I went to lunch with one of my best friends a couple of weeks ago. She's recently single, and she joined Match.com to reenter the dating scene. Before she updated me on her dating progress, she asked me for an update on our profile progress. I told her the situation about the expectant mother who was choosing between us and two other couples. She knows a good deal about the process now since she's been following along closely since we started this, but it shocks her every time that people get chosen to parent children based on a few photos and words on a page.
"But wait," I said. "It's not too different from what you're doing right now on match.com." And so it's not. This entire adoption process, the process of being selected to parent a child, feels like online dating.
We make this profile outlining our interests and our life philosophies. We include our best photos - only the ones where my hair is perfect or Joey is (almost) clean shaven. We don't include any photos where either of us are holding alcohol. We wouldn't want to appear like drunks, would we? We include a variety of pictures that will show our interests and interactions with family members and friends. We talk about how great we are, how great our lives are, and we hope that we've said enough, but not too much, to spark someone's interest.
Then we wait for someone, anyone, to show interest. We see that someone has viewed our profile, and yet the phone doesn't ring. We never get to know why people don't choose to contact us. We never get the opportunity to meet these individuals in person and show them how wonderful we are. It's left to chance. And then we are left to question: Why didn't we get any calls today? Do I look too young/old/fat/sweaty in that picture? Is my favorite movie her least favorite movie? We get to analyze and reanalyze every aspect of our profile until we've thoroughly nitpicked our entire lives. It's incredibly different from when we were trying to conceive, where the remote control wasn't in someone else's hands - it was in ours. With adoption, you're at the mercy of someone else, their likes and dislikes, and even whether they're attractive or not.
The worst is when someone you know gets selected. We experienced this for the first time recently. You sit back and think to yourself, "They picked them instead of us? What do they have that we don't? I wonder if it's because they said they're outdoorsy. I bet they don't even like being outside. What the hell!" It's a blow to the ego. You say, "If she could only meet us. If she could only spend an hour with us and see what amazing parents we would be - if someone would give us a chance."
Of course, it's not like online dating in that there are much bigger issues at stake. There's a child, not dinner and drinks. There is a lifetime, not an "I'll call you" after exchanging numbers. Yet there are the same feelings of anxiety and wonder. You wonder what's wrong with you. You wonder if you are ever going to get matched. You wonder if there is happiness at the end of this.
But there is an end. Someday, we'll have our match. Someday we'll get to experience what it's like to feel that true love. And it will be a million times better than online dating.
This post was written for The Analogy Project as part of National Infertility Awareness Week. To learn more about the project and to read other submissions, please click here.