Monday, June 11, 2012

How do you afford an adoption??

I get this question all the time.  How do you afford one, let alone ten adoptions?  I am going to be honest in this post.  I have opinions just as everyone else does.  I know adoption financing is a personal subject and also many differences in how the adoption community thinks about and does things about it.  This is just my side based on my stories and my experiences.  Not a single adoption is ever the same.  Especially, when it comes to our adoptions as we have never had a smooth or easy or dull adoption.  Ever.  Our adoption agencies say we are "due" one.  Not sure that will happen in the future.  I'm almost positive we are done.  Same way I thought we were done after Irina and Max.  And goodness knows I was absolutely done after Yana and Alex.  Most definitely after Bojan.  Positively 100% done after Nik and Alyona.  And w/ out a doubt done now after Logan, Reni and Summer.  Right?  Don't answer here Warren.  He's reading this about to pass out, I'm sure.

Point I'm trying to make, is you just never know when you are done.  Honestly, you don't.  So now I never say I'm done.  I am one though who believes you need to wait till you know for certain your children that you just brought home are adjusted before committing to another adoption.  Also, this allows you to get your finances in order.  Now, let's talk finances.  This is where I think I will catch some comments and that's okay.  Here goes.  Do you have to have the money upfront to adopt?  No.  Do you have to have a back up plan in case you can't get that money?  ABSOLUTELY!!!!  I always grew up hearing the saying "God helps them that helps themselves."  And I have to agree with that.  I will go through adoption after adoption of ours and tell you how we did it and what we did.  And it did NOT always require fundraising.  I truly think those should be last resorts.  I will talk about how you must be prepared.  Trust me on that one as you will need funds once home.  You will.  You might not think so, but you will.

Here goes nothing.  Bare with me though.  I hear people all the time go we adopted  and now want to go back.  That's back to back adoptions.  I don't know how we'll do it.  I don't know.  And, they go to a chip-in bar in some what of a panic I feel.  If you don't think I know what I'm talking about that's fine.  But bare with me to the end.  Just to let you know, we went from 2 kids to 7 kids in a 2 and a half year time frame.  Yes, that is 5 adoptions in just 2.5 years.  And no, we didn't have fundraisers or chip-ins back then.  We did it on our own.  Now, let me tell you how.

First set of adoptions, both of us worked.  We were indeed "dinks."  We knew we wanted kids and saved a bit.  Didn't buy stuff we didn't need.  Though back then we were stupid in buying new cars versus used.  Hey, live and learn, right?  Started looking into adoption and went to an info session in Raleigh.  How in the world would we afford roughly $30K for an adoption?  How?  But then I thought to myself don't people take out loans for cars for that much?  Maybe more?  We can do this.  We can.  So, looked into loans and such.  Credit cards too.  Actually, got a loan through USAA I think.  We did not have the money though until literally the night before we were to depart.  They say God provides.  He did.  We had the money we needed to go.  The loan.  See, when people have babies they seem to prepare.  Saving up for various items (diapers come to mind) and things of that nature.  Also, I have many friends who had to pay on their baby's hospital bills for years to come.  But they did it.  On their own for their child.  Same way with adoption.  Sort of.  Granted, birth families don't have to fly across the ocean but it is thousands nonetheless.  Yet, somehow, some way, they manage to make it work.

So, first adoptions, we took out a loan and used credit cards to get Max and Irina home.  They were home 4 years before we considered another adoption.  Our companies had adoption reimbursement back then and whatever it did not cover, we paid everything else down.  When we considered adoption again, we decided to host kids from Russia.  We hosted 3 of them and ended up adopting Yana and Alex.  This adoption was by far the most expensive due to much red tape and "crazy" things that should have never have happened.  Say like Yana never being on the Russian database.  URGHH!!!!  Anyhow, costs were adding up.  We used tax money and took out a home equity loan.  Also, credit cards.  The ONLY time we use credit cards is with an adoption.  This adoption was in 2004.  Next one was 2005, then 2006.  Now, Bojan's adoption was next & he was from Serbia.  Costs were not high for that country.  We paid $13K total including airfare and a babysitter that ripped us off (don't ask!).  I honestly don't remember how we got the money for that adoption.  Oh, I know we were in the process of doing a home remodel.  So, some of the money that was going to go for that went instead to Bojan.  No wonder it took us over 4 years to get the upstairs done.  LOL.  But, you sacrifice to get your kids home. 

