Adoption Grant Tips From the Experts
By Cherri Walrod – Founder and Director of Resources4adoption.com © April 2012
Let’s talk adoption grants.
In case you are new to the adoption grant scene, I would like to share a bit of my back story before launching into the meat of the article. My family and I completed three international adoptions in 2003, 2006 and 2008. We are currently in the process (2016) again for the adoption of two special needs children from China. I have done extensive research in the area of adoption grants since 2001. During our first three adoptions we received a total of approximately $45,000 in adoption aid grants.
Since 2001, a large portion of my life has been consumed by this topic. I am passionate about helping other families find the adoption funding solutions which best meet their needs. Since beginning Resources4Adoption in 2009, I have the unique opportunity to visit with the leadership and administration of many adoption grant organizations. Along with everything I learned from my own adoption grant application experiences, I have collected a lot of advice and insight from these wonderful and dedicated individuals.
Here is a list of considerations for adoption grant applications:
- Citizenship: Almost every adoption grant organization requires at least one if not both parents to be U.S. citizens.
- Application Checklist: In almost every case, everything on the organization’s checklist must be received before your application can be processed. Please be sure to read the instructions of every application carefully and complete each checklist thoroughly.
- Marital Status: Adoption grant organizations which require a couple to be married are typically based in the Evangelical Christian faith. Therefore, the term “married” is understood to be that of a traditional marriage between one man and one woman.
- The Application: Be sure to fill out the application completely and do not leave any blanks. If the question does not apply to you, please put N/A in the blank. This way they at least know you read the question and did not skip over it. You should also provide some reason why the question was not answered or why it does not apply to you. Full disclosure and complete honesty are expected and respected.
- Supporting Documentation: Almost all adoption grant organizations require you to submit additional and supporting documentation along with the application. (See the list of commonly required items below).
- Cover Letter: When you include a cover letter, make certain the name of the organization you are sending it to is correct. (For example don’t send one to A Child Waits Foundation addressed to Show Hope Foundation. Pay attention to detail and be accurate).
- Fundraising: When you share information about your fundraising efforts, many organizations want to know the difference between the amounts you have raised with actual fundraisers versus any donations you have received. Please be sure to track and be prepared to list these amounts separately.
- Net Worth: Does a lot of your net worth come from retirement accounts or home equity? If so, most grant organizations want to know why you have not or will not borrow from them for adoption expenses. Some people truly cannot access the money until retirement. However, most people just don’t want to. Yes, there are some penalties on accessible accounts, but they can be accessed. Some accounts are tied up in a corporation or company and absolutely cannot be touched. There is a big difference between “I don’t want to” or “We’d rather not” and absolutely cannot. Be completely honest. If you have equity in your home, please explain if you plan to use it and if not, why not?
- Cash Flow or Budget worksheets: Pay close attention to each item asked for on these forms. Many organizations want to know if you have parent/child Educational expenses as a budget item. Many of our families have children in private schools and often the family is paying on student loans. For the organization it is important to know the difference between a payment that is for a credit card versus repayment on student loans.
- Organizational Tips:
- Gather all of the documents listed on this info sheet. You may not need to actually gather the document, but rather create it or borrow the info from your home study info.
- Make at least 5 copies of each document.
- Store each document in a clearly marked and organized file folder
- Scan a very good copy of each document and keep it in your digital filing system such as your laptop or Google Docs.
- Be aware that some organizations will only accept information on their application forms. (A Child Waits Foundation and Help Us Adopt.org are examples of this. They absolutely want your information on their forms and do not include generic spreadsheets which you may have created for other organizations).
Below are some of the most common items required by adoption grant organizations.
APPLICATION CHECKLIST EXAMPLE
Generally required information:
- Application (Be sure to answer EVERY question and do not leave any blanks. If the question does not apply to you, then put N/A).
- Adoption Costs (This is usually an itemized list of all adoption expenses. If you list miscellaneous expenses on your form, please be prepared to list exactly what these are).
- Statement of Net Worth
- Cash Flow
- Picture of Your Family
- Picture of Child (if available)
- Signed Consent Form
- Complete Copy of the Signed Home Study (some require it to be notarized)
- The past TWO Year’s Tax Return: So if you are applying in 2016, you need to supply returns for 2015 and 2014. (This will be the 1040 Form – Most organizations only require the first two pages. However, a few may require a copy of the entire return especially if you are self-employed).
- Letter(s) of Reference (These are letters of reference from people who know you and can vouch for your character. Sometimes there is a “length of time known” requirement. Some organizations also require a letter of reference from your adoption agency).
- Motivation to Adopt Statement/Adoption Essay/Family Story. Please try to keep this essay or cover letter to a maximum of three pages. (You should at least provide answers to the following questions. If these questions are asked on the application, it is ok to review and reiterate the information in your family story. I recommend that you start by writing your family story before even beginning the application. You can always make adjustments later if needed. Remember the people reading this story do not know you at all. You need to write a story so they can get to know you. You need to paint a clear picture for them of why you are deserving of the grant).
- Why are you adopting? (Explain why you are adopting now, why you are adopting this child, etc).
- What lead you to this point? (Please explain if you have adopted before, had a failed adoption, experienced infertility, had infertility treatments, etc. and any or all of these have had an impact on your current financial situation).
- What is special about your family or your adoption situation?
- What have you done to this point to pay for adoption expenses?
- How do you plan to pay for the remaining adoption expenses if you do not get a grant?
- Describe any discrepancies between your home study info and the application info. (If there are any discrepancies between the info listed on your application, financial documents and your home study, you must explain them here).
- What can you share that is special about your family and adoption story? (Grant organizations are looking for an overall picture of your family’s adoption situation. They are not just looking at the “bottom line” and the numbers on the financial pages to make their decision. Your story is very important and you must be certain you share from your heart and clearly outline the details of what makes you special.
Christian Based Grant Organizations typically require the following additional information:
- Statement of Faith
- Husband Salvation Testimony
- Wife Salvation Testimony
- Adoption Testimony (This will basically be the family story you have already written from the list above but have the added spiritual connection of how God has lead you to adoption).
- Pastor Referral Letter
Cherri Walrod is mom to six children and the Founder and Director of Resources4Adoption.com. Resources4Adoption.com is the #1 educational resource for adoptive families seeking financial assistance. From help in writing compelling grant and loan applications to providing tips for fundraisers, Resources4Adoption offers personalized support for each family.