We asked our reader panel: How did you finance your adoption? Share any cost-cutting or creative financing strategies with other readers.
For many parents-to-be, one of the biggest hurdles on the road to adoption is finding the funds necessary to pay the various fees and expenses that come up throughout the paperwork and after the match. While the adoption tax credit and employer benefits can help after the fact, many readers came up with creative ways to raise the money before they adopted. Here, we’ve compiled their best ideas for affording adoption.
Tapping Assets, Taking Loans
A kind banker organized a total re-finance of our house at a lower interest rate. For our second adoption, we had the chance to save and prepare (having a lower mortgage payment helped), and our banker wrote up a short-term note for a revolving line of credit “just in case.” If you go to a “hometown bank” (not part of a big national chain where employees are usually not given much leeway) they will usually bend over backwards to help, especially when you tell them why you need the loan. People want to be nice and helpful – especially when it comes to something as wonderful as an adoption!
Jean and Steve, Minnesota
First we applied for an adoption grant. Then we took out a small loan from our 401K and set payments to reimburse ourselves at a 5% rate. Next, my daughter and I took coupon clipping to a new level. I started working for mystery shopping companies, and changed my insurance coverage to increase the deductible. I called my cell phone, Internet, and long distance providers and negotiated better rates. At Christmas, we spent half the normal amount. My mother-in-law paid for travel expenses as a gift to her future grandson. Our daughter even babysat for extra money!
The Runnels Family
We found our credit card’s interest rate much lower than any adoption loan interest rates. My husband’s company reimburses $5,000 of adoption expenses. Adopting two at a time helps with the cost as well. We are in debt, but we’d rather be broke and a happy family than rich and lonely!
Warren and Stephanie
I participated in my company’s stock option plan for years. It was a nice way to save and think about what I was working towards.
My husband and I are currently funding our adoption with an equity line of credit on our home. We chose the line of credit because it allows the flexibility of early payoff or overpaying, a fluctuating credit line for purchases or payments to agencies as needed, instead of an equity loan which would require us to take a lump sum and pay interest on the whole amount.
Wendy and Jeff, Pennsylvania
We drained our CDs (Certificates of Deposit). One had nearly $15,000, which enabled us to complete the adoption.
Gail and Marty
My husband learned that his position was being outsourced to China and that he had just trained his replacement. So rather than take another position in the company, he found a job with another company and took the parting gifts to fund our adoption.
I worked an extra job for over six months. For my second adoption, I charged everything I could on a credit card. When I got home I worked like crazy to pay the bill before the interest kicked in. I called my second child my “Visa baby.”
Tightening Their Belts
We budgeted our household based upon my regular salary, and the hours I worked beyond that (both from overtime and moonlighting as a teacher) were put into savings. I worked like crazy from the time we filled out our adoption application until we received our referral.
We went without vacation, new clothes, meals out, or gifts, and kept the heat low. We picked up any overtime we could, and I got a second job on weekends. We furnished our nursery almost entirely with second-hand treasures and hand-me-downs.
We chose to stay in annexes rather than in the main buildings of hotels. I took a suitcase full of food, like cup of noodles, soups, crackers, peanut butter, popcorn, oatmeal, plastic utensils, cups, napkins, vinyl tablecloths, individual coffee packets, creamer and sugar. We ate out for lunch, and had sandwiches and soup for dinner. We never felt deprived; in fact, we wished we’d been more frugal on previous trips.
Sandra, Okinawa, Japan
My husband and I are savers by nature, and had been working for years before we decided to adopt. We financed all three of our adoptions with our savings. Despite the fact that I no longer work, the children’s college funds are well stocked and we have a nice nest egg for retirement. It pays to save!
Moonlighting and Fundraising
We found a great storefront on eBay that sold wholesale jewelry pieces for about $2 apiece, and we sold them for $10 each.
I earned $750 selling flower bulbs and started an online business, The Adoption Storyteller, that hosts adoptive families’ Web sites and travel journals. I also made $400 at my garage sale.
We sold seedlings, teddy bears, bumper stickers and decals, clothes to consignment shops, and items at craft fairs. We had garage sales, a raffle, an art auction, a bake sale, jewelry making parties, framing parties, and a fundraiser dinner/dance. We sent out funding request letters to local businesses, posted items on eBay, and started a website for parents to market their goods and services.
I sold my grand piano to get the money for the adoption. I had a piano party with my friends the night before the truck came to take it away. One Kawai Grand, $10,000. One daughter, priceless. I’ve never missed that piano.
I started my own eBay business. I buy new and used clothing, clean and patch it, and sell it on eBay. I buy new clothing in the off-season and sell it when it’s in season. I have done this for one year in my free time and have made $11,000 profit.
We sold a home we had been renting out. Our profit covered our adoption expense and we got the $10,000 tax credit as well. Our daughter was definitely the right choice!
John and Michele, New Hampshire
We were only able to fund our adoption through the help of friends, family, and fundraisers. We secured a loan from MBNA, through the National Adoption Foundation, for a total of $25,000. We used the loan to pay for agency expenses and in-country fees. In addition, we held a candle fundraiser and raised $820. Our families and church helped greatly by giving us a total of $4,500.
I sold collectables, jewelry, books, clothes, shoes, videos, CDs, handmade things, and garage sale finds for profit on eBay. People graciously donated items to sell. I bought a couple of fancy gowns on sale and sold them on eBay for full price!
I began making “Fly Away Home” ladybug dresses. I quickly expanded to toddler and children’s sizes, and added dresses in Asian-inspired fabrics. I have been able to cover half of our adoption expenses to date through the sales of my dresses.
Getting Help from Friends and Loved Ones
I made a brochure explaining who we were and why we wanted to adopt a boy from Russia. I put it in every hand I could find – I even sent one in when I paid my bills! One day a man from New York called to ask how much we needed. I told him we still needed $20,000, and he said, “It’s yours.” He had adopted from Russia six years earlier and had intended to adopt more children, but decided that his new son needed undivided attention. His way of bringing home more children was to provide the funds for another family.
My mother financed the adoption of my daughter. The only string attached to the money was that I would agree to stay at home with my child for at least two years, which my mother also financed. It was an amazing gift.
My father-in-law offered whatever we needed as an advance on our “inheritance.” They said they did not want such an important decision to be made based on money. They would deduct the money from our portion of their estate, if they ended up having one!
My husband and I ran a marathon and raised support that way. We trained together for months and sent out letters and sponsorship cards. We were blown away when our sponsorship added up to almost $27,000!
We tried to sell “shares of stock,” and told family members they would get dividends out of our daughter’s allowance money – in jest, of course.
Chose an Inexpensive Route
We adopted older children, for whom adoption fees were less than average.
We used an in-country agency and were able to complete each adoption (including all travel) for under $10,000 each. This is under the allowable IRS adoption tax credit limit, so we were able to get all of our money credited towards our taxes – essentially getting our last two adoptions for free! The communication between the foreign agency and us was greatly improved, because there was no American agency as a go-between.
For more cost-cutting strategies, see AF’s Help with Adoption Expenses Web page.