Long Road to China - Our Adoption Story

Trustmark National Bank account set up:

Donations can be made nation wide at any Trustmark National Bank through the account:
Phillip Smith or Niki J. Smith's Adoption Account

If you would like to mail a donation, please mail it to
Phil or Niki Smith
P.O. Box 332
Rienzi, MS 38865

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fees & answers to ?s

I want you to know we are 100% at peace at where God had taken us to this point!  His fingerprints are on EVERYTHING!!  (John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you).  We are trying to stay positive and keep the negative thoughts away as they pull us away from our big picture. We are in no way being naive but we do not want to sink in the dark clouds with the what ifs.  Maybe with addressing this one time here there will be fewer questions as we have TONs going right now & I have to stay on the upbeat.  (Psalms 94:19 When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.) We are typically very private people but I feel you have a right to know what our fees look like, what we have paid, what we owe, & what will happen if the unthinkable happens!

First of all, there are NO guarantees with adoption!  I hate to be negative but it's kinda like being pregnant.  Yes, you anticipate your child and holding your child but until your child is born and breathing, there is no guarantee.  I do not mean to paint a grim description because thankfully that is not the normal outcome.  However, we've experienced the total loss of our baby that we thought I'd deliver healthy and alive, but that didn't prove to happen.   Guan Ya's adoption is a "HIGH RISK" adoption & we knew that when we were called to adopt her!  Is there a guarantee we will adopt her?  I'd love to say absolutely we are 100% positive that Guan Ya's adoption will go through! I've tried to be as open &  honest through out the process as I've asked for prayers for the paperwork to go through in God-speed & for financial costs to be lifted. I honestly think it will, but my prayer is that God's will be done!!!  I praise Him from bringing us to this point even with all the hurt and unknowns!!!!  I look at how many people have come together for His purpose and how many people have been blessed through this process!  Wow, I know God is happy and we are at complete peace knowing we are right where He has brought us!  The Chinese New year just ended the end of this week & the Chinese consultant is now back open.  They have been closed for the holiday so they will now proceed with paperwork.

I've been asked "What if you don't raise all the money even though you are so close?" FAITH!!!!!   FAITH is what started us on this journey & FAITH is what will carry us through!  I have 100% FAITH in my Lord & Savior!!!!  We do NOT get ANY refunds for fees that we have paid!  NONE!  We have to continue to fight on & pay fees as they come up or the process STOPS.  I cannot and will NOT give up on our daughter!  

YES, everything I've told you is 100% to the best of my knowledge!!!  No, I wasn't kidding or telling 1/2 truth to try and get funds raised!  It's not my laws or rules!  The CHINESE government says  (Not LifeLine, New Beginnings, Phil, Niki, or even the US gov't) that a child cannot be adopted after the age of 14years old!  NO, I wasn't kidding!  I guess if the Chinese gov't decided to make an exception, then they are the gov't and could do so, but I've NEVER heard of them making any such exception!  However, I believe Anything is possible through Christ!!! (Matthew 19:26  Jesus looked at them and said, With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”)  Ask other adoptive parents that have gone through high risk adoption with children that are aging out!  It's not a game!  It's REAL & can be completely heartbreaking if this adoption does not go through.  It will be heartbreaking for us, for you, & Guan Ya that will never be able to be adopted!!!!!  I've written in past posts what is likely to happen for a child aging out.  Please go back & read them if you haven't already!  I don't want to repeat for those that have already read the post & I don't want to think about that possibility right now!   

