Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I haven't written since Friday. If this has caused your heart to despair, fear not! If you hadn't really noticed, hey! pay attention!

We're in St. Louis, doing prayer meetings and staying in a host home. Lemme tell you about host homes. We travel a decent amount, with the Radiants, and often, we sleep in people's houses. Sometimes we sleep in twin sized racecar beds, sometimes we sleep in guest apartments, all kinds of houses and setups and families. I think I know how to work every kind of shower fixture in the United States, even the ones that have a little hidden ring in the faucet... half the team took baths before someone figured that one out. 

Anyways, usually we live in a house for one night, maybe 2. So three weeks is asking a lot. Our hosts here have been super gracious, but man! monitoring toddlers in someone else's house is a hard job. 

There are 2 golden retrievers here, a big beautiful sleepy one and a backup puppy, who was extremely excited when Toby moved in and now tries to hide behind the ottoman. Toby and Brynn both love the big dog. They pet him and talk sweet to him and try to ride him, occasionally.  I am not a dog person, in fact, I am somewhat opposed to animals in general, but these are good dogs. If I were forced to have a dog or deny Christ, I would get a golden retriever. 

Lord, I'm tired. If we do 21 days in Sacramento, I might just ask for a padded cell for me and the wee ones... 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Last night, we took a dangerous gamble. We gathered up our hungry young and took them to the movies. We've tried to take all 3 before, but it was a disaster and so we took a few years off. This one, we're counting as our first official family movie.

We caught a matinee of Toy Story 3. They were all extremely excited, since Toy Story has been R2's favorite since, like, birth, and we have always had a surplus of Buzz and Woodys around, as well as the occasional Jessie or Bullseye or you know, the little alien guys. There was only one other family in there, and they were of a similar excitable nature.

The movie was great, and the kids seemed to get it, even R2 was laughing at the right places, (and some of the wrong places). It's a little intense, though. Especially the climax- it is long and really suspenseful. I thought Toby would bail, but he was okay. Brynn was unaware of the crisis, smacking popcorn loudly and laughing and saying things like, "Lookit that silly bear!" about the villain and such.

Speaking of popcorn. Fact: I cannot eat a small amount of movie popcorn. I cannot watch a theater movie without popcorn. I always get extra butter, eat too much, and lay around like an oil-covered duckling afterwards. (Too soon?)

Anyway. My baby girl has shown her eating abilities before, especially when it comes to bacon. She has never turned down bacon. She has to be restrained from eating bacon out of the trash can, post-meal, and I feel her pain. All that to say, she went nuts on the popcorn.

We bought a small bag for $145.70 for all of us to share, and once she figured out she could hold the bag for everyone, she stayed in her seat and got her focus on. The whole 2 hours, she sat glued in her seat, wide eyes on the screen and tiny hands in the bag-to-mouth configuration. I had the brief parental thought, "Maybe she's eating too much popcorn..." but it was her first movie and I figured, what the heck.

When the lights came up, the bag was empty. An hour later, I put her in her playpen for bedtime, and all the popcorn came back to us. That's right. She chucked. There was some pretty major excitement among the younger set about the mess, and I cleaned it up amidst a lot of high pitched screaming. The MOG was leaning over the kitchen counter, face devoid of color as he tried valiantly to think of something he could do to help that did not involve cleaning up puke or pukers. (He's 3 days or so into a fast, and the ol' schnozz is on high alert)

So there you go. Brings back memories of the time my dad let me eat a 3 pound bag of Reeses' cups, just to see what would happen. I was 14, in his defense. He was sadistic, in my defense. We both deserved what happened.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I drove to St. Louis yesterday. It took 4 hours. Now, you might be like, “Ho-hum…” because I live in a van half the time, but this was remarkable, for the following reasons. I, contrary to popular opinion, am not a skilled driver.

I didn’t get my license till I was 21, and that was after 2 failed attempts. (Curse you, parallel parking). I am competent now, and if I have my GPS I can make it out of my driveway without calling the MOG, but I prefer to keep it in a 15 mile radius or so.

