Posted on

Adoption – The Cost

Adoption costs are part of the journey many avoid discussing. Families come to adoption in various ways. This is only our story and experience.

Adoption costs are part of the journey many avoid discussing. However, few people are truly aware of or prepared for the adoption costs.

Families come to adoption in various ways, after long infertility battles or even as the way to grow their family by choice, or desire to give a family to a child in foster care. This is only our story and experience.

Seven years ago today, we officially started our adoption journey with our first conversation with an adoption facilitator and our first sticker shock.

I went from excited to defeated in one call, but we had a plan.

We don’t want to think about the costs. It seems vulgar to assign a monetary value to a person.

Discussing #adoptioncosts is hard, but being prepared is priceless if you're planning to adopt. Click To Tweet

But the expenses don’t pay for a baby, they pay for all the necessary parts of funding an agency or court fees, etc. and understanding these expenses can mean having the option to adopt or not having the resources when your heart is ready.

Adoption costs are part of the journey many avoid discussing. Families come to adoption in various ways. This is only our story and experience.

Adoption costs vary depending on the adoption route.

Some are nearly free or just legal fees, which generally run a couple thousand dollars (foster to adopt or private adoption of a family member’s or friend’s child).

Some are less expensive, through state or public agencies or the adoption of a minority or impaired child (mentally, physically, health impairments, etc.) in which the state assists with the costs.

The (potentially) quickest (but costliest) method of adoption is the one we pursued, private agency.

We chose a non-profit agency, but the agency still has employees and maintains several offices across the country with overhead expenses.

Our adoption costs from 2010

Rates change yearly, and some agencies have a sliding scale depending on salary.

Home study – $1500 for the first visit and subsequent two visits post placement. About $250 baby-proofing for the home study.

$ 500 – application fee (one agency had a $150 fee just to get the application)

$6000 – retainer due when accepted as clients

$10,000 – Agency fee due prior to placement. We paid this AT the hospital.

$4,610 – Birth mother living expenses for end of pregnancy (6-9 months)

$1830 – birth mother expenses postpartum (one month to recover)

$1000 – travel expenses for agency (we lived in same state as agency and birth mother, these could have been much higher)

$6320 – anticipated legal costs (ours turned out to be $1850 higher)

Total – $31,760 plus all the little fees and costs here and there.

Attaining certain documents and fingerprinting cost several hundred dollars.  We spent a  $110 on our profile booklet.

We spent another $250 for website advertising of us as a “Waiting Family” plus various hotel/travel living expenses while the baby was in the NICU.

Total adoption costs for us ended up at around $36,000.

Depending on your family’s financial situation, this may not be an overwhelming expense, but as a teacher and soldier, our budget definitely needed some adjusting.

It took years of discipline, of living below our means to save the money. We lived very frugally, eliminated all unnecessary debt and still had to borrow $6000 from my mom.

Saving for an adoption took sacrifice, but so does parenting #AdoptionCosts #PricelessBlessings Click To Tweet

I didn’t buy new underwear for a really long time, much less new shoes.

Sacrifice is definitely part of the parenting equation anyhow!

For my first birthday as a mom, I gave myself a high chair for our daughter. For Christmas I got a vacuum and was SUPER excited.

That’s how you know you’re a grown up.

Saving up on a modest income can be challenging.

My best recommendation is to pay off your cars, even if you have to trade down to eliminate payments. Cut as many unnecessary expenses as possible.

If you are able to wait, then it’s a good to be debt free, have a savings account, before you start saving toward an adoption. Being financially secure when the baby comes is priceless. We used Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover.

If necessary, adoption loans exist, and you could pay back a loan using the adoption tax credit from your taxes, which was $13,170 in 2010.

Saving money has never been easier than when I knew the goal was a beautiful baby. Yet, it took quite a bit of dedication and combined commitment as a couple to save the money.

But we can’t put a price tag on our wonderfully precious daughter because somethings are just priceless.

[jetpack_subscription_form subscribe_text=”Enter your email address to get more of this encouraging content!”]

Posted on

World’s Biggest Birthday Bash

And YOU are invited to be part of the celebration! turning this day into one of joy.

