The majority of international adoptions are done through adoption agencies. They have detailed explanations of fees and when payments are due. There are additional fees for the Adoption Home Study and Post Placement/Adoption Supervisory Visits, United States Citizenship and Immigration Service applications and travel. International adoption may cost between $30,000 - 80,000.
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International adoptions have legal costs, including court filings, immigration applications (one prior to adopting and one when the child is ready to immigrate to the United States), and embassy medical, visa and passport fees. If the adoption is not finalized oversees, the adopting family will need to hire an attorney to finalize the adoption once back in the United States.
These numbers include everything: travel, paperwork, agency, attorney, etc. China, Ethiopia, and South Korea are the only countries that AdoptiveFamilies.com publishes, because they are the most popular. While most other estimates for international adoption appear comparable, those numbers can sometimes go down significantly if a family is willing to adopt older children, sibling groups, or children with disabilities or medical needs. Here's how those expenses break down.
And it's not because there are fewer children up for adoption. In 2013, there were 7,092 worldwide adoptions. "The 2014 numbers arent out yet," international adoption attorney and director of outreach and advocacy for Both Ends Burning Kelly Dempsey told BuzzFeed Life. "But I anticipate lower numbers for this past year—maybe around 5,000 successful adoptions."
Unlike with other types of adoption, Adopting Parents that adopt through foster care may also receive federal and/or state adoption assistance, which can include medical assistance and monthly maintenance payments. This assistance is made available to parents that adopt through foster care to ensure that finances do not prevent them from adopting and to ensure that a child’s special needs are met until they become legal adults.
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.
Breaking down all the costs really answers the question of “Why is adoption so expensive,” and it gives you a greater picture of how quickly and enormously costs can add up. In a hypothetical domestic adoption situation, the fees could reach over $20,000 quite quickly. If a home study process costs prospective adoptive parents $3,000, and the application fee for the agency is $500, that is already quite a large amount right out of the gate. Also, there is a match fee of $1,000 as the prospective adoptive parents have not self-matched. The birth mother expenses may easily reach $5,000, and hiring outside legal counsel for her could equal that amount. If the prospective adoptive parents live in Florida, but the child is being born in Ohio, they will need to account for travel, lodging, and food. After airfare, food, and lodging for the four weeks of their ICPC stay, they have easily spent $6,000. They also have paid for counseling for the birth mother at the cost of $1,500 and their post-placement visits of $1,250. While each fee seems small on its own, these adoptive parents have reached finalization at a final cost of $23,500. This figure being only hypothetical and does not account for unexpected expenses or the possibility of financial loss with a failed adoption.
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.)
Special needs. Special needs cats include senior cats with ailments that are common to aging, blind, deaf, or disabled cats, and those with chronic health conditions. While your heart might go out to such a cat at the shelter, it's important to bear in mind that cats with special needs will need more of your time and attention, and might also need regular veterinary care and medication that can be costly. Before taking on such a challenge, be honest with yourself about whether there's room in both your schedule and your budget to realistically accommodate the cat's needs.
Breed. Purebred cats, such as the Siamese, have somewhat predictable cat characteristics based on their breed. For example, you can be certain that a Siamese will be loud and vocal, just as you can be certain that a Maine Coon will be friendly and affectionate. Before you visit the shelter, it's a good idea to research different cat breeds and their temperaments.
I know these numbers seem staggering and you probably think you cannot afford to adopt a child, but there are ways to “offset” some of these expenses. As I mentioned earlier in the article, talk with a tax professional to discuss what options may be available for in regards to the adoption tax credit and/or adoption assistance programs. You may also be able to apply for grants. A simple Google search for “adoption grants” will result in hundreds of possibilities. Applying for grants takes time, however, it usually pays off in the end. You may also be able to apply for a no-interest or low-interest loan to cover your adoption expenses. There are several online resources for that as well. Get creative with fundraising. I know it seems silly to be asking people to help pay for a child, however, you will be surprised at how willing people are to help you. Have a garage sale. Have a bake sale. Create an online shop for something you make by hand. Start a 5k run/walk. Provide concessions at events. The possibilities really are endless, you just have to be willing to try. 
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.
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