Propped up next to our front door is a collection of hiking sticks we have accumulated over the years on our many adventures. At first it just seemed like a good spot to put them when we returned from a hike and were too exhuasted to put them up in the garage, but the longer they sat, the more I liked seeing them there. You see, I am pretty sappy, and I like metaphors=) Every morning when I leave my house rushed and tired and wishing the day was over already, I walk past those sticks and am reminded to slow down and enjoy the journey that is my life. Life is a hike. While the destination may be amazing, it’s also about the journey that takes you there. Sometimes the trail is rocky, sometimes it is steep, sometimes it is 90 degrees and your husband just drank ALL of the water in the first mile (I love you anyways, Stephen=), and sometimes you wonder what the heck you were thinking when you started down this path. Yet when you take the time to look, there is an amazing discovery around every corner, and at the end of the day, it’s worth every one of the difficult moments.
All that to say, today marks 3 months down of waiting, and 12-21 more to go according to our most recent wait estimate. Of course, you never know– since we are open to a child with special needs, it could (hopefully) be sooner! Either way, I am trying to remain postitive about the wait, and today feels like a good day=) I am constantly amazed at how God is using the wait to change me and help me grow. (Thanks Angie for the reminder!) It helps to keep the perspective that waiting isn’t time standing still, it isn’t a road block in the process– it is an integral part of the process. Through the wait, I am becoming the mother that Miles needs me to be.
And speaking of remaining positive, one way that the increasing wait is definitely turning out to be a good thing is that it looks like we are on track to meet our goal of bringing home Miles debt free (well, other than our house=). Woo Hoo! This is something we have been working VERY hard for because, although we both have good jobs, we are just starting out (I am 24, Stephen is 26) and certainly not rich by most American standards. My purpose in writing this is to encourage other young, ordinary families who may think that adoption is out of their reach financially that, with diligence, hard work, and a bit of creativity, it can be done! Here are some of my best tips for making adoption affordable:
Make saving automatic. We found that if we waited until the end of the month and put what was left into savings, there wasn’t ever much there. So now, my entire paycheck (after tithe) goes straight into a money market account. Doesn’t it make money tight living on one income? Yes, but many people do it! (And we may want to after the adoption anyways, haven’t decided on that one yet. I have the most perfect part-time job ever….)
Think before you spend, and live within your means. Do you really know how much you spend eating out each month? Buying little things you don’t really need? Buying books on Amazon (yikes!)? Go through your checkbook register and add them up…you may, like us, be surprised at just where your money is going. Then, come up with a budget and stick to it (you don’t have to be perfect, or cut out all fun– just try to be aware and think about needs vs. wants). You might try planning to eat out just once a month instead of going whenever you get the whim. That way you still get to enjoy an nice dinner out occasionally, and the anticipation makes it feel a little more special. We decided to go out each month on the 12th to celebrate making it through another month of waiting!
Don’t buy it new if you can get it used. That goes for most everything. Cars, furniture, clothes… And really, it’s not as bad as it sounds! Thrift stores and yardsales are way more fun than a crowded mall, and the deals are much better! I know it may sound corny, but one of my new year resolutions was to not buy any new clothes this year since we are focusing on saving. I am blown away by how many good deals I have found for a fraction of what new clothes cost. I am dressing better than I ever have, in name brand clothing–often rarely worn, sometimes still with the tags. Miles is aquiring quite a wardrobe as well=) Another great, often untapped resource is hand-me-downs. I have two sisters with little ones who are saving things for Miles already, and my husband’s aunt has offered to pass along her VERY nice baby furniture since she is done with it. ( it is much nicer than what we could have afforded new!) Even if you don’t have any family or friends with little ones, lots of baby stuff can be found at second hand stores and yardsales. An added benefit: peace of mind about the environment since you are reusing something that may have otherwise been thrown out.
Don’t buy it new if you can make it yourself. This one requires a little more work than the last one, but can be a lot of fun! Don’t have a bookshelf for the nursery? Build one! (my next project=) How about those adorable yet ridiculously expensive baby slings? You can whip one up in an afternoon for a fraction of the price! (They are super easy! In fact, this was one of my first sewing projects ever) This can also go for less fun but equally important things like household cleaners and laundry detergent. Making these yourself can be another plus for the environment and your health. I guess you could even add food to this catagory. I grow a few vegetables in my tiny backyard, and I enjoy making fresh bread and yogurt from scratch–all of which are cheaper than buying processed, packaged foods. And I will be using Grandma’s hand-me-down food mill (the one she used to make my momma’s babyfood!) to make food for Miles from fresh fruits and vegetables, and hopefully breastfeeding him.
Avoid disposables. Every disposable item will have to be replaced, which means you are spending more money. Why not look for things that can be reused instead? I already have a stash of cloth diapers and wipes waiting for Miles. Other reusasbles worth investing it: cleaning rags, shopping bags, food storage containers. Added benefit: less trash.
Fundraising! And no, this doesn’t have to mean begging family and friends for money. Do you have a special talent or skill that you could tap into to raise money? I love making things, so I have been selling handknit baby gifts and homemade jam to bring in a little extra money. It isn’t much and it probably doesn’t make a whold lot of difference, but hey, they say every little bit counts!
Stephen at the King’s River Falls–one of the best (and most beautiful) swimming holes I know of in Arkansas!