Tuesday, January 29, 2013

When One Spouse Wants to Adopt & The Other Doesn't

(This post is a follow up to yesterdays post Is Adoption Right for Us.)

Andrew knew that I loved adoption before we were married. But we both hadn't really considered adopting at that point. We only discussed when we would start a family and just assumed that children would come into our family through pregnancy and birth. During our first year of marriage, I began thinking "What if we adopted?" I began dreaming about adoption and researching the cost, countries, etc. At that point, Andrew wasn't at all interested in adoption and had some reasons he did not want to adopt. So how did we get from only one of us wanting to adopt to both of us being excited to adopt?
  1. Submission to God. I had to submit my dream to God. I knew that if it was God's will for us to adopt, then God would show both of us, not just me. I could never force Andrew to want to adopt. God would have to place that desire in Andrew. In time, this is exactly what happened. Just as I couldn't force Andrew into adoption, if our case had been the opposite, Andrew couldn't have forced me into adoption. He would have needed to be patient and loving with me.

  2. Understanding and Open Conversation. We both listened to the others points of views with respect. We discussed the possibility of adoption, reasons to and not to adopt, fears about adoption, etc. for over a year. We didn't discuss it every day or even every week. But the conversation was open for us both to express our dreams and fears.

  3. Prayer. We prayed about whether God wanted us to adopt. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Is Adoption Right for Us?

How does one know if adoption is right for one's family? For Andrew and I it was a long process. We went through the following steps, but not necessarily in this order.
  1. Pray. Kay Warren shared the wisest advice I ever heard for those considering adoption (and even those who have never considered adoption). Ask God, "Do you want me to adopt?" Ask God to give you a desire to adopt, if it is His will for you to adopt.

  2. Don't Rush. Adoption is a huge decision. It took Andrew and I over a year from our first discussions about adoption until we made the decision that we were going to adopt.

  3. Hear the Heart of Adoption. Read personal stories of families who have adopted and stories from children who have been adopted. Hearing these stories will make adoption more real to you rather than an abstract thought.

  4. Research. What are your biggest fears about adoption? Finding answers to your questions will put your fears to rest and make you more confident about adoption.

  5. Consider Timing. Is adoption right for your family, but the timing wrong? For us, the timing wasn't right when I first wanted to adopt. But two years later, the timing was right to start the long adoption process. God's timing for bringing our children will be perfect for our family. I have friends who wants to adopt, but the husband is in school and they just had a baby. They know adoption is in their future, but for know they are waiting.

  6. Organize your Finances. You don't need to be rich or have a huge savings to adopt, but you do need to financially responsible. Andrew and I had to get on a budget before we could start the adoption process. From the start of our marriage, we were purposeful about not getting into debt (besides a small home mortgage) so that financial problems wouldn't prevent us from following God's will for our life, wherever that lead us.
Tomorrow's post will be on what to do when one spouse wants to adopt and the other doesn't. Yes, one of us wanted to adopt before the other!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Interest Free Loans & the Adoption Tax Credit

I don't usually encourage families to go into debt for adoption. I think that God will provide the funds if He wants a family to adopt. However, one idea for financing adoption expenses caught my eye - interest fee adoption loans!

Interest free adoption loans could be repaid with the money received from adoption tax credit. Families can get interest free adoption loans from several organizations. After their adoption is finalized they can apply for the adoption tax credit (a little over $12,970 per child). Each year, when they receive their tax refund check, they can use that money to pay off a portion of the loan! (Most families won't receive the total amount in the first year. They can carry the remaining credit forward for up to five additional years.)

There may be other places to get interest free adoption loans but here are a few that I know about -

  • The Abba Fund - Interest free loans to Christian families.

  • Lifesong Legacy Fund - The Lifesong Legacy Fund offers Interest Free Loans to help Christian families overcome the high cost of adoption. For donors, the Legacy Fund is a gift that keeps on giving. As the loans are repaid, new family needs are met…creating a self-perpetuating fund. Families enter into a covenant agreement to repay the loan through manageable monthly or annual payments.

