Change the World

The Ultimate Gay Men’s Guide to Crowdfunding for Surrogacy or Adoption

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign for Surrogacy or Adoption

1. Start networking before you begin your campaign.

Gay dads – out of financial need or anxiety to get started – often want to jump straight into a crowdfunding campaign: setting goals, crafting donor rewards, picking a site. But our dads tells us that the best campaigns don't actually start with the campaign. They start with identifying potential donors from your own family, friends and coworkers.

"The biggest takeaway from our campaign was that you don't start your journey with crowdsourcing," said Kirk and Anthony. The couple raised more than $10,000 toward the cost of surrogacy with their second campaign. "We started to realize that we already had so many awesome friends and family who wanted to support us in becoming dads."

Kirk (left), 35 and Anthony, 34 from Portland, Oregon. Two crowdsourcing campaigns: IndieGogo and Generosity

2. Set a realistic campaign goal that targets a specific expense.

For some gay dads, setting a campaign goal can veer to extremes. Dads either shoot for the full price of their adoption or surrogacy, or they set a low goal out of modesty or uncertainty. Like most dilemmas, the best solution is somewhere in the middle. What worked for our gay dads was setting or achieving a goal that applied to a specific expense. Crowdfunding for Kirk and Anthony was used to "fill in any gaps" in their budget after accounting for loans, savings, and grants.

Ignacio and Ulises, another couple seeking surrogacy, set a crowdfunding goal for the total amount of the surrogacy. They fell short of their goal, but they used the money strategically.

"The amount that we raised was nearly the exact amount of the next payment due to the agency," the dads said. "We had just suffered two failed embryo transfers, and we were up against a financial brick wall. Luckily, we had just raised over $8,000, which was just enough to cover a third attempt."

The third time was the charm: Ignacio and Ulises embryo transfer was a success and ended up producing twins.

3. Choose a crowdfunding platform.

You've considered your immediate support network. You've picked a reasonable financial goal that tackles a particular expense. Now, you're finally ready to pick a crowdfunding site.

The top contenders are GoFundMe and IndieGoGo. These sites have high traffic rankings and allow for a wide range of campaigns. Other popular sites are Kickstarter and Generosity (by IndieGoGo). (Patreon only allows for creative projects, not personal.)

GoFundMe, IndieGoGo and Generosity all offer campaigns where, even if you don't meet your goal, you will keep the money raised. IndieGoGo also offers an all-or-nothing campaign in which you only receive the donations if you meet your goal. Most campaigns offer the option to reward donors at certain donation levels with gifts or prizes.

"GoFundMe allowed us to keep (almost) every dollar whether we hit our goal or not," explained Anthony and Dom, "Which was important because we needed every bit of financial help imaginable."

While setting up a campaign is free, crowdfunding websites do charge fees on individual donations. That's a 5 percent platform fee for both IndieGoGo and GoFundMe. There is also a processing fee for donations, which varies slightly; around 3 percent depending on the payment type.

The main difference between these two top sites often comes down to personal preference­ – what dads think of the marketing options, even down to which website "looks" better. If you're researching other sites, it is critical to know the platform and processing fees, what is required to receive the donations, and what marketing services are offered.

Anthony (left), 32, and Dom, 35, from Old Bridge, New Jersey. Crowdsourcing campaign: GoFundMe.

4. Come up with a marketing strategy.

In crowdfunding, getting more eyes on your campaign means more contributions. While your crowdfunding platform of choice may offer certain marketing options, you have to take your campaign into your own hands. That means a full digital and social media commitment.

"We definitely let ourselves get creative with branding," Kirk and Anthony said. "We started a blog. We also created Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts and started following others who were either potential supporters or just folks who great information and resources."

Ignacio and Ulises dipped into Ignacio's talents as a video editor to create original videos for their campaign. "We wanted our story to always be as authentic as possible, but to also be funny and lighthearted and full of joy, because that's who we are," they said.

