This is the longest Blog Post you'll ever read. But one of the most beautiful stories you'll ever read, worth every detail, nothing could be left out..... Try take moments here and there to finish reading it.
After hearing of this wonderful family I contacted Amrei and she emailed me her story : here it is: God Bless this wonderful family. Somewhat makes me wish for a huge family;)
Background and Run-Up
When I was about 23 years old, my missionary parents became very involved in looking after abandoned babies. Many little ones came through our home, where they were loved totally and completely until their ‘forever family’ was found. Babies stayed with us for between 3 and 13 months
and during this time I experienced first-hand how easily one
can love such a child – no matter what age, health condition,
race.... it birthed in me a desire to one day adopt too and give
a child a home, where they would learn about Jesus and what
true family should look like.I carried this dream around with me for many many years...laying it down when I married Gerhard who did not feel called to do this, but greatly desired his own children.In 2007, after 2.5 wonderful years of marriage, we then had our first child, Kellan, followed by Kezia 2.5 years later and Tai in 2011. When number 3 arrived,
our family felt truly complete and our hearts were full and our lives busy.
My dream of one day adopting had been long since shelved
and it wasn’t something we spoke about much. At this point I
need to be honest and say that doing this was not an easy process. Dying to one’s dream and supporting one’s hubby in his calling is not always easy, but I knew that this is what God and the Bible demanded of me.... despite some tears in the
early years, I knew that being in Gods will and walking in His
role / mandate for me would ultimately be much more
fulfilling and would bring peace and joy into our marriage,
rather than bucking and screaming could ever achieve!
Early in 2013 we lost a very special friend of ours, Morne, to cancer. After two years his struggle had come to an end and a real hole was left behind in our hearts and in our lives. Along with it came a questioning of: what is life all about, what is our purpose, are we making a difference, are we living to the full...God started speaking to Gerhard very specifically during
this time – through his Word, others’ stories, things he read
and heard, in his dreams and during an amazing mission trip
to Zambia. God started challenging him on the concept of
adoption, revealing His Father’s heart for orphans.... this wasn’t an overnight thing, but gradually Gerhard’s heart started softening, thinking, wondering, asking God for His will for our lives in this regard.
I on the other hand had no clue about this and was happily living my life filled with 3
kids, hubby, church, family, friends, sport.... Although I felt
content and fulfilled, something was missing.... witnessing
death so closely does make one take a closer look at one’s own life, desires, priorities, time and money spent. One thing we had all learnt through Morne’s suffering and death was
that none of us ever knows when it will be OUR time and we
had to make every minute count. I for some time had
grappled with ‘what my purpose truly was’, ‘was this truly all
that life was about’? I knew I wanted to make a difference; I
wanted to walk in God’s will, purpose and plan for my life...
but I didn’t know what that was...I loved being a wife and mom, but I knew that there was more...
baby dedication. After years of longing for a child of their own, God had led them down the road of adoption.
And so here their little miracle, Zoe, was being prayed over
and dedicated to the Lord – what a celebration! Afterwards a
couple of us went out for a cup of coffee, amongst them the
social worker, who had facilitated Zoe’s adoption. Over coffee
she asked us when it would be our turn – she knows
my family, so knows that my whole family has a heart for
this. To avoid any awkward moments I quickly answered that we didn’t feel called to go down this avenue.... this was quickly followed by Gerhard saying “I’m not sure, maybe we’ll be in touch with you soon.”I almost fell off my chair.....
journal and shared with me some of the moments, scriptures and stories that God had so clearly highlighted to him. He
told me about his journey through this subject over the last
couple of months.At this point I wasn’t sure if this was truly
something I still desired...I was busy enough, I was happy...but we sat and prayed and asked God to give us a
‘sign’ together, so we would truly know that this was Him prompting us.That same night we went to church and our
pastor, Adam, started his preach with something like “tonight I am going to speak about being adopted”. Well that was the
end of us...I didn’t hear another word and the tears sat fairly
close to overflowing.... elation, fear, confusion, a million
questions.... but one thing we knew – God knew when, how,
who, where, what...we had to hold on to that.
From Adoption to Fostering
was hosting a big international conference here in Cape Town and we were hosting two guys from Isle of Man in our home.
