Funding Your Adoption

Creative Resources to Make Your Adoption Affordable

by Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P. (Certified Open Adoption Practitioner), Founder of Lifetime Adoption, and adoptive mother

Man and woman figuring out their finances to afford adopting a baby

The number one reason hopeful adoptive families are unable to adopt is a lack of funds. They are ready to love a child through adoption but can’t due to financial constraints. My husband and I faced the same thing 30 years ago. However, we also discovered a simple truth: If there is a will, there is a way.

Adoption funding can come in many forms. Let’s look at some of the ways you can help finance your adoption. These methods only require a little time and a little ingenuity.

Adoption expenses include fees for a home study, agency fees, legal representation costs, facilitation fees, travel costs, and more. You may be wondering, “So, how can I fund an adoption?” In order to cover the costs, many people look to alternatives for adoption funding.

Most people don’t think twice about signing loan papers for a car but don’t want to do the same for adoption. An adoption will last longer than the car and give more joy over a lifetime. I’ve gathered this information to help you find a way to get started sooner rather than later. I hope to help you find a way to adopt, no matter what your financial situation is.

Getting creative with funding is the key to financing the adoption you’ve been dreaming about. Working toward adding a child to your family may not be easy, but it will be well worth the effort you’ve taken to find these resources. Some families are finding that through these suggestions they can adopt for less than they had ever expected. Remember you get out what you put in, so the more research you do, the better you will be at finding money for your adoption.

Here are a few that we’ve found beneficial during our 30-plus years of adoption work nationwide. If you are a prospective adoptive parent and have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us for answers.

Employee Adoption Benefits

Many companies, including a growing number of small- to medium-sized businesses, offer some form of adoption credit to their employees.

For example, both Verizon and PepsiCo offer their employees generous adoption assistance benefits. Smaller companies have discovered business tax benefits for themselves as well, so it makes good business sense to offer adoption incentives to their benefits packages. Ask your human resource department for details about benefits related to adopting children and if your company offers adoptive parents benefits or incentives.

Another option is to visit the Adoption-Friendly Workplace website; it’s part of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. This organization provides free materials to help people advocate for adoption benefits in their own workplaces. Call 877-777-4222 for details.

Federal Tax Credit

The adoption tax credit is currently more than $14,000! It phases out for taxpayers with high modified adjusted gross incomes. Qualifying expenses include necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, traveling expenses, and other expenses directly related to the adoption. Adoption specialist ast her desk reviewing adoption funding paperwork

You can learn more about this tax credit in Lifetime’s free webinar, “Understanding the Adoption Tax Credit.

Adoptive parents who plan to claim the credit should file Form 8839 (Qualified Adoption Expenses) and attach it to Form 1040.

For more information and other downloads to the required forms, please visit the IRS website.


Saving sounds simple, but you have to start somewhere, and it will help motivate you to add to it. If you have made the decision to adopt, start saving money right away — the sooner the better. Just cutting back on Starbucks lattes can help. (At $5 a day, you can stash enough away to get you started.)

Raise Money for Adoption Online

Go through your garage, attic, and basement for unused items that you have stowed away and forgotten about. Ask friends for donations of items they don’t want. Run an ad to ask for donations for funding your adoption.

Selling these items online can help you raise a good amount of money. Try selling your items on eBay, Craigslist, or buy-and-sell groups on Facebook’s Marketplace.

Have a Yard Sale

Whatever you can’t sell online, you may be able to sell at a yard sale or garage sale. Ask your relatives and friends if they have any items they can donate.

Sign for a garage sale and items for sale at the garage saleOne hopeful adoptive mother I know created a banner to hang over her garage. The banner stated that they were funding their adoption. Their neighbors and families from the community donated boxes of goods and bought items at top dollar to help raise money.

Create signage and flyers for your yard sale. Make sure to give them a consistent look and mention that the proceeds go towards your adoption funding plan. You might pass out the flyers at church, local schools, and work.

Adoption Grants

Though you may not be aware of them, there are adoption grants that may help with some of the expenses of adopting a child. Many of these grants will help cover international adoptions or adoptions of children with special needs.

Most adoption grants range from $2,000 to $5,000 but can go much higher if you fit the requirements. Often, these grants are needs-based. Some are faith-based.

