Friday, March 22, 2013

Backpacks, Jump Rope, and an Older Child Adoption

Diapers and rocking chairs.

That is where we were at.
There are days where I am still there.
That is...until I find myself wandering through the toy aisles at Target wondering if our daughter is able to jump rope or if she will like a Disney Princess backpack or lean more toward the mini-hipster owl style.

Oh yes. That is because she is 6 years old. Not 10 months old.

We have had to do some serious mentality shifting since January. It is almost like when you spend weeks and weeks preparing for a big test and then sit down, fully prepared and slightly puffed up at your lack of procrastination, to find that not one of the things you studied is actually on the test.

(If you haven't ever experienced that, then you are just far too smart for your own good and/or just a huge slacker that never studied.)

When we decided in January to pursue another adoption, we not only said yes to a beautiful 6 year old girl on a Waiting Child List, but we said yes to throwing out everything we THOUGHT we knew about preparing to be adoptive parents.

When you've spent 13 months preparing, reading, training, and learning specifically for something and then it all changes...
It rattles the cages a bit.

We've all of sudden stopped thinking about how to make a bottle and what crib to buy and started looking at how to register for elementary school and how to communicate through a language barrier.

I mean HELLO?!? Steven Spielberg would have a hay-day with a plot twist like this! (I may be taking some liberties with that one, but hey, I'm a big dreamer.)

So, how do you do Older Child Adoptions?

I have no idea.

But luckily, there are a lot of really wonderful people out there that have been brave enough to say yes to a child that is waiting for a family. A child who has already experienced a decent amount of life in their own country, speaking their own language, learning their own traditions and ways of living.

And we get to learn from their successes and their failures. For that, I am so grateful.

So as we read, learn, train, talk, and prepare as much as possible for yet another crazy and amazing adventure, here are a few thoughts I have to a lot of questions I have...

Why an Older Child? 

We never in a million years thought that we would start out parenthood with a 6 year old. That goes against every single understanding of the family order that I have ever known.
But, that is just it...that is all I have only ever known.
That doesn't mean that it is the only right way.

We had this awesome moment in our marriage (the kind that would have included fireworks and a soundtrack had this been that Spielberg movie I was referring to earlier) where we saw this little girl, saw her sweet joyful face, and knew in our hearts that we couldn't say no.

If we say no, and the next person says no, and the next person says no, and so on....
Then who will ever say yes?

And isn't that what we set out to do in the first place? Say yes to God's TOTALLY RIDICULOUS plan for our lives through adoption?

We realize that an Older Child Adoption is not for every family. But, was it not for us just because we don't have kids and are generally "young" by comparison? Just because it may somewhere down the line throw off the birth order of the children in our family? Because we are 29/30 and we have no idea what to do with a 6 year old?

Those just didn't seem like good enough reasons for us. Not good enough to say no to an orphan who needs a family.

What about all of the "challenges" that come with adopting an Older Child?

We may be young, but we are not naive. (Well...for the most part.) We know that this adoption won't be all roses and fluffy bunnies...which would be weird anyway.

There ARE challenges that come with Older Child adoptions like a greater sense of loss, difficulty in attachment, development, language barriers...the list goes on. We will most likely have to face many of these situations and pray for a lot of patience, a lot of grace, and giant dose of humility.

We have a lot to learn. A LOT. And not just from books and conversations. I'm pretty sure a lot of this learning will come once we are actually face to face with our little girl, growing and learning how to be a family together.

But, what family doesn't have challenges? A biological family may have different challenges than an adoptive family, but that doesn't make it any more or less challenging, does it?

A dear friend of mine, who adopted an older child several years ago, said to me over a perfectly brewed cup of coffee, "Jessa, you guys will indeed face challenges as parents. I face challenges every day, some with my biological children and some with my adopted one. But at the end of the day, they are all my children and I wouldn't want it any other way."

Are you scared?

Freaking terrified.

So if anyone reading this has been here, lived through it, and wants to share some important "know-hows"...bring it!

