Org Helps Gay Couples Adopt
When Caroline and Elizabeth, a lesbian couple, wanted to adopt a child, they knew they faced an uphill battle in many states even though as many as 115,000 children are waiting to be adopted in the United States, according to the Human Rights Campaign. “We began looking at adoption grants, but we didn’t think we’d ever get one,” writes the couple. “Many grant organizations openly favored heterosexual, married Christian couples.”
Then the same-sex couple found Helpusadopt.org, a nonprofit organization founded by Kip and Becky Fawcett (Fawcett was previously director of marketing for Philadelphia magazine before starting her own firm and eventually founding Helpusadopt.org after struggling to become an adoptive parent).
“We were encouraged to see that finally, same-sex families were welcome to apply,” the lesbian couple writes. “Being a parent means more to us than anything in life.”
This month, Helpusadopt.org announced several new recipients of grants that help subsidize the cost of adoptions. They including a West Virginia couple infertile due to cancer, a same-sex couple in Nevada, a Pennsylvania couple who recently dealt with infertility and five miscarriages, a single woman in Oregon, a same-sex couple in California, a same-sex couple in Tennessee, a single woman from Minnesota who is adopting a four year old, HIV-positive child from Uganda, and an Illinois couple who have endured six miscarriages and a failed adoption.
Twice annually (June and December) the organization distributes grants in amounts up to $15,000 to help with the cost of adoption. Since its inception in 2007, says Fawcett, co-founder and executive director of the organization, Helpusadopt.org has awarded 43 grants totaling $300,000 to recipients across the country, many of whom are gay or lesbian.
Funded solely by donations, the organization seeks to make parenthood possible for those who may have exhausted other financial resources or who may face discrimination based on sexual orientation. Adoption is expensive, says Fawcett. The average adoption costs $30,000 and it doesn’t matter who you are or where you live. The high cost of adoption frequently presents a financial obstacle for people wishing to build their families through adoption. And for gay and lesbian couples, they can face even greater pressure.
“We created Helpusadopt.org in 2007 because there was a need in the United States for a non-judgmental, non-discriminatory adoption grant program,” explains Fawcett. “We awarded eight grants to three heterosexual couples, two single women and three same-sex couples. We are proud of the fact that Helpusadopt.org does not define family. There are millions of children around the globe that need homes and so many people who want to open their homes and their hearts, but need a little help financially with the cost of adoption – that’s why we’re here, we help build families through adoption.”
LGBT people have successfully adopted children in many states around the country, however there have been challenges. Prospective gay or lesbian parents who pursue an agency open adoption may find that there is a hierarchy of preferred parents for a child – and that doesn’t always include same-sex couples.
To help pay for the lengthy adoption process many couples must endure – regardless of sexual orientation – grant money is raised annually through special events, the sale of Helpusadopt.org bracelets and private donations.
“We simply couldn’t do a thing without the support of so many generous donors,” admits Fawcett. “Our number of applications increases every grant cycle. We’ve identified a need so great that we cannot come close to filling all the requests, but we are certainly going to try.”
Helpusadopt.org’s seventh round of grants, expected to total $50,000, will be awarded in June 2011. The grant application is available online and the deadline for submission is April 15, 2011.
For a list of state laws impacting same-sex adoption, please visit the Human Rights Campaign.