Archive | February, 2011

Is It OK to Fundraise For Adoption?

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Is It OK to Fundraise For Adoption?

Posted on 28 February 2011 by Kari Gibson

There are no two ways about it—adoption is expensive. Every adoptive parent has to face this reality. Some will make a substantial withdrawal from their savings or take out a sizable loan. For others, like my husband Joel and me, it means they will depend almost entirely on fundraising—yuck.

Asking other people for money is about as appealing as volunteering for an experimental medical procedure. If we approach it at all, we do it reluctantly. If you’re like me, thinking about fundraising brings up feelings of fear, dread, and even embarrassment. That being said, I am starting to think there is another side to the story worth considering.

Joel and I began fundraising for our Ugandan adoption about a month ago. Before we started, I had a fantasy that someone in our family or our church would escort us to a quiet corner and whisper that they wanted to write us a check for the entire amount. We would take a deep breath, express our gratitude, and get back to the real work of becoming adoptive parents. Like most people in our situation, we never experienced this scenario. I am so thankful.

What did happen is that we raised a whole bunch of money one donation at a time. We’ve had big donations and small donations—each one vitally important to helping us bring our baby home. More than one hundred family members, friends and complete strangers have responded to letters, blog posts, tweets and Facebook updates in remarkable ways. We have now raised about $14,000 toward our $20,000 goal, and it happened much more quickly than we expected.

After reflecting on our experience, I’ve come to believe that fundraising is worth doing regardless of the financial return. It has done so much more for our adoption and our community than simply bringing in dollars. Here are just a few examples:

1. Fundraising allows us to inspire other families

If my fundraising dream had come true—the one where a single big check took care of all of our needs—it would have been dramatic, but it would have done little to help ordinary families believe adoption was financially possible for them.

Our need makes our story relatable. My passion and my prayer is that God would use our story to inspire many other families to believe—maybe for the first time—that, if people like us can do it, then so can they. Adoption is not reserved for the wealthy, and it can be done without debt. That is the message of our fundraising story.

2. Fundraising grows our faith

Joel and I could never have brought in $14,000 in our own strength. It would have been simply impossible. Every dollar that comes in humbles and amazes us as watch God provide through his Body. This experience has taught me that we serve a powerful and generous Father, growing my faith in exponential ways. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t trade that for anything, not even for a $20,000 check.

3. Fundraising gives us a change to invites others into a bigger story

Most importantly, fundraising invites our community of family, friends and those we don’t even know, into a bigger story. Our story becomes theirs as they become invested in, and changed by, our journey.

Some will decide to adopt because they hear your story. Some will give. By God’s grace, many will understand more deeply the heart of Jesus and the Gospel itself as they witness the miracle and the metaphor of adoption through your story.

While the details of your story won’t be the same as mine, I pray that each of you, facing the daunting cost of adoption, will have the courage to believe that God will provide and the willingness to step into the adventure.

MAIL |  New Hope Academy, 1820 Downs Blvd., Franklin, TN 37064

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8 Ways to Encourage Missionaries


8 Ways to Encourage Missionaries

Posted on 25 February 2011 by Kari Gibson

8 Ways to Encourage Missionaries {from a Missionaries Point of View}

Guest Blogger-

So, it has been in the 90s until recently and we are gathering our Christmas spirit in this freezing 80s chill.  Santa Cruz, Bolivia welcomes Christmas and summer about the same time which can be a little confusing to our memories of cold, white snow bringing in the celebration of Christ’s birth.
I must admit that bolstering up that lovin’ Christmas feeling has been a little allusive for me this year. I am not feeling it. It is a little hard without any of my personal Christmas ornaments adorning my tree and a grocery store with only half of an isle dedicated to the trimmings of the holiday. The cost of turkey prohibits purchasing it for Christmas dinner and many of the normal sights, sounds, and smells have been left behind for you back home to enjoy.
Please do not feel sorry for me because the fact is that I miss stuff but I am content here knowing that God’s hand has been in the sending. Although it is different, I see beauty in the way Natividad is celebrated here. BUT, I want to challenge you to enjoy the holidays. I mean treasure it, live in it, and be intentional about the moments God has given you in this glorious event that brought about what we stake our lives on!
And while you are at it, think about the cross-cultural missionaries that have crossed your paths. If you do not know any, ask your church for some names of people they support and consider being an encouragement in one or more of the following ways:
1.  While you are sending your Christmas cards mail one overseas.  It does cost more and won’t make it until after Christmas but we do not care!  Mail is a good thing.  A personal letter is also nice.  (Please note that if your missionary lives in a sensitive area there will be word restrictions for their safety.)
2. Start Praying for them regularly and let them know. We missionaries need it.  Living in another culture, speaking a different language, and basically living life in a new way is tough and not for the faint of heart, so I have heard. Please pray for us!
3. Send a little something. Ask them what types of packages are safe to send and what they would like. If they are shy, give them so options or an amount. You might consider sending candy, seasoning packets, seasonal items, a CD, a book, magazines or candles that smell like home. For larger items you might purchase a Kindle (I was given one and enjoy it daily), Amazon gift card, crocs, ministry needs, clothing items (quality underwear comes to mind), a season of a TV series, iTunes credit, or just send cash and tell them to go out to dinner or get what they need.
4.  Send a one-time gift of Support.  With a few exceptions, most missionaries are on faith support.  That means we live on what is given. Most of us are not fully supported and one-time periodic gifts help us stay on the field. BUT if you are not already supporting someone and you feel God tugging at your heart, start giving regularly this month.  How encouraged your missionaries will feel to know they have some new friends on their team. There is no wrong amount, we have had people give $5.00 per month and it all adds up.
5. Set up a Skype date or phone call. We have done Skype calls addressing VBS groups and have friends who Skyped to share in a service. It is fun to hear from friends one-on-one or in a group setting, so think about reaching out to chat. You might even find that your missionary has a Vonage phone with a US number, just ask.
6. A veteran missionary on my field told me he appreciates that his kids are loved on, cared for, and looked after when they are in the states for the summer or for college. Being a continent seems even farther when it is your children. So be sure to reach out to missionary kids that you know of at home.
7. When missionaries are in your area take the time to Listen. Most likely they have fascination stories of God’s hand at work. When people have opened their homes and lives to us, it sincerely means everything. I can think of a number of tables that my entire family looks forward to frequenting again as it was life-giving and encouraging to be with those friends the last time. They listened as we shared and did not hold back either, so we left being mutually encouraged and spurred on. I look forward to those sweet reunions and new friends to treasure upon our next journey home. Be sure to love on the missionaries in your path, so they return to the field uplifted.
8. Take a team or make a visit! If you come, you will have a greater idea of what it looks like to live where we live. You will not only encourage your missionary but you will be changed. Very possibly your heart will break and you will come home with the new perspective the third world offers. It could be life changing; it certainly was for me!
Perhaps within this list, you can tuck an idea or two away to develop the next time God brings a missionary to your mind or across your path. We need you and cannot do this without you!
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  – Ephesians 3: 20-21

