Come listen in as Scott talks with Laura Coleman, an Accredited Financial Counselor with 19 years of experience in the financial industry, who is focused on the economic issues military couples face when going through the fertility and adoption process. She has made it her mission to help couples find the money and understand the financial implications of adoption and fertility. Laura believes that being prepared can help take the stress and fear out of adoption so you can focus on what is necessary, the child. If you are thinking about fertility treatments or maybe adopting a child, you will want to listen to this episode. The information Laura has given us is a must-hear and might save you some major financial issues on the road ahead.
Intro: Welcome to Sheepdog Financial. You will get answers to your financial questions, learn to plan for your financial future and have the type of life that people dream of. Brought to you by Trisuli Financial Advising, a fiduciary financial advisor practice focused on military members and their finances. Your host of Sheepdog Financial is Scott Vance.
Scott: Today on Sheepdog Financial we have Laura Coleman. Laura is an adoption and fertility expert. Her passion to assist couples in navigating this tough road was born out of personal experience. Listen in as she gives advice as to how to take advantage of the tax breaks and grants associated with adoption, fertility, and make sure to listen in later on as she discusses the role that personal finance has to play in the adoption and fertility process. Laura. Welcome to the show.
Laura: Thank you so much for having me.
Scott: We're gonna talk a little bit about adoption, fertility. So how'd you get into this topic?
Laura: I got married about eight and a half years ago. Always wanted to be a mom and my husband and I got married later. I was 34 he was 40 so when I got married I was like, okay, listen honey, I want to have kids right away. And he's like, totally fine. And I was like, I want to have three kids before I'm 40 and then we're good. I'm good with three. He's like, okay, I'm cool with that too. So about six months into our marriage, not pregnant, went to the doctor and the doctor's like, everything looks good, you know, everything looks fine though. It took me six months to persuade my husband to go into the doctor and after a year the doctor's like, okay, you guys have male infertility, which one in eight couples have fertility issues and 50% of them are in male factor infertility. We, so it was, it was really difficult on us to all of a sudden go, "Oh my gosh". So we sat down with the fertility doctor and he's like, "Hey listen, it's going to be $17,500 to do IVF". And at the time, about a month after we found this, my husband lost his job. And so like, I was so depressed. I'm thinking I'm never going to have children or if this is going to be impossible. And so we both ended up getting jobs cause I had moved from another state to Tennessee and when we got married and so start it, we both started working and I opened up a savings accounts that I call the baby and started putting money in there. And then once it got to a certain amount, I started funneling money into our health savings account. And we did three IVF attempts and they were unsuccessful. And, and about that time, a friend of ours has a granddaughter and we started, she started living with us. She was 14 months old at the time and about two and half months later we had a conversation of like, "Hey, she's been living with us for two and half months. We would love to adopt her. If you want to continue to be grandparents, we would love to welcome you as an additional set of people in our lives and parents, you'll be grandparents." And so they agreed upon that. And so we adopted her and then we did two more, um, IVF attempts. And got pregnant on the fifth time. We were super, super excited, told everybody and their dog. And at nine weeks I had a miscarriage and it was determined that I have something called lupus anticoagulant, which only exhibits itself during pregnancy, supposedly as genetic, even though I have five siblings, three sisters and one has eight children, one has four and the other one has two. And so, you know, none of them had ever experienced miscarriages. So it was never on my mind nor our doctor's mind that I could possibly have this blood clotting disorder. So that was $35,000 down the tube. And then we had started foster care classes because we were hoping to be able to adopt our daughter's sister. But that did not happen. Um, was not meant to be. And DCS called us three months after the miscarriage and they're like, "Hey, there was this baby that was born this morning. He has a 22 month old brother, would you like to have them? The 22 month old's been in foster care for eight months and they're on the adoption track". And we're like, "Yes!" So we picked up the youngest when he was two days old from the hospital and when 15 months later we finalized their adoption, which by the way was five days before my 40th birthday. So we now,
Scott: Nice present!
