Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Considering international adoption

Maybe you have been moved to adopt and you are wondering where to start. I've been reflecting back on our journey so far and have a few suggestions I would make for anyone contemplating international adoption.

1. Sponsor a child.
This may seem like a strange place to start but I'm glad we did this. We didn't feel like we were ready financially to adopt but we wanted to do something.  Sponsoring a child through World Vision was a great way to talk to our kids about children in financial need around the world.  We started praying and caring for this little girl in Ethiopia and she became part of our family.  There are great organizations like Compassion, World Vision, and Show Hope and they all seem to do an amazing job to change the lives of children in some of the neediest places.

2. Get debt free and have a zero based budget.
There would be no way we could have gotten where we are financially in this adoption if we hadn't done this step.  We took Financial Peace University at our church from Dave Ramsey's organization.  In 18 months, we paid off $39,000 and now the only debt we have is our mortgage.  We have a zero based budget where we plan every dollar before the month begins.  We can be intentional about where our money is going and make a plan.

3. Pray pray pray
Pray for wisdom and direction and learn all you can about orphans.  This is probably the most important step.  Make sure you and your spouse are in the same place emotionally and spiritually.

4. Save at least $5000-$7000
That seems insignificant in a process that may end up costing nearly $40,000 but its a great place to start.  It is enough with our agency to pay for the 1st installment of the agency fees and a home study. Then make a plan.  Plan how much you are able to contribute each month (including how much you can cut from other places), how much you can find quickly (savings, bonuses, extra paychecks, tax returns), and how much you will need to raise in addition to what you can contribute.

5. Make a fundraising plan
Start buy setting up a fundraising website like we have at AdoptTogether.  You need to have a completed home study before it will become active. Then, you can decide what other fundraising options you want to consider. For us, that meant selling shirts, having a yard sale, a pancake breakfast and selling other crafts.  Set up a blog and make a plan for how you are going to share your story on social media.

6. Explore adoption grants
There are a lot of grants out there and they can go a long way in helping families adopt.  Many of them only apply to families under a certain income, faith or location.  We have currently applied for four that we qualified for.  Most of them require you to have a completed home study and many of them can be quite lengthy to complete, but even if just one comes through it would be worth all that effort.

7. Go to an informational seminar or do a webinar
Information is power and hearing other people's stories can really answer a lot of your questions.  We went to a seminar from our agency and it was so key in us feeling right about this and moving forward. It can also just give you an overall feel of an agency and know if it is the right one for your family. Talk to as many adoptive families as you can find and don't be afraid to ask questions.

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