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.
While adoption can be quick and seamless, no two adoptions are the same and it can be difficult to predict how your situation will unfold. Families can spend anytime between a few weeks to several years waiting for the perfect match. Even when matched, there still may be emotional ups and downs. It can be disappointing and expensive to continue the process if you aren’t fully committed, so make sure this is something that you believe is worth the effort.
One of the biggest hurdles many prospective adoptive parents face is the cost of adoption. A poll of family and friends revealed the perceived cost of adoption to be between $5,000 and $10,000. The reality is private-agency domestic adoption ranges from $20,000 to $45,000, and international adoption ranges from $20,000 to $50,000. With so many children in need of forever homes, you have to wonder: Why is adoption so expensive?
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Ask your adoption professional if they provide any type of financial protection in the event of an adoption disruption. Some national adoption agencies and entities are able to provide some type of financial protection in certain situations and this can make all the difference to a family trying to move forward with their adoption journey after a disruption.
Whether the adoption is domestic or international, travel expense can usually be expected. Undoubtedly, travel for an international adoption can be quite expensive. In most international adoption cases, the family will visit the country and the child first. Then, once that country’s waiting period is over and the process is complete, the family will return to their child’s country of origin to complete the process and travel home with their child. The cost for this element of adoption varies widely based on time of travel and country of origin.
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The price of providing a child with a forever home may seem expensive, but know that most of the fees involved go to the care and prenatal care of your prospective child and ensure the safety and well-being of that child. And there’s good news. For families open to foster care, the cost of foster-to-adopt is around $2,500, thanks to federal and state adoption assistance programs. Know too that there are a number of grants, subsidies, and tax credits available for qualifying adoptive families.
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In domestic adoption, each state regulates how much and which birth parent expenses an adoptive parent can pay. Counseling should be offered to the birth parent and varying amounts of counsel can be paid for by the adopting parent(s). In an international adoption, donations may be made to child welfare institutions or orphanages to help care for the children still in care.
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.
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If you work with a private agency, you will probably be asked to pay a fee for your homestudy. This fee may range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Agencies may also charge for updates or addendums to your homestudy, which are required every one to two years. Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce and even avoid those fees:
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.
This is a tax credit offered to adoptive parents to encourage their adoption. The United States International Revenue code offers a credit for “qualified adoption expenses” paid or incurred by individual taxpayers. The credit apply’s for all types of adoption except step-parent adoption and is available in the year the adoption is finalized. In 2017, the maximum adoption tax credit was $13,570 per child. The amount changes year over year due to inflation. Talk with your tax adviser to understand more about the Adoption Tax Credit and how it can work for you. The Adoption Tax Credit is not refundable, but it does provide financial assistance to many families each year.
Consider your family makeup as well. If you have small children or other pets, for example, you'll need to look for an easy-going, friendly cat that is well-socialized to deal with people and other animals. It might also be best to look for an older cat, unless you're able to provide constant supervision. Kittens, while super cute, are also fragile and prone to injury from grabby little hands or impatient older animals.
Temperament and personality. Do you prefer a cat that is friendly and outgoing, or one that keeps more to herself? Does she need to get along well with children or other pets, or will she be an only cat? Do you want her to be energetic and playful, or more calm and laid back? Would you like her to be talkative or would you rather she be quiet? These characteristics have a lot more bearing on how happy you'll be with your new kitty than superficial traits like what her coat looks like, so it's important to determine your preferences before visiting the shelter. Luckily shelters allow and encourage you to interact with the cats before adopting in a cat-designated room. This will help you better determine her temperament. If she is open and apt to playing with toys, she probably is pretty outgoing. If she hides in the corner, she probably will take some time to warm up to you. If she is very friendly, purring and letting you pet her, she is likely a great cuddle buddy.
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.
Once the child is born, the prospective adoptive parents will need to handle adoption costs associated with post placement. Many states require that prospective adoptive parents pay for counseling for birth mothers after placement. They will also be required to pay for post-placement visits. These post-placement visits are done typically by the licensed adoption professional who conducted their home study. They may occur within a week after the child is brought home and often continues once a month until finalization, though the frequency will vary by state. The visits can range in price depending on the state and the agency performing the visit.
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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.