Also, I have never driven more than 2.5 or 3 hours, even on multiple family trips to Texas, and that was only because the other driver in my car warned me that if someone else did not drive, he was at risk of steering us into a nearby 18 wheeler. (I did that once, accidentally, and lived to tell the tale, but some are not so brave)

Third, I have 3 children. Some of you have 10, 12, 144 children and you take them all everywhere and they have matching denim jumpers and they mind. I don’t have any of those. I have pretty good travelers, but they need a lot of fueling. Some kids watch DVDs on roadtrips. Mine eat. It makes sense, apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and all that. Yesterday I had pre-made baggies of popcorn, which I tossed wildly behind me and hit people 3 out of 5 times, so, success. Other than that, we had long periods of book reading, interrupted occasionally by baby cussing. 

Anyway, all that to say we made it. 1 drive-through lunch, and 2 I’m-pulling-this-car-overs, which is fantastic for 4 hours. I feel a great sense of accomplishment, which all the guys around here who regularly drive 15 hours in the mountains in the dark are not impressed by. I also feel hungry, which all the guys who are on the 3rd day of a fast are not impressed by. I also feel concerned, grammatically, about by use of “by” at the end of those sentences.

Stay tuned for this kind of hard-hitting narcissist documenting!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Very soon now, I will start talking about adoption again. We're in the waiting, and it's just a matter of time... and I still need to raise like $20,000+ dollars, so I'll start being creative and selling T-shirts and maybe blood or kidneys, and I will preach at you again and make you think about starting an orphanage in your apartment building or something.

I think I needed an emotional break from it all, both from the disappointment of losing this potential baby and more, really, from some of the critical feedback I got in Texas. Most of it was just teaching moments- this is what adoption is, this is how it works, this is why it costs so much. I can handle that. I have a much harder time when it's anonymous reports coming back to me, of really hurtful and sharp statements. I can't defend myself against the faceless, and I really don't want to try to take on that kind of stuff here, because I hate it when blogs go defensive and negative.

I have taken it in, swallowed the meat and spit out the bones. In other words, where there was truth, I try to take it, and separate it from the unkindness, and grow. Ouch.

Anyway, I feel mostly recovered. Therefore, I will soon jump back on my soapbox and answer some of the questions that came in a couple of weeks ago.

In the meantime, ponder this. An aquarium in a toilet. I don't have a great track record with fish, but I think this is awesome. And if something went wrong and the toilet bowl filled with goldfish, that would be kinda awesome, too.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I have this pre-tour strategy of eating all the groceries in the house before leaving town. It makes for some interesting meal combinations. I have it down to an art form, but this week, fate kicked me in the menu planner. We were stricken with Hand Foot and Mouth disease. What is this, 1100 AD? maybe you're asking. Good question. I don't know anymore.

You go to bed all secure and comfortable, with your old but still technologically advanced iPhone and all of your children relatively healthy, albeit the occasional prosthetic eye or ventriculoperitoneal shunt; then the next morning you wake up to a "Go" phone from Best Buy and spotted children in the throes of a plague, or a rash, anyway.

Anyway, it delayed our journey somewhat, hacking my grocery plan all to pieces. I took the spotted ones to Walmart (sorry, germaphobes) and succumbed to multiple impulse buys, like PopIce and Doritos, because, frankly, I'm a sucker for Toby.

The disease seems to have passed us by, probably because of the Fruity Pebbles DynoBytes.

Friday, June 18, 2010

I used to be hardcore. That means something different depending on the circles you run in. In our world, that means long road trips, sleeping on a blanket on the floor of a gym, fasting food and sometimes water for the sake of a cause, and pouring myself out for hours in prayer and worship and just standing in whatever weather, along with moving around the country and changing everything overnight because someone had a dream.

I had one kid back then, and he didn't talk, and he ate whatever we put in front of him, and he giggled for 8 hours while we drove. I'd put him in a playpen with noise cancelling headphones during worship and he would play with 3 blocks for hours, if necessary.

Things have changed. The new guys, while amazing travelers, are normal kids. They gripe about the travel, the volume, the food. They melt down and attack each other when they don't sleep. They try to escape childcare and play the barnacle with me, the boat. And somewhere in here, I have forgotten how to rough it. I don't remember how to fast with tenacity. I don't know how to, or really even want to, train the little ones to be quiet in church.

So I am trying to psyche myself up for this 21 day intensive in St Louis, where we'll be fasting some, and leading worship, and praying, and dreaming. We even have a host home, with a kitchen and beds and everything! Still, I am dreading being out of my comfort zone, which is pretty wide...

When did I turn into a wuss?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Today was supposed to be our meeting with the expectant mom we were matched with. We didn't meet because she changed her mind and decided to parent her baby.

