Monday, June 11, 2012

Breaking It Down

We have had many delays (and some busyness) that has kept us from getting our first letter sent off to M and V.  I thought I was finally going to get it sent off last week, but I learned that since we were including pictures (and using a photo mailer), we had to fill out customs forms.  That should have taken an extra minute or two and another trip back up to the counter.  But I couldn't read the addresses well enough to copy them onto the forms.  I had to come home, send a scan to a new friend in Bulgaria, wait for it to be typed and sent back, wait for the weekend to come and go, and go back to the post office this morning.  So now we know.

I'm excited that in response to my last post about Biking to Bulgaria on the Wii, our friend Jennifer Turbeville has offered to ride her REAL bike for 200 miles for us.  She already has 2 sponsors!!  If you would like to sponsor her let me know, or you can still sponsor me for my 60 hours.  More about fundraising coming soon.  My current time is 4 hrs, and her last mileage report was 31 miles.

In this post I want to address a very specific set of questions that we often get:  Why does it cost so much?  As someone in the middle of this ride, I truly wish it didn't -- and I can see several places where the cost or fees really are unreasonable.  Like why does it cost over $800 just to file the I-800A with immigration to get preliminary approval to bring an orphan into the country.  And why does it expire so much more quickly than most adoptions take to complete.  We were not reminded to update this form in time (after all, this is our first time adopting...a reminder would be nice), and we ended up paying this fee twice.  And what about all the fingerprinting?  At a glance, I think we have paid $188 just on fingerprinting.  Why couldn't we be printed once?  Then a copy could be sent everywhere we needed it.  And they don't really need to "expire"!  Hello?  Would someone tell the FBI this.  If my fingerprints truly expire after 18 months, then any criminal only needs to wait 18 months between crimes in order to never get caught (at least by his fingerprints).

But most of the cost is NOT fingerprinting or even immigration.  Most of it has paid our home study agency, our placing agency, and even our Bulgarian agency.  There is a very large fee paid to the foreign country.  This is listed as one fee, but I believe it may include a government fee, a donation to the orphanage, and possibly the Bulgarian agency fee (because it hasn't been listed separately).  Now if you think talking money is too personal, stop reading here.  I want to keep this real for any adoptive families that may come after us.

This list includes what we have paid so far AND what we anticipate paying to get them home.  Take a moment.  There are a couple of items that I really don't have a breakdown for, but some grant asked for it, so it is listed.

Agency fees
 $   (6,540.00)
foreign program fee
 $ (16,623.00)
home study
 $   (2,300.00)
post placement
 $   (1,000.00)
INS Fees (immigration)
 $   (1,720.00)
Had to pay twice
 $       (399.00)
Translation Fees
Not charged separately
 $       (460.00)
Child's Medical Exam
Have-no-idea X 2
Airline Tickets - 1st trip
 $   (2,536.00)
Airline Tickets - 2nd trip
 $   (3,800.00)
In-Country Food/Travel/Lodging
 $   (2,603.00)
partly estimated
Orphanage Donation
Probably in Foreign Program Fee
Other: (broken down below)
 $       (605.00)
 $                                              (287.46)
 $                                              (100.00)
 $                                              (217.54)
 $ (38,586.00)

I feel I must mention that this is not the original amount that I remember signing up for.  Maybe I didn't calculate correctly or didn't include something; maybe costs went up; I don't know, and it doesn't matter.  This is where we are nonetheless.

Keep in mind that these costs are what I call "official" costs.  These are the ones I think the IRS will recognize when we hopefully get to make use of the adoption credit.  This list does NOT include the cost of  the following:

  • fundraisers 
  • furnishing and fixing up the kids' bedrooms 
  • furnishing M & V with a startup supply of clothes and toys (NOT a toy store level, but just a few things)
  • gifts taken on the first trip for 2 directors, 2 social workers, 14 caretakers, and 1 translator/driver
  • gifts for the second trip???
  • odds and ends for international travel (since we didn't already have these things)
  • Tim's 6 days without pay during our first trip
These are not "official" adoption expenses, but they are a part of the process.  This is why we fundraise ALL the time.  Sorry if it seems we are always focused on the money.  Our hearts really are way more focused on M & V.  But the money is the one and only obstacle trying to hinder us from being a family.  Just a simple reality.  Fortunately, we are blessed to have an ALMIGHTY GOD who owns it all and can do all things.  He will provide.  Now, that doesn't mean we sit around watching TV and waiting for Him to pay the bills.  But I know He has provided Tim's half-a-summer job; He has provided a couple of grants (and hopefully the ones pending); and He has moved many folks to support us.  This part of the process is ALL about His provision.