How To Afford Your Adoption: Plan, Strategize, & Discover Smart Adoption Financing Options Transcript

Episode 5 Podcast > Full Transcript

Nicole Witt, Greeting:
Hi, listeners, welcome back to Adopting! The Podcast. As always, I'm so excited to be your host for this journey. I'm Nicole Witt, Executive Director of The Adoption Consultancy where we guide pre-adoptive parents step by step through the adoption journey.

In Adopting! The Podcast, we're going to focus on the issues, the questions and the concerns you have as you get started in your adoption journey. This is for people just considering, brand new to, or very early in the process, who are trying to get their questions answered and figure out their best path forward, so they can learn about what to expect and how the process works.

Nicole Witt, Intro:
Today, we're going to talk about one of the topics that is of great concern to almost all pre-adoptive parents; money. Let's face it, adoption is expensive. Now, that's not necessarily true if you're adopting from the foster care system or doing a kinship adoption. But if you're doing a private domestic adoption or an international adoption, you're often looking at least mid-30000s on up to more than fifty thousand dollars. And very few people have that kind of money sitting in the bank. Almost all of my clients are, you know, kind of typical middle class, if you will, with an average debt load. So, how do they do it?

The reality is that most people cobble together the money from a variety of sources and activities. And today, we're going to talk through some of the various ways of gathering the funds needed for adoption and some of the tips and tricks that may help you to get the most out of your efforts.

To help me discuss adoption financing. I'm very happy to welcome Becky Fawcett, who's founder and president of Prior to creating Help Us Adopt in 2007, Becky's career started in magazine advertising and marketing. She then founded the Fawcett Group PR in 1999, which is a full-service PR marketing and branding firm. She founded in 2007.

Becky is a mom by adoption and lives with her husband in New York City. Becky, thanks so much for being here today.

Becky Fawcett:
Thanks, Nicole. I'm thrilled to be part of it.

And we also have Kelly Ellison, CEO and founder of Your Adoption Finance Coach. Kelly provides comprehensive financial services to adoption professionals and prospective adoptive families across the country. Serving over 100 adoption agencies and attorneys, Kelley and her team have worked with over 6000 families, helping them to create a customized plan for their adoption, including grants, fundraising and loans. Her team is dedicated to helping prospective adoptive families find the resources they need to bring their family together forever.

Thanks so much for being here, Kelly.

Yes, thanks, Nicole. Good to be here.

And listeners, you know that I always like to have kind of a flowing participatory conversation between me and all of my guests. Today, Becky is going to talk to us a bit more about grants, and Kelly is going to talk to us a bit more about some of the other options. So, we may be a little bit more divided than we sometimes are. But ladies, both of you, please feel free to jump in at any point during our conversation.

So, let's start with an overview of the different ways to fund your adoption. The overarching categories are savings, gifts, fundraising, loans and grants. Am I missing anything critical with those categories?

No, I don't think so.

So, Kelly, before we start digging into some of those individually, do you want to give us an overall perspective on how all of those pieces tend to work together and some of the best overall strategies?

Sure. I think the most important thing to think about when you're starting this process of adoption is to get all of your expenses in order. And that means not only just the expenses that perhaps your provider has given to you, but also any personal expenses that might have an impact on your overall adoption budget. And what I mean by that is time off work, if you're going to get paid or not. Does your employer provide benefits? And that might actually be something to covet that we add to the list –


{indistinct 4:27} types of funding. But getting your complete budget in line and understanding what your total dollar amount is, even if it is projected figures. You want to get your head around kind of what the total amount is. And then from there, you can kind of work backwards to determine how much you're going to save, to determine how much you think you're going to need in the loan, to determine all the various different aspects of how you're going to bring that plan together.

Okay. Great advice. Great advice.

So, let's start with the different topics. Let's start with savings, because that's sort of the most obvious and in some ways the most simple one. Now, like I mentioned in the introduction, very few people that I work with at least have more than forty thousand dollars sitting in their savings account. But they do have something, especially when you include maybe 401(k) or IRA money in this category.

Kelly, what do you see regarding people reaching into their savings to fund their adoption while trying to balance that with having money with which to raise the child?

First of all, I think that whenever we work with a family to look at what their comprehensive financial plan is going to look like for their adoption, the first question we're going to ask them is, “How much are you going to contribute? What's your skin in the game? How much do you have?”

So, maybe you have been saving money in a savings account for your adoption. You can start with five thousand dollars or whatever you can start with. And then looking at your individual monthly budget and your expenses, to see what you can free up. And make that sacred. Make that money; is it two hundred dollars a month? Is it five hundred dollars a month? What is it?

Because folks like Becky, I think she would agree, you want to see that people are going to be putting your own money into this and being responsible for it. So, being able to see that on the front end.

