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How to Raise Money for Adoption

Fabric Button Earrings

Guest post by Lindsay from Lindsay Sews

With some changes to your everyday life, you can change your spending habits and essentially “raise” thousands of dollars for your adoption by saving.

Here are just a few ideas to get you started! 

Coupon Camp:

Ramp up your couponing efforts by getting together a group to swap and share coupons. Subscribe to a few extra copies of the Sunday paper (or find more ways to get coupons for free!) for extra savings on essentials.

Pull the Plug:

Turn off extra features on your cell phone plan, cable subscription, or insurance plan (auto and home). Check your bank statement or credit card bill and see what is being auto-billed to you, that you could cut back on.

Gym membership not being used? Netflix subscription no longer worth the money? You’d be surprised how much money you can save with these simple switches.

Fuel Fixers:

Plan your errands nearby your home, so you can walk or ride a bike. If you must drive, group trips together to save on fuel.

Try carpooling or working from home if it’s an option. If you drive a gas guzzler, consider switching to a lower-cost vehicle that has better gas mileage. If you still have a car payment, consider downgrading your vehicle to a car that has a lower payment or no payment.

Eating In:

Make eating at home a fun time by cooking themed meals with friends, and take turns hosting a pot-luck. If you spend money on coffee at the drive through, switch to home-brewed. Plan meals according to what you can get on sale that week, instead of what sounds good in the moment.

Forgift Me Not:

Think about how much you currently spend on gifts for birthdays, baby showers, weddings, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day. Instead of buying gifts for your friends and family this year, make a conscious effort to give them a thoughtful gift like a CD mix of music, a scrapbook made with recycled papers, or a handwritten note.

Retail Reset:

Instead of shopping for a new dress, swim goggles, or backpack, ask around to see if you can borrow or swap with a friend. If you are tempted by racks of new clothing, switch to thrift stores.

Entertain Me:

Trade movie nights at the theater for $1-rental movies at home, through sites like Redbox. Instead of taking a large summer vacation, switch to a few shorter, weekend jaunts or go somewhere that you can stay with friends or family.

I also recommend the book Adopt Without Debt by Julie Gumm. After you’ve done the hard work of pinching your pennies, here are some ideas for fundraisers you can use to finance your adoption:

  • Get friends together for a community garage sale and adoption fundraiser.
  • Ask about employer-based adoption assistance.
  • Host a ___ – a-thon (bike-a-thon, cook-a-thon, bake-a-thon etc.).
  • Sell flower bulbs, candy, or candles.
  • Hold a car wash in a prominent location in town.
  • Recycle ink cartridges and old cell phones for cash.
  • Collect donated books, CDs, and DVDs and sell on Amazon or
  • Host a heritage dinner fundraiser (with foods from your adoptive child’s home country).
  • Collect recipes from friends and family and sell a fundraiser cookbook.
  • Organize a raffle or silent auction with donated items from local businesses (car washes, gift certificates, and more).
  • Set up a “Baby Fund” at a tax-deductible donations site and ask for that instead of holiday or birthday gifts.
  • Sell t-shirts with an adoption-themed slogan to rally friends while you earn support.
  • Hold a bake sale or handmade/craft sale with your friends and contacts as vendors.
  • Check into home shopping party fundraisers, like Pampered Chef.
  • Set up a website to sell handmade artwork or crafts.
  • Check into adoption grants.

Lindsay Conner is a crafter, writer and editor near Indianapolis. She blogs at Lindsay Sews and sells handmade fabric earrings to raise money for adoption at her Etsy Shop, where readers can save 30% off with the coupon code SAVE30.

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  • I love this article! I’m an adoptive mom of two, and we did it debt-free by going through the DHS/foster services.

    Contrary to what most people think, you don’t *have* to do foster care first. We waited for kids who were already cleared for adoption. We adopted older children (6 & 8 at the time of adoption), but were happy to do so, as they were very clearly in need of a home and we felt like God was clearing drawing them to our home. I know that many people also adopt younger kids through the foster system as well. And it’s free! You have to pay for a couple of things up front, but it gets reimbursed later, for the most part.

    Definitely something to consider if you are considering growing your family through adoption! Thanks for a great article!

    • Jennifer Bailey says:

      Thank you Kelli! I have wondered about how much it would cost to adopt more local in the USA. I know there are SO MANY kids all over the world that need families, but there are children here that need love as well. This is a great article too!!