Next, we had Alyona and Nik.  The agency helped us secure two grants. I believe it was $6K total in grant money.  That helped.   Rest was through the retirement account.  And credit cards for various things.  We pay the credit cards down as soon as we can once home.

Now, after they came home, we waited awhile b/c truly, we thought we were done.  I mean, 7 kids, last one deaf and other one malnourished, failure to thrive, FAS and a bunch of other stuff, we needed to get a handle on this new family that went from 2 kids to 7 kids in 2.5 years.  5 adoptions in 2.5 years is expensive.  NOT going to lie.  It's outrageous!  Yet, worth every penny.  Well, started browsing some websites again (this is why Warren is determined to take away my access) and thinking.  Thinking slowly if it was possible.  Financially, how on earth could we?

Then came the Bulgarian adoptions.  3 kids.  Yikes!  2 of the kids came with a grant attached to them.  Fees were covered for Reni and Logan.  That being said, the three adoptions still cost us $26K.  We used retirement account again but in addition, I got a job.  I watched 4 toddlers.  I was a babysitter.  Two 2yo's and two 3yo's.  Same time.  Tell me that's not wanting to fund adoption?!  LOL.  Despite working,  I also had to sell things.  I wrote about it in a post called Sacrifice .  And now they are home.  Safe and sound.  ONLY reason we were short this past set of adoptions was b/c of all the crap w/ CPS.  That cost us $5K.  Crazy. 

Now, first adoption, my husband sold his truck to help bring his kids home.  Hoping one day, we'd get another truck.  Never got another truck.  Yet, got a few more kids.  My point here is we were never what adoptive families called "fully funded."  Never.  Not once. We have never had the money upfront to do any of these adoptions.  And, we never once thought fundraising would give us all that money either.  We do indeed fund raise but for the first 7 adoptions, it was strictly for orphanage donations.  The last 3 adoptions fundraising did go toward the kids though $1200 went directly to the orphanages.  I'm not sure total what we raised, maybe $4 or $5K but nowhere close to the $26K it cost for this last set of adoptions.  Could we have been better off had it been funded?  Of course.  However, we're fine.  Kids are fine.  Do we wish we had more right now?  Shoot yeh!  Doesn't everyone?  LOL.  Since we accept no government subsidies or SSI, all our medical costs are out of pocket.  We budget like crazy.  That's how we do it.  I must say, we do have great insurance though.  Yet, co pays of $30 for specialists adds up.  And let's face it, most of mine see specialists. 

Not saying there is anything wrong w/ fundraising.  I'm not.  We did it ourselves w/ fundraising too.  That's not it.  What I'm saying is I think other things need to be thought about first such as getting another job. I did this not w/ just these three adoptions but another set as well.  Part time on the other set working at Blockbuster to bring Bojan home.  Was it tough?  Yes.  But worth it.  Now, there are special circumstances where fundraising is needed for an adoption and needed quickly.  That I understand.  Shoot, wished we could have done it for Alyona and Nik.  Nik was headed for the mental institution and Alyona was just basically a set of bones.  But, it wasn't in the cards and we pressed on the best way we could.  On our own.

Do I wish we were able to have funded our last adoption?  Absolutely!  Especially now.  We're having to pay for medical appointments, diapers (unexpected), etc.  It adds up quickly.  Yet, somehow, some way, God finds a way to provide.  We've had clothes donated to us, food, services, etc.  All of it beyond appreciated.  As it stands now, we just fixed the septic.  Also fixed the A/C unit.  In addition, we need a new roof.  It can no longer wait.  Do we know where or how this is all coming from?  NO, we don't.  We chose to add these three children and we intend to make it all work.  Friendly folks help out immensely.  Our church has been greatly supportive.  And yes, we still owe on our adoptions.  And that's perfectly okay.  The kids are more than well provided for.  We do things, they have extra curricular activities, we play together, we go places, etc.  I've seen many blogs that will say something to the effect we can't go if we do not find the funds.  Very seldom is that the case.  You find a way.  Any parent finds a way to help their child and not let money get in the way.  I have yet to hear of a family not traveling b/c they did not raise all the funds they thought they needed.  I'm sure there is but it obviously does not happen that often.