I think the other thing that is really important is to know that this is a – when you create your budget, it's a living document. So, it's not something that you create it. And then you just walk away and go, “Oh, that was wonderful.” You’re reviewing that every month, you're putting in your actual figures, you're actually working those numbers. So, then if your savings happens to change or if you get a tax refund or you get a family gift or whatever, you can add that to your overall savings account.

Okay, awesome. And you referenced kind of minimizing spending. And I think that can have a lot more impact than people think that it can't; whether it's eliminating cable TV or Starbucks coffee or minimizing eating out, which is something we've all suddenly had a lot of practice with during the pandemic, which maybe before, that seemed a lot harder. But now maybe it's a little bit more habit to not go out to dinner. So, those kinds of things can really add up.

I've seen clients who don't go on vacation for a couple of years. And that's, personally, what my husband and I did when we were trying to save money. And those things can really add up. So, I think that's an important piece of it as well. It's not just, like you said, where you are today, but how can you maybe even do a little bit better next month or the month after?

Well, one thing I would add to that, Nicole, one best practice that we recommend to families is to set up a separate savings account for your adoption. Split up your money. So, everybody has, probably I hope, that we all understand the idea of an emergency savings. We all have a good understanding of what that means now; right?

So, you have your emergency money. So, whatever that number is, whatever you desire that number is, but in a separate savings account. You're are going to find that as your adoption savings account, so that you're not intermingling your emergency savings with your adoption savings account. And you can watch it grow. You have more control over how you spend that money.

That's a great idea. And I think watching it grow probably really gives you satisfaction and motivation to keep it going, which is great.

Okay, so another big area is gifts. Right? And this can be as simple as a check written by a friend or a family member. I've had clients who have taken an early inheritance from their parents; things like that. So, is there anything that either of you want to add to that category?

Well, I'll jump in. Obviously, you want to engage your family. They want to be a part of this journey. So, they want to be a part of this. And allowing them, letting them be a part of it is a huge gift to you and also to them.

I think engaging them in the process in the beginning; letting them know what your plan is and what kind of money you believe that this is going to be, kind of educating them along the process. A lot of folks don't understand that you can receive up to fifteen thousand dollars in cash gifts without claiming that on your taxes.

Now, that is not an adoption thing. That is the gift tax. So, each person can receive up to fifteen thousand dollars in cash gifts without claiming that on their taxes. And the person that's giving that money does not have to file any kind of forms with the IRS.

So, when you're having a conversation with your family members, if there is a large gift that someone might want to give you, you want to keep that in mind and be sure that you consult with your accountant or CPA to make sure that you're following those particular rules.

Okay, that's a great tip. And I think you made another really important point, too, about how people do want to help with this. You know, I know so many people, it can be so difficult to ask for help. But it can never hurt to ask, and this is something that people often really do want to be a part of and want to help their family with.

Exactly. They do.

All right. Well, let's talk a bit about fundraising. This one can be a bit controversial, but most adoptive parents that I work with do it. And it can range from a small online candle sale or T-shirt sales to much more involved events like the 5K, for example. Kelly, what are some of the most effective fundraisers you've seen?

Oh, gosh, Nicole, I could take all day. I could pencil down all the different fundraisers that families have done. Some of them are pretty far out there. Flocking flamingos comes to mind. Becky knows one. Flocking flamingos, I mean, marathons, different kinds of things.

I think if I want to say anything about what's important about having a fundraiser. You want to make it unique to you. If you are creating a fundraiser, is create a community. It’s very important to know that there's a lot of things that we can do out there that are bringing our community together.

But we highly recommend, when you work with our coaches, that you bring three to five people together, buy them lunch, make lunch for them, bring them over to your house, tell them what you're doing, tell them what your goal is.

And you're not going through them and saying, “Our goal was fifty thousand dollars.” You're going to them because you have a plan and you know what you want to fundraise. So, you might want to fund raise ten thousand dollars. So, this is our goal and this is what we want to do.

And what you'll find out is in that group of people are all these amazing ideas and experience. So, now not only do you have wonderful ideas, but you also have a group of people that are helping you; that are dedicating that process to you.

So, it's really bringing community together and getting a small group of people to buy into the process. And helping you; helping you with doing whatever campaign that you decide that you're going to be that is unique to you.

So, if you're a musician, for example, or you're an artist, for example, or you like to run marathons. I had one family that did marathons and they decided they were going to run all the marathon. So, they were going to do an event and let people pledge for the marathon. And it was a great fundraiser for that.

Yeah, that's fantastic. And I think that that is a good tip. I'm sorry, Becky. Did you want to jump in?

I just wanted to add that what I see from the grant side in people's personal statements and from all the reading I do on Facebook, too, is that please don't jump into a fundraiser and spend money without researching it, because I see people lose money in fundraising all the time because they really haven't thought it through.

And some are easier than others. Like I just this week saw someone seriously who said (and this wasn't a lot, expenditure wise), but it was a lot emotionally that they put out in this project, I think. And they were very upset that they'd done a puzzle fundraiser and plot a thousand-piece puzzle and sold 20 pieces.

