Archive | August, 2012

Good News, More Good New, and My Thoughts on Paying for Adoption.

25 Aug

Hellllllooooooo world!  (or at least the 6 of you who read this blog)  Sorry for the looooooong silence.  I have had two or three blogs rolling around in my head for the past month but have not had the opportunity to sit, focus, and write.  I’ve got two pieces of good news for you.  READY?????

GOOD NEWS #1 — Our dossier is on its way to Eth!  Yes, yes, yes!  Remember back here when I was telling you about all the paperwork we had to re-do because we were switching countries?  Well since then there have been several more pieces that have needed to be redone.  So basically we redid our whole dossier.  Super fun.  NOT.  I worked as fast as I could but it still took me the entire summer to get everything done.  That’s just how it goes, especially when you have to wait on documents to get mailed to you from other people (like your life insurance company, and your health insurance company, and your bank, and Homeland Security, and…you get the picture).   I will say that it wasn’t as difficult the 2nd time around because most of the documents just had to be retyped and notarized by whatever party produced them in the first place because all they needed was a current date.  When a dossier is submitted, all documents must be less than one year old.  Because we put together our dossier for the first time last summer, a lot of our documents were “expired” even though the information was still correct.

All that said, we are DONE and DONE with the dossier and in 2 or 3 weeks it will be in Eth and we will be on the waiting list to be matched with a child.  THANK YOU JESUS!  The wait time has been stretched again to 11-12 months for a referral, so if nothing else changes we will be finding out who our baby is sometime next August or September (2013).

GOOD NEWS #2 — We have saved/raised enough money to pay for the rest of our adoption expenses in FULL without debt!  THANK YOU JESUS, AGAIN!  God is so good.  I know what you’re all wondering but don’t want to ask — How much does it cost to adopt from Ethiopia?  Answer:  About $30,000.  Yep. It’s about the same amount as having a baby in a hospital, its just not covered by insurance.  Through our garage sales we were able to raise about 10% of these expenses (a little over $3,000).  The other 90% is just money we’ve saved by our own blood, sweat, and tears — and a lot of help from the Great Provider.

Josh and I knew we wanted to adopt before we got married and we knew how much it would cost.  That has caused us to make a lot of little and big decisions about how we spend and don’t spend our money since the outset of our marriage.  I thank God that He perfectly matched Josh and I to walk this journey of marriage and family together.  We are significantly different in many ways, but there are several crucial areas that we see (almost) perfectly eye to eye.  Finances is one of those areas.  We feel a heavy responsibility to steward our money well.  It’s something that neither of us can get away from.  Every decision we make about our budget and how we spend our money is filtered through an is-it-going-to-glorify-God-and-last-in-eternity mindset.  Now hear this: we are not even close to being perfect in this area and this doesn’t mean that we never indulge or buy things we don’t NEED.  What it means is that we try not to live like your typical materialistic, self-indulgent Americans.  We try to see where we can cut our expenses and what luxuries or indulgences we can do without.

I will always tell people wanting to adopt: the best fundraiser you can do is a little thing called living on a budget.  Buy your clothes off the clearance rack or at second hand stores.  Furnish your house through craigslist, garage sales, and goodwill.  Stop going out to Starbucks every day.  Wait for Redbox instead of seeing every movie in the theaters.  Learn to live without cable TV.  Drive cars that you can actually afford to own instead of paying hundreds in car payments each month.  Buy the old version of the iPhone for $50 (like I did!) instead of the new one for $400.  The list goes on and on.  I know everyone’s situation is different and I can’t compare our situation to yours and say one is better than the other.  All I can say is that Josh and I look at what God has entrusted to us and try to steward it in a way that will give Him the most glory and give us the widest financial margin possible.  

