The letter that follows has been brewing in my brain for some time now.
When I first began penning it, I was writing to prospective adoptive parents. But the more I typed, the more I realized, it is as much a piece of writing for my own use as it is for others.
Dear Soon-to-be Adoptive Parent,
Now, I know what you might be thinking, Wait a minute. How can you say that? You don't even know me.
You're right, we've never met. I don't know much about you. I couldn't tell you your favorite ice cream flavor. And I'd probably guess wrong if I was asked where you went to college or what baseball team you root for.
But I know one thing: You want to adopt a child.
And knowing that one fact automatically makes you awesome in my book.
I also know that you've probably jumped through hoop-after-hoop-after-hoop on your adoption journey.
Or if you haven't yet, you most likely will in the future.
Adoption is beautiful, but also messy.
I know. My husband and I adopted a baby boy in 2012. (And we're currently walking the adoption road for a second time, hoping to adopt a baby girl soon.)
During the messy times, I want you to remember a few things. (And when I say "you," I mean me, as well.)
1 | I want you to remember your goal: To adopt a baby. When you feel yourself getting discouraged, overwhelmed, anxious, just stop, close your eyes, and envision yourself holding your precious little one. I've also found that having visual reminders in my home has been helpful. In my closet, sitting on a shelf at eye level is a pair of black patent leather baby shoes. Each time I see them, I send up a quick prayer, asking God to send a healthy baby girl into our lives. There's also an adorable pink floral dress hanging in the nursery closet. When I pull open the closet door, a smile creeps across my face as I think of dressing my baby girl in it one day.
2 | I want you to remember that sharing your life and your dreams with friends and family and complete strangers takes courage. Some people may criticize your decision. Some may ask questions like, "Why aren't you trying IVF? Why aren't you adopting from the foster care system? Why aren't you adopting internationally?" Don't feel as if you have to answer those questions. You get to decide what to share and what not to share. In many instances, simply saying, "We feel domestic adoption is the best option for us" works well.
3 | I want you to remember that telling people about your adoption dreams (as scary as it might be) is a good thing. It does not mean you are bragging about your life. It does not mean you are perfect. It does not mean that you have to share every. single. detail about your fertility journey or your adoption journey. But people need to know that you are wanting to adopt in order for them to share your dream with others.
4 | I want you to remember to ask for help. Ask for prayers. Ask for positive energy or good thoughts. Ask for advice or suggestions in an adoption support group. Ask for financial support, if needed.
5 | I want you to remember to breathe. For me, just reading the word breathe, causes my body to automatically inhale slowly and exhale slowly. Did it work for you, too?
6 | I want you to remember that adopting a baby privately in the United States is expensive. You may have to cut back on your entertainment expenses, eliminate some travel, take on a second job, eat at home more, or hold a garage sale (or a combination of these), so you can afford to adopt. Some prospective adoptive parents choose to borrow money from a bank or from family, too.
7 | I want you to remember that there will be birth parents who do not choose you. With each situation, the reason(s) will be unique. They may not choose you because you already have a child. Or because you live too far away. Or because you and your husband are Caucasian and they want their child to grow up in a mixed race family. Or because they fell in love with a family two profile books ahead of yours in the stack and never even looked made it to your book. It's tough when you're not chosen, but for me, it just means that we're not the right parents for that particular child.
8 | I want you to remember that the adoption process could take time. You may have to wait and wait and wait. But your time will come.
And when your little one arrives, all of the time and effort and money that went into this process will be quickly forgotten. All of the worry, the fear, the anxiety will be replaced with bliss, as you cradle your newborn in your arms.
All you will focus on is that beautiful child in your arms. All you will focus on is how lucky, how blessed, how happy you are.
That's what I want you to remember.