Now, I don't even have a Rolodex of a thousand people. And I try to tell people that like think about who you know. You know, there's great T-shirt companies that let you place the order once you have your sold T-shirts. But I've seen other people order three hundred T-shirts. They know 50 people. They're stuck with these T-shirts. They spent so much money on these T-shirts.

So, that's one of my just sort of tidbits of there are great fundraisers out there. And I've watched people really move their hustle and raise a lot of money. But you got to think it through before you get involved. And some might not be a good fit for you. Like a lot of people do puzzle; it's not for everybody.


Not for everybody.


I think that's a great tip. And that ties back to what you were saying, Kelly, about making it personal, because if it is something that you are involved with, like running marathons, you're going to know more about what that entails and what you can expect out of it.

I mean, there are some simple ones that everybody can do. You know, garage sales with having other friends donate stuff. You know, I've seen a lot of people do bake sales, spaghetti dinners, car washes. But then there are the more personal ones where people, you know, they might raffle off a personal service if they know how to cut hair. Or, like you said, if they're an artist, they can raffle off a painting or musician, lessons or an adventure or something like that.

I've also seen people do some more extreme things, like rent out an extra room in their house; maybe the room that's eventually going to be the nursery, which that's a big deal. And it's an invasion of your privacy, but it's temporary. You know, it can generate a lot of money very quickly.

Similar to that, and maybe this doesn't fall so much under fundraising, per sé. But I've had a lot of people who take a second job; an evening job or a weekend job, which again, that's really intimidating to do. You really are sacrificing a lot of your free time, but it's temporary. And if you do that for one year and put all the money into that adoption account, things like that really can make a difference.

In the last few years, of course, one of the big things that we've seen our Go Fund Me fundraisers and things like that. Kelly, what do you think about those? Do those work?

Oh, of course they work. And I'll answer your question, but I want to backtrack for just a second on what Becky said about the fundraisers. A couple of best practices that we really see that are very important. One is, I see all the time, people starting too early. I mean, the minute they decide they're going to do an adoption, they start fundraising.

And what you have to understand is that the fundraising aspect of is, part of the challenge or part of the formula for creating successful fundraisers, creating that sense of urgency and that excitement about this child and bringing this child into your family. If you start too early, you get what we call donor fatigue.

So, somebody gives you one hundred dollars or five hundred dollars or whatever, and now you've still got to go through your home study and your dossier, for doing international, and all these various different things. And six months or a year goes by and it's like, “Well, what happened to that money that I that I gave them?”


So, it's making sure that your fundraising fits within a plan and it's it fits within an overall fundraising plan. The other thing I think is really important is if you do decide to sell product. Now, there is product out there, that as Becky said, they'll wait until, you know, you're not necessarily buying inventory. I agree. You don't fill your garage up with five hundred candles.


You don’t fill your car trunk up with three hundred T-shirts. The other thing is, you're going to have to still file a Schedule C on that. So, the IRS says, “You’re selling merchandise. You're going to have to file a Schedule C.” And that can be a problem when you're doing an adoption. You've got all these qick spending. So, I think that those are some really important things to remember.

To your question, Nicole, regarding Go Fund Me. You know, we have to understand, I've seen Go Fund Me, really acquire the biggest fish in the sea. They’ve acquired every single small registry service that's out there.

So, what do we get from that? We get name recognition. There's a huge pool of people that are doing fundraising through Go Fund Me. But there's an important difference between a cash gift registry, which is Go Fund Me. And what that means is I give you five hundred dollars for your adoption, and I do not get the tax deduction from that. So, that means you can take that five hundred dollars and you can use it towards your qualified expenses and put that toward your adoption tax credit.

The other side of that is an organization called Adopt Together. And they are the same kind of thing, but they're a nonprofit. So, now that same five hundred dollars is tax deductible to me, the person who’s giving the gift, but then they're getting a grant, which is five hundred dollars or the combination of their registry. So, there are different tax implications on that.

But overall, I think the most important thing to know about Go Fund Me’s or really kind of any social funding or crowdfunding sites is that they are not a do-all-be-all. You have to build a campaign around it.

So, you are doing your social funding, you're doing a Go Fund Me account, but you're also using that to talk about your fundraising campaign; whatever fundraiser you're doing. So, it's not just one thing. It's a combination. It's really a campaign that you bring together to say, “Okay, I'm going to do the marathon and I'm going to have a Go Fund Me account. And if you can't come to the marathon, you're going to give us money in the Go Fund Me account.” So, it's marrying that whole campaign together.

Okay, that's great advice. And real importance of understanding the tax consequences and working with the right professionals on that. That certainly can't be overlooked.

Before we move on to the next topic, I just want to give one example here. And all of the great caveats that you guys have laid out certainly do apply before taking on something like this. But I just want to talk about clients I had who had the most successful adoption fundraiser that I've ever seen. They had a very large community that they were tight with through their church. And they had a whole afternoon event. And they did get that team together, Kelly, a lot of people from their community who went out to other people in the community and got them involved. And their event included a live auction.

