My 2¢ on Adoption Fundraising: Applying for Grants

February 11, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Today we continue with the second of five posts in a guest series by Laure Kline, who will be sharing everything she knows about adoption fundraising with us! We know that many potential adoptive parents say that lack of funding is the biggest roadblock to adoption and it is our hope that this series will encourage, enlighten, and maybe even help a little one find their way into a forever family!

Post 1: Writing a fundraising letter
Post 2: Applying for adoption grants
Post 3: Fundraising event and sale tips
Post 4: Using social media to raise funds
Post 5: Handling negativity during the fundraising process

Be sure to check back next month about this time to read post three in the series!


Applying for Grants

A note to any birth families, expectant mothers considering adoption, and adult adoptees: we recognize that this kind of frank discussion of the costs associated with adoption can be upsetting. Please accept my apologies for anything that feels disrespectful and let me know if you feel there is a more appropriate way to discuss these issues.


Of all the ways to put together the funds prospective adoptive families need to cover their process costs, grants can be the most intimidating and complex. There are a huge number of factors for families to consider and address.

First, adoptive families need to consider whether an adoption grant is right for them and their adoption process. Most grants are awarded by organizations that have a specific demographic that they focus on. Some of them are for families who are planning to adopt from a specific country or a child that has a certain special need or medical condition. Some are specific to a locale within the US or are for families of a designated religious faith. (As a side note, a family who is planning to adopt a healthy infant via domestic infant adoption in the US is unlikely to find a grant to assist them in covering adoption costs, though there may be some available.)

If you have decided that an adoption grant may be right for your family, here are my two cents about how to make things go smoothly from research to application to funds (or not).

How to Find Adoption Grants

Organizations that award grants to prospective adoptive families change regularly. When we were in process, our agency gave us a list of organization to look into; many of them were no longer awarding grants and some were simply no longer in existence. Because these organizations change so frequently, I am not going to include a list here. You’re going to have to do some research; head over to your favorite search engine and start looking.

Searching for “adoption grants” is going to give you 159 million results (seriously), so I recommend using specific search terms to narrow your results to those that will work for your family. You may be able to find grants that are more specific by using combinations of search terms including:

• Your religious affiliation (e.g. “adoption grants for Christian families”)
• The country you are planning to adopt from (e.g. “adoption grants for Chinese adoption”)
• Special needs or medical conditions that the child you hope to adopt has (e.g. “adoption grants Down Syndrome” or “adoption grants limb difference”)
• Your state (e.g. “California adoption grants”)
• Your marital status (e.g. “adoption grants for single parents”)
• The age of the child you hope to adopt (e.g. “adoption grants older child”)

Applying for Grants

When you have identified a grant that you are considering applying for, you need to take into consideration a number of factors before filling out the application form.

1. Verify legitimacy and source of funds.

Adoption is, unfortunately, a business for many shady people and organizations. Before you apply for a grant, do some research into the organization. Where do their funds come from? If donations, what percentage of donations made to the organization go toward the grants? If a private fund, how is that fund supplied or replenished.

Verify that the organization is trustworthy; after all, you’ll be sending them intimate details about your family and your finances. You can use online tools such as CharityNavigator and GuideStar to read reviews about nonprofit organizations and research how they are using their funds.

2. Verify details of the grant.

Find out how many grants are awarded each year and how many families apply. Look for information about how the grants are awarded. How are the applications evaluated, and who makes the final decision? Are there requirements that dictate how the funds can be used? At what point in the process are the funds disbursed?

We applied for a grant from a well-known organization and were ecstatic when we were awarded a much larger grant than we had anticipated. It covered nearly 20% of our process costs and filled a big gap that we had been scrimping and saving to fill for two years. We found out after being awarded the grant that the funds would only be disbursed after we finalized the adoption and returned from China, which meant that we still had to find a way to cover the costs until we returned home. This requirement was meant to ensure that their donors’ funds went to help a family adopt and not just help a family whose adoption disrupts or falls through before finalization. It makes sense to do it that way, and I am glad that the organization has those safeguards in place. Nonetheless, it was not what we had expected.

3. Verify family/status requirements.

Many grants are only available to families that are at a certain point in their adoption process—home study completion—but there may be other unwritten process requirements.

