Discusses the common elements of the home study process and addresses some questions prospective adoptive parents may have about the process. Specific home study requirements and processes vary greatly from agency to agency, State to State, and (in the case of intercountry adoption) by the child's country of origin. They are also subject to change.
This home study costs money to maintain, as well. If there are any major life changes — a change to your living situation or employment, for instance — the home study has to be updated, which also costs money. It also has to be updated periodically (typically every 12 months, but the exact timeline depends on the state, until you get a child or decide to let it expire) in order to remain current. This, again, costs money — as much as $1,000 each time.
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.
– Travel Expenses – As seems to be the theme of this article, this number will depend on what country you are adopting from. Some countries require more than one visit before you are able to complete your adoption. Some countries require longer stays than others. Again, make sure to discuss with your agency what travel will be expected of you before deciding on what country you wish to adopt from. Travel costs can range from $5,000 to $10,000.
Was my comment not good enough for you? Well, here it is again. I agree with Randy and all of the other hurt, sad, angry comments. Adoption is unreasonably expensive. It is a game of popularity. Children deserve homes and loving families. Children should not have a price tag! Adoption agencies prices should be regulated. You, Kevin, are a pinheaded little hipster who thinks he is doing “God’s work”. Your new agey church is full of health and wealth preaching, but that’s not in my King James Bible. Yes, I’m desperate. I want a baby. I have been crushed by an adoption agency and one of its “volunteer mentors”. I have been driven down even further by other adoption agencies and the exorbitant adoption fees. My favorite: “We need to do your home study. We can’t accept the perfectly god home study that you have. It has to be done by our people. Oh, and that will cost you two to three times what you paid for your original home study.” Don’t tell me it isn’t about the money.
7. You'll probably be asked lots of personal questions. Friends, relatives, coworkers, and even people on the street may ask questions about your adoption, particularly if you've adopted from overseas and your child doesn't look like you. Many of the questions or comments are probably well intentioned, but they may seem rude or too personal, especially when asked in front of an older child. (Adoptive parents have been asked, for instance, "How much did you pay for your baby?" "How could the birth mother 'give away' such an adorable child?" "Do you know anything about your child's 'real' family?" etc.)
– 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.
A: The costs really depend on the type of adoption, and, to some extent, the length of time it takes to adopt. Costs can range from $0 to $50,000. Child Welfare Information Gateway has an excellent review of adoption costs with references. Many employers also offer adoption benefits to help offset the cost. In 2013 the Federal Adoption Tax Credit was created to help families cover the adoption costs, as well.
Adoption is expensive because the process to legally adopt a baby requires the involvement of attorneys, social workers, physicians, government administrators, adoption specialists, counselors and more. While the adoption journey is an emotional one for prospective birth mothers and adoptive families, the adoption process is a legal function. Adoptions completed by fully licensed agencies are held to high ethical standards, which can mean more paperwork and higher costs.
Once you are home, there are still fees to pay. Your state will require a series of post-placement visits as will the country you adopted from. Each visit will be between $200 and $500. On top of this, in order to ensure that you comply with submitting post-placement reports, many agencies will require a deposit, often in the $1,000 range which will be returned upon completion of all required paperwork. Social worker travel reimbursement will apply to these visits as well.
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.)
When using a sliding scale, an agency sets a fee for its services based on the family's income or ability to pay. If you are exploring working with a private agency, ask if this is an option, even if it is not mentioned in the agency's literature. A sliding scale can make the cost of a homestudy, parent preparation classes, or post placement supervision much more affordable for low or middle income families, allowing them to focus their financial plans on raising their children rather than only on adopting them.
The adopting parent(s) need to pass an Adoption Home Study. A social worker will visit the home, meet with all family members and collect required documentation. Most states require the Home Study be conducted by a licensed agency, although some states allow a private social worker to conduct the Home Study. It is safer to go with an agency study, even if a private social worker can to it, because if you adopt a child from another state, they may require an agency Home Study. In that scenario, you would need to begin again (losing time and money). Also it is prudent to confirm what other services the Home Study provider offers or if you can call with questions after the study is completed. Fees for the Home Study are set by the social worker or agency.
Medical Expenses: Prospective adoptive parents are not obligated to pay birth parent medical expenses, however, they agency may coordinate with the prospective adoptive parents as a matter of charity to pay actual medical expenses related to pregnancy, including prenatal care, maternity care, medical, physician, delivery, hospital, lab and other medical services. The amount paid depends on the needs of the birth parents and available insurance coverage and governmental funding.
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.
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.
