Sunday, May 20, 2012

Crowdfunding Adoption

At the New York Times Motherlode blog, a piece about crowdfunding (a fancy way to say fundraising) fertility treatments and adoption:
In vitro fertilization (I.V.F.) and adopting a child are expensive ventures. They’re also dreams that many people can sympathize with — when someone tells a friend, or even a stranger, “we’re trying to have a baby” or “we’re trying to adopt,” people often just want to help. Crowdfunding — putting your hopes on a Web site that allows others to donate money to their realization — is the latest way to make that possible.

“After two long hard years of trying on our own to conceive,” Kimberly Sparkman writes at her campaign on Indiegogo.com, “we were diagnosed with infertility.” Insurance, she says, doesn’t cover the procedure, and she tells a story that will be familiar to anyone who’s been through it: tests, procedures, hope, loss and none of it free.

* * *

For years, crowdfunding, in some form or another, has been common in the adoption world. As an adoptive parent, I’ve seen online auctions and other fund-raisers, and many Web sites have a “ChipIn” button that allows friends, family and readers to contribute. With I.V.F., too, it’s mostly friends and family — Adam, who with his wife Arielle created a campaign to pay for an adoption (they asked that I not use their last names, as the domestic adoption process is fragile), says that of the 100 donations they received in raising $6,935, only nine came from strangers. They did receive many donations from “Facebook friends” they hadn’t seen in years, “people we would not initially have thought to reach out to.”

* * *

Would you finance your infertility procedures, or an adoption, this way? Donate to a friend’s campaign, or to a stranger’s? (There’s a kind of seductive quality to the idea of anonymously helping someone else’s dreams come true, isn’t there — like being the genie in the lamp?) Or do you find something off-putting in raising money for so personal a cause?
I've posted before about fundraising for adoption, a topic that tends to produce strong opinions pro and con.  It seems to me, though, that they're asking the wrong question at the NYT blog -- how about asking what effect fundraising for adoption has on adopted children who were the objects of those charity campaigns?

19 comments:

StaN said...

The fundraising for adoption makes my skin crawl - the fundraising blogs of PAPs hoping to adopt children with special needs via Reece's Rainbow are particularly horrid. And offensive and disrespectful and probably like illegal, in that they tend to:
- include photos and private medical info about kids in Ukraine and Serbia (where both the preselection of children for adoption AND photolistings are illegal)
- PAPs plaster pics/medical info all over their blogs despite having no legal claim to the kid they hope to adopt whaysoeverv(ie no official referral).
http://journeytoreunitetwoangels.blogspot.ca/2012/05/dose-of-reality.html?m=0
- many of the PAPs are attempting to adopt kids not legally available for adoption (eg kids under 5 from ukraine who do not have a special need that's on the official special needs list,like this:
http://hopeforsharon.blogspot.ca/2011/11/really-moving-now.html?m=0
-PAPs tend to be horrifically disrespectful to bio parents, ie railing against the universe bc the kid they want to adopt is not available for adoption bc bio parents visit regularly and do not wish to relinquish their parental rights. You end up with oodles of overentitled PAPs writing about how awful it is that they can't adopt a kid that already has parents!! There's also a whole lot of praying bio family ts will not contest the adoption (so so so wrong!!!).really.its some of the PAPs are that awful:
http://www.allarepreciousinhissight.com/2011/12/prayer-for-mountains-to-be-moved.html?m=1
- declaring its an "emergency" and a particular kid needs to be adopted ASAP (um, no!!! Permanently severing family ties is never an emergency -- though medical care may well be)
- bragging that you do not need ANY $$ saved to adopt - bc a deity will provide (um, no planning/saving is important!! If anything, expenses go up post adoption and many therapies SN adopted kids need are not covered by insurance)
- PAPs fundraise for big expenses as well as tiny ones, eg $10 for apostilles, $75 to courier documents, post placement reports (!!!!). Really. If you can't affor to mail your documents.... well, undertaking a $40k enterprise for which you have no $$$ of your own to cover us probably not such a hot idea
http://luckytolovelyla.blogspot.ca/2012/04/paper-baby-shower-for-lyla.html?m=1
- many PAPs that state they're adopting internationally bc they cannot qualify to foster/adopt domestically, eg bc they already have 10 kids with significant SN
-have recently disrupted or are presently in the process of disrupting, attempting to adopt 6 unrelated kids simultaneously etc

StaN said...

