This guest blog is by Cherri Walrod, the founder and director of Resources4Adoption.
For several years now I’ve been helping adoptive families find and utilize the adoption financing options which best fits their needs.
There are four basic ways to fund your adoption: personal funds, fundraising, grants and loans.
Personal assets and funds
Most people I know of do not have 20K-40K sitting around just waiting in an adoption account. However, you may have more valuables than you realize. “Think outside the bank”.
When I watch Antiques Roadshow, I am always stunned by the valuables people find or have been given to them by someone else. You just never know what you’ll find if you start looking really hard. “What can I sell?” Why not honor your loved one by using funds from a family heirloom to bring your child home? This will be a living and lasting legacy!
Creative fundraising can be done regardless of the adoption path you use. Crowdsource funding is one popular method of raising funds. Here are two of my favorites:
Adopt Together: The great thing about his option is that it is tax deductible for donors. You normally need a completed home study to set up your profile. Make sure you understand how much processing fees are and what they are used for. A 5 percent fee is a normal amount for this type of service.
Continue to Give: This option is nice because you can set up a fundraising page at any stage of your adoption process. Their processing fees structure is a little different and usually lower than other crowdfunding sources. They are very tech savvy and social media friendly. Their amazing tools give your friends and family the ability to donate instantly from their smart device or phone.
Many grant organizations will not accept applications from families pursuing a private domestic adoption. Organizations need a way to verify funds will be applied to legitimate adoption costs. Some will accept applicants using a licensed adoption attorney. It is important to double check their application criteria.
For Christian families, Lifesong for Orphans is one option for matching grants, loans or fundraisers. Help Us Adopt.org offers grants and they do not have any religious or marital status criteria. Please note the adoptive family must be able to produce receipts and/or invoices for appropriate adoption services before grant organizations will issue any payments.
Since there are fewer grant opportunities for this type of adoption, many families see loans as a way to finance their adoption. I would like to offer a word caution here. There are many unreliable and untrustworthy programs that will flood any Internet search for “adoption loans”.
Better Loan Options:
- Local hometown bank – If you have been a loyal, long-term and good customer of your locally owned bank, then this might be a great option for you. This will most likely require a face-to-face meeting with the loan officer. Please go to the meeting prepared with all of your latest financial data, especially income records. You won’t know what they have available unless you go and ask. You might be surprised at how willing and able they are to help you, especially if you have some sort of equity to work with.
- Credit Unions – If you already belong to a credit union, they could possibly work to develop a program for you based on other successful adoption loan program models. One such model is from America’s Christian Credit Union. Again, this one will most likely require your time to ask. Wouldn’t it be awesome if credit unions from all over began to offer this option because adoptive families started to ask for it? Unlike banks, credit union members are technically the owners of the organization. Therefore, it seems reasonable that they would be less likely to take advantage of you than a bank.
- Savings and Loans – Savings and Loan Associations sometimes have a little more flexibility than banks when it comes to lending. I have heard of families who were able to obtain some form of equity such as a CD (certificate of deposit) from a family member or friend to secure the loan. The family actually pays back the loan to the Savings and Loan at a very low interest rate. The CD owner still owns it and they are able to continue drawing interest on their CD. This is definitely a win-win!
Examples of “loan” programs I recommend you avoid:
- Multiple Lender Programs – I’ve seen many programs of this sort listed haphazardly among other adoption grants and loans. These purport to be loan application processes similar to a Lending Tree type model. Applicants fill out one form with all the required information. This information is then sent to multiple unidentified lenders.
- Wording like “exposure to multiple lenders with one application,” “no upfront fees,” and “quick approvals,” ought to raise a bunch of red flags. Once you hit “send,” you will have absolutely no idea or control over who is seeing your information or what they are doing with it. This is a really bad idea, especially in this day and age when everyone must be on their guard against identity theft.
- Prosper.com – Programs like Prosper.com claim to be a peer-to-peer lending program. This is also a very questionable operation, for many of the same reasons listed above. You fill out form with all your information, send it and it goes to who-knows-where in cyberspace. You have no idea or control over who has eyes on it or what they are doing with it.
- Always be on the lookout for this type of “loan organization.”Are they really who they say they are? Do you have to go through several different website to get to their application? While some may be legitimate, privacy remains a concern: are you applying to a specific, trustworthy organization for a loan, or will they distribute your private information to one or more unidentified and undisclosed third parties?
I wish you all the best on your adoption journey!
Cherri Walrod is mom to six children and the founder and director of Resources4adoption.com, the No. 1 educational resource for adoptive families seeking financial assistance. From help in writing compelling grant and loan applications to providing tips for fundraisers, Resources4Adoption offers personalized support for each family.