ok, if you are just completely behind the times, here’s all you need to know. we’re moving, we’ve started the process to adopt from Japan. it’s all going quickly, all at the same time.
we have gotten many questions lately from family and friends, some that we have answered on the FAQ page on our website, some not. the biggest ones lately have been about the financial side of things, so i want to first address some myths, and second be very transparent and give a complete breakdown of the fees in this process.
myth 1: “$25,000?! why would you pay that much for a baby when you can have one or get one from the states?”
let’s get one thing straight, right out of the gate. we are not, i repeat, absolutely not paying for a baby. that is unethical and unjust. that is called baby-selling. we are not paying for a baby, we are paying for services and legal fees. we are not flying to japan, paying an orphanage for a baby, flying back home. NO. we are paying our agency here in the states to do a home study. we are paying for legal documents like passports, copies of birth certificates/marriage license, filing fees to be found eligible to adopt, background checks, airplane tickets, transportation, our child’s passport and visa, post-placement visits, our child to be deemed legally ours. all of it is being done legally, the way both the U.S. and Japan deem legal and ethical.
for the second part of that question i will answer it like this: you’re right. i could have a biological child. i’m perfectly healthy. but like we have addressed before, whether or not i can is not why we are adopting. the question for us has never been “should we adopt” it has been “when.” to be totally transparent, for a long time i’ve debated whether or not i even want to get pregnant. i’m willing to if that’s what the Lord has for me, but both jonathan and i are totally fine if adoption is all we ever do. and even if we do have a biological child one day, we want to adopt again. it’s okay to not understand why we feel this way, but we believe we are being obedient to the Lord in this.
you’re right. we could get licensed to be foster parents and it would be much less expensive. but that’s not where we feel called. both of us, before we even got married, felt like international was the way to go for our family. i don’t have a better answer for you than that, it’s just the way we were wired. for us missions and adoption go hand in hand. that has a lot to do with wanting to go international. i’m not saying we won’t ever adopt domestically or through foster care, but it is much less likely. and just food for thought, lots of people spend that much money here through hormone and IVF treatments. lots of families pay that much money for hospital bills if they had a complicated pregnancy, labor and delivery, or their children had complications or stayed in the NICU.
myth 2: “if you are having to fundraise, doesn’t that mean you can’t afford it? if you can’t afford to pay for it, you probably shouldn’t do it. why should i pay for your child?”
at this very moment, you are right when you say we can’t afford it. we don’t have an extra $25,000 sitting at the bank. adopting or not, i don’t know very many people who have that much extra money stowed away. here’s the deal: we don’t want to go into debt. we don’t like debt. the Lord has been gracious to us in that when we have had debt, we have been able to pay it off relatively quickly.
fundraising to help pay for adoption, international or not, is very common. we have been in the foster and adoption community and ministry for years. we have been to several conferences. we have met countless families. i have yet to talk to a single one, particularly those who have adopted internationally, that did not do at least 1 fundraiser. the best way to explain it is this: ever been on a mission trip? did you have an extra $3,000-6,000 to pay for that? no? so what did you do? you sent support letters. you did garage sales. you sold t-shirts. you held a fun run. you paid for what you could, and asked for financial support simultaneously. and why? because you felt called to go. is everyone called to go overseas? no. is everyone called to make disciples and to join in kingdom work world wide? yes. this has been true for us. we have both been on trips and raised support, but in the past almost 3 years now, we have had the joy of being senders (those who give financially), and it has been such a blessing to be a part of joining in the work that God is doing all over the world via sending someone He has called to do it. and we will continue to support people overseas, including missionaries and our Compassion children, even while fundraising for our adoption. we don’t stop one just because we’re doing something else now.
adoption is the same. is everyone called to adopt? no. is everyone called and commanded to love and care for widows and orphans in their distress? yes. for us, the call is to actually welcome a child into our family. for many, this is not the case, but how they do care for the fatherless is by helping to bring them home, via financial support. there are many other ways to serve too, like volunteering, getting respite care certified, praying, going on a short-term trip. we do not expect to pay nothing (we’ve already paid for several things). we would never ask for everyone to chip in and us do nothing. there are very specific things this money and these multiple fundraisers we are doing are going towards, and i would love to give you a breakdown of the costs and share with you. when we give to any person or organization, we ask lots of questions too, because it is important to know where your money is going and how it is being used!
Breakdown of the costs:
Agency Application: $50, already paid for.
