Thursday, January 23, 2014

Our Adoption FAQ {Part 6}

I meant to write this blog post nearly a year ago, along with all my other FAQ posts. I put it off and then forgot all about it and now I am glad that I did. Since we are on the back end of our adoption journey, I feel like it's now something I can speak about with much more knowledge and assurance.

How much does adopting from China cost? 
(Because I certainly can't afford it!) 


This is a topic that comes up again and again when speaking with others about adoption.  From dear friends to family members to acquaintances to total strangers, I've heard this more times than I can count.  "Adoption is great!  I'd love to adopt!  We just couldn't ever afford it..."

And while this may not be the case for every family, more often than not I just want to tell those people that they probably can.  Adoption is precious and absolutely near the heart of God and no one hates an orphan being adopted more than the Devil himself.  He will try anything to discourage people from even considering it and I believe that unsubstantiated financial worry is one huge area in which he works.


Don't get me wrong, I still understand the worry over the financial aspect of adoption.  Adoption is definitely expensive!!!  

{At least domestic and international adoption are expensive.  Adopting from foster care is nearly free and most states provide a stipend to families that adopt from foster care.  This is a great option for a lot of families!  International adoption is obviously what I know so that is what I'll be speaking of in this post.}

There are many fees with international adoption.  Home study and agency fees, background checks, immigrations expenses, visas, passports, orphanage donations, medical appointments/reviews, travel costs, in-country costs, etc,...it all adds up to a LOT.  The average cost to adopt internationally is around $30,000.  If you are adopting from a country that requires more than 1 trip, then it will be quite a bit more than that simply due to travel costs. That is an immense amount of money and it seems like whenever someone asks for the total amount, their eyes glass over and they completely check out of the idea of learning more once they hear that mind-boggling total. 

But THIS is what I wish more families that have a heart for orphans understood:  

You do not have to have an extra $30,000 laying around to adopt internationally!  

Truth be told, I hardly know of any adoptive families that were fully funded before they began their adoption journey.  Instead I know of some families that were the exact opposite and had not $1 set aside for adoption when they felt the call to action.  So they budgeted, gave up expensive extras, fund-raised, applied for grants, worked extra jobs, sold belongings (even cars and wedding rings!), sold investments, used their savings, applied for interest-free adoption loans, etc, to make it happen.  Through prayer, wisdom, hard work, sacrifice, and God's incredible blessings, I have never once heard of a family that pursued adoption and had to stop because the money simply wasn't there.

I completely realize not every family can afford to adopt.  Obviously any family that is struggling to meet basic needs each month, is in considerable debt, or is facing job uncertainties should not jump into adoption until they are in a better financial position.  There are many ways that those individuals can help support the fatherless without causing additional financial strain.  

When I talk to someone that does have the stirring within them to open their lives and their home to an orphaned child and they share with me that they can afford to have another child in their family, but they could just never pay that big adoption expense in such a short amount of time...my heart absolutely breaks.  Because friends, I promise you would be surprised at how many possible ways there are to raise this large amount of money.

This amount is really not much different than the cost of having a biological child, it's just that insurance pays the majority of those expenses.  And similarly, there are many ways to help lessen the amount for adoptive parents as well. 

There are many grant organizations whose sole purpose is to help adoptive families.  I currently have a list of over 20 saved on my computer and am happy to share!  If you have a church family, I would hope that they would be open to learning more and offering support in various ways.  I'm sure you also have friends and family that would be honored to be involved in helping bring your child home.  There are several great interest-free (or covenant) loan options specifically for adoptions. There is an adoption tax credit for $12,970.  There are so many possible ways to fund an adoption, you just need to be open to learning about those possibilities.

My first recommendation is to read this book cover to cover.  It is packed full of money saving and money raising ideas.  Talk to others you know that have previously adopted and see what first-hand tips they have.  Read adoption blogs that talk about this and learn from them as well.  Matt and I are also happy to talk to any prospective adoptive parent about any of this!

I'm not one to normally talk about financial matters, but we desire to be fully transparent in how we are funding our adoption since we have had the support of so many friends and family. 

