Every year, after my Detroit Lions lose another game on Thanksgiving, I am overwhelmed at the feast that my wife, mother-in-law, my aunt-in-law and brother-in law’s fiancé put together. It is a truly a feast that fills my body and soul.
In the days that followed Thanksgiving this year, I began to contemplate just what I had to be thankful for over the past year. It was humbling to see how much attention God has paid to me.
Last Thanksgiving, I sat down at my dining room table with my biological sister and it is an encounter I will never forget.
This year, the Friday after Thanksgiving, I went to her home and met an overwhelming 19 people from her Italian in-laws side of the family. We shared homemade lasagna, garlic bread, and cannolis and my heart giggled as I thought about the collard greens, sweet potatoes, and mac and cheese I consumed just 24 hours before. What an amazing mix of flavors and experiences.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak to a group of transracial parents in my hometown, Detroit. I invited a good friend of mine from high school and after my presentation; he remarked that he could tell I was at peace with what I have been through. He was right.
The growth that I have gone through over the last year would have taken years and years in therapy. The opportunity to write and speak about the my experiences has brought peace attached to understanding.
This past summer, I got to sit down with a group of transracial adoptees, all adults, and listen to their stories which taught me so much about my story. To hear, echoed back to me, similar stories and feelings was comforting. Being able to sit with adults who felt so odd and different in so many situations, in a room where we shared a common history was painful and soothing.
To be able to understand myself in a way I never have has caused me to be a better husband, father, and friend. To be more eager to find the causes of my behavior instead of running from them has been a cautiously sensitive walk yet empowering.
The opportunity to speak to group after group and continuously work on my presentation to find the right way to season such an important message is challenging. To reign in my passion so I can present a message that is digestible to so many while communicating its importance is an enjoyable puzzle that frustrates me and inspires me.
At the end of each blog, presentation, speech, or event, I get to come home to a woman who has been an integral part of my year of growth. In my constant education, she too learns more about me and the decision to marry 17 years ago has become the most prophetic decision I have ever made. When I said, “I do,” I had no idea that the changed person I am today is even a better fit with her personality than it was then. She is no longer the person I married then and neither am I. I am so thankful that we have evolved in a way that has brought us closer together not further a part.
The two sons, who have been born out of that decision, are priceless. To watch them move through my ever changing families and experiences is wonderful to witness. They accept each change, speed bump, and caution sign in a calm flexible way.
Lastly, I am thankful for the parents and families that have listened to my passion-filled rants, at times, and are able to pull value from what I write and say. These next-generation adoptive families inspire me as they reach to know and understand more more. This past year, I have met so many adoptive parents and professionals and been able to develop my voice, my passion, and my mission. To be able to break off a part of me and share it with so many has been exhausting and healing.
Today, I am thankful for all of this and anxious to see what God will bring in the year to come.