Monday, January 30, 2012

Adoption...How to get started

I meet a lot of people who tell me that they have considered adopting or that they've always wanted to adopt a child. But getting started on the journey is a wee bit intimidating, so many people (who would be wonderful adoptive parents) never take the plunge. I'm no expert on adoption, but I'm pretty passionate about it and I can at least offer a few pointers based on our experience...

Road Block #1: Domestic or International?
There is a huge need for loving homes both domestically and internationally, and they both have their pros & cons. In some ways, it's a matter of what grabs your heart more and what opportunity is knocking at your door. If your church has a ministry to foster children or crisis pregnancy centers and there's already a lot of information and opportunity for you there, then maybe you should follow that route. If your family is originally from another country and you have a heart for the orphans of that country, pursue it! If you went on an international trip and you just can't shake the faces of those people from your mind, maybe that's your answer. There is no right or wrong to this question.

Road Block #2: Deciding on an adoption agency
There are a TON of options when it comes to adoption agencies and it can be really overwhelming to know which one to go with. Every once in a while you'll hear a horror story of an agency that was doing something awful like embezzling money or kidnapping children to adopt, and it freaks everyone out. (Rightly so!) But, don't lose heart because there are some awesome agencies out there as well.

I recommend requesting an info packet from about 5 agencies and narrow it down from there. If you have friends who have adopted, ask about what agency they used and whether or not they would recommend them.

Our agency was America World Adoption. They are a Christian adoption agency based out of the Washington D.C. area and I would recommend them a thousand times over. We had a wonderful experience.

Road Block #3: It's so flippin' expensive!
Adoption can be very expensive, especially international adoption. Did you know (at least in California), you can adopt a child through the "Foster-Adopt" system and not have to pay for anything but the training? There are literally THOUSANDS of children (babies-18 year olds) in the foster system right now who need homes. Some of these kids are adoptable, some are trying to be reconnected with their own families, but they all need a home. THOUSANDS of kids in Santa Clara county alone are living in Group Homes where social workers rotate working shifts and provide for their basic needs like food, shelter and clothing. But these kids don't just need social workers to feed them, they need parents to love and nurture them.

Our total adoption expenses ended up being right around $34K. That's a lot of money. We thought it was going to be more like $20K (not sure how we got that number in our head) but we were surprised by how much everything cost when it was said and done. You know what else we were surprised by? How God provided for EVERY. SINGLE. DIME.

Did we have $34K in our savings account when we began that journey? Not even close. But we had some, and we knew God had called us to adopt, so we stepped out in faith.

A few ideas:

  1. Design an adoption T-Shirt and sell it for any donation of $25 or more. If you have a blog, put a button on your sidebar to buy a t-shirt that way. Post it on Facebook. 
  2. Host a garage sale and ask all your friends to contribute stuff (and help you the day of the sale).
  3. Sell other stuff: reusable grocery bags, jewelry, magnets, art, etc...
  4. Apply for adoption grants.
  5. Write a letter to all of your friends and family asking them to help you bring your child home by making a financial contribution!
  6. If someone throws a baby shower for you, ask them to put on the invitation "In lieu of gifts, the ________ family would greatly appreciate a donation to help offset adoption expenses." 

Another HUGE benefit is the Adoption Tax Refund which allows you to receive a refund of up to about $13K from the IRS for adoption related expenses.

One of the greatest regrets of my life...
Last year Andy was on a mission trip in Ethiopia with a group of men. One of the men was in his 60s and he said to Andy, "When my wife & I were younger, we thought about adopting a child, but time passed and we just never pursued it. Then it got to the point that we kinda missed our window. Not adopting a child is one of the greatest regrets of my life."

Don't miss your window. If God is prompting your heart toward adoption, don't miss it! Trust Him and obey.

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