Monday, March 18, 2013

Laying It Bare

The one question, or comment you get used to when you adopt is about money. " doesn't that cost a lot?" " how much is it?" " we always wanted to adopt, but could never afford it." " I wish we could adopt, but it costs so much!" We were even asked once, as was a friend of ours, " How much did she cost?" Really?!? I simply said she was and is priceless.


But, back to the matter at hand. Adoption is expensive. Every adoption is different. Especially with International adoption, because you have to also pay to travel one or more times to the country in which you are adopting, and travel is a huge expense! Our adoption of Annabella cost us roughly 34,000.00. Put that in terms of a new car. We've never owned a car that cost that much, and we've usually spread our car payments out over 5 years. With adoption, the fees are due, and you don't have 5 years in which to spread it. We are still almost 19,000.00 in debt for Annabella's adoption. Having lived debt free, other than our house payment or a car payment for nearly 10 years, that is a huge thing for us. Intentionally going into debt. We believe you should strive to live debt free, ( "The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is the slave to the lender" Proverbs 22:7) and thus, trying to dig ourselves out of this hole. We didn't plan to adopt again, and most assuredly not within a year!


Matt's adoption, like Annabella's were simply following Gods call for our lives. If He calls us, we will follow. It may be hard for us, we may not know how we will pay for it, or find the strength for it, but whatever and wherever He calls us, I pray we will always have faith enough to follow. We made a couple of lackluster attempts to raise money for Annabella's adoption, but we only raised around 400.00. While we were grateful for that, it really didn't scratch the surface of the amount, and so we drained our savings account, and took out a second mortgage on our home. This time, we don't have those options. We can not extend our loan without a new appraisal, and even then, we likely can't extend it enough to fully cover the cost. Our savings account is bare, since we are trying to pay off the debt we already have.


Our estimated cost for Matt's adoption is around 25,000.00 I say estimated, because travel expenses change daily, and we will not know those until days before we leave. Last time our flights alone cost 14,000.00 plus there is the three week hotel stay, travel within China, including two flights there, and food while we stay. We are hopeful that we will have a little shorter stay this time, and that we will be flying at a less expensive time, and those things will help bring the cost down from last time. Since we will be doing much more fundraising this time, I thought I would just go ahead a and peel back the curtains. After all, if we are asking you to invest in Matt's future, shouldn't you know what the real costs are?


So here is the actual and estimated cost that we will incur for this adoption:

Home study update to New Beginnings, 900.00 actual cost, we have paid this already.

Post placement visit fee to Nee Beginnings, 1470.00 actual cost, this was paid today.

Local background checks for Greg and I, paid to Lee Co Sheriff's department, 10.00 actual cost, pd.

Vaccinations required for international travel, HIV, RPH, TB tests, paid to Lee co. Health dept. 131.00 actual cost, pd

First program fee for CCAI, 1450.00 actual cost, already paid.

Waiting child program fee, paid to CCAI, 85.00, actual cost, already paid

Fee for State background check, paid to State of Ms, 64.00 plus 1.20 fee for money order, actual cost, pd

USCIS fingerprint and filing fee for Homeland security background check, and I-797 paperwork, 890.00, to be paid upon filing, should be filing this later this week.

Second program fee to CCAI, 1500.00 actual cost, to be paid when we submit our dossier to China, approx 5-10 weeks from now.

Third program fee to CCAI, due when we receive our LOA, 1600.00, actual cost to be paid

Post adoption deposit to CCAI, 1000.00 actual cost, to be paid before travel

Courier fees for sealing dossier documents and getting our visas, 175.00, approx cost includes fed ex fees, this will be due upon receipt of our I-797 paperwork, estimated to arrive in 5-10 weeks

Documents sealing, 100.00 approx cost includes mailing fees, we will begin this process this week

CCCWA fee paid to China, 775.00, actual cost, paid with dossier submission

CCCWA service fee, paid to China, 125.00 actual cost, paid with LOI, already paid

CCCWA post adoption translation fee, 360.00, actual cost, paid to China, actually not sure when this is due

