Explores some of the emotional ups and downs that adoptive parents may experience before, during, and after adoption. While every family is unique and every parent has different feelings and experiences, there are some general themes that emerge regarding adoptive parents' emotional responses. The purpose of the factsheet is to identify some of these themes, affirm common feelings, and provide links to resources that may help your family address adoption-related concerns.
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:
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.

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.

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.

You have your home study, and you have chosen your placement agency. Now, it’s now time to work on more paperwork and begin the immigration process. Unlike domestic adoption, intercountry adoption requires you to file the appropriate paperwork so that your new child can enter the U.S. and become a citizen. The first step is filing the I800A or the I600a, depending on if the country is a signer of the Hague Convention. Applying for the I800A/I600A also comes with a price tag. Currently, the application fee is $775. Plus, you get to pay for more fingerprinting, so include $85 for each person in your household who is or soon will be over 18.

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One of the biggest hurdles many prospective adoptive parents face is the cost of adoption. A poll of family and friends revealed the perceived cost of adoption to be between $5,000 and $10,000. The reality is private-agency domestic adoption ranges from $20,000 to $45,000, and international adoption ranges from $20,000 to $50,000. With so many children in need of forever homes, you have to wonder: Why is adoption so expensive?
With any kind of adoption, there is potential that the prospective adoptive parents and the child who is being adopted will need to travel, and this will also generate travel expenses through their adoption journey. For international adoption, these travel expenses can be substantial and may also involve multiple trips. Travel is one of the main reasons that international adoption can top $40,000 in many cases. Travel expenses will be needed to be provided for both the prospective adoptive parents and the child. The adoptive parents may also choose to travel with other family members, therefore, increasing these expenses.
In every State there are children with special needs waiting in foster care for adoptive families. The most recent data estimate that 126,000 children are available to be adopted from foster care. In the past, the costs of care and services were major obstacles to parents who would otherwise adopt and love these children, and most were not placed for adoption. The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 provided the first Federal subsidies to encourage the adoption of children from the nation's foster care system. These subsidies, known as adoption assistance, serve to minimize the financial obstacles to adoption. In addition, other types of assistance often are available to help with medical care or other services. Adoption assistance serves to remove barriers and contribute to an increase in adoption of children with special needs. This factsheet discusses this assistance by reviewing: Federal Title IV-E adoption assistance, State adoption assistance, and how to arrange adoption assistance.
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.
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.
 – Legal Fees – Even if you are working with an agency, you will be required to pay legal fees or attorney fees. Again, make sure you know what your agency expects you to pay out of pocket ahead of time. We, too, had to hire an attorney for our adoption (our agency uses the same one every time) and paid an additional approximately $3,000 for attorney’s fees. There are also filing fees associated with adoptions. Again, make sure you know if you have to pay these out of pocket or if they are included in the agency fee. 
Keep in mind that the majority of cats fall under the category of common domestic house cat, all of which are mixed breed. This category includes cats with distinctive coat patterns like tabbies, tuxedos, calicoes, and tortoise shells, and also includes short-haired and long-haired varieties. The temperaments of these cats can vary wildly. Even two cats who appear identical on the outside can have vastly different personalities. One benefit of their diverse gene pool is that mixed-breed cats are less prone to genetic disorders common to pure breeds, says VCA Animal Hospitals.
International adoptions are an idiosyncratic business, and largely on the decline: According to the State Department, only 5,647 international adoptions took place in 2015 (compared with 11,058 in 2010). Your experience of it will depend largely on which country you choose. Across countries and programs, there’s a combination of children with medical or special needs and those without, averaging toddler-aged but sometimes older and very occasionally younger. Also, a number of countries and programs specify that they are only interested in heterosexual couples.
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 price of providing a child with a forever home may seem expensive, but know that most of the fees involved go to the care and prenatal care of your prospective child and ensure the safety and well-being of that child. And there’s good news. For families open to foster care, the cost of foster-to-adopt is around $2,500, thanks to federal and state adoption assistance programs. Know too that there are a number of grants, subsidies, and tax credits available for qualifying adoptive families.
4. You won't be sending out traditional "birth" announcements. Of course that's not to say that you won't be announcing your child's adoption in a special way. Some parents send out handwritten cards or notes, detailing some of the highlights of their child's adoption (such as where he was born, his birth name, his family name, the date he was born, the date he was adopted, etc.). Others order special adoption announcements, which they personalize with facts about their family. Whichever method you choose, be sure to include a photo of your child and his new family members.
Consider your family makeup as well. If you have small children or other pets, for example, you'll need to look for an easy-going, friendly cat that is well-socialized to deal with people and other animals. It might also be best to look for an older cat, unless you're able to provide constant supervision. Kittens, while super cute, are also fragile and prone to injury from grabby little hands or impatient older animals.

