Archive | December, 2011

This Is Our Heart


This Is Our Heart

Posted on 30 December 2011 by Kari Gibson

(A note from Kari- It’s such an honor to share your adoption stories on My Crazy Adoption blog. Every story is a miracle and encouragement to my soul. THIS story made me cry …. I understand her pain of God closing a precious door to having more children biologically, but my heart rejoices knowing He has another plan for the Tallman family. You don’t want to miss Jodie’s story!! Please leave her a special comment to support and bless her today!!)

Jeremiah 29:11

We always knew we wanted to adopt…

When Bryant and I were dating, we talked frequently about our “ideal” family plan: two biological kids and two adopted children…. as if life ever goes the way we plan? In 2008 we were blessed with a biological child. Her name is Kensington Grace and she is the biggest light of our lives!

Fast forward to August 18th, 2010. I woke up with extreme neck and head pain. As the days progressed my pain was unlike anything I had ever experienced. My vision started to become distorted and I could barely walk or talk. Long story short, I ended up in the ICU with a Vertebral Artery Dissection (“VAD”). A rare condition that affects 1 in 100,000 people a year! During the 6 months of recovery, I spent many weeks in a quite dark room all by myself. Everything that I once knew was taken away from me including holding and spending time with Kensington Grace. I did, however, have my life, precious family, friends and most importantly, I had God! Through the pain I cried out to God to heal me, to speak to me, and to rescue me from this situation. Although I spent about 12 weeks in extreme pain he did just that! Last year was the hardest year of my life, but hands down the most growing year to date. God also started to speak to Bryant during this time. We both felt that adoption might be something that God was bringing into the picture. We attended a few adoption meetings with open hearts and minds.

At this point we were very clueless about the entire adoption process and frankly we felt quite awkward and out-of-place.  We were very closed off to having an “open” adoption. (In “open” adoptions, the biological mother maintains some degree of communication with the adopted parents and biological child) You could say we were coming from a place of fear and lack of knowledge. We attended two meetings where the birth mothers came to share their stories.  We saw their heartache, their selflessness and now the peace that overflows from their heart. Knowing they chose to place their child with amazing adoptive parents was such a beautiful thing to see; unlike anything Bryant or I had ever experienced. As I wiped the tears from my eyes we looked at each other and took a deep breath and had the same feeling. This is our path!

This past summer we kept talking and praying about adoption. Even though we were both on the same page, I needed to have closure in my heart so I made an OB appointment. I went into it feeling open, but not expecting to have the reaction that I did. As I sat on the table discussing my recent VAD situation and complicated pregnancy with Kensington, I became really emotional. The Dr. just looked up with very kind eyes and said, “I’m sorry Jodie, this is not a good idea.” However, she wanted me to get a second opinion with a high risk Dr. I walked out of that office in tears. I was surprised at myself. Why was I heartbroken when I always wanted to adopt and felt that was something we were supposed to do? I immediately called Bryant and just couldn’t stop crying. What an amazing husband I have to continue to support me through this crazy journey we have been on this past year. He just reassured me that it’s all going to be okay and that he is so excited to adopt!! As I wiped the tears away I felt a peace come over me but it was a roller coaster of emotions for a while. About a month later we walked into that second appointment with the high risk Dr. and this time Bryant was with me. Before that appointment our prayer wasn’t, “God please let us become pregnant again,” it was more, “God please give us peace, give us closure, show us our path.”  He contacted a Neurologist and a vascular surgeon and they all basically agreed with what my OB said. “Jodie this is not a good idea.” The risk for stroke or death is just too high…. We had the closure we needed. I did not cry once during that appointment, but the second we walked out of that office I just melted in Bryant’s arms. All these thoughts were running through my mind.  I will never feel the kick of a baby in my belly again, Kensington will never look like her brother or sister, There will never be a little Bryant Tallman running around in this world, I will never breastfeed again.  Though I feel it’s unhealthy and ungrateful to let those thoughts take over, it was important for me to express how I was feeling.

The reality started to set in that I was never going to be pregnant again. I needed to get the maternity clothes out of the house for my own wellbeing.  So I pulled a couple of the cute outfits to save for my sister-in-law Meghan and my best friend Candice to wear someday. I posted things on craigslist and a sweet woman called and came over to try on my maternity clothes. My heart was feeling sad before she came over, but she ended being the nicest woman. It made my heart feel so joyful to know that someone sweet was wearing my maternity clothes.

Its been about 4 months since our final OB appointment. We don’t know what all the pieces are going to look like, but we are so thrilled with the opportunity to adopt. We trust that God is going to make this all happen through His provision! We are excited, a little scared but there is an overwhelming peace that God has something really special planned for our family. We are excited to share this journey with you. This is our heart.  

Bryant and Jodie Tallman

Comments (1)

Our Story Is Not Complete


Our Story Is Not Complete

Posted on 28 December 2011 by Kari Gibson

Our Adoption Story is not complete. Maybe it never is! But so far here is a snippet of what God has been doing in our Adoption Journey.

I come from a family of adoption. My youngest brother is adopted and seeing that journey unfold was a POWERFUL indicator to me that my life would someday change again by adoption. My husband also comes from a family with adoption woven into their lives. His father is adopted and has even been able to have a relationship with his birth siblings. We know Kari and Roger really well and the first time I held Zoe I knew again that someday I’d be holding my own Zoe and that Jeremy and I would embark on some kind of Adoption Journey. So if you had asked me a few years ago if our journey would have looked like this I would have told you no. I ALWAYS thought we’d adopt internationally. Then as we began really praying about this and deciding if now was the time the only thing on my heart was a domestic adoption. When I approached my husband he just smiled and said “I’m SO glad you said that…I’ve been thinking the same thing”…whoa God…thanks for putting us on the same page…thanks for guarding our hearts and just melting them together for a common dream.

