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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Waiting, Still


ChiemSeherin, pixabay

It’s been just over two years. February 2022 marks the month my husband and I submitted our application to commence our journey of adoption.


It’s also been just over two months. In December 2023, the ‘parenthood’ switch was flipped on in our lives, with Baby Z arriving from Vietnam on a dependent’s pass.


Yet, the waiting continues.


As the adoption court process typically spans nine to 12 months, we wait to be recognised – God willing – as Z’s legal parents.



 


Being Present


“The days are long but the years are short” — this I found to be true in caring for Baby Z from when he was 3.5 months of age. Feed, play, diaper, sleep, repeat. In the past two to three months, we have gone through bottle feeding aversion, sleep regression, eczema flare-ups... In many ways, Baby Z is just a typical baby, but some of these challenges frequently prompt my husband to lament: “When can he sleep through the night?” or “I can’t wait for him to be ‘self-propelling’!” (that is,  independently eating and walking).


When we are wrapped up in a difficult phase, it is easy for us to be fixated on getting to the next phase, to escape the problems in our current one. But in all reality, each phase will bring its own set of challenges (as all parents would surely testify!). And this applies not just to handling babies’ developmental growth, but to navigating all of life’s stages, transitions and momentous events.


“When will I ever find a life partner?”

“When is it my turn for a promotion?”

“What is taking the BTO flat so long to be ready?”


We cannot wait to ‘get on with life’ and get to what we perceive as the perks of the next phase compared to the one we are currently in. This restless feeling of being stuck is heightened when we see others seemingly get ahead.


Yes, being in a waiting space can often feel uncomfortable.


As I reflect on some of the long waits in my life, a key lesson I have always tried to live out is to be present to the season I am in. When I was single for a long time, I found joy in serving in my church youth ministry and mentoring young ladies. When I got married in my late 30s and had to go through rounds of fertility checks and treatments, my husband and I took comfort in being able to go on spontaneous dates that are now simply impossible with Z around! 


When we long too much for what’s ahead, we rob ourselves of savouring little joys in our present state.

We essentially get to choose what we want to fix our eyes on. When we choose to keep our eyes off of comparisons with others and focus on what is right in front of us, the waiting can be that much more bearable, even enjoyable.



Being Still


And so, as I fix my eyes on this growing bundle of joy called Z, friends have asked me — how does it feel like to be a mother? In all honesty, I do not quite know how to answer as I cannot fully identify with being a mother. Right now, I do very much enjoy the practical expressions of caregiving for Z and being rewarded with his smiles and gurgles. Yet, it feels like I am just caring for a really adorable baby, not necessarily my son. 


As I reflected and dug deeper, here is a sample of what had been percolating beneath the surface:

  • I instinctively define a mother as one who has gone through the sacrificial pain of labour and sleepless nights of breastfeeding. And so, not having gone through these rites of passage, I am not ‘fully’ a mother.

  • Being an adoptive mother, I do not have the privilege of seeing a ‘mini-me’ in my arms (although many say that Z amazingly looks like my husband!). Pictures of friends' children reinforce this ideal.

  • There is a fear of rejection and of not being “good enough” — that Z may not respond well to my discipline and concomitantly, a concern that I may then become too permissive. 

Social comparisons, ideals, insecurities — these have an uncanny ability to resurface in various relational contexts throughout life, besides motherhood. And like persistent weeds, they need to be dealt with decisively at the core instead of being allowed to fester. 


This being the Lenten season, I’ve been reminded of this timeless saying from the Bible: I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels - a plentiful harvest of new lives (John 12:24). 

Death produces life. 

To more fully embrace my identity as a mother, I find God’s invitation to ‘put to death’ the following ‘weeds’ in my heart:

  • Disappointment at not having experienced pregnancy (although this is mixed with relief as I am such a baby when it comes to pain). I must grieve the loss if I need to, and then step into the fullness of adoption, which mirrors the very heart of God towards us!

  • Unhelpful definitions of what makes a mother. Rewrite them based on the biblical truth of the precious privilege of stewarding a child’s life, with a mature love that is not contingent on Z’s approval.

  • Pride and perfectionism. Create room for the love of God to be an anchor for my soul to overturn my self-judgments of not being “good enough”.


While I am waiting, still, for the adoption court process to be complete, I commit to waiting with my heart still and present to all that God is doing to form my inner being as a mother. I may perhaps find these nine months of waiting for the courts to be pregnant with God’s redemptive and transforming power; and that He will help me love Z fearlessly and selflessly, as He loves Z, and me.


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