Guest post written by Becky Fawcett of helpusadopt.org
Adoption is expensive. No matter who you are. No matter where you live. Statistics say an average adoption is $30,000 and in order for that to be the average you know it means that many adoptions cost a lot more than that and many cost a lot less. I am one of the statistics that skews the average on the high side. I am adoptive mother and my first domestic adoption (2005) cost $40,000 including travel and my second domestic adoption (2009) cost $63,000 including travel. You might be trying to add these figures in your head to say wow this poor girl spent an arm and a leg to build her family. And yes I did. But what I have just told you is just the beginning, or rather the middle, of my story on affording adoption.
I’m infertile. Seriously infertile. Infertile to the tune of 5 rounds of IVF in my early 30s, 3 pregnancies, and 3 miscarriages. One at 16 weeks, one at 12 weeks and one at 10 weeks. Infertile to the tune of ruining every holiday, every birthday, every everything. And to add insult to injury, we spent $82,000 on non-insurance covered medical bills. Even as I write this today, ten years later, these numbers make my stomach flutter.
My husband was ready to adopt before I was. I struggled for a long time about what closing the biological door would mean to me, but in the end (after the 5th round of IVF and the 3rd miscarriage) I put my fears aside and opened the door to adoption. I had no idea that once I opened that door not only would I eventually lose my heart to my two children and their birthmothers, but that I would go on to create a national 501c3 adoption grant organization that would help others build their families. Another very important fact to note, especially when it comes to a blog called “affording adoption,” was that we had exactly $40,000 left in our savings account. Money, even though I hate to say it, played a part in our decision because we had to make a sensible one.
As my husband Kipp and I started our adoption “Journey to Jake” in 2005 I felt the need to ask “what happens to those who can’t afford adoption?” I kept wondering “what if you had spent everything you had on unsuccessful infertility treatments or couldn’t even go down the IVF road?” Who could this group of people turn to for help with the costs of adoption? The answers I found were deeply concerning. Either a) people entered a world of financial ruin that they might never climb out of to bring their child home or b) they lived a childless life NOT by choice. Those answers were unacceptable to us. Once Jake was home and we were settled in, my thoughts returned to those in need, and I began to research existing adoption grant organizations. My research was met with mission statements full of discrimination. The existing organizations defined family, defined adoption, defined religion, charged their applicants to apply and awarded small grants that did not, in my opinion, solve problems and put children in homes. It was at that moment that Kipp and I decided to create Helpusadopt.org, an organization whose mission focused on equality —it was time to change the landscape of adoption grants.
In 2007, Helpusadopt.org launched as the nation’s only adoption grant organization that doesn’t define family, doesn’t define adoption, doesn’t require an application fee, and awards large, life changing, problem solving grants up to $15,000 that put children in homes. This dream began as a kitchen table organization in our Manhattan apartment in the summer of 2007 with the remainder of our savings. I was still working full time as a publicist and about to start our 2nd adoption (my “Journey to Brooke”). Kipp and I felt we were building something significant but cautiously guarded our expectations knowing that even with our money alone we could help one or two families a year and that would make a difference. But within in days of the announcement letter arriving in friends’ and families’ mailboxes, the first donation check arrived from a friend who knew our struggle: “We believe! Good Luck! We’re in for the duration.” And so it began…there were more checks to follow. Slowly and surely over the past 6 years, our kitchen table organization grew to need three full time employees and a midtown office. As for the donation checks? Well, since our launch in 2007 we’ve helped to build 81 families nationwide by awarding $670,000 in adoption grants. In early December, Helpusadopt.org will award another $100,000 in adoption grants.
So I write this today at 43. I am a little older, a lot wiser, and very aware of the world around me. I am the proud mamma to Jake (8) and Brooke (4). Helpusadopt.org is still the only organization of its kind by definition of our mission statement, non discriminatory practices and the fact that we do not charge our applicants to apply. I continue to donate my time as full time executive director as part of my philanthropic contribution to the cause. I am committed to this cause and have made it my life’s work to help others afford their adoptions. I am aware of the extreme financial efforts that couples and individuals make on a daily basis to add to their adoption funds and while I applaud them for their efforts, my wish in life is that people wouldn’t have to resort to such drastic financial measures as cashing out their 401K, putting their adoption expenses on credit cards, selling their family heirlooms and even selling their home. Emptying our savings twice was nerve wracking enough but as I realize every day of my life, it was there to empty and that makes me one of the lucky ones. Many tell me “you are lucky you were able to afford it”…..and yes, I was. But if adoption is your only option to parenthood and you are concerned with “affording it,” what I think about every day is how can you afford not to? It is for this reason Helpusadopt.org is dedicated to helping others build their families through adoption, one grant at a time.
In response to their own adoption experience, Becky and her husband Kipp founded Helpusadopt.org (2007) in order to help couples/individuals overcome the financial hurdles they meet along the way to completing their own adoptions. Since its launch in 2007, Helpusadopt.org has helped to build 81 families by awarding $670,000 in adoption grants. Becky serves as executive director on a pro bono basis. Helpusadopt.org has received national media recognition from TODAY, CNN, NBC News, People Magazine, Redbook, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post (and more) for its groundbreaking work in the adoption world. Becky lives in Manhattan with her husband and two children and is the author of An Infertile Blonde (www.aninfertileblonde.com).