So without going into the entire story here are just a few things we’ve experienced on our journey so far.
1. Overwhelming blessing from both far away and close friends and family. The support we’ve received and excitement is just overwhelming.
2. God raising the support is amazing. I’m just touched that we can do so much with so little and how awesome it is to see funds and support come from places so unexpected. We are doing the Simply Love T-shirt Fundraiser and held a big Coffee/Dessert/Auction Fundraiser. It was SUCH A FUN NIGHT! It was overwhelming to watch people just pour in and their excitement was contagious. So many friends donated for the auction, helped decorate, baked, baked and baked and just showed up to bless us! It was amazing and we are BLESSED by the community we are in.
3. Seeing my marriage and Husband change. When you’re married you see each other as spouses…I adore him and I always will always have but I have fallen in more love with Him watching Him become a Dad even before our baby is here. It’s amazing…I married him because I knew someday he’d make a great Dad but seeing this growth and excitement just makes him more amazing everyday.
4. This journey can feel very lonely at times. Then a few Sundays ago at our awesome church the sermon was about adoption. It was about entangling our lives with others. A few church members got up and spoke about their adoption journeys. One family adopted domestically as well. I cried and cried the entire service…poor Jeremy…it was INCREDIBLE and just what I needed to hear that day. We got to meet this family after church and she talked about a community of people that try and get together quarterly for support and community. YAY!
5. If I was told to only share ONE thing I’ve learned it would be this. When you open your heart and let God make you vulnerable, emotional and expectant it’s amazing what will happen. Just my heart opening slightly has let all kinds of wonderful things in. People telling me their adoption stories…even one person telling me their story as the BIRTHMOM! Whoa people! That was HUGE! We sat and cried together about what a blessing this entire process is from BOTH points of view! That blessed my heart…she’s WONDERFUL and would have been a WONDERFUL mom but was so young. What a blessing she gave to her child who has now grown into a wonderful person.
6. I am God’s…I’ve always been His and I always will be. I’m marked for Him and HIS WORK. My future Child is God’s…always will be and always has been. Even though this child is not being knitted together in my womb God is there and He’s preparing this child for us. I believe it with all my heart. You are called to adopt…it’s a pressure on your heart you can’t escape. It’s not for everyone and that is ok but it’s for us and it is how we are going to grow our family and our legacy. It’s how we will be faithful.
7. God’s heart is ALL ABOUT ADOPTION! We are His adopted Children. Eph 1:5. We can be passionate and expectant because He is. I’m praying that scripture over our journey everyday. I love that I can ask God for these things and be expectant for these things b/c His passion is adoption.

So where are we now? Our Home study is complete and we are approved through the state of Kansas. We are now waiting for the call that says we’ve been chosen by a birth mom! That is another thing God is doing in my heart…giving me a huge HEART for these sweet birth moms. They are brave, obedient and God’s. As we’ve been praying for her and praying for this journey it just kind of hit me that we get to be apart of her journey. We’ve been praying this entire experience is something that changes her life for good. I know and the birth mom I’ve been able to get to know says how incredibly difficult it is. And so my prayers for her are already for healing and that somehow she finds peace in the Lord through all of this. I want God to use us in HER life. I have a hard time putting this into words I guess. It’s just something I know God is working on in my heart right now…what this will look like and I know He is going to lead us and show us what He wants from us. What an opportunity this journey is to be faithful and open to whatever God has for you!

Nothing about this journey seems easy…everything is a lot of work…the financial piece is scary and sometimes people look at you funny. But we PRESS on…we Press on knowing God completes the work he starts. I have days I doubt everything…I doubt myself…I doubt our bank account and everything in between. But I’m always reminded how Big GOD IS and how FAITHFUL He continues to be. It seems nothing worth it or nothing He asks of us is always easy. Jeremiah 29:11…everyone knows this verse and it’s true today. He knows the plans and they are good. It’s amazing to see an adoption complete isn’t it! To see these two lives, two plans mold together for His purpose and Glory. It’s easy to read those stories, love those kids and hope for that moment…it’s a lot harder to be in this moment waiting, fundraising and expecting…so we grab onto hope, hold someone’s hand and press on. We will all get there and I know Jeremy and I will be there soon. Holding our child, raising our child and being thankful we held onto hope.

Expectant is my word of the day! So even though our journey is not complete…and again I’m not sure it ever will be God is MOVING and WORKING and CHANGING us for the better. For Him as His adopted Children to do HIS work! Thank you for being prayer warriors, adoption lovers and supporters! This world is better because of this passion! Our pictures are from our fundraiser wearing our fundraising t-shirts! What a fun fundraiser, to watch people put on your dream and declare it for you! =)

Our blog…

Comments (0)

When An Orphan Becomes A Son


When An Orphan Becomes A Son

Posted on 26 December 2011 by Kari Gibson

These are the scattered thoughts of a mommy with a son changed forever by the love of Jesus. Two weeks ago today I brought my son home. We met five weeks prior to that. I went into this expecting a very long healing process. I was prepared for slow progress, because you just can’t rush a little heart in healing. I knew this first month home would be hard. And it has been.

But God has just blown my socks off. When I met my son seven weeks ago, he was scared to the point that he would often have long meltdowns when he felt overwhelmed. It was just a pure fear reaction to various circumstances. During these episodes, he completely checked out and couldn’t vocalize what was wrong or how I could help. He avoided even making eye contact with me and would push me away if I tried to hold him. I had no idea what the best way to handle this was, so I just followed my mommy heart and took him somewhere quiet and held him when he was ready to be held. When he calmed down, I told him I was so glad he felt better.

A few mornings ago he started to have a similar fit over something. I knelt down to his eye level and asked what was wrong. And for the first time, he looked at me and through tears said, “I want you to hold me, Mommy.” I picked him up. He stopped crying and within a couple of minutes he was giggling.

This is not because I’m such an amazing mommy that I’ve singlehandedly mended his heart. No way. This kind of healing in such a short time is beyond human abilities. It goes against everything textbooks and social workers say. He’s an older child, we broke birth order, heck, we even artificially twinned;Trust me, that was not at all our plan going into this. Nope, that was God’s perfect plan, not mine. I knew the moment He laid that on our hearts that;He would be faithful and that He could heal any hurt. And, boy, has he ever.

God’s heart is for orphans to become sons. And He lets imperfect people like me be a part of that. Mommies who sometimes let their kids watch too many cartoons or forget to pack a spoon in their lunchboxes. There was a time I thought He only wanted the really great moms to do this job. I was so wrong. He equips me (of all people!) to do this. Everyday I wake up, completely incapable of handling the day ahead. And everyday, He gives me just what I need to love these children He has loaned me.

