8. You won't remember a time when your child didn't live with you. Being a parent is one of the most enriching experiences in life. And though the job is often all-consuming and demanding, it certainly can expand your capacity for love and fun in ways you never imagined. That's why most parents (adoptive or otherwise) can barely remember a time when their child wasn't with them -- and, for many parents, all the hard work it took to adopt fades into a distant memory.
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.
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.
When an adoption is handled by an adoption agency, the agency will typically include all adoption process fees in their fee schedule. They will also likely have their own team of attorneys or have certain attorneys contracted to handle much of the legal proceedings of adoption. The adoption agency will also likely provide its own representation for the expectant mother and work with her on the adoption proceedings. However, some adoption agencies do not provide unbiased representation for the expectant mother. If this is the case or when working with an adoption attorney, it is often advisable and often required for the prospective adoptive family to hire outside legal counsel for the expectant mother. This is done to ensure that the expectant mother is informed of her rights in adoption and also allows for a more ethical adoption process. The fees for outside legal counsel for an expectant mother can vary greatly and can easily top $5,000.
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Birth and Adoptive Parents are entitled to separate and impartial legal representation during the pregnancy and at the time of placement. Adoptive parents require legal counsel at the time of finalization of the adoption. If birth parents will be part of the finalization process, they will also be entitled to legal counsel. The adoptive parents typically pay for all legal costs, including court filing fees and serving notice, when needed.
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.
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.
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Just two months after giving birth to the son I had placed for adoption, I received an email from my adoption agency addressed to "Dear Prospective Adoptive Parent." It was full of info that would, indeed, have been very useful had I been looking to adopt a child, but as a birth mother, I was on the exact opposite end of that equation. I'd apparently been placed on the wrong email list. And this info included a notification of just how expensive adoption is, including said agency's fees. At the time (2012), the fee paid by an adoptive family for a domestic adoption was $30,000 — the same amount I was making per year at the time. (Today, the fee is $36,000.)
When asked a question that feels too personal or improper, you have the right not to answer it -- particularly if it compromises your child's, the birth mother's, or your own privacy. But sometimes you can find a way to respond to a question that's in the best interest of your family and offers some important information about adoption. For instance, when asked "How much did you pay for your baby?" you can explain that the fees you paid your agency and/or orphanage (you don't have to disclose the amount) went toward the facilitation of your adoption and to the early care of your child. In a sense, they're similar to what a pregnant woman pays to her doctor and hospital, you can add.
After the legwork of adoption eligibility is completed, the adoption cost moving forward will largely depend on if the prospective adoptive parents are already matched or need to be matched. If the prospective adoptive parents need to be matched with a birth mother, the agency or attorney will often require a match fee. This fee allows for the agency or attorney to work, on the prospective adoptive parent’s behalf, to advertise them to expectant mothers as a potential placement for their child. There will also likely be birth mother expenses that prospective adoptive parents are obligated to pay under their state law. These expenses go towards pregnancy-related expenses such as medical care, maternity clothes, and some living expenses. The adoption cost related to birth mother expenses will be determined by the state and may be waived in some instances. Some states put a cap on the amount of birth parent expenses that are allowed. To see what birth mother expenses your state requires, you can review that information on this link.
"We have about 1,000 American families that have either adopted or are in the process of adopting children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but we can't get clearance for the kids to leave the country," Dempsey says. "We don't know why. We had about a dozen children die during this process. Right now, families are moving to the Congo to raise the children they've adopted"
If you're looking to adopt, you'll have to pay an attorney, an agency, or both. The transfer of a human into your custody is a big deal with lots of paperwork, and you need a professional. Their average costs, according to Adoptive Families, are within spitting distance of each other: about $13,000 for attorney fees, and $17,000 for an agency (though these numbers change drastically depending on your state, agency/attorney, and situation). You also very well might be working with both an attorney and an agency concurrently, which means you'd pay both.
Regardless of which type of adoption agency you work with, there will be adoption agency fees to cover the services provided by these professionals and the basic operating costs of the agency. A key point to pay attention to is whether or not these fees are “fixed,” meaning they will not increase over the course of an adoption. Some agencies will give a low number upfront to entice families to work with them, but then ramp up fees later in the process. Working with an adoption agency whose fees are fixed from the beginning will prevent these unexpected and unwelcome costs.
Sue Kuligowski is a staff storyteller at Adoption.com. The mother of two girls through adoption, she is a proposal coordinator, freelance writer/editor, and an adoption advocate. When she's not writing or editing, she can be found supervising sometimes successful glow-in-the-dark experiments, chasing down snails in the backyard, and attempting to make sure her girls are eating more vegetables than candy.
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.
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.)
Usually, a shelter has already attended to the spay/neuter, the initial shots, and a veterinary clearance exam. If the cat's original situation left it with any medical challenges due to poor nutrition or neglect, these have usually already begun to be addressed by the shelter. You may get to play a final role in nursing your rescue back to full health, creating an initial bond between you both.