Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Patience. Compassion. Gratitude.

A few weeks ago my cousin gave me some cute stickers her sister has started making as part of her new company, They have stickers, magnets, shirts, you name it, that have peaceful phrases on them. “Compassion”, “gratitude”, and “kindness”, among others. My cousin gave me this one.

She’s an adoptive mom, so she gets it. She told me that I would need it for the rest of the journey. I sort of balked it a bit. “I don’t really need patience, I’m doing fine,” I thought to myself. But I graciously took the gift. Its super cute and I want to be supportive of her sister’s company. But I really thought that me, of all people, did not need to be reminded to have patience in this adoption.  

“They” say that having patience is essential in an adoption process. I am “they.” And for years I’ve been talking families through the wait. I’ve tried to convey my true compassion and sincerity through all of it. “I can’t imagine how hard this wait is.” And “I know, you have been waiting for your baby for years before this adoption even began.” And “when you started, you expected a year wait and here we are on year 8.” So when we began our adoption journey, haphazardly, unexpectedly, and quite unplanned, I didn’t think patience would be a virtue we needed to give any attention to.

When we started our adoption process, I was none too quick on getting the documents in. I was busy working on other people’s adoptions and found it hard to find time to give attention to my own. Often times that work was done between the hours of midnight and 2 a.m., so it was slow. Patience wasn’t my problem, in fact, quite the opposite. I was wondering if I was dragging my feet because we weren’t really ready to be doing this. After all, we had been married all of five minutes and were starting our family with a 10-year-old with vision impairment. It wasn’t outrageous for us not to be ready. And to be honest, that thought freaked me out even more than the paperwork.

Fast forward to today. We’re on step 105 of 107. We’re just possibly days away from getting our approval to travel. We’ve got visas and motion sickness medicine and tiny panties and stuff being thrown into backpacks as it arrives. We’ve got a room painted (thanks to sweet friends Ashley and Heather for making that happen!) and we’ve got a bed 2/3 painted. We’ve taken our Empowered to Connect class and have read to our hearts content. I’m behind on my work but will get it all done before I leave no matter what. So basically we’re ready to go.

And now I find my patience waning.

It really has been quite something for me to realize that even I need to find the virtue of patience too. Me, in the end of a 9-month adoption process, need to find patience. It has been quite possibly the world’s fastest international adoption on record and I’m reminding myself to be patient.

I guess I’ve had a little taste of what it means to say – patience is a virtue.

And in the midst of all this self-awareness and realization, I can feel my heart aching for many of you readers in a way I’ve never experienced before. My thoughts go to each of you individually more than they used to. I don’t think of you as the collective “my adoptive families” but rather now I think of you by name. I think of the first time I met you, the Hendersons*, and told you that your wait for a healthy child from China should be about a year. Here we are 8 years later – you still don’t have a baby. I think of my last home study meeting with you, the Williams* when we talked about how things are unpredictable in Russia, but now to know that you will never know your Russian baby. I think of just a few weeks ago when I sat in your kitchen for your home study update, the Garcias*, and we talked about how you should be traveling to Democratic Republic of Congo within a couple of months, only to find out a week later that they have now entered the ranks of the countries that are closed for the duration. I think of you, single gal Jill*, who wanted to adopt from Vietnam before you turned 40 and were told you couldn’t marry your sweet boyfriend during the adoption process, but that country is now going on year five of being closed. Glad you guys got married after all!

I have found a new respect for every single one of my clients and how you have dealt with patience in your lives. I can say that you are all stronger than I am. In this season of advent when I long to be sharing these fun daily advent activities with a child, I think of you and how you’ve been through 10 advents without a child, and I put myself in my place.

Be patient, Nikki.        

I think what happened is, somewhere along the way, despite my best efforts to stay strong and not fall for this little girl, I fell. Not taking my own advice, I started forming a bond with this child I don’t yet know. I’m not sure I can recall the exact moment I began to feel like her mom, but it has happened and now the only things standing between me and my child are two governments. Pretty big and pretty small all at the same time.

Be patient, Nikki.

I think my cousin was right. She usually is.

*names changed - duh!

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