After hitting the one year mark since we began this journey I realized that I’ve gotten depressed due to not progressing during this time. Our adoption journey has been quite an emotional roller coaster. When I realized how bad my first feeling from contact from the social worker was complete and utter fear, I knew that I had some work to do on changing my perspective.
I was completely unable to be rational when I saw that she had emailed us. Terrified that it would mean we have been denied, scared that our dream will get shattered, and honestly a bit panicked because this single person has the dream of our adoption in her hands. We’re past the happy and hopeful honeymoon stage, while we are now in the worry and pain stage instead.
Adoption is completely worth everything we have gone through and I wholeheartedly believe in it, and I will hopefully be able to advocate for these children in some way someday. The waiting part, especially once it goes beyond a month without hearing anything, is pretty much like having PMS, in my opinion. Sorry male readers, but I’m totally going there since it’s a great comparison of feelings. Anyway, after that honeymoon phase the PMS sneaks in. You notice that you’re a little more emotional than usual; you can cry from either a sweet or heartbreaking commercial even. You then hear that internal clock ticking down to THE DAY, but you have absolutely no idea if the train is running on time, so you’re on edge. Sarcasm drips from your comments without you meaning to be that way, so then you withdraw to keep from sucking the sun out of someone else’s day. Sometimes you swing from happy to sad, over to being sensitive to every little comment or action, get withdrawn and cranky, and you then go straight to being miserable and on edge. Tick tock. Tick tock. You feel like you’re losing all control over your emotions and it just keeps getting louder. Tick tock. Tick tock…
This too shall pass. Yep. It’s still an emotional roller coaster regardless of the encouraging quote. You could throw glitter at this mess and it’ll just be a shiny mess now, so you cry when you watch a car commercial with parents saying goodbye as their kid heads off to college.
Even though this sucks, deep down you know it’ll get better. You just have to hold on until that train comes to town. You just have to wait for the adoption to progress to the next stage. Try and find a way to drown out the sound of the clock; cover everything in glitter and crank up cheerful Christmas music if that’s what it takes to make you feel more in control of your emotions. I’m taking inventory of the deep freeze and food expiration dates, while listening to Celtic Thunder, to help get me through today. I’ll transfer all the info to a spreadsheet tomorrow, so I’ll feel a little more in control yet again. Take it day by day and lean on that support system you wrote about in like the fourth section of the adoption paperwork. Find your glitter and empower yourself to get through this. You’ve come this far, so don’t you dare give up; and I will be saying that exact thing to myself over and over. A child depends on your ability to find a way through this. Like the old saying goes – you can eat a whole bear all by yourself. You just have to take one bite at a time.
Well, I’ve had the “It’s a Girl” banner up for three and a half months now. In two days it will be a solid year since we started this journey to find and meet you. In a way it all feels so unreal now. The paperwork was turned in some time ago, then fixed and turned in again; we made your room move-in-ready and I have a bag full of paint cards for you to go through to decide what color would make it truly your room; and I have way too many party ideas to go through with you for any party you want to have. Well, one has to be a glow in the dark party because, um, it’s glow in the dark and I really want to be at that kind of party for the first time in my own life. *laugh*
I opened the door to your room and find that it’s getting harder to imagine having my own daughter in there. Clothes and knickknacks strewn about, papers on your desk, and you laying on the bed fast asleep with your tablet still in your hand. Abby will probably be curled up with you, since she dashes into your room the moment the door is cracked open and jumps up on the bed to see what’s going on.
What kind of music will I hear playing on your echo? Will you tell me who your latest crush is or which school subject you think is so lame? Will there be enough time for us to help you believe in love; enough time to help you truly believe that you have been wanted for a long time and although you’ll be our chosen child, you will never be replaceable?
We were so ready and excited to have you come into our lives. Right now it feels like we put our wishes and dreams into a bottle and it’s just floating around in the ocean, bobbing along with the current. It’s getting hard to believe that our bottle will ever make it. Sometimes my faith in the process is difficult to cling to and I lose my way. Then I see an ad for prom dresses or some commercial of a daughter hugging her mom right before she walks down the aisle, and I have this little flare of hope that we will someday have these moments together. I’m trying hard to keep that hope alive despite the delays.
