Monday, July 7, 2014

Blue Chalk and Love Notes :: Lessons from a 7 Year Old || 4 Months Post Adoption

We bought a new rug. Thanks to some welcome home gift cards and a giant, yet washable, stain on the upper right corner, we walked out of Kmart with a giant size piece of carpet for less than my Aldi grocery bill.

The basement had decidedly been quartered off to make a playroom for our girl, who has befriended most of the children on our street and hosts tea parties, art classes, and teaches school to unknowing 3 year olds.

My living room and my minor OCD were not surviving the traffic.

The finished product (on a minimal budget) made me and our girl proud and so with excitement I announced that she could have her "quiet time" in the basement in her new play room.
(We have a quiet time every day for 1 hour to refuel her engine and give her a bit of time to wind down. But let's be is really for me.)

I heard the pitter-patter of feet running up the stairs, far too early than previously agreed. As an excited 7-year old face peered around the corner I automatically knew. Some thing had gone terribly wrong.

"I have a VERY awesome gift for you, Mommy." Blink. Blink, blink, blink.

I slowly walked down the steps, eyes half open because she had requested me blindfolded - to which I met her with a compromise of no.

As I entered the quarter size playroom and looked down, I gasped. The brand new white/cream/beige carpet (should of seen that one coming) that had been so delicately placed in our child's playroom (again, really didn't seen this coming?) was covered, COVERED, in bright neon blue chalk.

It was like a Smurf crime scene.
Her pride soared.
My jaw dropped.

As I looked from the carpet to her face and back again, it was obvious that I was in shock. And her joy went from soaring to broken.

"What did you do?" I asked.

And in a quiet voice she said, "I wrote you a love note."

As I looked closer, I realized that all the lines and circles and shapes were not random. They were calculated. And designed with care.

I LUV U MOMMY! heart shape. heart shape. heart shape.
N J E F. (This is her sleek way of writing code for our family - Nosipho, Jessa, Erik, Family) heart shape. heart shape. heart shape.
LOOOOOOOVVVVVEEEEEEEE. heart shape. heart shape. heart shape.
Chicken shape. (I'm still not totally sure how this one fits into the love note, but I'm sure it will come to me in some divine revelation when she is 16. Or she just really loves chickens.)

I am no adoption expert. Not even close. But even the worst informed adoptive parent would know two things in this situation:

1. My response to this situation was absolutely horrible.
2. We are the luckiest people in the world.

Adoption is hard.
The waiting process is daunting, exhausting, and heart-breaking at times.
And when you finally cross over to the much anticipated moment of meeting the child you have prayed for, cried over, pursued, and worked so hard to bring home, there is a part of you that feels like you should be singing and dancing everyday.

I am amazed at how quickly that emotion fades. And how quickly I forget that this is the little girl that stole our hearts and set us on a life-changing path.

When your daughter is kicking, screaming, crying, and scratching for anything she can touch in the heat of a total breakdown because she doesn't know how to express her needs, you forget that there is a little person in there that is broken and hurting.

When your 7-year old is asking you to dress her every morning and carry her to bed every single night when you know she is capable of doing it and all you want is 5 minutes to finish eating your cold dinner, you forget that there is a child in there whose basic needs have never been met the way they needed to be.

And when your daughter, who you adopted only 4 months ago, gives you kisses and hugs everyday and writes love (did you hear that? LOVE) notes in your brand new carpet, you forget that it is nothing short of a miracle that this little child is your daughter. And that by the grace of God, she has been able to find small pieces of healing and little reasons to trust, despite the many, MULTIPLE (like on the daily) moments where we TOTALLY screw up this whole parenthood thing.

We eventually scrubbed out the blue chalk and the stain in the right hand corner of the carpet. The stain came out completely. But there are hints of blue all over the rug and I am thankful for that. Thankful for the reminder that mistakes along the way are often more beautiful than perfecting the process.

Monday, April 7, 2014


We made it. It may have been a little over a week ago and it may be that I have been too tired to even think about posting on our blog...

But we made it. By the grace of God, we traveled over 9,000 miles, 23 hours, and 3 viewings of Frozen on the airplane to arrive back in Minnesota and into the arms of the people we love.

We have so much to be thankful for. We are figuring out this new life one step at a time, but praising God for His unending mercies, faithfulness, and grace.

Learning each day how to live and breath into our new role as parents.

There is a lot to write about, a lot to discover, and a lot of really hilarious things that (as parents) we probably shouldn't be laughing at. (We will be reporting all these missteps and adventures as soon as we have one solid night of uninterrupted sleep).