Visa fee to enter China, 280.00 actual cost, due after dossier submission

In China travel and accommodations, 3,800.00 approx cost, due 1-2 weeks before we leave for China

Adoption registration and notarization, 800.00 approx cost, paid while in China

Matt's passport, 120.00 - 150.00 actual cost, paid in China

Orphanage fee, we pay this even though he is in foster care, 5,600.00 - 5,700.00 actual cost, paid in China

Food while in China, 800.00 - 1000.00, estimated cost, due in China

Matt's physical and photo, 90.00- 120.00, actual cost, due in China

Matt's visa, 230.00, actual cost, paid in China

The remained of the cost will be our flights to and from China, and Matt's flight home. In addition, he will see an International adoption pediatric specialist team when he comes back and will have to have all vaccinations, from birth through his current age at the time of adoption. This cost around 1200.00 out of pocket expense for us with Annabella, after the insurance paid their part. Matt will require some testing that Annabella did not, so we expect his to be more expensive than hers. He will also need Intensive speech therapy, and most likely some occupational and physical therapy when he comes home to "catch up" to where he should be in those areas. We will need to buy him clothes and shoes, and diaper, and wipes. We need a car seat for him. These are just the fees that I know of at this time. There will be other minor things, like postage fees for mailing documents, that probably won't amount to more that 15.00 - 20.00.


In addition to all of that, we have had the opportunity to begin sponsoring Matt's care. The cost of this is 40.00 a month. This pays for his food, clothing, and care while he is with his foster family, and we in turn get quarterly updates and pictures of him, and a peace of mind, in knowing that we are already caring for our son, in the only way we can. We were able to send a care package to him to let his foster family know he was matched with us. We chose I expensive items, that totaled around 40.00, and fit into a shoe box. The cost to mail it to China, was just over 30.00. We will send him at least one more care package, probably two, just depending on how quickly the adoption progresses.


So you see, this is what we actually have to pay, and when we have to pay it. The first bulk of expense has already been paid, and that has come from our online yard sale, selling aluminum cans, and saving every extra dime we could scrounge. We have cut our already tiny grocery budget of 200.00 a week back, ( that includes all food, diapers, paper products, cleaning products, and pet supplies for our family of 6!) and with the exception of the kids birthdays, have agreed not to go out to eat, or to any recreational anything. We did go out for our anniversary, but we used gift cards we received for Christmas. We are taking the kids to Birmingham for a night this coming weekend, and that is what Nathan is getting for his birthday. So when we have our fundraisers, please know its not because we don't want to go further in debt, or we don't want to have to do without, or we don't want to have to fork out the money ourselves! We already have gone further in debt, cut back, and wish we could pay for this without help! We are simply a family, following Gods call, with complete faith in Him to provide the means. We KNOW that He will provide for our needs, because we know that we are being obedient to Him, and that He is ALWAYS there for us! "And my God will meet all of your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19


So we will faithfully continue. We believe that we must do the work to receive the reward. This means more online yard sales, local yard sales, bake sales, possibly spaghetti dinners, auction, coffee sales, whatever it takes! We will be organizing, and putting forth all the effort and work we can to achieve our goal! "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words of The Lord Jesus himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive' " Acts 20:35 We have been so incredibly blessed in watch how God has provided for us already, and I am excited to be watching Him work in our family in so many different ways through this process. We know that not everyone can help financially. For those that can, please know we are not asking for you to give your money to us, just so we can have another child! We are asking you to invest in a child's future! Invest in God's plan for Matt! For those who can't, please don't feel badly! We need your help just as much! We need for you, our closest friends, and family, who follow our journey to share our story with others! Matt needs and deserves to be loved by a real family! Help us by praying for him, pray for his foster family, that they meet his needs, and shower him with love! Pray for his health, and happiness! Pray for us, that the financial aspect of this adoption will be covered! Pray for our fundraisers, that they all be incredibly successful! And most of all, please keep praying for these things throughout the process. We have seen first hand the power of prayer, and we fully believe God answers each prayer. It may not always be the way we expected, but He always answers our prayers! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your love and your support. God has placed each of you in our lives for a reason, and we are so incredibly blessed by all of you!





