Our adoption fees were more than our annual salary. Granted, our annual salary was measly at the time, but even if it weren’t, infant domestic adoption fees are steep.

“‘I would adopt if it weren’t so expensive.’

Have you heard that before?

Possibly you are dabbling with the idea of adopting but aren’t sure you can afford the outrageous fees. Maybe you are already confident adoption is for you, but you are clueless as to how you’ll finance it.

It’s possible you are considered low income working as a photographer (that’s me!), or high income with a career as a doctor, or even an average-medium income working a desk job that ‘just pays the bills’ and a bit more. No matter your income or salary, adoption fees appear unrealistically large and even impossible leading you to wonder if ‘a youth pastor and part-time photographer like us’ could afford to adopt. That was who we were when we decided to jump into adoption: a youth pastor and very part-timBrenner_FinancingAdoptionWithFundraising_eBookCover_Mockupe photographer.”

—Natalie Brenner, Financing Adoption with Fundraising a free eBook

We bounced around the desire to adopt for years before we decided to jump all in. Our hesitation was deeply rooted in our lack of funds or income. But once we realized affording adoption is a matter of priorities and self-discipline, we became determined.

Our journey to infant adoption was costly, not just because adoption fees are ridiculously high, but because we sacrificed much of our desired lifestyle. Our priorities shifted in major ways; these shifts were hard and even painful at times.

We halted all entertainment spending. We sat down and I pulled up our budget excel spreadsheet, noting what was a need and what was not. Internet? Don’t need it, and therefore no Netflix or Hulu. Coffee shop? No more. New clothes? Unnecessary. Books? We have a library card. Eating out? No more.

Our dates became fun and creative: we discovered sidewalks and trails were free to walk on, holding hands, investing in authentic conversations. We rode bikes around town, packed sack lunches or dinners, and watched the sun set.

We invited friends over instead of going out. We finished our work in our office—using the free wifi— instead of bringing it home. We downsized from two smartphones to one and a flip phone. We watched DVD’s on our television. Our grocery bill was cut in half when we started shopping more at Winco and less at Market of Choice. We were a one-vehicle, bike-riding family.

Our priorities shifted and so did our finances: we had hundreds of dollars to put toward our adoption, when we prioritized adoption over entertainment.

We spent time fundraising and inviting people into this journey, instead of sitting at home on our laptops or in front of our television.

So to anyone who tells me they “can’t afford adoption,” it’s hard for me to empathize. It’s not a matter of affording adoption fees, it’s a matter of priorities. Plus, foster care and adoption are free. If your heart is to become a family and resource to vulnerable children who need it, you can.