Adoption Anxiety

Since I said I would be honest, you should know that I sort of spun of out control the last two weeks. Not in a super noticeable way, but in terms of my stress and anxiety levels (which I am VERY good at compartmentalizing and working around). But I have spent MANY hours lying in bed, unable to sleep, thinking about all of the things I still need to do to even make a dent in our paperwork process. I become so overwhelmed with the enormity of it all that I am almost paralyzed by my nerves, and then for a couple of days I do almost NOTHING related to the adoption at all. It’s not healthy, and it’s not necessary, because for the most part there’s not a lot I can do except handle one thing at a time. But I’d like to think it’s fairly normal, as you officially dig into the whole international adoption process, to feel a bit overwhelmed, and wonder if it will actually be possible for you to make it to your child one day.

When you hear people say they are having a “paperwork pregnancy” or are in the “paper chase,” I think it’s hard to imagine what it is they are actually doing. I mean, how HARD could it actually be? And to be fair, it’s not like anyone is expecting me to do advanced calculus, and my anxiety stems from being unsure how I’m going to show work for all my proofs. (Is that even how you say that? I was always terrible at math!) But it can be super tedious, and at times seems pointless, so I think it messes with your mind a bit.

For example, Daddy K and I had our adoption physicals this week. In and of itself, pretty low key. It’s a typical exam, and includes a decent amount of lab work and immunization checks. But here’s the tricky part: the actual original copy of your exam must be signed by your examining doctor in the presence of a notary. And your doctor can’t sign the exam until your labs and blood work come back. And you can’t have the form in the meantime. So you have to figure out how to have a notary come with you (in our case, onto a restricted military base) to your appointment. It’s not impossible, but it’s a logistical nightmare.

Oh, and any form that is a required part of your dossier (a fancy term for the application that is actually sent to the country you are adopting from), must NOT ONLY be notarized, but apostilled. Yep, that’s a real word. And it basically means notarizing the notary. So these forms need to be taken and/or mailed to the issuing state capital, where someone can double check that the notary was, in fact, a real notary for that state. Oh, and don’t forget, the notary’s seal can’t expire within the next 18 months, and they MUST sign exactly the same as the information contained within their seal!!! Um, yeah, it makes my eyeballs bleed.

To further invite you into our exact pain experience, and maybe help you understand why my anxiety took the reins for a bit, let’s chat family birth certificates. For us, those come from three different states. Each person’s birth certificate needs to be re-ordered from the issuing state, since the certificate has to be less than 6 months old. And it HAS to be a pen-and-ink signed and notarized copy with an official seal. I literally just spent $100 ordering 2 copies of the kids’ certificates (because I know I’m the person who would lose one). Then, once I receive those forms, I have to send them BACK to the issuing state to be apostilled. Nope, for our states it can’t be done all at once.  I missed two official “certificate” deliveries in one day.

So, as you can see, it starts to feel a little overwhelming, and I started to panic that I would never remember how to do everything right, or that I would forget something super important and ruin the whole thing.

My Holy Grail

My Holy Grail

I had post-partum depression symptoms after I had Sissy. It was really interesting (although I didn’t think so at the time 🙂 ) in that they didn’t really manifest until she was almost 8 months old. And I think part of it might have been triggered by a medicine I was taking to increase milk production, but the truth is, I’ve always struggled with anxiety. God just choose to use this experience to show me what a vice-grip on control I had… and feeling like I couldn’t mother perfectly nearly wrecked me. I am very Type-A, and I thrive on routine and predictability. My baby didn’t get that memo, and I wasn’t able to go with the flow as easily as other mamas. It was a very tough 3-4 months, but I am super thankful now for the experience.   I met with a counselor (a MFLC — if you are military and don’t know about this amazing resource, please contact me, I can’t say enough good things) who really helped me work through my feelings. She had me read an interesting book about depression, and one section focused on ten to twelve common thought distortions in most people. We worked through them to see if any were pitfalls of mine, and one clearly stood out (although I lean toward a couple, this one was big). It’s the ALL OR NOTHING mentality. So in this specific case, if I had one bad hour in the afternoon (my girl crying inconsolably, or not sleeping well, or refusing to eat, etc,) then for me, the entire day had been terrible. Basically, it’s like it sounds. For me, it was all of nothing.

Just recognizing this tendency made a huge change in my life. I feel truly lucky that all I needed to start feeling better was someone to help me work through the WHYS of the way I felt, and assure me they were totally normal. I recognize it almost immediately now, and I try to combat it with the Truth of all the good things that have happened in any given day. This adoption, with all it’s related stresses, has brought out the same tendency. I start to feel like it’s all or nothing. And if I hadn’t checked off enough boxes in one day to feel like I was making significant progress, then I felt like I had done NOTHING productive in the adoption arena. Basically, what I’m saying is that adoption can be stressful. 🙂

Thankfully, I got a sweet email from a new friend who recently came home from our same country with her little boy. They are also a military family, so she understands some of the unique stresses I am feeling. And she reminded me of two HUGE things: One, I should be enjoying this journey. It will take the time it takes, and it does me absolutely no good to dwell on any areas I think I’m not handling perfectly. This should be a fun experience for our family, as we learn so much about parenting and each other, and grow closer preparing for this new chapter. And it that same vein, the second things is that I should ENJOY my children and family now. When Boo comes, things will never be the same. And that’s okay, we are comfortable with different, but I want to be mindful of enjoying our family the way it is. When I was pregnant with Bug, I remember trying to soak up every minute with my girl. I don’t want to waste the next several months of our lives being wrapped up in stress and anxiety. Life is too beautiful to waste playing mind games with myself. And the last few days I’ve been resting in His peace, and I’m able to let all the little frustrations of this paperwork madness slide away. It WILL happen, one step at a time.

