Jen VanderStoep

4 years, 10 months, 17 days…Done

Waiting under the stairs of the courthouse. It felt like time was crawling at a snail’s pace. My emotions were swirling. What was I supposed to be experiencing? Relief? Joy? Giddy excitement? Exhaustion? In my confusion, each sensation took a brief swirl through my body and brought eyes brimming with tears, cold sweats, yawns, giggles, and inevitably full blown sobs.

The kids made an honest attempt at patience, although the contentment brought by coloring books and snacks waned quickly. They sensed the weight of the morning’s events, yet as more friends and family surrounded us with their love and support, the children settled.

4 years and 10 months…we have waited this long to be here. This was it. The final step, the last event, the only thing seperating us from being fully united as a family. And, we were here. I started to sense the wave of relief rising behind me. Forcing steady, slow breaths and whispering praises, we clung to each other whenever a moment allowed.

Our name was at last called, and we filed into the court room, children racing to the jury box (to which the baliff said, “look, it’s a jury of his peers!”) as we gathered our little ones to the long table. Surreal. I had never expected this moment to be so significant, but my racing heart told a different story.
The kind and gentle voice of the judge led us through the formalities. He knew. He understood and his mannerism gave grace to the weight of his authority. We were so blessed through the way he conducted the proceedings.
The wiggles began. Naomi pushed and pulled on her brother until we started to play hot potato with them, transferring kids from lap to seat to lap again, hoping, praying for some stillness.
Our eyes tell more than words can, but the four little blurry heads in this picture depict the vast degree of movement going on. “How are we going to get through this?!” we spoke to each other without words, only a chuckle. THIS WOULD BE the way it ends…THIS is life now. Constant moving, constant noise, and a deeper, more intimate connection than we ever dreamed we would have as husband and wife. No words are needed.
Papers were signed. Silas made sure everything was in order. The judge spoke with a profound and direct statements and I couldn’t help but hear my heavenly Father’s words rising up.
He has a right to FULL inheritance.
Ephesians 1:18
And then he was ours. Not that he wasn’t before. He has been ours since April 2010 when we first heard his name and saw his sweet face. But now, he is legally bonded to us on this earth.
Now I was feeling the excitement and I could hardly wait to hear those words again with our little girl’s name placed at the center.
She pressed into me, as if she knew our lives were being joined, brought to a parallel place.
And then, she was ours.

It is truly finished. And we cry out from a place of knowledge like never before:
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6

For almost 5 years, we have experienced such overwhelming love, support, graciousness, sacrifical giving, servanthood, and devotion from so many family and friends, literally around the world. To have some of those precious ones present for this final event in our adoption, after being in Africa without them for so much, was truly significant and something we hold so very dear. (Although we do wish we could have had every one of you by our side that day, we know hearts were present with us from a distance.)

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
Romans 8:15
(The word adoption in this passage is referring to the full legal standing of an adopted male in Roman culture. How cool is that!)

. . .for in You the fatherless find compassion.
Hosea 14:3
This little girl’s life has been bathed in the compassion of her Father from the day she was born.

The realization quickly came that there were no more lists to write, not another call to make, all appointments had been kept, the travel was done, no documents left to sign, copy and notarize, every event had taken place.
It was truly over.
We were done.
After 4 years and 10 months . . . my mind was free from the burden of pursuing the security of my children. I almost did not know how to function without the constant pressure of accomplishing the next task. Strangely, I felt a little lost . . . and maybe even, a sense of loss.
I was unsettled by this out-of-place emotion. How could it be present amidst so much fullness?
A divinely appointed conversation with my father-in-law brought clarity and peace as he shared his own heart and experience with me. This process had come to define me for so many years, and even gave me a degree of purpose. Now, it is done, over, and that is gone.
So . . . there is relief and joy . . . and we sing out from the grace we are bathed in daily as we press forward.

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
Psalm 36:7

________________________________________

Jen VanderStoep

The VanderStoep Family lives in Northern, CA in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains. Craig and Jen have been married for 7 years and have four Children: Noah (6), Silas (3), Maela (2), and Naomi (19 mo). The VanderStoeps love Jesus and serve him with their whole heart (though surly it is imperfect). They enjoy, whenever the bigness of family allows, getting out into the outdoors and enjoying the beauty of the Sierras. They are a rag tag bunch but by God’s grace there is love to cover it all. (Photos preserving their day are courtesy of Robin Anderson and Caryn Suehowicz of Eikon Photography.)

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In Case You Were Wondering

In case heavy blog posts and fear or even the realities of adoption may lead you to question if adoption is worth it…

Consider these pictures as food for thought:

These are the first pictures we received, and a recent picture of each of our precious little ones

The other night, I showed Silas this first picture we received of him and said, “Hey, Silas, do you know who that is?”

“That’s Nicholas” (the name given to him by the orphanage), he replied. “Daddy, is he sad?”

“Not anymore son…not anymore.”

________________________________________

Jen VanderStoep

The VanderStoep Family lives in Northern, CA in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains. Craig and Jen have been married for 7 years and have four Children: Noah (6), Silas (3), Maela (2), and Naomi (19 mo). The VanderStoeps love Jesus and serve him with their whole heart (though surly it is imperfect). They enjoy, whenever the bigness of family allows, getting out into the outdoors and enjoying the beauty of the Sierras. They are a rag tag bunch but by God’s grace there is love to cover it all.

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