Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Waiting by Tracy Houston-Smith

Guest Editorial by Tracy Houston-Smith

As a first time contributor, I will introduce myself as a working mom (teacher, so kind of best of both worlds) with one almost 6 year old daughter. We are trying to adopt a second child, but feeling the sucking, festering melancholy of THE WAITING. We waited 3 years while trying to conceive a second child on our own and with fertility treatments. We waited while we decided if fostering or adoption was right for us. We waited for our home study from the adoption agency to be completed, and now we are waiting for the phone call that will tell us someone has picked us to be the parents of their child.

There is no 'nine months' here. There is no known time-frame, nobody telling you that your due date is their second cousins' birthday. We have no idea when to get a baby's room together and set up that crib. There's no shopping for that one little baby item that you pick up as a secret treat when you're sure of a pregnancy (mostly - are you ever completely secure?) We have nothing ready, nothing done, and nothing bought. What would we do? Set up a nursery and have it sit expectantly in a little sequestered room like part of Mrs. Haversham's house? For how long? 3months? 3 years?

I see families with more than one child and I see complete families. In my mind, I am in the limbo of waiting for my complete family. I love my daughter very much, but I have always felt like there was a person missing in our family. It's not so much that we are waiting for a new arrival, but that we are waiting for the missing person, the one that's supposed to be here. It's very hard to wait for that. There aren't many other people I have run into that can commiserate with The Waiting, who can give me tips for how to get through it. I apparently know a disproportionate amount of very lucky people. How long did you have to wait, I would ask - Oh, six weeks. Seriously.

The hardest part about The Waiting is the uncertainty. Or rather the certainty that it may not happen at all. That we could wait and wait, and never get that phone call, that no one will choose us. Part of me has already prepared for that. In fact, in my mind I have already set my deadline (my daughter's seventh birthday) at which point I will give up The Waiting and go back to just being. Just being the family of three. Just being the mother of a daughter who will have no brother or sister to share all her family complaints with ("do you remember when mom and dad made us...took us to...embarrassed us..."). I suppose that's the most depressing part, that we're waiting, but all the things we're waiting for aren't certain to happen and that person we've been waiting for may never come to our house.

3 comments:

marshkn said...

This is a touching post. I can understand your desire to give your daugher a sibling and to expand your household. In fact, we walked a similar path, largely out of an interest in adding girls to our household mix. I remember the Waiting and I remember that it was difficult, too. We were matched fairly quickly with two wonderful girls, ages 3 and 5. In our case, we soon realized that we didn't have the energy to handle a household of 4 children of ages 5, 4, 3 and 2. However, I'll just throw something out there as food for thought (and having talked to you, I know that you've chewed on a lot of thoughts already)...maybe it would be worth it to expand your selection criteria a bit to increase your chances of being selected? After all, when they present a child's profile to you, you can always say no, but you never know when one might appear that feels like a really good fit. It might be worth re-examining whether you are really looking for an infant or for that sibling/person who could be part of your family. Best of luck on whatever path you choose!

GettingThereNow said...

This brought back memories from not so long ago. I just had a daughter 2 months back (June 5th) after 5 years of waiting. I went through 5 IUIs and two IVFs. The second IVF took but before the pregnancy test (actually, right after embryo transfer) my doctor called me to say that he thought we had egg-related issues on top of sperm realted issues (low motility, short mortality etc.) and might have to consider other options (donor egg, adoption etc.) if this cycle didn't work. I think he wanted to prepare us mentally for the possibility that this cycle might fail too.

I can very much understand and relate to what you are going through. The emptiness that one feels. The pain of seeing your child look at other friends and their siblings longingly. The fear that they will be all alone in this world should something happen to you. The pain that they will never experience "remember when.." kind of conversations with siblings. It is all still so fresh in my mind. I'll keep you and your family in my thoughts. I hope (and wish from all my heart) that you complete your family soon. I really have no magic words that can take your hurt away. I just wanted to let you know that I understand. And I am sorry that you have to go through all this.

One question though - why have you decided to stop when your daughter turns seven? I am not questioning you decision because I went through the same decision process and I was very worried about what a big age difference will mean for my kids (more responsibility for my older one when I am gone? Less bonding between them? etc.) Are these the same reasons behind your decision?

Anonymous said...

Tracy-

I can totally relate to 'the waiting'. My husband and I also had trouble conceiving our daughter, and opted for adoption for number 2. We waited for a domestic adoption, but only for a year. It drove me crazy to see everyone else 'chosen', or worse yet, here the stories of birth moms that had changed their minds and kept their babies.

We decided to go for international adoption to build our family. I only wish we'd started this sooner. The wait was 10 months (from paperwork to pick up), and our daughter is happy and healthy. Our wait is DONE.

If you truly want to build your family, you may want to consider this option (or possibly adopting an older child from the US). Sadly, the stats for domestic adoption are against waiting couples- only 2% of single moms relinquish birthrights in the US.

That's my 2 cents for what it's worth. I know your pain and I hope it ends soon.

Good luck.