with her rather quickly, but that didn't happen. As each day, week and month passed, I became more and more stressed out. I was frustrated because I wanted to bond with my daughter, but she was somewhere in an orphanage far away from me. How my arms ached to hold that little girl."

To add to the stress, every day I would get the dreaded question from family and friends - 'When are you going to get your daughter?' I didn't know what to tell them because I didn't know myself. Each night before going to bed, I would take her photo, say a prayer and then put the photo under my pillow. I did this for 6 months, until my daughter finally came home. The waiting period was almost unbearable for me, but I would do it again. It was so worth it!"

When prospective parents are waiting to adopt a child, the anxiety has been described as mental labor, as the above experience shows. Of course the pain is not physical, but the mental anguish is so intense, it is similar to labor in the way it affects the parent. And unlike physical labor, which lasts for a short time, parents who are waiting to adopt don't really know when they can expect their "labor" to end. Weeks, months or even years waiting is not uncommon. But why is the wait period so stressful?

Well, think about it for a moment. For most couples who are on the path leading to adoption the reason is often because they cannot conceive. Many couples have endured years of infertility and disappointment, and they continue to experience the negative emotions surrounding their failed attempts at becoming parents. And now, after having gone through the taxing adoption process and being matched with a child, they are playing the waiting game - waiting for that phone call that will change their lives forever.

To add to the uncertainty, prospective parents figure out pretty quickly that the adoption outcome is totally in the hands of someone else - the birth parent(s), the agency, or some other situation. This leads to a feeling of being out of control, and this fuels anxiety, frustration and helplessness.

The adoption process is not for the "faint of heart", I've heard more than once. Prospective parents are interviewed numerous times, complete piles of paperwork, complete home studies and background checks, and must pay fees (for private adoption this is often quite substantial), and there are no guarantees whatsoever. Also, if the adoption is for a child from another country, there are even more steps that are required.

It is at this point in the game that many couple soon realize that there is a big hole in the adoption process. There is much information on how to choose an adoption agency, how to parent, how to adjust to the new child, but there is very little advice on how to successfully deal with the period between being matched with a child and finally bringing the child home. In other words, there is little about what to do while waiting to adopt.

So, is there anything a parent can do while they are waiting? Is there a way to lessen the stress of waiting so that a measure of control is regained? Thankfully, yes. In fact, the waiting period is a time of great opportunity. How so?

It is very important to keep the mind and body active during times of stress and anticipation. Even though it may be difficult, it is important to engage in activity. What activity? Although there are many, below I have written one of the most imporant activities for waiting adoptive couples.

Nurture Yourself And Your Relationship

The adoption process can truly put a strain on relationships, especially the couple's relationship. Many couples are so preoccupied with the process and the future, they forget to treasure the present. This is a time when the couple needs to affirm the love they have for each other. They should spend time together and nurture their relationship. It is so easy to neglect this because so much time is spent discussing parenthood and the new child, many lose themselves in the process, putting themselves on the back burner, so to speak.

A very good idea might be to take out time each week and create a "date night" where the couple spends time doing what they truly enjoy such as going to a play, movie, dinner or special event. The couple should promise each other that they will not talk about adoption, the baby, or anything else except each other. Strengthen those bonds of friendship and love.

This will not only help the parents now, but it will also be an asset when the new child finally arrives because, let's face it, much of the time will be used caring for and bonding with the new addition to the family. And a weekly date night will work wonders even after the child arrives. It's been said that the greatest gift a father can give to this children is to love their mother. Wouldn't you agree with that?

So, couples can indeed survive and thrive during the waiting period. With faith, hope and the right activities, they can indeed lessen their stress and look back on the waiting game as a time of great opportunity.

Street Talk

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