For now, here is a little glimpse into one of the most precious moments of our lives.

Thank you to all who have been praying, supporting, journeying through this adventure with us. We know that the hard part is just now starting, but are so thankful for the love we have been shown.

It is good to be home.

Friday, March 21, 2014


Yesterday we went to a botanical gardens-y type place. They also served wine, so I don't know what that qualifies as, but it was awesome.

And big.

(Side Note: For those just checking in...we (being me and Nosipho) are still in South Africa. Erik and I left for South Africa on February 11th and Erik headed back home to the States on March 12th. Nosipho and I are waiting for her unabridged birth certificate and temporary passport to be able to leave the country. Time of departure? Unknown.)

Back to our adventure. 
The gardens were big enough to need a map to walk around it. And since it seems that we have added a daughter to our family who is strong-willed, independent, and adventurous...she controlled the map. 

At first, I was trying to explain that you have to hold it right side up in order to really know where you are going. After a few minutes, I just gave up and decided to trust her (and the people in yellow shirts that actually knew where we were supposed to go).
I should learn to trust more because even though the map was upside down, she seemed to know exactly where we needed to go.

What looked upside down to me made complete sense to her. 
And though our journey took maybe a bit/way longer than I would have liked, we stumbled upon places that we never would have seen had I been in control of the map. 
Do you see where I'm going with this?

I've been struggling quite a bit with understanding why God isn't making things happen faster here on this end. If it were up to me and my AWESOME navigational skills, we would have been out of South Africa yesterday. 
But I'm starting to see little glimpses of the blessings that come from long journeys. (You would have thought this lesson would have been learned in that whole 3 year journey to adopt Nosipho, yeah? #slowlearner #foolmeonce?)

But even when I'm kicking, screaming, and awkwardly crying to old episodes of Hawaii Five-O by myself after sweet girl is asleep, I'm starting to hear God's voice a bit clearer. 

The map may look upside down, and this path may not have been the one you would have chosen if you were in control...
But the journey will be beautiful.
And I promise, I'll bring you safely to the exit. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Adventures of Nosipho: Volume 1

This probably goes without saying...but it has been one gloriously insane adventure so far.

God has taught us so much every step of the way and we are so blessed to have chance to call Nosipho our daughter!! We've cried, laughed, played, listened, rocked out, danced (thank you Katy Perry...again), and had our minds blown to how great this adventure is.

Here is a little snap shot of what the first couple of weeks have looked like.

Adventures of Nosipho: Volume 1 from OneEightyCC on Vimeo.

Thank you so much for all of your prayers, support and encouragement. We have felt them every step of the way.

"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." Ephesians 3:20

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

South Africa, Family of Three, and Katy Perry

My plan was to blog in South Africa during our adoption.

No one ever told me that having a 6 year old would not allow for that..easily. 

Touche Parenthood. Touche. 

But, in an effort to bring some news and updates to all of you, I decided to put down my obsession with Candy Crush (post bedtime), grab a glass of wine and go sit outside on the patio of someone's house to capture a few minutes of stolen internet! Boom. This is Africa. 

The last 2+ weeks have been a complete whirlwind. I liken it to the part of the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy has not yet figured out that she is in a dream and a house just crushed a witch. Oddly exciting, somewhat confusing. Definitely foreign. 

We arrived in South Africa after a long 37 hours of travel through too many different countries to list. The day following this, we met our daughter. Our beautiful, vivacious, energetic, independent, and amazing daughter. She is beyond anything we could have ever dreamed. God absolutely knew what he was doing when He weaved our family together.

We spent our first week visiting her each day at her orphanage, getting to know each other, and eating a lot of hamburgers and french fries. (Don't criticizes this unless you have a adopted a 6 year old from a foreign country. You literally do whatever it takes.)

Enter Katy Perry. We found our first days of bonding with her to be quite difficult. She didn't really want anything to do with us after Day 1. We tried everything. We were super cool. I mean, pullin' out all the "cool parent" tricks. I was like "Dang, Erik. We are awesome." Nosipho was like, "Not so much."
Who knew that Katy Perry and her Prism album would single handedly open up the door to instant bonding. With 1 (or maybe 500) plays of "Roar" and "Darkhorse", we were a VonTrap family miracle on our car trips to fast food. I'm 100% convinced that Katy would want us on stage with her. We have hand motions. 

