It’s February, which marks Chris’ birthday month. We were together in 2009 when he celebrated turning 30; I was here with him this year as he ushered in 39; and I’ll be here with him as he looks ahead to a new decade in 2020.
In the recent years that I’ve known Chris, we’ve discussed adoption. Until lately, that conversation has been in the abstract (oftentimes the only way one can when discussing the future). But now, we’ve begun to fill in some of the details: we’ve gotten on the phone with different adoption agencies. We’ve talked to neighbors and friends and colleagues and strangers. We’ve attended a foster care session, because why not keep our options open?
In all of this, we’ve developed what I’ve dubbed a “net 40” rule—if Chris is 40 when we adopt, we adopt a newborn. If Chris is 41, we adopt a one-year-old. Etc. It’s a nice rule: Chris feels confident he’ll be sprightly and able to coach our child’s middle school basketball team; take our daughter camping; help our son move into his college dorm.
The “net 40” rule, however, is unfortunately based in an utter falsity: control. We all as humans crave control; some of us more so than others (read: me). We recite serenity prayers—God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. We repeat the mantra that we can’t control anything but our attitudes and how we deal with the situations in front of us.
And then we have children, who fully, brazenly, strip any veil of control from us.
In raising kids, there will be so much outside of our power. In adoption, Chris and I are not choosing anyone—there’s a mom out there choosing us. When we select an agency, we will consider geography, policies, and costs, and we’ll create a profile that puts our best foot forward—only to turn around and wait. And if we were opting to get pregnant, biology would take control and we would be at its beck and call from conception until death do us part.
For now, we’ll make our spreadsheets, attend the information sessions, and pretend that we’re in complete control of where we’re headed. We’ll make all of the “smart” decisions. But when our little boy or girl comes home and we try to figure out why he or she won’t stop crying; when we have emergency visits to the doctor; when we are in charge of raising a new, wonderful, and independent being…then, we’ll know who’s in charge.