Looking at my life as a whole, I’ve had very little experience when it comes to waiting. I don’t know the pain of unmet desires for a spouse. I don’t know the pain of infertility. I don’t know the pain of waiting for a deployed parent to come home or the pain of waiting for a steady job. But I do know the pain of waiting for adoption.
I remember the exact moment that I first experienced a strong desire to adopt. I was 17, in India, and sitting on a concrete floor. A young girl, Sunita, usually so playful and rambunctious, sat on my lap weeping. In her broken English she cried, “Me no have parents.” My stomach was in knots, and my waiting began.
My husband was completely on board about adoption when we got married. However, we were really young newlyweds and needed a few years until we could meet India’s age requirements. During those years of waiting, I had two beautiful sons. They are such gifts, and to a degree they distracted me from the wait (having my second prolonged it a little bit, as it’s recommended to not start when you still have a newborn). Yet it didn’t erase my intense longing to adopt. Finally, on my 27th birthday, we filled out our application.
The process to adopt from India typically takes 2-3 years*. Outside of some frustrating delays during our home study, the timeline has been moving as expected. On June 28th, we received the referral for our daughter. As any adoptive parent can attest, the joy we felt that day was surreal and overwhelming. But then time slowed down. Somehow the past 10 weeks have felt longer than the previous 11 years.
The wait after accepting a referral from India is 12-18 months. So far, it seems close to unbearable. There are days that I wake up and almost feel physical pain like my heart is being crushed. On other days there is a heavy lump in the back of my throat, refusing to be swallowed and begging for the floodgates to open. The difference between waiting for a hypothetical child, and waiting for your child is incomparable.
I have a daughter! A daughter who is half way around the world. I have already missed her first smile, her first steps, her first words. When she’s sick, I can’t hold her. When she’s sad, I can’t comfort her. I don’t know her favorite foods. I don’t know what scares her or what makes her laugh. There is nothing I can do for this little girl that I love so much.
The wait feels so arbitrary. We were matched, it was approved, why another 12-18 months? Yet I know that God’s plans are never arbitrary. That His ways are beyond my comprehension. And I know there is purpose behind the pain of waiting.
Some purposes are easily recognizable. I know that as I wait, God is teaching me to trust Him more deeply. I know that as I cry and yearn to hold my child, God is reminding me that His ever-present, ever-loving arms are holding her. I know that as I desperately pray over her, God is reminding me that I only have the illusion of control over my sons, and that I should be praying just as desperately on their behalf. But with as important as these lessons are, I think He’s teaching me something deeper. Countless circumstances can teach joy amidst trials and trust amidst heartache. But there are unique lessons that can only be found in waiting.
As I experience the pain of waiting for my daughter, I am reminded of the One for whom my soul truly waits. I am waiting for the King of Glory, waiting to dwell with my Risen Savior. Caught up in this life, I too easily forget the ultimate unification for which I wait. I’m often too distracted to feel the yearning that resides in the depths of my heart for the Only One who can satisfy my soul. The daily trial of waiting for my daughter, has been a daily reminder that I’m waiting for my Lord.
I can’t even begin to imagine the heights of emotions I will feel when I finally take her into my arms. Yet I do know this: the overflow of joy culminating after years of anticipation, will be but a glimpse of what’s to come. When I finally see Him. Someday, it will be to His arms that I run, and it will be His nail-scarred hands that hold me. Someday, I will finally be face-to-face with the One who paid the greatest price to welcome me into His family.
*Wait times have been decreasing and are now typically 18-24 months.