Recovering from the Holidays as a Waiting Family

Written by Rebekah McGee, a New York Adoption Consultant with Adoptions from the Heart. She and her husband adopted an infant son from Ethiopia in 2012 after a 2.5 year adoption process. Their family then had two biological daughters in 2013 and 2017.

I remember being a “waiting family” and having a love-hate relationship with major holidays during our adoption process. I found myself torn between hope and anticipation of it being the “last holiday” that we would have without our little one, but also a little sad that another time marker had passed without becoming parents. It was especially hard at the holidays when you’re repeating the same information to extended family and acquaintances as they ask questions about the adoption process, or the worst comments including: “why haven’t you guys had kids yet?”

Any adopted parent can recall receiving a well-meant story about your Aunt’s friend or coworker who knew someone who adopted and {insert story about how quick it was} or {insert story about how awful the result was}. People just don’t know how to talk about adoption, and as the waiting family, the holidays seem like a prime opportunity for you to suddenly become the adoption educator, like it or not.

If you’re facing the new year with mixed feelings from your holiday, I want to encourage you. It’s a new year, and you can easily reflect on your own personal growth in the past year as you have ventured through the adoption process. You have become more educated and have tackled major paperwork milestones (we all know the paperwork process seems infinite in adoption!).

Take this new “fresh start” of the new year to evaluate what other goals you have for this year. If you’re looking into transracial adoption, what concrete steps can you take to become more prepared to add another culture into your home? Is there some skill or trip that you’d love to conquer before your life becomes busier with a new baby?

The worst part of the wait can be the unknown timeline and the anticipation of your life being changed at any moment. Although you can’t map out a calendar year as a waiting family, you can set personal goals for yourself as a person and adoptive parent. You can reflect on the holidays as your possible-last as a waiting family, but also evaluate what you would do if the next one rolls around and you’re still waiting. Do you need to evaluate your openness to birth parent situations? Do you want to set boundaries with intrusive extended family that just doesn’t “get it” about adoption? Now is the perfect time to start fresh, plan ahead, and take a deep breath. You never know, this may be the year that everything changes.

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