11 years ago tonight, there was a crowd gathering at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids Michigan.

They were waiting for a plane to come in.   A plane that contained a family of 7.

5 kids and their parents.  2 of the children became United States citizens that morning, when they landed in Miami.

Two of the kids had never been on a plane before.

Had never been outside of Haiti before.

Had never been in an airport before.

Had never……..

The list goes on and on.

11 years ago tonight, my family came home.

As a family of 7.   The process of the adoption was over.

They were now Vanderwells and we were coming home together.

The process of adoption was over.   The process of becoming a family was beginning.

And it is a process.

11 years ago tonight, the Vanderwells came home as a family of 7.

But I won’t use “the word.”   What word?

“Gotcha”   As in, today is the day that I “gotcha” and brought you home.

Why won’t I use that word?  A couple of reasons:

1. It minimizes the things that an adopted child gives up on the day that they “come home.”   They leave the only country, language, climate and most likely “family” they have ever known – at least in terms of children who are adopted internationally.   By calling it “gotcha day” you are essentially saying those losses don’t matter.  But they do matter.   

2. It makes children sound like possessions.   I didn’t “get” my kids, I brought them into my family, not as possessions but as members of the family.  

So, Happy Anniversary, Abby and Isaac.   11 years ago tonight, our lives changed forever.   We’ve all been blessed. challenged, grown and seen God at work through the last 11 years.

Happy Anniversary to two of the five children God has blessed us with.

Tom (aka Dad)