Tag Archive | "adoption story"

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Adoption Story: Adoption Completed Our Family

Posted on 14 December 2012 by Kari Gibson

My Life Is Crazy Too is a new series of reader submissions. This is your opportunity to share stories about life, love, and mommyhood to provide understanding, hope, and compassion in the unique situations each of us face every day.Today’s crazy guest is Mandy Campbell. Mandy is a freelance writer, editor and adoptive mother. Recognized as one of the youngest adoptive mothers in the US, Mandy provides support throughout the adoption community via blogging and other means of social networking.

On May 10, 2001 my boyfriend of almost one year got down on one knee and ask me to marry him. I was a junior in high school he had graduated the May before and was already out in the work field. We started planning our wedding which would happen 7 days after I graduated high school the next May. With plans of a wedding came dreams of our life together which included babies. We wanted to start a family pretty fast even though everyone warned us we should wait and enjoy life with just the two of us for awhile. We knew every since the day we meet that we wanted nothing more than to be parents. Fast forward one year and on May 31, 2002 we were married in a beautiful outdoor ceremony with all our family and friends. As soon as we were married I had visions of what our nursery would look like, what we would name our unborn children and how I would tell my husband that I was pregnant. As we were getting ready to celebrate our one year Anniversary we were both surprised that I wasn’t pregnant yet. All the doctors told us to give it awhile longer after all we were at the young age of twenty-one. The whole month of May I researched infertility and was starting to fear the worse when I decided that we should pursue adoption. I meet my husband at the door one night as he walked in from a day at work and told him “we have to adopt!” Of course he thought I was crazy but I had a fire down deep in me that was telling me we had to do this and we had to do it now. I had never been impacted by adoption or ever really knew anything about it. I knew that I wasn’t getting pregnant but yet I felt like I needed to turn to adoption now and not later. After talking to my husband I did some research and found out that we weren’t even legal to adopt in our home state. At the time you had to be twenty one and married for at least 3 years. Instead of getting upset or down about this I just said that’s okay we will just go to another state. I knew that we had to do this now and not later. I decided to do a little research at the local library and online and I came across a dear birthmother letter and went ahead and typed one up for us that included family pictures, how important holidays are to us and how much we couldn’t wait to become parents. A couple weeks later we decided to tell our families that we were hoping to adopt. We got mixed responses and mostly the “you guys are to young just enjoy life and babies will come.” As we chugged along with research I also emailed everyone we knew and told them we were hoping to adopt. This was before social media had exploded so email and phone calls was the only way to go. Much to our surprise one month later we received a call about a birthmother that wanted to place with us. That call would make us parents to a beautiful baby girl that would be born in less than 30 days. Talk about a crash course in adoption. We had a rushed home study, made numerous calls to find out what the quickest way to get our fingerprints and FBI background checks done and back to us was. Our dreams of becoming parents was coming true and with that came chaos of getting ready for a baby in 30 days. As we were getting the nursery ready it was surreal, I packed the diaper bag and repacked it at least 25 times. I had no idea what all we would need to take care of a newborn in a hotel so I just took everything. I researched adoption in any spare time I had and prayed for the best. After all I was 21 years old and getting ready to drive half way across the USA to meet my daughter. In the midst of all the rushing we had mixed reactions from family and friends. We even had one friend tell us they knew a couple in their church that had been trying to adopt for over 2 years and we should pass the birthmother information on to them because they were older and deserved the baby more than us. We knew this was our baby girl and continued with everything we needed to do before her birthmother called and said it was time. On August 6th, 2003 just three months after we celebrated our one year anniversary we packed our car down and headed on our journey. We were in New Mexico when we got the call that she had been born. I remember the nurse telling us how she had beautiful skin and hair. We heard that her birthmother was doing great and all we wanted to do was drive faster to get to the hospital. The most beautiful baby girl was born the next day and her amazing birthmother placed her in our arms when she was 18 hours old. We fell in love with her at first sight and she has been the center of our world since. I will never forget the moment the nurse handed her to me, I sunk down in the chair and time stood still, and I was a mother. I was everything I ever wanted to be. As we spent our first week as a family of three in the local holiday inn express we were in awe at this beautiful child that was placed with us. We spent our days waiting for the ICPC to clear by loving on a newborn baby girl, getting many questions as to why in the world we were staying in a hotel with a 3 day old infant and emailing pictures back to our family in Oklahoma. Once we got the call that we were cleared to leave we packed up and couldn’t wait to get home. As we turned on our road for the first time as a family of three I seen balloons and signs and people were standing outside just waiting to get their hands on the baby girl they had all prayed for. We settled into life back home and waited for the call to tell us when we would return to finalize her adoption. On the day she turned 9 months old she became officially our child. I walked into that court room with so much love in my heart for her that I couldn’t hold the tears back as we made it official. Standing next to the judge with our lawyer to take pictures was one of my favorite memories! Watching her grow up is the most beautiful experience in my life and I am blessed by not only her but her birthmother who choose us. Over the last 9 years we have became adoption advocates, meet several lifelong friends through adoption and continue to share our story. We love to give people hope that it’s okay to adopt as a young couple we are proof that it happens. We celebrate our daughter’s gotcha day every year with a dinner in her honor and at 9 years old she is a lover of adoption and has several friends she has made due to adoption. Last year she decided to raise money for her adoption day and donate the money to family that was hoping to adopt to help out with expenses. She raised 300.00 selling candy bars and had the time of her life explaining to people why adoption was so near and dear to her heart. In the end we became a family just the way we were supposed to and when we supposed to. Adoption completed our family!