  • Hebrew Free Loan -  Interest free adoption loans up to $15,000 for Jewish families.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

You Just May Be?

Love this song from Karyn Williams! Could you be the answer to a child's prayer?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Drink Coffee - Help Orphans!

Just Love Coffee Roaster is doing a fundraiser to help us bring our children home!

Our next expense is $5,313 due June 7, 2013.  About half of this payment will be for our international adoption agency and about half will be sent to their partner agency in Bulgaria who will be translating our paperwork, filing it with the appropriate Bulgarian government agencies, and paying legal/government fees.

Support our Adoption! Use this link:  https://justlovecoffee.com/helpandrewandkatieadopt

Just Love Coffee Roasters is a certified Fair Trade Specialty coffee roaster with a heart for helping those in need. Part of every purchase of coffee from Just Love will not only help place orphans in permanent homes, through both domestic and international adoption, but help to prevent children in the developing world from becoming orphaned by providing clean water in the developing world to promote wellness. Learn more about this wonderful company by watching the video below!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Financial Update on Our Adoption

Hooray! Homestudy Expenses Paid For!

The expenses of adopting are one of the biggest obstacles that we have to overcome on our adoption journey.  We praise God that He is providing for every expense! So far, somehow, when the money was due, we could send in the check! It is a huge faith builder to see how God provides for our adoption expenses! In December, we were able to send in the last check to pay for our homestudy, which cost $1,750 ($250 for application fee and $1,500 homestudy fee)!

If God can provide for the sparrow, I know he will provide for two little children in Bulgaria who need to come home to their mommy and daddy in the USA!

 What Is Next?
We still have some more fundraising to do! We know God will provide!

Our next big expense is $5,313 due June 7, 2013.  About half of this payment will be for our international adoption agency and about half will be sent to their partner agency in Bulgaria who will be translating our paperwork, filing it with the appropriate Bulgarian government agencies, and paying legal/government fees.

How Do We Plan to Meet Our Next Financial Deadline?
  1. Trusting God - We know God is calling us to adopt, so He will provide for our adoption expenses!
  2. Applying for Grants - When our homestudy is completed, we will be applying for grants.
  3. Working Hard - We try to live on less than we make so we can use some of our income to help pay for adoption expenses.
  4. Fundraising - We plan on continuing our fundraisers with Amazon and Just Love Coffee. We also have some ideas for other fundraisers!
  5. Tax Refund - We put last year's tax refund check towards our adoption expenses. We hope this year we will have a tax refund too! It is never a huge check, but every little bit helps!
  6. Donations - Sometimes people express interest in giving directly towards our adoption expenses.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Haven't Met You Yet

This song wasn't written about adoption. But it is perfect. The words express how I am feeling right now, the longing I have for these children I haven't met yet! (Apparently someone else felt that way too, because they made a slide show with adoption & pregnancy pictures.) The waiting is hard...I love them already! Adoption might be hard, but it will be so worth it!

I might have to wait, I’ll never give up
I guess it’s half timing, and the other half’s luck
Wherever you are, whenever it’s right
You’ll come out of nowhere and into my life

And I know that we can be so amazing
And, baby, your love is gonna change me
And now I can see every possibility

And somehow I know that it’ll all turn out
You’ll make me work, so we can work to work it out
And I promise you, kid, I give so much more than I get
I just haven’t met you yet

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Book Review: Adopted for Life

This past Sunday, a friend from church loaned me a book, Adopted for Life:The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches by Russell D. Moore. I finished reading it by Tuesday evening. Two days. It was that good.  At times heart warming and others funny, Moore shares a wonderful, eye-opening, Biblical perspective on adoption!