Amy Mozombite

Mozos on Mission Blog

Missional Mama Blog

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The Unknown

Posted on 24 February 2011 by Kari Gibson

Guest Blogger-
When I was pregnant with each of my children, I would sit and wonder, What’s going on in there? while staring at my bulging tummy.
Wondering what they looked like, what their personalities they would develop, longing to just know them was a regular part of expecting them.
The other night I could not sleep. I felt this heavy burden not only for my sweet baby a world away, but for his birthmother. That day someone had asked if I was excited to bring the baby home. I am thrilled, just as I was to bring my other children home. But I can’t help but feel a certain sense that this beautiful homecoming is set against the backdrop of sorrow. I can’t just forget his other mom, and wonder what she is going through or what is to come of her. I pray for her daily. I am beginning to realize that I will forever be tied to her. I can’t forget that this precious child is joining our family because of tragedy.
At the same time, I am beginning to notice that someone is missing in our family. In the car, there is a spot next to Ellie for a third carseat that isn’t there yet. Each day it looks more like a gaping hole needing to be filled with another wiggly little body. The urgency to see him, know him, and be his mother is mounting. I am beginning to wonder what’s going on in there?
Except this time my baby is across the globe.
I can’t feel him moving beneath my ribs or see his heartbeat fluttering on an ultrasound screen.
Yet, I’m comforted by this-
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
Truly, I have never had to have faith like this before. I have never had so little control over the lives of one of my children. I have never had to pray, Lord, I don’t know where my child is. I don’t know what his birthmother is going through. But I do know who you are. I do know you have good in store for this child and you are with him.
In the midst of all of the unknowns, I have to focus on the one thing I do know. I do know who He is.

#55 boy, #76 girl!

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Inner Beauty Series – A Creeping Enemy


Inner Beauty Series – A Creeping Enemy

Posted on 23 February 2011 by Kari Gibson

A Creeping Enemy

Why is it so easy to allow the enemy to creep in to areas of weakness in our lives and camp out?  I recognize where he has taken up residency in my fragile parts and my dear friend shared this morning where he has taken up residency in hers.  What causes this in our lives?  Is it laziness, weariness, stress, lack of discipline, lack of focus?  For me, I think it’s probably a little bit of all of these things and that doesn’t make me proud!  As I look back over my journals I see entry after entry of God’s goodness and provision in my life.  I read of a woman bound and determined to stay the course, keeping eyes focused on Him … so what brings that same woman to such a halt allowing the enemy to wreck havoc on my heart?

Those questions could probably produce a theological dissertation so I won’t venture that direction here, but what I do know and I want to share is the beauty and glory of saturating myself with His word and what a difference that makes!  Several weeks ago I spent some time looking for a verse my 26-year-old daughter was looking for.  In my pursuit I came across verse after verse that blessed my weary soul.  I like to personal scripture and here are just a few that spoke to me:

Psalms 121 tells me that “The Lord watches over me, the Lord is my shade at my right hand; … He will watch over my life; the Lord will watch over my coming and going both now and forevermore.”  Psalm 139 says that He will hem me in … behind and before.  He has laid His hand upon me and such knowledge is too wonderful!  And Philippians 1:6 says that I can be confident that “He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

We know that this life will bring trials; the Lord was clear on that point.  He also understands temptation, insecurity, disillusionment, and disappointment.  Jeremiah 29:11 makes it clear that He has a plan and a purpose for our lives even in the midst of temptations, insecurities, and disappointments.  But one verse that blesses me beyond words is the next verse, “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I WILL LISTEN TO YOU.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you!”  Can you imagine … can you wrap your heart around that!?  We can find Him; He’s not hiding from us.  We can’t disappoint Him.  That is one of the most beautiful truths I know here on this earth!

