Archive | April, 2009

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Princess and the Temper Tantrums

Posted on 30 April 2009 by Kari Gibson

It’s official. Princess Zoie is starting to show her diva side…throwing herself down on the floor or swinging her head back at full force or screeeching in high pitch agony. Her big brother barely missed a blow to the nose today. I’ve noticed a lot of us are going thru the same thing right now. Happy little angels that turn into raging tyrants in 2.3 seconds when they don’t get their way. Some of us have tried to ignore the spurts… thinking they will disappear magically, but we know its here to stay. We have to deal with the chubby forces of nature face on so we can live happily ever after:))
I’d love to hear some of the creative things you’re doing to calm the storm. Every child is so unique and special, but some of you really have GREAT ideas!!

Please share…

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A special badge for the Mihnovich family…please share

Posted on 30 April 2009 by Kari Gibson


Bloggy friends, there is a special family adopting 4 beautiful siblings from Ethiopia. They need your help!! Please go to their blog & copy the HTLM code & post their badge. Lets help spread the news.

Here is their post & link…
Mihnovich Family- blog
We received some disturbing news about our children on Friday and need an army of saints skilled at wielding the Sword of the Spirit to lift up our children and pray for God to move powerfully and quickly on their behalf. We are so very confident that He is faithful and will work everything out according to His purposes! We are asking everyone to begin praying for them at 11:00 each day…when it is dusk in Ethiopia, for protection and release from bondage!!

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Woman with a beautiful smile

Posted on 27 April 2009 by Kari Gibson

One of my highlights in Ethiopia was meeting the woman photographed with me. I do not know her name or anything about her, but we had an encounter that really touched my heart. We had ventured out into the city *alone* our 2nd day in Addis Ababa. We took a taxi and asked him to take us to the shops at the Post Office. He had other ideas:) We found our favorite treasures that day in the tiniest, darkest antique shop. I’m sure the shop owner & taxi driver were family or friends. We spent over an hour in a room no bigger than my closet. Packed from floor to ceiling with every imaginable trinket. The room was lit by one single candle. It was so dark, we could only feel around for possible items we wanted. We finally decided on a pile of antiques that ranged from wooden bowls, cups and unique crosses. While Roger bartered inside with the owner, I waited with the kids outside by the taxi. I noticed a woman walking through a very narrow alley and I smiled. She smiled back at me. We both walked toward each other and I smiled and took her hand in my hand. She kissed me several times, cheek to cheek. I motioned at my camera and she smiled. I told her with the help of the taxi driver, that she had the most BEAUTIFUL smile. My son snapped a photo of us.
I will never know her name or her story, but we had our moment. She reminds me that I don’t want to miss out on the small opportunities to show love.
love one another!!

(I have to add….we have a lot more in common now!!! I lost MY 4 front teeth in an accident:)

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Simply Sunday

Posted on 26 April 2009 by Kari Gibson

It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.
1 Corinthians 3:7
“Our task is not always easy, but it is always simple:
simply LOVE
, because He loved us first.”
(thank you Katie)

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Posted on 25 April 2009 by Kari Gibson

I can’t believe today is our Referral-Versary!!! I have noooo idea who made up this fun name to describe the DAY we received the CALL, but I love it! We are celebrating all day long the most sought after, prayed for, yearned for, begged for, cried for day….referral day! We were on a business/vacation trip in Palm Beach Garden, FL when we received our CALL!!

I will never forget waking up at 5AM and Roger driving the two of us to the beach at sunrise. There is something about the ocean, for me that is one of the surest places to find peace. To see in person, God’s mighty beauty. We sat on the warm sand, held hands and thanked God for what was to come. We had no idea that today was the day that would change our lives forever. All I knew was the sight of the waves crashing over and over reflected the *power* of my Savior. He was in total control of my life. I had waited so long to meet our baby girl. The
glorious sunrise was a renewal to my spirit.

