By Getting Our Finances in Order, We Were Able to Say “Yes” to Adoption

Testimonial from Beka of Unconventional Homemaker

My husband and I were married in 2005 and kept two separate checking accounts for our two separate incomes. My husband knew there must be a better way to handle money — so being his frugal man, he went to the library and found a little book by Dave Ramsey called Priceless.

It was the shortest book we’d ever read! Yet it got us on the same page and gave us new ideas. We immediately combined our bank accounts, like any married couple should do, and sat down to do our very first budget.

We went to the bank, filled our envelopes with cash, and started our game-plan using the cash envelope system.

By Getting on a Budget, We “Found” an Extra $300 Per Month

With that very first month of budgeting, we found an extra $300 we didn’t even know we had! Since we had already cleaned up the couple of tiny debts we had, we figured we might as well put that $300 as an extra principal payment on our mortgage. Might as well pay that 15-year loan off in 12!

It didn’t stop there though, we kept putting extra money on our mortgage, month after month after month. The snowball effect started happening to us! We saw that our mortgage could be paid off in 10 years… then 9… then 7.5!

Three Years of Sacrifices Was Completely Worth It

We began selling anything and everything on Craigslist and putting every dime (after giving) from bonuses straight onto that puppy. You know what? From the start of that very first budget until the mortgage was paid off in 2009, was just three years!

Three short years of sacrifice — minimal restaurants, older cars, tightwad vacations, thrift store shopping, garage sale hunting — and we were done with all our debt. Praise God!

Some people might not want to sacrifice for three years, but honestly, it was the best time of our lives. We had fun teaming up together and finding the cheapest ways to live. It was a blast and we’ll never forget the memories we made by doing it.

We’re Debt Free!!

You ought to have heard my “We’re Debt Free” call on The Dave Ramsey Show, I was over-the-top enthusiastic and also a total corn ball. It was amazing! (I must just turn really corny when I talk to Dave, because a few years later we stopped at his office to meet him and right when he came out I yelled, “Cheeeee-tahhh!”)

People often want to know what life looks like for us since we have no mortgage, no debt. The obvious differences are that we are able to give a lot more money away to those in need. That’s definitely the best part of not being tied down to payments every month. Secondly, we’re able to invest heavily in our retirement and our children’s educational funds. The third thing we were doing was saving up to buy a rental property.

But then it happened… In September 2012, God, in an enormous way, opened our eyes and our hearts to adoption. We already have three biological children but it pained us so bad to know that there are little ones going to bed with no one to tuck them in at night. There are nearly 150 million orphans suffering while we live in our 2,000 square-foot warm home. Surely we can take just one.

Saying “Yes” to Adoption

So we stepped out in faith and said “Yes. Yes, we will take in a little one who has no hope. Yes, we will give of ourselves to raise this little one. Yes, yes, yes!”

If we had not paid off our mortgage and built up our savings to buy a rental, we may not have said “Yes” to adoption. Of course, finances should not be the main concern when considering adoption (there are grants, scholarships, fundraising, and many other possibilities out there), but our situation sure did put us in an easy position to say “yes”.

Two weeks after we started the process to adopt, my husband and I looked at each other and said, “Oh, we didn’t even talk about how we’re going to pay for this, did we? I guess we’re getting a child before we get a rental!”

Thanks to starting that budget, sticking with it every single month, and letting God tug on our hearts, we’ll be traveling to China this fall to pick up our little boy! An orphan no more!

Beka is a homeschooling mom of three (almost 4!) children ages 5, 3, and 1; their 2 1/2 year old boy will be joining their family this fall. She blogs at Our Eternal Treasures about their upcoming adoption and at Unconventional Homemaker about wholesome living.

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Comments

  1. J says

    I most certainly would be interested how a home can be paid off in 3 years. Were both of you working? No matter how hard we could try it could not be done in three years.

    • s says

      We also paid ours off in 3 years, but we were both working full time, as well as both of us having a part time job. Paying it off before our baby came was our goal, and we did it!

      • Sarah says

        I’m intrigued as well. To pay my mortgage off three years from now I ‘d need to come up with 200k, more than i can save at the thrift store.