And again, going to what you know and what's personal to you, the adoptive mom's father was an auctioneer. So, they did a live auction. They had high-value items that their community donated, such as a ride in a glider plane to a weekend getaway, like in people's timeshares.

They had a silent auction for lower value items, like gift cards and crafts. They sold the barbecue meal and they had a dessert auction.

And it took a ton of planning and effort and time. But in the end, even after factoring out all of their costs, they raised over nineteen thousand dollars with that one event.

So, I just think it's such a great example of, you know, don't let people tell you what you can and can't do. It's a matter of what is personal to you and how much time and effort are you willing and able to invest. And it really, really can pay off.

There's probably someone listening today who is sitting there going, “These are all great ideas, but that's not my personality. That's not what I'm good at.” And that person is probably starting to feel really badly right about now.

And I just want to send a message saying, “Please don't feel badly. Fundraising is not for everyone.” And as Kelly suggested, maybe you have some friends who are more Type-A, outgoing, who don't even care about asking anybody for anything. And put together a little team, like Kelly suggested.

But please don't listen to all this and sit there going, “I'm too scared to send a letter to people. I'm too scared to do a Go Fund Me.” You are putting yourself out there. It is hard. It is very hard. And you've got to hustle, whatever you do. The money just doesn't come because you've decided to do a fundraiser.

And I just wanted to put that out there, because I think there's a lot of people who make this look really easy. But I'm telling you, as someone who fundraises every day, even in spite of my bubbly personality, it's not easy. And you are hustling every five seconds. And there's a lot of negative “No's” you get and you have to power through that. And I know how hard that can be.

And so, when you apply to a grant, it's not necessarily a deal breaker that you haven't been able to do fundraising. Talk about it in your personal statement, if this was something that you tried and it's really hard for you. We have a lot of people who put that in their personal statement, and said like, “We really wanted to do this on our own, but this is where it went south.”

Thanks for saying that, Becky. I really agree with what you're saying. Fundraising is not for everyone. One of the litmus tests that we ask one of the coaches ask our families is, “Did you enjoy planning your wedding? Did you enjoy planning your best friend's bridal shower?”

If the answer is “No”, if the answer is you don't see yourself as being an organized person or you don't see yourself as going out or you do not want to ask for money, this is also a shared experience. So, if you and your partner and your partner is like, “No”, you know, crossed arms, crossed legs, “No, I don’t want to do that”, that's going to come across in in your fundraising efforts.

So, be kind to yourself. I agree with Becky. You don't want to go out there and try and do something that is not unique to you. Again, this is unique to you. If you need to get a loan for your adoption and you need to write grants for your adoption, that is perfectly fine. That's perfectly fine.

All right. Great perspective. Thank you both for making that point. Okay, let's move on to loans.

Now, these can be a little bit tricky because you don't know exactly how much money you're going to need or exactly when you're going to need it. So, I know that for some people, lines of credit can often work a little bit better than a loan per say. Do you agree with that? Kelly, what are some of the lenders in the adoption space? How much of a factor is some of these credit rating? I know those are a lot of the questions that tend to come up around loans.

So, you have kind of two buckets. You have your banks; you know, standard lenders. So, you're going to have your own personal bank where you have your own personal relationship. If you own a home and you have equity in your home, you have the possibility of getting home equity line of credit.

There is also the credit unions have really been coming around and offering some really good adoption products. There's one in Minnesota, which is Firefly Credit Union. The biggest one, most prominent one is America's Christian Credit Union in California. You know, full disclosure, you have to sign a statement of faith with them. So, just know that going in.

But there are others. There's another one in Florida. The name is escaping me right now, but I can get it for you, Nicole. But there's another one in Florida.

And I like these products. These are adoption lines of credit. And so, you would get approved for a specific line of credit, but then you don't pay on it until you actually draw the money.

We used to think that home equity lines of credit were kind of the best way to go because you could write the interest on your taxes. No more; you cannot do that. So, you have to prove that the loan, the home equity line of credit is actually used for home improvement. You can write that interest off, but you cannot just get a fifty-thousand-dollar line of credit on your home and then write off the interest. That used to be the compelling reason for getting a home equity line of credit for your adoption.

The other bucket that you have is you have some zero – And this is kind of a lot of people get attracted to this, but it ends up not necessarily being the best tool for them. These are zero percent interest loans. They are actually done through foundations. So, {indistinct 25:35} Foundation, Pathway for Little Feet, those different kinds of organizations.

There's nothing wrong with the zero percent interest loan, except that it doesn't get you a means to an end. So, for example, most of the time it's a 10000-dollar limit. Most of the time, you do have to sign a – Again, they’re mostly religious organizations. So, you have to sign a statement of faith or pass that criteria that they do have.

