The holidays are almost here. But while other people are excited and looking forward to their arrival with breathless anticipation, you’re dreading them and looking back.
To this time last year, to be exact.
Remember how powerless you felt as you watched others celebrate the season with their children?
Remember how you felt like you were missing out on something special? That everyone else was having a great time except you?
And remember how you vowed to never go through another holiday season childless and promised you would be a parent by now?
But yet, here you are, one year later, one year older, and still waiting.
What happened? How did another year slip by?
It’s not like you sat around and did nothing. You worked hard. You did so much. And yet looking at your situation today, you would never know it.
Waiting to adopt is difficult any time of the year. But it’s particularly hard now.
This is the time when the pressure builds to make this the best holiday ever. For everything to be just perfect.
But when so much of the season is centered around children and seeing things through their eyes, finding joy can be a challenge.
And yet there are ways to survive the holidays and, yes, to even enjoy them.
Here are some tips to help you.
Remind yourself the holidays are short
For all the pain they cause, the holidays come only once a year and don’t last forever. So enjoy them while you can. Before you know it they’ll be over.
Keep things in perspective
When I was waiting to adopt, I dreaded this time of the year. I couldn’t wait for it to end. That’s because I didn’t see the holidays for what they are: a time to spend time with family and friends and to find joy through giving rather than receiving.
Know your triggers
Does the sight of small children or a pregnant women make you upset? When you see a stroller or a toy store do you feel like bursting into tears? If so, limit your exposure to them. Being aware of what causes you pain can help you control it and make you feel less powerless.
Decide which social occasions to attend and which to avoid
The holiday season is full of social events. But you don’t have to show up at all of them. Be strategic. Yes, put in an appearance at the office party. But skip the one given by your friend with the new baby if you don’t feel up to it.
This is the time of year when parties and small talk reign supreme. So don’t be surprised if you find yourself cornered by someone you’ve never met before and being peppered with questions about how many children you have. Get ahead of the game. Knowing those questions are coming, arm yourself with answers ahead of time.
If you haven’t told your family or friends that you’re struggling to start your family or trying to adopt, now is the time to do it. Sharing your story will take the weight off your shoulders, especially if they keep asking you the same questions about when are you going to have kids. Not to mention there’s a good chance they already know.
If you feel uncomfortable being around children, let your family and friends know
You know your family and friends better than anyone. If you think telling them about how you’re feeling will make them more sensitive toward you, go for it. It won’t solve all your problems. But at least they can’t say they didn’t know. Plus, it’s a great way to get them to join you on your journey.
Connect with other waiting parents
It’s easy to feel isolated and powerless when the holidays are here. But you’re not alone. There are lots of people just like you. Your family and friends may not realize what you’re going through, but other waiting parents will.
Do something special for yourself
Many waiting parents fall into the trap of blaming themselves for their inability to start a family. But it’s not their fault. So don’t beat yourself up. Treat yourself. Give yourself a gift. Get a massage or go away for the weekend. Do something that makes you feel good about yourself
Do something special for someone else
When you’re sad and depressed, it’s easy to lose perspective. But there many people who are also struggling and worse off than you are. Reach out to them with small acts of kindness. Make a donation or volunteer your time. They’ll feel better and so will you.
Keep living your life
Once the holidays are here, it’s tempting to withdraw and do nothing. But putting your life on hold won’t help you reach your goal any faster. Harness the positive energy around you and do something positive that will make a difference in your life or someone else’s.
Keep a journal
The adoption process is like being on an emotional roller coaster. It robs you of control. Writing your thoughts down is a great way to find an outlet for your emotions and get a better understanding about what you’re going through.
Take care of yourself
Adopting a child is hard work. It requires strength and stamina. To stay on top of things, you need to stay strong. Eat well, sleep well, and get regular exercise. Don’t let yourself go. Your baby could come at any time and you want to make sure you’re ready.
We all like to set deadlines. Deadlines keep us focused and give us something to work toward. But keep in mind that in adoption anything can happen. Things can change from one moment to the next. So if you do create a timetable, be prepared to adjust it.
Take a break
You’ve worked hard all year to turn your dream into a reality. So why not use the down time to reward yourself with a break. You won’t lose out on anything. And there’s lots to gain. Taking time off will help you recharge your batteries, letting you slide into the New Year with renewed energy and confidence.
Take pride in your accomplishments
When you’re waiting to adopt, it’s easy to dwell on what you haven’t achieved. But don’t lose sight of the things that you have accomplished over the past 12 months. Whether it was completing your home study, finding an agency, creating your adoption profile or joining an adoptive parent support group, you’re probably a lot further ahead now than you were at this time last year.
Try new things
Nothing will take your mind off things and motivate you more than taking on a new project. If you’ve ever wanted to learn a new language, take up the piano, join a pottery class, or give pilates a try, now is the time to do it. You’ll feel energized. And the time will go by faster too.
Embrace the uncertainty
Some adoption matches happen right away, others take more time. So don’t get angry if everyone else seems to be adopting before you. Adoption isn’t a competition and it’s not about who can find the fastest match. Your child will join you when the time is right and all of the waiting you’ve done will be worth it.
The holidays can be a difficult time when you’re waiting to adopt. But with the right attitude and preparation you can get through them in one piece and make the most of them. Just keep going, keep busy and follow these three words of advice: don’t give up. Here’s hoping you have a great holiday!
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