Adoption is difficult. There are countless steps, and the paperwork is never ending. Lucky for me, Amy organizes all of that. The waiting is even harder. I am "lucky" so to speak. I "manage" my emotions by simply turning them on or off. It is quite controllable for me. If I am feeling anxious - I can flip the switch. Turn it off... Maybe watch a game. If I feel sad - turn it off. Go play with the boys... In reality, I still feel the emotions, but I am really good at pushing them down so that I can do other things.
Waiting, for a father during the adoption process is probably different that a mother. I would wake up, go to work, come home, eat dinner and play with the boys and that was it. Next day, the same. I could get through the waiting by focusing on my life and my responsibilities. Then again, I am a big picture kind of person. My wife is not. She is a DETAIL person. I know this made waiting more difficult. She physically felt each step. Waiting for a step to be completed physically hurt her. She knew there was a little boy waiting for her half way around the world. She literally fought each day to complete a step and start a new one - because, that is just one more day in an orphanage. One more day during the time in Tucker's life where he is able to learn the most, in the shortest amount of time. In other words, at 2 years old, he is in a developmental period where he can flourish. For Amy, the race was on. Not only was the developmental time precious, but how is it ok for a little child to go to bed without a mommy or daddy? Unexplainable...
In reality, (and I will probably get in trouble for writing this) half the battle is supporting your spouse's emotion. In my opinion, Dads, it is our responsibility to keep it together. Tell your wife that everything will be ok. It is ok to show the emotion from time to time to let her know she isn't alone in this. But, don't let her see you down too often. It will be difficult to wait, and you will get frustrated. But, you need to keep it together. Give her someone to vent to. Let her cry on your shoulder. Reassure her that everyone is doing there job and eventually each process will be completed. Pick up the slack around the house because you know she's done the majority for years!
Back to the title. There will be more stress, but that is manageable. Chances are, you have already started feeling what I would call the real pain. When you consider adoption, you have already opened your heart and mind to the reality of the orphan. There is a sadness there beyond description. I automatically think of my two year old and my five year old. When we say prayers to God to thank Him for what He has done for us, both of them start the same way. Your kids might begin like this. YOU might say something like this... "Thank you for Mommy, Daddy, and Noah/Liam" (depending on who is praying). Sometimes they will say things like "thank you for our family", or "thank you for our home". I remember as a small child being scared in my room. I would be terrified of a shadow or something like that. If dad or mom came in, the fear was instantly gone. I knew I would be fine because they would protect me. I was never scared that I wouldn't get enough to eat, because they always made sure I had enough. I was never cold - our house was always warm. I wasn't alone. They loved me and so did my sister. They taught me EVERYTHING and so did she.
The VERY most important thing to me in the world is my family. This poor little guy has never had one. I think of how worried I get when Liam's fever spikes. How closely we monitor him over the next few days. We get his medicine, cool him with a cloth. Take him to the doctor. Monitor his eating and drinking. Can that be done in an orphanage setting? That's when the worry sets in. What if he's hungry. What if he falls down. If he's sad, will someone hold him? The truth is, it depends on the orphanage. And that is the hardest part... The knowledge that these needs are not being met. And the number of orphans is staggering. 153 million. Roughly half of the US population. This isn't a post to tell you that you need to adopt. Chances are, if you are reading this, you found it because you are an adoptive father. So back to the topic. I will list some of the painful parts, and then you will see the miracle.
1.) the reality of orphans
2.) knowing "your" orphan is just waiting for you
3.) mountains of paperwork
4.) the amount of wasted time in the process is astounding!!
5.) managing emotions within the family as this can be a volatile time
6.) answering the question "how much longer until you leave"
7.) worrying about the impact to other children in your household
8.) EVERYTHING in your life has to stop in order to proceed with an international adoption as you will be required to travel.
9.) many times in the first days, and probably many other times, your child won't even like you - or so it seems...
1.) unbelievable outpour of support by friends and family (it can be hard to accept the generosity, but accept it). God has arranged for others to help you. Let them. This can be hard for men.
2.) seeing your son for the first time - wow. Just like the delivery room. Disbelief, overwhelming gratitude, and pride.
3.) sitting with your son the first time he hears a prayer or a song about Jesus. Literally the very first time :) This introduction will last a lifetime - and then some...
Hang in there. Do your part. Support the team. Change a life FOREVER.