We wanted to make sure to find, meet, and start visitations before school ends this semester, so that you can have the summer with us to adjust to your new life and hopefully work through the trauma of change, leading to some attachment before the new school year starts. School is stressful enough; I don’t want to make this harder for you, even though there’s a part of me that is completely selfish and doesn’t want to think about anything beyond moving you in as soon as we possibly can regardless of when it is. I’m not sure if there will be enough time to have the ideal plan play out. Although I hope we know that it’s you as soon as we see your profile, I know that it’s not likely. The likelihood that you’re the first child we proceed to the BIS for is nearly nonexistent. I’d fill out every scrap of the mountain of paperwork again if it’d help us get past the delay and resume our journey.
I pray for you every night. I hope you’re happy and safe; I hope that some tiny part of your heart can believe that we are waiting for the chance to find you. We just need that chance – we promise to not stop until you are home. We will spend the rest of our lives loving you, no matter how hard it is for you to believe. No matter how hard this journey is. And I’m putting this out in the world so that you will someday have proof that you are worth every moment, every fear, and every tear. You’re worth dreaming about and waiting for.
One of the hardest things we have ever gone through in our entire marriage is waiting for progress on the adoption. I originally thought the huge binder of paperwork that I completed and the longing to find her would be the hardest things up to meeting the potential(s). A lot of people blog about the home studies, which are definitely a difficult time since the information out there is so contradictory and it can take a long time to become approved, especially if you’re wanting to adopt or foster really young kids. It’s when you dig deep and get into the adoption forums and some blogs that you hear about the waiting game.
We have had several delays due to some technical issues and a local news station even reported about DCF going to our Capitol to get approval for more funding to use as incentives to recruit and retain social workers. Currently it’s a critical shortage and they need workers now, plus to give workers a reason to stay in such an emotionally difficult career. There are a lot of balls they have to juggle and have incredibly huge case loads. Without enough workers right now we can expect to stay in what we now call “the dead zone” for a few more months. We will hit the end of our first year in this journey in one week. We never thought it would be this long since we have everything ready for Kiddo and have tried to learn as much as possible. We thought that our eagerness and preparation would make us idle candidates, and therefore we would be handled quicker. We’re four months past that possibility.
Adoption is so worth while, because there is so much need and so much potential. The stats for children aging out of the system are heart crushing. Their rate of unsuccessful lives as adults is awful. With some help they can actually work toward their dreams and become happy, contributing members of society as adults. As one quote I ran across says, “Adopting one child won’t change the world, but for that one child the world will change”. (No author cited.)
This waiting period allows all of the fears and doubts creep in, and they totally overshadow that joy and excitement that filled you while you painted their room in the middle of the night, while sharing your previously secret plan to adopt, and sustained you through all of the binders full of paperwork. And if you turn to research during this time, to make you even more prepared to spot potential issues or triggers, you get sucked down into all of these differing opinions of what is “the right way” and you start to wonder if the delays are a sign that you shouldn’t proceed. I’ve had a few hours of crisis throughout this where I questioned if we were the right people to raise an adoptee. During one episode my incredibly wise friend that has a knack for finding the words I really need, found a quote on Pinterest to send me.
Most times I just sit and keep re-reading it like a mantra. It is probably the most needed advice I’ve received during this stage and I’m so thankful for the strength I pull from that thought. Sometimes the whispers of doubt are louder than my mantra, though, and my support system, and the coping techniques my disability psychiatrist taught me, are my life preservers. It’s easy for an introvert like me to get lost in my own mind and to treat the research as a tutorial of what I need to do. I went down that rabbit hole overnight while reading a book about the 20 things adopted kids want you to know. By chapter five I was all ready a complete failure and we aren’t even past the first stage yet. I was paralyzed with doubt yet again. After a lot of tears washed some of it away, and an anxiety pill helped calm my doom-and-gloom thoughts, I remembered that my friend suggested a while back that I gather quotes that will encourage me and help sustain me, for times like this.
He, along with an incredible support system, and a patient other half, truly are right by me throughout this process.
“The dead zone” is such a difficult time that it suddenly seems like “no” is now an option. When we started the process and before this stage started, it felt like nothing could get in the way of our goal. Never once did I think that “maybe I’m not going to be good enough” until this.
This one applies to almost any obstacle we are working through and is a good reminder to keep going.
