Gotcha Day –> Year Two

He is the light of every room he enters.
He is the son a mom could only dream about.
He is full of life and possibilities.
He loves hard and big.
He is starting to be more brave in most aspects of life.
He has a natural servant’s heart.
He is the best big brother I have ever seen.
He loves his daddy and longs for every moment he can spend with him.
He loves to kiss his mommy and his baby brother.
He would eat corn dogs every day if he was allowed.
He loves ice cream something fierce.
He works the phrase “Paw Patrol” into every conversation he has.
He loves to laugh and to make other people laugh.

My Sweet Aiden Jahreed-James Ribble 

This weekend, two years ago, a judge in Grenada declared that Aiden could be our little boy. He was officially a Ribble the morning of June 25, 2015.

I watch him every day and marvel at his life. His life is so much more now than it was two years ago. He has grown in maturity and definitely physically (he has legs for days).

Aiden when he revealed that he was going to be a big brother

I will never stop marveling at him and the plans God has for him. I am so honored I get to watch his life unfold. I am so proud to be the mom on the sideline cheering him on. I just get giddy with excitement when I think about all that God has for his life.

My Aiden <3

Happy Gotcha Day sweet boy.

I am so glad to have more days to love on you. You are exquisite.

-Mommy

How To Look Like Jesus

We do not know what Jesus looked like physically. We have ideas and some people have drawn their depictions for our imaginations; however, we really do not know what He looked like.

One way that I have discovered what Jesus may be like is by who He shows Himself to be in the Bible. I can imagine His demeanor and His mannerisms by the stories I read about Him in His Word.

As I look at my oldest son, whom we adopted, I am always lost in thought about what he will physically look like as he grows up. Everything about him will be a surprise to us because we have no idea what his biological parents look like.

one of the first pictures we took of Aiden with his daddy in Grenada

Each year when we visit the pediatrician for his check up, we find that he is always in a very high percentile for his height and the doctors tell us they think he will be really tall.
I would say this assessment goes really well with how many pairs of shoes and pants I go through with that kid. I can’t keep them on him. Seriously – I bought him a pair of tennis shoes at the beginning of the summer break (which was the end of May) and they are already getting small. Amazing.

What I love about our situation with Aiden is there is no comparing him physically to family members. We do not look to our family genes to know what he might appear like in the future – we are able to focus on who he is as a person.

one of my favorites of Jared and Aiden in Grenada

Just like I do not know what Jesus really looks like, I may not know what Aiden will physically look like. However, I can read God’s word, take stories that show who He really is and pour those into my son so that he can look like Jesus when he grows up.

I am so thankful God gave Aiden an earthly father who is doing this for him – showing him the traits of Jesus in a very real and tangible way every single day.  I am able to see my husband be such an amazing father to him. A father that is showing Aiden what it means to be a good soul, to have a good heart, to love others well. Aiden is able to watch his earthly father and mimic his traits to this world.

Jared holding our youngest, Ryman, with Aiden nearby

Are you doing this for your children?
Take who Jesus shows Himself to be in scripture, mimic that in your own life, so that as your children watch you – they are watching Jesus.

Happy Father’s Day to all the amazing dads out there. I am so blessed that my boys got one of the best!

-KR

The Trait Project : Allison Michelle

Prior to this Trait Project, I have written about people who I have known for a long time. However, I sometimes find the brightest of gems in people I just meet or whom have barely graced my years yet.

Allison is one such person.

Allison Michelle Coble.

My sweet friend Allison and her husband, Kyle.
Isn’t she stunning? 🙂

I remember the first time I ever saw her.
I was in Washington, DC right after we lost our little Veronika’s adoption in Ukraine. Through a series of emails and trying to figure out who I needed to talk with to ensure V’s safety, I was paired with The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. They were able to connect me with the Congressional members and other organizations I needed to speak with.

I scheduled a meeting with them and I joined them in their DC offices one afternoon to discuss my story.

As we gathered around their conference room table, the staff mentioned to me that one more person may join us later.

A few minutes later the cutest gal walks in, in a hurry, trying not to disturb our meeting and scurried to her seat as she said, “Hi! I’m Allison! I’m so sorry I’m late!”
She eagerly sat down and proceeded to catch up, as she could, with what I was saying.

I remember her so vividly that day because she was so intently listening to what I was saying. Not only was she listening intently, she was positioning her heart in a way to attach to mine. I could see it in her eyes and read it in her body language. She was diving into my story and wanting to reside with me.