The most exciting thing is, He has only just begun restoring this little life. Can I just tell you what it’s like to get to watch this firsthand? Words fail.

Experiencing the healing that happens when an orphan becomes a son is worth every penny spent, every late night, every mile travelled, every piece of paper filled out, every phone call, every obstacle, every hard day. Being his mommy is one of the greatest things God has ever called me to. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Guest Blogger: Lara the Farmer’s Wife Blog

If you have enjoyed or learned from this post, please share it:

Comments (0)

Amazing Grace


Amazing Grace

Posted on 23 December 2011 by Kari Gibson


I am inadequate to write this post. I have thought over it, prayed over it, dreamed of sharing it, and cried over it, but I still come here not knowing what to write. In writing this story of my son, I so desire for all of the glory and credit to go to my great God. I pray that his fame is renowned, and that Jim and I, and even our precious brown eyed boy, would fade into the background. We are just supporting characters in this story – the starring role was long ago reserved for my God, my Savior. For this is ultimately and completely His story, and I hold it loosely knowing who really holds the pen. I could never fully tell all that God has done to orchestrate getting Jamesy into our family. There is no way that my finite mind can begin to even comprehend, in order to tell, the supernatural way that God joined our family together through this amazing, wonderful, painful, beautiful, humbling journey of adoption.

Please know that this is only a part of Jamesy’s story. This is the part that we feel led to share. The other part is reserved for Jamesy alone to share someday if he feels so led. We have very little to give him of his past, and would like to keep what we can sacred for him.We chose this road of adoption -which was a big step for both of us a step of faith and some private, personal growth steps as well – for very unique reasons for both of us. But even after choosing this and obeying the Holy Spirit’s prompting in this area of adoption and orphan care, we put our own human parameters on the kind of orphan that we thought God would choose for our family. We both felt very strongly about a boy. (I have the most tender spot in my heart for boys. I always wanted a son, and the thought of having two just excited me to no end! Not that this diminishes my love for my Cadi at all.) We also decided, without honestly much prayer, that God had a healthy infant boy for us. We knew any international adoption was risky, adoption in general is challenging and even hard, and we surely knew that God would not require more from us.

God began breaking my heart in a way that I could not fathom. He was growing me at exponential rates, like never before in my walk with Him. He was releasing us from our bondage of materialism and the American dream – a bondage we had not even known we were under. I was beginning to think that I was reaching a pivotal point in what God had to teach me through our adoption. And then God yanked the rug out from under me. I have shared this next bit in a previous blog post, but now I will add all of the details that I was not at liberty to publicly share until now.

It happened on a Thursday. It was mid afternoon, Cadi and Scotty were napping, my house was clean, we were having dinner at a friends’ home and I had nothing to prepare, so I hopped on the computer and logged into AWAA’s yahoo group. I scrolled through the newest messages. I saw once again someone mention the Waiting Child List. People had been mentioning it all week, praying that by the time Court reopened in Ethiopia (it closes for a month during Ethiopia’s rainy season every year) the list could be cleared out. I remember thinking how great that would be, and how special those people were to be able to accept one of these children into their home. The list is full of children who have special needs – sometimes the special need is simply that the child is older and less likely to be adopted because there are very few requests for older children compared to the families requesting infants. Others of the children have varying degrees of special needs. I finally felt curious about this list. I wanted to join in praying for these children, but I needed to put faces to them. I requested the password and entered the site. Little did I know that this decision would change the course of our lives forever.

What sweet, beautiful children popped up on the screen. I slowly scrolled through them reading the little description written about each one and then quickly praying for the child and his or her forever family. That they would be united quickly, and that these children could be removed from the list. I then scrolled to the very last child. My heart kind of skipped a beat and I felt a gentle tug because the child was an infant and a boy, and then I read his description. I knew that God would never call us to that special need, though, I clearly remember thinking and feeling relief wash over me. That would be too hard, and we had already requested a healthy baby boy and were nearly done with our home study based on that request. Phew, off of the hook.

Then I opened his picture.


I do not know how to describe what happened next without sounding like a crazy person. In that moment I was living so outside my character that I am still overwhelmed and humbled with what happened next.

Immediately upon the photo popping up on my screen I burst into sobs, deep gut-wrenching, shoulder shaking, ugly sobs. Because I knew that he was my son. The only thing I can liken it to is having Scotty laid on my chest after birth (I say Scotty because this did not happen with Cadi due to her traumatic birth), locking eyes with him and knowing that he belonged with me. It was the exact same thing with this baby on my screen. He belonged with us! I was simultaneously filled with peace and fear. Peace, because I knew in my heart of hearts that he was indeed the child that God had ordained to be in our family. Fear because of what that meant God was asking this cowardly, shy, not confident girl to do.

He was aking me in that moment to say yes to this 7 month old baby boy that had been diagnosed as bilaterally blind and severely, chronically malnourished. Surely this cannot mean he is completely blind I thought. I quickly pulled up google and my heart sank as I realized that is exactly what it meant.

Really, God? A blind child? How do we do that?

I then googled the ramfications of chronic malnourishment and my stomach twisted as I learned of the severe delays and retardation it could (but not always – I tend to be a realist.) mean. I then began to fear what Jim would think and how I could tell him that this boy was who God meant for us to adopt.

But my love for this boy and the knowing that he was my son was instantaneous and that overshadowed everything at the moment. At some point Jim needs to share his side of the story. He battled it out with God, but the outcome was beautiful -obviously – look where we are today! Soon after that day, we both came to the same conclusion about this boy, we notified our agency, received his referral, and accepted it. I would love to say that it has been an easy road since then, that I was never plagued with doubts about the ramifications of our decision. But I cannot say that. There were days when Satan had a hay-day in my mind playing up every fear imaginable. There were nights where I laid in bed and tried to imagine how we were really going to do this with a blind child. I read several books on raising children with visual impairments, but they just made me fear. I pictured my son walking down the road with a walking stick. I feared not being able to learn Braille, not being adequate to homeschool him like our other children. It was a silent, private battle everyday for a long time. I was not batteling loving Jamesy, but to accept that our story was not ending exactly how we had thought.