Kids who interact with a kitten are bound to get scratched by a cat that is not yet socialized, and the child needs to be mature enough to understand this normal learning stage. Seniors may be better matched to a more mature cat. A cat that is used to quiet napping on the TV or other warm heat source or one that is happy being petted in a person's lap may be the better choice. 


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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.
One of the biggest hurdles many prospective adoptive parents face is the cost of adoption. A poll of family and friends revealed the perceived cost of adoption to be between $5,000 and $10,000. The reality is private-agency domestic adoption ranges from $20,000 to $45,000, and international adoption ranges from $20,000 to $50,000. With so many children in need of forever homes, you have to wonder: Why is adoption so expensive?
If your state does allow private adoptions, where the birth mother and prospective adoptive parents find each other, there will still be some fees associated with the adoption. These fees may include advertising online to locate a birth mother. Again, this is not allowed in every state. As indicated above, if your state requires you to utilize an adoption agency, they may charge a lesser fee than if they facilitated the match between birth mother and adoptive parents. You may also want to consult an attorney if you are pursuing a private adoption. Not only will you know what your rights are regarding the adoption process but it also might give you peace of mind as well. In some states you can use an adoption attorney to facilitate the adoption process and will pay whatever they charge and whatever their hourly rate is. Again, this is not one size fits all either. Make sure you consult with more than one adoption attorney before choosing the one that fits your family’s need the best.

 – Agency Fee – The agency fee is whatever your agency charges to act as your adoption agency. These fees can range from $1,000 to $15,000. This is where it is hard to say just how much an adoption costs because there is such a wide spectrum of amounts charged. I can tell you our agency fee was $3,000, a little on the lesser side, but we loved our social worker and loved working with the agency we did. 
Once you are approved to bring home an immigrant child, most countries will require you to create and submit a dossier. This is a document which tells the sending country about you, and that you have been proven to be a fit parent. Documents in the dossier can include doctor’s statements (yes, more doctor’s appointments), employment verification, birth, marriage, and divorce certificates (you’ll have to spring to get brand new ones), financial statements, photographs, and personal references. Every single item in your dossier will most likely need to go through the certification process at both the state and country levels, though some states also require an additional county certification. All of these various certifications cost money ranging from just $2 per document up to more than $40 per document. Once they are certified, you will probably need them to go to the consulate or embassy of the country you are adopting from and have them either authenticated or apostilled, depending on what is required. Once again, there is a fee per document to have this done. If you do not live in a city with an embassy or consulate, you will also need to make use of a courier to carry your documents in for you. Don’t forget to add in your FedEx account spending to overnight these precious documents back and forth. You’ve worked too hard on them to lose them in the mail! For those adding up numbers, figure somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000 for paperwork costs.
Birth Mother expenses also widely vary depending on a specific Birth Mother’s needs and what is allowed by state law. Most Birth Mothers are in a situation where they will need some financial assistance from the Adopting Parents. In most states, Adopting Parents can expect to pay a Birth Mother’s reasonable medical, living, legal and counseling expenses.
Are you able to afford the expenses that come with adoption and with starting a family—you know—food, clothing, and shelter? While foster care can be reasonable, most other paths to adoption are quite costly. Special needs children oftentimes require additional resources. Research the type of adoption you are interested in and the related fees. Take inventory of your financial capabilities and options so far as possible assistance, grants, and help from employers. Adoption aside, realize that starting a family has never-ending financial demands from formula and diapers to first soccer cleats and beyond.
As for your comments on adoption, yes it is expensive. And no there shouldn’t be a price on a human life. But as I’ve explained above, repeatedly, there are serious issues and honest reasons that require certain costs. The legal work involved in bringing a child into your family is no small thing. Someone has to do that work. Someone has to pay for it. Maybe our system is screwed up, and there are broken things about it, but that reality is true: things cost money and it has to come from somewhere.
“I think most people understand the basic application fees, homestudy fees, and such. It’s the large country fee that people really don’t understand. Much like the question “Why does it take so long?” there is just a lot of paperwork, a lot of applications, a lot of approvals that must be obtained. All of those cost money. You are paying for an original birth record, an updated birth record with your name on it, a passport for the child, a Visa for the child, immigration expenses, lots of translating fees, lots of foreign notaries, 6 months to 2+ years of food, clothing, housing, medical and child care, etc.” From ransomsinchina.com

