one question answered… a big one

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



  1. Janet and Kevin says:

    Amen to that!

    Janet and gang

  2. THANK YOU FOR THIS POST!! I am bookmarking it as a reminder to my husband and I as we start out that our idea of banking all/most of my pay check (once I graduate) isn't just something we conjured up or Dave Ramsey said was a good idea….it is because he has put adoption on our hearts and that will make it a much more immediate reality! :)

  3. Finances are for sure the #1 reason I hear people saying that they could never adopt.
    I would have been one of those people too…IF I had ever considered adopting. But I didn't…ours was a direct call from the Lord at a most unexpected time in our lives.
    And He? Provided all we needed. My hubby had JUST made E-5 at the time of the call to adopt. He'd been active duty, oh…3 years. So you can get an idea that we weren't rolling in the dough. But…we WERE out of debt and that made a HUGE difference! Tony'd just returned from Afghanistan where he'd saved every penny of his hazardous duty pay, separation pay, etc…and it was $9,000. Enough to get us started. Every time we needed more…EVERY time…God showed up. In fact, we didn't fundraise or solicit money from anyone with Josiah. We didn't even know HOW! I had no idea the wealth of bloggy friends I would come to find or the amazing fundraising ideas.
    If God is in it….He does Make a way!
    Thanks for sharing your story.

  4. Tiffany says:

    When we moved into our new to us home 6 years ago–I was insistent that I could NOT live without a new kitchen, refinished hard wood floors, remodeled bathrooms, etc. We had left a beautifully remodeled (by us) older home we'd lived in for 10 years. I was a bit spoiled. Well- reality hit and we could NOT do all of those things right away and then God set us on the adoption path and I suddenly realized that all of those things were no longer important to me… and I still can't get excited about ripping out my kitchen when the $$$ DOES finally materialize. But everytime we even get close–we find God has another plan for us and another child to bring home. So– we could have 2 beautiful Chinese children or 2 new kitchens. I'll take the children!!!

  5. megadog says:

    Thanks. I think this is a perfect way to think of it and something I will be using in the future for those conversations that always arise. I appreciate your honesty and ability to put into words so eloquently what so many of us want to say.

  6. Well said!!!

  7. Stefanie says:

    You're welcome megadog! Thanks for asking!! This post has been on my heart for a month or so and your question was just the push I needed to sit down and write it :)

  8. Rebecca says:

    What a beautifully written post!
    Money is definitely one of the main excuses that I hear over and over.
    I will gladly continue to drive my 18 year old car, have no cable tv and eat out less….if it means one more orphan has a family.
    I am also always impressed by the way that adoptive families rally together to help other families be able to bring their children home. Sometimes it is a group effort and what a wonderful way to show support but to give to others in their time of need. Where God Guides, God Provides! That is what we are living by these days in our home. :)

  9. David and Sarah says:

    My hubby sold his '57 chevy that he had had since he was 16, when we adopted Lily. He has never regretted that decision for one single minute! She is worth FAR MORE than ANY car.

    I also like to give the "About as much as a car" answer when asked how much it cost to adopt.


  10. This has nothing to do with the topic of your post because we can afford adoption and have made sacrifices to save for adoption but I feel like the doors are constantly being closed, like with your car. I completely related to your story except ours has been with adopting a child not buying a car but for today I am too stubborn to follow the signs or listen to what ever I am being told. We are going to have to do some serious soul searching in the near future because what we are doing is not working. I am so weary of forcing the doors and trying to move mountains.

  11. The Ferrill's says:

    Giggles….do you know what God used as our Rav 4? A CAMPER. We were THIS close to buying a CAMPER. Just didn't feel right. One month later….BOOM—He showed us why.
    I love HIM!
    And I love your love for families…you have got a LOT of love to take the time to encourage those who are concerned about the money. I am so thankful for you!
    And it really is amazing how He brings in the funds each time He calls….

  12. Great post, Stefanie! Can I borrow it? Well said.

  13. Chelley says:

    Really that is such a open and from the heart post.. You are so right !