We haven’t had a chance to even meet them, but in reading their profiles and learning about them, it is truly impossible to ignore that there are children that need us. Looking at profiles during the dead zone is a dual edged sword though. You are reminded of the need, of why you started this path, but it is like a slash across your heart when one of the kids you are looking forward to learning more about, once you finally get to the next stage, is pulled from the website. There is joy and relief that they have found their home, but you can’t help that a slightly selfish part of you had hoped they’d stay available as a possibility to become your child. Something about certain ones just pulls at you somehow and closing the door to that possibility, especially when you have no tentative time frame to be a light at the end of the tunnel, is a bit devastating.
As we wait for the third young lady we have wanted to know more about to leave the system before our profile is completed, we’ve stopped looking at the site and watching the intro videos. Sometimes you just can’t handle having a name and some of their personality in mind when you grieve about the possibilities that are closed off from your future. There’s only so much that we can go through without this hardening our hearts, so we have to protect ourselves a bit until there is enough staff at the agency to get our profile to the next stage. That’s a piece of honesty that you don’t often find even after months of reading blogs and forums. Adopting parents want to encourage others to help these children, but it’s tough to be completely honest and open without fear of it discouraging others. I think a lot of people never make it out of the dead zone, which is another explanation for it. How often do you choose to go for the hardest level when you are first learning to play a game? Very few are so courageous to go full tilt right off, despite the possibilities of pain and difficulty. Parenthood is that gauntlet as well, but at least there are typically some projected time frames for each stage. You don’t go say fifteen months without knowing if you will labor within the next few months. Someone else holds your future in their hands and they’re the only one who has an idea of how long you’ll be in this stage, and you’re not privy to their knowledge. That’s terrifying honestly.
It’s hard to believe that our government always chooses to spend money campaigning against medicinal marijuana or some other hot topic instead of funneling those resources into helping our children. And yes, they are our children. They aren’t soulless dolls that our society should ignore, put away, or forget. Adoption should be promoted as a viable parenting option; not as a last ditch effort to become parents. We should see politicians giving speeches about how they will help bring reform and help to this crisis, instead of slinging accusations about affairs and other stuff that doesn’t really change a doggone thing.
So someday I will advocate for change and for getting enough resources for our social workers to be able to perform their difficult tasks in a timely manner. Maybe changes would stop someone from stepping away during the waiting period. Maybe we can stop “the dead zone” completely someday. Those are goals for another day, for me. For now I will try to not dig up what I planted and have prayed for. I will wait. And I’ll use research as a tool for what to watch for; not as a guide to measure if I’ve all ready failed before I’ve started. I have a lot at stake and need to remember what brought our hearts to adoption.
I’ve researched A LOT about bonding ideas for teenage adoptions. Several articles mentioned trying new foods together and I kept thinking about what I could plan without knowing what Kiddo has all ready had. We don’t really have very exotic palettes, so I figured I’d need to think outside the box most likely.
Thankfully I’m a big fan of Good Mythical Morning (Mythical Beasts shout out!) and Facts., both shows on YouTube. They both feature a lot of daring taste tests and I’ve learned about some interesting foods that we don’t normally see in Kansas. During an episode of GMM right before Valentine’s they did a spicy taste test/rating scale. Two products rated pretty high on the spicy scale, The World’s Hottest Chocolate Bar and the Toe of Satan.
While watching the episode I kept thinking about how L had found a bottle of super spicy hot sauce on our honeymoon and he didn’t get it, and of course they didn’t have it when we made it back to that store a few years later. I thought that the spiciest foods Rhett and Link ever had might be a fun replacement and a very unique Valentine’s gift for L. After some searching I finally found them on the Vat19 website. That chocolate bar there is meant to be eaten by one of those tiny squares at a time, if that much! They were sold out at the time, probably because there are a lot of Mythical Beasts out there, but they had the Toe of Satan (the lollipop in the right picture) and a bag of Ghost Pepper Hard Candies. (Note: it turns out he just wanted the bottle of hot sauce as a conversational piece, not because he wanted to try something excessively spicy. He got to torture his coworkers with them, though, so they were still a successful gift. *laugh*)
I couldn’t resist looking around on their site since there were all sorts of fun categories to check out like gummy, gadgets, thinking putty, and crazy candy/foods. I saw Mberry tablets and got so excited, because I had seen them tested on both shows and never knew where to get them. These tablets are made from the berries of the Miracle Fruit Plant (Synsepalum dulcificum) and make acidic and sour foods taste sweet. As I added them to the cart it dawned on me that these would make an awesome bonding taste test. Lemons, limes, kiwi, sour cream, mustard, and even pickles would be a super affordable and fun taste test without being too extreme. This tablet transforms foods and adults have gone nuts over how different foods taste, so I figure it’ll be mind-blowing, “gotta tweet this”, kind of fun for a teen. *grin* Shoot, I’ll probably feel that way too!