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.
In considering your original cat’s personality, your shy cat could be overwhelmed by a bossy cat, and your bossy house cat may be likely to bully a shy newcomer. It is possible to successfully introduce cats. Sometimes adding a cat to the family is unavoidable. If you’re getting married, for example, and if you both have cats, then the merger is a must.
Are you able to afford the expenses that come with adoption and with starting a family—you know—food, clothing, and shelter? While foster care can be reasonable, most other paths to adoption are quite costly. Special needs children oftentimes require additional resources. Research the type of adoption you are interested in and the related fees. Take inventory of your financial capabilities and options so far as possible assistance, grants, and help from employers. Adoption aside, realize that starting a family has never-ending financial demands from formula and diapers to first soccer cleats and beyond.
No, American Adoptions has established relationships with some of the best adoption attorneys in the nation. Because adoption laws vary from state to state and between counties, it is important to utilize the services of an adoption attorney who specializes in the state where the adoption will finalize, which is unknown until you match with an expectant mother. You have the right to retain your own attorney, but doing so may be an additional, unnecessary expense.
The adoption cost in regards to foster care adoption can be a breath of fresh air after researching the high cost of other types of adoption. Adoption from foster care can typically range from little to no cost. The reason for that is due to the fact that there are many children within the foster care system in need of forever families. The state and the child welfare agency are funded to handle the adoption process and to take on the costs in order to find these children homes faster and without the financial burden for prospective adoptive parents. If there are some court costs that prospective parents will need to pay up front, these are typically reimbursed. Prospective adoptive parents may also choose to hire an attorney to help them navigate the process, though this is not usually necessary. If they do choose to hire an attorney, this cost will need to be covered by the prospective adoptive family personally. In order to determine adoption costs for your situation, your adoption agency or adoption attorney will often be able to provide a fee schedule of all set fees before you choose to move forward.
You have your home study, and you have chosen your placement agency. Now, it’s now time to work on more paperwork and begin the immigration process. Unlike domestic adoption, intercountry adoption requires you to file the appropriate paperwork so that your new child can enter the U.S. and become a citizen. The first step is filing the I800A or the I600a, depending on if the country is a signer of the Hague Convention. Applying for the I800A/I600A also comes with a price tag. Currently, the application fee is $775. Plus, you get to pay for more fingerprinting, so include $85 for each person in your household who is or soon will be over 18.
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.

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.

 – Agency Fee – The agency fee is whatever your agency charges to act as your adoption agency. These fees can range from $1,000 to $15,000. This is where it is hard to say just how much an adoption costs because there is such a wide spectrum of amounts charged. I can tell you our agency fee was $3,000, a little on the lesser side, but we loved our social worker and loved working with the agency we did. 


