Adoption Fundraising: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Should you considering fundraising for your adoption?

Sarah M. Baker July 11, 2015
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It’s no secret that private adoptions are typically very costly, often ranging from $10,000-$50,000. The journey to parenthood usually doesn’t require so much in your savings account, so it makes sense that a lot of hopeful adoptive parents consider fundraising to cover their adoption costs. It is important to realize that fundraising for your family growing can be complicated and perceived differently by each person you talk to about it. Even in adoption support communities, the simple question of “How do you feel about fundraising for adoption?” can get varied responses and sometimes even spark arguments and hurt feelings. Why is it such a hot topic? Because like anything else, people have formed opinions based on preferences, experience, comments, feelings, and education.

Many couples suffering from infertility have tried costly fertility treatments that failed and were never covered by insurance or refunded. This can be devastating to a couple who just wants to be parents and are left with an empty bank and empty arms. Turning to fundraising may be their next option. Even if you never had any of those costly treatments and just went straight for adoption, your bank account might not have the money you need for adoption.  So what are your options?

  1. Fundraising with Sales: The most common and most favored type of fundraiser seems to be that of the kind in which the donator gets something in return. Whether you and making crafts, baking goods, selling a service, or hosting a direct sales party, sales with proceeds going to your adoption are often better received. When the item is something that your friend, family member, or coworker would likely buy anyhow, that’s an added bonus!
  2. Garage Sales: Often people will host sales of items they already own to kill two birds with one stone. They get to declutter and make money at the same time—it’s a win-win! Many people will take it one step further and ask around to friends and family if they, too, have items they’d like to donate to the garage sale. Many people don’t have the time or energy to put into selling their unwanted items. If they have a pile collecting dust waiting to be dropped off to Goodwill, you can offer to take it off their hands and use it to make more money at your sale. If you chose to advertise your yard sale as an adoption fundraiser, beware: I once heard that a neighbor had the gall to say to a child many years down the road, “I bought a shirt at your parent’s adoption fundraiser, I helped pay for you.” Can people really be that tacky?
  3. Online T-Shirt Sales:  With no upfront investment required, some companies, like Bonfire Funds, will allow you to choose a catchy design and host a limited-time sale of shirts in which a portion of the proceeds will go to your fund. This method is fun because it can also serve as an adoption education tool and, if your design is adoption-themed, can help spread adoption awareness. People who love and support your journey will wear their shirt with pride!
  4. Baby Bottle Donations: Some people are adamantly against asking directly for money, so others have found cute ways to make it less about their wants and more about the child they hope to adopt. One way I have seen people do this is by buying a few dozen inexpensive baby bottles and passing them out to friends and family and asking them to consider saving their change in these bottles and donating them to bringing their baby home.
  5. Crowd Funding: Some people have no problem asking for money directly from anyone and everyone they know. There are many websites out there that allow people to set up donation platforms for any cause you can think of. Opening up your adoption fund to anyone may hit the jackpot, but it also may leave you feeling hurt or rejected if people do not donate. You also open yourself up to criticism from people who find it offensive.

Fundraising may be a great way to share your adoption plans with your friends and family, but it also opens you up to a lot of intrusive questions, people feeling entitled to know more details than you may wish to share or making inappropriate comments and judgements.  If you chose to fundraise for your adoption there will be those who willingly donate or purchase something from every fundraiser you host without question, but there will be others who scrutinize your life and every penny you spend.  They may question why you are taking your yearly vacation, buying a new car, going out to eat or not taking on a second job.  They may feel the need to point out their observances to you and you may get your feelings hurt by their blunt opinion being shared.  When we ask for assistance we also seem to be asking for unsolicited advice; only you can decide if you are prepared for that part of the package.

Take your fundraising in stride and make decisions by weighing the outcome prior to putting the adoption fundraising plan into action.  Before you commit to an agency or lawyer, do your homework and find one that has reasonable fees and works ethically.  Put your best foot forward with savings, hard work, time and other creative avenues. Do some research and decide if fundraising for your adoption is the best option for coming up with the money. Learn more in our Adoption Fundraising Guide.

How do you plan to fund your journey or how did you pay for your adoption?

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Sarah M. Baker

Sarah is a Staff Storyteller for Adoption.com and passionate about teaching others the power of open adoption. She is very active in the adoption community, where she spends a lot of time advocating as the founder of Heart For Open Adoption. She is the mom of two boys in addition to parenting her niece. She is a mother biologically and through domestic infant open adoption. Sarah promotes adoption education and ethical adoptions. She and her husband were featured on Season 2 of Oxygen’s “I’m Having Their Baby,” which tells the story of their first adoption match failing. Sarah hopes to bring her personal experience to you and help anyone who wants more information about adoption to find it with ease. Though it was once a taboo subject, Sarah hopes to make adoption something people are no longer afraid to talk about. You can learn more about Sarah and her family on her blog.


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