Our adoption process is long. Longer than I imagined. Longer than I expected. And, most certainly, longer than I would have chosen. Friends, family, and total strangers who heard we are adopting ask how it’s going. For years now, my answer has been the same: “We are still just waiting.”
Waiting. Such a strange concept. “Waiting” implies a sense that the outcome or result is not in your control and in someone else’s. As such, waiting has a passive connotation. Pro-active waiting isn’t really even waiting. While there are certainly pro-active or preparatory things that one can do with their time while waiting, the action of “waiting” is hardly an action at all.
At some point, if you wait for long enough, the “waiting” status begins to feel permanent. For my husband and I, we can’t move states or even houses if we wanted to. As a result, we started doing the long-term investment type of house projects on a house that we didn’t see ourselves in long-term. For my husband, “waiting” has meant delaying grad school, and our current inability to relocate may even mean him passing up a promotion at work. For me, it means investing time and energy into a career that I viewed as a placeholder for the much less lucrative job I really want: mama-hood. So, we maintain the status quo as we wait.
In the past, I judged people for not making things they want happen. I have watched friends unhappily spend years in the same stagnant job with no clear opportunity for advancement. I have seen others work for years in various internships while unsuccessfully applying and re-applying to medical school. I would think “Move on!,” “Be more proactive!,” “Where is your resilience?,” or judge them for wasting so much time in the status quo. But, after joining them in the waiting game, I have learned not to judge. Maybe they feel called to the path or outcome that they are waiting for, just as we feel called to adopt. Who am I to judge?* (*Laziness or a lack of motivation to change a poor situation is a whole different ball of wax.)
By now, people have said all of the things I used to think about others to us – often to our faces. Knowing that people think we are nuts for waiting so long, I used to muster up a defense. Now, I don’t bother. I just smile and give brief, dumb sounding answers like: “We are still just waiting…” “Yes, you are correct. We have been waiting for a long time…” “Oh, thank you for the information, but, as far as we know, fertility isn’t an issue…” “Yes, we explored [fill in the blank type of adoption]. We are going to stick with adopting from Uganda for the time being…” The bottom-line answer to all of people’s questions is that, regardless of the time lapsed, I believe this is how we are to build our family.
The biggest lesson I have learned in this process is that God uses waiting. We have watched Him use it to prepare our relationship, minds, finances, families, and hearts. We are learning to trust His timing of the process and not our own ideas of perfect timing. If I am able to brush aside the anxiety and frustrations we have had waiting, I can see how rewarding this time has been for us on many levels.
Because we have been blessed with such a lengthy wait, we feel that we have a responsibility to be aware and prepared for when the time does come. So even though waiting is our new state of being, we are making efforts to proactively use the time we spend waiting. Rather than crawling into a hole until the time comes, we read nearly every adoption book ever written, stay up to date on current events in Uganda, and maintain frequent communication with our adoption agency about the status of Ugandan adoptions. And, despite my husband’s eye rolling at my pronunciation efforts, I have attempted to learn some basic words and phrases in Uganda’s most common tribal dialect – with limited success. I certainly do not believe that the things we can do in our own power will ever fully prepare us, but, I figure, they are a more productive use of the time than thumb twiddling.
Amidst the countless blessings that waiting has provided and the ability for us to proactively prepare, it hasn’t made the past few years easy. Waiting is hard. Waiting is stressful. The level of uncertainty is nearly crippling at times. So crippling that the cloud of anxiety feels palpable. A many number of times, I have forgotten about the outpouring of blessings, growth, and healing that have occurred as a result of our wait, and angrily prayed, “Why are we still waiting? What other things can be more important for us to be focusing on right now?…” God probably views my outbursts as indicators that I indeed do need to more deeply root my trust in Him before He ends our wait.
Even though waiting has placed our life in a state of limbo, I have to trust. I have to trust His plan. I have to trust His timing. Not one single aspect of this journey has been in our control. Yet, we have seen His faithfulness throughout this process in so many ways. As we near the end of the journey, trusting is getting easier.
The sooner I realized how inconsequential my notions are and learned to trust, I was able to more fully enjoy right where I am. No official referral. No set timeline. No clarity. I can choose to wallow in these details, which I certainly have! Or, I can choose to rest in the peace of knowing this is where I am supposed to be right now.
Where we are right now is still just waiting. And, that is alright with me.
Waiting is hard. Trusting is harder. But, if you take the leap of faith to trust, oh, the blessings you will surely see.
In a time of waiting yourself? Here are a couple resources…
Restless, by Jennie Allen
Every Bitter thing is Sweet, by Sarah Hagerty