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Adoption Guest Blogger: The Wonder of God’s Plan

Posted on 06 December 2012 by Kari Gibson

My Life Is Crazy Too is a new series of reader submissions. This is your opportunity to share stories about life, love, and mommyhood to provide understanding, hope, and compassion in the unique situations each of us face every day. Today’s crazy guest is Katie Daniels. Her blog is private for family and friends.

The “Wonder of God.”  What exactly does wonder mean?  According to Google, wonder is:

  • a feeling of surprise
  • mingled with admiration
  • caused by something beautiful,
  • unexpected,
  • unfamiliar
  • or inexplicable

That definition has some very strong words and it fits with our adoption story perfectly.  The wonder of God’s plan for our family.If you would have talked with me four years ago I would have told you that we were done having kids. . . well, I was done.  We had three beautiful children and I felt that we were good.  Three was enough, right? Then in the wonder of God’s plan, inexplicably, I began to have feelings well up inside me from seeds that were planted years ago.

See, when I was around eight, I saw this baby doll at a craft show and I just had to have her.  Not because of some childish want. . . no, it was as if she were mine already.

Unexpectedly, hundreds of miles away a little boy, also about eight, happened to be on a family vacation with cousins from out of town who had recently adopted.  During this time God planted seeds in his heart as well.  Of course this little boy was my now husband, Dave.  If you were to ask him today, he would tell you that at this young age he knew without a doubt that he would adopt one day.

Isn’t it beautiful how God lays things on the hearts of children and they have the faith to not question? Now, jump ahead to middle school and high school where research projects and opinion papers gave voice to those seeds that God planted.  I would have told you then that I wanted to adopt from EVERY country.  My own little United Nations as my mom recalls it.

Dave and I met some years later on the campus of GVSU both very much certain that God was calling us to adopt one day. As our relationship grew we talked of adopting as well as having biological children of our own.  Well, we were married and did have children. . . 3 beautiful biological children.

What many don’t know about my story is that after our first child, Korah Beth, was born I questioned God’s plan to grow our family through adoption.  I tried to bury the desires I once had.  Why, I’m not entirely sure, but I know it had a lot to do with fear. Those of you who have had children know the love a mother has for a child.  It is unlike any other.  I feared that I could not love a child that I did not carry in my womb for nine months as much as I loved the child I had.  I voiced that concern to Dave.  Talk of adoption ceased.

We had Nathan Ezra twenty months later, then Silas a few years after that.  With each child I was amazed at how one  person can love so much, so deeply.

After we had Silas I felt as if we should be done.  I was able to tell myself this for a while but soon I was overwhelmed with the feeling  that we needed one more….after all our house wasn’t full, something. . someone, was missing.  So, we went about trying to conceive another child.  But, to be honest, something just wasn’t right.  I didn’t know why and I felt somewhat guilty but I realized that I did NOT want to carry or birth another baby.  We took a break from it all and tried to determine if indeed, our family was complete after all.

Time passed.  Then, one Sunday morning, some families who had fostered and adopted spoke at church.  I had feelings of admiration for these families and it was as if those seeds, planted years ago, were bursting up desiring the sun. I couldn’t deny that they were there.  I pondered these thoughts and feelings privately and began doing some “secret” research on adoption. . agencies, countries. . Although this world of adoption was unfamiliar to me, I knew I belonged in it.

Finally, after a few weeks of research and prayer I posed the question to  Dave.  We had gone to bed late but I could no longer hold inside what I felt God was whispering in my ear.  I quietly asked, “Do you ever still think about adopting?”  His response, “I’ve never stopped.”

There was a long pause and I replied, “I think I might be kinda ready.”

You might have expected Dave to be caught off guard – not prepared for what I had asked.  It had been about six years since the two of us had seriously discussed adoption. However, just the opposite was true.  While I had tried, and partially succeeded  in burying what I knew was God’s plan for our family. . . He simply couldn’t.  His daily prayer had been for God to take the desire of adoption from him or to bring the desire back to me.

