After the wait is over…

 

For years John and I waited to become parents.

We waited to see what God had in store for us.

When we decided God was calling us to adopt, we waited to find out who our child would be.

Then, when we had finally seen our first son’s picture, we waited to meet him.

Now, when I say, “we waited,” you might be imagining us smiling patiently as we walk through a field of wildflowers, or sitting peacefully in a church pew. Perhaps you picture me gardening or painting watercolors or knitting sweaters.

That’s not quite how it was—and not just because my mother has given up trying to teach me how to knit.

Many nights I couldn’t sleep. I would lie in bed thinking about how our son was awake on the other side of the world. What would his day be like? Was he getting enough to eat? Was he healthy? Was he loved? Did he know we were coming?

I remember feeling a bit tense, as if at any moment someone would call and say, “You need to fly to China tomorrow. Your son needs you.”

As the wait dragged on and on, I remember how emotional I became. I could cry on the spot, especially as the months passed and we still had no idea when we would travel.

Eleven months plodded along between the time we first saw Leo’s face and the day we flew to China to meet him. And those 11 months were longer than any 11 months before then or since. I realized during that time how impatient I could be.

I looked blankly at all the kind-hearted people who suggested that John and I should eat out, go away for the weekend, and enjoy our time just as a couple. Didn’t they understand? We had been doing that for years. We were ready for parenthood.

And then an amazing thing happened.

We met our son.

We held him in our arms.

And from those very first days with our new son, I realized why we had waited.

God wasn’t preparing us for parenthood. He was preparing our son to join our family. And he was teaching me that I needed to learn to trust Him—and His timing.

When Leo walked into that office in China that day to meet us, he was timid. He was afraid. He was sad. He was confused. But I also believe he was more ready than he would have been a few months sooner.

His loving foster mother had been preparing him to meet us. She had shown him pictures and told him everything she could about us and the new life he would experience.

And, although we had been yearning to hold Leo in our arms since the day we first saw his picture—and even before—we met him at exactly the right moment for him.

As much as a 2-year-old can understand about the biggest life change he will ever experience, Leo understood what was happening that day. And so he was able to grieve, and he was able to bond. And we could begin our lives together as a family.

Our journey to meet Daniel was different. I was still not particularly patient, but I was more trusting. I realized that the wait was not about me.

I knew that as much as my arms ached to hug a little boy living in an orphanage in China, he was not missing me. God held him in His hands. I didn’t worry that Daniel was growing up without us. I knew he was experiencing an important chapter of his life. And I prayed he was also being prepared for the next one.

As it turned out, Daniel was not prepared at all for our arrival—at least not by the kind people who cared for him. They said they didn’t want to upset him, so they didn’t tell him what was going to happen. Fortunately, someone else was preparing him—while also preparing us. And so, when we met him, Daniel was ready to be our son, and we were ready to be his parents.

Were our boys worth the wait? Oh, absolutely.

And so was the wait itself.

I absolutely believe God has used that time—twice—to help me grow as a mother. 

But I will also admit that it’s much easier to see the benefits in waiting after the wait is over.

Because the best part of waiting was knowing it would end, and that our children would soon be in our arms, our home, and our family—forever.

Joining Theology Is a Verb and Reconciled to You for Worth Revisit Wednesday on Oct. 14, 2015.

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.