What an amazing time it was! I saw one of them reading a book called “ Home for Good” by Krish Kandiah. I asked
John about it and he started sharing.what he was reading
about – FOSTERING! Up to this point I /we had never even
considered this.... too much admin and too much heartache
that could be involved...as he told me that there are
system in the UK, my heart started breaking! If the numbers in the UK were so high, how must things be in a country like SA – and I didn’t have a clue!Early August 2013, I read a friend’s face book post, in which she said that a friend was going to “ lose” her 3 grandchildren to the orphanage system if no one was found that could take them in. My heart broke for this granny and for the kiddies...for a week this stayed in my mind and on my heart...I never mentioned anything to Gerhard but asked God to please take care of them...I knew 3
would be too much, it wasn’t an option. Neither was
fostering...there was too much risk. I wanted to love an
‘unwanted’ child, but I didn’t want the baggage, the
complications of family still being involved, appearing,
demanding the kids back, court appearances...I
couldn’t do that to my own heart or to those of my family.
mentioned it to Gerhard. Straight away we sat down as a
family and prayed about it. Gerhard asked us if anyone felt
anything and Kellan (6 years old) said “Pappa, if these children don’t have a mommy and daddy that love them and can look after them, then of course Jesus says YES.” Childlike faith, so simple, so uncomplicated!Gerhard went out that night with some guys and chatted to them – the idea seemed ludicrous. Then he checked his bank account. We were in the red. Having one’s own business is not always easy and financially we just couldn’t do this. He called me and said
“sorry babes, the answer is NO”. These three were not for us.
Honestly, I felt a sense of relief! I kept praying for them, trusting that God had a plan...they needed a home by the end
of September.So we started praying and talking more and
more about the option of fostering and eventually decided to
go get screened and leave it in God’s hands. This happened early in September 2013. Straight from the screening we went to the police station to get our police clearances and we were
both filled with such an excitement and expectancy! We
couldn’t wait to see what God had up His sleeve for our little
family!What we could never have foreseen is that within 30
minutes of getting home we’d get our first call for a placement.... 3 days later we’d already been contacted for 8 children! Never had we known how
those...it started dawning on us then that there was a very good chance that we would be a family of 6 come
well as the children’s granny, who was a part of our broader
church (we didn’t know each other and had never met) I
followed the plight of these 3 little ones. I got sent a picture of them and this picture wouldn’t leave Gerhard or my hearts
and minds. But three really was just too much. It wasn’t an
option. God had another plan for them and for us, we
believed!On the 16th of September I got a call from a social
worker – THEIR social worker. Was there no way we could
take them? There was no one else...and should we be unable to they would be split up into different orphanages. They
were 6, 2 and 1 years old – almost the same ages as our own
kids. My heart broke at the thought of them being split up...I imagined my own three being split up...no God, there had to be another way! There were only 4 days left, then this ‘fate’
would happen to these kids.... the social worker said it would only be for 3 months and in that time she would continue
looking for another family. She needed an answer that same
day by 5pm. I knew that this decision couldn’t be made out of
a place of emotion or pity; I knew this needed to be a God
decision! Gerhard coincidentally was working from home that day. I went into the study and told him the hard cold
facts. All he said was give me 30 minutes. As I walked out of
the study I remember thinking “I can’t believe he didn’t just
say NO...”Gerhard in those 30 minutes got on His knees and
spoke to His dad in heaven...in our own strength we couldn’t
raise 6 kids under the age of 6...physically, emotionally
to three elders in our church, to whom we have been accountable over the years. They know us well – our Bshortcomings and limitations, but also our hearts; they love us and they love Jesus and we knew that they would be brutally honest with us.After 30 minutes I went back into the study...I knew what the answer would be. I had complete
peace in submitting to the answer my husband would give
me. Then Gerhard looked at me and said “Jesus says YES!”
WHAT?????? Are you sure? REALLY?
saying that He would equip and guide us, that He would provide, that we wouldn’t be alone, that this was good and this was right. To our absolute surprise all three elders also
gave us their thumbs up, feeling peace about this decision
and promising to back us in it. Oh my hat!
And so a “We said YES” What’s App group was created for
our closest friends and family...across the board responses
were excited and completely hyped (mixed with the oh my hat are you mad chirp J). A few busy days of getting
mattresses, bedding, clothing, bedrooms, cupboards, cots etc
sorted out followed. When we bought our home 3 years ago
we couldn’t have imagined that God had a bigger plan in
blessing us with huge double-sized bedrooms, a wonderful
garden, a big playroom, a dining room table to seat 12 and
lots of place to play... We just thought we were super blessed,
but He knew that we’d really need it all one day
Our friends, family and church were simply amazing! Loads of things were dropped off; people just jumped in...our kids
were so excited! They couldn’t wait.... 4 more sleeps and we would be a family of 8 – and I would be a mommy of 6...three of whom I’d never met! Oh Jesus, give me strength, give me
love, and give me wisdom.... I was excited! I was petrified.
2013. The social worker had to take the case to court first so that it would all be legal and then she would fetch the kids
from the place of safety – an amazing single mom – where
they were currently being cared for. I was a nervous wreck and eventually said to Gerhard that I just had to get out, had
to get away.... I went to walk around one of the nearby shopping centres ...a sense of disbelief and denial about what
I was about to embark on. It all just felt so surreal...it had
happened so quickly; it was bigger than we ever thought it
would be...but it was all God! In that we could rest!!!!