From that moment until now our adoption journey has contained many moments and feelings of surprise mingled with admiration caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar or inexplicable…. wonder.
And yes, I did find that I could deeply love a child that didn’t grow under my heart . . .  for she grew in it.

I could go on and on about God’s presence throughout our  adoption.  I guess that as they say is another story.

So, my question for you, as children who were adopted into God’s family is. . . What seeds are you carrying that need the light of the SON, God’s Wonder, to shine on?

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A Hard Conversation With Myself


A Hard Conversation With Myself

Posted on 13 April 2012 by Kari Gibson

My Life Is Crazy Too is a new series of reader submissions. This is your opportunity to share stories about life, love, and mommyhood to provide understanding, hope, and compassion in the unique situations each of us face every day. If you would like to submit a story to this series, email me. Today’s crazy guest is . {updated with new family photos}

I started thinking about this as we were completing our second adoption. Fund-raising. And can I just say we did a lot of fund-raising, which was probably what made me think long and hard about it—coffee, t-shirts, celebration cards, garage sales, silent auctions—and I’m sure I left something out. Oh, yeah, begging. But that doesn’t count, does it?
With the adoption of our first son from Ethiopia we weren’t very schooled in fundraising, so we didn’t really make any grand attempts at it. Yet we were still blessed to bring Micah home without incurring any debt. I was working part-time, which helped a little. And we had some very special Brothers and Sisters in the Lord make some very generous donations toward our adoption expenses, which helped a lot!!

Even still with our second adoption I think I lost a little faith. God did such miracles to bring our Micah home that I really just expected to have to suck it up with Judah. So the fund-raising ensued.
But something really started to haunt me as we pursued different fund-raising efforts. I was asking others to give toward our adoption, but what was I willing to give?? Or maybe give up is the better question. I’m a stay-at-home mom and my husband is a minister, so we don’t have much expendable income that we just blow. Our cars are older, and paid for. We don’t take luxurious vacations. We never spend more than $20 when we eat out. I don’t own a pair of jeans that cost more than $35. So there’s really no where to cut back. Right? Continue Reading

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Beauty From Ashes

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Beauty From Ashes

Posted on 27 January 2012 by Kari Gibson

My husband, Joe and I met Kari when she led our first ever mission trip to Uganda and Ethiopia in June 2010 with Visiting Orphans.  If you’ve read any of her posts about that trip, you will understand how completely WRECKED we were upon returning home.  Kari shared our testimony of how we ended up on the trip hereTo say God changed our priorities would be about the biggest understatement. EVER.  We came home ready to sell everything we had left and move to Africa and just prayed for God to show us where.  As a few weeks went by it became clear that His answer was, “Wait.”  And about 3 weeks after returning home, we got the call from Visiting Orphans asking us to lead a trip back to Uganda in June of 2011.  We are excitedly gearing up to lead our 2nd trip to Uganda and our first trip back to Ethiopia since going with Kari!  And this year, at least one of our own kids will be joining us! God has blessed us in so many ways in these trips and we have made lifelong friends on them that share our love for the least of these.  I can’t say enough about how God showed us things about Himself and His love for His people, and about ourselves and what He can really do in us and through when we TOTALLY surrender our lives to Him.  If you are even so much as thinking you might consider going on a short term trip, pray and ask for confirmation, then just go.  Seriously, don’t wait for everything to fall in place- if He wants you to go, He will take care of the details. 

Before we went on our first trip, God had begun putting adoption on my heart.  Joe wasn’t quite on the same page as I was, though.  He was open to the idea, but not ready to jump in.   International adoption, specifically Ethiopia, had been where I envisioned it happening, but as we know, God’s desires for our hearts are often much different and even grander than we could imagine.  Most of my friends, and even myself, if I am honest, figured I would meet a child on the first trip that would steal my heart and we would come back and start the adoption process right then.  But as much as we were moved to help the kids we met on that trip, adopting one of them never even came to mind.  It was very clear that wasn’t why God took us to Africa.  

It was about 3 months after returning home that HIS plan for us and adoption came to light for us.  On Orphan Sunday of 2010, God prompted me to check out a website, www.adoptUSkids.org.  I say, He prompted me, because honestly, adopting from foster care wasn’t just something I wasn’t interested in- I was pretty sure I didn’t have what it would take to “deal” with the system and all that comes with adopting a child from it.  But then I saw them.  Four siblings.  In my state.  Precious.  Away from their parents.  And most tragically to me at that moment…away from each other.  They were all in separate foster homes.  Instantly, my mind thought of my own 3 biological kids and how despite their typical arguments and fights, how only being able to see each other once a month would DESTROY them.  And just like that, God broke my heart for what breaks His.  I started praying for them.  I told Joe about them.  He laughed at me- you know, the, “you are OUT of your mind for even bringing up adopting 2 kids, much less 4!” laugh.  But I couldn’t stop thinking about them.  Praying for them to find a family.  Praying that God would allow us to be their family. That He would open Joe’s heart to the idea.  About a week later, I had my answer when I sat in bed crying.  Not being able to let go of it.  I told Joe my feelings and he said, “okay, let’s see what we can do.”

