It was a little more than a year ago last week that we held a funeral service for my son’s biological mother at our house. (If you want to read that story, I wrote about it here.) As I was reflecting on the past year — how far my son has come in school, the good choices he’s made, and the dear friends that he has — I was thinking about not only how proud I was of him but how much his biological mother would have been, as well.

As he came to me before bed — our usual time to spend a few quiet minutes together and pray each day — I asked if he remembered that it had been a year since we’d celebrated his mom’s life. Of course he did. And then I asked if he’d like to do something to remember her again. We talked about what he’d like and he decided that a cake, balloons, and pictures would be fine. We decided that Saturday would be a nice day to choose since his brother would be in town visiting us.

On Saturday he took time to look through his pictures, careful to put up the ones he’d chosen, pictures of the day his parents were married. The four of them smiling, happy. We went to the store to get the balloons and the boys picked out a cheesecake, one of their favorite desserts.

Once home, we placed the balloons on the table next to their pictures and cake. I asked the boys for stories about their parents, favorite memories. They both smiled shyly. One started with a story about fishing. Then another talked about a camping trip. Then more stories rippled up and out about fish that were caught, trips taken, what a happy day their parents’ wedding was — experiences gone, but not forgotten. As both boys sat smiling, I couldn’t help but feel joy that these two are a part of our lives.

After they shared their stories, we took the balloons outside. And just as we did a year ago, each person took a turn sharing something. About the boys. About their parents. About life.

And then we let them go.

A reminder, once again, that those who have died may be gone, but are never forgotten.

And as I think now about that day and this past year, it comes to me. How I often wonder if God was right to give us this boy. If we’re the right parents for him. How God has grafted us together as family. How I worry that one day he will resent us or struggle with some of the same problems his biological parents did. I am reminded that God’s ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts.

I’m reminded that my only role, beyond simply loving this boy, is to trust that God’s plans for his life are good, and that he will hold him in the palm of his hand. I have said it before, but it bears repeating (if only to myself!): I am not my children’s savior. But I know the one who is.

Each day is a reminder — and an opportunity — to trust. That God loves him, that God knows him, and that he will write a better story for my son than I could ever imagine.