I am sad, and I am disappointed. I am also relieved, because I have a LOT of money left to raise, and this is really the ideal time for her to change her mind, before we meet face to face and go to drs appointments and get emotionally invested at a deeper level. Also, if this girl is willing and able to parent, then that's best, anyway. My mind totally buys into that but my heart's got a little hiccup.

Switchfoot is in concert here on August 19th. I'd rather have a baby, but I will let myself be soothed with a sweet punch in the ears by rock and roll.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I'm back! The enormous public outcry can stop, Beth. Fate conspired against me this weekend and killed my iPhone, followed quickly by zapping all the wi-fi I was cribbing all over the state of Texas, leaving me entirely internet-less and sending me into a sort of withdrawal. It was terribly, terribly stressful and I am greatly relieved to be back on my own personal wireless signal.

So, a recap. Saturday: dropped my phone. Then, the Lone Star Baby Banquet! Julie and Jennifer and others pulled off an amazing night, the place was so beautiful and the food was awesome. We had a much smaller turnout than expected, and I was a little bummed to not see more familiar faces, but when it was all done, we raised over $1500 and got to really share our hearts and hopefully, inspired some others to adopt and support adoption. We were so blessed by everyone who came, it was a very joyful night of friends and family.

The MOG and I got to have a night away, the last one before we are a family of 6, and then we drove back to Kansas City in the Radiant van. It was a long, long, long, sticky hot ride. I'm so glad to be back home for a couple of days before we pack back up and head to St Louis for 21 days.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Maybe you're asking yourself, "What the heck, self? Why should I pay for somebody else's kid? Nobody paid for my kid." or some such. Let me try to help out.
Let me throw the disclaimer in here that I am talking about adoption in general, and not our adoption specifically. Obviously we are fundraising, but more importantly, I just want to shed some light on the whole topic.
One of the key elements you have to understand about adoption is - the kid is already here. We are talking about a person, in utero or out of it, that has already joined our world and will live here, one way or another. Adoption is one way to provide that child a healthy, stable family. 

Because it is so expensive, and because it is a mercy ministry, and because it is time sensitive, fundraising is extremely common, in churched and unchurched circles, among all income levels. Go take a spin around the web; it's easy to find.  

Fundraisers, and adoption, are about the child. It's time sensitive, because by the time you are in the process, a baby is already on its way, or a child is already being passed through the system. Taking a 10 year break to save $30,000 extra is not really practical when it comes to adoption, it has to be done quickly. 

So, then, what about missionaries? People raising support- should they adopt? Yes. 

If that offends you to think of people raising support and helping orphans, then don't send them money. The truth is, missions is  a job, and the people who support missionaries do so out of confidence and faith that they are paying for a good thing. They believe in what they support, and they pave the way for missionaries to give themselves to causes that don't pay a salary. Adoption is a natural response of a missions heart. 

Adoption is a ministry. It is a way that people add to their families, too, and that's great, but ultimately it is an attempt to give a child a better life. That cause should move your heart. It moves the heart of God. 

So, if you know of someone who is in the process of adopting, and you want to join with them and God in protecting the fatherless, then you have been given an opportunity, a door. That’s what it is. It’s a chance to be part of something bigger than yourself. Take it or leave it. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I’m writing a series here about the details of adoption, and trying to answer some of your questions. Eventually, I will talk about something else, but you should read these, because even if you don’t care, every now and then I say something hilarious, or if you need a reason to hate, I might give you one. ;)

So, why does it cost so much? That’s probably the question I have been getting asked the most, next to what if the baby is really a demon? One thing at a time, folks.

There are a myriad of opinions as to why it costs what it does. If you are one of those who believes deeply in corporate greed and conspiracies, you could find some in adoption. Like everything else, there is corruption. I’d like to think there’s less now than ever before. It’s undeniable that there is a market to wealthy white couples who can and will pay outrageous amounts, because that’s what it costs, and there is an adoption industry that markets to that demographic. (I’m not hating on white people. I like white people)

Reform is needed, but realistically, adoption would still be somewhat costly. The fees you pay go to pay social workers for both sides, attorneys for both sides, other agency workers, often living and medical expenses for the birthmom, and then tons of small application and government paperwork fees.

The good news is, you get a baby. Also good news: if God calls you to it, He’ll help you pay for it. There are numerous foundations and organizations that provide grants or loans to adopting families, there is a government tax credit, up to $10,000, and fundraisers are, like I said, common and useful.