What draws you back into the Father’s fold when you sometimes feel a little disconnected?  I would love to hear from you.

Be encouraged today my dear friends!

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Mommy DIY “Pics Make It Personal”

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Mommy DIY “Pics Make It Personal”

Posted on 22 February 2011 by Kari Gibson

Guest Blogger- Hello My Crazy Adoption blog readers!

Today I am bringing you some tips for decorating your home. Not just any decorating mind you! While there is a time & a play for seasonal decor … and a time & a place to have interior decorators (for those that do) … there is also a time & a place for family. Can I say MORE than a time & a place? Dare I say it: family should be incorporated into your every day living – every day! In this day & age, it is easy to get swept up into the world of Ikea or Pottery Barn or many other stores that help you design, decorate, organize and create your space. But the biggest mistake I see people making? NOT incorporating family photos into their world & their walls.

In June of this year ( I talked about my love of 9 by Design (I’ve heard they are filming a new season! wahoooo!) and the simple sentiments that Cortney shared, “using photographs personalizes a space.” I couldn’t agree more!

Here I’m sharing with you how my own clients ( have used our child & family sessions to their advantage, making their living spaces more personal than ever. I hope seeing their ‘real life’ examples gives you the strength to do one of a few things a) hire a professional photographer once a year so you can get some family photographs with YOU in them (yes, I am talking to you, mom! occasionally I have a few dads who are behind the cameras in their families, but usually it’s mom on that point n’ shoot – which means she is NEVER in the picture!) and b) get your professional images up on your walls at home. There is nothing more amazing than when I walk into my clients’ homes and their 18 month old greets me with smiles, giggles & pointing to a row of family photographs, where all I can make out is that he is telling me about “dada” and “brother” and their fun time skipping rocks together. If you don’t believe your children notice, I hope that story makes you stop in your tracks. They do! There is nothing more enjoyable for them than seeing your family love displayed on the walls at home for them to look at & share with anyone who walks through that door.

Many of the images you see here that are displayed in them main living areas of these family homes, are no less than 16×20 in size. No less! Yes, the term ‘go big, or go home‘ comes to mind … although maybe we should change it to ‘go big for your home’ ;) what do you think? When you are looking at a family of four or more, the family photograph (that includes all of you) should be no smaller than 16×20. Use matted & framed 5x7s, 8x10s, and 8x12s to fill smaller spaces in your home, leaving the prominent display areas for large family images that immediately make an impact when your family & friends walk through the door.

This family (IMG_2584KBfamily walls) created a Fine Art Canvas gallery display based on some sample designs I sent her way. In the end, what you are looking at is (6) 10x10s, (3) 10x20s and (1) 16×20 (the middle family image). With the chair & the side table, you can bet this makes an immediate impact upon walking in their home.

I hope you enjoyed this quick look into how I’ve worked with my clients in developing their own personal space. Nothing will give you greater joy and fill your room with instant love than hanging photographs of those you love in the space you spend your time. Your kids will thank you for it for years to come!

To see more on my blog, please visit:
Stop by Facebook & hit that Like button!
I’d love to see you there!

Happy Decorating!!

