Let’s now break down what the costs are in adoption, starting with intercountry (or international) adoption. The first step in nearly any adoption process is having a home study completed. For intercountry adoptions, you will need to make sure that the home study agency you choose is licensed to write home studies for the country you wish to adopt from. This may mean that you cannot use the least expensive agency, so be aware of that. A home study written for an international adoption is usually around $2,000 to $4,000 dollars. This is what you will pay your agency, but there are most costs as well. You will need to be fingerprinted, which can generally cost about $60 per person. (Your state will probably vary.) You will also need to have physicals and often a TB test done—which, depending on your insurance, will cost you out of pocket. If you live in a more rural area and use water from a well on your property, you will also have to pay to have your well water tested. Finally, if you live outside a certain distance from your adoption agency, you may also have to pay a travel reimbursement to your agency for your social worker’s travel costs.
There are many grants available to families for all types of situations. An amazing list of grants is available HERE. Each grant requires families to fit specific criteria to be considered and awarded funds. Make sure to read each grant requirement carefully and find one (or more!) that is best for you. It is a great idea to try and apply for a matching grant. Through this type of grant, people can donate money for a tax deduction and then the grant foundation matches it. We received a matching grant for $5,000, so they received $5,000 in donation to the foundation, and they sent us a check for a total of $10,000. This was a huge boost for our fundraising campaign.
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.
Adoption has never been famously known to be affordable. Many of the myths surrounding adoption are about its cost and its ability to be attainable by the everyday person. While there are many ways to afford adoption and adoption costs are often misunderstood, it is not usually a myth that most types of adoption are indeed expensive. When people ask the question, “Why is adoption so expensive?” it is usually because they are viewing adoption as a whole and not as a set of individual services. The process of adoption—broken up into sets of fees for the various services that need to be utilized—will help answer the question of, “Why is adoption so expensive?” in a more concise manner.
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.
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.
11. Before even beginning the process, know this: You are in this for the long haul. If your child develops in a way you did not expect, you are still their parent. Do not assume that you can do anything with your child through adoption that you would not/could not do with a child from birth. Yes. Adoption can be difficult. As I mentioned, there are always scars. Often times those scars can cause behaviors and emotions that are incredibly challenging. You need to know that before you sign on the dotted line. If you would not “return” a child born to you with a severe disability, don’t expect to “return” a child from adoption who is emotionally scarred. If your child needs a level of support that you cannot provide by yourself, it is your job to find the necessary resources AND continue to support the child as a parent should.
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.
Birth Mother expenses also widely vary depending on a specific Birth Mother’s needs and what is allowed by state law. Most Birth Mothers are in a situation where they will need some financial assistance from the Adopting Parents. In most states, Adopting Parents can expect to pay a Birth Mother’s reasonable medical, living, legal and counseling expenses.
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.
Regardless of which type of adoption agency you work with, there will be adoption agency fees to cover the services provided by these professionals and the basic operating costs of the agency. A key point to pay attention to is whether or not these fees are “fixed,” meaning they will not increase over the course of an adoption. Some agencies will give a low number upfront to entice families to work with them, but then ramp up fees later in the process. Working with an adoption agency whose fees are fixed from the beginning will prevent these unexpected and unwelcome costs.
2. You may not be able to breastfeed. Some adoptive mothers have been able to breastfeed their infants, by stimulating their breasts to produce milk. (Some take hormones, such as prolactin and oxytocin; others use more natural methods.) Not every adoptive mom will be able to do this, however. And even those who do breastfeed will still need to supplement their baby's diet with formula, since they won't be able to produce enough milk to meet their infant's nutritional needs. If you think you'll want to breastfeed, learn as much as you can before your baby arrives. Contact a lactation consultant at a local hospital or a representative from La Leche League (www.lalecheleague.org), or read a book on the topic, such as Breastfeeding the Adopted Baby by Debra Stewart Peterson.
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.