I’m trying not to bore you with terribly long entries. I plan on writing more about money, including “Why the heck should I pay for someone else’s kid?” “I’m poor, should I adopt?” and others! Submit other questions you might have and I will act like I know the answer!

First off, let me say I am by no means an expert on adoption, but I do have some knowledge, strong opinions, and the Google. So.

Money, part I:
There are 2 basic kinds of adoption,(1) “regular” adoption (2), which could be foreign or domestic, and foster adoption. I will leave out for now the discussion of short-term foster care, since that is not what I’m talking about today.

Foster adoption is typically free or extremely low cost, due to the high need for families for waiting children. I will now quote some internet statistics I believe to be true.

Approximately 500,000 American kids were in foster care in 2006. Of that number 100,000+ are legally available for adoption.

That’s a heck of a lot of kids that need families right now. You can find waiting kids in your area by googling search terms like "waiting children". Be prepared, though. It will break your heart to look at the photolistings. Do it anyway, the Lord loves a broken heart.

(sidenote: maybe you are wondering why I’m doing a domestic newborn adoption when the foster need is so high. Short answer is, it’s the easiest to start with while my bio kids are so little. I have every intention of fostering later, and for the rest of my life. We're just getting started )

Domestic adoption costs vary based on region, type of adoption, agency used, and the specific child and birthmother expenses. I have usually heard them ranging from about $10,000 to $25,000 pretty typically, with the occasional higher costs up to $40,000. Ethnic minority and special needs adoptions typically are a much lower cost, because of the difficulty finding homes for them.

International adoption costs can vary but are estimated to be anywhere from about $8000 to about $30,000. Again, special needs kids are in desperate need of families, and their program costs will be lower.

If these numbers are overwhelming to you, take comfort in knowing that they really do vary, and it doesn’t always cost that much and also, that adoption fundraising is extremely common, for Christians and non-Christians alike, and you can do it, too.

But your real question was WHY does it cost so much? This is a super long blog already, and there are like 5 offshoot blogs, so let me post this one and then post others as time permits, possibly even today.

(1) I am only thinking of 2, so it must be true.
(2) I am making this term up.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Adoption is confusing to a lot of people. It’s intimidating, the time, the paperwork, the money and the fear of not loving a non-biological child. Oh, and the concern that you may be adopting a hell-spawn that will terrorize you and end up having glowing red eyes and kill your pets.

Then there’s the questions about the birth family. Are they crazed psycho crackheads who will stalk you and secretly live in your garage for 4 years and then “take the baby back”?

And why does it cost so much? How could anyone ever adopt when figures are being thrown around are $20,000 to $40,000? Should people adopt when they can’t “afford” to pay for a baby? Why should you contribute to someone else’s adoption?

The overarching questions are, why adopt? Who should adopt? Who should not adopt? What is our Biblical responsibility toward orphans?

I’ll talk about these over the next couple of days, and other questions you may have. If you have things you wonder, just type them in the comments and I will attempt to answer them. Be anonymous if it makes you feel better.

Over the last week, I have been in a whirlwind of explaining adoption to family and friends, and there’s lots of questions out there- so shoot.

Worse case scenario, I have to google “What percentage of birthparents are in fact, robots?” and get back to you.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The short story is, we're matched! But you want the long story, don't you? Voyeurs.

I don't really have a long story yet. We were told about this potential baby/mom combo a week or two ago, and then yesterday she viewed our profile (pictures of me eating) (not really, because Tracie Loux is a rockstar profile maker) and picked us. 

(*fireworks*) The baby is a biracial boy, due August 17th, and we will get him at birth. (*fireworks*)

There's a million questions and answers, some that we don't know yet, and some that we'll keep private. 

I have lived long enough now to know that things don't always work out how you plan. Regardless, I'm dreaming today. And we are really, really excited about this baby. It's kinda like finding out you're pregnant at 8 months :) 

With this very exciting announcement comes some fees that will be due soon! Please come to our banquet  THIS SATURDAY or donate online if you want to be a part!

Monday, June 7, 2010

My twins would be six today. I celebrate them in my heart. 

I've been writing this blog entry all day long, and it's either been sicky-sweet pablum or kinda hopeless sounding, so I've been deleting blog entries all day long. 