Since I loved the book, I thought I would give a short summery/review.
  • The first thing I loved about the book was that Moore shared from his personal experience. When Moore writes, you hear his heart and know he has walked this journey too! The heartwarming story of his two son's adoption from Russia was honest about both the joys and the struggles that come from adopting - no glamorizing the hard parts of adoption, but also sharing the rewards! (I was in tears more than once while reading this book.)
  • Not only did Moore share the story of his two sons' adoption, but also Moore shares the story of how God adopted us into his family. I left this book with a new understanding of the Fatherhood of God and of His deep love for me - a former orphan adopted into God's family.
  • Third, I love that Moore shows how adoption is intertwined with evangelism.
  • I also loved how Moore expresses that adoption isn't for everyone, but orphan care of some sort is. Moore doesn't shove adoption down your throat, but he does help families evaluate how they fit into orphan care - whether it be emotional or financial support of orphans or adopting families, prayer, a church orphan or adoption ministry, or possibly adoption or foster care.
  • This book was not a how-to adoption book, but it did give a brief overview of the types of adoption and some of the basic steps in adopting, as well as how to overcome some of the obstacles to adoption.
  • I left this book  with a new appreciation for Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus and a picture of God, our adoptive Father.
  • I love Moore's perspective on some of the hard questions of adoption, such as  what to do when one spouse wants to adopt and the other spouse isn't interested or is in opposition to adoption, how to answer a nosy stranger or aquiantance who asks "are they 'real' brothers?"or "Don't you want your own kids?". Moore also brought great perspective to special needs and transracial adoption.
I highly recommend reading Adopted for Life to anyone curious about adoption, with family or friends who are adopting, or who has been adopted!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Longing Heart

Today, my heart is longing for two little ones whom I have never even met. I don't know how old they are, or their gender, or even their names. How can I feel this much longing and love? I want to meet them, hold them, hug them, and care for their needs. I want to make sure they have enough food to eat and that they are safe. I want to hear the sound of their laughter. I want to be their mommy.

I wish there was something I could do to speed up the adoption process. But we are still waiting on my finger print results to be sent to our homestudy agency. Waiting, waiting. (I called last Friday to the state office and they said they logged me in on Nov. 19. Right now they are still processing the week of November 12-16, so my fingerprint results should be sent to our agency soon.  Andrew's results have already been processed and sent to our agency.)

This whole process will be full of waiting. I know it will be hard. I pray God continues this growing love for our children in my heart, even though it hurts a little to love these unmet little ones who will be our children.

As I drive to work and back today, I will listen to a CD called Bulgarian Phrases for Children. A wonderful resource for adopting parents that I found. I will practice saying, "I love you, are you hungry?, go to sleep little chick" and 133 other phrases in Bulgarian.  And as I practice, I will dream of the day when two little ones will come home to me.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Adoption Tax Credit: What It Is and How It Helps Orphans

"The permanent extension of the Adoption Tax Credit not only guarantees vital financial help for families that choose to adopt.  It also underscores the commitment of the American people to the idea that children need families."

- Jedd Medefind
Christian Alliance for Orphans

The Good News For Orphans and Adopting Families

Many people wonder why adoption can be so expensive since there are millions of children needing homes. I agree that it shouldn't cost so much to adopt and the US Congress agrees too. I don't know your opinion on the American Taxpayer Relief Act aka the“Fiscal Cliff” Bill. (I am sure there are as many opinions on the Fiscal Cliff Bill as there are readers of this blog post.) Whether you agree with the whole bill or only a few parts of it, there is good news in this bill for orphans in the US and around the world, as well as for families who adopt.  Families can continue to offset their expenses in adoption with the Adoption Tax Credit, which was set to expire at the end of 2012, that was made permanent in the the Fiscal Cliff Bill!

How the Adoption Tax Credit Works

  • The Adoption Tax Credit was originally set at $10,000 in 2001 under President Bush. Going forward, the tax credit will be the $10,000 adjusted for inflation since 2001. For 2013, the maximum adoption credit and exclusion $12,970 per child.

  • The credit is per child, the maximum you claim depends on the number of children you adopt. If you adopt two children, your maximum is $12,970 x 2 or $25,940. If you adopt four children, the maximum is $12,970 x 4 or $51,880. For purposes of the tax credit, there is no limitation on the number of children you can adopt. 

  • The credit begins to phase out at incomes of $194,580, and is phased out completely at $234,580.