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped in the local Starbucks for coffee & scones. It was still early, but there were a few customers waiting. I gestured for the nice man in front of me to order (he smiled & said good morning) We chatted for a second, but when I looked at my hubby, his mouth was gaping wide open. What’s wrong…I asked with a puzzled expression?? He sat down & sheepishly whispered to me…do you know who you were talking to??
That’s my golf hero, Jack Nicklaus?

Whattttt???!!! I yanked his golf hat off his head and raced up to the nice man.
I smiled…Excuse me, Mr. Nicholson
…you are my 15 year old son’s golf HERO and he would be thrilled if you would sign his hat!!!! He won’t believe I met you. (I really said that:)
He graciously signed my “sons” hat and shook my hand. I got a little shy & tongue tied, but I muttered a sweet, thank you!!!
Rog couldn’t believe I got his autograph…he was quite impressed. Of course, I told him it was now his son’s golf hat, but it was soooo cool to meet a huge legend, Mr. Jack Nicholson in person.
Rog gave me a funny look… honey, his name is Jack Nicklaus, not Nicholson…that’s the movie star. Ohhhhhhh nooooo….I messed up my big moment, but I had the signed hat!!!:)

At 8:45 AM…we received our referral call from Terra Bailey!!! How do you even express the moment you first see the child God has chosen for your family? There are no words to describe the excitement opening up the email with the VERY first photo of your child. Love.

The day was magical from sunrise to sunset. Rog drove me back to the beach that evening and the sound of the waves took on a whole different meaning to me. Celebration. We have our Zoie. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since we first met our girl. The adoption process is different for EVERY family, but the journey to love unites us all.

Look at me now:)

Here is our hilarious “Referral Call” video. There are 2, but I’ll only make you watch the one that counts…. Enjoy:)

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Please vote for Susan Parry….a special adoptive mom!!

Posted on 24 April 2009 by Kari Gibson

Hi Bloggy friends, if you have a second…please VOTE for this incredible mom, Susan Parry who has adopted 2 boys from Korea!!! She is currently in 1st place for a trip to Hawaii, but we still have 2 more days to vote. It’s for a great cause!!! It just takes one click on link “vote”…

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My Adoption Hero: Part 5… Forgiveness & Grace (Erin Smalley!!)

Posted on 24 April 2009 by Kari Gibson

A spunky sophomore transferred to my small Baptist College. She immediately made an impression on my ex-boyfriend and I was definitely interested in finding out a little more about her. For some crazy reason, we hit it off…we had so much in common (& I don’t mean just the boyfriend:) Little did we know that our lives would intertwine in the future…a deep connection of the heart.

My fifth adoption hero… who exemplifies forgiveness and grace, is
Erin Smalley. She is a daughter and a sister and a friend. Everyone is drawn to her amazing spirit, hilarious sense of humor, passion for Jesus and joyous zest for life!! I no longer call her *just* my friend. She is my sister-in-law, my children’s Aunti and one of the biggest cheerleaders during our adoption.

I first learned that Erin was adopted early on in our friendship and was amazed at her attitude and spirit toward her adoptive parents. They adored their daughter and she adored them. Erin was always comfortable sharing or answering any of my questions concerning her adoption. Her favorite thing to say was….I grew in my mom’s heart.

I will never forget when Erin made the decision to contact her birth mother. Her adoption was domestic and closed, but with lots of support and encouragement from family and friends she started her search. It was not the reunion that Erin had dreamed about…the kind you see on Oprah. Her birth mother chose not to have contact with her for very personal reasons. She had not told anyone…her baby was a secret. She was a closet birth mother. I can’t imagine the pain this decision made in Erin’s heart, but I watched her respect and honor the decision with dignity and grace and forgiveness. She recently told me…I thought the contact was for my own needs, but in reality the phone call was for her, to bring her some type of freedom and peace.