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Fostering a New Perspective

Posted on 21 February 2011 by Kari Gibson

Guest Blogger-

Fostering a New Perspective
I guess I really should have entitled this, “Fostering: A New Perspective,” but I actually like the wording BOTH ways. My thoughts about fostering – and the changes that have taken place in my heart – could never have been predicted.
“I could never do what you do.”
“I would get too attached.”
“I would not want to give them back.”
“I would be afraid the kids would be too messed up by the time I got them.”
“I would be heartbroken.”
“I would worry about them when/if they went back to their birth family.”
“I would be afraid the judge would make a bad decision and take them from me.”
On November 5, 2009, we picked up a precious little boy from a Chicago hospital who was only 5 days old. He has been with us for over 13 months now. I believe I held him at arm’s length emotionally in the beginning. My husband brought it to my attention just after Christmas last year. He said I was going through the motions of caring for this baby and “loving” on him…but not really embracing him in my heart. I knew this was true to some extent – but I had no idea it was evident to anyone but me. After all, it was a defense mechanism…and wasn’t I smart to “play it that way?”
On a cold day in January 2010, our little man’s bio mom took off with him during a visit with the case worker. It was bitterly cold in the city of Chicago that day when she left with nothing more than a car seat cover and a diaper bag with an afternoon’s worth of diapers and formula. No blanket, no coat, no hat, no mittens.  NO ME! The case worker panicked…but, I did not. I knew where the bio mom would surface and I found her several hours later. The agency director convinced her to bring her baby back into the program and he was tucked in bed back at our house by 8:00 that night. I stared at his peaceful sleeping face and let him flood my heart…100%.
I lost him, God gave him back…and I was blessed with a sense of peace through it all. I now knew something in my heart so strongly that my head could not help but follow: He was worth the risk!
Yes, it will break my heart if he ever leaves. Yes, it can be messy to deal with bio moms and social workers and judges and state’s attorneys and public aid workers and doctors and the public in general. Yes, I am “too” attached. Yes, it will affect my biological children deeply if they have to say goodbye. Yes, he is worth it.
We are watching him grow. We are loving him. We are showing his mom we care when we do not “have” to.  We are showing our friends, neighbors and co-workers that we try to live out what we claim to believe. We are investing in this child. We are blessed by him! He makes us laugh. He loves us. We have given him something solid and safe to attach to at the very beginning of his life. We want the best for him and we have to believe God does, too.
When our first foster child went back to his mom and it was not an improved situation – different, but not better – my mom asked me how I could do it. I told her I could NOT do it if I did not truly believe God loves him FAR more than I ever could and He has a plan for his life…even if that plan makes no sense to me.
We erroneously believe our biological children are OURS.  They belong to God. They are on loan to us. They can be taken from us at any moment.  (I know that is something we try not to think about and we should NEVER consider admitting! Not out loud, at least…) If I can unreservedly jump in and love my bio kids wholeheartedly from the very start – knowing there is great risk in getting so attached, loving so deeply and completely – why not with these little guys, too? I believe God loves me enough to take me through any pain that may come. Like these children, he loves ME far more than I can imagine.
I helped my children say good-bye to our first foster baby by asking them to imagine who God would send next. Would He send a boy or a girl? What color? How old? What would the child’s name be and how long would he or she stay? The excitement of what lie ahead helped ease the pain of letting go.
I believe that is what God wants. He wants us to do the hard stuff. He wants us to bother to get involved in messy lives…to make them better…even if just a little. He wants us to look ahead to what’s next, to what really matters.
I realized early on that all my “reasons” for hesitating to get involved like this started with “I.” Some of them are listed above in the beginning of this article. But…it’s not about me. If I honestly want to live like Christ, my life needs to be about others first. His life was not about “I” statements or concerns. He made the ultimate sacrifice for others, whether or not they appreciated it…certainly not because they deserved it.
I have a friend who has fostered over 50 children and she is unbelievably young. Some she has adopted, some she would have kept forever – but they went home or on to extended family, and some she knew she needed to give up voluntarily for their sake and in the best interest of her own family. She shared the insight below with me today and I found it very insightful. (I cried and that is not too common! Okay, I will be honest…I cry EVERY time I read it.) I hope you will hear the heart of my friend and the amazing woman who raised HER. When we care for the children of other mothers, we show the world the love of Christ and we set a loving example for our own children. I want my children to love sacrificially like this.
“The best thing I was ever told was something my mom said to me when I brought over our first foster baby for her to say goodbye. She was SO special and after 8 months we had all grown extremely attached. My mom never cries and she sat there rocking little Cleopatra with tears streaming down her face. Then she made prints of her hands and feet. I’ll never forget what she said to me. ‘If you hadn’t done this someone else would be feeling this pain right now, someone else would be holding her right now and saying goodbye to her and we would have never had her. Somebody has to do this! Why not us, why not my daughter?’ I knew it was her way of saying how proud she was of me despite the deep pain it caused her. Yes, somebody has to do it. Why not ME?”
If not us, then who?

Lori Balam Smith, mother of 5 bio kids, foster mom to revolving door of little ones!

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What Do You Think About Open Adoption?


What Do You Think About Open Adoption?

Posted on 18 February 2011 by Kari Gibson

Guest Blogger-

I live in a house full of boys (even the dog!), but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Our oldest son is 4½ and our newest addition is not quite 3 months of age.  We were present in the delivery rooms of both of our sons, and brought them each home from the hospital. Each adoption was completely different, though in both we have open relationships with the boys’ birth families.
We chose to have to pursue open adoption for a variety of reasons. When we started thinking about adoption we had no idea what open adoption was and assumed all kinds of things – the birth parents would still have some kind of parenting role in the baby’s life; the baby would be confused about who his/her “real” parents were; seeing the baby would make the birth parents want to take him/her back; etc… You see, we were thinking of our children as OURS, hubby’s and mine, like possessions. But they’re not. Way before they were part of our family, they were part of other families who loved (still do love) them. And, in my opinion, by having no further contact with those other families, we’re trying to pretend that they didn’t exist, or at least like they don’t matter. But those other families are the only reason these phenomenal kids exist. Also, they know parts of the boys’ stories that I don’t know, parts that I think they have a right to know.
What we learned in our adoption classes is that continued contact (in some form) is actually beneficial in the child’s development, and in helping the birth family heal. Kids do have questions as they get older – who do I look like, do other people in my family have certain characteristics or talents, does anyone else in my family have a history of asthma, and biggest of all, why did they choose to make an adoption plan? These are all huge questions that I can’t answer for my boys. And while we certainly realize that so many kids who are adopted won’t be able to get these questions answered, we have the opportunity and shouldn’t we use it??!

As far as our children being confused about who their parents are, it’s simply not an issue. I’m the one who nursed them (yes, I breastfed/am breastfeeding both of our sons). We changed all of their diapers. We go camping with them. Hubby watches Dinosaur Train with them. We color together. I’m the one they call for when in the middle of the night, or when they’re sick. They came out of L’s and R’s bellies. I am Momma. Hubby is Poppa. There is no confusion.

