"The clock has been ticking, the calendar pages turning, and we are still waiting": Infertile couples' encounter with time in the adoption waiting period

Published

Journal Article

In this paper, the authors draw from sociological explorations of time and narrative theory to interpret the problem that time posed for 37 infertile couples waiting for a child to adopt. We also address their emotional and behavioral responses to their problematic encounter with time. The adoption waiting period can be usefully conceived of as a: a) temporal irregularity in social life; b) temporally unmarked transitional stage in the passage to parenthood; and as a c) special kind of social construction and product of the imagination. Confronting empty time, waiting couples humanized time spent in waiting and maintained hope by creating a temporal framework for the waiting period. They established a timeline, plotted the end of the wait, and created a rhythm for the duration of the wait. Short-waiting couples were able to maintain a sense of making progress toward their goal of a child. Long-waiting couples increasingly felt as if they were standing still or moving away from their goal. The findings contribute to the understanding of temporality in infertile couples and affirm the uncertainty and discomfort that the lack of temporal order can engender. © 1991 Human Sciences Press, Inc.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Sandelowski, M; Harris, BG; Holditch-Davis, D

Published Date

  • June 1, 1991

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 14 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 147 - 173

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1573-7837

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0162-0436

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/BF00992192

Citation Source

  • Scopus