Sunday, July 22, 2012

Faith, France, and Fundraising


Adoption is expensive. 

Lifeline currently estimates the cost of an adoption from China at $30,080.  

I don't know about you, but I don't have that kind of cash sitting around, and there aren't a lot more areas where we can cut back.  Our furniture is more than 25 years old and I've recovered or refinished it so many times I've lost count.  Our cars  have close to 150,000 miles and counting.  We don't have cable, or even a television for that matter.  We rarely eat out., and if we do it is usually an inexpensive place.  Kelly's colleagues tease him about being "cheap."  

We are blessed that both boys have scholarships that cover large parts of their law school and college bills, but there are still lots of education related expenses not covered by the scholarships.There just isn't a lot of extra money to funnel into adoption right now.

Yet, God has made it clear that He wants us to bring Kaichen into our family. She has already waited 8 years.  So, on faith, we began the process.

Fortunately, the fees weren't all due at once.  Spreading things out over a year and a half definitely helped.  Unfortunately, our costs are a little higher than the estimate.  We had to have background checks done in every state where we have lived since we were 18 years old.  If you know us, you are already chuckling over that one.  We have moved 19 times since we got married, and a few times before that!  We also have two adult children still living at home.  That means the added expense of FBI fingerprinting and background checks for them. 

By faith, we pressed on.  Paying all the fees as they came.  Cashing in any savings we had, going to work part-time, eliminating all the expenses possible.

The church gave us $5000.  What a blessing!  A friend slipped me a $50 bill.  Another huge blessing, as her gift encouraged me and strengthened my faith.

Kelly's bonus this year, combined with my seasonal salary from H & R Block, and anything else we could save got tucked away into our adoption account.  It looked  like we made it and had everything we needed.

Adoption is hard.

During the ten years that Ana and Jenny were here, we saw countless doctors and psychologists.  We spent hours in therapies of every variety.  Because the girls could never be left alone, we tagged teamed every part of our lives, seldom spending time together.  We simply gave up on trying to do fun family outings.  Our family struggled just to cope with the overwhelming needs of two girls bent on always creating chaos and anger in the space around them.

Once they moved out, some semblance of normal returned.  We could remove locks and alarms from inside our house and relax again. 

When Dan was in France for school, we decided to spend a week going to Paris.  We could spend some "couple-time," and stop in and see Dan a few times, too.  We never had a honeymoon.  We haven't had a vacation in…well, "forever."  Our 30th anniversary is next year.  By then, we will have another young child so a get-a-way will be out of the question.  And, while this adoption looks like it will be very different from our previous experience, we know that every adoption comes with challenges that place strain on a marriage and family.  It just seemed like now was the best time to take some space just for us and make sure we are strong and together before jumping into this new adventure. 

We weren't extravagant by any means.  We stayed in a room on the 3rd floor of an old convent without a working elevator.  There was no air conditioning.  Not even screens on the windows.   I've seen bigger bathrooms in RV's.  Most of our meals featured bread, cheese, and fruit purchased at the market or bakeries.  We only ate at a really nice place once.  With a museum pass, we saw lots of things and had a good time for a minimal cost. We even climbed all those steps up the Eiffel Tower because we didn't want to pay for the elevator! 

 It was fun!  More importantly, finding our way around a new place and overcoming language challenges reminded me that when we combine our strengths, Kelly and I can accomplish much more than either of us could on our own.  That's a good thing to remember headed into another adoption.


Adoption is full of surprises.

Once we finally received our official referral, we finally knew which SWI Claire is from and what our in country adoption process is going to look at.   We were a little surprised by the distances between New Day and Taiyuan City and Guangzhou.  We will need to spend a little more money on travel than we had anticipated.  Surprise!

After talking with lots of people who have been there, we realized that it is very important to actually spend a couple days at New Day.  We need to know as much as we can about what Claire's life has been like.  We need to meet the people who have been caring for her and learn all we can from them.  Someday this will help us as we help Claire piece together her past.  A few extra days in country will also cost a little more than we anticipated.  Surprise!

In China, children must be picked up at the  SWI that has official custody.  If the child is living in a foster home, they must be escorted back to the original city for "gotcha day."  That means that Kaichen and an escort will have to travel to Taiyuan City.  Since we will also be traveling that route, it is expected that we will pay for travel and lodging for two more people.  Surprise!

In our recent "travel" meeting at Lifeline, we learned about how many gifts we are required to bring to thank various officials and people helping in this adoption.  We hadn't really budgeted for 20 some gifts ranging from $10 to $20 each.  We also learned that it is expected that we purchase a gift for the orphanage.  That means we will need to buy formula or blankets or shoes for lots of children.  That wasn't in our budget.  Surprise!

With all these surprises related to money, there was a propensity on my part to panic.  Come on faith, where are you?  These extra expenses don't surprise God.  Not at all.

Since I know that faith without works is dead, I decided on some fundraising to supplement our savings.  I set up a storefront with Just Love Coffee.  We get paid for each sale made from our Internet store. 

A friend with a sewing business volunteered to have a special fundraising sale of beautiful little girl dresses.  She is donating all of the proceeds. 

I've been letting everyone know about these sales.  Putting up posters, handing out business cards, sending emails, and posting on Facebook.  I don't enjoy sales much, but I'm willing to do all I can to meet these surprise expenses.

The biggest surprise is how hostile some folks have been over this fundraising endeavor. 

I've heard, "If you can't afford to adopt, how can you afford a child?" and "If you don't have the money, you shouldn't be adopting."  I've been told that this apparent shortage of funds is a "sign that God doesn't want us adopting."  It has been suggested that "fundraising" is not a legitimate way to acquire funds for adoption.  And, I've been asked why we went to France when we didn't have the money we needed for this adoption.

Well, I believe God has made His opinion of adoption pretty clear.  I am also convinced that He has called our family to take on the challenge of caring for another child in an up-close-and-personal way.  We may not all be called to adopt a child, but all of us are called to care for orphans in some way.  That generally requires some amount of money.  

Fundraising is acceptable for class trips, baseball uniforms, robotics team travel to competitions, cheer-leading camp, and a myriad of other goals.  Why would it be unacceptable when used to get a child from an orphanage to a family of her own?

Finally, we took our trip without realizing we would have additional expenses.  I admit that I might have worked harder at researching all possible costs, or even kept back a fund for unexpected expenses.  But, I'm not sure that skipping our trip would have been the best choice.  The thing every orphaned child needs most is a mom and a dad who love each other and a family ready to take on all the challenges of loving him/ her through the rough places created by multiple traumas.  Our trip to France was an experience that helped us strengthen our emotional reserves and prepare for the challenges to come. 

So, I'm back to faith.  We are trusting that God has specially prepared us to meet the needs of the little girl He has chosen for us.  We are trusting that He will provide all we need to carry that out. 

A price tag of more than $30,000 seemed impossible.  Gifts of a little more than $5000 helped.  We paid all the rest with the "out-of-pocket" resources God has provided.  Now we need a few thousand more to cover the "surprise" expenses.   I think I'll keep on fundraising and trusting that God will supply all our needs in His perfect time.

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