People: A Cause to Adopt

In 2007, Philly natives Becky and Kipp Fawcett started the nonprofit HelpUsAdopt.org. The five-year journey that led them there, and to their son Jake, has them fighting to change the face of adoption

THE IDEA THAT a child can cost as much as a new SUV is hard to swallow, especially given the fact that those seeking to adopt are offering to love and care for another’s baby, promising to be there for everything from diapers to scraped knees to footing the bill for college. But nobody is getting rich. Much of the money for private adoptions goes to supporting the birth mother during the nine months she’s carrying your soon-to-be child: assuming the mother doesn’t have insurance, roughly $10,000 to $20,000 for medical bills (prenatal, birth and delivery), $12,000 for her living expenses, $1,500 for her legal representation, and up to $2,000 for counseling. The rest is eaten up in large chunks by agency fees: about $5,000 for domestic adoptions, and anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 for international ones — including your own lawyer’s fees and, most likely, airfare and hotels.
 
But even after you plop down the cash, the adoption process isn’t easy. Like everyone walking down this path, the Fawcetts underwent criminal background checks, physicals, and visits from social workers, and spent countless hours filling out paperwork. Twice they thought they’d been matched with babies, only to have their hopes dashed — the limbo of waiting to be picked by a birth mother another form of torture altogether. “Most families wait between two and five years to be matched with a child,” says Marc Zappala, assistant director of research at the National Council for Adoption. “Unfortunately, some approved, quality families may never get picked.”
 
There is, however, usually a light at the end of this very long, expensive tunnel. For the Fawcetts, the universe altered that September, nine months after they first decided to adopt. They were picked by a woman in Maine. Six weeks later, they were barreling along the back roads of New England, Becky’s foot inching the speedometer past 90 mph. Their baby — her baby — was almost here. On October 29, 2005, a few minutes after 7:30 p.m., Jake Fawcett entered the world. Finally a mother, Becky leaned in close, her lips forming the first words her son ever heard: I’ve been waiting for you.