Get Your Finances In Order Before Adoption

Kelly and her husband are paying off the remainder of their debt. How do they plan for an international adoption during their Baby Steps?

QUESTION: Kelly in North Carolina and her husband have $1,000 in their emergency fund and are paying off the remainder of their debt. In the middle of this, they’re looking into international adoption, which will cost $25,000 to $50,000. Her husband doesn’t want to borrow money to finance it. How do they plan for the adoption during their Baby Steps?

ANSWER: For the good of the child, this should go into 3(b). You’re debt-free, and you have your fully funded emergency fund. Then you save toward the adoption. That way you’re not bringing the kid into a household that’s completely stressed out.

I’ve got a bunch of friends who have done international adoption. I’m a huge supporter of the concept. What you intellectually grasp but don’t emotionally grasp until you do it is that there is an added level—sometimes multiple added levels—of stress because some of these children have been through some unbelievable things. You don’t want to bring a stressful situation into a stressful situation. It’s not good for the kid. In other words, if the rest of your household’s foundations aren’t laid properly—spiritually, financially, maritally—then you’re being selfish to bring a child into that situation.

I think you’ve got to clean up the mess because you’ve been living hand to mouth for quite a while, and you don’t want to do an international adoption while you’re living hand to mouth. You’ve got to break the cycle, and that is equated to the Baby Steps of being out of debt and having your emergency fund funded. That’s Baby Steps 1, 2 and 3. We call doing things after those are done “3(b).”

I will urge you to continue to do a lot of research. Twenty-five thousand is the maximum you should pay. Twenty-five to fifty is what people pay, but that’s totally a rip when you get much up over that. Steven Curtis Chapman has got a great website on this, and there are tons of tax credits and resources available out there to help you in this process. Learn, learn, learn. While you’re getting your debts paid off, you can be preparing in other ways, too. Then step into this with your eyes wide open knowing exactly what you’re getting into because this can be a huge blessing. In the midst of that huge blessing, you can have tremendous amounts of stress. There are some other layers to it that people don’t take into consideration sometimes. You owe that child that you are mature and wise beyond just the sentiment in order to be a quality mom and dad.