The Good Wait
This is the first post in our new series, The Reality of Adoption: Confronting Common Myths. To read Michael Monroe’s overview of the series, click here.
The Myth: It takes years to adopt.
The Reality: Not necessarily.
Every adoption process is unique, from the timeline to the hidden challenges to the surprising joys. In regard to timeline, it’s true that some adoption processes take years to complete. Currently, the wait for an adoption through China is around four years. But that wasn’t the case a few years ago and it may not be the case a few years from now. And there are several countries, Ethiopia for example, for which the wait is nowhere near that long (assuming you can get your paperwork and finances together quickly).
Like international adoption, domestic adoption doesn’t operate under a single timeline. Private adoption, agency adoption, and adopting through the foster system are all different processes that move at different speeds. Even choices such as the agency you use and the desired demographics of the child you hope to adopt can affect your timeline. As a result, it’s inaccurate to characterize adoption in general as taking a certain amount of time. If you’re interested in adoption and the length of wait is an important factor for you, research all of your options. For international adoption, talk with multiple agencies about timelines for the different programs they offer. For domestic adoption, talk with agencies and other organizations about timelines for the various domestic channels. Hopefully, you’ll be able to find a timeline you’re comfortable with.
As my wife and I explored the international adoption process, we knew that certain countries were off the table for us because of timeline. To us, timeline was just as important a factor as cost, travel requirement, and the age of available children. When we finally chose Vietnam, we did so because we were comfortable with everything that would be required of us as a waiting family (or so we thought).
Once you begin your process and your wait, the key becomes “waiting well.” Assuming that you’re taking care of whatever responsibilities you have for keeping the process moving, the rest is out of your hands. Most of us like to be in control of our situation, and the adoption wait regularly clashes with that desire. It’s difficult to let go, trust that God is guiding your journey, and wait, but that’s what waiting well requires. Waiting well means using the time leading up to our placement (whether it be weeks, months, or years) to prepare ourselves as best we can physically, mentally, spiritually, experientially, relationally, and financially for the child that is coming into our home.
At first, letting go during our wait was difficult for me and my wife because we were so excited and eager to become adoptive parents. Letting go became even more difficult when diplomatic strife between the US and Vietnam threatened to end our process before we were even matched to a child. We spent several months not knowing if we’d get to adopt from Vietnam before the country closed US adoptions, and it was agony. However, during that time we got involved where appropriate by writing letters to the State Department and did our best to find peace in the midst of our uncertainty. Despite the emotional toll of the waiting game, we tried to prepare ourselves for the different possible outcomes we were facing.
Through that time, we discovered the incomparable value of waiting well by taking very practical steps toward getting ready for an adoption placement. These steps made a huge difference in the quality of our wait, and I hope they’ll make a difference for you, too:
- Read about adoption and child development.
- Connect with other adoptive families and learn from their journeys.
- Educate your friends and family about the adoption process and what they should expect after your child comes home.
- Pray for guidance and strength as you strive to make the most of your wait.
In the end, the adoption journey doesn’t end with a placement. As you and your child grow together, you’ll find that the miracle of adoption has only begun to unfold in your life and you’ll realize that your wait, however long it may have lasted, was worth it.