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Growing your family can be expensive, especially when adoption or IVF treatments are involved. Three-time adoptive mom Laura Coleman shares her story about how she and her husband planned for these expenses–and how she helps coach others who want to do the same!

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Full transcript:

INTRO: [00:00:00] Hello. And welcome to the Young Scrappy Money podcast. I’m your host, Michelle Waymire. And each week, I’ll be bringing you tips and tricks to help you take control of your finances as well as interviews with people who made big financial changes in their own lives. So join us. And we’ll help you get your financial s**t together.

MICHELLE: Hello, everybody. Welcome, welcome to another episode of the Young Scrappy Money podcast. I am still deep in house land. Greetings from house land, is rather how I should have started that— that podcast. I’ve talked a lot about our homebuying journey so far— the windows, the trim, the forever paint, the infinite sweat.

What you may or may not know is that our house, our new house, has four bedrooms. And so, of course, the number one question we are fielding about our decision to buy this big house is, when are the babies coming? And, you know, for us, that’s certainly something that potentially could happen later on down the road, not immediately. Uh, sorry, potential grandparents-to-be who may or may not be listening to this.

But suffice it to say I’ve gotten this question so many times recently, and I’ve started to really have these conversations a lot more with clients about starting a family and all of the various ways that happens, that adoption has also been on my brain. And adoption, I think, is one of those things that a lot of people don’t fully understand. It’s sort of this opaque process.

It takes a lot of research and a good bit of money to do. And so I think these are questions that are really worth unpacking, learning a little bit more about this topic, not just for folks who maybe are not able to have children for whatever reason, but simply want to adopt. And I think we’re— we’re seeing that happening more and more over time.

So I’m excited. I— I’ll be honest. I don’t know anything about adoption. So I’m very, very grateful to have Laura Coleman with me today. Um, she’s an accredited financial counselor with over 20 years in the financial industry. 

After adopting three children herself, she felt the calling to help others prepare financially for adoption. She believes in living your financial life with intention. Welcome, Laura. 

LAURA: Thank you so much, Michelle, for having me on your show today. 

MICHELLE: Of course. So I— I know the absolute basics. I know the bare minimums. Um, but tell us more about your story. How— how did you get into this work? 

LAURA: Honestly, we kind of fell into adoption. Uh, my husband and I got married in 2011. And I’ve always wanted to be a mom, always— I honestly wanted to have three kids before I was 25. And I wanted to have six kids and be a stay-at-home mom. And life was just gonna be grand. 

And the reality of it was I didn’t even meet my husband until I was 33. Got married when I was 34. Tried to have kids, un— unsuccessful. Um, we did IVF, ended up doing that five times. And that ended up in a miscarriage. 

And while we were going through that, a friend of ours needed their granddaughter to have a safe place. And started watching her. And she just began living with us. And the next thing I know, we’re asking, um, hey, could we adopt her? And you could be grandparents.

And, you know, they were very excited about that. And so now we have a seven-year-old who is super sassy and very much like myself, very headstrong. So, um, and then about two years later, we started the fostering process. And we ended up fostering two little boys that are brothers, half brothers.

And we finalized their adoption. And so now, we have three children that we received within a two-year period of time that were— at the time, they were under three and a half. So that was— that was— it was a struggle. 

But one of the things I’ve learned is that whatever plan that is meant for you, I call it plan B. And plan B is a pretty good plan, and especially when you look back on it. And you’re like, oh, I was supposed to go through that experience. I was supposed to have that opportunity.

So about a year ago— so I’ve been in the financial industry and, um, started off in mortgages and ended up as a financial counselor. And in 2018, I started seeing a lot of people talk about niche. You should have a niche. And I was like, well, yeah, I help everybody.

You know, I was working quite extensively with our military. And I met a military service member that came in. And they were kind of embarrassed to talk about what they were coming to talk to me about. So once I like got beyond the initial conversation, I’m like, OK, why do you want to borrow this money? What are you wanting to accomplish here?

[00:04:50] And they said, well, we— we want to do fertility, and— and I’m like, oh my gosh, like I did that. You know? Like I’m so excited to like tell you about my story, and how I did it, and how we now have three children. And— and so, as I was watching other financial coaches talk about their niches, I thought, you know, what do I have a passion for? What do I love talking about? Who do I connect with the most?