I have been truly awed and amazed by God and how He has enabled us to save so much money.  It’s not like we’re rolling in the dough over here!  We both work fulltime which is a huge blessing and something we don’t take for granted.  Josh has a good, stable job with benefits. In an economy when so many have lost their jobs, I am thankful that I get to work at a job that I love, even though I bring home barely over minimum wage.  It is hard and rewarding work and although I definitely don’t do it for the money, I recognize that I am blessed to be bringing in any money at all.

Now for those of you whose jaws dropped when I said adoption costs $30,000, here’s a quick breakdown of where all that money goes…

1. Travel Fees — we will have to make two trips to Eth.  Depending on what time of year you travel, plane tickets could be anywhere form $1200 (each) to $2200 (each).  Plus when you’re in country you have to pay for food and lodging, transportation, and travel VISAs for yourselves our your child.  So just the cost of travel will be $10,000-$12,000.

2. Agency Fees — You pay your adoption agency for all the crazy, hard work they’re doing to make adoption possible.  They travel to and from countries, set up programs with orphanages, stay up to date on all the adoption regulations in the USA and the country you’re adopting from (and believe me, these change ALL the time), they communicate all that to you and tell you exactly what to do, step-by-step — in order to get all the proper paperwork to adopt, they hold your hand through the whole process and basically figure EVERYTHING out for you.  It you are adopting for the first time, I highly recommend using an agency and not trying to do it independently.  Especially is you’re thinking about international adoption.  Included in the agency fees is also your homestudy fees.  In order to adopt from anywhere (even the USA) or become a foster parent you have to have a homestudy done. It’s a series of interviews, training sessions, and background checks that you go through with a social worker and it costs between $1,400 and $2,000.

3. Legal Fees & Court Costs — Adoption is a legal process so part of what you pay for is the lawyer fees (each adoption agency has their own lawyers so this is also part of your “agency fees”) and you have to pay for all the court costs in country, as well as when you come home.  Most adoptions are not official until you pass court in the USA.

4. Paperwork Fees — There were many documents we had to collect for our dossier that cost money, such as certified copies of our birth certificates and marriage certificate, background checks, FBI fingerprinting, and Immigration approval.  Some of these cost as little and $40 and some cost as much as $920.

5. Your Child’s Paperwork — As Josh and I are working hard here in the US to get all our paperwork to be certified to adopt, personnel from our agency and the orphanages in Eth are feverishly working to get orphaned children “paper ready”.  There is a lot of leg work involved in this process.  In order for a child to legally be adopted, they need more than just to be dropped off at an orphanage.  They need a birth certificate, a certified termination or surrender of parental rights, family members have to sign off saying they do not want custody either, they need medical check-ups, testing for HIV and AIDS, as well as a slew of other things.  Think about how difficult and costly it would be to acquire all of this for a child who is found abandon at a hospital, orphanage, or on the side of the road in a 3rd world country — or any country for that matter.

As you can see, you do not pay for your child.  Children do not cost money.  You pay for the all the services required to make an adoption happen.

So there you have it!  I’ll end with one last thought on money and adoption.  One time, while discussing our money saving strategies with a friend, I was asked when Josh and I would stop living this way.  As in, when would we feel like we’ve “saved enough” and “loosen up” a bit with our budgeting.  Ya know……get cable tv, buy a brand new car, take more vacations, go out to eat once or twice a week.    My answer:  Never.  We will never stop living this way or viewing our money this way.  Not because any of those things I listed are wrong or bad, but just because those extra “creature comforts” really add up and they don’t allow us to have the kind of financial margin we believe God has called us to have.  First of all, our financial philosophy is not motivated merely by the $30,000 bill attached to this adoption.  It is rooted in our personal theology.  We cannot separate our bank account from our relationship with God and the decisions we make about money are motivated by the conviction He’s place in our hearts.  Secondly, when will there ever be a time we’re not saving for something super important and/or necessary???  The past couple years it’s been this adoption, next it will be a mini-van, then another adoption, then maybe a down payment on a house (MAYBE), and of course there’s always our childrens’ weddings and college educations to think about!  It’s never too early to plan, right? ;o)