Why do you adopt?
Nope, we're not infertile. :-)
If I had a nickel for everytime someone 'assumes' that, I could finally take that trip to Venice I've been dreaming of.
"So then WHY adopt?" Well, I get asked this often and here's my answer.... because we wanted a family, and God said to help the needy and orphaned, so this was a way to accomplish both.
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." - James 1:27
There are many ways to "look after" the needy in this world. Adoption is not the only response here. Sponser a child, work in a soup kitchen, donate supplies to an orphanage or shelter, etc.
Why not have bio kids too?
This question normally follows the first (Why Adopt?). Well, we chose to adopt instead of having kids "the old fashioned way" because...
There are literally millions of orphaned children all over the world who will die without ever being rocked to sleep by a mother, or given a bear hug by a father or, most importantly, told that Jesus loves them. Our finances are not limitless, and thus we will only ever be able to parent a certain number of children. Thus, any child we give birth to is a child we can't adopt... and since we believe that adoption is our calling in life and the reason God gave us breath... we adopt instead of 'create'. :)
We are not all called to the same ministry. Some of you are CALLED to have bio kids. Of that I have no doubt. However... it's worth considering that maybe adoption is for you as well.
But don't you miss not having the 'birth' experience?
Sure. Sometimes I do. When I was little I dreamt of being a mom. I used to wonder what it would feel like to carry an actual human being inside my body. I'll never know and that's okay. For me, the bigger picture is more important.
I should warn you that those of you who never adopt are missing out too... BIG TIME... without even knowing it. :) You will never experience the thrill that filled my heart when I met my 5 children for the first time and the world stopped rotating as LOVE crossed all racial, economic and geographical boundaries to bring my family together. You will never know the palpable, mounting anticipation of traveling 19 hours across the ocean - half way around the world - then riding through winding streets, mobs of people, herds of cattle, wild dogs, heart wrenching beggars... then arriving at an ancient looking, moldy, old building called your child's orphanage, climbing dusty marble stairs in heat over 100 degrees and breath taking humidity, turning the corner and instantly spotting YOUR BABY in a sea of rusty metal cribs. The baby you've loved with all your heart across the miles for months. Your eyes meet, your heart melts, and your life is changed forever.
What if I can't love an adopted child?
What if I can't love a child I didn't give birth to?
Well, are you married? Do you love your spouse? What about your parents. Do you have a mom or dad that you adore? Well, let me ask you... did you give birth to your husband or your mom? If not, then you now have PROOF that you are capable of a consuming, intense, unconditional love for someone you did not give birth to. :)
Simple as that. Don't over think it. :) God created us to love and through Him all things are possible.
Why adopt HIV+ kids?
To that question I say "WHY NOT?" !!! :-)
No, in all seriousness I DO understand the question and why it would be asked. (I'll note that we've done 4 adoptions of kids withOUT HIV, so this isn't the only form of adoption we're drawn to, however it is our latest passion and our most recent calling, and our 5th child and newest daughter is, infact, HIV positive.)
The answer to why is
- we felt led by God to do so
- we read that statistically an HIV+ child is the least 'adoptable' of all the special needs. These kids wait and wait and often never get families - all because of NEEDLESS, UNFOUNDED FEAR
- we educated ourselves and learned that HIV is NO BIG DEAL. No one (not 1 single person) has ever 'accidentally' contracted the virus from a family member in a normal household environment and, ever since the introduction of life saving medications 18 years ago, millions of people with the virus now live with "undetectable" levels of HIV in their blood.
"God did not give us a spirit of FEAR, but of power and of love..." I Timothy 1:7
He called and we chose to answer.
For more information on HIV+ adoption, please check out PositivelyAdopted.com
Is it hard to adopt?
Not if you use a good agency! It can be time consuming and requires patience, for sure, but it doesn't have to be "hard." After you decide that you want to adopt (good decision by the way!) then you decide if you feel led to adopt a boy or girl and approximately what age range.