Finally, in the early afternoon, the doorbell rang and there
they were! Oh how our hearts were filled with a love for them. All we wanted was to hug them, to make them feel loved, safe, to promise them forever. Their eyes were dead, untrusting,
scared... especially Amber, the oldest one (almost 7 years
old), we were worried about. She had been through so much!
I quickly established that nice shoes were a way to her heart.
Amazing people we to this day have not yet met, had blessed
us with a whole wardrobe for Amber...amongst them about 8
pairs of shoes – and some real girly bling and high heel ones.... Amber couldn’t believe that they were all hers....
quickly she had a princess dress on and was parading around
in her new shoes. A small kink in her wall made...
night. This was the first time we met her too.... the two little
ones clung to her, to what they knew and was familiar. Our
kids became the biggest catalysts to breaking the ice,
breaking down walls...through play, toys, unconditional love,
fun and laughter all three of them started venturing a little bit further away from the hem of their granny’s skirt into out
home and into our hearts.Our first family meal that night was overwhelming.... Blake at about 18 months had up to a few
weeks ago only been used to milk with sugar in it. Paige and
Amber were not familiar with veggies.... our kids had from
small eaten everything.... we had brought them up to eat
anything and everything, to get something healthy into their
bodies every day. They understood the value thereof. To our 3 new little ones this was all new...tears, meltdowns.... we
didn’t know these kids, how did we handle this.... how would our children handle this?That first night Gerhard and myself
were lying in bed and I experienced one of the worst anxiety
attacks I have ever experienced. Both of us were nauseous,
both completely doubting that we could do this. All I wanted
to do was press rewind back to Monday and tell the social
worker “sorry no”. Lying in Gerhard’s arms and with worship
music playing we prayed; we really needed God to come still
our hearts and our minds.That first night the 2 little ones
slept right through. Blakey’s hands were clenched...he never
relaxed. Amber, the eldest, woke up about 20 times to check if here sister was ok...what six year old does that? Eventually
she crept in with her granny and fell asleep.And so a whole
new chapter of the Claassen family started.... the next 3
months would change and impact us all forever! And then it
would just be us 5 again...We managed to get her into Kellan’s Grade R class and so an intense 6 week programme
started of trying to get her school ready.... she was so far
behind...numbers, letters, colours, general knowledge,
puzzles, games, socially, fine motor, gross motor.... all things
she had not been exposed to; things that our kids just
generally grow up with.The teacher said to me that bar a
miracle there was no chance and it would not be fair to push
her into grade 1. We knew that if she didn’t make it, she
would need to go to a special needs school. Amber
amazing teacher, Elmarie, and the school psychologist who
really gave us amazing guidance and fought for our ‘cause’
and with the help of a good friend, Jenny, we started tackling
the near impossible task. It took me 2 weeks to teach her
Monday – Sunday..
.I often got very frustrated and
despondent...I was so grateful to have extra help in this area
and I realized that home schooling most certainly was not a
part of my callingJ6 weeks later she would be evaluated...in three different areas. The best possible mark she could get
was 7. She scored: 5, 5 and 6!!!!! Oh how proud we were of
her!!!! She put her mind to it, understood the consequences
and worked with the result that she was Grade 1 ready!!!!
and me. We had told the kids that they could either call us
Aunty Amrei and Uncle Gerhard or Mama and Papa – we
wanted them to make the decision and feel comfortable. Both Amber and Blake quickly called us Mama and Papa, but Paige took a bit longer. For the first while Paige called me
‘Taminan’ – we never figured out why or what that meant in her mind – and Uncle Gerhard. Within a few weeks I became Mama, but she took longer with Gerhard – somehow she was
guarding herself, not trusting fully.
We knew this would take
time.The littlies would accompany me to gym and after a
couple of screaming sessions at the Kids Club they grasped the fact that I would ALWAYS come back to fetch
them...something that had never been a certainty with their
parents.They just flourished with the new love and attention
they were receiving. It didn’t take long for Blake to sleep
relaxed, with open hands in his bed. Tai (6 months older, but
substantially bigger) quickly became his ally and protector.
Paige seemed starved for love and affection.... still now any
opportunity she gets to get a hug, to sit on your lap, to cuddle
in bed with you, she grabs. No toy or game is ever more
important! Even the loudest bursts of screaming and crying
would just be in order to get some attention.... after a hug it would always almost emerge that there was no real reason for the scream.... just looking for a cuddle. Her vocab was very limited. The most we got out of her was a rhyme: “Mommy in the kitchen cooking the wice, daddy in the bathroom, washing the hair...” she repeated this over and over and over
during the first week...then the dam walls broke and she
hasn’t stopped talking since.... story upon story upon story...
