written by Sarah Cathryn
One of the most difficult aspects of adoption is waiting. As a culture we are so used to instant answers and clear pictures readily available to us. One click and you can get the answer to nearly any fact checking question you have. Now, if you want to know how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop you can google it and find out! Adoption is the opposite of that. At least at times it feels that way.
I am a type A person. I thrive on schedules and order. Maybe this is why God gave me seven children. He really wanted to make sure I didn’t hold too tightly to my own way of having things. And even more importantly, He wanted me to depend on Him and Him alone. When we started our adoption process I was in my element. Fill out forms, check! Prepare my house, check! Buy a fire extinguisher, check! Attend a class, check! Get fingerprinted, check! Attend another class, check! Lock up my cleaning supplies and medications, check! Attend yet another class, no problem, check! You can see why this was great for me. I had a list of things to accomplish and my personality helped us to sail through that list with efficiency. We knew our children were on the other end of that list and we wanted to do everything in our power to get there in the shortest amount of time possible.
“We wanted”…it feels weird to even say that now. When we began our adoption journey we both felt some sense of control over the process. What we learned was that on the other side of that checklist was a year of waiting. A year of submitting our home study time and time again. A year of reviewing potential matches and not be selected. A year of being selected only to find out a few days later that the decision had changed course and we were no longer selected. A year of seeing pictures and reading profiles of children who were waiting for their forever family. A year of letting yourself dream of this child or that child living in your home. It was hard. It was at times disappointing, frustrating and heart breaking, but it was also necessary.
What I learned during that time was that adoption is hard. At times it hurts. It requires that you put the needs of someone else above your own. And prior to placement, that someone else is a nameless faceless child. It can at times feel nearly impossible. I also learned that God knew all along who’s mother He needed me to be. He knew from the beginning of time and it had very little to do with what “we wanted”. I had to be willing to trust that He knew. I had to be willing to wait for HIS timing. I had to accept that only in His timing would He make that known to me. I can honestly say that our one year of waiting provided me with more spiritual growth than any other single year of my life. I am genuinely grateful for the hard part.
Our children have been in our home for over four years now. We are coming up on our Four Year Familyversary. That’s what we call our family’s adoption day celebration. What I know now, that I didn’t know in the beginning, was that the waiting is a necessary and unavoidable part of the process. It can at times be an emotional roller coaster. You must be willing to be fully engaged in the process and yet completely let go of your own timelines and expectations as to how that will play out. It’s not a combination that most adults are naturally comfortable with. I can honestly say that all the disappointing, heart wrenching, emotional days were worth it. My children have names and faces now and we have years of shared experiences that have made it worth it.
To those of you just beginning your adoption journey, please don’t let this discourage you. I pray that you feel a new sense of anticipation for yourself. God is doing a work in YOU as well. He will be there on the hard days. He will be there to celebrate with you when He makes clear to you who He needs you to be a forever family to.
To those in the waiting I say hang in there. Know that it’s not wasted time and that there will be an end to the waiting. We are in good company. There are many examples in scripture of waiting. Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Joshua, Caleb and Noah to name a few. It is never wasted time.
“As so, after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.” Heb 6:15