    I am always amazed by you

  14. Wow! What a great post!! We were in a similar situation except we were going to do some updating in our home, until we saw her.. Our beautiful Liliana who is 8 years old and is currently waiting for us in China!!

    We actually had someone ask us if we had any buyers remorse for our daughter Charlotte that we adopted last year. To this day I still get sick to my stomach when I think about this very rude and insensitive comment from a distant family member.

  15. I cannot believe this is your post today (even more amazing is that I took time to get on the computer today). We put our timeshare on the market 6 months ago. In the meantime, we were able to get our son home from Ethiopia, but have been wondering what God would have for us next. Today, we received an offer on our timeshare that would take care of the costs of another adoption. Honestly, we have really struggled b/c we associate the timeshare with many good memories, but the realization came that the memories aren't about "the timeshare", they're about our family. I really appreciated reading this today b/c it gave me such a sense of peace, which I had prayed for. Hey!! You were the answer to prayer today! Thank you! :o) I look forward to sharing this with my husband later.

  16. The part about qualifying…please make sure you ask before you automatically say "well we don't qualify" We have never qualified on the income level they "require". Now our home is mostly paid for and DH has a 401K, but we DON'T meet the requirements and somehow we are in the midst of our 3rd adoption and 6th child. I didn't want to go into debt this time (our HE loan is from the other 2 adoptions)…we haven't..yet…we will see how God provides.

    So if adoption is on your heart…make sure you ask… there might be a waiver for you.

  17. So well said. I'm living in an old house with old flooring and not enough bedrooms. I drove a used minivan for 10 years and now I'll drive a used suburban for the rest of the next 10 years. We can't afford yearly family vacations, either. BUT the sacrifices are so worthwhile to bring home another one of our children. And no we don't have all of the needed funds, but God always provides.

  18. Jerry and Christy says:

    Stefanie, my wife and I have been following your blog for quite some time and can't agree with you more, it's funny how adoptive christians seem to "get it", the blessing of seeing what is really important. We have 7 children, 5 sons and two adopted daughters from China. We have been christians for over 30 years and have learned over and over again that what God initiates He always supports. We have learned how to do without over our 33 years of marriage, living in California on one income all these years has taught us as you have learned, that many things are just not necessary. He has also taught us that He is OUR PROVIDER if we are only willing to let Him be. When we adopted our first daughter Emily we did not have the money but somehow HE provided. One significant event proved to us that He is ABLE. My wife had been asking God to bring a specific amount of $ into our income through some means other than our own. She was asking for Him to bring $5000.00. Some time later her aunt called her and told her she wanted to meet with her and her siblings. When they met she sat them down and handed each of them an envelope. When my wife opened the envelope there was a check for $5000.00!!! Her aunt said, this is your inheritance from your grandmother (who died 8 years prior!). From that point on we knew that God was 100% behind the adoption. All God needs is our willingness. Remember Peter asking Jesus to bid him to come out on the water? In Jesus' words "come" was the provision! If a christian "hears" Gods call to adopt then all they need to do is obey, He'll make it possible to "walk on water" like Peter did.

  19. ourgoldenchild says:

    you need to write a book…you have so much wisdom and insight to share!!!

  20. Anonymous says:

    First, great story you shared. I'm a Christian and it's heartwarming to read posts of people's faith.

    Second, something has been nagging at me lately. I respect that you feel strongly that God shows you the way and that He provides, but I'm interested in what you have to say about this:

    There's a family somewhere in the world that is good and righteous. They believe Jesus is their savior and they pray as often as they can. They believe that God provides for them yet they are starving. Their children can barely move because they cannot find adequate nutrition. There is no money for medicine when they are sick, in fact one child already died due to a very treatable illness. Why is God not providing for these people?

  21. The Sanders Family says:

    Hi Stefanie!

    I just came across your blog tonight. But I think I've seen your name before on my friend Valerie's blog. Anyway, thought I'd say hi! I've enjoyed looking through your posts and just became a follower. Looking forward to getting to know you in cyber world! Ha!