it has been a joy to watch!Dinner time had always been one of or favourite times of day as a family. We loved to sit to
together and chat, laugh and share. It was always a happy
time. But for 2 months this was going to become one of my
These kiddies had not been exposed to
fruit and veg and had certainly not learnt any healthy eating
habits...and so the battle began. Most evenings we would
endure 1-2 hours of screaming just to get them to swallow
something.... or if they liked something they would stuff their
mouths so full that they couldn’t swallow.... especially Paige always seemed to be very worried about when and if we were
going to eat again...but I am proud to say that after 2 months of perseverance – especially on Gerhard’s part, many tears
(by big and small) - we now have 6 kids that will eat
absolutely anything – and that with a grateful heart! Another battle won. In many areas it was a true battle for us to teach and enforce uniform standards, rules, boundaries and sets of
consequences. Our children had grown up with these things and knew and understood that there were consequences –
good and bad – to behaviour and decisions. Our three new
littlies had not been taught these things at all! Two sets of
rules was not an option, yet we had to be sensitive to their
past, their abuse and the fact that we needed to win their
hearts and their trust. This also meant explaining to our own
kids that in some instances we needed to exercise grace; that
they still had to learn what they already knew.Kellan took his
responsibility of looking out for Amber at school very
seriously. No one would mess with her. He would protectively
– and often also competitively – help her with her work and
teach her how do to things. Two weeks after they’d arrived,
his teacher, Elmarie, spoke to me, saying she had had a good chat with Kellan asking him how he was feeling through this all... he did open up to her and say that he sometimes battled
having Amber around, because he didn’t always want to be with her, but he wanted to play with his friends and he
sometimes didn’t feel like sharing with her at home. Gerhard
took a walk with Kellan that afternoon and had an ice-cream
with him in the park and they had a good chat... he released
him from having to look after Amber at school all the time
and spoke to him about the hard and sacrificial things around
this and what God had called us to and what made it super
special. It was a true heart to heart, a real special time and
Kellan just got it!Despite some normal frustrations, Kellan
and Amber have a very special bond and can spend hours in
their own world together, but we have also realized how very
important it is that they have separate friends, separate
sports and passions, to allow them to
them they would dress the same every day and do everything
together. This comes with the general squabbles, but nothing
keeps them apart...where the one is, there you will find the other...and generally this involves high heels, princess skirts,
with the arrival of his new siblings...within 4 days he simply
was no longer the baby in the house. Where he had been
carried around or fed, he now had to grow up, because there
was a much smaller,needier person around. And so
developed a true love / hate relationship between the two. As
much as Tai is extremely protective of Blakey and I mustn’t dare just give him a biscuit without one for Blakey too, he
also likes using his size and strength to let Blake know who’s
boss ;) but they are very cute together and I have no doubt that they will still have lots and lots of fun with each other!
Six weeks after the kids’ arrival the social worker came to see
how they were doing. She spent
some alone time with the two older ones...when showing
Paigey a picture of her mom, Paige did not know who she
was. When the social worker asked her where her mommy
was, she pointed to me in the kitchen. Amber told the social
worker that she didn’t want to live with her old parents
again,but she wanted to stay with us...I honestly think that
Blake and Paige have very little recollection of their time
before us – almost like its been blocked out. Amber
remembers, but more and more she is saying that she doesn’t
miss them, never wants to go back, that they weren’t nice parents. She’s cried bitter tears at the memories of how they
used to fight and hit each other.... what this poor child has all been through only God knows! Each child is just so special and so unique and brings something so amazing to our
family:Amber (7 years) is our creative little girl. She loves dancing, creating, arts and crafts and coming up with
imaginary games. She is eager to learn and just laps up anything about God and Jesus. She LOVES animals and is
happiest when she gets to play with one. It has been
absolutely amazing watching her grow and blossom over the past 4 months. There’s a great call on her life! A GEM
(meaning of her name) in God’s Kingdom!
tackle anything with gusto. He is extremely competitive by
nature and his batteries never run out.He is very eager to
please and has a very passionate and intimate relationship with Jesus and a real sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. He is
God’s MIGHTY WARRIOR (meaning of name).
hair and glasses, she gets attention and steals hearts
wherever she goes! Her favourite past time is smiling,
giggling and laughing and not much gets her down! She loves messy play and doesn’t have a competitive bone in her body.
She is an absolute delight! God’s FAVOURED ONE (meaning
of her name).
Paige (2.5 years) is our little cuddle monkey! As terrible-two naughty as she can be, as cute she is also. Out of the 6 she is
always the first wanting a hug or climbing onto your lap. Everything excites her... every ‘go brush your teeth’ or ‘come
lets go put on clothes’ is met with a loud YAY! She is also a
real dare devil and will try anything her older siblings can do
She is considerate and loves HELPING (Young Assistant –
meaning of her name).
Tai (2 years) has grown up so much over the past four
months. He is totally his own character – very mischievous, observant, not bothered by much. He is a real mommy’s boy, with his dads sense of humour he so often has all 7 of us in
total stitches. He is strong-willed and strong...and I have no
doubt he will dominate on the rugby field one day
TALENTED RIGHT HAND OF GOD (meaning of his name).
