(I’m running a series on our experience adopting an older brother & sister from foster care, in the hopes it will clear the way for you to do the same.)
With all the waiting, you wonder about practical things. Like money. Can you afford two or three kids? Can you even afford one? You’ve read all the articles about how it costs approximately four million dollars to raise a child these days, but you tell yourself that figure will go down by at least 2/3 because you’re adopting older kids and therefore will save a fortune on diapers, sippy cups, and car seats. But still. Kids need stuff, and because you don’t know yet who they are (or even how many of them will be joining you) it makes it impossible to forecast any sort of budget.
Here’s what you DO know:
- When you adopt from foster care, the adoption process is free. The whole thing. MAPP training, your homestudy, all the legal work, including the paperwork for finalization. Free. (Or, more aptly stated, “Your Tax Dollars at Work!”)
- When the kid(s) come to live with you, you are their foster parent until the adoption is completed, which takes at least six months. During that time, you’ll receive a stipend for each child based on their age. It works out to about $.92/hour (slight exaggeration) but it helps. You’ll also get a quarterly clothing allowance and small checks for the kids’ birthdays and Christmas. Again, this will not even begin to cover what the children need. But it helps, especially if you’ll be losing all or part of an income in order to take care of the kids.
- Under certain circumstances, parts of this stipend may continue after the adoption until the children turn 18. These circumstances include adopting siblings where one is older than 8, three or more siblings of any age, or children with extensive medical needs.
- The children have Mass Health coverage until they age out.
- They qualify for free tuition at any state college. (You think about how cool it would be if your alma mater, along with other private colleges, matched this offer for alums who adopt from foster care.)
- Older kids are closer to an age where they can have jobs. At some point in the near future, you’ll be able to respond to their requests for pizza/nail polish/a baseball hat with blinking lights/a pet goldfish with, “Sure, but you need to use your own money.”
With all that factored in, your new financial prognostication plays out to just about $1 million per kid. That seems doable, right?
No. Of course not. You slightly freak out.
But then the next day when you’re grocery shopping, you notice something: lots of people have kids. And it appears many somehow manage to raise them for less than your most panic-inducing news outlet suggests is possible.
You can do this.
You remember these truths about how money and life works:
Your kids won’t need all the things all at once. There will be an initial surge of ridiculous spending when they first move in, because kids grow so fast and so they’ll probably need a lot when they first arrive. (Friends of New Adopters: Give Gift Cards! This is the best present we received in our early days in this world. It helps so much more than you know. Target, Amazon, Old Navy, Carters, Marshalls/TJ Maxx. Your adopting friends may not show it publically, but they will weep with gratitude for your help, as they provide their new kids with what might be, in some cases, the first brand new/just for them things they’ve ever had.)
What God starts, He takes care of. If God prompts you to foster and/or adopt, you can count on Him to provide what you need. You can even go to Him directly and ask. “Dear Jesus, we need X. Thanks so much. Amen.” The Apostle Paul boldly claimed that the same God who was taking care of him would supply all our needs, too. Paul was beaten, tossed in prison, shipwrecked and even bitten by a poisonous snake. He still felt like God was doing a great job. Compared to all that, covering the cost of kids is easy :)
Things tend to work out. Okay, you know this is a terrible strategy for financial planning. But sometimes it’s what you have. And as the recent adoption commercials point out, these children don’t need perfect parents or a big house or a bank account that was seeded with money from the day of their conception. They need a home. You have a home. This is doable.
Financial freakout canceled, at least for now.