Monday, July 29, 2013


Um. Yeah. No big deal. 

Just received a phone call that our case in South Africa was approved by the Central Authorities to adopt our sweet girl! 

We should be expecting our official referral somewhere on the road between California and Minnesota. (That is about 10-14 days for those of you who aren't mapping our travels!)

We are elated. Even in the midst of chaos, great news is great news.

Praise God. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Times...They Are A Changin'

“To make a shift from one to another,” “to give a different position, course, or direction,” “to make radically different.” These are just some of the ways “change” is defined. And if we are all being honest here….change is never easy. It forces us to let go of control, to throw away our checklists (side note…I have a deep love for checklists), causes many sleepless nights, and destroys the walls of our comfort zone.

But both my husband and I sense that God has ordered a plate of change for our lives with a side of “buckle up for the ride.”

So here is what is going on with the Andersons. A few months ago, my incredible husband Erik was approached by a church in Minnesota about possibly coming on staff with them in an awesome opportunity to serve as their High School Pastor. We were completely surprised by the conversation since we hadn't been looking at other churches and are obviously not at an ideal spot in our lives to move. We had been praying non-stop since we starting talking with them and being careful to listen extremely closely and clearly to where God was leading.

After a lot of time, prayer, and conversations, we decided to accept this call. It was and has been a super hard decision and not one (if you ask me) that seems to make any sense as far as timing goes...but we feel clear and confident that God has called us to go and we are doing our best to be faithful to Him.

So…in 8 days we will be packing up and heading back toward the Midwest. It has and will continue to be a total whirlwind!

We can’t say enough how thankful we are to all of the people who loved us so much over the years here in Modesto, at our church and the community that has been built up around us. The students, families, and friends that we have grown to love so much are so incredible and we have been so blessed by each of them in unbelievable ways.  They have made us better people in everyway possible.

And specifically looking back on our adoption journey, we could not have come this far without each of them. When we felt alone, weak, confused, excited, scared out of our minds, joyful, the community here has wrapped their arms around us, encouraged us, and loved us and our future children so fully…it is hard to even put into words.

We hate that we have to say goodbye (or more like see you soon) to friends that we have depended on the last several years, but we are so thankful that we do have those friendships and all of the support, love, and encouragement that we have received in the last 6 years of our journey.

So here is to life’s next step and next adventure. And as hard as it is to say farewell…

We can’t wait to see what God has planned. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

It Cost's What?!?!

I had the great opportunity to write a quest blog post for Give1Save1 this week! Check it out on all the ins and outs of Adoption Costs and how to do it wisely! :)

Here is the link:
It Cost's What!?!?! Debt Free Adoption

I’ve been surprised at the amount of conversations I’ve had with people who say things like, “We would love to adopt but we just don’t have that kind of money.”

Apparently, you don’t know me. Up until I was 24, I thought credit cards were made for my own personal enjoyment and when I figured out that you actually had to pay that money back, I married a youth pastor.

Here is a little insight: No one has “that kind of money”.
Well, someone does.
Bill Gates.

But if you aren’t Bill Gates, or someone in that money zipcode, you don’t typically just have $30-40,000 lying around for a rainy day.

The cost of adoption is ridiculous. This is not a myth.
The bigger tragedy, however, are children living without families because adoption is expensive.

The truth of the matter is…

I am taking huge liberties here, but I would say one of the top reasons why people don’t adopt (even if they feel called to) is because of the money issue.

When Erik and I started our adoption process, with our net worth being somewhere far in the negative thousands territory, we were 3 months into a David Ramsey money makeover. There was a part in the book that we were reading that said something along the lines of this…

“Nowhere in the Bible does God call us into a purpose and use debt as a means to accomplish it.”

And so, since we were committed to our new lifestyle changes, we made a promise.


After 1 ½ years,  $42,000, and part-way through 2 different adoptions, we have remained debt-free from our adoption process. Did you hear that?

Debt free.

And let me tell you now, this is NOT a reflection of our awesome money-saving, penny-pinching abilities. We walked into adoption with $42 in our bank account. This has been through a lot of hard work, a lot of supportive people, a lot of great resources, and a lot of prayer.
So, is this even possible? Just because we are doing it, can you? YES!!!

Here are a few of the biggest things that have helped us along the way, that I thought I’d pass on to anyone out there who, like myself, worries, frets, or looses sleep over adoption costs.

1. Get Committed!

No, not psych ward committed. (Although there are days where I feel that is a valid option). Make the commitment with your partner or support network that you are going to go forward debt-free. These days, there are a lot of options out there like Adoption Loans or Credit Card deals that make that “safe” option appealing. And sometimes, it is necessary. But, if you can commit to it from the beginning, having that accountability is clutch when you get those phone calls that tell you that you have an unknown $7,000 adoption bill that needs to be paid in 4 weeks.

