Monday, September 6, 2010

Big Adoption Series - Chapter 3

In the blink of an eye, the decision was made. We were officially adopting a child - our daughter! - from South Korea. We made that hairpin turn, the inertia of everything pushing us even closer together.

So what happens when two people on a mission fling themselves blindly into their own future?

They miss key things. Like the fact that the vast majority of childless couples adopting from Korea will be matched with a boy. Or the measly ol' fact that Korea is one of the most expensive countries from which to adopt.

We were well aware of the fact that adoption would be a large expense, but knowing is one thing, signing your name to a string of dollar signs is quite another. Some friends who had recently adopted internationally advised us early on that we should not allow the financial obligation to slow us down. The reminded us that God would not lead us in a direction without providing the means to move forward. At that time, Cory had a good job in a Congressional office and I worked full-time, from home, as a researcher for government abstinence education initiatives. We had very little debt, piddly savings and the recent purchase of our first home. Adoption aside, we would have been just fine, financially. But now, the figure loomed large - $25,000. Give or take.

There were no obvious budget cuts to make, so we did what we wish we had been doing all along. We hopped aboard the Dave Ramsey Crazy Train. We inaugurated our envelopes and began paying cash for everything, keeping a detailed monthly budget and watching every dollar like a wily toddler hopped up on Pixie Stix.

The next months were a whirlwind of paperwork as we accounted for every dime we owned, hypothetical and otherwise. We shipped of our first round of paperwork off to AIAA (Bethany had run out of Korea referrals until the following year, but would be doing our homestudy for us), and then we exhaled.

And then, without warning, I received a phone call informing me that my pay rate was doubling.

And we inhaled. And inhaled. And inhaled. And very nearly hyperventilated.

I called my Mom and cried my eyes out. It didn't make any sense. It was a fluke, and even my employer admitted as much.

Provision is what we called it. Plain ol', nonsensical provision.

In the end, we would still come up short. A family member very graciously offered us a personal loan to make up for the difference and we were able to repay it in less than a year.

We cinched our belt a good two to three notches and those habits we would carry with us for years to come.

People always ask, "Why does it have to cost so much?" You would think that after three spins around the track, we would have the answer. The truth is, it's just expensive. No one is getting wealthy. There is much that is involved and I've come to understand something - it's ok.

It's ok to sacrifice for something that will end up meaning the whole world.

In the end, after the waiting and the anticipating, after the showers and the fluffing, you walk into your home for the first time with your child who is a stranger to you, who might even be a little scared of you. Those early months are hard work, plain and simple. You channel every spare ounce of energy into the new growth of love. You trouble-shoot as best you can, you call your friends for Mommy advice, knowing full well that conventional wisdom doesn't necessarily apply.

If it were cheap, it would be all too easy to get caught up in the dreamy idea of a brown-skinned baby and forget the fact that those almond eyes are exotic for exactly one day, then they simply, magnificently become the eyes of your child.

So save up those pennies, trim the fat, remember the big stinkin' tax refund coming your way after finalization ($13,000 comes right back to you!). Find money you didn't know you had. Sell something. Work part-time while you wait. Eat beans and rice. Look into a low-interest adoption loan.

Sacrifice for your child in a brand new way.


Join me here next Tuesday for Big Adoption Series - Chapter 4

(To catch up on Chapters 1-2, click here.)


  1. Your salary doubled!I just love how great God is! Can't wait for the next installment. Can't they be daily!!

  2. I love this series... you are very special people and I admire you so much for doing everything necessary to make your family happen.
    I'm sure you thank God everyday for allowing you to bring those beautiful children to you.
    Blessing to you all ~
    Sarah :)

  3. The Lord works in mysterious ways. I pray that other couples will take the time to consider adoption as well. Whether it be Domestic or International. Is there a reason you chose Korea? Ive heard that U.S. adoptions are very difficult unless its within a family. I have family and a neighbor who have been down that route.

