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I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: International adoption is crazy expensive.

We have a few friends who have quietly, privately funded their adoption solely from their personal savings. More often, however, adoption becomes a true community effort, with family and friends rallying and supporting adoptive families: participating in fundraisers, providing grant reference letters, and contributing prayer and financial support.

This is a beautiful thing. Not all families are called to adopt, but anyone can be a part of giving an orphan a home.

At a time when my own heart burned to be able to begin our adoption process, I was grateful to be able to contribute to a dear friend’s adoption expenses. By way of monetary (and prayer) support, I truly got to partner with her family and share in the adoption experience.

With many families funding their international adoptions with generous donations of financial support, it can open them up to all kinds of scrutiny.

Supporters may ponder: Is my donation really going to their adoption expenses?… Or did I just pay for her designer jeans? Where did she get the money for that sassy new handbag if they are soliciting donations for their home study? Are they contributing at all,  themselves, to their adoption costs, or are they just going to hold their hands out while maintaining their $20/week Starbuck’s habit? 

Assumptions are made, opinions are formed, and adoptive families do sense this microscope that they are under. But is it unfair? 

When a prospective adoptive family applies for an adoption grant (which, fundamentally, are just hefty, anonymous donations solicited by a non-profit third party on behalf of adoptive families) they are required to submit thorough reports of their financial health and personal spending habits. Grant foundation boards use their own discretion, but it is widely recognized that they like to see evidence of solid financial stewardship, as well as sacrifice from the prospective families, before awarding grant monies.

And should adoptive families expect others to sacrifice for their adoption if they aren’t willing to do so, themselves?

My good friend has shared how her family quit the gym, their Starbuck’s habit, and her daughter’s ballet lessons as they raised funds for their adoption. Another friend has held multiple garage sales, purging excess material possessions her family has worked hard to acquire over the years to free up funds for their adoption. Two other friends actually sold their cars! I was thankful to procure a part-time job while our daughters were in full-day school this year, all my wages going straight to our adoption fund in a bank account separate from our regular family budget.

Excessive spending is curtailed. Family vacations might look less like this:

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my fancy-pants hotel room in midtown Manhattan from the trip I won in the fall

and more like this:

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our tent-camping, lunch-packing weekend road-trip we took as a family recently

Before embarking on our adoption journey, Husband had planned (and saved) to take us all to Disney World– but once “in process” we just did not feel right about it. We wondered: How many of the families that have generously contributed to our adoption don’t have the funds to take their own kids to Disney World? How would such an extravagant indulgence be perceived? Instead, we have poured our savings into bringing home New Sister, and we do not regret it one bit. We do not feel entitled to the donations we have received, and we do not take lightly the faith that JSC Foundation (the grant we were recently awarded) and individual donors have put in our stewardship.

Besides, Disney isn’t going anywhere, and there just so happens to be a Disneyland in Hong Kong. “If it’s on the way…”

In the meantime, our family has become true Weekend Warriors, exploring our new home state as well as neighboring ones. We have visited unique destinations like Wall Drug, South Dakota, complete with their strange obsession with Jackalopes.

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“No, they’re not real.”

” Well, the BUNNY was real. He’s dead now.”

“No, bunnies do not have antlers.”

“HOW do I know they’re not real? I don’t know… I just know!”

“Yes, I’m sure!”

(and repeat for the next 567 miles home to Bozeman)IMG_8677

We have also gotten to visit more “traditional” destinations, such as Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore, and the Badlands. Best of all, Husband hasn’t missed any time from work, opting instead to trade holidays- such as the 4th of July- for Fridays off to extend our weekends, thereby hoarding his vacation time for our upcoming trip to China.

We’re putting lots of miles on our family van, but so far none of us have completely lost it.

though I did discover precisely 124 photos just like this one on my phone after our most recent excursion

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it certainly helps that Smarty-Pants-Husband rigged our gaming console to our van’s DVD player

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But I digress… Adoptive families, please remember that though you may not feel you owe anyone an explanation of your family’s spending habits- people are watching and formulating opinions. To those watching, please examine your assumptions. And “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

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