I have rarely seen this – someone who listens so closely because they are opening their heart to help and hurt with you.

Allison did that for me that day so it is no wonder she has made a huge impact on me. She joined my heart in all the joys and hurts and wanted to be there with and for me.

I can count on both hands the amount of times we have actually been in the same city spending quality time together – however, I would consider her one of my closest friends.

Every time we are together, we make sure that we have dinner or time to catch up a bit.

Allison is a living, breathing, form of compassion and empathy. Her heart is a rarity; her kindred spirit unmatched. And the amazing thing is – I have only scratched the surface of who Allison is. There is so much more to discover about who God has created her to be – and I hope we have many years of friendship for me to get to know her better.

a picture showing Allison’s heart and her work with CCAI

She is going through some big things in life at this moment and I really hope she feels that I show up for her. I  hope she knows I would go to any depths of emotions with her because I really value her.

I pray my sons can grow up with a touch of Allison in them. I hope to take her heart for others and emulate that for my boys so that their hearts can attach to people who are hurting and help them in the healing process.

Allison, I know that I can’t physically be there with you during this time, but I hope you know how much I love and admire you. My phone is always waiting when you need me. I love you so much. Thank you for loving me well.

-KR

We Do What We Want

I have always said, “People do what they want.”

When I’m disappointed in the outcome of something based on someone’s actions, I remind myself of this. And if I am being totally honest, I try to point the finger back at myself when I don’t want to do something and feel terrible about it.

Honestly, think about it – you do what you want. You spend your time how you want to.

This is a time I did exactly what I wanted and I made my husband go along with it – I searched LA for the Golden Girls House. Yes, please.

My husband and I were having a discussion the other day about the things we spend money on and how that shows what we value/where our hearts are. This conversation started because we feel we are spending too much on our television choices and we do not want TV to be that big of a thing in our family. We do not want the amount we are currently paying to be reflective of how much we value TV- so we were assessing a change.

We tell the world who we are internally by our outward purchases and actions.

I was driving downtown with my boys the other day (we live in Nashville and we were going downtown to get into the CMA Fest madness. If you have never been … umm it’s crazy-town; especially for those of us who are local.)

As we were driving, I pointed out some of the government buildings to my oldest and I said, “You see those buildings? Mommy went to those buildings a bunch of times to fill out paperwork and turn it in so that they would let me come get you and bring you home.”

A: “Those big buildings? You filled out paperwork so they would let you bring me to Nashville?”
Me : “Yes baby. All the paperwork, because I wanted to bring you home.”

Our first trip to Grenada – this was right before we took him back to his orphanage at the end of our time with him

As I was saying this, I remembered all the times I drove downtown. All the trips; all the parking fees I paid; all the hills I walked up to a building and down to another one – all the hours  of filling out information about myself and my husband.

(This is where I will insert my two cents for those who always ask me, “Why do they make it so difficult?” Because it SHOULD be difficult to adopt a child. We SHOULD have to jump through hoops to make sure these children aren’t trafficked or headed to their doom. It isn’t easy, but nothing worth fighting for should be easy. Every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears is worth every ounce of his protected life.)

A: “Mommy, when I was in Grenada I would cry and cry because I never thought I would have a family. But because you filled out all the papers, they let you bring me home to my family.”

(I proceeded to cry my eyes out for quite a while over this statement. I don’t believe he actually cried about it, but I do believe he longed for a family and he now, as a 6-year-old, has the words to tell me what his 3-year-old self was feeling.)

You see, I showed my son the other day what mattered to me. I showed him that I did what I wanted and what I wanted was to give him a home. I showed him that I would fill out all the papers in the world to bring him home to me. He doesn’t know it also means I spent all the money I needed to make it happen as well; that I raised every penny I could to make him my son.

What do we show our loved ones with our actions?
Do we show them that when we do what we want, we want to love them well?
Do we show them that when we spend our money, we aren’t wasting it on things that don’t matter?

What do you show your children?
What do you show your family?
What do you show your friends?

Challenge : Do what you want and let what you want do a world of good.

-KR

 

 

Guest Blog : Holt International : Advocating for Boys

I was deeply honored to guest blog on Holt International’s website for National Adoption Month. Below is the blog I wrote for them.

