Adoption Funding Sources You Can Trust
By Cherri Walrod – Founder and Director of Resources4adoption © 2013
If you have read any of my previous articles, you know that I make a regular habit of researching adoption funding sources. There are a couple of Internet trends which greatly concern me.
One concern is the tons of misinformation about adoption grants and loans which is so readily available on the Internet. Websites which should provide reliable sources of information seldom, if ever, update their information regarding grant and loan sources. In many cases, the information listed is several years old, and is no longer accurate. This is not only disappointing, but could also prove to be dangerous for unsuspecting individuals who place their faith in these otherwise trustworthy organizations.
Over this last year, I have also noticed several more "adoption loan" programs which have popped up. If you do a simple Internet search for "adoption loans," the search results return all kinds of stuff. Many times, these unreliable and untrustworthy programs also appear in lists of adoption loans from otherwise reliable organizations (the same ones who haven’t updated their information!) Always beware of any personal loans for anything, including adoption.
One reason this concerns me so much is that many times, as an adoptive family, you can be more emotionally vulnerable than usual, and families often fall victim to something they might not otherwise fall for.
How are you supposed to know which sources can be trusted? What can you believe and who can you trust with your personal and private financial information?
I want to give you the "heads up" and share some examples of the types adoption loan programs which I do NOT recommend.
- Multiple Lender Programs – I've seen many programs of this sort listed haphazardly among other adoption grants and loans. These purport to be loan application processes similar to a Lending Tree type model. Applicants fill out one form with all the required information. This information is then sent to multiple unidentified lenders. Wording like "exposure to multiple lenders with one application," "no upfront fees," and "quick approvals," ought to raise a bunch of red flags. Once you hit "send," you will have absolutely no idea or control over who is seeing your information or what they are doing with it. This is a really bad idea, especially in this day and age when everyone must be on their guard against identity theft.
- Prosper.com - Prosper.com claims to be a peer-to-peer lending program. This is also a very questionable operation, for many of the same reasons listed above. You fill out form with all your information, send it and it goes to who-knows-where in cyberspace. You have no idea or control over who has eyes on it or what they are doing with it.
Always be on the lookout for this type of "loan organization." Are they really who they say they are? Do you have to go through several different website to get to their application? While some may be legitimate, privacy remains a concern: are you applying to a specific, trustworthy organization for a loan, or will they distribute your private information to one or more unidentified and undisclosed third parties?
- Credit Card companies - Most credit cards do not offer any type of adoption program. You’ll see them listed on websites, but this information is very old and not reliable. There were a few credit cards which had programs in the late 90's through the mid 2000's, but after the economic crash of 2008, most – if not all – of these types of programs were shut down.
- Questionable Grant Organizations – Even when applying for adoption grants, it pays to be careful. A foundation may have been around for a long time, but that does not necessarily mean that it is a good source of funding. There are several potential reasons that a given organization may not be the best choice for your grant application. First, always be aware of potential misinformation. Even if an organization is legitimate and "above-board," the internet is filled with outdated, and even outright erroneous information. Many organizations are listed across the internet as offering adoption grants or loans when they have not offered one or the other (or both) for several years—if they ever offered them at all! One prime example of a legitimate, above-board organization which is commonly misrepresented is the Dave Thomas Foundation. Although this organization makes a tremendous positive impact in the adoption world, including offering grants to other organizations, they do NOT offer grants or loans to individual adoptions, even though many adoption grant listings claim otherwise.
Some organizations are more difficult to judge. In some cases, you may run across an organization which is publicly funded or accepts donations, but they will not make any of their financial records available for public inspection. This is unsettling for me and, therefore, I do not recommend them, even for their adoption grant program. This does not necessarily mean that they are unsafe or unreliable—but it is certainly a huge red flag. If they were truly a legitimate organization and have nothing to hide, then it would seem reasonable for them to be transparent. Just as with any organization, please always use your best judgement before submitting an application, and if you feel the least bit uncomfortable with something, then do not pursue it.
Now for a list of Better Options:
- Local Hometown Bank – If you have been a loyal, long-term and good customer of your locally owned bank, then this might be a great option for you. This will most likely require a face-to-face meeting with the loan officer. Please go to the meeting prepared with all of your latest financial data, especially income records. You won’t know what they have available unless you go and ask. You might be surprised at how willing and able they are to help you, especially if you have some sort of equity to work with. Smaller local banks are much more invested in their reputations for trustworthiness and service than large "mega-banks," and will be more likely to try to work with you to help arrange a mutually beneficial loan.
- Credit Unions – If you already belong to a credit union, they could possibly work to develop a program for you based on other successful adoption loan program models. One such model is from America’s Christian Credit Union. Again, this one will most likely require your time to ask. Wouldn’t it be awesome if credit unions from all over began to offer this option because adoptive families started to ask for it? Unlike banks, credit union members are technically the owners of the organization. Therefore, it seems reasonable that they would be less likely to take advantage of you than a bank.
- Savings and Loans – Savings and Loan Associations sometimes have a little more flexibility than banks when it comes to lending. I have heard of families who were able to obtain some form of equity such as a CD (certificate of deposit) from a family member or friend to secure the loan. The family actually pays back the loan to the Savings and Loan at a very low interest rate. The CD owner still owns it and they are able to continue drawing interest on their CD. This is definitely a win-win!
Of course, loans aren’t as desirable as grants—you do have to pay the money back, and often with interest. But sometimes the adoption grants and your own fundraising don’t quite cover the costs of bringing your child home, so here are some trustworthy sources.
The following loan sources have been verified by Resources4adoption and have a proven track record for truly helping adoptive families AND they keep the adoptive family’s best interest at heart. Please keep in mind there may be additional application criteria not mentioned here.
- America’s Christian Credit Union – ACCU has helped over 700 children find forever families since 2009 with their variety of adoption loan products. This program offers interest based loans for Christians with good credit or better.
- Lifesong for Orphans – They offer 0 percent interest loans for Christian married couples and some single women and based on availability of funds.
- ABBA Fund – Offers 0 percent interest loans for Christian married couples only and based on availability of funds.
- A Child Waits Foundation – Offers low interest loans for families with good credit based on availability of funds. Adoptive family must have a co-signer (not from same household) for the loan. ACWF does NOT have any marriage or religious application criteria.
- Pathways for Little Feet – Offers 0 percent interest loans for adoptive families who are within three to six months of completing their adoption. Eligibility to receive a loan is based primarily upon financial need of the family and done so on a case by case basis. Funding priority will be given-but not limited to-families presenting the greatest need.
Cherri Walrod is mom to six children and the Founder and Director of Resources4Adoption.com. Resources4Adoption.com is the #1 educational resource for adoptive families seeking financial assistance. From help in writing compelling grant and loan applications to providing tips for fundraisers, Resources4Adoption offers personalized support for each family.