When Waiting Is Not Easy :: Lessons From Our Adoption Journey

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My family is a big fan of the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems. There are several we love that still make us laugh each time we read them. One that I love, but laugh at a little bit less, is called Waiting Is Not Easy. I bought this book thinking it would be helpful to teach my son a thing or two about patience.

Funny how we sometimes do things to teach our children but end up teaching ourselves. 

In the book, Piggie has a surprise for Gerald she is excited to show him. However, Gerald is less than thrilled with having to wait all day for the surprise. By the end, he is so angry with Piggie and declares: “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!” Then he finally witnesses her surprise and realizes the wait was so worth it. 

This book resonates because my family is currently in a difficult place of waiting. We are waiting to adopt. 

When The Waiting Gets Hard

While this is our first time adopting, we felt prepared for what to expect. We knew we would spend much of our lives in 2020 completing paperwork, home studies, readings, and trainings. The process of getting approved for adoption can be lengthy and takes a lot of work. This is such a strange contrast to how we are living in 2021, however.

Now, post-approval, we simply wait. There is not much we can do to hurry the process along. The timing is out of our hands. I was not fully prepared for this part of our experience.

The wait will be worth it of course! But sometimes I lose sight and feel like we’re wasting time. I get mad and grumpy, just like Gerald. I want to rush the process, find solutions. I want to blame someone or yell, and sometimes I do.

None of this will get me one step closer to holding our future child in my arms.

What To Do With A Wait

Experiencing a season of waiting is not new to me, and it is likely familiar to you, too. 

I waited for a house to sell.
I waited for an acceptance letter.
I waited for a pregnancy test.
This year I waited for a vaccine.

In these in-between places, we often may wonder what we should do with the wait. Do we hope for an answer at any minute? Do we go on with our lives as though everything is normal? Is there an in-between?

On the one hand, I can live as though I’m not waiting. Perhaps we plan vacations (with trip insurance for cancelling last minute). Maybe I expand my business (but create a plan for shutting it down suddenly for months). We could start on new projects (silently wondering if we will be able to complete them due to the most wonderful of interruptions). 

Alternatively, I can live life as though any minute now, we will get our “yes.” We could decorate a nursery for a baby (and watch it sit empty for years). I could begin to lessen my workload and stop taking new clients (but lose out on needed income). We could gather all the supplies we need (making sure we check the expiration dates, and wonder if better upgrades will come along). 

When There Are No Easy Answers

I really have no idea what the best thing is to do with this kind of wait.

Most days I operate as though life is normal. I continue to move along as though we aren’t waiting for anything. This is sometimes easier and less emotional.

But then there are days when I’m expecting the phone call. I have moments where I sit on the floor of the future nursery and daydream. I buy a newborn outfit or sweet baby book. Sometimes I find myself nesting. My heart longs to hold our little one. 

Waiting . . . Waiting . . . Waiting . . .  

Maybe you are waiting, too.

Waiting for a birth.
Waiting for a death.
Waiting for an answer.
Waiting for a break.
Waiting for a diagnosis.
Waiting for a cure. 

If you are, I want you to hear you aren’t alone in the wait. Many of us have passed through this season or are in it currently. Maybe this is the place for us for now. 

Not forever. Just for now.

I don’t have much advice to offer, but here’s what I tell myself: I must be gentle and kind to myself through this wait. I can allow my feelings to be present, while also not allowing them to consume me. Talking about what’s going on with my husband, my therapist, and friends who understand is more helpful than boxing it up inside. And hope is an anchor for my soul.

There is a lot of goodness to be found in this place if I listen and watch. It doesn’t have to be wasteful. I have a feeling I will look back one day and see all that it taught me. I don’t know what the lesson is just yet.

So I suppose I’m waiting for that, too.

Have you experienced a similar season of waiting? How did you cope with it? I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments!

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Katie, a native Alabamian, came to Birmingham in 2012 to pursue a master's from UAB in Mental Health Counseling. She works as a Licensed Professional Counselor in her practice, Present Wellness Counseling, LLC, as well as in a residential treatment center for substance abuse. She and her husband were married in 2007 and have a son, Harpin, who's been keeping them busy since 2016. She is learning daily how to bridge her child development background with real-life motherhood moments, and she is excited to share these experiences with her BMB readers. Katie loves any time spent outside, loves opening her home to share meals with friends, and loves her faith community. She practices yoga and Reiki, and leads meditation groups for developing self-compassion. You can find out more about her practice and her upcoming community trainings at her website, PresentWellnessCounseling.com.

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