The paperwork is mostly complete. You’ve been interviewed, background checked, and fingerprinted. Your home has been inspected. And now there’s nothing left to do but wait.
Waiting for your match or referral can be in incredibly trying time. Waiting to adopt can become an all-consuming obsession (all the ups and downs and unknowns). During this season, many waiting adoptive parents begin to neglect that which matters most to them, oftentimes unknowingly.
The problem with letting these priorities slip away or become less of a focus is that once a placement does happen, the issues created by neglecting what matters most do not magically go away. Beginning or continuing your parenting journey in a state of confusion, loneliness, frustration, or anxiety is obviously not healthy or productive. Having a new child (or children) alone can bring about stress. So adoptive parents must guard themselves early on in their wait. Now is the time to make intentional decisions to focus on their priorities and devote time, energy, and attention to relationships, activities, and things.
Areas parents waiting to adopt need to avoid neglecting:
- Your health. Start or continue to make healthy eating choices. Exercise, get enough quality sleep, and create time to relax and unwind. Exercise is important because it increases one’s ability to sleep well, it boosts energy, and helps ward off weight gain. If you have any health concerns, be it mental or physical health, it’s important to address those now rather than tell yourself you will “get to it later.”
- Your relationship with your partner. Adoption frustrations can easily be a source of disagreement between a couple. This is understandably so. Choosing adoption can put strain on finances, emotions, and extended family relationships. Don’t let adoption become the sole focus of every conversation. Date each other, communicate honestly, and don’t forget to have fun!
- Your children. Waiting to adopt can be an exciting time for the entire family. Include your children in the preparations: organizing paperwork, learning about your future child’s culture, decorating the child’s bedroom. But make sure that every interaction and conversation with your children doesn’t focus on the child you are waiting on. Enjoy your time with them. Taking time to laugh, communicate, and celebrate their milestones.
- Your job. Don’t let adoption and its many ups and downs compromise your job performance. I do advise that waiting parents are honest with their employers about potential travel dates. As well as have discussions about adoption leave and prospective changes in job duties or work hours once placement happens.
- Your friends and extended family. Your friends and family are anxiously awaiting happy news. As you wait, continue to be a good friend. You will certainly need these individuals when your child arrives! And don’t forget to make new friends. Perhaps with other adoptive families. Families who share your future child’s race, and families with children who will be close to your child’s age.
- Your plans and goals. I have heard many waiting families express their fears of taking a vacation for fear of getting “the call” while they are gone from home. You have to live your life. A child certainly can delay your plans and goals. So the best time to continue to pursue those things is now, before the child arrives. Go on that vacation, take the class, join the organization.
- Your hobbies and interests. Whatever you love to do, hone that skill and enjoy the activities that come with it. It’s likely that when your child comes home, you will have less time, money, and energy to devote to your favorite activity. Nevertheless I certainly feel that adoptive parents need to maintain a sense of self and enjoy some time away from the family once the child arrives.
Once your child comes home, you will make adjustments as-needed. Re-configuring your priorities based on the needs of each family member and the family as a whole. But for now, enjoy waiting as much as possible, by focusing on what and who matters most.