March 12, 2010

Fundraising for Adoption

For many reasons - we chose to host several different Fund-raising efforts to help bring Keira home.  We had very little of the money we needed to finish her process, because we had parlayed her funds to bring home Quint a year earlier.  To be honest, at the time we weren't sure the China process would ever come through. However, as it ended up, we had two International Adoptions in two years.  Which as many of you already know is thousands of dollars - and we just didn't have it all.   We did what we felt we needed to do - and we have no regrets.  More about that in a minute...

So here's the WHAT WE DID part...

First, I hosted a blog exclusively for the fund-raising efforts.  I tried to keep those posts separate from this blog as much as I could.  Second, we sat down over a couple of weeks and listed all the possibilities we felt were available to us to help raise the funds.  We enlisted the help of some reliable and trustworthy friends and started making lists.  We narrowed down the ideas to the following:

  • A Rummage Sale - we asked hundreds of people to donate 
  • Half.com Account - again, seeking donations of used books, music, dvd's, and video games
  • AdoptionBug.com - selling adorable adoption t-shirts
  • 100 for $100 Drive - seeking one-hundred families who could donate $100
  • Support Letters

So now I'll highlight how we did it, if it worked, and what I would change:

Rummage Sale
The Rummage Sale was a DOOSEY.  Oh my Lord.  First step was to find a location.  We scoured around for a month and landed on a local church on a busy road that had a gym they were willing to let us use.  For free.  Now that's what I'm talking about!  So even if the weather was lousy, our sale was protected.  Either way, you need a big space.  

Second, we put the word out and asked for donations.  We made it clear we would pick up if people couldn't bring the items to us.  We also secured a couple locations to store the donations.  As it turned out, we needed every square inch.  Over 40 families donated to us, and we filled the gymnasium with a plorethera of goods from furniture to clothing, toys to books to electronics.  It was incredible!

We advertised as much as possible - all around and in as many outlets as we could find.  All of the local papers, Craigslist, neighborhood websites, and of course...the blog. 

In the end, we had a really good turnout and grossed more than we expected.  The cons?  It was a monstrous amount of work and I needed TONS of volunteers to make it happen.  If you have time, space, and people - you're GOLDEN.

Half.com
Genius.  Genius, I tell you.  A free website where you can set up an account, list items to sell, and make money.  Period.  My gawd I was so freaking happy doing this.  There was no bidding - you set the price, people buy your item, you ship it, Half.com pays you.  Simple.  Easy.  Wonderful.  Kiss, kiss, hug, hug.  Love that site.  

A good way to build your "store" is to yardsale/garage sale on the weekends. Make offers on whole boxes of items.  For instance, a whole box of books sitting out - make an offer for all of them.  An entire box of CD's that were for sale (end of the day...they didn't want to store them anymore)...we paid $10.  Turns out, we sold ONE of those CD's for $10 a week later on Half.com.  This is an easy way to make extra money - you just have to stay on top and keep adding to your store.  Cons?  The occasional unhappy customer.  Just rate your items fairly and honestly - this will help avoid issues.

AdoptionBug
Well, there are no cons here.  This is a site that helps families raise money for adoption by allowing them a free online "store" where they can select several t-shirt designs and sell them.  They do the printing, packaging and shipping - you make a commission for each shirt sold.  The trick is marketing your site and getting the traffic.  The beauty is how easy it was to apply for an account, how cute the shirts were, and how nice the commission check was when it came.

100 for $100
Oh the flack.  Oh the mud flung in our general direction.  Say what you will, we have no regrets about this.  We sent out support letters and published to the fund-raising blog our desire to enlist the help of 100 families who would be willing to "pledge" $100 each.  You will need stamina for this one - because I swear to you - we got more hate mail, more anger directed at us, and even had to part with some "friends" over this request.  I've said before and it bears repeating in my book - we HAD to find a way to get the funds together.  We had to find a way to get Keira home.  And let's just get this out of the way: if we could have borrowed it, we would have.  If we could have gone into debt - we likely would have.  If we could have done any number of less humiliating options besides asking people to give us their hard-earned money - don't you know, we would have.  But do you think money was going to stand in the way of getting Keira home after all that time?  Ha!  I laugh in the face of money.  Well, not really.  It's more of a chuckle.  Really a sort-of nervous chuckle.  But still...  

