Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Money & Adoption Series - Part 2

Our (Financial) Adoption Story

In adoption (mainly speaking of domestic infant or international programs from here on out) one can count on specific expenses. I can only talk about our program and nation, but our expense list featured:

Homestudy and various agency fees
Background checks/finger prints
USCIS – Federal background and approval
Placing agency fees (which we didn’t have)
Lawyer fees (which would be included in Placing Agency fees for most)
Baby home donations
Mailing and document expenses
Visa fees
Medical expenses
Travel expenses
Finalization and new document fees (ie US birth cert, passport, certificate of citizenship)

A rough estimate for our total expenses for TWO kids and 3 international trips was over $25k… really not bad, we hoped for less, but would have gladly given more! Nearly every international nation ranges for one child in the $15-40k range… with most being around $22-26k.

Tiny Side Note:
Please… please never ask an adoptive parent, “How much did they cost?”  People don’t cost something, that is unless you are a slave trader, but I haven’t yet met an adoptive parent who worked in that profession. As you see above, NONE of the money is “for” the child… it is the legal and immigration process that costs something.

Here is our story of how we (financially) got our kids home…

Initially we committed to personally funding our home study, federal approval and the initial “retainer” for our lawyer (exactly the same as an agency would have done had we used one). We had nearly exactly that amount in savings, minus the retainer for our second child. We felt like doing this was important for us and also to approach people who we might ask to help us… to show our earnestness in moving forward… our “earnest money” as it is often put. As I shared previously we have a unique situation in life, we support raise our salary and work in a missionary like lifestyle. Asking others for money to do that is one thing, asking them for more was entirely different thing. We prayed a lot about what God would have us do… and how to best respect, show thanks and also understanding to our current supporters. We were unsure for some time, but wanted to “get as far” as we could on our own.

After we finished our homestudy, federal approval and initial lawyer fees we still had some where in the ballpark of $10k to $13k we knew we’d still have to pay for. This was our second half of our lawyer fees, our full travel expenses (which would include 3 full round trips, lodging for 9 weeks, food, driver, and various fees), medical evals, Visas, and finalization in the US. It was scary to look at our excel spread sheet and see those things still blank and know full well that they would have a number needing to be paid very soon!

As stated we are not new to living off of the goodness of provision of others, and a HUGE element of that is making a concerted effort to live IN one’s means and to make the most of what you are graciously given… and that requires giving up, sacrifice and also creativity. I knew I’d need to work for this too, even if that meant working at giving things up or at using what we had, when we were given it to its full potential.

What we intended to do was NOT ask for help (I’ll speak about some “models of fundraising” later,) but for various reasons we didn’t want or feel it was right to straight up ask people to help us, like we do for our ministry. So, I intended on selling products that people might have use of and making money via that means.

It was a great idea… it works for many, but… it didn’t work for us.

I don’t know if I am just a really bad sales person… yep.
Or if what I was selling wasn’t of interest… nope.

I probably made a total of 6 or so hundred dollars… which was good, it paid for a bit more than 1 of our children’s visas… (I like to look at it concretely).

But what I did see that “profited” us was that as we simply shared our joy and excitement about our new children… that excitement lit something in specific people and they were led to share of their money (or of what God provides them) with us, to bring our children home! 

We were needing money for our second child’s “retainer” (with our lawyer) and it was several thousand dollars, we didn't have it. Out of the blue some friends who we knew in college emailed and said they had some extra money that month and wanted to share it with us. Another former staff person had siblings who came to their family via fostercare and now they lived in a nation where adoption is impossible, so they gave us a thousand dollars. One day I got an envelop with 2 hundred dollars and no return address, at Valentines day with a pink construction paper note sharing the love. One time 4 sweet boys gathered up all their vacation trip spending money and gave it to us (they snuck it into our can of change our kids were saving up to hopefully buy their brother's plane ticket home, I think because they knew we'd never except it from their hands). Others gave in regular amounts over the course of months, faithfully. Some just handed us a twenty dollar bill and said, “I know it isn’t much but I don’t need it and I know it might help…” Oh, it did! It all did.

Other friends said, “I can’t give you a large amount, but we could loan it to you at no interest…” What a loving and gracious offer… one we are blessed to receive and also thankful we didn’t need to use.

It came in small (or at times big) spurts, always right before it was needed.
After some time I started thinking of these provisions as “manna”… the food that was provided to the Israelites on their journey, only when they needed it, and only enough to provide for that day’s need.

God is faithful, sufficient and always right on time!
I am crying as I type this… the sweetness and genourousity of God and His people are a delight to receive. It makes me giddy and humble all at the same time!

Near the end, when we knew we’d soon hear about a court date, we were coming down to “the wire” and had to prepare to pay for our trip/s. We resigned ourselves to the fact we’d have to pull a large portion of our investments/retirement out or say yes to some of those offers of a loan. It had always been something we knew God might require of us, and we were committed to doing it, if that is what needed to be done!

One day I asked in prayer, “God is this what you want? We will do it, just show us that there are no other options”.

Soon after we heard from a small local congregation (not even our own) who meets in homes... they wanted to help a local family bring home a child and they would rally around us!

Sure enough, they did. They personally paid for our first trip and then helped us raise enough money for our additional trip through a local run “River Run for Orphans”… we were humbled… so very humbled! They worked and gave along side us at the time we needed them most. It was confirmation of the greater Body of Christ!!! I have never been so thankful and humble as I was when they said, "We are glad you shared your story so passionately, but we already decided a while ago to help you, here is $4000 dollars!" They single handedly really "got our kids home." 

Once we got home we picked up the baton again and have paid for all the finalization, again, because we were able.

How is this About Fundraising?

I know our story isn’t so much about fundraising as it is about God’s great provision. I’ve struggled to know how to help others through our story, because of this. We know how to fundraise, but that wasn’t the means in which we were able to get the funds we needed. I think God did this to show us what He impressed upon us WAS true in a very real way that made us have to rely on Him alone. Our fundraising didn’t work, so HE and His people had to!

I also think that we had some sweet confirmation that God wouldn’t ask us to do something He wouldn’t help us with! He could have helped us by making our sales profitable. He could have just kept people sending us money. He could have helped us get a grant or helped us in other ways.

A sweet friend recently wrote me saying, “Marci, just last night my husband and I were talking about how we never 'should have' been able to afford our adoption. It would never work out on paper, but the Lord provided!”

That is how it was for us too… on paper it didn’t make sense, but it worked out. I know a lot of you are saying/thinking, “That is ok for you, but I can’t live like that…”

I get it, I know it is hard. If we did it again I know I’d have JUST as much anxiety in the money aspect, even having experienced some pretty amazing things that we have. That is our propensity, isn’t it? I just want to challenge you, “Do you believe in a God who literally owns it all and has NO limits of resources available to Him? Do you know how HE views money? And if you do, how does that change how you think and how you act towards it?”

We’ll talk about perspectives (mainly biblical ones) on money next time.

1 comment:

Sheila said...

God sent me to your blog tonight. You had responded to my post on a facebook board and i saw your blog address. I am humbled and amazed at how Jesus works through His people. He used your words to speak straight to my heart. Thank you.