Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Financial Update!

Adoptions are expensive.  

International adoptions are REALLY expensive.  

A lot of people have asked just how expensive they are, and I hesitate to say it because it seems overwhelming to even verbalize.  But then it dawned on me that we're going to be doing a TON of fundraising, and perhaps you'd like to know why we're doing so much.   Well, because folks, to bring home a little child from Russia, we are going to have to pay somewhere close to $45,000.  (eek.)

However, as one person so perfectly put it, adoptions follow a sequence of events.  And each event requires different sums of money.  So THANKFULLY we do not have to write a check for $45,000 to start the process.  Instead, we have different goals we'll need to reach at different times.  

As I posted on our Financial Goals page, our first goal is to be able to pay for the application fee and home study.  The home study will require additional fees throughout the process (in excess of the $2500) but I'm sure we'll be able to tackle those as they come.  

On another note, I've been told that as we get further into this process, sharing our financial data will most likely be frowned upon.  I'll do what I can, when I can, but you are always welcome to ask!

And last but not least - Stuart and I started our fundraising less than 3 weeks ago.  I finally sat down and transferred the last bit of donations into our adoption account and we have reached $2,416!!!   IN THREE WEEKS!!!!  

Again, thank you to all who donated for our first yard sale, for those who gave monetarily, and for those of you who have been praying for us.  I have no doubt God has been multiplying our efforts and we've been thoroughly encouraged.  

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Why Not America?

Stuart and I have always talked about the possibility of adoption.  But it wasn't until last year that we actively started telling people, and it wasn't until last month that we started fundraising for it.

To that end, I'm convinced that all major events have one thing in common: The Question.

I don't know exactly how to define this, so if you aren't nodding your head with enlightenment already, perhaps I can share some examples:

To the bride: Are you nervous?
To the expectant mother:  When are you due?
To the twins (in case you haven't received the memo, being a twin IS a major event):
Are you twins?
To the winner of the Super Bowl:  What are you going to do next?

To the couple pursuing in international adoption:  Why not America?

To be fair, most people are very encouraging and want some honest insight.

Unfortunately there have been others who have been angry or dumbfounded that we'd go to so much work to adopt another country's child, as though America's children are somehow better and more deserving.  In my Cultural Humanities class in college I learned a very important word:  ethnocentrism.  This is the mindset that one's country is superior to all others.  And while I absolutely love my country and the ideals on which it was founded, I absolutely refuse to believe there is a caste system out there for children.  I think it's unnecessary for someone to judge another persons good motives simply because, in their opinion, they aren't good enough.  In the words of a brilliant elephant, "a person's a person no matter how small."  Or where they come from.

This is not to say that I don't believe the children in the American foster children aren't in need of a home.  They absolutely are.   My in-laws and MANY of my friends have fostered and/or adopted within the American foster care system.  They are hero's in my eyes and it is my prayer that many more of these children will continue to be fostered and adopted.  But my husband and I have talked about this, we've prayed about this, and we feel led to adopt a child internationally.    And to be more specific, adopt from Russia.

Why Russia?  Well, that'll have to be anther post for another day.  =)

Author's Note:
I apologize for my vent.  To be completely fair, my husband and I have received more encouragement then we ever expected.  Most the naysayers are simply strangers with a strong opinion.  Hopefully this post will eventually answer all questions and explain our hearts completely, but if you do have questions, please don't hesitate to email me.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Thank you! Thank you! And Thank you!

Thank you!
Well, our blog has been up for a week now and I just have to give a huge THANK YOU to all the people who have shown their support for our decision.  We have known for well over a year that our family would eventually embark on this journey to adopt internationally, and in that time we've gotten some positive feedback as well as some very negative feedback.  But in this past week, the positive feedback has been overwhelming, and the negative feedback has been non-existent.  Hmmm...perhaps I should extend a thank you to those who don't support our decision and haven't said anything?

Thank you!
Also, our family had a garage sale a week ago and raised a surprising amount of money.  I've told a few people that I honestly believe God was doubling each dollar that we took in because our grand total from the sale was


And THAT was just from the sale!  A dear friend also gave me a ton of collectible glass that I've been selling on ebay.  I have sold just over half of the items and have brought in over $300!!  (I won't know the exact amount until I've paid shipping on all the items.  But a rough estimate right now is $331).  

So far, our grand total is over $1000!!! 

With that said, I owe a HUGE amount of gratitude to all those who donated so freely to our yard sale, and to those who stopped by and shopped.  We are so blessed.

Thank you!
We've also had a couple donors which was a total surprise and a HUGE blessing!!  Thank you!

We are now HALFWAY to our goal for the home study!!  I'm so excited!  And, yes, everything deserves an exclamation mark!  Especially this --->  THANK YOU!!

Love, stuart and jessie

Friday, August 5, 2011

Stuart's Thoughts...

It is official, my family and I are going down crazy street full blast. We seem to think that God wants us to adopt internationally. He also has put it on our hearts to adopt without debt. Sometime when someone says, “God laid this on our hearts” I wonder what exactly that meant or if maybe they were influenced by last night's dinner or some other outside circumstance. Yet we find ourselves in this position following an invisible leader to an invisible child.

