Around 122,000 children in the U.S. foster care system are available for adoption, and many of them will have to wait four long years to be adopted.
Why? One of the biggest roadblocks in the adoption process are the high costs, including legal fees. Brittany Berrie experienced this firsthand when trying to adopt the child she’s taken care of for the last 11 years.
When Gracie was just three days old, Brittany held her for the first time. In that moment, the two formed a deep connection. Weeks later, Brittany was made her primary caregiver, and that hasn’t changed since.
During that time, she and her partner, Branden Johnson, had two biological children, but they raised all three of them as their own. They frequently discussed the idea of officially adopting Gracie, but the cost kept them from being able to move forward… until someone reached out and offered to help.
“My cousin was asking about Gracie and was wondering why the adoption wasn’t finalized, and I told her it was very expensive,” Brittany said. “She said, ‘When you get home, call an attorney and I’m paying for it.'”
They immediately started the legal process and, by the end of July, Gracie was officially adopted!
Overwhelmed with gratitude, Brittany wanted to find a way to thank her cousin. After thinking it over, she decided to do so by helping out another family with their own adoption process. To raise money, Brittany and her mom held a garage sale, one where all of the money would go toward covering adoption costs.
As word spread, not only were they flooded with clothing and other items to add to the garage sale, but they also drew in a crowd that was happy to contribute to such a great cause.
“We did the first sale and I thought, ‘We are making this a store,'” she said. “One adoption isn’t going to be good enough. We need to keep helping families.”
And so The Adopted Closet was born! The store is run from Brittany’s mom’s garage, though they’d love to have a storefront one day. It’s run by members of her family, including Gracie, and they’re open three days of the week, though they are temporarily closing in the winter due to the weather.
Since opening in August, Brittany has already raised enough money to help out another family — a woman named Cassandra Holdorf who she met at church more than a decade ago. Brittany reached out to her after she posted about the adoption process on Facebook.
“Brittany messaged me and said she had saw I posted about adoption day coming up and she told me about her store and said they’d like to cover the legal cost for our adoption,” Cassandra said. “I definitely was not expecting that. We were trying to figure out how we were going to pay for everything, so it was a really huge relief to know that we had someone who was willing to help with that.”
“One person can change the script of everybody’s lives,” Brittany said. “Her offering to pay for our adoption is now affecting and blessing another family and being pushed on, and that is the goal. That is how I’m thanking her.”
Don’t forget to share this article with a friend.
Want more good news?
Sign up for Smile, our free daily good news email with over 600,000 happy and optimistic subscribers!
Share to Give!
Every time you share an article, we donate to Smile Train to help provide life-changing cleft surgeries to children in need. Spread good news, change lives! Learn more here.
$19.98 raised today!
Want to be happier in just 5 minutes a day? Sign up for Morning Smile and join over 455,000+ people who start each day with good news.