We are nine months into the adoption process.
You'd think we would have a baby already, right?
Well.... no. It doesn't quite work that way. At least, not for us.
In fact, it feels like we're stuck in rush hour traffic, with every false start leaving us a bit more frustrated than before. The funny thing is that the frustration hasn't taken away our desire to grow our family in this way. It has only strengthened it.
Adoption is truly an extreme exercise in patience, and we are learning that this process is so much bigger than we originally thought. We've had to make decisions about a person that we don't yet know, based on information that is not yet available to us, while we hope that the process works. We are praying for the right baby at the right time, though I confess that we have no idea what that actually means.
That sounds just as crazy as it did when we started this emotional roller coaster.
We have "gone public" with our adoption, so now our family, friends, and coworkers know. Right now, we are waiting to hear back on the last few grant applications we submitted, in order to move forward with the matching process; if you have followed along with this blog series, you may recall that we've been in this stage for 6+ months.
It's the classic "chicken or egg" scenario. We can't move forward until we get grant funding, and many funding agencies won't consider us until we have a birth family match (though some don't specifically note this in application materials.)
The thing about trying to do something seemingly impossible is that you'll be drop kicked outside of your comfort zone. Over. And. Over.
Fundraising did that in a major way. It's SO. DANG. HARD. for me to ask for anything, much less financial contributions. We were overwhelmed - and surprised - by those who contributed to and/or shared our fundraising efforts, as well as those who didn't.
Some people rallied to support us. Some disappeared completely.
Adoption has been weird - and insanely humbling - that way.
The most unexpected twist came as I planned what will happen after the baby joins our family.
I had a nagging feeling that I needed to look into the adoption leave policy at work, so when a colleague gave me a nudge, I did it. I knew that my organization didn't provide extensive adoption benefits, but mentally, I had equated adoption leave with maternity leave. I was fully expecting several weeks of paid leave to bond with my new baby.
I was wrong.
The policy where I work allows only one business week of paid leave for adoption. To be fair, FMLA allows unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks, and I can certainly use my unused vacation time to create more leave. It's not like I have zero options here. Even so, I knew almost instantly that this wasn't workable for our family. Either work or family would be shortchanged, because there isn't enough of me to do both well.
It felt simultaneously liberating and terrifying.
Financially, quitting work altogether isn't an option, so I did the next best thing. I demoted myself to ensure a better work life balance. It is bittersweet, because I have a great job and work team that I love dearly. But I simply don't have the bandwidth to integrate a new baby into our family within the time frame allotted by my organization. So, I'm starting a new chapter in my life.
I'd be remiss if I didn't state the obvious here: Strong adoption support policies should be the norm, rather than the exception.
Adoption is not a straight path, and it isn't quick. While I didn't anticipate any of these bumps along the way, I sincerely believe that each setback is pushing us into the right time when the baby that God created for our family meets us. That provides me with a supernatural peace about each part of the process, which makes the rush hour traffic feel tolerable.
I've surrendered to the waiting. As I wait, I feel that this process is refining me to be a better person - perhaps a better mom - so that when this sweet baby joins our family, he or she will be as blessed as we are.
The wait is challenging, but it is not wasted.