“I’ve thought about adopting, but I could never afford it!”
I think every adoptive family has either heard that comment, or maybe even thought it themselves at some point.
It was those conversations — sometimes at church, sometimes in the grocery store — that led me to write “You Can Adopt Without Debt.”
I’ve wanted to write a book since I was a kid leaving notes in my dad’s sock drawer.
I just never imagined it would be a book about adoption. Of course, I never imagined that I would be adopting two beautiful kids from Ethiopia either.
When Mark and I started on the path of international adoption in 2007 we had been living debt-free for over five years. (We’re big Dave Ramsey fans – you can read more about that story here.) While it was REALLY scary to step out in faith and commit to doing our adoption debt-free, we knew it was the right thing for us.
Twelve months later we added Luke, 8, and Beza, 7, biological siblings, to our family, which included five-year-old Natalie and eight-year-old Noah.
Every time we needed to write a check for an adoption expense, the money was there. God used our journey to teach me a lot about faith, provision and giving up control.
Two years later, after having dozens of the aforementioned conversations the idea for the book began to take shape. The first version was self-published in 2011 and just a month after it’s debut God worked a crazy miracle and I found myself being interviewed on Dave Ramsey’s live syndicated radio show.
After that God continued to show me that he had a plan far greater than mine. (You’d think that I’d already know this lesson well after an adoption.) A literary agent practically fell in my lap. She helped me revise and expand the book. Then the first publisher she pitched the expanded book to (Abingdon Press) picked it up.
In 2015 a new, expanded version of the book was released. You may even recognize the picture on the cover of the book. Those feet belong to NHBO contributors Bryson and Mandy Moore.
When people ask me why I wrote the book, the answer is short: hope.
When that dollar amount looms large in front of an adoptive family I want them to see that there is a path forward.
Throughout our own journey and in talking with the dozens of adoptive families I interviewed for the book there are some recurring themes – often easier to see in hindsight, of course.
God’s Plan Is Always Better Than Ours
I don’t know about you, but I’m a planner, an organizer, a … well, I like to call myself a “control enthusiast.” Control and adoption are like oil and water – those two don’t mix. Obviously I had to give up control of the process, learning that EVERYTHING in Africa runs on a completely different timeline. But I often felt like I was walking blindfolded along a dark hallway when it came to the financial aspect too. Arms outstretched, walking just as far as I could reach with slow, shuffling steps. Money in the bank account for just the next fee due, knowing there was a long path in front of us.
I had to remind myself that God’s vision was clear – he could see the larger picture. The amazing ways God showed up in our story still give me goose bumps. He provided miracles, both financial and timing wise that still serve as reminders today.
You Have to Do the Work
Wouldn’t it be nice to open the mailbox one day and find a five-figure check that covered the cost of your adoption? Yes, it’s been known to happen — one of the families in my book had their entire adoption paid for by a college student — but those stories are rare.
One of my very first readers (who has since become a great friend) once said that fundraising for their adoption was like having a second full-time job. If I added up all the hours Mark and I spent gathering garage sale donations, listing stuff on Ebay, working freelance design jobs, and doing odds and ends to raise money, I’m sure it would come close.
You’re going to have to sacrifice — whether it’s pedicures, meals out, or your free time. But there’s beauty in the hardship — recognizing that for every “sacrifice” I was making, my children were making more. The hard work of raising funds was preparing me for the hard work of rearing adopted kids.
Invite Others Into Your Story
I love the picture that Paul gives of the early church in Acts 2.
It’s easy to share the exciting news of your adoption decision with friends and family. But as the months, sometimes years, drag on we often start to close in on ourselves, afraid that people are tired of hearing our “still waiting” updates.
It’s even scarier to open up and share about financial needs. Sometimes it will be enough to have garage sales and sell jewelry and take a second job, but sometimes God will ask us to risk just a little bit more — to make ourselves vulnerable, to humble our pride and ask for help.
In those moments of transparency, God can do incredible things, especially through His people. Whether it’s rallying to meet a financial need, gathering prayer warriors to carry you through a hard time, or meeting physical burdens by bringing meals and cleaning your house, there are people waiting to come alongside you. Don’t rob them of the opportunity.
Julie Gumm is married to her high school sweetheart and is the very busy mother to four teenagers. Two years ago they moved their family from Phoenix to Northwest Arkansas where Julie is the Director of Marketing Communications for her alma mater, John Brown University (hello, free college tuition x 4!) and Mark is an associate pastor.
“You Can Adopt Without Debt” provides readers with a wealth of information, including the various types of adoptions, what to expect from the process whether you are adopting domestically or internationally, how to choose an agency or attorney, and many other details on what to do once you’ve decided to adopt. Reflecting on various challenges and successes, the book will help prospective adoptive parents prepare for and avoid the high costs associated with adoption. The book gives advice on how to budget, save, and earn extra income so that families can afford to make their adoption dreams come true. It also offers specific fundraising examples from 30 different families.