Friday, November 2, 2012

The Long Haul

Find new things to do when you're on the long haul.
We got annual passes to Disneyland!

Our adoption journey has become quite the long haul. It's been 18 months since we first began and there's no way to know when we'll get to our destination. We've been traveling on a much longer road then we could have possibly imagined. If you read our last post about our adoption journey, you got to see everything we've encountered on the road so far. 

Of course, the journey seemed simple and short enough when we first began. We were certain we would have adopted within 6 months of going live with our agency. At first, the wait was bliss. We were thrilled to be done with paperwork and our adoption letter. The future was full of possibility and we were excited about this. Strange as it sounds we actually were happy to be newly waiting. We figured it offered us a chance to get some projects done and have a few last adventures before we became parents.

Clearly it didn't happen for us to match so quickly. We hit the 6 month mark a year ago in October 2011. There had been no contacts and no sign that the waiting would end anytime soon. While we didn't want more paperwork, the thrill of having so much time to ourselves quickly grew old. We soon realized that the honeymoon on our adoption wait was over. It started to sink in that we could be waiting a long time before our adoption hopes became a reality. Now October 2012 is over. We're looking at things a year later and realizing just how long this haul has become.

And let's face it, waiting sucks. We're not really a nation that waits gracefully. In fact it's rare for 21st century Americans to have to wait for much of anything at all. So many things in our lives are instant to get, to find out, to send and receive, that it feels like a real challenge to be patient and just wait. Many days we struggle to stay positive and hopeful when the wait stretches on as long as this one has for us.

We've learned several things during our wait. While we're still waiting, have challenges, and certainly don't have all the answers, there are some things we've learned along the way. The advice we would offer to those newly waiting on an adoption journey is to hope for the best, a short wait, but be prepared for the long haul if the wait is longer than expected.

And, we've even got some tips for handling the long haul.

1. Start thinking about photos for your adoption letter as soon as you realize you want to adopt. This is especially important if you're not in to taking a lot of photos (like us). And make sure they're good. You don't want favorite photos for your letter rejected because one or both of you wore a hat, sunglasses, ended up with your eyes closed, didn't smile, or were in bad lighting. More photos give you more options for your letter and make the process easier.

2. Keep taking photos. You're going to need them. Even if you choose not to use social media such as Facebook or Pinterest, you'll want new photos if your wait extends to the point where you need to redesign and update your letter. Besides, it is nice to have photos from good times together. You even can do what we did and make a photo book for your future child so they can see what your life was like during the wait.

3. Keep budgeting and saving money for adoption costs. The money helps once you realize that LiveScan renewals, physicals, letter printing, advertising, etc. are recurring costs during a long wait.

4. Find support with people who are going through the adoption process too. There are local groups to meet in person as well as many online communities. They are great places to express your feelings and get new ideas from people who know what you're going through. We participate in both our agency's support group and the Resolve adoption group for Southern California.

5. Stay engaged with life. Do the things that make you happy. Keep current on your interests and local events.

6. Do new things. Have fun. And always have a pen and paper handy so you can jot down new ideas for your outreach efforts. Sometimes the best ideas happen at the top of a roller coaster.

7. Support each other. Remember the person you're sharing your life with. You chose to be with them because you love them and you're going to want them in your life no matter what happens at the end of your adoption journey.

8. Stay open to new adoption networking ideas. When you first start waiting it's hard to network in every possible way, especially when you're enjoying the honeymoon of the newly waiting. However, as the wait goes on you'll want to look for new ways to keep your message fresh and connect with people.

9. Try not to second guess yourselves. It's really easy to feel bad when you go a long time without any contacts or the contacts you get don't work out. There's always going to be part of you that wonders what you could have done differently, but it's important to keep this in check. Sometimes there may be constructive things you learn that help influence future decisions for the better, but it doesn't help to beat up on yourselves for the choices you made.

10 Don't obsess over every decision, but do take time to truly consider choices that you'll have to live with during the wait. It's worth taking extra time with choices that go into print, such as your letter, or can't easily be changed, such as the address of your website. However, you don't need to spend 30 minutes trying to compose a tweet or Facebook status for an update. Go ahead and like the baby animal picture!

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