Friends, God had moved not just a mountain, but a WHOLE STINKING RANGE!

The weekend after Thanksgiving of 2011, we started the process to adopt through foster care in our home state of Oklahoma.  We applied to welcome up to FOUR (yup… not just 2) children, our hope being to prevent children from losing their sibling relationship in addition to everything else they lose when in the system.  We weren’t anywhere sure we could do it, but the one thing we were certain of was our God was more than capable, and would use us as HE saw fit.  A few months along into the process, we learned that the original sibling group I saw was no longer in need of a family- but man, did they have an army of prayer warriors lifting them up!  We grew more determined than ever to let God design our family. There were lots of days of frustration and impatience and just being, “ready to do this!”  But God used those months to grow us and prepare us for what He had planned, and looking back I am so in awe at how He put the pieces together.  

On December 21st, we brought home what we hope to be our forever children.  (In Oklahoma, there is a 6 month trial adoption time where the child/ren live in the home before the adoption is finalized.)  We welcomed a 10 year old daughter and her three older brothers, ages 11, 15 and 16.  They were very close to being split up in order to make them “more adoptable.”  But our God had different plans.  It hasn’t been easy. At all.  There are good days and bad days, but more and more that is changing into good days with a few rough hours.  There are cultural differences that are ginormous.  But our God is more ginormous.  Mostly, what I am seeing is that God can use ANYONE to do ANYTHING He wants them to do- all we have to do is let Him.  I have never loved my husband more.  I could have NEVER imagined him leading me and our family the way he is right now.  And I have NEVER been more excited and less worried about what tomorrow holds because, y’all I can look back at the last 2 years and know, I mean KNOW God will show us the way through anything.  

Here is one of my most recent posts from our blog that gives a real peek into the reality of  the difficulties faced when bringing children into your home, but also the mercies and gifts God shows on even the darkest days.  

Yesterday was hard.
I overslept, didn’t get up and at ‘em like I had wanted to.

And another fun evening of playing with the bigger-and-stronger than me kids left me with a pinch in my back. Plus, and I realize how stupid and trivial and completely of-this-world I will sound for saying this, but… It was the first day of a 21 day fast from Facebook. So, yes, I was a bit irritable. Justifiable? no… but, just being honest.
Several of the kiddos were up too late the night before in a cram-in-as-much-fun-as-we-can-before-school-starts type evening, so noone brought their “A” game when they finally woke up…which may or may not have been noon for a few of them. Yes, I really did let them. I know….
So anyway, it was one of those “resolve one issue with one set of kids then turn around, take a sip of coffee and start working on the next” kind of days, with a lot of, ” I don’t want to move!” and, “you can’t take away my stuff,” thrown in for good measure. And that’s just the stuff I feel comfortable sharing. There’s lots more that is too sensitive to tell. Hard stuff that comes with living in the system for over 10 years.
Let’s just say that by about 2 pm I actually texted Joe and said I might need him to come home. By this time, my head was pounding and at least 3 kids were so angry/upset with me they weren’t speaking to me. (Normally I wouldn’t mind the quiet that creates, but this time it was more than I thought I could handle alone.) Lo and behold, in walks a friend just stopping by to say hello. (J- you have NO idea how much of a gift from God you were yesterday!)
And just like that, the cloud started lifting. My spirit was refreshed and the cloud. started. lifting…laughter came back and siblings were friends again.
Dinner brought a prayer from one of the older boys, thanking God for the day we had- even though it had ups and downs and asking Him to bless our family and help us become closer…
and then…
and then…
we went to “hang out” with the older boys at bedtime. Just relax with them. Chat. And the conversation centered mostly on how important it is that we all just KEEP TALKING… and ended up touching again on how our family standards are meant to help keep us all under God’s authority.
And then…
the same man-child, who was perhaps the angriest at me of them all that afternoon, stopped rocking in his chair. Sat straight up and said that he wanted to say something.
“Before I knew about all this adoption stuff or that it was even going on, I asked God to help me in my walk. You know, be closer to Christ and stuff. Whoa… You know what? I think that’s what this is right here…being here!”
Read more about this amazing family adventure on their Blog- Give. Share. Serve.