Gays With Kids chatted with a spokesperson from GoFundMe who also shared this advice about creating a marketing strategy: "The best way for campaign organizers to get the word out about their GoFundMe is to use social media and their existing networks: friends, family, colleagues. With the power of social fundraising, GoFundMe enables people to go beyond their personal network and geographic boundaries, reaching a global audience." (Some general tips for a successful GoFundMe campaign can be found at the end of the article.)

Whoever you are, you have a story and a voice. Your marketing strategy needs to leverage what's special about you and your wish to start a family.

5. Create a schedule for updates to your donors – and keep to it.

Ask any professional YouTube or other social-media star about the key to success, and you'll always get the same answer: scheduling. Successful crowdfunding campaigns are no different. Campaigns depend on a comprehensive schedule of updates and contact with an audience of actual or potential donors.

"Momentum is key to success," Kirk and Anthony agreed. "Timing is crucial too. During the campaign we posted updates at least twice a day. We created mini-goals, like, 'Let's raise $500 by the end of the day!' And as we got closer to the mini-goals, we would update and post to the platform."

Keeping your campaign regularly populated with content keeps your story fresh and gives donors more to share in their own networks, bringing more eyes on your campaign.

6. Decide how you want to give back to donors.

Donation rewards are a common feature of crowdfunding campaigns­ – for example, a $10 donation could get someone a personalized mug. While many charity donors are just happy to donate and don't actually redeem the rewards, offering the rewards adds another incentive for donation and helps contribute to your authenticity.

Ignacio and Ulises made homemade gifts focused on the theme of joy – the joy they felt in realizing their dream of becoming dads.

"Our donors received a personalized thank-you card, and those that selected a perk received their perk: a Joy candle, a men's Joy t-shirt, or a women's Joy t-shirt," they said.

Ulises (left), 40, and Iggy, 45, from Long Beach, California. Crowdsourcing campaign: IndieGoGo

7. Prepare for negative comments.

Crowdfunding an adoption or surrogacy actually comes with a unique challenge: negative attacks from commenters. Many dads were surprised that these negative comments actually came from other gay dads. Most were targeted at those dads who were pursuing surrogacy, instead of adoption or foster care.

"We received unimaginable flack, even from those closest to us, who mistook our inability to drop $20K as an inability to afford the everyday costs of parenting," said Anthony and Dom. "Be prepared for that, because if you're not, it's going to sting badly."

"We were accused of begging for money, being selfish, irresponsible, and financially unprepared to become parents," Kirk and Anthony said. "Several people assumed that we had not done research, as if we were completely oblivious to the ways in which we could become parents."

While surprising, it's best not to get sucked into online debates with negative commenters. You as a hopeful dad know what's best for your family. Spend your energy on marketing your story and spreading your message­ – not debating about one way of raising a family over another.

Some general tips from a GoFundMe spokesperson:

5 tips to create a successful GoFundMe campaign

  1. For a GoFundMe to be successful, it needs to be engaging. Make sure to include a strong photo or video to help potential donors connect with your campaign.
  2. Write a clear, heartfelt, and detailed story in the campaign description, and be transparent about what the funds are for.
  3. If you have a Facebook account, be sure to connect it to your GoFundMe. It helps verify your campaign and makes it easy to share with your friends, family, and community.
  4. Social media, including Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, email and other channels, will help you get maximum exposure and awareness. Some of our most successful GoFundMes have had a hashtag.
  5. Post frequent updates, additional photos, and send thank-you notes to your supporters. This will keep your donors engaged and encourage more sharing.

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Change the World

You Can Now Personalize A Gay Dad Children's Book Story with Your Own Family Names

This children's book author can help you write a story that reflects how your family was formed

Guest post written by Carmen Martinez Jover author of The Baby Kangaroo Treasure Hunt, a Gay Parenting Story.

