Monday, August 19, 2013

Introducing....{fastest LOA in history}


Lucas Lingao Dennis Lillie (aka Luke)

(he really was wearing split pants in this picture and was not fully covered. So we had to censor it! Seems like our boy may be potty training, yea!!)

We are ecstatic to say that we received our Letter of Approval (LOA) from China this past Friday. It was dated August, 2nd - only one day after our Pre-Approval (PA) from China.  This is the fastest I have ever seen anyone get a LOA and I believe is due to the fact that our paperwork has been in China for so long (we have had it there since March of 2012).  In fact, when I was looking back at my emails, it looks like our Home study was completed 2/22/2012.  Just 6 days before Lingao was born. ;-)

In any case, this expedited LOA means we could be in China in November or December, assuming no other glitches come up.   That said, we did have a recent glitch arise (its international adoption, not a surprise!) with the US government side of the house. For those of you into details, read on....

In July, I submitted an extension for our US paperwork. Per the instructions, I submitted the paperwork to the office in Missouri, where my original paperwork was approved.

Well, apparently those instructions were wrong b/c 2 weeks later, I received the entire paperwork package back at my home with instructions indicating I need to send it to a lock box in Texas.  At this point I know we are in trouble because the paperwork was supposed to be there 6 days earlier! The instructions are clear, however, that if I don't get this extension approved before my original approval expires, I have to start the US part of the paperwork all over again. This includes another $1000 to the US Gov't, 75 days of extra waiting, and re fingerprinting in downtown Detroit (such a nice trip we had).

Anyhow, I have since emailed my case to my officer and asked for an exception.  She replied once and said that, yes, she realizes the instructions say to send it to the approving office in one spot of the .pdf; however, she is quick to point out there is another place on the .pdf that indicates it needs to be sent to Texas. Hmm...I am still like, 'well the instructions are not consistent and I am where am I am. Can you help a girl out?'   No response.  That was 7 days ago, still we have heard nothing. Super frustrating, right?! I hope I didnt bite the hand that feeds me when I mentioned to her that someone ought to update those instructions!!

Given the 1 day LOA, I have to assume God's got something up his sleeve and my extension will be approved in the next few days.  It would be a dumb story to make 1 part of the process that is usually the longest/most unpredictable super fast for us and then make another part of the process (the US side) that is usually extremely predictable, slower, right?!

 I am going with that..Gods got us!

In the meantime, we are glowing in the bask of our new son, Luke. 

Or Luc....

We still have not officially decided on that part, lol.


PS - we had to decide on a name today as one of the forms required it now that our LOA is approved. We work better under pressure anyway!!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Paying for Int'l Adoption: how we are doing it {hush hush}

No one likes to talk about money. I think this is because people either 1) want others to think they are made of it or 2) don't want to admit they are, in fact, not made of it. Yet when it comes to International Adoption, we hear about money a lot. Most commonly I hear -  'Oh i would adopt it if I could afford it'. Perhaps that is the case for everyone who has told me but I also feel like adoption is scary enough taking on the unkowns, taking on an unknown with the costs, can seem unmanageable.

The reality is that if you live in the US and pay taxes, you can adopt internationally for less then $10,000 (including a 2 week all inclusive trip to China!). And while $10k is no small chunk of change it is doable for many families. Before I get to that though...let  me back up....

Ever since Alexis joined our family I have been torn on if I want to work outside the home or not.  I enjoy my job a ton (good ppl, interesting work, great flexibility, good money)...but I enjoy my kids as well.  For now, working part time from home is the perfect balance.

For Emma's adoption, we used my part time income as our 'adoption fund'. We had plenty of time to save due to the time required for the process. This time around,  given the unexpected speed of Lingao's adoption, we are less prepared. I have been on unpaid leave for 3+ months and spent most of our disposable income prior to that on our new home that we built. ;-(

In our defense....we honestly were not thinking we would accept a referral until the fall...after I had been back to work for a while and saved some more towards our adoption fund. Then we saw Lingao's file and that plan went out the window.

What does International Adoption cost in China? Here is my quick rundown:

Now...back to my original point. There is a tax credit (better than a deduction this is a refund!) in the United States for $13,000 of adoption related costs. In the past it has been refundable but not sure on that aspect. In any case, this means that..

You can adopt internationally for ~ $10,000. Including a 2 week trip to China!!

The day we accepted Lingao's referral, I went into Dave Ramsey 'gazelle' mode looking for these funds.  And then God showed up in a big way.

Here is the net:
  • We sold our second car. Note: We sold it for roughly the same amount we paid for it 18 mos ago. Very little if any money was invested in it over the time we owned it (thank you handy hubby!).  We do still need to buy a replacement second car but plan to spend $2,250 less than what our old car brought in. NET - $2250.
  • Returned some furniture I had recently purchased (instead we are using my Craigs list find table that I already had). NET = $885
  • Cancelled our gym/pool membership for the remainder of the year (at least) - $200/mo. NET = $800
  • Our builder agreed to give us $500 back for under cabinet lighting I had previously paid for that has yet to be installed. NET = $500
  • Matt went to a friends house to play poker 2 days after we said yes and won $65.  note - Matt had never played poker before and had to receive a lesson before they started!!. NET = $65
  • Here is the big one...our agency contacted us and told us we received a grant for $3000 from a wealthy family that donated the $$ to them.  Note - we did not apply for this nor did I know this was available. We found out we got the grant the day after we sold the car! NET = $3,000
Total $$ found in 6 days = $7,500

Doing the math on our sub-totals..
  • Our employer contribution towards adoption costs -  $8,000
  • US tax credit -  $13,000.
  • Previously mentioned $$ raised in 6 days. $7500
Total $$ available to Lillie Family for Lingao's adoption: $28,500. We are fully funded!! 
Are you  interested in International Adoption but think you can't afford it? Contact me and let me help you creatively think of a way to fund that last $10,000 and cash flow the US Governments $13k.  I bet you will be amazed at how quickly you can do it!!  Gym memberships, car payments, vacations, selling extra things (bikes, playsets, blackberries, iphones, laptops, etc), renting out your house (this is a great one in Ann Arbor!). There are also tons of grants out there!!I have seen online fundraisers, garage sales, and other 'gazelle' activities raise this kind of $$ in weeks!! ;-)

*** One note - We are not fundraising for this adoption and this post is in no way requesting funds (Trying to avoid the awkward conversations by being up front here!). Yes, we could have 'borrowed' the $$ from ourselves (from our savings / emergency fund) but there is something to be said for sacrifice and depending on God.  Just another reassurance that He has our back!

2015 update -- here is a link to my recent post on picking an agency!! Do your homework and save yourself a lot of $$!!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Big News...

We will soon be one more!

I will post more details on the last few weeks in a later post. 

For now, we are excited to share his cute little face with everyone!!

 Potty training is split pants