4. Some people will treat you like you are not a real family. Our first social worker—I said SOCIAL WORKER—was pregnant. She constantly communicated to us that while she was forming a family, we were apparently playing house. When she did a home visit, 8 months pregnant, she stopped at the nursery and said, “Oh…hmmmm…I guess I wouldn’t recommend setting up room for a child since, you know, you might not get one.” Before firing her, I asked, “Do you have a nursery set up?” “Yes,” she said, pointing to her swollen belly, “But, you know, mine’s a sure thing.” Ouch.
An advantage of starting out as a foster parent is the quantity of training and preparation. In addition to the series of classes at the beginning of the process, foster parents receive training on an on-going basis, addressing a variety of parenting issues. To learn more about foster parenting, visit the website of the National Resource Center for Foster Care and Permanency Planning at http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp.
As for your comments on adoption, yes it is expensive. And no there shouldn’t be a price on a human life. But as I’ve explained above, repeatedly, there are serious issues and honest reasons that require certain costs. The legal work involved in bringing a child into your family is no small thing. Someone has to do that work. Someone has to pay for it. Maybe our system is screwed up, and there are broken things about it, but that reality is true: things cost money and it has to come from somewhere.
For private and independent adoptions, the birth parent(s) can decide whether or not he or she wishes to select the adoptive parents, meet with them, even maintain an ongoing relationship, if he or she so chooses. That is called an open adoption. In a closed adoption, the names of the birth mother and father and the adoptive parents are not shared with one another.
– Home Study Fee – Similar to the agency adoption, your agency will also charge a home study fee. These again, range from $2,000 to $4,000, depending on what program you are in and what agency you are using. In addition to the traditional home study requirements and paperwork, there may be additional items that need to be provided. Also, since international travel will be required both parents will need passports and/or Visas. This will be additional out of pocket costs that need to be paid.
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.
7. Most people, when they inquire about your children, really do have good intentions. Some are just curious. Some are considering adoption. Some have already adopted. Some are grandparents awaiting a grandchild through adoption (we meet a lot of these). Some are from your child’s country of origin. Many are innocently curious children. Be kind. Give them the benefit of the doubt when they are asking questions—until they have proven that their intentions are not good.
Adoption creates forever families. Like so many other big commitments, it is one you should feel from the top of your head to the tips of your toes and enter into knowing that like so many other big commitments, it is a decision that will not only affect you, but a child as well—for life. In other words, adoption should not be something entered into until you’ve considered all of the pros and cons and you’re fully prepared to be a family to a child. And while the most obvious and important question to weigh is whether or not you are ready to become a parent, the answer usually isn’t quite as simple as a yes or a no. Before you decide to adopt, ask yourself the following:
20. Adoption is still a subject that requires some careful treading in many circles. People will tell you that the issue you are facing is a normal, age-appropriate issue. That may well be true, but adoption adds another layer and you, as the parent, must be prepared to dig in and work through the issue with your child. Other people will respond to adoption thoughtlessly (the grandparent who treats children who were adopted differently, the teacher who points out your child any time adoption is a topic, the neighbor who is uncomfortably nosy). In choosing to adopt, you are also choosing to be both your child’s protector and your child’s advocate. You will be responsible for educating the uncouth teacher and nosy neighbor. It is your job to have the difficult conversation with the thoughtless grandparent.
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.
Secondly, adoption requires a lot of legal hoops, and for good reason. A lot of what you’re paying for is the peace of mind that the child you adopt is now fully and legally yours. If you don’t follow all the proper legal procedures, if the birth mother isn’t fully aware of her rights, if she doesn’t sign the right documents or isn’t told the right thing at the right time, if you haven’t dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s than the new child you adopted could be taken away. A judge could declare the adoption null and void and you lose. How much would that suck?
Kittens, like puppies, benefit from having a litter of mates for playing, cuddling, and for providing interesting games when no humans are home. So if you want a kitten, it might be best to have two that can socialize as siblings. Young kittens don't always get full training from mom on using the litter box, but two cats together can sometimes help influence each other in this regard.
One of the biggest ways to offset your adoption bill is with the tax credit. You can receive up to $13,460 per child in reimbursement for "qualified adoption expenses," and this number goes up every year. Also, you don't have to claim it all in one year; if you claimed $3,000 in 2014, then you can still claim the remaining $10,460 credit by 2018. Some states have tax credits as well. Ellison stresses the importance of finding an accountant or CPA who knows how to apply these credits. For instance, Bills Tax Service in Illinois specializes in this credit and will do taxes for families anywhere in the country. Active-duty members of the military can also receive reimbursement of up to $2,000 per child for adoption costs.
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Think seriously about the commitment you'll be making in taking on a cat. Cats are sentient beings, and a cat deserves to be seen as your family member. Bringing a cat into your home will be a responsibility for the lifetime of the cat, requiring you to provide healthy food, safety, love, companionship, and veterinary care both in good times and in bad.