Thursday, April 4, 2013

Affording Adoption

Adoption is expensive. That’s no secret to anyone who has adopted or who has explored the idea of adoption. We’ve adopted two kids in a four-year time span with one adoption being a special needs adoption. That’s meant traveling internationally twice in just over two years. There’s no denying that we’ve been blessed, but we’ve also learned a thing or two about paying for adoption.

There are many wonderful organizations who assist with grants depending on the type of adoption (international, domestic, special needs, etc…) Additionally, many adoption agencies have their own in-house grants or low-interest loans/no-interest loans for qualifying applicants. This post isn’t about that. This post is about how to fund your adoption  and minimize adoption costs on your own. 

Saving for/during the adoption process:

Employer assistance – Many large corporations (and some smaller ones) still offer adoption assistance. It’s frequently a reimbursement that is offered after the adoption is finalized. This many not help you with up front costs, but it can be a nice chunk of change on the back end.

Notaries – You’ll need so many documents notarized that soon your grocery list will look incomplete without a notary’s stamp. If you’re lucky you’ll find a notary among your friends, at your church or hidden in your company’s HR department. If you end up paying for notary services, check with your local bank or AAA. Notary services may be offered as part of your banking services or for a reduced fee. AAA also offers notary services to its members in some locations for a nominal fee (roughly $4).

Sell – This may seem fairly obvious but now is the time to get rid of those items cluttering the garage or spare bedroom via a yard sale or Craigslist ad. (Never used Craigslist before? This post explains how to get started.) But don’t just stop with the obvious items like the weight set that props up the dog food bag, look at the bookshelf and media console too. Did you know you can sell books, CDS and DVDs on Amazon? Here’s a great post explaining how to sell using the Amazon Marketplace here. And while you’re in seller mode, check the closets for outgrown kids clothes to sell to an online consignment shop. I like Thredup. 

Buy  - It would be easy to say don’t buy anything from now until you have your adoption money in-hand. But that’s simply not realistic. Instead, when you do shop, maximize how you spend your money. Are you using a credit card or debit card that gives you cash back, travel rewards or shopper rewards? Now is also the time to be looking ahead, if you’ll be travelling internationally, make sure your credit card doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee as that will rack up additional charges.

Change Your Buying Habits – Anyone can clip a .50 cent coupon and call it a day. But it’s going to take more than pocket change to pay for an adoption. Plus, let’s face it, growing your family is one of the best reasons to get your finances in order. Are you doing everything you can to be moneywise?

  • Are you learning to stockpile and coupon using money blogs like: or
  • Are you using Ibotta, an online savings app for Android and iPhone users that allows you to upload your receipt for cash when you’re purchased certain items?
  • Before you shop are you checking  for an online coupon code or in-store coupon?

Earn While You Surf - Let’s face it, you need to remain caffeinated during the wait. So while you wait, you may as well get your coffee for free. Are you using to earn points each time you surf the web toward Amazon, Starbucks and Target gift cards?

Keep – Keep every document, every receipt, every parking stub that is adoption-related. You will need these when you claim the adoption tax credit, which you claim when you’re filing for the tax year in which the adoption was finalized. (If you finalized your adoption in 2012, you’ll claim the credit in 2013 when you file your 2012 taxes.) When you do write adoption-related checks, be sure to get copies of the checks shortly after they’ve been cashed. If you wait too long, your bank may charge you for copies of archived checks.)

Saving after the adoption:

It’s never to early to start a college fund. Are you signed up for

Your family is finally all together and you’d love a family photo to prove it, but you’re tapped out financially. Check out

(Note: Several of the links in this post are referral links.)

Friday, March 8, 2013



My neighbor and I have a good thing going. Almost by accident we started a food swap.  At Christmas, I took them homemade potstickers. She brought us bruschetta and goat cheese with spring onions.

Since then, each time we’ve returned a bowl or plate, we’ve refilled it with something new. She tends it fill it with something savory. I’m more of a baker, so I tend it pile in the sweets. I love running across the street with something hot from the oven and even better is seeing her show up on our door step, offering in hand.

