As a young girl, and the oldest of five children, I always knew that someday I would be a mother. What I didn’t know, is that how I would become a mother would be one of the most important things I would ever do in my life. When I started dating my future husband in college, having children someday was a very quick conversation because we were on the same page. When we had been married for five years, the conversation went from some day to now, and then quickly became a conversation about how difficult it was going to be. Infertility was something neither of us ever expected, and while we were still on the same page about becoming parents, infertility treatments and adoption were not things we were prepared for, especially financially. We were in our early 30’s and we had just started building our future.
As we continued infertility treatments, I not only watched my dream of motherhood slip away, I also watched my savings deplete rapidly. In total, we did five rounds of IVF; I achieved pregnancy three times, and each resulted in miscarriage. The first miscarriage was at 16 weeks. The second miscarriage was at 12 weeks. The third and final miscarriage was at 10 weeks on Christmas Eve in 2004. We were done; emotionally, physically, and almost financially we were done. We had depleted all but $40,000 of our savings—the exact amount we estimated it would cost to adopt—the first time.
It was pretty early in our first adoption process when I began to ask, “What happens if you don’t have the money to adopt?” I sought out professionals who were able to answer my question; while I was grateful for their honesty, their answers were bleak. Families often went into financial ruin in order to complete their adoption; others were forced to live a childless life—childless NOT by choice. Not by choice. Not by choice. Not by choice.
I started my research by Googling ‘adoption financial assistance.’ I was disheartened to find that while a handful of organizations existed, they were very limited in who they helped, they charged application fees, and they did not, in my opinion, give grants large enough to solve the problem. I envisioned an organization that would help families complete their adoptions, and bring their children home. I envisioned an equality-based organization, inclusive to all, that didn’t charge an application fee and provided large, impactful, problem-solving grants. I envisioned Helpusadopt.org, and in 2007, it became a reality.
Shortly after we launched Helpusadopt.org we started the process for our second adoption and the introduction from a family friend led us to Gladney. We are proud to be a Gladney family, we are grateful for the beautiful open adoption that we have with our daughter’s birth mother and her grandmother, and we are beyond grateful for our beautiful daughter Brooke who was born in November 2009. What is truly remarkable about our story is that Brooke’s birth mother was a Gladney adoptee herself. I’ve always felt that it was a such a beautiful full circle story.
As I waited to be matched with a birth mother, I poured myself into building Helpsuadopt.org. What started at my kitchen table quickly became a viable, strong, national nonprofit. Our mission to build families through adoption, combined with our mission of equality, resonated with donors of all kinds. Our platform was family—something everyone could believe in. And beyond this, there was the brutal reality that over 100 million children in our world need homes and adoption is the answer. I didn’t want to be the one to tell them that people can’t afford to adopt them; I wanted to be the one to make their adoptions a reality. I only wish I could do it faster.
Since Helpusadopt.org’s launch in 2007, we have helped build 264 families (several of them Gladney families) by awarding $2.4 million in grants. The organization has long since left my kitchen table and now has an office (think walk-in closet) in New York City with four full-time employees. I love that our work supports Gladney families who are struggling with the costs of adoption and in my own way feel that my Gladney story has also now come full circle.
Financing your adoption can seem overwhelming when you first get started. Gladney provides resources on adoption grants like Helpusadopt.org as well as tips and ideas to help as you consider how your family can pay for adoption.