Jamming to “This is not the End”

We like to dance. We like to spin. We like to jam. And play music loud. And sing “This is Not the End.”

And then go to bed….



we would still be waiting

When we started the adoption process in January of 2008, we thought we were looking at a 2-3 year wait for two children ages 0-4 (which is the wait list we were added to in Colombia.)

We submitted our paperwork in September 2008. When you look at the wait list that Colombia publishes every so often, you can see what kind of movement is happening in your age group. Here is the most recently published wait list from February 2013. Notice that our age group, siblings 0-4, is currently processing families from May 2008. We would still be waiting.

Every day I feel blessed to have the three children that we do, in the way that God had planned. I don’t question God’s timing. But I do wonder if we would have stuck it out this long. It’s been more than five years since we started the process.

Please pray for those still waiting. It’s really hard to wait when you want children so much. When we were in Colombia the second time, we met a French couple who adopted three children ages 4-9. They waited for eight years!


Stuck: A Review and a Recommendation

Last night the families split up to watch the very excellent documentary called “Stuck”. I highly recommend it, and will be bugging families and friends to watch it.

The thesis behind the documentary is that the Hague Adoption Convention is not working. The convention was ratified in the United States with the understanding that:

  • It would cut down on the level of corruption surrounding adoption
  • It would increase the number of international adoptions

In fact, according to UNICEF, there has been no reduction in corruption. International adoptions in the United States has decreased by 60% in the past 6 years.

This decrease is not because there are fewer orphans.

It’s not because there are fewer families willing and wanting to adopt internationally.

It’s because there are hoops. Lots and lots of hoops. And while would be parents jump through those hoops, kids age out of the system.

What the Documentary Misses

While not really part of the thesis to the film, a key point missing is how difficult international adoption is after adopting the child. One might walk away from the documentary thinking adoption is wine and roses. It’s not. It can be very hard. And I always get nervous around naive would-be adoptive parents.

That said, there are tools and resources that help parents. And there are many wonderful parents who would do wonders with domestic and internationally adopted children.

If I were King of the World

Look, this is a complicated issue. Corruption is bad. Orphanages are a lesser bad (as compared to starving and living on the streets). The rights of birth parents need to be respected. International politics are convoluted (see Russia: Adoption). The Hague Convention had good intentions but unintended consequences.

But if I were King of the World, I’d put a time frame in place (say a year) then declare adoptability – international or otherwise. Children should not grow up in institutions if they do not have to. A clock is ticking.

Finally, Download the Film

Watch the film. It’s good. It can be viewed and purchased here:


Citizen Diego

Diego’s citizenship paperwork arrived the other day. He now has some proof that he’s a proud American! Next stop, the Social Security office.



The Universe is Made for Evens

The Vander Veen family is good about sitting down for dinner together. It may be late, it may be slightly cold, it may on many nights be pizza or soup and sandwiches. But we make it a point and, quite frankly, the nights it doesn’t happen make the entire evening seem off.

Prior to adopting Diego, cups had the correct tendency of staying anchored to the table. Did we have the occasional spill? Sure, but rarely. A more likely scenario would be Kelly trying to feed the dogsĀ vegetables (which, while annoying, is at least clean).

As a family of 5, something happened. Milk is spilled on a semi-daily basis. Water flies off the table onto the floor. Wine spills have been avoided, but only because Renee and I guard our glasses with napkin holders and salt and pepper shakers.

And it’s not just Diego. It’s like suddenly the girls forgot how to hold cups or place them on a flat surface!

It’s not the table. I’ve checked. The legs are still even. Our setup is different, with having to place a child at the end of the table (no parent at the head of the table, we opted for “divide and separate” vs “authority at the head”).

Some days after learning that we were to adopt Diego I had lunch with my former superintendent. When he heard our good news he gave me a hearty congratulations and then a warning (he spoke from experience, having 3 daughters).

“Just be ready. The universe was built for evens, not odds.”

He then listed countless examples of situations that favored evens over odds. He did not mention spilled milk, but it seems a fairly plausible explanation as any.

In the meantime, we’re pragmatic and practical. Ren bought coffee cups with lids.

Adult sippy cups.