Monday, August 29, 2011

More Lake Fun...

More pictures from a weekend at my parent's lakehouse at Table Rock.  How funny to see how our family has changed in just one summer. 
This is our family Summer of 2010:                          This is our family Summer of 2011:

Three kids both summers....only one is the same.  I wonder what next summer will look like. 
I wonder how long we're going to all fit on the back of that golf cart.  : )

So excited to be at the water:

She loves to jump to daddy:

The toys at the lakehouse.....the boat and the jet ski

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Costs. And a leap of faith.

It is no secret that adoption costs money. Lots of it. Like a really nice new vehicle. Like a down payment for a house. Like a future educational fund for our current children. I did a lot of research when we began this process. What methods of adoption are there? What types of services will we have to utilize? What costs are fixed and what costs are variable? How much is due up-front and how much can we pay off after we are certain our son is safe in our arms? Most of the organizations I looked at had very comparable fees. Intemidatingly huge, but similar. The ammount that we are currently anticipating spending is around $23,000. Wow. That's even hard to type. In case you (like me) are baffled about where all that money can possibly go, here's a very rough break-down:

U.S. Program Expenses: $5,450
Foreign Country Program Expenses: $8,500
Child Care Expenses: $1,200
Translation and Document Expenses: 1,130
Other Services: 3,250
Travel and Accomodation Costs: $3,000

Total Fixed Fees and Expenses: $15,250
Total Variable and Estimated Expenses: $7,280
Total Expected Costs: $22,530

I've spent late nights googling, searching, reading other family's experiences and taking notes of ways to help save, skimp and raise this scary amount. I have several grants that we will be applying for. We have a couple fund-raising ideas in mind, including the Change for the Congo opportunity alluded to in a recent post.   

We are also very humbly asking for your support both in prayer and in funds. As I've mentioned before, I have no doubt in God's calling to help the orphans,
"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress..."  James 1:27
However, I also understand that this calling looks different for everyone. For us, we know it is to bring this orphan into our family and show him the love of our Father. For you, it may mean partnering with us in showering this little boy in prayer from now until the day we hold him in our arms here in Kansas. It may also mean selflessly donating. We understand the pulls this world has on your finances and pray that you recongnize this gift as an investment in a life. One that would be lived in an entirely different way without your support. Thank you for considering helping to bring our little boy home. If you are interested in helping, donations can be made by clicking on the chipin button on the righthand side of this blog.  You can also message me and I will provide our address if that is a more comfortable option for you. For tax-deductable donations, checks can be made out to OWAS and mailed to 1400 Buford Highway, Suite L-4 Sugar Hill, Georgia 30518.  Please be sure to include Derek and Lindsey Claassen in the memo line of your check and include a short note directing the funds to our adoption account.  We will receive word of your generosity and print and send you a receipt.

There is not really a way to say thank you for a grand gesture such as the mission of helping orphans, particularly one little orphan waiting on us now.  I wish I knew how but I don't so I will just say: truly, truly thank you.  From the bottom of all of our hearts.  Thank you. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Lakehouse

So we're blessed/spoiled/lucky enough to get to enjoy the use of my parents lake house at Table Rock lake at Shell Knob, MO basically whenever we want.  We LOVE going there and have had so much fun watching Taryn develop a love of the lake as well. 

Brecken isn't quite into the lake yet but can still appreciate a good play time on the dock!

This girl has a lot of nerve turning 4 this summer.

I'm fairly certain that Taryn would tube all day long if allowed.  This is one of her "tricks"....standing up. 

Helping daddy drive. 

These are my parents.  34 years and still clearly in love. 

It has been fun introducing Reni to the lake.  She doesn't seem to to be as into it as Taryn but she had moments of fun too. 

This girl has has a lot of nerve turning 6 months this summer.  Brecken did pretty well considering the heat and time spent on the water. 

Sometimes the waves can be good for lulling a little one to rest. 

No fear. 

Enjoying a meal in the backyard. 

Brecken loved this play area. She splashed and splashed and splashed.

This is me wake-surfing.  Basically the boat is driven fairly slowly so that it creates a really large wake.  We use a small surf-board and hopefully can find a particular area in the wake that just sort of lets the board sit in it and good people can let go of the rope completely and just ride the wake forever behind the boat.  Fun stuff.  We've enjoyed learning. 

Derek is a really great wakeboarder.  And hot.  Just sayin'.  I have a new camera and am still learning how/when to push the button to capture a moment at the right time so I didn't get a very good picture.   

We love Table Rock! 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

7 Months of Joy

I promise you can't look at these and not smile.

Brecken is 7 months today.  She prefers mommy but is ok with other people holding her as long as she can't see me.  She has what the doctor calls a "pearl tooth" in the front.  (A white little speck on her gums that looks like a tooth but is smoother and whiter than a real tooth that goes away in a couple months.)  She has started infant cereal and some baby foods.  She nurses 5 times a day, takes two naps and sleeps from 8 pm to 8 am with one feeding around 4 am.  We just lay her in her bed for naps and bed and she falls asleep quickly.  If we aren't at home it is a little more of a battle b/c she doesn't like to be held to sleep.  She smiles, laughs and flails her limbs to show she's happy.  Her best smiles are reserved for Taryn and Reni.  Yesterday she decided she would learn to crawl and uses a mix of knees, elbows and army crawling.  She is wearing 6 month sized clothes and size 2 diapers but we should probably be moving up to size 3.  She has a sweet disposition and while I would love love love to keep her at this age forever, I'm also so excited to see who she is becoming develop.  We're so blessed to have her in our family. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

We're Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot

Well it is no secret that it has been a HOT summer.  It's pretty much all anyone talks about.  So, if we're going to escape the confines of the inside and play outside it is a requirement that water be involved or we will melt.  Fact.  So here's what we've been up to...

