Thursday, August 6, 2015

Adopting Debt Free: Our Experience

Based on this article:

First, we started with #2 (budget tightening) and 3 (savings). We did not want to go into debt or take out a loan to pay for the adoption. We’re Dave Ramsey fans of paying cash for things up front.  We paid off all of our debts (from school) first to help free up some of our paycheck. We cut our budget to a “bare bones” budget. We began to cut some small items from our budget like coffee, eating out, and frivolous things we didn’t need, although we did allow some fun money which helped us to not feel so “deprived” and not blow our budget. We then worked on insurance (major money sucker in our budget!). We called around and got quotes on car insurance, renter’s insurance, and health insurance. We found cheaper plans that had similar coverages to our old plans. This saved us a couple of hundred each year. We kept getting creative about ways to cut our budget. One of the easiest ways to save a lot was with our grocery budget. We spent $400 a month for two people, which is a lot! I started cutting household cleaners from my budget and starting making my own, making a grocery list (sticking to it!), found low cost recipes, and substituted black beans and lentils for beef. I got our budget down to $100-150 a month. I got very creative with groceries and household items.

During the budget tightening phase, we started #4 (adoption fundraising). We held 1 raffle, 1 garage sale, and sold Just Love Coffee. Our raffle for a Saints wreath (b/c we live in New Orleans) brought in $500, the garage sale gave us $2400 (we asked friends and family to give us their junk to sell), and selling JL coffee gave us over $5000. We were the top coffee seller for them at that time. We are also featured in Julie Gumm’s newest addition of You Can Adopt Without Debt because our coffee sales were insane. Sure people can fundraise with t-shirts, but you buy it once and that’s it, but with coffee (and really great tasting coffee) people come back for more.

We also used #5 (gifts/donations). Family members want to know what we want for Christmas, birthday, etc…, we would say a donation to our adoption fund. There are some family members who wanted to buy a gift to put under the tree, I would ask for something that could easily be returned to Walmart so we could buy groceries or whatever we needed for the adoption.  Or we would list what we needed to pay for like $100 background clearance, $75 passport, $50 visa, etc… We tried to be very tactful requesting for money instead of gifts for the adoption. This brought in about $7000.

My husband and I were both able to work more hours (#6). We didn’t have any kids or obligations except to each other. I worked b/t 50-55 hours a week and my husband worked closer to 60 hours a week.

And lastly #8, we were the pilot family for our agency’s Poland program and the agency gave us $2500 scholarship.

We saved up and fundraised $30,000 in 1 year. Adopting debt free was not an easy thing to do. Even church members gave me strange looks, when I said that we are adopting debt free. I would recommend it to anyone on any budget. It can be done and it does take a lot of hard work. Create small goals and tackle them fiercely.

One thing I tell friends who are adopting internationally, is to consider adopting debt free. After we brought our daughter home, we were extremely thankful that we had spent a year before we started the process to save up. We did not know the extent of my daughter’s issues. She didn’t have any major needs, but we still spent about $5000 on health/dental care after we came home and we had insurance! We also didn’t realize how poorly behaved she was going to be. My daughter came from a very, very hard place (and you don’t know it until their home with you). If you’ve read Dr. Bruce Perry’s book, A Boy Who was Raised as a Dog, my daughter is the cat version of that story. If we had taken out a loan and had to pay it back while trying to parent an easy to love but hard to raise child, I probably would have resented her. I still had issues bonding with her (for other reasons-she was a cat!) but it could have been amplified if we had to pay back a loan on top of all the stress we were dealing with. You just don’t know what may happen when you get home from adopting. I love my daughter to death and would do anything for her, but if we hadn’t adopted debt free, we probably wouldn’t have a great relationship like we have now.

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