Give It Forward

Give It Forward: The Basics
We needed a loan to finance our second adoption, but we didn't want to get a traditional loan and give more money to banks that don't really need it. Instead, we asked the kind people of the internet for a loan, which we are repaying, with interest, to charities that we decide on together with our readers. The post detailing the plan is here, and it's a pretty simple concept. Readers donated to our loan, and we added 10% out of our own pockets when we make our "loan payment" to a charity each month. In addition, we had a matching donor for the 10% we gave, so each donation grew by 20% and helped us bring Elvie home at the same time.

The Loan Payments: How We Chose Who Received Them
Each month we held a vote to determine which charity our "loan payment" would go to. Many charities were suggested by our readers, and by the time we completed our payments, all the charities suggested had a shot at getting our payment.

Each month, we paid $200 per month against the principle, plus $20 of "interest," making the donation $220. The $20 was matched by our matching donor, making the total donation $240. We had a couple of months that life got out of control, so we made a double payment the following month. All payments and who received them are documented below. When we received our tax refund, we made a final payment of a larger amount to close out our "account."

Amounts We Needed Financed: The Adoption Fee Breakdown
To bring Elvie home, we were responsible for paying the following fees.  Through Give It Forward, we raised $3344.50. The remaining fees were paid through our own savings, various loans from family members, the generosity of friends, a no interest loan through Pathways for Little Feet, and a grant from JSC Foundation. We truly could not have done it without the Give It Forward portion, and we are so grateful to everyone for giving.

Home Study Fee $2400
I-600A Immigration Application and Biometrics Fee (including fees for fingerprinting) $890
Post Placement Report Fee $1050
Notarization and Certification Fees $400
Agency Fee $4000
Home Study Review Fee $300
Post Adoption Liability Fee $300
Dossier Authentication Fee $525
Ethiopia Program Fee $8200
In Country Fees $700
Validation of Adoption $300
Visa Fee $400
Travel (approximate, based on amounts we paid for flights, guest house fees, and daily food/supplies costs) $8000

TOTAL FEES $27,165

The Fine Print
Because we are just a small family and not a 501(c)(3), we could not offer donors a tax deductible receipt. We pledged to simply toss the receipts and not claim the tax deduction benefit for ourselves either, which is our MO anyhow. The money we give is a gift to the recipients, and no one gained financially from this endeavor aside from the charities who received our loan payments.

Keeping Track

We were given $3344.50, which has all been repaid with a minimum of 10% added for interest. The interest was all matched, so the "interest rate" was always at least 20%. A few times we added an additional $5 because the payment was a smidge late, and sometimes we added a bit more just because. We are so grateful to everyone for both making Elvie's homecoming possible and making a difference for all the organizations we are able to contribute to. I hope to update the total amount given soon, but I will have to go back through my records to see which months we added additional interest. Below I have listed who got each payment that we made. It was our pleasure to pass on what was so generously given to us to others who need it more than we do.

In January, our readers chose Heifer International as the recipient. Through their gift catalog, we gave a sheep, chickens, and rabbits that will help families become self-sufficient so they can stay together.

In February, we gave to Where Love Is and helped give new hope to street children in Addis Ababa.

In March, together with our donors and readers, we gave life-changing surgeries to the children of Ethiopia through the work of Dr. Rick Hodes.

Our April payment went to help fund a grant for the adoption of Felicia at Reece's Rainbow. If you know of anyone who might be interested in being Felicia's family, please send them to her Reece's Rainbow page.

In May, we contributed to The Small Things and helped fund the work they are doing in an orphanage and a hospital in Tanzania.

In June, our readers chose Ekisa, and funds went to help children with special needs in Uganda.

In July, our world was turned upside down with our return to the US with Elvie and her subsequent hospitalization.  We made a double payment to a charity in the month of August in order to catch up.

In August, we gave the double payment to Shriners Hospitals to help children get the medical care they need, regardless of their family's ability to pay.

In September, our readers chose Back to the Roots, where the payment will be used for the work meeting the needs of at risk children at Asha House and Casa de Gozo.

In October, we gave to Cole's Gift, which gives grants to families adopting children with life threatening medical conditions.

In November, we met with an unexpected financial hurdle at the same time that several of Elvie's medical bills were due, so we are making a double payment again in December.

In December, our readers chose to give goats to families in Awassa, Ethiopia, through Project HOPEFUL Awassa. Because the total of the double payment of $400 principle plus $40 interest, which was matched, left us with a total of $480, just $15 shy of an eleventh goat, we kicked in the extra  $15 to make it happen. Eleven goats for eleven families! Amazing!

We delayed our payments in January and February so that we could give one large final payment to an organization where it could do a whole lot of good at once. At the end of March, we gave $1135 to Roots Ethiopia to provide education for children. And with that, our Give It Forward loan was paid in full.

Any Questions?
We've tried to be brief enough that the entire page can be read in one sitting, but thorough enough that you'll understand what we are doing here. However, we understand that questions arise no matter how explicit an explanation is, and we welcome those. Please email us with questions, as it is much easier to keep up with replying to emails than comments. We will respond to every email question, but common questions will also be addressed on this page and/or in a blog post.

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