Pros?  We raised the money.  Hallelujah!  Cons?  We said good-bye to some people who were deeply offended that we would ask for their money.  Pros?  We said good-bye to some who were deeply offended that we would ask for their money.  And you know what?  Good riddance.  If you can't support a child being taken out of an orphanage - bottom line - then you're kind of lame.  And I'm not sure I want to say anything else about that.  Except this:  even if you can't give, or don't want to - to be offended that someone would ask?  When all you have to do is politely decline?  Or say nothing rather than send a hateful note or speak ill of us behind our backs?  But to be bonafied offended?  Over her life?  


Good Lord, choose not to be offended, eh?  Good grief...

Moving on...

Of course for all of these efforts, we also sent out letters to help generate buzz about our fund-raising.  We tried to keep it to people we had relationships with.  We also did e-mail blasts a few times to help, as reminders for where we were in the process or what fund-raiser we were promoting.

Having said ALL THAT - (because I do get lots of questions about what we did and what worked and what didn't) I do want to take just a minute to address a couple more things.

I, for one, kind of crumbled at points under the scrutiny, pressure, and general feelings of woe our fund-raising generated.  It led to a lot of judgement being cast over us and several months of feeling...I would say...shamed.  Because people assume the worst.  Correction:  some people.  And when it comes to money, people are generally very touchy.  Or very easily offended.  Or both.  I received e-mail after e-mail, comment after comment, from those wishing to enlighten me as to how selfish we were to ask for help, how ridiculous we looked, that we were crooks, that we had no business adopting, that we had no business parenting...on and on and on.  Sigh.

I have to tell you, what got me through those dark moments were the people who selflessly reached out to us and dug deep to help us get Keira home.  Reasons for our fund-raising aside - they were not concerned with "why" we needed to raise money.  They were only interested in helping us meet our goal.  Those people, and there are SO MANY, in my mind saved Keira's life.  They are the reason she is sleeping in a crib not 15 feet from me as I type this post.  

That and a little (big) something I like to call my FAITH.

What also got me through those dark moments, wondering if the money would be there in time - was my faith in Christ.  I promise you, it was so hard to trust.  I waned so many times.  Running to the "what if" and the "but...what about" places far too often.  Far, far too often.  I'm ashamed to admit that I felt so helpless to get Keira home that I often felt there was no point in even trying to raise all that money we still needed.  I fell on my knees more times than I can tell you - crying at the feet of Jesus - begging Him to help us.  Reminding Him (as if He needed it) that He had set this plan in motion years ago...had led us to do this, had guided every step to this moment...and had been the Way-Maker of each moment leading up to it.  I reminded Him that I had done all I could - the rest was up to Him.  I also reminded Him he owned the cattle on a thousands hills...but I might have been pushing it a little there (wink).

But He did.  God placed people in our path to hold me up when I was too tired to hold myself up  (a four year wait will do that to you, btw)  And those people would hug us and speak truth into our life, encourage us, pray for us, walk with us, cry with us, reach out to us - over and over and over.  And every time, it was when we needed it the most.  God knew.  He knew just what we needed, and when, and down to the PENNY, and He sent someone every single time.  So it was always a God driven process, one that was proven to us over and over again down to the last moments before leaving.  Also proving yet again, that my God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in Glory!  

And oh, the precious people still reaching out to us in those final hours before we left - wanting to help, wanting to make sure we met our goals and had enough to get there and back.  Amazing.  Humbling.

You don't think God knows what you need?  When you're obedient to Him, nothing will stop His blessings from pouring out over your life.  Who was I to think I could get in the way of the plans He had for Keira's life?  We were being obedient - even though it felt so hopeless.  We were listening and waiting, praying and hoping...even when it seemed so bleak. And He reached out to us...bringing so many to our side during that gut-wrenching process to remind us of His compassion, His mercy, His everlasting love for us.  If we loved Keira enough to wait years for her, humble ourselves over and over on her behalf, sacrifice for her...how much more did her Heavenly Father love her?  Enough to ensure that nothing stood in the way of His plan over her life.  Certainly not money.  All we had to do was be obedient and faithful.  So, so humbling.

And if you were one of those people who donated or reached out to us in that time - I want to say thank you.  Thank you so deeply...  We were and still are moved beyond measure to try in some way to encompass the compassion and love we were shown.  I could write for days and days to the people who helped us bring Keira home where she belongs.  How do you repay that?  You can't.  But look at her!  Just look at her!


Generosity and compassion are a gift you can give to others.  And maybe it starts with compassion.  To be moved with compassion for someone elses life, for their circumstance.  Do you really need to know why?  Do you really have to fully understand someones choices before you can have compassion for them?  Or reach out to help them?  Some people helped us by sorting donations at our rummage sale.  And it was a gift!!  The gift of their valuable time and energy.  Some helped by donating books.  Some by buying a cute t-shirt.  Some, through financial giving.   Some by committing to pray daily for us - that our needs would be met.

