When pregnant you often get the question ‘how far along are you?’ The answer is rather straightforward. Generally, you can form a good estimate for a gestation period of around 40 weeks. For adoption, it can be more complicated.
When adopting, you also often get the same question – how far along are you? It’s often referring to where you are in the process—have you picked an agency, have you started the paperwork, are you ‘parents in waiting,’ are you matched with a birth mom, etc. Unfortunately, with adoption, the timeline is much less finite than forty weeks.
A friend who is also in the adoption process was asked those same questions, but the person who asked dug a little deeper and said,
“No really, how long has this gestation period been for you?”
Does that include trying for a baby through fertility treatments? Does that include your previous pregnancies that ended in a loss? Does that include the birth parent match that fell through?
When thinking of it in these terms, the gestation period becomes years. As my friend told me her story, I instantly started calculating my own gestation period…3 and a half years?!
My husband and I started talking about adopting again when our daughter at home turned two. It took us two years to build up the strength and stamina to withstand going through the adoption process again, pick an agency, and complete the piles of paperwork that are required. Since being approved, we have now spent a year and a half as ‘parents in waiting’ for a match.
The conversation immediately made me wonder what other mammal has that long of a gestation period?
Do you know? After a quick Google search, I came up empty. Elephants were the longest I could find at two years of gestation. Apparently, animals that large take a long time to grow. Now at three and a half years of gestating and counting, our baby is slated to be pretty big!
It’s no wonder I feel frustrated and resentful. Three and a half years of grappling for hope and trying, fruitlessly at times, to maintain a drop of optimism. Three and a half years of answering people’s questions about our journey with answers like ‘No news yet’ and ‘We’re still just waiting for news.’
At the same time, how do you prepare yourself to mother a baby for three and a half years? If I had started stocking up on diapers during sales, the whole nursery would be so full we wouldn’t be able to fit the baby in it! When do I get to start nesting?
I am a planner by nature, yet I am unable to plan for this baby’s arrival. Even harder, I’m unable to help my five-year-old prepare for a sibling.
People talk about hidden blessings in the timing, but I’m not seeing any. I know we’re ready for this baby; the long wait isn’t making us any more prepared. I know we’ll love this baby with our whole hearts. For much like we learned during our losses, love doesn’t grow exponentially during our gestation period, but rather love comes all at once when we find out we’re expecting again.
So until then, I’ll just continue to tell people how excited we are to be expecting again. How long until you’ll have a baby, you ask? Well, we are three and a half years into the gestation period so really, it’s anyone’s guess! Oh, and yes, the baby will most likely be larger than a baby elephant!
So tell me, how long is your gestation period?