Last November we started a Thanksgiving tradition that lasts the entire month. I go and purchase a couple of yards of brown bulletin board paper, cut out this huge tree (the trunk is the entire height of our kitchen wall, ceiling to floor) and branches and hang it up with that putty stuff that won’t pull the paint off the walls. I write the word “Thankfulness” in big black letters down the trunk of the tree and each night every family member writes something they are thankful to God for on a fall-colored leaf (I cut these out of construction paper) and we hang them on the tree. The items on the leaves so far this year are pretty wide in scope…everything from light sabers, Halloween candy and Barney (have I mentioned Miles is in love with Barney?!) to a healthy Baby Madden and Mikias and Miles finally coming home! We don’t really push the kids to thank God for something “spiritual” but allow them the freedom to think about whatever it is they really want to thank God for each night. But tonight, Mikias surprised me.
He said, as I was pulling out the leaves and before I really had the chance to ask, “I want to thank God for Mommy and Daddy coming to get me in Ethiopia.” Tears sprung to my eyes and I looked at my sweet boy and said “Really?” I’m sure he was confused by my answer, but oh how precious to me was his choice tonight.
You see, as I think back on the start of our adoption journey and particularly the point when we decided to adopt Mikias, I recognize my pride and this sense that I was doing this great thing by rescuing a child, especially an older, harder-to-be-adopted boy from Africa. But the truth is, God has used this child to rescue me. Adoption has revealed more sin in me than probably anything else in my entire life. Nobody warned me of this and there isn’t a single book that could have prepared me for it (again…I’m tempted to be the one that finally writes one.). And there are so many days where I wonder if my kids long for Ethiopia, for days when much wasn’t required of them and where they didn’t have to worry about a Mommy who might blow a fuse at any moment. There are so many days where I feel like the biggest failure of a parent and I wonder why in the world God chose to entrust not one, but four little souls to me. There are so many days where I’m so hard on Mikias in particular because he is the oldest and I do expect a lot from him and in my inadequacies I forget that he needs my encouragement, my praise and my affection.
So, Mikias’ choice for his leaf tonight was like a huge banner of grace from God straight to my heart. In spite of my sin and in spite of my inadequacies, my son is thankful for his life here with us. On this side of our adoption journey, that is entirely more than I could ever ask for or imagine. God’s grace is sufficient and praise Him that His power is made perfect in my weaknesses.