Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A four-year "plan," or, Cold and Hard Reality

On the six hour drive home from Mr. M's hometown, where we had gone to buy his grandpa's car after ours was totaled, we got to talking about the future and what our current thoughts were about adoption in particular. We both had been feeling very drawn to it, so I wanted Mr. M's input on the practicalities. In particular, when? When to start actually proceeding toward adoption instead of just thinking about it?

Ah, ignorance is bliss.

My oh-so-clear-headed husband reminded me of several things.

1. He's in a PhD program right now and only gets a small stipend.
2. We're living completely off my paycheck, which is great because it frees up his stipend for savings, most of which are currently going toward paying off student debt.
3. We have more student debt to pay off, to the tune of several thousand dollars. (Not huge compared to others' debt, I know, but still something.)
4. The most reasonable scenario re: his PhD work is that he'll finish his dissertation in December 2014. (That's next December - it takes a long time to write a book!) He hopes to defend in Spring 2015 while he's looking for a job. Then, when we're both working and so have two incomes, we can save for an adoption. Hopefully between living frugally and asking friends and family for help (we've already agreed we're open to that), we could have the money ready in a year.


now - Dec. 2014: write dissertation; pay down student loans
Jan - May 2015: defend dissertation; apply for jobs; possibly move elsewhere in the country
Sept 2015-Sept 2016: both work; save money; ask for financial help and start adoption process
Sept 2016-Sept 2017: proceed with adoption; hopefully adopt

So yeah. That's four years from now until when it seems reasonable to expect to adopt. That's if he can find a job right away, which is a big "if" these days.

(Caveat: yes, I know what happens when we make plans...God laughs. That's why I put "plan" in quotes. Plan, schplan. Either of us could die tomorrow. As we abundantly learned this past week. Or - please God please God please God - I could get pregnant right now...well, not right right now, but you know what I mean! But soon. And our whole adoption plan could take a big unexpected - ha ha - turn.)

But conceivably (ha ha - sorry, feeling loopy from an extra-stressful week) the plan above is Cold, Hard Reality. That's what it means to be married to a PhD student, to not be independently wealthy, to have student loans, to not want to be eyeballs deep in debt forever, and to not expect to win the lottery. (Although that would help.)

Discouraging. To say the least. Yes, I cried in the car when Mr. M laid that all out. Thank God he is an optimist - "it's only four years!" - because four years to me sounds like an absolute eternity. Our friends' first kids will be in kindergarten by then! How many pregnancy announcements is four years? Let's see...20 a year (an estimate)...times four...80. That's an army of babies.

I don't know. That's where we are. It makes me want a drink. Or two. Or eight.

Maybe someone else who has adopted sees something huge we're missing - but waiting seems to be the name of the game. And waiting isn't all bad. It can be purifying, I guess.

Maybe things will look brighter tomorrow, after things are settled down from this whole car drama. Right now it looks kinda bleak.

Jesus, I trust in you.



  1. This makes my heart hurt for you. I would totally join you in the 8 drinks.

    Sending prayers your way.

  2. It's so painful to have this unfulfilled longing. I wish that you were independently wealthy, and that you could start adoption RIGHT NOW. When I'm feeling bleak, my therapist makes me write down a list of everything that's going right. I'm usually resistant at first, because I want my assessment to be correct, but then I figure that I am paying her to help me feel better, so I should at least give her method a shot. It often works to pull me out of the bleakness, though it doesn't change the unfulfilled longing.

    I hope you don't mind, but here is what I see going right in your life (from my admittedly limited vantage point):
    1) You have a steady paycheck and you're not going into further debt. This is HUGE. I went into debt during my PhD program, because I was single and had trouble supporting myself on my stipend. I didn't pay a single dollar into my student loans during my seven years in grad school. The fact that you and your DH have the means and the discipline to pay down debt is wonderful!

    2) You are not doing IVF or any further medical treatments that could plunge you tens of thousands of dollars further into debt. This gives you a huge leg up over many couples who adopt.

    3) You guys are still in your twenties. I know many people in your circles have three kids by thirty, but when I was in my twenties, I was pursuing questionable men and wondering why none of them wanted to marry me. Eventually, my judgment about men got better, but I do envy people in their twenties who already know what it took me a decade to learn. Because DH and I are older (esp DH) we will face age discrimination from birthmothers. But if you and your DH are in your 30s when you adopt, you will be the perfect adoption age. Old enough that bmoms will feel like your are mature and responsible, but young enough that they won't worry you'll die and leave their children orphans.

    4) You might not be wealthy, but you have family and friends who love you and have the means to help you with part of the cost for adoption.

    I hope this list helps in some small way. I wonder if you could also create some kind of plan to use this time before you can adopt meaningfully. I know that once it became apparent that it was going to take a long time to become parents, I plunged myself into singing and my career. I meant to plunge myself into prayer and meditation, but I didn't the way I should have. But my reasoning was, "Once I become a mother, I won't have time to work on my voice or write as much as I want to. So I should do it now." It really did help.

    But writing this, makes me think I need to plunge more time into my spiritual life, because it will help me be a better, more patient, wiser mother. (I like TCIE's post on Seasoning on this theme as well.)

    I pray that things look better soon! May God guide you through the Valley of Shadow!

    1. I wish blogger let you "like" comments :).

  3. Ugh, I wish you could win the lottery too. :) But like Sarah said, you can look at this as a time to keep busy and use the time meaningfully. One thing I really wish I had done was read more parenting books (James Stenson -or Stentson?) is a great author, and books on babies and their development. Like what on earth you can expect!! C was an easy baby overall, but I still had loads of questions, even after having 4 younger sisters and babysitting so many kids over the years. Continuing to pray for you!

  4. You have some wise commenters here! And they are right, but I wish we could all get together and have some drinks before dealing with the reality part of it all. Praying for you!

  5. Thanks all :) sarah - they say it's easier to hope for someone else than for yourself, so thank you for your hopeful words! I love the "seasoning" idea too from tcie.

    Such a good point about using the time well. I want to sew more - I think it will be therapeutic and I want to have those skills. And I guess I can look at time with our friends' kids as "practice" :)

    I have to retrain myself to not expect everything instantly ...