Adoption can be expensive. It is also the perfect opportunity to receive support, financial and otherwise, and to learn a valuable lesson about parenting: you need help! We all need a village. Accepting support from your friends, family, and broader community allows them to be part of your journey.

This blog is written by Molly Gould, the adult child of a client we represented on an adoption. The resources section has additional ideas for fundraising, grants, interest-free loans for adoptions, and a couple of options if you need lodging while away from home.

Our family has had the opportunity twice to do adoption fundraising. In the fall of 2011, we were planning to adopt from Ethiopia. While this adoption did not end up going through, we did get great experience with adoption fundraising. We did fundraising again in 2015 when we adopted one of my youngest brothers domestically.

Our first fundraising event was a huge success. Friends from church hosted a lunch, concert, and silent auction inside a local recreation center one Sunday after church. One of the most important things we learned was to choose a space that can adequately hold more people than you expect. You never know if people will bring friends or extra family members. Also, it was nice to have space for visiting besides just around the food tables. We also learned how important it was for the venue to be appropriate for the crowd. Since this was a family-friendly event, it was a huge plus that the venue had a giant indoor playground structure where the kids could run and play.

Instead of setting a certain price for the meal, you can recommend a suggested donation. Donations typically bring in more than set prices! Remember, people come knowing that it is a fundraising event and are prepared to financially support you. Factor in what food you serve and how much that will cost. Some menus are definitely cheaper than others when it comes to feeding a crowd. And, again, consider your audience when you decide what to serve. Our menu was simple, and we served finger foods that were easy for kids to enjoy too.

Another helpful thing we did was have guests RSVP so that we at least had an idea of how much food to order. Ordering food without a rough headcount can either lead to not enough food, or too many leftovers, which wastes the money you’re trying to raise.

The silent auction was by far my favorite thing to help set up. At the time, we lived in Franklin, Tennessee, which has a wonderful historic downtown district with local shops, and restaurants. A small group of family friends and I got to walk around the downtown area and ask for donations to the silent auction. We also sent out emails to friends and family who owned businesses. You can’t have too many silent auction items, so be proactive in collecting them!

We did another fundraiser in 2015 after we completed a domestic adoption to bring home one of my younger brothers. A family friend designed a t-shirt for Angelman Syndrome awareness, a rare neurological disorder my brother has. We used bonfire.com as a platform to sell our shirts. The website made the process so easy, from uploading the design to an easy link to share on social media as well as shipping the shirts directly. There is no out-of-pocket expense to use the site. We were able to successfully sell these shirts to friends, family and the Angelman Syndrome community through Facebook support groups.

For our last domestic adoption in 2017, we hesitated to do any fundraising because we felt like we had already asked so much of our friends and family. Our pastor reminded us that not everyone feels like they should adopt but they want to be part of our adoptions. Some people can provide meals or other services to our family, but financial contribution is another way some people can support our adoptions. This adoption happened so quickly, we didn’t have time to do any fundraising initially. After my brother was placed with us, we contacted Lifesong For Orphans and set up a  crowdfunding page. Without an event or anything to sell, friends and family still generously donated! Once we got home, we sold coffee through Gobena at a church Christmas market.

We had one friend go above and beyond! She offered to make key lime pies for her friends in exchange for a donation to our adoption. She asked for a minimum donation of $20, but some people paid as much as $100 for a pie! Not only did she raise money from mutual friends, but her other friends (total strangers to us) were supporting our adoption!

Finally, “fundraising” isn’t always about cash. While we were out of town getting my brother, several of my mom’s friends gathered clothes, diapers, a crib and other baby necessities that were waiting for us when we got home with him.

Here are a few other resources for adoption fundraising:

  • You Can Adopt Without Debt is a book by Julie Gumm with lots of great ideas.
  • Help Us Adopt is a grant program for adoptions.
  • Gift of Adoption Fund is a grant program for adoptions.
  • Abba Fund offers both grant funding and interest-free loans for Christian families seeking to adopt.
  • Sacred Selections is a grant program for adoptions limited to Christian couples.
  • Angel Fund is a grant program for adoptions.
  • A Child Waits offers adoption grants and loans for international adoption.
  • Oxford Adoption Foundation offers low interest loans to assist with the expenses of adoption.
  • Parenthood For Me provides financial and emotional assistance for those starting families through adoption and medical intervention.
  • Ink to the People produces tee-shirts and other products to help fund adoption.
  • Puzzle piece fundraisers allow people that want to support you to contribute financially and have a special place in the nursery.
  • Adopt Together is a crowdfunding platform for adoption.
  • Adoption Tax Credit allows you to apply your tax liability for up to five years toward certain adoption expenses. The limit changes every year. Stepparent adoptions do not receive this benefit. Maintain your receipts.

Many cities have free or discounted housing for prospective adoptive families that are away from home because the child hasn’t been discharged from the hospital or they are waiting for approval to travel from ICPC. In Nashville, Tennessee, housing options include:

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