Last week marked a huge milestone for my family. After years of praying and saving, months of waiting and preparing, we finally, legally, welcomed baby Isaac into the Booz family. Thanks to Covid, on a sunny Wednesday morning, a judge met us over Zoom in our living room and completed the decree.
The judge asked us to explain why we wanted to adopt Isaac, and Matt jumped in with an explanation you’d think he painstakingly prepared. “Scripture commands us to care for the vulnerable among us,” he said, “and God has blessed our family with the love, resources, and the community to care for this child.” Matt said it was our joy to honor God and Isaac’s first parents by bringing him into our family.
As Matt beautifully, and succinctly described our desires for Isaac, I dissolved into a puddle of tears. Right there, on the Zoom call, next to my family, in front of a judge. I lost it. I cried for all the loss baked into the adoption process, and the joy of the moment, and my hope for Isaac’s future. I cried for all of it. The judge, taking in my meltdown, was so gracious and didn’t ask me to come up with my own words in that moment. “Do you agree with everything Matt said?” he asked. I nodded. It was all I could do.
It’s official now. I have a son. He’s four months old; all squirms, and smiles, and cuddles.
Every day I pray that he’ll find power and dignity in his story. This adoption process hasn’t been easy for any party involved; it was never supposed to be easy. There are parts of the adoption that I’ll never share. It’s not my story to share. That privilege belongs to my son. There are parts of my adoption that, honestly, I still haven’t gotten my head around. But there is a nugget, a breath prayer, that I’ve taken on. Maybe you’d like to practice with me.
Inhale: I’ll control what I can…
Exhale: … and pray for what I can’t.
Dear reader, if we haven’t met in person, let me introduce myself. I am Elise, a first-born, list-making, type A, Enneagram 3. I’m bent toward leadership, I love to be in the know, and I. Love. To. Be. In. Control. And if you know nothing about the world of adoption, let me pull back the curtain just a sliver for you. Adoption is categorically an uncontrollable process.
When will your paperwork come through? When will you match with an expectant family? Where will they live? What kind of relationship will they want with you? How, and when, and where will the birth happen? Will the expectant mother choose to parent after all? To all these questions, the answer is the same.
I was in a church staff meeting in the months leading up to Isaac’s birth. I was doing my best to hide my fear of all the mounting unknowns. But that fear must have hung over my face like a veil. As soon as the meeting was over, my pastor called me to see what was wrong. And I unloaded on him. All my doubts, and anxieties. He listened carefully, prayed with me, and offered me some simple, powerful advice.
“Control the controllables. Pray for, and release the non-controllables.”
So, I showed up as best I could during the adoption process. I controlled what little I could. I joined a support group for adoptive parents. I joined up with a prayer partner that was waiting for a child just like me. And I prayed for our sweet baby boy, and his first mother. Consistently, every day. I’ve never prayed for two people more.
At the same time, I practiced releasing the things that I couldn’t control. Literally everything else. Literally every day. Sometimes multiple times a day. I released them to God, the only One in control. The process was often painful. Sometimes it felt like nothing was changing. But like any new habit that first seems like a useless nuisance, I can glance over the last few months now, and see the benefits. And God has been more gracious, and generous than I ever could have imagined.
I like to think that I’m in control of my life, my health, my family’s safety. The truth is, I’m not. I love the illusion of control. But that’s all it is, an illusion. There are some things I can do. I can eat healthy foods. I can invest time and love into my kids. I can work hard at the opportunities that come my way. And what I need, pray for, and let go of the rest.
I’m not in control. That’s still hard to say, but I’m practicing. One breath prayer at a time.