Then you realize that you still have countless hoops to jump through.
There are so many things that other couples take for granted that an adoptive couple simply can't. The list is probably extensive, but for our family the immediate concerns are bonding, relocation and preparing to adopt once more.
Bonding is generally easier for "normal" couples as they are able to do so with each other and the baby throughout the pregnancy. It's not as natural for an adoptive couple because they aren't able to experience the pregnancy first hand or get to know the baby's personality while he/she is still in the womb. While they can share their excitement about the baby with friends and family like a "normal' couple, they tend to be a bit reserved as there is always the fear in the back of their minds that the match or placement will fall through. Even after you're settled at home with your new bundle of joy, bonding doesn't exactly come easy.
I couldn't love JT any more if I had given birth to him, but I did struggle a bit with bonding. The first few weeks after we got home and got back into our routines were the hardest. At random times of the day, I would feel awkward when cuddling or kissing him, like I shouldn't be doing so. The best way to describe it was that I felt like I was simply babysitting him and not mothering him. It was an extremely unpleasant and unwelcome feeling. All I kept thinking was that we had finally completed a year and a half long journey and I just wanted to enjoy our sweet baby boy. Thankfully, those feelings have subsided and I no longer feel like JT's babysitter. I am his Mommy and he knows the sound of my voice and recognizes my face. When he smiles at me, my heart melts!
Our current concern involves a possible relocation in the near future. Shane applied for a career broadening position a few months ago. We really weren't expecting anything to come of it but we knew he had to apply or we'd always wonder "what if." As it turns out, they are interested in him and we are just waiting on an official job offer now. While we are excited about the opportunity it presents for our family's future, there are a few adoption-related obstacles we'll have to deal with in order to move. We'll have to go through the ICPC process all over again and once we're settled, we'll have to do another home study. We can't finalize JT's adoption here until he's been in our home for 6 months. There's a good chance that we'll be moving before that so we'll basically have to start from scratch in the new state. We won't be able to finalize there either until JT's a year which kind of stinks since we'd only have to wait 3 more months here. The one positive thing about having to redo our home study is that it's valid for 2 years in the new state whereas it's only good for 1 year here. It will be one less hoop we have to jump through when we're ready to start the adoption process for Mason and JT's baby sister.
Preparing to adopt again is probably our biggest hurdle. Unlike a typical couple whose biggest hurdles are making the decision to grow their family and how far apart in age they would prefer their children to be, it's a bit more complicated for us. As I blogged about in a previous post, adoption can be quite expensive. We've already begun saving, and with any luck the adoption tax credit will once again be made refundable which would allow us to adopt a baby girl sooner rather than later. If not though, it will be a while before we have the funds to move forward. Once again, we'll have to play the waiting game and hope and pray that we are chosen by a couple as fabulous as M & A. I know in my heart that if it's meant to be, it will all work out. Afterall, JT wouldn't be here with us otherwise!
I guess we're just so good at jumping through hoops that God decided to throw a few more at us to keep us on our toes. I'll gladly continue to jump through them if it means we get to enjoy watching our boys grow and add a bouncing baby girl to our family as well :D