Those 2 decisions will narrow down your choices of countries and, thus, agencies. Then it will depend on how many kids you have already and your age as to which countries will allow you to adopt.
[Example, we can't adopt from some countries because we have more children then they allow. (Exceptions can often be made if you're willing to adopt older or special needs kids.) However some countries are much more accepting than others though... Ethiopia being one of them. You can have a bazillion kids and still adopt from Ethiopia!]
After your decisions, the first step is getting a home study. (which consists of you filling out paperwork about yourself and then a caseworker coming to your house to chat a few times) Then more paperwork for the adoption agency, then wait awhile, then you'll be offered 'referrals' of waiting kids to choose from. Then you wait some more. Then you either travel to pick up your child or the child is escorted to you. Done! :)
Depending on whether or not you choose a "waiting child", the whole process from start to finish takes about a year to a year and a half on average. (But there are a lot of variables - could be quicker or slower)
It takes a bit of work to adopt, yes, but everything worth having is worth working for.....and these precious children are VERY much worth the effort.
How do you afford adoption?
It's not easy, but it's DOABLE for almost any family. There are grants and interest free loans and reduced fees and tax deductions, not to mention family fund raisers, yard sales.... many ways to make it work ... but ultimately it comes down to FAITH. If you think God is leading you to adopt one of His precious orphaned children, then do you really believe that a few thousand dollars can stand in HIS way?
As to the nitty gritty practical details....
Where to go for Adoption Assistance:
Federal Adoption Expense Tax Credit
For tax year 2005, the federal adoption expense tax credit increased to a maximum of $10,630 per adoption. See http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc607.html and the instructions for form 8839 at: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i8839.pdf for details. Also, read the Adoptive Families article, "The Adoption Tax Credit," by Mark McDermott, at www.adoptivefamilies.com/clip.php.
State Tax Credits
Several states have tax credits for adoptive families, sometimes restricted to those adopting from that state's public child welfare system. Contact your state adoption unit for more information.
Children with special needs may qualify for a subsidy to help parents pay for ongoing treatments. For more information: North American Council on Adoptable Children,www.nacac.org/adoptionsubsidy.html.
Nonrecurring Adoption Expense Reimbursement
Families who adopt from the public system may be eligible for reimbursement of adoption-related expenses, such as homestudy, travel, and attorney costs. More information:www.nacac.org/subsidy_stateprofiles.html.
Active-duty personnel are reimbursed for one-time adoption costs, whether adopting an infant, a waiting child, or a child from abroad. Find out more at naic.acf.hhs.gov/pubs/f_milita.cfm.
More employers are offering adoption benefits for employees, and the dollar amounts of these benefits are growing, with the average expense reimbursement now approaching $4,000. Two resources for help in lobbying for these benefits: http://www.adoptionfriendlyworkplace.org/and http://www.benefitsguides.com/. Also read "How to Lobby Your Employer for Adoption Benefits" at www.adoptivefamilies.com/clip.php.
Grants and Loans
Other organizations that offer grants include: Life International, The Gift of Adoption Fund, andI Care. Some adoption agencies and organizations offer adoption grants and/or low-cost loans. Agencies with such programs include Holt International, World Association for Children and Parents (WACAP), and Dillon International. The ABBA Fund and A Child Waits offer loans.
Look into cash advances from credit cards, second mortgages, home equity loans, and special adoption loans. Consider borrowing from your life insurance policy, 401(k), or pension plan. Approach your church about the possibility of adoption assistance. Perhaps you can tap friends and relatives. Maybe you can take a second job until your child comes, or identify a birthmother who already has medical insurance. More ideas are found in the booklet, "How to Make Adoption an Affordable Option," available from the National Endowment for Financial Education atwww.nefe.org/adoption, or by calling 888-878-3256 (item #508-F). Also see the Burke Family's list of adoption funding sources at www.angelfire.com/journal/adoptionhelp/adopthelp.html.