"Collecting Children's Books Carried Me Through the Wait"

How did I survive the wait? By filling a bookcase for our child-to-be with all of our best intentions as parents.

How one woman survived the wait for placement.

Paperwork, classes, the home study—each was a big step toward the day I would meet my child. But when there were no more steps to take, just a long, uncertain wait for placement, I felt powerless. I was repeatedly advised to do all of the things I wouldn’t be able to do after the child comes: Sleep in! Go out at night!

But, it was hard to enjoy the freedom I had when I was so ready for my child. Sitting at a bar with friends didn’t take away my longing to be a mother, or my frustration over having no idea when that would happen. I had to do something with my time other than just wait, so I found a project. I began collecting something any young child can enjoy—books!

My Collection Begins

At a neighborhood garage sale, I noticed a section of children’s books, and picked out a couple with excitement. I remember thinking, “One day I will read these books to my child!” One of them was Corduroy, the story of a lonely, tattered teddy bear who is adopted by a young girl. What a perfect book for a child adopted from foster care! When I got home, I put the book on an empty bookcase in the room we were transforming into our future child’s room.

In preparation for the possibility of adopting transracially, my spouse and I attended our first Juneteenth Celebration. There was a table set up with books for sale, and I found Child of the Civil Rights Movement. I loved the possibility of sharing this beautiful true story of activism with my child.

After that, whenever the waiting period started to feel especially heavy, I would pick out a couple of books lying around the house and take them to a used bookstore to trade for children’s books. I was making space in our home for our future child while creating a library for him or her. When checking out, the cashiers often asked me how old my child was. I treasured the opportunity to acknowledge that I would, someday, have a child. After these trips, I would proudly show my new finds to my spouse. Sometimes, we would sit and read the books to each other.

Studies show that children who grow up with print books in their homes read better and for longer periods of time, and do better at school. Books that reflect a child’s race, culture, and family makeup can improve his self-esteem and sense of belonging. I started looking for books about adoption and different types of families; for books with African-American and multiracial characters, to foster a proud racial identity; and for books about feelings, to help my child process being adopted. I looked for books by the writers I want to share my appreciation for and with messages I want to teach my child. I hoped the books would inspire creativity and awaken him to other worlds. I used the arduous wait to invest in improved educational and psychological outcomes for my child-to-be. Our child’s bookcase is now filled with our best intentions as parents.

Every day, I go into our child’s room and smile at the bookcase. I am proud of amassing such a lovely collection and excited to share these books with a child. Instead of letting the waiting fill us with emptiness, it has filled the bookcase.

The Excitement Spreads

Sometimes, after my bookstore runs, my spouse would comment, “Maybe we have enough books now….” But who was he kidding? He has contributed his share to our collection. He returned from his last couple of trips back to his home country, Israel, with suitcases full of children’s books in Hebrew. When we’re traveling with a small child, we probably won’t have room for books in our suitcases, so he figured he should take advantage of the suitcase space now.

My excitement about the books was contagious, and loved ones began to add to our shelves to show their support for our adoption plans. When I visited an out-of-town friend who had a baby, we went to her local used bookstore together. She bought a few for her baby, and I bought one for my future kid. Children’s books became something we could bond over and a way she could acknowledge that I would soon have a child, too.

Reminders of the Process

We couldn’t keep track of all of the books we had collected, so one day we made a list—more than 100 books!

Many of the books are for children older than the child I’ll probably adopt. Maybe they will sit on the bookcase for a few years. But they will be there when he or she is ready for them. Many of the books, like A Is for Afro, are for African-American children. If I adopt a child of another race, I will take these back to exchange, or give them to a friend with an African-American baby. Perhaps I will wait until my child is old enough to come with me and make his own selections.

These books make me feel connected to the child who will one day come into our lives. Developing a library for my future child gave me a project to do instead of just sitting around waiting, slowly going crazy that the wait was taking so long. I don’t want to forget this part of the process of becoming parents, and I’ve enjoyed amassing my collection, but I know it will fade to the true pleasure of reading just one of these books to my child in my lap.

Adoption Agencies with U.S. Foster Adoption Programs

No listings found.

See all adoption agencies with U.S. foster adoption programs >

Copyright © 1999-2024 Adoptive Families Magazine®. All rights reserved. For personal use only. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

More articles like this