You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long and wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most usless place
The Waiting Place…
…for people just waiting.
I was a soon-to-be graduating senior when I received the book Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. I read it and got a little teary. I was a selfish, self-centered, worldly teenager in the midst of my own Waiting Place. My Waiting Place was all about me. It was about moving out of my parents house, about going to college, and about entering the world of what I considered “grown up.” It turns out, there’s a lot of growing up you have to do before becoming a grown up.
My Waiting Places meant different things over the years. Three times, my Waiting Place involved pregnancy and childbirth, anxiously waiting for the moment I would meet our newest little one. Six times, my Waiting Place involved moving our ever growing family to other houses or states, living in two places and feeling the desperation to have everyone together again. Several times, my Waiting Place involved sorrow, watching loved ones fade away and leave our world. Once, my Waiting Place carried the loneliness of moving to a city and having an exceptionally hard time making friends, wondering if I would ever have friends there. Twice, my Waiting Place has involved adoption. I’d like to talk about that Waiting Place today. I think a lot of you adoptive mamas out there will get it, and for those who know an adoptive mama, here’s a peek at what’s going on inside her head.
My adoption Waiting Place is filled with emotional discord. In some ways it’s like my pregnancies were. At times, I’m excited and anxious. I want to get on a plane today and rush Caston home. On other days, I feel panicked at the thought of 5 kids, two being toddlers who are only nine months apart. Often I am impatient that paperwork takes so long to channel through the governments. Other days, I’m on a high because my inbox delivers new pictures of Caston.
So what do we adoptive mamas do in our Waiting Places? (Sorry, adoptive dads. I’m sure there are many of you out there that partake in this too, but I haven’t run across you in my Facebook groups. Props to you, too!)
- We nest. Although we don’t have pregnancy hormones coursing through our bodies, we nest just the same. I often joke that paper-pregnant mamas nest even more because we don’t have morning sickness or big bellies to work around. My nesting last year at this time reached a level of crazy that could be measured on the Richter scale. Kevin and I refinished furniture. I crafted. I awoke in the middle of the night in a full blown panic realizing that I needed to buy more blue acrylic paint. I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning creating an Etsy shop that I never launched. I almost adopted a cat on two different occasions. Thankfully, I have calmed a bit this time around. I’ve only gotten as far as mentally rearranging the furniture in the boys’ shared room 47 times.
- We try to gain a sense of control through knowledge. Timelines for adoption can range greatly. We can be paper-pregnant for 10 months or 3 years. Unlike pregnancy, our journey has no definite end in sight, no due date. To help cope, we join every Facebook group we can find to learn about every step of the adoption process. We know what PA is, how long it should take from DTC to LID and why that’s important. We arm ourselves with vast knowledge of medical needs so that when we hear that our new FB friend got a referral for a little girl with thalassemia or unrepaired tetralogy of fallot, we know what she’s talking about, and we probably already know someone else who has a child with that same condition. And through equipping ourselves with this knowledge, medical needs seem less scary, softening our hearts for kiddos that once seemed an impossible fit for our families, And in the back of our minds, there’s a whisper of, “Next time we adopt…”
- We seek facts. So much of our adopted child’s history is unknown. We have little more than a sparse medical file and an approximate birthdate. To satisfy our need for more concrete information, we absorb every tiny detail we can. What was the weather on his birthday? What does his Chinese name mean? I have personally spent countless hours on Google maps trying to pinpoint our boys’ finding spots. I have paid a researcher to locate their finding ads…anything so that I can have details to offer when they start asking questions one day.
- We try to get into our adopted child’s world. We search Amazon for children’s books about adoption, Chinese New Year, and Chinese stories for children. We cash in our iTunes gift cards for albums in Mandarin for our babies. We listen to them on repeat until the lyrics that we don’t understand become second nature for our lips to sing. Every time I hear the Happy Birthday song, I get a little teary as I sing it in Mandarin in my head. (Fun fact: our kids can serenade Happy Birthday in English, Spanish, and Mandarin now!)
This time, I am handling my emotions far better than when we adopted Caleb. I am not nearly as obsessed with getting paperwork done on my timeline. Although I did have a short little ugly cry in my car as I prayed over the care package I sent him, asking God to somehow convey our love for Caston and give him a sense of familiarity for us through the photo album.
I am trying to rest in knowing that God already knows the date and time that we will meet Caston. An ice storm that defers a Fed Ex delivery or a holiday in China isn’t going to change that. For now, I glance at the clock and wonder what he’s doing. When I check the weather in China, I hope that he’s warm enough. And most of all, I pray that he is loved until his family leaves their Waiting Place to bring him to his forever home.