A Holt adoptive mom shares helpful tips for how to handle the wait for your child to come home.
by Sarah Zopfi Hubbard, Louisville, Kentucky
All of us have experienced waiting. Waiting for dinner to be ready, waiting for the snooze button to go off, or waiting for the workday to be over.
But no amount of practice could have prepared my husband and I for the long, long wait to bring our son home.
We began our adoption journey in September of 2010. After going down several unsuccessful avenues to adopt, we found Holt International. We quickly filled out the paperwork, had our home study reviewed and began our referral process for a baby from South Korea.
We got our first referral on October 20, 2011. There in our emails, we saw a tiny, brown-eyed baby. His chubby cheeks, sweet smile and described personality stole our hearts immediately. Within two weeks of receiving our referral, we accepted it. And we just knew the hardest part was over.
We were wrong.
As new and excited parents, you tend to focus on all the positive aspects of your pending adoption. You think about how you will decorate the baby room, how many baby showers you will have. The fact that you might be waiting for this baby for a very long time doesn’t enter your mind.
Holt informed us from the beginning that we should expect at least a 6-month wait to bring our son home, possibly up to 12 months. So, worst case, we could have him home at about 20 months old.
We didn’t want to think about that long of a wait. But, as each day passed, the length of the wait became more difficult to bear.
After a few months went by, and the holidays rolled around, we found ourselves really wishing our baby was home to celebrate with his family. It was very challenging to watch our families interact with our new nephew, knowing our child was half a world away celebrating with another family.
We realized that waiting for our son to come home would be one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do. Almost every day, we had questions and concerns regarding our son’s health, happiness and
current wait time – and we relied heavily on Lisa Bess and Angie Wharfield in Holt’s Korea program for answers and reassurance.
The staff at Holt did their best to answer our questions, but as international adoptions go, many questions could not be answered with 100 percent certainty. And that was the hardest part to accept.
So, my husband and I began asking for help. We needed ideas to keep us busy while we waited for our precious son to join his forever family. We reached out to our fellow adoptive friends. We reached out to Holt’s Korea blog. And we researched international adoption in books and online.
While we were given many great ideas, there were a few that really made our wait easier. Here are a few ideas we loved:
- Begin making a scrapbook for your child. We called ours a “Lifebook.” It included pictures of our son from birth, some with his foster mother, and we added more once he came home.
- Send care packages with DVDs of you and your family. We made a DVD where we sang nursery rhymes to our son. We can’t be certain if his foster mother played it for him, but we took comfort in knowing he likely would see our faces, and hear our voices.
- Keep a blog for you and your child. You can make daily entries expressing your love and excitement for him/her. Make entries about how you are preparing your house for the baby. How are you feeling about the nursery? What colors are you using? How much will your child love the room? All of these entries can one day be shared with your child. What an exciting gift!
- Write a letter to your child’s foster family. This letter can include general information about you, as well as thanks to the family. We had ours translated into Korean. It was one of my favorite things we did for our son’s foster family.
While it felt like we waited forever for the call to bring our son home, we know some families in process waited even longer. Some waited less time. But that is just the nature of adoption. And you have to go through the experience of waiting to fully understand that.
My message to any family in waiting is this: one day soon, it will all be worth it.
Just when we thought we couldn’t wait another day, Holt called to report he was ready to travel. It was as if our hearts exploded with excitement and joy. And, it sounds very cliché, but it is true…all that painful waiting, longing and aching for our son was over. He was coming home, and that is all that mattered.
We were one of the last families not required to travel to Korea to bring our son home, and when we finally saw him come through the doors of our assigned airport, everything changed. No amount of waiting could change the awesomeness of that moment.
We welcomed our son into our arms on November 19, 2012 – just over a year from his referral acceptance. I will say it was both the longest and grandest year of my life.
We named our son Holden. And he quickly became the light of our lives. His transition from foster family to forever family went very well. But, like most adoptions, we did hit a few bumps in the road early on.
Holden co-slept with his foster mother in Korea, so it took him several weeks to feel comfortable enough to sleep alone. And it took several months for him to go from sleeping on the floor, to sleeping in a crib. Holt staff did an excellent job in preparing us for these types of transitions. They were also a wonderful resource to call upon once we got Holden home.
Holden also was a “food stuffer.” He liked to hold food in his mouth – without swallowing – before taking another bite. This resulted in some eating issues early on. Holt’s support staff put us at ease by sharing with us that many adopted children do this. It is one way they can feel a sense of control when everything around them is changing.
Despite our minor setbacks early on, Holden adjusted perfectly! He worked through all his issues, and remains a healthy, happy child. He is currently enrolled in preschool. He enjoys playing outside, reading books and the cartoon character Thomas the Train.
Every now and then, I think back on our long wait for Holden. And I feel a wave of sadness come over me. I will never forget the worry-filled nights when I wanted nothing more than to wrap my arms around him. I will never forget celebrating birthdays and holidays without him. I will never forget feeling like our wait would never end.
But, I also will never forget the sheer joy I felt when I did finally see my son. The moment I finally got to hold him, smell him and kiss him. That moment? Well, it trumps all.
You can read more about our adoption journey by visiting our blog at: http://hubbardadoption.blogspot.com/