November 5th, Disappointment


Disappointment. This isn’t a joyful word to reflect on. This weekend I sat watching R play on the deserted beach on a crisp fall morning and I thought back to the times before R- when disappointment was a part of my everyday that l learned to manage.

To the moms who are waiting to be matched- this too shall pass. The disappointment will fade.

In the beginning there was disappointment when I would take a pregnancy test. Adoption was always a viable option for us. I don’t remember being sad or devastated or heartbroken. But most definitely disappointed.

I was disappointed that I was not any closer to becoming a mom. I really wanted to be a mother.

Most of the disappointments pre R were wrapped up in all of the times I was so ready to be a mom, and all of the times I had to hang on a little longer.

Managing my disappointment on a daily basis while we waited to be matched with an expectant mother was not easy.

Here’s how the day would go: I would wake up with the first thought being: Today could be the day the phone will ring! Maybe today is the day I will meet my baby!

It was always such a hopeful way to start the day. There would be a pep in my step. I would smile dwelling in the possibility. Relishing the possibilities my day had in store. There was always a mixture of excitement and joy and the unknown was thrilling. There was a lot of adrenaline. That got really hard to maintain really quickly. These thoughts would be even more pervasive in my mind if it was a particular stressful day at work or if there was something I really didn’t want to do. I had hopes that the phone call would whisk me away from my reality. As the day wore on I would get more obsessive. I would stare at the phone WILLING it to ring. Everyday around 4 o’clock- I would begin to resign myself to the fact that it probably wasn’t going to happen that day….And then disappointment would set in. My body would wilt, it would take 3 times as much energy to get anything done, and I would get so tired. So. Tired. And lonely. I would feel so lonely and isolated- it’s not something you really want to share with your work colleagues or friends. I was embarrassed and disappointed that I let myself get carried away again. But how could I not let myself get carried away?

And so I’d travel home-looking at pregnant women on the train so envious that they knew when their baby was coming. For me, it was another day of not knowing. Boy was it exhausting.

When we were matched the first time I remember sitting on the curb in Park Slope. I felt so many incredible things in that moment- but a huge part was relief. Relieved that I didn’t have to have another day with the cycle of disappointment. That first match ended up being a failed match, Leading to devastation. Far more depleting than disappointment.

I believe I was put on God’s green earth to be an advocate for speaking about adoption in an educated way and a huge part of this comes from wanting to be an advocate for my son. So, it’s hard to admit that there have been plenty of times when I’ve been disappointed in myself for not speaking openly and authentically on the subject.

Here’s the general idea of when disappointment has struck:

Every time I have not responded or said something to correct someone else’s language around adoption.

Each time I shy away from answering a question in direct way.

Or when someone says something “jokingly” about my son’s adoption story, or worse, about his race, and I say nothing.

When I don’t correct even the closest of friends and family members who refer to R’s first mother as his mother. The time to correct is now. Do I wish I didn’t have to remind those closest to us to use the adoption language we’ve been modeling for over 2 years? Sure. But I’m disappointed that because I want to avoid an awkward few seconds I don’t advocate for my son and who the people in his life are.

I’m disappointed when words get stuck in my throat when strangers tell R he’s so lucky.

I’m disappointed when people share stories of failed adoptions from long ago when laws were different in front of R and me and I don’t take the time to talk about adoption law or how things have changed. Yes- it’s a teachable moment, but it’s about more than that- it’s about what R deserves and it’s what I should always demand for my child.

He deserves more and as his mother it is my job to speak up and speak out. I am working at this. I don’t want to be disappointed in myself, nor do I want R to be disappointed in me for not being his fiercest ally and advocate.

There was this other time when I was so deeply disappointed in myself that it makes my stomach turn. R was playing on the couch and E and I were talking about life, plans, finances, adoption. I know we were talking about money how much we were saving, etc and so on. I said, “well, if we didn’t have to adopt….” I quite literally gasped when I heard what came out of my mouth.

Ouch. What an awful thing to say.

I’m sure I was talking the high fees involved in adoption. But what an awful horrible thing to say.

“If we didn’t have to adopt”. I was so deeply disappointed in myself for saying such an ugly phrase.

If we didn’t “have” to adopt I would not have my son. If we didn’t “have” to adopt I would be so much less. It also suggests so much what I speak out against- the assumption that adoption is less of a choice and more of a last resort. Not my finest moment.

But the thing about disappointment is it can be changed into something else. Disappointment means that there is somewhere to go. There’s work to be done and if we do the work disappointment can morph into something good.

My disappointment over a negative pregnancy test turned to hope when we decided to adopt.

My disappointment each day when the phone didn’t ring turned to anticipation when we were matched with R’s birth mom.

All of the times being disappointed in myself when I didn’t speak up or say the right thing has led me to be brave and TO speak up.

The disappointment I felt when I said what I did to my husband led me to stop and reflect on my own role in perpetuating stigmas about adoption.

One last thought b/c why not:

I’m disappointed that there’s not a different word for when people adopt an animal. It just stinks that it’s not a different word. We “adopted” a dog. I hope to “adopt” another dog. But I also adopted my son. I don’t know it just seems strange it’s the same word. I’m disappointed in the English language I guess.

Not a great ending. It’s Sunday. Better to write messy than to not write at all.