With all that being said, we are NOT running off with any money if the adoption does not go through!  If this adoption does not go through, we have again lost another child.  However, we will do anything we can to support her as she will always be our daughter!  The amount we have raised would not even pay off the debt we've accrued through these 2 adoption processes in 6 months. No, I'm not kidding.  We went into GiGi's adoption $10,000+ in debt; then, we spent the extra week unexpectedly which cost an extra $6,000 that we again did not have!  PLUS as you will see below, we have paid out about $8,000+ to this adoption thus far.  These are the reasons we HAD to raise the funds amount in GoFundMe for Guan Ya's adoption!!!!  Even though, we are still in adoption debt, we will NOT use the money raised to pay off those debts!!!!!  That is not what they were raised for!  We were called to adopt a child!  Guan Ya is our daughter PERIOD!  However, if the adoption fails (which brings me to tears to think about but I feel the need to address) we WILL adopt another child!  We trust God's will and we will dance with Him to find the child He has for us!  If this adoption fails, we will morn the loss of our Guan Ya!  We will explore every possible avenue to help her!  However, I want you to know right Now I WILL PRAISE the LORD even if Guan Ya's adoption does not go through!  I've never been so sure about anything as I am right now telling you that God called us to follow this path!  I do not think we have made the wrong decision because HE called us here! I praise His Holy Name!!!

The $22,500 amount we had set to raise was the absolute least amount we HAD to raise to bring home our daughter!  We sill have other fees & as I said above, we are still in debt!  We will continue to fundraise after we bring our daughter home to pay off our debt &  to help support other families going through the process of adoption!  There has been something I did not realize until this last week. 
 ***GoFundMe does not account for the fees they charge us when they keep a total!  They take out about 9% before they send us the money.  It has been working so well, I hated to change.  I think it has been fun for people to watch as others donate & has also encouraged others to donate.  Also, we have Chip-In which charges about 4%.  HOWEVER, Chip-In has sold out and is shutting down within the next few weeks.  Also, I also could not find a way to add amounts in to Chip-In that did not go directly to Chip-In. I cannot remember the exact date but it's before Guan Ya ages out that Chip-In will end!  Yes, sending money would be the cheapest way, but it does not keep a running total until I add it into the GoFundMe site.  I know that many are skeptical these days so the sites like GoFundMe keeps up with a total when money is added and it's easy for people -they don't have to remember to send money, find the address, etc.

These are the fees we owe & some of what have been paid.  The first general figures based on the large amounts below do not show all the fees we have paid to this point for Guan Ya's adoption (Ex. just for one fee we paid $890 for our USCIS biometrics that isn't included).  However, we wanted to give a quick general overview of what is owed & then if you want further details, you can keep reading.  We thought it would be easier this way; if you don't want to see anything but general #s you can quickly see them first. 

These are the figures ONLY for Guan Ya's adoption!  We paid or borrowed all the fees for GiGi too which is not reflected in any of these totals!

We have PAID $4,199.86 to LIFELINE  - $5,173.75 OWED LIFELINE
We have PAID $2,290 to New Beginnings - NO more payment owed
Per LifeLine's Last Email with details of payment, it will cost an estimated $10,500-$11,000 (Owed) Inter-Country Cost
It is recommended that we carry atleast $2,500 Cash (very few places accepted credit cards the last time we were there.  Also, we had extra fees the few times we did use it.)
Phil's, mine, Guan Ya's Flights $5,500-6,000

As you can see from the numbers above, the $22,000 is NOT all of our fees due! The $22,000 is the bare minimal we had to raise to bring Guan Ya home! We are still paying on fees borrowed from loans & credit cards.  We have ALWAYS paid off our credit cards at the end of every month until 6 months ago with GiGi's adoption!  This makes me very uneasy and I think God has allowed me to be uneasy so that I can fully trust in Him!  When you see us continuing to fundraise, you will know we are not running a scam but that the fees are real.  This is why we are opening our doors for you to see what is going on from the inside.  I have collected all my gold jewelry from my lifetime & already had it weighed.  After weight, it was estimated that it will bring $1,200 and this should pay off the additional cost that is not included above.  However, there are still about $2,200 in GoFundMe fees that isn't accounted for in that $22,000.  I didn't want people to think I was just adding in money as our funds grew so I did not add this to the total amount in our GoFundMe when I realized it this week.  I trust God will provide these funds as He has the others.  If you have any suggestions about showing we need this $2,200 for GoFundMe fees without people thinking we are just increasing the needed amount, please let me know.

