I've been trying to put into words how I feel lately, and the one word I keep coming back to is STUCK.
I know you've all read as I shared about the heartache, the disappointment, the sadness, the frustration, and all the other feelings that come in the waiting. But I haven't quite been able to put this feeling into words just yet.
I feel stuck. I feel like I am stuck in a season that I outgrew long ago. And it's an extremely uncomfortable feeling.
I'm writing because I know it can't just be me. If this adoption has given me anything, it is a deep sense of empathy for those going through infertility. I have cried with more friends, prayed for more friends, and had my heart broken again and again for women who are also waiting to be mothers. Some still waiting and hoping to get pregnant and birth a biological child. Some who have suffered through infertility for years and are now on the adoption journey, waiting to bring home an adopted child. And then there are those of us who don't have children, and feel called to adoption as the way to build our family, who are waiting too. Here we all are - waiting with empty arms and an empty home for a child to call our own.
However it is that you've come to this place of waiting, it is the same ache for a child. I know there are so many who have suffered and are suffering through infertility who hear again and again, "but why don't you just adopt?" They think it's an easy fix. But even if you always wanted to adopt... even if you believe adoption is beautiful... you may still long to birth a child. Similarly, since beginning our journey to our daughter through adoption we have heard again and again, "but why don't you just stop this and try to get pregnant?" It is so hard for people to understand that THIS is the desire of our hearts. We know there might be an easier way (or honestly, there might not... because we have no idea if we are even able to get pregnant!) but it doesn't mean it's the way for us. Everyone has an opinion, and many voice them, but only God knows the desires of our heart.
So here we all are. Childless mothers. I hated that label when I heard it first, but I can't think of anything else that describes us quite that well. We are mothers in our heart - in our soul - but we do not have children.
And so we wait in a season we have outgrown. I feel that "stuck", out of place feeling more often these days than I would like to admit. I'm 31 and my husband is 40. Most friends who are our age have at least one child - some have a house-full. It is hard to find ways to relate to them. As I look around at what is "normal" and "expected" for people our age, it's obvious that being childless puts us in the minority, and I feel it.
When everyone else on our street is chasing their (multiple children) and I'm standing in the front yard with nothing to do, I feel it. When all of my mom friends are discussing birth stories, or sleep issues, or potty training - and all I can do is sit silently at the table, I feel it. When my newsfeed is taken over by birth announcements... and... as the years pass, children starting their first day of school... it makes us feel so behind.
I feel it when I pass by what should be a nursery in our house, but instead, it's still a guest room. I feel it when I walk by the kids' section of every store and fight down the desire to buy a child cute clothes.
I feel it at Christmas. Oh... do I feel it then. As we decorate the house - just the two of us - for the 6th year and hang up an extra stocking for the child we keep hoping for. When there are only a few gifts under the tree - because we don't have a child to buy for and our siblings have decided we're all too old for a gift exchange. When Christmas Day feels empty, because there are no children (not even nieces or nephews) on either side of our family because we are the oldest siblings and we have no kids. And all the days leading up to Christmas that should be filled with making cookies for Santa and watching cartoon Christmas specials and tucking a little one into bed in her Christmas jammies... that are instead spent in a quiet house. Christmas is the hardest. (... and I would be lying if I said I'm not already dreading the holidays this year.)
I'm writing all this with the hope that someone, somewhere is reading it and saying "me too". Not because I wish this painful wait on anyone ever - but because if you're in it, I want you to know that you're not alone.
I wish I could give you some magic formula that would make this season pass faster, or hurt less. There are times that I have handled it with grace, and times I have not. I think that's okay. There is an ebb and flow to the waiting... some days, and some seasons, are just harder than others. I have learned to let myself feel the hard days - to cry when I need to, to be mad when I need to be. (Sometimes chocolate and wine are the best medicine. I understand!) But I let myself enjoy the good days too... the times when I can bless other people because of the season we're in. It helps to do something positive on those days! We keep nursery a lot at church, and sometimes we babysit for free for friends who need the help. It blesses them, and honestly, it blesses us too (because we do love kids and enjoy our time with them!) We feel like we have so much love to give, and while we wish we could lavish it on our daughter, we try to love other children who are in our lives well instead while we wait.
I can tell you that the waiting got a little easier when the adoption paperwork was over - and I've been able to keep myself busy with other things. Projects and "to do" lists help occupy my mind and heart - because when I slow down and get quiet, the sadness comes. But I have also seen that I can't go 100 miles an hour all the time, because that's not healthy either. So I'm trying to learn balance (and failing often).
I don't know if any of these words resonate with any of you, or any of these thoughts make sense. I just feel like this has been on my heart for a long time, and I needed to get it all out. If you're in this season with me, know that I would give anything to be able to reach out and hug you... to pull up a chair and cry over a cup of tea as you share your struggles. I know you feel lonely, forgotten, and out of place... but sweet sister you are not. If you are feeling "stuck" today, please know you're not alone.