As I looked around I saw a few other items that will be even more daring without being spicy (I don’t want to give a bunch of teens ulcers or something *grin*). The scorpion lollipops were a no-go; I’ve been terrified of scorpions most of my life and have to turn away even if they’re dead. No. Just no. Then I saw one that most likely made me laugh like a villain.
Yep, Bacon & Cheese flavored crickets. Now THAT should be pretty daring! I know from watching GMM that crickets taste a lot better when there’s a little flavor added to them, otherwise they taste kind of stale nut-ish. Here’s the ultimate test to see if bacon truly does make everything better. *laugh*
Bacon jam spread and astronaut ice cream will probably make an appearance as well. Go big or go home, I figure. The taste testing adventure should give the teens something to talk about later, at least!
While on there I took a little side trip and found my own Valentine’s gift, too. *grin* A few years ago ThinkGeek sold gift boxes to become a “Laird” or “Lady” as a fundraiser to renovate and help fund the upkeep of Dunans Castle and grounds, in Argyll, Scotland. You become the owner of one square foot of land, which allows you the honorary title and a free tour if you ever make it there. Since I am obsessed with Ireland and Scotland I showed it to L to get it for me for Christmas, but it was sold out when he went to order it. It then disappeared from their site. To my delight Vat19 has them now! I didn’t want a repeat of last time, so I ordered that gem with the wild foods. No matter how raspy my voice gets when the bronchitis kicks up a coughing jag, I am still officially a Lady. *smirk* I know it’s similar to paying for a star to be named after me, but hey, I get to say I own a little property over in Scotland and be a Lady, even when I’m in sweats and a beanie cap. *laugh*
Now I get to wave Scotland’s Saint Andrew Cross flag along with my nerd flag!
All in all it was quite a fun online shopping trip and within a month I became a titled land owner. *grin* Cross your fingers that Kiddo will be into the idea and I can get a lot of pics of a wild taste test! In the meantime I need to stop flipping back to the Vat19 site and thinking about ordering some ferrofluid to stash away as one of Kiddo’s stocking stuffers…
We are a few weeks away from working toward our adoption for a year and there’s been another delay. I don’t know if we’re allowed to talk about it, so I won’t, but I can say that this is starting to take an emotional toll.
When we were at the ninth month it felt kind of right; an expectant mother has that time to prepare for and fall in love with that little miracle. When we hit roadblocks or long waiting periods I would fall back on that concept and find my strength again. We’re unsure of how long this delay will last and it’s honestly worrisome that we won’t have enough time to go through all of the stages and get to placement by the time the new school year starts. We still need to go through private profiles, go through the BIS process (a conference call between the officials to decide if it’s a good enough fit to allow more in depth consideration), making the decision on who to meet, meeting them (and if we make a match the first time we don’t have to go back through the profiles, BIS, and deciding who to pursue this time), have at least four visitations with one being an overnight stay, and, if all works right, we get legal custodial rights and Kiddo is placed with us. After six months the case gets reviewed, make sure things are going well and we’re bonding, and then we get to adopt Kiddo. If this delay takes more than a couple more months I really can’t see how Kiddo will be ready to start school here next year. I hate the idea of having to change schools in the beginning of their year, especially if Kiddo is just starting high school. I had hoped we’d have placement by summer, so we’d have the time to work at really bonding and it’d be a little less stressful for Kiddo, since school itself will be a lot of stress, not to mention living in a new town, making new friends, etc.
I think one of the hardest parts of the waiting period is how much of our lives is in someone else’s hands. Realistically, if everything goes well, our entire future is in the hands of a social worker, a case worker, a foster parent (or parents), a judge, and Kiddo. We have the bizarre ability to pick our preference like a puppy in a litter, but it doesn’t mean that we’re going to get to take the puppy home and raise them. We don’t just want to raise them until they’re 18; we want to be the forever family for Kiddo. And there isn’t anything we can do right now to help the process. If anything we were over prepared, over excited, and we can only do so much parenting and trauma research without knowing Kiddo’s actual needs, so we just wait for the email.