Blake (1.5 years) is our easy-going, happy little boy. He just
enjoys life and loves having so many big brothers and sisters who pfaff around him. He is a real boy, but in this tiny body...everywhere he goes people just want to eat him up! He
is a real pleasure and joy to have as the baby of our family! An ATTRACTIVE (meaning of his name) precious child – inside
and out!What a rich tapestry of beautiful individuals our
family has become! We are richer for each one of them!
about Jesus! This was something they’d only had very limited exposure to through their granny. As we read stories and
worshipped together, we watched true personal relationships
form with Jesus. Amber’s prayers almost daily bring tears to
our eyes – she has such a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. I remember her first prayer so clearly “Jesus, thank you that I don’t have to be scared anymore.”
The devil clearly had a grip on her in some way...one night at
dinner, Gerhard caught her in a lie and challenged her on it.
She started manifesting. It was horrible to see such a young and innocent child being tormented like that. Gerhard
handled it brilliantly. When he asked her to repeat after him “Jesus is Lord of my life” she said that she couldn’t say it...
After about 15 minutes of absolute torment and praying for
her and over her, she was able to say it. And with that the
fight was over and she was free – and absolutely exhausted!
This was another small insight to what these kids must’ve
been through and the doors that had been opened in their
God very clearly told Gerhard that was one of the big reasons he had brought them to us – to set them free from
the grip the devil had on them.Through Christ she has found
a real new identity and surety that she didn’t have when she
arrived. She is passionate – always making up worship songs, dancing, asking questions about Jesus. After being with us
for only 2.5 months she stood up in front of our whole church to pray loud into the microphone – such confidence, such
conviction. Just the other day we saw her sitting quietly, eyes
closed, listening to worship music. After a while she excitedly told us that she could feel Jesus touching her, like he was right with her! And on the 8th of March 2014 she gave her
heart to Jesus! What a happy day!!!! It’s times like these that
make all the hard work and tiredness so worthwhile!!!
Our own three too have grown so much during this time.
We’d always ‘preached’ to them about putting others first, sharing, loving those that don’t have, being generous... but
now as a family we truly started living it! Our kids have been
amazing in how they have opened up their hearts, rooms,
cupboards, toys.... no questions asked, they love it! They truly are brothers and sisters!!!
Health wise we also faced some challenges.... Amber arrived
with a terribly infected ear. It was so bad that I battled to hug her because the stench would make me want to throw up. It must’ve been so painful, but she’d had it for so long that it
had just become a part of her life. Some friends offered to
pay for an ENT for her and after 2 treatments and some
expensive drops the infection in both ears was cleared up –
no more pain and no more smell. From the one ear a huge
bead, the size of a jelly tot was removed...it seemed to have
been in there for years and this foreign object had been
causing all the infections on the one side. The other side sadly
was left with a big hole in the eardrum – something only
surgery can heal. This has also resulted in substantial hearing loss on that side and she at this point is not allowed to get any water into it – a slight frustration in this summer heat!
She also had some very rotten teeth and battled to chew
properly and therefore ate painstakingly slowly. A dentist in
our church kindly pulled / fixed all of these issues quickly,
efficiently and free of charge and all that discomfort is now long forgotten.
Paige had terrible digestive problems and arrived here with a rock hard and very swollen tummy. We were told that this was due to stress. For the first few days her tummy didn’t
work at all, but within a week or so that had normalized. At first she also experienced nightmares, but as she started
praying with us, those just disappeared.
When Blakey arrived he was very malnourished. At around 18 months he only had 6 teeth and he is just tiny in size. His
nails were brittle and had fallen out from the drug abuse, but have grown back beautifully. He is growing nicely and putting on weight – almost hitting 10kg now! He’s also sporting 13
teeth now (3.5 months later) and sleeping beautifully through
the night. This little monkey just steals hearts wherever he
goes ;)We noticed that his testicles had not dropped. One of
the biggest speculations for this is alcohol abuse and smoking
during pregnancy. We read up on this on the internet and it
was clear that he would require an operation before the age of two. Gerhard decided it was time to pray for this and so he did...unbelievably the next day both testicles were down in the sack...we couldn’t believe it and kept
checking for a couple of days, just to make sure – another miracle!
Experiencing life and things through these three little
ones’eyes has been such a joy. Things that we and our
children just took for granted became huge highlights and blessings.... having a pool, having your own bed, new clothes, having a party for your birthday and getting gifts, going on
holiday, going to the beach, eating an ice cream, buying a
school bag, having three meals a day, not having to sit in
queues to see a doctor, sports day at school, going to Sunday
School, having someone come visit, having a picnic, riding a
bike, memorizing `Monday to Sunday’, experiencing all the
wonders and joys of the festive season...putting up a tree,
counting down to Christmas Day, making cards and gifts,
Carols by Candlelight, handing out cookies to the
the excitement of Christmas Eve, taking goodie boxes to the petrol attendants, security guards and police station on Christmas Day....how rich our lives are! How we take so much for granted! We are blessed way beyond anything we
deserve – thank you Jesus!
