Ask AF: Feeling Emotional Around the Holidays As We Wait

A prospective adoptive parent shares her feelings of sadness as the holidays approach while waiting to adopt. Parents who have been there offer advice.

Q: We had a potential expectant mother match fall through last spring. I had begun to feel optimistic and hopeful again since then, but, now that the holidays are approaching, I am feeling emotional and discouraged. I thought we would be celebrating as a family of three. Did anyone else find this time of year particularly difficult? Any advice or words of encouragement?

Members of adoptivefamiliescircle.com respond:

“My advice—go see a counselor (on your own or with your partner). I found my therapist a tremendous godsend during our process. The ‘secret’ for me was living in the moment—finding ways to focus on what’s already good and wonderful in your life (the love between you and your partner, family and friends who bring you joy, and so on). And I needed help to be able to focus on those things. It will also really help to have a plan for responding to the inevitable comments from well-meaning folks, like ‘he was never really yours or ‘it’s all part of God’s divine plan’ or ‘are you still trying?'”

“It might help to change up the schedule this holiday season. Instead of spending a lot of time with family, who all have kids and keep asking what’s happening with the adoption, volunteer at a shelter to serve meals to the homeless or to drive meals to shut-ins. Or go on a cruise. If you will be seeing family, help them know what would help you. They probably don’t know how to approach the subject, either, and may worry that not asking will seem uncaring. If you don’t want to talk about the adoption, ask someone to tell everyone else not to ask you about it right now.”

“Changing things up has been good for me, but I’ve also found some comfort in doing some of the things that feel normal. I hope you can feel free to say yes or no to holiday events as needed this year. Your hearts and your marriage are the most important thing right now, and you shouldn’t have to apologize for things being difficult or not meeting an expectation that someone else has set for you. And if you do feel like you have to put on your best face and participate, lean on your partner and let yourself fall apart before and after as needed. ”

“I am in a slightly different situation, but also struggling with heavy emotions this holiday season. Some things that are helping me: I ordered a special ornament for my tree to represent the child I am hoping for (you could hang an ornament for the child you are grieving). I also have ordered a few things for my child-to-be. Even though he won’t be here for Christmas, it made me feel better and that’s what I need right now.”

“I know how irritating this is going to sound, but enjoy what may be your last holiday season with freedom as adults. I am overjoyed to have a child to share my holiday with, but it’s very different. Children don’t just get added to your life, they completely change it. Every decision will be made for that child. I was never happy to receive advice like this during the 10 years I waited between infertility and adoption, but, with a toddler running my house now, I can tell you I wish I’d listened.”

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