      • I have a couple of links on my blog that has info about adopting through DHS, and I’ve blogged a lot about our adoption process if it’s of any help to you! That’s great that you’re thinking about adoption! There are kids all over the world that need loving homes, and there are lots of great options for adoptions!

        • Martina says:

          Kelli, you make the adoption here in the US sound pretty easy, we considering adoption for awhile here, but our friends who also wanting to adopt were turned down because there were to many kids still living in the house and not all kids would have their own room, we live in a 3 bedroom house with out 2 sons, which share a room, so we didn’t even bother turning our paperwork anymore.

          • Martina – I’m sorry if I gave a wrong impression. I never meant it to sound like it was just an easy thing we just decided to do. Adoption, regardless of the route, requires a lot of effort, both in planning ahead of time, and in learning how help kids through it after in the attachment and bonding process. It can be very challenging! I only meant to point out that for those who have a heart for kids in need and a desire to grow their family through adoption, there are many ways to do it that can make it much more manageable financially.

      • Katie says:

        My husband and I also started out our adoption process this way. We got our foster license and we were just waiting for an adopt-only situation. In the meantime though, we were made aware of an opportunity to adopt privately, newborn twins! We only had about 3 weeks to prepare so having our foster license was a huge help. It was technically an “agency assisted private adoption” because we used an agency for some things and a lawyer for others. It cost us about $7,000 total which we got every dime back on our taxes the next year. So the final cost was free! I believe the adoption tax credit is about $13,000 now.

      • in many cases a US adoption is FAR more expensive. A private adoption can run tens of thousands more than an international process – even when you factor in travel to the country. We have adopted domestically (private adoption of a special needs newborn) was still more expensive than our adoption of our son in Russia – and our daughter was only 2 hours away! that being said Fost Adopt is completely free – we do have friends that have adopted thru fost adopt – we also have friends that are WELL qualified that have waited for placement thru fost adopt for almost 3 years and had many heart breaks along that road.

        there is no ‘easy’ adoption path – and there is no ‘wrong’ adoption path.

        • Yep, I would second that, SDD&S! I just threw a baby shower a few weeks ago for dear friends who adopted from Ethiopia. My husband’s cousin adopted twice from Asia. Some of my cousins came from the foster system, as did my two boys. We plan to adopt again, and haven’t decided which direction we’ll go this time.

          Adoption is beautiful – it’s not about where the kids come from, it’s about their needs for a loving family being filled.

          • I totally agree! I just love adoption – we have one bio, one from Russia, one from the US – all have their ‘pros & cons’ as far as travel/cost/difficulty/etc – but every child is worth the hoops you jump through for sure – I LOVE this article that shows folks they can adopt even if they think it is financially out of reach =-)

    • Christine says:

      Amen Kelli! You don’t have to go overseas to be a parent or provide a loving home. The US has thousands of kids waiting for forever families thru state and private social service agencies. i adopted my precious son in 2010 from MA DCF and I paid zip, nada, zilch. Check out

      • you don’t have to – but some people want to adopt elsewhere- an orphan is an orphan no matter where they are from (we have one domestic and one intercountry adoption) – but it is good to point out fost adopt is free – so few people know that =-)

  • Brittany says:

    We brought our daughter home from Armenia last September, and we are so thankful for the many people who played a special role in helping us bring her home. We had 2 very successful garage sales in one year and raised nearly $5,000 toward adoption. Over 20 families donated items at each sale, and the event was massive! People might not always have cash to donate, but almost everyone has unwanted stuff they are willing to part with!

  • sara says:

    We are just entering the adoption process, so these tips are very timely! Thanks so much!

  • Jessica says:

    I love some of these ideas! I would hesitate to make people CD mixes, though, since it’s illegal to copy music that way.

    • Kristin says:

      If the music you are using to make the CD’s is purchased from iTunes or a similar program it’s actually not illegal. It’s only illegal if you’re downloading the original music illegally.

      • Christy says:

        Sorry, no. It is only allowable to make a CD copy of downloaded music for personal use. If you are giving it away to friends or family (not members of your household) that is not considered personal use.

      • Andrea says:

        Christy is correct when it comes to music that is copyrighted (most is). Buying a song from iTunes doesn’t give you the right to make copies for others outside of your household.

  • Kimberly says:

    A co-worker who was raising funds for adoption hooked up with Chickfila and did a “spirit night” like they do for schools, church groups, etc. She posted a link on Facebook, put flyers in our boxes at school, emailed friends/family, etc. Her family got a percentage of the sales from that block of time.