And I really connect with people who are seeking to adopt and go through fertility. And so, um, I really researched it out. And I did not see anyone else like really talking about that, like the financial aspect of adoption and fertility and how to prepare. And so that’s what I— I decided, I’m doing this.

I— I wanna help other couples, other people, who are seeking to increase their family. Sometimes it may be because they went through fertility, and— I know people who just wanna adopt just because they wanna add another child. Or, you know, they want a bigger family, and they’re not able to— to have more.

Or, it’s just not, um, feasible medically. And so I really connect with those. And so that’s why I decided to take my private practice and focus on that niche.

MICHELLE: Yeah. I love it.

LAURA: So— yeah, yeah. So that’s— that’s how I started.

MICHELLE: Awesome. So before we get into some of the nuts and bolts, um, I’m— I’m curious to hear your perspective on this. What’s one thing that you wish people better understood about adoption?

LAURA: Um, adoption is— you know, you think of the glowy side of things. But it’s not necessarily glowy. Um, when you get on the other side of things, you know, it’s— it’s very emotional. It can be very difficult on your marriage as well.

And I want people to know that, you know, you— if you’re single, you need to make sure that you have a team to help you. Because it’s not all rosy with that child. They’re going to have some struggles. And whether that’s emotional struggles, um, when you start off or emotional struggles in their teen years, at some point in time you’re going to have emotional struggles. 

And if you’re in a relationship with someone, and you have different backgrounds, and you’re bringing a child into that relationship, and maybe it’s not as strong as you would like it to be, adding that child can really affect that relationship. Um, and so, you know, one of the things that I’ve learned with having three kids is I— I cannot raise this child by myself. I have to have a village, so to speak. 

Um, you know, we adopted— one of our children has some special needs. And I’m grateful that we’ve gone through the struggles and seen where he’s come from when we first got him to where he is now. And with a stable environment and with love, um, it’s really been rewarding to see him go from a nonverbal child to someone who is extremely talkative. And now, we’re dealing with him being able to recognize his emotions.

And it really will stretch you as a mother. You know, one of the things that I talk a lot about is the importance of having a weekly money date. And the reason why you wanna do that is because if you don’t have your finances in order, and you’re not able to communicate about your finances, it will affect the relationship.

Well, if it affects your relationship, well, then it will in turn affect the children that are in your home. The relationship that you have with each other, um, or with the people that are surrounding you to help you raise these children, it’s important that you have that open communication. So, you know, if I were to give anyone any advice, it would be to, one, make sure that you create that village to raise a child. 

MICHELLE: I love it. OK. So I think that was a perfect segue, admittedly, into the next set of things that I wanna discuss with you. Um, so I love that you mention that the decision to adopt a child and the— sort of the repercussions from that are really twofold. You’ve got the whole emotional side of, what does it mean to become a parent? And what does it mean to interact with loved ones in a different way? 

[00:09:51] And then I think you’re exactly right. For a lot of folks, their biggest concern is— is the financial piece. So knowing, one, that adoption is— can be, at least— a pretty expensive process and, two, that there’s ongoing needs associated with growing a family, regardless of how you approach that. I think, you know, the financial side is not something that can be ignored. 

So I think let’s— let’s maybe start with like the front end here. Um, how much does adoption cost? And are there any unexpected costs that tend to catch people off guard as part of this process? 

LAURA: So adoption, it depends upon where you adopt and how you adopt. Um, you know, our daughter’s adoption cost us $2,700. It was $1,000 for the home study and 1,700 for the attorney. Now, as I have done podcast interviews with people, and I’ve discovered that we were pretty stinking lucky. 

And it really depends upon where you live, and how much that attorney costs, and if there’s an interstate adoption. So if you have to pay for an attorney in the state where the birth mother is and then where you’re at for finalizing of the adoption— so there’s the two, that double cost. So people can miss that and aren’t aware of that. It is, um— you know, if— if the child is in the same state as you, then you don’t have that double attorney fee there.