In regards open adoption being beneficial to birth parents, think how it would feel to put your baby in someone else’s arms, walk away, and never know anything else about him/her. To look at the faces of kids as you walk down the sidewalk, and wonder “is that her?”. To think, “I wonder what they’ve told him about me?”. To want to know what your kid looks like. Some people have said to me that birth parents loose the right to those answers when they “give up their babies”.

That’s an important distinction – birth parents (in the vast majority of cases) don’t “give up their babies”, they make a plan for them. They choose whether they’re ready/in the position to parent their children, or whether it would be in their/the baby’s best interest for someone else to do it. And this is another benefit of an open adoption – the birth family chooses the family who will adopt their child. This is an active choice; it’s not simply giving up. This decision is being a parent, in a different way. It’s a heart-wrenching, difficult decision not made lightly. And, I think, if I can do anything to make it easier for them (like the simple act of visiting every once in awhile, calling, sending pictures, etc…), then I should. Because as a human being, it is my job to do what I can to ease others’ suffering. If I can’t feel some empathy and love towards the people who gave my children life, then I am a poor excuse of a human being. It’s about them knowing that their children are ok, are loved. They have a right to that.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely do NOT believe in open adoption out of some sense of guilt (and nor do I believe it is the only way adoption should be done – as a social worker, I know there are situations where it isn’t the right thing for anyone involved). I don’t feel guilty that I’m raising these amazing children and they aren’t. Both boys’ birth families made an informed decision about what they thought was best. I AM absolutely and completely grateful for them. And I love them for the spectacular gift they’ve given us. I want to help and support them in whatever way I can.
We have different relationships with each of the boys’ birth families.  With my older son, we saw his birth family regularly throughout his first 2-3 years, and they then disappeared.  I grieve the loss of that relationship though we are hopeful they will resurface in the future.  With our youngest son, he is so young, and the relationship is so new, that I have no idea what will become of it.  As of right now, we see his birth mother almost weekly.  It is by no means easy, watching her grieve the loss of her child. My hope is that by seeing him so surrounded by our love, and by us all navigating a new kind of relationship with her, it will ease her suffering and allow her to be in all of our lives.  There is also a feeling whenever she looks at him of someone else claiming my child, which is difficult for me to sit with. I remind myself that he is also her child, and she does have some claim to him. I am still Momma.
Open adoption is a gift. It is a gift to our sons, to know where they came from.  It is a gift to the birth families, to know who their sons are becoming.  In many ways, the biggest gift is for us, as parents. It is hard some days, but we know, in the long run, it is better for us all.

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The {Other} Boy That Changed My Life

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The {Other} Boy That Changed My Life

Posted on 17 February 2011 by Kari Gibson

The (Other) Boy That Changed My Life
Guest Blogger-

I want to tell you a story that I try to tell as many people as possible since my trip to Ethiopia in July.

When I departed for Ethiopia to pick up Tedi, I had no clue what lie ahead of me.  Due to work obligations, my wife Natalie could not travel with me.  I had been warned by our blog friend, Amy Post, to “be prepared for poverty on a scale you cannot imagine.”  Well, Amy was 100% right.  The things I saw while in Addis Ababa would fill your heart with despair and your eyes with tears.

Our second day in Ethiopia (a Monday) was the most exhilarating day of my life.  It was the day when I met Tedi and got to wrap him in my arms.  Besides all the emotion that accompanied that event, Monday left another, almost as inedible mark on my life.

After being at KVI Orphanage for a few hours, the nannies told us it was the kids’ nap time.  Not wanting to mess with their routines, we agreed that the adults would leave and do some shopping while the little ones slept.  When we arrived at the market, we were definitely on an emotional high.  I needed to get some shopping done without the responsibility of watching a three year old, however, I was counting down the minutes until we could go back and get Tedi.  We had waited so long to get him (8 months of the adoption process and 15 months of infertility before that).

In Addis Ababa, there is a conglomerate of shops where foreigners go to look for trinkets and souvenirs.  Naturally, this is great place for the less-fortunate to congregate and beg for money.  As to not disrupt business, the shop owners hire security guards to keep the street kids out of their shops.  They walk around with long broomsticks and “shoo” away any kid that gets too close to a tourist.  Although I understand the perspective of the business owners, I hated this practice because I wanted to interact with as many Ethiopians as I could.  Also, I hated the idea that it appeared we were better than them in some way and could not be bothered with their presence.  While meandering in and out of shops, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye.  It was a t-shirt with a Western Kentucky University Hilltopper logo on it!  For those of you who do not know us, Natalie and I both graduated from WKU.  It is where we met and I worked on the basketball staff there.  To see this familiar logo on a young boy’s shirt was amazing.  I knew this was no coincidence and that God had orchestrated this event.  I ran up to the boy who was around twelve.  I am sure he thought I was a complete psycho.  I kept pointing at his shirt and saying, “That’s my school.  Go Tops!”  He politely smiled and shook his head nervously.  I tried to converse with him but his English was very broken.  I gathered that his name was Selam.  Here is a picture of Selam and me:
Being a street kid, Selam did not have many earthly possessions.  My friend, Keith, gave him and some of his friends a new soccer ball which made them the envy of their group.  He was wearing a very ragged pair of sweat pants and shoes that you and I would be ashamed to wear.  The shirt was a little big for him but I am sure it is the only shirt he owns.  He was wearing a small plastic cross around his neck that was fashioned with a cheap black string.  To my knowledge, this cross was the only earthly possession Selam had to his name that was not an essential item.  I took a few pictures and videos of him, chatted to him and his friends the best we could and was on my way.  I thought this was a very cool story that I could tell my WKU friends about when I got home.

