Adoption Update: a financial conversation

adoption, waiting for you We have been in the Adoption Waiting Phase since May 11 [when we hired Susan through Christian Adoption Consultants].

I am going to invite you a little deeper into the process, into what we are talking about and praying for and looking at in the way of adoption costs.

We presented to 3 different birth moms through private attorneys, early on in our process, before even being home study ready. Had any of these brave mamas chosen us to parent their baby, our adoption would have cost as low as $8,000 or as high as $12,000, including travel fees.

Once home study approved, we presented to two more birth moms through agencies. Had either of these two mamas chosen us to parent their baby, our adoption would have cost as low as $38,000 and as high as $48,000, not including travel fees.

VOCAB RECAP: "presenting to a birth mom" = having an attorney or agency show your Family Profile book to an expectant mom, who has {courageously} made an adoption plan for her baby.

Since announcing our adoption in May, we have fundraised and saved about $14,000 but spent $3,000ish on the home study and agency applications, leaving us at around $11,000 in the adoption fund. Any money ever donated or put into that account from our own paychecks stays there unless spent on adoption expenses. We are extremely disciplined in that way. There is no way we would use this money as an emergency fund or for anything other than our adoption. Our adoption means too much to us and the people who are generously donating are trusting us.

I have spent countless hours applying to grants. I mean, countless. I believe we have applied to 9 adoption grants, received 3 denial letters, and are in the Waiting Phase for the other 6, praying big prayers of provision. Why they would deny us, I have no idea - except that there are so many applicants. One of them even said, "Don't bother applying if you make more than $150,000." I thought, "Oh we've got this grant in the bag! We make like 2% of that!" Wrong. Denied. Too many applicants. Not matched yet. The other day I asked our adoption facebook group who received grants and how many they applied to -- I think 3 people out of the couple hundred commented. One family received $14,000 in grants, and explained how abnormal that is. The other two explained that they each got matching grants (your fundraising through them will be matched up to a certain point) for $2500 and $8000. To say I was a little discouraged is an understatement.

I cannot tell you the amount of nervousness I have had in the last few weeks regarding our fund and its lack of growth. Don't get me wrong, we have been blown away by people's sacrifice and generosity and courage. The support we have had so far has encouraged us and completely deepened our faith in humans. Every day though, Tummy Baby and I pray for Heart Baby and we beg God, "Lord, please provide us with grants. Please, Jesus, we ask for $15,000 in grants. Or God, we pray and we ask for a private adoption. Lord, your will be done. Help me trust your provision."

I also applied to about 5 different adoption, interest free, loans. Due to our extreme lack of credit (our score is great! we just haven't had a lot of debt), we were only approved for one and it was a really low loan.

Currently, we are reading this book that I will forever recommend to anyone considering adoption. I wish we had read it before beginning the process, but that's okay! Better now than never. It is called: Adopt Without Debt. The other night I read this: "There is not one example in the Bible of God calling someone to do something and then using debt as a tool to accomplish it." I don't believe that taking out a loan for our adoption is a sin or wrong. Not even 1%. I believe that the heart behind taking a loan out to bring a baby into your home is beautiful and pure and good...not sinful or selfish or materialistic. But that quote stopped me to think, do I believe God called us to this? I do. Do I believe He can provide for us without a huge $20,000 loan? I do. Will I walk in that freedom and trust that the funds will be available when they need to be? Not always, but I am working on it one day at a time.

 A COMMITMENT: TIME TO GET TIGHT AGAIN, and I don't mean our bods.

Before our big job/life/career transition, we were operating on a very strict budget and have been pretty disciplined our entire marriage (thank you Jesus!). Since May we were putting $100/paycheck towards our adoption, plus most of my photography money. Our life was sort of thrown up and tossed around, and so was our budget. God always, always, provides whatever we need, and reminds us what is a need versus a want. Oh my, our needs are slim if we are honest. But we were less than disciplined in the last two months, and we are at that point where it is time to get tight again! Once we have Loren's first paycheck in January (and when my job gets to rolling we will re-assess) we will be able to set up a budget again. We will be going back to using only cash for spending, aside from paying bills. This adoption means so much to us and we know that it starts and continues with sacrificeOur goals for our budget beginning in 2016:

FIRST, OUR PRIORITIES AT THE BEGINNING OF JANUARY PAYCHECK: >Tithe >Bills paid >$80/month total allotment for gas for both cars >$300/month total allotment for groceries >$100/month to adoption (plus any photography sessions)

If able, we will have these additional Budget Envelope Goals as well as, and here are ways we are cutting back and beginning to save again:

>Grocery spending is going from $400-$450/month to $300/month ($75/week). Included in our grocery budget: cleaning supplies, paper goods, toiletries, etc. Back into meal planning. I will find 30 meals that we like and put them in an easy rotation system. I will re-discover my "maximum spend" list, meaning I will not pay more than $1/lb for apples.