I keep these two quotes from Francis Chan’s Crazy Love on a note in my phone, because I need to refer to them often. 🙂

WORRY implies that we don’t quite trust God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what’s happening in our lives.

STRESS says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, lack of grace toward others, or our tight grip of control.

The thing is, friends, He really does have it all under control. And I actually don’t even WANT that kind of responsibility. Especially not when it comes to an international adoption. If I honestly thought this whole thing depended on ME, I’d lose my mind at some point. During one of our first conversations, I told the liaison from our placing agency, “I’m actually ecstatic that God is the one in control of all of this.” Now, please just keep saying that back to me for the next 9-12 months!!

Psalm One Million and One

Thanks for stopping by! I’ve added a couple pages of FAQs, both The Head and The Heart.  In part because I love any chance to reference this fantastically amazing group of music makers that hail from Seattle, but also because I think there are sort of two different aspects to all of this.  There are the basic logistical issues (which are actually far from basic), and then there is an emotional piece that factors in to everything.

This week has been an emotional roller coaster. I know it sounds crazy but I almost FEEL pregnant, at least in the sense that I’m experiencing my typical first trimester symptoms; namely, absolute exhaustion and emotional chaos. At least I’m not peeing every 30 minutes!  We had the high of feeling so much love and support when we publicly announced we were “expecting,” to the low of not everyone being as excited as we are (which was expected, and even understood, but still surprisingly painful).  Then we found out our home study appointment has been bumped up two weeks (to THIS weekend, yikes!), which on one hand is great because it means our process is moving along. On the other hand, there is a whole slew of nerves involved in someone coming into your home to make a judgment on whether or not you are good parents. We received updated pictures (taken THIS weekend, oh my stars) of our little man, and I can’t tell you how my heart somersaulted looking at those.  But the same day brought devastating news about another family in the adoption process. So our week, I guess, mirrored real life, in that it was all over the place.

I think when I was younger I thought there would come a time when this stopped – that I would finally have “figured it out” and everything would be even-keeled and good (or at least consistent) all the time.  I’m finding now that even if my life is in a really good place, I’ll still experience these modulations – it’s part of who we are. I think that’s why I love the Psalms so much.  You get real, raw emotion – both glorious highs and desparate lows — that mirror the human condition, which is anything but one note. You read about the psalmists’ joys and victories, but you also feel the agony of his disillusionment and defeat. And that’s okay.  I’ve finally stopped waiting for my life to feel good ALL of the time – I just try to find joy in the present. Somehow, someway. I’m usually terrible at it, honestly.  I think I’m a whiner by nature. 🙂   But I’m working at it, and it really has been a salve to my soul.

Last spring I took part in something called Redemption Group with Soma Tacoma (the concept originally started with Mars Hill Seattle and trickled south to the City of Destiny).  I can honestly say that those several weeks fundamentally changed how I view my identity in light of the gospel.  I am so thankful to the people (and their families – it’s a huge sacrifice) who work hard to make it happen each session.   At the end of your session, everyone writes their own Psalm.  Each psalm is so beautiful and nuanced and honest, and collectively the individual psalms tell such an amazing Story.  I wish I could share each one, so you could taste some of that beauty.  But for what it’s worth, here is mine. This is my song. . .

(I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind…I can’t escape Elton).

 

Psalm 1 million and 1

 (A psalm like all others before it, not worthy of my Father’s ear, but listened to and treasured just the same, because of His great Love)

Father God, the hem of your robe fills the room and I play beneath it

I am not overwhelmed

Pure joy fills my heart as I bask in my Father’s attention

I am surrounded by Your mercy and encased by Your love

You watch in joyful contentment, and delight in the most basic of my accomplishments

I am Yours, I am safe, I am loved

 

But like Eve, I want what I cannot have

I am not satisfied with what you offer

I begin to believe that I alone am enough and my strength comes from within

Instead of thanking you for my blessings

I resent what You do not give

I am lost, I am alone, I am unrepentant

 

And yet You will not let me go

I pry Your grip from my arm finger by Holy finger

And yet You will not let me go

I spit in Your face and blaspheme Your glorious name

And yet You will not let me go

I am angry, I am defiant, I am arrogant

 

But You, O Lord, You fight for me like a lion

With bravery and honor I can’t possibly deserve

You are unmoved by my anger and unafraid of my threats

You allow me to thrash until exhaustion, then gently pull me close

Give up, come home, and meet Jesus, You tell me

I am tired, I am thankful, I am ready

 

You whisper a song into my ear and the Spirit carries it to my heart

I burn with passionate fire and hope shines from my eyes

Shouting your praises from the rooftops, I look like a fool

My people do not understand, but I am too enamored to care

I revel in our relationship and desire to know You more

I am hungry, I am eager, I am new

 

But O Lord my God, mother Eve’s lineage runs deep

And her deception is so embedded in my flesh that it feels alive

I fight against it, but I simply cannot win

I would rather betray You than give up part of myself

So many lies surround me and I lose my grip on the Truth

I am weak, I am ashamed, I am weary

 

Do not give up on me, King of all people

Rescue me from my disbelief once more

I have known Your mercy and felt the power of Your steadfast love

I long to drink deeply from Your endless water

You, O Lord, are the only thing that is real

I am sorry, I am grateful, I am Yours

 

Daughters of Zion, hear what I am saying

Heirs to the throne, do not ignore my cry

Listen to the voice of your Father shouting

You are wanted

You are wonderful

You are worthy