I apologize for my absence as of late. I have been working full time at the church and have been trying to spend some time in my garden (it is thanking me) and at my sewing machine. Two recreations that I love, but have been sorely neglected in the past 18 months.
June 17th was an important day for 2 reasons. My beautiful niece B turned 4 years old and we marked a milestone in our adoption process. 18 months. We have officially been in the adoption process for 18 long months.
So to mark the occasion I started to think about what I am missing in life. Well my family, my friends, my reliability, my money and most of all my sanity. Of course that isn't to say I actually had money or sanity to begin with. To my family and friends... well sorry about that. I will try to pull my ass out of the crapper soon enough. With all the obvious answers surrounding what I am missing I also started to think about what types of things you miss out on when you choose to adopt instead of get pregnant. Not that at the time I had a choice between the two. Needless to say there are quite a few things that women who become mothers through adoption miss out on.
We miss out on the glow. That
beautiful glow that pregnant women seem to emanate. We miss out on the "oohs" and "ahhs." The "oh look how cute you are" comments. But of course I have mentioned this
all before. We also miss out on the pampering. It seems to me that pregnant women often get pampered. They get the parking spaces close to the door at the supermarket. People offer their seats on the subway or bus. I have watched husbands rub swollen feet.
For pre-adoptive moms we lack the physical signs of impending motherhood. Our bellies don't grow, or if they do it isn't something growing in them. It is caused by a serious case of stress eating. Our glows don't come naturally. They are induced by rage at hearing yet another girlfriend is pregnant. Or more likely by an alcoholic libation or two. Three buck chuck has become one of my best friends.
So to help rectify the situation I thought I would offer a few suggestions on how you as a friend, sister, brother, spouse, parent or anyone else
suffering with dealing with
supporting a pre-adoptive mom.
1. We like attention. For the outsider the allure of adoption wears off after the first few months. The mom deals with it every day. Don't ask, "any news yet?" Rather ask, "have you given any thought on what you are going to name the baby/ child" or "have you started working on your child's room yet? What color are you going to paint it?" Ask questions about her or her child, not the process of getting the child. If you must ask about the adoption process ask specific questions like, "tell me what the next step in the process is." And be genuine about it. Don't ask just to be nice.
2. Compliment us. Adoption does things to your mind, body and spirit. Some are stress eaters, some are stress not-eaters (me). We suffer from premature "mommy brain" or our brain cells have slowly died off due to excessive paperwork. We can look pale and tired. Please don't point out our faults. Please don't tell us it looks like we've put on a little weight or that we look obviously pale. Come up with something nice to say. Tell her you like her shoes or handbag. Compliment her writing style (thanks!) Tell her that seeing her makes you feel better.
3. Pamper us. Most of the pre-adoptive moms I know suffer from Email Checking Disorder (ECD) or Compulsive Message Board Reading Syndrome(CMBRS.) These are isolating and debilitating illnesses. These women are in serious need of some time away from their computers. They can think-type faster than they can re-type a letter. They are in dire need of some human contact. The best way to aid this is by taking her out of the house. Offer to take the pre-adoptive mom out to lunch. Offer coffee or out for drinks. Somehow force her to pry herself away from the computer for just an hour. You may have to endure a lunch date full of adoption related conversation, but the live human contact will make her feel good.
4. Make us feel special. Throw her an adoption shower. I hesitate to say baby shower since some people don't adopt babies. Make it a women's event. Not one of those crappy couple's shower where the men don't want to be there anyway. This activity is especially important for the woman becoming a mom for the first time, and especially one that has gone through the rigors of infertility testing and treatment. We want to be the center of attention. We want to feel special and want to know that you care. We want you to ooh and ahh over our cute stuff. We want it to be all about us for a moment and not about the adoption.
5. Surprise us. Personally I like surprises. Part of my ECD is the fact that, to me, emails are little surprises. It makes me feel good to know that someone is actually thinking of me. This is to say that I especially appreciate personal emails. Just a note to say "Hi, I was thinking about you today." E-cards work too. Even better than emails are notes or cards in the mailbox. That is that thing out on the curb or attached to your house. A mysterious person puts little pieces of paper in there (usually bills, occasionally a very important federal document) and for some reason this makes me giddy like a school girl. I love holidays and especially my birthday (which is in 2 days.) Important events mean greeting cards. Treasures that people have picked out to show you they were thinking of you. And if you want to go above and beyond the call of duty have something shipped. Care packages, a box of flowers, or anything that comes in something larger than an envelope. These are true little gems of happiness.
So the bottom line is for those of you on the sidelines: go out of your way to make these moms feel important. We have been through too much. This isn't to say that you should do this on a daily basis (although that will win you serious brownie points) but every so often. Think about us. We'd appreciate that.