Lord, give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
As an adoptive parent, all three of these pieces are significant.
First of all, there are many things about our children that cannot be changed and we must accept them. We can't go back and change their traumatic histories. We can't change their genetic makeup. We can't change their organic brain damage or mental illness. We can't change their personalities.
Then, we have to have the courage to change the things we can. We can't back down and walk away when children need confronting. We have to work on behaviors, learn what we can about various issues, try different approaches, and work to change what can be changed.
But I think the greatest need for adoptive parents is the wisdom to know the difference. Meeting a child when he/she is 4 or 8 or 12 or 16 doesn't give us the background we need. We struggle for a long time to discover the difference between "can't" and "won't". We don't know if our children are being oppositional or simply can't do any better.
And discovering whether it's "can't" or "won't" is a difficult process for both us and our children.
I'm going to start praying the serenity prayer daily as I attempt to parent my hurt and healing children. But my emphasis is going to be a plea for the wisdom to know the difference between what I can and cannot change.