I’m infertile. Seriously infertile. Infertile to the tune of 5 rounds of IVF in my early 30s, 3 pregnancies, and 3 miscarriages. One at 16 weeks, one at 12 weeks and one at 10 weeks. Infertile to the tune of ruining every holiday, every birthday, every everything. I think that the worst aspect of my infertility was that I was foolishly caught off guard by it. It never occurred to me, even though I was surrounded by women who were struggling to get pregnant, that I would be one of them.
My husband was ready to adopt before I was. I struggled for a long time about what closing the biological door would mean to me, but in the end (after the 5th round of IVF and the 3rd miscarriage) I put my fears aside and opened the door to adoption. I had no idea that once I opened that door not only would I eventually lose my heart to my two children and their birthmothers, but that I would go on to create a national 501c3 organization that would change the world of adoption as we knew it.
As my husband Kipp and I started our adoption “Journey to Jake” in 2005 I felt the need to ask “what happens to those who can’t afford adoption?” After all, no matter who you are, no matter where you live, adoption frequently costs $30, $40, $50,000 and sometimes even more (our 2nd adoption was one of those). I kept wondering “what if you had spent everything you had on unsuccessful infertility treatments or couldn’t even go down the IVF road?” Who could this group of people turn to for help with the costs of adoption? The answers I found were deeply concerning. Either a) people entered a world of financial ruin that they might never climb out of to bring their child home or b) they lived a childless life NOT by choice. Those answers were unacceptable to us. Once Jake was home and we were settled in, my thoughts returned to those in need, and I began to research existing adoption grant organizations. My research was met with mission statements full of discrimination. The existing organizations defined family, defined adoption, defined religion, charged their applicants to apply and awarded small grants that did not, in my opinion, solve problems and put children in homes. It was at that moment that Kipp and I decided to create Helpusadopt.org, an organization whose mission focused on equality —it was time to change the landscape of adoption grants.
In 2007, Helpusadopt.org launched as the nation’s only organization that doesn’t define family, doesn’t define adoption, doesn’t require an application fee, and awards large, life changing, problem solving grants up to $15,000 that put children in homes. This dream began as a kitchen table organization in our Manhattan apartment in the summer of 2007 with the remainder of our savings. I was still working full time as a publicist and about to start our 2nd adoption (my journey to Brooke). Kipp and I felt we were building something significant but cautiously guarded our expectations knowing that even with our money alone we could help one or two families a year and that would make a difference. But within in days of the announcement letter arriving in friends’ and families’ mailboxes, the first donation check arrived from a friend who knew our struggle “We believe! Good Luck! We’re in for the duration.” And so it began…there were more checks to follow. Slowly and surely over the past 5 years, our kitchen table organization grew to need three full time employees and a midtown office. As for the donation checks? Well, since our launch in 2007 we’ve helped to build 81 families nationwide by awarding $670,000 in adoption grants.
So as I write this today at 43, I am a little older, a lot wiser, and very aware of the world around me. I am the proud mamma to Jake (7) and Brooke (3). Helpusadopt.org is still the only organization of its kind by definition of our mission statement, non discriminatory practices and the fact that we do not charge our applicants to apply. I continue to donate my time as full time executive director as part of my philanthropic contribution to the cause. My infertility put me on a road that I never would have found on my own. That road took me to two of the sweetest little creatures, their birthmothers and Helpusadopt.org. For that I am eternally grateful.