Applying for a Grant
How to Apply for an Adoption Grant.
Grants are a popular source of adoption funding. Finding legitimate grant sources and applying for grants is yet another part of the adoption process that involves paperwork, accurate record keeping and persistence.
Have an Adoption Plan in Place
Before you start applying for adoption grants, you will first want to have your adoption plan in place. Most adoption grants are very specific in their requirements, so you will need to know if you are pursuing a domestic or international adoption, if you are open to or looking for a special needs child or sibling group and have a good assessment of your financial situation and funding needs.
Budgeting an Adoption
The first step is to put together an adoption budget. Look at all of your anticipated expenses, including home study fees, attorney fees, adoption agency fees, travel expenses, cost of government background checks (local, state and federal), etc. Many grant applications require at least the total estimated cost of your adoption, if not a detailed financial plan. Once you have a good estimate of your adoption expenses then put them on a timeline. Usually, not all payments are due at one time, so you can space them out as you approach your actual adoption date. Also, some grants are a reimbursement instead of an upfront payment, meaning they are paid after the expense is incurred and paid by you and/or after the adoption is finalized. By plotting the expected expenses on a timeline, you can also better manage your cash flow throughout the adoption process.
How to Find Adoption Grants
When looking for adoption grants, make sure you are applying for a true grant, and not a loan. A grant does not need to be paid back - a loan will need to be paid back plus interest. Sunshine State Adoption and Home Study Services has compiled a comprehensive list of adoption grant resources that can be found here on our site. For other sources of grants, start in your own community. You may belong to a church or social group that offers adoption assistance. When searching online for adoption grants, just make sure they have good references and are legitimate funding sources.
Qualifications for Adoption Grants
Grant qualifications vary with each grant. By having your adoption plan in place, you can quickly weed out those for which you would not qualify. You do not want to spend your efforts applying for a grant that you are not eligible for to start with. While some adoption grants are very general, most have a specific focus. Not all adoption grants are based on financial need, but for most this at least a consideration. Some grants are specific to special needs children or sibling groups - while others may apply only to international adoption or domestic foster child adoption. Some grants are only for couples who don't already have any children while others may be specific to a type of special need, such as dwarfism or deafness. Read the requirements carefully and compile a list of those that you want to apply for and are eligible for based on your adoption plan, family and financial situation. Some grants are only open to clients of a specific adoption agency, but just because you are a client doesn't guarantee your eligibility.
Adoption Grant Timeline
Be sure to understand the timeline of the grant process and how it correlates to your adoption plan and your adoption budget. Some grant applications are reviewed as they come in, while others may only review and issue grants on a quarterly or twice-yearly basis. So be sure to start well in advance so you don't miss the window of opportunity. Many grants also require a completed home study.
Submitting your Adoption Grant Application
Often the paperwork required for adoption grant applications will be similar to paperwork you have filled out or submitted for your adoption home study or an adoption agency application. Re-use what you have whenever possible, but make sure you read the fine print and customize the information as needed. Some grants do restrict you from receiving multiple grants as part of the eligibility, but if your target list of adoption grants does not have this restriction then do not wait for the results of one grant before you apply for another. Submit multiple applications at once, but be prepared to update your financial information if you receive a grant. Accuracy and completeness are of utmost importance on your grant applications. If your application is rejected because you left something out or the information was not accurate, you may not be able to re-apply.
Presenting Yourself for an Adoption Grant Application
Remember that real people review adoption grant applications. You want to try to convey your reasons for adopting, how this will be a positive enriching experience for both your family and the adoptee and your reason for applying for the grant. Usually in-person interviews are not used for adoption grant applications, so what you submit on paper is what the reviewer has to get to know you. You have one chance to make a positive impression. By having your adoption plan already in place and understanding your reason for adopting before you start will make it easier to put into words on the application. For married couples, statements are sometimes required from both the husband and wife, so make sure you have discussed at length your adoption plan and how this will impact your family. You may also need to provide reference letters. When picking your references, be sure that you choose individuals you can clearly write and articulate the reference they are providing for you. Also be sure to look for references who are not related to you or that have a business connection to you. You want to make sure there is no indication that you influenced the reference.
After the Adoption Grant Application Has Been Submitted
For each adoption grant you apply for, be sure to keep a copy of everything you submitted as well as the date it was submitted. Confirm receipt of your application and ask when you can expect a response, either positive or negative on your application. Be sure to follow up within one week of the expected response date if you haven't heard anything about your application. You want to be persistent and appear eager, but don't call every day or become a nuisance.
Other Sources of Adoption Funding
In addition to adoption grants, other sources of funding include employer benefits, military benefits, fundraisers, loans and donations. For more information, visit Sunshine State Adoption & Home Study Services page on How to Fund and Adoption.