The Story Behind the Picture : Advocating for Boys

Krystal Ribble is an adoptive mom of one son from Grenada, the Executive Director of Equality for Adopted Children in Washington, D.C. and a college minister at Belmont Heights Church Nashville. Her blog www.krystalribble.com is full advocacy for orphaned and abandoned children, adoptees and adoptive families. Here, she writes about how we can advocate for adopted sons and meet them where they are.

KR, Aiden, & Baby
When we think of the vulnerability of orphans, we tend to think of the girls who are in need of families first. We see them for their fragility and feel the need to protect them.

As a mom to a little boy who was once an orphan, my view has shifted slightly. I would never have thought about his little spirit and soul as fragile. The only thing about him that felt fragile when I first held him was his little three year old body. Everything else about him felt ready to take on this big world with gusto and determination.

Now, having the experience of parenting him, I have discovered all the ways in which his little heart longs for me to fight for him. He needs a combination of my vulnerability and my stability every day.

How can we show up for these boys and advocate best for them?

I believe there are three things we can do:

1. Recognize his heart as still being molded by the love and influence he is surrounded by.
My son comes from a harsher place than most because of being abandoned and I notice his heart aches much easier when fear enters a picture or when he witnesses injustice.
It is important for me to be aware of the circumstances around him and be willing to protect his emotions when I can as well as be present for him when he is hurt by something or someone. Both are equally important.

Aiden
2. Do not apologize to others or try to change his behavior to mold him into an image the public can accept.

This can be on a multitude of levels, but I want to give a small example that can be expounded upon.
My son is terrified of dogs. When I say terrified, I mean absolutely loses his mind. Most dog owners we encounter try to talk him into liking their dog because “oh she doesn’t bite” or “he is so friendly,” but to a child, who is scared of these animals, not only do those statements not register in his mind, he can’t fathom that truth.
My husband and I have chosen to help minimize his fear by showing him the truth of those animals from afar. We have not and will not force him to be close to a dog when we know how much is shakes him to the core.
His experience with dogs is different than anything we can imagine and someone’s animal who is nice or small or cute will not take away his past experiences.
He needs to see that we take his fears seriously and we protect him in public when he is afraid. He needs to know that we are not trying to change him to fit other people’s ideas of what a five year old boy should be like.
This applies in many circumstances.

Mommy & Aiden in Grenada

3. He needs to know that you pray for him and lift his requests to God on his behalf.
We have spent a lot of time teaching our son the importance of prayer and thanksgiving. He picked up on it really quickly as he was immediately thankful for the new life his was given through adoption. However, we have made it clear to him that his requests and the desires of his heart matter to not only us, but they matter to God as well.

Our little boys are just as fragile as our little girls. They need us in their corners fighting for them and cheering for them. If you don’t do this, who else will?

Thank you for your advocacy friends. Carry on.

Krystal Ribble | Nashville, TN

 

 

{KR’s Book Club} Red Notice by Bill Browder {Review}

Book Club

To the normal person who sees this book and picks it up to read it, it is a book about high finance in both the United States and Russia with a story line to keep you on your toes. Its good. Really good.

I am not normally one to read a true thriller like this, but I had one particular mission to accomplish.
This book is the story about the circumstances that led to Russia banning Americans from adopting Russian children. This book is about what really happened to our little Alina. This is why she couldn’t come home to us.

Red Notice

If you want to read about finance and taking big risks, this is an awesome story about that. {I actually learned a ton of things that I never knew about high finance} However, if you are an adoptive parent and you have adopted internationally, you NEED to read this. Even if you never had a thing to do with Russian adoptions, you NEED to read this.

Why?

When you lose an international adoption due to government policies, problems, and red tape you often have no idea why. It is so difficult to understand what back door meeting happened that caused you to lose an adoption of a specific child. Just reading one example can lessen the burden of the unknown. {And even if you haven’t lost an adoption internationally, this is a good book to give you insight into how foreign governments work together on issues pertaining to your foreign-born child}

Browder’s book did just this for me. Being a part of a Congressional family has always given me a little better perspective on what actually happened to us all those years ago in Russia, but nothing could give me clarity like Browder’s depiction of the moments.

While reading this book I found myself cheering Browder on in his quest to seek justice for those Russia treats poorly; not only poorly… for those Russia kills. I applaud Mr. Browder.
I am sure there are a lot of families who lost their children in the Russia ban that would hate for me to say this; but this is what I have learned through attempting to adopt from three different countries : Sometimes, our passion to bring a child home is one of the fuels to the instability in their country’s current political and economic environment. Sometimes we are harming our children and ourselves more when we walk into a situation like this. When you go into another country to bring a child home to our country, there are so many moving parts that are defining how the process will go for you. Most of these moving parts you know nothing about and will never see, but they are vital to the health of your adoption process.