Again, I did not write this to say not to fund raise.  On the contrary.  I just believe there needs to be more thought out plans when it comes to adoption.  I see many want to raise the entire amount of the adoption.  That is a lot of money.  A lot.  And last year, when we were adopting, we knew there would be the tax refund coming.  That's what I guess surprised me the most.  Seeing so many trying to raise entire amounts for fundraising knowing the money would come back.  No, you never get all of it back but this year you were going to get the majority back.  We took that into consideration when trying to fund raise for our last set of adoptions.  We sold things.  Did a towel fundraiser.  Did an apple pie fundraiser locally.  We never did a giveaway.  I think they are an awesome way to raise funds but there is some controversy in some states as to the legality of giveaways so I was a bit too nervous to try it.  Plus, I didn't have the couple hundred dollars to buy an ipad to give away. 

Finally, these are just my opinions.  We had people fund raise for us and I was eternally grateful.  We are still paying on our adoptions.  And that is okay.  they are worth it.  The kids that is.  I worked hard at a job to get them home.  It was tough taking on more responsibility of a job w/ 7 kids.  However, I knew in the end it was the right thing to do.  We are a family now above all else.  Yes, we are questioning how we will be paying for major expenses soon.  Had the adoptions been "fully funded" it would have been easier for sure.  They say though nothing good in life is ever easy.  I guess we're proof positive for that saying.  LOL.  I know this post will probably be ripped apart.  That's okay.  Great thing about America is everyone is entitled to an opinion.  This is simply my opinion on how we afforded our adoptions.  This is why I hesitated even posting something of this magnitude.  I know for a fact that there are a ton of fundraisers going on right now.  And one is not any better or more needed than another.  Everyone is trying to get their kids home.  They ALL need to come home.  No argument there.  I had a skeleton, sickly child that was in deteriorating shape.  That's why after our first trip home from Russia, we got a call 6 days later saying to pack up in a week or so.  We were going back.  At one point, we were even suggested to life flight our daughter home.  No, we didn't.  Many of these kids are in very rough shape once home. The unknown is scary. However, once home, you forget all you sacrificed financially to get them home safe and sound.  Get them healthy and happy again.  And you'd do it all over again.  Second job and all.

Phew, that was a lot.  Now, I am aware this post will most likely get some nasty comments.  That's alright.  Again, this is just my opinion.  I have many friends that fund raise and so did we.  The point I was making is before fundraising, other avenues should be tried as well and a back up plan in place before the kids come home.  Okay, I have my flame retardant suit on and body armour.  Fire away!  LOL. 


  1. No flaming here - all I can say is you're amazing! When there's a will, there's a way! This is our first adoption, but not our last. I have already decided that and poor hubby is very supportive. (kinda like Warren) I think whatever method works for your family or other families is the right method. Sometimes you just have to do what you can to bring your kiddos home. If fundraising works for you, great! If not, and you have other ways of coming up with the money like loans or credit cards, so be it. The only thing I will say is just be sure you can pay them off. Some people cannot get out of debt with credit cards. I'll admit I'm one of them so we refuse to use credit cards. We have fundraised some, used our own personal money, and used income tax return for some. It all adds up but we're at the point where we're just about ready to travel. God truly has led us down this path, and he also has taken care of us. I have enjoyed reading every one of your posts, so please keep them coming. :)

  2. thanks for sharing this and being open. What great investments, into souls.

  3. I agree that the ultimate responsibility to fund an adoption belongs to the family -- they need to do what it takes to go get their kid. However, I see benefit in including others in your adoption journey through fundraising. As Russell Moore points out in "Adopted for Life", we are not all called to adopt, but God has a heart for orphans and we can all be involved in helping in some way. Fundraising for an adoption enables more families to be able to adopt by bringing others who can't adopt along on their journey! :)