Visit Lifetime’s Adoption Financing page to find a list of available adoption grants. African American Adoptions Online offers grants for African American infant and older child adoptions to qualifying adoptive parents.

Adoption Loans and Lines of Credit

Loan programs geared toward adoption are another adoption funding alternative. Loan terms allow adoptive parents to repay the loan over time. A line of credit can be even better, as you only borrow when you need it.

Loans are a great idea if you simply do not have a large amount of money on hand to fund an adoption, and payments would make adoption affordable and allow you to get started faster. You might also ask your parents for a loan to help you adopt. Depending on the relationship, this might be the best way to get started and then pay it back. Visit Adoption Financing Information’s website for other ideas.

Plan a Fundraiser

Plan a fundraising event, such as a Spaghetti Feed or Walkathon. You might ask local businesses to donate items for a silent auction at your fundraiser, explaining that they’ll benefit from the extra exposure to the community.

Be sure to contact the local press, including radio stations and newspapers. Publicize your adoption fundraiser through social media outlets. Post flyers at local schools, churches, and businesses. And remember to let your friends and family members know so they can spread the word, too!

Be Wary Of Hidden Adoption Fees

Many adoption professionals charge a fee just to apply for a spot in their program. Others charge match fees, which cannot be recouped if the match falls through. If the adoption doesn’t work out, they keep the fee, and the next time there’s a match, they’ll charge you again. Before signing a contract, make sure you understand all of the costs.

You Can Afford Adoption

Young couple with a financial expert signing documents for adoption fundingRaising money to adopt a child may seem overwhelming, but there are several ways to raise the funds if you get creative and think outside the box. 

Having a yard sale or raising money through online auctions may not seem like it would bring you a lot of help, but it will. One mother I helped raised over $1,200 on one garage sale and over $2,500 on her online auctions. It only takes a couple of hours a day to sell online.

If your friends and family donate items to your cause, it’s possible to raise an exceptional amount of money. You might be surprised at how the extra items can make a difference!

Any amount helps, and if you still find yourself short of what you need, look into adoption grants and loans. Remember the tax credit and employer benefits – these are the first to investigate.

With a little planning and research, the average family can find the money to bring the light of love into their home by adopting a child. There are so many children out there that need the warm and secure home you have to offer; why not take advantage of every funding alternative available to you? Completing your family circle with adoption will soon be more than just a dream!

Lifetime Adoption

Lifetime does not charge you a fee to apply for our program, which is rare for adoption agencies. Our online application has always been free because we believe that it’s ethical to find out if we can help you build your family through adoption before we start working for you. Until we mutually decide to work together, we won’t charge you.

You can find Lifetime’s online application here. If you are interested in the cost of adoption, additional adoption assistance, or the adoption process overall, we have many wonderful resources available to you on our site.

We also recommend reading an adoption story as you look through the site. We have many stories about open adoption that women have shared with us.

Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P., is a nationally recognized authority on adoption. A Certified Open Adoption Practitioner, Caldwell is the founder of Lifetime Adoption Center, established in 1986. Caldwell has facilitated over 1,800 successful adoptions. She was one of the first adoption professionals on the Internet.

Caldwell’s life work has been dedicated to educating and helping birth parents and adoptive parents through teaching, speaking, providing resources, and as a radio talk show host.

Author of many award-winning books, including Called to Adoption: A Christian’s Guide to Answering the Call, she has more than 225 media credits to her name, including Larry King Live, ABC News, NBC’s The Today Show, CNN Headline News, CNN’s The Campbell Brown Show, CBS News, NBC News, KGO Newstalk Radio, CNN’s Black in America II, MSNBC, Fox, PBS, BBC, Dr. Laura, and is widely sought for print articles and speaking engagements.

Here are my recommended adoption funding sites:

Adoption Financing Information
African American Enrichment Program
Adoption Friendly Workplace

Get More Info Now

If you live outside of the United States, please click here.

“Yes, this journey is really something unique – but Colleen and I are certainly more prepared than ever before thanks to the Lifetime community and resources.”



Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.



Funding Your Adoption



Called To Adoption



Open Adoption Webinars

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