Boy, was I wrong.

We ended up back at the same shops a few days later.   As I was walking around, I heard a voice from the crowd that had gathered.  “Friend.  Friend.  My friend!”  I looked up and it was Selam (still wearing the WKU shirt) and his friends.  I went out to where he was and brought Ayele, our driver, so he could interpret for us.  As we were talking, I noticed that one of Selam’s friends had hit what must have been the jackpot for these poor children.  He had stumbled upon some half eaten food that had been thrown in the trash at a restaurant.  The sight of this broke my heart in two.  To see the joy in this boy’s face at finding trash was indescribable.  I took a quick inventory of my life and all the blessings I have been given and how I do not appreciate so many of them.  As our time to depart was growing near, I told Selam we must be leaving.  He told me, through Ayele that he had something he wanted to give me.  He reached underneath his shirt and pulled the cross out and started to take it off his neck.  I stopped him.  I politely told Ayele to convey to him there was no way I was taking that cross with me.  He told Ayele that we were friends and this is what friends do.  He told me to keep it as a memento from Ethiopia.

In the car on the way back to the orphanage, I was an emotional wreck.  What was God trying to tell me?  At the time, I questioned why God had put so much emotional baggage on my plate at one time.

After some separation, I now know what God was telling me when He introduced Selam and I.  He was telling me not to forget what I had seen.  Orphan care is not only about the children like Tedi who are fortunate enough to be adopted.  Orphan care does not end when we step off the plane in the US with our children.  Orphan care DOES NOT END.  Orphan care is about kids like Selam.  Kids who have not been shown the earthly love they deserve.  Thankfully, Selam has been redeemed by his Heavenly Father.  I cannot forget Selam.  I must not forget Selam.  We must not forget Selam.  We must never forget all of them.

I sit here tonight in a house that has so much stuff we have run out of places to put it.  I can honestly say that this green plastic cross is the one physical item I would grab if I had to get out in a hurry.

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MarytheKay – Aisle 1 at Walmart

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MarytheKay – Aisle 1 at Walmart

Posted on 16 February 2011 by Kari Gibson

I want to thank Kari for allowing me to guest post again.  What an honor to help “hold down the fort” while she’s in Ethiopia loving on precious orphans, and spreading her contagious smile across Africa!

The last time I guest-posted here, I chatted away about food…and my lack of New Year’s exercise motivation.  Here I go again, talking about the same old things.  Huh.  I don’t see a problem here, do you???   If ever you find yourself wanting some *wink wink* good old-fashioned snacks and conversation, feel free to stop on by my blog anytime!  My blog door’s always open, cold Cokes in the fridge!!

Dear Aisle 1 at Walmart,

You really make me mad.  I try so hard to walk past you—right there at the front of the store.  Tricking all the people who have just filled their carts with healthy fruits and vegetables.  Oh, but I’m on to you, don’t you worry.  I know your little trick.  Putting the daily necessities like bread and coffee right next to the middle-aged forbidden fruit.  You know exactly what kind of forbidden fruit I’m talking about.  Things with such sweet and helpful sounding names–like “Hostess” and “Little Debbie.”

Well, I’ve got news for you, Walmart.  Debbie was not little.

No woman can create beautiful snacks that pack 785 calories into 4 small bites, and still shop at Petite Sophisticate.

Oh.  Do I sound bitter?

It’s just that I try so hard.  I really do.  I make a list beforehand, I try to find the most healthy choices in the fruit and vegetable aisles…I take a deep breath, and determined turn down the bread aisle—you know, the dreaded Aisle 1—and already I am assaulted with the choice of wheat vs. white.  My brain says “wheat,” but my heart cries out, “White, please!  Think of the jelly toast, the grilled cheese, and oh my wheatberry—the peanut butter and jelly!”  Some things in life are just meant to be smooth, you know?

Then, after my brain and my heart have battled out the (lame-o) sandwich bread choice, what assails me next?  Well, the bright lights, the flashing neon, and the catcalls hollering at me from the shelves.  It’s kind of like leaving Mayberry, and running smack into Vegas, baby.

You think I’m exaggerating?

Have you SEEN that aisle?  I had to wait 5 ½ minutes just to take a picture without the mom and too-old-to-still-be living at home daughter.  That poor duo could not decide between the Donut Sticks and the Honey Buns.  And frankly, I don’t know which they chose.  I had to look away.  It was just too painful to watch.  Because that decision is easy.  Put them BOTH into your cart and move on.