If you feel compelled to reach out to a deserving family, please consider a few friends of ours who are adoption fund-raising even now:



If you are a family just beginning to fund-raise, do it with all your might...


The bottom line for us was that all of it equaled the ransom of one life.


Hers.



Thank you will never, ever be enough.  Trust me.



17 comments :

Renea Lynch said...

So glad I found your blog!!! You're amazing! May God continue to richly bless your family! ♥

Lynn said...

Christie,


Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for this post!

Stop by my blog when you can, we are just starting our journey to China, for the 2nd time.

Lynn

Single PAP said...

man, you are making me cry this morning. people were so incredibly rude and hurtful surrounding fundraising. my own sister said some creul things.. she who had bio kids and makes mid-6 figures never donated a dime AND had the nerve to say rude things. very painful. i never did raise what i needed but humbled myself and asked for a loan from someone who came through. i shudder to think that i still need to raise funds to pay him back (though with his millions i doubt he's missing it right now, but still). oy, the trails of international adoption and the inability to time anything. God's plan all the way and having Faith is what also got me and many others through.

meme said...

AMEN

Holly said...

Good stuff once again Christie. You really are a much needed source of KEEPIN IT REAL info for the adoptive community! While I realize that each family's story is unique...there are many commonalities and fundraising sure does touch some nerves doesn't it?
Can I just openly admit that it offends ME that other people are offended when families who are walking in the calling of God...obeying the call quite literally to care for orphans...THEY are offended? Their offense offends ME!! Ridiculous. Like you said, feel free NOT to give, but by golly don't get offended over it! Geesh!
I have the cutest ever 4 year old boy from China jumping on the trampoline in my backyard right where I can see him from my computer desk...and it's because other people believed that God truly DID call us to be his parents and that they were supposed to be a part of changing his life! They didn't do it as a favor to US...they did it for HIM.
And how can you put a price on the life of a child anyway? And why oh mercy me WHY do people feel that if you can't afford adoption you have no business adopting? Well that could start me on quite the soapbox and maybe, just maybe I might visit that topic on my blog one day. A well respected adoptive mommy who is well known in the bloggy world has shared some of her reasons with me why she will not fundraise and I respect them- I really did want to hear the other perspective...but there is NO excuse for being hateful. None.
SO. Many. Families. Willing to say yes. Have room in their hearts. Room in their homes. Enough salary to support another child. But not $30k laying around to make that happen. Okay, I'm going to stop now.
Love the ideas. I too have heard that rummage sales are a TON TON ton of work and require many volunteers. You have to have real life friends I tell you. And it helps if you have a church that believes that caring for the orphan sometimes does mean adoption and they support that. Don't get me started on that either. Oy! I like you Christie. I'm sorry that I missed out on your stories from Ethiopia to China. I'm gonna add you to my blogroll and keep coming back. You're a way paver girl!
Godspeed!
Holly- Purpose Driven Family

Stacey said...

C,
As always you touch my heart. I praise God that there are people who will choose to do the right thing and heed his voice in spite of the circumstance. For all the struggle it is His glory that shines in the end. A testimony to His never failing love. How wonderful is it to know that HE is always on time.... would be nice if He were a little early, but then again He is NEVER to late. I can honestly say I love your family, I feel blessed to know even the smallest part of your life. I pray for you and I stand in awe and I see the maker of the stars guide your lives in a way only He understands, but we all can see the beauty in. Be blessed and thank you so much for the window to your world. Hugs, Stacey

The Gang's Momma! said...

OY! I'm still in shock at the horrible things folks say with such judgement and cursing over situations like yours. We experienced much of the same. Our big mistake? We never talked about money so our need was a surprise to folks. It's so screwed up - how we judge folks for asking for money to help bring a child home to her family, but we rejoice with folks when they finance a new SUV that is bigger and more expensive than they need. Linny has a great post - great post - over at A Place Called Simplicity today. And this post? Should be in that book you're gonna write. :)

Jodi Sue said...

Thank you for your honesty and letting us know the pro's and con's of your fundraisers.
After paying for 2 adoptions - we will be working our tails off to bring home our little guy!
Thanks for your support!

Love ya,
Jodi Sue :)

Joe and Renee said...

Great post! The most important thing to remember is the photo you posted at the end of your post. I just love judgmental people that have never walked a mile in your shoes. You did what it took to bring your baby home!!! Thanks for the posts!!!

