Grant Advice.

grants

A few times a month — I am contacted by blog readers to ask about agency recommendations, diet advice, etc. But mostly the question I get asked is about grants. They read our post about how we funded our adoption through grants and want to know our “secrets”. I was once in your shoes, dear reader. Here I go, trying to pay it forward for the encouragement that was given me as we embarked upon our journey (not that we have any “secrets”, but I do have some completely non-expert advice to share!):
Stay up to date on the latest grants.  I made a chart of all the grants I could find when we were in process and kept notes on which ones were currently accepting applications, which ones would be open at a later date, and which ones were open to apply when (some required you to have a referral of your child, others only needed a completed home study). Resources4Adoption provides a booklet of grants for a small fee. I follow them on Facebook and found out info about lots of grants that existed from smaller organizations — such as the Muskogee Church of Christ and Family Outreach — from their Facebook feed. They were grants that my Google searches had left unturned — which (I suspect) means less people apply for them if they aren’t quite as “well-known” in the adoption community…Apply for grants. This may sound like a really obvious piece of advice, but I say it only because I am kind of amazed at how many people count themselves out before even applying. I’ll excitedly tell someone who is bummed about their lack of fundraising success that they should apply for grants, and they respond with, “Oh we wouldn’t get one. It looks like we make more money than we do because we own our own business” or some other excuse. Well guess what? You get to attach a letter to your grant applications and explain to them anything you want to about your financial situation — so you can certainly qualify your information to them. These boards are not made up of a cold-hearted hierarchy looking to write-off families for each and every little thing. These are people who are adoption minded — and many are fellow Christians. They are kind and they want to help you. I got to know some board members along the way because they contacted us by phone and e-mail to give us encouragement, sent us books to educate us about adoption and followed up with us after Baby Boy arrived home. So just apply — what do you have to lose?Apply for lots of grants. When you’re looking at a $35,000 price tag, it can be easy to think that you don’t want to bother applying for the $500 grant, because it really makes such a small dent so perhaps it’s not worth the effort. But you know what? $500 is still a lot of money. If someone wanted to give you $500 for a Christmas gift, you would probably be pretty excited. I like to think of grants in terms of something that they COMPLETELY cover instead of this huge number that they chip away at. That $500 gift could cover your child’s hospital stay. That $1,500 grant could cover the cost of your plane ticket. No grant is too small, and you should apply for anything and everything.Make lots of copies. Grant paperwork is not unlike home study paperwork. There is a lot of it. So when you apply for one grant, make copies of your faith statements, your income taxes, your monthly finances, etc. because it will save you a lot of time if you can just tweak one or two things  as needed, rather than having to start from scratch each time.

Keep your applications updated. We did a lot of our grant paperwork as we were awaiting home study approval, and as soon as our home study was approved we sent everything in right away — so we didn’t yet have our referral. When we accepted our referral three weeks later, I e-mailed all the organizations we applied with and let them know that we accepted our referral. The closer you are to completing your adoption — the more compelling your case is (because the more bills you have due). So let them know when you reach those big milestones and are closer to bringing home your little one(s)!

Don’t expect handouts. This may sound odd given how optimistic and encouraging I have been and the fact that I have told you to apply for every grant that exists, but at the same time — you should not EXPECT that you will be able to fund your adoption entirely through grants. We count ourselves so blessed that we were able to do that — that matching grants allowed us to double our fundraising opportunities and other grants filled in everything in between — but we had NO idea that we would be so blessed. We went into our adoption prepared for hard work and debt. We took out a large loan, we cancelled our trip to California and cut back on monthly expenditures as we took on extra sources of income. Every single grant application asks what you are doing to help fund your adoption. They want to know that you are willing to sacrifice for your child (after all, the sacrificing doesn’t end once your adoption is completed). They want to know that you aren’t expecting every one to donate to your adoption fund without contributing through some hard work yourselves. They want to know that you are committed to seeing your adoption through, even if you are denied the grant.

As I said, I’m no expert and I don’t have any “secrets”, but I do hope that throwing out my thoughts about the whole thing helps give people some encouragement and resources in what I know is one of the biggest stressors during the adoption process!

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  1. […] We celebrated Baby Boy’s first birthday and I shared some tips on applying for adoption grants. […]

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