How It Works

Sometimes I feel bad about complaining when I talk about our adoption experience.

I see other families waiting really, painfully long times for their referrals, longer than anyone should have to wait. I see people whose paperwork gets screwed up or delayed by forces beyond their control for absolutely no good reason. I see people dealing with health issues and adjustment issues and loss as they return home as a new family. And it makes me feel a little small when I start whining about our experience so far.

This week, we are hoping to get a call from our case worker saying our court documents have been received. The courts closed on Friday in Ethiopia for something like a month, and so if the documents got pushed out by then, we could stand to gain 6 weeks in our wait time to travel. That would be huge for us. Although, I don’t honestly expect we will have that kind of luck. That would go against the trend of doubling estimated timelines that we have experienced all along. And it upsets us to think about lost time with our daughter — our daughter, legally and officially, lying in her crib somewhere in Addis when we should be caring for her — but we are resigning ourselves to the fact that there’s nothing we can do.

I think for a moment that it’s really silly to complain, in light of what others experience.

But then, if there is one thing I have learned in adoption so far, it’s that no two families have the same experience. So it’s actually unfair to compare.

Families come to adoption from so many different places. People adopt for different reasons. They adopt from different places. They have different backgrounds and motivations and dreams. Some people are becoming parents for the first time. Others are looking to grow their families. Some are on their second families. Some have endured years of infertility. Some love the idea of a big family. But whatever their reasons, they all come to the table on that first day and make the commitment to adopt from vastly different places.

And so, to say one family is more justified in their complaints, or one family has it easier or harder than another, is really quite unfair.

The waiting, the hassles, the disappointments and challenges — they are all unique to each and every person involved with adoption. Everyone has different expectations. Everybody has different thresholds of disappointment or tolerance or patience in the process. Everybody has different needs and hopes and dreams. So in that respect, whatever their experience, everyone is well within their rights to complain.

There will be lots of time for rejoicing, I know. So for everyone, there will also be time to be upset. That’s how it works.

The experience of adoption can sometimes feel very isolating. So I have to remind myself, no matter what my personal experience may be, that each and every person’s experience is unique and they are riding it out as best they can. Nobody ever says it is easy. Be it 20 weeks or 20 months, it is exhausting and frustrating and challenging for everyone.  So I have to remind myself to put myself in the other person’s shoes, be sympathetic to how they are struggling to get through their particular challenge, and be as supportive as I can.

And I have to cut myself slack as well. I have to let myself be disappointed and angry and frustrated, too.

The good times will come. But you have to pass some bad times along the way. That’s how it works. For everyone. And that is okay.

6 thoughts on “How It Works

  1. Oh Cinn, you always know how to say things so well! This process definately brings out a side in me that I am not proud of. Hearing other people’s good news should do nothing but make me happy and excited for them cuz I know how hard this process can be but it brings out my selfish “why not me” side. I don’t like feeling like that. I just want to be happy with/for them without thinking about myself.
    You are right, everybody’s experience and expectations are different and not one process is the same as another. We are here to support each other in the good times and the bad….even when it isn’t easy.


  2. Well, of all people, YOU have been my role model in how to handle the ups and downs with good humour and grace. You’ve always got a good word and genuine happiness for others, despite how your own wait might be going. I admire that!

  3. You are so right! No two paths are alike and that is o.k.!

    We have all had our own life experiences that have lead us to this common ground. You are so right when you say “they are all unique to each and every person involved with adoption. Everyone has different expectations. Everybody has different thresholds of disappointment or tolerance or patience in the process. Everybody has different needs and hopes and dreams.”

    Also,the joy each of us feels when we finally do reach the much, MUCH, aniticpated goal will be equally unique!

    Don’t ever feel like you can’t complain or vent…you can..we are hear to listen and to give some words of encouragement…besides I know that I learn from every single person I have met thru this crazy process and that is beyond measure.


    P.S. Ricki is my role model too…her patience and kindness are amazing 🙂

  4. If it helps at all… I heard that some US families had court dates this week, so there must still be some activity going on… might buy a little more time for the court order to be issued.

  5. Well said! We all have a unique experience. It would be rather clinical if adoption was a purely calculated and predictable journey. I like to think we each have our own family stories – and a good story involves good and bad times – not all sweetness & light.

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