This is a guest post by our friend Alison England,LMSW. She is an adoptive mom and the award-winning author of the devotional Tandem. Alison and her husband, Joel, have been together since college and have three children. She cofounded Momentum Adoptions, a licensed adoption agency and is a professor at Arizona State University. Alison brings more than 15 years of professional experience in social work to the pages of Tandem. She now volunteers as the President of the west coast chapter of the non-profit organization, Families for Private Adoption (FFPA.org)
It is a hard task to incorporate our life challenges-like infertility, or loss, or illness-into our life story, and still experience joy and celebrate life in the present. Life circumstances might dictate the season you are walking through, but you choose how you spend your time in the right now.
A Story From My Kitchen
A short bit ago we stood around the kitchen island, cooking and eating. Adoption is a common term in our house. Since the day we adopted our youngest daughter, Annika, we have been completely transparent with her about her adoption. We read stories at bedtime about adoption, talk fondly of her birth parents selfless decision for adoption, and how the fact that Annika’s love for spicy foods probably stems from her birth mom’s affinity for salsa. Annika frequently browses her adoption baby album and she knows her birth family’s names and pictures.
Even so, the conversation took an interesting turn when my teenage son asked Annika, our 5 year-old (what I thought was a rhetorical question), “Do you know that you’re adopted?” Her response was profound.
“I am not adopted right now.”
I almost cut my finger off while chopping the onion. I stopped. I processed. Stuck on her statement, I paused to consider, did she understand what the word “adopted” really meant? What I realized that was that from her perspective, she was adopted the day she was born. When my husband and I reached out in the birthing room and took her into our arms-that was the moment she was “adopted.”
Annika is living in the present. What Annika knows right now is that she is Alex and Kelsey’s sister and that Joel is her Dada and I am her Momma. Her simple statement and temporal perspective, reminded me of the value of living in the right now of life.
3 Practical Tips for the Right Now…
Having walked the path of adoption and counseled many who are in “the wait,” I want to share with you three practical self-care tips that can bring peace in the wait:
1- Self-Care…Your Body
First stop is to find a trusted, compassionate doctor. Many of us in the hustle of life, default to the local urgent care. But I encourage you to seek a doctor who will listen to you and provide you with quality care so that you can care for others.
Next, find a regular workout routine that works for you. A 20 minute walk or hard-core cross-fit; you chose what works best for you. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you are dedicating time to your body. Honor your health; there is too much research out there to ignore the fact that treating your body to regular exercise is a mandate not a luxury. It will rejuvenate your optimism and recede the tide of worry that accompanies adoption.
2- Self-Care…Your Mind
Get educated. Read books about the process of adoption, attachment and open adoption. Listen to podcasts, including the amazing Honestly Adoption Podcast. Seek stories of hope. You will find plenty of people who have negativity to spew out related to adoption. When I wrote, Tandem: A Devotional for Adopting with God in the Lead, I wanted to connect the Lord’s word, practical adoption advice and our hope-filled story of adoption. Choose to spend your energy and time on filling yourself up-not stressing yourself out.
A fantastic and inexpensive online workshop on Adoption is the Successful Adoption Workshop. From legal segments to birth mother stories and home study tips to birth parent communication-this online workshop is a start-to-finish on how to adopt.
Just as important as learning and adding to your knowledge is clearing your mind.
3- Self-Care…Your Spirit
Whatever faith or from whatever well you are filled spiritually-tap into that source. From bible studies to yoga, or getting out into nature or connecting with your higher power, use this time to deepen your spiritual strength.
Readiness in the Wait
Your new “part-time” job of adoption can easily morph into “full-time” stress-don’t allow it. During this wait for your child, take the time for some self-care. A focus on your body, mind and spirit will put you in the perfect place to outstretch your arms and embrace this child whom you have waited for so long.
Are you in the waiting period of the adoption process right now? What have you learned? What are you struggling with? Share with us in the comment section below this post.