Then special people in our life started telling us that they were praying for Jamesy’s eyes. I thought that was weird at first. He’s blind afterall, end of story. Surely the Jesus of the Bible would not still heal the blind. Or would He? God convicted my heart of stone, and I started to pray as well. I prayed that he would at least be able to make out the shapes of the faces of his family. I prayed fervently – somedays with great faith and somedays with barely any. I drilled every family that I could from our agency that went to the Transition Home for their court date or embassy trip. I pleaded with them to tell me about his eyes. At first it looked bleak. It seemed as if God had truly destined for us to raise a blind child. I kept reading things about how God still heals today through the power of prayer. Jim and I prayed together for Jamesy, and Cadi began to join in. Soon the reports were different.

Your son seems to be able to see light.

Your son cannot focus on my face, but he is trying too.

Your son follows shapes with his eyes.

During this time we also received news that Jamesy’s eyes would shake, and that he seemed to have little control of them. I began researching this, and came to the uneducated conclusion that he has nystagmus. I very soon after found out that a very dear bloggy friend has this same condition. She gave me great, great hope, watched a video of Jamesy’s eyes that we had received, and agreed that she thought he has nystagmus – which is NOT blindness. In the meantime Jamesy kept gaining weight and growing as he was on nutritional rehabilitation. He was also right on track with his developmental progress – sometimes even ahead of where our other two children were at his age!

We set out for Ethiopia not knowing exactly what to expect. We found our son to certainly have some visual impairments that we will be getting help for, but we found him to NOT. BE. BLIND. Not at all. Although, at first, we were discouaraged to find that he could not seem to focus on our face or make eye contact with us. But we taught him to high five, he would catch bubbles, and grab our sunglasses – all impossible for a child with his diagnosis!

Then on our fourth day with him God gave me the amazing, unforgettable, life-changing gift of locking eyes with my son for 30 seconds as I fed him a bottle! He saw my face! He looked into my eyes and held my gaze. This all from a child who we were told would never see.

We will never know all that God has done in Jamesy’s eyes, but we know that he has done a healing work. We know that it is not a case of him simply being misdiagnosed. When we were in Ethiopia we were told that when Jamesy was brought into the Transition Home in July he was BLIND. Then slowly over the course of the months he has been there he has gained more and more sight!

Our son once was blind but now he SEES! God is still in the process of teaching me a lot through this. I will never understand this side of eternity why God is allowing me this blessing of being Jamesy’s mommy. Did God allow Jamesy to be blind in order to bring him out of his orphanage and into the Transition Home? Or was it so that he would land on the Waiting Child List and be seen by us? Or was God testing us to see if we were willing to do whatever He asked? I believe the answer is yes to at least some of those, but I will never truly know until I meet my Jesus face to face. And it doesn’t matter why.

We still do not know exactly what the future holds for our Jamesy, but we know God is working mightily in his life, in our life, and in those who have heard his story. God has big plans for Jamesy – that much I know!

Whatever the reason, I am abundantly thankful that God has brought our sweet Jamesy into our family forever! God has changed us because of this story.

I once was lost, but now am found.
I once was blind, but now I see!

God, in his creative sovereignty used a precious, blind, brown-eyed boy to remove my blindness!
All praise and glory to Him. I am completely unworthy of His Amazing Grace!


Locking eyes for the first time.
Guest Blogger: A Moment Cherished Blog

If you have enjoyed or learned from this post, please share it:

Comments (3)

It’s A Vertical Life

Tags: ,

It’s A Vertical Life

Posted on 19 December 2011 by Kari Gibson

My life as a mother has been a seemingly jagged path weaving a better story than I could ever have written.
College lays the whole world at your feet and no one tells you that you’re not invincible.  So, when your prince charming runs off to law school and finds someone cuter and smarter, leaving you crying in your beer, it’s hard to see the harm in finding a surrogate for just one night.  I didn’t intend for anything significant to happen, just a little comfort to remind me of my worth.  Unfortunately, he didn’t bother to ask me what I wanted and because of my penchant for using alcohol to numb the pain, I wasn’t even conscious for most of what did happen.  I know what it’s called and no one should have to say that’s how it was their “first time”.
So, what do you do when you’re a pregnant, pro-life, 19 year-old, college sophomore with no one who can really help you?  I was fortunate enough to have some close friends in college who stumbled through as my support system the best way they knew how.  They were gracious and, after getting over the shock of the pregnancy and the additional shock that I chose to carry the baby, they were non-judgmental and overlooked the frequent hormonal outbursts.  Everyone should have the gift of such friends who, incidentally, are still my friends to this day.  However, 19 year-olds rarely make good life coaches so I needed a little extra help.
After some counseling, I chose to make an adoption plan with an agency that would do all of the legwork for me (including all contact with the birthfather).  I also chose an adoptive family that looked a lot like

