Crowdfunding Adoption: The “Friends and Family” Plan


You can find bioethics news in some unusual places. Take CNN Money, for instance. I came across a story in July about crowdfunding for adoption.[1] Think of it as “Kickstarter for kids.” Kickstarter is an online platform for raising money for creative projects, big and small. If the entire amount is not raised, the project does not happen.  

Adoption is another “all or nothing” proposition. Either you adopt the child and bring him home, or he remains in foster care or an orphanage. The data is uncertain, but over 100,000  children in the United States alone are available for adoption.[2]

One of the major problems is that adoption is expensive. Couples may take out a huge loan or a second mortgage, crippling them for years to come. The federal tax code provides a one-time adoption tax credit,[3] and some states offer adoption assistance,[4] but sometimes that’s just not enough. And that’s where crowdfunding comes in.

Through crowdfunding, friends, family, churches, and even strangers can contribute online to help a specific family. It can be a direct gift, which is not tax-deductible. There are also organizations to which you can make a tax-deductible contribution. The first one dedicated exclusively to adoption is AdoptTogether, which is run by volunteers.[5] It was started by Hank Fortener, whose parents raised three biological children, eight adoptive children, and over thirty foster children. Hank, a pastor of a Mosaic church in Los Angeles, set up AdoptTogether with his father to help would-be adoptive families. Through the Hoping Hearts Foundation, AdoptTogether’s parent organization, families can apply for adoption grants, and donors can be sure that their money goes toward a genuine need. One family used emails, phone calls, and Facebook to connect with their supporters and keep them updated.[6] In turn, family and church friends pray for and encourage the family during the long waiting process.

My husband Jay and I had the joy of getting involved in a similar story. We participated by helping a couple in our church who could not afford adoption. It was a long process. Today, we enjoy seeing that rambunctious, smiling boy at church.

When you give, use wisdom and prayerful discernment. Some crowdfunding sites support ethically troubling projects. For example, KrowdKidz raises money not only for adoption, but also for surrogacy.[7] There are also general crowdfunding websites such as GiveForward,[8] and GoFundMe.[9] The same cautions apply.

But what does adoption have to do with bioethics? As I’ve said many times, adoption is not a solution for infertility. Nor is adoption just for infertile couples. It is a calling of the people of God, one that is rooted in a deep theological understanding of God’s self-giving love. Adoptive families participate in that love when they offer an unconditional welcome to a true orphan.

As those who join the crowdfunding “friends and family plan,” we get to join in that unconditional welcome, too.


[1] Hicken, Melanie, “Crowdfunding for adoptions, fertility treatments,” CNN Money, July 9, 2013.

[2] “The AFCARS Report No. 20,” Children’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services,

[3] “Adoption Credit and Adoption Assistance Programs,” IRS.

[4] Child Welfare Information Gateway, “Adoption Assistance by State,” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Administration for Children & Families.

[6] Angela Lu, “Crowdsourcing adoptions,” WORLD magazine, June 15, 2013.


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