November 16, 2014

How to afford an international adoption: Part 1

In honor of November being National Adoption Month, I decided it would be fitting to finally put together a series of posts that I've been thinking about for a long time. I don't think it's any secret that adoption is expensive or that the perceived cost is a hinderance to many families who are interested in adoption, and I certainly do not claim to have all the answers. But we, and a great many other families have managed to make it work, so I'll share my two cents anyway.

First and foremost:
Affording an adoption is not all about the money.

I realize that there are many people who successfully adopt who are not Christians. But in my experience, a very significant number of them are. And they aren't just ones who label themselves as "Christian" for lack of a better choice, they're ones who are adopting because that's what the Lord has called them to and they're prayerfully and intentionally following Him. This was the case for us, and this is why we were able to afford our adoption.

Meili's finding ad from the Chinese newspaper (and Google's translation, which is fairly accurate, on the right)
We knew for a long time that adopting was something the Lord wanted to do (read HERE to learn more about that). We also had no idea how on earth we would ever afford that, but trusted that if it was something we were supposed to do, our God was big enough to find a way to make it happen. Honestly, I think almost every Christian adoptive family starts out this way. I only know of a handful who have been blessed with such abundant resources that they can pay for the whole thing upfront. Several months ago, someone posted a question on one (of the many) adoption forums I follow. It went something like this:

"We really believe God is calling us to start this adoption now. We have a little bit of money to start with but absolutely nowhere near enough to finish. Looking for advice from those who've been there - what should we do?"

It was amazing to watch the answers pour in. Time after time after time, the answer was the same. No one started with enough. Most people started with hardly anything. They trusted God and took it one day at a time. "We prayed and God provided a __________" - a grant, an anonymous donor, a raise at work, a fee reduction, an unexpected tax return, etc.

Relying on God to provide in such a huge way is sort of like sky diving. It's a crazy, amazing, nerve-wracking adventure where you put total faith in something other than yourself. You risk it all clinging to the hope that that parachute is going to open, that God is going to meet those needs. And when He does, it's so absolutely amazing, that you just can't do anything but give him the glory. Our loving and gracious Father did this for us time and time again (you can read about two times HERE and HERE). Not that we didn't need a few reminders along the way. We humans are so fickle - or at least I am - we can go from fully trusting to mostly doubting in a manner of minutes. But He even had that covered. In June of 2012 I was struggling with how it was all going to work. That Sunday our pastor gave a sermon titled "God Equips." The main point he drove home that day?
"What God calls us to do, he equips us to accomplish."

It was the reminder we needed. You see, when we started journey, we had nothing set aside for an adoption. Nothing. Yes, we had some savings, and we figured we would benefit from the adoption tax credit, but we had absolutely zero funds solely available for adoption. Not only that, but as we were praying about if this really was the right time to start, I felt the Lord asking me to trust him even more. (Obviously He knows I have control issues and wasn't going to let me get away with thinking I had anything to do with this) He was asking us to not only start the process with nothing, but never to ask for anything.

And so we didn't. Not once. Now, we did have fundraisers - we had a garage sale and clearly stated all proceeds would go toward our adoption. Jon offered photo sessions for this same purpose, but we never outright said, "please donate to this cause." There were people who did, because they wanted to, but never because we asked.  When we had a payment due, the money was always there. Sometimes, that payment took our fund within a dollar or two of zero. But it was always there. We joked that our adoption fund was like loaves and fish - it just kept coming and we couldn't figure how it worked, but it always did.

I realize it doesn't always work exactly this way for every single Christian adoptive family. Everyone's story is different. Ours involved me finally getting into a place of total surrender and reliance on the Father; something I struggle with DAILY. He was setting me up for the future when I would (and will) doubt, so that He can point me back to that time and say "Remember how I provided for you then? Surely, you can trust me now."

This is why the most important part of affording an adoption is not saving or scrimping, or investing or giving in a certain way (though that is important -see Part 2, coming soon!). The most important thing, is following the leading of the Holy Spirit with a life that is fully committed to Jesus Christ and the will of the our heavenly Father.


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