Laura: Oh, I was like, we had a huge celebration for my 40th birthday party. So my wish of becoming a mom and having three kids before I was 40 happens, but not in the way that I had really anticipated. I'm a very social person. I talked to people and when I first found out I had fertility, I was kind of closed minded about it. I was very tight because I was really a little embarrassed. Then I realized that I was becoming depressed about it and the more I talked about it, the more I realized that this was my mission in life to tell people about adoption and fertility and that it's, there's nothing to be embarrassed about. And so about a year and a half ago as a financial coach, I started thinking about all the financial knowledge that I have and I've been helping people with their finances. Why? Why not tunnel that down a path that I already loved talking about. And that's when my vision of having a podcast, preparing couples financially for adoption came up. And so that's kind of a little bit of a story about how I started down this path and working with the military service members like I have for six years. There's so many awesome resources that are out there and I'd love to tell you all about them.
Scott: I guess I probably should've brought up the fact that you're a AFC, right? Accredited financial counselor.
Scott: Real quickly out there. So for my listeners, what exactly is that?
Laura: Accredited financial counselor is extremely, it was, it was a really hard test, probably almost as hard as a Series 63, which I took like 20 years ago. But, its accreditation, like it's put a little initials after my name and every year I have to do 15 hours of continuing education and there's a governing bodies we have, you know, integrity that we have to live up to. And the governing body is AFC PE, you know? Yeah. You don't need to have initials after your name to be a financial coach. But for me I felt that that was really important. That would give me some professionalism and knowledge and show people like, Hey I do understand and know about money.
Scott: Just gives you some almost like rank.
Laura: Right! I'm not a private anymore.
Scott: For the listeners out there, you can find these AFCs through the army programs are I say army cause I'm retired from the army, but military programs, military family life counselors I think is where you find them or anywhere on posts that they have the uh, family support programs
Laura: and they have a, a military spouse program. So if there's a military spouse that is interested in becoming an accredited financial counselor, AFCE has mil spouse programs to help pay for it, you know, that's really nice.
Scott: I just wanted to point that out real quick before we got too far down the road. Cause I don't think I've ever talked about AFC counselors in any of my podcasts so far. So he gave me that opportunity there. So going back to the story, they had adopted three children and then as you started your podcast and you've got a coaching business focusing on adoptions fertility, getting ready, finances ready for life. Coach, give some quick overview of adoption of fertility. So where we are as far as law, anything coming up on the horizon. I know for an adoption, my experience, I spent some time in Kathmandu and Nepal working at the embassy and there were a lot of issues with the foreign adoption going on and process and stuff there.
Laura: So if you are looking to do an international adoption, you need to choose an agency that is Hague accredited and let's say that you're in the military, you're deployed or you're in the process of adopting and all of a sudden you're going to be deployed. So you can grant a power of attorney to your spouse that will help you to continue with that adoption process because you don't want to stop it. You might be two or three years before you are actually matched with a child. And so all of a sudden you're gone for 11 months, 10 ,11, 12 months, somewhere in there and you're like, Oh man, more time. You know. And so you know, you don't need to stop the clock. You can say, okay, I'm going to give a power of attorney over to my spouse. We can continue with this. And you really need to have a power of attorney anyway when you're deployed. But if, especially if you are going through adoption and then you can now after an is actually finalized, if you receive orders that you are going to be deployed, you can actually defer your deployment by four months and that's after an adoption is actually finalized. So, and then if you are living foreign and you can adopt domestically and internationally, but you need to make sure that you obtain visas and passports for the child, that's really important to make sure you have that.
Scott: Okay. So like if you're really living in, I don't know, Germany and you're adopting a child in the U.S. you'd have to get a visa to bring them into Germany.
