Sunday, November 10, 2013

He's Always Been Faithful

This post title just happens to be the lyrics to one of my favorite songs by Sara Groves, and the most perfect expression of God's work in my life. He is always faithful. And I continue to experience His complete and amazing faithfulness during this adoption journey. Although the past few weeks have brought some really difficult moments for our family, we have felt His presence and experienced His goodness. We have asked for prayer and cannot say enough about the way our friends, family, church family, and fellow adoptive families have encouraged and prayed for us. God has used each of you to demonstrate His faithfulness, and we are thankful. 

International adoption of a teenager is an amazing gift, but it is not an easy road. Because our son is almost 15, there is an overwhelming desire to bring him home as soon as possible. So, paperwork and other delays can be discouraging and stressful. And although we are blessed and thankful that we get to communicate with Dima fairly regularly, when phone minutes run out, batteries break, and other events occur, there can be some quiet and difficult weeks when we don't hear from him at all. In the midst of everything else happening, we are also working hard to fundraise. From the beginning, this has been a financial leap of faith for our family. So many people have been generous and giving, and you have blessed us with your time, money, talents, and more! When we look at the bottom line, it can feel overwhelming. We have a long way to go, but we continue to look forward to the day we reach our goal.

The emotional twists and turns of this journey are to be expected, and we continue to see what we call "bread crumbs" of encouragement to remind us that God is the author of this story, and that He will complete it in a way that brings Him glory! Those bread crumbs come in many forms--phone calls, texts, and messages from friends; a precious little girl who gave part of her life savings to help bring Dima home; friends who pulled together to make yummy food and raise money for us at their own event; friends who blessed our family with a mini vacation, groceries, and their company; new friends who know, are adopting, and love other kids at Dima's orphanage; pictures from friends who were recently at his orphanage on mission;  friends using their talents to make things we can sell; and so much more!

On the right side of the blog, I have added a fundraising thermometer and a broken down list of adoption costs, along with our progress so far.  By year-end, we need some additional funds in order to keep our progress going and not have any delays to our current schedule (which puts us traveling to Ukraine in May 2014). Also on the sidebar, there is a list of current fundraisers, a couple of which are great Christmas shopping opportunities. And don't forget that you can take advantage of tax deductible year-end giving through Grace Klein Community. Message me at loveandtots3 at gmail dot com for details on how to make a 100% tax deductible donation to help us bring Dima home.

Thank you for following our journey and for praying for Dima and our family. Here are a few recent pictures of our son.

1 Thessalonians 5:24 "The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it."

Until he is home,

Handmade, Custom Towels for Babies, Toddlers, and Kids - great Christmas gifts

A couple of years ago, my friend Julie and I had a small ministry named (Cover)ed. Basically, we made super cute hooded (and non-hooded) towels for babies, toddlers, and children, and invited adoptive families to sell the towels in order to fundraise for their adoptions. We also sold towels independently through our blog and donated proceeds from those sales to ministries focused upon helping children and families in poverty, providing orphan care and prevention, and serving adoptees/adoptive families. We were blessed and blown away by the response, but being busy moms ourselves, were unable to continue making towels year-round. 

So, now I am super excited to announce that Julie (the talented seamstress of our former partnership) has offered to make these beautiful, personalized, handmade towels for people this Christmas season in order to benefit our adoption! These are made from full size bath towels, and are roomy enough for children up to 10 years old (my daughter is 9 and still uses hers)! Towels are $22 each, and about half of that goes to our adoption. They make great gifts to use for after the bath, but they are also wonderful to take to the pool or beach in the summer. Below you can see the color and personalization options for ordering towels. We will take orders through November 23 in order to ensure that your towel(s) are completed in time for the Christmas giving season! Feel free to comment here or message me at ukrainemyheart6 at gmail dot com with any questions or to place your order.

Please indicate the following when ordering:
1. Towel color (pink for girl, blue for boy)
2. Hooded or Without Hood
2. Personalization Initial
3. Fabric Choice (indicate number that is listed with fabric choice pictured below)

Finished Towels:
Custom Fabric Choices for Initial:
 **B fabric choices are for the blue boy's towel option, G fabric choices are for the girl's option
Fabric B1

Fabric B2
Fabric B3
Fabric G1
Fabric G2

Fabric G3
Fabric G4

Happy Shopping!
Until he is home,
Jeff and Casey

T-Shirts for sale - 1st order deadline Nov. 15

Thanks to, we have an amazing design for our adoption fundraising t-shirts!There are youth/children's sizes XS-XL available as well as adult sizes S-XXXL. The shirts are standard fit and are only $15 each.  Everybody likes a great t-shirt, so order some and help us bring our son home! You can order by commenting here or messaging me at ukrainemyheart6 at gmail dot com. You can pay by cash, check, or paypal.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Paparazzi Accessories-links and information

Because I have so many people who I meet asking me about Paparazzi jewelry I am wearing, and I don't have my business cards yet, I am directing people to this blog for more information about our fabulous and affordable jewelry and accessories. So, if you are interested in purchasing some Paparazzi, hosting a party, or earning free jewelry for yourself, you can check out my Paparazzi website at or my Facebook page Mamarazzi Accessories
Thank you!