After our “commitment”, a great friend of mine suggested this book to me. And it is AMAZING!! It kind of makes you feel like you can take over the world, which you sometimes need to feel when you are walking through the adoption process. She has TONS of great resources and ideas for fundraisers, grants, and resources. It took me all of like 1 hour to read (which is saying a lot). It is well worth the $12 on Amazon.

3. Get Connected!
Probably the #1 greatest thing that you can do during your adoption process is to get connected. Connect with other adoptive families, your friends and family, your church body, your yoga class, whoever! It is totally your family’s discretion as to how much you choose to share or not share about your adoption. Some people are willing to be far more open than others, and that is fine. But start off knowing that you can’t do it alone. And you shouldn’t do it alone. Adoption is a hard journey and the more people you allow into your journey, the more arms and hands you have to hold you up when you are miles down the road and exhausted!
We have found one of the most effective ways to do this is through our blog. It has been an incredible resource not just for us to connect with others, but for others to join our journey! If you aren’t “tech-savy”, ask someone who is to get you set up. That is the hardest part.
But really…just yesterday I asked Erik how to search for directions on Googlemaps. So, if I can, you can.
If you don’t feel like that is your family’s cup-o-tea, set up a group email and keep your friends and family updated. It is surprising how many people really DO want to know how the process is going! And if your family is anything like mine, not updating them will just beckon multiple phone calls on the daily.

4. Get Creative!
There are probably a billion and one things that you can do to raise money for your adoption. The book I mentioned earlier is a great tool for that. But sometimes, you have to be willing to think outside of the box to bring attention to those things. We have done several handfuls of fundraisers and found that making videos to grab people’s attention has been one of the biggest tools in helping us raise money! Peeps LOVE their media, and as soon as we started making small video updates, people started sharing, new people joined the cause, and fundraising became even more fun and more successful!

5. Get to Workin!
Fundraising and Debt-Free adoption is hard work. It doesn’t come just by sitting around clickin’ buttons. I have taken on several freelance jobs, as well as started up an entire photography business to help support our adoption. We don’t expect to sit around and just wait for people to pour out money on us or “make it rain” as the young folks would say. But I have found that even in my extra jobs, people have supported above and beyond what they have needed to give. They want to get behind us and help us bring our children home. So even just talking about our adoption on a photo shoot or when I’m working with clients has opened up the doors to new and more business.
I realize that not everyone has time for extra jobs. But you can always make it work around what you can and can’t do (i.e. offering to watch somone’s kids a couple times a week for pay if you are a stay-at-home-mom, doing yard work for your neighbors on weekends if you work during the week, helping someone set up a blog if you are a tech-kind-person). Basically think, “How would I make money if I was in high school again?” Even those little amounts of extra cash are useful for Homestudy doctor’s appointments or fingerprints!

6. Get Granted!
Grants are amazing! We’ve have be awarded grants with several places – anywhere from $500-$5,000. There are a ton of great Grants that can be applied for (Show Hope, Abba Fund, God’s Grace, Lifesong, etc.) and all it takes is a little bit of time and a stamped envelope. Most Grant applications ask the same questions, so you can even cut down on time by typing out your answers and recycling them through each application. We made a date night out of it one evening and powered through a few applications. It was basically like a 2 for 1 deal! Nothing more romantic than a glass of wine and an essay about your desire to adopt.

7. Get to Prayin’.
The whole adoption journey is really a big faith journey. I whole-heartedly believe that adoption is biblical and a reflection of the heart of God. Invite Him to be at the center of your journey and keep Him at the front of everything you do. So even when it is really hard, we’ve stopped looking at the dollar sign in front of us and started focusing of Christ before us. He is basically like the most hardcore warrior ever and I’ve come to learn quickly that He doesn’t loose. Keeping every part of this journey covered in prayer keeps your perspective in the right place.

Ok. Wow. That is so much info.

But here is the deal. I’ve learned to take a giant dose of humility when it comes to adoption.
1.     It’s about more than just me. It is about an orphaned child becoming a part of a family.
2.     I can’t do it alone. We’ve had to depend of more people than I probably would have ever thought or hoped to.
3.     You have to ask for help. (That is a hard one for me.)
4.     God is in control. (Even harder for me…I’m a huge control freak.)

Someone asked Erik one time if we ever get tired of asking for money. (Quite a bold question if you ask me.) He is kind of a rockstar and responded with this…

“If your child was half-way across the world and you were trying to get them home, wouldn’t you do whatever it takes?”

Will you?

So if you, or anyone you know, have ever been scared off by the dollar signs or multiple zeros tossed around in the adoption conversation, know this…

It is more than possible. It is necessary.

Take it from a commoner.