We applied for a grant that required home study approval, but we were asked to reapply when we were closer to traveling to China. We had already been matched with our son-to-be, but we were still waiting for our official Letter of Approval from the Chinese government. There was an unwritten rule that their grants could only go to families who were close to the end of their process. If I had asked in advance about their unofficial timeline, I may have been able to save us and our references a lot of time. We ended up not reapplying for the grant when it was time for us to travel because we only had three week’s notice, which was not enough lead time for the grant’s application review committee.

4. Make a note of application deadlines.

Some organizations have a rolling application and award system in which they award grants to families as the applications come in. Other organizations, usually the larger ones, have strict deadlines for applications, third party reference receipt, application review, and for awarding the grants. Make note of these deadlines well in advance so you can be sure not to miss your window.

Be sure to ask your friends and pastors for their help as references early in the process so they aren’t rushed to meet a deadline. If you are going to apply for more than one grant that requires multiple references, you may also want to ask them to keep copies so they don’t have write what they think of your family over and over. (This probably goes without saying, but you should also make sure that the people who are writing your references are people with whom you have discussed your family and adoption plans at length and you trust to be honest and supportive in their letters.)

5. Complete the application, saving your answers frequently in a separate document.

Most of the grant applications that we reviewed were online only. Some were downloadable PDFs that were to be completed digitally and uploaded. Some were online forms that could be worked on in pieces, saved online, and accessed for completion later. Some were online forms that timed out after a few idle minutes and reset all fields to blank over and over. All of them had similar questions about our family, faith, and finances.

Because there was so much overlap, we copied each of our answers to the application questions into a separate text document that we used as our own little grant application “wiki”. Some of the questions required a lot of thought and reflection, and it saved hours to have our answers saved and easily accessible.

Saving our answers about the personal financial questions saved tons of time too, though each application had a slightly different format for recording our family’s income, expenses, and budget. I would definitely not have wanted to do those from scratch each time.

When you are completing your applications, it’s important to keep in mind that you are more than your finances. The review committees are made up of people, so be sure to speak to them. Why are you pursuing adoption? Think beyond ideas of what is “meant to be” or that you are “called to adopt”. What are you looking forward to about having a new child in your family? What are you doing to prepare yourself for the challenges you may face? Why does intentionally adding this challenge excite you? Involve your spouse and your children, if they are old enough, in your application. Ask them some of the application questions, and incorporate their answers if it makes sense to do so. Why did you choose the specific grant that you are applying for? Don’t just write what you think the review committee wants to hear; they will get plenty of that from all the other applications. Write your family’s true story.

After Applying

Keep saving, living frugally, and working toward your goal in other ways.

I wrote about writing a letter last month, and I’ll be writing about a few other ways to raise funds for your adoption process including things like special events, craft shows, and other sales.

The best way to keep your adoption fund continuously filling up is to be putting money into it yourself regularly. Used a few coupons at the grocery store? Put that $12.30 into your fund. Going out to eat? Choose a cheaper restaurant and put the difference into your fund. There’s no penalty for tiny deposits, and they add up quickly! In the scope of $40,000, it may not seem like much, but every penny gets you closer to your goal. For me, fundraising was stressful and emotional, so seeing our little fund grow even the slightest bit each month helped me to feel that we were making progress and that we would, eventually, meet our goal (and we did!).

If you are awarded a grant, keep in mind:

Funds may not be disbursed before you travel, so you may need to secure a short-term loan to cover the costs until you finalize. Check with your adoption agency; ours had a program that allowed us to defer payment on a few things until after the grant funds were disbursed by signing a promissory note.

Consider how you can “pay it forward” with your federal adoption tax credit after you finalize your adoption.

Stay humble. In order for your family to receive the grant, many other families had to be denied. Pray for those families as they move forward with their adoption process in faith.

And if you do not receive a grant, keep in mind:

There are many other ways to put together the funds your family requires to complete the adoption process. Stay tuned to this series; I have some more ideas and tips for you!

Consider how you can support adoption grant organizations with your federal adoption tax credit so that granters can support a greater percentage of applicant families in the future.

Stay resolved. Just because you weren’t awarded the grant you had hoped for doesn’t mean you aren’t “meant” to adopt. It’s okay to be disappointed; I know I was. Don’t let that stop you. Keep moving forward in faith.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress;
I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

– Psalm 62:5-7

Got any other grant application tips? Post them in the comments!


Laure Kline and her husband Joel have two children, a biological daughter and a son adopted from Hubei, China, in 2014. She blogs about adoption, faith, fundraising and more at One Thousand for One. You can also follow her family’s post­-adoption life at Adopting Baby K. Laure is the owner and principal graphic designer of Lime Creative, a creative studio specializing in design for churches and nonprofit organizations. She and her family dance awkwardly, sing loudly, and pretend to be completely normal from their home in Lancaster, PA.

