Monday, May 7, 2012

$howing Up Big Time Part II (Adoption Finances)

In our family devotional time we’ve been talking about 2 Corinthians 5:7 ~ We live by faith, not by sight. Oftentimes people only trust in what they can SEE and FEEL and TOUCH. Afterall, that seems to make the most sense. But over and over in the Bible we see that God teaches His followers not to rely on those principles.

So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out….I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark – you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them (Genesis 6:13-14, 17-19, 21).

Noah didn’t get to SEE the flood coming when God told him to start building. He didn’t get to look up in the sky and see a bunch of nets holding back rain and the ‘floodgates of the heavens’ until the opportune time. He didn’t get to look down to a glass ground to observe the waters rushing around impatiently, just waiting to be propelled from ‘the springs of the great deep’. Yet, one verse later after God gave Noah the instructions we are told: Noah did everything just as God commanded him (Genesis 6:22). For 120 years Noah walked in faith as he constructed the ark, and trusted God, even when he could not SEE any evidence of the ticking time bomb that God said would be coming. All he had was God’s word.

Then there is the story of Abraham and Sarah. Abram said, “O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Elizer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir (Genesis 15:2-3).” For years this couple had remained childless, and now they were too elderly and old to physically be able to have a child. And yet, God was ready to proclaim that the impossible would happen…

Then the word of the Lord came to him [Abraham]: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:4-6).

Then, a few chapters later, after a string of doubts which produced Abram and his wife Sarai to take God’s promise and matters into their own hands, God reminded them with more details of how this son would come about….

God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her… Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety (Genesis 17: 15-17)?”

Then the Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?” Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son (Genesis 18:10-14).”

Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him as God commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him (Genesis 21:1-5).

I get chills every time I read that story. Even amidst their doubts, God was teaching Abraham and Sarah to trust Him at His word, even when it seemed that what He was promising was impossible.

Elsewhere in my Bible I read the words of Jesus as He tells me to trust in a bigger thing unseen to my eye – HEAVEN: Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:1-6).”

I am confident that I will spend eternity with Christ in heaven when I die. I’ve never gotten to SEE heaven – not even a teeny tiny glimpse. I can’t even fly in an airplane and hope to TOUCH heaven. But I know Jesus doesn’t lie. And so, with confidence I talk with my kids day after day about heaven. We wonder if there will be cake at the big banquet that God will have for us, we can’t fathom what it will be like to be in a place with no sadness and no sin, and it blows us away to ponder that there will be no need for the sun, because God Himself will be the only light that the Holy City needs. Jayla will tell anyone and everyone, “Huxley is not our home. Our home is in heaven.” And though we haven’t ever seen it with our eye, we take God at His word when He tells us in the Bible that ‘heaven is for real’.

So what do all those stories have to do with adoption finances? Everything. It is the same principle. Live by faith, not by sight. I’ve seen these examples, and many, many more in scripture, of people trusting God when it seems He was telling them something impossible was going to happen. Because of that, in my mind, it was NOT indeed ‘crazy’ to trust in God to provide a way for us to complete the task of adoption that He had led us to. In fact, crazier things have happened: a floating zoo that escaped God’s wrath, white-haired and wrinkled old people having a newborn baby, and a Kingdom made of gold and pearls - built in the sky - where my inheritance and a room that my King has already prepared for me awaits. Bringing us $30,000 out of nowhere is a piece of cake compared to all of these things.

