One Loan. Three Bridges.

The Bridging the Gap, pro-family adoption loan that I am proposing is a multi-dimensional product that acts as three bridges over three gaps all at once:

First and foremost, the Bridging the Gap Loan works to connect children waiting to be adopted with adoptive parents because the astronomical costs of adoption can be a major deterrent for families who would otherwise love to adopt a waiting child.

This loan will serve as an important tool for adoptive families by covering the expenses associated with adoption and leading them to a credit union where they can get financial help. I fully expect many families to enter their local credit union to open an adoption loan, but then see there may be other, cheaper options such as a home equity loan.

What makes this bridge unique and innovative? Other adoption loan products are existing loans (such as a home equity, car refinance, HELOC, or personal loan) with a different title. While I think that’s a good strategy to get people into the door for help, I’m proposing a new loan product for those who are well qualified, but don’t have lines of equity to pull from.

Secondly, the Bridging the Gap Loan works to create a monetary bridge between the money they need now and the money they will be receiving in the future. The unfortunate reality for many families is that financial help for adoption is often retroactive. Adoption tax credits, grants, gifts and other forms of reimbursements are often awarded retroactively and can take up to five years to recoup.

Adoption agencies don’t create payment plans or IOU’s for home-studies or other agency fee’s so while the money will eventually come, it doesn’t solve problem of the upfront expense. As an adoptive parent, I can tell you that nothing is more frightening and frustrating than needing money to complete an adoptive process and not having it!

What makes this bridge unique and innovative? Unlike online and other “creative” lending sources, credit unions are local, reputable lenders where this process can move quickly and borrowers can meet face to face with someone who can help. There won’t be any confusion regarding who is issuing the loan, where your information is going, or if the institution those families are working with truly exists.

Thirdly, the Bridging the Gap Loan works to build trust between adoptive family networks and their local credit union at a time when trust of financial institutions is low. Many potentially adoptive families are looking for advocates - whether those be friends, family members, faith communities, adoption agencies or their local credit union - adoptive families face many obstacles and are very grateful for any help they can get.

Furthermore, adoptive families often have a significant support network including friends, extended family, co-workers and neighbors. This network often helps to raise money and provide moral support and are also extremely appreciative of any organizations or businesses who provide help as well.

What makes this bridge unique and innovative? In researching similar products on the market I found that other adoption loan products from banks, credit unions or online lenders weren’t relevant or comparable as they were often re-branded or re-packaged existing loan products. The most relevant model I found as a guide to creating our loan is Infinity Credit Union’s Bridge to Citizenship Loan. Infinity’s Rachna Bhatia came up with the concept of creating a loan product for asylum seekers to cover the legal fee’s associated with that process. The loan is a unique product that provides loans up to $10,000 over a maximum term of seven years.

Infinity’s Bridge to Citizenship Loan was a huge public relations success that drew both local and national press upon its unveiling and strategically positioned them as a compassionate credit union willing to meet the needs of community members. I believe this Bridging the Gap loan could see similar results but on a larger scale, as the adoption community is much larger than that of asylum seekers.

As you can see there is nothing like this loan in existence. Here’s our chance to start a pro-family movement that connects kids with forever families! Thanks for reading. Please feel free to email me with any questions.

Geoff Bullock