Do you remember the part of the movie European Vacation where Chevy Chase and his family are in the car stuck on a round-about in London. He keeps saying, "Look, kids, Big Ben!" That is how the emotional cycle of waiting for this referral has been--a seemingly endless round-about, where I experience the same emotions over an over with no end in sight. Eventually, we, like the Griswold's will move out of the round-about, but I don't know when.
Here is the cycle:
Anticipation/Excitement: These are the moments when I'm on the top of the world. The approval letter stating the "in approximately 2 months" I will see our son's face. The moment at just over 3 months waiting for the referral when we hear that there is a good chance of the referral coming that week. The day we get first hand confirmation that our files are ready to be given to us and seemingly nothing is keeping it from happening this week.
These were all moments, when despite my better judgement, I let myself believe this might really happen now.
Disappointment: As we were walking through the zoo the other day, I told Chris, that the one emotion that this adoption made me realize I had never truly experienced is disappointment. True, deep-down disappointment. The kind that only comes when you want something with your whole heart, genuinely think it is going to happen, and then get let down. And then repeat the process, again and again. Those of you reading this surely think, "Why doesn't she just know to guard her emotions--to keep herself from getting her hopes up?" Easier said than done. Intellectually, I can tell myself all day not to get hopeful at each new week, but as Blaise Pascal said, "The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of."
At a low point, I decided to cheer myself up by reading a light classic from my childhood and I picked up Anne of Green Gables. This optimistic little orphan has this conversation with Marilla:
" 'You set your heart too much on things, Anne,' said Marilla with a sigh. 'I'm afraid there'll be a great many disappointments in store for you through life.'
'Oh, Marilla, looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them,' exclaimed Anne. 'You mayn't get the things themselves but nothing can prevent you from having the fun of looking forward to them. Mrs. Lynde says, 'Blessed are those who expect nothing for the shall not be disappointed.' But I think it would be worse to expect nothing than to be disappointed.'"
I can't agree always, when the disappointment is being felt too strongly, but I do think that there is nothing to do, but follow the inclination to anticipate even if it mean another round of disappointment.
Resignation: This is usually the shortest part of the cycle for me. It is the weeks when we have been told that without a doubt NOTHING can happen this week--the Minister is on a retreat, the person in charge of your file quit, the offices are on holiday, etc. It is not a fun feeling, but at least during these weeks I can avoid compulsive email checking and worrying.
Anger/Annoyance: This is probably the worst stage because it is often unfair to others.
This is where I get annoyed because I'm not getting enough specific information and I start imagining that no one actually cares if our son ever gets out of that orphanage. This is where I get so mad at the seemingly lack of concern that we are a few days short of 4 months of an approximate 2 month wait. Yes, I know, we Americans have an obsession with speed, efficiency, and deadlines not always shared in other parts of the world. But, being an American, I think and feel as an American. Therefore, I get mad--really mad at this.
Let me give you an example, in January, I mailed of 5 proofs of purchase that Brooks had diligently collected from his Star Wars figurines boxes. In 6-8 weeks, we were to receive 2 figurines in the mail. Promptly, at 8 weeks, I received a post card in the mail explaining that they had underestimated demand, apologizing, and naming a new deadline. Did they miss a deadline? Yes. But did they realize it and promptly acknowledge it? Yes. That is what seems to be missing in this equation. The acknowledgement that I might be justifiably miffed at such a long miss of an approximate deadline. I know it will happen. I know they are capable of doing their jobs. I know it isn't a personal slight against myself. I know they have a system. I know it will happen. But feelings are feelings.
Those of you who are parents understand how long a month is in the life and development of a two year old. That is why I get so angry.
Furthermore, I get annoyed, again, not rightfully, but nonetheless, I get annoyed at the lack of empathy possible from those around me. You get the feeling that others are thinking, "Well they signed up for it. Why are they annoyed at it now?" You feel annoyed that the anticipation of your biological child so greatly exceeded the anticipation for this one. You get annoyed that in a group of people when people talk of those who are "expecting" you are never included. You get annoyed that no one seems to understand that the emotional stress exacted on an adoptive family can be as physically draining as pregnancy. Instead of peeing all night, I check email all night! I know my family and friends love me. I know much of this is stress talking, but like I said, feelings are feelings.
Most of all, I get angry and annoyed at myself for not being able to "roll with things" more. I want to be able to just live life and be excited and happy when the referral does come, but it just doesn't seem to be the way I'm programmed.
Round and round and round it goes, where it stops; no one knows!