This post was written by Tessa Reagan Vilte, one of Purl’s adoption advisors. Tessa and her husband were able to fund much of their adoption costs of their youngest child through adoption grants they received. Tessa shares her experience searching for and tackling the grant writing process in today’s blog post.


When my husband and I realized we couldn’t have any more biological children, we were very drawn to growing our family through adoption. After much discussion, we knew it was the way we wanted to grow our family, and we knew we were ready for another child. But once we learned about the cost of domestic adoption, finances held us back. My husband worked for the Sheriff’s office at the time and I worked part time while in grad school. While our circumstances came with certain financial difficulties, they also made us great candidates for receiving adoption grants. However, most grant organizations won’t just award money to any adopting family—your income has to be within a certain range (typically under $100,000 gross). This, unfortunately, means that a higher income can price you out of qualifying for assistance.

We knew we could afford to provide for another child. We owned our house and budgeted for daycare expenses, but the upfront cost of adoption scared us (read this blog post to understand better the costs in a domestic infant adoption). We decided to use an adoption consultant, so our adoption journey included a multi-agency approach, where we signed up with many adoption agencies so that we could see more adoption opportunities, with most of the total cost being paid after we were chosen by an expectant mom. Many grants we looked at required an important caveat that the adoption be through a nonprofit organization (501(c)(3)), so we ensured the agencies we signed up with were classified as non-profit/501(c)(3).

Securing grants for our adoption was not easy. In order to receive an adoption grant, you are usually completing long grant applications, and even paying some application fees. For someone going through the adoption process, more paperwork (and more money, without guaranteed success) adds tremendous stress. An advisor like Purl offers a list of active grants you can apply for and qualifications needed for each grant, which saves you a lot of time and energy in your adoption journey. In fact, Purl has secured an online course at no cost to Purl Families called “Preparing Financially for Adoption” by Family Money Coaching, a business started by an adoptive mom and certified financial planner. This course includes detailed guidance about loans, grants, budgeting and fundraising, and with that includes an exhaustive list of grants that might be appropriate for various prospective adoptive families.

I highly recommend that you start your grant writing process with the longest application, and save the answers to every answer you see in any grant application. I would recommend saving the longest application digitally, or copying the questions and answers to a Word document so you can reuse your answers in a later grant application. Many grant applications require the same documentation you submitted for your home study plus even more financial information, including, but not limited to, scans of both drivers license and social security cards; bank statements; print outs of credit reports; meticulous accounting of your expenses broken down weekly, monthly, and even yearly. Many organizations require that you have a completed home study prior to submitting your application, so we recommend that you keep all the paperwork you gathered for your home study digitally, so that you can submit it again, if needed, for your grant applications. Most grant application will ask several adoption and lifestyle questions regarding how and why you are adopting, and many may ask questions about any infertility you have experienced. Many faith-based grant organizations ask for information about your faith and your church, parish or synagogue, some even asking for a letter from your pastor, priest or rabbi. Some of the shorter applications have only had 3-5 questions, while others had 25-30 questions. If you start with a longer application and keep a record of your responses to each question, you can pull from it when completing the shorter ones.

Lastly, many grant applications will only approve you once they have information on the child you are planning to adopt. That means that you are typically applying for the grant before you are matched, and then following up with that organization and supplementing your application once you have been chosen by an expectant mom making an adoption plan. Having open adoption preferences will make you much more eligible for grants, as many organizations are primarily focused on the child you are adopting. For example, Purl’s CEO/Founder volunteers her time as the President of the Arizona Chapter of Gift of Adoption. She shares more about the process for the Grant Selection Committee for Gift of Adoption. Gift of Adoption requires that a grant be awarded only after you have matched with a child, and typically those grants are given to families adopting a “vulnerable” child, which for domestic adoptions typically is for a child with special needs or a child at risk of entering the foster care system absent the adoption (either due to past family circumstances requiring CPS involvement, or due to drug/alcohol exposure in utero). Gift of Adoption has a rolling application process and the Committee reviews grant applications monthly, while other grant organizations like Help Us Adopt have various grant cycles and application deadlines, and don’t require you be matched with a family before securing a grant.

After utilizing the strategies discussed above, my family received a total of five grants. Two of those grants (totaling $7,000) were awarded before placement. The other three (totaling $13,500), were awarded after placement. Because of my own experience and the fact that these grants were essential to us growing our family, grant writing is something I am extremely passionate about, and I look forward to helping Purl Families secure more adoption grants. I know first-hand how overwhelming the cost of adoption can be and how much of a roadblock it can be in growing your family, I love that through Purl I have the opportunity to help families through this process.

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