People: A Cause to Adopt
THERE’S NO PAYMENT plan for adoption. That’s something Becky Fawcett found out as she sat across from her lawyer in his Doylestown office, looking down at the estimate he’d written on the page: $35,000. Becky, then 35, had already spent $82,000 on five in vitro attempts, her womb refusing her most basic, human desire: to carry a child. To have a family.
Thirty-five thousand dollars.
“What if I don’t have it?” she asked the lawyer, her face blank, calling his bluff.
He shrugged, resigned to telling this woman what he’d had to tell countless others. “You could take out a double mortgage on your house, cash in your 401K. You could put it on credit cards. …” He looked at her left hand. “That’s a nice engagement ring. You could sell it. Or you could live a childless life.”
Even though she and her husband, Kipp, had the money, the words hit Becky hard. How lucky I am, she thought, the last finely woven thread that held her together starting to unravel as she suddenly imagined all the people who didn’t have that kind of cash — a financial roadblock putting an end to bottles and birthday parties and college graduations. Appearances forgotten, she put her head down and cried.
Almost four years later, the tears are gone. Becky’s purse is stuffed with photos of her son, Jake — ones she can’t help but share, shrugging sheepishly as she pulls them out over coffee at Maia in Villanova, the blond-haired resemblance between the two striking. She’s back for her monthly visit to her hometown, a frequent shoot down the Jersey Turnpike since she moved to New York in June 2006.
Like any parent’s, her love borders on infatuation, but she’s hardly a stay-at-home mom.
In November 2007, almost two years after the day she heard what it would cost to fulfill her wish for a family, Becky walked away from her PR company (which once represented Philadelphia Magazine), said goodbye to a paycheck, and started HelpUsAdopt.org, a national nonprofit that provides couples and individuals with grants of up to $15,000 toward their adoption expenses. The idea had surfaced only nine months earlier, when she sat down one afternoon and Googled “adoption financial assistance.” The results were limited, most of them religion-based, most of them offering only small grants.
“Well, what if I’m not Catholic? What if I’m Jewish?” asks Becky, sucking down a nonfat latte as if it’s a cigarette, her five-foot-five frame charged, perched on the edge of her chair. “Or what if I’m a single woman, or if I’m gay?” That’s when Becky’s heart started to break. Someone had to help others adopt, regardless of race, religion, or whom they chose to sleep with. Why shouldn’t she be the one? Why shouldn’t she level the playing field so it’s not simply the well-off and celebrities building their families as they choose?
“I know people who live lovely, lovely lives who don’t have $40,000 in the bank,” says Becky. “And if you are faced with bills of $30,000, $40,000, $50,000, what the hell are you going to do with a $2,000 grant? It’s not solving the problem.”