Having been blessed to have personally experienced a pregnancy/birth and now an adoption, I can't help but see how similar the process is... well, except for the timing.
A full term pregnancy is 40 weeks (9 months and 1 week). This adoption will be full term at 168 weeks (3 years, 2 months and 30 days... but who's counting?). For those of you curious, I now have a gestation period longer than an elephant, which is a hair under two years.
When I first discovered I was pregnant I was surprised, excited, nervous and overjoyed all at the same time. When we signed our agency agreement (on our anniversary in 2009), we were not surprised, but definitely excited, nervous and overjoyed.
In the first trimester of pregnancy, I felt a little sick, tired and was trying not to worry that the baby would make it safely to the second trimester. The first six months of our adoption journey, we had to compile a dossier- which is a fancy word for big stack of papers exposing every single thing you or any relative has done or thought of in their lifetime, signed and notarized. Oh, plus getting fingerprinted. That process had me tired, a little sick and slightly worried we wouldn't make it to the next stage of the journey!
About halfway through my pregnancy we found out we were having a little girl, even though my sisters-in-law had me convinced we were having a boy. In the adoption, we had to request a baby girl, preferably 6-12 months. I'm not going to lie, that was just plain strange. We requested a girl because in China there is a great adoption need for girls.
I started nesting about halfway through the pregnancy, cleaning out the extra room, painting it, and getting all the furniture and things ready to go. Once we decided to switch our adoption to special needs, we knew the process would speed up so, of course, that's when nesting just took over again. However, since we knew we were having another girl, we planned on them sharing a room. So this time around, the playroom and several baby-proofing and organizing projects have taken the brunt of my nesting compulsions.
When you're pregnant, they tell you to have a bag packed at 36 weeks just in case you go into labor early. Of course I was brilliant and just had a "to pack" list when I went into labor at 38 weeks (and I didn't realize I was actually in labor until really late in the game, but that is a whole other story!). So in between contractions, I put the things on my list in a bag. With this adoption, we definitely have to pack several bags before the big day. I already have my "to pack" list ready and waiting, but I promise not to wait until the day of to pack this time!
In the last weeks of our pregnancy we were able to get those amazing 4D pictures of Arella. It was very revealing of what she would look like and even showed her dimples. But it was hard to tell from those pictures who she really was and what her personality would be. We can look back now and see some of the mannerisms and facial expressions she showed in those pictures she still does to this day. With the adoption, once we were matched we saw four small grainy photos of Zoe, then we received an updated one. I'm sure in the weeks, months and years to come we will be able to look back and see the Zoe we know in those pictures, but right now, we are left wondering, just like the 4D pictures, who she really is and what her personality will be.
When my labor started, I had no idea what was happening until we were in the final stages. The process and the contractions were so different from what we were told they would be like. Once I finally got that bag packed and we made it the hospital, Arella was born in about an hour and a half. It sure seems like this "adoption labor" is going very similarly. We were matched with Zoe on August 30th, then a stream of crazy paper chasing started. We were told the timing would be 6-9 months, but God has sped it up to just 3! Suddenly we got our travel approval, flights were booked, itineraries are being thrown at us and we've been given our official due date. We arrive in Zoe's province the evening of Dec. 2nd, and she will be placed in our arms at 10:30am Dec. 3rd!
Pregnancy and adoption, both babies truly grow in mommy's heart, not just her tummy.