Um, and then our boys we adopted through foster care. Now, of course, foster care is all about reunification with your parents. However, um, there are children that it is not in the best interest of the children to return to their parents, as the case was for us. And so we were able to adopt the children that we had fostered.

And the state paid for that adoption. So that was really huge. There was no fee for us to do that. In fact, there was an adoption stipend that we received, um, after the adoption and then, of course, foster care before the adoption. And so there’s— it depends upon, you know, what option you wanna go through.

Um, I have met people who have done domestic adoptions and have gone through adoption agencies. And you’re looking at, you know, anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000, roughly. And then, of course, international adoptions, I’ve heard numbers ranging between 30,000 and 50,000. So it really depends upon if you go through an adoption agency, what country you’re going to adopt from, you know, what kind of support for the birth mother, you know, her fees for the— her— her attorney.

And so those are some things that— that people need to be aware of. It’s doing your research. Um, I have a couple of downloads that I provide people that I help them with comparison shopping, so to speak. Um, and it’s saying, OK, like, what exactly— how exactly do we wanna welcome a child into our home?

Um, do we want to go the foster care route, and that child could return to their parents? And we’ve just loved on that child for a little while. And if one is meant to stay with us, it sticks. Um, and, you know, then there’s no cost for that adoption.

Typically, they’re older children that you do adopt. And, um, for us, you know, we got a 22-month-old and a two-day-old. They were siblings. That was— that was our experience.

And then, you know, another friend of mine, she and her husband, they adopted a little girl. She was nine months old. And she was placed with them through foster care. So there’s that.

Um, I have another person that I’ve known her for years. They’ve adopted four. And they used an adoption consultant. And their first two adoptions cost $30,000 each.

And then the third adoption, they were made aware of the mother. It was through some networking. And it cost them probably half of that. So that was, um, a huge blessing.

And one thing that people aren’t aware of is, you know, keeping track of all those adoption fees. Because there is an adoption tax credit that they can utilize once they file their taxes. So that’s kind of a little bit about the fees. I’m trying to think to answer all that question.

MICHELLE: Yeah. No, no, no.

LAURA: OK.

MICHELLE: That was great. Um, I didn’t necessarily realize— well, I think I kind of had some sense, but obviously not— uh, not exact knowledge of like the full range of outcomes that can be there, I mean, from a fully covered like foster care adoption to $50,000 for an international adoption. I think that’s great that you— that you have those resources available to folks. 

[00:15:00] And I’m gonna, um— if you’re listening to this, know that you can always get the show notes at www.youngandscrappy.com/blog. All of the podcast episodes show up on our blog. And I have show notes in there. So I’ll definitely make sure to link y’all out to Laura’s resources so that, if this is a decision you’re thinking about making, um, she can help you analyze those costs. 

Um, so let’s say somebody’s kind of narrowed things down. They’ve decided they wanna adopt. They figure out how they wanna do it. Um, what’s— what’s the first step to sort of preparing financially for adoption? 

LAURA: The first is organizing your finances, setting up your spending plan, knowing where your money’s going, and then planning it out and saying, OK, how much money do we need? When do we need it by? And how are we gonna raise the funds to do it?

And I recommend using multiple sources of income to be able to fund your adoption. I am a true believer in debt-free adoption. Um, there are resources out there for borrowing money to adopt. 

But I do caution people that if you want to do that, if— if you’re both working right now, and you do adopt, and one of the children that you adopt needs you to be at home, can you live off of one income with that added debt payment? That’s— you know, I do cover that in my Preparing Financially for Adoption course of— of— you know, as people are looking at that debt, there’s a debt section that goes over that. 

But let’s talk a little bit about some of the fun ways people can raise money. And, you know, obviously, looking at your spending plan and saying, OK, where are we overspending our money? And what are some ways that we can cut expenses right now? And then— so that’s cutting your expenses. 

And then we want to increase your income. And I have 25 fundraising ideas. So you can sell garden produce. You can do some plasma donation. I have a client that was earning about 200 bucks a month from plasma donation. 

Um, babysitting and tutoring. You could host a barn dance, or a hayride, some pony rides and charge people for those rides. You could sell a cookbook. 

