The Stages of a "Paper Pregnancy"

Some people refer to adoption as a "paper pregnancy." I prefer to liken it to an elephant pregnancy, because the wait between conception (applying to an agency) and having your child in your arms is so long. The following is my theory on how an adoption resembles an actual pregnancy:


The paperwork stage can be equated with the first trimester of pregnancy, except it usually lasts several months more than that. This stage can induce some of the same symptoms of pregnancy (nausea, dizziness, etc.), such is the vast quantity of documents needed to be assembled in order to create an adoption dossier. Added to the stress of having to amass such a giant pile of documents is the fact you are bound by a time constraint, as most of these documents expire after a period of time. In a Kazakhstan adoption, for example, documents in a dossier can be no more than 3 months old by the time of submission to the embassy. It doesn't help that sometimes you are waiting on one document to be able to get another one. It is a juggling act that can get the best of the most patient and organized of us.


The waiting period after being approved can be compared to the second trimester in the sense that not too much is happening above the surface. Pregnant moms usually feel much better, and so do adoptive parents. We allow ourselves to relax a little bit, to start dreaming in more concrete terms about our babies. Some people even begin buying items for their child. The difference is that for an adoptive parent, the 'second trimester' can last for years.


Finally, an adoptive parent's third trimester begins when you are informed that you are 'getting close' to the top of a waiting list, or that there are a particular number of families waiting to travel before you do (not every adoptive family goes through this last stage. We didn't).


Labor begins the moment you get that big call, the call that tells you there is a child somewhere in the world waiting for you. In our case, we were given 10 days' notice to travel to Kostanai, Kazakhstan. It wasn't just a matter of packing up some clothes and heading to the airport (or in the case of a biological pregnancy, the hospital). Of course not! That would just be way too easy!


There were months' worth of bills to pay, doctors to contact, inoculations and prescriptions to get, visas to apply to, travel agents to call, and a number of other was a blur of activity! After the initial shock of the call, I went into auto mode until we received our visas just three days before we were due to travel. Seeing all that Cyrillic script on my passport really brought the reality of what was about to happen to mind. We were about to embark on the journey of a lifetime, and we had absolutely no clue what to expect!


(Continues next Sunday)


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  • This is one of the most beautiful "pregnancy" stories ever! I remember it like it was yesterday. Can't wait to hear more!

  • This entry made me laugh & cry. Just wondering, Khadine- did you let my mom know about your writing for Ay, Mama? She'll be very interested in your sharing/ experience/etc. :)

  • Mi gust

  • Khadine- I like your analogy. I am sure many adoptive parents appreciate the chance to liken their waiting experience to that of pregnant parents. By the way, I am bringing on a co-blogger to Portrait of An Adoption who is trying to adopt internationally. I am sure she will read your story with great interest!

  • Tremendo analisis de las etapas del embarazo y compararlas con el proceso de una adopcion. Nunca lo habia visto asi. Muy buen escrito. Sigue ayudando a otros a pasar por el proceso. Liza Hernandez, San Juan, Puerto Rico

  • Creo que a todas nos interesa saber sobre el proceso de adoption, pues cada pa

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