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Fire In Our Hearts


Fire In Our Hearts

Posted on 25 January 2012 by Kari Gibson

Our adoption story began 8 years ago when our friends adopted their son from Guatemala. God started a fire in our hearts for orphans. Both my husband and I knew, we would one day adopt. We have four biological daughters and one son who passed away as an infant. I felt very strongly that we were meant to adopt a son.

After years of praying and doors closing, we finally began the process of a domestic adoption. We attended classes, we did our paperwork, we created our family profile and we waited. In June of 2010, I felt strongly in my spirit that something was happening, but our call didn’t come. In December 2010, we began to feel called to Africa. We began the process of updating our home study and finding out more information. In January, we made the decision that we would accept boy/girl twins. It seemed silly at the time because it’s so rare to adopt twins. Not to mention, we already had four children at home. Adding two children through adoption would make us crazy right? Three days after we made that decision, we got an email from a friend that changed our lives forever……

“Are you interested in adopting 18 month old boy/girl twins?”

We said yes without hesitation. We started communicating with the agency that had the twins’ file and got more information about them and their history. We found out that they were brought into the orphanage in June 2010. Remember that little feeling I had? We also found out how much it was going to cost to pursue their adoption. My husband is self-employed, and I am a stay-at-home mom. It was our slow time at work and we had just lost our biggest account. We did not have 30k for the adoption. It seemed like the worst possible timing. But we prayed and talked about it. And my husband said, “I believe God is asking us to step out in faith.”

The next day we began looking into adoption grants. Within a week we were approved for a grant and a loan. That just doesn’t happen often!!! Our daily pray was, “Lord, if you keep opening doors, we will keep walking.”

Things looked like they would move quickly and we would travel within just a couple of months. However, that was not God’s plan. It has almost been a year since we saw their faces and we haven’t met them yet. To say that it has been a painful wait would be a gross understatement.

We have had so many signs from the Lord, that this is the path we are to be walking. But I wont lie and say that it has been easy. It’s been hard. Satan’s attacks have been many. The tears have flown frequently. And I know that it will probably get more intense. Leaving my girls here while we fly to Africa for several weeks is something that I try not to dwell on. This is tough stuff.

But what I want you to take away from our story, is that this is not our story. It’s God’s story. We are just a small part of the puzzle. And I am just so thankful to be a part of it. He has grown us more than I can ever say.

We have learned so much about adoption. We have learned so much about ourselves. We have had so many incredible people step in and help us walk this road. We have seen God open doors where we didn’t even know they existed. Between fundraising and grants, we have raised 18k towards this adoption. It’s incredible to say the least.

These precious children who live on the other side of the world, have changed us. They have grown us. I can’t even describe the joy that I have at the thought of bringing these little ones into our family soon. Please join us in praying them home.

We have set up a charity site that makes it super easy for people to donate for our adoption. 

In HIS Grip, Audrey
Blog: The Brown Brigade

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Trusting in the Unseen


Trusting in the Unseen

Posted on 24 January 2012 by Kari Gibson

I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

First off thank you KARI for letting us share part of our story while she is serving in Haiti.  You don’t probably know me—a mom from Austin MN, an Assistant Principal at a local middle school with a son and a great husband-but you might know a story like mine or know someone going through this time in their life.

I was in a deep pit.

Yes, I know it is easier to look back, dust yourself off and be relieved after it is all over-but this is not what I am writing about today-I am telling about when I was in it, scrambling to get out, looking at everyone else around me looking down at me-unsure how to respond, how to help, and how to help me heal.

It started in July of 2010 with this picture:

We had begun our adoption process in January of the same year-with thoughts of waiting 2-3 years for the referral of a 3-4 year old boy from Ethiopia.  Instead we received a referral before the ink was dry on our home study!  He was beautiful-I knew his name, and his story and I loved him!  I didn’t think that type of love could come from a picture-but it did.  My husband and our son Kenny loved M from the start-we started dreaming about what our life would be like with M in it-all the challenges and changes that would come.

Then the wait started.

First we hit the court closure in Ethiopia, and then some of our paperwork had to be changed.  I watched the agency updates daily..waiting…wondering “when is it our turn”.  Finally December 22nd, 2010-6 months after accepting the referral we received our court date-early March 2011.
As my husband and I walked out of court in Ethiopia we were so excited-the judge had “approved” our case on the spot!  According to timelines I followed we were to expect to return to Ethiopia in early June to bring our son home-maybe even before his 5th birthday!  We would have the summer to adjust (and he could adjust to Minnesota weather before the “snow”) and hopes to start him in preschool in the fall so he would be Kindergarten ready for 2012.  I can remember 1 week after returning buying these outfits and starting the suitcase for him.  I can also remember thanking God for “passing” us right away-out of the 11 families that traveled together-only 4 passed at court-I kept thinking that I couldn’t have handled not passing right away-God knew what I could handle…right?