You could do dog washing, walking service, um, some scavenger hunt fundraisers. You could sell your talents. There are some amazing people out there on Etsy as well as Facebook Marketplace that I’ve seen that sell, you know, the talents that they have and harnessing what they have and— and doing that.

Selling T-shirts, I met a couple that they raised $15,000 for T-shirts. And I do have some— a download in regards to, um, 10 Ways to Make a T-shirt Fundraiser Successful. And one of them is finding a unique design that appeals to everyone, not just to one unique group. 

And then also, I’ve had several people talk about doing a neighborhood donated garage sale. And those have been pretty successful for some people that I’ve talked with. And Airbnb your extra room and basement. And I spoke with a service member and interviewed her about how she used Airbnb as well as having an international student live with her. 

And crowdfunding, um, I— I’ve had quite a bit of feedback from crowdfunding. Some people are not exactly, um, a huge fan of that. Because it seems more like a handout. But it is what it is. It’s out there. 

There’s some adoption grants. And I have a list of 100 adoption grants and fertility grants that people can apply for. Um, you could host a golf outing, um, comedy night dinner. There was a couple that did a comedy night and dinner and paid for all of their adoption expenses.

And then they started their own adoption fund called the Little Biscuit Adoption Fund. So that was kind of a fun thing there. Um, you could have a silent auction event, a text-to-give campaign, balloon raffle.

Um, you could partner up with a local restaurant and then do a wheelbarrow penny race or penny drive, cookoff, candy guessing games, and donate your big day, like donate your birthday. You see those on Facebook a lot. When people are like, hey, donate my money to this, well, that could be one of your things that you could donate money to. So those are 25 fun ideas that people can use to raise money for adoption.

MICHELLE: So that is definitely teaching me that, when it comes to, um, achieving this financial goal, people are getting creative out there.

[00:20:00] LAURA: Yeah, yeah. And there’s some really fun ideas that people have told me. I’m like, man, gosh, I never would’ve thought of that. I— one person I interviewed, she created these cookies called macarons. And she sells them for a dollar apiece. And she’s doing that to raise money.

And I’m like, oh, man, that’s great. She’s using her talents. And, you know, it’s also really great to support other people in their missions and their— oh, what’s the word? Um, where they have like this total belief in something?

MICHELLE: Passion?

LAURA: Yeah, yeah. And they’re like so excited about something. And you’re like, hey, I wanna support you in that dream that you have. And, you know, that’s— these are just some fundraising ideas. There’s so many out there.

And, you know, yes, I know when you’re coming up to the wire, and you’re wanting to adopt, you almost feel a little frantic, or a little desperate I guess I should say. And you have that tendency to say, you know what? I’m just gonna go borrow the money.

But if you just stop and say, OK, I have a dream, and in order for that dream to become a goal, I need to have a deadline and a dollar sign. So if I know that I need $20,000 by such and such a date, OK, let’s— let’s cut this down into a monthly amount. How much do I need to make monthly? All right.

So if I went and did Uber or Lyft, or I rented my house on Airbnb, you know, those are all passive— um, well, excuse me. The Airbnb is like a passive income. So, you know, there’s things where you have to actively earn the money. And then there’s some things that are passive income ideas.

And— and those are the ideas I love to think about and talk about and do— where it’s like, OK, plasma donation, go on your lunch hour and go and donate some plasma and earn an extra 200 bucks a month. OK, well, now you’ve got the 200 bucks. Where do you wanna— where do you need to put that money?

Well, I tell people that they need to open up a savings account and specifically name it Baby Johnson 2021 or, if you want it sooner, 2020. And— and you know, OK, this is for Baby Johnson 2020. OK, so when I make this money, I’m gonna go and put it in this bank account.

And there’s this sense of accomplishment of like, hey, I’m so excited that our goal, I can see it grow. I can see this goal happening so that, you know, now that anticipation is like exciting. Like part of the journey is the anticipation.

Um, when you borrow money, you get the excitement at the moment. And then later on, there’s this feeling— deflated feeling of, oh, I have to pay this back. It’s a drudgery. Well, adoption should not be that way.

