PairTree Uses Tech to Create a Modern, Equitable Adoption Process

The Seattle-based startup’s app, which is available nationwide, is an end-to-end adoption solution for adopting families and birth mothers.

Written by Cassidy Ritter
Published on Nov. 10, 2022
PairTree Uses Tech to Create a Modern, Equitable Adoption Process
CEO and founder of PairTree Erin Quick poses for a photo.
Erin Quick is the CEO and founder of PairTree. | Image: PairTree / Built In

Sure the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the tech titans aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.

In an effort to highlight up-and-coming startups, Built In has launched The Future 5 across eight major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five tech startups, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. You can check out last quarter’s Seattle round-up here.

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Adopting a child can be a long, complicated and expensive process. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, the average cost to adopt a child in the U.S. from a private agency ranges from $30,000 to $60,000 and varies by agency. Adopting a foster child can take six to 18 months, but adopting a newborn can take two to seven years, according to the National Adoption Foundation.

After going through the adoption process herself, Erin Quick set out to find a better way. In July 2020, she founded PairTree, an all-in-one platform that helps birth mothers and families looking to adopt navigate the process.

“I’d spent most of my ‘fertile’ years avoiding pregnancy while I built my career — assuming that because I was, by all accounts, ‘healthy,’ I’d have no issues,” Quick, PairTree’s CEO, told Built In via email. “First came love, then marriage, all we needed was the last verse.”

But at the age of 35, Quick and her husband were having difficulties conceiving, so they saw a reproductive specialist. They spent more than $70,000 on several artificial inseminations and three rounds of in vitro fertilization, which resulted in three miscarriages. Afterward, Quick said she was emotionally, physically and financially broken.

“After our reproductive struggles, we decided to make the move to adoption, thinking it would be easier. Adoption, however, is anything but easy,” she said. 

This led Quick and her husband to go the private, domestic adoption route. Quick built her own team — consisting of a social worker and an adoption attorney — and set out to find an expecting mother that wanted to put her child up for adoption. 

Six weeks after looking for an expecting woman to match with, Quick and her husband were holding their newborn son. Three years later, after going through the same private process with their own team, the Quicks were holding their newborn daughter.

According to Quick, the private adoption route saved her and her husband upwards of $30,000 and potentially years of time.

After their adoption, the Quicks started helping other families navigate the adoption process. This led Quick to launch PairTree to innovate the private adoption process and make it better for everyone involved. 

The PairTree app on two cellphones.
Image: PairTree / Built In

PairTree’s app helps users navigate through the private, domestic adoption process and connects adopting families with a birth mother that’s right for them and vice versa. 

“Our platform allows expectant moms to have ultimate control over their journey. They decide if they want to reach out, which families to reach out to, the pace of the relationship and how far they want to go with a family,” Quick said. “That said, in order to create a more collaborative ecosystem and therefore safe, ethical and transparent [process], we also partner with a wide variety of adoption professionals, from social workers to adoption attorneys to adoption agencies.”

Users also get access to education and counseling options and approval to adopt through a home study. Although based in Seattle, the startup’s app is available nationwide. 

In the near future, Quick said PairTree will begin working with embryo donor families to give them control over who they donate their embryos to. Quick and her team are also working with employers to get adoption covered as an employee benefit.

“The world of adoption is changing for the better,” she said. “We’re leading the charge in modernizing the process — to be clear that does not mean making it ‘easier,’ as adoption would never be classified as an ‘easy’ thing to do. But with technology, we have an opportunity to make it more ethical, transparent, efficient, safe and much more supportive.”

To date, PairTree has raised $7.5 million, according to Crunchbase. The startup, which participated in the 2021 Techstars Seattle Accelerator program, also donates 5 percent of its user fees to organizations that support lifetime healing for birth mothers and provide women who are deciding if adoption is right for them with support.


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