There have been many aspects of the adoption process that have been challenging. For us, it seems that there have been extra, unique twists and turns in an already confusing and overwhelming process. The past month or so has been dedicated to saving and raising money, applying for grants, and working ahead on future paperwork because, as a waiting family, we anticipate that we will receive a referral by mid-summer. Aside from that, our focus has been once again on making sure that the switch from one home study agency to another does not cause any additional problems.
In between and simultaneous to those things, we have been left to wait and wonder and hope and pray. Although the paperwork and the forms and the visits and the evaluations have been challenging, these things gave us short-term goals to focus on. These were things that we could occupy ourselves with accomplishing. Though our paperwork is far from over, we are currently left to an uneasy silence. Our home study is complete, our educational requirements have been met, and we are most likely several months away from having to compile and submit our dossier. So here we sit. We do not have a match, let alone a name or a picture or any kind of report. Nothing except a waning sense of anticipation.
For me, the in-between times have been the most difficult. It is in this in-between and in this silence that all of the doubts, fears, worries, and questions creep in.
People who have experienced forced or extended sensory deprivation have described experiencing hallucinations, anxiety, panic, and lapses of reason, among other things. I’m not a scientist, but my understanding of this phenomenon is that without sensory input, your brain is left to create and perceive things to fill the void. In a way, these phenomena are like what we’ve experienced during the silent, in-between periods of our adoption.
In the absence of input stimuli, I have caught my mind wandering. Without any new or current benchmarks to meet, the process has begun to feel indefinite. With this unknown timeline, it has felt difficult to see the end of the tunnel. Without any recent news, apathy has crept in where there should only be excitement about our growing family. I find myself playing whack-a-mole with doubts and frustrations about the path we are on.
What if this will never happen?
What if we experience some kind of problem with our adoption?
What if we aren’t supposed to be parents?
We have previously written about the challenges that accompany waiting and how we have had to learn to trust and pray rather than to worry. You would think that we could take our own advice by now.
Recently, one of our pastors gave an excellent midweek Lenten sermon on John 18:3-9. On the night Jesus was betrayed, while He was in the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas approached Jesus with a detachment of soldiers and officials from the Chief Priest and the Pharisees. Verses 4 and 5 read:
“Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I Am He,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, “I Am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.”
This has always been one of my favorite scenes from the Bible to imagine. Here was a group of men who came to overpower and arrest Jesus. By almost any earthly metric, the soldiers were in control. In three short words, our Savior demonstrated that they were not in control. Not even close.
Like the detachment of soldiers coming to arrest Jesus, we have approached so much of the adoption process like we are the ones who are and ought to be in control. This should happen on our terms. When we have not seen or experienced a sufficient amount of reassuring input to confirm that we are in control, we have let our minds wander and let doubts creep in to fill the void. Instead of despair over the realization that, like the soldiers in the garden, we are not in control, we pray for the comfort that can only come from knowing that God is in control.
If you’re in the process of adopting, and you struggle, as we have, with those quiet, in-between periods of the adoption, know that you are not alone. In the absence of any temporal reassurances that your adoption is proceeding as it should, pray to fill those angst-ridden voids with trust that God’s plan is better than anything you can possibly imagine.
This is happening. We are supposed to be parents. God is working. God is using every minute of everyday to bring our family together in exactly the way he’s always intended.
Pro Gloria Dei.
Photo credit: Melissa Johnson