    • Beka says

      Thank you for your comment! Believe it or not, I am/was a stay-at-home mom so we did just do it on my husband’s one salary. The biggest factor was that we chose to live in a house that was about half the cost of what the bank approved us for, which freed up a lot of money to pay extra on the principal. We also live in Texas where house prices are great, so that definitely helped. On top of those great factors, we were also complete tight-wads and pinched every penny we could. When we look back on our story, the one thing we see clearly is that God made the way for us to do this. He had a grander plan than what we even could imagine.

      • Sarah says

        I guess it’s the principle. Though 3 years isn’t doable for us, you’ve inspired me to do at least something to shorten the years.

  2. Susan in St. Louis says

    What a great testimony! :) Just this past month we paid off our mortgage after being in our home for less than seven years. We’re amazed that God has allowed us to do this, and look forward to seeing where He leads us now. I love how you’ve followed Him into adoption and hope that we are also willing to say “yes!” if He calls us that way (our kids are the same ages as your biological ones).

    • Beka says

      Susan! Yah that you paid off your mortgage!! Super congratulations!! Ah, the freedom! I tell ya, once God starts planting those seeds of adoption, it’s overwhelming- in a wonderful way. It’s amazing and powerful. He did an awesome work in my husband’s heart also to bring us both to adoption and both to China. In a way, we felt we were not going the typical route (to adopt while we still have such young ones at home), but once we said ‘yes,’ we saw there are hundreds of AMAZING families that are adopting while their family is young also! I’ve now met families with 3 adopted, 6 adopted, even 10 adoptions!! Their families are beautiful! If you follow my blog, I’ll be sharing about some of them in the weeks to come!
      http://oureternaltreasures.wordpress.com/

  3. says

    Hi Beka, your post is beautiful. I went to your blog and read a bunch of your story… and you made me cry. My husband and I have been trying to have a baby for a long time and, although we’re still believing God for a miracle, my heart is also turning towards adoption in addition. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Beka says

      Jamie, thank you so much for reading our story, it has also made ME cry, many times! I definitely encourage you to try and attend an adoption conference, they can be so equipping and powerful. Adoption is God’s Plan A for the world, not Plan B. Don’t be afraid to step out in faith if He’s calling you and your husband that way!

  4. Jen says

    So encouraging. It reminds me that debt free is not just a goal, but something that can be turned into a true blessing!

  5. Sheeba m says

    I am so cheering you onwards in this journey and may you be able to teach those valuable life lessons to the little ones ESP. For the child. Yet to join you.

  6. Meredith M. says

    I love this story! Congratulations:) Come back and post again to show us your new addition:)

    • Beka says

      Aww, Jen, Sheebam, and Meredith and all you other awesome Mama’s out there, I feel all your hugs and support and am beside myself at how encouraging you all are! What a great community of Moms MSM has here! Thank you for all the love!

  7. Lisa says

    Adoption has been a disaster for us. Her Attachment disorder has led to violence and us fearing for our very lives for the last several years. Please be cautious and know the risks.

    • Angela says

      Wow Lisa. My heart goes out to you and your family. I hope some resolution can be reached!

    • Stephanie says

      Lisa – I am the parent of an adopted child from Russia. I’m so sorry for the attachment issues you are having and please know it is not uncommon and there is help. Call your adoption agency (if you used one?) and ask them for a recommended counselor that can help you with. I would also highly recommend ‘Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child’ by Patty Cogen. This book explains the behaviors your child may go through and specific steps you can take to build her trust. Remember it is not your daughter’s fault; she’s had a very tough life up to this point.

    • Paula D says

      Yes. I agree. Adoption can be wonderful, but it is not always.

      I’m an adoptive mom, too, whose adoption did not go well. We also feared for our lives for several years. I did seek out social workers, counselors, the adoption agency, relevant parenting books, etc., and received some support. But they support you AFTER the violent behavior, AFTER the ER trip, AFTER damage has been done. The “there is help” is a nice thing to say, but it does not always work out so smoothly in the real world.

      My child has attachment disorder, bipolar, and conduct disorder. There was a whole lot more going on than just “building trust.” Believe me, I tried everything I could think of, any idea I could find. I have my bachelors in child development, and I dedicated years of my life trying to help her and get her the help she needed. She is 17 now.

