I used to have dreams about this moment. A moment so special you just can’t wait to share it with all your closest friends and family members. One that you’re bursting at the seams to tell your parents, your mom. I dreamt of sharing this special moment with my husband and keeping this exciting news to ourselves for eight long weeks before coming up with a wonderful and creative way to tell our families. I dreamt of the day when I would tell others out loud that we’re pregnant.
But I won’t get to do any of that. Because we’re not pregnant. We’re adopting. The term social workers use for the process is AdoptReady. Some people might call it paper pregnant, pregnant by adoption, but others out there don’t consider what we are as being pregnant. Most people don’t consider us as parents either.
Adoption is a beautiful journey that should be celebrated, but instead it’s often feared and miss-understood. Public adoption is like being pregnant for years, skipping the delivery room and having an instant toddler. Zero to a hundred. Sure, we do many training sessions, read books, talk to our friends who have given birth, but nothing can prepare us to become instant parents.
We will meet our child for the first time a few weeks before taking them home forever. Two weeks to build a relationship of respect and trust and a forever lifetime of building attachment and love. Not to mention understanding the child’s needs and loss.
Our families don’t know what to do. “We’re adopting!” we tell them. Instead of smiles, tears and hugs of congratulations, baby showers and diaper cakes, we get gaping mouths, worried eyes and “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”. We are forced to educate others, defend a child we have yet to meet and break down stereotypes. Some family members who we thought were supportive of our decision, might later say that they do not approve and will not accept a child of another race or culture than our own. Our parents have to grieve the loss of a grand-child they had imagined and we have to re-evaluate everything we thought we knew about parenting. Adoption is a long journey. It can take years for a waiting couple to get a match. Then when that match comes, its chaos.
We’re told to stay patient and to stay hopeful. But in the same breath, we are advised not to have a baby shower or decorate a nursery. Because with adoption, there are no guarantees. We can’t get too attached. How can we prepare for what we don’t know is coming? Do we get a bassinet or a toddler bed? Do we look into breastmilk pills or booster seats? It can all feel extremely overwhelming. The waiting time is filled with doubts and uncertainty. But when we get matched with our child, we know that’s where we belong. We were meant to become parents. But since adoption is not straight forward and each child in care has their own background and a birth family, adoptive parents need support from friends, professionals and other adoptive parents who have been there before. We need support from people who will know exactly what we’re going through when we don’t have the words to say it out loud. We need a place to go where we know we won’t be judged for thinking we’re crazy for doing this in the first place, even though we know this is what we want. We need a place like Parent2Parent, because no one understands what it’s like to be a parent without a child one day and a parent of an adoptive child the next. No one understands that better than someone who’s been there.
Programs and social workers might have the right terms, resources, education, but they can’t help you when your child is curled up on the bathroom floor missing his birth mom. There’s no better course, training or lesson and no better teacher than someone with real life experience. Parent2Parent can provide a safe place for adoptive families to go to for support where they will find others like them and the help they need – without being judged. Most adoption agencies support the birth parents. Parent2Parent is there to offer support to adoptive families. We need more support networks like this one in order to assist awaiting parents and adoptive parents become the best parents they can be to children who deserve nothing but the best.