I have always been a firm believer that we can tell our relationship (As the United States) with another country not only by our trade agreements with them, but by how they handle adoptions with us. There were signs for many years that Russia was not working with us well. Mr. Browder’s book was able to shine so much light on the situation our family went through a couple of years ago.

As a girl who now spends time in DC helping families navigate our Congressional system to be advocates for the orphans they seek to help, I am so proud of Mr. Browder’s work to bring justice to his corner of this vast world. Isn’t that what we all want to do when we face injustice? 

Mr. Browder, if you ever read this, I hope we get to meet one day. I want to shake your hand as a mom who had a broken heart from losing a little one in Russia and instead of being upset with you, I want to thank you for standing up for what is right. Thank you for advocating for Mr. Magnitsky and his family. We all need to be a voice for the voiceless, no matter HOW they lost their voice.

-KR

**You guys and gals need to read this book. Like pronto. It’s so good.**

Buy it here : 

Noonday Collection Blog : Everyday Advocacy

I have the extreme pleasure of being a freelance writer for many different publications and sites. I will do my best to post links here to those articles.

Noonday Collection is one company that I do some work with not only as an Ambassador for their brand, but as a blogger for their site.

Today I published a story with them featuring Four Ways To Practice Everyday Advocacy.
I wanted to share my journey of becoming a more aware girl in this big world.

Go read my blog HERE.

-KR

Blog Collaboration with Noonday Collection

I have the extreme pleasure of being a freelance writer for many different publications and sites. I will do my best to post links here to those articles.

Noonday Collection is one company that I do some work with not only as an Ambassador for their brand, but as a blogger for their site.

Today I published a story with them about Adoption, Connection, and Sisterhood.
Its a great reminder to love on the sweet gals God has given us as friends and to find people to share life with who move you towards being a better person seeking bigger causes.

I took this opportunity to brag on my sweet friend Melaney.

Go read my blog HERE. Add some sweet jewelry to your wishlist. Then call your gal pals and tell them how much you love them.

You can thank me later. 🙂

-KR

Heart of Bricks

The first thing I saw on my Facebook today was this :

3 years ago pic
Then my Facebook asked me if I wanted to share this image. Its a funny enough pic that I took three years ago; making fun at my 5 years older husband. At that point we had been married one and a half years.

Such kids. {who am I kidding? We are still newlywed kids!}

I shared the photo and went about my day.
I wrangled a four year old into some clothing.
I took that four year old to see his new classroom at his school.
I worked a little in my office while my husband took our son to the pool.
I had dinner with my family and some friends at our favorite local Mexican restaurant.

We got home and my husband asked me about that picture I shared. He couldn’t remember where it was taken. I reminded him that we were at his family’s church in Wisconsin when that was taken.

Then I realized the date today.

This throwback picture was taken moments after I saw this picture for the first time :

AlinaB1
This day, three years ago I saw her; Alina.

I went back to look at the throwback picture. That is the precise moment the whole course of my life changed.

That 24 hour period three years ago, I was a just young newlywed who was visiting her in-laws. Normal day.{well except for the fact that we just so happened to be going to a Republican rally that day that my father-n-law was speaking at. {It was the first day Paul Ryan was coming back to Wisconsin after being named the Vice Presidential pick of Mitt Romney. My father-n-law was an opening speaker to this welcome home rally.} So maybe it wasn’t a normal day for everyone. HA! But that is the life of a Congressman’s family sometimes.}

I digress.

I was just living my normal life that day and then I saw her picture.

I look at the Krystal in that throwback picture and see so much naivete. Not purposefully. I never chose to ignore the bigger world around me, but there was so much that God had for me to pay attention to that I had yet to realize.

I spent that day three years ago visiting my family and seeing a picture of a little girl who set my world into a different motion.

My 24 hours now??

Today I took my adopted son, who has been home less than 5 weeks, to see his new preschool classroom.
Last night I spent time sharing at a friend’s house about Noonday Collection. I talked about how the purchases they made last night change the lives of people around the world. The artisans who create Noonday’s items can now make a sustainable living because of women like us.
On the way to this friend’s house I was on a phone call about three orphans (and actually many more) who are being sexually abused in their orphanage and how I could help stop what is happening there with the connections I have in Washington, DC.

