Oh, the holidays. A time for counting our blessings and gathering with extended family. A time for filling stockings and cheerfully singing Christmas carols. A time for sending out brightly-colored greeting cards with photos of our families and receiving the same. At least that's what we're told we should do. And many people DO love this time of year and do just these things and enjoy every moment of the season.
But if you're childless not by choice, or experiencing difficulty adding more children to your family, it can actually be the hardest time of the year. I remember vividly the Christmas of 2004. I was on break from teaching and the baby that our adoption agency had confidently assured us would be in our arms by Christmas was nowhere on the horizon. After four years of the "fertility treatment & adoption roller coaster" and still being childless, I had had enough of The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. I spent those two weeks of my holiday break that year napping as much as I possibly could, because that was the only escape I could find from my sadness. It's easy for someone looking in to say, "Gosh, there are so many bigger problems in the world that that." Sure. But when it's happening to you, it's difficult to keep pasting a smile on your face and to feel happy for everyone else around you.
If you are experiencing heartache this season, please know that I understand. I have been there and I will never forget. And if you need someone to pour out your feelings to, I am here for you just a click away.
I also hope you will take a look at this guide, entitled "Surviving the Holidays Without a Child," put out by the wonderful organization Creating a Family: The National Infertility & Adoption Education Organization . This is a FABULOUS resource and truly a must-read for anyone experiencing difficulty with this time of year due to childlessness. From start to finish, it is spot-on, not only giving words of encouragement and reassurance that those feeling less than festive are not alone, but also offering real and practical strategies an individual can employ to feel much more in control of the season. It helpfully suggests possible triggers to avoid. There is even a list of "snarky answers" to nosy questions, as well as a game of Infertility Bingo, just to inject some much-needed humor into things. And their focus on how to alleviate stress, both emotional and physical, as well as financial, rounds out this guide pretty perfectly and makes it very easy for me to heartily recommend it to my Body & Spirit Fitness family. Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think!
I watched my friend Leslie's weight loss journey with Beachbody for THREE YEARS before I finally decided to jump in. After that, it didn't take me long to wonder, "Why on earth did I wait so long?!"
But even once you do start down your own path, you need to be prepared for more waiting. True health is not achieved overnight; it takes hard work and dedication to nutrition, exercise and nurturing your spirit. You will need to be patient and willing to wait as long as it takes to reach your goal. No one program is going to be the right fit for everyone, but the person who never tries at all will spend their entire life waiting.
So what are you waiting for? If you're ready, I'm here. And I can't wait to help you.
But beyond that is the waiting. The expectation. With a typical pregnancy, a couple knows when the baby is due and plans accordingly. A nursery is set up, baby clothes purchased, showers held, doctor visits attended, ultrasounds posted on Facebook, lists of names generated, gender reveal (or secrecy) decided, and the time leading up to the birth is a time of great excitement.
For a hopeful adoptive parent, many or most of those things are absent. Don't get me wrong--it is definitely a time of dreaming and hoping. Of praying that the right baby will find its way into your arms. And generally speaking, when someone adopts through an agency, they have reasonable assurance that they will eventually get their baby...albeit oftentimes with a long wait and then very little warning. But with other types of adoption, there are no guarantees at all that it will turn out the way you hope. For every plan put in place, a contingency plan accompanies it. The word IF is in every sentence you speak. Shopping for anything ahead of time feels like going out of your way to jinx it.
We adopted our amazing son through an agency. We had a terrible experience, fraught with their missteps and empty promises and never-ending need for more of our money and two failed matches and 51 days of our newborn being held in limbo. And yet, we somehow clawed our way out of that claustrophobic tunnel and into being a forever family, and we now know that we would fiercely do it all again--ALL of it--in order to find this same wonderful child that is ours in every way.
