Friday, July 16, 2010

Trash for Cash - Venturing into Fundraising

From the moment when I first felt called to adopt, there has always been a peace that passes understanding regarding the financial aspect of it. As you all know, international adoption isn't cheap. In fact, it costs a LOT. A lot of money that we didn't, don't, wouldn't probably have. And yet, I have always known that if we were willing to heed His call, that He would provide for it. [Please know that this is NOT like me at all. I am a high anxiety, detailed,(neurotic) planner, and control-freak. Yet, I have known from day 1 that I didn't need to worry, and I haven't. Neither has Eric.

Thus far, God has provided. In amazing ways. First, when we started this adoption, we were thrilled to discover that Eric's employer, at the time, offered adoption benefits. $3K before the child came home, and an additional $3K afterwards. Second, the federal government made some changes to the Federal Adoption Tax Credit -- raising it to a little over $13K and making it such that they will actually pay you the reimbursement as a credit when you file your taxes at the end of the year. Then, when we were mid-process, Eric changed jobs somewhat unexpectedly, or at least not really planned too much in advance. We had felt blessed with the adoption benefits at his previous employer, so imagine how thrilled we were to learn that the new employer had benefits which were almost 3X the previous employers' benefits. Plus, his previous employer was generous enough to go ahead and allow us to submit the first half of his benefits there before he left.

These benefits are all fantastic, however, for the most part, they are all reimbursement-based such that we have to pay the costs up front, then get the money back once we have our new little one home. Because we were so blessed with the benefits we were receiving, we made a decision not to apply for any adoption grants because there are a lot of other families out there adopting who aren't fortunate enough to have employers with adoption benefits. We decided to take out a home equity loan for a short time to pay some of the costs up front, then use the reimbursements at the end of the year to pay off the loan. Meanwhile, we would save for our travel so we'd be ready to pay those costs when they occurred.

But, as many know, the world of adoption is a constantly changing place, and several things have happened since we started this process:

1) The Ethiopian government has changed it's requirements and now requires the adoptive parents to make 2 trips to Ethiopia.

2) With that change in requirements, a slow-down and bottle-neck has occurred within our agency with the submitting & processing of court dates as well as the time to travel to bring the children home.

So, while at one time, we were certain that we'd have our little one home before the end of the year, now we're not so sure. If we don't have him home by the end of the year, then we will have to wait on that tax credit for another year. Additionally, our travel expenses have now doubled with the additional trip. Families that are currently traveling are reporting airfares in the ranges of $1500 - $2500 a ticket. Additionally, Ethiopia has a cash-based economy so while we were in Ethiopia, everything must be paid in cash so there will be no credit card usage to help fund the travel.

Therefore, while we initially had hoped not to have to do any sort of fundraising for our adoption, we have now decided that it probably wouldn't hurt -- mostly just to help out with the travel expenses. We have read about a lot of different fundraisers that other families are doing -- community garage sales, awesome t-shirt sales, etc. -- but none felt right for us. We both hate to ask friends to buy anything or give us money. I don't know why (probably pride), but we just do. But then I was driving Daniel to Vacation Bible School 2 weeks ago and heard a story on K-Love about a couple who needed to raise money for their wedding so they decided to collect & recycle aluminum cans. Over a period of a few months, they raised a few thousand dollars.

Because Eric and I drink a lot of Diet Coke and therefore have a lot of recycling anyway, I thought - that sounds perfect for us! ;-) So, we talked about it and decided to go for it. We figured that we aren't asking people for their cash, we're asking for their trash! What could it hurt?! And so, we sent out emails and walked around the neighborhood passing out fliers and have begun collecting aluminum from our neighbors and friends. And, we're glad that we are. In one week, we collected an entire truck full of aluminum!

Some friends have gone out of their way to help out. When we returned from vacation (before we even officially started collecting), we found a garbage can marked "recycle" with a hole cut out of the top, completely filled with crushed cans in our driveway behind our house. A friend decided to help us get started. Some people have been really, truly thrilled to help - telling others about it and collecting from their families and friends. Others have told us about places where they thought we could collect & have spoken to managers at these locations requesting that they give their cans to us. One neighbor collected and delivered aluminum scrap (siding, gutters, etc) from her son who is a contractor. And, after sending out the email about the can collection fundraiser, other wonderful friends called and asked us to figure out a date when they could hold a "fundraiser picnic" for our adoption.

I believe that we are ALL called by God to care for the orphan and the widow and the poor. I do not, however, believe that all are called to adopt themselves, so maybe we're giving people a chance to help in a way that works for them. Around here, we're fond of the phrase, "you can't out-give God". It's true. If you give, you will be blessed. If you're called to adopt, adopt. If you're called to support someone else who is adopting, then do that. Sponsor a child through Compassion or World Vision. Give to some other organization that cares for "the least of these". But do it. YOU will be blessed. And in the process, you will be blessing others as well. We are blessed to call many of you friends! Thank you for supporting us!

Your trash for Week 1 = $76.06 towards bringing our sweet boy home