Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Truth About Being "Paper Pregnant"

Recently Beth posted an article about baby fever. I can relate. I’ve been “expecting a child” for a year and a half now. They say that the homestudy and the paperchasing of adoption is like the first trimester of pregnancy. Being on the waiting list is like the second trimester. And of course, from referral to home is the agonizing third trimester.

I’ve been paper pregnant/on the waiting list for just three months, and I have a long way to go until we’re one big happy family. But I thought I would compare this adoption pregnancy to my first (biological) pregnancy…

First, adoption is so much different than being pregnant. (Yes, I realize I’m lucky to have been pregnant and have a healthy biological child.) Pregnancy is physically challenging; adoption is emotionally challenging. When you’re pregnant, every month brings a new physical ailment. Morning sickness is followed by the foreign feeling of belly kicks, then your back hurts, and you never can seem to get a good night’s sleep, etc. But each new ailment is reassurance that you’re making progress, and soon your child will be here.

Also, you can’t miss your growing belly, and everyone can see that you’re expecting a baby. Being paper pregnant, no one looks at you adoringly and says, “When are you due?” If you’re shopping for baby stuff at Target, people probably assume you’re buying a shower gift (and gasp, you’re not holding the registry list!).  I find myself trying to casually work it into conversations that “we’re in the process of adopting”. How lame! I don’t even know why I do this! Perhaps I just want to spread the word about adoption. Or more likely, I just want people to know that we’re expecting another child, which is incredibly exciting for us.

When you’re pregnant, you know to a certain degree when your baby will be in your arms at last. Based on this timeline, you know when to start decorating the nursery. You know your deadline for finishing the parenting and birthing books. You can even plan ahead for vacations and holidays for after the baby comes! What a luxury!

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Being paper pregnant, none of this is possible. There’s no sonogram to tell you how far along you are and how many more weeks you have left. Even if you wanted to know, you might not know the gender until your referral. Avoiding coffee and taking prenatal vitamins won’t do your baby any good. So for control freaks who need to do something – anything – to feel that they are controlling the process…Beware.

You also don’t know how old your child will be. Even a range of 0-24 months presents about 5 or 6 different sizes of clothes – so filling a closet with adorable clothes is just foolish until you get your referral. (Unless, of course, the clothes you are buying are on clearance and you’ve promised your husband you will buy only 2T and up clothes for your child who will be 2 years or younger…) And if your age range is even larger, how on earth can you get the room ready? Crib or bed? Farm animals or super heroes? (Fortunately, my ambitions can live on Pinterest for now...)

Here's the worst part: I honestly (and foolishly) thought adopting would be easier than pregnancy.

But 18 months in and many more months to go, I am so glad we chose this path.


  1. Oh girl I am linking to this. This is awesome. I have never been bio pregnant but I love the contrasts. So good.

  2. Totally on board with so many things within this post! We've been called to adopt first, and cannot compare this experience to a bio pregnancy. We've been DTE 8 months now, and applied to our agency 18 months before that! Talk about a looooong pregnancy and we have no idea the end date (or even ballpark!) :) It's hard to get "outsiders" to understand our excitement about "expecting". I thank you for putting so many of our thoughts and feelings in perfect words!!!

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  4. Hi Lindsey,
    I don't want to freak you out and I don't know where you are adopting from but I just want to tell you don't buy any clothes for your sweet little one until they are home because I don't want what has happened to us happen to you. We are adopting a baby boy from Ethiopia. We recieved our referral in May of 2011. We were told we would bring him home in approximately 4 to 6 months from referral. He is still not home because of a hold up on our documents. Sometimes things happen for whatever reason only God knows that can dramatically change the timing. We have now been waiting 11 months since referral and we still don't have an approval to bring him home. He has out grown 2 sizes of clothes we had bought for him. We still are not sure when he will be home but we pray sometime soon. What I want you to learn from this is not to pay any attention to timelines because it may or may not consume you and frustrate you. Everything is in God's timing.

  5. Oh, how frustrating, Sarah. I'm so sorry. I'll be sure to send up a prayer for your family. And thank you for reminding us of just how unpredictable adoption can be.

  6. theflanneryfamilyApril 11, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    Thank you for sharing, Lindsay! I casually bring up "we're in the process of adopting a baby" thing in conversation too... I can totally relate to all that you shared in this post. Praying so much for you guys as you wait. It's been pretty encouraging to see families withing our agency moving quickly through court and embassy and I'm realizing I'd rather do the waiting now than later, it's still hard though!

  7. 3 bio kids here, 2 via adoption.
    with neither you have control. it's an illusion. and a delusion.
    both are miraculous and mysterious and amazing.
    oh, and both are really hard in their own ways.
    hang in there as you are stuck in TheWaitingRoom.