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Documentation is required for each step of the adoption process. These documents make up the dossier that most international programs require, including proof of eligibility. Each document is processed locally, then by the agency, state and federal government, and finally by the international government of the child’s country of origin. Many adoption agencies require the documents to be sealed and notarized, which authenticates the application and dossier. If a family decides to adopt internationally, they will also have to submit paperwork to the USCIS (U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services) in order to receive citizenship for their child. This element is vital to the adoption process but can also add thousands of dollars to the overall cost.
International adoptions are an idiosyncratic business, and largely on the decline: According to the State Department, only 5,647 international adoptions took place in 2015 (compared with 11,058 in 2010). Your experience of it will depend largely on which country you choose. Across countries and programs, there’s a combination of children with medical or special needs and those without, averaging toddler-aged but sometimes older and very occasionally younger. Also, a number of countries and programs specify that they are only interested in heterosexual couples.
If you're looking to adopt a cat, consider adopting from a shelter rather than purchasing her from a pet store or breeder. For one thing, it's less expensive. The adoption fee usually covers the cost of a health check, vaccinations and spaying or neutering, all of which are typically done before a cat is placed up for adoption. Many shelters also evaluate cat characteristics, such as temperament, prior to making her available, and they can help you select a suitable cat for your household, personality, and lifestyle. Shelters also offer a wide range of cat characteristics, from young to old, long-haired to short-haired, varying colors, coat patterns, and temperaments. Many shelters carry a variety of purebred cats. With so many cats to choose from, however, a cat shelter can be a little overwhelming. Here are some guidelines to help you narrow your selection and make the best match.
– Home study fee – The home study fee can range from $2,000 to $3,000, depending on your agency. The home study is the gathering of all the required paperwork, walking through your home and having your agency worker write up a report regarding his/her findings. If you move during your adoption process, you may be charged an additional fee to update your home study, this is usually a few hundred dollars.
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.
If you adopt a child from foster care, you're eligible for a monthly government subsidy — an average of $846 a month, according to Adoptive Families. There is also sometimes a one-time reimbursement available, which ranges from $400-$2,000 depending on the state, as well as health coverage through Medicaid, and sometimes college tuition. Also, if you adopt a child with special needs through an agency, some agencies will waive their fees. (In the context of foster care, "special needs" refers not only to medical conditions and/or disabilities, but also to children who are older, not white, part of a sibling group, or some other combination of factors that have made them "difficult to place" for adoption. Each state defines "special needs" differently.)
Provides a basic understanding of the different types of adoption and guides readers to relevant resources. It begins by describing the different types of adoption and goes on to discuss State laws governing adoption, choosing an agency or adoption services provider, completing the home study, being matched with a child, and completing the necessary legal documents.
New federal legislation that increases tax credits and exclusions for all adoptive families was passed in June, 2001. The Hope for Children Act (Public Law 107-16), which took effect on January 1, 2001, provides an adoption tax credit of $10,000 for all adoptions from 2002 and thereafter, and a tax exclusion of up to $10,000 for employer-provided adoption benefits, effective in 2003. Prior to these dates, families are entitled to a tax credit of up to $5,000 and a tax exclusion of up to $5,000 ($6,000 for children with special needs).
Part of what drives up agency costs is the fact that adoption professionals need to specialize. For instance, as a birth parent, I had a social worker who only worked with birth parents, and my son's adoptive parents had a social worker who only worked with adoptive parents. This prevented a conflict of interest for our social workers; mine didn't have pre-adoptive parents whispering in her ear. As Kelly Ellison of Your Adoption Finance Coach puts it, “Each professional involved in the process does a specific job, and that's how the prices go up.”
The first expense related to adoption is the fees associated with becoming eligible to adopt a child. The majority of the answers to the question, “Why is adoption so expensive?” will be answered with this eligibility process. To become eligible to adopt, most prospective adoptive parents will need to hire an adoption agency or adoption attorney to guide them through the adoption process. To begin the journey with one of these adoption professionals, many will require some sort of retainer or application fee. This fee can vary tremendously, but as an example, one attorney quoted a $700 retainer fee upfront to be hired for an adoption process. One of the agencies my husband and I looked into required a $300 application fee to being the process with their adoption agency.
