The next question that almost immediately came to mind was, “How do we tell the kids?”
How do we tell them that we’re going to add to the family – and we don’t know who, how, where from, what age? There’s a lot we don’t know.
We decided to tell them at Christmas time. So I wrote a letter addressed to all three of them.
In it, we told them how proud we are of them. How well they are doing and how much they have grown up. How grateful we are that they all love Jesus and are beautiful on the inside (and outside – but that’s not as important).
We also told them how we are feeling that God is telling us that we have more room – more room in our hearts, more room in our house and more room in our family. We said we didn’t know what that really meant. We didn’t know if God was calling us to:
Adopt an infant domestically.
Adopt from the foster care system.
Become a foster family
Do the “Heal the children” thing for a series of kids who need a host family while they are in the US for medical treatment.
But we were feeling God’s call and we wanted to share it with them upfront and right away because it was something that would have an impact on them as well.
The letter then finished with the StarFish Poem. You know the poem? The one where the kid is throwing starfish back into the ocean and an older gentleman says, “Why even bother, there are thousands? What’s the difference?”
It made a difference for that one.
How did they respond? Stay tuned……
As I told you before, this is the first installment in “My Story.” I hope you remember that is my story from my perspective – and is not indicative of anyone else’s story. Enjoy!
(How Haiti changed my story)
by Tom Vanderwell
I’ll never forget the day.
It was a Sunday afternoon in October of 2002 and the kids were off doing what they do on a Sunday afternoon, reading, playing, just relaxing. My wife and I were sitting in our four season porch reading the paper like we often do on Sunday afternoons.
She said to me, “Did you read the “Child of the Week” segment?” The local paper, in conjunction with some of the local adoption agencies, did a “Child of the Week” segment about kids in foster care waiting for families.
“I did.” I responded. We looked at each other and said, “We could do that.” Suddenly something that we had talked about “possibly” doing “some day” became now.
Our older kids were old enough and great kids. We had room. Room in our hearts and room in our house.
And just like that, a journey started.
And boy was I naive.
I’ve had a number of people ask me to tell them my story – how I got involved, what made us decide Haiti, what the last 10 years have been like.
I started writing them, got a few of them posted and then for a variety of reasons (some good, some bad) got delayed in doing it. So, I’m going to restart it.
Every day, at 4:00 PM EST, I’m going to post another “piece” of the story on this page. If you want to read some of other things I’m writing – go to http://thevulnerableproject.org/.
In the 3 1/2 years that I’ve been in the orphan care world, I’ve seen and been involved in a lot of pain and suffering. Way more than I ever was in 20 years in the banking world.
Why is that? It’s because of the devil. In the first world, he’s a sneaky @$#%#$%#. He uses greed, complacency, materialism, busyness and comfort to attempt to thwart the work of God and His people.
In the 3rd world, in places like Haiti, Uganda, Kenya……. he uses different more abrupt and more difficult methods. He uses things like malnutrition, lack of medical care, sexual violence, abuse of all kinds, disease, unemployment, child trafficking, unclean water, a lack of education. Much more bold, much more difficult, much more painful.
So many questions – and today is the answer. Today is the day where God settled up the debts, today is the day where God sealed the defeat of the devil. Today is the day where God made the final path clear.
One day, all suffering will be gone. One day all pain will be gone. One day all grief will be gone.
Today is the answer. Today we know that the devil won’t win forever. He might win some relatively small fights, he might win some bigger fights, but he will not win the war.
Today is the day that Jesus won the war.
Because of many things going on lately, I’ve kind of suspended the blog posts about my adoption story. I’m going to try to get back into doing more of them – maybe a couple of times a week.
One last story about the importance of giving back to your kids home country. After the earthquake, my wife went down and spent 3 weeks helping out at GLA. During that period, I was a single dad to three kids (granted one of them was a high school senior) but two of them were 8 and 9 years old. I was also attempting to work full time and spending anywhere from 8 to 10 hours a day working for GLA in disaster response. You would think that my 8 and 9 year old would have been very “troubled” by it all. You would think that they would act out and feel very insecure and abandoned because Mom was gone and Dad was unbelievably busy.
They didn’t at all. They did wonderfully. They were cooperative and almost always cheerful and supportive. Why?
Because they knew that their home country was in need and that their parents valued Haiti enough to try to make a difference.
I tell you that story not to pat myself and my family on the back, we’re just ordinary people. I tell you that story to urge you to remember that the country your adopted kids came from will always be important to them, even if they don’t admit it, and it will matter to them whether it matters to you or not.
So, make your kids feel important by getting involved in the country they are from.