After 18 years of struggling, failed IVFs, depressions, I finally become a mum via adoption. Life has many curious ways to get you where you are today. I would have never thought that after so many years of struggling to become a Mum and that what had turned out to be my biggest nightmare turned into such amazing blessings. I never thought I'd be a writer, an artist, an international infertility lecturer, a Mum and dedicate my life to help others with books, paintings, meditations, lectures, workshops and private sessions.

When my daughter arrived, I was so afraid to share how our family was formed. I was afraid that the information would hurt her and I didn't even know where to start. I had so many fears and doubts and it was by reading a story that I found sharing so much easier and it was this that motivated me to write so many children's stories to help others share with their kids . My first story was for kids conceived via egg donation. One story just followed the other: egg donation, recipes of how babies are made, two dads, single mum by choice. I also have an autobiography where I share my infertility journey through my art, my paintings: "I Want to Have a Child, Whatever it Takes!"

Carmen with her books

I believe in reading to your child as a baby. First it helps you as a parent to overcome your fears. After reading so many times the book becomes special and your kid enjoys when you read it to them. I wrote The Baby Kangaroo Treasure Hunt, a Gay Parenting Story, and my sister, Rosemary, did the most amazing illustrations. I was later asked to write a version for Twins. These books are available in Amazon, in English, Spanish, French and Italian. In my interest to make these books touch hearts, you can now personalize them and put your own names to the characters. This makes the book fun. Children really enjoy seeing the kangaroos with their Dad's names and theirs. Books can be customized in this link.

The Baby Kangaroo Treasure Hunt and The Twin Kangaroo Treasure Hunt, tell the story of how two kangaroos want to have kids and they visit wise William who gives them a scroll of what they need in their treasure hunt: a sperm, an egg and a womb. You accompany the kangaroos to find an egg donor, a surrogate and then how the doctor puts them together and finally they become a family.

Some of Carmen's art and painting from her autobiography. The chairs symbolized wanting another chair at her family table

Carmen Martinez Jover is a Fertility Coach, an artist, a lecturer, therapist and author who writes stories to help share with your child how your family was formed. Through her personal experience she realised how storytelling makes sharing easier. Her sister Rosemary Martinez, an international award-winning designer, did the most amazing illustrations and makes this story so much fun to read with your kids. Follow Carmen on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and you may also email Carmen.

Change the World

U.S. Republican Lawmakers Amend Funding Bill to Give Adoption Providers License to Discriminate Against LGBTQ Parents

Call your representatives today to demand they reject the inclusion of this anti-LGBTQ amendment in the appropriations bill

Anti-LGBTQ lawmakers across the country are attempting to allow state-funded child welfare agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples and others on the grounds of "religious freedom." According to the Desert News, there have been 140 "religious freedom" bills debated just this year, many of which would negatively impact the LGBTQ community. Two such bills restricting adoption rights have already passed, in Oklahoma and Kansas, with another pending in South Carolina.

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Gay Adoption

10 Tips for Saving for Adoption

For gay men, creating our families can be expensive. Here are some ideas to help you save for your adoption.

There's little argument that having a family in the U.S is expensive. But for gay men, creating a family can be even more complicated and expensive than it is for our straight counterparts. An adoption process can set you back anywhere from $20,000 to $60,000. You might find yourself asking, “How can anyone afford that?" The answer is: The majority of us don't. Those of us that do are forced to find the necessary funds by making savvy financial decisions. Here are some of our suggestions for doing so:

1. Create a Budget (and Stick to it!)

Perhaps the most obvious tip (and we'll break it down further) but don't underestimate the power of saving money where you can. Start paying attention to where your dollars are going – from that morning cup of joe when you're on the run to the bought lunches everyday at work. All of those small purchases add up!

Are you used to eating out regularly? Don't! Cut eating out or date nights to once a month and make it extra special. And extra special doesn't have to mean extra expensive. Think local delicious restaurant, preferably BYOB, and turn your phones off – make it count.