  4. Unbelievable! Such an awesome story! Keep going, keep going! I can't put this book down!

  5. Love this story... I've always believed that God funds what he favors. What a great story to show His amazing love and provision! :) Also, Dave's a good guy, he goes to our church. He makes "belt cinching" seem a little easier, and not hurt as much... especially when you see the result. Can't wait till next week :)

  6. I love your insights regarding the money being worth the child. Several of my relatives, including my grandfather and 4 cousins are adopted. It's so refreshing to hear you say how quickly the child becomes yours after hearing so many of my friends tell me I'd never love an adopted child the same as my biological child. Thank you so very much for writing on this subject.

  7. This story is amazing to me. I love your blind faith in the Lord's faithful, strong, and ever loving hand. I love how the Lord provided, sooooo encouraging even outside the adoption series. I love being reminded that God is ALWAYS faithful.
    This last weekend, while visiting my parent, I took my kids down to a local beach. It was really quiet, only one other family on the beach. They had four children, two who were adopted. I believe they were twins, beautiful dark skin, lovely eyes, and the sweetest little budda bellies....Oh I just want to smooch them up, but refrained due to societal boundaries...hehe. Loved watching those sweet babies though! Thanks for another great chapter!!!

  8. your faith makes other people brave. You are a witness!

  9. p.s can I phuleeeeeze see baby Calvin photos soon!!

  10. I've love reading your adoption series! My husband has TWO sweet brothers and TWO sweet sisters that were adopted from South Korea through Bethany in INDY.

  11. God provided EVERY SINGLE PENNY for our adoption and it was truly such a miracle to behold. I have no doubt He'll do it again. God loves orphans. :) Thanks so much for sharing adoption with the masses!

  12. I love that Dave Ramsey Crazy Train -where all they serve you is rice and beans and beans and rice, and where after awhile the ride isn't so crazy anymore and the ride is much, much more peaceful.

    It's good to hear these adoption stories from you...

  13. Oh Shabs. What a heart you have. I wish I would have done this 20 years ago. I know it's still not too late - but - alas - I fear that baby train has pulled out of my station. Can't wait to read about the first time you saw Fabs.

  14. Oh I love how God does that. He steps in and in one fell swoop says I am here...I am God. Trust me. Thank you for the nitty gritty details. This whole series might really make the difference in one little one's life. All because you shared:)

  15. We are on the cusp of deciding if adoption is right for us. Such a hard decision. We have one lovely girl and aren't sure if she should be an only or not. Decisions Decisions!

  16. "those almond eyes are exotic for exactly one day, then they simply, magnificently become the eyes of your child."

    loved that and it's so true, so much in fact that I seriously sometimes look at Jack and think about different physical traits he got from me before I realize oops...that's not possible :)

  17. Thank you for sharing your adoption story. I just found your blog, so am catching up on the series and have cried in each one! My husband and I were blessed to adopt our 9 and 12 year old daughters, each as infants -- so the waiting, budgeting, and miracles of love and abundance are stories forever written in our hearts. It means so much to hear your's too.

  18. I agree - it is worth every penny. If God is leading you there, He will provide.

    Also, something many people may not know is that adopting from the US foster care system (where 130,000 kids are just waiting for a home), costs almost nothing.

  19. I am so enjoying
    your journey....
    And what an amazing
    one it has been to
    read about, so far.
    Dave R's show is sooo
    great, isn't it?
    Just shows what can
    happen when there
    is determination,
    and in your case,
    love and heart.
    Looking forward to
    the story unfolding...
    xx Suzanne

  20. God is good. He blesses obedience. I needed that gentle reminder right this very minute as I was feeling a bit discouraged over something silly.

    (can't wait for next tuesday!)

  21. I can't wait another week! I'm anxious to hear more about Calvin & then Ruby's story too. My best friend's sister fostered her now son as an infant and adopted him 3 years later & it's a beautiful story & he's a marvelous addition to their family.

  22. When I look at our awesome God I am so grateful! I remember all those sleepless nights wondering when He would answer our prayers. And all the time He was working out His very best for us. And He was doing it with the help of a very brave and beautiful mommy and daddy in South Korea. He also knew that wouldn't be the end of it, He would use two more wonderful mommies to allow us to know what it means to unconditionally love and be loved. He truly is amazing!!