And so, if you're going to go for a zero percent interest loan, part of the problem is if you get that in the beginning, what you're doing is you're tying up your cash flow, because you have to pay on it. You have to pay those monthly fees on it. So, you're tying up your cash flow. So, you kind of have to look at that.

Those products are really good for like the end of the road. You’ve got this gap of five thousand dollars that you need or whatever, or you just need money to travel or whatever you need, then that's good in that case.

The other thing that a lot of people are talking about now is you can borrow against your 401(k). That is your Employer Program. It must be if you can do it; if they will permit you to borrow from your 401(k).

However, sometimes the interest rate can be really, really low, which I really like that. And that is a really good product as well. So, it is kind of being able to look at what your landscape looks like.

Your credit score will have an impact on all of these products, with the exception of the 401(k). 401(k), you can pretty much get 50 percent of the {indistinct 27:07}, 50 percent of the balance in your 401(k). And it's a pretty quick loan at a low interest rate.


And I think one caveat, I guess, when you're talking about the different loaners out there is there are a lot of great adoption-specific loans, but there are also a lot of great options that don't necessarily have the word, adoption, in front of them. So, just because it has that word adoption of the beginning of it doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be the best terms that are out there. So, it's worth looking around.

I guess credit cards also sort of loosely fall under this category as well. What should people consider before using their credit card for adoption?

Well, the biggest trap for credit cards is zero percent interest rate for one year or two years or whatever that attraction is. And while that can be wonderful, life happens. So, you have to be prepared that if you run through that promotional period, that you're going to get whacked at the end of that promotional period for a higher interest rate.

I don't necessarily think that credit cards are the way to go. One place when credit cards might be of interest is if you have, for example, a travel budgets or whatever, you know, the benefits that they give for travel or various different kinds of things like that. I see a lot of families use their travel benefits from their credit cards; points that they get from credit cards.

That for us, at least from our coaches and talking and working with families, that's kind of a last resort for us. We don't really. And I don't know if Becky has a thing about that, but I'm sure she does.

And again, if you have to put it on a credit card to bring your child home, you put it on a credit card to bring your child home. I get that. And there is no judgment here. But keep in mind, too, that if you're paying the interest on a credit card at 18 percent, and you're getting points to get you a room at ninety-nine dollars a night, you're losing money on the deal.


And believe me, I don't know these things. My husband knows these things. And I hate to say that, but he's in finance and he always tells me, “The points aren't worth it, Becky. The points aren't worth it.”

The other problem with flights for points is that in most cases, for adoption, you don't get two months’ notice of when you can book your flight.


You know, I for my two adoptions, I had booked my flight within like 20 minutes of a phone call that came out of nowhere. So, there was no shot, but to put those flights. We put them on a credit card, because I had to get on a plane in two hours to go meet that baby. But these are just things.

And again, there are resources out there to talk with people. This podcast is not supposed to be scary. It's supposed to say, “There are a lot of us thinking about this topic and a lot of us working every day to try to figure out how to make this better for all of you. And don't feel like you're going it alone. There are people you can ask for advice and ask for help and opinions. Like is the A scenario better than the B scenario?

Yeah. Great point. There are lots of professionals out there who can help; reputable professionals. But of course, you have to be careful of.

So, let's move on to our last category; grants. And Becky, I'm sure you could talk about this for weeks. But can you start by giving us kind of a quick lay of the land when it comes to grants; maybe talking about some of the common assumptions people have about them and whether or not they're accurate?

So, the number one assumption that people have is that we all have more money than we know what to do with, and notice them when it's personal. Number one, I don't think there's a grant organization out there that has more money than they know what to do with. Number two, saying no to people is devastating.

I've had people write me or Aaron, our Program Manager, after a grant cycle and be like, “But my story was so worthy.” And the bottom line is it absolutely is worthy. And that's why we wanted to read it. And we did read it, but we had limited funds. And I get 15 million dollars of requests a year, just to help us adopt. You know, I mean, that's a lot of money. I don't have any of that yet. Someday, maybe.

But when we say no to people, it is the worst thing that we do as an organization. Our mission is so happy and our grantees are so joyous. But there's also this part of sadness for us, and it's not personal. And I know that's the most awful thing to say, but I do want to tell people that if they really feel we’ve signaled them out.

And I see the comments on Facebook from other grant organizations that say, no. Like in these groups, you see these people say, “I got no’s and they must not have read my story.” And it's so hard for all of us, I think. And a lot of great organizations were really hurt last year. So, that doesn't help.

The other thing to think about is that when you apply. We've talked about a little of this. We do look for people who have are doing everything possible to bring their child home, but they're falling short. And that's what Kelly was talking about with the savings account and showing like, “This is where we're cutting back and this is where we've done fundraising (If you can do fundraising). And this is where we got a second job.”

It doesn't have to be a second job that means you don't sleep. It just means that you're making an effort. You're doing everything possible. And then we, if we can help pull up the slack at the end, that's where we want to come in. But we want to help people who are really doing everything possible to do this on their own. And just can’t.

