Well, if you are reading this then, I actually got to press "publish"on this post draft. Which means our homestudy has been approved. Which means that all the months and months of paperwork, background checks, social worker visits, classes, and payments have gone through and we are approved and accepted into the domestic adoption program. Or.......we are officially "expecting." We're gonna have a baby!! (*eventually*)
Of course, our "expecting" looks a lot different than what most families mean when they share their news about adding to our family. Truth is, I am not the one who is expecting and I don't mean to usurp the place of the woman who is *actually* carrying a child. When I share our happy news, I am well aware that there is another woman who is pregnant and creating a child. Her reality is never far from my mind. I know full well that for me to mother, someone else cannot. So my joy is tempered with reverence for the loss that both mother and child will feel as our family grows.
There is also the pesky detail about the timeline of how long we will be expecting. We have no clue!! We don't get a 40 week head start to plan. We could get a call tomorrow saying there is a child or it could be years and years down the road. Even once we are being considered by expectant parents, there's no guarantee that they will ultimately choose to make an adoption plan for their baby. Or they could go with another family. This, of course, throws my desire to plan, visualize and prepare for our baby completely into a tail spin. I'm a planner by nature and work well within clear boundaries. What season will the baby come? What size clothes: newborn or three month? When do we get the nursery ready? Too soon to get things out of the attic? Blerg! It will be okay....it WILL be okay. And as our social worker once told us, "It's amazing how quickly you can be ready to welcome a baby when you need to." So I'm taking that to heart and doing what I can to keep our home organized, simplified, and prepared for whatever life throws at us....and whenever it throws it at us.
One of the most vital aspects to "expecting" is the support of family and friends. Just as it is a new kind of expectation for our little family to adjust to, we realize that you might want a head's up on how to expect our baby to join us too! So here's three things to keep in mind:
First of all, expect that we *might* not be telling you everything. Through the waiting process we may meet with a few expectant parents. They might not pick us. That's cool. And then even when a couple does like us, we will say that they are "considering us." Nothing will be certain until the papers are signed and we can't expect them to say goodbye to their baby until they get a chance to say hello. So we will be working very hard to hold in "all the feels" and will be holding our cards pretty close to our chests through this time. Nothing personal....just be prepared to be suprised! Will we be dying to share our happy news? Of course (!), but we probably won't make it FB official until it's a forever kind of deal.
Second of all, we probably won't be bringing the baby home from the hospital. We have the benefit of the expertise of social workers who are on the forefront of adoption education. They have been learning over the past few years, through the study of trauma on the developing brain, just how vital the connection between biological mother and child is. While the good news is that love heals brains and close, repetitive, loving care can cover over a lot, the best way to transition from birth family to forever family is as gently as possible. Gentle care means that it is best for our child that he/she have as much loving contact with her birth mother as possible. Then over the first few days and weeks for the care to shift slowly over to our family. Every interaction with his birth mother, with similar sounds, smells, rhythms to the environment he has experienced over the past 40 weeks is precious and healing as our new family is gently phased in. What this means is that if we want what is best for our child, we need to set up the kind of environment that encourages care from her birth parents. That means that if we are the ones who are holding him in the hospital....guess who can't....his birth mother. So be prepared that we will keep our distance to allow that love to occur and then, when it is time, we will step in where we are needed. Will it be heart-wrenching to not be involved for parts our baby's life....uh, yeah!! But parenting was never really about us anyway. So we trust that when the experts say that this is the best thing, we're going to hear them and hold back for the love of our child.
Then once the baby is in our arms, she's going to stay there for a while. So thirdly, expect us to keep pretty close once our baby is home. That means that Nathan and I will need to be the ones providing all the care, soothing, feeding, diaper changes, and rocking to sleep for the first several months while our baby learns to trust us and grows to expect that all good things come from us. Sure, we will let you hold our precious little one....but not for long. And once he needs something, we need to be the ones to provide it. We will also be cutting back on activities and sticking close to home as we cocoon around our new little one. Feel free to make Tedy feel special and lavish attention on him as his little world grows. But know that things will be calm and quiet as bonds grow strong around here. Man, I can't wait. Holding a baby is my jam.
Ultimately, underlying the uncertainty and fear of what could happen is the soaring happiness and deep love of a baby! coming to our family! forever! And I think that it's okay to celebrate that. So here's where we are: with baby gear in our attic, baby registeries dated for 2016 (because, eh...who knows?!), and flexible plans for the next year. We're re-reading baby books and dreaming of holding our sweet baby in our arms. We're expecting! And now maybe you know what to expect too.
Thanks- Nathan, Jenny, and Tedy