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'Life-changing' grants help families afford adoption

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Web extra: CNN Hero Becky Fawcett
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • CNN Hero Becky Fawcett is helping Americans get the money they need to adopt
  • She calls her organization, Helpusadopt.org, a "labor of love"
  • The group has assisted all kinds of families as well as single people
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(CNN) -- It can be quite expensive to adopt a child in the United States.

CNN Hero Becky Fawcett and her husband, Kipp, paid about $40,000 when they adopted their first child, Jake, in 2005.

Knowing how many others wouldn't be able to afford such a steep price, Fawcett created Helpusadopt.org, which provides families with grants ranging from $500 to $15,000.

Fawcett, who also adopted her daughter, 18-month-old Brooke, recently spoke with CNN's Allie Torgan about her experiences and how they led her to help other adoptive families.

Allie Torgan: When did you get the idea for Helpusadopt.org?

Becky Fawcett: We were sitting in our lawyer's office. You're given an approximate total (of the adoption cost), and you have to sign it so you know how much this could possibly be.

For some reason -- and I will never know why I did it -- I looked at our lawyer and I said: "We have the money to pay you. But I need to know if I didn't, what happens to me now? What happens at this point to people who can't afford this?"

Our lawyer had two choices when I asked this question. And it's so important the decision he made.

He could have said, "I don't know." But he decided to give us the God's honest truth. He said, "Unfortunately, I've heard of people living a childless life." And that was my moment I fell apart.

I sat there and thought, if my life had been slightly different ... and I was told that I was not going to be a mother because I couldn't afford adoption, I don't even know what I would have done. I don't know who I would have turned to for help. I don't know what that would have meant for my marriage. It just hit me: I knew how lucky we were.

Had this whole conversation not happened, Helpusadopt.org would not exist.

Fawcett explains why her children's birth mothers are her heroes Video

Torgan: How did your initial plan for Helpusadopt.org come to fruition?

Fawcett: We wanted to support everybody. We wanted to help people adopt on their terms. There would be absolutely no application fee. We wanted to give sizable grants that would be life-changing.

We crafted very carefully a "friends and family" letter. We educated them (about) the cost of adoption, because no one fathoms this. It was just an instantaneous decision on people's part to climb on board. We never asked for a penny. It just came in.

Torgan: Who have you helped?

Fawcett: We've helped LGBT families. We've helped single women. We've helped a single man. We've helped heterosexual married couples. We've helped people adopt special-needs children, both (from) here in the United States and from abroad. We've helped foster-care adoptions.

Our families are amazing. I think sometimes they're shocked to hear from me, because we do want to hear what's going on after the fact. We don't give you the grant money and disappear. We consider these people part of our family. We ask for baby pictures. We ask for updates. This is a labor of love.

Torgan: What is your hope for the future of Helpusadopt.org?

Fawcett: The problem of people being able to afford adoption and build their families is not a solvable one as I see it. I wish that I could be the brilliant woman who wakes up one day and says I got it all figured out. But I don't see a foreseeable answer to this.

Helpusadopt.org solves part of the problem. We're helping people bring their children home and we're helping all types of families, which is the most important part of what we do. It's my dream that my grandchildren will sit on this board some day.

See the full story on CNN Hero Becky Fawcett:
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