Financing Your Adoption
This is Part Nine of a series on Adoption called Everything I Want You to Know About Adoption. To see the links to each individual post in this series, click the “adoption” tab on the nav bar at the top of the blog, or click here.
One afternoon in the early spring of 2001, I looked out the window and spotted Jon walking up the driveway. Which was strange, because it was about 2 PM, and Jon doesn’t much come home at 2 PM. He walked through the door, his eyes welled up with tears and he said,
“I just lost my job.”
As you can imagine, he was devastated. We both were. At that time, I was a stay-at-home mom taking care of our 2-year-old, and Jon was our sole financial provider. On top of that, we were on a waiting list to adopt a baby boy—which meant without any notice whatsoever, we would need about $15,000 to fund the remainder of our adoption expenses.
Company cut-backs are ALWAYS bad timing. But for us, the timing couldn’t have been worse. Without a job, no social worker would place a newborn into our home. Without a job, there was no feasible way for us to pay bills and still save enough to cover the cost of our adoption.
Or so we thought.
After we cried out to God and questioned what was going on, we pulled ourselves together and set out to do the best we could under the circumstances.
Jon’s employer offered him a severance package to help cover our expenses until he found another job. We chose to bank that money and live off our savings for as long as we could. (Thankfully, we had an emergency fund. I always knew I would be stay-at-home mom, so for the two years prior to having our first child, we lived on only one income and banked the other to build that fund.)
For the next 3 months, we lived as frugally as possible while Jon sought to find a new job. No new clothes. No eating out. No babysitters or vacations. No movie theaters or Target trips. I discovered the art of coupon-clipping and cooking chicken on-the-bone.
Which is much cheaper than boneless, skinless chicken breast, by the way.
Which we still affectionately call “Ain’t Got No Job Chicken.”
After 3 months of radical scrimping, Jon’s previous employer (the one who had let him go) suddenly offered Jon a new position with the same company. A higher position, with better pay. And because of all our crazy frugal living, we were able to survive without ever once touching the severance pay, which still sat in the bank.
Which totaled $15,000.
Which happened to be the exact amount we needed to fund the remainder of our adoption.
Which happened about a month later.
Losing your job. That’s ONE creative way to fund an adoption. Or not. Five years later when it came time to fund Elliana’s $35,000 adoption, we did the same thing (minus the job loss). God had already proven to us the power of paying attention to our finances and living frugally. Except this time we kicked everything up a notch, we did it for a full year AND got our children involved.
I remember many times explaining to a whiny kid that the money we save by NOT purchasing that new (fill-in-the-blank) would help bring his/her new little sister home from Guatemala. Our children (then ages 7 and 5) handled it beautifully. They felt like they had a hand in adopting their new baby sister—and they did!
The biggest deterrent for most couples wanting to adopt is the financial burden. Many of us, no matter how much Ain’t Got No Job Chicken we roast, we will never be able to squeeze enough money out of the budget to pay for it.If that is you, I’ve compiled a list of ideas for financial assistance to fund your adoption.
1. This is not a comprehensive list—there are many MORE organizations out there offering grants than what I have listed, if you do the research.
2. I have not personally checked the accuracy of the information provided (websites, phone numbers, etc).
3. I have not personally checked the financial integrity of the organizations listed—do your homework before you dive in.
4. I’m all about striving to live completely debt-free. So, even though some of these suggestions I mention involve interest-free loans, those would not be my first choice. But that’s just me.
Do This First!
1. Choose a Less Expensive Route
You can adopt older children (less expensive than infants) or go through a governmental agency/state foster care system (free, PLUS you receive foster care payments, attorney fees, WIC, mileage reimbursement, clothing vouchers, and day care and medical services while the children are in your care. You also receive a monthly stipend and medical benefits until the children are 18.)
2. Check Your Benefits Package With Your Employer.
Many employers offer to offset the burden of adoption finances by reimbursing you for qualifying expenses. If you work for Verizon, for example, you are eligible to receive $10,000!
3. Federal Adoption Tax Credit
Parents who finalized an adoption last year may claim a maximum credit of $13,170 for adoption expenses on their federal income tax returns. The tax credit phases out for taxpayers with high modified adjusted gross incomes. The tax credit has recently been extended until the end of 2011, and proposals to make that benefit permanent have received much legislative support.The credit may be allowed for the adoption of a child with special needs even if you do not have any qualifying expenses.