what I thought my child deserved.  Nine months later, at a hospital in my hometown, with my mom by my side, I placed my beautiful 9 lb. 3 oz. bundle of perfection into the arms of total strangers and walked out into the noonday sun to….get back to normal life?  The tears streaming down my cheeks as I got into my mom’s car had very little to do with questioning my decision and everything to do with how much I thought the whole situation just plain sucked.
For a while, being a birthmom defined me.  Whenever I had to do one of those get-to-know-me exercises for work or school or church functions, I would disclose that fact about myself.  A few people would ask more about it but most would simply say, “Wow” and move on.  I’m not sure what I expected since Emily Post never felt the need to write the Etiquette for Birthmoms book.  Eventually, though, my definition of myself began a quiet metamorphosis and soon I was surprised when I would casually mention my experience and people were shocked because, apparently, I had failed to mention it to them.  Strangely, it didn’t cause me as much angst as I thought it should to realize that I wasn’t thinking about my child every day.  The memories were there but they no longer consumed me.  Regularly, I would open my mailbox to find pictures, update letters and videos of my sweet and happy child and each correspondence was a package full of comfort and acceptance, softening the pain and replacing it with hope, gratitude and affirmation.
Upon finding and snagging my real Prince Charming, we began to discuss adoption, mine and ours.  It wasn’t that we couldn’t have children naturally; we hadn’t even tried.   Rather, we both felt a desire, a compulsion to adopt and, seeing such a need in the U.S. foster care system, we couldn’t fathom getting pregnant while there were children out there who needed parents.  We were almost done with our training and application process to adopt from the foster care system when we found ourselves staring down at a little pink plus sign.  How’s that for a divine sense of humor?
Three more plus signs later and we are back on the adoption train.  The desire to adopt has never really gone away.  All of those years after our first time through the process, I would peruse the Waiting Child lists on adoption websites and yearn to bring those children home, particularly the teenagers.  Now, please believe me when I say that I am not naturally drawn to children in general.  I’m not the crafty, touchy-feely, make-my-own-baby-food, good-time mom.  Babysitting was not my favorite job and I am never the first to sign up for nursery duty.  I can still recall breaking out into a cold sweat when we were visiting a church in the south.  Their large congregation was supporting our smaller church as we got on our feet and they had assigned me, as the visiting “missionary”, to teach a kindergarten class on Sunday morning. Fortunately, my guitar-toting, kid-loving, former-teacher husband jumped in to save the day, giving me time to remove my head from that paper bag.   
While I have always wanted to have children I never thought of myself with more than two or, possibly, three but its funny how our dreams can change.  Now that we have four homemade kids and we’re back in the foster-to-adopt training game, we are looking at the “unadoptable” kids.  Did you know there was such a thing?  It makes me throw up a little every time I hear it.  They are the children who aren’t cute little, healthy, white girls.  They are the kids who come with more than one sibling.  They are the kids who have been sexually abused in horrific ways and might act out on another child (but there’s really no way of knowing until they do it).  They are the ones slapped with the label RAD or FASD who have no idea how to love and trust because no one met their needs at all in the first few years of life.  They are the teenagers who, simply by virtue of their age, are “too much of a risk” and will most likely age-out to a life on their own…can you imagine having nowhere to go at Christmas and no one to call for moral support when life gives you the proverbial body slam?  They are the teenage mothers who were taken away from their parents and who will probably lose their own babies without parenting mentors.  These are some of the kids that we want.  These are the ones who did nothing to deserve their fate in the broken labyrinth of political agendas and double-speak that we refer to as Child “Protective” Services.  The overworked, underpaid, underappreciated, caught between Hell and Purgatory social workers and foster parents are doing the best they can with what they are given but all we see are the small percentage of the profession who use and abuse because the vast majority, the ones who don’t, are too busy actually working for the kids to be bothered with correcting misperceptions.  These are the things that make people walk away, that make them say, “This is just too stinkin’ hard.  I don’t have time for this.”  If our family can get just a few of those kids out of that hell, then that’s worth all of the nonsense we’re going through.
Are we naïve?  Perhaps.  But, our agency is doing an excellent job of laying it all out there – the good, the bad and the RAD.  We are going into this with our eyes wide-open, as much as we can be, with very few guarantees but the alternative is much less appealing.  I can no longer go back to my comfy, AmericanFam dream and ignore the fact that there are kids who need me, whether they know it or not.  In just a few short weeks, we will be finished with all of the paperwork and classes and paperwork and interviews and paperwork and we’ll be handed a stack of photos with the faces of our potential children.  It’s a second chance.  I wasn’t able to raise my firstborn but I was fortunate enough to find amazing people who could and now I’m blessed with the opportunity to do the same for someone else.  This time around, I think I’m ready.
Kim is the wife of one rockin’ Worship Pastor, full-time mom to four crazy and beautiful kids and Editorial Manager for ATFM. Toss in another part-time job, housework, training to adopt from foster care and what passes for a social life these days and she’s still wondering how she fits 32 hours into a 24 hour day. You can follow Kim’s adoption journey on her newest blog, It’s a Vertical Life.

If you have enjoyed or learned from this post, please share it:

Comments (2)

Mommy DIY Craft – Make Your Own Nativity

Tags: ,

Mommy DIY Craft – Make Your Own Nativity

Posted on 16 December 2011 by Kari Gibson

Guest blogger Pam Cavitt and her husband Wade brought daughter Abby home from Ethiopia four years ago. Homeschooling two high school sons and a preschooler keeps Pam busy, along with a little crafting on the side. Pam and Wade will soon be adopting again through their state’s waiting child program.

Personally, I am a big fan of art projects that allow children to be completely creative rather than “color in the lines” or follow a pattern.  But in spite of this, my daughter loves to color as well as draw and do every kind of art.

I recently ran across this adorable nativity scene printable and knew Abby would love making and admiring it throughout the Christmas season.  She did!  And as you can tell, she was plenty creative with color choices!
This is a great project for your whole family to do together, and  you probably have all the supplies already on hand: crayons, paper, glue sticks or tape, and…..maybe….cardboard tubes (toilet paper, paper towel, gift wrap).

In this photo you’ll notice we made only shepherds and sheep visiting baby Jesus’ family at the manger.  The artist who created these printables makes wise men and camels available on her site also.  Maybe one of these days I’ll draw a little house scene and toddler Jesus for the wise men figures to visit.  Or we could make some wise men and and camels and put them on the other side of the living room to demonstrate they have a long, long journey ahead.

If you don’t have cardboard tubes on hand, this project will work great if you print the pages on paper or cardstock and simply roll each piece and tape its seams together in the back.  If I do this project again, that’s how I’ll do it.
printables available at:

OK, blogger friends- what’s your favorite craft for the holiday season? If you have a craft to share or want to link up your post here … we’d love your ideas.