But I will follow that with a warning. If you live by faith when it comes to adoption finances many will call you a fool, saying that with money it is a different story – you need to save, prepare, be smart, and not venture into an adoption if you don’t know exactly how you are going to pay for it. But here is the difference: orphan care is at the very heart of God. It is His will that His church would Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow (Isaiah 1:17). and Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked (Psalm 82:3-4). and Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? (Isaiah 58:6-9) From scripture it is SO CRYSTAL CLEAR that Christ-followers are to be the ones reaching out to the poor and the needy, and one way to do that is adoption. Would I tell you to trust in faith that God would provide $30,000 for you to go and finish your basement? Or buy a boat? Or take a lavish vacation? Absolutely not, because God doesn’t mention those things in almost two thousand verses like he does with the topics of poverty, justice, and oppression. Rather we read, Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (James 1:27). After reading that, how could one argue that this is not God’s heart? An adoption is not a vain act, and how interesting that orphan care is put in the same verse as watching out that we don’t set our hearts on the pollutions of this world – many that come by way of money. Adoption isn’t something that you are partaking in to make your life better or more comfortable or more cushiony. That is why this financial endeavor is different than any other. That is why I believe if God has sparked your heart to adopt, He will provide a way financially for you to do it, but He may ask you to take the step of faith FIRST before He reveals His financial plan to you.

Because I enjoy freaking people out by saying that, I thought it would be even more of a thrill to keep track of the details on every single transaction that has happened in our adoption fund since I opened it last July. I did this because we had to bank on God coming through for us - to pay for this adoption - and when He did, I wanted to have record of how He did it. :) So, what follows is the evidence of what I’ve been telling you all along. At first glance it may look like a lot of numbers to read through, but to our family, these numbers perfectly show the hand of an Almighty God who brought unexpected and unplanned money to us in many different ways. In fact, there were only two deposits out of them all in which we transferred money from Jake’s regular paycheck into our adoption fund, and one transaction in which we used money from our regular checking account to pay fees. Everything else came from sources outside of Jake’s normal income that we had no idea would be coming when we signed up to adopt – things like speaking engagements, Jake’s individual training side-business, income tax refunds, and of course the MANY, MANY donations from friends and family. If you are wondering how on earth you would ever pay for an adoption, I encourage you to bring what you have, and trust God to do immeasurably more than all you can ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within you (Ephesians 3:20)….

July 2011 Deposits
$26.50 ~ Money from items I sold on my grandma’s garage sale
$150 ~ Unexpected financial gift from friends (this gift was intended to go towards groceries, but at the same time we had received a large grocery gift card from someone else, so we put this gift into our adoption savings)
$50 ~ Unexpected financial gift from friends (same reason as above)
$30 ~ Money gift for my birthday
$63.38 ~ Unexpected membership reward check from Huxley Communications (our internet company)

End of July balance: $319.88

*NOTE: This $319.88 was all that we had when we signed up to adopt at the end of August. Upon signing up, we had to send in our application fee which was $300, leaving us $19.88 in our adoption fund. We weren’t sure how we were going to pay for the next fees that would be due soon.

August 2011 Deposits
NONE

August 2011 Debits
-$300 ~ Application fee to Adoption Advocates International

End of August Balance: $19.88

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September 2011 Deposits
$50 ~ Sold Ghanaian necklace

September 2011 Debits
-$30.50 ~ Criminal History Record Checks for homestudy (through Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation)

End of September balance: $39.38

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October 2011 Deposits
$400 ~ Piece of Jake’s paycheck saved from last month - September
$20 ~ Unexpected refund from McFarland Clinic (overpayed co-pay)
$20 ~ Money from items I sold on my grandma’s garage sale
$30 ~ Sold Ghanaian necklace
$10 ~ Cash my grandma had given me for lunch to take the kids to McDonalds :)
$2500 ~ Donation towards our adoption from Living Word Fellowship Church in Knoxville (This is a church that Jake has spoken at a few times. The pastor has a son in Jake’s Kingdom Hoops program, and his church regularly gives to our Ghana projects. When Jake spoke at the church to update them on our Ghana projects, he mentioned our adoption and the money that we needed to come up with. Days later we had received this donation in the mail that was to go to our personal adoption fund!)
$3000 ~ Portion of 2010 Tax refund (IT FINALLY CAME after months of delays!!!!)
$2100 ~ Jake’s newly started individual training sessions -income from September & October (These training sessions have been a HUGE way in which God has provided for our adoption. Jake literally thought to start doing these at the start of the fall as a side-business - he had no idea how big of a hit they would be, but God knew!)
$900 ~ Piece of Jake’s paycheck saved from this month - October

October 2011 Debits
-$3000 ~ Agency processing fee to Adoption Advocates International
-$30 ~ Background checks on our Rosebud students (since they lived in our household at the time of our homestudy)

(For those keeping track of the adoption costs, we also paid $1650 in homestudy fees and pre-pay of post-placement reports during this month, however we paid that out of our regular checking account so it doesn’t figure into the below balance.)

