3 Facts about Adoption Fundraising You Don’t Want to Hear

Fact Sheets


3 Uncomfortable Facts About Adoption Fundraising


Adoption fundraising is a potential minefield for the unsuspecting. Before you decide to publicly raise money to adopt a child consider the following three uncomfortable facts. They may not be fair; they may not be right; but trust me, they are real. Don’t shoot the messenger.

#1 You will feel tempted to over share your adoption “story”.

Raising money involves selling, and a powerful story sells. You will be tempted to share more of the “hard” facts about your child’s or birth parent’s life to make your fundraising more compelling.

Further, some people who give will feel like they deserve to hear the details. These are not bad people; in fact, they are likely very nice people who care enough to give you money or buy a product they don’t want in order to help you adopt. They probably won’t even realize they are asking for information that you may not want to share. Telling them in so many words that it isn’t their business will not be easy once they’ve given you money.

It’s easy to forget before the child arrives that this theoretical child you are raising money for will become very real once she arrives. She may someday resent that the people in her world know so much about her early story, and you may regret having told.

#2 Your spending and saving habit will be noticed.

If you ask for people to give you money, they will judge how you spend your money. Like it or not your spending and saving habits will be noticed.

  • “I see she bought a new dress – wonder why she didn’t put that money towards the adoption.”
  • “They took a nicer vacation than we did.”
  • “They go out to eat every Sunday – wish I could afford that.”

#3 You will resent the people that don’t give.

If someone chooses not to give you the money, or buy the product you are selling, or attend or help out at your dinner you are giving, you will likely resent it on some level, and it may very well damage your relationship. I know plenty of people who say they will ask for money and people can decide whether to give or not, but I know of no one that does not notice who gave and who didn’t.


OK, my flack jacket is on. Have at me. Agree? Disagree? Any other uncomfortable adoption fundraising facts you would add to the list? Are some fundraisers able to avoid these three uncomfortable facts?

Image credit: PT Money

01/10/2014 | by Fact Sheets | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog, Other Adoption Resources | 18 Comments

18 Responses to 3 Facts about Adoption Fundraising You Don’t Want to Hear

  1. Avatar Michele says:

    I definitely agree with these! I share my story publicly on YouTube, Facebook, and my blog as well so I feel that #2 is even more true for me. I often feel like I have to justify even tiny purchases. Another thing I get a lot is “if you can’t afford the adoption fees how are you going to afford to raise a child”. People just don’t seem to get how expensive adoption is and how you need so much money so quickly. It has definitely been a lot harder than I thought it would be to fundraise. In the end the majority of the funds will come from me working more and saving every penny. It will take what seems like forever but it will be totally worth it to have her home in my arms! She will definitely be an only child though because there is no way I can afford to adopt a second time. I’d much rather use the funds towards her.

  2. Avatar donna says:

    I have 5 adopted children and did fundraising for my 4th daughter adopted in 2007. Yes the three “adoption facts” mentioned are true to some extent for some people. In my own way I experienced them when we did fundraising for our daughter. At that point we were only raising a small amount of money and did many of the things Gang’s Momma mentioned. Adoption fundraising is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do but in our case we didn’t have any other choice at the time. Our case was very unique dtr was un adoptable by anyone but us per order of the government where she lived and we had a short timeline to bring her home.We sold everything we could, cashed out any liquid assets, had yard sales with items people donated. We also held a community Christmas party event that had raffle baskets, Santa and other fun activities. It was a fabulous event with tons of things for the kids to do music, crafts, santa DJ face painting well worth a few dollars in a raffle basket.

    Yes adoption fundraising can be difficult but there are also benefits. I agree with Brion,being on the “receiving end” is one of them. Prior to this we were always the “givers” it was enlightening to be the ones receiving. Since adopting our daughter we are even more involved in community child advocacy and charities that we were before because we are even more sensitized particularly to the needs of special needs children. Adopting our daughter is one of the best things we ever were able to do and she blesses us every day with sweet personality and inspires us with her determination and empathy for others. Yes the fundraising could be difficult but she is worth every effort one thousand times over. We also met people who filled up pick up trucks full of used items to donate to our yard sale and we have made friends for life. We were blessed in many ways and learned who our true friends are.

