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).
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.
One of the biggest ticket items in the adoption cost of international adoption is the agency fee. This fee pays for the adoption agency to act as your liaison between you and the country you are adopting from. Their employees help to match you with your child, provide adoption education, help you to complete the needed paperwork, translate and submit it to the country you are working with, facilitate travel, and also keep their own licensing up to date. All of this comes with a fee. Most program fees (the costs paid to an agency for these services) run between $5,000 and $10,000, depending on the agency and which country you are adopting from, though sometimes agencies will quote up to $25,000 for their fee. It pays to do your research.
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.
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.
While some agencies have a different homestudy process for foster parents and adoptive parents, others have dual licensing, and will allow families to complete one homestudy approving them for both foster care and adoption, at no cost to the family. Post placement supervision can be provided by the same agency that supervises the foster care, and may also be free.
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.
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.
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.