Amber turns 7 and Tai turns 2 – October 2013
There are two stories that I just need to share
here...we had a combined Minnie and
Mickey Mouse party for Tai and Amber
about 5 weeks after they’d arrived with us.
The day before her party I asked if she’d like
to bake some biscuits with me. She asked,
“What’s bake?” What 7 year old had not
baked with their mommy before? I had to
help / show / explain every little step, it was all new, but she
just loved it! While she was at school the next day I set up
and decorated for the party that afternoon. The absolute awe
and disbelief on her face when she got home and saw it all “Is
that all for Me?” she said...she couldn’t believe it. She walked around and really examined and saw every little detail...so precious!People really spoilt her and she couldn’t believe that all these presents were for her. After everyone had left she
took them all and hid them away in her room. I was slightly
annoyed as we are big on sharing and asked her why she did that. She said, “Because I don’t want anyone to take them away.” I explained to her that no-one would take them away
from her, but that she needed to learn to share all her things, just as Kellan, Kezia and Tai had to share all their things with
them now. I asked her if she’d ever gotten a present before
and she said “yes I would get a present on my birthday, but
when I woke up the next day it would be gone”...did the
parents pawn this for drugs one wonders? No wonder she
wanted to hide everything away!The second story was when I told the kids that we had been blessed with an amazing
week’s holiday to Pinnacle Point. Our kids were ecstatic.
Amber freaked and started crying. Once she was calm I sat down to chat this through with her. She asked but why do we
need to go, who’s all going, are we all going to stay there, what are we going to do there, who’s going to be there, are we going to leave her there.... once I assured her that we would
never ever leave her there and we were all going to have a
nice time together as a family and we’d all come home together again as a family, she calmed down. We had one of
our best holidays ever – it was a very special time in a very
special place with very special people!
that the social worker on the case prior to her had told kids
that they were just going on a holiday when they were taken
from one place to another.... no wonder the meltdown!
On top of all these amazing blessings we have just been
totally blown away by the unbelievable support and
generosity of so many people around us – people we know
well, as well as people we’ve hardly or never met! People have gone way above and beyond in assisting us to make this an easy and stress-free journey. From a meal every Tuesday,
grocery shopping, lots of pantry items and shopping
vouchers, clothes, shoes and toys for the kids, linen,
Christmas gifts for the kids, surprise babysitting show-ups,
assistance with getting school stationary, school uniforms,
financial assistance allowing us a wonderful au pair, Silke,
two afternoons a week, nappies and wet wipes, reduced holiday rate to a beautiful home in Pinnacle Point and a
kombi big enough for us all to fit in for the week, free dentist
visits, sponsored ENT visits, car chairs, swimming gear,
bicycles, extra lessons, a free photo-shoot, a camp cot, milk
formula, a painting from Melanie du Toit, a bunk bed, a chest
freezer, therapy for Amber .... On our first Sunday as a family
of 8 our Josh Gen congregation even threw us a ‘pantry shower’ at church! Honestly every day and all around us
people are being Jesus’ hands and feet to us, being an integral part of this story! THANK YOU!!!
Going shopping, to gym, church or anywhere with 6 beautiful
children so close in age naturally draws many stares,
questions and comments. Sometimes I feel like a real
celebrity and joke about how I need to look semi decent when
I go out with all of them together, because of all the attention
they get J; it has opened many conversations and never before have I experienced such opportunity for sharing God’s
heart with people. It has been so exciting and such a privilege
to share our story and our journey with complete strangers in shopping centres and at gym, moms at school... from all
religious backgrounds; a story just so covered with the fingerprints of God. The responses have been so amazing, so
encouraging, so warm.
The most frequent question is “How
do you do it?” And in all honesty my answer is “By the grace
of God, one day at a time”.
We have truly experienced an open heaven of favour, grace,
patience, joy, wisdom and blessing over the past 4 months. Often Gerhard and I look at each other and say “but this is
easier than when we just had 3”. We thank Jesus for being
such a gracious and generous God, who is just so got our back and is so looking out for us! Proof again of when He calls us
to do something, He always goes above and beyond!
So before we knew it we were 2 months down the line and the social worker had made no progress on finding another
family for our three little ones...again we were faced with the
dilemma of them being split up amongst various orphanages
or us keeping them.... this time it would be for an indefinite period, that would be revalued / looked at every two years...oh my hat!!!! Indefinite was a whole other
ballgame...it hadn’t all been easy and I was tired. But split them up – how could we...
