The home study is done and our profile book is in to the agency – now what?
The adoption journey is often one that can seem overwhelming at the beginning and full of things to do. Paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork. Classes, educational credits, meeting with the social worker and possibly getting a nursery ready are all things that keep you engaged in the adoption process. Then suddenly, everything seems to be done. Now come the questions from caring friends and family, “how is it going?”, “have you heard anything?”, “when do you think you will have a baby?”
No matter what you do your desire to have a placement remains at the front of your mind. No matter where you go, all you see are people with babies. People try to say helpful things like “it will happen when it is supposed to,” “have faith,” “you are waiting for the right baby to come to you.” Is any of this really helpful? Or are they just reminders of what you don’t have but desperately want?
Adoption is a process that will raise many emotions. These emotions may surprise you at times and may overwhelm you with their intensity. Despite the fact that you may have moved on from infertility work to adoption, you may experience over and over the grief and loss associated with the infertility process. Possibly you have been profiled and not selected. Possibly you have been profiled and matched but the birth mother changed her mind and made the decision to parent. You will be walking through many different emotions, and these may vary from sadness to anger to frustration to wanting to give up.
At the core of all of this is usually a sense of loss of control. None of us as individuals inherently want to feel that we do not have control over our lives or our emotions. I do not believe that there is a process that will challenge you in quite the same way the adoption process does to examine your ability to deal with trying to control the uncontrollable. Control is about having the power to influence or direct people’s behavior. No where in the adoption process do any of us have control over a birth parent’s decision making in regard to choosing to make an adoption plan, following through with the plan and selecting a family. As professionals we can only provide a birth parent with information and with profile books, but then we have to step back and empower them to make their own decisions. It is likely that there are a lot of things in a birth parent’s life that are out of their control or they may not even be considering this very painful choice.
You cannot control the forces in life that are out of your control but you can control how to react to them. Finding ways to identify and recognize your emotions can help you to understand why you are struggling. Avoiding negative self talk, i.e. “this will never happen,” “there must be something wrong with us that is keeping a birth parent from choosing us,” or similar thoughts can increase your feelings of having no control. Focus on areas in your life that are within your control and set goals for yourself. Try to remember that you have a choice about how you think and feel about things and how you react to them. Negative self talk will lead to loss of enthusiasm, loss of optimism and a loss of belief that the process will work.
Control what you can control during the process. Set boundaries with others if you do not wish to be constantly asked how things are going. It’s okay to tell people that you will let them know when you hear something and ask that they not keep asking you how the process is going. Try to live your life – plan vacations, spend time with others and try to make plans as you would if you were not involved in this process. Be cautious about talking to others who are negative or frustrated and be cautious about time spent on the internet or e-mail list serves when these are less than positive. Stay involved with your adoption agency, attend classes, call to check in and never feel that you are a nuisance or a bother. Find a support group. Take classes and read books while you are waiting. Surround yourself with positive and encouraging people. Mostly remember – that if you are to the point of waiting to be matched you have done all that you can do in terms of controlling the actual process of being matched with a birth parent.
“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t”.
Steve Maraboli from Life, The Truth and Being Free.