Adoption: how we afforded it

Money is a huge issue for most families considering adoption. Most international adoptions these days cost upwards of $15,000– not the kind of money people just keeping lying around. Our 5 adoptions cost in the range of $15,000-$23,000. Each. This included agency fees, plane tickets, immigration paperwork, in-country costs, etc. Over $80,000 in 10 years. It seems crazy even to me that on a moderate income we were able to afford to adopt so many times. But bit by bit, it was indeed possible.

Our first adoption was funded by refinancing our home. The providence for that adoption actually began in 1989 when we bought our first house, a fixer-upper, then sold it in 1993 for twice the money. This cash gave us more equity than usual in the house which we built in 1993. Some folks might say that taking out a loan for an adoption is not wise. But as my husband put it, what better thing is there to put on a 30-year loan than an eternal soul? Due to low interest rates at the time, our house payment didn’t even increase. What a blessing!

Our second adoption in 2000 was funded by an unexpected inheritance. The bulk of the inheritance money came on the very. same. day that we needed to send in money to accept the referral of our son. It was amazing. The inheritance also allowed us to make a large payment on our home loan, which meant we owed less on our house than we had before the first adoption. It also funded the purchase of a new van that we needed for our growing family, the one that fits 12 people. The one we still drive. God is so gracious.

When we began discussing our third adoption in 2003, interest rates were even lower than they had been the previous time we refinanced. We checked around and discovered we could switch to a 15 year loan (instead of our current 30-yr loan) AND take out money for the adoption, and only pay a little more each month. We jumped on it.

Our fourth adoption ‘money-story’ is my favorite, because I can so clearly see the hand of God in the timing of it. My husband had a large piece of equipment (a sawmill) up for sale for several months before we even began talking about adopting again. For months there’d been no interest. We were beginning to think we were just supposed to keep the mill.

Then in 2005 we began talking about adopting again. We decided this time around we would go forward with the process only when we had all the money in savings. We talked about ways we could live a little more frugally, and upped our automatic payment into our savings account.

One week later a man came and bought the sawmilld for $8000. A few days later we did our taxes and learned we would be getting back $7000, much more than we’d anticipated. Within two weeks we ha an unbelieveable $15,000 in savings. We looked at each other and knew. It must be time to adopt again. We found out later that our daughter had entered the orphanage the very same week that my husband’s sawmill had sold. It was truly awesome.

With our most recent adoption, in 2007, we had a fair bit of experience with the money showing up when we needed it. We figured that if God was leading us to agree on the adoption, He’d also supply the resources. When we spotted our daughters’ pictures on a list of waiting children, we’d just gotten a tax refund, most of which was still in savings. I was also on the brink of signing the contract on my first book. Not all that money would come immediately, but with the promise of more coming in awhile, we moved forward with the adoption. We were able to pay the agency fees with what we had. Fees were a bit higher since the adoption was for two kids. When it came time to buy the plane tickets (4 on the way there, 6 on the way home) we just bit the bullet and put $10,000 on the credit card. It took til 2008 to pay that off, but within a year of their homecoming there was no more adoption debt.

You might think that our financial circumstances were unusual, that most adoption funds don’t show up that easily. Maybe not. But I know from talking with other families that this happens over and over and over again. God loves adoption. He loves putting the lonely into families. And He loves to give us the desire of our hearts, especially when that desire is so much in line with His own heart.

I’d quote you verses in the Bible talking about widows and orphans, but I’m afraid of sounding self-righteous, and that is not my intent. Anything good we do is only from God. So do a word search for yourself. See what God says to you about orphans. About the lonely. About children. About blessings.

And while we’re on the subject of blessings, I hope that my readers who are adoptive parents will speak up in comments here. I know that a lot of you read this blog and I’d love to hear from you. If you’ve never commented, now is your chance to delurk. Tell us how many kids you’ve adopted, or where you are in the adoption process. And if the story is not too personal, will you also tell how you were able to afford adoption? I know that many people will be blessed in the sharing.


Coming Soon: How we went from “just one more” to adopting 5 times.

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  1. You guys are an inspiration. With your pure intentions to change another child’s life, you are richly blessed. I guess everything really worked well for you guys. And now you have five kids. I am amazed at the provisions and how everything went perfectly well. Wish you the best.