Erin, thank you for showing me what it truly means to love someone unconditionally, to selflessly let go of your own needs and forgive someone despite their circumstances. You are a woman of grace. I’m thrilled to support and encourage you during YOUR adoption journey to your daughter waiting in China.
Adoption radically changes your life…from the inside out!
I’m thankful you are my sister.


Its been so special for me to share my 5 adoption heroes!! Each one played a unique part in helping us bring home our Zoie.
Now I need YOUR help…please take a moment & let me know who your adoption hero is & why. Someone that was a source of encouragement, support, inspiration, cheerleader, prayer warrior… My goal is to use these stories in the future to encourage anyone who is thinking about adopting.
Let’s inspire!!

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My Adoption Hero: part 4… Mentor (Jamie Jo Braner!!)

Posted on 23 April 2009 by Kari Gibson

Have you ever been cliff diving? I spent summers at Kanakuk Kamp in the Ozarks and remember feeling petrified standing on the edge of a bluff looking down at the water below, trying to summon up the courage to jump. I never had the guts to make the big leap, unless I had a friend hold my hand…then I jumped screaming at the top of my lungs!! I guess you could say I was afraid of heights and danger and loss and pain and wild adventures.

Adoption is a combination of all the things I’m afraid of. For years, I wanted to make the big jump, but was too afraid. I had no idea what was below… would the waters be too deep or dangerously choppy? Roger and I believed with all our hearts God wanted us to adopt a child. But we always came up with every excuse in the book NOT to adopt: *we have two older children *we are getting old *it’s very expensive *life is too convenient… the bottom line, we were afraid!!

My third adoption hero is Jamie Jo Braner, who mentored me through the process from A to Z. She was the one who finally said….no more excuses!! Jamie was tough as nails when she needed to be, but promised she would hold our hands. She never let go. Our mentor helped us with every single piece of paperwork or document to complete the home study and dossier. I would often call confused about a form and she would race down the hill to help me (we’re neighbors:) In the adoption world…we call this part of the process *paper pregnancy* and its challenging and miserable and painful and frustrating.
She never let go. When I would whine about how hard the waiting was, she would pray and support and encourage. She never let go.

Jamie and her husband, Andy have dedicated their time and resources to help many families during the adoption process. During our wait for Zoie, they adopted a precious baby girl from Rwanda and are still waiting for their daughter in China. They host an adoption fellowship group… mentoring families every month in their community. Jamie Jo, thank you for holding on and never letting go during our crazy adoption journey. You held our hands so we could JUMP!!

The Braners are moving to Durango, CO on May 3rd….you will be dearly missed!!
Here is their blog to stay in touchbranerpartyof7

AnNi Designs- Braner’s non-profit ministry!!

AnNi Designs
Click on the picture to visit AnNi- a simple way to help support adoption!!

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My Adoption Hero: part 3… Hope (Chapman Family!!)

Posted on 22 April 2009 by Kari Gibson

I remember walking through Target and this adorable book caught my eye.
Shaoey and Dot. It’s the cutest Chinese face with a bug on her nose. I picked it up and knew instantly I would need to get this for my daughter for Christmas. As I read the introduction from the authors… I started weeping. Just like their daughter, our nine year old daughter had prayed faithfully for an entire year that we would adopt!!

My third adoption hero… who exemplifies hope, is the Chapman family. They have been the voice for millions of orphans. They founded Shaohannah’s Hope, “which exists to enable children living without the love and hope of any earthly family to be adopted into “covenant homes.” This amazing family adopted three beautiful girls from China. They have provided thousands of families financial grants to offer support and hope.

This was the statement that moved me to tears…
“Adoption is a perfect picture of what God has done for each of us in making us His children through Christ. Psalm 68:5-6 tells us that as the Father to the fatherless, God delights in setting the lonely in families. It has been our experience that the scriptural mandate of caring for orphans, such as the one found in James 1:27 is really a wonderful invitation to experience God in a profound way by being a part of His sovereign plan for His precious children.”

