Dawit has been called many things in his eleven years. He was an infant. He became a victim of pneumonia and malnourishment.

Dawit has been called many things in his eleven years. He was an infant. He became a victim of pneumonia and malnourishment.

That led to becoming an orphan when his birth mother had to relinquish him to save his life. About a year after that, he became a brother for the first time when our adoption became legal.

Seven years.

Seven years ago today, Dawit became an American citizen when his IR-3 Visa was stamped by customs agents in Houston.

A week after we first took custody of him, we landed in America where his new life began. At the time, the four-year-old had no regrets about leaving Ethiopia behind.

His heart had been broken several times and life was tough in between.

He was sick and hungry. After the pain of being relinquished, he struggled as the youngest of 26 children in an orphanage. He didn't speak their language. He was too small to defend himself. Life wasn't great, but at least he had food and a place to sleep.

One day.

Then one day life changed. When they brought the littlest boy from the big kids’ foster home to his new family, he found us fast asleep. Jet lag is real and it's no fun. We all remembered being wide awake watching Sponge Bob cartoons with voices speaking Amharic at 5 a.m., but we didn't worry about it because Dawit wasn't due to be delivered to us until the afternoon.

That timetable changed and our big plans of welcoming the sweet little boy to our family with videos and photos turned into us throwing on yesterday's clothes and rushing upstairs still foggy from jet lagged sleep.

I'll never forget when they asked him if he wanted to stay with us and he frowned and shook his head. I’m sure if I had seen these three ill-prepared people looking at me, I would have felt the same way in his place.

That's when seven-year-old Blake remembered we had snack crackers and a special teddy bear just for Dawit. When you squeezed the hand, the bear giggled. Between some shared giggles and snacks, Dawit decided he would give us a chance.

Blake saved the day. I’m glad he did.

Minutes later, Dawit was taking my gum and a few hours later he was fast asleep in his new mother's arms.

One week.

After a week in our custody with us doing humanitarian work and visiting the embassy to tie up loose ends, Dawit was fully part of our family. That's when we had a visit with his birth mother to let her see him one last time before he flew to his new home.

Dawit wanted nothing to do with Lem Lem. Her decision had saved his life but the change was more than he could bear and he had no plans to forgive her. Her touch made him writhe. But things have changed in seven years.

Last week.

Before I got to pray with Dawit before his bedtime last week, Dawit started talking about Ethiopia. He still worries about the orphans who didn't find families before the country’s parliament ended the practice of international adoption.

He also wishes Lem Lem could see him now. I asked him what he would do if we got to go back to Ethiopia and see her again.

He said he would give her a big hug, and then tell her all about the last seven years and the fun he has had. He would tell her about places he has been and about his favorite things about playing sports.

I told him I believed that is exactly what she would want to hear. I promised him that the first thing she would say is how handsome he is. He is a reflection of her face and his laugh mimics hers as well. I told him the second thing she would say is how big he has gotten since she last saw him. The child who was so malnourished that he was barely listed on growth charts is now a strapping young man who left pneumonia and malnourishment in his past. They are just items on the long list of things he has overcome to become a good student, great athlete and super young man.

Five minutes.

That's when it was his turn to pray. I told him I would pray after him.

In retrospect, I should have gone first.

He spent some time praying for our family and his friends and even the dog. The dog is fine - maybe it's because he prays for her every night.

Then his words gripped my heart and squeezed out every drop of the cold, emotionless, jaded journalist blood.

"God, please help the kids in Ethiopia who don't have families or food to eat," then he sniffled and continued. "Thank you for giving me a family. Make Lem Lem happy and make her safe. Tell her I know why she gave me away and it's okay. I have a great life."

He stopped and it was my turn to finish.

In my defense, there must have been a lot of dust in his room. I should really talk to my wife about that. It was really causing my eyes to water for some reason.

After about five minutes, I was finally composed enough to pray and thank God for giving us this big blessing wrapped in brown skin. I thanked God for Dawit’s beautiful heart and sweet spirit.

This is not how I envisioned spending my evenings seven years ago. I’m so glad I was wrong.

Seven years ago, we were convinced that we were doing something that was going to be so good for this little boy who needed a family. For more than 2,500 days, each new morning reveals that God was doing as much for our family as we were for him by bringing us all together.

I'm still not sure how all of the moving pieces came together to fit our family together but I thank God that they did every day.