End of October balance: $5989.38

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November 2011 Deposits
$100 ~ Unexpected financial gift from family in Kingdom Hoops program
$225 ~ Donation towards our adoption from church member of Living Word Fellowship Church in Knoxville

November 2011 Debits
-$77.07 ~ Order of certified originals birth/marriage certificates for homestudy
-$890 ~ Submission of I-600A form and biometrics appointment fees to U.S. Department of Homeland Security

End of November balance: $5347.31

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December 2011 Deposits
$100 ~ Donation towards our adoption from friends of a family in Kingdom Hoops program
$75 ~ Donation towards our adoption from friends from our church – Cornerstone Church of Ames
$225 ~ Christmas present donations for our adoption from family members
$200 ~ Unexpected financial Christmas gift from family in Kingdom Hoops program
$500 ~ Jake’s speaking engagement at Morningside Lutheran Church men’s group

December 2011 Debits
-$30 ~ Checking account service charge (not adoption related)

End of December balance: $6417.31

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January 2012 Deposits
$1000 ~ Jake’s individual training sessions – income from December
$60 ~ For Christmas JJ had gotten the same XBOX game from two different people as a gift. We took one back and received cash for it and rather than buying another game he wanted to give the money to our adoption fund. :)
$50 ~ Donation towards our adoption from a family in Kingdom Hoops program
$670 ~ Friends of ours requested that instead of their family buying them Christmas gifts that they give them money to gift to our adoption fund!

January 2012 Debits
None

End of January balance: $8197.31

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February 2012 Deposits
$50 ~ My speaking engagement with a Titus 2 Women’s group at a church in Ankeny
$200 ~ Donation towards our adoption from friends
$325 ~ Proceeds from Valentines ‘Take Heart’ photo sessions held on our behalf by local photographer
$1000 ~ Jake’s individual training sessions – income from January/February

February 2012 Debits
-$23.50 ~ Ordered checks for account (non-adoption related)
-$2000 ~ First portion of Ghana program fee due with child match – paid to our agency
-$5000 ~ Second portion of Ghana program fee due before court – paid to our agency
-$300 ~ Foster care fees for March for our girls ($150 per child) – paid to our agency

End of February balance: $2448.81

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March 2012 Deposits
$150 ~ Jake speaking engagement at Solon School
$250 ~ Donation towards our adoption from family member
$31 ~ Returned cans/bottles
$100 ~ Donation towards our adoption from family member
$100 ~ Donation towards our adoption from a friend
$1100 ~ Donation towards our adoption from friends

March 2012 Debits
-$300 ~ Foster care fees for April for our girls ($150 per child) – paid to our agency

End of March balance: $3879.81

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April 2012 Deposits
$750 ~ Jake’s individual training sessions – income from March
$100 ~ Donation towards our adoption from a friend
$5000 ~ Portion of 2011 Tax Refund

April 2012 Debits
-$108 ~ Pre-pay gas mileage for case worker who will do our post-placement reports
-$300 ~ Foster care fees for May for our girls ($150 per child) – paid to our agency

End of April balance: $9321.81

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That brings us to what we have left to pay. Right now we are waiting for a court date for our adoption case. After court we then wait on the official court documents; once we have those in hand we can submit our I-600 form. With Ghana adoption you can either ‘file’ the I-600 form in the U.S. or in Ghana. With Justice’s adoption we filed it in the U.S. and waited a few months for our approval. This time around we plan on Jake flying to Ghana for a quick trip to file the I-600 there. It tends to be a shorter wait time for approval if you file the I-600 in Ghana – but you just never know. So, here are a few costs coming up in regards to that:

-Jake’s flight ticket to ‘fly and file’: prices range depending on time of year, but will probably be around $1500-$1800.

