5. Your "baby book" may not begin at birth. If you're planning to be at your child's birth or to adopt her as a newborn, then you'll be fortunate enough to have some very early photos of your baby. In this case, your baby book may also include pictures of your child's birth mother and possibly her birth father. But if you're adopting an older baby, or perhaps an older child, you may not have access to many early baby pictures. (For instance, if you're adopting a child from overseas, you may have only the referral photo you were sent, and possibly one or two others.) On the other hand, your child's baby book will probably include lots of pictures from the day you adopted her and/or the day you brought her home and of the people who cared for her in a foster family or orphanage.
One of the major steps in the adoption process is to choose an adoption agency and/or attorney who will help to facilitate your adoption. Depending upon what type of adoptive placement you are seeking (private, international, domestic, etc.), your agency or attorney will be involved in navigating the referral process and will help you process your legal documents. Agencies and attorneys often have fees that vary based on the program you are pursuing and how much legal help is needed to move through the process. Additionally, in the case of international adoptions, an attorney’s services are often needed in order to file “re-adoption” paperwork once your child is home. In all cases, your agency and/or attorney should be your best advocate as they guide you through extensive paperwork and necessary legal steps. The fees for this service can range broadly.
While families often pay extremely high fees to adopt infants, whether independently or through a private agency, adopting a waiting child is one way to reduce the cost of adoption dramatically. If a family plans to adopt a U.S. child who is in foster care through a public agency, the public agency in the family's county or state will often complete the homestudy at no cost. Adoptive parent preparation classes may be provided as part of the homestudy process. If the waiting child resides in the same county or state as the family, the costs of post-placement supervision may also be covered by the family's agency.
Families who adopt from foster care usually adopt from a county, state, territory, or tribal public child welfare agency. Adopting a child from foster care is often funded by the state, and in most cases there are few or no fees. Parents may choose to hire a private agency to help them through this process. These families could incur out-of-pocket expenses, which they can typically recoup from federal or state programs after the adoption is finalized.
According to Ellison, another resource many people don't even think to investigate is their own employer. Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (DFTA) publishes a list every year of the 100 most adoption-friendly workplaces, but even if your company's not on the list, it's still worth asking your HR department. According to the DTFA, 52 percent of companies surveyed offer a financial adoption benefit. (And if you want to establish adoption benefits at your company, DTFA offers a free kit to do so.) There are also grants available, ranging from $1,000 to $15,000. Ellison says that many of these are faith-based, based on financial need, or for adopting children with special needs. These grants tend to be incredibly competitive, with "literally hundreds of families applying for the same money." You can start applying at Helpusadopt.org, Resources 4 Adoption, or International Adoption Center, or see if your agency partners with Your Adoption Finance Coach.
Before we attempt to shed some light on this difficult reality, we must first acknowledge foremost the divine beauty that embodies the miracle of adoption. Beyond the challenges (both financially and otherwise) that adoption can present, adoption at its core is a life-changing journey that not only restores hope to a waiting child, but also exemplifies God’s love for His children. The power of this miraculous journey can be seen through the testimonies of so many families and children who have been impacted by Show Hope’s adoption aid grants, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy process. In an attempt to shed some light as to why adoption can be such a costly endeavor, we will focus on five main areas of financial expense that relate to adoption.
– Dossier Preparation – The adoption dossier is similar to the paperwork process of a home study. It is essentially the gathering of several pieces of paperwork to provide to the sending and receiving country to show that the adoptive parents will be able to provide a safe and secure home for the child. This fee can range anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000.
There are a number of ways for families to mitigate the cost of adoption, and some adoption professionals are working to make it easier for families to afford. Many of these forms of assistance are via reimbursement after the fact, so there are still plenty of up-front costs. Ellison estimates that adoptive parents "will have to pay 85 percent of the total cost of your adoption. The rest can come from loans, grants, personal fundraising, special events, and other gifts."
If your state does allow private adoptions, where the birth mother and prospective adoptive parents find each other, there will still be some fees associated with the adoption. These fees may include advertising online to locate a birth mother. Again, this is not allowed in every state. As indicated above, if your state requires you to utilize an adoption agency, they may charge a lesser fee than if they facilitated the match between birth mother and adoptive parents. You may also want to consult an attorney if you are pursuing a private adoption. Not only will you know what your rights are regarding the adoption process but it also might give you peace of mind as well. In some states you can use an adoption attorney to facilitate the adoption process and will pay whatever they charge and whatever their hourly rate is. Again, this is not one size fits all either. Make sure you consult with more than one adoption attorney before choosing the one that fits your family’s need the best.
You may be ready, but is everyone else on board? Just because you are mentally and emotionally prepared to adopt doesn’t mean your spouse feels the same way. If you’re married, now would be a great time to sit down and have a little chat about your relationship, adoption, kids, and your shared willingness to throw everything as you know it into the big blender known as parenthood. If you’re already a parent, consider how adoption will impact your biological child(ren). Ultimately, this decision will be yours and not theirs, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have feelings on the matter.