Updated Passport for Christa/copies of birth certificates/marriage license: $272.10, already paid for.
Home Study: $2,650. this is what approves us to be able to have a child in our home. $1,000 of that goes to our agency. it is used to pay the social worker for multiple interviews, reports, mileage, etc. the other $1,650 is for the home study itself. the home study is good for 1 year. after 1 year if we have not been placed with a child, the state of Texas says it must be redone. and yes we would have to pay for it again.
Agency Retainer Fee: $200 (we will be paying for this). this is if the agency has to pay our social worker for extra mileage, expediting any paperwork for us. if they don’t spend any or all of it, we get it back.
I600A: $890. this is the petition we file along with our home study to USCIS (United States Citizen Immigration Services). This tells the US we have been approved by a certified agency to be adoptive parents, and we intend to adopt from Japan. $720 of that is the filing fee, the rest is the $85 per person charge for us to get biometric fingerprinting done, to confirm we are who we say we are. our fingerprints are good for 18 months. after 18 months if we have not been placed with a child, we have to pay to redo them.
Training/Education: $300, already done and paid for.
Short-term Trip (our trip we want to take to volunteer at our agency, not required): $6,100. $3,000 of that is air-fare, $2,100 of that is hotel stay, $600-700 of that is train rides, $500 for food, $300 for any other random expenses that come up. we will be staying for 2 weeks. this is not play time for us, we consider this a mission trip. we will be doing service stuff, not vacationing.
Travel for Child: $8,240. $3,500 for air-fare, a possible one-way ticket if required for baby (another $1500), hotel $2100, train $200, food $500, passport for baby $100, visa for baby $40, random expenses $300. once again, 2 weeks, not playing, we actually get to adopt our baby in Japan. obviously a required trip and one that we will be elated to take 🙂
Post Placement: $1,170. this is to ensure that our baby is safe and adjusting well. we are required 3 post placement visits over a 6 month period of time, reports to state of texas and japan. $750 of that is for 2 visits and 1 report, the other $450 is the additional 3rd visit.
so, just so everyone knows we have a personal savings account, and an adoption savings account that is completely separate. we put money into both. any money we raise goes into the adoption savings account and goes absolutely untouched unless it is for one of the adoption-related expenses stated above.
our puzzle piece fundraiser goes towards our home study. we may have our home study paid for because we have to do it so quickly, but even if we do, this money will go toward our filing fee, fingerprints, and short-term trip.
big fundraisers like garage sales, a possible benefit concert, etc. will go towards one or both of our trips. little things like babysitting, our etsy shop friends, t-shirts goes to trips and post-placement visits.
pledge miles, both AA and running/walking miles goes to air-fare.
any one time donations are there for emergencies, like our last minute trip to japan when we get a referral and have to drop everything. we are planning on applying for a few matching grants, and if that happens we may not need to raise as much (if we raise x amount of dollars, they match that money).
if we do not use everything we raised, our plan unless anyone contests, is to donate it to the people who helped us the most: our 2 agencies. without them and their work, adoption for us isn’t possible. none of this money will be used for us personally.
we are keeping a detailed spreadsheet, so each time a donation is given, no matter what it is, the name of the donor, the amount, and what fundraiser it came from is put on the spreadsheet. because this is a true service to us. we have tried to come up with fundraisers where we can also serve you. like babysitting. we’re not asking for a certain rate – you need a date night, awesome. we’ll get some parenting practice, you get a date night, we put the money in our adoption fund. you buy a puzzle piece, our baby gets to see your name on the back of it, and we pray for you personally. you want to get rid of junk? we’ll take it off your hands. we think health is important, we want to motivate you and us to stay healthy by walking/running. all other expenses (and believe me more have already come up than we expected) are coming from us. we’re not asking for a baby shower. we will pay for all of our baby’s stuff, which is why we didn’t include it in the above costs. we are paying for every long-distance phone call to and from japan. we are paying for certified copies of documents. we know this is a lot to take in, but hopefully it makes sense.
side note: originally we were going to re-do a lot of things on our new house, but that is all on hold until further notice. adoption stuff for us is more important than new floor and paint on walls – especially considering we are getting our house in great condition.
we know this was long and detailed, but hope this was helpful and answered your questions. if you don’t have a clue as to what i’m talking about with all these weird fundraising names, go to our website grafting branches.
and as always, we love you all and encourage any more questions you have!