Fundraising is Awkward.

Adopting from Africa is something that has been in my heart for many years.  When I first began looking into the process about five years ago and saw the $30,000 price tag, I pretty much wrote off the whole idea as an impossible one.  Every now and then through the years, I would click onto websites or read blogs about adoption, but in the back of my mind lurked that incredibly high number, and I never gave it too much consideration for that reason alone.

When my husband and I began looking at international adoption more seriously out of necessity (aka: secondary infertility), it still seemed an impossibility because of the price.  But I remembered advice that an adoptive mom whom I met last year shared with me: don’t let the cost be the only thing to stop you from adopting.  She had mentioned fundraising and adoption grants that exist. We began to google “adoption fundraising” and found ALL kinds of resources that exist to support families.  People–many of them adoptive families–provided amazing ideas for how to fundraise.  We learned of organizations that exist specifically to help families raise funds for adoptions, and even website providers who have free fundraising websites for adoptive families.  When we began to research grants, we also learned that many of the grants that are awarded are fundraising matching grants.  Apparently fundraising for an adoption is common, even though it’s something we hadn’t heard of before (perhaps because we only knew personally one family who adopted internationally!).

But it still seemed scary.  It’s one thing to read about a family whom I’ve never met conducting fundraisers to adopt, but entirely another to make it our reality.  I was so afraid that people would judge us for not paying for the entire thing ourselves and worried I would be too afraid to actually ask anyone I know and love for donations.

Then I went to my doctor.  The whole point of the appointment was to tell him we had decided not to pursue fertility treatments/testing any further but instead to pursue international adoption.  Lo and behold, he himself had just adopted three children from Ethiopia!  I shared with him my concerns about the cost, and he told me that even though he is a physician, he didn’t have $45,000 lying around to adopt three children from Ethiopia.  Even though it was difficult for him, he sent a letter to family and friends to let them know that they needed financial help to adopt these children.  He said he was overwhelmed by people’s generosity and that many people have a heart for adoption and truly want to help.  He also referred me to his wife who heads up a local adoption support group in Bozeman.

When I met with his wife, she shared with me that most adoptive families they know (including the pastor of their church) have fundraised for adoption.  At her church, they have even set up an adoption fund where members can donate to help families with adoption costs.  She gave me ideas for fundraisers and suggestions on how to go about it.  It was SO wonderful to talk to someone in our community to help alleviate some of our concerns.

Does that mean I don’t feel awkward about fundraising?  Definitely not.  I was the kid in grade school who sold one Gold-C book or one roll of wrapping paper (to my mom) for the school fundraisers because I hated asking people for money.  And while I wish that we had $30,000 of our own (actually, so long as I’m making wishes, I really wish we had $45,000 of our own so we could adopt siblings!), we have accepted that fundraising is going to be a necessary part of our adoption journey.

We’ve been amazed and overwhelmed at the friends we have who have helped us with the fundraising aspect of our adoption–and we’re just a couple months into the process!  Our first fundraiser is going to be a garage sale, and people have been bringing over all kinds of great stuff for us to sell.  People have donated in-home massages, classes, and photography packages for raffles.  One dear family friend is even going to host a piano benefit concert for us this fall and donate 100% of the proceeds to our adoption.  It is truly overwhelming and amazing, and there are no words to begin to express to these people how thankful we are to them.  They are giving our family the greatest gift–the gift of a child and a sibling!  And the gift to our child of a family and hope and a chance at life.

So for families out there who, like me, are thinking to themselves, “I would love to adopt, but it’s just too expensive,”–don’t let that be the ONE THING that stops you from growing your family and becoming a forever family to a child in need.  Even though the fundraising part is something I”ll never feel entirely comfortable with, and even if we don’t raise a cent and end up spending years paying off our adoption loans and living in a one bedroom apartment during our retirement as a result, I am going forward knowing that I will not live to regret this.  We know that we want our daughter to have a sibling to share her childhood with and we know that our hearts have been moved by the crisis in the Congo to the point where we can’t do nothing.  And if that means I have to ask a complete stranger at our garage sale next week if he wants to buy a raffle ticket, then so be it. – See more at: http://www.africatoamerica.org/2/archives/06-2012/1.html#sthash.obfMdfP9.dpuf

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