As a young girl, and the oldest of five children, I always knew that someday I would be a mother. What I didn’t know, is that how I would become a mother would be one of the most important things I would ever do in my life. When I started dating my future husband in college, having children someday was a very quick conversation because we were on the same page. When we had been married for five years, the conversation went from someday to now, and then quickly became a conversation about how difficult it was going to be. Infertility was something neither of us ever expected, and while we were still on the same page about becoming parents, infertility treatments and adoption were not things we were prepared for, especially financially. We were in our early 30’s and we had just started building our future.
As we continued infertility treatments, I not only watched my dream of motherhood slip away, I also watched my savings deplete rapidly. In total, we did five rounds of IVF; I achieved pregnancy three times, and each resulted in miscarriage. The first miscarriage was at 16 weeks. The second miscarriage was at 12 weeks. The third and final miscarriage was at 10 weeks on Christmas Eve in 2004. We were done; emotionally, physically, and almost financially we were done. We had depleted all but $40,000 of our savings—the exact amount we estimated it would cost to adopt.
It was pretty early in our adoption process when I began to ask, “What happens if you don’t have the money to adopt?” I sought out professionals who were able to answer my question; while I was grateful for their honesty, their answers were bleak. Families often went into financial ruin in order to complete their adoption; others were forced to live a childless life—childless NOT by choice. Not by choice. Not by choice. Not by choice.
I started my research by googling ‘adoption financial assistance.’ I was disheartened to find that while a handful of organizations existed, they were very limited in who they helped, they charged application fees, and they did not, in my opinion, give grants large enough to solve the problem. Small grants also, in my opinion, were not a responsible use of donor funds. Where was the impact? The tangible results? The donor responsibility? Grants that allowed families to only continue the adoption process were not the solution. I envisioned an organization that would help families complete their adoptions, and bring their children home. I envisioned an equality-based organization, inclusive to all, that didn’t charge an application fee and provided large, impactful, problem-solving grants. I envisioned Helpusadopt.org, and in 2007, it became a reality.
What started at my kitchen table quickly became a viable, strong, national nonprofit. Our mission to build families through adoption, combined with our mission of equality, resonated with donors of all kinds. Our platform was family—something everyone could believe in. And beyond this, there was the brutal reality that over 100 million children in our world need homes and adoption is the answer. I didn’t want to be the one to tell them that people can’t afford to adopt them; I wanted to be the one to make their adoptions a reality. I only wish I could do it faster.
Since Helpusadopt.org’s launch in 2007, we have helped build 168 families by awarding $1.4 million dollars in grants. The organization has long since left my kitchen table and now has an office (think walk-in closet) in New York City with five full-time employees. For more information and to read about the families we’ve helped please visit www.helpusadopt.org. You can also watch this People.com video featuring our organization: http://www.people.com/people/videos/0,,20921255,00.html.