As a Spoonie I have so little control over my health and knowing when I’ll have a “good” day, so my natural “get it done” personality is stronger in the other aspects of my life. Kiddo’s room is done, I’m not really able to shop anymore for Kiddo until we know their needs, wants, and sizes, and there isn’t a whole lot to scrapbook for her about our journey when you’re sitting around waiting. It’s doggone hard to not have an ounce of control over any part of the most important path in my life. I’m blessed to have an incredible psychiatrist that not only helps with coping with becoming disabled, but helps me not get fully depressed. She even wrote a letter for DCF stating that I’m able to parent despite my illness, because I seek out help when needed, have a lot of coping techniques in my pocket so to speak, and it’s been almost 20 years since I went through my traumas, so Kiddo’s traumas won’t trigger me. We can’t really work on my concern about Kiddo not bonding with me, since that’s a “what if” scenario, and really it’s just me doing my usual “risk analysis” instead of it being a true worry. When I became a HIPAA Officer and had to learn to do risk analysis, I would never have guessed that the mindset would stick with me for the rest of my life. *laugh* Anyway, I’m trying to learn to take one day at a time and focus on what I can control, like coloring in my smart aleck affirmations coloring book. *grin*
We also realized that underneath some of that concern about Kiddo not wanting me is the worry of being rejected once they see the real me. Ask pretty much any Spoonie and they will admit that they try to always have a mask of “I’m okay” on and that very few people ever see what life is truly like for them. We hide our bad days because we don’t want to be a burden and we know that people don’t usually want to hear that things are still kind of cruddy. They usually just ask out of polite conversation etiquette instead of wanting to see behind the mask. We hide the days we need a walker to make it from bed to the bathroom, the days and nights that seemingly go on forever because we can’t sleep or get quality rest, the cushions, heating pads, and meds that help us have some quality of life. When Kiddo has stayed here for a bit and the honeymoon period has worn off my body will override my emotions again, and I’ll be back to my normal, so Kiddo will be one of the few to see the real me. It probably doesn’t make any sense to healthy “normal” people, but it’s a scary thing for us usually. We tried for so long to be successful in life, then we were told for even longer that we were okay and it was all in our heads when the symptoms made life so difficult, and then we have to endure having a diagnosis that a whole lot of people think is made up because they can’t see it. If we had our legs amputated or had lesions where our trigger points are, then there’d be a lot more compassion and empathy. So we develop our mask as a coping mechanism to protect us from rejection. And it becomes really scary to think about someone seeing the real version and rejecting you.
In the first six months we had so much to look forward to, so much to work toward, and it seemed like we’d fly through the adoption stages because we were so prepared, so there wasn’t time for fear. The waiting period is almost completely spent in the dark corners of my mind. Once I realized this and she helped me acknowledge that it’s something that I can’t change, so I need to let go of the concern, my mind went to how many more delays will there be? Can we emotionally handle another six months or year of waiting just to get to the next stage? The imaginary time line is gone and every extra day tears at the heart. It’s hard to focus on the hope and joy of the future when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel anymore, and it is even harder as a Spoonie.
So we’re going to quit looking at the featured kids and picturing the one we think would be a good fit in our lives actually in our lives (now that complicated sentence is almost as complicated as our feelings! LOL). We’re going to quit hoping that the one profile we really liked will still be available by the time we get the chance to inquire about her. We’re just going to wait. Our hearts break over how many children are in the system and how scary the statistics are for them if they age out, but we’ll try to focus on patiently waiting for the one ripple we’ll someday make in that sea of need. We need to find a way back to the joy and hope we had as we painted her room, put in the bed and imagined having our own daughter sleeping in it, and those moments when we felt our hearts would burst from the love for her – the love for our own future daughter. And we will have a laugh the next time someone says we’re jumping in the deep end by adopting a teenager. Raising a teenager is hard, but we’re all ready going through hell just to get the chance to raise one.
Since the long waiting period has been so difficult to endure, and has tested us to remain patient, hopefully God will help us make the right choice the first time and we will minimize the extra trauma by getting her settled before the school year. Then we can worry about rejection, the risks and stress of teen life, how to help her with her traumas, and which store will have a prom dress she might like. 🙂