Yeah, yeah, I know that it has been a while since I last wrote a post, but there is actually a good reason for that. I plan on explaining in more detail in this post that usual.
A short disclaimer, due to contractual reasons, I am unable to disclose details. Unfortunately, I am only able to give general or vague answers in some areas.
In February of 2017, my husband and I decided to seriously pursue adoption. Adoption is something that we have always known we were going to do, it was just a matter of when and where. We began researching different agencies and lawyers and sending out inquiries. Interestingly, we only received responses from about 20% of people we messaged. This might because they just ignore new inquiries when they are already overwhelmed themselves. Or their clientele is maxed. Either way, we chose to view it as those companies wouldn’t have been worth it anyway. The ones who did email us back, we met with via skype or over the phone, and asked quite a few questions. I wanted to make sure I fully understood the entire process so I made sure to research before hand what kind of questions to ask an agency/lawyer.
The interviewing stage took a couple of months, then it took us another few weeks to decide which country to adopt from. We did think about adopting from the US, but eventually decided a child from Japan would be best because there would be less for them to have to adjust to. A child from the US would have to adjust to a new family, new life, and then add to that a new language in a world totally unfamiliar to them. There would be nothing they knew or loved in Japan and they would have to start everything over on top of adjusting to a new family life. Where as a Japanese child would only have to adjust to a new family. Of course, language might very well be an issue, but we are not too worried about that as children learn quickly and not to mention I can speak Japanese. A Japanese child would be a “healthier” option, if you will.
With Japan in mind, we began our search for agencies in Japan willing to work with foreigners. We found a couple, and only one met our needs. In June, we met with the agency and spoke about our goals and intentions. The agency spoke about their company and requirements. We prayed over it for a while then came to the conclusion that this was the agency for us and we signed the contract.
We had contracts signed, and the fees began. They were easy at first, but slowly, they have begun to increase in amount. We had to make drastic financial changes in order to save the most amount of money each month. We don’t eat out, not even at fast food restaurants, we don’t buy snacks, we don’t buy desserts, we don’t even buy anything beyond needs for each other. All luxury items are out the door. No Christmas gifts for us this year. All for the sake of a child to call our own. The only thing we do indulge in, is figure skating for two reasons. One, is because we need the exercise and the winter here is brutal. No one wants to go outside, but we need to stay healthy. Skating recreationally isn’t actually that expensive when you buy a membership card. It costs us $50 a month to skate and we can go to the rink and skate for as long as we want during that month. Any other place would require that you pay by the hour (or in some cases half hour) and it costs even more. I tend to skate 2-4 hours at a time, and if we were paying per hour that cost would quickly add up. Skating with a membership is the way to go. And the second reason, is to keep our sanity. It might seem crazy, but we do need little pleasures in life. Skating for me, is a means of escape, and it relieves all stress in my life. Yes, we could technically be saving an extra $50 a month towards adoption, but it comes down to what is more important, being healthy in mind, body, and spirit? Or suffering? We chose the former.
I am constantly amazed at how little money we actually need to survive. Once you really start looking at what you spend your money on every month, you start to see what you thought was a minor indulgence is actually a big expense. During the first month of budgeting, I kept every single receipt. If there wasn’t a receipt, I made one just to have a record. At the end of the month, I created a spread sheet and entered in all the amounts. I was shocked by the results. At work, they have a bakery and vending machines. I would buy my lunch from them everyday thinking that $4 for lunch is a really good deal. But when you add all of that money up, it amounts to almost $100 a month. I bought myself a reusable water bottle, and started making my own lunches. I also noticed, what I thought was a once in a while eat out, was actually more like a weekly affair. We have saved about $150 from not eating out anymore. I have cut back on the amount of make up I wear everyday (I actually have to wear some or the Japanese will judge my appearance. No lie!) and have saved quite a bit of money. Now, instead of buying make up every month, I buy it every 2 months. I started to really look at how to make Japanese food to cut costs for food at home. As I have said in my previous posts, American meals are expensive, but Japanese meals are relatively cheap. We have invested in a cook book to help with that. We started to ride our bikes to more places rather than taking the bus or train. In Gunma, transportation adds up fast, unlike in Tokyo. We found that giving ourselves a daily budget has been the best solution. And whatever we don’t spend in that day, we put into savings. Overall, we save hundreds of dollars every month. It has been a real challenge, but we know that it will be worth it in the end.
The next stage of our adoption is completing a homestudy, and because we have opted to have an adoption in Japan, this means that we need to do 2 homestudies. One in Japan, and one in the US. Homestudies cost anywhere from $1200-$4000, and we have to do 2 of them. That puts our costs up to $8000. Not to mention that we have to reimburse travel and hotel expenses of our social workers. They have to visit us multiple times so we are talking closer to $10,000. After the homestudy is completed and approved, then we move to the waiting stage. Once we are matched, we have to pay another fee, (court fees this time) and they can be up to $3000. It will take about 6-12 months to make the adoption final and the total costs could be up to $6000 just to finalize the adoption. We knew it was going to be expensive going into this adoption but we are ready to take the challenge. If we have to take out a loan then we will. If we have to max out our credit cards, then we will. Not that we want to actually do those things, but if the end result is helping a child in need, then who are we to complain? We are privileged enough to help someone in need, isn’t a few sacrifices now worth it in the long run? That’s what we believe.
In order to cover the remaining costs of adoption, we still need $20,000. This covers the above mentioned fees, as well as other things that we did not expect would be difficult to come buy while in Japan. Things such as notaries, fingerprinting, and physicals, are near impossible to do. We are very grateful that we live near Tokyo to be able to get some things done at the embassy, but we still need to stay overnight there and that is expensive. Things, such as psych evals that we never even knew were so time consuming and difficult, are costing us thousands. What we thought was manageable in terms of fees has quickly become overwhelming.
2% of couples who are pursuing adoption actually follow it through to completion. This means that the other 98% give up due to lack of funding or high levels of anxiety. I will admit, it is stressful and exhausting on you mentally, to have to live so meagerly, but I so desperately do not want to be part of that 98%.
This is where you come in. We need your help in seeing this dream come to fruition. I understand that not everyone is in the position to give significant amounts of money, and that is ok. Even a gift as small as $20 will help us tremendously. If you can give more, wonderful, if you can only give $20, then that is still wonderful. If you do not want to give anything, then I only ask that you share our crowdfunding page to everyone you know. Please help us spread the word and get it out there. Adoption is something that not many people do, and there is an orphan crisis in the world. We need to spread the word about adoption and you can help us, even if by only sharing our crowdfunding page.
I shared this page on my private facebook account already, and I have received some comments about the validity and ethics of the site I chose to use. I opted out of using gofundme because gofundme charges a 5% fee then for each withdrawal it charges an additional 3% fee. I didn’t want that. It felt like gofundme was piggybacking off of my campaign and would be stealing from me. On top of that, the reviews for the company are less than average. I spent an entire day doing some research, and I came across the site youcaring. This site was created by former missionaries and the company stays afloat via donations themselves. They are a nonprofit webpage. The site gives 100% of the money to the beneficiary. The only fee that is deducted is the credit card processing fee which is from a 3rd party. Youcaring has no affiliation with the 3rd party site. If you are worried about using the site, please contact me for additional donation methods, but I feel that the site is trust worthy so there is no need to worry. They have great reviews so it looks like it is a good fit for us.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I will post updates monthly regarding the adoption. Thanks again! And a Merry Christmas!