Her History Matters

February 11, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

We have been highlighting ideas for ways to honor Chinese heritage while celebrating Chinese New Year (and Chinese holidays). I have some goals as the mother of a four year old Chinese daughter. I hope to have a dumpling making day with our family and extended family and feast on homemade dumplings, and oranges, and all of us eat at one table together. I have a noodle dish pinned on pinterest I probably won’t get to – but maybe for the next holiday we will try it.

We have decorations we purchased in China that come out every year for New Year, and we have some children’s books. Locally, there is a CNY celebration and a dragon dance. I am a little more excited to celebrate this year because, this year she can grasp the fact that she wasn’t born here like the rest of our family.

This year, Grace knows the story of how she came to be our “baby” – as much as she needs to know at this age, anyway. There are more questions this year than in the past. She is becoming curious about what she was like when she was a baby, mostly because there will be a new baby cousin in our family in the coming months. There are days when she is borderline obsessed to see pictures of herself as a baby and one day she asked if we gave her Christmas presents when she was a baby.

Here’s how that went:

Grace: You give me Crih-meh pre-seh my a baby?

Me: As soon as we knew that you were our baby Daddy and I sent a huge box of presents to you right around Christmas time and I have pictures of you opening them when you were a baby!

Grace: MY LOOK


So we found the stack of pictures from her time at New Day Foster Home in Beijing. I’ve always been so grateful for how they documented her life there but on this day, I saw how much it matters to her. Her story matters to her so very much. We looked through all of the pictures of her time there from 7 months old until we brought her home at 19 months. There were pictures of her with her “Ayis” (nannies) and she wanted to know who each of them were and why they were holding her and what were they feeding her and why are they smiling,

Grace: They like me? Why?

Me: They are the nice ladies who took care of you before I could come and bring you home and be your Mama.

Grace: Why?

Me: Because when you were a baby you didn’t have a Mama just for you.

Grace: Why my not have Mama my a baby?

Me: Because sometimes when babies grow inside ladies, those ladies aren’t ready or aren’t able to be a forever Mama to their baby so Jesus sends other ladies to be forever Mamas just like He sent me for you.

Grace: *smiles* Jejoe help me? (right now she pronounces Jesus – Jejoe.)

Me: Yes, Jesus helped you a lot.

And just like that, there she knew more of her story. She knows she didn’t have a mama when she was a baby. I didn’t expect it to happen that way. I didn’t prepare for it and have this big discussion and heart to heart talk. I hadn’t thought much about what I would tell her, and when I would tell her, and how it would all go down since we had meetings with our social worker a few years ago.

I didn’t realize how much her history would matter to her at four years old, but lemmetellyou – I do now. Her story is oh-so-important to her. Pictures of her playing or sick or hospitalized or drinking a bottle or sucking on her pacifier or sleeping are treasures to her. They were and are precious to me but it’s more than that to her. It’s her life in pictures of things and places she doesn’t fully remember or can’t describe in her vague memories. She craves details about her story, and is desperate to know who she played with in one picture and who was holding her in another. She also thinks that she was an exceptionally cute baby in every photo, which is gospel truth.


This conversation happened a few days before Christmas and I’ve thought about it several times since, and considered how I feel when I look back at pictures from my childhood. I know the names of every person in family photos. I can get ahold of my aunts and uncles and cousins instantly. I grieved and attended the funerals of my grandparents and great grandparents with my family. I remember attending family weddings, funerals or birthday parties. If they are still alive, I see most extended family at least once a year and keep connected with some through facebook.

I can recount my whole life story (everything I can remember, anyway), and when I can’t remember something I know someone who might. I’ve always been connected to my history.I know where all of my people came from, I know what my heritage is and where my ancestors were from. My history, though, is so much more important to me than my Scandinavian heritage. My family, my people, our shared life experiences is what I treasure; and for Grace she will have that with people who don’t look like her, and cannot fill in all of the answers to the questions she isn’t mature enough yet to even think of.

So how do we do this as adoptive parents to a daughter who has a completely different life experience, heritage, and ancestry that we cannot relate to? How do we try and fill in the gaps and answer honestly and with wisdom; because some of the questions require complicated and sensitive answers. We are figuring it out as we go, while looking to other adoptive parents who have blazed a trail before us and like all parents – we do the best we can. As someone who knows only what being adopted by God as His daughter feels like, I’m begging Him to give tenderness and wisdom to our words and empathy and compassion as we answer questions that we can answer, and to face the ones we cannot.