    Angie :)

  22. Stefanie, I love your answer to this question! I still haven't come up with a great answer, but depending on who is asking, I can usually manage my way through. One thing for sure, I always conclude with God's miraculous provision in bringing all FIVE of our children home when we had NO $ in savings!
    And then there's His miraculous provision last October when we were $21,000 short in bringing our TWO treasures home. After fasting and praying for a week, He gave us the green light to hold a community spaghetti dinner at our church…in our small town of 500 people…on a cold and dreary night, and at the end of the day there was $21,115 in the bucket! We can never doubt His faithfulness to provide.

  23. Morning Steph – I kind of had a 'feel' where this one was going – we've used the comment "Yeah, we didn't buy a new car this year" to snippy versions of the cost question!

    The truth be told, when we started our adoption journey (almost 10 years and 3 kids ago) I never in my wildest dreams believed a civil servent single income family could qualify – and we've never had a problem there!

    In response to the "genuinely wanting or needing to know probably perspective adoptive parents" who ask we're very open (you can get my income on the web – it's government record and pubic information so who cares!) – and for the very rude who ask (and yeah – I've had the question literally – "How much did the kid cost?") I've got a canned answer – "My child was free – but the shipping and handling was a %^*%#!"

    hugs – aus and co.

  24. La Dolce Vita says:

    Amen. Amen. Amen. Did I mention, AMEN! So well said!

  25. AMEN!!!

  26. deniseschlossin says:

    Did I say before that You Rock? Great post. We love Dave too.

  27. Thank you for sharing that story, Stef!

  28. Chris is right on about asking!

    On adopting our little girl from China: my heart had said yes for years and I knew God was saying yes. Then, my husband said yes. :) Well, annual income was not enough for the Chin@ program, but we asked Chin@ if we could add insurance benefits to our salary — which would help us make it over the qualifying line. China said YES! That's story I'll never forget. :)

  29. Thanks for posting this. A gentle reminder that puts things in perspective. And it came at just the right time for me. Actually, if you could post this about every other week, that would be great because it seems that about every other week I start to panic.

    Thanks again!!! Deb

  30. The used car is exactly my response to the cost question as well……Recently I did have to break it down though, month by month on the cost of becoming pregnant, giving birth, & then caring for a child for 18 months vs adopting an 18 month old…..I think it's cheaper to adopt…. (once you take tax credits into account)=)

  31. Stephanie says:

    Love that verse :)

  32. One Happy Momma says:

    Oh Stefanie this just brought me to tears. Happy ones. :)

    We are in the process of starting our 3rd adoption and we need to fund raise for the $9000 we will need.

    God is calling us to adopt this sweet precious 11 yr old boy with mild CP that was abandoned at age 6 to our family!

    It seems as some may not agree with us and what we are trying to do. But I am focused on God and I know He is faithful and will provide.

    After all, this child needs a mom, a dad and a FOREVER family, more than we need a different or better car or an expensive family vacation or any earthly possession we can justify that we need to buy.

    Thank you for sharing your heart once again.

    Blessings –


  33. 3 Peanuts says:

    Fabulous post…We have been listening to Dave Ramsey for years and years. Great message.

  34. Jessica says:

    Thank you for this post! I really believe this is true. With our first adoption, we said, "When we have this amount in the bank, we will start our adoption". We hadn't reached our goal (not even close), but God prompted us to start our adoption anyway. Right after we began the process, he provided to the point where we had all of our money. With our second adoption, we began the process before we logically should have financially, but the money came quite miraculously. Blessings come with a step of faith.

  35. Mike and Ramona says:

    I had to laugh a bit at this post. Everytime someone tells me they can't adopt because it is too expensive, I ask them how much they spent on their last car. Then I ask them which is more important, a child or a car? It is all about priorities. If you would rather have that 30,000 car, fine, just understand that that is a choice you are making.