I signed the front cover of the book…dated Christmas 2005. Dearest H, you are our ambassador in this adoption journey. God is using you to help us move forward! Please keep praying and never give up!! Someday God may have a “miracle girl” for us to call our own. Love, Mommy

Thank you Chapman family for giving our family hope to adopt! You have set the bar high and poured out a tremendous amount of resources that give families hope all over the world. We are honored that God directed us to America World Adoption (your agency, too) and even though we did not adopt from China like we first had planned….God had our precious Zoie waiting for us in Africa. Thank you for your ministry, your support, your encouragement and your faithfulness to advocate for orphans!!
I can’t wait to share my hero #4!!!

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My Adoption Hero: part 2… Awareness (Angelina Jolie!!)

Posted on 21 April 2009 by Kari Gibson

On September 5, 2005, I was flipping through the pages of a People Magazine and I noticed a beautiful photograph of a huge movie star and her recently adopted daughter. Roger and I were at the “talking” phase at that time, but still had not made any plans yet to adopt a child. We had no idea where to adopt or who would help us. I cut out this article and saved it in my Bible (I still have it) just in case.

My second adoption hero … who exemplifies awareness, is Angelina Jolie!! For me, I knew in my heart, if this actress could adopt, maybe so could we!! We had no idea about the process, but I finally had one name of one adoption agency that we could trust. Regardless if you agree with Angelina’s career, you CAN’T disagree with the fact that she has helped spread incredible awareness concerning adoption all over the world. She did something only a superstar could do … splash photographs in every major magazine and interviews about the problem of millions of orphans in need. She has adopted from countries that still have their doors shut tight, but they let her in!! It’s incredible the resources she has poured into making the world aware and understand that there is a way you can make a difference!

Just like her character in the movies, she is a real-life Lara Croft. We have this strong, independent, intelligent, passionate, independent woman who has let us watch action packed adventures, battling the bad guys, eliminating any obstacles that stands in her way, and in the end discovers treasure in 3 third world countries: Cambodia, Ethiopia and Vietnam!! Bravo!!!
See full size image
Thank you Angelina Jolie for being passionate about orphans & helping the public *awareness* of children’s needs all over the world!! I hope we can all join you in helping spread the news…

Who is your adoption hero…I want to know:)
My hero #3 coming soon!!

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A dog-gone bad day!!

Posted on 20 April 2009 by Kari Gibson


Poor Tate got spring cleaned today.  Do I need to say more:)))  

The “pelt” in soooooo disgusting!!!
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My Adoption Hero: part 1… Courage (Randi Shetley!!)

Posted on 20 April 2009 by Kari Gibson

Our daughters took dance class together, so we started hanging out in the Starbucks upstairs sipping our grande skinny Caramel Macchiatos :) Little did I know the impact those coffee dates would have in my life. Over our first coffee, I asked her to tell me the story of her adoption from Ethiopia. With her drama background, the story she told me was mesmerizing… just like a movie. Her adoption journey left me feeling like I could accomplish anything. A lot like the movie Seabiscuit where you find yourself standing up in the movie theater cheering as the horses are battling down the home stretch. A story about not having a chance in the world to defeating every obstacle put before her. I was inspired by her story of courage and determination and perseverance and ultimately love. She is one of the first brave pioneers that adopted from Ethiopia, without the assistance of a staff or agency to help her.

My first adoption hero…who exemplifies courage, is Randi Shetley. She and her amazing husband, Shane received a referral for 2 sibling boys from Awassa, Ethiopia in 2001. Randi’s mom owned an adoption agency, but this was brand new territory for them. Americans had rarely had a successful experience adopting from Ethiopia. They waited 15 months to travel to Addis Ababa to bring the boys home, but tragically, they lost the boys to circumstances that were out of their control. The day they heard the news, they were shocked to hear they received another referral for a boy-4 and a girl-6