There are days where I feel like I am going to be the worst mom ever. I'm selfish, impatient, quick to anger, even quicker to talk, prideful, and protective of my "own" time.

I sometimes think that I am an even worse "adoptive" mom because I'm not reading enough materials, taking enough online webinars on parenting older children, writing eloquently and frequently on my blog, supporting 150 causes, or starting an orphan care ministry in my town.

God is pretty cool like this though. He doesn't judge me on my Amazon shopping cart book list. He doesn't even give me an eyebrow raise when I spend an afternoon catching up on missed episodes of Nashville instead of blogging about adoption.
He has a really gentle way of reminding me that I am not perfect. Never will be. Don't have to be.

Because He was for me.

And there is something strangely relieving about knowing that I'm going to try my guts out in adopting an older child, being a parent, loving a daughter, passionately pursuing my husband...and probably failing a lot.

And it is okay.

I pray every day that we will be the best parents that we can be and that we won't completely screw up our children. But before I pray any of those prayers, I pray that our daughter and our child that is maybe waiting for us in Ethiopia right now, will ALWAYS know how deeply loved they are by our God.
And that they will know that far before any of our mistakes, missteps, or "learning curves" that we throw at them as parents.

Like I said before...
I know Older Child Adoption is not for everyone.
But it is totally for us.

Even if fall flat on our face while re-learning jump rope.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Just Because You're Young...

Doesn't mean you can't change the world.

Or at least the lives of the people in your world.

As I said in my last post, since we began this adoption process, we have had SO many people wrap their arms around us in support and love.

It has been astounding.

The way that God shows up through His people. The way people respond. The way rescue missions get accomplished.


Now I have the awesome privilege to introduce you to one of the most incredible people that I have ever known.

Meet Olivia.

Olivia is my cousin...well...if you are being second cousin. 
But I call her cousin/friend/sister/celebrity. 

She is a senior in high school in the Chicagoland area and is probably one of the most talented people I know!
Like...RIDICULOUSLY talented! 
This girl creates artwork like I have never seen before! I mean, it is just unbelievable. And beautiful. 
She will be going Colombia College (one of the nations most diverse and prestigious art schools) next year as she pursues her dream of being an artist! 

Right?! No big deal. 

But, aside from all the obvious cool stuff, probably the most amazing thing about this girl is her heart. 
It is so huge.
So beautiful.
So compassionate.

She loves others so selflessly and constantly challenges me to a deeper and more true pursuit of the Lord. 

So, what do you get when you combine a ridiculously amazing girl + ridiculously amazing talent + ridiculously amazing heart.....




Olivia has hand created these images and more to help support our adoption and is now selling them on her online shop to support bringing home our kiddos. 


Yeah. Pretty stinkin cool. 

Check out her shop


and buy some prints or canvases! Proceeds will go directly toward our adoption! 

We are beside ourselves with excitement to share this with you not only because it is awesome and not only because it supports our adoption...

But because we are so grateful and so humbled to be able to say Thank You on this blog to the beautiful, talented, world-changing, Olivia Boyd. 

You can truly change lives at any age. You just have to be willing to say yes. 

And don't let anyone look down on you because you are young.
Teach believers with your life:
by word
by demeanor
by love
by faith
by integrity.

...1 Timothy 4:12...

Friday, March 1, 2013

Updates and Lysol Wipes

I am officially kind of emerging from my flu-ridden world.
That is, if "kind of" means still in my pajamas, on the couch, under a blanket, but sitting up as opposed to laying down and/or passed out.
That is a good step in the right direction if you ask me!

So instead of entertaining myself by lysol wiping absolutely EVERYTHING in our home, I decided that my first task would be to spend some time giving all of you a much needed and much belated update on everything that is going on in our adoption world.

If you have been following our crazy lives, then you know some crazy stuff is happening...and happening fast. So, we thought that we would address some of the major questions that we've been asked in the past few weeks.

So hold on to your hats we go!


Yes. Yes we are indeed! At the beginning of January, we felt God tugging on our hearts to do more than just sit around and wait for a referral from Ethiopia. But we had NO idea what that entailed! As we prayed, talked, and looked at information, we both discovered that our hearts were in the same place.