I mean, am I the only one who feels violated by the colorful packaging and names of snacks that sound like your best friends?  Who doesn’t want a Nutty Buddy?  Doesn’t everyone want to feel like a celebrity eating a Star Crunch?  We all could use a little fancy in our lives with the Fancy Cakes.  And dangit, if that’s not enough, guess what Little Debbie’s motto is?  “Unwrap a smile.”  Who knew a smile was as easy as that?  I’ll take a Nutty Buddy smile with a side grin of Donut Stick.  And heck, while we’re at it, I’d like at least a month’s worth of smiles—how about you?

And, therein lies the problem.

My hips and waistline cannot support a month of Little Debbies.  Smiley, or no smiley.  Heck, my hips and waistline cannot even support a 4-day workweek of smiles.  Already my belt is one smile short of disaster.

I don’t really remember the day I stopped shopping the Vegas part of Aisle 1.  I’m kinda sad there was no farewell party or Bon Voyage.  I know my formerly skinny self “smiled” a lot in high school and college…and partying with no remorse, eating those seasonal Valentine hearts and Christmas tree snack cakes.  I even remember occasionally splurging on a Donut Stick or two in our early days of marriage.

Somewhere between my aerobics days of the 90s and the what the heck happened to my metabolism of my 30s, I started avoiding that part of Aisle 1.

And now.  Now I give people the angry eyes as they grab boxes of smiley Ding Dongs and Cosmic brownies.  Oh, they laugh now, throwing their heads back as they carelessly toss the Oatmeal Cream Pies into their carts. Oh, but just you wait.  Give it another 5-10 years, and they’ll be shopping the Activia and plain almonds soon enough.

How do I cope?  Well, let’s just say I feel like a downright rebel with my processed white sandwich bread.  Yep, I’m eating my smooth jelly toast and grilled cheese sandwiches with abandon.  Toss in a side of Activia and some almonds for dessert—and I am partying like it’s 1999!

So, Aisle 1 at Walmart, go on with your tricks and manipulation.  I’ve got your number.  And it is 1-800-Forget Jenny, It’s the Twinkie Diet 4 Me!!!

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Leaving today for Ethiopia with VO 30!

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Leaving today for Ethiopia with VO 30!

Posted on 15 February 2011 by Kari Gibson

My crazy readers, will you join me on my Visiting Orphans mission trip and pray for our extraordinary team for the next 12 days as we travel to Ethiopia and minister to orphans.  You support, prayers, and cheers have meant the world to me.  You sent me over 600 headbands and bows for the Princesses in Korah, twin sheet sets for new bedding at the orphanage in Holeta, and monetary donations to spread some crazy love in Ethiopia!!  I’m grateful for you!

I have the most amazing guest bloggers scheduled for the next 12 days.  Please stop by and read their stories- laugh, cry, cheer, and share your thoughts.  Thank you for your continued support growing My Crazy Adoption Blog to empower moms and caring for the Fatherless.  Together, we are the voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. (prov. 31:8-9)

I will not be able to update you on my blog in Africa, but I will share daily journal notes and photos on my Facebook starting February 15th- 27th.  I hope you will join me on my God adventure to Addis Ababa.  I will share my incredible mission trip here starting in March- Missions Sweeps Week!!

Would you pray a special blessing over my team today!!  We need strong prayer warriors to cover us the next 12 days!

Here are a few prayer requests:

1. Safety
2. The Lord’s favor as we minister to orphanages and complete various tasks.
3. The “Man Up” project at the Korah dump. We will have a barbecue and be targeting the men to become strong in the Lord and leaders in their families and community.
Praying for God’s protection as we put on His whole armor for sharing love to the lost.

The JRA team of 30 will be ministering for 12 days in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with Project 61 for extreme needy children living in the Korah city dump, two TOMS Shoe Drops, as well as ministering in rural villages sharing God’s love.  We will also visit Fistula Hospital and our very own, Trevor Birch will perform music for the courageous women featured in the movie “A Walk to Beautiful”.

Ethiopia Gibson Itinerary pdf

Wednesday- 02/16/2012 Day 1
You will travel to Washington DC where you will meet up with
the rest of your team and travel on to Addis from there.

Thursday- 02/17/2012 Day 2
Arrive in Addis Ababa around 8 am. Check in at the Ethiopian
Guest House. Rest, unpack, and afternoon shopping at Post Office (optional) Dinner out.

Friday- 02/18/2012 Day 3
Visit *** Orphanage. Lunch at the EGH and afternoon visit to Fistula Hospital.  Pack your day bags for overnight Ambo and Holeta.

Saturday- 02/19/2012 Day 4
1 hour drive to Holeta to visit children there and to minister in
community. Spend the night in Ambo.

Sunday- 02/20/2012 Day 5
Orphanage and home visits in Ambo.  Outing with the children. Return to Addis for
afternoon shopping and dinner at EGH. 8 pm team meeting with Sally Baer.

Mon & Tues- 02/21-22/12 Day 6 & 7 TOMS shoe distribution- 8am to 5pm. Lunch on the field and dinner at EGH.

Wednesday- 02/23/2012 Day 8
Ministry at the Korah Dump and Project 61. Dinner out as a

Thursday- 02/24/2012 Day 9 Ministry at the Korah Dump and Project 61. Dinner at EGH.

Friday- 02/25/2012 Day 10
Ministry at the Korah Dump and Project 61. Visit to sponsored
children. Dinner at a traditional restaurant.