      Being cautious is never a bad idea. Sometimes – probably rarely, who knows – kids have issues that are bigger than any two parents (and supportive community) can work with. Super heart-breaking, but true.

    • amy says

      Have you heard of Karen Pervis (sp?)? She is the author of the Connected Child and continues to discover ground breaking new practices for adopted children and children with attachment and sensory issues. The video series she has done is extremely helpful and practical. Praying for you this day. You are not alone.

  8. says

    I love this story! I love the way you were filling to follow God’s leading in adopting this little one instead of putting the rental property first.

    It’s thrilling to think of how God did this for us when He adopted us as His children.

  9. Connie says

    I paid off my mortage (quite early) years ago, then settled in to live a life just for ME (I was single at the time). God had other plans, and kept giving me signs to adopt. I actually wrote Him a LIST with all the reasons I couldn’t be a single mother. Hah! The list was taken apart one item at a time. My daughter joined me (also from China, as it turns out), and twelve years later, God also sent us a wonderful man to be husband and father. Wishing you many blessings on your journey.

    • Susan in St. Louis says

      Wow! :) You need to write a guest post sometime too…please??? Sounds like you’ve got quite a story.

    • Beka says

      Mary, Donna, and Connie- thanks so much for the encouragement! Yes, when you “get” adoption and realize how God adopted us (we were wandering astray with no hope), it takes your breath away.
      Connie- I third that for a guest post!

  10. Amy says

    I’m so happy for you! Our story is similiar in so many ways! We adopted 3 little boys from China. It changed our lives and opened our eyes. Many blessings to you and your family!

  11. Laurie says

    As a single mom by choice I have brought 2 daughters home. They are 5&9 now,adopted at 10&12mos 4 years apart. I paid cash for their adoptions and also did a total gut of our home before the girls came home. I have 13 years on my mortgage. Becoming a mom was a my millions of dreams come true and it still is today. After you adopt your son you will be back again. It is the most awesome thing I have ever done.

    • Beka says

      Amy & Laurie- Yes, adoption is contagious! Actually, I don’t know too many families that have only adopted one. =) They all go back for a second, a third, even a tenth! Amazing families! Amazing hope for these sweet little ones! THANK YOU to all those families out there that step out in faith to adopt! What you do is worth it for all eternity!

  12. Kelsey says

    I’m curious what home prices look like in the area you live in? We just finished baby step #2 and dream of one day being able to pay off a mortgage early, but houses in our area are sooo expensive.

    • Beka says

      Here in Texas, house prices are reasonable. In our immediate area, I’d say the average home price is $120K to $180K. The more expensive end of town (just 5 miles away) have houses more like $200K-$330K+. We chose to live in the more economical (but still very nice) end of town! I definitely think one of the major keys to paying off a mortgage early is to be super cautious when buying; under-buy for your income level.

  13. Jaclyn says

    I, too, wish that some of these stories about paying off a mortgage included how much that mortgage was! We live near Denver, CO and I cannot imagine, at this point, paying off a mortgage and we only own a condo!!! Small, readily liveable, homes in our area are still about $175,000. We also are one income and have a pastoral salary. These posts can feel somewhat discouraging when we have a car to replace, would like more children, have dryers that suddenly go out, etc, ETC! :-(

      • Sue says

        Jaclyn and Kelsey,
        I agree with you both.. there is no way we could do this either with the price of houses and cost of living were I am at.. I am always a bit leary about stories like this with out all the information.. Hey great for you if you have done it.. BUT it is not always possible..

        Sue

        • Jessica says

          Usually the house prices are higher in areas where the salaries are also higher. If guess that even if the mortgage is less, they probably make less money. The biggest factor that would change is the size of the house you can get for your money. This is not always true , but we have found it to be true more times than not.

          • Diane says

            Exactly. Cost of living does vary per living area but I don’t know how much difference there is having a 100K house and living on 50K year vs having a 400K house and living on 200K year. Our house is in a less expensive part of the country but our incomes are also proportionately lower.

            • Jaclyn says

              I am talking about a $175,000 house (a smaller, simple house!) on less than 40K a year…

            • Kay says

              Sure, they are lower, but not 4X lower. I live in Boston where there are really expensive property, but the median household income – according to wiki, granted – is $50,597 in Suffolk County (which includes Boston.

