After struggling to adopt a child, this founder launched a matchmaking platform for other families
Erin Quick and her adopted son and daughter. (Photo courtesy of Quick) After trying for four years to have their own baby — including spending $70,000 on fertility treatments and suffering three miscarriages — Erin Quick and her husband turned to adoption.
“It felt like falling off of a cliff,” Quick said. The couple struggled to navigate a fragmented industry filled with small nonprofits.
“There’s no place to start. There’s no brand in adoption. There’s no clear route,” she said.
There are agencies that connect families with expectant mothers, but it can cost $40,000 to $60,000 and take two years to set up an adoption of an infant. Quick couldn’t bear waiting that long or cover those expenses.
So the couple went an increasingly popular alternate route: searching the internet for a self-match adoption. They managed to avoid criminals who scam desperate families, and within a month were at a hospital in Michigan where they met and adopted their son. Three years later, following the same approach, they were able to adopt a baby girl from Texas after four months of searching.
Word of their success spread and friends and friends-of-friends reached out, eager for guidance. It was clear to Quick that there was an unmet need and business opportunity in the $15 billion adoption and child services sector.
A year ago she founded PairTree , a platform that connects families eager to adopt with expectant mothers. The three-person company is based on Bainbridge Island, west of Seattle, and is participating in the current cohort of Techstars Seattle .
PairTree launched its services in July and has 800 families seeking adoptions and 175 expectant moms on the site. They’ve facilitated eight matches so far.
Quick compares the site to a dating platform. Families pay a $75 monthly fee and post a profile on PairTree. Expectant mothers use the tool for free. The site includes a proprietary personality test to help expectant moms select families based on their interests and passions — a key consideration for the women.
“Expectant moms can be very selective in terms of who they’re choosing,” Quick said.
PairTree CEO Erin Quick. (PairTree Photo) While that might sound like it could lead to discrimination, Quick said that in the topsy-turvy world of adoption, their platform actually supports a wider profile of adopting families. Many adoption organizations have religious affiliations and 11 states allow adoption agencies to refuse to work with certain clients, including gay couples or single mothers. The high costs associated with adoption agencies also exclude families of more modest means. Quick said that leads to more affluent white couples adopting racial diverse babies.
PairTree does not provide the legal services required by adoptions, or conduct screening of adopting families, which is done by licensed social workers. The site uses identity verification...