Monday, March 4, 2013

The Flu, our LOI, and a lil something extra!

I haven't posted in a few days now, and so I have several things to share! Let me just start at the beginning, and you can walk through the last through days with me.

Thursday: Greg and I run around when he gets off work completing a few dossier and home study paperwork items. He comes in, goes to sleep, (for those who may not know, Greg works overnight, so he sleeps usually from 8 A.M. until 4 P.M.) He sleeps late since we had run errands that morning. He gets up with 101.0 degree fever! So he stays home Thursday night.

Friday: The Dr agrees to squeeze Greg in, so we send Annabella to Mom and Dad's and I take him to the Dr. He tests neg for the flu, and they say he has the "flu like virus" and pneumonia. He comes home to bed! I nap off and on as Annabella naps, and the kids allow. By midnight I'm wide awake.

1 A.M. hop into the shower to prepare for the arrival of our friends Phil and Niki Smith, who are leaving at 6:40 A.M. for China to adopt their daughter Guan Ya. After a few cups of coffee, and a couple chapters of the book I'm currently reading, they arrive. We head to Memphis! Drop them off, stay to watch the plane take off. Head to Dunkin Donuts for donuts and coffee. Head to Greg's parents house for a visit since they live in the Memphis vicinity. Have breakfast and a nice long visit with them, and a shopping trip to Target with Greg's Mom before heading home. Get home and crash into bed. Wake up at 6 P.M. feeling pretty raunchy. Chalk it up to lack of sleep. Fall back asleep. Wake up again with racking cough, and fever. Fantastic! Especially since it's my week to work all three services at church on Sunday, which I was super excited about!

Sunday: I wake up ridiculously sick, and begin to blame husband for OVERsharing. We both spend the majority of the day quarantined in our bedroom. Eternally grateful for my parents living next door! It was truly all we could do to have the kids all bathe, and get into bed.

Monday: Alarm goes off at 6:15. I wish someone would just shoot me now. Seriously. Shoot. Me. Now. Greg has less fever than me, so he gets up with the kids. Mine is over 100 degrees and I can honestly say I've probably only run a fever that high MAYBE 3 times in my adult life. I do not ever run fever over 100, and rarely over 99 degrees. 9 a.m. I call the doctor and beg them to squeeze me in. 11:30 they call me back and say be there at 1. Hallelujah!!! 1:15 get positive test result for the flu. Despite having taken the flu shot. Its a variant of B strain which wasn't covered by the shot. (Keep in mind, I have been, am currently, and plan to remain a STRONG proponent for the flu shot!)

So after we stop at the pharmacy for my Tamiflu, again, Hallelujah, we head home. When we get home, I check my email to find that our LOI was officially accepted by the CCCWA, meaning that pending completion of all our adoption paperwork, Matt is officially ours! He is officially locked in, and no one else can take his file. Upon receipt of this news CCAI released our next packets, including all of the paperwork that we will need to complete and have logged in to China by July 17th. Please see the NEW counter on the right side of the page. It is our countdown to July 17th, the last possible date to have our paperwork logged in without having to completely redo our dossier. (This would add an extra 6 months, and several thousand dollars worth of fees to our adoption, thus the importance of this date!)

Not only do we have the email saying our LOI was officially accepted, and the email with our new paperwork, we have another email saying that our son can be sponsored! And with that came his most recent update and a new picture! The great part of being able to sponsor Matt is that we should be able to receive more frequent updates and pictures, so this was REALLY EXCITING news!

Isn't he a cutie?!? I've covered the person's face holding Matt since I do not have a way to obtain their permission to post their photo.

SO I know this post does not contain my usual "tone" for lack of a better word or phrase. I just wanted to let everyone know what has been going on the past several days and why I've been absent. Hopefully I will feel more like myself in the next few days and my blog will begin to sound more like me again too ;) Thanks for always sticking with us, and for loving us enough to follow along on our journey!

"The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him." Exodus 15:2 ESV