    No worries about our “spending habits” we couldn’t buy anything during our adoption years except second hand and essential. Last year we adopted another child, I raised money for that with a business that I opened a couple of years ago. It is much easier not to have to ask anyone for money but sometimes people have to. I don’t know anyone who is wealthy who does fundraising. I have never met anyone who is well off and asks others for money for an adoption. Maybe I just know a lot of good people. I know a lot of people in the adoption world none of them who are well off or go on fancy vacations ever did fundraising. The people I know that do fundraising truly need the money to put directly toward helping with adoption expenses and they adopt children that are hard to place and would not be adopted otherwise. No need to tell the child’s story a diagnosis is enough.

    China’s orphanages are full of special needs children and maybe we should be able to rise above the three minor “facts” and go out on a limb to do what we can to offer a home to a child. Don’t get me wrong, fundraising shouldn’t be a first instinct it should be a last resort but I don’t condemn people for doing it. People SHOULD take personal responsibility toward the funding of their adoptions to some extent because that is how they show full commitment as parent to the child. I also think people shouldn’t be “serial fundraisers” for multiple adoptions because it puts so much stress on the family living in that crisis for cash mode. The urgency is very stressful. There are some good and legitimate reasons to fund raise and I help when I can because I know how hard it is to be in the shoes of the parents anxiously trying to bring a child home.

    • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

      Donna, I agree and I too don’t condemn people that choose to fundraise. For some, as you say, it is the only way. I think it is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly and people should be aware of some of the downsides–as in these three “facts”.

  3. Avatar Aaron says:

    We managed to keep all the details regarding the birthmom’s story away from the fund-raising experience. We do not consider ourselves in the “well-to-do” circle, but at the same time we managed to go out for dinners and not sacrifice a great deal. I can imagine folks judging us for that, but judgmental people will always find something. The crowd-funding was a way to allow our dear friends and family to participate in our family-building process. People gave what they could and there was absolutely no resentment for friends or family who did not donate. I appreciated receiving funds that we could use to pay off our loan, instead of blindly receiving clothing and toys from Walmart.

    • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

      Aaron, you raise a good point about asking for donation in lieu of gifts. Babies and young children really don’t need a lot and chances are good that people will be able to lend you the things that you really need (other than a car seat), so money would be much more appreciated.

  4. Avatar Carrie says:

    100% agree. I’d rather sell things I have, get a second job or even wait a little longer until I saved more, than ask people for money. While people are usually willing to help and that’s great, it’s my dream, not theirs.

  5. Avatar Lee Otis says:

    I have often wondered about the motives of the ‘well to do’ fund raiser. We are in a Large circle of adopted familes. Some of them appear to be quite prosperous – new cars, nice vacations, nice ‘stuff’, always talking about their various activities – yet they fund raised their adoption. Begs the question ‘Why?”. The expeditious answer is, although they appear to be prosperous, they really are not. But I wonder if it is something deeper. Perhaps they intuitively sense they are not really ready (emotionally, spiritually, responsibility wise) to take on an adoption, but rather than wait until they are ready, they turn it into a community project. Does that resonate with anybody?

    • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

      Hummm Lee, I hadn’t thought about the not being ready part. It seems to me that if you aren’t 100% ready, you wouldn’t want to keep it private or at least not so public to allow yourself some wiggle room. I suppose going public go propel you forward and over your fears. Perhaps it is that fundraising is just the norm in those adoption circles. Some people look at fundraising as a way to involve their friends and community in their adoption.

  6. We fundraised for our second adoption. We did NOT experience in any meaningful way (at least not that it negatively affected me or my very focused perspective) any of the three concerns. However, I guarded carefully our story. And our daughter’s. Her needs were significant but we had learned a lot by then and just kept the information minimal. The other thing I’ll say is that I don’t agree that these are FACTS. I would offer them as the top three things that MIGHT be backlash for you or points of contention for others in your circles. But to say they are facts is not true of many many experiences, in my opinion.

