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

In Case You Feel Lonely

When I was a child, I had this tiny pink bear that I slept with every single night. I carried him everywhere. I thought he was the greatest.

I always knew, if I ever felt lonely, all I had to do was get my bear (whom I named Justin.)

My Justin Bear. Look how worn he is. My mom probably sewed his leg and head back on at least 10 times.

Because I had a little bear I loved so much, I always imagined every child fixated on a stuffed animal or a blanket. It just made sense to me.

In my adult life I always saw this to be true. Most children had a beloved toy that if they needed comfort, they could grab it.

Then enter my son, Aiden. He has nothing he is attached to. There are things he loves and things he longs to have; but everything in his world is only there for a season.

I can not get him to love any stuffed animal or any blanket. Know why? Because in the beginning of his life, he had nothing.

There was not one single item he could call his own until he was 4 years old.
There were no toys he could put away for safe keeping. There were no coloring pages he could save as his own. Nothing.

Aiden with his Paw Patrol Chase stuffed animal. He looks attached. Ummm…. this Chase has never seen much play time. But he looks good in Aiden’s room. 🙂

Jared and I went through some serious growing time with him when he finally came home and he had some toys that were actually HIS. He would immediately freak out if you reached for his stuff because he thought he would never see it again. It was heart breaking, but Jared and I had to prove to him that we would protect him and his stuff at all costs. That lesson has helped us tremendously.

As sad as I have been at times that Aiden doesn’t have a security blanket or something he can cuddle with to feel better, I have also grown to love this about him.

Why? Because Aiden find’s more security in Jared as his dad, me as his mom, and Ryman as his brother than any item he owns.

The other night after dinner, Aiden was describing his ice-cream to me by the color of it. He said he had pink, white, and brown ice-cream. Then he said, “You know, brown, like I am brown.” Then he grinned from ear to ear.

I walked over and hugged him so tight – his arms wrapped around me and matched my intensity. I whispered in his ear, “And I love every single thing about you. I love that you are brown and I love who you are. You are amazing.”

My Aiden hugging me.

I could feel his body relax into mine. I am his security. I am his home.

Isn’t that what we have with our Heavenly Father?

While I am so happy to have remnants of our Lord here on earth to love and hold on to – I am so glad I can close my eyes and climb into His lap for my security.

Friend, when you feel lonely – know that there is a God who longs to be your Home. He knows your heart and your hurts. He knows you and loves you and longs to have you wrap yourself in Him.

What wonderful truth I felt the other night with my son’s arms wrapped around me.

In case you feel lonely – know you have a Father who is waiting to hold you.
Close your eyes. Be still. Hear Him speak.

Love-
KR

 

The Robbery of Christmas

A man who had known me for a few days must have overheard something about my life and he asked me, “Do you counsel people who have experienced loss?” I was a little taken back. I wasn’t sure how he even knew to ask me that question, but even so, the fact that he was asking meant he had loss he needed to talk about. That was heavy.

I stumbled a bit and then I said, “Well, I have personally experienced loss so I know a little about it, but I am not a professional counselor.” He proceeded to talk about he and his wife having a stillborn child over 10 years ago and he wasn’t through all the hurt and emotion of it. I encouraged him to see a professional counselor {much to his dismay}, but I finished our conversation with telling him how much he was robbing himself and his family for not dealing with his emotions. I think he was surprised I would say this. However, this is a lesson I learned all too well.

Kevin Dooley Peanuts

This Christmas season I am watching my son have his very first experiences of a holiday with a family. He is loving every minute of it. We can’t open presents fast enough or see family quick enough or put more decorations on the tree at the rate in which his excitement revs.

I watch him sometimes and while my heart bursts, I mourn deep inside.
I mourn for his biological mom.
I hurt for her on a level I can’t even begin to do justice to in this blog.
She was never in a place to understand what she would miss out on or what she was giving up, and most likely she never will be.
God redeemed this because he made Aiden with Jared & me in mind, but deep sadness overcomes me when I see him giggle and I know she doesn’t know the sound of her son’s voice.

She doesn’t know that he is such a bossy little thing. He is particular about almost everything. She doesn’t know that he loves to say “mommy” a million times a day. She doesn’t know that when I hear him say my name a thousand times and I get exasperated that I then think of her and become overwhelmed at the fact that she will never hear those words from him. She doesn’t know that right now his daddy has hung the moon in his eyes and Aiden beams when he walks in the room. There is so much she doesn’t know. And most of all right now…

She doesn’t know what he wants for Christmas.

Each time I think of her, each time I think of what I know of her and where she probably is at this exact moment I mourn for her and the loss she may feel for not being able to keep Aiden. And if she doesn’t mourn that, I mourn that she doesn’t know she should mourn him. He is exquisite.

IMG_3874This season of so much happiness and joy can cause many of us to go to places of sadness, regret, remorse, and pain. This season that makes so many people happy, reminds many of us of our losses in life.

