11/15/2014 11:42 EST | Updated 01/15/2015 05:59 EST

Should Couples Be Allowed to Crowdfund Their Adoption?

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The topic of getting knocked up is popular among my peers, and has been for a while, given I recently entered the latter half of my 30s. Are you going to do it? When are you going to do it? You better hurry and get to it. Just a few examples of the inquiries and advice I'm faced with at any given social gathering. Which is fine.

There are plenty of articles out there that explore the incessant need for breeders to understand a woman's indifference about child rearing. That's not what this is about. This time, my wine-soaked, après work outing with friends took an unexpected twist.

My friend, who is newly married, is thinking of starting a family so the conversation naturally switched to baby making. In doing so, she just happened to mention that her sister, who has two children but sadly can have no more, is considering crowdfunding an adoption. You read that correctly.

Crowdfunding, if you're not familiar, is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, typically via the internet. Websites like indiegogo and Kickstarter have helped aspiring entrepreneurs realize their dreams like never before. In fact, a former colleague of mine was able to ditch his corporate day job to start a business designing and selling modular wine racks from funds he raised on kickstarter. All hail the Internet!

While these sites were created to give the underdog a chance and essentially foster free enterprise, where start-ups are concerned, it never occurred to me to use these platforms as an opportunity to raise funds for personal pursuits. Especially something as personal as adopting a baby. But does that make it wrong, unethical or crass, even?

Some people's use of crowdfunding has come into question over the past few years. Actor and filmmaker Zach Braff used Kickstarter to raise funds for his film Wish I Was Here, which opened earlier this year. I remember reading numerous articles on how Braff was criticized, given his celebrity status, because surely he could come up with the cash himself. Personally, I applaud Braff, as securing funding for a film is no easy feat, regardless of who you are and who you know. Isn't that the point of crowdfunding in the first place?

More recently, Gabrielle Wathen of Baltimore famously posted her exorbitant Uber bill on GoFundMe, which garnered -- mostly negative -- international media attention. Not only did she raise enough to pay for her fare, she closed out with double what she asked for. As she explains in this article, the link to her crowdfunding page was only shared among friends and family members as more of a joke, but these things can spread. Clearly.

Back to crowdfunding baby. My initial reaction was one of shock. How tacky, I thought. But then, isn't this the world we live in today? Hasn't technology enabled us to achieve so much, especially the way of expanding one's family? Who was I to judge?

In true crowdfunding fashion, the person soliciting the funds is supposed to present a list of rewards -- at various payment levels -- should you contribute to the cause/venture/adoption/whatever. In Braff's case, contributors to his Kickstarter campaign could receive anything from advance access to the film's soundtrack to tickets to a sneak preview screening, depending on the amount contributed. So, if one was to crowdfund an adoption, what would the rewards structure look like?

  • Contribute $50 - receive an invite to the baby shower.
  • Contribute $100 - receive a commemorative T-shirt with the child's sonogram emblazoned across it.
  • Contribute $1,000 - have the child named after you or a relative/celebrity/rockstar of your choosing.
  • Contribute $5,000 - become a god parent or guardian.

I don't see anything particularly alarming about leveraging ones community to raise funds to adopt a child -- like they say, it takes a village. My only concern is if a couple needs to crowdfund an adoption, are they fit to afford a child in the first place? Or will they take to crowdfunding private school, college and all the rest?

What do you think? If you had a friend or family member crowdfunding an adoption, would you contribute?


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