Dad who won a 'best beard in America' competition is using his $20,000 prize to adopt a baby

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Dad who won a 'best beard in America' competition is using his $20,000 prize to adopt a baby
Jonathan Brannan
  • Jonathan Brannan, of Mississippi, was scrolling Facebook when he saw an ad for the "Most Talented Beard In America" contest, hosted by Wahl. He entered it on a whim and won $20,000.
  • Brannan and his wife are using the funds to pay for the adoption of a baby boy who is due in March. The cost of domestic infant adoption averages $43,000.
  • The Brannans decided to adopt when Alyssa experienced heart failure after delivering their six-year-old daughter.

Jonathan Brannan was scrolling through Facebook one October evening when he found the opportunity that would change his life. Brannan and his wife, Alyssa, were in the process of adopting and had recently matched with an expecting mother who chose them to raise her child.

Despite the joy in finding out they would soon grow their family, the Brannans were scrambling to pay for the adoption through grants, crowdsourcing, and loans.

"The cost is exorbitant," Brannan told Insider. "It's huge. We had planned on it, but, it was more than I thought it would be."

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The couple needed about $20,000 to complete the adoption, so when Brannan saw that the "Most Talented Beard In America" contest, hosted by Wahl, was offering prize money of exactly that amount, he and Alyssa took action. They threw together a video showcasing Brannan's many talents - and his great beard - and submitted it just three hours before the deadline.

"I basically took a rag of talents and wrung it out with whatever I could throw in," Brannan said. His video included clips of him singing, balancing household objects on his palm, and solving a Rubik's Cube.

The menagerie of talents, along with Brannan's social network in Mississippi, did the trick. Wahl chose Brannan for the final round of ten videos, which were put to a popular vote. In mid-December, Brannan learned that he had won the contest, and the prize money that would help him expand his family.

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"It's almost to the penny what we need to finish out our adoption fundraising," Brannan said.

Considering that he doesn't always wear a beard, the timing of the contest felt like a miracle, he said.

"We believe it's a totally and absolutely a meant-to-be thing," Brannan said. "It definitely had some divine vibes through it."

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The Brannans decided to pursue adoption after their daughter Eden was born six years ago. During the pregnancy Alyssa had some health issues, but after delivering via emergency cesarean section she nearly died from heart failure. The couple was already considering adoption, and that solidified the decision.

When Eden was about four they began the adoption process. They've now been matched with an expecting mother in Florida, and if the adoption goes as planned they'll bring their son home in April.

After a traumatizing birth and postpartum experience with their oldest, Brannan said that he is looking forward to being able to enjoy the infant stage.

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"I'm most excited about it seeing my wife getting to experience bringing a baby home without the health complications that she had the first time around," he said. "We had to worry about whether she would make it or not."

Now that their adoption costs are covered, the Brannans are looking to help other people adopt. With the average cost of domestic infant adoption hovering around $43,000, it's out of reach for many people even with the help of tax credits. The Brannans had launched a crowdfunding effort for their adoption, which they're now using to fund grants for other adoptive families.

"We're hoping we can spread the awareness about this cost and help families with a financial barrier being the only thing between them and adoption," Brannan wrote on the page.

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