Last week we swapped lobster bisque (her) and ricotta cheese cookies (me). Our little exchange is mutually beneficial and when we manage to swap on the same day, we almost make a meal out of it.

Now I need to return the bowl but I’m short on baked goods. I think I’m going to fill it with clementines. They aren’t homemade, but who can say no to a Cutie?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Ready or Not…


Little hands eagerly picked some spicy Thai peppers from the garden box today. Peppers that are still green. Peppers crying out to be left to ripen and redden a little longer.

I have an affinity for those peppers. Some days I feel like I could withstand a little more sun, a little more rain, a few more kisses from the midnight moon before I’m ready to be plucked and plopped into something new.

But there is much truth in the Buddhist expression, when the student is ready, the teacher will come. In each new circumstance, at every bend in the road, may I be willing. May I want to linger in the dirt no longer.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What’s In Your Wallet?


I can’t remember where I read this tip, but I’m in the author’s debt. The suggestion was to fill an empty wallet with odds and ends and then let your kids play with it during wait times at restaurants, doctor’s offices, etc..

We’ve done it  and it works. Our play wallets (we have his and hers) are filled with hotel room keys we forgot to turn in, credit cards from the unsolicited promotionals that come in the mail, bandaids, stickers and an assortment of coins. I rotate the contents occasionally and I’ll soon be adding a small roll of Scotch tape and a heart-shaped notebook and pencil that were left buried at the bottom of the candy bag after the school valentine exchange.

If only these wallets could be used to be pick up the tab.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Love and Money



This weekend was our annual tax and dinner date. It’s probably not the most romantic of dates but I’ve come to look forward to it. Because we usually go at the end of February or the first weekend in March, it’s a belated Valentine’s dinner of sorts. While I never look forward to tax day, I don’t dread it either.

I have my parents, my dad in particular, to thank for teaching me a healthy respect for money early on. When I was little, my dad struck a deal with me. For each grocery store coupon I used not only would I get to pocket the savings, but he’d match it. That little bargain has made a life-long couponer out of me.

Back in those days for some unknown reason, I took my coupons to the store in an empty checkbox. This odd organizational system once led the produce man to think he’d won the lottery when I misplaced my box for a few minutes. 

I’m sure I spent ample time talking my parents into unnecessary purchases just so I could use a coupon. But I spent just as much time cutting my coupons and accompanying my mom to the grocery store to use them– all good lessons in money and life.

Do I love you, Uncle Sam? Nope, I sure don’t. Especially not in light of 2012’s taxes. But I do love the knowledge that living well and money are both hopelessly intertwined and entirely separate.

Coupon that.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Dear Me of a Few Minutes Before,

You know how people sometimes write letters to their 16, 18, 30 year old selves? My letter wouldn’t go back that far. I wouldn’t intone the wisdom of years. I’d write a letter to the girl of two hours ago, the girl from half an hour before.


Dear Me of a Few Minutes Before,

That insensitive, ugly thing that happened on the playground, the one that left you sucker punched. Yeah, that was hard. Then later hauling two kids home in the hot sun that on the walk down to the park felt golden, yeah, that sucked.

Remember how you kept going when all you wanted was to fall down on the hot concrete and weep? That a girl. You know how all you felt capable of was donning sack cloth and ashes and wailing but somehow you managed some inane comment about those yellow flowers? I’m proud of you. 

I know you think you can’t do this. You can. I know you feel like you’re not cut out for this. You are.

You’ve surrounded yourself with smart, caring people. They are there for you. Your faith has not failed you. It’s steadfast truth. You believe in unfailing grace. Show it to yourself.

Yeah some moments are hard – they are. You can’t change that.

But you can keep going until you get to the beautiful ones.

Rise up, phoenix, RIse.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sweet and Sour


I’ve been known to wax philosophical although, as a rule, rarely before breakfast. But the other morning as I was spreading jam and lemon curd onto toast in proportions equal to just the right amount of sweet and sour, I realized my most important meal of the day was a metaphor for life.

Life’s hard and heavy are inevitable. Even when we bring it on ourselves, sorrow arrives an unbidden guest. But happy can be invited. Joy and gratitude cultivated and maintained.

Darkness still may knock, but let light ring the bell.