"It is so important to cut any unnecessary spending," shared Edward (not his real name), father of a 1-year-old daughter through adoption. "Keep your goals in sight and plan for the future."

Helpful hint 1: Make your coffee in a to-go cup before you leave the house; take a packed lunch with you to work. Sound simple? That's because it is!

Helpful hint 2: Set aside a change jar and put all your coins in it. At the end of every month, you'll get to hear the sweet sound of "ka-ching" as you put them through the coin machine.

Helpful hint 3: Plan your meals and stick to a grocery budget. Make a list (check it twice) and then don't go off it at the grocery store. Also, use coupons to further cut down on your grocery expenses.

Helpful hint 4: Cut home expenses: Get a less expensive data plan for your mobile phone. Stop wasting electricity. Turn down your A/C. Don't buy the newest phone model. Choose a basic cable package or cut the cord completely and use one online streaming service instead. You probably don't need Amazon Prime Video, HBO, Hulu AND Netflix. I mean, how much free time do you have? Amiright?

"It's crazy how much you can save by not eating out, not going out with friends, couponing and sticking to a grocery list," said Ben, dad of two boys through adoption.

​2. Open a Savings Account (and Put Money in it)

Start getting into the habit of transferring money into a separate (preferably hard to touch) savings account every payday. Figure out how much you can afford to save and transfer it as soon as you can.

"We set up a budget where we saved and automatically deducted money from our paychecks into a savings account," explained Ben.

3. Apply for an Adoption Grant

Did you know that there are nonprofits ready and waiting to help couples and singles create their family through adoption? Well, they really do exist! Check out Helpusadopt.org, an organization that offers up to $15,000 for families regardless of martial status, sexual orientation, race, religion, gender or ethnicity. Grants are awarded three times a year. So what are you waiting for? Fill out your application today!

​4. Refinance your Mortgage

Did you buy a house when the interest rates were higher than they are now? Refinance and pocket the difference into your savings account. The same goes for student loans. Shop around folks, shop around.

5. Save your Tax Refund

Ben and his husband used their tax refund as a starting-off point for their savings. But make sure that you're paying the correct tax rate so you don't get a nasty surprise in April. And the adoption tax credit?

"Tax benefits for adoption include both a tax credit for qualified adoption expenses paid to adopt an eligible child and an exclusion from income for employer-provided adoption assistance. The credit is nonrefundable, which means it's limited to your tax liability for the year. However, any credit in excess of your tax liability may be carried forward for up to five years." – IRS

6. Rent Out a Room (or your Entire House)

If you have a spare room in your home, consider renting it out for a year. Or sign up for AirBnB and play host to vacationers.

​7. Raise Money

From Kickstarter to IndieGoGo to GoFundMe, there are lots of options to put it all out there and ask others for financial donations. Read the Gays With Kids article on crowdfunding.

8. Find your Talent; Get Creative!

We're not all blessed with talents that result in piles of money, but we all have personal interests. These dads turned their passion for renovating and flipping homes into their key ingredient for saving for adoption. Time to start thinking how to turn your skill into a paid resource.

No untapped talent to speak of? Get a second job or try selling some of your things that you no longer need in a yard sale or on Craigslist.

"Get a second job, budget and start living as if you have that child," advised Ben, whose two adoptions cost $71,000 in total. "Children cost money once they get here. Change [your lifestyle] now and save that money!"

9. Check your Employee Benefits

See if your employer provides any financial assistant to families who adopt, and if they don't already, consider speaking with your HR department. For example, active duty military personnel may be eligible for a $2000 reimbursement.

​10. Ask your Relatives

This isn't possible for everyone but for those who can, consider asking your family for help. Relatives often don't realize how much an adoption costs, but once they do, your parents (or grandparents or loaded uncle) might want to help. It could be by way of a low or interest-free loan, or as a gift. This might be your last option, but it's worth giving a go.

