Friday, August 30, 2013

Adoption Costs Part 2: Removing Distractions

Sometimes Jeremy and I feel like we're are faking it here where we live.  We're surrounded by lots of friends have very different financial situations than ours.  Since I quit my job to stay home with the kids, we've had to really cut back on how we spent.  With Sam's birth and then Allie's adoption, we had to cut back more.  With this adoption, we're having to cut back an already bare-bones budget. Luckily, we have no debt except for our house and we are very careful how we spend our money.

In my last post, I came clean about the nitty-gritty of adoption costs.  That's not because I want to discourage people from adopting. What I'd love to do is to help people realize that they can too adopt despite the high cost.  Here's an idea of how we do it.

What we live without:

  • smart phones (crazy, right?  never had one)
  • cable TV (i'm serious)
  • DS, Wii, etc. 
  • big vacations
  • an abundance of kids' activities-the kids each can do ONE activity at at time.  We don't have the time or the money to be constantly running from swimming to piano to Boy Scouts to tumblebees, etc. 
  • Starbucks coffee... we're not coffee drinkers anyway, but I couldn't justify spending that kind of money on a drink
  • most home improvements except what is absolutely necessary
  • new clothes (we rely mostly on hand-me-downs for kids, and only buy used clothes or greatly discounted when we have to!)
  • newer cars (our cars both have very high mileage and are paid off-luckily I know a great mechanic who keeps 'em running for us!)
  • new toys (I buy almost all our birthday and Christmas toys at garage sales and clearance.) 
  • eating out a lot (mostly reserved for special occasions)
  • big birthday parties
  • organic food
  • a bigger house (we have a 3 bedroom ranch; boys share a room and girls will share a room)

That's not to say we live with nothing.  Despite living frugally, we still have SO MUCH, thanks greatly to the generosity of others in our lives and to frugal spending.  There are toys everywhere and we feel like we are constantly busy with just school and soccer right now.  I can't imagine how full and crazy things would be if we spent more freely.   We have amazing family & friends who give us clothes and toys for the kids and great family gifts like Kings Island passes, zoo passes & even places to stay on vacation so we can have still experience these things even though we can't afford them on our own.  And we do splurge on some things like our pool membership each summer.

We're not asking for pity.  We're certainly not destitute.  We're just simply stating how it is that we adopt, by simply choosing to live without certain things.  If we hadn't adopted Allie, if we weren't bringing Maggie home, we could have and do a lot more.  That's just the simple truth.

Our church service this Sunday was about removing distractions from our lives so that we can see what God really wants us to do.  We really feel like the things above are distractions for our family, and we are happier without them.  Every family is different and it's not our place to judge people who do live with those things.  But for us, simpler is better, less is more.  Instead of our kids spending their weekends with their noses in a video game, we're riding bikes on the bike trail (kids bikes purchased at garage sales/Goodwill!).

Sometimes we wish we could just buy whatever we wanted.  But honestly, we're doing just fine without all those things!  We'd much rather have a small house full of kids than a big house full of stuff.  In fact, I much prefer it this way.  Our lives are simpler without the options of buying all that stuff.  We are not destitute; we're not poor.  We just have to be careful.  Despite having to stay on a tight budget, in comparison to the rest of the world, we are rich.  Our kids are fed and healthy and getting a great public school education.  We have a great house we love, we have wonderful friends and family.  We've just decided what our priorities are and they are not electronics, and fancy vacation and the things listed above.  They are here:

We're not trying to place judgement on all who choose to spend their money on things we don't have. We could give up even more.  I've heard of families downsizing their homes and most of their belongings in order to adopt more kids.   Wouldn't it be exciting if more of us (ourselves included) could give up more things so that more orphans could come home to their forever families?

There are kids dying of thirst and starvation and preventable disease every day. Kids who will never know what it means to have a family.  Knowing this, I'm finding myself more and more uncomfortable with our simple yet abundantly blessed lives.  We could cut back more.  We could do more.  All of us.  Here's to all of us removing the distractions and finding our way to what really matters.

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