Adoption is a costly process that is still inaccessible to many, leaving countless children without families

Each year, November is recognized as National Adoption Awareness Month. This is an important observance for me because there are approximately 140 million children worldwide who are orphaned and in desperate need of a family.

At the same time, an estimated 25 percent of Americans consider adoption each year, but just two percent will complete the process. According to Adoptive Families Magazine, international adoptions cost an average of $44,000, while U.S. newborn adoptions cost an average of $40,000.

As an advocate for adoption, I was introduced to the Gift of Adoption, a national charitable organization in 2015. Impressed with the organization's mission and understanding the need in our local community, I helped found a local chapter here in New Hampshire.

Gift of Adoption assists families by providing grants to qualified parents — giving children a permanent home and a chance to thrive. This includes grants to families who are working to unite or keep siblings together, those adopting children with critical medical conditions or those welcoming children who are aging out of orphanages. I am proud to say that over the past 22 years, Gift of Adoption has distributed more than $7.6 million in adoption assistance grants, uniting 2,619 children with adoptive families from varied walks of life.

Nataliya and Uryiy of Pembroke and their four children are one such family. The $7,500 grant they received this past year from Gift of Adoption helped with the financial hurdle in adopting two brothers from Ukraine.

The family had adopted two teenage boys from Ukraine before. Their oldest, Stas, did not even know multiplication when he started high school in the U.S., but is now in college as a math major. Both boys have thrived in the love and support of their family.

The success of the older boys’ adoption inspired the parents to adopt two more boys in need of a family – Alex, 16, and Daniel, 15. Both boys had grown up in an orphanage in the Ukraine where Nataliya says they were given “no personal attention, nurturing or love. There is also a lack of food and some discrimination at school.”

Nataliya and Uryiy are in Ukraine right now on their second trip, completing the final steps of the adoption. Once home, Nataliya and Uryiy and their large family will provide the right environment for the boys to flourish physically, spiritually and socially.

This is the success story that we want to see repeated over and over again. Gift of Adoption is the largest provider of adoption assistance grants given without consideration of an applicant's marital status, sexual orientation, age, race or nationality when awarding adoption grants.

Any U.S. citizen with an approved home study from an accredited agency and a financial need is invited to apply for a grant. We are constantly responding to need. Our grants range from $1,000 to $15,000, but we don’t have the resources to help every child so we’re in a constant state of fundraising.

We urge everyone to join in on the cause – especially during National Adoption Awareness Month in November. You don’t have to adopt to give a child a safe and nurturing home. You can help by spreading awareness about available adoption grants, donating to the Gift of Adoption fund or volunteering with us.

Linda Boucher is president of New Hampshire’s chapter of Gift of Adoption, a national 501(c)3 charitable organization that inspires adoption by providing grants to qualified parents – giving children who need families a permanent home and a chance to thrive. The organization helps fund domestic and international adoptions of vulnerable and at-risk children. Visit giftofadoption.org to learn more.