Honestly I think the main reason people hold back on starting their own adoption journey is the money. When we first considered international adoption the bottom line scared us too. But when you take a look at families that are adopting, especially waiting children, they are not the wealthy, they are middle income families that are trying to make a difference. We've decided to share how we adopted with out debt and ideas we've seen friends use in hopes that it will encourage others to take that first step.
We'll start with the most important factor in adopting without debt...prayer. We prayed..a lot We were debt free (except our mortgage) and considering a loan but when we prayed about it we always felt uneasy about going back into debt. So we prayed that if God wanted us to adopt He would have to provide and as He did we would give Him all the glory. Every step of the way we prayed. When we needed to hit a goal but a certain time...we prayed. And each time funds were due, we had it. Not usually early but always just in time. ...Our advice for starting a debt free adoption is to pray...constantly. Ask God to mulitply your efforts and for Him to guide you in your fundraising.
Written Budget Next is to do a written budget. This is Ramsey 101. The written budget. Even if you aren't debt free you will be shocked by how much money you can find each month just by paying attention to where your money is going. In our adoption the costs were not all due up front we had a few months to come up with the costs so cash flowing a lot of the expenses IS possible. If you haven't ever written a budget out you can ck out Dave Ramsey's website for an out line but the idea is simple. Start at the top with Tithe (for Tithers), Groceries, Gas, Mortgage, Clothing (minimal and only what is necessary), Electricity, Heat, then if you have debt payments list those. Be realistic. If you spend $250/wk on groceries don't write $100.00 cuz your get discouraged. At the end of your list you will find you have more money than you thought. Pinch every penny, only buy what is NECESSARY. When it comes to bringing your child home "necessary" takes on a new meaning. Especially when you think of all they may be going without.
Set Up Your Adoption Fund Go to your bank and set up a SEPARATE savings account titled Adoption Fund. With the money left over from each week/biweekly pay check add ALL left over funds to your adoption fund.Set goals for yourself on how much you will have cash flowed into savings at then end of the first month/second month and so on. We were able to pay our adoptions over a 9 month period. You can look at our Expenses tab at the top of our blog to see what was due to get an idea of what expenses you may be able to pay out of your savings based on when it will be due and how much you are projected to have saved at that point.
Use Your Blog or Facebook Your friends and family are going to want to follow your journey and those who want to contribute will need to know what you need and when. Set up a blog (blogger is a simple format) and add an Expenses tab. List the expenses you know you will have and an estimate of when it is due. Once it is paid (or once you have enough is savings) mark it as paid. This will help people know where you are at in covering the costs of your adoption and how much you still need. Also use your facebook account to let people know where you are in the process and how much you have saved or how much has been donated. Remember this is God's work, not yours. Even the money from your tight budget came from Him providing the income so give God the glory. Use your blog and facebook to glorify Him.
Set Up Your Online Donation Tools If you child is from Reece's Rainbow you can set up a page for accepting tax deductible donations. Another option is to add a paypal fundraising button to your blog. Just go to Pay Pals website and the process is easy.
Check out FREE Online Fund Raisers There are some great online fundraisers that are FREE to set up. http://www.adoptionbug.com/fundraiser.htm was a great T-shirt fund raiser for us. Also https://justlovecoffee.com/fundraising/fundraising-overview/ is a great coffee fundraiser. There are many but these are the two we used. You can google free adoption fundraisers and find one that fits you. You can add links to your blog directing people to your fundraising page for each of these.
Get Friends and Family on Board If you belong to a church family ask to speak to your church and share about your adoptions. Don't ask for funds, just tell about your kids (if you know who they are) and about the adoption process. Mention the costs of the adoption and how much you plan to cover with cash flow and savings. Let them know you will keep you blog updated with your process and what they can do to help if they feel led. People want to help but you need to let them know where you are at and how they can help.
Contact Your Local Paper Ask you local paper to help you get the word out about your adoptions. Especially if you are adopting waiting children. This will not only help with your fundraising efforts but help to spread the word about the need for adoption waiting children.
