I was in a Kroger parking lot when my attorney laid the number on me: $15,000. For a private in-family adoption. I remember feeling like someone rammed their shopping cart into my stomach. I just couponed in that Kroger like I’d never couponed before because money was tight. How was I supposed to come up with $15,000? I recall crying on the phone with my husband as I delivered the news. Would we have to say no? How could we say no? My husband calmed me and told me we would sit down, come up with a plan, and make it work, but I still felt defeated.
Adoption is nothing if not expensive. $15,000 is a drop in the bucket compared to what some people will pay for adoption situations that differ from ours. I once heard a woman at the grocery store (I have 5 kids. I am ALWAYS at the grocery store) state that only “the rich” could adopt. While it does feel like that, there are options to help you stay out of crushing debt and recover from the debt you do incur.
Getting out of debt after the adoption starts well before the adoption even takes place. At that point, it’s best to rip off the bandaid and confront the cold, hard, truth. Can I afford to adopt right now? It is okay and crucial to mull over this question.
My husband and I have always wanted to adopt. It was always the plan. When we were first married, we lived in a 586 sq ft apartment. When we could afford the “real” mac n cheese, we felt like royalty. We had good credit, okay income, but were not financially wise. This was NOT the time to look into adoption.
While your agency will certainly check your finances, you need to also check how you spend, even if you look good on paper. If you struggle paying the bills month to month, no matter what you make, it may be crucial to first get these things in check before exploring your options for financing adoption. While my husband and I felt financially comfortable when our second adoption opportunity was presented, we still looked long and hard on how this huge financial output would affect our family, our marriage, and our financial well-being.
Cut Unnecessary Debt
$10.53 comes out of our account every month. I see the charge and throw my hands up in anger. $10.53 for a Planet Fitness gym membership I cannot for the life of me remember to go in and cancel even though we switched gyms over a year ago. While it doesn’t see like much, its over $125 a year plus an additional $50 fee once a year. That’s a whole month’s payment on our adoption loan.
Do you have money coming out unnecessarily? Analyzing your financial liability each month is incredibly helpful in getting out of debt faster. Realistically, what do you utilize? Should you get rid of that gym membership and take up running? When’s the last time you turned on your cable instead of using Netflix or Hulu? Do you have any monthly subscriptions you could do without for a while? You can even explore downgrading your car for a lower payment. Many online banking sites have tools that allow you to categorize all of your spending. Look at how much you are spending on dining out, Starbucks, subscriptions, etc. and come up with ways you can cut any unnecessary amounts. Once you have a number, commit to doing away with these extras and place that money in an account each month. You will be surprised how much those little things add up!
Check the “I Deserve This” Mentality
Ever notice all the huge sales stores have about mid-May to early June? Coincidentally the time that people start receiving their tax returns or prepping for that summer vacation. After months of cold weather, school, and work, you deserve a little fun! “BUY ALL THE THINGS!” as my husband texts me every time the tax return posts. If you get any sort of tax return, a bonus check for Christmas, $200 for passing GO, BANK ALL THE MONEY! You will thank me. Will you have to put your vacation plans and your big screen tv on the back burner? Yes. The feeling of not having to stress when it comes time to pay the bills for your adoption will make it so worth it. There will also be many unexpected expenses that come up the first few months you have your child home. The peace of mind you will having knowing that you saved for this will feel like a vacation and Bubble Guppies is just as annoying on a 32 inch screen.
Adoption debt is no joke. It is the equivalent of buying a car or house without the generous payment plan. However, if my middle class family making under $60,000 a year can do it with four kids already in tow, a lot of you can do it. It is about financial management and wisdom. Know your limits and your habits. If you spend poorly, seek help to change. Create a budget and get rid of the extras. Educate yourself and your partner in what it will take to expand your family. It will be the most rewarding investment you ever make!