THAT is what my hours consist of now. All of that and so much more.

My life is no where close to what it was three years ago.
God had some things He wanted me to pay attention to and boy did He bring it all on full force since this time three years ago.
Had you told me about this then, I would have cried for just imagining the pressure.
But last night as I finished my phone call about those abused orphans; my friend on the other end said, “I am so sorry you have to step into your Noonday show with such a heavy subject hanging in the air.”

I said to her, “This is who God called me to be.”

You see, my heart is heavy. Always will be. My heart that is scarred by four orphans also holds the weight of a lot more of them. However, I do not carry the burden of that weight on my own.

God put the weight of a bunch of orphans in my heart, but He is the one holding my heart up in place.

As you carry the weight of your life, remember : you may feel like bricks are weighing you down, but those bricks are actually gifts God feels your heart was created to hold. He trusts you with His heaviest stuff. 

He is the strength to hold your heart up. Never fear my dear.

<3 KR

Stretch Marks = Battle Wounds

I’ve been a “government recognized” mama for one week. Well more than one week, but I have been in our home with our child for just over one week now.

This week has been weird. Like good weird.

I feel so discombobulated and like I am in someone else’s body, yet I am so incredibly happy.

Someone’s child is following me around incessantly and calling me mommy. Oh wait, that’s MY child. {pause to catch your breath} I literally have this exchange with myself 17 times a day.

The first time I had a chance to take a shower once we arrived home from our adoption trip, I found myself smiling and humming. For the first time in 2 years, 10 months, and 13 days, I was breathing easier and the weight of my shoulders felt lighter.

When I started this journey to adopt a child, I walked straight into a battlefield.
The first child we pursued was in Russia and the doors to Americans closed quickly leaving me very stressed and worried for her.
The second two children were in war-torn Ukraine and were in orphanages that didn’t take very good care of them. I was stressed and so uncertain of their well-being all the times.
I don’t know how to be any different with an adoption.  With this last attempt to adopt, I was still on edge all the time. Then FINALLY, the day came.

I walked through the front door of my home with the child God planned for me to be a mother to.
He was actually here. He doesn’t have to go back. He is my baby boy forever.

Finally, I wasn’t holding my breath.
I forgot how good it feels good to breathe.

I cannot tell you how many times I walked past the “kid” bedroom in our house and imagined…. laughter.
We had the unique perspective of having hosted one of the little girls we tried to adopt, so I knew what laughter and giggles all sounded like in my house. The echoes are sweet.
When I redecorated her room before our trip to bring her home, I would walk by and lean on the door frame and just imagine her reading on her bed; imagine her laughing as her daddy tickled her; imagine her once again rolling her eyes at me and sighing.
Sadly, that day never came again within the walls of our home.
My memories with her are now only that; memories.

When our opportunity to adopt Aiden came along and I was changing a little girl’s haven into a little boy’s playful kingdom, the pain and flood of sounds in my head were almost too much to bear. I would redecorate at a rate of 45 minutes a day, because it was all my heart could take in 24 hour periods.
I was imagining the good to come, yet mourning the good I missed as well.

Once his room was fully set, I had 4 months to wait until he would inhabit it.

I would go through the same paces. I would walk the hall, lean on his door frame, imagine him laughing as his daddy tickled him and saying “choo choo” as he played with his trains. I just couldn’t wait to hear the sounds in my head come to life.

Very late on July 10th, I finally got my heart’s desires. I heard his laugh as he watched an episode of Thomas the Train in his new bed.

Aiden's First Night Home

What do I know after being a mama for a week?

I know what it feels like to get up all night with a child because our little one is still becoming familiar with his surroundings.

I know what it’s like to have your name called so many times in a minute that you feel like applying for the Witness Protection Program as soon as possible.

I know what it’s like for your child to touch every button possible and you secretly want to chop their fingers off (you know, because you wish they had the ability to grow them back like a lizard’s tail).

I know what it’s like to have these little bitty hands reach up and grab your face so he can kiss you and tell you he loves you. {I completely melt into him every single time. Ahhhh.}

Most mama’s may have stretch marks on their bodies from bearing their children. I’m a mama with a million stretch marks on my heart (and I am sure some on my body, just because life likes to hand them out like freckles your body forgot in the womb).

I get double the stretch marks and I am so ok with it.

I get double the stretch marks and I am ok with it because God used me to rescue a little human.

I guess these double stretch marks equal battle wounds. How cool is that?