  23. "then they simply, magnificently become the eyes of your child." That sums it up, right there.

  24. So so so true. When we started our adoption journey, we agreed we'd tighten our belts, plow forward, as long as God kept opening the doors. He did...flung them wide open. I found myself with odd jobs that helped immensely....scrapbooking for hire, a little babysitting. Mark's salary increased, gifts came that were unexpected. God opened all the doors...and provided, and he still does today. Making the decision to stay home with 4 kids is something the world has scratched their head at....but it's been the only way to raise our family, and I wouldn't change it for anything!

  25. Still loving each post and getting lots of great insight from them. So glad you're sharing these!

  26. i am truly enjoying the adoption series and am learning a thing or two as well! thanks for posting these. Also - Go Dave Ramsey Plan!! We started this a year ago and the only thing I don't like about it is that we didn't start it sooner!! we are both much better about our finances now and are hoping to eventually be debt free;) Glad you guys like the plan too!! I read in one post not so long ago that you had dropped your envelopes (THE envelopes!!) and someone came rushing to you and handed them over. can we say a big WHEW!!!!!

  27. Opps forgot to say "praise the Lord!" on the unexpected salary DOUBLE! Yahoo! If that isn't confirmation, i don't know what is:)

  28. God is so lavish in his generosity!
    Does domestic adoption cost a lot too? Here, we're almost paid to take a 'hard to place' child like Mikey. You're right though, for the transformation of each child and complete turn around in their prospects, no price is too high! Xxx

  29. oh. congrats on the hope of a new part of your family! i'm so excited to read to about this journey as you and your family make it.

    i have never heard anyone explain why an adoption can be so expensive, but the way you explain it makes perfect sense! you and your family are amazing and that salary boost is just HIM confirming that you are one special family and he wants you to love and guide another child.

    i'm crying...just happy for you.

  30. Love it! I always love hearing about how your children came to be your children. It's so amazing to read about how things fell into line for you and what an encouragement to people that are hoping to follow in your footsteps.

  31. I love every single thing you write, but this series has got to be my favorite. Isn't it just the most exciting thing to see God throw open doors and confirm what we think and hope is the right path by providing all we need to walk down the that path? Good stuff.

  32. God is so faithful...can't wait to see how He provides for this call of adoption!

    He has been so faithful to us each and every time!

    mama to 8
    one homemade and 7 adopted

  33. Shannan,

    I've been wanting to write to you and I'm pausing to do it right here. Now.

    You see, we have this Boy of our own--he's 7 and in one week he'll be plus 1/2. He is a miracle to me. I know too well the miracle of life after watching my own mother lose baby after baby and then after losing (and ultimately delivering) one of my own when I was nearly 5 months along. Gabriel came to us one year after our baby girl was expected to arrive. And he's amazingly perfect, as you know all children are.

    We always planned on two. Yet, now we're into this life and my groom still can't see past the one. He's not ready for two. And yet, my heart pangs for another. Though, the thought of adoption brings me to tears. Literally.

    Ever since I was a young child I'd find myself saying things like "I want to adopt a baby with AIDS from Africa" and then when we were married I'd say out loud that I want to adopt. And I'd say it again and again and again...and I still do.

    But it makes no sense. Completely no sense at all. Yet, my eyes fill up with tears as I write this because it just makes so much sense as it doesn't. I think there's a reason why we haven't had another of our own. After all these years of marriage and raising our one, I know we were called to *this* life right now. And I know our life will be different from those around us living the so called American dream of 2 children a house and a dog. Ours is just meant to be different.

    As much as I clung to the hope for another child and loved being pregnant, I really didn't love it so much and I really would not like to go through it again. I really would rather give a future to a child who was chosen to come into this world. I'd really like to save what lives we have here now.

    We've been house parents to eight teenage boys from the inner city. I thought we'd be a part of saving the world by fostering them, so to speak, when all we had to do was take care of them day in and day out as they went to public school for a better chance, academically. It tore me to pieces that they weren't my own.

    I could go on. But for now, I just needed to share--with someone who I think would *get* my heart.

    He's faithful. And I cling to that hope when I survey the desires of my heart.