This time, Randi completed her new paperwork and updated her home study in record speed and 3 months later headed to Addis Ababa to officially complete the adoption procedure…ALONE!! The family that traveled right before her had spent 10 weeks in Ethiopia to bring their children home, so she knew she was heading into the unknown… the road less traveled, literally. Every morning she headed to court, but was turned away day after day due to the judge out fishing (for real!!) She hit every obstacle imaginable during her extended time in Ethiopia, but never gave up. Finally meeting the judge, he took one look at her completed authenticated dossier and threw it in his garbage can…yelling at her (and I quote) NO GOOD…START OVER!! She left his office completely discouraged, but not destroyed. She would pull out all the tools she had and start again. I always had a hard time believing this part of her story, but it was true. My adoption hero started over from scratch in a foreign country. For all of us that understand the incredible amount of paperwork that is involved…this was truly a heroic, action packed, massive undertaking. Randi never gave up. She trusted in God to help her through every single detail and He showered her with mighty miracles every step of the way. She was protected from the corruption at every level, but slowly… page-by-page, she completed a new dossier. She felt beat up, bruised and punished emotionally, but in the end, after spending over 3 weeks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, she WON the race and came home with her beautiful children!!!

I met Megin, her first week in America. My husband and I were helping out at Kindergarten indoor recess, due to the rainy day. I recognized her immediately as the precious girl recently adopted from Ethiopia, but had no idea her new mom was going to be my hero:) I smiled at her & she immediately came over and sat in my lap. I was in heaven. I signaled for Roger to come over and say hi. He smiled and reached out to pat her shoulder. All of a sudden, this quiet calm little darling let out a blood-curling scream & went into hysterics. Poor Rog waved his hands up in the air, so no one would think he was pinching the screaming child.
Beautiful, courageous, radiant, vivacious Megin is now 12 years old and is our adopted niece. She still teases Roger by screaming at the top of her lungs when she sees him!!!! LOL

My adoption hero started a ripple effect in our community. There are dozens of families that are adopting from Ethiopia, but I have had the rare opportunity to know one of the *pioneers* who helped pave the way to make these adoptions even possible. Thank you for being so brave and strong and passionate about the children of Ethiopia. Thank you for making a difference. Thank you for holding my hand through the crazy ups & downs, never doubting for a second that we would bring Zoie home.

Randi & Shane currently live in Kansas with their Awesome 5 children …2 biological and 3 gifts from Ethiopia!!!!

We love you!!!

*Please share YOUR adoption hero story*
I can’t wait to share my Adoption Hero #2

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AWAA Africa Families…can you help us spread the word?

Posted on 19 April 2009 by Kari Gibson

I have a huge favor to ask you. Please take the time to add the new Reunion Button on your blog or website. We want to find all the past, present & future AWAA Africa families (Ethiopia & Rwanda) to join us for the 1st annual Africa Reunion…Labor Day Weekend!!!
All you need to do is cut & paste the HTLM code provided. This will allow families to find the Reunion Blog with one click!
Even if you don’t plan on making it to the reunion, help us spread the word:))
THANK YOU for supporting this special event.



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My Adoption Hero.

Posted on 18 April 2009 by Kari Gibson

Do you have an adoption hero? Someone that has inspired you to take that crazy leap into the adoption world. I have adoption superheroes. My heroes may not even realize they are my hero. They certainly don’t *fly* around promoting the fact that they are THE one that inspired Kari to adopt a child from Ethiopia. I’ve thought a lot about what each of my heroes did to inspire and educate and help and advocate and pave the way for my family to have the proper tools to adopt a child. What kind of characteristics does an adoption hero have to make that kind of impact in my life or on the world for that matter? What kind of personality does an adoption hero have to create the passion, the driving force in others to adopt?

In my next 5 posts, I’m going to share with you my 5 Adoption Heroes. The individuals that inspired me, as well as others, to join the incredible community of adoption. I want to honor my adoption heroes and celebrate their compassion, their perseverance, their strength, their faith, their hope, their passion, their courage to make a difference for children in need in their own community and all around the world.

On Monday, I will share with you who my first adoption hero is.
Be inspired!!

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