>We have gone back and forth about getting internet. We have never had internet/netflix/tv/hulu in our marriage. I have been doing a bit of freelance writing which requires internet so I either use the hot spot our parents gave us or spend a few dollars at the coffee shop. But it adds up. So we are still debating which is more cost effective:we are leaning towards no internet. Budgeting a couple drip coffees a month, $10/month towards coffee shop internet & dates. (This is low priority and may not end up making the cut, or be lowered).

>Gifts for others envelope will go from $40/month to $5/month and I will have to become crafty. Gulp. I could also resort to not having friends?

>Eating Out will go from the current loosey goosey to being budgeted into Dates. Instead of what we had as $30/week for dates, we will go back down to $5/week for dates ($20/month). This means we get to be creative again about date night! If we want to see a movie or go to a nice restaurant, we will save the months worth of dates and compile them into one date.

>We will plant another garden this spring. We will raise 3 chickens this spring

>No clothes buying (we really only buy clothes this time of year for Christmas gifts, anyways! Or we consign)

>No more 3D Crest White toothpaste. We are going generic and coupon-savy, friends. This is the real deal. I LOVE MY TOOTHPASTE. Anyone who knows me, knows I love to brush my teeth. This was a big decision for me. (I know, pity). Generic household & baby items, here we come.

>Cloth diapers. (Please don't debate me. I hate debates. I research.) We have purchased some second hand and also have a dear love who has offered to donate theirs to us! Bless

>Tax return: if we get one this year, a percentage of this will go straight into our adoption fund as we have done with every return.

There you have it, friends. We are on the road to saving and paying for this adoption. Go ahead and feel free to ask us how we are doing with our budget and if we are being disciplined or not - accountability is always good. With everything, we are trying to remember that grace is good and covers every bit of this. We will fail and miss it. But we will pick ourselves back up again and remember the goal: bringing home our baby. So, little Baby, wherever you are: we are still waiting for you. We are making sacrifices for you and will work hard to continue putting money into your fund. If you are waiting through an agency, Lord will provide one way or another. If you are waiting through a private attorney, Lord will connect us. We love you.

we will begin writing names on the back NEXT WEEK!

Able to donate towards our adoption? We are still working on this puzzle! This is a photo I took in Austria and a quote that means a lot to us. We are writing names on the back of each piece that is purchased, and show casing the puzzle in our nursery in a double sided frame. That way, we can forever remember and thank Jesus for the many people who helped bring our baby home. We are over halfway finished with the puzzle! We have 403 of 720 pieces sponsored. Are you able to sponsor a piece?

How it works:

1)   Decide how many puzzle pieces you want to purchase to financially support our adoption fund!

1 puzzle piece = $25 

2)  VenMo and write in the memo "Baby Brenner"

- OR -

Click on the donate button below to give securely through PayPal


Donate via check. Email us at and we will send your our address to mail in a check!

However many you decide on, stick the name(s) you want written on pieces in the memo.

3)  Watch the adoption puzzle come together on our blog and see your name be recognized.

This puzzle, when finished, will get us to $18,000 - about half of our adoption financial goal.

Follow along: >Instagram: @nataliekbrenner or #brenneradoptionjourney >Facebook: Natalie Brenner >THIS BLOG!


Adoption [and] Puzzle Update [vol 2]

we are adopting photoshoot OH MY GOSH you guys. There is so much happening that my ears feel like they are ringing and my heart might explode. Are you ready for an update? Because you need to be ready and I mean it, there is so many adult things happening around these parts and I simply cannot hold it in anymore.