So for our adoption...

Our estimated costs are right around $30,000.  Since we are adopting a child with a special need, we knew that the cost of her care would be an additional financial burden (possible hospital visits, procedures, therapies, etc), but we are not including any of that in the cost of her adoption.  We will be receiving the tax credit in the future, which is nearly $13,000.  Matt and I both began this journey with the personal conviction that we would not accept any monies in excess of $17,000 because we absolutely do not want to profit or "make money" in any way/shape/form through this adoption process. 

I know many families fundraise their entire adoption.  Maybe they decline the tax credit or maybe they immediately donate it to a worthy cause or maybe they feel okay with keeping it?  Thankfully that's between those people and God.  We just knew we were not comfortable with even the appearance of profiting from our adoption.  We also felt called for this to be a personal sacrifice for us financially, to "put our money where our mouth is" so to speak.  We desired to re-evaluate what is truly important in this life and how we want to best use the money that God has blessed us with, while also keeping in mind that we are a single-income family and already have 3 children.

There are differing viewpoints on fundraising and that is probably an issue for a whole different post.  (This one is getting long enough as it is!)  What I will say in regards to that issue is that within the body of Christ we are ALL called to support orphans...not just those that feel called or want to expand their family through adoption or really, really love children.  EVERY Christian is called by God to care for orphans and for those that cannot adopt themselves (or choose not to), supporting adoptive families in their efforts is an absolutely beautiful and Biblical way to do this.

With all that said, we've done a mix of a lot of the things I've mentioned to fund Abigail's adoption.

Fundraising Efforts and Donations
 

In April 2013 we (along with our dear friends, the Brays, who are adopting from Congo) had an adoption support luncheon at our church on a Sunday afternoon, following morning services.  I have blogged about it here and here.  We made and showed this video during services that day and afterwards we served a spaghetti lunch to nearly 250 people.  We sold t-shirts that we designed ourselves as well as Mudlove bracelets.  We had orphan care information handouts and both Zac and Matt spoke about our adoption journeys.  We even had delicious China and Africa cookies for everyone.  Thankfully we had lots of help from family and friends to pull all of this together.  It was an amazing day and donations and t-shirt/bracelet sales from our church family totaled over $7,000 for each of our adoptions!  We were blown away!

  photo 9b54c929-35d3-4dc5-af0d-cdd35e14a631_zps63c9230d.jpg  photo 26b97523-25e8-4465-971c-cad9c60ab8e1_zpsc55c5f6e.jpg  photo Fotor0123185548_zps2617377e.jpg

In September 2013, some of our close friends approached Mandy and I with the idea to have an adoption benefit garage sale at one of their homes, with all money made going towards our adoptions.  These ladies would not take no for an answer, so in the span of about 2 weeks we purged our homes of unwanted things, got the word out to our church and the community, collected donations, and had one awesome yard sale at the home of our preacher and his wife, Keith and Michele.  

They (and many others) went above and beyond with the love they showed our 2 families that weekend.  Our preacher, Keith, even slept in a tent in his front yard (and it was a frigidly cold night!) to make sure nothing was stolen out of their yard during the night.  We had precious girls selling lemonade and donuts. Seriously how many people are blessed to worship with folks as amazing as this?  Once again we were blown away by the amount raised, about $1,400 for each of our families.

  photo 27576d3c-9f6b-4b82-848f-99e45554c9b7_zps05005538.jpg

In November 2013, one of my friends who is a consultant for 31 Gifts offered to donate 15% of her commission if I wanted to host a party in Abby's honor.  I did an online party and invited pretty much everyone I know on Facebook.  Unfortunately this event didn't have much success and we only made $32 for our adoption account. Win some, lose some.  :)   It did however bring more awareness to Abby's adoption and we had a couple private donations made to our adoption account from those that learned of that need from this party.