I just deleted more, because words are really inadequate when it comes to describing this stuff. 

Evan Roberts Clark and Rees Howells Clark: you will always be remembered. Happy birthday, boys. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

Here I am in Texas. Typically, I take the first day back in town to say again how awesome Texas is, how it uses all the other states for paperweights, and how the food won't even have to be modified to fit on the New Earth, and how I am a Texan and I love it. I'll skip that today, because if you are any kind of faithful blog stalker, you already know that. 

So we drove all day yesterday, and I ate weird stuff. I don't know what it is about road trips... All the sudden I'm drinking Coke for breakfast (well, that's not weird) and reaching past the nuts and trail mix and such straight for combinations like caramel corn-on-the cob, (that is, a mound of caramel popcorn shaped like a cob) and jalapeƱo chips and the occasional Hot Fry and peanut butter M&M's and maybe a cheeseburger and then 2 tacos from Jack-in-the-Box. And some water to chase it all down and balance the Force. Oh, and a few powdered donuts. 

I can't help myself. If I am going to sit all day long in a aesthetically questionable van with some rockers and some toddlers, and the MOG will listen to some British guy read Colossians, and I am forced to read 3 fascinating novels, then clearly I need to eat disturbing things. 

Then, when we pull in at midnight, groggy and fairly nauseated, it is as it should be. Today, I ate a giant breakfast of French toast and strawberries and bacon, and then had fajitas for lunch. God bless Texas. 

On the agenda for this upcoming week: Radiant concerts every night and Mexican food every day and then raise thousands of dollars for Baby Clark on Saturday the 12th. 

For the Radiant schedule: click here! To donate to the adoption fund click here. To click on something that doesn't go anywhere, click here

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

First off, let me FREAK OUT for a second, because there is a potential match with a baby due in August. FREAK OUT, in a good way. I don't know enough at this point to say a lot more, and of course it might not work out. I've told my hopes not to get up, but, uh, they're up.

If this is the one, then it will be crucial that we fundraise as much as possible on the 12th. We might need close to $10,000 before June is over. So, if you weren't planning on coming, think about coming! Even if you just pay the ticket cost at $25, that will help. If you live far away, consider donating anyway, online or by mail- we need lots of help and now we're talking about a flesh-and-blood baby. 

Here's some practical stuff we really need. Please spread the word and jump in if you can help, remotely or locally.

1. We need a BIG bbq grill

2. We need someone(s) to cook large amounts of BBQ for the dinner. All meat and supplies provided.

3. We need someone to assist Julie Davis with coordinating the silent auction.

4. BIG one: we need donations for the silent auction. Goods and services, for example, if you make paper clips for a living, then you could donate some classy homemade paper clips. They will either be auctioned solo or grouped in a basket or package and auctioned with other things. 
Or, if you cut hair, give massages, babysit or some other service, you can offer those services and they can be auctioned. 

5. I'm sure we need other practical things, and I'll add them to the list 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

We leave for Texas in a couple of days, and Laundry Mountain still stands strong and undefeated in the basement. I could conquer it, if I really wanted to. There are obstacles, namely a rock band and their gear everywhere, and the fact that I am almost out of detergent, and the washer and dryer are in the dark, far corner of the basement where they used to keep the serial killers. Add to that the fact that it is summer and cuteness abounds, and add to that the fact that I am a lazy bum, and there you have it. Woman bested by laundry, on the 10 o'clock news.

The trouble with laundry is that it's a multi-step project. Dirty clothes must be sorted, to some degree, and then washed and then dried and then dried clothes must be harvested and sorted again and then folded and then put away. I'd like one machine to do it all. Like a robot, maybe you're saying. Well, no. I don't trust robots.

First you let a robot put your clothes away and next thing you know it's either going to be trying to assassinate the President or it starts developing human emotions and falling in love with you. And Apple's not making a robot anytime soon. It would be a Microsoft kinda thing for sure. So, skipping 4 paragraphs, let me sum up and say it wouldn't work. 

In other news, I probably just made my way onto my first Google alert list for using the phrase assassinate the President up there. Listen, guys. I was talking about a ROBOT. I'm clean.

What I want is simple. I want a machine. I put the dirty clothes in, and it washes and dries and folds them, and then puts them in a slot, and then I flip through a touch screen to pick which clean folded clothes I want, and it dispenses them. Is that so much to ask? Kenmore? GE? You listening? A housewife speaks.

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