Okay, great. And I feel like you've already started to answer my next question here. But I hear from clients frequently that the applications can be kind of overwhelming and confusing to a point. So, what would you say is the most important piece of the application?

Okay, well, I know that there are some organizations out there that have – I've heard one in particular about five hours’ worth of work, and that's fine. We're here to talk about Help Us Adopt today., I believe is pretty quick. It's all online, which is wonderful. And you can save your work and go back. And like if you have 20 minutes at work, you can do 20 minutes of the application. And I don't think we ask a single question that you haven't been asked already in doing your home study. So, you should really have all this information probably in your head.

The one piece that's really important is, well, now that it's online, we don't have to worry about reading people's handwriting. But you get a personal statement and we give you twenty five hundred words. Take it. Tell us your story. Please don't write, “I just want to be a parent” because everybody who is applying to us, I mean, you can like that, but you better give us a little more than that. Everybody who's applying, that's their story, right?

That's their story is they've reached this road, they just want to be a parent, and they need help. Give us some story about you and your partner or if you're adopting as a single, we want to hear about it. We want to get to know you. And we get so many applications in here that this is where we get to know you in this personal essay.

And it does not have to be an English paper. Please do not worry about that. Like if you go, “Oh, my God”, if you're Becky Fawcett, you go, “Oh, my God, I don't know how to use a comma right.”

We are not here to say your writing wasn't perfect. We want the essence of who you are. And that's what needs to come across in that story.

Okay, great. Great advice.

Besides not fully telling their unique story, what are some other common mistakes that people make in the application process?

We work really hard to raise this money and we take giving it away – It's a gift; up to fifteen thousand dollars. And we give a lot of fifteen thousand dollar grants for a year. That's a big chunk of change.

And so, when people write their application and basically ask for 15, don't really give us any information, really blasé on their adoption expenses and why they need fifteen thousand dollars, that's not helpful for you as an applicant. It's not helpful.

I always tell people, because they say, “What should I ask for?” You ask for what you need. You ask for what you need. So, if we look at your application and you've paid everything or you have it mapped out to pay everything but five. Let's say you really need five thousand dollars, but you've asked us for 15, please don't do that.

First of all, we're not going to give you 15 if you only need five, because we pay our money directly to your service provider. And it has to be for outstanding invoices at the time the grant is awarded. So, if you don't need it, you don't get it. It's not like you get money to pay back.

And it just doesn't look good. You’ve read our rules, you’ve read our protocols. Please ask what you need. If you really need 15, like if you have twenty five outstanding and you have no idea how you're getting to twenty five, as for fifteen. That's great. Ask for 15 and have a plan for the other 10. Okay?

Because that's another problem is that people have a large chunk of outstanding money, but they have no plan except for grants. And there's absolutely no plan to come up with the rest of the money. That's worrisome to us because our grant money is supposed to be the final piece of the adoption puzzle. And pay that last bill, so your child or your children come home

And Becky, you've gotten to something there which I think overwhelms people a lot. And that's when it comes to the timing of things. So, you're talking about how it needs to be for the outstanding invoices at the time the grant is given, although that's very scary to make a commitment to an agency if you don't know where that money is coming from.


And I know like some grants, they say, “You have to be matched, but not yet adopted. But we only review applications once a year” or things like that. So, how does that factor into the timing of when people should apply?

So, we review grants four times a year, and all of our application states – everything's on our website. We try to be as fully transparent as possible with the {indistinct 38:04} just on the website. So, whenever you want to go read it, it's yours. We are also no application fee, which is a very important thing to mention.

You do need a valid home study to apply. There's no magic time to apply, except I do tell people, absolutely on an international adoption, do not apply the minute the ink is dry on your home study, because you've got two to three years.

So, do you have a plan? What we like to do is give this last piece of the puzzle. So, we understand that you just did your home study and you're in an international adoption and you've got at least two to three years to go. You're probably not getting a grant. Do you understand? So, I'm not saying that your application isn't valid. I'm saying that is too early.

Now, domestic adoption is a whole different ballgame because fortunately or unfortunately, your life can change in a minute because there can be a baby and it's done; your adoption is happening.


And that could be the week after your home study is done. Or it could be, if you're Becky Fawcett for the second adoption, it could be two and a half years after this study was done.

I do tell people with domestic adoption, too, once you have a valid home study, again, it does not have to be five seconds after your ink is dry, but start to take a look at your finances. Also, please don't be upset if you don't get a grant the first time, but you can reapply. We've had plenty of grants awarded to people who have applied second or third time because their timing is different or they write a better personal statement with more in it. They took more time the second time. Or maybe they were too early in the process, but the second time they apply, they've had a failed adoption and now they've lost some money. So, now their situation's more dire. Every situation is unique.

