Kitten or adult cat. Kittens are hard to resist, and you might have your heart set on one. Just keep in mind that kittens are extremely energetic and require a lot of time and patience. A kitten's temperament can also be hard to predict, as it will change as the kitten matures into an adult. If you prefer a cat with specific temperament traits, it's best to choose one that is mature. Older shelter cats tend to be calmer and often have the advantage of already being litter box trained, socialized, and acclimated to being members of a household. Also, keep in mind that kittens grow up much more quickly than human babies. Most kittens will reach maturity and become an adult within a year's time.
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.)
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.
Although you’ll be the head of your household and master of your domain, parenthood is not an island. Single or married, do you have a support system in place—family or friends who will be there for you and back your decision to adopt? Who will embrace your child the same way they would a biological child? Although modern society seems to dictate the notion of super dads and moms who can do it all and then some (until that whole reality thing kicks in and you eventually wind up a ravaged pile of parenthood goo wondering where you went wrong and whether or not another vitamin smoothie would’ve helped), the challenges and demands of raising a child have only increased and you’d do well to make sure you have a few people you and your little one will be able to count on.
Agency Fee: This fee covers administrative and professional services provided by the agency in connection with the adoption. It includes the cost of training, documentation preparation and authentication, counseling and support for adoptive parents and birth families, matching services, personnel, Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children administration, overhead, and legal consultation. Each agency has their own policies, but if a match does not result in a placement or a placement is disrupted, AdoptionLife.org rolls the agency fees over to another adoption situation.
Jennifer S. Jones is a writer, performer, storyteller, and arts educator. In a small government office in China, Jennifer became an adoptive mother. She is passionate about the adoption community and talks about the ins and outs, ups and downs, joys and “Is this really us?!?” whenever she can. She writes about her experiences at www.letterstojack.com.
It’s a fair question, and we’re here to help you find an answer. While the initial reaction to learning about the cost of adoption is understandable, a better understanding of what it takes to complete a successful adoption process makes clear why the cost exists. The adoption process can be long and complicated. In most cases, it takes a lot of moving parts and skilled professionals to complete. To understand why adoption costs so much, you have to understand what it takes to complete the process.
Millions of children are orphaned every year (the number is so high and changes with such rapidity that it's hard for government organizations to even keep track). There are other options for adoption (like through foster care or the adoption of a family member) and each process yields a beautiful and unique family. It's important to all of us that these children find good homes. Their lives matter.
Special needs. Special needs cats include senior cats with ailments that are common to aging, blind, deaf, or disabled cats, and those with chronic health conditions. While your heart might go out to such a cat at the shelter, it's important to bear in mind that cats with special needs will need more of your time and attention, and might also need regular veterinary care and medication that can be costly. Before taking on such a challenge, be honest with yourself about whether there's room in both your schedule and your budget to realistically accommodate the cat's needs.
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.
The adoption cost in regards to domestic newborn adoption will include a variety of fees and expenses. There may be an application fee for the adoption agency that the prospective adoptive parents must pay. If an adoption attorney is used, he or she will often require a retainer for the services. These fees, again, will vary based on the agency or attorney used. The first expenses involved are related to ensuring that prospective adoptive parents are legally eligible to adopt a child. To ensure this, the prospective adoptive parents will need to go through an adoption home study. The home study will need to be done by a licensed adoption professional. The cost of this home study will vary based on the state and the adoption agency chosen. The average cost of a home study can range between $1,500-$3,000.
6. Your child may celebrate two special days. Often adoptive families celebrate not only their child's birthday but also the day he was adopted. (Sometimes this is called "Adoption Day," "Family Day," or "Gotcha Day.") Whether or not you choose to do something special for Adoption Day is up to you. But some families have a small celebration at home and perhaps look at pictures or a video from the day their child was adopted. Other families get together with their "travel group" (families with whom they traveled to the host country and who adopted on the same day), and have a larger celebration, honoring all their kids.
Once this home study process is completed and the home study report approved, prospective adoptive parents are typically deemed eligible to adopt, yet the expenses do not stop here. After they have been found eligible to adopt, they may still need to be matched with a birth mother. If they have self-matched, they will not need to pay this fee, however self-matching is not always an easy or efficient journey. Matching fees with vary with each adoption professional and can reach into the thousands.
My son's adoptive parents didn't pay any of these expenses for me when I was a birth mother; my agency covered my medical bills and gave me a MetroCard every time I visited them. (My son's parents paid the agency a flat fee; my costs weren't broken down and passed onto them.) As broke as I was, I’m glad I wasn’t receiving any further assistance from the adoptive family, as I think it would have made my decision murkier and more difficult. However, whether through an attorney or an agency, birth-mother expenses cost adoptive families an average of $4,000-$5,000.
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.
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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).
While families often pay extremely high fees to adopt infants, whether independently or through a private agency, adopting a waiting child is one way to reduce the cost of adoption dramatically. If a family plans to adopt a U.S. child who is in foster care through a public agency, the public agency in the family's county or state will often complete the homestudy at no cost. Adoptive parent preparation classes may be provided as part of the homestudy process. If the waiting child resides in the same county or state as the family, the costs of post-placement supervision may also be covered by the family's agency.
In any type of adoption where travel is needed, there will be travel expenses incurred above and beyond just transportation. Prospective adoptive parents will need to obtain lodging and food while they are away. In cases involving ICPC where prospective adoptive parents will need to stay in the child’s home state until they are cleared to go home, there is no set time line. Prospective adoptive parents do not know if they will need to find lodging and food for days or possibly weeks while they wait for ICPC to clear. The travel expenses incurred in adoption can easily enter thousands of dollars depending on the circumstances surrounding the adoption.
In general, Vetstreet recommends that if you have a home with children or other pets, look for a bold, friendly cat who runs over to greet you when you look into her enclosure and purrs happily while rubbing her face against an offered finger. Cats that appear to have adjusted well to the shelter environment and that get along well with the other cats are likely to adjust well to the other pets in your home. Otherwise, if you have a quiet home, it might be a good fit for a shy, reserved cat that may become more relaxed and outgoing once she's spent some time in your home.
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.
I emailed them back and got off that mailing list, but the number stuck with me. I'd received a lot of info about my son's adoptive family when I was in the process of placing him, including their occupations, salaries, and debt. However, it had never occurred to me to even think about how much they were paying the agency, or the expense adoption must have meant for them.
According to Ellison, another resource many people don't even think to investigate is their own employer. Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (DFTA) publishes a list every year of the 100 most adoption-friendly workplaces, but even if your company's not on the list, it's still worth asking your HR department. According to the DTFA, 52 percent of companies surveyed offer a financial adoption benefit. (And if you want to establish adoption benefits at your company, DTFA offers a free kit to do so.) There are also grants available, ranging from $1,000 to $15,000. Ellison says that many of these are faith-based, based on financial need, or for adopting children with special needs. These grants tend to be incredibly competitive, with "literally hundreds of families applying for the same money." You can start applying at Helpusadopt.org, Resources 4 Adoption, or International Adoption Center, or see if your agency partners with Your Adoption Finance Coach.