    • Chrystelle says

      I think the post is very encouraging, even though we do “choose” at the moment to live in an area where it seems near impossible to get ahead. No one mentioned California yet, so here goes…a small 3 bedroom condo in our area (Irvine) is $450-500k, no joke (and that’s before you add monthly association dues of $300+). We may need to re-think where we buy in order to get ahead, but dilemma is that jobs are here. All that said…still a very inspiring and encouraging post. I especially love the adoption part of the story, too!

      • Denise says

        Have you checked out Lake Forest (right under Irvine)? Very safe city, low HOAs (we pay $86), no mello ros, slightly lower house price (but bigger house for the price) and good schools. We have internationally adopted twice since living in OC and now have a 15 year mortgage. It can be done and still live in an “expensive area” of the country. My husband works and i am a stay at home mom. We are an average salary OC family. It is all about priority and a budget :)

        • Chrystelle says

          Thanks Denise! Definitely an area we have on our radar as my son goes to Christian Preschool there. Blessings!

    • Beka says

      Aww, don’t let it discourage you! Everyone’s story is different. Three years is definitely crazy and not possible for many people. Home prices in the big city that we live near are crazy high. So my husband vanpools into work each day. By living 30 minutes out of the big city, we get a lot more home for the money. We definitely would be in a very different position if we lived in New York or California where home prices are MUCH higher than here.

    • Linda says

      Hi Beka,

      I live in CO as well–the high country–and home prices here are astronomical! I see listings for a 1bedroom small condo for $200,000. I live here because I have a job and those are scarce, but the cost of living is very high and I make just under $40,000.

      I am planning a move to a cheaper area in CO where we could have a chance of owning a home. Even the Deed-Restricted homes are out of my reach at this time.

      I am still hopefull, though. I know if I keep working at paying off my debt, I can then start to save for the down payment. I also know that God will provide for me and my family.

  14. Sarah says

    Wow! We have been thinking about adopting internationally…I browsed your site but couldn’t find which agency you use. Any reccomendations from others who have gone through with it? It is such a big undertaking, I hardly know where to begin!

    • Diane says

      I recommend asking people who have adopted. Do you have any friends in church or family who have adopted. CCAI is a very highly rated Chinese adoption agency and I have several friends who have had highly positive experiences adopting through them.

    • Beka says

      All the research in the beginning did seem overwhelming. But once we got going, the whole process has been smooth and easy so far! As far as agencies, we simply went by recommendations of others. When we were down to about 2-3 different agencies, I asked them for a list of references and contacted a ton of families that have used them and asked all kinds of questions. I also attended an adoption conference in my area that was PACKED with a ton of helpful information and inspiration! We did end up choosing CCAI and I tell you, they have been incredible! Their process is so streamlined and orderly. They don’t miss a beat! They have made the process incredibly easy for me!

  15. says

    What a great story! My husband and I served in China for 2 years, and often visited a local orphanage (The Philip Hayden Foundation). Maybe someday we will be in a place to adopt from China also. Congratulations on your new addition!

    • says

      Love your post! And it comes at a wonderful time for me! My husband and I just announced to our families yesterday that we are planning to adopt! We have 2 biological daughters. I thought we would wait until we were debt free (in a few more years) but somehow we both heard God ask us “What are you waiting for?”. So we are going into this with a mortgage, one car payment, and student loans (under $8000). Our goal is to pay for this adoption with CASH! If anyone has any great fundraising ideas, I’d love to hear them!

      • Beka says

        Yah!! That’s the answer I got from God to, “What are you waiting for?” I LOVE hearing about families stepping up and adopting!! It’s an amazing community of people that love God and love children!
        Selling t-shirts, selling craft items, garage sales (ask people to donate their items to you to sell), Both Hands website, grants, tax credit after adoption is finalized, silent auctions, raffle for a high dollar prize, benefit dinners, carwash, blog your journey and accept donations on your sidebar, adoptwithoutdebt.com, support from employers. I also have a list of organizations that offer grants for adoption. Put a comment on my blog asking for the names and I’ll email it to you. Much Love!
        http://oureternaltreasures.wordpress.com/