Laura: Yeah, I mean, you gotta make sure, you can bring a us child into Germany. I mean, you're not just, there's this thing called an ICPC, which when you're living in the States, the other state has to give permission for you to travel legally across the state lines with that child.
Scott: And what does ICPC stand for?
Laura: So ICPC stands for interstate compact for the placement of children. And that's when you are living in Tennessee and you need to go to Georgia to pick up the child. Georgia has to communicate with Tennessee and say, okay, this child is approved to leave the state. And each, I have some friends that have done the interstate adoptions, right? It can be anywhere from 10 days to three weeks for a month. And so it really just depends upon if there's a holiday, if the States are communicating with each other. So,
Scott: And I imagine, I would think that that's partially to help keep child smuggling or...
Laura: right, right, right.
Scott: Keep that down too. And I would only imagine if you're going to go international, but that becomes an even more stringent requirement
Laura: Right. No. Um, one of the things that like I do with clans is helping with them with the financial aspect of things. So when you go do an ICPC like have you budgeted money to go and do that, you're going to be staying in a state and you are going to have to pay for hotel or Air BnB. Um, you need travel. That to that place is airfare. Renting a car you're going to need to pay for food. Like do you have a travel budget in place? So I created this adoption financial planner and the in each of the tabs, like there's an adoption budget and a travel budget and like what you need to make sure that you're setting aside money for specifically and you know, making sure that you have all your contact information in the same place and making sure that you're estimating how much money do you think this is going to cost. And with the military, like one of the things that I was always so surprised is that I would ask service members like, Hey, did you use a military discount? Or like, Oh no, no, I'm good. Yeah. Like why are you not using these discounts? Like there's some really amazing things like the, some, there's some difference. Um, like there's a AF Vacation Club, Military.com discounts, USAA travel deals, United Military Travel. Those are just a couple of places I know. I'm sure you know of some more places that people can go for travel discounts. Yeah. So like paying for your hotel and why are you not asking for those military discounts? So if you're already active duty or reservists like are you showing your military ID so you can receive those discounts and especially when you're flying and you're saying it's more for like three weeks.
Scott: You've talked a little bit about money too. And not knowing much about adoption. I've heard about adoption agencies. Is that a recommended way that you would say to do it? I that my understanding of it is you pay somebody to help you adopt a child as opposed to going through the, I guess the state channels. Does that make sense or does that help?
Laura: Yeah, so our daughter was considered a private adoption and we paid for an attorney and for a home study, those were the fees. And of course the court costs, the filing fees and stuff, which were extremely minimal for her adoption only costs us $2,700.
Laura: And on the flip side, a friend of mine lives in St. Louis and she, she's actually adopted quite a few, four kids. And one of their first adoptions, they used an adoption, kind of like a headhunter. They paid $30,000 for a domestic adoption. And um, a lot of those were feat for the fact that there was an attorney in the state, the child was residing in and then the attorney in the state that they were residing in. So that was kind of like a double whammy there.
Laura: And then they had to pay for, um, birth mother expenses, adoption agency, and then they paid for the actual consultant. So there's ways to go around with it having to be so expensive. And then our boys, because it was through foster care DCS actually paid our attorneys. We chose the same attorney that we had for our first adoption and DCS paid her. And so that was really nice that it didn't cost us any money to finalize those two adoptions.
Laura: So in one of the myths I hear a lot of people say is like, Oh, I'm in the military, I can't foster, and that's a false hood.
Laura: You can be in the military and foster. So let's say that you PCs to an area and you know, okay, I'm going to be here for three years. You can start the foster care classes in this state that you're in and become licensed to foster. And one of the risks that you could happen is if you PCs to somewhere else. And let's say that you go to Germany and that child cannot leave the state because you, they're not, the adoption's not finalized or they're still in foster care. There's no TPR, Termination of Parental Rights. So then that child would then have to go to another foster family but can adopt. And there's a, there's a quite a few couples that I've met that have fostered and some have had some good experiences, some not so good experiences. Um, we had a great experience with foster care and it just really depends upon, you know, sometimes people, um, are going through an experience and they think like, this is it, this is, this is, this is the door I'm supposed to be knocking on. And really it was just supposed to be a learning experience.
