I know this idea sounds super crazy because no one has $30,000 lying around in their bank account, especially to spend it on expanding your family through adoption. So, how did we do it?
First, we got rid of all of our debt. We did not want to start a family and still have school loans. How could we save for our children’s college if we are still paying for ours? Then we built up our emergency savings to 6 months of expenses. I know that seems like a daunting task, but if something were to happen (car break down, sickness, fire, flood, job loss, etc…), we needed to have that blanket of security. And let me tell you because we have that buffer in our savings, I feel financially stable and secure if something tragic were to happen. Now, I’m not advocating you have to have 6 months of expenses saved up before you adopt, but it would be wise to have a little buffer for when you bring your adopted child home. The medical bills can pile up quickly with adopted children, even if they are healthy. It took us 2 years to get out of debt and to fully fund our emergency savings. Now that we have zero debt and a fully funded emergency savings, we can now officially start saving up for the adoption.
We did not want to go into debt with this adoption. Before we even filled out the application to the adoption agency, we knew we had to have the cash first. I know it sounds kind of backwards to have the money first and then apply, but we are determined to have financial peace throughout our lives. People thought we were crazy. We got the blank stares with the raised eyebrows. We got the “huh” with the head nod. We got all kinds of advice: the “you don’t need to fund-raise and save up first, just trust in God, he will provide”, or “just have faith”, or my personal favorite, “wow, you must be rich”. No, we are not rich. We are just smart and resourceful. We budget. We live within our means. They did not believe that we could do it and why would you save up the money first, aren’t there grants or something you could get. Yea, there are grants out there, but there is no guarantee that you could get any of them, especially being on the “Dave Ramsey” plan.
We started saving for our first adoption in July of 2011. My husband and I both worked full time (9-10 hours/day). We did not want to spend years and years saving up to pay for 1 international adoption. And we were too tired to get second jobs. We had to get creative with our budget. We had an overall goal of $30,000 to save up before we applied. We set monthly (realistic) goals for our adoption savings account to help achieve the overall goal. We fund-raised a little. I googled lots of homemade recipes (household cleaning products and other convenience items that are cheaper to make than to buy) and frugal living ideas. We wanted our cost of living to be really low so we could save more money from our paychecks. Working long hours that we did we did not have the time to fund-raise every month so we knew every paycheck counted. We lived on just one of our incomes, saving the others income to the adoption fund. Some of our family and friends gave us donations to our adoption fund. With all the above mentioned, it was possible for us to pay cash for our adoption. In fact, we did have faith in God about our adoption finances because there is no way we could have saved that much money in the short amount of time that we did.
By August 2012, we had $27,000 in our adoption savings. Wow, talk about trusting in God and having faith! Lifeline Child adoption agency was opening up a new program, the Poland program. We thought it would be a great match for us and we applied. We obviously did not save up $30,000 before we applied, but it was close. And because we were the pilot family, they gave us a $2,500 scholarship, bringing our total to $29,500. Pretty close. That whole year of saving and fundraising went by so fast. And now we can start the adoption process and not have to worry about money.
Throughout the first part of our adoption process, we tried to not touch our adoption savings and pay for things with the leftover money at the end of the month from our paychecks. We knew, of course, we could only keep up with this to a certain point in the process because the check amounts were getting bigger and bigger. And we applied for grants, which we did not receive because of all the money we had in our savings accounts (emergency and adoption). It was a real bummer not getting grants, but in the end it was totally worth it to have the cash rather than to hold out on grant money that is not guaranteed. We were not worried the whole time during the adoption process because we had enough money to get us back home from Poland with our newest addition. Another benefit of having the cash first is that we didn’t have to fund-raise while we were doing the paper chase. We did not have to wait for more money to get into our bank account before we could send a check to our adoption agency to proceed on with the next step of our adoption process. It was a relief knowing that when we returned home with our daughter, we did not owe anybody anything.
My one regret for that whole year of saving for our adoption is not saving for our retirement. Retirement is so important. And since my husband and I are “young”, we want to take advantage of the compounding interest. Yea, that would have meant maybe holding off on starting the adoption process. We plan on at least saving 12% of our income for our retirement and then the rest can go to saving up for the next adoption. It may take longer to start but in the end, it will be worth it. When I am older I do not want my kids to have to take care of me out of their own pockets. I want to bless them with our hard earned savings instead.
In a nutshell, this is what we did to pay cash for our adoption:
Ask for extra hours at work
Sold Just Love Coffee
“Bare bones” grocery budget
Cut out all the extras (limit eating out, vacations, shopping, and that list can keep going)
Click here for our homemade recipes (I will be posting more)
Any extra money (birthday, Christmas) went right into the adoption fund
Donations from family and friends
Donations from family and friends
Set monthly and yearly goals
It can be done. We did it. And we are doing it again. And as long as God blesses us financially, we will keep doing it. If you need encouragement to start, please email me. I will talk you into it!
If you have a story of how you adopted debt free, please post them in the comments. I would love to know how you did it too!
If you are on the Dave Ramsey plan and want to save up cash first to pay for your adoption, do not expect to get grants. Most grants are for families who do not have the “financial” means (money in the bank) to adopt. They do not see it as emergency savings in case something bad happens. They just see this big number in your savings account and zero debt. Do not get discouraged if you are on the Ramsey plan and want to pay cash for your adoption. It is worth the financial peace. I think I may write to Dave Ramsey and ask him to start his own adoption grant fund to help those who want to stay out of debt and adopt. Or if I become a billionaire one day I will start my own adoption grant fund for people who are trying to stay debt free and have a fully funded emergency savings.