Waiting Well in Adoption
Waiting is one of the things I dread. Slow traffic frustrates me beyond reason. Long lines at a coffee shop make me tap my feet impatiently. Taking my two-year-old daughter on a ‘walk’ which involves her stopping for every leaf, rock, and stick she sees makes me never want to try it again. Just a few days ago, someone close to me told me lovingly that my biggest area of growth is my impatience with people.
It is almost laugh-out-loud funny to me, then, that God called my husband and I to adoption as we prayed about how to grow our family. Any couple’s story can turn into one of waiting, but the adoption process involves a guaranteed wait. First comes the waiting for the home study – doctor’s appointments need to be scheduled, home visits are put on the calendar for weeks or months out, and even just waiting on the time to do all the dang paperwork can feel so frustrating. Every step we took along the way felt like wading through concrete, and every deadline we thought we would be able to hit went flying past, completely out of our control.
Every adoption story is unique, and ours was no different. It took about three years from the first meeting we attended to the day I first laid eyes on the aforementioned baby girl, and the waiting looked so different than I expected...
-We spent months upon months waiting for a phone call.
-We spent weeks waiting for a little boy to be born, only to have him unexpectedly taken from this world when his umbilical cord was wrapped around his little neck during birth.
-After two more adoptions fell-through, we voluntarily took ourselves off the list and waited for the moment when we would be ready again.
-When we finally rejoined the world of officially waiting for adoption, we spent another 6 months with not a single call.
-After we found out about our baby girl, we only had 5 days to wait (read: prepare like crazy!) before we drove to another state to meet her.
-Finally, it took 13 long months for the state to officially declare that Willow shared our last name, over a year after the day she first felt like ‘ours.’
Needless to say, the Lord used all these seasons of waiting to shape and mold me in a way I never expected. What I realized during this time is that my lack of patience is directly tied to my need for control. I wanted to control when the baby came, what my life would look like when that happened, how my husband reacted, and everything in between. My frustration often began in the beautiful place of desiring a family, but quickly morphed into anger when I couldn’t do anything to change the season we walked in from one day to the next.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
The truth of the Gospel slowly unfolded for me during this time. My biggest realization is captured in that 2 Peter verse – the Lord is not slow. At times, it felt like He was slow. It felt like His promises would never be fulfilled. Yet, what captures His promises better than the assurance that we are being “transformed into His image” (2 Corinthians 3:18)? By making me wait, by teaching me that my life and my family were not in my control, God was sanctifying me. I believed that at the end of the journey, I would hold a baby in my arms. But God’s promise was not a healthy baby or even that our family would grow – it was that He would make me more like Him each day.
This gave me hope when we left the hospital empty-handed on a cold January morning, never imagining that our first baby would never take a breath in this world. This gave me peace when a baby promised to us was miscarried – and then it turned out this baby never existed at all. Clinging onto the hope that God’s promise was being fulfilled during the hard times – not just in spite of them – is what carried me through the emotionally and mentally exhausting days when I questioned His goodness.
The truth is, God’s goodness is not only evidenced in our life when He says yes to our prayers and fulfills all of our desires. His goodness is present not because we get what we want or because we are happy. His goodness was so very present during the times of waiting, and I can look back with full assurance that He used our waiting for a holy, sanctifying purpose.
I still struggle with impatience in day-to-day inconveniences, but my attitude towards waiting is no longer “how quickly can I get through this?” Instead, I know that I can take a breath, give thanks for what I have, and ask God to show me why He is asking me to wait, because I have confidence that whatever He is doing is for my good and, above all, for His glory.
Maria is a wedding photographer and digital marketer for small businesses based in Hampton Roads, Virginia. She has been married to her college sweetheart, Nathan, for almost 9 years, and two years ago they brought their feisty and beautiful daughter Willow home through adoption. Nathan and Maria are certified foster parents, gluten-free foodies, and community builders in their local church.