“Birthdays should be joyful occasions when parents celebrate the accomplishments their children have made in the past year, often talking of how they’re “growing up too fast”.  For us, that’s not the case. For our family, each birthday is a painful reminder of the decline we will continue to see if something doesn’t happen soon. Turning 5 years old should not be so bittersweet, and I know come November 16th, the tears will flow. We made it a point early on not to cry in front of our children, especially Eliza’s big brother, but it has become more difficult.  Emotions hit you when they hit you.  My son asks me “Dad, are they happy tears?”  “Yes, they are buddy” is all I can bring myself to tell him.

This is a pivotal time in the life of most children with Sanfilippo, and Eliza is just over the top of her roller coaster, which is starting down. It’s unfortunate, but we can halt it and soon.” – Glenn O’Neill

Have you ever saved someone’s life?

Most of us outside of the medical or military professions would probably say no. Can you imagine being an integral part in saving not just one life, but ending an entire disease? This Sunday, November 16 you could literally save lives by joining in the world’s biggest birthday bash for Eliza.


How can you join this birthday party? Go to the Facebook Event page , select “Going.” Go to and donate. Then invite all of your Facebook friends to the party.

As of today, in order to fund the trial for this gene therapy, we need around 5,000 people to donate $100 which will put the Sanfilippo foundation at the dollar goal necessary to get this trial started on time to potentially make a difference in Eliza’s life and the lives of all the children living with this disease world-wide, approximately 1 in 70,000 births.

Why should you join? I could wax eloquent and have in my posts The Last 365 and Too Late, but I don’t think I could say it better than her father, so I’ve shared his excerpted letter.

This is Eliza’s Father Glenn. I’m writing, first and foremost, because I want to THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for your support this past year. You have been an integral part of saving my daughter’s life, and our family can never express how grateful we are that you would help us to stop Sanfilippo Syndrome and save Eliza.

Together, we’ve come so far, and your support has been humbling. But now, well over a year into our journey to try and give Eliza a chance at life, we as a family are exhausted. It is a grueling process, putting your family’s struggles out into the public in hopes of saving your child’s life. But we won’t give up.

If you’ve been following our journey, we know YOU are probably tired as well. Tired of our campaigns and requests. And so we’re hoping to reach our goal and finish this struggle once and for all with one final push: one day, the remaining $600,000, and a chance at life for Eliza. Allow me to explain.

We live on hope, but as my wife said in the SavingEliza video, “Hope is a nice word, but we need action.” Well you’ve shown us action.

We plan to raise the remaining $600,000 as her birthday gift, on this one day at  With more than 30,000 unique supporters, it not only ‘can’ happen, it will. It is ambitious, but you have already made us believers in the impossible. You’ve made us believe in happier birthdays in her future. We can see it. It’s no longer a far-flung hope, but a very real possibility: a 10th birthday, an 18th, and a 30th. Christmas mornings and Prom dates and arguments with her parents who “don’t understand her” all seem so possible now.

To reach this goal, on November 16th, we’d need 6,000 supporters at the $100 birthday gift level, or 12,000 at the $50 gift level. This will be our ONLY donation request to you this year, as it must happen now. If you were planning to give again later in the year, please do so on Nov 16th. This request is to you. Her chance at a real future is one $600,000 birthday away..curing this disease within reach and in time for Eliza.  Will you be able to give this birthday gift of $50 or $100?

What better way to end the campaign than to complete the funding on Eliza’s 5th birthday?

I always struggle with how to thank someone that has literally helped save my child’s life… Words aren’t enough, and I don’t know what sort of actions would be sufficient. I feel you’d want us to thank you by simply holding her, hugging her, loving her, and making sure we are doing everything in our power to save her. I can assure you that we are, and we will.

Thank you with everything that I am, Glenn O’Neill (Eliza’s Dad)

I ask you, Heaven Not Harvard reader, to share this post, share this Facebook party, invite your friends. Get ten friends together, have a party and donate on November 16th. Help us further this crucial research that may give Eliza a chance at many, many more birthdays, something all little girls deserve.