Note: This is a tax CREDIT, not just a deduction. That means, the federal government sends you a check for reimbursement for qualifying expenses in your federal income tax refund, once your adoption is finalized. For some, it may cover the cost of the entire adoption!
For more information, see the instructions for Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses. Internal Revenue Service
Phone: Toll-Free, 1-800-829-1040
Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. your local time
4. Check Military Benefits
The military has resources for adoptive families not available elsewhere. Active Military Families are eligible for a one-time adoption assistance subsidy program of up to $2,000 per child or $5,000 for sibling groups. These reimbursements and benefits are provided to single or married adopting parents, and can be used for domestic or international adoptions. For more information on the program, click here: http://www.militaryfamily.org/your-benefits/adoption/
Real Life Examples of Creative Adoption Fund-Raising
1. My friend Katy is in the process of adopting a child from China. When I asked her for ideas for adoption fund-raising, she said, “I have a prayer journal for our child in China. Whenever we need money to pay the agency or government, I ask God for that amount of money. So far, He has sent it promptly well before it is due. The one fundraising thing I would recommend is reading George Muller’s autobiography right when you start. It will fill you with faith to ask God to pay every penny because he cares for the fatherless and owns all the money on the planet. Muller never asked one person for money. He would only ask God and was able to care for thousands of orphans.”
2. Some couples refinance their homes at a lower interest rate and bank the difference they save in their monthly house payment. Now is a great time to do that, since interest rates are at a record low.
3. Try lowering your insurance rates by raising your deductable. Negotiate new rates for cell phone, internet and long distance—then bank the extra.
4. Work extra jobs or overtime. Have older children cut grass and babysit to contribute to the “adoption fund.”
5. Ask your pastor: Many churches set up adoption funds for families wishing to adopt. Churches are notoriously generous with this type of thing.
6. Sell Your Stuff: Yard sales, Ebay, Craig’s List, consignment. Put out a big ‘ole sign that says, “We are trying to fund our adoption” with a picture of your child, if you have one. I’ve heard of generous donors writing checks on the spot, and not buying anything.
7. Sell Other People’s Stuff: Ask your friends to donate unwanted items for you to sell. Ask businesses to donate large items or services and hold a silent auction. I have personally donated our stuff to couples who were looking to sell it for their adoption.
8. Plan a Fundraiser: My son’s Taekwondo instructors adopted a boy from Taiwan last year. As a fundraiser, they hosted a “Kick-a-Thon” and asked participants to get pledges. You could plan a walk-a-thon, bike-a-thon or a spaghetti dinner at your church. You could ask for food donations and hold your silent auction after your spaghetti dinner! One couple I read about trained for a marathon asked for sponsors–they raised $27,000!
9. Make Your Need Known: Write a letter, send a mass e-mail, post it as your Facebook status. Many people are happy to give to adoptive families when they know there is a need. Jon and I have made it a practice to help every couple we know who is trying to raise funds to adopt. There are other people like us. One woman made a brochure talking why she wanted to adopt a child from Russia and put it in the hands of every person she knew—and didn’t know! It got into the hands of a generous donor who gave her a $20,000 check.
Adoption Grants, Loans and Matching Programs
The Abba Fund
P.O. Box 78800
Charlotte, NC 28271-704
They provide financial assistance for parents who believe that God is calling them to grow their families through adoption and need help with the “cash flow crunch” posed by adoption expenses. The ABBA Fund also will help churches establish adoption funds.
Christian Advocates for Adoption, Inc. (CAFA)
P.O. Box 364
Hudsonville, MI 49426-0364
This organization works with Christian couples. They start with a home study and application that is reviewed by CAFA board members. Then they send funding packets to clients who contact friends, family and acquaintances requesting help with the costs of the pending adoption. As a 501(c) 3 ministry donations to CAFA are tax deductible. Money is then distributed to our clients for use in paying for the adoption.
Gift of Adoption Fund, Inc.
P.O. Box 567
Techny, Illinois 60082
Phone: 847-205-2784 or toll-free at 877-905-2367
The Gift of Adoption Fund provides grants to families with financial need who are seeking to adopt.
