Money is complicated. (That ranks as probably the biggest understatement of all times!) This is especially true when you add family to the mix.
I think about this a lot when you read or hear advice that you should ask your family members to contribute/donate/lend money to help you adopt. This may ultimately be a good idea for you, but you should carefully think through the consequences before you ask.
Before You Ask for Money to Help You Adopt
If you and and they say yes, then all is well. But what if they say no? Even though you know it is their money, it’s hard not to feel hurt. It’s hard not to feel resentful when you hear about their next vacation or next major purchase.
Even if they give you the money, all may not be hunky-dory. The strings attached to given money can vary from almost invisible to cables big enough to hold up the Golden Gate Bridge. People who give you money often feel like they deserve a say in how its spent.
As I said, money is complicated.
Unintended Consequences from Asking for Money for Adoption
I’m not saying don’t ask your family for money to help pay for your adoption, but I think you need to think long and hard about possible long term consequences. You never really know someone else’s financial circumstances or philosophy on money. Here are two women’s stories about the unintended consequences of asking for money.
We didn’t give it a lot of thought before we asked both of our parents to donate money towards our adoption. We had saved a little less than half of what we needed so it wasn’t like we had done nothing. My parents gave us $1000 and my in laws said they did not have the money to give. They believed that if they gave to one child they would have to give the same amount to all their children (they have five) and they didn’t have that much money. We were both blown away.
I know my parents have the money to give us more. I think my in-laws could give to us for something this important without giving to their other kids, who don’t need it as much as we do. I know I shouldn’t feel this way, but I do. This had impacted our relationship with both sets of parents. The other day my dad said they were going on vacation to Florida and it was all I could do not to say something about them not having the money. And my in-laws gave an iPhone to their eldest grandchild for Christmas, and I was so pissed off I had to leave the room. I wish to God we had never asked because I don’t think I’ll ever get past this.
The most damaging part of our fundraising process was the effect it had on some of my family relationships. Unfortunately I allowed the lack of support from my one grandmother, one aunt, and especially my older sister to affect our relationships. My older sister is 4 years older, and she and her 2nd husband are lawyers in LA. She is the only person in my greater family that is established and financially secure. As far as I know my family has always been very respectful of her success and never relied or asked of her in a monetary fashion. She and her husband never donated, and never really addressed why. She made inferences to us that people should not adopt who can not afford to, and I assume that is why she chose not to support us. Although our relationship was fairly tenuous before, its pretty much non existent now.
I sometimes wish we had never asked because you never think that people will say no.
Did you ask for donations to help you fund your adoption? Would you do it again?
Originally published in 2014. Updated in 2016.