  36. You know the thing that held us back for a long time was money. Then one day I looked at Les and I looked at Ev and all of those walls to adopting another child were just ….gone.
    Here it is in a nutshell. I started dreaming about babies and adopting. I missed the fact that God was telling me something because I just kept seeing all of the walls. I told myself that I was just letting go of that final child. So God grabbed hold of Ev and started using her. I started paying attention then.
    Ev and I had this very surreal experience at a grocery store that involved a very tiny e baby and her Mama- both Chinese. I told my husband that I was getting suspicious. We sat down and talked. I was stunned to realize that all of the things that I thought were stopping us, well, they were just laughable.
    Then we got our taxes done. The next week. Our refund was exactly half of what we needed for another adoption! We could get started right away!
    We did.
    I have seen God's hand in every aspect of our adoption of Liam.
    I can honestly say that He knows, that He provides and that He is with us.
    I don't talk about this much. But it's the truth.
    Now the rest of the adoption is simply going onto credit cards. Nuts right? Well? I would rather have my son home and have him to love than have new shiny tv. I would rather be in debt for Liam than anything else in the world.
    And do you know what? I am going to go even farther and say that God has provided because we meet him half way. That new tv I mentioned? That's not just an illustration. Our tv broke. We could charge one or we could keep enough room on the cards for the adoption.
    It wasn't a hardship.
    I always wonder how many kids would have a home if we just stopped "needing" so many THINGS?

  37. Anonymous says:

    Reading your post was almost like deja-vu. In 2006, my hubby really needed a new car and he came to me and said, "We can buy another car or we can adopt from China."
    Smart man, of course we decided to adopt and put down all of our savings and starting paying each month what to car payment would be. It seemed to all be taken care of and actually pretty easy. Then 2 days after we were LID, my daughter and I were rearended in his car. The car was totalled, we were both hurt and the insurance didn't pay on the medicals for over a year. We were out over $10000 dollars and our medical insurance would not cover it and told us to sue the person's car insurance. Of course, the car was old and what we got for it would never cover another car that actually ran.
    You know what?
    It wasn't easy anymore but I realized God allowed this to happen for us to truly trust Him. He provided all of the money and I still do not understand how He did. I just needed to trust that He would.

  38. Somehow I missed this post – so I am commenting late – sorry! I think the most relevant thing for me was "if you qualify for the China program . . . ." 'cause if you do, then you can afford to adopt. Loved this :)

  39. Anonymous says:

    I LOVE this post! Well said!


  40. Alyson and Ford says:

    Excellent post. We all have our stories of opened and closed doors. Praying and knowing is important keys to the life we are to live. When we have forced "things", we have always regretted afterward. Thanks!

    Alyzabeth's Mommy

  41. I have never posted a comment anywhere but for some reason I feel so compelled to share my story. I was 17 when I had my first child. I was 19 with my second son. After much thought I made the hardest decision of my life but yet it felt so right. HE took me by hand and led me to a wonderful couple looking to adopt a child. Even though I am not raising my second child I talk to him and see him often. Years later, I married a wonderful man and we had two children together.

    I have always thought about giving a child a family because I was so touched my my son's family. I have made a ton of excuses and have closed the door several times. My sister in law has adopted three children now from China and I am so inspired by her. I came across this blog and feel that I will now open the door that God has been knocking on. Thank you to everyone for sharing your stories.

  42. great post! Thanks. I will check out Dave Ramsey

  43. amazing post!!! i am in total agreement!

  44. MississippiZen says:

    Hello, My name is Sandra Eisler, and Margie Creel is my sweet daughter in law. She shared your site with me and I truly was inspired and blessed. I loved your answer to the question about how much does adoption cost. When lilli, our oldest one from China, ask me what adoption was……..I told her "adoption means born twice, once in the world, and once in your life! You are an inspired writer, and while I am writing this, the Lord just spoke to me and wanted me to tell you that the answer to your question is YES!

  45. Beautifully said!
    Love this post!

  46. I love the comparison to the price of a used car because when we first adopted, a family member who could not have children expressed that he could not afford to adopt. I said at that time that if you can afford a car in America, you can afford to adopt. That was just the way I saw it. At this point I cannot afford it again, but I am not losing hope that it might happen for us one more time.

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