Almost forgot to mention, many RR pap fundraising blogs also feature probably illegal giveaways , ev raffles for iPads, kindles, vacation rentals and other big ticket items:

http://journeytoreunitetwoangels.blogspot.ca/2012/05/ipad-giveaway_15.html?m=0
http://covenantbuilders.blogspot.ca/2012/03/fun-friday-giveaway-inside-giveaway.html

http://www.nogreaterjoymom.com/2012/02/announcing-winners.html?m=1
-nachalaadopt.blogspot.com

Stephanie said...

It truly boggles the mind that some
people are so gung-ho about helping tear one family apart (a mother and her child) via helping fund the adoption that will do so, yet dehumanize and degrade natural parents if they ever need "financial help".

Natural mothers are called "welfare queens" and are told "if you can't afford to have children", use birth control or don't have them. Why is it okay to not have enough money to adopt, therefore ask for donations? I suppose the same thing could be said to those individuals. The double standard and hypocrisy is disgusting.

Camille said...

I agree with many of the points you make Stan...especially disapproval of PAPs that would be disrespectful to first parents or posting pictures of children before the adoption is complete. Stephanie, that's an interesting comparison to Welfare moms. I agree that families should plan, and that it's irresponsible for anyone to have a child if he or she cannot provide for that child's basic needs. I'm an AP, and we paid all of our adoption expenses without fundraising.

However, on the other side, I have a friend who is in the process of adopting two three-year-olds from Honduras. Their parents are dead, so they are certainly not trying to separate anyone from a biological family. My friend is a doctor and her husband is a pastor, so they certainly make an income decent enough to support and care for a family. However, even after careful planning and budgeting, finding $25,000+ in one's budget all at one time can be challenging. They set up a respectful Web site in which their friends and family could donate money to help with the adoption expenses, and I was happy to have an opportunity to donate. It was a way to show support for their decision to build a family through adoption and to ease their financial burden. In Isaiah 58, God commands us to care for the orphans. I feel much better donating my money to help create a family rather than to the "organ fund" at church.

I think that many people will misuse adoption fundraising, but I don't agree that the practice itself is inherently evil. It should be closely monitored and have definite rules, but in many cases, it can help create families for children in need.

Kris said...

Just my gut feeling: icky. Icky to fundraise online for IVF or adoption. It is way too close to buying a child in either case. Can you imagine being that child and finding your own "fundraising page" online? It creeps me out.

Stephanie said...

"I agree that families should plan, and that it's irresponsible for anyone to have a child if he or she cannot provide for that child's basic needs."

On the flip-side, someone facing an unplanned pregnancy and not "wealthy" by societies standards should not feel like she has to make an "adoption plan", severing her rights to her child.

One having more money than someone else (what older couple does not) does not automatically make them the better parent. That is the fallacy that is domestic infant Adoption in this country. Adoption is a permanent solution to a temporary problem for many mothers and their infants.

jen said...

I'm with StaN. Fundraising for adoption and for fertility treatments makes my skin crawl. It's not at all about whether or not I feel that someone who doesn't have the money to adopt wouldn't be able to raise a child, but rather it's about the fact that it turns an adoption into a charity case. Why should friends, family, or stranger finance the way I choose to build my family? Fundraise for orgs that are working to make adoption unnecessary. And I agree with Stephanie on what this says about natural mothers. If I'm going to give money, it is going to be to social service organizations that work to end poverty. I say this as someone who is currently adopting. My husband and I definitely didn't have money in our budget to adopt- we took a year and a half to save money before even starting the process. We had a friend approach us out of the blue and offer to contribute. We politely turned him down. When he said he'd still like to give some money in recognition of our adoption, we pointed him toward UNICEF and the projects they have to immunize and feed children in the country from which we hope to adopt.