LIKE, SHARE, spread this one last campaign. #1Day1Goal #SavingEliza


Posted on

Too Late

This will be a short post today because I have written in-depth about Saving Eliza before in my post The Last 365. When I wrote the last blog, her parents were still hopeful. They had months to raise the remaining funds and Eliza was not showing any symptoms of degeneration. They began a social media challenge (#sing2lines) in order to raise awareness and funds. If everyone reading this gave $25, we could save her life today.

Sing2linesBut today I was heartbroken anew. An article on shared that she is losing words. I cannot imagine watching my child be slowly erased by a missing gene, knowing every step backward is a step towards a prolonged deterioration and painful death.

The treatment is sitting in a hospital in Ohio, the FDA is in the process of approving this very unique trial, but the trial hasn’t been funded. From my understanding, there is a deadline of the end of October to get this funded in order for it to start in January.

I am reminded of being in the NICU when my daughter was born. Every three hours we got to scrub up, don gowns, and have 30 minutes to change her diaper, hold her, feed her. But it was on a schedule – 8 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 5 p.m., 8 p.m. If a physician was making NICU rounds or another child was having a crisis, no one was allowed inside.

During the week we were there, twice we rushed excitedly through the hospital only to be turned away. Standing at the door of the NICU, there was no reprieve, no one to appeal to, just a sign letting us know to try again at the next visiting time. My baby was on the other side of that door. I wanted to break it down, be the exception, get to my child. Inside I felt like a momma bear raging as I walked away dejectedly, trying not to cry until the privacy of the elevator. iphone 810 115

I can only imagine how the O’Neills are feeling. They are standing on this side of that door figuratively, knowing their daughter is gradually being pulled away from them. They have given every thought and moment to fighting for her, but are losing the fight.

They are clinging to hope, and their efforts are raising money.  $15, $20, $40 come in one at a time from anonymous people just trying to do what they can, but it is slow, and the days are running out for sweet Eliza. Her abilities to focus and speak are already noticeably affected.

If this gene therapy trial is effective, it could save her life, but literally every single day is doing permanent damage. Funding this trial now is absolutely the only hope to save Eliza. Any delay will make it too late for Eliza.

Too late. We use the words too late for the ice cream truck that turned the corner before we found our change purse; too late when we miss the start of a movie by more than the length of the previews; too late to go to a friend’s house last-minute. No one should ever have to use these words to describe saving a child.

Why is this on my heart? Why do I share every post and tweet? I just remember Jesus speaking to his followers about how he sees children.

Matthew 18:5 ESV “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me”

There is nothing I wouldn’t do for Jesus, and if I can serve Him by helping care for this little angel and her family, then I’ll do whatever is in my strength and ability to do.

Please join the movement, #SING2LINES for #SavingEliza, share this blog or her cause on every forum you can. Give whatever you can. If everyone who read my first post had donated a single $1, we would have raised over $15,000. Make this go viral, we have to do something before it is too late.

Posted on

The last 365: Saving Eliza

If you only read one entry of mine – read this one. If you only share one entry – share this one. If you never come back to Heaven Not Harvard, but we find a way to make a miracle, then God used me today and that is enough. If you are a blogger at all, please read to the end for a special challenge.

With all the kids heading back to school, it has really hit home that this is it. This is my last year of being home with my daughter all day, everyday. Next year she will be heading off to school. Our home and church won’t be her whole world anymore. She will have teachers, friends, and experiences of which I am not a part. Daddy and I will still be her most important people for a while, but those days are numbered as well. We are already being replaced by a tiny pig in “temporary” residence.

1544503_10202334006971616_974680681935303742_nSomewhere on Facebook (I can’t remember where) I saw a post that said, essentially, “someday my child will leave home and take her memory of me.”

I felt like that spoke to my heart in such a profound way. I was immediately humbled, taking a moment to really consider what memories will she take? Am I really giving her my best attention and focus despite the medical challenges and physical limitations? Who will I be in her mind? In her childish, imperfect memory, will I have gotten more things right than wrong? Will I have made sure to treasure every story, backrub, lengthy ridiculous excuse about why she cannot possibly go to bed right now? Am I parenting with intentionality?

I resolved to really spend this year making all the memories I can, and this post just ignited the passion to make every second count. My last 365 with my baby girl at home, I was teary-eyed thinking about it.

