megadog said… How do you answer the question of “How much does adoption cost?” I am always mildly uncomfortable with that question and yet want to answer it honestly to help anyone who might be thinking of adoption. It’s a hard one for me. Do you have a good answer?
Kateri said… The problem… they are all coming to me with the same problem… is the cost involved in adopting a child internationally or, in some cases, domestically. How do you encourage people who come to yo with the same concerns? Do you offer suggestions on fundraising, and if so, what do you suggest? Do you have any other thoughts on how some really amazing families can find a way to afford adoption?
God is good to me. He knows the things I will struggle with and often times He equips me with what I’ll need before I even need it.
Such was the case with the Rav4 Adventure of 2004. If you have no idea what I’m referring to, you’re not alone. I think Chris and I are the only people on the planet who understand the significance of this story. And I’ve never shared it here on the blog. But it’s been on my heart lately, so it’s time…
The Rav4 was a cute little mini-SUV type vehicle made by Toyota. About six years ago, when Tori was close to driving age, I started toying with the idea of getting her a cute little ride. And the Rav4 seemed to be just the ticket.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a new Rav4. It would have to be used. And ideally around $12,000. I mean, we’re not made of money. And that’s a reasonable amount to spend for a decent used car, right?
And we needed another car, didn’t we?
So I started hunting for the perfect ‘one’. It would be low miles, well maintained and have all the bells and whistles I thought Tori might need. But, as often happens when one is searching for the perfect anything, it soon becomes clear that the closer to perfect you want, the more dinero you should expect to pay.
Based on my research, we soon realized that we’d need to spend closer to $16-17,000 to get exactly what we wanted: low miles, newer vehicle, a few essential upgrades. But really, a few thousand dollars more in price is not that much when broken down into monthly car payments, right? That’s what we told ourselves.
So onward we pressed.
I didn’t skimp on the research. If we were going to drop that kind of dough, I wanted to be sure we knew what we were doing. I read all the reviews, compared the different models, and searched all the ads. And soon I knew a good price when I saw one. Finding just the right car at just the right price was going to be like finding a needle in a haystack. But I was determined.
The hunt moved from on paper to real life. I called up individual owners and dealers, tracking the ones that seemed like they might be the car for us. I could just see myself my daughter scooting around in that cute little car. It was gonna be good.
I was on the phone daily, with my long list of questions, ticking off cars that just didn’t have what we were looking for, and circling the ones that looked like contenders. The good ones were few and far between, but they were out there. And I was going to get me one.
We made an appointment with a dealer to come see the Rav4 he had in stock. It had been there for weeks, we’d be out to see it just a few days later. The next day I got a phone call… the car had been sold.
Undaunted, we continued our quest. About a week later we ventured across town after just having spoken with the dealer on the phone. We wanted to ensure the car was indeed still for sale, we were not going to let this one get away. We drove almost an hour and as we walked into the dealership, we passed a ridiculously happy couple. And they? Had just bought our car.
Now, I’m no genius, but by this time I was starting to realize this just was not meant to happen. I’d never experienced such frustration when trying to make a simple purchase. And something for my daughter, even? I was seriously, seriously aggravated.
So we stepped back. Although it was hard and we had no idea why God closed those doors we so desperately wanted to fling open, we let that sporty little dream go. And soon we both had a peace about it.
It was just a few weeks later that God told us there was a little girl waiting for us in China. And thank goodness He’d put us through the wringer with the car-buying-gone-wrong fiasco because He had us right where we needed to be to have His perspective on adoption. And affording adoption.
Because He knew we’d have questions about adoption. And doubts.
And we did. But affording an adoption just wasn’t one of them. Because the truth was staring us right in the face: we’d just, only weeks before, been 100% ready to happily plop down $17,000 on a used car. A car that in 5 years would be worth maybe half what we paid for it. In 10 years would be worth maybe a few thousand at best. And in 20 years? Would probably be sitting in a junk yard somewhere.
Instead, our daughter is home. And growing. And learning more about Jesus every day. She is such an incredible blessing to our family. How could one even put a value on the life of a child? It’s impossible. Now that Isabelle is our daughter, we realized we’d sell every possession we ever owned to bring her home.
We are so grateful for God’s provision. For His perspective. Without it, who knows what we might have done when He asked us to step out and adopt? The truth is, we very well might have said no.
Tori never did get that car. She eventually inherited Chris’ old Camry, which she happily drove until she started college a few years ago. We did, just a few weeks ago, purchase a cute little 2001 Honda Civic for her. And she loves it. Cost? $4300. Our perspective has been drastically changed by Him over the years. We are absolutely still a work in progress, and thank goodness for His grace because we need gentle reminders constantly. But we save. We budget. We spend according to our priorities, not our impulses… most of the time. But we budget for that, too 😉
And I can see the progress we’re making. Slowly and steadily. When we moved into our home in the mid-West a few years ago, I wanted new kitchen appliances. Pronto. But when they hauled that old stove out and put it up on the truck, I felt remorse. Wasn’t that old almond color stove just fine? And couldn’t we have managed with a $1000 refrigerator instead of a top of the line $2500 stainless steel model?
This time we’re ‘making do. happily.’ Our new-to-us home has faux brick laminate floors in the kitchen. And the refrigerator is dangerously small. And almond. And the carpets are mismatched and well, emerald in some rooms. But it works for us. And by saying no to $3000 solid surface counters, a $2500 refrigerator and $3000 Berber carpet, we’ve been able to afford to bring our children home.
If you really want to adopt, and you qualify for the China program (which means you have a pretty decent net worth and a reasonably good salary), but think you can’t afford it, I challenge you to sit down and take a long, hard look at where you’re spending your money. We really love Dave Ramsey, but there are lots of other financial strategists out there as well. Can you start an ‘adoption fund’ with a little $ from every paycheck? Can you start looking for ways to earn extra income? Can you choose to say no to new things and try to make do with what you’ve got?
And be sure to look around you for encouragement and inspiration. There are countless adoptive families who have seen God’s provision in miraculous ways. I know I’ve been blown away to see His hand at work to bring orphans home.
So what do I say when the casual observer asks me, “So, how much does it cost to adopt?”
“About as much as a good used car…” is my reply. And, depending on how sincere I think they might be, I also mention the tax credit as well as employer reimbursements. Both which go a long way to ease the burden of the cost of an adoption.
Adoption isn’t cheap. But it’s an investment in a life. For eternity. And that will never return void.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” ~ Matthew 6:19-21