Then everything changed.

We received a call from our Social Worker-a piece of paperwork was not being released, we were no longer approved and had to wait for this letter-not to worry, should take no longer than a month.

No letter in March, April, May, or June.  By this time 7 families had already traveled out of the 11 and brought their children home.  The judge wrote another firm letter to require the release of the letter for our son.  We celebrated his 5th birthday without him.

July-our agency called to tell us that 2 of the 4 letters needed had been released…ours was not one of the letters.  And he had been suddenly moved due to and orphanage closure, hoping for updates on his health soon-as I had been waiting since early April for height/weight updates-something I cherished as a way to picture him now…one year after his referral picture.

Late July-almost a year since referral-we finally passed!  Letters had been released, now people were traveling to get him and bring him to the Capitol City-maybe October Embassy??  Fall in Minnesota is beautiful and we would be together for the Holidays!

Another slip into the pit….

Days went by for the call that he was in the Capitol city-then the call…. the one no one wants…the one that they say “We are waiting to get your husband on the line before we start” even typing this I still get teary eyed and my heart races.  The call where they tell you due to some unforeseen issues-we don’t think this adoption will go through.

My heart truly had been broken- I did not understand, the tears flowed as we met with our Pastor-as I walked into school and brought our son home to tell him, as I figured out a way to get up the next morning, and the one after that, and to keep breathing and praying for him to be loved-by anyone-for me.

Prayer given via email to our Church Members:

Pastor Mike has requested prayer for Rob & Jess Cabeen and Kenny. Their adoption was terminated. Please pray for wisdom and comfort.

Psalm 71:20-22

New Living Translation (NLT)

20 You have allowed me to suffer much hardship,
but you will restore me to life again
and lift me up from the depths of the earth.
21 You will restore me to even greater honor
and comfort me once again.

22 Then I will praise you with music on the harp,
because you are faithful to your promises, O my God.
I will sing praises to you with a lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.

God is a wonderful, trusting God-looking back these times in the past year was dark, I mean DARK.  I had never been so low in my life…but I don’t think I had ever been so close to God either.  I reached for him while running everyday; I looked for him in the eyes of African children in the school I worked at.  I cried with him while playing drums in our worship band, I reached out for him through wonderful people like Kari Gibson, Jenn Hatmaker, and Amanda Herdina (Visiting Orphans) and I learned from him through our care group at church and bible studies.  Now I am able to tell you the truth—I question him-daily, maybe hourly at times.  “Why us?  Why him?  What did we do wrong?” I cried regularly for M, for our lives.  Each holiday or grief marker I cried for what I had lost, it was truly the roughest time in my life.

But He gave me strength.

Each day after that day in August 2011 I felt him with me, carrying me through the tough times.  He helped me to type the emails to the other families-congratulating them on their new addition, letting them know how happy we are for them-and not to feel bad about their successful adoptions-celebrate being a forever family-we will survive.  God was with me during the conference calls after the news in August and He was loving on our little guy-even though he had no idea what was going on, and how much people-both in the US and Ethiopia were fighting for him.

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”

Hebrews 11:1

Then October came-and a little light cracked through the darkness in our pit-this might actually happen!  We waited and watched quite a dramatic turn of events evolve…and at Thanksgiving received word-he was in the Capitol City and would be submitted to Embassy within a week.  Praise God!  Praise God! Praise God!

Now not defy the odds, but if you have adopted from Ethiopia recently-you are aware that the timelines for Embassy can range up to 6 weeks, if not 8-12.  We set in for a late January/February travel date…hey maybe he would miss much of the snow I was so worried about for him—preschool-well he will get a lot of support and we still hope for Kindergarten 2012…we don’t care at this point-we just want to see him, hold him and love him.

Well 5 days into our Embassy Submission we got THE CALL-not only that within 48 hours I was on a plane to bring him home, before Christmas!  God is so good-his timeline was exactly how it should be.  I mean, we are three weeks into being a family of four and we are finally seeing snow-it has been so warm here that M and brother played outside during the Christmas break!  We have been to church and have dedicated M “Isaiah” and promised to raise him with a faith and believe in God.  I don’t think that will be too difficult as his journey thus far is a testament to the Spirit and the Ways in which He works.

At the Airport-December 23rd, 2011

Now I will admit, the transition into life of a family of four is not storybook-or easy.  It is tough, we are muddling through this one step at a time-but loving every step of it and we know that God will be with us through this next step of our journey.

May you be blessed,

Jessica Cabeen

Blog: Bring Home Our Family

Don’t forget to leave my guest a comment and cheer them on …. thank you for sharing!!!