Adoption should be this exciting thing that you’re looking forward to. So the journey towards that, that anticipation, like the nine months before you have a child— it might be a year to two years before you bring this child into your home, but that anticipation, excitement will really culminate in that moment when the final— finalization of that adoption happens. So that’s why I suggest like multiple sources of income to create this fund to be able to be a mom or a dad.

MICHELLE: Yeah. One of the things that I really also love about those types of tactics or specifically things related to passive income— I think it’s really smart to plan on, you know, there being something unexpected. Right? And I think you gave the example of if you adopt a child, and it turns out that they need more home care than you had originally thought. And you— one of you has to quit a job, or pare back on hours, or switch to part-time, or something like that happens, I mean, that can take a huge financial hit.

And so I think that’s a— that’s actually a really useful, um, way to think about it. That if you’re sort of doing something on the side— a side hustle or a passive income or, um, you know, even the type of one-off event— knowing that, if you’re doing those things to save for the adoption, not only will you get yourself in a situation where you’re not having to pay down that debt, but those might also be things that turn into other jobs down the road or help you supplement your income once you have adopted, if it does turn out that somebody’s financial situation has changed.

LAURA: Exactly, exactly.

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[00:25:00] MICHELLE: So what other financial aspects do you recommend people consider? I mean, we’ve talked about the importance of saving for the adoption. And then you touched a little bit on making sure that your own financial house is order. What other tips do you have there?

LAURA: So, um, after the adoption is finalized, throughout the journey, you need to make sure you have a folder to collect all of the expenses that have to go along with the adoption. So if you are meeting at the hospital to pick up the baby, and you have travel there and the hotel stay and the eating out, and, you know, the home study fees, your attorney fees, um, anything that has to do with the adoption, you put all of those expenses into a folder. And when it comes time to file with— with your taxes, um, you get to access the adoption credit.

And I don’t want— it’s a really long explanation about that. But just know that the adoption credit is available. And you can utilize that to, um, help your taxes and reduce your taxes. And, um, there’s— there’s some really neat ways that I’ve talked about on my podcast about utilizing— how I utilize the adoption tax credit.

For our foster care adoption, it was considered a special needs adoption. And even though there was no cost to adopt, we were able to utilize the adoption tax credit and roll over our— our, uh, IRA into a Roth IRA, so a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, take the tax hit. And then the adoption credit wiped out all of that, uh, tax that we were supposed to pay, but we didn’t have to pay anything.

So that was one thing that we did. I talk a little bit about that in one of my episodes. And, um— and then also, you know, I was talking with someone else where they were like, well, you know, we kept track of everything. And that adoption tax credit was so beneficial to us because we got our money back that we’d already paid out. So that’s also, um, a huge blessing.

And then, you know, you can stretch that adoption tax credit over six years. So that’s also really nice too. As you’re, um, estimating how much taxes you owe, and you’re like, oh, like we can only use $4,000 this year, well, then, you know, you can utilize it all the way up to the sixth year. So that’s also nice to think about that.

And then one of the things that— if you have access to a health savings account, and you start putting money away into a health savings account, if you are unsure of the medical needs that you’re going to experience of an international adoption, um, even domestic adoption for an older child— you know, that child may have experienced, um, some medical neglect. And if you have money in a health savings account, you can use that money for that child.

Once you’ve brought them into your home, and— and, um, they’re on your insurance, and, you know, you’ve got this high deductible, well, now you have that health savings account to rely on. So that— that’s also one thing that a lot of people don’t think about— are the medical needs of that child later on after you’ve adopted them.

MICHELLE: That’s a great point. And I especially like your— your comment about the tax credit. Because I think— uh, you know, so I’m not a tax professional. So I’m probably gonna botch this horribly. Um, I’m gonna get like tweets from tax professionals being like, hey, that was not exactly right.

But I’m gonna try my best to explain it. So when you think of, um, something like a deduction, basically that reduces the amount of income that is taxable. But for something like a tax credit, that means that if you— if you owe taxes, that you don’t have to pay those taxes, um, as far as I understand it. And so like the— I believe the tax credit for 2019 is somewhere in the ballpark of $14,000.

LAURA: Yeah.