I finally realized, I can feel for my son’s biological mom, and I can wish this world was more perfect, but I do not need to rob my son or my husband of the joys God has given us just because I feel grief.
I want to feel for her and pray for her and be the mom to him she probably wishes she could have been, but I do not want the Christmas spirit to make me mourn her losses. I want the Christmas spirit (and the spirit of being alive every single day) to make me rejoice in Aiden’s life and not rob him of the fullest parts of me.

When we lost our daughter, I was on a quick path to robbing anyone of my joy and my time. I was so hurt and lost that I was caving in on myself. When Aiden came along, I realized very quickly I had to grieve that loss in a way that did not take my attention from him. He needed me. In fact, if I let it, my loss is what made me a better mom to him.

Had I not experienced abandonment myself in the adoption process, I could not even begin to relate to Aiden on any level. I have no clue what it would be like to have no parents, but my loss helps me see Aiden in a different light. I am a better mom to him now than I ever could have been before I experienced such hurt.  

What do I want my new friend to know who asked me if I counseled people through loss? I want him to know that his two daughters who are living need the best version of him. They need his heart and soul to be well. He needs to love them and himself enough to get the help he needs to overcome the darkness of his loss.

This is so much easier said than done. I know that first hand.

The spirit of Christmas is a time that is difficult on so many people. The people who are hurting during the holidays are often lost in the bubbles of the Santa Coke commercials and the chime of the Salvation Army bells.

If you are hurting this Christmas, think of ways to fully be there for your family this season in the best emotional way possible. Ask them for help. Ask anyone for help. Those closest to you need you –  ALL of you.

If you know someone who is hurting this Christmas, don’t overlook them on your way to see Christmas lights. Be Jesus. Be their joy this season.

Merry Christmas my loves.

-KR

Graft(ed) In

At an adoption conference in early May I was searching for a tee just the right size for my little man. I only found one.

This tee that says Graft(ed) In (from the ministry Hope Graft(ed) IN) seemed so perfect. I asked the girl working the booth what it meant and she said, “Being grafted into family; grafted into the family of God.” Sufficient enough of an answer for me to purchase; so I did.

I didn’t think much about the shirt until the other day as we were getting ready in Grenada to go and apply for Aiden’s passport and pick up his official Adoption Certificate. As I was asking him what he wanted to wear, he picked out the Graft(ed) In shirt.

Graft(ed) In 1

I got to thinking about it’s meaning in light of what we were doing that day; getting his official adoption papers and applying for his pass to a bigger world. I got to thinking about the “skin graft” that Aiden received last week.

Usually when you need a skin graft, you are getting it following a painful tragedy of some sort; surgery, burns, etc. Aiden has a painful past in that he was abandoned. He was gladly taken in by a sweet home of people, but these people could not heal the wounds he had. Only a mommy and daddy can heal them. So on June 25, he got the skin graft he had been waiting for, he got a mommy and daddy to call his own.

Receiving a skin graft doesn’t immediately make things better. It takes time to heal. Aiden’s skin graft won’t take away abandonment issues overnight, but it started his journey to healing.

You know my favorite part about the healing? Two skins becoming one.

I strongly dislike talking about tough current issues in our US news because I feel they get blown up so easily and honestly, dangerously. Social media is a wicked forum for people to spew hate and opinions that amount to nothing; no love, no grace, no Jesus to be found at all. I have sort of been glad to be away from the US during these past couple weeks. However, this whole “skin graft” we have been going through got me to thinking about the very thing so many people thought we had left behind; racism.

I have head knowledge of racism and my own eyes have seen it, but my heart doesn’t understand it. Not even one ounce of me “gets” it.

I grew up all over the south. I spent the larger portions of my childhood in both South and North Carolina. I know what racism looks like.

My dad tells this story of waking up when he was a little boy to the light of a cross burning in his front yard. My grandfather, a minister and acting principal at a school in a small North Carolina town, had allowed a young African American boy to be a participant in something and somehow, that equaled a burning cross on a dark night. I KNOW what racism looks like.

My heart doesn’t get it. And you know why? I look at this “skin graft” I have just completed called adoption and I can not tell you where my skin ends and where my son’s begins.

Graft(ed) In 2

His flesh is mine; and mine is his. We are forever bound as family and I love every ounce of that statement.

If we want to find perfection in the pigmentation of our skin, we have missed the boat completely. Jesus isn’t IN the pigmentation. He may have created it, but he isn’t there dwelling and making it a thing. He is in my heart. The same heart that loves this little West Indian boy; and to me, that requires no filter of pigmentation.

My son has been Graft(ed) In to my family.

That’s my two cents.

-Aiden’s Mommy

**check out Hope Graft(ed) In and all they are doing for the Kingdom. www.hopegraftedin.org **