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Why does adoption cost so much? How do some families adopt at no cost? Questions about the costs of adopting are often one of the first questions that hopeful Adopting Parents looking to adopt ask. With so many different types of adoption programs and different costs associated with the process, one family’s cost to adopt may be completely different from another’s. Every adoption is unique and the costs will vary, but it is important that you get an understanding of all the services involved and a range of what fees may look like.
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.
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For example: If you give birth to your child biologically, an official will not come to your house to ensure that you have a pool fence. But if you adopt, a social worker will make sure that your entire home is baby-proofed before you bring the baby home. "There's an element of mistrust in the adoption process, but when someone is born biologically we just assume that everything is fine," Juntunen says.
8.  Occasionally, you will meet people whose intentions are not good.  Feel free to tell them it is private, ignore them completely, or in extreme cases, ask them an equally rude question.  Once a lady pointed at my kids and asked, “Where did you get those and how much were they?”  Hoping to educate her on the language a bit, I responded, “They joined our family through adoption.  She pushed, “I can see that, but what’d you do to get them?   I asked, “Are you considering adoption?”  “No,” she responded incredulously, “I just want to know where and how you got ’em.” Sobering up to the situation, I asked, “Do you have children?”   She nodded yes.  I rapidly retorted, “Were they born vaginally or did you have a c-section?  When you conceived them, what position did you use?  How much was the hospital bill?” She walked away and the checker plus the 2 other people in line at the supermarket all applauded. That was the only time I can recall where I felt the need to be rude in response to an adoption question.
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).
It can be hard to let people know that you are funding your adoption, and AdoptionLife.org understands that. Let your friends and family know that they can donate to AdoptionLife.org and the donations raised help families like yours, adopt. The funds go toward helping families with the expenses of your adoption. In addition, their donation to AdoptionLife is tax-deductible. For some, there comes peace of mind knowing that their funds go directly toward your agency. We are here to help you make funding your adoption go as smoothly as possible. Some agencies have simple platforms such as Amazon Smiles or Facebook Donation that can help you raise money. Check with your agency to obtain more details about how they can help you raise funds. 

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).
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Most children who are photolisted on adoptuskids.org are eligible for adoption assistance provided by the federal Title IV-E Adoption Assistance Program. It can take the form of a one-time payment, ongoing financial assistance, or both, in addition to Medicaid or other medical assistance. Read more about Title IV-E in Adoption Assistance for Children Adopted from Foster Care, a fact sheet from Child Welfare Information Gateway.
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.
Again, this all comes down to protection and fulfilling the sacred responsibility that comes with caring for someone else’s child. Imagine if you gave up your own child. Do you think you just hand the kid over and say, ‘OK, you can be the parent’? Should it be that simple? No, you owe it to yourself and to your child to make sure this is the right decision, to make sure the new parents are good for that child, to make sure you’re not going to change your mind and jerk the poor kid back and forth between parents.
The average agency adoption can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000. Now, before you get blown away by that number, let’s explore what costs are covered by this number. An agency adoption completes the entire adoption process from start to end. These individuals are licensed and trained in their field. They have experienced numerous different types of scenarios regarding adoption and are prepared to be with you every step of the way. However, let me urge you to know what costs are expected out of you upfront. Most adoption agencies will have a fee schedule notifying you of what to expect. This is usually laid out in one of your first meetings with your agency or through your informational/parenting classes that are required by your agency. I will also advise you to find an agency you feel comfortable working with. Adoption is a very personal experience and working with someone you can trust is very important. Again, I reiterate, find someone you feel comfortable with and trust and get a detailed description of the costs and fees associated with each adoption. 
11. Before even beginning the process, know this: You are in this for the long haul. If your child develops in a way you did not expect, you are still their parent.  Do not assume that you can do anything with your child through adoption that you would not/could not do with a child from birth.  Yes.  Adoption can be difficult.  As I mentioned, there are always scars.  Often times those scars can cause behaviors and emotions that are incredibly challenging.  You need to know that before you sign on the dotted line.  If you would not “return” a child born to you with a severe disability, don’t expect to “return” a child from adoption who is emotionally scarred.  If your child needs a level of support that you cannot provide by yourself, it is your job to find the necessary resources AND continue to support the child as a parent should.

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.
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