I need to be honest here and say that we experienced many
NO days. Many days I was overwhelmed and finished. As much as we witnessed amazing growth and made awesome memories together, we also experienced some real hardships
and struggles. The two girls were master emotional
manipulators and they could push us to the absolute limit. We had never experienced tantrums, screaming and pure
defiance like this in any of our own kids...it was such a hard
balance between gaining their trust and winning their hearts and at the same time teaching them about boundaries, manners and respect.
Even for our own kids this was a confusing time as the new
kids sometimes wouldn’t experience the same consequence
to a behaviour, as they would...rules and consequences had to
be different for a season, until we had won their hearts and gained their trust. They needed to know, understand and
believe that we did what we did out of a place of love and wanting the best for them.
On top of this having three languages in the home became a
real challenge. I had only ever dealt with my kids in German
and Gerhard only in Afrikaans and now these three new children only spoke English. To make them feel secure and
included we resorted to a lot of English being spoken. Quickly Tai and Kezia were almost only speaking English – although
they still understand everything in German and Afrikaans.
Where beforehand their play language had been German,
everything was English now. After about 3 months or so,
when we sensed and saw that the kids were settled, we started speaking more and more German and Afrikaans around the house. It has been absolutely amazing seeing how quickly Paige and Blake have learnt two extra languages. I
would say that they understand about 90 percent of what we
are saying!!! And Amber is an eager learner, often asking what things mean or are in German etc
new arrivals; I often felt detached and far away from my own kids and I missed them! I so realized the importance of
having one-on-one time with each child...on their level,
around their passions and personalities. With 6 small kids this is still a real challenge and one thing I so desire more of!
I also battled with anger towards the children’s parents and
family. How could they do this to their kids? How could
people be so selfish? Now I sat with the problems, the responsibility, the broken pieces... many many times I just had to run to Jesus to help me lay it down, forgive, get wisdom... I know I should pray for the parents to be restored, to become whole, to get on their feet, find Jesus so that they can all be a proper, normal- functioning and healthy
family...but I’m not there yet. The thought that maybe one
day we have to “hand” these kids back to their parents – total
strangers to us (and to them), people who just seem to be so
selfish and undeserving of being parents is something I am unable to get my head around at this point... God still has some work to do in my heart... and for now I need to focus on one day at a time and not worrying about the future.
Shopping has taken on a whole new meaning J
One thing I have to share here though is....I was in the shower the other day when God gave me a picture of Gerhard
preaching in front of a large crowd; He was older then, but in
his preach he said “All SIX of my children serve the Lord...some of them are here in ministry with me today”.
What a promise!!!!
It too is a challenge still having a paternal granny involved. She is a total stranger to us and there’s no history or relationship, and we both have two large families (with grannies and grandpas) ourselves that balancing her need to be involved is not easy. We know that this granny longs for
more time with her grandchildren, but we have had to be
wise and put some boundaries in place – for our families’
sake – not an easy thing to juggle month after month... I am
so aware of her granny’s heart and her desires and needs, but we had to find peace with the fact that we have a lot on our plate and that God called us to look after 3 children (which is
a huge task on its own) and that we didn’t need to feel any
obligation or make any commitments towards wider family...
So could we do this indefinitely? Once again we knew that in
our own strength we wouldn’t be able to sustain this. But we couldn’t make an emotional decision here...it had to be a God decision. Without Him we knew we couldn’t say yes.... so in
order for us to truly know that God was for or against it, we put in place 6 ‘markers’. They weren’t simple, walk-over things, but if they all 6 came through we knew we had our
- AddingthemtoourMedicalAidwouldneedtobeeffortlessand from
- this kind of love...was safer! But we knew that had
to change – there could be no difference between them and our own
So how do you think it all turned out
sent us a mail a few days after we’d set our ‘markers’, saying that they
would like to give us the money towards
a vehicle and they would then set that off against our
inheritance one day
5and6outofa possible 7 (against all odds and predictions!) Onthelastdayofschool2013,wegotthecallsaying
that another pupil was leaving and that Amber was accepted
into Grade 1 (from number 72 on the list)
Paige for the first time ever said to Gerhard “I love you Papa”
– this did wonders for his heart! Shortly afterwards, I
overheard Amber singing a song thanking God for giving her the best new parents in the world. Our hearts were melting...it didn’t happen overnight, but every day they feel more and more like our own. A miracle of the heart is
We submitted this decision to the 3 eldership couples that
we’re accountable to and also chatted it through with both our sets of parents. This was a case of “it takes a village to raise a child” and we knew that we would need to live this and know that we had the backing of our family and the people God has set above us. Unbelievably all 5 couples gave us their 100% unconditional support and backing, wanting to be a
part of this journey – in prayer and friendship – to us and the kids. What a blessing! What a safety net accountability is!