MICHELLE: And so this is a really good opportunity, if you are adopting, to eliminate some of the taxes that you would have to pay and kind of save money elsewhere. So it seems to me like the— the corollary advice to this would really be if you’re thinking about adoption, and this is something that’s on the horizon for you, actually get a CPA.

LAURA: Mm-hmm, absolutely.

MICHELLE: Like this is kind of getting into that like, it’s not easy to do your stuff in TurboTax anymore.

LAURA: Yeah. To me, I highly recommend having an accountant on your side about— so that you can do that tax planning at the end of the year and looking at your finances and saying, OK, we’ve— we’ve spent this much money. You know, should we claim all of the money now? Can we— do we need to claim some of it next year?

[00:30:07] Um, because— so the adoption tax credit is nonrefundable, whereas a child tax credit is refundable. Again, you need to have a CPA. But this is kinda how it works. (LAUGHING) I am not a tax professional.

Um, the thing that I— I liked is that, you know, we got the child tax credit. Um, and so we ended up still getting money back because of the child tax credit. But then the adoption tax credit came in and wiped out the tax. So they kind of worked in conjunction with each other.

And again, you know, sitting down with your CPA and looking at your own finances because everybody is different. Everyone’s finances are different. You have— you know, one person might be just a simple W-2. And someone might have a K-1. And someone might have, um, rental income.

And another person might be self-employed, so they have 1099 income. So everybody is so different with their finances in regards to their CPA. So, you know, I highly recommend, especially in the year after you adopt, sitting down with someone before April, preferably like October, November, December, and doing some tax planning over the next six months and saying, OK, let’s project some things here and see how that works.

Do we need to move around some money? Um, do we need to put money away somewhere else? You know, those kind of things were, in my opinion, extremely valuable to me as— um, after our adoptions is looking at that with our tax professional.

MICHELLE: That’s great. So I think we’ve covered a good— uh, a good chunk of some of the financial considerations, kind of how to get your own financial house in order, how to raise the money, what to do after you’ve actually gone through the adoption. So I’m— I’m wondering if you— if you mind. Can I pick your brain about some other adoption related topics that I get asked about a lot?

LAURA: Sure.

MICHELLE: How can you tell whether an agency is gonna be a good fit? And I think specifically, um, coming from a place where I work with a lot of LGBT+ clients, you know, how are you gonna check for red flags and make sure that you, as maybe a gay or lesbian couple, is gonna get the same equal and fair treatment as maybe some of our straight, married counterparts?

LAURA: Right. So one of the things is making sure that you attend a class at that agency. They have classes all the time. Um, also referrals, you know, network. Hey, I see that you adopted. Who did you use? Um, did you like them? Did— how were you treated?

Um, you don’t have to go with, you know, the one that’s just down the street, so to speak. And, you know, definitely looking for and researching the different agencies that are out there. You know, you could look for an agency.

You could look for an adoption consultant. An adoption consultant will often use different agencies. But they’re gonna, you know, be different, separate. Um, so, you know, finding someone who understands your situation, and where you want to go, and what you wanna accomplish. 

And so those are, you know, some of the things that I would recommend. And, you know, the other thing is like fees. You know, you can look in an adoption agency. And you’re like, OK, well, how many placements have you had this year? And when do you need the money by?

Um, I was talking with someone. And they went with an adoption agency in Florida. They lived in Tennessee. The one in Florida did not require any money until the day of placement. And I really liked that. 

Because I hear a lot of people say, oh, well, I was with my agency. And I just really felt like they were milking me for the money. And every time I turned around, they were asking me for more money. And it’s become more money than what we originally talked about.

And so I really liked that aspect. So, you know, just doing some research and finding an agency that works for you. There’s— there’s, uh— there’s quite a few around.

MICHELLE: I like that you mention networking. Because I think that’s a really important part of this process.

LAURA: Absolutely.

MICHELLE: Is sort of having this— this group of folks who have been there before, you know, someone you can ask questions to or get support. I might know folks who, um, have adopted. But there might be some listeners out there who are thinking about adoption and thinking, oh my gosh, I just don’t know anyone who has done this before. Do you know of any good parent networks or online resources where people can kind of ask their questions or get this kind of support?