Joe and Renee

Christy said...

It is tough and people make such harsh judgement. I remember talking to a friend about your situation (I spoke to many about your situation in an effort to get you some donations:) and I was thinking she would be interested in donating and would be excited and sympathetic, but she wasnt. She was horrible. She had so many judgemental things to say- I was shocked. I told her that if we would have submitted our paperwork 6 months later (we were october 05 LID and you were March 06) that we would have been in the same position as you were -- no money. Back when we got our referral in april 07, we all had equity and that is what funded our adoption. Literally, we funded our entire adoption process from our equity line. We had nothing saved- we had no adoption account-- we had equity in our home and used some of it to fund the adoption. Fast forward to now, all those equty lines have been yanked by the banks and consequently no one has equity or a nice little equity line to pull from. The remainder of our equity line was pulled a year ago so if we received a referral, we would have had to figure out alternative funding as well. I explained this to my friend and she kind of got it but she was still judgemental and it was exceptionally irritating and small minded. I am blown away at how personal things get when money is part of the deal.

I am so happy things worked out but I knew you struggled and I knew it was hard for you. We have some friends at church that are fundraising to adopt a son from Russia and they are having troubles as well. Im going to have her check out your blog to see what you did.

I am so very pleased your little Kiera bug is doing so well. I have so many of my friends who read your 3 part series. It is so wonderful to have a voice of truth and honesty in this whole process.

Big hugs,

Christy :)

Shannon said...

I am sorry that you received such negative responses in your attempt to fund-raise. If that happened to me I would probably have cried for weeks and driven my poor husband crazy! I really can't understand why people would be offended at that. I have received many letters for mission trips and various supports over the years and I never felt offended. I just simply gave if I felt that the Lord was calling me to do so. I guess this is just another part of the adoption journey..... ... it is so humbling in so many different ways. God bless you and the little ones.

julie said...

Oh Hon, it breaks my heart to hear that people were cruel to you...YOU! They don't even know you, a kind and loving person and mom. A mom who was a mom even before you had any kids.
Thank God, you had the drive to do all that fund raising...and look what you got...2 beautiful children who will know and love you as "mom" for the rest of their lives.
Thank God for you. You are blessed in many, many ways.
Love you!

Pug Mama said...

Lord have mercy Christie, I have just now caught up on your blog. (you know how it is when you have kids at home - get on the computer when you can) anyway, I just caught up on your 3 part post.
goosebumps, tears, humbled, compassion, understanding, sadness, happiness ------ just to name a FEW emotions I went through reading your words.
On of the most beautiful posts I have read on ANY blog. I have the deepest respect for honesty.
And those were some of the most honest words I have ever read.
BRAVO.

Pug Mama said...

ps - I swear, you children look alike. Have you been told that before? Amazing how that happens.....
Both stunning.

Cora said...

What a great post, thanks for sharing even the hard stuff. For us the coloring books have been amazing (Jim just called me he sold 8 more today!) I have truly been amazed at the generosity of others even when we have not even asked. The love and the hope that others have for us is really what keeps me going.

Thank you so much for the link, spreading the word is so helpful.

Alyson said...

Those people who were nasty to you...they were judging you. Ugh!

You know, I don't think any of us have lived a perfect life. And as I've gotten older, and as I've messed up more and more...the less judgemental I get! The more I face in life, just lets me know that you just can't understand everyone and you DON'T know the ins and outs of everyone's particular situation! I know this because I have felt through my life that people are judging me for things that I've done, but they don't know that WHOLE situation, so they're basically judging me on the part that they've been told.


This doesn't just apply to the fundraising here, but any area in life.

Especially those who felt that they are lead BY THE LORD to adopt!!

I think that some people just DON'T GET IT!! And some will probably NEVER get it.

It's too bad. What a lesson for all of us, you know? I think we all deep down, even maybe just in our thoughts, judge people sometimes...not that it's right either way, but for those who feel the need to say something mean...

Didn't your mama teach you:

If you don't have something nice to say then don't say it at all???


Congrats on your sweet baby girl! I'm glad that she has made it home!

Angie said...

Christie, Cora told me about your blog and I just love it! We, too, just reached out our "hands" for help bringing Zoe (our Burundi princess) home. Humiliating..a tad, but I am so amazed by those who have responded positively! I spend many of nights hanging onto the Hem of His Robe...praying for the funding to find its way! And it will. Your children are beautiful. May God continue to bless you all.

Angie