                                                Not everyone can pull off boobie ruffles. 

Notice the special stance when the camera's on her.  She gets that from me. 

Notice the tummy roll over her bottoms.  She gets that from me.  Wait. 
Scratch that.  I got that from her.

If there is not going to be water at least Taryn and her best friend and
neighbor are able to improvise to keep cool. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Coming Up for Air....

Well, in our efforts to do our small part to help children in need I'm afraid we're only contributing to the problem of deforestation.  We are drowning in a sea of paperwork here. 

It's something you always hear in, "Oh, there's a lot of paperwork for adoptions." 

What they really mean is..."Open an account with a paper supplier, buy an industrial printer, be prepared to never see your kitchen table again and invest in a lot of bandaids for those paper cuts." 

I mean, who knew that the name of my mom's second aunt twice removed on my grandfather's side's dog would be information that the government would need to have.  Ok, perhaps now I exaggerate...

But, on the up side, I know that each document finished, each copy made and every name signed brings us one papercut closer to our little man!  Whew! 

P.S. Yes, we have a firesafe.  Do you?  We got it as a wedding gift.  I can still remember what my cousin wrote on the card.  "I know this seems like a strange present but we got one for our wedding and were surprised how handy it was."  She was very right.  We've even paid it forward at other weddings.  It keeps all our important stuff like birth certificates, SS cards, etc.  Certainly nothing exciting or valuable to others but would be a pain to replace after a tragedy.  Do people still use safe deposit boxes?  I loved going there as a kid.  It always seemed so secretive and exciting and mysterious.  I guess this is our safe deposit box now.  

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Perks of the Job

Me:  Taryn, thank you for being nice to Reni just now.

Taryn: Yeah, God likes it when we're nice to people.  Jesus is just happy when I eat my dinner. 

Apparently Jesus' expections are set at a 4 year old level. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Just Some Thoughts...

A friend recently asked for a little more information about why/how we decided on adoption.  I thought I'd share some of the information I shared with her. 

Adoption has been something that I've known I wanted to be a part of since I was very young.  I'm not sure why but I always felt that it was something I was "supposed" to do.  I can only place that urge in God's hands and know that He has always been preparing me for this journey.  There are many verses pointing towards God's calling for Christians to take care of the widows and orphans and while I know that calling looks different for everyone, for us, we have decided it is through adoption.

A big question that people have is, "Why international?  Why not help a child here in the US.?"  That's a fair question and I might not have a very good answer.  I am in NO WAY opposed to domestic adoption and would welcome the opportunity to grow our family this way at some point as well.  Derek and I have been foster parents for about 2 years now.  We are licensed through Youthville and they have three options for care. Foster only, adopt only or foster-to-adopt.  We are foster-to-adopt parents. This means that, while there is no guarantee that a child will come up for adoption, if it does happen, we will have "first dibs" on becoming the legal parents.  We've had four placements since we've started and none of them have come close to being available for adoption and all have gone back to their families.  Each time we have fallen hard for our little placements but we know that our role right now is just to love them while we have them.  I have not found many foster parents who haven't also ended up adopting along the way.  I have a feeling that God will someday bring us the right child through this route.  Until then, we take our job of loving on these kids while they go through this traumatic time as an opportunity to show God's love and follow His commands.

As I've mentioned before, throughout my life I've felt this pull or calling towards international adoption. Through prayer, research, talking with my husband and facing the facts I can confidently say that this is something God has called us to.  We agree, children here in the US need Christian families.  When I think about TRUE need at a basic level, there is no doubt that other countries really have a bigger crisis with child care.  Most children needing adoption here are not left in dumps, on the edge of true starvation or put to work as a toddler.  The dangers are amplified and more critical for them to be rescued.

Another benefit I am drawn to is that we will be guaranteed to be matched with a child.  Adoption in the US is tricky and can be a long process.  You have to be chosen by a birth mom, often the birth mom changes her mind, and it is popular now to do "open" adoptions where you continue to have contact with the birth mom throughout the child's life.  While this isn't always bad thing, I have a hard time wanting to share my baby.  : )  Internationally, you will get matched, you will pick up you child and the adoption will be closed.  This doesn't by any means mean that we won't have set-backs, heartbreak and change of plans.  We know this will be a rocky road, our prayers for our boy have begun already though and we are certain that in the end we will bring home exactly the child we are supposed to have. 

I see adoption through any route you choose as an awesome responsibility but also an amazing way to be blessed.  My girls now will have the opportunity to see first hand God's commands acted out and to know what it looks like to feed, care and love the needy.  They will experience diversity, patience, love played out before them.  What more honoring way could we begin to honor Christ for his gift of a relationship with our Lord than adoption? After all, it is a direct picture of how God has adopted us, poor and needy as we are, into His family.  I will forever be grateful for that gift and the gift of whatever children he allows me to take care of on this earth, whether biologically or legally.

We have two children in heaven and while I would have loved to have held them on this earth, I have no doubts that they are at the most perfect "daycare" ever imaginable.  In turn, I look forward to the honor of taking care of one or more of God's needy here on earth and hopefully, with God's help, leading them back to heaven with Christ one day.  An opportunity they, most likely, would not receive without us.

If you've stayed with me through this I hope these rambling thoughts have at least somewhat brought a little more clarity to why we are tackling this adventure. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

It's Coming.....

Change for Congo is coming! 

Get ready for an opportunity to help us bring
our little boy home!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Perks of the Job...

Taryn after giving Brecken (who is in the throws of drool-dom) a hug:

              "Mommy!  I got baby syrup on me!"

Much cuter that the more common terms of drool or slobber.  I think we'll keep it!