Thursday, July 7, 2016

What If We Never Get Chosen (every hopeful adoptive parents' fear)

It's one of the biggest fears of every adoptive couple I've met. The nagging thought that maybe you'll never be chosen by expectant parents. 

In the beginning, the adoption process is a lot of work. Stacks of paperwork, home visits and doctors appointments for the home study keep a couple busy. And when that is finished creating a profile and applying to agencies and grants keep you occupied.

But then you wait.

The home study is complete. The profile is printed. The grant money is waiting. And the nursery is empty.

For an adoptive family, this process can be agonizing. And for couple who have gone through the pain of infertility, it can feel eerily similar to waiting for a positive pregnancy test. It's easy to let doubts creep in, feel hope fade, and become discouraged.

So how do you get through this time and push through the fear that you'll never be chosen? Here's a few tips to help during the wait.

Don't believe the myth of the perfect family

It's easy to think if you haven't been chosen that there's something "wrong" with you. There are still age-old ideas that every expectant parent is looking for a specific "type" of family, but it's simply not true. As unique as each birth mother is, her idea of the "perfect adoptive family" is just as unique. I don't believe in the idea of a perfect adoptive family. But I've seen over and over again God make a match that is perfect for a birth and adoptive family.

Manage your expectations

Every adoptive family has a different story. When you know other's stories, it's easy to write yourself into them and assume yours might be similar. I've had families match the first time they presented, and the 20th. There are couples who have needed to hop a flight within an hour of finding out they were becoming parents and others who have waited months. And each one looking back would say that it worked out perfectly in the end since their son or daughter came to them that way. Unlike pregnancy, adoption doesn't have a due date. You won't know how or when your story will unfold. Being able to be flexible and finding peace and joy in the midst of the unknown will keep you sane. 

Take the opportunity to plan and pray

Use this time of waiting for a little one to join your family to the fullest. Complete a house project, decorate the nursery, or go on a vacation. I have a lot of families who choose to go on a "babymoon" and enjoy some of their last days baby-free. And this time can be an incredible opportunity to pray in a unique way, not just for your future baby and her birth family, but for all of the expectant families you hear about. As you read different situations and expectant mother's stories, you have a beautiful chance to pray specifically for her and her baby like few others do.

Try something new

Rethinking your game plan might be a good idea. Are your preferences too narrow? Have you hired an adoption consultant to walk with you and expand your ability to apply to more agencies and see more situations? Would it help to update your profile or have an adoption professional review it? Sometimes taking a step back, reevaluating your plans, and changing your path a bit might help jump start things.

Give yourself grace

Adoption is a unique experience to go through and it's important to give yourself space to experience all of the emotions that come with it. Remember basic things like eating right and getting enough exercise can do wonders for your stress levels. Find a solid support system and learn from other adoptive families a little farther along in the journey. And remember to extend extra grace to your spouse as well since the adoption process can be especially stressful on a marriage.  

Trust God with the process

Ultimately, the same God that called you to this process will be faithful to you. Remember that often God is working, even when we can see it. Cling to God's truth, his promises, and his ability to be enough for you. 

God writes the best stories. His plans are perfect. And he is never slow in keeping his promises.

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