Hello friends and family and welcome to our new blog about something very exciting going on in our lives right now. Jason and I have talked about adopting for a few years now and we decided that when Jalen got to be a little bit older we would start looking into it, well Jalen is now 18 mths old and we have started the process…we are adopting a little boy or girl from Ethiopia!!! We are just in the very beginning stages of this long road but are so excited and want to share the news and events as they happen with you all. First question to answer is “When will we have our new child?” and that is generally within 12-16 mths from the time we submit our application. Because this is such a long process we are starting now so Jalen will be around 2 ½ or older before his new brother or sister comes into the family. Next question we know many of you want to know is “How old will the child be?” We have told the agency we would like under 1 year so we are maintaining birth order and keeping Jalen as the big brother. We know another big question is “Why Ethiopia?” and there are so many reasons why that we will explain later but initially the main reason is that Ethiopia has children that not only need a family to be loved by but more importantly need a means to survive. It has just always been in our hearts to adopt and to do so from a place that is struggling to keep the children alive and healthy. We know there are plenty of children across the US and in other countries that need homes but this is what is important to us and as much as we’d love to take in every child and make sure no child goes without, we gotta start somewhere.
We would also like to use this blog to help educate others about international adoption and what it all entails. We hope this will allow you to go through the journey with us via our stories, photos, time-lines, videos, etc. We know there are many questions that everyone has and we want to make sure they all get answered. We’ve already been asked quite a few questions just by the few people we have told already and have realized there needs to be more education given on adoption and the sad truths about so many children out there. We have also noticed there tends to be a very strong opinion on adoption (especially international) amongst everyone. We have heard both positive and negative comments. The more we can educate others that don’t understand or know much about this process, the more we can help innocent children have a chance at having a family and in many cases, have a chance at life! Wanting to adopt became even more apparent after having Jalen and looking at his precious face as he was cuddled up next to us, warm, well fed and content and just thinking how many children are out there and don’t get to experience the same thing. I (Joely) loved being pregnant and love that I can look at Jalen and can see me and Jason in him but none of those reasons makes me want to bring another child into this world anymore than I want to give one that is already here, all that we can. Now don’t get me wrong, this is not to say that we may not ever have any more children of our own or to put down anyone else that doesn’t choose to adopt, it is just to explain how we feel. We have heard many strong opinions from others of why we need to have more children and shouldn’t adopt and want to express our strong opinions for why we think adoption is just as important.
The agency we have chosen to go through is called All God’s Children International and any information we mention on here is specifically in regards to this agency as I am sure they all differ somehow.
Another big question we have gotten asked is “isn’t adoption expensive and how much will it cost?” The answer is YES, adoption is very expensive and it differs for every country and for every state in the US. As well as prices being different, there are rules and criteria that are different for every state and country. From how much you as a family must make in order to apply to how old you are to how long the wait list is for that particular place and per particular aged children. In China for example, the process takes approx 3 years from application to adoption, you must be 30 years old to adopt, the youngest child you will be able to adopt would be 9 mths. There are even guidelines on everything from body mass index (BMI) to education of the parents in China. Some countries have even stopped adoptions temporarily outside of their native countries as well as within their countries due to new laws being written and other reasons (ie: Russia, Guatemala and Haiti).
Going back to the cost, this is the current breakdown of an Ethiopian adoption through the AGCI agency.
Application Fee $300
Home Study Service Fee $1,750
Home Study Review Fee $350
Adoptive Parent Education $170
Agency Service Fee $6,000
Program Fee $1,000
U.S.CIS Fees $670
U.S.CIS Related Fees $80 per adult
County Certification $70 (if applicable)
State Certification $140
FBI Fingerprints for Dossier $18 per adult
International Service Fee $4,500
Dossier Translation $200
Care of the Child in Country $2,500 per child
Post-Adoption Deposit $500
HIV/PCR Testing $350 per child
Medical Checkup $100 per child
Translation of Final Documents $100
Airfare to/from Ethiopia $1,500-2,000 per person
Travel Visa $20
Food per person $20-35 per day
Immigrant Visa $400 per child
Lodging $100 per night
Post-Adoption Translation and
Administration Fee $1,500
Post-Adoption Reports $350 per report (3 req)
Medical Insurance Varies
Re-adoption Fee $200-300
TOTAL AVERAGE EXPENSES: $24,000 and up
This is a significant amount of money but when taking into consideration it is all going towards saving the life of a child, it just doesn’t seem like you can put a price on it. We have spent more on financing cars and student loans, and collectively on vacations, nights out, credit cards, house wares, home upgrades, etc so we figured we could figure this out too and in return add a member to our family that we are so overwhelmingly excited about. This does mean that we will be cutting back our spending and may mean that we might not be able to travel for a while or may have to limit many of the extra things we would normally do or like to do but we hope you all understand this is something that is very important to us and we are going to do whatever we can to make it happen. It has been recommended that we save $6-8,000 before applying so that is where we are at right now in the process. We have started a savings account, cut back our budget and are exploring other ways we can bring in some additional income to help fund this adoption.
We are looking into various grants and are going to talk to both of our employers about adoption assistance programs (Jason's previous employer did have this option but of course in order to have a job closer to home and save on gas money that was a perk we had to give up). I (Joely) have also started selling Mary Kay as a side business and we are also looking into various fundraisers to do to help. Many other families have sold items they have made, had car washes, garage sales, etc so we thought we would try and do what we can too. If you or someone you know uses Mary Kay and you would like to order any products, I have a website you can go to: http://www.marykay.com/joelyoneal and 50% of what you spend will go towards this adoption. We are also exploring the idea of making t-shirts/onesies and maybe other items that advocate adoption and sell them on this blog to also help with the costs of the adoption. There is another family that did this a while ago and was able to make enough to fund their own adoption so they continued to sell the t-shirts to help other families be financially able to adopt. As with everything there are 2 opinions on fundraising as well and we have heard them both already. One is “that is a great idea…” and the other is “if you can’t afford to adopt then maybe you shouldn’t”. The sad thing is that is the reason many people don’t adopt, because it is too expensive. When you look at the whole picture the only person who is suffering is the child who isn’t getting adopted so we are going to everything in our power to make sure we can help save a child and hopefully be able to raise even more money than we need to help other children get adopted and have a safe, happy, healthy future ahead of them too.
We will be including a timeline on this blog that shows the events as they occur as well as links to other websites that are in regards to other families who have went through the same thing or currently are. The first link I have is called Helms Happenings-Ethiopia. This is my long time friend that I grew up with in Illinois, Hilary (Cox) Helms and her family’s website as they are also in the beginning stages of adopting from Ethiopia.
Again, we cannot explain how excited we are and how much of a life changing event this is for us. We are so thankful to have so many supportive people in our lives and we welcome any questions, concerns, advice, etc that you all may have. Keep checking back to see how everything takes place and please forward this blog onto anyone else you know. The more people that will read this, the more we can help the children that need it desperately.
This is a video clip that Hilary sent to me when she was learning about the agency we are going through and came across...grab a tissue and watch, it will just melt your heart!!!
Joely, Jason & Jalen O'Neal