God’s Grace Adoption Ministry
P.O. Box 4
Modesto, CA 95353
Phone: (209) 572-4539
God’s Grace Adoption Ministry is a non-profit organization helping adoptive parents overcome the financial burden of adopting children. It is not an adoption agency, but rather works in cooperation with the agency to assist the family with their financial needs. Depending on the individual family needs, financial assistance is available in the form of grants and interest free loans.
P.O Box 20435
New York, NY 10021
Web site: http://www.helpusadopt.org
HelpUsAdopt.org is a national non-profit 501 (c) 3 financial assistance grant program that will provide qualified couples and individuals with grants of up to $15,000 towards their adoption expenses. Grants are awarded twice a year in June and December.
His Kids Too!
219 B. Delta Court
Tallahassee, FL 32303
Web site: http://www.hiskidstoo.org
His Kids Too, a 501(c)(3) charity, is a grant program designed so that your friends and family can assist you financially with adoption costs. Donors make tax-deductible donations to His Kids Too, and adoptive families apply for a grant from the funds generated by donors. The benefit of this program is that you are in control of your fundraising efforts and donors will have complete confidence that donations will go directly towards adoption expenses.
Kingdom Kids Adoption Ministries
1417 N. Lincoln
Spokane, WA 99201
Web site: http://www.kingdomkidsadoption.org
Determination of grant amounts is based on a combination of the needs of the child, cost of the adoption, financial situation of the family and fundraising efforts.
Lifesong for Orphans
202 N. Ford St.
Gridley, IL 61744
Web site: http://www.lifesongfororphans.org
Lifesong for Orphans offers a “matching grants” program as well as interest free loans.
National Council for Adoption (NCFA)
225 N. Washington Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: (703) 299-6633 or toll-free at 1-888-628-7700
Web site: http://www.adoptioncouncil.org/finance.html
NCFA desires to financially assist families with adoption. In conjunction with Bank of America, NCFA offers an Adoption Line of Credit.
Our Creator’s Hope, Inc.
939 Cedar Bend Rd S
Southside, AL 35907
Web site: http://www.ourcreatorshope.com
Our Creator’s Hope believes that going into debt to give a child a home should not be necessary, so based on fund availability, OCH awards financial grants in the amount of $1,000-$10,000 to qualified families for domestic and international adoptions.
PO Box 647
Franklin, TN 37065
Web site: www.showhope.org
Awards financial adoption grants to qualified families already in the process of adopting. The size of the grant awarded is determined by several factors, the most important being need.
Boatner Family Foundation
This foundation provides grants from $1,000 up to $10,000. They require an agency approval, a financial statement, and a formal application. P.O. Box 132272, The Woodlands, TX 77393
The National Adoption Foundation
Christian Advocates for Adoption
Ibsen Adoption Network (Washington Only)
HFLA-Hebrew Free Loan Association
WHATEVER YOU DO, Do NOT Fund Your Adoption This Way!
No matter how desperate you are for money, it is never a good idea to take out a crazy high-interest loan or risk losing your car or your home for the sake of an adoption. Payday Loans, Title Loans, and using your mortgage Payments or rent payments may seem like an easy way to get quick money, but
these options will just get you into deeper financial trouble in the end. Also, don’t pile up debt by putting your adoption costs on a credit card, no matter how low the interest rate. Adding to your family while you are in a financial hole is far from ideal–and totally unnecessary. There are many wonderful, honest ways to fund your adoption that will NOT put you in a bigger financial strain.
What did I miss? What other creative ways could you/did you raise money to fund your adoption?
Resources for this post:
And my own personal life and the lives of my adoptive friends
Another tip – enter contests! A friend of a friend entered a contest on Facebook. A local Mortage company was giving away 25,000 dollars. You just had to post a video and gather votes to qualify. They did not win the money, but they had the highest number of votes. They got a second place cash prize of 2000. And since so many were touched by their story of 3 failed adoption attempts, the mortgage company set up an online fund for people to make donations. An early count said they had already raised
$600. From strangers on Facebook!
Anyway, they ended up adopting a boy this summer.
Kelly S. What a wonderful option. I didn't even know there were such contests.
Appealing information you have provided. It gained me more knowledge and idea. Please keep up the good because i like the way you are writing. Thanks!