Every adoptive family is required to complete a home study. Home studies consist of multiple stages, starting with an orientation period. Initial information is recorded about the family and interviews are conducted to retrieve specific background information. Preparation training for adoptive parents is required along with home visits that ensure the home is safe and suitable for children. In addition, health, income, and autobiographical information are required, as well as thorough background checks and fingerprinting. Lastly, personal references must be submitted in order to provide the most complete picture of the family. After each stage of the home study, a report is created by the home study agency. These reports are combined to create the family’s portfolio which prospective agencies and birth parents can review based on the type of adoption program. After placement, a home study agency will also complete post-placement visits. These visits focus on making sure the child is doing well and thriving within their new family. The entire home study/post-placement process can span many months to years (depending on how quickly a waiting child is placed into the family) and the cost is often impacted accordingly.
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.
Adoption agencies do not expect the entire cost of an adoption to be paid "up front." For example, an agency might divide payment into three portions, with one-third of the total amount to be paid when filing the initial application, one- third at completion of the homestudy process, and one- third when the child is placed and the post placement supervision period begins. Budgeted over time, these costs will not make such a big dent in money you may be saving for the costs of raising a child. When fees are linked to a specific service or part of the process, the family is also in a better position when something unexpected happens, such as an agency suddenly going out of business. Ask specific agencies about their payment plans when you are selecting an agency.
Attorneys are also necessary in second-parent adoptions, which are typically sought by stepparents and LGBT couples. Despite Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 granting marriage to same-sex couples, the parental rights of the non-biological or non-gestational parent are not always guaranteed, because states are not enforcing them uniformly. As attorney Andy Izenson puts it,
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.
– Agency Fee/Program Fee – This number, of course, is one that varies by which country you are adopting from and what agency you are using. The costs can range from $10,000 to $15,000. For more specific information, contact a local adoption agency and discuss with them what their rates for international adoptions are and know what country you are interested in adopting from, as that will determine the cost.
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One of the biggest ways to offset your adoption bill is with the tax credit. You can receive up to $13,460 per child in reimbursement for "qualified adoption expenses," and this number goes up every year. Also, you don't have to claim it all in one year; if you claimed $3,000 in 2014, then you can still claim the remaining $10,460 credit by 2018. Some states have tax credits as well. Ellison stresses the importance of finding an accountant or CPA who knows how to apply these credits. For instance, Bills Tax Service in Illinois specializes in this credit and will do taxes for families anywhere in the country. Active-duty members of the military can also receive reimbursement of up to $2,000 per child for adoption costs.
For private domestic adoption, whether you work independently or with an agency, you can expect advertising fees. Advertising fees may include classified ads, video production, or the construction of a website. You may choose to do this independently or work with a consultant. Consultants cost more but may yield better results and quicker matches. There are legal fees for both the adoptive family and the birth mother (which the adoptive family usually cover), document authentication fees for the compilation of your home study, and required legal document filing. Birth mother fees may include medical expenses, living expenses, counseling, and prenatal and postnatal care. Once the child is born, there will be airline and hotel fees, which vary greatly depending on where the birth mother resides.
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.
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.
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.
There's pretty much always what's known as a home study, in which a social worker creates an incredibly detailed profile of the pre-adoptive family. This profile includes their finances, education, employment, medical history, criminal history, personal history — basically everything a woman putting a child up for adoption could want to know. In fact, these profiles are so chock-full of sensitive information that when I was in the process of choosing a family for my child, my social worker read them to me aloud rather than letting me actually see them.
3. You may not have a baby shower until months after your baby is born. Since the adoption process is often filled with so much uncertainty, many prospective parents prefer to wait until after their baby is home before having a shower. Often, this is a practical course of action. For instance, if a family is adopting from overseas, they may not know their child's gender, size, or age until shortly before traveling to get him. (In some cases, their "baby" may be 15 or 16 months old!) However, once parents are home and settled into a routine, they'll have a better sense of what they need -- and of their baby's likes and dislikes.
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.
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.
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.
The first expense related to adoption is the fees associated with becoming eligible to adopt a child. The majority of the answers to the question, “Why is adoption so expensive?” will be answered with this eligibility process. To become eligible to adopt, most prospective adoptive parents will need to hire an adoption agency or adoption attorney to guide them through the adoption process. To begin the journey with one of these adoption professionals, many will require some sort of retainer or application fee. This fee can vary tremendously, but as an example, one attorney quoted a $700 retainer fee upfront to be hired for an adoption process. One of the agencies my husband and I looked into required a $300 application fee to being the process with their adoption agency.
Documentation is required for each step of the adoption process. These documents make up the dossier that most international programs require, including proof of eligibility. Each document is processed locally, then by the agency, state and federal government, and finally by the international government of the child’s country of origin. Many adoption agencies require the documents to be sealed and notarized, which authenticates the application and dossier. If a family decides to adopt internationally, they will also have to submit paperwork to the USCIS (U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services) in order to receive citizenship for their child. This element is vital to the adoption process but can also add thousands of dollars to the overall cost.
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.
Home studies are also required for the second parent in second-parent adoptions, even if both parents have raised the child since birth. Think of it like this: If I'm the biological or gestational mom of our daughter and I'm married to a woman, my wife still has to go through much of the same process to adopt our daughter as a perfect stranger would. So even if our daughter is 5 years old and has lived with both of us that whole time, my wife has to go through a home study and have a background check and have a social worker come to our home, just as she would if she'd never met the child.
Most adoptions through foster care are done without a charge to the adopting family. In some instances, an out-of-state family may need to pay for the cost of the Adoption Home Study and Post Placement Supervisory Visits . In some states, the adopting parent(s) need to pay for the finalization of the adoption. There will also be a series of trips to the other state to meet and bond with the child before placement into your home. The adopting family covers those costs. A local foster care adoption can cost up to $2,000, not including travel expenses.