And then I was challenged by a friend to do the #sing2lines challenge for #savingeliza. This little girl is a friend of a friend’s friend, making her more than just a face on the screen. I had donated when I first heard of this cause and shared the links on my Facebook page. I follow their gofundme page and remember to pray for her, but I get busy. Her story gets lost in my daily busyness. When it gets brought back across my mind, I am struck all over again by the horror of her disease.

Because, she is more than just a faceless cause, in her place, I see my daughter who is just a few months younger than Eliza. I feel the crushing weight of knowing that her parents are counting down the number of days Eliza will able to sing, dance, talk, breathe; they will  be counting the days until they watch her have seizure after seizure, knowing eventually she will die and it will be both heartbreaking and an end to her pain.

Laying in bed, snuggled up to my Lil Bit this morning, I read her father’s words about Eliza’s disease and sobbed.sing2lines

Last July, our 4-year-old daughter Eliza was diagnosed with a rare terminal genetic disease called Sanfilippo Syndrome-Type A. In one terrifying instant, we were told that we would have to watch her fade away before our eyes.

Eliza and other children with this disease are missing an essential enzyme for normal cellular function. Over time, a toxic material called heparan sulfate builds up in their brain and body leading to severe disability and death before they even reach their teens.   This disease affects both genders, all races, all countries and continents.  It is everywhere and the world needs to know.

Eliza Today and Her Future

Right now Eliza is a fun loving 4-year-old who loves to sing, run and MOST of all, cuddle. She loves to play dress up and horse around with her rowdy big brother Beckham. She is, however, beginning to show signs of the disease in her learning and attention. And if nothing changes, it will only get worse from here.

By age 6, most children with her disease have irreversible brain damage and lose the ability to speak. As the disease continues to tear through her brain and body, she will lose the ability to walk and eventually she won’t even be able to feed herself as seizures ravage her body.

I watch the video and see a beautiful, creative 4-year-old girl who has until she is 5 before her brain and body will begin to show permanent damage from the ravages of this syndrome.

Her parents are literally counting down their last 365 days with their baby girl being able to walk and sing. She may live a few years longer, but in increasing pain. This is the stuff of nightmares, but it is their reality.

They have been ferocious in raising money. But they are short around $700,000 from my understanding. In Ohio, a potential gene-therapy experimental treatment is waiting to clear FDA hurdles and raise the final funds to make Eliza’s miracle happen.

Her parents are doing everything they can to save their baby. Including start their own Facebook challenge. Across my newsfeed, the #ALSicebucketchallenge is taking over, which is amazing. They’ve raised over $15 million since it began. Last year in the same time frame, they raised $1.8. Awesome! If we can get just get everyone who sees this message to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, or wherever – maybe we can reach $700,000. Seems like a modest goal compared to the $15 million doesn’t it?

Click on this link to see the origin of this challenge and news story about the family as of yesterday. Don’t miss seeing this little girl so full of wonderful preschooler energy.

When I watched the video of her parents trying to decide if they should keep her baby toys in case she needs them again, I cried with them. When I listen to what will start to happen when she turns five, I shuddered. Wait – didn’t that say she is already 4 1/2?!? Her days are ticking down like the most hideous ‘Poe’esque clock, with a genetic sword swaying over her precious little golden head.

There are no words that accurately reflect how important raising awareness and funds are to me. We are donating as a family as we can, but our contribution feels like barely a drop in the bucket.

All I know is that the world will know were are Christians by our love, by our love – so I’m doing what little I can to love on this family.

I’ve posted her story and challenge all over Facebook, so much so FB started making me pass a human (captcha) test before posting. And I’m hoping, and I’m praying. So if you’ve read this far, I’m asking you to do three things 1)Donate! at If everyone who read this post, donated a dollar, we’d have raised $15,000 so far. Please donate whatever you can. No amount is too small. 2)Do and share the #sing2lines challenge!!  3) share this post on your preferred social media – get this content to every inch of the globe!!!

If you’re a blogger or author, I’m issuing another challenge – reblog this. Share this post on your blog. I’ve only been doing this for a few months, so my following is small, but if you blog and your followers blog, we can keep this going long enough that Eliza never has to stop singing.

I hope you take a minute to donate, another to sing, and really do some soul searching today. How would you parent if you knew this was the last 365 days?