By Becky Fawcett
As children, before we ever met each other, Kipp and I both knew we would one day become parents. What we didn’t know is that how we would become parents would be one of the most important things we would ever do. When we started dating in college, the conversation about having children someday was very quick; we were on the same page. When we had been married for five years, the conversation changed 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 30s and had just started building our future.
As we continued infertility treatments, we not only watched our dream of parenthood slip away, we also watched our 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 early in our adoption process when we began to ask, “What happens if you don’t have the money to adopt?” We sought out professionals who were able to answer our question; while we were 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.
We started our research by googling ‘adoption financial assistance.’ We were 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. Grants that allowed families to only continue the adoption process were not the solution. We envisioned an organization that would help families complete their adoptions, and bring their children home. We envisioned an equality-based organization, inclusive to all, that didn’t charge an application fee and provided large, problem-solving grants. We envisioned Helpusadopt.org, and in 2007, it became a reality.
What started at our kitchen table quickly became a thriving national nonprofit. Our mission to build families through adoption, combined with our commitment to 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. We didn’t want to be the one to tell those children that people can’t afford to adopt; we wanted to be the ones to make their adoptions a reality. We only wish we could do it faster.
We built our own family through adoption—Jake is now 14 and Brooke is 10—and because of this experience, we have built Helpusadopt.org. It has grown to be a strong, national, adoption grant nonprofit with a board of 23, and thousands of donors who believe in our mission! Since Helpusadopt.org’s launch in 2007, we have awarded 342 grants, totaling more than $3 million dollars. The organization has long-since left our kitchen table; we now an office (think walk-in closet) in New York City with five full-time employees.
Photography by Lindsay May of Classic Kids Photography, Upper East Side