Scott: Talking about military be in the military, you're not near, you're generally not near your family or extended family, you kind of constantly moving. Does that weigh negatively when adoption people make their choice?
Laura: I mean people move all the time clear across the country for jobs really. You know, the thing I would say to that is create your own network. It's not easy being parents without a network, you know, like, especially if you're, if you're working and it's like, okay, like I need some help. I need someone who I can rely on. Okay, well who's your network? Who's your tribe? Who can you find that can be the grandparents? You know, I have, I have a friend, she has four kids, um, here in Tennessee and she's originally from Nebraska. And she has adopted some of the older people in our community. And I see on Facebook all the time like, Oh, so and so went with their granddaughter or with her, her daughter for grandparent's day. And so it's creating that community even though they're not blood.
Laura: And, and I think that's really important, um, is creating that network of people for you. But yeah, people move all the time, you know, I mean, I'm, I'm originally from Illinois. I've had to create my own network of people in Tennessee because it was the, this intimidating, but you find the people that you can trust, that you can rely on. And for example, after my husband and I adopted our three kids, our middle child has some struggles and I was going to school and I was just like, I'm a religious person. So I was praying about I need to find a babysitter so that my husband and I can go on dates because honestly like this is really challenging. So the last day of school, he went to a school to help with his developmental delay and his preschool teachers like, Hey, I know this is kind of weird, but I just thought it would just tell you that I'd be interested in babysit for your kids, if you ever need a babysitter. I just put it like, reach over and give her a huge hug. Number one, she understood his special needs right. He understood how to handle him and, and what he was going. And so I was like, you're hired. Oh my gosh, you have no idea. And she is a Mary Poppins. She comes with a bag full of like amazing activities and, and kinesthetic sand and painting and coloring. And they go on little nature walks and they find like bugs and she's like such an amazing babysitter. My husband and I are like, Oh my gosh, we love Mary Poppins. So I, you know, was searching, actively searching for that group of people to help me be sane, number one, to develop that relationship with my spouse and keep that marriage alive. And, and I found her and I would never have asked my, my son's teacher to, to watch my children. I, and it would never have occurred to me. And so, you know, I really feel that people just need to ask
Scott: No, even myself, I have thoughts of doing stuff and it just, it's a fleeting thing. But if somebody would have asked me, it would have spurred it, I guess.
Scott: So we've kind of ignored the fertility side and talk now turn a little bit towards money. I was really surprised at how much fertility costs.
Laura: Yeah, isn't it crazy? Yeah. And you know, you could do IUI which are less invasive, doesn't cost as much, you know, maybe under $1,000. But you know what, if it costs you seven times to do IUI before you're successful. And for us, like we did a natural cycle IVF for the first three times just where you just get the one egg and then we finally, like we created multiple streams of income. That's how we saved up the money and through those multiple streams of income, like I had a rental house, my husband had interest in a business, we both were working full time jobs and then we sold some things and that's how we funded our IVF. And so we finally saved up enough for the full IVF cycle. Now looking back on it, time is what like caused me to do to them the natural cycle and money because like I have a hard time spending money. And so if I had just said, okay, listen, I'm going to just do the full cycle, just save up the money. Like yeah, it's going to take us a year and a half to do it, but just save up the money. I would have done that and then I also would have done a frozen transfer instead of a fresh transfer because it wasn't until we actually did a frozen transfer, they got that I got pregnant because your body has so much drugs in it, you're really miserable and so I, that's what I would do is just have saved up for the full blown IVF, gotten the eggs, got 'em fertilized, frozen, and then maybe two months later after I'm my body is recuperated then actually do the frozen transfer. That's what the, that I would do hindsight. But hindsight's the best site, you know? Yeah.