StaN said...

In terms of saving up the $25k to adopt (or, really, $13k after the $12k adoption tax credit), hardworking, non-trust-fund-bearing people do it all the time -- for a down payment on a house or a new car.

My family didnt adopt, but did save up around $20k ahead of each baby -- to cove insurance deductible and parental leave (my wife stayed home for 6 mos with kid#1 and I stayed home for six mos with #2; we'd moved to Canada by the time #3 arrived... and my job --just like everyone else's job -- came with 9 mos paid parental leave! At 96% of my salary!! Which is super-civilized)!!

zhou.and.mc said...

I don't like adoption fund raising especially when they include pictures and information about the child however some of the comments seem very judgmental. We adopted over two years ago and being a parent and adopting has made me more conservative - maybe I am reading more into the comments than I should.

Camille said...

"Just my gut feeling: icky. Icky to fundraise online for IVF or adoption. It is way too close to buying a child in either case. Can you imagine being that child and finding your own "fundraising page" online? It creeps me out."

I'm not going to voice an opinion on IVF as I think that's a separate issue. As far as fundraising being equated to "buying a child," I disagree. Talking about the financial aspects of adoption is tricky, but here are some thoughts. First, I believe all adoption agencies should be non-profit; any person or group making money off another human being is deplorable. However, in ethical adoptions, there are still very real costs. Social workers, counselors, and lawyers earn salaries. My agency often houses birth mothers in hotels or apartments for months, and that's not free.

We didn't fundraise, but I don't judge people who choose to do so respectfully in order to meet those costs. As the original post pointed out, most of the donations come from friends and family members. An on-line giving option just makes it easy for those friends to help.

Think of it as an extended baby shower. Do you have issues with people who choose to have baby showers in which grandparents, cousins, friends, and co-workers bring hundreds of dollars of frilly pink dresses, strollers, and Diaper Genies? Guests are supporting the new parents and helping to provide for the new baby. Adoption just comes with a few extra financial considerations.

I guess if a child found his or her fundraising page on-line, his interpretation would depend greatly on how it was explained. "See son, so many people loved you and wanted to help us bring you home. Aunt Susie helped pay for plane tickets. Uncle Joe paid for our hotel....etc." Raising a child (or bringing one home) sometimes takes a village, after all.

Camille said...

"On the flip-side, someone facing an unplanned pregnancy and not "wealthy" by societies standards should not feel like she has to make an "adoption plan", severing her rights to her child."

@Stephanie. I whole-heartedly agree. No one should be pressured into making an adoption plan and having money doesn't necessarily make someone a better parent.

I have a cousin who faced an unplanned pregnancy at 17; she chose to parent, and though she struggles financially, she's an amazing mom. She was committed to parenting and willing to make the personal sacrifices necessary to do so. However, I've also had numerous young teenage students who have actively and knowingly pursued pregnancy because they thought "babies are cute" or wanted to ensure the devotion of some guy. I work at a community center where women who cannot feed the three children they have already are actively pursuing more.

Please understand, I'm not trying to pass judgment on another woman's reproductive rights or reasoning, but these do seem like irresponsible decisions. I think children deserve food and a safe place to sleep at the very least. I don't have a magical answer to any of these problems.

"Adoption is a permanent solution to a temporary problem for many mothers and their infants."

In some cases, true. I'm not a fan of coerced adoptions. But what is the solution? Where should children go while their mothers "get it together?" While a woman may be an amazing mother five years down the road, babies don't wait. Their needs are immediate and constant. How long should a child wait? Foster care can help in some situations, but it has its own host of problems and also isn't a fix-all solution. I don't know the answer, and I think it differs on a case to case basis.

"In terms of saving up the $25k to adopt (or, really, $13k after the $12k adoption tax credit), hardworking, non-trust-fund-bearing people do it all the time -- for a down payment on a house or a new car."

