I get to see it. The process. Every year I sit with families who have not yet brought a child home, but are trying. They are filling out the papers, scheduling the visits, running to the appointments, searching for a notary (again)….right?!
They have hopes.
They have plans.
They have fears.
They have needs.
As they prepare and process and work diligently to adopt these adopting families have a great need for support. I think I may know someone who can help. I mean really help.
Despite the growing number of adoptive families many of us who choose to adopt do so without being surrounded by other folks with adoptive experience. Yes, there is the online community, true ,and this can be very helpful. But there is nothing like sitting across the table from another person and being able to hear their story and ask the questions of your heart. An experienced adoptive family can naturally build confidence and give wisdom to a family setting out. Every family will become seasoned as they journey through adoption past the process and into the parenting. But, how wonderful to have an experienced family help point the beginner to issues that they may not have yet thought about. Beautiful issues that must be talked about such as race, ethics, and healing from trauma.
Many first time adoptive parents are a wonderful bundle of nerves and hopes, excitement and energy. They are alive with great anticipating about “their child” and they have set out to do a wonderful and life changing act. A little table time spent with a seasoned adoptive family can help propel those emotions into prepared wisdom for the journey to come. And, it may help them to not feel so alone.
Alone. This is a word that I hear often from families who are in the process. The feel alone because their extended family does not understand or maybe even not share the excitement. They feel alone because they go to the government offices and physical appointments so eager and ready to bring this child home, but the secretary behind the desk doesn’t share that excitement. For her, it is a day at work. For the adoptive parent it is a day closer to child in arms. I remember it myself, the begging for an earlier appointment at the physicians. Yes, yes, they are busy but if we could just get our physicals accomplished quickly then we could finish our homestudy and move on…move closer… to a real living breathing flesh that needs our arms and love and….oh, yes I understand we have to wait and the next appointment is not for a month. Alone.
The process itself is so uncertain. “When will the call come…for referral…for travel…for court…for HOME……” Very few folks who have not adopted understand the weight of this wait. Nor should they. Those of us with experience, though, look how we can encourage here and point to what will come and help teach how this wait can be used for good. We can help just by being present, simply by nodding out heads with a shared understanding. Those who have not carried their child outside their body and had no control over months and years of their life often can not understand the hardship of this waiting. I remember laying in bed wondering if he was hungry, and if she was being held, and so wishing I could communicate love to them across the miles. I remember the tears and the hopes.
A new family, in the process, has many needs. And one of them is you and your stories, wisdom, and experience.
Yes, and thank you for sharing your experience online. Its fantastic. Many a night I have burned the oil reading and HAVE BEEN HELPED or ENCOURAGED so I do not want to discredit those blogs and online communities as they serve a purpose. If you can, however, get to know a family that is starting out. Make a connection and sit down together. May the bonds of adoption bring you new friends that you can encourage, support, and help uplift during their process. Because only you can nod your head knowingly as they share. You “get-it” and more than that your experience can help to widen their eyes and make them better prepared to welcome that child home.
You are needed to help those starting out know that they are not alone. And beyond that I believe with all my heart that our stories of the process, and the sharing of every day life as an adoptive family can make those starting out better prepared, more thoughtful, and bring them even deeper into an understanding of the difficult yet remarkably beautiful journey they are on for the sake of loving a child.
And, if your the beginner reading this and you feel alone ~ don’t. Don’t keep living that way, because there is a wealth of knowledge, understanding, wisdom and humor available to you in the form of an experienced adoptive family! Make a call. Send an email.
My table is open to you. And, I would bet most other adoptive families would say the same.