Scott: With fertility treatments, is there any breaks as far as taxes or anything like that that goes along with it? Grants or anything like that?
Laura: Yes. Yes. So I have a list of grants. I have 80 adoption grants and 20 fertility grants and there is specific military grants, um, that can help you with IVF and an adoption. If you are a service member. There's this program called compassionate care program and eligible active veteran or retired us military can receive a minimum of 25% off and you can get up to 50 to 75% off. When my husband and I did the full cycle IVF, we use the compassionate care program and we received 50% off. And that was a huge blessing because the medication for that full cycle is five grand.
Laura: So it only cost us 2,500 so whew. You know like, and what I, what I ended up doing was I used my credit card to purchase everything and to pay for the, the doctor, like the money where it's already saved up, but I used my points to then cash flows in and my husband and I would go on dates because you really need to go on dates during this whole experience. Super, super, super stressful. And so that's one program to help pay for the medication. And then of course the grants. I'll give you the link for the adoption grants and the fertility grants apply for and it's just a free download that I have. And then there's, you know, some military service members, I don't know how to pronounce it, but it's, it's Margareli Infertility in Colorado and they'll actually pay for your sperm freezing. It's a phrase freezing of your sperm for active duty service members. So that's most kind of a one super nice blessing for people. I already talked a little bit about the adoption reimbursement. One of the things that I did is I kept track of every time I traveled down to the fertility doctor I kept at mileage and then every time anything that had to do with fertility, like the sperm freezing, the egg transfer or the egg freezing, cause we froze some eggs for the next time. The medical doctor, the medication, all of that. I kept track of all of that. And then when I went to file my taxes, we had, you know, two cycles for IVF within that year period of time and if you, well at the time it was 7.5% of your medical needs. And so I was able to claim that on my taxes.
Scott: Oh wow. Yeah. It's like one of the first people I've ever really heard take advantage of that.
Laura: Yeah. So that's what I did. And then I also utilize the health savings account, which if on Tri-Care you're not eligible for a health savings account, you could look at, um, possibly a flexible spending account. But you gotta make sure you're, you know, paying that off, you know, and assuming that paying up, but utilizing it the year that you have it. So let's just a little caution there to think about.
Scott: Yeah, so, talk a little bit about, so what kind of questions would you look for to ask your CPA or tax preparer as you're getting into tax season, if you're in the middle of an adoption or consider adoption?
Laura: Yeah, so I did a podcast interview with our CPA and he did 20 tax questions. He answered 20 tax questions to ask your CPA.
Laura: And one of the things that I, he has suggested for us to do with, we had a traditional IRA and so you can claim the adoption tax credit and it's, it is a nonrefundable. So whereas a child tax credit is refundable. And so if you have a special needs adoption, so we did, we had no expenses for our boys, but we got to claim $26,000. And that was because it was a special needs adoption. And so what we did was we've rolled over our traditional IRA into our Roth IRA and went ahead and took the tax hit the adoption tax credit, wiped out that amount of money, and then we still got a tax return because of the child tax credit is refundable. So we got that. So that was just one of the things. Um, and then keeping track of the money that, so in regards to either adoption or fertility, it's just keeping track of everything. Yes. Travel somewhere. If you spend money on food, if you spend money on the hotel, any money that is associated with the adoption, keep track of it so that you can claim it on your taxes and your accountant. I highly recommend using an accountant when you're going through the adoption process and afterwards because yeah, it's great to file a 1040 easy, but you know, you know it's easy, right? But once you add that added layer of claiming and understanding what you can claim and, and the income exclusions that are associated with your adoption tax credit, what's categorized as special needs is this particular, can I use it in this year? How long, how many years can I use this adoption tax credit? So you can push the forward up to five, uh, five years and
Scott: It's like a Jedi mind trick, right there is using the refundable versus non-refundable and then transferring money to a Roth to take advantage of all the refundable or excuse me, nonrefundable plus the refundable, which I know I'm probably speaking Greek to most people, but that takes, that's like juggle and I don't know, 12 knives that that was just missing. One little thing would put you were a situation where you would lose potentially a lot of money.