@StaN Canada sounds awesome. That 9 month paid parental leave is amazing! Sadly, I don't see us moving there anytime soon, and most U.S. folks are lucky to get 6 weeks, usually unpaid. Also, we don't all qualify for the adoption tax credit. My husband is a veterinarian, and I was a teacher before I chose to stay home with my daughter; we've been blessed financially, so we were able to save for our adoption expenses, even though we did not qualify for the tax break. However, adoption remains cost-prohibitive for many people who would be excellent parents. Especially international adoption and especially of sibling groups. People rarely see a problem with raising money for orphanages; why is raising money for one child to have a forever home so different?

theadoptedones said...

Camille,

Did you ever stop and consider how moving and housing expectant mothers away from their family conflicts with ethical adoptions? A woman facing a crisis relocated to a facility where the agency profits only when the adoption goes through?

Yes, there are valid costs associated but assuming that a non-profit does not make money is naive at best. Salaries, high rents paid on property owned by employees or owners, transfers to other companies for services - all legal of course but profitable nonetheless.

Adoption costs because no longer are families willing to pay the cost of the maternity home to send their daughter to so they can hide the shame she brought to the family. They aren't willing to fund your adoption anymore.

Save $500 per month for 4 years - just like a car payment and drive your old car. No need to fundraise.

The difference between raising money for an orphanage vs one child - more children benefit for the same amount. Cultures across the world are vastly different - for some orphanage care allows for families to stay together and during specfic seasons or conditions for the child to be fed and cared for and then returned home. Western attitudes say this is wrong but who are we to say their culture is wrong and we are right?

StaN said...

@camille A pregnant woman is just that, a pregnant woman. She does not become a "birth mom" until AFTER the baby is born AND she decides to relinquish.

It makes my hair stand on end to hear you/your agency refer to a pregnant lady as a "birth mom". I'm with theadptedones that just using the term "birth mom" is pretty coercive in and of itself.

In terms of people (social workers, judges, translators, etc) earning a living by doing adoption-related work -- I've no issue with that. It's just that in international adoptions, typically from developing countries, the $40k fees are so huge as to be market-distorting.... especially if the per capita income is usd$900/yr like in Uganda. The $$ also provides a perverse incentive to "find" orphans in places (Vietnam, Ethiopia, cambodia, guatamala) where there aren't a whole lot of very young, very healthy infant orphans before. EJ Graff wrote a couple of great articles for Foreign Policy "the lie we love" and "anatomy of an adoption crisis"'a couple of years back -- the latter was a case study of vietnam, and when the $$$ went away, so did the healthy infants from the orphanages. (there were still orphans in vietnam, but the vast majority were older than 5 and had significant special needs).

Camille said...

"Did you ever stop and consider how moving and housing expectant mothers away from their family conflicts with ethical adoptions?"

Yup, and I know this happens much too often. However, in reference to my own agency, many of the women they house are homeless and have no family in the area to start with. They don't have a "facility" to relocate anyone to and generally just end up trying to find housing in an apartment complex or hotel of the mother's preference.

"Yes, there are valid costs associated but assuming that a non-profit does not make money is naive at best. Salaries, high rents paid on property owned by employees or owners, transfers to other companies for services - all legal of course but profitable nonetheless."

That may be true, but assuming all agencies are un-ethical is equally unfair. My agency is housed in a one-room office in a local church. A tiny, drab, old office. Nothing fancy about it. I'd probably be hesitant to trust an agency with a fancy building or center. I don't know their exact salaries, but I know what kind of cars they drive and where they live, and based on that, I'd assume a fair wage.

"Adoption costs because no longer are families willing to pay the cost of the maternity home to send their daughter to so they can hide the shame she brought to the family. They aren't willing to fund your adoption anymore."

Here's a link to one of my favorite bloggers that I think explains the cost of adoption quite well.

http://www.rageagainsttheminivan.com/2011/04/why-does-adoption-cost-so-much-and-why.html

"Save $500 per month for 4 years - just like a car payment and drive your old car. No need to fundraise."