My wife and I have talked about adopting as long as we have known each other. It was one of those ideas that floated around, like many others that never amounted to anything, but it has finally taken form. We have had a lot of support and plenty of “Oh WOW”s (which really means, “They let mentally ill people adopt?”).  For our 6th anniversary we went to a couple of adoption seminars to get the ball rolling and got a pretty good idea of how the process works. We left ready to start the process but realizing our next step, or gigantic leap, would be to get a majority of the money to start paying for all of the fees that would come up. While numbers vary $20,000-$40,000 is very normal. So we began to work towards our goal.

Enter, financial planning extreme style. We had always wanted to live debt-free but hadn't quite been able to do it between our growing needs, a new business, and some errors of our own. Last December we worked extra hard (read “over-time”) to make some money and used it to pay off all of our debt except for our family car. We were pretty excited to say the least. Then we were introduced to Dave Ramsey. My wife and I read through his “Total Money Makeover” book which is comprised of common sense, hard work, working towards goals, and stories of people who actually did it. We were off and running. We started doing a monthly budget that accounted for every penny. My wife was the real hero in this as she does almost all of the shopping for household needs. Our next goal was to pay off the car as soon as possible. Not 2 weeks later, after finishing our tax return, we were surprised to find that our return had enough in it pay-off the remainder of the loan. We took it as a completely undeserved blessing from God encouraging us that we were on the right path. So now we were on to start beefing up our savings account for the goals ahead of us.

We are getting real creative in trying to limit our spending and grow together as a family. Instead of getting a family dog (which we would love) we have started dog-sitting. All the dog-kisses and lawn presents at 0 cost. We also have opened our home to international students which has been a blast and is moving our adoption fund in the right direction. Our last project was a huge yard sale.

Our convictions have really been confirmed as we have moved through this process. Two things in particular: debt isn't a necessity and adoption isn't an option.

Debt & Adoption -
Like I mentioned earlier, we felt the need to adopt and do it without debt. Here are my wife's thoughts on the matter.
Well, the final night of the retreat ended with an extended time of worship and prayer and I knew more prayer on this situation could only be good.  So as I silently attempted to word my prayer request just right (tacky, but I was really fearful about how I was even going to ask for prayer!), the same visual kept coming to mind:  this situation was like a giant mountain that I didn't know how to climb, and I didn't have the ability to move.  There was a lull in the worship then and I opened my eyes to see if the prayer and worship time was coming to an end, but no, the worship leader started into the next song, singing, "Saviour, He can move the mountain..."  Of course that turned me into a crying mess.  It wasn't even an answer to my prayer request - it was an answer to my stupid attempt to grammatically format my prayer request!

But then I shared my request with  a couple ladies who had made themselves available to pray.  And before we even started praying, one of them let me know that adopting a child is worth going into debt for, and that we have to be willing to make sacrifices sometimes.  I was taken aback and wrestled with the "wisdom" that she shared with me.  Of course I would be willing to take out a loan, if that was really the only option and God made it clear it was necessary.  But is He not able to provide in a manner that doesn't require 14% interest?  

I spent that night talking with my friend about the incident.  Why would it seem like I was given a promise (God could move mountains) only to be told that debt shouldn't be considered bad in this situation?  Why have my husband and I both been convicted about our debt, and been blessed so richly when we purposed ourselves to get rid of it?  

It didn't take long for my mind to find peace.  The next morning I was browsing through some books when I picked up one entitled "Fragments That Remain." 

 It is a compilation of notes and letters written by Amy Carmichael, a missionary to the children of India.  I flipped open the book, not to be spoken to, but to see how the book was formatted (I'm starting to see an odd pattern), and the page I opened to had the heading "Finance" written in bold italics.  That caught my eye so I read what it had to say:

Are we asking for too much?  But is God poor?  He whose city streets are paved with gold, cannot He give us not spoonfuls only, of the dust of these streets, but handfuls too?  I love the symbol of those streets - gold underfoot, just where it should be.
So long as the word is in the Bible, "It is NOT the will of your Father that one of these little ones should perish," so long surely must we continue to save children, 
and therefore we shall have gold enough to save them.

In summary, I don't believe God would give me competing desires.  But I do believe God's heart is for His children, and He wants to provide in a way that will bring glory to Him.  I just don't think a loan accomplishes that goal.  For one, He has provided my husband and I with creative abilities, and I think using those to do fundraising will be a great start.  So look out friends, we're headed on a wild ride!
Regarding the option of adoption for us, it was a no-brainer. Children need a home and we have one. As we were pondering adoption and children, the one cultural mindset here in America that has surprised and saddened us is the number of people we have met that view children as such a burden (even in the Christian community). It is sad that the first question we get asked about our 3 children in 3 years is how expensive diapers were. Yes, children require time and money but so does a house and a car yet most people seem to make the time and finances available for that. That said, we don't believe that everyone has a Biblical command to adopt, however a different command is given.

James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

It truly seems that caring for orphans, however you tangibly do that, is a biblical imperative. God takes the lead in adoption. It is a theme that runs through the Bible.

Ephesians 1:5 He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.
Rom 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
Rom 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"
Rom 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
Rom 8:17 and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.