Also, this is about where I'm at:

My sister delivered 4 puppies in her apartment and I was just over here cleaning houses watching it unfold as she sent me videos of dogs being born (your welcome for loving birth)..I began sobbing when I realized that my sister was selling them. Not because she was getting rid of them, but because other people were going to adopt these little babies and Daisy was going to have to say goodbye to these precious little babes that grew inside of her. Oh my word, you guys, I was a mess, crying about the entire ordeal. Until my sister told me that Daisy would be find, lick her wounds, and move on.


So we are being presented to a potential birth mom.

Yep. Our Family Profile (which was put together during the hours of 9 pm and 2 am) will be in a pile of 3-4 profiles for a courageous momma to look through, sift through, and think about placing her child with. My heart has fallen in love with the momma already, no matter if we ever get to meet her or not. She is courageous, bold, loving, sacrificial. To not only carry this child full term but then choose to place him into another family's hands to raise? What courage, what beauty, what selflessness.

The wait of the last two weeks and the next one has been painfully stretching and so full of palms up, hearts surrendered. 

We need you to join us in prayer over this situation. We need big bold prayers, ending in "thy will be done." If you are interested in more details, feel free to email me and I would be happy to share what we are legally able to. 

If she chooses us to parent her child, our puzzle pieces will need to be sponsored and purchased sooner than expected! But we are believing that finances are the easiest part for God.

The Process

We are so close to being done with our home study paperwork. The amount of paperwork is in the pounds. Loren has not seen a doctor since moving to this lovely town of Corvallis; one of the requirements is to have your physician fill out a medical report after you get a physical. So we adulted and Loren now has a doctor in Corvallis! Both of us had our physicals this week, so that was touchy. 

Our 10 hours of education has been purchased and we are GETTING ON IT. They're classes about potential identity and attachment issues, how-to's on African hair (seriously what). We have our fingerprinting appointment next week. Our background checks are sent. Our Oregon attorney is lined up and ready for action. This is happening. We will soon be scheduling our interviews and actual in-home study. I even began planting shrubs in the front entry way of our apartment complex because what says motherly and nurturing more than plants?

We have been working so hard! 

We are partnering with a few people to clean and sell everything inside of a closed down greasy diner. Oh my gosh, it's been an adventure. Loren has been full time Pastor Man plus helping me so many hours during the week. It's been a time. 



I have been booking photoshoots left and right. Thumbs up, kids.

People send in checks with the best memos that make me cry every time: 


Call me crazy. If it was a thing, I would make adopting babies my full time gig. It is now, but I mean for the next 5 years.


Our puzzle is coming together so beautifully, it is painful. And by painful, I mean that my eyes have strained for hours and I am beginning to think that I need a new prescription for my eyesight. But, Baby Brenner, boy will you be worth it. You will be worth me straining my eyes and frying my brain over a puzzle. You will be so, so worth it. One of our friends was over for a meeting, (our meetings are now held at home so we can meet and work on the fifty-shades-of-blue puzzle) and he exclaimed, "THATS $25? That little piece? That little thing? I can pay $25 for my name squeezed onto THAT?" Get with the program, dude, its more than a square piece of cardboard..okay, its for a child. You better believe we were laughing extremely hard.

fundraising puzzle update 2 puzzle adoption fundraiser

I was unable to flip over the entire puzzle without having it fall apart, but something you should know is: OUR ENTIRE BORDER PIECES ARE PURCHASED! And two corners completely full and over flowing with YOUR names. This is beautiful. Thank you, lovely human beings, for helping us grow our small family unit.

We still have 508 pieces left! AKA: will you please pray or think about purchasing a piece? We will write your name on it and you will forever be etched into our story. I know, so cool. I am going into Michaels early next week to see about the double sided frame! Then it will be a lot easier to reveal all of the names being written on the back.

We need you! We need everyone who is able to purchase a puzzle piece.

How it works:

1)   Decide how many puzzle pieces you want to purchase to financially support our adoption fund.

1 puzzle piece = $25 

2)  Click on the donate button below to give securely through PayPal


Donate via check. Email us at and we will send your our address to mail in a check.

3)  Watch the adoption puzzle come together on our blog and see your name be recognized. We will build the puzzle as you donate the pieces.

GARAGE SALE FUNDRAISER Nothing like kicking off the weekend with a multiple-family garage sale with huge and amazing donations! We have a boat (which I want to keep as my own), a fire place, tables, kitchen things, clothes, so much stuff! Its epic. We are so grateful for the community we have surrounding us. This baby has no idea what's coming.