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Friday, August 13, 2010

Counting the Costs

Whew, I am thinking the updates to our blog are going to get less and less frequent. This adoption business is not for the faint of heart. Today the kids and I made three seperate trips to the post office and also intended to hang out in the Georgia Office of Vital Records (good times!) while they dug up a certified copy of my marriage license. Alas, the marriage license will have to wait until Monday. Around 1pm I finally admitted defeat and brought the kids home for lunch and naps.

Since we made our big adoption annoucement last week, we've had two main questions:

1. What does it mean to pursue an "independent adoption?" What's the difference between adopting independently and going through an adoption agency? Why did you chose this route?

2. How much does it cost?

Now let me tell you that I am no adoption expert (you can confirm that with my poor friend Amy Levy who I email and call about 8,000 times a day with various random adoption questions) but, for those of you who are curious, I do want to try and answer those questions.

1. Basically, with an independent adoption, you handle the details yourself. You hire your own attorney, you work directly with the parents, orphanage or entity you are adopting from and the paperwork, travel details and all the nitty gritty is up to you.

From what I can tell, there are not a lot of countries that still allow independent international adoption -- but fortunately Uganda is one of them. In fact, it is my understanding that the vast, vast majority of US adoptions from Uganda have been completed independently, rather than through agencies.

You hear pros and cons on both sides and at the end of the day, you just have to do whatever makes your family comfortable. We went independent because it was far less expensive than working with an agency and because we wanted to move the process as quickly as possible.

Whether you go independent or work with an agency, you will gather and complete a mountain (and I do mean MOUNTAIN) of paperwork for the US government and the forgeign courts. You will face risk -- whether you go with agency or not, you will be at the mercy of US and forgein bureaucrats and the courts. And you will be completely dependent on the grace of God to make it all happen.

2. And regarding the "how much does it cost" question... I've found that international agency adoptions cost in the neighborhood of $30,000, give or take a couple of thousand depending on the country. Here are our itemized expenses and keep in mind that we are adopting two children so many of our expenses are double the cost:

$250 Homestudy application fee
$1500 Homestudy
$200 Original copies of birth certificates and marriage license
$3000 Ugandan attorney fees
$670 x 2 = $1340 I600 filed with USCIS
$1000 x 2 = $2000 US attorney fees
$545 x 2 = $1090 immigration forms
$360 Passports and passport photos for our three children
$200 x 2 = $400
$140 fingerprints for homestudy
$160 fingerprints for 171H
$200 x 2 = $400 for passport, visa and medical exams for children in UG

I know I've probably forgotten stuff here and there so let's say roughly $11,000 total.

We still have some unknown expenses related to travel. For example, the tickets from Atlanta to UG cost approximately $1500. If our whole family were to travel to Uganda to complete the adoption, that's 5 plane tickets on the way to UG and 7 of us for the ride home. So we're talking over $10K just for the tickets. For obvious reasons (like, we're not millionaires) we will probably not take the entire family. In addition, everyone who travels needs an extensive round of shots and anti-malaria pills (not covered by insurance) and we'd need to pay for accomodations in UG, a driver and basic travel expenses for the duration of the trip, usually 2-3 weeks. In addition, since we're moving from a 3 child family to a 5 child family we will need to purchase a bigger car, which is another major expense. But at this point, who's really counting?

So all this may have led some of you to question #3 -- how are you planning to pay for all this? Well, we haven't exactly figured that out yet. But oddly enough, we are not worried about it. We'll take what we can out of our savings, we're going to have one heck of a yard sale in early fall and we'll just trust God for the rest. We have full confidence that He who began this work will bring it to completion. We know that $11K, a couple of plane tickets and a big ol' car are nothing in God's economy.

Thanks for joining us on this amazing journey. To God be the glory!

"Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Phil 1:6


Alison said...

Hey Shelly! So glad you commented on our blog! I love "meeting" other adoptive families! And I love your blog! It was "Crazy Love" that God really used to confirm His calling for us to adopt our baby girl from Ethiopia! So excited to follow your journey!!

Chasity said...

Thanks for the post! I just found your blog & this post while searching for details on independent Uganda adoptions. We are searching for the answer to what is the "right" way for us to adopt. We know God has called us to Africa...

Kinda neat that Alison commented about "Crazy Love"...us too!

Amy said...

Just found your blog while researching independent Ugandan adoption blogs. Would love to ask you some questions. Are you on the fb group?