In honor of our adoption series, I am giving away one copy of Adopted for Life by Dr. Russell Moore. Adopted for Life is A stirring call to Christian families and churches to be a people who care for orphans, not just in word, but in deed. 

If you’re already a fan, you are automatically entered to win…

As always, any new likes, shares, tweets, instagrams, etc. will receive another entry. 

Kari Vandervelde her husband John, and their 5 children live in Illinois.  She is a stay-at-home-mom, active in her local church and ladies’ Bible study. Kari is also the Volunteer Manager for Re:new Project, a ministry aimed at empowering refugee women in the local community.  In her free time (which happens once in a blue moon), she enjoys creating for her (very) small business as a professional calligrapher.  You can follow the Vandervelde Family on their blog, http://teamvandervelde.wordpress.com.

“I have been asked to share our adoption story with you all, and while I love to talk about adoption with people, my husband, John, is the writer in our family. He has written all of our blog posts on our journey.  He does the content; I do the editing.  It works for us. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have anything to say or contribute to the conversation… sometimes I have a lot to say! Writing from personal experiences is a little out of my comfort zone, but I invite you to please read on, and I will honestly share from our experiences what God has done in our lives and is continuing to do everyday.
The Vandervelde Crew

God ever so gently stirred our hearts to adopt two children from Ghana.  John wrote about our decision in the introductory post on our blog back in the spring of 2012.  I was very hesitant, nervous, and, at times, scared of what God was laying on my heart leading up to our decision. 

Questions swirled in my head all the time… Will we be able to fundraise enough? Will we be able to care for more children? What if they’re really sick? What if they’re really naughty and come with lots of emotional and psychological baggage? What if they ruin my family?  (Like I said, I’m just being honest.)  My doubts and hesitations were not pretty. But God continued to softly whisper to my heart, and I eventually realized that if I was committed to living for God wholeheartedly, then that meant I needed to obey Him with all of my life, not just the parts I was willing to give up.
As we continued on through the fundraising, the mounds of paperwork, the praying, the waiting, and even sometimes the crying, God continually gave us exactly what we needed.  Even more than we could have ever dreamed!  He was constantly revealing Himself to us in the big things and little things…reminders that as long as we were following and obeying Him, He would not leave us to fend for ourselves. Sure, there were plenty of hard days, but God was still there in the midst of it. He never left our sides, not for a moment.
Then came our referral (otherwise known as the day you get the pictures and descriptions of your kid/s!).  It was a very unique experience. We received the call from our agency while we were on a family vacation in Florida over Thanksgiving break. But the call happened to come while we were sitting on a giant airboat in the middle of an alligator-infested lake! We will never forget that day and the memories that were made as a family — as we dreamed then, and in the months ahead, about the little boy and girl across the world that would be a part of our family someday.
We traveled to Ghana for court in January of this past year, came home to wrap up paperwork with the U.S. government, and then returned to Ghana at the end of April to bring home Caleb and Izzy. We have now been a family together for 5 months. And what an incredible 5 months it has been!  I know that we are still getting to know each other, figuring out our “new normal,” and how we work together as a family of 7 people (yes, we have nearly maxed out the minivan!).  There have been some really wonderful experiences that we’ve had with bonding together, but there have been some big bumps along the way too.  

I’m speaking the truth here… it has been far from perfect, and having Caleb and Izzy in our home has brought challenges. Parenting children from a “hard place” is different from parenting our bio kids.  There has to be so much intentionality, purpose, and grace. And this is not just the work God is doing in our kids’ hearts and lives, but mine as well.  I have a little bit better understanding of how God has adopted me into His family, how I contributed nothing to the relationship, yet how He loves me anyway, despite my imperfections, my sinfulness, my turning away from Him.  

I’m so thankful for His gift of grace, for the wisdom He gives through His Word, the strength He gives me daily through His Holy Spirit. It has given me such a healthier perspective on my need for Jesus in my life. This also plays out for John and I as we do our best to be parents to both our adopted children, as well as our biological children.
Keeping focused on the “big picture” has helped me get through some of the tough moments.  When I feel like I have repeated myself 256 times, “You WILL have enough food.  I promise that you will never, ever, ever starve again,” I have to remember that my adopted children have an entirely different perspective. They needed to fight for food; it was used against them. Not enough was provided, and what was available was far from nutritionally beneficial.  My patience is tested throughout the course of the day to say certain things over and over again–things that I’ve never had to say to my bio kids, but then I remember where they came from. 

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and developing trust, what it means to be a member of a family, to have a mom and a dad, and what grace and love really looks and acts like takes time.  A lot of time. 

God has me on my knees for a reason, and He is still very much by my side. He still hasn’t left me.  And while the growing pains can be painful and challenging, this process has brought me closer to Him, to my husband, and to all my children. Adoption has blessed me and my family in so many ways.  It is an honor to be a mom to Caleb and Izzy, orphans no longer.  

I thank God everyday for leading us all down this path.  As a wise family member has said many times, ‘Adoption isn’t easy, but it is BETTER.’ ”
   

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