November 17, 2014

Funding Adoption

M and I are funding our adoption solely by ourselves. We haven't asked our parents or anyone else for assistance. That's not to say our family and friends won't help out in other ways eventually. We may not have a traditional, pre-birth baby shower, but I'm sure there will be gifts and hand-me-downs nonetheless. This isn't the case for everyone, though.

There's a girl I went to high school with and, even though we were acquaintances at best, we somehow have remained friends for years. Around the same time M and I started to seriously research adoption, this girl got married and immediately knew she and her husband would adopt (undisclosed health issues making fertility an impossibility). So I have followed her journey in a vague sense of solidarity. For some reason, they have decided that it is supremely important they adopt while incurring zero debt. In fact, they paid off all their debt except their mortgage before they started saving for adoption. Okay, more power to them, except that "zero debt" to them apparently translates to "Almost entirely fund-raised".

I haven't exactly been "active" in the adoption community for long, but I have already learned that fundraising to pay for adoption is an extremely divisive topic. I don't know that I have a hard opinion either way, but reading about my high school friend's adoption process definitely causes me to grimace. I'm not condemning her, I have a very "to each their own" feeling about a lot of infertility and adoption topics, but I can't help feeling that they are creating their own hardship and trying to thrust it onto friends and family to resolve. On their site, their donation goal is listed as $25,000 - that is essentially how much it costs to adopt domestically in our state, which is their stated preference. Wow, hoping to fund-raise the full cost of adoption? You might think that is just their pie-in-the-sky goal, but realistically they don't expect to raise more than a few K. I'm not so sure...she posts every month or two on soliciting donations. She has updated and blogged about how no one seems able to help financially and she feels like they'll never be ready to move on to the actual process. They've got a few thousand raised now and she thinks they "almost" have enough to apply to an agency and do the Homestudy. Not sure what agency she wants to go with, but at any I've looked into, she has more than enough to do those things.

Of course, I understand adoption is expensive - boy do I understand it. And I get that can be a barrier to some people. But I think the whole "adoption without debt" part is what's giving me pause with her situation. She is putting extra constraints on herself and saying, "Alright people of the world, come help me do this because I refuse to take out a loan". I just feel like it is a little unrealistic to know how expensive this process is, to know the limitations of your own finances, and then to say "we will do this debt free". It is basically the cost of a new car! Not many people purchase a new car without taking a loan.

I do wonder though, if I am speaking from a more privileged point of view. Would I feel differently if we were struggling financially? We are incredibly blessed that M's grandmother set up a trust fund for him to attend college, that I work for a university which provides tuition at 20% for dependents, that M got a good paying job out of college, that we live in an area of the country with low cost-of-living. Most of these things we had no hand in, we were just very blessed to have them happen to us in the way they did, so its not like we can say we were 100% the architects of our current financial standing. But even with all of that, we have been conscientiously saving for this and we will *still* take out a loan against M's 401K (honestly the best option for us because of low interest and we can use our adoption benefits from work to pay ourselves back). So, it isn't as though we never needed to consider fundraising. I thought about it briefly and knew it was not for us; I would rather suffer through the saving and the debt.

I think my opinion coalesces around the idea that *some* fund-raising is okay, but ultimately it is our (the prospective adoptive parents') responsibility to take on the burden of the cost for this experience because it is a choice. Like it or not, it is a choice. I feel very fluid about that though and maybe along the way to my own adoption, I will change my opinion. What do you all think?


  1. Don't comment often here, but I couldn't resist. :)

    This is a tough one. I can see both sides of the argument. I'm with you in that the idea of fundraising makes me cringe. I think there's sometimes a sense of entitlement or a sense of desperation that comes with it, which doesn't often sit well with people. We don't usually think twice if someone is fundraising to help a family in need -- either because they are truly poor or because they have costly medical bills or just lost a loved one -- but when it comes to infertility and adoption, I feel like people don't know what to think. And depending on the way that someone goes about asking for money or promoting her fundraising campaign, it *could* potentially leave a bad taste in someone's mouth. Which is why it would never be for me. I'm too constantly concerned about the impression I leave on people. But not everyone is like that and I guess, at some point, a desire for a family could win out over worrying about what other people might think, even for me.
    On the other hand...adoption is expensive and I do truly understand your friend's desire to be debt-free. Who wants to start a family with a ton of debt? As you mentioned, adoption is a CHOICE and, while that's so true, it wasn't really her choice (I imagine) to have health issues that impacted her fertility. She can't have a family the old-fashioned way and that sucks and is unfair. No one else has responsibility in it, so no one else OWES her anything, but who can blame her for wishing someone would help her out? And there's also the notion that you'll never get what you want if you don't ask. So I guess maybe good for her for doing just that?

    So yeah...those are my thoughts. Wishing both you and your friend the best in your adoption journeys!

    1. Thank you for such a thoughtful response, Cassie! You make some excellent points, and in the end it is certainly an individual choice for each couple to make whether or not to fund-raise. I was surprised at how much the topic got my mind churning, so I thought I'd see if anyone else had feelings one way or the other. Cheers!