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parenthood

Marriage, Parenting

4 Lessons From My First Year as a Dad

November 13, 2015
One year ago, our lives changed when Josie was born and joined our family. Josie may have tripled her weight in the last year, but I’ve grown a lot too. Here are a few things I learned this year:

1. Love’s New Dimension

It’s a simple idea, but one that I’ve really come to understand: we love different people differently. The love I have for my Mom is different from that for my wife which again is different from that for my brother.
I don’t love any of those people more than another, I love them each differently.
The love a father has for his daughter is a whole different type of love. It’s deep, rich, and like nothing else. It’s like a new color was added to the crayon box of my life.

2. Sleep is Overrated

Some babies sleep really well at night from early on. Others get there a little later. And then there’s Josie, who only recently started sleeping until 5:30am. Before that she was up (read we were all up) 2-4 times every night.
My sleep hasn’t been this poor (in amount and/or quality) in years, and it takes a greater toll than it used to. But it’s okay.
I’ve been functioning just fine, and even if I’m upset/angry/super tired when that kid starts screaming 20 minutes after I fall asleep (and again a few hours later), it all melts away when I go in there to try and calm her down. I love that booger so dang much.

3. My Life is Not My Own. And I Love It.

We used be more spontaneous. Going to the movies on a whim. Taking weekend day trips without much advanced planning. Running errands when they needed to be done. Taking free time to pursue new hobbies.
All that’s gone.
Babysitters, nap times, and spending time with Josie have taken over all that. And forget about flying somewhere with just a carry-on.
I don’t have as much free time. And things that used to be quick and easy take time and planning now. I haven’t touched my hobby electronics in months. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My days are made up less of chasing my own wants and needs and more of doing my best to provide for Josie’s wants and needs. I am living less for myself and more for my family. And that’s making me a better man.

4. A Better Understanding of God the FATHER

Because I now understand the love a father has for their child (see above), I have been able to gain a better understanding on how God sees me.
One of my greatest joys is watching Josie interact with her world: exploring a room, playing with her toys, ransacking a bookshelf or the diaper bag. I love interacting with her: picking her up, listening to her babble at me, playing peek-a-boo.
I translate the joy I find in my daughter to what God must feel for me, his son. He loves watching me interact with my world: exploring new places, enjoying his creation. He loves interacting with me: when I come to him in prayer.
His heart overflows with love for me as mine does for Josie. Except even more, because I’m a broken man, and when it comes down to it, I stink at loving. He’s God. His love is perfect. He loves me so much more than I can ever love Josie, and that blows me away.
I’ve learned many things, but those are the big ones I want to share with you today.
And to the mom’s out there, check out Amanda’s post on what she’s learned as a mom.
Infertility, Marriage

How We Plan to Fund our Adoption

May 10, 2014

Some of you may or may not know that adoption can come with a hefty price tag – average being about $35,000. Yowzers.

Most couples don’t just have that kind of cash just laying-around without a purpose.

If you know us well, you know we are incredibly diligent and intentional with our finances. We’ve been thinking about how to fund adoption without debt for a while now. We don’t believe God wants us to pursue debt to grow our family, since He has a lot of negative things to say about debt in scripture. 

Listening to The Dave Ramsey Show one afternoon, I heard an interview with Julie Gumm, author of “Adopt Without Debt” and it confirmed our conviction in this area. Knowing we will not go into debt, we are still left with a few options to grow our family. On this blog, I want to document how we plan to pursue funding for our adoption – for others in the future who pursue a similar journey AND to provide a glimpse for those who don’t know all the ins and outs of adoption.

The agency we are working with carries a price tag of $25,000 for domestic infant adoption with the possibility of a few thousand extra depending on the situation. Now, there is a possibility of pursuing designated adoption (getting matched together with a birth mother ourselves) which would be approximately one-third to half the cost. We will do all we can to pursue designated adoption and we will talk about that below and how you can help us with this!

Without further ado, here is our plan:

1. Budgeting and Savings

Understanding how to be a good steward of your finances is vital and key. I don’t think this step can be stressed enough. Jonathan and I have been on a journey the past couple of years toward financial peace. We read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and facilitated Financial Peace University. We recommend them for everyone who handles money, adopting or not.