Sometimes honoring Grace’s culture isn’t just about celebrating holidays she doesn’t remember and doesn’t identify with because she was too little when she lived in China to remember. Some Chinese food she likes and others she refuses. Dragon dances scare her, and many English words are still a challenge for her, nevermind Mandarin. We do make and eat Chinese food, we read books and visit the local cultural celebrations. I make sure she dresses up in her silks, and we try to learn some more Chinese words, and decorate the house together.

I think part of our traditions on these special days is going to also be about reminding her of her amazing story and showing her pictures of how loved she was by our extended New Day family. One day when she is old enough to hear her whole story, I pray her mind is as blown as mine was, and is and will always be by the story of how she came to be ours. I hope she clearly sees the hand of her Father who was with her from the beginning, knows all the answers to her questions, and knit her together in her first mama’s womb, fearfully and wonderfully made.

One day, because “Jejoe” is in her heart, she can ask Him face to face all the questions she didn’t have the answers for on earth, but my guess is that in that moment – she will know all she needs to know.

Find My Family: Cam

February 10, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Courageous Cam is 7 years old and is deaf and mute.

Cam was found at 2 years old and upon admission was given a name that indicates loud and clear. Although he cannot talk the staff hoped he would learn to communicate. The staff observed that Cam could understand sign language and meaning through watching and observing. In July of 2014, Cam went to a rehabilitation center to receive training; where he was given listening, pronouncing and breathing training; although he could not hear, his comprehensive ability and observing ability were very good. Now he can understand what the teacher says through lip reading and he also can speak baba, mama, grandpa, grandma, glass, and good. With a hearing-aid, he can distinguish the sound of drum and gong, can distinguish animal voices imitated by the teacher, can recognize his name and imitate some simple motions such as blowing bubbles, yawning and smelling flowers.


Cam is the eldest in his class and he is like a big brother to the other children. He is very popular with other children, takes care of other children in daily life. Sometimes he will pour water for other children and distribute snacks to them! He is smart and sensible. Cam learns carefully and he can observe, analyze and understand by watching. He likes dancing very much; although he cannot hear music, but he can follow the rhythm. Cam never gives up and believes in himself!

Cam is designated to Heartsent, please contact them for more information.

Preparing Siblings for Adoption: Five Simple Guidelines

February 9, 2016 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments


If you are reading this, I am guessing you are close to saying YES to adoption or have already done so. There is a great chance you are somewhere in the middle of the paperwork race or nearing the finish line. You have countless hours under your belt thinking about how you will love, parent …Read More

15 Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year

February 8, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Lunar New Year is here! Our celebrations have morphed over the years, especially depending on the season of life and ages of children. Some years are more festive, while others simply get a “Happy New Year” and a nice meal for recognition. Although we’re trying to establish a few traditions for the children, we don’t …Read More

Rock-a-Bye, Baby

February 7, 2016 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments


I love how furniture has a history – how it tells a story – and nursery room furniture is no exception. When I was pregnant with my first child, I received a rocking chair from my sister-in-law, who had used it to rock her three babies. So many middle of the night feedings have taken …Read More

Sherry Waits for Her Family

February 6, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


This gentle, beautiful little girl is Sherry! She was born in May of 2013 and her legs are paralyzed. Sherry was found when she was about 2 years old and had an EEG, head CT, and lower limb testing (results in file). She was very timid, depressed and scared of strangers but the nannies spent …Read More

Kaleidoscope: One Year Home

February 5, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Today our family celebrates our One Year Home anniversary! I’ve often imagined what it would be like if I could travel back in time to those early days; what would I say to myself? What words of encouragement would One-Year-Home-Me have to say to Me-From-A-Year-Ago? This is how I imagine it would go… //// Hi …Read More

find my family: Layla

February 4, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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Layla was born July of 2014. She is described as an extroverted little girl who likes playing with mirrors, and being held by her nanny. Though her development is behind compared to other children, she can babble and say “mama,” and will clap her hands in greeting! As of December she was crawling and standing …Read More

The Perfect Fit for Our Family

February 3, 2016 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


My husband and I were only married a year when the Lord called us to adopt. Separately, we both felt the Lord speak to us about adopting a little girl from China – we told each other a few days later. It was encouraging to hear that call, and we were both excited for the …Read More

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