They say it takes a village to raise a child. But it may just as well take a select few to prepare that village beforehand. When it comes to adoption, however, preparing the village can be especially tricky. As you begin the process, you’ll understandably desire your friends and family to be on the same page in understanding what you’ve been learning at a rapid pace. And since no one really wants to be lectured at, regardless of how much they support you, there are a number of fun and engaging ways to keep your community informed and educated, as well as ways that simultaneously can provide opportunities to raise adoption funds. Here are a few my wife, Tara, and I found to be the most successful.
Keep a Running Blog
The very first entry on the Atchison Adoption Story was basically a verbal unloading of who we were, our infertility situation, and what we were learning (and fearing) at the start of our first adoption journey. We talked about the overwhelming finances involved and invited our community to partner with us (i.e., donate to our online adoption fund). As we continued to navigate the uneven terrain, the blog became, for us, much more than a tool to raise money. It served as a cathartic outlet to share our joys, frustrations, insecurities, and triumphs. We blasted it out to our entire social network and were really touched to learn along the way how many people were tracking with us and, more than anything, we always loved hearing from those who learned something new from one of our entries. After all the lead-up, setbacks, and ongoing steps, I’ll never forget the entry in which we got to finally gush about our first daughter’s homecoming.
Do a Baby Bottle Fundraiser
The object of this one is to purchase a bunch of cheap baby bottles, hand them out to a group of faithful folks in your community, and ask them to fill them with spare change (or any currency of their choice) over a set period of time before returning them to you. Side note: keep a list of who you give bottles to as it’s super easy for both parties to forget and lose track. We handed them out to 80 people and raised $2,800 this way—yep, people can be super generous. Just as important, this gave us the platform to chat one-on-one about adoption with almost every person who took a bottle.
Partner with a Local Restaurant
Who doesn’t like good food for a good cause? As the residents of a Philadelphia neighborhood full of many excellent dining establishments, Tara and I never have a shortage of great places to go out to eat. As we enjoyed brunch out one day, we struck up a conversation with the restaurant’s owner about our adoption story and she offered to work with us to have an adoption-themed day, with 10 percent of the restaurant’s total earnings that day going toward our adoption fund. We spread the word and our friends and acquaintances from near and far came and filled their stomachs, supported a local family-owned restaurant, and played a small part in helping us adopt a baby. Overall, it felt a bit like our wedding day as we went from table-to-table expressing our gratitude and talking to everyone about our adoption experiences and all we’d been learning.
Hold a Benefit Concert
I won’t lie—this was a bit of a chance for me to get up on stage with a few of my talented friends and be (wannabe) rock stars for a couple hours. If this isn’t your ambition, I trust that somewhere in your network are one or two exceptional musicians who may be willing to perform for a night to support awareness of your adoption. On this night, my favorite song to play for our faithful crowd of supporters was one I wrote called “Little Girl, Little Boy,” a ballad about my future children. Unlike a couple having a biological child, the waiting game for us looked a lot different. We weren’t able to look at any ultrasound pictures or feel anything kicking inside Tara’s belly (that didn’t result from bad tacos or something). Still, the point of the song was that we still felt a tremendous amount of love for our eventual kids and simply looked forward to all the things we were going to do and experience with them. SPOILER: we ended up adopting two girls, so at some point, I’ll need to update the song.