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How did you guys afford an adoption?

Posted on: August 6th, 2011 by Kate Hamernik

Unless you are brand new  here –  you know we just brought home our newest addition ‘Baby C’.   This was our third child and second adoption journey – we often are asked…..

‘How did you guys afford an adoption process?’ People know we are not {by California standards}  rich, we aren’t hurting for anything, but we do not have what is needed for an adoption process in the  bank  – so how on Earth did we do it??


I know not everyone is necessarily interested in adoption – but I do hear lots of people say they would if they could afford it.   Maybe this will be an encouragement for those that are considering it – or apply it to anything you think might be out of reach in your budget!   The key is simple – make a little extra money and save a little more of what you already make and just do that for a year or so.

Here are a couple things that helped us…..

I need to mention one thing off the bat – we had A LOT of support!   We had friends, family, and even perfect strangers that donated to our adoption.   We had a few amazing friends that put together an amazing silent auction and bunco game with proceeds benefiting our adoption, a few friends blogged about our journey with links to our tax deductible fundraiser.   Many people support the idea of adoption, but just don’t really feel it is the right fit for their family but are excited to help – we could not have done it without that support – we had  more than  25% donated just out of the goodness of other’s hearts.

I mention this first because I want people to know that this is common with adoption journeys and it should be taken into consideration when planning an adoption budget (you shouldn’t count on a hard number, but it is something to consider).   I   also mention it first so nobody thinks we did it ‘all on our own’ – we totally didn’t – we feel we were blessed by God and others  with emotional and financial support and we just want to make that part clear.   I just can’t take credit for our entire adoption fundraising process – it was a community effort.

That being said – we still had to use some strategies to come up with the rest and I thought people might want to hear what worked for us.

Keep in mind an adoption (usually) does not happen overnight – it can easily take a year or more.

The first thing we did was got rid of all unsecured debt– we paid off everything.   Going to a ‘cash only’ system helped us to find a little extra to just deposit into a separate savings account labeled just for our adoption expenses. Do you need to do this? No.   It did make it easier though.   We didn’t have a lot, but once we committed to getting rid of it – it really did help.   We are sold out for Dave Ramsey – nothing new really, we just like his style.

*”How did you do that?” – We cut back and found some creative ways to make and save money.   Several things hubby took on  a few extra hours a week, we cut our basic cable down to nothing (we survived!),  I started this blog as a way to organize my deals as well as for accountability, this blog also provided a small (like less than a middle school babysitter ‘small’) income that we used to pay down our debt, I made crafts that I sold on Etsy and at craft fairs, we had a garage sale and instead of blowing the money we put it towards our debt… get the picture.   We weren’t perfect – every ‘diet’ has it’s ups and downs – but overall we followed it to the letter and were very happy we committed to the idea.

The cool thing is once we had eliminated our debt we were able to save faster – one – because we weren’t paying on a loan, but also because now we were on a ‘money diet’ of sorts and we were able to save faster.   Do I suggest people live like this forever? – heck no – but for a time, it is a great exercise in self control that we hope will translate into growth in other areas of our lives too, not just financial.

We got a little bit ‘green’– We aren’t the greenest family you’ll ever meet – but the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) will save you money.   We tried to use less of everything without going crazy – we made sure to turn out the lights we weren’t using, started washing in cold water, used cloth napkins instead of paper towels, we got water aerators and EE lights on ‘Earth Day’ for free at Home Depot and installed them, we stopped buying bottled water all together, we planted our own tomato plant in the back yard and took advantage of grandma & grandpa’s garden to cut back and eat organically at the same time.   We tried to buy things we needed used.

We took advantage of FREE entertainment – You’ve maybe heard me say it before – I started this blog to (if nothing else) organize my calendar of free events!   I thought I may as well make it open for all to see right?   We learned when we could check out free movies, music, festivals, kids entertainment, museums and more! Lucky you! You don’t have to research all these on your own – I did it for you – CLICK HERE to see our calendar of freebies!