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Not Our Plan But His


Not Our Plan But His

Posted on 23 January 2012 by Kari Gibson

Our adoption story begins with my own childhood and the day that I came to America as an adoptee from Korea. I was not brought into a Christian family, but looking back as a Christ Follower, I can see how God’s hand saved me not only spiritually but also physically through adoption. Feeling like I’d been given a second chance at life, my husband and I always hoped to adopt one day and provide the forever family that every child deserves. As the years went on and we had 2 boys by birth, we became comfortable with where our lives were and didn’t put much energy into pursuing adoption. I was blessed to be fulfilling what God had placed in my heart through developing an adoption ministry at our church and that passion seemed to be filling the desire I had to “give back”.

In February of 2010 I led a team to Ethiopia with the purpose of learning the process of adoption and to set up a partnership to bring orphans to our area for a summer hosting program with hopes of finding them forever families. We toured many orphanages over the 10 days we were there. It was at one in particular though that God would show me the plan He had all along for our own forever family. As Meskerem(14) and Zenash(6) walked in the room, so we could interview them for the hosting program, I felt something unexplainable in my heart. It was as if God was whispering to me, “these are your daughters”. I tried to tell myself I’d had too much coffee during the coffee ceremonies and that exhaustion was settling in, but all the reasoning in the world could not trump the Lord and His sovereign plan. As we finished the interview with the girls, we learned that they also had a brother, Worku(9), and that he was still living on the streets in Hawassa. I was so drawn to these girls that I couldn’t stop thinking about them the rest of our evening. When our team returned to our guest home, I was trying to process through the day and what I was feeling and what I sensed God had laid on my heart, which was that he had something in store for my family with this sibling group. I wrestled with so many thoughts wondering if the day had just all come to a head for me and if I had just felt overwhelmingly burdened for the orphans I came face to face with that day. That moment which was so unexplainable became the moment I chose to step into the throne room of God and be completely surrendered to Him and His plan. I knew He was asking me to tell my husband about them and so I emailed him and asked him to pray about these kids that I had met. I told him it was a sibling group of 3. It was way more than we had ever discussed previously when we spoke of adopting one day. We were thinking 1 little girl from an Asian country… this was 3 children from Ethiopia! As challenging as this was for me to fathom I had a peace that I didn’t understand.

I emailed my husband and asked him to pray about what God had laid on my heart. I expected this to be a conversation continued when I returned home, especially since it was not 1 child, but 3 and we were now in our 40’s with a 16yo and 12yo at home. But, again, as God’s plan is sovereign, I quickly received a reply from my husband saying “Yes!”. Once again God was showing us that He had been working this out in both our hearts without our realization.

The next day I received a call from the orphanage director indicating she had found Worku and he was now living at the orphanage with his sisters. Wow God, you don’t waste anytime do you? I had the immense privilege to spend a whole morning with all 3 of the kids on the last day we were in Ethiopia. It wasn’t an easy task as the director had to embark on a 4-hour ride from Hawassa to Addis where I was staying, but what a gift I had been given.

As I later sat on the deck of my guest home waiting to go to the airport, my heart ached and tears flowed uncontrollably with the thought that I was leaving a piece of me in Ethiopia. I didn’t know if the adoption of these children would actually happen, but we were going to say “Yes!” to God until He told us “No!”.

19 months later, we arrived home on September 11th, 2011 with our new forever family! It was a difficult process adopting older children as we encountered numerous roadblocks, doubts, faith rockers and challenges, but God’s plan reigned sovereign yet again, and we can now think upon 9.11 with gratitude and thanksgiving!

But the LORD’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken. Psalm 33:11

The challenges we encountered in the process are a whole other story, but you can catch them on my blog “Smore Stories”(named because our multi-cultural family resembles a smore): www.thebradfordadoption.wordpress.com. Now that we are home as a family, I use the site to share honestly, educate and stir people’s hearts in this beautiful, messy, God anointed love process called “Adoption”.

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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


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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! =)

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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

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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.
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It’s A Vertical Life

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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.

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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


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Bring Love In


Bring Love In

Posted on 15 November 2011 by Kari Gibson

 I’m so excited to introduce this amazing adoption family to my crazy blogger friends. I met them last year on my Ethiopia mission trip and visited their incredible orphanage! It’s an honor to share their story with you to celebrate Adoption Awareness Month! I pray their story inspires you and encourages you to live James 1:27 in a radical way.

Here is their story ….

First off, I need to say thank you to Kari for all the incredible work she does here on this Crazy Adoption Blog.  As a fellow blogger, I can assure you– this kind of work takes a lot of effort, and she does an amazing job!  I am honored to have this special platform today.  Thank you!

Our adoption story is more of a cautionary tale than simply a beautiful story about how one family grew. As I sit here, thinking through our journey, there’s a word I keep scribbling on the page, circling over and over: “wrecked.”