  • rebekah says:

    Thank you – we are in the process of adopting right now, so this is timely for us, as well. We are applying for a Show Hope grant but I do have one question that doesn’t seem to be answered anywhere. Are these need-based grants? On paper, we look like we have plenty of money for this adoption, but that’s because we are unwilling to spend our emergency money to finance the adoption. We also REALLY don’t want to take out a loan, but if our fundraising efforts fall short, we may need to do that. $25,000 is a lot of money. The Show Hope grants look awesome but we’re afraid we won’t qualify because we have an established emergency fund. Any thoughts? Thanks so much!

    • Show Hope is one of the biggest grant organizations out there – but there are FAR more people applying than they can offer to – I only know one family that has actually been granted thru them – they of course have granted several – we were told (at the time we applied a few years ago) that it was needs based and it wasnt worth our time to apply since we made more than the average applicant and average generally wasnt given a grant – much less those ‘above’ – we asked if it factored in that we are nearly at the poverty level for CA – nope. =-( – we LOVE Show Hope and support them – there just isnt enough $ to go around to all who ask for it – it is a real bummer! They do help lots of families, but you might want to simply ask upfront – they might have had things changed since then =-)

    • We are a Show Hope family and received a grant to go towards the “final expenses” It is really to help with that last “push”. It is need based and I was told last year they have to turn away approx 70 families each month. (that may have changed) We fund raised the entire 34K and brought home a 4 yr old girl from Ethiopia a year ago. There are other grant organizations as well, Lifesong is one that comes to mind. In my opinion (and it’s JUST my opinioin…) most grants are need based and I think your emergency fund would come into play.

  • Jen says:

    When we adopted 6 years ago, we received a matching grant through our church and Lifesong for Orphans. It was a blessing!

  • Lindsey says:

    I am adoption support worker in Alabama. Many states offer adoption subsidies for “hard to place” children. These children may be older, racial/ethnic minority, have special needs, or may be a sibling group. Adoption subsidies can range from monthly stipends to money for counseling or Medicaid coverage until the child is 21. If you have a heart for adoption, but limited funds – adoption from the foster care system can be very inexpensive. Sometimes, adoption subsidies will even cover your attorney fees. Kelli is right, you do not have to foster in order to adopt – although many people do. In Alabama alone, there are approximately 300 children eligible for adoption at any given time -these are kids whose parent’s parental rights have been terminated and they are legally free for adoption!

  • Eileen says:

    I am an adoptive parent myself – so this topic is close to my heart. Here is a link to an article I helped a friend put together for her blog on adoption fundraisers:

  • Stephanie says:

    We adopted internationally 3 years ago from Russia, and did so without incurring any debt. For us, it was having a two-income household that allowed us to afford to do this. Reducing expenses in the ways outlined in this article helps, but the greater impact for us in keeping our costs down was by living in a modest home (our incomes at the time would have allowed for a much larger home). Our adoption took almost 3 years, so that also allowed us more time to save up.

    If you are considering international adoption, you have to anticipate expenses to be higher than what the agency tells you due to so many changing variables: cost of airfare, time of year you go, and increases in fees/expenses by the country you are adopting from (which can change without warning at any time).

    We used some of our emergency fund to pay for the adoption, but it was replenished when we got our $12,000 tax credit after the adoption was finalized.

  • Amy says:

    We’ve adopted 3 children with special needs from China without debt. I love this article because it shows what is possible if you scale back your lifestyle in order to adopt. Beautiful!!

  • Kathy says:

    My sister is adopting from China. They are in the process right now. I planned two different fundraisers for them. They were a huge success. They will have cleared over $5,000 from the two events combined. One event was a bowling fundraiser with an auction. The second was a port-a-pit chicken sale. The first was in a larger city (Lafayette, IN) where they live and work. The chicken event was in my hometown (where my sister grew up and the rest of us still live). They were fun and well received by everyone. They are going to be doing this adoption debt free thanks to the two events and some saving over the last couple years.

    • Allison says:

      could you tell me more information about the bowling fundraiser?

      • Kathy says:

        We worked with a local bowling alley to do the event. They set us a price per person for 2 hours of bowling, shoe rental, ball use, a $2 gift certificate for the concession stand, and 5 tokens for the game room. We charged $20 per adult, $15 per child, and $5 for under 4s that could bowl. We had little chinese boxes with small things in them for each person as the thank you. We also had some donated prizes that we drew names throughout the event to come choose a prize. We took advantage of VisatPrint for a free banner and magnets. Vistaprint business cards were used to make little thank yous for each box. We also held a raffle type thing (sorry I said auction before). We had our grandma make a quilt, our aunt crotched a blanket, another family member built a child’s picnic table, and there were a couple people that donated some baskets from businesses. It was a great day with lots of people saying that it was such a fun event.