I sold a few of our kids Adoption Rocks t-shirts and extra Mudlove bracelets to non-church friends last spring.  We also had personal donations from some family members and friends throughout the year.  Early in 2013 our church set up an account for us to use to collect donations so that people could make donations tax-free and our church reimburses us for adoption expenses.  That has been a tremendous blessing!  {There are websites like AdoptTogether.com that do the same thing.}  Everything we get for the adoption goes straight into our church account.  The extra sales from t-shirts, bracelets, and the special donations we have received add up to about $1,800.

Fundraising and Donation Total:  ~ $10,232 

Grants

We applied for 3 grants in the fall of 2013.  Most grants require you to wait until you have a completed home study or have accepted a referral, which is why we didn't do them earlier in the year.  If we had more time or a greater need, we would have definitely applied for more.  I highly suggest looking for local grant organizations or ones within your body of faith because there are probably less people applying.  Since grant committees take into account all your income, the needs of your family, all the fundraising you have done, etc., I see no reason anyone should ever feel guilt about applying for grants.  The money is there and waiting to be distributed...allow your family to be blessed by it!

Grant applications are not difficult, but can be time consuming.  It felt like college scholarship applications all over again!  Thankfully many grants ask many of the same type questions, so if you ever apply for a grant, make sure you save a copy!  We were able to tweak things to use much of the same information again and again.  We received 2 of the 3 grants that we applied for and we are ecstatic about that.  We love these organizations and all they are doing for orphan care.  We will definitely be contributing to them in the future to help other adoptive families.

The Titus Task --  $2,500

Grant Total:  $4,000

Personal Contributions

Once both of our hearts were totally convicted to adopt we started the process immediately with absolutely no adoption money set aside.  

In the fall of 2012 we decided to sell the stock that we'd been holding onto for over a decade (it was given to Matt from his grandparents when he completed his Masters).  We had no idea how fundraising and grants would pan out for us and Matt was not comfortable starting our adoption process without putting money into our adoption account.  We added our 2012 tax return to our adoption account when we received it the next spring.  We sold quite a bit of our belongings at a consignment store this past year. We were not expecting for Matt to receive a bonus last year and when he did we also put a portion of that towards our adoption expenses.  We have tried to cut back on frivolous spending and we also chose not to take 2 of our usual week-long vacations last summer, which saved us quite a bit of money.  We have also transferred money from our savings account into our adoption account when we have been able to do so.

From all of these things we have been able to put together the remaining money needed for our adoption ourselves.  But as I mentioned earlier in this post, there are many ways in addition to all of this that a family can do to work/save/sell/budget extra money.

Personal Contributions --  ~ $16,000  ($13,000 of which will be refunded through the tax credit)

***

Through this entire process we have not wanted the focus to be on the money or on us "doing a good deed".  We simply want to add to our family in this way and be advocates for children in need of a family.  We want our lives to be a shining reflection of Christ's love that dwells within us.  We've had the opportunity to share our story, our faith, our passion with others and I hope we have been an encouragement to them because they have certainly been an encouragement to us!  

My #1 reason for writing this post is to give others hope that adoption is not just for heroes or the super rich.  It's for average Joe, broken sinners like ourselves who realize God adopted us when we absolutely did not deserve it.  But these precious children?  Oh, how they certainly deserve it!  And if you have a stirring within you, please don't let the cost of adopting be a factor that keeps you from it. 

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do you know if there are any grants or resources for those who aren't religious? It seems like adoption is such a religious thing, and that, I am not. I am gonna guess you don't know since you are religious but maybe you have come across some, or a person who isn't religious who is adopting.

~aj~ said...

Anonymous, that is a great question and there are definitely orphan care organizations out there that work with non-religious families. This is a list of grants that do not list being "Christian" or "religious" as one of their requirements. A few may have other requirements you should consider (income cannot be over a certain amount, or must be married for a certain length of time, etc).

I'm sure there are more than this, but this list will hopefully be a good starting point for you.

Gift of Adoption Fund
Help Us Adopt
A Child Waits
Affording Adoption Foundation
National Adoption Foundation
Salvation International
Orphan Impact
Childless Mothers Adopt (for single moms only)