If you have enjoyed or learned from this post, please share it:

Comments (0)

A Crazy Kinda Love – Inner Beauty Series

Tags: ,

A Crazy Kinda Love – Inner Beauty Series

Posted on 15 December 2011 by Kari Gibson

A Crazy Kinda Love!
by Kit Hoeck

I am a part of a wild and crazy family who love big, talk loud, and who individually wrestles with God’s role in our lives.  Early in October I had the privilege of spending a month in Washington helping care for my 92-year-old Grandmother and it was by far one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  During that time, I witnessed beauty and passionate love in a profound, unforgettable way as I watched my mother, brothers, and sister-in-laws tenderly love and care for Grandma and as I witnessed my Grandma face death with dignity and grace.  She was a darling woman who had cared unselfishly for her family for countless years.  After our Grandfather passed away, she lived alone for more than 30 years in her home until the day she went into the hospital.  She rarely complained, loved relentlessly, and laughed easily.  Her home was a safe haven for all who entered and the mixture of Tide laundry detergent, Downey fabric softener, and baking … created an enticing aroma I have tried to replicate in my home to this day! She rarely verbally professed her faith and for most of her life seemed to wrestle with her spiritual connection to a loving Savior.

Though her mind remained sharp, her body began to deteriorate and we struggled to keep her comfortable.  In a short period of time she went from being able to care for herself to hardly managing simple hygiene or walking from room to room. Once in the hospital, however, she remained compassionate and patient with doctors and nurses and her sense of humor kept us laughing throughout the day.  The amazing thing about her attitude was that she was in excruciating pain that became increasingly difficult to manage.  As the doctors experimented with combinations of medications in an attempt to keep her comfortable, Grandma began to experience hallucinations and confusion. A member of our family was able to spend nights with her in the hospital and one evening when her mind was extremely troubled, I decided to read scripture out loud to her.  When I came to Psalm 23, she began reciting it along with me as I read.  It was obvious she had hidden this Psalm in her heart as a young girl.  On several occasions she would ask my brothers and me, “What day is it?”  She would then say, “Well, honey … you pray for me when you go to church.”  I absolutely loved holding Grandma’s soft hand praying with her.  One evening when my youngest brother stayed with her, he said she recited Psalm 23 over and over throughout the night.  In the end, Grandma was at peace with her loving Savior and understood God’s abounding love for her.

I learned some very valuable lessons from this experience and have come to love my crazy loud family even more.  I saw beauty, compassion, patience, love, and understanding in them in ways I have not recognized before.  JJ Heller is my “new” favorite singer/songwriter and in her song “What Love Really Means,” she captures the essence of unconditional love … “dear God won’t you please send someone here who will love me for me … not for what I have done or what I will become.”  I love that!  And I want to be the kind of daughter, wife, sister, mother, and friend who will love like that … here on earth.  Because I believe that ultimately God wants us to share His kind of love … a kind of love that shouts, “… I will love you for you, not for what you have done or what you will become, I will love you for you, I will give you the love, the love that you never knew.”

I confess I have let petty differences and misunderstandings stand in the way of loving my family BIG at times.  Loving them simply for who they are without expectations of what I think they should become.  Through the pain of watching someone I loved dearly walk into the arms of a loving Savior … I have learned a valuable lesson in loving others … with God’s crazy kinda love!

You can personally email Kit. I hope you will leave her a special comment today- it’s a gift to all bloggers.

If you have enjoyed or learned from this post, please share it:

Comments (0)

Wednesday WOW Recipes – Mile High Lasagna

Tags: ,

Wednesday WOW Recipes – Mile High Lasagna

Posted on 14 December 2011 by Kari Gibson

I made my family Rachel Ray’s incredible lasagna recipe last night, but used turkey meat and turkey stock… every bite was delicious! Don’t forget to let me know your favorite recipes + link so I can add them to my Wednesday WOW series.


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 large onion, grated
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 can San Marzano tomatoes (28 ounces)
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (15 ounces)
  • 3 to 4 basil leaves, torn
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 quart milk
  • A few grates fresh nutmeg
  • 2 boxes oven-ready lasagna noodles (use 1 box per loaf pan)
  • 2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup provolone cheese, grated
  • Parsley, chopped, for garnish
Serves 6-8


Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Place a large skillet over medium-low heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Cook the onion and the garlic, stirring frequently, until tender, about 10 minutes.

Turn the heat under the skillet up to medium-high and add the beef to the pan. Cook it through, stirring frequently and breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon or potato masher. Add the beef stock, tomatoes and basil to the pot and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mash the tomatoes up with the potato masher or wooden spoon, bring the sauce up to a bubble, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.

While the red sauce is simmering, place a medium-size pot over medium heat and melt the butter. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter and cook the mixture for about 1 minute. Whisk the milk slowly into the butter-flour mixture and cook until thickened. Season the white sauce with salt, freshly ground pepper and the nutmeg.

Cover two loaf pans with a layer of foil for easy removal from the pan. Ladle about 1 cup of the red sauce into the bottom of the first lined loaf pan. Put down a layer of lasagna noodles, then top them with about a cup of white sauce and a handful of Parmigiano Reggiano (about 1/4 cup). Continue building the lasagna, alternating layers of noodle, red sauce, noodle, white sauce and cheese, until all the noodles are covered. End the lasagna on a layer of red sauce and top it off with the grated provolone and some Parmigiano-Reggiano. Repeat this process with the other loaf pan and the remaining sauce.

Cover the pans with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes until the noodles are tender and the cheese is melted and golden brown.

Remove the pans from the oven and let cool for 15-20 minutes to let the lasagna set. Pull the lasagna out of the pans by the edges of the foil, pull the foil down from around the lasagna and cut with a serrated knife. Garnish each slice with fresh parsley.

If you have enjoyed or learned from this post, please share it:

Comments (0)

I Need Your Adoption Story – Inspire, Support, and Challenge


I Need Your Adoption Story – Inspire, Support, and Challenge

Posted on 12 December 2011 by Kari Gibson

The heartbeat of My Crazy Adoption is you. I love waking up every morning reading your comments, stories, questions, and cheers! One of the unique aspects of my blog is that it reads like a magazine. I want to encourage readers to come on over and read a variety of topics related directly to mommyhood, orphan care, and adoption. My ultimate goal is to provide you the tools it takes to live James 1:27 in a radical way. I receive the most amazing emails [from you] sharing how a story or video inspired you to go on a mission trip, sponsor a child, and ultimately start the journey to adoption.

Throughout the year, I partner with organizations that I can collaborate with and make a difference in the life of an orphan. You have helped make every project a life-changing blessing to literally thousands of children and women in Africa and Haiti. You helped raise over $60,000 for donations and projects that Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. 1 Cor. 13:13

I need your adoption story.

