Top 5 Questions You Get When You Finance Your Adoption Through Fundraising

Prepare yourself with answers to these adoption fundraising questions.

Jennifer S. Jones July 25, 2017

My first year out of college I found myself living on an artist commune. With a BA in theater and a minor in Sociology and Medieval Studies in tow, on paper I was qualified to perform socially relevant plays about Joan of Arc. One of my jobs at the compound, along with making the meals, manning the box office, and doing 10 shows a week, was to fundraise. I would troll the street of our Philadelphia suburb knocking on doors, selling ad space, tickets to fundraisers, and season passes. Sometimes I would go in costume. Sometimes I would dress in my 21-year-old mind’s version of “professional garb.” But I was a success. Our company survived on grants and donations and I made sure we received both in spades.

Convincing someone to give money to an arts company was easy. But fundraising for an international adoption? The first time someone asked me “Why spend money on adoption?” I was so caught off guard. I turned beet red, sputtered a response, and made a beeline for the exit. Months later I became a pro at responding to people’s inquiries. Some questions were deeply personal. Some were genuinely interested. And still some were borderline offensive. But with each inquiry I tried to raise awareness.


How Much Will It Cost?
1. How Much Will It Cost?

Doing downward dog at a yoga class a friend asks: “Wait. I forget. How much is it to buy your son?” Well my son doesn’t cost anything, but the process can run the gamete. When we first decided to adopt I took a poll of our family and friends to see how much they thought our adoption from China would cost. The response was between $5,000 and $10,000. I wish! According to a report generated in November 2016 by Child Welfare Information Gateway, private agency domestic adoption (i.e. adoptions which took place outside the public welfare system) ranged from $20,000 - $45,000. Intercountry Adoption ran between $20,000 - $50,000.

Why Do You Need The Money?
2. Why Do You Need The Money?

“So you’re adopting but you can’t afford it? That seems pretty irresponsible to me.” I put on my best pageant smile for the asker. While it is true we own a home in the suburbs of Washington D.C., like most adopting families to finance our adoption we drew from savings, we whittled down our monthly spending to the bare necessities, but still it wasn’t enough. Neither my husband nor I had employer benefits for adoption and the adoption tax credit, though helpful, did nothing to ensure we had $10,000 cash in hand when we boarded a plane for China. For my son’s adoption, our timeline was truncated from 9 months to 9 days. That meant we had to scramble to find any funding we could.

Why Does Adoption Cost So Much?
3. Why Does Adoption Cost So Much?

“You’d think with all the waiting children in China they’d make the process so much cheaper!” My neighbor means well. But the truth is there are a lot of costs associated with adoption. There are fees for the agency that conducts the home study to ensure the adoptive children are in a stable, welcoming environment. There are legal fees to facilitate the adoption in courts and through the U.S. and, in our case, the Chinese government. There are orphanage fees to support the staff and care of the children from the place where our son spent the first two years of his life. And there are travel fees, airfare, hotel rooms, weeks in a foreign country or another state and more.

Is Someone Making Money On This?
4. Is Someone Making Money On This?

I list all the fees I can think of but still my neighbor is unfazed. “Still seems like a lot of money. It must be going somewhere!” While it is true that legal fees and adoption fees can be expensive I don’t know many social workers that are making a killing facilitating adoptions. The same goes for legal fees. There are many more lucrative practices of law than domestic and international adoption. As for in-country fees, much of the costs go directly to the orphanage and the organizations (CCCWA in China, CARA in India, etc…) who help facilitate the adoption.

Will My Funds Really Be Used For Adoption?
5. Will My Funds Really Be Used For Adoption?

This is a question that dates back to my artist commune fundraising days. When you ask people to contribute to something they like to know exactly where their money is going and how it will be used. For my family we used, a 501c3 company that allowed our friends and family to contribute directly to our son’s adoption. AdoptTogether then made payments directly to our agency. The same is true of seedling grants, such as Brittany’s Hope, which requires donors to donate directly to the organization, which in turn donates to your agency directly.

If you finance your adoption through fundraising you have to be prepared for all sorts of questions. But at the end of the day, such work allows for friends, family, and members of your community to be a part of the journey that leads to the adoption of your son or daughter. And that can be a powerful thing.

Have you decided to finance your adoption through fundraising? What kind of questions have you encountered? What have your responses been like? I would love to hear your perspective!

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Jennifer S. Jones

Jennifer S. Jones is a writer, performer, storyteller and arts educator. She holds an MFA (Playwriting) from NYU Tisch. She has written numerous plays including the internationally renowned, award-winning Appearance of Life. Her amazing transracial transcultural family was created through adoption from China and India. She is passionate about the adoption community and talks about the ins and outs, ups and downs, joys and "is this really us?!" whenever she can. She writes about her experiences at

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