-The final portion of our Ghana program fee to our agency will be due upon I-600 approval (the total amount for the program fee depends on how many children you are adopting, their ages, whether or not they are special needs, and whether or not they are siblings). The total amount for our program fee is $16,000 of which we’ve already paid $7000. So the balance we will pay upon I-600 approval is $9000. And just take a look at the current balance in our account as of the end of April……SO COOL!!!!!!!!!!!! We already have the money to pay this last big chunk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HOOO-RAH!

-We will pay $300 in foster care fees per month for our girls until they come home. Most likely we will pay those at least for June, July & August – maybe more depending on our approval time. So that is likely to be at least $900 in foster care fees.

-Once we have I-600 approval then our power of attorney starts working on getting our girls’ visas (this is the step in which we had all the delays with Justice’s adoption). The visa fee is $304 per child. So for us that will be $608.

-After our girls receive their visas, we will then purchase the plane tickets to go and bring our girls home! This is mainly what our church’s adoption grant that we’ve been approved for will go towards (we will use what is left over from the grant for the other remaining fees – foster care fees, visa fees, etc). For those of you keeping track of all the expenses, plane tickets for Jake and I will probably be a little over $3000 total, and then the one-way tickets for the girls will be about $1000 each or less. So a total of around $5000.

So, AMAZINGLY, the two biggest chunks we have left to pay ($9000 for the rest of our program fee, and $5000 for our travel home costs) are seriously already accounted for. Unreal. Thank you Jesus.

We can now also count on the extra money Jake brings in each month from his individual trainings to cover everything else – like Jake’s flight to file the I-600 in Ghana and also some of the preparatory items like bunk beds. :)

Therefore, my friends, basically what I am trying to say is that it is now an appropriate time to let out a WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Yes, you can believe your eyes. This adoption is paid for.

The world’s way of pursuing riches is grasping and hoarding. You attain My riches by letting go and giving. The more you give yourself to Me and My ways, the more I fill you with inexpressible, heavenly joy.  Relax in the knowledge that the One who controls your life is totally trustworthy.  Come to Me with confident expectation.  There is nothing you need that I cannot provide. ~ Jesus Calling ~

9 comments:

Lori said...

Amen and Amen. I've seen God's hand at work when I open my hand to give. My trip was funded by my giving and God's bounty overflowing as well. Hallelujah that in God's account $100 = $1000! We've seen in and proclaim the work of His mighty hand.

Jen said...

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE how God has come through. May many people be inspired and convicted to trust God to provide!!

Barb said...

Thanks for sharing! I worried so much more about money before I spent thousands adopting. God really does provide and we are looking into adopting from Africa soon and that is after adopting 2 back to back so of course we have no money leftoever but I know it is God's plan for our family so I trust that it will work out!

Emily @ Busy Mommy said...

Hi :) I am a blogger here in Des Moines http://busy-mommy.com and a commenter left your blog link on my adoption announcement. We will be adopting from Ghana or Uganda (but probably Ghana based on what we've heard lately). We just started the process and have our first homestudy the beginning of June.

I am bookmarking your blog so I can read through your all of your past blog posts! Like you, the financial part will put a major stress on us, but this post has helped me realize that God will provide someway, somehow!

It's nice to find another mom nearby going through the same process!

-Emily

Emily @ Busy Mommy said...

And now as I read through your blog I realize your husband might know my husband :) As well as my little brother who plays basketball! Small world!

Barb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Barb said...

I would love to talk to either or both of you Janel and Emily. I live near you both and we are looking into adopting from Uganda or Ghana in the near future!

MatthewandJennifer Pitkin said...

WOW!

Shonya said...

:) I love watching God show off! Thank you for sharing and glorifying Him. May more of us be encouraged to step out in faith.