I can’t remember the first time I learned the term “waiting parent.” But somewhere along my journey of building a family, the term has become second nature. It was like a category was added to my identity. Some might have described me as a woman, wife, student, football fan, queer, Polish – but when all the paperwork was submitted – I was also a “waiting parent.”

The first thing people ask you about being a waiting parent is “How long have you been waiting?” You can count the time in many ways: from the time you made the decision to adopt, or the time you put in an application, or when your profile “went live.” Depending on how you count, I have been waiting anywhere between six years (when I met my wife and we first discussed building a family together) and 10 months (when our profile was complete). However you count the time, I got the sense pretty quickly that being a waiting parent is all about the wait.

Over the last few months, I have been participating in groups and events, and meeting people in the adoptive community from all walks of life. As I reflected on this journey, I started noticing something about the waiting parents I had been meeting: there were waiting parents who were already  parenting, others who cared for children in their families or in their communities, and others yet – like me – who were taking workshops and courses, reading books, discussing parenting scenarios and brainstorming strategies with their friends and partners. What I realized in short was that  “waiting” is only half of the equation in the “waiting parent.” The other half is “parent.”

I have since been trying to bring more balance to the way I think about my new found identity. For one, this realization has allowed me to feel more active and proactive at this stage of my adoption journey, and focus my efforts on the kind of parent I would like to be. But there is also certain  amount of ease that this realization has given me: it brought a new perspective to waiting as an opportunity to relax a little, and enjoy this period of relative calm. True, there are good days and bad days, short days and long days, but all in all, I have tried my best to shift from being a waiting parent to slowly becoming a parent in waiting.