Adopting Parents pursuing private US newborn adoptions are warned of the possibilities of an adoption opportunity disrupting. This is a heartbreaking event and for Adopting Parents an adoption disruption can leave them in a situation where they have paid for a Birth Mother’s expenses and are now unable to complete the adoption. Financially, this can be further devastating if they now find themselves unable to move forward with another adoption opportunity because of their inability to pay for additional Birth Mother expenses.
– Agency Fee – The agency fee is whatever your agency charges to act as your adoption agency. These fees can range from $1,000 to $15,000. This is where it is hard to say just how much an adoption costs because there is such a wide spectrum of amounts charged. I can tell you our agency fee was $3,000, a little on the lesser side, but we loved our social worker and loved working with the agency we did.
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.
Many adoption agencies and many states require that families complete adoptive parenting preparation classes or training. There may be no fee, as a public or private agency may cover this cost, especially if the family is adopting a waiting child. If not, this training may be included in the cost already paid for the homestudy, or the family may be expected to pay for it separately. Here are some possibilities for reducing or eliminating this cost:
No, American Adoptions has established relationships with some of the best adoption attorneys in the nation. Because adoption laws vary from state to state and between counties, it is important to utilize the services of an adoption attorney who specializes in the state where the adoption will finalize, which is unknown until you match with an expectant mother. You have the right to retain your own attorney, but doing so may be an additional, unnecessary expense.
There are many options out there for covering adoption costs. Some people have worked a second job, made significant cuts in their spending, or saved for several years in order to finance an adoption. Others have taken out loans, borrowed against their 401K, or taken advantage of an employer’s adoption benefits. Adoption grants are out there, but there are far more applicants than funds available, so grants cannot be counted on for funding. Finally, some people do fundraise, though within the adoption community, this has a very mixed reception. And remember, as you will see, some forms of adoption cost less than others. If you qualify for adopting from foster care, and that is something that fits your family, then it can be an affordable adoption option.
Why does adoption cost so much? How do some families adopt at no cost? Questions about the costs of adopting are often one of the first questions that hopeful Adopting Parents looking to adopt ask. With so many different types of adoption programs and different costs associated with the process, one family’s cost to adopt may be completely different from another’s. Every adoption is unique and the costs will vary, but it is important that you get an understanding of all the services involved and a range of what fees may look like.
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).
"We have about 1,000 American families that have either adopted or are in the process of adopting children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but we can't get clearance for the kids to leave the country," Dempsey says. "We don't know why. We had about a dozen children die during this process. Right now, families are moving to the Congo to raise the children they've adopted"
If you have been interested in pursuing adoption, you probably are aware that you can adopt from the foster care system. While the ultimate goal of the foster care program is parent reunification, there are certain circumstances when that is not possible and when an adoption plan can be made for that child. Usually, the children available for adoption through the foster care system are older children and/or part of a sibling group. Most states cover the cost of adopting through the foster care system. There is also several different kinds of state and/or federal adoption assistance available, which may include medical assistance and/or monthly maintenance payments.
Adoption cost varies drastically between different modes of adoption. Location, agency costs, private attorney costs, foster care benefits, and international concerns such as travel or translation are all factors that affect the overall price of an adoption. Below are the average costs for most if not all of the expenses included in the typical types of adoption available to prospective parents.
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.
Many shelters have adoption counselors on staff who can help match you with the right cat. If no counselors are available, you can still talk to shelter staff and volunteers who have spent time with each cat and gotten to know their personalities. If you're on your own, it can be difficult to gauge a cat's true personality when meeting her for the first time in a shelter environment, as this can be a stressful situation for the cat and she may adjust her behavior accordingly.
This is simple to do and easy to set up. Crowdfunding has worked well for some families when raising funds for their adoption. Websites like GoFundMe.com and YouCaring.com are available online and can get you started. It is completely free to create a campaign for most crowdfunding platforms, however, some will take a percentage of your donations. So, do your research before deciding which platform to go with. It’s important to note that crowdfunding an adoption can have mixed responses from families and friends, so take time to think over whether crowdfunding is right for you. This was a tool that I used as a last resort. I did not start either adoptions by sharing a link to a crowdfunding platform on my social media pages. For truly successful fundraising, most people will follow your journey to see how hard you work to raise the funds. We raised just under $1,000 through crowdfunding for both adoptions.