I am also very proud of others that have donated to us!  I know there have been many phone calls made to our adoption agency (LifeLine of Birminham, AL) to verify our story!  I'm not offended at all but grateful!  Verifying where your money is going is helping others that are TRULY fundraising for the said purpose!  It also lets our adoption agency know how many people really care about these children!  Thank you for making sure your money is going where you want it to go!  

I want you to know we have made changes! We have not just put up a donate place at GoFundMe & not adjusted our lives!!!! I don't call it a sacrifice; Jesus paid it all!  I owe it all to Him! I'm selling my gold jewelry; we've sold the nicer of 2 vehicles (the other we've owned 10 years) & bought something that most wouldn't consider driving; we have almost completely cut out going out to eat and eaten many, many sandwiches or roman noodles. (Matthew 6:20 "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.") These are only very few of the changes we've made.  I'm not complaining & in no way want anyone to think I'm asking for sympathy!  NO WAY!!!! We've been sooooo blessed!  The fees are astronomical for adoption, but these children are worth every cent!!! These are all God's children!

I am only one, but I can do all I can as one!  I will do all I can for one as I wish I could do for all orphans!  We have taken on these fees; we have taken on these children to care for & love forever; we've taken on their medical issues, & we've taken it all on for a lifetime.  The fees for these children do not end for us at the end of the adoption process!  We will accrue fees over a lifetime!  We will also accrue the joy of knowing we've followed in our Father's path; we will accrue the blessings of another child; we will accrue the happiness of being a parent; we will accrue pure delight knowing there is 1 less!
Philippians 4:13 "I can do ALL things through Christ which strengthens me!"

Following is a more detailed list of the fees for adoption:

This is taken from LifeLine's Fees:

