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Couple Uses Coffee And Hospitality To Raise Funds For Adoption

Rachel McDonald and her husband Jake in their kitchen.
(Annika Cline/ KJZZ News)
Rachel McDonald and her husband Jake in their kitchen.

Having a baby is expensive, with hospital costs alone usually in the high thousands for a childbirth without complications.

But you may not realize that a private adoption is often twice, sometimes even three or four times, as expensive. And many potential adopters can’t shoulder these high costs on their own. One couple found it takes a village to adopt a child. 

Jake and Rachel McDonald went through a traditional pregnancy when they had their daughter, Everly. Now they want to bring another baby into the family, but this time they’re trying something new.

Jake McDonald is a barista and said he thought, why not use his skill as a way to fund raise? 

"So we had this vision, really just of having family and friends over for coffee, thinking of ways we could get people involved and do something fun just based on the things we love," he said.

They call it Adopted Coffee, and open their home once a week to accept donations for coffee, tea and pastries. It’s just one part of their effort to raise $40,000 to adopt a newborn baby.

Tamera Shanker is an adoption attorney and said $40,000 is on the high end. But with a private adoption, the cost depends on the agency. Some are what Shanker calls “one-stop shopping” agencies.

"They do all the background check, they do all the home studies, they locate birth mothers for the families," she said.

On top of that, potential adopters might also have to pay for some living and medical expenses for the birth mother.

"If there’s any complications with the birth, that can make the costs skyrocket," Shanker said.  

State subsidies are available for those adopting within the state foster care system. But private adopters are on their own and Shanker said most people she’s worked with need more than just their savings. 

"Oh I’ve seen the gamut," she said. "People have cashed in 401ks. Friends and family are donating. Credit cards get maxed out. Stocks, bonds. People get very creative."

Asking for donations is not uncommon. A quick search of the word “adopt” on the fundraising website GoFundMe.com yields more than 2,000 results, the McDonalds among them. But the 25 donors who contributed to their Go Fund Me account pales in comparison to the hundreds of people who have stopped by their pop-up coffee house. 

The McDonalds have raised more than $8,000 from Adopted Coffee in just more than two months. Ben Martin is sipping a cup on the front porch. He has a theory about why Adopted Coffee is getting so many donations.

"I mean, you’re in someone’s house, like, they’re literally opening their doors and cooking you breakfast and making you a cup of coffee," he said. "And I think the fact that it’s so much more personal probably encourages people to give more."   

Besides providing drinks, the McDonalds have conversations with their visitors. Rachel McDonald said the coffee events have helped them explain to the community why they’re adopting.

"People that may not have the same beliefs as us or the same experience with adoption are able to understand it and ask questions in a very open atmosphere," she said.

The McDonalds have a ways to go to reach their funding goal. But that big expense gets smaller the more it gets divided into espresso-sized parts.

Annika Cline was a producer for KJZZ's The Show from 2014 to 2019.