Thursday, October 13, 2016

Are You a Starfish?

We have a finalization date! Our family is set to appear before a judge on December 21st. Just in time for Christmas. Now, I'm going to be honest with you. I started crying when I read the email. Not because, "Hooray for finalization!" (although, yes, of course, HOORAY!) but because we're eligible to finalize as early as December 6th. 

I emailed the lawyer's office and basically said, "Um. Any chance we could do this sooner? Any chance we could get ourselves put on a waiting list? Cuz I'm going to straight up invent things to worry about between now and then and we need to get this thing signed, sealed and delivered, yo." Except it sounded more professional than that. And it ended with the bit about the waiting list. Because I don't want the lawyer's office to fire me as a mother because of my neurosis. 

I received a response explaining that this judge splits her time between the Park City courts and the Salt Lake City courts and the absolute soonest we can get in is the 21st.

So I followed up my first email with, "Any chance we could get in with a different judge, yo?" (Minus the yo. And, again, more professional.)

Not unless there's a big, giant reason we can't wait until the 21st and, then, we'd need to file a petition to switch judges, etc. First, that sounded like a massive pain and I saw dollar signs floating by. And, second, there is no big, giant reason we can't hold our horses and wait until four days before Christmas. Except that MAMA IS BAT POO NUTS, Y'ALL AND SHE SERIOUSLY INVENTS TERRIBLE SCENARIOS IN HER HEAD.

Fourteen months of contested adoption in 2009 and 2010 will do that to a girl.

So I'm going to hold my metaphorical horses and hunker down and wait for the snow and the cold and December 21st to come so that we can FINALIZE THE HECK OUT OF THIS THING.

Adoption is not for the faint of heart.

Seriously. I have had people tell me how lucky I am that I didn't actually have to give birth to two of my children. Um. Girlfriend would NOT be saying that if she had any idea what the adoption process is like. I am basically sure that the anxiety and the waiting and the home studies and the incredible financial strain have taken a decade off my life. Child birth? I did that too. It took a day and cost me $300 dollars. The end.

We have to submit an Affidavit of Fees to the judge. Our lawyer's office needed me to submit a list of what we spent. I'm so INCREDIBLY grateful to all the people who donated to our adoption and lightened the load for us. But our grand total (IF no additional fees are incurred between now and December for some reason)(Read: Any number of the terrible scenarios I've invented in my head) is $30,037. (That does include our one time listing fee with our Adoption Facilitator that we paid back when we were waiting for Kate.) Hear me when I tell you that that is a pretty inexpensive adoption.

You cannot adopt overseas for that. You cannot adopt from an agency for that. People, there are children in orphanages all over the world waiting to be loved. There are babies being born and put into the foster care system. There are children growing up in foster care (AND YOU CAN ADOPT THEM FOR CONSIDERABLY LESS THAN 30K). We need to figure out a way to make this affordable for people. We need adoption reform. I honestly don't know how or what that looks like. But I know it needs to happen if we are going to live out the command to care for orphans.

What I do know, though, is that this is DOABLE for so many people if they would just allow themselves to be vulnerable, to open themselves up to the waiting and the anxiety and give all that over to the Lord.

Troy and I (because of complicated clergy tax laws) do not qualify for the Adoption Tax Credit. BUT MOST PEOPLE DO. The adoption tax credit, for 2016, is $13,460. To be clear, a tax credit is an amount that is subtracted from the adopting parents' tax liability. So BOOM, that would take our adoption down to $16,577! (If, of course, we were fortunate enough to be able to benefit from it.) Many insurance plans offer adoption indemnity benefits if the adopting family has maternity coverage at the time of placement. In Utah, this can be up to $4,000. That would take our total down to $12,577. That is still A LOT of money. I get that. But it is so much less than $30,000. And with adoption fundraising and grants, one might successfully alleviate a great deal of that. 

I'm saying all of that because I have heard SO MANY people say that they can't afford to adopt without really looking in to it. I've heard others say that the process is too daunting. I will be the first to say that IT NEEDS TO BE CHEAPER and IT NEEDS TO BE EASIER. But it CAN BE DONE. 

I'm just really passionate about adoption. And I feel a lot like the boy in the starfish proverb. You know, the one where the boy is throwing starfish back into the ocean and there are just so many that he can't really make a dent. So many of them will die there on the shore. And the man tells him that he can't make much of a difference. The boy stoops down, collects a starfish, and hurls it into the sea. "It made a difference to that one."

It makes a difference when we adopt. It may change the life of a child but it definitely changes us. But beyond that, my point to this starfish story is that by talking about adoption, by explaining the ups and downs but, ultimately, the absolute joy I have found in this process, I hope that I might influence even one person to consider this for their family. There might be thousands who read my drivel and can't adopt. (Convicted felons come to mind.) But if I can throw just one of you into the ocean, to plant a seed that may blossom into a decision to one day adopt, that will be worth it to me. 

Is the Lord tugging on your heart? Is He whispering to open your home to a child in need? Are you one of the ones who is ready to take ten years off her life for the VERY BEST OF REASONS? I'd love nothing more than to talk to you about adoption. And, listen, I'm just going to be sitting around for the next two months waiting for December 21st. SO YOU CAN TOTALLY HELP ME PASS THE TIME BY TALKING TO ME ABOUT THIS.

Email me.

And if you have no interest in adoption whatsoever, you can pray for us...that everything between now and December 21 is smooth sailing and that I stop concocting crazy horror stories in my demented little head.


  1. Yes, I'm so with you on this one and have loved every chance we've had to cheer on friends or friends of friends through the adoption process!

    Also, you CAN adopt from an agency for $30k. We did! Not that $30k is peanuts by any stretch, but tax credits (federal& state), employer benefits, etc all help.

    We did an agency adoption & a private adoption and both shook out to be about the same financial total in our cases. Also, both have been equally WORTH EVERY PENNY.

    1. Thank you for commenting and for clarifying agency adoption costs! And for advocating for adoption!!!

    2. Thank you for commenting and for clarifying agency adoption costs! And for advocating for adoption!!!