Until he is home,
Casey Tatum

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Whatever it takes...until he is home!

I have been using these words together or separately, at least once a day in recent weeks, as I focus on the fact that we have a child  waiting almost halfway across the world... a child who has been let down and wounded and abandoned multiple times by the people who he trusted to love him and always be there for him...a child who has chosen to risk again and opened up his heart to believe and try again, to trust that someone cares, that he matters, that his life has meaning and purpose, that this time things will be different...a child who is funny and smart and caring and an amazing blessing to us and who we already love just as if he has been our son all along.

This sense of urgency lies with us because we are his parents. The legal documents don't say that we are, the courts don't recognize that we are, no birth certificate will list that we are, but it is with 100% certainty that we believe God says we are. So, we step out in faith, knowing from the beginning that the funding for this adoption would be a HUGE undertaking. Because we have adopted before, and are parents to a special needs sunshine, I am at home full time. Since bringing Anderson home, we have faced numerous challenges financially. God has brought us through them faithfully, but we knew from the beginning that the money for this adoption would not come from resources we currently have. It would come from resources God would provide through His people, through friends, through family, through hard work and diligence to fund raise, through sacrifice, through our church family, even through strangers.

We have been humbled by the people who have already given in one way or another, and we are deeply grateful. We also know that when we share our story, the eye rolling commences from many people who may not know our hearts, who think we are trying to gain attention by copying a "Brad and Angelina" model, or who disagree with the idea of international adoption in general because it is "a money scheme" and "the kids would be better off in their native country". I could spend several blog posts addressing those concerns, which do have some validity, but they do not apply to every child needing a family or every adoption agency.  And they don't apply to our story at all. What is true about our story is simply this--we have to pay the fees and buy the plane tickets and have money for travel and set aside money for time lost from Jeff's job--we have to do this in order to bring home our son. If we do not do this, our son will most likely age out of his orphanage and face a life in his native land with no support, little opportunity, and no family. We are not adopting our son to "rescue" him. We are adopting him because we love him and he loves us. But we know that his future is grim if he remains in his current circumstances for much longer. And since we believe he is our son, that is not an option. Enter the first part of this post title, "Whatever it takes."

If you have read this far, you are probably asking, "Please, get to the point." The point is that we have raised approximately $2,300 of the minimum $25,000 we need to bring Dima home. Based on our paperwork timeline, we expect to receive an appointment date in Ukraine by late March or early April. That means that we have approximately 24 weeks to raise $22,000+. We need to raise an average of $1,000 per week, every week, until March 2014. This seems like a big goal, and it is. But nothing is too big for the God who began this journey.

I sent out an email a few days ago in which I shared some of what God has been showing me during this journey. I ended it with a statement similar to this one:
Many times, the individual children who live in the day to day reality of being orphans, get lost in the statistics we all hear about the 160 million plus orphans who exist in the world today. None of us can do something for each one of those millions of children. But each of us can do something for one of them. We are asking you to consider if our son may be the one for whom you are willing to do something. No amount is too small, no prayer is too short, no purchase or participation in a fundraiser is insignificant. Each action and kindness brings us a step closer to Ukraine and to Dima officially becoming our son. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. If you are interested in giving, please email me at loveandtots3 at gmail dot com, message me on Facebook, or leave a comment on this post. I will get back in touch with you as soon as possible!

Until he is home,
Casey (and Jeff) Tatum

Sunday, September 29, 2013

This is our story...Part One

I can make you a promise that at some point during the time of typing this blog post, there will be tears streaming down my face. You won't be able to see them, but they will be here soon. These are not tears of sadness. They are tears of awe and joy that come quickly when I think of what God has allowed me to see and to be a tiny part of for the last 2 months.

To witness, first-hand, God so dramatically and specifically pour out His love upon the life of an individual and to see how that unstoppable, furious, deep, grace-saturated love can begin the process of transformation in that person's life has amazed and humbled and changed me.

(Here are the tears, already...I told you it wouldn't take long).

To see how God chooses to work through so many different people from so many different places in life, people who might not agree on very much otherwise, to change the story for one person, and to change the hearts and perspectives of countless others, including me, has given me renewed hope and encouragement.

(Still crying, just in case you were wondering).

To realize, as I look back on the events of our lives and those we know of our new son from halfway across the world, and see how God has brought us, the most unlikely people to find one another, together as a family, has helped me to see once again that God's plans for us are so much better than those we could ever make for ourselves, and to see that despite the brokenness and pain in this world, He can bring hope and healing.

(Taking me longer than it should to type this, because I keep wiping my tears).