  • The  Adoption Tax Credit was made permanent in 2013. It won’t need to be renewed every year, as it has in recent years. Congress will still be able to make changes to the tax credit in future legislation.

  • The credit will be available for families who have completed adoptions both domestically and internationally.

  • The credit is for documented, qualified adoption expenses such as agency or lawyer fees, travel expenses, court fees, etc. (Keep a file folder with documentation of everything you pay for your adoption!)

  • For special needs adoptions from foster care, the credit will be a flat amount (the $10,000 adjusted for inflation) without regard to actual out of pocket expenses.  Domestic foster adoptions of children with special needs will be eligible for the full maximum credit even if very little was spent in the adoption process.  

  • The credit will also exempt from taxes any adoption benefits provided by employers.  

  • The credit is not “refundable”—meaning that it will not result in a payout from the government to those who have no tax liability. (It was refundable in some years.)

  • The the remaining unused balance of the tax credit can be carried forward up to five additional years. (Good news for families like ours, since we don't exactly come close to $12,000 in federal income taxes in one year). Taxpayers have six years (original year + five additional years) to use the credit. Adoptive families who file taxes should include a Form 8839 to establish the adoption tax credit even if they do not believe they will receive a refund. Families may have tax liability in future years and establishing the credit would save them from having to go back and amend taxes once they were able to benefit. 
PS. This is not meant to be legal counsel or tax advice. Talk with your tax attorney or CPA ;-)

"Three Cheers: Adoption Tax Credit Made Permanent!" byJedd Medefind of Christian Alliance for Orphans

FAQs on the Adoption Tax Credit by Jedd Medefind of Christian Alliance for Orphans

Amazon Fundraiser Update


Thank you to everyone who supported our adoption while Christmas shopping and used our link when purchasing from Amazon! 

I thought you might enjoy a little summary of this fundraiser! 

Since starting the fundraiser, we have earned $168.62! Of the total, $158.14 was earned on purchases made between November 1 and December 31. A total of 96 items were purchased. The average amount earned per item sold was 6.5%. We are using this money to help pay for our homestudy! 

This Fundraiser Isn't Over Until The Fat Lady Sings We Bring Our Children Home

We would appreciate it if you would continue to use our Amazon link when you shop on Amazon. Our link will continue to work and we will receive 6.5-10% on each item sold with NO extra cost to you!



Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Update on Our Adoption

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

We hope you had a very Merry Christmas! We did! We visited my family for a week! (We had "Christmas" with Andrew's family over Thanksgiving!)

Update on Our Adoption: Where We Are Right Now

Right now, we are still in the paperwork stages of our adoption. During December we finished up our part of the remaining paperwork needed before we meet with our social worker for homestudy interviews. We are hoping to have our homestudy interviews in January, but our agency is still waiting to receive Katie's BCI (background check) results. Once our homestudy interviews are completed, our social worker will write a report recommending us as adoptive parents. We should receive the report a few weeks after our last interview.

What's Next?

The next step after a homestudy is applying for immigration approval from the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). Immigration approval can take several months to receive.

Following immigration approval, all of our documentation (birth certificates, marriage license, medical exams, FBI background checks, homestudy reports, immigration approval, etc.) will be translated into Bulgarian and sent to Bulgaria for approval by the Minister of Justice. We hope to have our paperwork ready for translation by April so it can be registered with the Bulgarian Minister of Justice this summer.

Once we receive approval from the Bulgarian Minister of  Justice, we will wait approximately 6 to 18 months to be matched with children who would be a good fit for our family. When we receive a referral for children, we will fly to Bulgaria to meet them and officially accept their referral for adoption. We will then return home for 4 to 6 months while more paperwork is processed. Then we will fly to Bulgaria to complete the adoption and bring our children home!

When Will Your Adoption be Completed?

2014 or 2015. Not to be vague, but there are so many variables. A lot depends on how fast the US and Bulgarian governments process our paperwork, and on how long we have to wait for a match with children. The earliest we expect to bring our children home is a year and a half from now. More likely it will be 2 to 3 years until everything is finalized and we can bring our children home.