"If you are close to your family, think about asking them for help, if it's within their financial means," said Edward whose one adoption cost $36,000.

Bonus: Consider Foster-to-Adopt

Foster-to-adopt can be a totally free option but it can come with its own set of hurdles. Ultimately you have to decide what the best path to fatherhood is for you.

** The path you choose to create your family is a very personal one. Gays With Kids supports you, whatever your particular path to fatherhood. Check out our "Becoming a Gay Dad" section for the different paths, and please keep us posted on your journey! **

For more, read our article Adoption Glossary Terms Every Adoptive Gay Dad Needs to Know."

And read Agency or Independent Adoption: Which Should Gay Dads Choose?"

Don't forget to read our indispensable guide to adoption:Paths to Gay Fatherhood: The Adoptive Dad."

Gay Dad Photo Essays

11 Famous Gay Dad Instagram Pics of the Last Month

Famous gay dads blow up the 'gram with adorable family pics every month. Here are our favs from June!

June is a non-stop, wonderful and celebratory time for the gay community and dads - think Fathers' Day and Pride! So we thought it was time to check in on what's been happening with some of the famous gay dads we know. Like so many others in our community, we love how these gentlemen continue to use their platform to show the world that gay men make the best dads!

"Accidental Greek yogurt facial night." - Cheyenne Jackson

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Gay Adoption

These Gay Dads, Both Raised in Adoptive Families, Are Strong Supporters of Open Adoption

After being raised in loving adoptive families, Anthony and Joselito choose adoption as their own path to parenthood

Anthony and Joselito met in 2010, after separately attending a Lady Gaga concert. Their connection was what they call "instant magic," they've been together ever since. Anthony, a teacher, and Joselito, a director of sales and marketing, quickly realized they shared a lot in common. Both men were raised in loving adoptive and guardian families, and had dreams to start a family of their own one day. About a year after they met, they began the process of researching the different pathways to creating a family: foster care, surrogacy, and adoption. In the end, they decided that adoption was the best fit for them.

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Gay Dad Life

Lance Bass Opens Up About Forming His Family Through Surrogacy

Lance Bass and his husband Michael Turchin hope to spend Father's Day next year as first-time dads!

According to a recent interview with ET Online, Lance Bass and husband Michael Turchin will likely be spending Father's Day next year as first time dads!

"It's looking like this might be the last Father's Day that I'm kid-less!" the former *NSYNC band member told ET. "We'll see if the timing's right. We're hoping to have a kid next summer, so we'll just see how everything works out. Who knows what wrenches might be thrown in, so we're just crossing our fingers that it all works out."

This past April, the dads-to-be revealed their plans to build their family via surrogacy, and will thus join the growing ranks of famous gay men who form their families in this way. In his recent interview with ET, Bass opened up further about what the process has been like so far.

"Our surrogate fell into our laps through our embryologist, who is incredible," Bass said. "We just loved her. She was so selfless and all about wanting to give that gift to someone. I wanted to cry because it was just so special that someone would do that."

The couple is still looking for an egg donor (here are some tips for choosing, Lance!) but are hoping to have the process complete by spring of this year.

In a recent appearance on the Today Show, Bass shared that he and his husband Michael Turchin have long hoped to become fathers.

"We are super excited," he said. "We love the idea of having a family. That's one of the reasons I wanted to marry this man, because I know he'll be such a great dad."

We'll be sure to keep you posted on their exciting journey!

Gay Dad Family Stories

After Three Failed Adoptions, This Couple Almost Gave Up; Now They're Dads to Twins

It took surviving three failed adoptions and two scams, but Danny and Justin are finally dads

"Our adoption journey was not easy by any means," began Danny. "We waited 16 months before being successfully placed with our children." Husbands Danny Maffia and Justin DeMartin, together a total of eight years and married for two, endured a roller coaster ride to become dads, experiencing three failed adoptions. Today, they're the proud dads to twins born November 2017. Here's their story.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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