After a week, we broke through. We officially took her to our temporary residence to live with us permanently. We spent another week in Durban and on February 27th, she officially became ours according to the courts of South Africa. It was...perfect. 
We headed to Cape Town the day after, where we will be for the next several weeks. Here we will be doing her US Immigration Medical Exams, applying for her Visa and Passport, and rounding up all loose ends to get us to our exit interview in Johannesburg (hopefully by the end of March). 

Erik will leave on March 12th to head back home and back to work. (I may have had a complete emotional breakdown today about being a single parent for 2/3 weeks. I mean, maybe.)

Our time has been sweet. The girl is a riot. A firecracker. I think she wants to be Katy Perry (perhaps Juicy J, we aren't sure). But, she has brought some serious life to this family. She is strong, beautiful, and will definitely change the world. We know it. 

We are proud parents of our sweet daughter, Nosipho (No-See-Po) Ruth Anderson, and would not/could not wish for something different. 

We will try to update you all more than we have, but for now, prayers prayers prayers abundant for bonding, paperwork, the African process, and each steps forward as we learn to parent, love, and grow as a family! 

And, if anyone didn't get tickets to the Katy Perry concert, you are welcome to come over to our home when we are back. Free show. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Up Up and Away!

Seriously. We can't believe that this day is here.

2 weeks ago, we woke up to a whirlwind of news, emotions, planning, and a lot of crying. Today/yesterday (I don't really know what day it is), we are sitting in the Paris International Airport, eating macaroons (I stress eat), waiting to board a flight that is going to literally change our lives forever.

I'm not a big cryer by nature. I actually have had to pinch myself to cry at times when I'm next to Erik who is a tender-hearted little soul. He makes me look bad. But, my eyes seem to have taken on the characteristics of a leaky faucet...on crack. They don't stop. I'm a disaster. We both are.

I don't really have a lot of words that I can say to let people know how we are feeling. I suppose if you have been there, you know. Excitement, fear, joy, anticipation, anxiety...I don't even know. I'm like a junior high girl's mood ring.

Either way, we wouldn't and couldn't be in this spot without a lot of you! Your prayers, encouragements, support, bags of donated clothes, toys, and cheetos...the list goes on. It is a joy and privilege to be able to share all of this with you. A total joy!

And holy cow. We can't wait to meet our sweet girl. And we can't wait for that first post we get to make introducing our daughter into your lives!

God is amazing. You guys are pretty rockin' too.

So here we go.

Let the Adventures of Noi begin!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Here We Come!

I have actually been writing out this blog post in my head for months.

It was going to be super elegant and quite epic, mixed with the slightest hint of humor (just for the people who prefer to awkwardly laugh in emotional situations).

All that went out the window. Real fast.
Instead, We are just a blubbering, hysterical mess. I can't even post a picture because we both look like someone who just watched Bambi 5 times in a row and then chugged 12 Monster Energy Drinks.

Please take a moment to picture this. That is us.

We woke up this morning to a phone call. THE phone call. And these 5 words...


Exactly one year ago, we sat in a meeting with the face of our little girl on a piece of paper in front of us and said yes.
We said yes to the scariest thing we have ever decided in our lives. We said yes to something we knew nothing about. We said yes to God's plan for our family even though it didn't look anything like what we thought.

And holy cow. I'm so glad we said yes.

In the great words of Macauly Culkin, "This is it. Don't get scared now."

For something that we have been preparing for directly and indirectly for 3 years, we have never felt so excited, unprepared, anxious, elated, and ready.

Our court date is February 27th, which means we will be leaving in the next few weeks to get out to South Africa, meet our girl, and spend some bonding time with her before we head to court to make it all official!


After things calmed down a bit this morning (aka we could actually start to see again through our complete mess of tears) we actually took the time to look at our Facebooks and phones. This is how cool God is...

Three separate people had emailed us/messaged us saying that we had been on their minds last night and this morning and that they were praying for movement. Praying for amazing things.

God is fighting for us. God is fighting for our girl. And so are all of you.

None of this has been done in our own power and it will continue to not be done in our own strength. For each of those prayers, each of those encouragements, and each of those moments that you have taken to lift us up...we can not thank you enough.

The road is not over yet and I know we will continue to need TONS of prayers as we travel and become a family. And probably even more as we navigate becoming parents (Holy Crap. Let's cross that bridge when we get to it.)

But is a long awaited day of praises. Like crazy dancing like a mad woman and singing at the top of your lungs praises.

Just do it. You know you want to. Because...

Sweet girl, here we come.