But how to get a sibling? Our embryo adoptions failed. Four beautiful human beings at the very earliest of their lives were simply not to be. The grief and guilt was immeasurable, yet most people didn't even know we had tried, so life had to go on as if nothing had happened. And we began to ask, what if the dream of being a family of four or five or six is also not to be? What if three is our number? Can we accept that? Can our son? But suddenly...
We were chosen. Can this be real? We were CHOSEN! We were asked to become parents again through adoption. Not by an agency, but by someone we know and care for. By one of the bravest and most amazing young ladies I have ever met. A wonderful, spectacular opportunity for an open adoption, and the possibility of finally feeling our family is complete. Wow!
So we are expecting! But we're not. Because we haven't really done those "expectant parent" tasks? Well, partly. We're definitely excited...but cautiously so. We're definitely making plans...along with contingency plans. But mainly it's for a different, really important reason: this baby girl is not ours yet. She can't be, legally. Yes, every plan is in place. Every sign points toward this dream coming true. But that sweet baby girl will not truly be ours unless--and until--her mother chooses to release her with love into our lives and into our family, after she has been born.
But we announce happily to the world that we are expecting a baby girl in March! We ask for prayers for her mother, as she continues to journey toward giving her baby life in this world. We fervently hope that they both--along with the rest of their family--become a forever part of OUR family. And yet we honor the fact that this choice is hers alone, and it's not one that she can truly make at this point. And we pledge to surround her with love no matter the result. So we're expecting ... but we're not.
I had the most wonderful conversation with my son Ronan this morning on the way to school. Normally our rides are pretty quiet, as he needs some time to gather himself before dealing with the overstimulation and hard work that his school days bring. But this morning, he had something on his mind.
"I told my class about my adoption yesterday, Mom."
"That's great, honey! How did it feel to tell them?"
(thoughtful pause) "Pretty great!"
I'm so proud of him. In bygone days (and occasionally, even now), adoption was treated as a shameful secret that nobody talked about. And if the secret did come out, it was often much later in life, and it was shocking and world-rocking. For us, however, it has never been a secret. Why should it be?! He is our son in every single way, except that he didn't grow in my tummy and he does not share our genetic make-up. Oh, and he has extra people in his family tree who love and care about him. His story is his alone, and I think that's pretty special.
And yet, he has reached that age where it's hard to be different than the other kids. Despite how common adoption is today, it is still a bit of an anomaly in any given classroom. So I'm very proud that HE felt proud of his story, and that he felt moved to share it out loud to his whole class.
But our awesome conversation didn't stop there. It continued all the way to the school, and I suspect we could have kept going for another 10 minutes, had we not arrived at the drop-off area. We talked about a boy in his class who is here to escape the war in his parents' home country. We talked about how difficult that must be. And we talked more about adoption. As we pulled into the school parking lot, Ronan said, "Mom, are you finally going to grow a baby in your tummy?"
Heh. Interesting how quickly he forgets.
"No, honey. Remember? My body doesn't work right and I can't carry a baby in my tummy."
"But we are trying to adopt a baby. And then you'll finally be a big brother!"
(huge smile on his face, as he opened the van door and stepped outside) "Yay! But, Mom! Can you make it a girl this time? I REALLY want a baby sister!"
Man, that kid. Sometimes my heart just threatens to burst out of my chest, and this was one of those times. Too bad I couldn't reach him to hug him really tight (and probably embarrass the heck out of him). He had already closed the door and was waving our special "I Love You" sign-language wave back at me. And then he was off like a shot, racing to get down to where his class lines up in the morning. He likes to try to get there first, so I'm sure his focus had already shifted.
I leave pretty soon to go pick him up from school. I'll get that hug in then, plus a few more. And I look forward to finding out what he wants to talk about this afternoon!
Hi! I'm Lyn and this is where I blog about family, health, workouts, nutrition, meditation, relaxation & life in general. But it's not all about me--it's about inspiring healthy changes in other people's lives.
"...the only gift I wanted was to take back my health and reclaim my body."