We used internet rewards programs – You’ve heard me talk about these before.   We used Ebates when we needed to buy something online and deposited the quarterly checks into our established ‘adoption fund’ account, helped us earn $5 Paypal gift cards that were also deposited immediately into the fund, we used a few others as ways to still enjoy our time without spending any more (example – I occasionally earn a $10 Starbucks or Jamba Juice gift card with ‘Shop it to Me’ – that doesn’t save any money – but we had cut those extras out of our budget – so it was a nice to go and indulge in a totally overpriced coffee {Starbucks} that didn’t really cost me anything.)

We bartered/traded  for stuff we needed/wanted -We traded with friends/family all the time!   Everything from babysitting to web design to crafts and advertising space on our blog was traded for things we needed as a family.   This will work on different levels for different people – but think about the things that you pay for each month and see what you might be able to trade something. The goal is simply to cut down on what you would have spent anyway and deposit the difference into the fund.

We bought what was on sale – I can’t remember the last time my grocery list had ‘grapes’ or ‘bell peppers’ on it – those are both very popular items in our house – but our list always says ‘fruit’ and ‘veggies’ – luckily we don’t have a lot of picky eaters in our house – so I buy pretty much whatever has the best special.   When we go shopping for clothing we ALWAYS start at the clearance rack, and usually have a coupon to make the discount even better.   I used drug store match up sites to score most of our toiletries and other basic care items for FREE at CVS and Rite Aid.   I love coupons, but I am not going to go so crazy as to stockpile a bunch of unhealthy food – but if you shop sales and coupons you can very easily cut down quite a bit each month – deposit into the fund!

We just stopped buying little ‘stuff’ (for a while)  – I like stuff, my husband likes stuff, so do the kids – really – who doesn’t?    The  little $6 toy, $8 outfit, $4 Starbucks, and even the little  Dollar bin  impulse buys  all added up…..There is a facebook group called ‘I went to Target to buy shampoo and I spent $150’ with over 100,000 members for a reason.   If you can stop ‘accidentally’ spending $150 at Target you can save easily!   I learned to love my crock pot and my husband rarely ate out for lunch at work – even a drive thru is going to cost a guy $7*ish* right? And it is straight up junk!  We stopped buying soda to have at the house and rarely drank it out.  When we went ‘cash only’ we each got an envelope of ‘blow money’ each month – his was $50 – I decided all I needed was $25 – we found that it was just enough ‘freedom’ to keep us from throwing in the towel all together.   We got so used to using our cash  envelopes and just stuck to it.

It was the big stuff too   – our TV is 9 years old and not HD, much less ‘3D’ – we have no plans to upgrade it until it completly burns out – we feel we probably already watch more  TV than we need to.    My husband continues to drive our trusty 1999 Camry with 250,000 miles on it, we just couldn’t justify upgrading a car that ran while fundraising (side note – my car flat lined during the process & we did end up ‘needing’ to buy a new(er) car – more about that HERE – it was frustrating to get off our Dave Ramsey plan a bit – but it happens) – we are currently paying off my car & (God willing) will buy him a new(er) car with 100% cash down.   Our living room carpet is pretty much worn through and we have been saying ‘some day we’ll just do hardwood floors’ since we moved in 6 years ago….someday we will.    We have a homemade ottoman that  we would like to replace  (it’s functional, just  not what we want, but we don’t ‘need’ a new one  – so it stays for a while longer).   Our kids go to public preschool *gasp* instead of the private one we really would have preferred, we figure if we keep up with our ‘money diet’ we’ll be able to consider private high school and college when the time is right – and that will probably matter more.   We waited two years to upgrade my phone (which was already the ‘year old model’ when we got it) just to avoid the upgrade charge – we upgraded the week we came home and knew the process was debt free (waited until we knew there were no surprises).

At the end of the day – there are lots of adoption loans and other options to finance an adoption – people finance cars all the time without even thinking of it.   Why not an adoption?   Our personal philosophy is to do our very best to live debt free – it’s a struggle and I know not normal, so I am not saying it is the only way to pay for an adoption (or whatever you want!) – but it worked for us!

Random -but if your family is considering adoption please feel free to use the contact us page and email me! This is not an adoption blog – but it truly is my passion and I am happy to help if I can!

Enjoy ~ kate


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