And again, if you have any questions about timing or anything about us, there is an email on our website, and we read those. Those go to Aaron, who is our Program Director. And we read those.

I also see that a lot on Facebook and a lot of people complain that grant organizations aren't personal. Well, please don't lump into that statement. We're here. Here we give you the email. But it's up to you to ask us the question.

Now, please don't email me and ask me when our next grant cycle is because that you can figure out. We are only four people. But that you can figure out on our website by yourself.

But if you have a timing question, if you have a circumstance that you feel is unique, send us an email. Get an answer. You'll feel so much better. And we're here for you. This is why we get out of bed every morning and go to work, is to help people complete their adoptions and bring their kids home.

That's wonderful. And I'm so glad there are people like you out there doing that.

As a consultant, one of the questions I hear about grants a lot is, you know, my clients take a multiagency approach. And as they're looking at various grant applications, the grant providers want to know what agency are you using and what is their fee schedule. And that you can answer that if you're working with multiple agencies and you're not yet met. So, what's your advice related to that?

That's fine. I mean, I think things have changed in the world of adoption that like, you know, in the olden days, if you were working with two agencies, it meant you paid to twenty-thousand-dollar deposits. But that's not how it works anymore.

So, again, explain it. We give you the spot on the application to explain your situation. And I always tell people, like, “If you don't give us the information, we can't read it. We can't take it into consideration.”

And I'll tell you this, we don't have a formula. Some grant organizations might have a formula. We read every single application that comes in and we take every single detail into consideration.

One thing I did want to add when you were saying mistakes people make, I think this happens a lot on social media in the adoption groups is when people do ask about grants, there are people out there. You have to know what each grant is and who each grant serves and what each grant does.

There are a lot of people out there when you say about grants that they'll say, “Oh, yes, I got nine grants.” Well, that's very upsetting. There's other people who will say, “I got no grants.” And they probably are reading about the person who got nine grants and they're going and crying in their room. And I don't blame them.

But what you got to understand is there might be someone who gets nine grants. They might be adopting a severely special needs child internationally. And they have got nine grants and they're religious. So, if they're religious, these are the caveats. If they're religious, adopting a highly special needs child internationally, there are a lot of grants out there.

Now, their nine grants might have been five hundred dollars each. Okay? So, please do not compare (what's the phrase) your Chapter One to someone else's Chapter 20. Please don't do that to yourself. You're just going to torture yourself. Take your story and your story alone. Apply to the grant organizations that you're applicable to apply to. And look at what the differences.

There are a lot of grant organizations that will give you a five-hundred-dollar grant. It's not a lot of money. It's lovely that they're giving it to you, but that's not going to solve your problem. So, you do need to get more grants.

Now, if you get a fifteen-thousand-dollar or a ten-thousand-dollar grant from Help Us Adopt, someone else might not give you another grant because that is a heck of a lot of money, and you're only going to get one grant, but it's all you need.

So, I see people apply to us who really need to ask for ten or fifteen thousand dollars. But you ask for three because they think they're going to get nine grants. Please don't do that. Please don't do that.

Because if you ask for three thousand dollars for in your application and we see that you need twenty five thousand dollars and you're counting on getting multiple grants to get there, that's not a viable application for us. We don't think you're going to get six or seven grants. And now we don't know how you will complete your adoption journey. So, you've just done yourself a disservice.

And I know Kelly does not give her clients that advice to lower your sum and look to get five grants. But I'm telling you, someone out there is telling people to do it. And it's really not a good strategy. You should really count on getting one grant. And getting one great client that helps you along the way.

Again, if your special needs, if you're very religious, there's chances that you will get more, but you've got to know who you're applying to.

I appreciate you saying that, Becky, because it's very important that, as you said, for people to – We run across families all the time that come to us and say, “Oh, I'm just going to apply to everybody. I'm just going to send an application to every foundation that's out there.”

And that's really not a great strategy. First of all, you're wasting your own time. Secondly, you're wasting everyone else's time because you do not qualify for these grants.

Our coaches will work with families to help you pre-qualify you to say, “Do you qualify for this grant?” Walk you through the qualifications, the requirements, the story, every aspect of that grant to make sure that we are helping you to identify the foundation that meets your needs and you meet their criteria. So, you're really making your best effort, putting your best effort forward for the foundations that you are applying to.

And Becky is correct. You know, many of the foundations have a certain criterion around your religion, your faith. Many of them have a criterion around finances, how much money you make. Many of them have many different criteria. And so, if you apply to all of them is really a complete waste of your time and you find that you get better results when you have a more singular effort. So, I couldn't agree more.

That's fantastic. Super helpful advice.

And speaking of the income requirements, I know, Becky, your organization does not include an income limit on your application. Do you want to speak to that?

Yeah, I really do.

We do not require an income level. But let me be perfectly frank. If you can write this check, you're not applying to We are for people who can't write this last check. There's no way; it's not happening.

