We've been in the international adoption process for a few years now. It was five years ago that we started thinking and praying about the possibility. Four years ago we started our training in New Brunswick, where we were living at the time. Two years ago we contacted some agencies in the States to begin the process here. One year ago, our dossier made it to Ethiopia. And here we are, still in the waiting game. But word is that we are #1 on the waiting list with our agency! Yay!
The scariest part of adoption for us was definitely the financial aspect. I'm a stay-at-home mom, so we don't have a second income to rely on. $30,000+ looks insurmountable at first. But the good part is, you only need a chunk of it at a time.
Once we stepped out in faith and put our money where our mouth was (so to speak), God totally blew us away with his provision! We're not done, but we have no doubt that every dollar will be there to finish bringing our little girl home.
My hope is that this list will help another family as they pursue adoption. Here is what worked for us in order from least to greatest.
This fundraiser is as easy as setting up a storefront on their site, and sending your family & friends online to buy coffee! For each bag of coffee purchased through your link, your family will receive $5. This fundraiser is as successful as you are in reminding people on social media to shop via your link. Put the word out there at Christmas, especially, when people are looking for purposeful ways to shop.
A friend of my sister volunteered her artistic abilities for a giveaway to benefit our adoption. She offered a custom pencil portrait for the winner. We had a raffle on social media. Each contribution of $5 put your name in the giveaway once. $10 would enter you twice. This giveaway raised over $100. It could easily raise much more if it's shared far & wide.
Do you have a friend who could team up with you for a giveaway? Maybe they own an etsy shop and could donate an item or two. Maybe they would like to contribute a wonderful gift basket to your raffle. Many people would like to help, perhaps they just need to be asked.
When we would get "extra" money in our budget, we immediately put it in our adoption fund. For example, my husband is a pastor, and when he would officiate at a wedding or funeral, he usually gets an honorarium. That goes into our adoption fund. I am a pianist, and when I have played at weddings and funerals, I also put my honorarium in our special fund. What about tax returns? Stick it in the fund. Did you save money by using coupons or getting a good deal? Put the difference in your adoption fund. You'll never miss it.
Our family, church family, and friends have been very generous to us in this journey. I know some adoptive families write fundraising letters. We never did that. But people gave as they felt led, and it has been a blessing!
Our sippy cups of change brought in several hundred dollars. Friends & family who were interested in helping in this way took a sippy cup I had purchased at the dollar store and filled it up with their spare change for weeks or months. A ladies Bible study at a neighboring church even took a dozen to fill up for us. Our boys contributed extra change to ours. It's an easy way people can help.
Who doesn't shop online these days? Again, this fundraiser will be as successful as your ability to remind your family & friends to use it! When you sign up to be the amazon associates program, you will earn referral fees every time someone shops from your link. We have designated our adoption account with the program, and the money just gets dropped right in. It's easy to set up. We have received several hundred dollars from this fundraiser in the last year and a half. However, as with the others, it is something you need to continually remind people about on their social media. People would like to help -- it doesn't cost them a dime more to shop through your link -- but you need to make it accessible and remind them regularly, especially during peak shopping seasons.
Our yard sale weekend was amazing -- it brought in $2550! That was much more than we had hoped for. We held it at our church on Memorial Day weekend (Friday - Saturday). It might have even done better had the weather cooperated. We had to move it inside because of cold blowing rain! But even with that, it was quite a success. We asked our church family and through Facebook for donations of items to sell. People were generous, even donating high ticket items, like a ride-on lawnmower, bunk beds, guitars, and such. Friends helped us sort the items into sections, like you would have at a thrift store -- housewares, girl clothing, shoes, toys, etc. We sold clothing by the bag ($5/plastic grocery bag) or 50 cents a piece. This helped to clear some of it out quickly. People donated baked goods. We made lemonade to sell, but would have done better with hot chocolate or coffee! Who could have predicted such a cold Memorial Day weekend? Still, it was a success and definitely worth the effort.
Yes, it takes time to do the research, but will be worth it in the end. We have already received $7000 in grants. Once we receive our referral, we have several more that we can apply to, that will hopefully help to cover the cost of travel overseas. Most grant applications will all require the same information -- financial (tax returns), some of your story and what led you to adoption, and references. It's a good idea to have all of that paperwork handy, and then you can apply for half a dozen grants at a time, in assembly-line-fashion. Nothing beats getting that acceptance letter in the mail and realizing God has this adoption covered!
What can you do to raise extra funds right now? Even if you have a full-time job, is there something else you could do on the side? Perhaps you could offer in-home childcare. Do you play an instrument? You could give lessons. Maybe you could declutter and sell some of your things on ebay.
For me, I had always loved to craft. I also love thrifting. So, it just made sense to open an etsy shop, where I could sell my up cycled, painted, and sewn handmade goodies. It gives me a good excuse to regularly go thrifting. My boys are even in on the hunt now, as they know what I'm looking for.