Laura: Right? And the other thing I recommend is doing a year and tax review and some tax planning because you, it like, let's say it's like October, November of the year your adoption is finalized. This is the year you finally get to claim everything and you're looking at and you're like, okay, we'll, we'll be actually be able to claim that adoption tax credit. Like let's do some planning here over the next couple months so that if we need to move money somewhere, so we can take advantage of that. Um, how are we going to do that? Do we need to make sure we're, we're setting aside money somewhere else. So it's just, you know, making sure that you are utilizing every aspect of your taxes to claim it. So I definitely recommend having that year end tax planning, like October, November, December, somewhere in there. And then just a couple of questions you asked. And so for example, can I claim the child before the adoption is finalized? So if the baby's born in September and you brought him home from the hospital, can you claim that child? And then if you have a toddler and you adopt a toddler, can you claim them on your tax return? And the answer is yes for one and no for the other one. It depends actually upon what time of the year that child came to you. So if you adopt a toddler in April and that child was live with you for six months, yes, you can claim that child on your tax return because they came to you in April and they are living with you for the remaining like nine months. But if that's how it came to you in September, then you can't claim them even though you're adopting them. And then talking about adopting from foster care, if there's no adoption expenses, are you eligible for the adoption tax credits?
Laura: And can you claim a child that is in foster care on your tax return? And I do, I have a preparing financially for adoption course that I've been building. It's supposed to launch November 1st but I have a couple of forms inside there in regards to, let's say the child has a social security number or doesn't have a social security number and you are planning on adopting. And then once that child is adopted, making sure that they have a social security number. So there's a form you can fill out that that allows this child be claimed even if they don't have a social security numbers.
Scott: Okay. Speak a little bit about social security number. How do you, you know, kids coming from adoption situations might be in a situation where the former parent wants to take advantage of that social security number. How do you protect their security?
Laura: So the first thing I did because of my background in financial coaching, I made sure that as soon as, so you submit your adoption papers and you receive a new birth certificate with the child's new name and your names listed as parents. As soon as I got that I went to the social security office to change not only their name but also their social security number.
Scott: Oh you can do that! I didn't know you could change the number. Okay.
Laura: Yes, yes. For a child under the age of 12, so you know, going in there and you have to provide them your adoption tax papers and the new birth certificate and just check Mark why you want to do it. Adoption. Okay. No that's, and so that to me, I've met enough people in my lifetime who've had their identity stolen and I just didn't want to have my children experienced that. Like, Oh, I am 19 years old and I have terrible credit because someone has run up a bunch of credit card debt and gosh, I have some animosity towards my first mom or first dad because stolen my identity. You know, that's, I didn't want them to have that experience and I didn't know who had access to that. You know, there's caseworkers and there's court people and you know, there's former foster parents and so there's so many people who have access to that. Do I trust that everyone's going to be honest with that child? I don't know. Right. And so I didn't want to take that risk and so I just changed their name and their social security number.
Scott: Well yeah that's like I'd recommend them to a lot of my clients that if they have children that they potentially freeze their credit cause we're seeing clients come through that they get to time to go to college or high school and they go to take a loan and realize that somebody has been working off their credit for years now. They're not even doing anything there. There'll be, we'll give them a loan for anything to like freezing that credit will help prevent that.
Laura: Now one of the things, loans, I want to talk a little bit about loans if you wouldn't mind. So I know it's super tempting to borrow money for adoption and fertility. Like, like I get it because you have this almost a sense of panic. Like right? I'm never going to be able to have children. I'm 39 years old and your ti, your clock is ticking and, and um, so I know that there is definitely a temptation to borrow money, but I would caution you from borrowing all of the money.
