Birth Parent Expenses: Birth parent expenses are not an obligation, but an agency can help coordinate prospective adoptive parents pay, as a matter of charity, actual pregnancy related living expenses, including housing, food, transportation, personal items, clothing, and activities provided to the birth mother prior to delivery. Such payments must be permissible by applicable state adoption laws. The amount paid depends on the needs of the birth parents and will be discussed fully with prospective adoptive parents.
These numbers include everything: travel, paperwork, agency, attorney, etc. China, Ethiopia, and South Korea are the only countries that AdoptiveFamilies.com publishes, because they are the most popular. While most other estimates for international adoption appear comparable, those numbers can sometimes go down significantly if a family is willing to adopt older children, sibling groups, or children with disabilities or medical needs. Here's how those expenses break down.
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.
Every adoptive family is required to complete a home study. Home studies consist of multiple stages, starting with an orientation period. Initial information is recorded about the family and interviews are conducted to retrieve specific background information. Preparation training for adoptive parents is required along with home visits that ensure the home is safe and suitable for children. In addition, health, income, and autobiographical information are required, as well as thorough background checks and fingerprinting. Lastly, personal references must be submitted in order to provide the most complete picture of the family. After each stage of the home study, a report is created by the home study agency. These reports are combined to create the family’s portfolio which prospective agencies and birth parents can review based on the type of adoption program. After placement, a home study agency will also complete post-placement visits. These visits focus on making sure the child is doing well and thriving within their new family. The entire home study/post-placement process can span many months to years (depending on how quickly a waiting child is placed into the family) and the cost is often impacted accordingly.
Bring others on your journey! Social media is a very powerful outlet for people to raise funds. You need to be active in your adoption journey and social media is a great way to remain active and create community. As you post, you must have realistic expectations. Share everyday – In general, maybe 20% of your friends will see your posts, so don’t get upset if you don’t receive a lot of interaction. Be honest about what you are using the funds for and make a breakdown of what all the fees were used for. I shared every step of our journey on social media for all to see. I kept everyone updated with details about the process. Each time I paid a fee, I posted a photo of the check amount and what it was going toward. I had so many people thank me for my honesty and openness. They felt more inclined to give and and many donated multiple times because they knew exactly what I was using the funds for. I was very careful about what our family spent money on. It is important to sacrifice and save, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ever go out for an ice cream. You just don’t need to post that on social media. Also, one thing that worked for me may not work for you. Research and find ideas that other families have done, and choose the ones that feel like a good fit for you and your network. Ask for help from friends and family, but don’t expect it or assume everyone will want to be involved.
I tend to think that particular laws and regulations have been less significant factors in the cost of domestic adoptions than broader technological, legal, and cultural changes, including the availability of effective contraception… the legalization of abortion… and the sexual revolution, all of which decreased the availability of adoptable children.
The father of your baby can fill out the birth father's keepsake booklet or write a letter too. You may have other family members who would also like to share photos or a letter to the baby. This is your opportunity to pass on your and your family's love and to share your personality, history and reasons for choosing adoption. The adoptive family will treasure whatever information you provide and will share it with the baby at an appropriate age. In most adoptive homes, the word adoption is in the child's vocabulary early on, and adoption is celebrated in their lives.
There will also be other adoption-related costs while you are in country. You will need to pay for your child’s passport, visa, and visa physical. If you are traveling to China, you will also have the orphanage donation, which is often around $5,000. Additionally, other countries will have childcare fees. (On a second note, this article lays out the real costs of parents choosing to not pay the donation, which is exceedingly important to note.
A few people have pointed out that nobody does background checks on parents giving birth, there’s no certification that natural parents have to go through. And that’s true. But that’s kind of an odd question. I can’t help but wonder if the people who ask that question want those kind of policies in place. Should we have an authoritarian system in place, one that would encroach on citizen’s rights even more so than China’s one-child policy? Starts to sound like 1984 or Brave New World.
The next big ticket item in international adoption cost is travel. This is a highly variable budget item because so much is dependent upon which country you are traveling to. In some countries, you only need to stay a few days while others require a parent to stay for weeks, and still, other countries require multiple trips. The cost within the countries will vary as well. I’ve seen travel quotes range from $3,500 to $4,000 for China, to $9,000 to $15,000 for Ukraine, and $7,000 to $9,000 for Colombia. Your travels costs will also depend on the type of hotel you stay in, how much you spend on food, and how much shopping you do.
The simplest answer is twofold. First of all, there are a boatload of professionals involved in the adoption of a child, and those professionals need to be paid. This is a big change from the early 20 century, when adoptions were often arranged more informally. In an interview with Romper, Katie Foley, Associate Director of Outreach for Spence-Chapin Services to Families & Children, says, “In over 100 years, we've seen the professionals necessary to facilitate an adoption change as [the] practice has changed. For example, 100 years ago, a doctor might be the primary professional in making an adoption happen,” perhaps connecting a pregnant patient with an infertile one. But in 2016, all that has changed.
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Adoption agencies do not expect the entire cost of an adoption to be paid "up front." For example, an agency might divide payment into three portions, with one-third of the total amount to be paid when filing the initial application, one- third at completion of the homestudy process, and one- third when the child is placed and the post placement supervision period begins. Budgeted over time, these costs will not make such a big dent in money you may be saving for the costs of raising a child. When fees are linked to a specific service or part of the process, the family is also in a better position when something unexpected happens, such as an agency suddenly going out of business. Ask specific agencies about their payment plans when you are selecting an agency.
There are several ways a hopeful adoptive family can be proactive in keeping the cost of adoption within their budget, and the most important may be finding the right adoption agency to work with. Adoption agencies structure fees and handle refunds in different ways. Finding an agency that is transparent and trustworthy with finances is important.
I think part of what’s so hard about the high cost of adoption is that it brings to mind the frightening idea of buying a child (especially when you see the catalogs of kids needing to be adopted, complete with pictures and descriptions). That’s not what’s happening here, and most agencies seem to go to great lengths to make that clear. The birth mother is not receiving a payment (though her medical bills, legal and counseling needs will be covered). The adoption agency is not getting rich (our agency pointed out that their nice new building was funded completely by donations–not a penny of adoption fees went to the construction costs).
In any type of adoption where travel is needed, there will be travel expenses incurred above and beyond just transportation. Prospective adoptive parents will need to obtain lodging and food while they are away. In cases involving ICPC where prospective adoptive parents will need to stay in the child’s home state until they are cleared to go home, there is no set time line. Prospective adoptive parents do not know if they will need to find lodging and food for days or possibly weeks while they wait for ICPC to clear. The travel expenses incurred in adoption can easily enter thousands of dollars depending on the circumstances surrounding the adoption.
Sue Kuligowski is a staff storyteller at Adoption.com. The mother of two girls through adoption, she is a proposal coordinator, freelance writer/editor, and an adoption advocate. When she's not writing or editing, she can be found supervising sometimes successful glow-in-the-dark experiments, chasing down snails in the backyard, and attempting to make sure her girls are eating more vegetables than candy.
If they get into a car accident in Florida and the child has to be hospitalized, the non-biological mother is a legal stranger to the child. In cases where a lesbian couple conceives a child via co-IVF, meaning one spouse carries the other spouse's egg, the biological (but non-gestational) mother is the legal stranger. The only way to guarantee nationwide parental rights for a non-biological or non-gestational parent is by an adoption order. Even a state that doesn’t want to recognize same-sex marriages will still recognize an adoption order. But it won't come cheap.