So, when people tell me they want to know how "all of this" happened (in other words, "what in the world brought you to a place where you wanted to bring a teenage boy from Ukraine into your home?"), a few words and a brief explanation just don't seem adequate. If you know me very well, you are probably chuckling at this statement, because everyone who knows me at all will tell you a few words are never adequate for me. But I believe this story really does matter. Not because I am part of it. Not because I love this young man so very much. Not because our family is growing by one more. It matters because it is a story that only God could write, a story that I believe can remind all of us how much He really does love us in ways that we cannot even fathom. And that when we experience his redemptive, wild, and total love, there is no possible way we stay the same. We don't change because of guilt, or lists of rules, others' expectations, religious rituals, or any other outward motivation. We are changed because we were made to be loved that way, by the One who made us. The other loves and passions we pursue to fill that longing will never be enough. The real love of our Father is not a Valentine's Day, Hallmark card, teddy bears and chocolate kind of love. It is fierce and real and overwhelming. And as the words to one of my favorite songs says, it is "waking hearts to life".  I pray that you have experienced that kind of love in your life. If not, I hope you will continue to follow as I share this story. Maybe God will show you more about who He is and who you are as you do.

I realize I have provided no details of this story yet. Notice that the post title ends in "Part One". This is because I knew it would take me one post just to begin telling the story. I hope you will subscribe to the blog so you can read Part Two in the next week or so.  I am thankful you have read this far and our entire family is grateful for your support, encouragement and prayers as we continue this journey.

Until he is home,

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Team Dima - Sponsor us in The Almighty Mud Run

The Almighty Mud Run is a 5k endurance race hosted by and benefitting Bridges of Faith, the ministry through which we met our son. On October 12, we have a team including me (Casey), running this race in honor of Dima, to support Bridges of Faith, and to raise funds for our adoption expenses. You can sponsor our team with any donation amount to our adoption! I will list all sponsors, including businesses and individuals, here on the blog and on our Facebook page. To give, you can use Paypal to send money to loveandtots3 at gmail dot com, you can write a check (message me for mailing address), or you can donate through our gofundme site at
Donations of any amount are a BIG blessing, and we hope that you will consider being a sponsor. Then, come to the run on Saturday, Oct. 12 and enjoy watching all of us get muddy for a great cause!

*For more information about The Almighty Mud Run, go here or here.

Until he is home,
Jeff & Casey

Friday, September 20, 2013

For a anytime way for you to give a song to someone and support our adoption!

As an ongoing fundraiser, I (Casey) am offering in exchange for a donation in any amount to our adoption fund, to perform a special song for a special occasion and special person in your life! I recently sang Patsy Cline's "Crazy" for the Dad of a friend of mine on his birthday! I can sing to someone over the phone, on voice mail, or even as a CD recording to make their day brighter and give them a unique memory of whatever special occasion you are celebrating with them! I can't sing everything, but contact me by email at loveandtots3 at gmail dot com or comment on this blog post, if you have a request or want a list of songs. I love to sing for people, and would like to use this to help bring our son home! It's our updated version of singing telegrams.

Shop with a purpose - THIS Sunday, Sept. 22 at 2 pm

Please come join us for a fun and informative presentation from our friend and Arbonne representative, Crystal Storey, about living a healthier lifestyle and how Arbonne products can help you do just that! We will be hosting this show this Sunday, Sept. 22 at 2 pm, at The Church at Shelby Crossings in Calera.  Crystal is generously giving her time and her commission from all purchases to our adoption expenses. This will be a laid back and educational presentation, with product samples available, and many different products you can order. From skin care to supplements, healthy snacks and personal care items, as well as gifts for many people on your list (Christmas is just 3 months and a few days away), there is a great selection.  Every purchase supports our family as we work to bring Dima home. So, grab a bite to eat after church and come shop to help us bring Dima home. If you cannot make it, I have catalogs you can browse and you can shop online as we. Thanks in advance for your support!

*The Church at Shelby Crossings is located near exit #234 off of I65 in Calera, just past Victory GMC and Camper World on George Roy Parkway. We will be meeting in Building C, through the side entrance double doors. Address is 532 George Roy Parkway, Calera, AL 35040.

**This is the first of my fundraiser information posts. If you are not in mobile view, but in web view, you can see on the right side of your screen, a full list of links to ongoing and upcoming opportunities to partner with our family in bringing Dima home. If you click on the links, you will be taken to a post or page with details about how to participate. I am updating this list today, so bear with me until all links are updated! 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


We are glad you stopped by. This is my first post on our new blog, so welcome to everyone who is visiting, whether you are old friends, new friends, family, or someone who randomly landed here by chance or curiosity! We hope that you will check the blog often or subscribe to receive updates, so that you can follow along with us as we work to bring our son home from Ukraine. Not only will I share our progress here on the blog. Because of the many fundraising events, activities, and opportunities for you to give to help with our adoption, it will serve as a centralized location for fundraising information and links to giving/purchasing opportunities. I will be updating and posting the links and info over the next few days. Also, please check back next week to read the crazy-beautiful story of how God brought our hearts together as a family!

Grace and peace,

The Tatums (aka "the Ukraine 6" to our youngest son)