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.