Specifically applying this to adoption – Jonathan and I plan to more or less go back to “beans and rice” while we are scrimping and saving for adoption. We’ve already cash-flowed nearly $3,000 from our budget through intentional budgeting and saving. With each step in the adoption process, we will continue to say “no” to wants so we can say “yes” financially to adoption.

2. Adoption Grants

In “Adopt Without Debt” she lists off many adoption grant available out there. She also makes them available on her website.

This summer, we plan to take a couple weeks of accumulated time off so we can dedicate 60-70 hours/week filling out grant applications. We’ll probably camp out at a local coffee shop so we can stay stimulated at all hours of the day through the process. There will not be a grant we qualify for that we will not apply for. We will turn over every stone in due diligence with grants.

3. Adoption Tax Credits

Adoption tax credit laws are changing all the time. This website helped provide me with information on just how important the adoption tax credit can be. For 2014, the maximum adoption credit and exclusion $13,190 per child.

I am not sure how big of a difference this will make on our bottom line…since it’s non-refundable like it was in 2010 or 2011 (jealous of those of you who got back big checks post adoptions back then). Basically we will be able to claim that amount as a tax credit, making our taxable income lower but not really significantly since we aren’t high income earners to begin with. It will be something but really won’t change our situation much, like a refundable credit would.

4. Fundraising

This can be the scary part for some adoptive couples out there. Since Jonathan and I already fundraise our of income this portion isn’t that frightening. We know too many generous and kind people to be afraid of fundraising. We also have watched God provide for our needs time and time again in the most random ways. If adopting is God’s will for our family – the money will come some way or another.

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction…” James 1:27

Sure, we could simply rely on grants, tax credits, and personal budget/savings to do this adoption. But we feel an actual calling to involve others. In our self-sufficient society, we feel God asking us specifically to make ourselves vulnerable in this way. To expose our needs to others – for judgement, generosity, kindness, cruel comments, etc. I have no idea as to what people will think but we are being obedient to God in this, so I can’t care what people think.

This adoption isn’t just a means of growing our family. It can be a way to bring The Body of Christ together in a powerful way to answer God’s call to care for orphans. Who are we to prevent others from being able to answer this call in a concrete way by supporting our adoption efforts financially? For most, this will be the only way they ever have to care for an orphaned child in an up close and personal way. Through financially supporting us, they are giving a child a family.

We aren’t sure exactly how we will pursue fundraising. There are TONS of ideas out there in books, blogs, and on Pintrest. Once we become home study approved, we will take more concrete steps to put together a fundraising initiative.

5. Designated Adoption

I mentioned up above that pursuing designated adoption versus agency domestic adoption is significantly more affordable. As in one-third to half of the cost. It involves locating a birth mother on our own or via family/friends connections and then going to our agency to set up the legal paperwork and proper counseling to facilitate the adoption.

The hardest part of this type of adoption is locating a birth mother. We plan to make an adoption video/profile and set up some sort of social media campaign to let others know we desire to adopt and are looking for any connection to a birth mother out there. If you have any connection at any time to a birth mother discerning adoption, LET US KNOW!

Again, a very vulnerable thing to do but we are convinced that if God wants us to do a designated adoption – a connection will be there. If we are supposed to pursue domestic agency adoption – the connection won’t be there. Time will reveal His will for growing our family.

There you have it my friends. Our basic game-plan on how we plan to financially pursue adoption.

I have experienced many emotions in the past couple of weeks. In any given day I can range from excited and happy all the way down to bitter and resentful. Thankfully the happy times are winning out far more often than the negative. What works me up so much is the seeming unfairness of it all. We’ve spent thousands of dollars trying to have biological children over the past couple years and no baby. Now we are spending tens of thousands of dollars trying to adopt a child but we have no garauntee it will work out. While this is happening – women are aborting their babies, parents are neglecting or abusing their children, drug-addicts are using throughout their pregnancies, and couples everywhere simply try for a baby and end up pregnant seamlessly. All those situations humiliate our infertility and it’s hard to process them in the midst of so much struggle.

By God’s grace we will teeter onward towards His will for our family. Jesus, have mercy on us! All you holy men and women, angels and saints, pray for us!