Waiting to Adopt: Building a Nest in Tennessee, Part 1

In honor of Mother’s Day, a special two-part guest blog by Jody Cantrell Dyer, author of THE EYE OF ADOPTION: the true story of my turbulent wait for a baby. Part One: Jody will be published this week and Part Two: Tobi will be published next week. Thanks to Jody for her thoughtful contribution.

So, let’s talk about THE NEST. Pregnant women are often teased about nesting. When I was lucky enough to actually be pregnant with my first child, Houston, I scoured every inch of my home with Lysol and bleach. I cooked and froze chicken casseroles and lasagna for my husband and me. I washed and ironed all of Houston’s baby clothes and organized them for efficiency in his dresser and closet. I arranged birth announcements, insurance, and daycare. I even got a manicure and died my hair the day before he was born!

In my eight-year wait for a second baby (six years of painful infertility, plus two years of a tumultuous, yet successful adoption journey), I battled self-doubt, financial problems, odd questions from others, and all-consuming worry that I would never have a second child. Doubt is an understandable part of the process. My eleven-year-old son, Houston, loves the 1989 movie "Field of Dreams", in which farmer Ray hears a voice say, “If you build it, he will come.” Despite degradation from townspeople, Ray tirelessly builds a baseball field on his farm, on faith. In music, Martina McBride’s song “Anyway” inspires dreamers to shake off criticism, failure, and obstacles. The song urges us to “build it anyway,” “dream it anyway,” and “do it anyway.” And how about that old, old story of a man who built a boat to survive a flood? Hmmm. People called him crazy. He was ostracized. But, Noah built the ark. The animals came. The flood came. He saved his family.

NestI took those commercial and spiritual messages to heart and built my nest, my ark for the flood. I assembled Houston’s old baby bed and placed it in the guest room. I laid heirloom quilts over the rail and nestled handmade dolls into the corner. I moved my wooden rocking chair into the room and hung brightly colored curtains. I often felt foolish, resentful, and epically sad when I bought anything for an infant—like a gown or diapers—but I “did it anyway.” In my book The Eye of Adoption, I explain:

Some waiting mothers have a tough time walking by an empty baby bed but little by little, sometimes hesitantly and feeling a little foolishly, I created the baby’s nursery. Friends who saw the uninhabited room hosting a white wooden baby crib probably thought I was nuts, but were kind enough to ignore or complement the expanding infant-centered décor. I usually asked visitors, “Would you like to see the museum to my unknown child?” The nursery served as a comfort to me and a tangible testimony of my faith to others. It served as proof that I anticipated my adopted child with confidence and joy. [My social worker] calls adoption the “Ultimate Faith Journey.” He is right. Doubt and fear are part of the process, but faith in thought and action are essential for survival.

I am sure that my friends left that room and felt intensely sorry for me. Many probably thought I was nuts or at least unwise, especially because I let Houston help me build the nest. He selected a blue plastic bathtub and saved toys from his oddly successful run in the grocery store lobby grab machine. But, I am equally sure that years later, when family and friends peaked over the white wood railing to see my infant Scotty slumbering in peace, they believed! I built the nest. He came.

So, to all the successful adoptive parents out there <read more>

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