God has really blessed my shop. I never could have imagined the benefits that would come. First, financially, this shop has covered many adoption expenses, and continues to as we await our referral. We have had to update our home study, and it was great to have that money available immediately. Additionally, I have been able to network with other like-minded individuals and ministries because of my online presence. I have been able to donate to missions trips, orphanages, and other adoptive families because of the income from my shop. I have been blessed. My shop is called 4onemore, and I hope to keep it open long after our adoption is through, so that we can bless other families who are also Making Room 4 One More.
The bottom line is: don't let the financial aspects of adoption deter you if God has called you to this journey! He can provide, and He will. Many times, He's just waiting for us to step out in faith and be ready to watch Him move.
What fundraiser ideas have worked for you?
It's no secret. I love thrift stores. And I love to see if I can make a discarded item beautiful and useful again. So, this post will bring you some of the ways I have up cycled thrifted frames. Consider it eye candy, and a little bit of crafting inspiration to get you going!
Dry Erase Boards
Dry erase boards are so practical, but the white ones can be just plain boring! Did you know that any frame with glass can be a dry erase board? Just write on it with a dry erase marker like a "regular" white board. So, head to your local thrift store to find a nice big frame. Put burlap, or fabric, or scrapbook paper behind the glass for up cycled beauty.
The white frame was an old 80's frame that just needed a new coat of white paint. I stuck scrapbook paper in, and done! So easy. The yellow frame features some pretty fabric. I made a button and fabric flower to add more interest, and stuck it right on the glass with E-6000 glue. The red frame is so fun. Behind the glass is old-school manuscript paper with the handwriting lines.
What can you make with a beautiful frame that has no glass? A chicken wire frame, of course! Thrift stores have loads of lonely frames, usually for a cheap price, because they're missing their glass and backing. Simply staple chicken wire onto the back of your painted frame. Use it as a memo board, jewelry organizer, picture holder, and more. Great gift idea.
But what if you really don't want to buy a full roll of chicken wire? Here's a simple solution that still has a shabby-chic feel to it....
This was an old frame without its glass. I painted it a favorite shade of green. Then, I took some vintage wire that I had laying around the house, and twisted it around the sides to make a sort of clothesline across the frame. Using mini clothespins, I can put up some of my cherished photos.
Gallery Wall Ideas
Thrift stores have dozens and dozens of frames that just seem so random. But many times, all that is needed is a unifying coat of paint. These five frames were all different finishes and styles, but when I painted them this lovely gray, they started to play nice.
Open gallery frames make a nice statement for cheap. Just paint frames in coordinating colors to your room decor, and hang as a group without the glass. You can tack pictures inside the open frames if you like. This middle frame was just right for displaying some favorite fabric in a color that I just can't get enough of. How about this white beauty? Well, when I first found her at a thrift store, she was an ugly duckling. But after some pretty white and distressing for her original finish to show through, the intricate design on the frame can really be appreciated.
Chalkboards are so fun. I actually have several throughout my house. Maybe it's because in my past life, I was a teacher. But they're practical, too. Here is my kitchen menu board which only cost me a few dollars. It was originally a mirror.
Chalkboards are easy to make on any smooth surface. On mirrors or glass, I usually prime the surface first. Then, use spray chalkboard paint or acrylic chalkboard paint. Give at least 2 coats in opposite directions, drying between each coat. After 24 hours, prime the surface by rubbing the side of a piece of chalk over the entire board.
This pretty turquoise chalkboard was a vintage frame I had on hand. It was missing its glass, so I painted a piece of cardboard instead. It works great, and it's not as heavy to hang, since it has no glass insert.
Little chalkboards in the 5 x 7 or 6 x 8 size make cute wedding table numbers. Or use them on a buffet table to let everyone know what's on the menu.
Burlap Word Art
I love seeing certain words that mean a lot to me around my house. It's a pick-me-up throughout the day. So, when I learned that I could print words directly on burlap through my printer, I was hooked.
Burlap word art makes a great gift that you can customize. All in a thrifted frame that you can coordinate with the look you want.
Lego MiniFig Storage
Thrifted frames are cheap, so my boys could pick big frames to display their mini figures, and it didn't break the bank. Check this post to see how we did it.
Pretty frame, but ugly insert? Not a problem. (Almost) any frame can be up cycled.
Hope and Joy weren't always so serene. They were a fun project, though. They deserve their own post. But for 69 cents a piece, how could I resist?
This cute little square frame was okay, but needed a facelift. Enter some driftwood pieces, and it makes great beachy decor.
Who said wreaths have to be round? Empty frames can bring some fun to your front door. Just paint them your favorite color and add fabric flowers, burlap buntings, scrabble letters, whatever quirky finds you like! Totally customizable.
For more ideas on up cycling, follow me on Pinterest! How have you used thrifted frames in your home?