Lifestyles

Julie Gumm: Author, adopter and achiever

MWhen God set the idea of adoption on the heart of Julie Gumm, she knew the journey she and her husband Mark would face would come at a price. Literally. What Gumm didn’t know was that her adoption story would lead to her becoming a best-selling author.

As avid fans of financial-guru Dave Ramsey, the couple was determined to complete their adoption debt-free.

“We are big believers in living without debt,” Gumm said. “The Bible doesn’t say debt is a sin. There are verses on how to handle your money, but most of the warnings are on how you spend your money is a direct reflection of your heart and your priorities.”

Gumm said that, while you can take out a loan for an adoption, it dismisses other opportunities.

“It sort of short changes God the chance to work and the opportunity for other people to get involved in your story.”

Six years ago, the couple brought a sibling-duo, ages 6 & 8, home from Ethiopia, debt-free.

With a biological child of their own in kindergarten at the time, Gumm said that adopting older children was their intention from the beginning.

“There’s such a need for families being willing to adopt older kids,” Gumm said. “And then we kind of thought, ‘If we’re already bringing home one, why not two?’”

When Gumm’s friend told her that she should write a book about her adoption, Gumm doubted the potential her story had.

“Every writer wants to write a book,” Gumm said. “I just thought there was nothing extraordinary about our adoption, especially in comparison to some.”

Gumm recalled the story of a friend who went to Ukraine to adopt a child.

“She ended up getting stuck in the Ukraine for about a year,” Gumm said. “Her story would read like a Jason Borne novel, and mine seemed so tame in comparison.”

With some encouragement from friends and family, Gumm decided to write and self-publish her book with a focus on how she and her husband were able to adopt debt-free.

“I was invited to speak at a conference in May of 2011, so that kind of became my deadline for doing the book,” Gumm said. In a span of two weeks, she was able to complete her book, “Adopt Without Debt.”

“I took a week off of work and wrote about 14 hours per day,” Gumm said.

The book was completed in time for her conference and only one month later, Gumm was asked to speak on Dave Ramsey’s radio show.

“It was really cool for me because getting debt free is what helped lead to our adoption. God opened our eyes to the need and how we needed to spend our money,” Gumm said.

Ramsey continued to cite Gumm’s book on his radio show any time someone calls in with a question about adoption.

“My husband and I get texts from friends all the time telling us, ‘Oh, Dave just talked about Julie’s book again,’ and it’s still crazy to me.”

More recently, Dave Ramsey and his daughter co-wrote a book: “Smart Money, Smart Kids.” In it he mentions Gumm’s book again.

With an endorsement from Dave Ramsey and feeling as though she had reached her marketing potential, Gumm decided it was time to have her book published through a publishing house.

Gumm teamed up with Abingdon Press in Feb. of 2013, which led to nearly a year-long series of edits and back-and-forths between the editors and Gumm.

“My self-published book was really just our story and how to pay for adoption, but [Abingdon Press] didn’t have any adoption book in their catalog already, so they wanted it to be more of a full-service adoption book,” Gumm said. “I had to add about 7 more chapters.”

In January, just under a year later, Gumm’s book was released.

Gumm said she will occasionally get questions or messages from readers and she will read reviews of her book on Amazon. Her most valued connections, though, are those where she is able to realize she played a part in something bigger than herself.

She recalled her friend Mandy Moore, assistant professor of business at John Brown University, contacting her about an encounter she was having with a group of women talking about Gumm’s book and its influence on their adoptions.

“She said, ‘Do you realize how many children you have helped put in forever families?’” Gumm said.

“My self-published book sold about 2,800 copies. If that represents one child per book – I got to play a part in that.”

Gumm offered advice for anyone working towards a goal.

“Ignore the voices in your head and listen to the voices around you,” she said. “Having people around you with positive voices is crucial.”

“I have friends who still text me and ask me how my book sales are going or how I’m doing,” Gumm said. “We have to listen to those positive voices around us and block out the negative voices in our heads.”

Gumm and her husband have four children ages 15, 15, 14 and 12; two adopted and two biological. She now works in university communications as a staff writer and social media manager. Her new book, “You Can Adopt Without Debt,” is available now.