    That being said, particular with regard to #1 and #2, my brand of fundraising MOSTLY consisted of me raising funds, and working my hiney off to do so. I ran an “online yard sale” and treated it like a part time job. Donations of things folks would otherwise be sending to Goodwill or the thrift stores, things we were “done” with, etc. I also, during that same time frame, babysat full time and made it clear to my clients that that whole paycheck was going right into the “adoption fund” each week. We sold antiques, gold jewelry and extra furniture.

    I ran a “holiday open house” event where seven or so vendors showed up, set up in my downstairs and did their “show” thing from 1-6 on a Sunday afternoon in early November. All vendors had agreed, offered, etc. to give the “proceeds” of the shows in monetary donations to our adoption fund where they could and then the product that I “had” to take was sold in my online yard saling. Pure profit, and it got folks out and shopping for their holiday needs in a meaningful way. Plus, it was a ton of fun!

    Further, I am very careful about how I spent money in general (I’m actually kinda known for being quite frugal in my circles) AND I was more so with the things that were extras (women’s retreats, trips wtih friends, lunches out, etc). Folks offered to pay my way for stuff in consideration of knowing that I was not spending and sometimes I graciously accepted, others I declined. AND we asked for cash or donations for the adoption for all our birthdays and Christmases while we waited. Folks were VERY appreciative of that and gave generously. Even folks who don’t normally give us gifts for such occasions.

    I actually am NOT a huge fan of outright fundraising, in the traditional sense. So I chose VERY carefully what vendors, programs I used. AND I made sure that we were scrimping, saving, and working our butts off as much as we possibly could. I cannot personally get behind the “pay pal” buttons on blogs, the outright begging for donations, gifts, etc. and the “fund my whole journey to my kid” that is out there in some circles. But I don’t judge them and I will go head to head with anyone that says something disrespectful or rude or ignorant to either of my girls or my friends’ kids like, “Hey I helped pay for you.” That crosses SO many lines, I can’t even say.

  7. Avatar Brion says:

    This is our second adoption – first time fundraising. I think your point about resentment is the most unexpected thing that I’ve experienced. It hit home when an old colleague declined to give though he has tremendous discretionary income. Rationally I’m ok with that, but viscerally it hurts.
    At the same time there was another unexpected truth to fundraising that I would have missed had we not done it. I have been amazed at the outpouring of support through gifts of money. For people to part with oftentimes hundreds of dollars when there is no material gain to them is a testament of their love for a child they’ve never met and their faith in us as a family. As many times as I’ve given to a charity I just didn’t “get it” until I was priveleged to be the one holding out the cup. For me, that’s been worth more than the money raised. Thanks for your comments.

    • Brion, great points all. I have heard from many people that the feelings of resentment caught them totally off guard. They went in with the attitude that if people didn’t give that’s OK, but in reality it stung. I LOVE your point about being on the receiving end of “charity”. It opens our eyes to the goodness in this world.

  8. Avatar Jocelyne says:

    We had a dinner, dance, and silent auction. Admission was by donation dropped in a box, we have no idea who donated. We later asked key people for financial assistance, some donated, some loaned us funds. We provided an accounting of the fees paid for the adoption for these key people so they knew where the money eas going.

  9. Avatar Elaine Makiej says:

    Adoption fundraising wasn’t that popular when we were adopting. But for all the reasons you list above, makes me glad we didn’t. The adoption fundraisers that I like the best are the “Jack and Jill” type aka we get a hall, music going, and have snacks, and people pay to hang out together. And the yard sale ones are pretty neat too. Nearly every one has a couple of useful things that don’t want to throw away but don’t want to run a yard sale either.

    • Elaine, and you can do either of the fundraisers you mentioned without making it all about the adoption. People have garage sales all the time, and there is no pressure to come and buy, although there may be pressure to donate items or to help out.

  10. Avatar L says:

    I agree, and that’s why we chose not to fundraise, as helpful as it would have been. We borrowed money, and we’re still paying it off, but I didn’t want to open ourselves up to judgment. If we were to fundraise, but then take a trip or even just go get a manicure it wouldn’t feel right. It was hard to come up with the money on our own, but in the end it was so worth it.

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