When we are talking with our friends and family about adoption, money inevitably becomes one of the focuses of conversation. We often hear things like, “We’ve thought about adopting, but is it just so expensive.” or “Why does it cost so much?” The friend/family member usually has good intentions and may even be trying to defend Jordan and I on why we have to give up so much in order to bring our children home. Because I want to use this blog as a place for our friends, family and anyone else to learn more about adoption (and God’s heart for it), I can’t let this topic go unaddressed. First, I want to explain why adoption costs as much as it does… and then I will tell you why none of that matters.
So, where does all the money go? The first misconception people have is that we have to write one big check to our agency and that they are making a large profit from this check. That simply is not true. The cost of adoption is spread to many different people/agencies/governments. A large portion of the cost is the travel. Unfortunately, the airlines can’t fly us all over the world for free. We also have to pay our doctor for blood work, notaries for their services, a social worker for her time, the list goes on and on. Jordan and I have no problem with where the money is going. There are reasons for them all. No one is taking advantage of us. All the procedures are necessary to ensure that we are capable parents. We are happy to comply. I’m all about transparency, so here is a BASIC breakdown of adoption costs from Ethiopia:Total Average Expenses: $30,000 and up
Application Fee: $350
Initial assessment of your family’s information to assure that all country requirements can be met to complete an adoption in your chosen program.
Home Study Services: $2,200
This is the education process where a social worker will partner with your family to help prepare you for the challenges ahead as an adoptive parent. The social worker will also be learning about your family in order to prepare a document for inclusion in the dossier that explains to the courts how you will provide a stable environment and loving family for your child.
AGCI Adoption Services: $6,000
Provides staff and services from AGCI throughout the adoption process, and for years to come through the post-adoption phase. Unlike many agencies, AGCI always welcomes your call.
USCIS and Related Fees: $805-$890
Filing fees and related costs to file your documents with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service.
International Fees: $5,500
Your dossier is a detailed collection of documents about your family. Many of these have to be notarized, certified, and authenticated. When the dossier is complete, we translate it and facilitate your adoption case in-country through our foreign service providers, the government agencies, and the courts.
Care of Child Fees: $4,500
These fees provide care for your child in their birth country. Included is an orphan care fee that supports ongoing orphan care and payment for your child’s medical checkup and HIV/PCR testing.
Travel Costs: $6,000-$15,000
Two trips are required to Ethiopia. Costs include airfare, transportation, food, lodging, a travel visa for you, and an immigrant visa for your child.
Post-Adoption Services: $2,500-$3,500
These fees provide for the creation, administration, and translation of your post-adoption reports. Other post-adoption expenses include your re-adoption fee and ongoing medical insurance.
Here is the answer our agency gives as to way adoption costs so much:
It is true, adopting a child should be free. Unfortunately an international adoption is quite a complicated legal process. During your adoption process, you (and the agency you are adopting through) will be working with a myriad of entities. These include foreign governments, the USCIS department, county and state authorities, as well as the federal level state department (not to mention the numerous notaries you will need, police checks, medical reports and social services evaluations). There are many people who spend a lot of time working to adequately prepare the legal procedures for the adoption process, and it ultimately ends up costing quite a bit of money. Although most of the money you pay to other entities, not to us, we still include them in our estimate so that you can know realistically all the costs you will be responsible for during the adoption.
With all of that said, when God calls us to do something it makes absolutely no difference how much it costs. As Christians, we are required to take up our cross and follow Him. Follow Him anywhere He leads. It is not about us. We are to give our time, talents and, yes, OUR MONEY to God for Him to use. He may want 10% or He may ask for it all. We follow a Radical God. Jesus didn’t come talking about rainbows and butterflies. In Matthew 10, He says “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give it up for me, you will find it.”
Many years ago, both Jordan and I had individually made the decision to adopt. Yet, like many, we were waiting to apply until we had more money saved and biological kids out of the household. We wanted to be responsible and feel secure. The problem with that is God wanted us to start this journey now. Waiting for every penny to be in the bank wouldn’t take “a mustard seed amount of faith” and would leave no room for God to show His providing power. (Disclaimer: Not that there is anything wrong with being careful, and I am in no way recommending reckless spending!) Recently, I read another adoption blog that said “often God will fund what He favors.” That hit me. We must be careful of being so logical that we leave God out of the equation. It doesn’t matter how much it costs because we serve a God who loves adoption. He called us to this and He is bigger than money. Need more proof? I’ll let Jesus tell you Himself.
Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be. No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. So I tell you, don’t worry about everyday life — whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn’t life consist of more than food and clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not. And why worry about your clothes? Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you? You have so little faith! So don’t worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. -Matthew 6:19-34
I know that money is a touchy subject. Annnd… I’m not good at beating around the bush… so here are my thoughts. Money is a fact of life, but it should not rule our lives. Jesus didn’t dance around how He feels about it: “You cannot serve both God and money.” Perhaps this is why I have heard story after story about God providing the money needed to complete an adoption… and just maybe why I’ve heard about EVEN MORE families who have made adoption, and caring for orphans, a priority in their lives. Jesus tells us to store up our treasure in Heaven, which means spending our earthly money on heavenly causes. Our needs are so small. It is all our WANTS that stop us from helping others– from showing God to the world. This process has opened my eyes to all the things I do not need. I am not-so-eagerly expecting God to slowly start asking me to give up things I think I need. Adoption is expensive, but not much (if any) more expensive than a new car or perhaps upgrading to a nicer house. “Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will be also.” Where is your heart? What consumes your thoughts? Where is God telling you to put your treasure?
For more on living a radical Christian life, check out this video (click the link). Maybe it will turn your world upside down too.