And we have people apply to us who have incomes like triple what our average award income is, who have money in savings, who have a four-hundred-thousand-dollar house. Like, if you have options, you should not be applying for a grant.

And I do say that I'm very sorry; you have to write those checks. You're talking to a woman who had to write two checks. My first adoption was forty thousand dollars, my second adoption was sixty three thousand dollars. That came after a long round battle with IVF and five cycles of IVF.

Those checks, it's not fun watching all your savings disappear. I know from what I speak on that, but I will be forever grateful that I had the money to do it. I might have ended up with an empty savings account, but I was able to bring my kids home. And exists for the people who are doing everything humanly possible and are missing that last piece of the financial puzzle. And I do want to be clear about that. It really is important.

And again, I don't want someone to waste their time. Now, we don't have an application fee. So, it's not like you're spending money, but just be considerate also of the people who really need help. That's who we're really here to serve.

So, last question for both of you is, what is the best way to find the grants for which one might qualify? Obviously, a great way is to hire Kelly and her team and they will help you walk through that. Besides that, how can somebody find the grants for which they might qualify and that they want to consider applying for?

Let me just say, I want to just correct you, Nicole, don't hire me.

You work through the agencies, correct?


So, you work with our agency. So, we have our list of our agencies that we partnered with on We're launching, next Monday, a new individual family membership with Adoption Council.

Oh, great.

So, you could do you can do an annual membership with NCFA and our bootcamp and our – we're calling it YAFC Academy. It’s going to be included in that. So, it’s a new way of how we're working with {indistinct 49:3}.

But I do want to just answer your questions and say it's valuable to work with someone. As you said, we're a resource, but there are many other resources, just as Becky has said, happy to answer any questions that anyone would have to do that.

But I think the most important thing that we do with families is we help them first to craft their story. Craft your adoption story. What is your most compelling story? And then based on what's that compelling story is and what your circumstances are, then you are going out and actually researching the foundations that are out there.

We provide a full list of resources that are out there for foundations. Look at their websites. Like Becky said, look at the website. What is their mission statement? Read the mission statement of the foundation. Read the guidelines of the foundation. Is this you? Is that reflective of you? Do you fit within those guidelines? And begin to make a long list that becomes a shorter list of who you might qualify for.

So, I have a couple of things. Number one, Google adoption grants. Like hello, Google's your best friend. I'm amazed at how many people do not Google adoption grants, because they'll come up.

You know, if you're a single parent, Google “Adoption grants for singles” or “LGBT adoption grants” or “International adoption grants” or “Religious adoption grants.”

Also, use social media to ask your questions. I don't approve of a lot of the questions that are asked in adoption groups because I feel they are adoption professional questions that should not be answered by strangers on social media. They should be answered by lawyers or agencies.

But to get in the adoption groups and say, “I'm starting out. This is who I am. This is how we're adopting. Does anybody have any success stories with adoption grants or know where I should start looking?” Like those are the kind of information that the crowdsourcing can be helpful with.

But Google can be your best friend, too, on this. Get a basic list. But again, I think they'll come up. I think, again, some churches have their specialized grants. Some agencies have grants that come with it. Ask your adoption professionals. They know of any grants. Ask the question out loud.

Awesome. You guys, this has been such wonderful and helpful information.

As we wrap up, Kelly, you talked about your new program that's launching next week. Is there anything else that you guys are working on that you want to share with our listeners?

You know, we are always working on things at Help Us Adopt. So, if you want to follow us on social media, we're on Facebook and Instagram and LinkedIn. I, Becky Fawcett, am also on all those platforms. So, you're always welcome to follow us and friend us on these platforms. As I said, we're very open and transparent. So, the more the merrier is sort of our goal.

And if anybody's listening, who wants to do, we do have a very cool storytelling platform called Faces of Adoption, which is on our website. And if you ever want to share your adoption story, check that out. And maybe your adoption story is unfolding and you want to present that unfolding story, that's cool too. But it's a fun way to be part of our community and help impact others and give them positive stories to go with.

You know, obviously, you can find a list of our partnering agencies on But then we also offer a 30-minute free call for just anybody, if they are interested. We appreciate that sometimes, when you start this process, it's like drinking from the fire hydrant. So, you can reach us at and reference this podcast. And we're more than happy to spend 30 minutes with you and just say, “Look, this is perhaps your path. This is perhaps what you're eligible for, what you're not eligible for and kind of how to get started.” So, we're more than {indistinct 53:35}.

That's very generous of you. Thank you.

So, yeah, I just want to thank both of you again for sharing your expertise and this incredible information. Again, my guests today were Becky Fawcett, Founder and President of And you can reach her by email at becky(B-E-C-K-Y).fawcett(F-A-W-C-E-T-T)

And Kelly Ellison, CEO and Founder of Your Adoption Finance Coach. And like she just mentioned, you can reach her by email at

And of course, listeners, I want to thank you so much for spending your time with us today. I'm so honored to be part of your journey. Take care, everyone.