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.)
If you network or adopt from out of state, there is a potential to make several trips to the other state—to meet the birth parent(s), take custody of your child and possibly to finalize the adoption. While you could stay with family or friends, if they live locally, most Adoptive Parents stay in hotels. By keeping your adoption local, you limit airfare, car expenses, hotel and other “away from home” costs.
The Hague Convention was enacted by the UN in an attempt to thwart corruption/trafficking and preserve the right of orphaned children to experience the love and protection of a family through adoption. Under the convention, each country has its own program to place children internationally and determines its own adoption fees. For families living in the US and adopting abroad, they can expect to pay fees for processing federal forms and paperwork as well as adoption fees for the specific country they are adopting through. With each country determining different fees and program costs, this area of expense can vary widely.
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 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.
Attorney fees can range from pro bono to the moon. Other professionals involved in a private adoption might include a facilitator or consultant to connect the adoptive family with a birth mother, though 26 states “prohibit the payment of any fee for connecting an adoptive family with a pregnant woman or obtaining consent to adoption,” according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway. And this is part of what you’re paying for when you pay an accredited agency: You know that they’re legitimate, not a profiteer merely claiming to be able to connect you with birth parents.
Asking friends and family to donate to your garage sale can be an amazing way to raise funds for your adoption. Hosting online actions on social media can also help you reach a larger crowd. You can ask your friends who have services or items they create or sell to donate to your auction and appreciate the free marketing and advertising you provide on their behalf with their items and services. For our Yard Sales, we asked all of our friends and family to donate unwanted items that they no longer needed. We had an outpouring of donations. We also asked friends and family to donate baked goods and had a bake sale at our Yard Sale. On the same day of our Yard Sale, we advertised for a car wash at a local grocery store. Between both events we raised almost $6,000 in one day. I set up a Square account and people gave/donated more because they could use a debt/credit card.
For foster care adoptions in the US, Adopting Parents will have little or no out of pocket expenses. Typically, the children available for adoption through the foster care system are older children and the adoption is often funded by the state. Some Adopting Parents may hire a private agency to help them through the process but these costs are often reimbursed through federal or state programs after the finalization of the adoption.
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.
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.
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After a child is born or a child is placed in the care of an adoptive family, there may still be more fees for the adoption process that occurs post-placement. The birth mother may still require some final expenses, typically for up to six weeks after placement of the child. Many states also require for the birth mother to be offered counseling after the birth of the child. In domestic adoption, most states require a set amount of post-placement visits to occur with the adoptive family and their new child before an adoption can be finalized. These visits typically occur once a month until the finalization of the adoption. Some adoption agencies or adoption professionals will charge per post-placement visit or may charge one flat fee. The agency my husband and I used charged $1,500 for six post-placement visits.
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).
This is simple to do and easy to set up. Crowdfunding has worked well for some families when raising funds for their adoption. Websites like GoFundMe.com and YouCaring.com are available online and can get you started. It is completely free to create a campaign for most crowdfunding platforms, however, some will take a percentage of your donations. So, do your research before deciding which platform to go with. It’s important to note that crowdfunding an adoption can have mixed responses from families and friends, so take time to think over whether crowdfunding is right for you. This was a tool that I used as a last resort. I did not start either adoptions by sharing a link to a crowdfunding platform on my social media pages. For truly successful fundraising, most people will follow your journey to see how hard you work to raise the funds. We raised just under $1,000 through crowdfunding for both adoptions.
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.