[00:35:08] LAURA: Yeah, there’s— there’s quite a few, um, groups on Facebook. And you can, you know, go on the search button and look it up. Um, I’ve been on several adoption groups. And I’ve been on several fertility groups. They’re out there. And you just need to find the one that fits your niche and what you wanna accomplish. But, yeah, there’s definitely some Facebook groups. 

And then locally, I’ve— as I’ve done more networking myself— I mean, we kind of adopted and then after the fact began networking with other adoption people. So, um, but it’s really surprising. As you’re talking to people— um, you know, you’re standing in line at the grocery store. And— and people will be like, oh, your kids are so cute. So do they have the same father? You know, because they don’t look the same.

And, um— and it’s— part of me wants to be like— use some sarcastic remark, you know? Because people are super nosy. Um, but then, you know, I’m like, oh, no, my kids are adopted. It’s just public knowledge. And— and then the— the next thing I often hear is, I was adopted. Or, oh, we adopted too.

And it’s amazing how my community has grown by just talking openly about my story. And so that’s— you know, as you talk more with people and share your story— and don’t be afraid. Like I don’t know why people think it’s embarrassing or shameful. Like I think it’s awesome, you know, that, hey, our children are not harmed by too much love.

But, um, it’s also really great to get to know other people and expand your group. You know, like there’s local groups. There’s a Foster Closet in our area that has a monthly meetup. And so, you know, researching to find out if there’s a foster care group in your area that meets monthly. Um, you know, you can go on Meetup and find people in your area that have similarities.

And, um, I know a lot of churches have groups. And if you’re not religious, or you don’t go to that church, there’s also— there’s other opportunities for you to definitely network and meet other people. But that’s— I mean, that’s where I’ve started. 

You know, I moved here to Tennessee and— from Illinois. Didn’t know a soul. And yet, here I am like eight and a half, almost nine, years later. And I know a lot of people all because I’ve talked to people, and gotten to know people, and joined— you know, when we first got our daughter, I joined a moms’ club.

And granted, I was the only person that was an adoptive mom. But I still felt a connection with those other women because I was able to learn from them. Um, and then I’ve networked in some— we have a small business networking group in Chattanooga. And so I’ve connected with people there. And so, you know, that was a great way for me to meet someone.

And it’s amazing how when you’re talking to people who have never adopted, but they find out you have, and they’re like, oh, hey, I know somebody. You’re like, oh, sweet, awesome. You know, I’m glad that you know someone. And then they— they’re like, hey, you should meet for coffee, or you should meet for lunch.

Now, I don’t drink coffee. But I meet people for coffee. Because that’s just what it’s called, you know. Um, but it’s— it’s just a great way to get to know people and to find out their stories. And, you know, don’t be shy.

Like really, it’s— it’s— everybody has a backstory. And everybody has— has fears. And so if you say in your mind, OK, this time I’m gonna be different— I’m gonna reach out and get to know the person. Because I need that support. And I’ve discovered that, as I’ve overcome my own fears, that I’ve met some really amazing people that are on the same journey but on a different track.

MICHELLE: I love that. That’s awesome. And I— and I like how creative you’ve gotten with it. I mean, I think if we can find any good like Facebook or Meetup ones, I’ll definitely post them to the show notes if there’s anything there. But I think your point of even just being open about your story, connecting with those around you is definitely going to lead to a network in ways that you might not originally have anticipated. So that’s great.

[00:40:02] LAURA: Right.

MICHELLE: Um, one other question that I hear a lot from folks is you mentioned grants. And you mentioned in particular that if you are a single person looking to adopt, that I think it’s particularly important for— for them to have a village kind of in place. Um, but do you know whether there are grants for single people for adoption? 

LAURA: I do. So, um, I mentioned my— my list of grants that I have. There’s about 100. And so, for example, Gift of Adoption Fund grant welcomes singles. Help Us Adopt, they welcome singles. Um, there’s a couple of IVF ones that I have on my list.

Now, there’s— there’s some grants that are religious ones. And there are some that are through employers. Um, there are some that, like, you have to be from a certain state. And so those are two that I have specifically found that welcome singles.

