Adoption grants are one way to help with adoption costs. During our two adoptions, we have applied and qualified for adoption grants of various sizes. I have been so grateful that people have shared their knowledge of grants with us, and I thought I would “pay it forward”. I also spoke with a board member of a grant giving organization who chose us for a grant and it gave me some insight on what the organizations may be looking for.
Some tips when filling out the grant applications:
1. Be yourself
Really, the organizations, especially the smaller ones want to get to know you. Even though the application may be a “fill the blanks” type, there will always be a way to personalize it. Include your family picture, or if there are open ended questions, tell them your adoption story. Even if you have just finished your home study, you have a story. If they choose you for a grant, they will likely want to tell your story to their supporters. Just be yourself and let them see who your family is.
2. Include everything they ask for
A major reason for turning down an application right away, is due to missing documents. There is a reason why they ask for specific things and either have everything ready, or wait until you do. When an organization receives more applications than they can give grants to, this becomes the easiest way to thin down the pile. If there is a major reason why you don’t have a document to share with them, you could always explain (may or may not work) but at least acknowledge this with them. Also fill in every box in the application, double check this before you send it.
3. Focus on grants for your circumstances
Many grants have religious preferences. Don’t apply unless you fit their criteria. Some grants have a domestic adoption focus, special needs adoption focus, older child focus, sibling group focus, Asia focus etc. Some grant organizations post statistics on who received their grant, read those and see if you might fall into that category. Start your process by focusing on the ones that fit your circumstances the best, and then by all means apply for the others.
4. Make a goal for yourself
It’s easy to look at the number of applications and get overwhelmed. I tend to do my applications in small batches. Like 2-3 at a time. However long you want to give yourself to get them done, make a goal and stick with it. Keep copies of all documents, some you may need multiple times. Ask for general reference letters from 3-4 people. Speak with your pastor, he or she will need to get involved with some grants.
5. Don’t focus on the “biggies” only
There are a handful of well known grant organizations that provide big grants for adoptive families. They receive many applications and are only able to help a select a limited number of families. It’s a huge blessing to be one of the select few. But there are many smaller non-profits that also offer grants and the odds of being selected are in your favor. It may take a bit more work to find them, but so worth it if you are a recipient.
6. Follow up
This is huge!!!!!! I can’t emphasize this enough. If a grant says they will review applications in a certain time frame and you don’t hear from them, don’t assume you have not been selected. One grant we applied for, I knew that their timeline for reviews had passed and I emailed them for follow up. It lead to a string of emails and ultimately grant approval. Had I assumed this was a denial, I would have missed out on a grant. Many organizations are small and things happen. One particular grant started out smaller, but they received unexpected donations and it ended up doubling in value. So please, don’t only focus on the “biggies”, the small ones are just as important.
When you receive a grant, make sure you keep them updated on your progress. Some grants depend on your story to be able to raise funds for future grants. Let them know when your child is home, send them pictures and thank yous. This will help future families and keep the grants going. And once you are in a financial position to do so, pay it forward by sending a donation to them. Another adoptive family will be blessed by you paying it forward.
Please post any tips you may have in the comments, I am sure others will have wisdom to share.
Part 2 will talk about actual grant organizations….