  • Chelsea says:

    I just saw a tweet from Noel Piper about the “Together for Adoption” conference in September: On their website, there’s also a link to the ABBA fund which offers interest free covenant loans for Christian couples looking to adopt:

  • Rebekah says:

    What in the world is a port-a-pit chicken sale? ( :

    • marney says:

      The chicken is cooked on large portable grills, like tailgating or BBQ contests.

    • Kathy says:

      It’s a northern Indiana thing, and I think Ohio might also have them. They are awesome. The company comes with the chickens and their equipment. You have people there to sell the chickens. They are so popular here. We have a small community and you can sell 500-600 chickens at an event.

  • Linda Walshs says:

    Not to be contrary, but these might also be some good ideas for expectant moms who are considering adoption due to lack of funds to keep their little ones. I know there are moms out there that might consider giving up their babies due to temporary money problems that will be fix in just a couple of years and they lost their babies permanently.
    I do understand that their are lots of moms who don’t have any other options than to give up their babies, but these ideas could benefit some mommies who might other otherwise think they have no source of income to raise a child.

    • Sarah says:

      I just made a similar comment without reading all the previous comments. Glad to know I wasn’t the only one to feel this way!

  • Allison says:

    We started the adoption process last August. We are currently #42 on a waiting list for our child from Ethiopia!
    One thing we are doing that wasn’t mentioned is a puzzle piece fundraiser. We bought a puzzle and ‘sell’ pieces for $10 each. When someone buys a piece, we write their name on the back of it. The puzzle will be put together in a glass frame so our child can see all the people who were a piece to our adoption journey! We have a link on our blog and have posted it on facebook a couple times to get the word out.

  • Kristin says:

    Also, look to see if your employer has any funds available for adoption. My brother and sister are both adopted and my dad’s employer offered a huge amount of funds for international adoptions. Also, some employs offer a “rebate” of sorts after the adoption is completed.

  • Sarah Anderson says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! We had our first fundraiser over the weekend to raise $1200 to start the home study. We raised $1200 exactly! Praise God! God can and will enable us to do what he calls us to. Looking forward seeing him work through fundraising!

  • We adopted debt free too! (well – the second time – the first time we had LOTS of debt – but worth it – but glad the second one was better planned for sure!)

  • jennifer says:

    Churches sometimes offer no interest loans as well.

  • Sarah says:

    As a recently reunited first mother, I would much rather see a mother use some of these strategies to keep her child.

    • Crystal says:

      In many cases (especially for those who are adopting overseas), the children are orphans with no known family members living.

    • Heather says:

      It’s not always monetary reasons that cause a birth mom to give up her child.

      • Sarah says:

        How often do financially stable mothers give up their children? I’m sure it happens, but I’m pretty sure it’s not often.

        • Emily says:

          Many birthmothers go the adoption route because they cannot provide all of the care that a child deserves. Yes, she may have a job and be able to obtain food and diapers, but if she knows she will be working alot and in school, she may choose adoption instead. Many birthmothers ultimately realize that they want a stable home with a mom and dad for their baby, and that’s why they choose adoption. Bottom line, it’s not always about the finances.

          • Sarah says:

            That still boils down to finances. A woman who would have to work so many hours to support a child that she would have precious little time for the child is not what I had in mind by “financially stable”. A woman in a situation like that would still benefit (and be better able to care for her child without working excessive hours) with these strategies.

        • Denise says:

          When there are unfortunate circumstances some women choose to give up the child rather than have an abortion. I know of women who have been raped and didn’t want to abort the child but also didn’t want to raise it.

          I also know that a lot of teenage girls choose to give up their child because they want it to have a 2 parent home and they want to have a few more years to finish high school and turn their lives around.

          I’m not saying that it is easy for these women/girls to give up their children but they do it with the child’s best interests at heart and I for one am just thankful that they choose LIFE!

          • Shannon says:

            Finances are not the only reason to place a child for adoption…trust me. I know. I say good for you and thank you for writing a post about adoption fundraising. And it never matters where you adopt a child all that matters is that you are giving your child a good home and the love of a family. After all every child deserves that.

          • Sarah says:

            So why must they completely give them up? Why isn’t there an alternative that keeps them involved in their child’s life? Before you talk about open adoption, remember, it isn’t legally binding. The adopters can disappear with the child at any time.