Let’s end 2011 with a bang… I need your adoption stories to help inspire, support, and challenge one another to simply love. You can email me your story- edited, ready-to-post, with up to 3 photos (attached jpeg) to celebrate adoption at any chapter of the process. Include your blog link or contact information you want to share with readers…. twitter, facebook, etc. 

“As you abide in Christ, listen to His heart. It beats for lost people. Just as He died for the lost, He asks that we also die to our selfish ambitions and, with reckless abandon, share Him. Our Savior asks that we go to all who are lost.” The Live-Dead Journal


If you have enjoyed or learned from this post, please share it:


Comments (0)

My Crazy Christmas Giveaway!!!!


My Crazy Christmas Giveaway!!!!

Posted on 10 December 2011 by Kari Gibson


Congratulations to the 11 winners of My Crazy Christmas Giveaway. Winners were randomly selected. Thank you everyone who stopped by and entered to win! You are a blessing to me… Merry Christmas!!!

1. Chip- Live-Dead Journal

2. Becky Allister- Trevor Birch CD

3. Michelle Miller- Trevor Birch CD

4. Chantelle Grubbs- Trevor Birch CD

5. Catherine Bertossi- Trevor Birch CD

6. BB- Trevor Birch CD

7. Justin Simmons- Live-Dead Journal

8. Hauter13- Live-Dead Coffee Table Book

9. Kit Hoeck- Tom Davis Gift Basket

10. Jess Roch- Tom Davis Gift Basket

11. Christy- Live-Dead Coffee Table Book


I have collaborated with three amazing groups- 1 singer, and 2 unique ministries reaching the lost and touching the lives of orphans. This is simply an introduction, but in the next few months we’ll start some VERY exciting projects together. This is My Crazy Christmas GIVEAWAY – you have the chance to win some extraordinary gifts. I will randomly pick 11 winners on Monday, December 12th!!!

Who is Trevor Birch?

Do you remember this guy? He’s one of my best friends and launched his 1st solo album on 12/6! It’s such an honor to share a little (behind the scenes) with one of my favorite new artists. I want to encourage you to head over to iTunes and purchase his EP album of 5 songs.

Trevor shares: The development of this project has been an entire season of lessons on faith. That is why I’m so excited to tell you that my first solo album releases today, December 6th on iTunes. I had the honor of partnering with platinum selling producer/songwriter, Scotty D (Francesca Battistelli, Jeremy Camp, Jessie Daniels, Kutless and Jimmy Needham), to record this project in Nashville, TN. Early on in life, I discovered music has the ability to move people to worship and inspire them to action. I have been involved in the worship ministry of my local church since I was young and I believe strongly in the power of Christ to change a person’s life.  I have witnessed first-hand how music can be an integral part in that transformation. I am passionate about seeing others encouraged in their faith and it is my hope I can challenge others to see for themselves God has more for them than they can even imagine! Taking the step of faith to start this project was challenging, but God has orchestrated all the pieces to fall together in a way I could not have anticipated or planned myself. When I started the journey of recording this EP, I had so many contrasting thoughts and emotions. In recent years, I’ve been afforded opportunities to perform regularly for tens of thousands through my active involvement in my church home, James River Assembly.  But, at the time, it seemed like so many things were stacked against me—the loss of a job, lack of finances, finding the right producer, the divorce of my parents and personal insecurities.  Deciding that I would make the commitment to see this project through meant I would have to live out my faith in Christ in ways I hadn’t done before. The lyrics to my upbeat, guitar driven single, “Open Doors”, describes this journey perfectly: “Here I go even though I still have doubt / A leap of faith isn’t safe / But it’s about time I start trusting You.”

Giveaway #1 – 5 people will win a free Trevor Birch CD. Leave a comment to enter.



What is Live Dead?

Live Dead: Planting Churches Among Unreached Peoples Through Teams

The Holy Spirit is speaking to his Church, reminding us of the passion that he has never relinquished — the passion to be glorified by every tribe, tongue, people and nation. We committed to taking the church where it does not exist; to making Christ known to people groups who don’t have an opportunity to know him. Live Dead is more than a strategy it is a bridge to practically make a difference in the statistic that 40% of the world lives without access to Christ. We believe that we can make a difference; we believe that we must make a difference. Live Dead is a re-dedication to pioneering whatever the cost. Live Dead realizes that the places today where the Church does not exist are harsh, fierce, lonely and demanding; yet we still must go there. Live Dead is a commitment to evangelism and church planting among unreached peoples in community through teams. Live Dead acknowledges that if unreached peoples are going to embrace Jesus as Lord, we must die to our selfish passions and small dreams and live joyfully surrendered to the will, plan and means of our Missionary God. Living dead is a call to joy, a call to life, a call of hope. Living Dead means listening to the Spirit calling us to “take up our cross” for the sake of those who don’t know what the cross is or what it stands for. Living Dead means listening to the example of those who have gone before us, men and women like Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said, When God calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Living Dead means listening to the cry of those in spiritual death. They call to us: We will live, if you will die.”

Giveaway #2 – Two people will win The Live Dead Journal and two people will win Live Dead Coffee Table Book. Leave a comment to enter.



What is Children’s HopeChest?

My good friend, Tom Davis is simply one of my heroes for the fatherless! He shares his testimony here …. Today, HopeChest is a thriving international ministry to orphans, connecting them to the life transforming power of community-based relationships with Christians in the U.S. and Canada. It’s my passion to inspire others to find their place in orphan ministry and give themselves to the poor and impoverished children of the world. At HopeChest, we advocate a “community to community”partnership model. While many great organizations exist to provide individual sponsorship opportunities, we believe that holistic, sustainable change in the poorest communities occurs when one community partners with another.

We invite you to become an extravagant giver this year by joining Change Their Story. You are invited to sign up and fundraise for orphans who are starving and girls who are targeted by sex traffickers. Your family will never be the same. And if you aren’t ready to take that step, then consider making a donation or supporting one of our HopeRaisers. See the full list here.