Or allow your friends and family to help and give a child a family four years sooner. Again, we funded our own adoption, but under different circumstances, we might have needed help. Maybe you don't agree that there are true orphans that need families? Here's a link to how I feel about that:

http://www.rageagainsttheminivan.com/2010/10/do-orphans-need-saving.html

"The difference between raising money for an orphanage vs one child - more children benefit for the same amount."

Please refer to the "so why didn't I just send the money to Haiti" portion of the first link above.

"Cultures across the world are vastly different - for some orphanage care allows for families to stay together and during specfic seasons or conditions for the child to be fed and cared for and then returned home. Western attitudes say this is wrong but who are we to say their culture is wrong and we are right?"

I'm not saying those practices are inherently wrong. I just think it's fair to ask the question, "how long should children have to wait? What are the positives....and negatives?" There are thousands of children caught in foster care for years, bouncing from placement to placement, and by the time their parental rights are terminated, they've aged to a point that severely diminishes their chances at being adopted. Sad and wrong...but true. Not to mention the thousands of children in other countries who have no parents.

Camille said...

@ StaN
I apologize for the wording slip-up. My agency just referred to my daughter's birth mother by her name, C. My mistake. I agree that mothers are just mothers until after the adoption takes place, but as I'm writing responses while trying to keep my toddler from eating the dog, I had a brain fart. We do use the term birth mother as that is what C. prefers. We have an extremely open adoption in which we see my daughter's birth family once a month or so. I use first mother and birth mother interchangeably. I know it's an offensive term to some while other bloggers I follow prefer it. I'm not sure if it's coercive or not, but we follow her lead.

As for international adoption, I know there's a lot of corruption in the past and currently. I know that humans are greedy and will make money in whatever ways they can. I also know that at the end of the day, I hope that all people don't get scared away from adoption thinking it is better to do nothing than risk using a wrong word or contributing to something unethical. I think PAPs should make every effort to learn as much as they can and choose ethical agencies and programs, and I'm a fan of sharing ideas that leads to that end.

StaN said...

@camille I absolutely agree - it really is incumbent upon PAPs (who by virtue of having the most $$) to do their reasearch and to refuse to work with unethical agencies/facilitators.

Julie Yielding said...

I think that people have to make their own decisions and be ok with the consequences of those decisions. If that includes 'crowdfunding' then that's their choice... I choose to give to families adopting SN kids - typically those featured on RR. But that's my choice as it's my money. I also give to organizations that help children get adopted, like The Project Zero (kids out of foster care). Again it's my choice since it's my money.

And having just completed my first IA, it's very expensive. I'm lucky that I'm financially blessed but other adoptive families aren't so lucky. So I choose to support them via 'crowdfunding'. Most of the time I don't even know these families. I'm just happy that SN kids are getting a chance at life in a family instead of being stuck in an orphanage.

@ StaN - Now adopting 6 unrelated severe SN kids at one time ( I think I know who you are referring to if it's from RR), probably not a good idea. But again, it's that family who has to be comfortable with the consequences of their choice.

bohemianvegan said...

StaN enjoys going around the internet and posting whatever negative things he can about Reece's Rainbow and its families. He wants to see RR shut down because he disagrees with their practices.
In reality, RR is NOT illegal as he thinks they are.
He exaggerates the negatives. Most of the families are nice people who just want to bring children home.
I do know that some RR families have been asking for large sums of money they need immediately before traveling. I do wish they didn't do that. Yet I know they want to bring children home. The community has scrambled for funding for some families in the nick of time.
What matters the most is that the children are HOME and not in institutions. Yes, it's also done with LEGAL funding.
When people scramble with funding, it's not wise because they may not be able to get the funds in time.

SallieKaye said...

Interesting. The nice website of the State Department notes that pre-selecting AND photolisting a kid to adopt is illegal in Russia and Ukraine. (In the former, only the Gov of Russia is permitted to photolist Russian kids).

There's great information - including a letter from the US Ambassador to Ukraine detailing RR's illegal and unethical practices at:
Theadoptionspotlight.wordpress.com