Strategy Guide – Adoption Assistance Fund

By: - February 5, 2011

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Need, Vision and Description of Strategy:

As a community of people who have been touched by the miracle of adoption, Tapestry is called to play an active role in helping others who desire to pursue adoption.  However, for many the financial challenges associated with adoption are one of the greatest obstacles they must navigate while traveling the adoption journey.  In response, we established the Tapestry Adoption Assistance Fund in late 2006 with a simple goal – to help as many children and families experience the blessing of adoption as our collective resources will allow.

Tapestry has partnered with Lifesong for Orphans (formerly Life International), a non-profit orphan care and adoption ministry that helps many local churches across the country create and administer adoption assistance funds.  Through this partnership the Tapestry Fund provides matching grants and/or interest-free covenant loans to applicants who meet the established parameters of the fund.  Tapestry is responsible for establishing the vision and direction for the fund as well as making known the opportunity to contribute financially.  Lifesong is exclusively charged with handling the application process (and all confidential financial information involved) and provides all of the administrative and operational support needed to evaluate applicants, make decisions regarding grants and loans and handle all contributions and disbursements.

Steps to Implementation:

  • Identify a leader within the ministry/church that understands God’s heart for the ‘fatherless’ and desires to help families meet the financial challenges associated with adoption.  It is also ideal that this leader also have some basic administrative and financial skills.
  • Research and identify sources of information (including other church adoption funds already in existence) about the various ways to create and administer a church adoption assistance fund.  Generally speaking there are three ways to establish a church assistance fund: (i) as part of the church budget, (ii) as a separate tax-exempt entity, or (iii) in connection with a third party ministry (see Helpful Resources below for more information about these three approaches).
  • Make a tentative decision as to which approach will work best for your ministry/church and talk with other churches that have used this approach in order to gain their insight and the benefit of their experiences
  • Meet with the appropriate church leadership to explain and discuss the idea and obtain their blessing for the creation of the fund.  Given that this strategy involves adoption and money, it is highly recommended that church leadership approval is expressly sought and obtained.
  • Identify people in your church and community who would be willing to pray for this effort and/or contribute to it financially
  • Prepare the explanatory materials (website, brochures, etc.) and administrative documentation (applications, letters, etc.) necessary to raise awareness of the fund and to be used in the operation of the fund
  • Report periodically on the activity of the fund so that people in the church and beyond can see how God is working in and through the local church to care for the ‘fatherless’ in this way.

Key Roles & Titles:

As it relates to the Tapestry Adoption Assistance Fund, one of the Tapestry leaders is the primary contact for all communications with fund applicants prior to the submission of their application and then after an award is made.  This leader also serves as the interface with church leadership and with the Lifesong team.  Different approaches in creating and maintaining an adoption fund will require different key roles (e.g., a separate tax-exempt entity will be required to maintain officers and a formal board of directors).

Expected Financial Cost:

Depends on the approach employed.  Those pursuing the separate tax-exempt entity approach will incur costs to organize the legal entity and obtain tax-exempt status, which included filing fees and potentially legal fees.  Regarding those pursing making a church adoption fund part of their church budget or working with a third party ministry, the financial costs are generally nominal, although some churches choose to contribute from their budget to help start or add to the balance of the church adoption fund.  By frame of reference, no out-of-pocket costs have been incurred to date in the creation or operation of the Tapestry Adoption Assistance Fund.

Potholes to Avoid:

  • It is important to clearly communicate with and obtain the approval of the appropriate church leaders when creating a church adoption fund
  • No set of issues can lead to more miscommunication and potential misunderstanding than those dealing with money, so be sure to clearly communicate up front all of the relevant details of how the fund makes decisions and administers awards

Helpful Organizations (Name and website):

Helpful Resources:

Quotes from Families Served by the Tapestry Adoption Assistance Fund:

  • “My husband and I have dreamed of the day we would pursue adoption and finally began that journey this past summer.  We are adopting a baby boy from Ethiopia and we cannot wait to be his forever family. The Tapestry Adoption Assistance Fund has helped make this dream a reality.  We have always had the heart to adopt but the cost of adoption was overwhelming.  We could provide love, a home, and a family for an orphan but an area that seemed out of reach was the cost to bring that orphan home.  But that all changed when we received a matching grant from the Tapestry Adoption Assistance Fund.  We have been beyond blessed by the response from family and friends.  The Tapestry Adoption Assistance Fund and LifeSong for Orphans helped to cast a vision of God’s heart for orphans to our loved ones, and the impact has been tremendous.  We will be forever grateful to this ministry for helping us bring our son home.”
  • “We were pleased to be chosen to receive a matching grant from the Tapestry Adoption Assistance Fund.  In this process it was hard to ask to for financial help and make known our needs to our friends and family.  But one of the greatest lessons we learned is that sending out the letters and asking for money was not about us, but about what God wanted to do in other people’s lives through our adoption process.  Many of our friends and family stated that with a matching grant they could see additional benefits of supporting our adoption.  Within a couple of months, our financial support had been met.  We know that without the support from family and friends, and the Tapestry Adoption Assistance Fund, we would not have been able to meet our adoption expenses.”

Watch as Michael and Monroe and others talk about how God has used the Tapestry Adoption Assistance Fund to bless the lives of children and families.

Copyright 2008 Tapestry, a ministry of Irving Bible Church

Also Found In: Resources for Churches, Starting a Fund, Strategy Guides