I also took Kellan and Kezia out for an ice cream and spoke to them, asking them what they thought / felt about the kids
staying on... dumb question I guess.... They were horrified that there could even be a possibility of them leaving us!
God say I will back you in this.
So there you have it! We would say YES again – come what may...was I at peace – Yes; was I petrified – Yes; have I had moments of doubt – Yes.... but God had clearly spoken and
He would equip, guide and be with us every day, every step.... guess that’s one of my reasons for putting pen to paper here...so that I never forget how much God has truly been in this! How could I ever doubt!
amazing to see how friends and family started telling us how they had felt that “this was for good” (even before the children had even arrived with us, that “God would see to our
every need - no matter how small it would seem” – even to the point of a friend being prompted to buy me a Mascara....the same day I had said to God my mascara is
empty...please will you provide – God is just so into detail!!!
and when it trots, its an uncomfortable rhythm - very bumpy, unless you learn when to sit and when to stand. Then there's
a flow. God would give us a RHYTHM as a family and within our calling. She also got a picture of a store house in heaven (our store house). This store house was enormous and filled with what looked like millions of sweets wrapped in blue
shiny wrapping. God showed her that the content of the wrapping was not sweets, but each one represented a prayer made for them by many many people. Suddenly all the
"prayers" formed the shape of a huge sports arena and all the
"prayers" where the audience sitting in a massive stadium. Down in the middle was a 100m running track. She saw our family running the race and all the millions of prayers
cheering them on to finish the race...and we all did!
Another friend, Tracey felt that if we kept the other 3, we would be teaching our own 3 about sacrifice and what laying down your life for Christ Jesus truly means; there would be
no better example of true servant hood and sacrificial giving than what they would observe than this moment. She also felt strongly that this moment wouldn’t come again, it's a Kairos
moment. We say goodbye now, the chances of it happening again are slim.
Over the years Gerhard and myself have received numerous prophetic words about having a big calling and big capacity on our lives – confirmation came that it was for a time such
as this. Many words spoken over our lives have been around a father’s heart, a role model as a family, wisdom above and beyond in parenting, how we do family and how we parent
would be a ministry in itself, our plate enlarging and wearing different hats... for years God had been speaking promises, direction, purpose over our lives!
Just 3 or 4 weeks before the kids arrived in our lives, our
friend, Jenny Fraser, gave me a prophetic picture...Gerhard was playing chess. He would make a very out of character move....this would not be a move of logic / reason, but a move of the heart – Gods’ heart!
picture, where she saw our family as an intricate engineering machine being custom built for specific purpose and complicated jobs.
Proverbs 3: 5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In ALL your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.
John 14 : 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to
Acts 20 : 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more
blessed to give than to receive.
Philippians 4 : 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
2 Kings 4:1-7 Elisha and the Widow, there will ALWAYS be enough and more than
enough when this is God's will!
Through a newsletter from Angus Buchan we were reminded
that the Lord has not come yet, because there are those who still need to hear the Gospel; as well as
God is not interested in how we start, but He is more concerned about how we finish. So we will do our best in finishing the job we have started and trusting God to do the rest.
So of course my life has changed...it is full and loud and happy and busy.... by 9pm I am knackered. Bath time,
cooking, school lifts, school sports, meal time, getting dressed.... I’m not bored J my heart is full and I know that I know that I know that I’m walking in the calling and purpose
God has for my life – and my dream is being full- filled! I am extremely grateful; I feel so much richer for the past 4 months! But yes I have my fears – and I ask you to remember me and us in prayer...
- I am terrified of the possibility of the biological parents wanting the kids back...how will my children cope, should they lose their siblings one day; how does one simply
- hand over the children you love to complete strangers? When? How long? So many questions...but daily God reminds me of that verse that speaks about not worrying about tomorrow....
- I am scared of the loneliness – despite the busyness – that I have experienced over the past few months.... friendships have changed so much. Many have just faded away; invitations have died down (I guess it’s a lot to ask people to invite 8 people around J). I really pray and long for some close, solid, real friendships that I can walk
- this through with.
- My marriage – I need to put my husband and his needs / dreams first despite my full days.... pray for extra capacity, grace, understanding, quality time
- Finances – right now people have just showered us with their generosity, but what will happen in 2 years, 6 years.... then we’ll just be the Claassen 8 – will we be able to provide? We need to get 6 kids through
- school, studying, holidays,
clothing, food, medical costs (we only have hospital cover)...
- Family involvement – there is still some family of the children involved with us. This is not always easy and
- often tricky to handle.... what’s best for the kids? What’s best for our family? What’s right
OUR money.... oh how I wish I could master this....by God’s grace I will keep striving to hand these things over to Christ – He knows!!!!
So here we are now at the beginning of 2014, a great adventure ahead of us...one I pray will glorify God in all we do and say...may our lives truly be vessels for Him, even if its just to love our 6 little munchkins into the Kingdom. What a privilege that He would’ve chosen us!