Tuesday, November 9, 2010

More Thoughts on Adoption Finances

I’ve blogged once before about adoption finances regarding the details of our own personal story and how our adoption was financed (click here to read). However, I wanted to touch on this subject again, because finances are such a HUGE ‘paralyzer’ in considering adoption. At the adoption awareness event on Sunday this subject came up again and again with many of the attendees that I was able to chat with. It seems that there are MANY couples out there who are completely emotionally ready to adopt. They’ve considered the effects that adoption will have on their family, lifestyle, and future and are willing to forfeit their own comfort in order to follow what Jesus has placed in their heart. Many times a husband or a wife even has a little spot already carved out in their heart for their adopted child somewhere out there in the world. BUT…..when they look at the monetary figures that go along with adoption, and stare back at their own income/living expenses, on paper it just doesn’t make sense how it could happen. An excel spreadsheet doesn’t lie. Sometimes it just doesn’t look possible. I wanted to include an excerpt on this exact topic from that book I am always mentioning “Adopted for Life” by Russell D. Moore. After the excerpt I will conclude with a few more thoughts of my own.

(excerpt from pages 135-136)
Can you put a baby on Visa or Mastercard? How can you afford to adopt when it’s so expensive? This is often one of the first questions I’m asked by couples interested in adoption. Can we afford it? Is adoption something only economically affluent people can pull off? Will this process bankrupt us for a generation or more?

First of all, yes, adoption is expensive. Some adoptions can be very expensive. But let’s put the cost in perspective. Have you ever been to a parenting seminar where an expert starts talking about money? Have you heard these experts rattle off the figure of what it takes to raise a child from birth to 18? It sounds daunting, doesn’t it? When you hear a figure like that, you don’t think of anything else on which you could ever spend that amount of cash. It sounds like something only a hyper-wealthy entrepreneur could afford. But look around. There are parents everywhere. They’re not Rockefellers or Hiltons. They’re not all tycoons or heiresses. Garbage collectors have children, as do discount store shelf-stockers and coffee shop clerks and people in every other occupation you can imagine. Child-rearing itself is expensive, but all kinds of people do it – because it’s a priority, and families adjust their internal economies to fit.

The same is true with adoption. When you hear the cost of an adoption – and the costs differ wildly depending on the kind of adoption, where it is, and so forth – you’ll be tempted to despair. That money, though, is a final figure, with everything accounted for, in most cases. The money isn’t rung up on a cash register at the end as someone scans your baby’s leg across an electronic reader. The cost is dribbled out a little bit at a time across the entire process – an attorney’s fee here, an agency’s fee there, an airline ticket here, a birth mother’s hospital bill there, and so forth….

The main reason I wanted to share that excerpt is to highlight the mindset of thinking of the adoption cost in small chunks….instead of just staring at the final, daunting figure. This mindset, combined with what I shared in my previous post about trusting God to provide for you if He has clearly led you to start the adoption process could be powerful. With these two things combined, you could essentially gain the mindset of depending on God each step of the way instead of focusing so much on the end.

I know it is common language for a Christian to say ‘God will provide’, but the truth is, that I have example after example of God doing just that….providing the financial means for families to adopt, even when it looks merely impossible from the get go. The author of the above excerpt gives his own awesome testimony of how God came through for he and his wife in this exact area of finances. He starts off the story by saying “When Maria and I started the adoption process, we had no money. I was a doctoral student, working as a part-time research assistant, and my wife was a low-paid office secretary……and yet, God was, it seemed, leading us to do something that would cost possibly more than the two of us combined made in a year….” and he goes on to share the cool way that God came through. And that’s just it, when you adopt, the entire process forces you to FULLY rely on God for your every need….from the beginning, much of your faith WILL BE TESTED in the area of finances. There are not many other ways in the life of a typical American Christian in which we are forced to completely have to rely on God to provide. I am talking the fullness of the definition of faith: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). This is one of those times when it is scary and may even seem irrational, but you must go ALL IN, which is only possible if you trust and believe that God is going to come through. Please hear me loud and clear, I am not advocating for someone deeply in debt with credit cards or loans or whatever to go more into debt by beginning an adoption. With that sort of situation it is likely that you need to begin getting your finances in order first. What I am saying though, is don't let your finances become an excuse for not obeying if God has clearly led your hearts to start an adoption. I am telling you that when I first looked up the cost of international adoption I quickly closed out of the internet and said to myself It’s totally impossible. We can’t do it. At least I looked into it. But there is no way. Lucky for me, God kept bugging me and bugging me and bugging me about adoption. And what started as us worrying about money, ended in us understanding that most of our fears centered around the idea of losing the security we had because of our money….not necessarily losing the actual amounts from our savings. I am so glad God kept bugging me. I cannot believe we almost missed out on ALL of this. God made the world and everything in it. He is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples build by hands. He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He himself gives all men life and breath and everything else (Acts 17:24-25). He’s bigger than a chunk of money.

Here’s another cool story that just happened to some of my friends regarding God providing for them in the area of adoption finances. Click here to read.

I should also recognize too that there are some individuals who are just not at all in a position in which they can personally adopt a child at this point, but still would like to obey Jesus’ command to care for the orphans. If that is you, then I urge you to consider donating monetarily to a family who is adopting, just like what happened to my friend above. You have no idea how $100, $200, $300….$1000 etc. etc. could be a COMPLETE answer to prayer for an adoptive family in process. Remember, keep the mindset of the amount due in chunks of money. Maybe their next chunk due is $2000 for a court fee. Imagine you donating $500 of that to them! WOW, that would be a HUGE blessing that God could use you for!!!!! If you would like to donate to an adoption and don’t know of any families adopting then email me, and I can hook you up with some. You can also consider donating to the James 1:27 Foundation (www.james127foundationadopt.org) which I just learned about at the event on Sunday. This is a non-profit organization that gives adoption grants to Christian families residing in the state of Iowa. The grants given are anywhere from $1000 to $3000.

And just one last thought to mention….an inspiring little tidbit along the lines of what I’ve been talking about:

On the despairing shores of the Red Sea, the Israelites couldn’t see what was in the distance. They had no binoculars that could view Canaan or even the opposite shore. But the Lord gave them a simple plan: tell the children of Israel to go forward (Exodus 14:15). The nineteenth-century expositor C.H. Mackintosh believed the Red Sea did not divide throughout all at once, but opened progressively as Israel moved forward, so that they needed to trust God for each fresh step. Mackintosh wrote, “God never gives guidance for two steps at a time. I must take one step, and then I get light for the next. This keeps the heart in abiding dependence upon God.” ~The Red Sea Rules by Robert J. Morgan~


the crawfords said...

love this! i feel encouraged by this!

Jen said...

SWEET post, Janel!

Matthew & Jennifer Pitkin said...

I appreciate this post, Janel. It is very encouraging, but a bit bittersweet for us. You are blessed to attend a church and live in a town where an "adoption culture" is taking hold of Christians' hearts. We just don't live in that kind of community or have that kind of church available. We are trying to raise awareness, but there is no way anyone out of the blue would listen to a whisper from God. We are trusting! Definitely trusting! And praying, praying, praying. We are carving the path for our church and it's daunting at times. Thanks for the encouragement.

Sarah said...

Great post, Janel! And, thanks for the shout out. Thank you for making the point that the cost is spread out over the entire adoption process - I'll have to add that to my next speaking engagement.