Note: The following agency fees will be paid directly to Lifeline in
installments as listed below.
Application Fee $250.00
Lifeline Children's Services Fee   $5,500.00
China orphan care ministry* $250.00
Chinese Liaison Fee   $1,500.00
Home Study Fee** $1,500.00
Shipping Fees: All Documents $195.00
General Translation Fee $50.00
Post Adoption Services** $1,750.00
Post Adoption Translation Fee                                                                                                                                     $360.00 (per child)
Note: A $500 deposit will be charged to out-of-state families for post adoption services. There will be
a home study fee  for  the home study provider in your state for which you will be charged a
fee (typically $1,500-$3,000) for all non AL, FL, GA, KS, KY, MS, SC, TN, WA families.
Note: Post adoption services are to be paid directly to local provider for out of state families.
*Orphan care ministry fee goes toward (Un)Adopted, Lifeline's orphan care ministry.
**Fees applicable to AL, FL, GA, KS, KY, MS, SC, TN, WA families
In-state Residents: Agency Fees listed above are to be paid in 5 installments
(application fee plus 4 agency installments)
Paid with application     $250.00
Paid upon acceptance  $2,776.25
Payable at the completion of home study  $2,776.25
Paid when dossier is sent to China  $2,776.25
Paid when child’s referral is accepted (LOA)    $2,776.25
--All agency fees must be paid prior to travel
Out-of-State Residents: Agency Fees listed above are to be paid in 5 installments
(application fee plus 4 agency installments)
Paid with application $250.00
Paid upon acceptance $2,088.75Payable at the completion of home study $2,088.75
Paid when dossier is sent to China $2,088.75
Paid when child’s referral is accepted (LOA) $2,088.75
--All Agency fees must be paid prior to travel
Total In-State Fees:  $11,355.00
Total Out-of-State Fees:   $8,605.00
CCCWA log in fee for a child when you are not yet matched with a child                                                       $1,190.00
CCCWA log in fee for a child when you have been matched with a child                                                            $800.00
CCCWA log in fee for reusing your dossier ($20.00 wiring included)                                                                    $710.00
CCCWA log in fee for a second (or subsequent) child being adopted concurrently                                          $500.00              
Total Foreign Country Program Process Expenses:                                                                                             $1,190.00
--Foreign country expenses will vary depending on individual family situations
 $600.00 Orphanage Partnership Fee (due when a family receives pre-approval for a
child from one of our partnership orphanages)
 $500.00 Pre-Identified Child Fee due when a family enters the program with a Pre-Identified child, not on the shared list or any Lifeline List or when a family currently in the program identifies a child that is not on the shared list or any Lifeline list.
 $250.00 Out-of-State Home Study Review: Families using Non -Hague Accredited Agency
 $140.00 Non-Orphanage Partnership SN online processing fee
Note: if you are adopting a second (or further subsequent) child concurrently, your travel expense and time
in-country will increase.
 $2000.00 Second (or further subsequent) Child Lifeline Agency Fee (due when a family receives PreApproval for a second (or further subsequent), concurrent child
Please note: if you are adopting a child concurrently, your estimate travel expenses and time in
country will increase
 $720.00 USCIS 1-800 Fee
 $500.00 CCCWA Dossier Submission Fee for a second child*
 $140.00 Non-Orphanage Partnership SN online processing fee for second or subsequent child
 $600.00 Orphanage Partnership Fee (due when a family receives pre-approval for a second or
subsequent child from one of our partnership orphanages)
 $360.00 Post Translation Fee for second or subsequent child
*Adopting a subsequent child past 2 can require an additional dossier payment of $800.00
Note: the following estimated expenses will be paid out-of-pocket during the home study process
Fingerprint fee (for home study)                                                                                                                                $102.50
Medical Reports (varies depending on health insurance coverage)*                                                                     varies
Passport pictures (8 copies)                                                                                                                                          $20.00
Passports for two parents                                                                                                                                           $240.00
Birth certificates (1 copy of each)                                                                                                                                $26.00
Marriage license (1 copy)                                                                                                                                              $13.00NCFA Parent Training                                                                                                                                                   $195.00
Crossings Education                                                                                                                                                        $12.00
Out-of-state CAN clearances                                                                                                                                          varies
*Medical Expenses for the home study may or may not be covered by your health insurance plan. Please speak
with your insurance company for details.
Note: the following estimated expenses will be paid out-of-pocket during the dossier process:
Citizenship and Immigration services fee (for 2 adults adopting 1 child)                                                           $890.00
Fed Ex fees (dossier sent to Lifeline)                                                                                                                           $45.00
Dossier County Certification ($3/doc) based on 13 documents; based on AL                                                     $39.00
State Certifications ($5/doc) based on 13 documents; based on AL                                                                     $65.00
Chinese Consulate Authentications ($25.00/doc) based on 13 documents; based on AL                               $325.00
Authentication Courier fee (based on 13 documents)                                                                                           $150.00
Estimated Out of Pocket Expense                                                                                                                         $2,122.50
Total Estimated In State Fees with Estimated Out of Pocket Expense                                                       $13,477.50
Total Out of State Fees with Estimated Out of Pocket Expense                                                                   $10,727.50
Estimated Travel Costs for China:
In-Country Costs (to be wired to China ahead of travel)
 Provincial based on 6 days in Province
Official costs $6,500.00
Hotel Accommodations  $580.00
o Based on Lifeline recommended hotel; Standard room
Guide service  $300.00
Transportation/sightseeing package  $500.00
Tips for guide/driver    $120.00
In-country flights  $750.00
o Guangzhou based on 6 nights/7 days in Guangzhou
Consulate costs  $450.00
Hotel Accommodations  $800.00
o Based on Lifeline recommended hotel; Deluxe suite
Guide/transportation/sightseeing package   $1,100.00
Tips for guide/driver   $120.00
                                                                                                                                                               Total: $11,220.00
Out-of-Pocket Costs
International flights      $3,000.00    We traveled this summer and flight tickets were $2,000 each.  I've checked flight costs last week and they were at cheapest $1,800.  Flight tickets tend to increase closer to time of travel. One way ticket prices are not much less than round trip.  We estimate the cost to be $5,500-$6,000 for total cost for Phil, Me, & Guan Ya.
Spending money (souvenirs, shopping, lunches, dinners)      $2,000.00
We do not plan on buying any souvenirs or VERY minimal souvenirs.  We were very surprised that the cost of food was equivalent to the cost of in the US.  We did try to purchase food from the local grocery store to eat for some meats. However, I will have to get some taro pies while I'm there. :0)
Costs associated with visiting orphanage               (est.) $500.00
Additional beds/breakfasts (if necessary)                                                                                                                    varies Visa expenses (for 2 adults)          $350.00
Bell Boy tips            $25.00  
           Total: $5,875.00                                    
            Total estimated in-country: $17,095.00
--Total in-country costs may vary depending on time in country, province, time of year, etc.
Additional Post-Adoption Costs:
Note: The following estimated Post-Adoption Expenses will be paid out of pocket after you return
home with your child. These post-adoption costs are not included in the estimated total  as they vary
by state.
Social Security Card (varies)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
United States Birth Certificate (varies)
Passport (varies)
 $29,012.50 +$3,000 unaccounted for in flights $32,000