        • K* says:

          One of my neighbors placed her son with her own parents because she was a drug addict with no plans to stop using and no desire to stop using. I’m glad that she left him with people who loved him and cared for him, although her subsequent children weren’t nearly as lucky and were taken into foster care because she couldn’t care for them.

    • I don’t think it has to be just one or the other. One of my favorite organizations that helps women in crisis pregnancies has them live there, at the house for several months. They are given counseling for emotional issues, as well as training in life skills, such as getting a job and how to handle money well (like the budgeting and money skills often talked about on this blog!). Then, after they feel more equipped, they are helped through the process of whether they would like to parent their child or give them up for adoption – and then further equipped and counseled regardless of the choice they make. It’s an amazing program, and I wish there were more places like it. There are no decisions made in a rush, and the women are given time to work through their decision, as well as help feeling equipped for the outcome of their decisions.

      When it all comes down to it, we could all apply some of the ideas in this article, regardless of our personal situations. It’s just budgeting with a specific purpose! 🙂

      And Sarah, congratulations on your reunification. I’m sure it’s a huge blessing to you, and pray that it is!

      • Sarah says:

        Than k you, it is. But it is also bittersweet. My daughter has scars, both physical and emotional because of the adoption.

        I am vehemently anti-adoption, not because I have anything against people caring for other people’s children, but because of the harm it did to me and my child. Also because of the idea of severing all legal ties between child and family of origin. It is possible to raise another person’s child without changing the child’s name, issuing altered birth certificate and generally pretending the natural family is less important. An honestly “loving” option would keep as much love as possible in the child’s life. I would far rather “adopt” a young pregnant woman and help her keep her baby. To me, that is far more loving than pretending someone else’s child is my own.

        One more point before I get off my soapbox. I especially despise religious people who adopt. God is all-powerful and all-knowing… until it comes to the placement of a child. He screws that up many times a day and needs people to step in and place those children where they are supposed to be. In all fairness, abortion says pretty much the same thing.

        • Sarah, I’m sure it’s no surprise that if we continued this discussion, we would find ourselves disagreeing an a lot. And really,I think that to discuss the issues you raise would require much more than the comment boxes on this blog post were intended for. 🙂

          However, all of our opinions aside, I can hear the pain in your words, and I’m truly sorry that you carry such deep hurts. I’ve adopted kids, I’ve been adopted, but I’ve never given up a child for adoption, and I can’t possibly know how you feel. I’m gathering that you are not religious, and that’s ok. But if you don’t mind, I’d really like to pray that you experience peace and healing from the wounds in your heart.

          Blessings to you!

        • Linda Walshs says:

          Loved reading your comments. I am a reunited adoptee who has had a few issues due to adoptions. I understand that there is a need for adoption in some circumstances, but I also agree we must Adopt young mothers who will only give up their babies due to lack of support in that instance. Adoption is a permanent solution to a temporary problem in many instances.

          • Sarah says:

            Thank you, Linda. I agree that circumstances that force a woman to give up a child are often temporary. Regardless, it’s cruel and unusual to sever all ties between mother and child. A child needs his or her mother. Adoption can provide a stand-in, but can a mother every *really* be replaced?

  • Denise says:

    Check out this website:

    Wild Olive Tees are faith based tees for women/children and they have an adoption fundraiser program! The shirts are super, super cute!

  • Tiffany says:

    This is a great article – but PLEASE be careful when thinking about “un-plugging” your insurance. you never EVER EVER want to be completely without home or auto insurance EVER. If you don’t have enough coverage on your car and cause an accident, your savings, home, other autos and literally ALL of your possessions can be stripped from you. PLEASE be VERY careful when considering cutting back on insurance. Making sure that your family is protected is a big part of being able to provide for them. Even if you have to wait a little longer – make sure you are bringing your new child into a protected home.

  • K* says:

    I really appreciate this post. If we choose to grow our family, it will probably need to be through adoption due to my endometriosis/adenomysis. The costs of it make my heart sink, and I don’t think older child adoption is for us.

  • Lindsay says:

    Thanks for having me, Crystal! You all have some very thoughtful comments which I’ve appreciated reading. Good luck to those of you who are beginning an adoption journey or others who may be making the difficult decision to give up a child, for financial or other reasons.

  • Laura says:

    Please also know there is an adoption tax credit that can be carried over for several years, plus the deduction for the child. Also, if your medical insurance pays for you to have a baby, they should also pay that much towards your adoption costs, so check with them. Good luck to all potential adoptive parents, you are in my prayers!

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