A: Selecting an adoption agency requires patience and perseverance. It's important that prospective parents do their homework. This may start with an internet search. Parents should look for an experienced agency and make sure the agency's values align with their own. Agencies should be willing to share references. Talk to friends and colleagues about their experiences, 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.
If you have been interested in pursuing adoption, you probably are aware that you can adopt from the foster care system. While the ultimate goal of the foster care program is parent reunification, there are certain circumstances when that is not possible and when an adoption plan can be made for that child. Usually, the children available for adoption through the foster care system are older children and/or part of a sibling group. Most states cover the cost of adopting through the foster care system. There is also several different kinds of state and/or federal adoption assistance available, which may include medical assistance and/or monthly maintenance payments.
These are a central factor to the question, “Why does adoption cost so much money?” Variable adoption costs are comprised of expenses that can change in each unique adoption situation. Typically, these are fees paid toward needs of the prospective birth mother. The amount of variable adoption costs incurred in a given adoption situation will be dependent on the birth mother’s unique needs, as well as what is allowed by the adoption laws in her state. Some of these costs can be things like:
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.
International adoption is the adoption of a child born in another country than the one in which you reside. International adoption also has a very wide range of fees, as each country has their own fee scale and traveling to each country varies. The average international adoption can range from $30,000 to well over $50,000. Similar to the agency adoption costs above, international adoptions will require the following fees:
Local restaurants are a great way to get your network involved. Work with local restaurants like Chic-fil-A and have a night dedicated toward your adoption. Generally, restaurants will donate a percentage of its proceeds toward your cause. This can be a great way to get friends and family together to celebrate your hopes to adopt while enjoying yummy food.
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.
How much of the cost actually goes to legal fees? Im going into my second yr of law school and would like to adopt in about 3-4 years. Once I pass the bar I will be able to do most of the legal work myself, but coming from the foster system I would love to do pro bono work. Is this type of work something that is needed for lower income families? Are there not lawyers who are willing to do the work for free or on at a discount? Do you have a break down of what legal fees you paid? Sorry for all the questions
Overall, it's clear that money plays a huge role in adoption. The Donaldson Adoption Institute recently released a presentation highlighting some of the problems with adoption today, including the role of privilege and money. According to this presentation, "more than two-thirds of the adoption community believe privilege and money distort adoption." (You can read more about the DAI's Let's Adopt Reform initiative, or sign their open letter, which aims to change the way we talk about adoption.)
For private and independent adoptions, the birth parent(s) can decide whether or not he or she wishes to select the adoptive parents, meet with them, even maintain an ongoing relationship, if he or she so chooses. That is called an open adoption. In a closed adoption, the names of the birth mother and father and the adoptive parents are not shared with one another.
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.
This is a tax credit offered to adoptive parents to encourage their adoption. The United States International Revenue code offers a credit for “qualified adoption expenses” paid or incurred by individual taxpayers. The credit apply’s for all types of adoption except step-parent adoption and is available in the year the adoption is finalized. In 2017, the maximum adoption tax credit was $13,570 per child. The amount changes year over year due to inflation. Talk with your tax adviser to understand more about the Adoption Tax Credit and how it can work for you. The Adoption Tax Credit is not refundable, but it does provide financial assistance to many families each year.