I’m amazed when I look back and realize that almost everything we once knew about who we were is no longer true. I’m even more amazed when I see how this strange, beautiful, tragic, ever-twisting journey my family is on can be traced back to a simple conversation nearly 6 years ago.

“Are you sure you’re ready to do this?”  I cautiously asked Jessie, as we sat on the couch one evening after our two kids were tucked in bed.

“I mean– really, really sure?” I asked again, searching her eyes for clues, wishing I could climb inside her head and know for myself what she was thinking.

“Yes,” She assured me confidently.  “I’m really sure”

I smiled and grabbed her hand, squeezing tightly. We were excited and hopeful, yet so far from grasping the reality of what we’d just agreed to do, and completely unable to see how different things would be once we journeyed down this road.

The next day, we walked through a squeaky door in the back corner of a small Sacramento office suite in an aging, green building on Howe Avenue and made our way to the receptionist desk.

“Hello, we’re Levi and Jessie Benkert. We called earlier about adoption,” I said, my voice  shaking as the words escaped my mouth.

“Great! Have a seat over there, and someone will be with you shortly,” the receptionist said in a cheery voice as she motioned us toward a frumpy, brown couch behind a small coffee table piled with heavily worn children’s books.

After we made our way across the room, I looked around at the faint crayon markings on the walls, the frayed carpet, while my fingers moved across a hole in the arm of the couch. Jessie smiled. There was something about this place, something about the way things resonated inside us: The rips and scratches spoke volumes. Each blemish was a sign of good work, of those who’d helped and offered hope.

“That is how I want to be!” I said to Jessie enthusiastically as we sat that evening on our own perfect and unblemished couch, talking late into the night about all we’d learned that day.  “I want our family to be a used-up tool for Him on this earth.”

“I’m so ready for more!”  Jessie said, nearly jumping from her seat with excitement.

The truth was, our house looked nothing like that office. Our lives were not at all worn-out examples of God’s love. In contrast, we were very comfortable. We had a beautiful house, two nice cars and a business that was making good money. Our lawn was cut, our neighborhood was safe, everything about our life was near-perfect.

Sure, we did the occasional good deed, gave to our church and served when and where we could.  But, now, we were feeling a prompting, a new horizon opening up, and we were both ready to move forward.  Although we understood little about what it was we were going to do, or where exactly we were headed, we began to ask God to change us, to use us.

It’s been nearly six years since that day. We no longer own a house. We make horrible money. We live in Ethiopia in a home on a street strewn with trash. Our savings is gone. Our lives are wrecked.

And we love it!

With each step into the world of orphans, into a world of terrible needs, we learned the joy of giving. We found a better life once we gave ours away.  At first we struggled to open our eyes, nearly blinded by the overwhelming needs. Then, we quickly closed them tight again, frustrated by our inability to change more than the lives of a few. However, over time, we’ve learned our responsibility is simple: to give to those God places in front of us and to constantly seek Him for what to do next.

In a way, it’s like entering a series of rooms, each filled with needs. At first, we feel overwhelmed, but we find, in the end, God always provides.  He takes us places for a reason. He shows us what to do. He bring us people to help.

I now firmly believe our calling as Christians is to show His love to those around us.   God is truly love!  And we are the way He shows His love to the world.

For our family, adoption was just the first step. It was the first room He wanted us to enter with eyes wide open. From there, He’s never stopped revealing needs and giving us the provision to meet those needs—one at a time.

Today, our family heads a project in Ethiopia called Bring Love In. In Addis Ababa, we’re building a program to take children from government orphanages, coupling them with widows. Together, they will become a new family, while we offer provision.

We are just a few weeks from getting final government approval for our project, and then we can open our doors to accept children into the homes– children who have been forgotten, abandoned and left alone in this world because their families, for one reason or another, could not take care of them.

All of this feels like a million miles from the life we once lived–as far as possible from who we were on this earth. Yet, we can, now, see this is what we were created for, this kind of wrecked life is what He always intended.

We may have little, but we’ve learned to love much!  We still fail. We still hurt, and at times we get frustrated with how little we’re able to accomplish, but we’re learning to trust Him with everything.  We’re beginning to grasp our calling: to help the poor and needy find light in the darkness. His light.

We didn’t plan to go down this path. But the journey of adoption has opened our eyes to the responsibility we have as Christians to constantly ask him for more responsibility, to daily ask him to reveal the needs that He put us here to meet, and in turn we found our lives ruined for the cause. And we’re grateful.

Will you join us?

You can read more about our journey as broken people trying to share the love of a perfect God in Ethiopia, failures, frustrations, and the occasional victory at www.bringlove.in

Levi Benkert

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