JOSH + SUSAN FOWLER
Adventure seekers // 15 years of marriage
5 kids // 2 businesses // We like living life to the fullest
Sometimes I shy away from blogging about things because I feel like I’m not qualified enough to talk about the subject. I don’t want to give tips on running a successful business because I only have experience from my own life. Marketing is the same—I know what has worked for us, but that doesn’t mean it will work for everyone (or anyone) else. And goodness… adoption? You would think after going through one ourselves I would feel a bit more qualified. But no, there are families who have gone through the process 4+ times with different countries. It’s a classic- the more I know, the more I realize I don’t know anything. Plus, there are so many people who are great about sharing things, I feel like everyone could just read their blogs!
But there’s something that only we can share, and that’s our story. Adoption + running a business is SCARY. It always felt impossible– in fact, we spent a good portion of our mentoring session with Katelyn James lamenting about how impossible it felt to grow our family while also building the business. That was when we were considering getting pregnant again and I was scared of being nauseous for another 8 months. I’ve shot a couple of weddings with pregnancy nausea and it wasn’t pretty. But adoption? How could we ever afford that? How could we afford to take two weeks off work to visit Europe twice? And how will we juggle another kid and bonding and work???
January 4, 2016 I saw the cutest little boy in an online profile. He lived in an orphanage in Eastern Europe and had esophageal atresia. I knew nothing about the medical condition, but knew he was our son and 11 months later it was legally official- the courts in his country declared his new name and created a new birth certificate naming us as his parents. His name is Zane.
And he needs surgery. A pretty major surgery– he doesn’t have an esophagus.
So here’s what we did. We looked at all the time off we would need/want, and all the expenses that were coming our way. We wrote it all out:
So… that’s kind of mind-numbingly scary, y’all. It just is. Truthfully, we didn’t know all of those numbers right at the beginning. We learned them over the course of 2016, but we did know that there would be medical costs and time off work for surgery.
Seeing everything written out helps so much. It’s a lot of money and time, but it’s important to face reality and plan. If we don’t, then our marriage, our kids, and our clients will suffer.
We prayed a lot, and decided that we would definitely need help. We set a goal to fundraise and apply for grants to cover the adoption and save for the medical expenses and to cover our time off work (and our friends, family and community came together to make it happen!!). Then we set to work and worked our flipping butts off in 2016! We knew we were overworking ourselves, but we also knew why. And our reason was so important, that we were okay with it.
I cannot stress enough how important it was for us to list those things out and talk about how we wanted to achieve them. The money was going to need to be paid no matter what, so ignoring it and hoping for the best wasn’t going to cut it. Knowing where we stood and how far we had to go to reach our goal took so much stress off of me. I knew that even if we didn’t hit our goals, then at least we were doing everything we could.
And would you believe that we did hit them? Well, we haven’t fully saved for the medical expenses, but they aren’t all due right away. A few weeks ago we found out that we might have an additional $21,450 in medical expenses this year. That was crazy disheartening, but I could rest in the knowledge that we were doing our absolute best, and at least we’d worked so hard last year to stay ahead of the game!
When you know where you’re at, where you’re headed, and you’re united with your spouse in the plan, it makes it so much easier to weather these storms.
As for work, we were able to both take two months off for parental leave. We did have to work some– we can’t just leave our clients hanging! But it was the slow season anyway, so we were able to work 10 hours a week each during that time. How incredible is that???? Two months of both of us only working 10 hours per week (each). It was pure magic. We were able to schedule as many doctor appointments as possible for Zane, spend hours (upon hours upon hours) on the phone with our insurance companies, doctors, patient advocates, etc. We went to Boston for a week for a surgery consult for Zane. We even managed to visit our families for a few days while Josh filmed in Atlanta. Having Zane meet the rest of his family was pure awesome.
If we hadn’t of planned, we wouldn’t have taken all that time off work guilt free. I know I would have beaten myself up because I “wasn’t working hard enough.” But instead I could quantify all that I’d done last year and knew that we had saved the money to pay our bills for two months while we adjusted to our new family and all the medical appointments.
And now? Now I can start working full time again guilt free because I know that I took two whole months off to invest with my family. It helped clear my head, let me know that I do, in fact, need to outsource a few things this year. And outsourcing those things means that I’ll have more time with my family. Maybe less money, but I’m okay with that.