The above are LifeLine Fees taken from their information.  We used our previous  homestudy agency, New Beginnings.  I did not look up the exact cost but it is the cost we paid within $100 give or take.
$800 to Update 
$1,490 Post Fee Visits (These MUST be paid BEFORE our Homestudy was released to LifeLine)

When we began to adopt in 2011, there was a refundable tax credit.  We had depended on it to pay for some of GiGi's expenses (even though it would not be returned to us until AFTER we adopted her).  However, Jan 1, 2012 the refundable tax credit was abolished.  Even though we began the adoption when the tax refund was in place, we had not completed the adoption thus we could not take advantage of the refundable tax credit.  The tax credit is of little use to us.  From what I've heard from most adoptive families, they do not make a large sum of money so the credit is of little use.  

This is an invoice that was sent to me for my fees to our agency:

Type Date Num Memo Due Date Paid Open Balance Amount
Smith, Phil

Invoice 8/21/2012 15304 China Application Fee 8/21/2012 Paid 250.00
Payment 8/21/2012 02495B China Application Fee Paid -250.00
Invoice 8/22/2012 15424 China Initial Program Fee 8/22/2012 Paid 1,891.25
Invoice 8/22/2012 15425 CCAA online processing fee: ... 8/22/2012 Paid 140.00
Invoice 8/22/2012 15426 China Paypal Fees 8/22/2012 Paid 14.61
Payment 8/22/2012 9LH75... China Initial Program Fee/CC... Paid -2,045.86
Invoice 1/15/2013 17407 China Special Needs Dossier ... 1/15/2013 Paid 800.00
Payment 1/15/2013 1773 China Special Needs Dossier ... Paid -800.00
Invoice 1/21/2013 17344 Dossier Authentication 1/21/2013 Paid 104.00
Payment 1/21/2013 2010 Dossier Authentication Paid -104.00
Invoice 1/22/2013 17570 Pre-Identified Child Fee 2/22/2013 Paid 500.00
Payment 2/4/2013 1774 Pre-Identified Child Fee/China... Paid -1,000.00
Invoice 2/22/2013 15684 China Home Study Fee 3/22/2013 Unpaid 1,391.25 of 1,891.25
Invoice 5/22/2013 15685 China Dossier Fee 6/22/2013 Unpaid 1,891.25 
Invoice 10/22/2013 15686 China Final Program Fee 11/22/2013 Unpaid 1,891.25 
Total Smith, Phil OWES 5,173.75 to LIFELINE

1 comment:

  1. "Young teens in China share the same dreams as teens in every country throughout the world. Unlike their contemporaries in families, children raised in orphanages face a very bleak future. In some countries, children as young as 14 are made to leave their "home" and begin life as an adult with no connections to family, and few marketable skills.

    In China , young people are allowed to remain in their institution only until the age of 16-18 years. However, their future (or great lack of one) is set years earlier, on their 14 th birthday. By law, when orphaned children in China turn 14, they become ineligible for adoption, international adoption as well as domestic."