Have a Garage Sale Even if you have nothing to sell :) Use your facebook page and call friends and family asking them to donate items for you to sell at a garage sale to help pay for your adoptions. People who want to help but can't contribute financially will love to donate items to help you cover adoption costs. Give them a time and location to drop things off.Advertise in the paper that the garage sale proceeds will go towards your adoption costs. Draw up posters so people who come to the garage sale know it is to benefit your adoption. If you have biological children have them set up a lemonade stand at the garage sale. Place a large jar with a cut in the lid out on the table. Label it "Adoption Fund Donations". If you have pictures of your children include them in a frame on the table so people can see who they are helping.
Give Yup, it seems counter productive to give while trying to save but you can't out give God. You can give away items you have that would benefit others, you can tithe off your garage sale earning, or continuing to tithe through your process. God loves it when we give, even when we are trying to cover adoption costs.
Benefit Dinner A member of our church family offered to put on a benefit dinner for us and we jumped at the offer. They raised a lot of money for our adoptions and we had a great time!!
Benefit Auction Similar to the garage sale, you can ask people to donate items to auction off to benefit your adoptions.
Family Bike-a-thon Go around your town/neighborhood/work place asking people to sponsor your family per mile for a Bike-a-thon to benefit your adoptions.
Puzzle Fundraisers Using the back of a puzzle ask people to purchase a puzzle piece for $1-$5 telling them their name will go on the puzzle and when all pieces are sold you will frame it and place it in the child's room as a reminder of all who donated to help bring the child home.
Sell Hand Made Crafts Our biological children made Christmas ornaments to sell for our adoptions. They sold them for .50 cents a piece but more often than not people donated so much more. A great way to get biological kids involved in bringing their siblings home. Selling homemade jewelry and other crafts works great too!!
Penny Purses Fundraiser Sew or knit little penny purses. Go around your neighborhood asking people if they would be willing to put all their spare change in the purse for a week to benefit your adoptions. Let them know you will be back around the next week to collect them.
Ask Friends to Help: You won't be able to do it all yourself. You will have plenty to do with the homestudy and gathering dossier documents. If you have a need put it out there and ask people to get involved.
Sell Anything That Isn't Nailed Down If you can sell your vehicle and buy a beater...go for it!! If you have jewelry that just sits in your box, sell it. Too many TVs and electronics...put them on ebay. As Ramsey says, "Sell so much the kids think they are next." ;) Look around your house for items that you didn't sell at the garage sale or benefit auction. What are some big ticket things you can easily do without. This isn't to say you won't buy another one someday but for now the focus is cash for your adoptions.
Adoption Grants They are hard to get but that doesn't mean you shouldn't apply. We were told how difficult it was to get the Show Hope Grant and we got it. APPLY!! To as many as you qualify for!! Also ask you company if they have adoption grants available.
Remember to Keep Updating Your Blog/Facebook People who have donated will want to see your progress and those considering donating want to know their donation will make a difference. Keep giving God the glory. This isn't anything YOU are doing. If it is an act of works it wouldn't work anyway. You've been praying for God to multiply your efforts now give Him the Glory for providing for your adoptions.
Try to Spread Out Your Fundraising When using different fundraisers try to use a different group each time. One for your neighborhood, one for your coworkers, one for you family, one for your friends. That way you aren't asking the same people over and over to donate.
Give Thanks Our kids drew pictures of the children we are adopting and made them into framed refridgerator magnets and we gave them out as a "Thank you" to those who had donated to our adoptions.
This is what we did to fund our adoptions and what we've seen from our friends fundraising efforts. Our prayer is that this will help encourage others in taking the first steps towards adopting. God will provide when we step out in faith to help the least of these. He lights the way. Pray then take a first step with adopting and fundraising. Let Him guide. That's all we did...and 9 months later we are just shy of fully funded. Praise the Lord!!!