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Attorneys are also necessary in second-parent adoptions, which are typically sought by stepparents and LGBT couples. Despite Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 granting marriage to same-sex couples, the parental rights of the non-biological or non-gestational parent are not always guaranteed, because states are not enforcing them uniformly. As attorney Andy Izenson puts it,
Adoption can be difficult to explain, especially if your child is young. Consider how you feel about adoption and how you would present this to your child. Would you be comfortable answering questions about birth parents? For those who are interested in a transracial adoption, would you be comfortable discussing race with your child and exploring their heritage and birth culture? The topic will come up eventually and you’ll want to be prepared.
The adoption professional doing their part to make adoption more affordable do so in a variety of ways. Some attorneys will work pro bono or for a reduced rate. Some agencies offer graduated payment schedules, so that you only pay for services as they are rendered and not beforehand, and will connect families with resources. And Delta offers discount airfare for international adoption travel.
If you want to help change the system, join others who are already working in that area. Contact the parent groups in your area (find a database of groups at this link) to find out what they are doing or if they know of other advocacy groups you can get involved with. To report a specific problem, contact your adoption manager or the NACAC representative in your state. You may also want to contact one of AdoptUsKids’ Training and Technical Assistance consultants (a directory of staff and consultants is available at AdoptUsKids: Permanency - Tools and Resources).
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.
8. You won't remember a time when your child didn't live with you. Being a parent is one of the most enriching experiences in life. And though the job is often all-consuming and demanding, it certainly can expand your capacity for love and fun in ways you never imagined. That's why most parents (adoptive or otherwise) can barely remember a time when their child wasn't with them -- and, for many parents, all the hard work it took to adopt fades into a distant memory.
For foster care adoptions in the US, Adopting Parents will have little or no out of pocket expenses. Typically, the children available for adoption through the foster care system are older children and the adoption is often funded by the state. Some Adopting Parents may hire a private agency to help them through the process but these costs are often reimbursed through federal or state programs after the finalization of the adoption.
For example: If you give birth to your child biologically, an official will not come to your house to ensure that you have a pool fence. But if you adopt, a social worker will make sure that your entire home is baby-proofed before you bring the baby home. "There's an element of mistrust in the adoption process, but when someone is born biologically we just assume that everything is fine," Juntunen says.
When asked a question that feels too personal or improper, you have the right not to answer it -- particularly if it compromises your child's, the birth mother's, or your own privacy. But sometimes you can find a way to respond to a question that's in the best interest of your family and offers some important information about adoption. For instance, when asked "How much did you pay for your baby?" you can explain that the fees you paid your agency and/or orphanage (you don't have to disclose the amount) went toward the facilitation of your adoption and to the early care of your child. In a sense, they're similar to what a pregnant woman pays to her doctor and hospital, you can add.
Long-haired or short-haired. Long-haired cats are beautiful, but they require a lot of grooming and maintenance. If you don't have time to devote regularly to combing and detangling your kitty's coat, it's probably best to stick to a short-haired variety. Also, long-haired cats tend to have more, and larger hairballs from grooming. Just be prepared!
One of the first questions asked when considering adoption is “How much does adoption cost?” Unfortunately there is no a simple answer. Every adoption is unique and fees vary based upon the type of adoption you choose to pursue. Public agencies also known as State agencies locate and prepare adoptive families to adopt children from foster care. These adoption matches are typically arranged by the agency and the placement committee and are based on the needs of the child and the ability of the family to meet the needs of the child or children. The cost of adoption through a public agency is usually minimal and are paid for through tax dollars.
I’m sorry you’ve had poor experiences with adoption agencies, but that doesn’t mean they’re all terrible. Researching agencies is one of the most important things you can do–there’s a lot of unethical agencies out there, a lot of people doing illegal and immoral things. And it can be a lot to wade through, trying to figure out you can trust. But it’s a job you have to do. And if you don’t like their fees or you think they’re being unethical, leave.
Again, this all comes down to protection and fulfilling the sacred responsibility that comes with caring for someone else’s child. Imagine if you gave up your own child. Do you think you just hand the kid over and say, ‘OK, you can be the parent’? Should it be that simple? No, you owe it to yourself and to your child to make sure this is the right decision, to make sure the new parents are good for that child, to make sure you’re not going to change your mind and jerk the poor kid back and forth between parents.