A Minister and Stay-At-Home-Mom Take on An (Insanely Expensive) International Adoption


Are you out of your minds? A little bit.

One of my purposes in blogging about our adoption is to debunk some of the myths and misunderstandings that surround adoption, one of them being:

“We can’t afford it.”

Here’s how it has worked for us. God started stirring our hearts toward adoption. We pursued adoption through the foster system. We didn’t even consider international adoption initially because, well, see the title of this post. When we had wrapped up our training classes with the foster agency, we felt unsettled about our next steps. We believe that we will be involved in foster care at some point in the future but—for a variety of reasons—that was not the answer for this season. So…what then?

One September evening in 2011 I was folding laundry and listening to a John Piper podcast (maybe I’ll post the link in another five weeks when I find it). I can’t even explain what happened in me that night other than to say God enabled faith in me that He could provide the funds for an international adoption.

This sounds so pleasant and light and easy. But, hello? I am not one who bleeds faith when it comes to our finances. I operate more along these (bizarre, twisted) lines:

• I have a categorical mental list of the employers/contacts I will call to secure employment in the (horrendously unfortunate) event that my husband is hit by a bus.

• I have been known to launch full-on marital warfare when my dear husband (horror of horrors) USES THE DEBIT CARD to buy a six-pack of Dr. Pepper to accompany his lunch instead of using my neat and tidy categorical cash envelope labeled “FOOD”. I mean, we can all agree that this sort of oversight will surely be the beginning of our absolute financial ruin.

• During the last year of Jason’s seminary education, we agreed he should quit his part-time job in order to focus on his coursework and complete his internship. Then I got pregnant. THEN, I nagged/harped/freaked all the way out until he found a job—ANY JOB—despite the fact that I was earning a good (and sufficient) salary. The resulting part-time employment, by the way, resulted in a 45 minute drive north of our home and back again through rush-hour traffic—for a three hour stint of work each day. Perhaps not cost effective in the end. Go figure.

All of this to say, I am more a girl who likes to cover her bases. When I say that God “enabled faith in me,” this is no small thing. He has a funny way of doing things to make sure the lesson is crystal clear.

Like the summer we bought our first home. I had been working 20 hours a week, had an infant, and we were up to our necks in new ministry. I was spread…a little thin. I started to realize that most conversations I had with my husband were over my shoulder as I finished up a work project at my desk when he dragged in the door after being out with students until who knows when. Around that time, I felt God’s gentle nudge to give up my job for a time. So I did. And here’s how it worked out:

My last day of employment: June 30, 2006.

We closed on our first home: July 1, 2006.

It didn’t make sense to me, but it all worked out. We were fine. More than fine. And our marriage and family benefited from me not wearing twelve hats during that season.

Fast-forward five years to this John Piper “God can do it” sermon (September 2011). I finished listening, Jason got home and I said, “I think we can adopt internationally. I believe God will provide.” (Though I won’t deny listing exactly how many years of income I was earning as an independent marketing contractor and which specific cutbacks this would require. Old habits die hard, man.). So there you have it. We’d start praying about international adoption.

Eighteen hours later, I refreshed my email on the way out the door to our Collegiate Fall Conference. I had a message from the company I contract with that went something like this:

“The company has restructured. Basically everything we have outsourced to you will now be done in house. But you’re great! And we’ll continue to use you whenever we can.”

Seriously. The. Next. Day.

The paint wasn’t even dry on the “Okay, God. We’re all in!” banner and God was rearranging my plans! It seemed He had a different means for funding this adoption.

And what was/is that, exactly? It hasn’t (so far!) been a windfall of cash. I absolutely wouldn’t be opposed to that (Are we clear on that, Lord?) but I see how this bit-by-bit, financial piecing together is doing big things for my faith. I’m depending on Him and eyes wide open to see which avenue He’ll use next. A few examples so far…

• The first quarter after that email from my employer was my biggest-earning quarter in my four years as a freelancer. “We have no work for you,” turned into “We have so much work for you, you’ll beg for mercy.” And while my workload isn’t consistently what it used to be, we have been able to tuck away some money nearly every month from that source.

• He has inspired generosity in other people. We have been given a few financial gifts from those near and dear to us. This has been wind in our sails when the process has been overwhelming and the dollar signs daunting. It has been a financial blessing, but more importantly, it has blessed our souls in ways we can’t describe to think that others would want to be part of this call of God on our family.

• Some people we know who own a local business. One of these (precious, beautiful) people and I have recently become friends and she knew about our adoption journey. We enlisted these folks to do a project for us in the spring.A few weeks after the work was finished we received the invoice. I opened it and scanned down the page for the labor charge. In the far right column was a big “0.00” and the words “We know you are saving for your child. Hope this helps a little.”

• Per China’s regulations, we each had to have a psychological evaluation. Not only was that as much fun as it sounds, it’s expensive. Even though I shopped around and found a place that was less than half the price we were first quoted, it was still going to be a lot of cash. We were warned by our social worker and the mental health center that our insurance company would almost certainly NOT cover the evaluations. I called our insurance representative at one point to ask but this is such a unique situation she wasn’t able to give me a clear answer…her guess was no. This morning, I logged onto our insurance website to check something unrelated and was blown away to discover our insurance had covered 80 percent of our evaluations.

We’re so not “there” yet. Fundraisers. Grant applications. Saving. Sacrifice. We have miles to go. I guess I could wait until it’s all wrapped up, our child is home and our bills are all paid to tell you all the ways God provided, but what fun is that? I think I know where this is headed…and I’d like to share it all with you along the way.

So here I am (Me! The cash envelope freakazoid), believing that the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, the One who called us to this crazy journey to begin with will keep writing the checks—and probably in a way that keeps me on my knees and the edge of my seat looking for His goodness day by day.


QUICK UPDATE – We have our appointment to be fingerprinted with USCIS! We’ll go to Wichita next Wednesday, which is—conveniently—the first day of summer vacation so we’re planning to squeeze in a zoo trip and friend time while we’re there. Whee!


10 thoughts on “A Minister and Stay-At-Home-Mom Take on An (Insanely Expensive) International Adoption

  1. Amazed! He is so precious. And so sovereign-ly crazy-good! Not sure those words all exist. Was just thinking about how he is displaying his utter love for this child through this. Someday you will tell him (or her) these stories about how god came for him, one dollar at a time. Amazing. Truly. I can’t wait to get there and be near and try to sell some stuff for you!!!!!

  2. Lisa, this brought me to tears! Someday, your child will read or hear this story and know how desperately you wanted him/her! That is awesome to think about!!

  3. I agree with Jason.
    And I am so thankful you are sharing your journey.
    You guys are so inspiring 🙂
    I can’t even tell you enough how excited I am for you!
    And HEY, hit me up next time you go to wichita! I am so close.

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