Laura: You have to pay that money back.
Laura: And if you are borrowing money from your retirement account, like let's say you're a service and you have a 401k somewhere else and you go to borrow that money, well you have to pay that money back. And let's say you decide, you know what, I want to leave that company. Well you have a loan with that 401k and you have six months to pay that sucker back in. The other caution is right now you both might be working to save every single penny that you have to pay for adoption or fertility. Once you have that child in your care, will you continue to both work or will one of you stop working to care for that child? Can you afford that payments with just one income? And that is just a, a big caution I, I talk to people about, yes, you know, let's say that you have $20,000 already saved up and you get the call, Hey, you can be placed with the child tomorrow, but you need to make sure that you have the remainder of $2,500 or $5,000 whatever it is by tomorrow. And you're like, Oh my gosh, how are we gonna pay for this? Like, okay, put that into your spending plan. Can you afford to pay that $5,000 back? When could you have it paid back? Is it going to be a huge burden for you? And in that instance, once you've thought about how much money you're going to need and what the payment is, then yeah, you could borrow that. But I wouldn't borrow all 25,000 because it could be a huge financial burden to you and super stressful, you know, in regards to just seeing this personally. If I had borrowed $35,000 to do fertility and then had the miscarriage like I did, and then I've continued to make the payments on that 35,000 that would be so bitter. I would resent it and it would really cause some major contention in our marriage. I guarantee you have, because every time you make that payment, you think about it. I could've been a mom. You have this sense of like anger towards that money. And so that's another caution that I would say, Hey, you know, don't borrow all of that money if you, if you need it, because you're running up against like, Hey, you're gonna be placed tomorrow. Or okay, we're ready now. Consider that, I guess is what I'm hearing. Caution beware mama, Laura's coming out. That's just a little something that think about. And then also fun fundraisers. There's some awesome fundraisers out there that you can use to save up money. I have some free downloads for that of ideas of people that are like, um, what are some fun ways we could raise money? I interviewed a first Sergeant and she rented her house out for Airbnb and then she also had an international student live with her and she took that money to pay for fertility. I was like, man, that's awesome. What a great idea. Like it's passive enough that you know, here's, she has a first Sergeant and you know, active duty, so okay, her time's occupied so she can't necessarily come up with a second job. Definitely utilize the assets that she has, which was her home.
Scott: You could potentially almost make your home no cost to you if you rented enough.
Speaker 3: Right, right.
Scott: I've heard of people doing that as well. Renting out a half a home or whatever and tenants pay the whole note and all the insurance. They just kind of live there for free with the tenants. Talked a little bit, you know you've planned for the immediate future of working through the adoption. What kind of long term type family planning? Is it pretty much the same as traditional planning or are you, I mean I would imagine there's some differences when adopted.
Laura: So, once we finalize our adoptions, I made sure that we had a will set up and I went to my siblings and determined this is the sibling that I want and I, I talked to my older brother and asked him if he and his wife could be the guardians of our children if something were to happen to my husband and I and made sure that that was put in the will. And then one of the things like, especially if you have a special needs adoption, if that child receives social security, they can have assets in their name. So you need me, you set up a trust and name the trust as the beneficiary of any life insurance because if that money goes to the child, then it will affect them being able to receive any disability.
Laura: That's another thing to make sure that you're aware of and having your children after the adoption, you know, is it an open adoption? Is it a closed adoption? Like I have kept all of the documents from court because I believe in connection with your family. Obviously in our case it's not a good situation for the birth parents. It's not a safe situation I guess I should say. And so it is not encouraged to have that open relationship with the birth parents at this time. But with our, with our daughter, you know, her grandparents and I air quote "adopted" our boys and consider them their grandsons and they come over for holidays and birthdays and Christmas and Mother's Day and birthdays. I mean just they're actively involved like, Hey, Sunday dinner come on over and, and so that's um, you know, making sure that, that you have that, uh, into the will. So if you do or don't want birth family to be involved, make sure you put that in there so that whoever as received custody of your children after you pass, you know that they will continue to honor your request or your desires in regards to that. But other than that, everything is pretty normal in regards to estate planning and legal issues and things like that.