Adopting an older child.

Eek! That is so not how you are supposed to start a family, right?! I least not for your first kid! Maybe down the road when you are older, huh?! (this is just a sample of part of my early thought process...)

Since the beginning of our adoption process, I had seen a little girl on our agencies site that was older. I was constantly drawn back to her beautiful face, but never really thought anything of it. When Erik and I both realized that we were being called in that direction, she was my instant thought. She grabbed both of our hearts in a moment and there was no question but to pursue her and bring her home to be a part of our family.


She is 5 but will be 6 by the time we bring her home from South Africa!
And we could not be more thrilled!

The moment that we made our official decision, Erik was basically 6 steps out the door to buy her a backpack and nail polish.

Yup. He's gonna be a great dad.

She does also have a name however we are not able to share on our blog at this time. We will tell you that it is a beautiful, South African, perfect name.

And seriously, what doesn't go well with "Anderson"? Maybe "Shmamberson"? But come on...


We don't have any official timeline right now, but our hopes are that we will be able to travel to South Africa this summer sometime to bring her home.
It is all pretty dependent on how quickly we can get our paperwork done!
Yes...that is right....

We are currently updating our home study and working on putting together a new Dossier for South Africa (which is a BEHEMOTH if you don't recall from this post).

Worth every second.

So here are three cheers to Notaries, State Seals, and Immigration!


We are still VERY much adopting from Ethiopia and still feel like that is where God has pulled our hearts to as well.
Our timeline with that adoption has not and will not change because of our pursuing a second adoption. Ethiopia allows families to do concurrent adoptions and with the wait time that we were given (24-29 months) for a referral, our Ethiopian adoption could still take a while.

God certainly has huge plans that we could never in a million years have fathomed. But when you are willing to take a risk, jump in head first, and bet the farm on God...
He usually shows up with something unbelievable, undeniable, and absolutely unexpectedly perfect.

So our hearts eagerly await bringing home our child from Ethiopia who will join us and a wonderful sister.


We continue daily to be overwhelmed with people who say they are praying for us or people who just want to check in to see how things are going. It is unbelievable and so encouraging!

This may come as a shock, but we LOVE to talk about adoption!

So keep asking questions and keep praying!

As you all know, this process is roller coaster nuts. There are a lot of ups and downs, curves and corkscrews, and sometimes unexpected bumps.

We won't always have all the answers but we will always be as open with you as we can be!

As far as prayer goes, here are a few specific things that you can be praying for:

1. Pray for our daughter. She is a beautiful, joyful, and spirited young girl who is waiting for a family. Please pray for her safety, health, and her spirit as God prepares her and us to become a family. This transition will not be easy but it will be beautiful. 

2. Please pray for the process to move swiftly - paperwork, notaries, authentifications, home-study updates, and verifications. The faster the paperwork is approved, the faster we get to bring home our daughter. 

3. Finances! By saying yes, we have taken on two adoptions at one time. The cost of 1 adoption is about $32,000, so we are now looking at a cost of around $64,000 to bring home our children. God has been SOOOOOOOOOOO faithful and we have been so supported and loved throughout this process already by so many people. We've been working extra hard, taking on new jobs, and saving like crazy. Specifically, though, this adoption process from South Africa is going to move significantly faster, therefore requiring us to have to pay for it much more quickly. Please be praying that the amount of money that we need at each step will be available and that we can trust God fully to provide as we walk forward! 

4. Please pray for Erik and I as we walk through this process. That our hearts would remain steadfast, our eyes would remained focused on the Lord, and that we would continue to fall more in love with each other as we build our family. 

I often say that I don't know how people could even dream of going through the adoption process alone.

We don't even have words to describe the amount of love and support we have been show and how many people have wrapped their arms around us and carried us through this journey. 

We are so excited to share this next piece with you all and can't wait to introduce you all (hopefully soon) to our precious daughter! 

So for now...
That is the latest Anderson Way of Life Update. 

Signing off.
(I'm such a nerd.)