And, um— and so I have this list that I’ll provide you that link as well. And people can download it and look through each one. And I’m growing the list as I’ve learned. Like as I meet people, I’m like, ooh, I didn’t know about that one. And so then I like put it in my little list.

So if someone is aware of a grant that’s not on my list, I totally welcome them to like email me and say, hey, are you aware of this particular grant? I would love to put it on there. Because I want it to be a great resource for people who are seeking to adopt. Because it can be intimidating to come up with all that money. So it was just one source of money.

Um, there’s also some grants that are specifically for children with disabilities or— like, for example, there’s one woman that adopted a Down syndrome child, or a child with Down syndrome I should probably say. And so there’s some that are specifically for those needs.

MICHELLE: OK. That’s great. So I’ll definitely make sure to link out to that resource in the show notes. Up until this point, you have been so wonderfully patient, sharing information, going through my list of topics and commonly asked questions. But before we part ways, I just wanna ask you, is there anything else you think our listeners should know about adoption, about adoption and money, or the process in general?

LAURA: Um, it’s totally worth it, you know. I’m very grateful for my three children. And now, they’re ages seven, five, and three. And my three-year-old is very anxious for his birthday at the end of the month. And every day, he talks about, is this his birthday? 

But I am grateful to be a mother and that my dream has finally come true in regards to having kids. And it isn’t always rosy. But it’s worth it. And, you know, my husband and I, we always have struggles. And, um, you know, we make sure that we have date night on a regular basis because it’s vital to keep that relationship alive.

And, you know, I— I’ve set aside money on a monthly basis to— so we can have a babysitter, one, who understands the needs of my children and, two, so that my love language can be fulfilled. So I— I cannot stress enough the need to think about money after the fact. It does affect— money affects every aspect of your life. 

But after you’ve adopted, you know, how are you going to provide for the children? What are you going to do in regards to their school activities? How are you gonna pay for those things? How are you going to pay for vacations to create memories? You know, what kind of traditions are you going to implement into your family? And how are you going to fund that?

And so just thinking beyond— you know, when you’re focused on one specific event, the adoption, you forget what’s ahead of you. And so, you know, stop and think about what’s going to happen after you adopt. How are you going to pay for those things? And what kind of things are you looking forward to implementing into your own family? And how are you financially planning for those things?

MICHELLE: That’s wonderful. So you are an accredited financial counselor. You help people kind of work through these issues. How can people get in touch with you and read more about your work?

[00:45:00] LAURA: Sure. So my website is familymoneycoaching.org. You can follow me on Instagram @familymoneycoaching or on Facebook at Family Money Coaching. And then I have a podcast that you can find on my website. You can also find Family Money Coaching on iTunes, and Google Play, and Podbean, and Stitcher, and, you know, all those places that you can find a podcast at. 

And on the podcast, we discuss all of the aspects of preparing financially for adoption and fertility. And we talk about— I interview people who are— have gone through the experience and how they have funded it. And I’ve interviewed professionals in regards to all of the financial aspect. You know, I’ve interviewed a CPA and some financial professionals in regards to health savings accounts and, um, all of those aspects. 

And then, of course, we talk a lot about how to strengthen your marriage in regards to the financial aspect, and learning how to communicate, and how your love language affects your— your, um, spending plan. And just because I love talking about marriage. Because that’s just one thing I do. Um, relationships, I love talking about relationships. 

So— but, yeah, that— those are the places that you can find me. And I love to connect with people. And I really love it when people— people like and share. I just like get so excited when— when someone like shares one of my videos or, um, becomes one of my subscribers. And so, yeah, I get really excited.

MICHELLE: Awesome. Well, thank you again for coming on. It was such a delight to have you. Um, you are a— a true wealth of information. 

And folks at home who are listening, um, if adoption is in your future, I do encourage you to get in touch with Laura, um, somebody who can help you navigate that process. You’ll have a lot on your plate. And I think you’ll benefit from having someone in your corner. So thanks, everyone, again from listening. Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

END CREDITS: I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Young Scrappy Money podcast. If you want to read about my work as a financial advisor and financial coach, you can do so at www.youngandscrappy.com. That’s www.youngandscrappy.com. Thanks again for listening. 

Made with love by Jesse in Atlanta. [SMOOCHING SOUND]

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