  2. thank you – I needed this reminder that God will make a way, where the seems to be no way

  3. Heather says:

    I was so excited to see you do a post on affording adoption and the opportunity to share our story did indeed bring me out of “lurking.” We’ve been home 3 weeks with our precious 12 month old Ethiopian son. We, too, can testify to the provision that God makes when you step out on faith to do what He has called you to do. My husband is a bivocational pastor and though we are blessed to have a good income we did not have the money for our adoption just lying around. So how did we afford it? Very soon after we signed on with our adoption agency and began our homestudy process, close family members who had recently received a substantial inheritance came to us and told us they wanted to share their financial blessing with us. The amount? You guessed it. Exactly the amount we needed to finance our entire adoption. Coincidence? Absolutely not. Our God is an awesome God!

  4. We are in the middle of the adoption process for our new one year old little guy. The cost is cleaning out our hard saved emergency fund. We are trusting God to either keep all unplanned events from happening until we can build it back up or provide financially if they do.

    We are also scaling down our current budget to accommodate for the remaining funds needed.

    Thanks for doing these posts as a reminder that God provides. We weren’t seeking our little guy. He found us. (We were asked personally by his mother.) We are blessed and can’t imagine having it any other way!

    Thanks for the encouragement and reminder that if God calls, God will provide…

  5. God uses you.

    I have been praying… reading Isa. 58… bringing the homeless into your home… into your heart.

    Thank you, Mary, for this series.
    You are effecting eternity….

    All’s grace,

  6. We will soon have gone from a family of five to a family of ten in two years. We have three biological children, and not quite two years ago adopted two older boys from Ethiopia. God so clearly orchestrated this adoption, we were not planning on adopting internationally. We were foster parents and were going to adopt from foster care. But God obviously had other plans and we learned about the boys who were to become our sons – we went into it with no $$ and just moved forward. God took care of it – He was never late, but rarely early. It was amazing. We took a small loan from my parents for travel funds that we were able to pay back within seven months with our tax return.

    We again we looking to adopt from foster care, when we learned about two more boys in Ethiopia – one who has the same medical condition that one of our biological children has and that we are well experienced in dealing with. It was very clear that they were to come to our home. Then, in prayer, when we finally shared with one of our pastors, there were three children – no God, two, remember, two. The boys.

    There were clearly three. Well, we didn’t think it was possible to do that – to add another child to the adoption. Followed the leading and found out that it not only was possible, but that our adoption agency (a Christian organization) was thrilled to help us with the addition. After reviewing a lot of waiting children, we accepted the referral of a little girl with medical needs.

    We made the decision to adopt again in late January, and yesterday I delivered our dossier to the courier to take to the embassies in Washington DC!!! It will be in the hands of our adoption agency by the end of the week, or early next week at the latest, and then on its way to Ethiopia for translation and then a court date. We still are working on the funds that we need by court date, but at this point it is down to $11,000 and two pay periods coming during the time before we might get a court date. Still short, but the end is in sight.

    We fundraised – a donut sale at church, with huge donations and part of the proceeds going to Show Hope, because this cannot just stop with our family. I returned to work full time to raise the funds, and look forward to being home again with my kids.

    God has provided each step of the way. If we need $11,000 by June 15th, I am sure that He will provide a way, as long as we do our part. I cannot see how, but I am sure that one way or the other it will be there. So, we keep working, even though it doesn’t seem like it will be enough. God has been driving this whole time, I know He is in control.

    By the end of the summer, we will have 8 children, ages 14, 14, 13, 12, 10, 10, 9 and 9. God does amazing things!

  7. Oh wow…..I needed to read this today.

    We have 4 beautiful biological children – 3 sons and a daughter. I want another daughter so badly, and adoption keeps popping into my head and consuming my heart! I think it may be God’s will for us to add to our family through adoption.

    I like many are worried about the financial aspect. We have a good income (we are a one income family), but we have some debt due to financial irresponsibility in the past. We are doing Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and hope to be debt-free but the house in 5 years (we have lots of debt! But with a six-figure income, I hope to kill that debt quickly!) . We have a budget and a plan. WE CAN DO THIS! However, I feel called to adopt a child in the next year or two.

    I hope and pray that we will be able to work it all out. I will apply for every grant I can find. I will use the tax credit. I will beg, borrow, but not steal (LOL!) to make adoption a reality someday.

    Thanks for all of the encouragement and wisdom here. It gives me hope. God knows my little girl is out here somewhere….and he will provide.