Scott: If you're going to run into, I think of adopting a child, maybe at some point the parents can, the blood parents I guess come back at some point and try to get the child back
Laura: Not after termination of parental rights.
Scott: Okay. So I guess that's probably not an issue then.
Laura: Yeah. And once, you know, once the adoption's final, it's final.
Laura: But they're, you know, there's a large movement of open adoption, you know, wanting to have that, that connection with your birth family. And I admire like so many people who do have that relationship. Children are not harmed by too much love. And so if you, if that person is, is a safe person and, and you know that, that they, they're not in to drugs or violence or things like that, then you know, having that relationship, like that child is not gonna be harmed by having too much love and yeah, you're going to have to deal with maybe some emotions of maybe some insecurities, but deal with it. I definitely experienced those insecurities at first with my daughter. But after I overcame those feelings of insecurity, it was like, this is great, this is fine. And I am friends with the grandparents and, and an aunt and um, you know, so it's really a great opportunity for our daughter to feel still feel connected with her first family.
Scott: Make's sense! So as we were closing out, what final piece of advice could you give to somebody going through adoption?
Laura: Make sure you set some goals when you want to accomplish it by and how much money you need to accomplish that goal and then create multiple sources of income to be able to accomplish that. I totally believe in debt free adoption. I totally believe in debt free fertility and I know it can happen and it does take some work, but you and your spouse are a team and you are there for each other. Create a weekly money date so that you can be sure that you're on the same page with each other and that you're reaching your financial goals. And again, make sure you're having those weekly date nights so that you keep the romance alive. I got to say, it's not very fun during fertility.
Scott: Yeah, I can imagine.
Laura: When it has to happen. So, so you know, creating that open communication with your spouse so that contention is lessened and make sure that you are strengthening that relationship that you have together. You're a team and as you add children, it's going to get even more stressful because there's going to be, you know, needs like staying up late, you know, waking up every two hours and you know, if you are a team it's like, okay, we can do this together.
Scott: Yeah, that's good advice just in general as well. How can listener's, you know, read up more about you obviously listen to your podcast.
Laura: Yeah, so my website is FamilyMoneyCoaching.org and I get super duper excited when people follow me on Instagram or Facebook, which is at Family Money Coaching. And like, I really like almost feel a little dance when I see like I got a new follower, I'm like, Oh yeah, you know, so I'll get pretty excited when people do that. And then, you know, listening to my podcast, some great interviews that we've had about, you know, interviewed a CPA about, you know, the questions that you need to answer, uh, have answered by CPA protecting your child's credit, how other people have actually raised the funds for adoption and fertility. Because that's a huge question on people's minds. And I am launching a second season, so I have about a dozen that I've taped and will be launching again on November 1st for national adoption month. You know, talking about our health savings accounts and how to utilize that and understanding life insurance and protecting your special needs child and their, their financial future. And so those are some of the topics that we've had and you know, some people who have saved up money and why they've saved up the money and how, how they've done it. So I'm really very excited about the second season for the podcast.
Scott: Well, thanks for coming on the show. We'll make sure to link to your podcast and website in the show notes.
Laura: Awesome. Sounds like a plan. Thank you so much for having me on.
Scott: Thanks. Have a good day. Thanks to Laura bringing this often misunderstood topic to the listeners that Sheepdog Financial Podcast. If you would like to contact Laura, please look her up on her website FamilyMoneyCoaching.org check out the show notes as there's some resources there to help you in your adoption and fertility goal. Next, again to Laura and thanks again to you listeners for listening to this show. Thank you for listening to Sheepdog Financial. Visit us online TrisuliFinancialAdvising.com for more military centered financial resources.