After six long, challenging and frustrating years, and spending thousands of dollars, a Norwalk couple adopted a child. And in that moment, a new mother vowed that she would do everything possible to make sure that others would not be prevented from experiencing the joy of becoming a parent due to a lack of financial resources.
Today, her daughter is an energetic and engaging 3-year-old and she is following through on the commitment she made to herself, launching a non-profit organization named The Adoption Hope Foundation. The organization’s mission is to help break the financial barrier of adoption by providing grants to people who hope to build their families through adoption. The fledgling organization is about one-third of the way towards meeting their initial fundraising goal, with a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign underway that seeks to raise $10,000 by April 15.
“The thought that some people would not be able to have a family simply because of the financial barrier was heartbreaking to me. And thinking about babies and children who would not be adopted simply because families couldn’t afford it was unacceptable. With the average adoption costing approximately $35,000, many qualified, loving families are unable to pursue it due to the high cost.”
It was a long and winding road for Laura Loffredo. “My husband and I struggled with infertility for six years. We spent thousands of dollars. We had eight failed fertility treatments and a miscarriage. I prayed every night for a baby and the longing inside my heart was unbearable. I was angry, bitter and heartbroken. I couldn’t breathe. I have often referred to this time as the darkest time of my life.”
“When we finally made the decision to adopt, it was like a light in the darkness. The first time I held my daughter in my arms when she was only a few minutes old, I was overcome with emotion,” she recalls. “Adoption is a beautiful gift. It is a life altering experience that has allowed me to feel the deepest kind of love imaginable. We believe that every waiting family deserves a child, and every waiting child deserves a family.”
She has spent the past two years researching how to start and run a nonprofit organization, including taking seminars offered by the Connecticut Nonprofit Association. She has “talked to anyone who would listen – anyone who knew anything about the nonprofit world.”
Some suggested that starting a nonprofit was a tough road, but Loffredo is determined. “I am compelled to do this – it was a calling.” She has gained much support and encouragement from long-established nonprofit leaders and professionals in the field in Connecticut. “They have helped me tremendously by constantly answering my start-up questions and supporting me with their expertise in this area.”
More information about the new nonprofit, and their efforts to raise the necessary funds to begin grant-making, are available at www.gofundme.com/adoptionhope or by contacting Laura Loffredo at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thinking back on the adoption process, Loffredo recalls “I felt overwhelmed by the extremely high cost of the process. I felt blessed that we were able to afford it but immediately felt upset thinking about people who could not afford this whose dreams were to have a family. I envisioned an organization that would support adoption by providing grants to people who wanted to build their families through adoption.”
The new business is filing the legal documents required to gain non-profit status, and they expect to have 501c3 in place by June. A website is being developed, and applications for grants will soon be available. There will be no application fee, so as not to create an additional economic burden on prospective families. The Adoption Hope Foundation anticipates awarding $5,000 grants by the end of this year.
A home study by a social worker, along with background checks, must be completed before applications will be accepted, and grant awards will be determined by members of a board, based on criteria including need and personal circumstances, such as “why they want to build their family through adoption.” Board members already in place include individuals with backgrounds in finance, law, fundraising, and social work, whose lives have been touched by adoption. Additional board members are now being determined.
In addition to launching the nonprofit organization, Loffredo is writing a memoir about her struggle with infertility and a children’s book about adoption. She hopes to have both volumes published within a year, with the sale of the books to be used to help support The Adoption Hope Foundation.
A report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, using the most recent data available in 2011, indicated that “approximately 136,000 children were adopted annually in the United States (in 2006 and 2007). This represents a 6-percent increase in adoptions since 2000 and a 15-percent increase since 1990.”
In a 2007 survey, the Department noted that “of the 1.8 million adopted children in the U.S., 37 percent were adopted from foster care, 38 percent joined their families through private domestic adoptions, and 25 percent were adopted internationally.” They also reported that “overall, parents of 86 percent of adopted children report that their relationship with their child met or exceeded their expectations.”