Saturday- 02/26/2012 Day 11
Check out of the EGH. The team will split to visit Drawn From
Water and Kidane Mihret orphanages. Farewell lunch at the
Hilton & last minute shopping. Leave for airport and depart for
US at 10:15 pm. Arrive in DC at 7:40 am on the 27th.

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Posted on 14 February 2011 by Kari Gibson

Congratulations to the 2 special Valentine’s Day winners selected randomly from the comments-  please email me and I will give you the contact information to receive your stunning Simply Love necklace directly from Junk Posse.

1st Winner- Amy L. Quick

· 3 days ago

I simply love the one with the pearl and key attached! It shows what doors you can open when you allow love to guide your life. Opening opportunities to love God more, love others abundantly and to serve others through giving of ourselves. Amazing jewelry! Amazing ministry! You are an inspiration to all!

2nd Winner- Wendy Sterk

8 hours ago

Oh, pick me, pick me!! I love them both but my fav is the 2nd one. We have just completed our adoption and brought home a sweet little boy from Kazakhstan last week!!! I love the key and all that it can symbolize. Simply love reminds me that LOVE covers it all! I can not change the world, but for this little orphan, his world has changed. We just simply love him and have adopted him as our own just as Christ has adopted us!

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Beautiful Faces of Ethiopia – Send it on!

Posted on 12 February 2011 by Kari Gibson

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Love Is So Much More

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Love Is So Much More

Posted on 12 February 2011 by Kari Gibson

Guest Blogger-
There were very few things more important than a Valentine box when I was in the fourth grade. It was an unwritten rule; if it looked good, so did you.  I spent hours crunching through my cardboard shoebox with safety scissors creating what looked like a crepe paper and glitter explosion.   It was perfect!
However, there was an even more daunting task ahead … making sure the right card was sent to the right person in the classroom. The rest of the school year could end up in ruins if a girl goofed and sent a boy one of the cards that had the LOVE word on it.  The thought of Ricky Ashmore or Bobby Webb getting one of the LOVE cards with my signature on it still makes my mouth go dry!
One simple word can alter the landscape on any relationship, especially if you are in the fourth grade.  Even for grown ups, the word love can be misunderstood and confusing. What does it really mean to love someone?  Does our behavior match our loosely spoken words?  Do we say, “I love you” but fail to show respect or keep our promises?  Do we get testy and selfish about silly details?  Do we explode on someone who innocently says something to kick us up from steaming mad to boiling over?
First Corinthians Chapter 13 doesn’t hem-haw or stutter when it tells us what love is and what love isn’t.   But have you ever read past verse seven?  Verse 11 says, “When I was a child I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man I put childish ways behind me.”  The translation straight from the Greek is, “Get your thumb out of your mouth and grow up.”  What is the mile-marker-age we put childish ways behind us?  I’m not sure, but clearly we’re old enough to put on our big kid pants, get over ourselves, and move on.
All of us fumble around attempting to do the best we can in our relationships and we still mess up more than we would like to admit. Humbling ourselves, acknowledging when we’re wrong, asking for forgiveness and trying again is how love works.   By the way, if we’re honestly putting childish ways behind us, the pouting and grudge holding aren’t a part of the equation.
Love is so much more than a fabulous Valentine box or a I love my Doberman bumper sticker or a I heart …  fill-in-the-blank tee shirt.  It’s complicated, mysterious, and like anything, the learning curve can be exhausting.   But it’s worth it.   The one thing I do know this: the farther behind us we put the childish things, the easier it gets.
Happy Valentine’s Day!

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{Giveaway} Simply Love Necklaces

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{Giveaway} Simply Love Necklaces

Posted on 11 February 2011 by Kari Gibson

I’m ecstatic to have one of my favorite jewelry designers, Tracy Hanson (Junk Posse) create not one, but two Simply Love necklaces!!!!  They are stunning and girlie and perfect for spreading simply love with funky style!!  I’m soooo giddy, I’m throwing a Giveaway on my blog.  Leave me a comment and let me know what necklace you would pick and why you simply love it.  I will randomly select two bloggers and announce the winner on Valentine’s Day, Tuesday 12/14!!  Email me if you are the blessed winners.

What do you win?

2 winners will receive a gift certificate to purchase one of the new Simply Love necklaces- you pick!!

Simply Love 1

Simply Love 2 – Front & Back

A little about Junk Posse Designer -

I am a Adoptive Mom & Grandma of 2 Amazing Guys and 2 Beautiful Bio Girls. I Love being Grandy to my three Grand-babys! I traveled last year to Ethiopia to bring home our Very Sweet Grandbaby that My Daughter and her family adopted.

I create each piece of my Jewelry one at a time by hand in my little studio in a small town in Colorado. My jewelry is my passion with a purpose and I am inspired by so many wonderful People that have the Heart and Desire to take the risk to Love the unloved, to make a difference and Be the change for Children.  Thank you all!  Tracy Hanson

Here’s the crazy part, starting today, you can purchase your own Simply Love necklace and this will help the Gibson family (us) fund our adoption miracle.  Also, Junk Posse will also give each buyer that puts the words “Free Earrings” in when ordering a pair of Heart earrings.  We are praying 365 Days for His direction with our next adoption and this is such a blessing!

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