  8. Stephanie B in Richmond says:

    We were matched with our baby boy on April 14th and on April 28 he was placed into our home via domestic adoption. We used an “extra” biweekly paycheck from December to fund our homestudy, fingerprints, background checks, etc and then called around to different agencies to try to find a situation to match with. Alot of the agencies were WAY out of our pricerange. We knew we had a tax return coming but we weren’t sure of the exact amount. Xander’s placement fee was paid with our tax return and is also the same exact amount of my husband’s adoption benefit through his employer. When we are reimbursed we plan on putting that directly into savings for a future adoption.

  9. We have adopted 4 children internationally, and are working on our 5th child. We live on one income, and it is not that large! We have added 4 children in 4 years…sometimes we had the money in our bank account and other times we were amazed and where the money cam from. But, it always has come in time when we have stepped out in faith.

    Our current adoption is much more difficult to fund. We are determined to make it work. I am selling items on Cragslist and eBay. We plan to have a garage sale when the weather permits. We started out with fifty (50) dollars. We did not even have the 250 dollar application fee so we put that on our credit card. We then had our first set of agency fees and we were not sure where that money was coming from, but we got a higher than expected tax refund and the were paid for by that “additional” money. (We had debts from our last adoption that we needed to pay off with the majority of what we thought we were getting back.) We then had to pay $830 for immigration which is coming from a retirement account from when I was working that I had NO idea I even had. This account will pay for the rest of our agency fees and the fees to submit our dossier. I got a statement in the mail shortly after I prayed about how to fund this adoption. I do not EVER remember receiving a statement for this account before, but I did look back at my contract and sure enough my employer agreed to put money into this retirement account on my behalf as part of my benefits package. This will leave us travel costs which we have at least a year until we have to pay for those. We will have another tax refund that we hope will be able to cover all the costs.

    For our first adoption, we took out a home equity loan. We were given about 1,500 from friends and family, and we put our airfare on credit cards. The airfare was not that high, and we were able to pay it off quickly once we returned home. I was working at the time and we were a two income family for a year following this adoption, so our income allowed us to pay off that debt in a short period of time.

    For our next adoption, which resulted in two children coming home, we used our tax refund (which included the 10,000 credit from the first adoption) and all of our savings. We did put the airline tickets on our credit card and we are still paying that off each month. But, I have two beautiful boys so I think about them when I write that check to the credit card company.

    Adoption number 3 for child number 4 was a repeat of our last adoption. We used our tax refund for the majority of our fees. My father passed away and we received a small inheritance. We used that towards our adoption. My father would have approved! 🙂 What better way to use that money? To bring a child into our home. My mother gifted us our airfare to bring our daughter home.

  10. We adopted 2 children from Ethiopia almost a year ago. God totally provided for our needs. We each had a good paying job, and since God’s perfect timing was slower than ours, we had time to save.

    Once we were down to one salary, we wondered how were we going to pay for this or that, and God totally provided. After several instances of this, I would just shake my head and say, “Ok, ok, God, I get it! I won’t worry about money!”

  11. what a beautiful story to read on a Sunday evening. thanks so much for sharing. we have adopted through foster care so never had to come up with $ but i totally agree that God does have plans for his little children and leads them to their families–and conversely, that God has plans for us and will lead us to our children. we just try to stay open and listening so we can know what we should do next.
    after having 1 foster daughter that went home to her parents and 1 foster daughter we adopted, we’re now on the list for another foster daugher. our adopted daughter has 4 brothers and needs a sister!
    thanks again for sharing!

  12. Jill F. says:

    I needed to read this today. Thanks, especially, for the encouragement to adopt out of foster care. My hubby and I have eight children with six living at home and excitedly started the process to adopt from Ethiopia last year. We got our homestudy completed and ready for approval when my hubby was laid off. That was six months ago. We could not proceed with the adoption until we could prove income level (I guess we could have lied about it but I wanted my social worker to be praying with us for a new job etc.). Now he has a little bit of temporary work but the savings is used up so we are prayerfully beginning training and prep to become certified to be foster parents in the hopes of foster/adopting. We begin the process in July and should be through by September and ready to go…my heart still longs for an Ethiopian child (we were seeking to adopt a sibling group) but we pray that God would clearly lead us into His will.

    Thanks again for all your encouragement everyone! What blessed testimonies of our awesome God!