Giveaway #3 – Two people will win Tom Davis gift baskets full of his bestselling books (signed) and stunning souvenirs from the different countries Children’s HopeChest serves. Leave a comment to enter.

If you have enjoyed or learned from this post, please share it:

Comments (72)

Wednesday WOW Recipes – Kris Kringle Krunch

Tags: ,

Wednesday WOW Recipes – Kris Kringle Krunch

Posted on 07 December 2011 by Kari Gibson

If you don’t bake anything else, but this delicious treat for your family for Christmas- you’ll be on Santa’s good list. My kids beg for this recipe and have received so many requests from YOU for my Kris Kringle Krunch- here you go, no more begging!

You need:

1 bag of chocolate chips

1 cup sugar

2 sticks butter

30+ club crackers (I also use saltine)

Now, start singing your favorite Christmas carol and mix it all together.

Preheat oven at 400.  Cover a jellyroll pan with foil and spray with non-stick spray.  Layer the crackers side by side on the bottom of pan.  Melt the butter and 1 cup of sugar until boiling.  Pour the melted butter over the crackers.  Bake in the oven for 12 minuets or until golden brown.  Pour the bag of chocolate chips over the cracker mix & bake again for 10 SECONDS ONLY!  Spread the melted chips over the top evenly.  Refrigerate or freeze until hard. Before serving- peel off the edge of foil and start breaking into pieces.  Santa’s Warning: you will eat yourself sick with Kringle Krunch and you will NOT have any leftovers.  I want to know what your crazy kids say when you make this special treat!

What’s your favorite treat to make for Christmas- leave your recipe link in the comments.

Layer those yummy crackers.
Pour the melted butter over crackers.
Bake & pour chocolates over- 10 seconds only!
Break or cut into squares!
If you have enjoyed or learned from this post, please share it:

Comments (3)

3 Tips To Help Your House Smell Good

Tags: ,

3 Tips To Help Your House Smell Good

Posted on 06 December 2011 by Kari Gibson

We have had our home on the market for 5 years (gasp, I know) waiting for the big day we hang SOLD on the dusty sign- my daily reminder that God is in control. Even though house showings have been few and far throughout the years, I haven’t lost hope that someone will fall in love with our home! Will you join us praying that God will sell our home (in his timing) even in this crazy economy! Even if you home isn’t up for sale- these tips will help your home sell great for Christmas!

No, this is not our home, but we all want to have a house that smells really good all year long!


Here are a few tips I found when selling your home, you must have everything looking good — and smelling good. Every house has a “smell,” whether it be good or bad, and you definitely want your home’s smell to be good. Sometimes you don’t have a lot of notice to show your home, so a few quick fixes to get your home smelling nice might prove useful.


Things You’ll Need:

  • Baking soda
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Whole cloves
  • Refrigerated cookie dough
  • Raisin bread
  • Microwave popcorn

#1 Tip: Stock up on baking soda, which naturally absorbs odors. It is safe to use, economical and versatile. Sprinkle it in shoes in the foyer and mud room, and on all carpets before vacuuming. Shake a little bit into the bottom of all garbage cans and the kitty litter box. In the kitchen, use it in the garbage disposal. An open box in the refrigerator will keep food odors at bay, just in case a prospective buyer opens it. Keep an open box of baking soda in all closets and in the laundry room.

#2 Tip: Simmer one cinnamon stick with four to six cloves in water, in a pot on your stove daily. If you have a lemon or an orange, add rind to the pot for a fresh citrus scent. By doing this daily, you keep that nice, natural aromatic smell in your home. And because it’s natural, it doesn’t have the overpowering smell of a scented spray.

#3 Tip: Keep some of these items on hand to quickly make your home smell good.

  • Refrigerated cookie dough. Quickly bake cookies and place them on a plate for your guests.
  • Raisin bread. Make raisin toast. You probably don’t want to serve this to your guests, but the aroma will linger long enough to make your guests happy.
  • Microwave popcorn. As a last resort, pop popcorn. Most people love the smell of popcorn and you can also have this in a nice big bowl.

If you have enjoyed or learned from this post, please share it:

Comments (1)



Posted on 03 December 2011 by Kari Gibson


Comments (1)

The Giveaway Jingle


The Giveaway Jingle

Posted on 02 December 2011 by Kari Gibson

The Lord is going to bless someone in a real BIG way

He’s going to bless their socks off their feet TODAY!


He’s got a plan, and He will make it clear

Everyone, let’s stand up and cheer!


The winner will go to the other side of the planet

And be radically changed for good, can you stand it?


Faces gazing at them, young and old,

Looking for love, same as gold.


Joy, praise, and love of the Father above

Will fuel all the actions wrapped in love.


Two packed weeks in a faraway land

And an opportunity to reach out a hand


Love BIG for Jesus and draw people in

TODAY is the day!  Let the adventure begin!

(Thank you Sue Bee for writing this amazing jingle for my blog today!! Love you!)

Crazy bloggers, I will announce the GRAND PRIZE WINNER on Saturday morning on My Crazy Adoption! Visiting Orphans will video the drawing LIVE at the Give2Go Event! I can’t wait to see WHO God has chosen to win the mission trip!!



Grand Prize Winner will be drawn on Friday, December 2, 2011 at our 2nd Annual Visiting Orphans Give2Go event in Nashville, TN. You do not need to be present to win. Winner will be notified by Monday, December 5th.

(Deadline for online purchases are Friday, Dec 2 at 12 noon CT!) Purchase one of these special tees designed just for this giveaway! You get your name in the drawing for every one of these tees that you purchase. So if you purchase 5 men’s and 5 women’s – you get 10 entries!!!! It’s that easy!


in the world

on a Visiting Orphans missions trip….

Open your hearts to Go, Be, and Love orphans!!

El Salvador, Costa Rica, Haiti, Ecuador, Honduras, China, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, India and Ukraine!

If you have enjoyed or learned from this post, please share it:

Comments (5)

Operation: Haiti

Help us fund our new documentary film!

Learn more about it here »
Advertise Here

Photos from our Flickr stream

See all photos

Advertise Here

Support Our Family

Crazy Links

Adoption Loans

Lifesong for Orphans

Simply Love.

First Love.

H Love.

Z Love.

Daddy Love.