time is relative, part one

A week, a month, a year, a day, an hour, a minute. How fast or slow does time seem to go? Does it depend on what you’re doing at the moment, or where you’re coming from? Sure. 

It’s not that time flies when you’re having fun. It’s that we experience time in relative terms. It feels different for everyone. 

When you are waiting for something, time can be agonizing. When you are savoring something, perhaps you want the moment to last forever. When you are uncertain about something, maybe you just want to just see how it will end. When you are uncomfortable, you just want it to be over already. 

Yet time takes its sweet time, and waits for no one. 

When we started the domestic open adoption process, we had no real idea how long it would take. Most people said on average a year. But where we live, it can often take two years or more. After all we had already been through, I wasn’t sure how long I could take. How long would I remain optimistic? How long would it be before we lost hope, or ran out of money? How long would it be before we would need to simply reclaim our lives from the indefinite limbo of The Wait. How long would it take before the uncertainty would become unbearable? 

After all, I had witnessed firsthand family and friends who had tried to adopt and waited. And waited. I had followed the stories of bloggers who, after years of infertility and tens of thousands in failed treatments, opened their hearts and laid it on the line again to bring a baby into their lives through adoption. They waited too. Some lost hope. Many families did eventually adopt. Some were called into last minute adoptions and became parents within hours or days.

There is only so much you can plan in adoption or family building in general, as we have learned too well. There are no nine months to prepare. When that phone ultimately rings, maybe the years of planning and effort even seem inconsequential, except to instill confidence in one’s judgment to make the right decision in a moment’s notice, forever changing lives.

In my mind, I told myself it was likely to take a year. I fantasized about matching quickly and bringing our baby home sooner. Yet I could not handle the thought of it taking longer. After the hell we had survived, a year seemed hard enough, but even longer would be torture. It felt like we should get a “pass” after five years of pain, loss, and struggle. But that’s not how it works. It was a challenge to accept that everyone who comes to adoption starts over from zero. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been trying to bring home a baby, how hard you’ve worked, how many losses you’ve endured…

Surviving infertility, you may have emerged a stronger person (or people), which can only help you through the adoption process. Yet the hard truth is there is no advantage for time already served.  (While it’s true that some people arrive at adoption more “broken” than others who may appear more “healed” or resolved (more “ready”?), that is not my point. My point is about how long the process can take.)

I’d literally get sick to my stomach thinking we could have an indefinite wait that would last forever. Our wait could easily outlast both our patience and our bank account. Maybe we’d never get chosen. Maybe we would walk away empty handed and brokenhearted. Again. It was too much to bear…

But those were my lowest moments, the moments of doubt. I had to face them and overcome my fears before I could even begin this process. Whatever would happen would happen, I knew. Fear would immobilize, or force us to act in a way that would not be helpful. While we could not control the situation, we could control our fears (maybe the subject of another post altogether?).

Yet deep down I knew we had so much to offer. I had to believe we would make the “right” connection, in time. I was told repeatedly to trust in the process. And so I did, or I am, or I am trying. 

At every step, I tried to force myself to simply stay in the moment. Never get beyond my “to-do” list. Forget about the past, and don’t think about the future. Just deal with what’s happening right now. That was the only way. I couldn’t think about all the years we had tried (and failed) to build our family. I couldn’t rest on my years in the trenches. This was a whole new fight. We were starting over. I couldn’t worry about how long it would take. I had no control over the real timeline. Once our home study and outreach were done, I couldn’t rush anything.

As it turns out, we first encountered K the very week we intended to “put it out into the universe and see what might come back.” At the same time we were (finally) ready to let it all go, it was already coming back to us. That alone was truly an amazing thing to experience. 

To be continued… 


~ by luna on February 16, 2009.

11 Responses to “time is relative, part one”

  1. I know we all toss around words like “fair” and “right,” but ultimately I know it’s all chance and man, that’s rough. It doesn’t keep me from reaching for my “hurry the hell up already!” button for so many of you/us. There are so many times I’d like to collapse time like an accordion so I could see the result, regardless of what the result was. Just to get there.

    I know you feel suspended in a way, but please know there are people here waiting with you.

  2. Apparently the universe thought that it was time to grant you an express pass for at least part of the process.

    Most of us go into the process of TTC with the opposite mindset that it won’t take long, and then are surprised when it does. How wonderful to expect a long wait and be pleasantly surprised instead, for once.

  3. Time as friend and time as foe. I’ve lived it both ways. And the only thing harder than waiting for time to pass, I’ve found, is trying to live in the moment.

    I can only imagine the challenge you now face in this latest waiting game…sending love your way.

  4. Just loving this post. Eager for the next one.

  5. It seems unfair that after all the time served and heartbreak of IF that we have to start over again with adoption. It’s a whole new roller-coaster. Just know that we’re here waiting with you, screaming on the drops and clutching your hand on the steep inclines. I can’t wait to get off at the end and tell you: “What a wild ride…but so worth it!”


  6. Beautiful post, Luna!

    Because things are unfair and unknowable, we do have to stay in that balancing act between past and future. It takes a lot of discipline, I’ve found. As usual, I’m impressed by both your ability to articulate this, and to do it.

    I hope time soon turns from a potential torturous slog into a scarce commodity, something you want to savor.

  7. Love this post, Luna.

  8. I really needed to read this right now. I totally get it. I just love, love, love this post. You’ve said it so well!!!! I was told, Oh, you’re top of the list – you’ll have a baby by Christmas – and now it’s a year later, and now I feel that I’ve just wasted a whole lot of time that I can’t get back. It’s tough, living in the question mark, isn’t it?

  9. I always feel like I am wrestling with time, ALWAYS! We tell ourselves to live in the present but the past and the future are always there weighing on this infertility journey. I am waiting with you, and trying to brew up as much patience as I can. I truly hope the limbo in our lives will end soon.

  10. […] time is relative, part two Warning: long post ahead. To read part one, click here.  […]

  11. […] adoption, time passes differently. There is no set timeline, there are no guarantees, the decision is not entirely your own as to […]

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