Travel costs are, obviously, a huge cost— about $8,000 on average (which goes up to $10,000 when you factor in your in-country travel expenses). Some programs require multiple visits or require you to stay in the child’s home country for a minimum amount of time, which might be up to several weeks. But there are other non-travel costs driving the cost of international adoption up. The 1993 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect to Intercountry Adoption established international safeguards to prevent child trafficking. This is, obviously, fantastic. It also means a great deal of paperwork to make sure you’re complying with Hague guidelines, and that paperwork costs money to prepare and submit. Your dossier costs $1,500 on average to prepare, according to Spence-Chapin, and another $500-$1,500 to translate if needed.
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.
I stood near her at Starbucks, this woman who was so well-dressed and well-combed and well-showered, and I tried not to think about my own ensemble of dry sweat and yoga pants. She crossed her legs and I noticed that her thighs barely touched each other. One of her high-heel-clad feet swung gently back and forth as she smiled. She lifted one perfectly plucked eyebrow in query as she waited for my answer.
– 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.
Part of what drives up agency costs is the fact that adoption professionals need to specialize. For instance, as a birth parent, I had a social worker who only worked with birth parents, and my son's adoptive parents had a social worker who only worked with adoptive parents. This prevented a conflict of interest for our social workers; mine didn't have pre-adoptive parents whispering in her ear. As Kelly Ellison of Your Adoption Finance Coach puts it, “Each professional involved in the process does a specific job, and that's how the prices go up.”
Also, each country has its own country fee (a flat amount set by that country for adopting from it), which varies wildly from country to country. For instance, South Africa has a country fee of $4,000 per child, while other country fees, like Colombia, can be upwards of $10,000. Then there’s the cost of the child’s passport, visa, and medical exam ($500-$1,500), including hiring a doctor with experience reading international medical records to review the child’s information. It all keeps adding up.
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.
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.
Adopting a child is a major decision that changes lives. So, if you are considering adoption, it’s important to reflect and consider a multitude of aspects before moving forward. Hopefully, these questions provoked thoughts and feelings that can help guide you in this process. If you still have questions, AdoptHelp offers informational resources to adoptive parents and birth mothers.
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.
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).
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.
This is an important question to ask yourself before you delve any further. Is adoption your first choice or is adoption your last option? Is being a parent to a child more important than that child having your DNA? Do you feel that you would love a child even if they’re not biologically related to you? Do you feel pressured by anyone? Family? Society?
6. Your child may celebrate two special days. Often adoptive families celebrate not only their child's birthday but also the day he was adopted. (Sometimes this is called "Adoption Day," "Family Day," or "Gotcha Day.") Whether or not you choose to do something special for Adoption Day is up to you. But some families have a small celebration at home and perhaps look at pictures or a video from the day their child was adopted. Other families get together with their "travel group" (families with whom they traveled to the host country and who adopted on the same day), and have a larger celebration, honoring all their kids.
Elaine E. Schulte, MD, MPH, FAAP is a board certified pediatrician and Professor of Pediatrics at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. She is the Medical Director of the Adoption Program at Cleveland Clinic Children's and has cared for hundreds of families and children touched by adoption. She also provides pre-adoption consultation service through MyConsult. Within the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Schulte sits on the Executive Committee of the Council on Foster Care, Adoption, and Kinship Care. She is the parent of two children adopted from China.
Think seriously about the commitment you'll be making in taking on a cat. Cats are sentient beings, and a cat deserves to be seen as your family member. Bringing a cat into your home will be a responsibility for the lifetime of the cat, requiring you to provide healthy food, safety, love, companionship, and veterinary care both in good times and in bad.