By the time we finished all of the adoption paperwork and were official ‘parents in waiting,’ we had already spent two years on the adoption trail. During this time I watched many friends go on to have a second and even third baby. Yet as ‘parents in waiting’ we were thrilled and excited that we might get a call at any time that we had been chosen to be adoptive parents. At the same time, our adoption agency gave us an article to read on how to make the most of our time before placement with a baby.
As skeptical as I was, the article was very well written. By the end it had me convinced. Yes, the timeframe of getting an infant was out of my control (a very difficult realization for any loss mom), so I should embrace the time we have with our current family before we add a sibling. I felt excited that we could get a call any day that a birth mom chose us or, even better, that a baby had been born and was waiting for us! I was filled with hope that the dream of having another child was on the horizon. Our agency informed us that their average wait time for being matched was 9-12 months. Every day I woke up asking myself if today was the day we would get the call.
In the spirit of cherishing our time with our daughter at home, we planned a dream vacation six months into our wait. It was a chance to spend time together, make family memories, and distract ourselves from the wait. I prudently bought travel insurance…just in case.
At nine months into our official wait for a baby, I decided to dig out all of our baby clothes and get them washed…just in case. After all, nine months is the typical gestation for a baby, and I was so hopeful that we would get a call any day. We had fun as a family getting the newborn items out, showing our four-year-old daughter what she wore as an infant, and telling stories from her infancy. This was the first time we talked at length with her about the adoption and our plans to grow our family. She began to talk about having a baby brother or sister, what toys she would share, and which ones she would not. She began to ask: when will we get our baby, Mommy? Even she was getting excited.
The summer passed and we were fast approaching our one year anniversary as parents in waiting. “Just in case” had become a normal phrase as I planned events with friends and family. I was optimistic that we would get that life-changing call in August. Yet August came and went with no call and no baby. I fell apart.
My hope had been whittled down to nothing after months of my daughter’s daily question: will we get our baby today, Mommy? My excitement evaporated as we passed the 12-month milestone that I had set as a goal. My dream of ever getting a baby seemingly vanished as I felt frustrated and defeated. My self-esteem bottomed out that a birth family still had not picked us as a family for their baby. What is wrong with us? Am I foolish to keep thinking “…just in case?”
As September passed my daughter at home turned five years old and I struggled with the realization that my children will now be more than five years apart in age- another dream lost. I kept setting these goals to give myself hope. Should I not set goals? Are they hurting me more than helping?
That’s when I remembered a workshop I had attended last spring about Shattered Dreams.
For life to continue after a shattered dream, one often needs to let go and grieve the lost dream in order to visualize a new dream. Haven’t I, as a mom of two babies in heaven, grieved enough? But here I am, grieving another picture of my life that will never be.
Grieving takes acknowledgment of what has been lost, acknowledgment of the pain and emotions we are experiencing, and, most of all an acknowledgment that what we are grieving is worth grieving for.
Yet how do you create a new dream when your dream has been shattered over and over again? How do you pick up the pieces when each time you set a new goal it passes without fruition? I don’t have an answer. What I have learned during the seven years of grieving my babies is that if I keep putting one foot in front of the other, I will make it through. If I just hang on, hope will find me again, one day.