  13. This post has really encouraged me. We have 2 of our own children and I am unable to have any more. We knew that we would adopt if that time came and we have been led to make that decision over the past two months. We have, however, been unable to start even with the home study, but have had so many encouraging signs that God will be with us and it will happen in HIS time. The hardest part for me is knowing that the Philippines will not release a child under the age of 3, the process is 2-3 years, which means my little girl is in an orphanage now waiting for us or is just about to be born. I think of her often and I can almost see her in the eyes of my youngest 3 year old daughter now.

    I am so glad I have read your stories. People will say things throughout the day (never mind the almost 2 hour sermon about praise and faithfulness today), that seem to be reminders from God that he is in this and all we need to do is sit back and wait for him, then tell these same people of his greatness when his plan does come for us to physically see.

    Thank you again to everyone.


  14. Oh my goodness I love your blog. I’d stopped over to enter the contest and decided to look around a bit. It’s beautiful what you’re doing. I’m really touched.

  15. Our two adopted (foster/adopt) children have truly been the greatest blessings in our life. I am grateful each day to be a mother to our children. God certainly gave us two happy and intelligent children.

    Adopting through foster care is incredibly affordable. Every expense was paid for the state. Families who adopt special needs children (this includes children without disabilities, i.e. sibling groups, biracial children of any age, etc) also may qualify to receive a monthly subsidy from the state to cover expenses. Medical expenses are covered until 18 years old. And tuition at a state college is also covered.

    We adopted two infants, but there are thousands of older children looking for a family. To see portraits of children who are desperately waiting for a home visit Heart Gallery of America –

  16. I ‘stumbled’ unto your site from moneysavingmom. I read your adoption stories and loved them. We’ve adopted two siblings from foster care and just recently adopted another child through a private adoption. Both adoptions were complete miracles, especially our last one. Our last child was dropped into our lives with no warning whatsoever, just doing a favor for a friend and God took it from there. We spent nothing for the first adoption and just a couple thousand for the second one. My husband had no work(self employed)for a long time yet God made sure we had enough to cover our attorney fees!!
    My hubby was adopted from the local foster care hence our interest in adopting through our local children & youth.


  17. Thank you for your incredible account of provision, I needed to hear this and once again trust wholeheartedly that God will provide for our adoption… I am so blessed to read about your family.
    My hubby has thrown a sushi party to fundraisi and I am selling Ethiopian coffee…I will re-post how we receive the rest of our money as soon as it arrives!

  18. Thank you for your incredible account of provision, I needed to hear this and once again trust wholeheartedly that God will provide for our adoption… I am so blessed to read about your family.
    My hubby has thrown a sushi party to fund raise and I am selling Ethiopian coffee…I will re-post how we receive the rest of our money as soon as it arrives!

  19. I just found your blog – and this post on adoption gives me happy chills. We adopted our first daughter domestically, and God amazingly provided the finances in just the right timing. A one-time never-before re-enlistment bonus for my military husband. It was amazing. Adoption is such a miracle. And then, God wowed us again, and gave us a surprise pregnancy after 5 yrs of infertility.
    We hope to adopt again – my heart is drawn toward Eastern Europe, but we will see what God has in mind. 😉

  20. We are a family of 8 now – 6 kids.. 3 through the miracle of adoption. My husband is a pastor and makes under 40K/year. We adopted our kids from South Korea in 2006, 2007 and 2008 and we are debt free except our say that God provides is an understatement 🙂 🙂 We used a home equity line of credit for our first (then paid it off quickly), a partial inheritance for part of the second and some grants and for our 3rd we had nothing but $1000 in the bank and a sense we were supposed to move forward. Within 24 hrs of looking at our little Corey’s file, a grant agency called to inquire about our turned out they received our app 20 months prior for our previous son…we knew it was a miracle and so did they when we told them we were looking at a file and only God knew that day 🙂 We received a lot of grants from wonderful agencies as well as no interest loans. Using principles learned from Dave Ramsey we paid down our last adoption debt w/i 6 mo while learning to cut more than we ever thought possible from our budget..God gave us creativity. Our adoptions were 25K each and God is soooo good 🙂 With Him all things are possible!

  21. We have 2 grown sons. In June 08 we brought home our now 10 year old daugther. We started talking about adopting again but not sure how to cover the cost. We’re still paying the on the home equity loan from the first one. After reading all these stories of how God provided, I have hope.


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