Everybody says children are expensive. They ain’t lyin’! 😉 One of the biggest issues and obstacles surrounding adoption is the cost. The money side of things can be a very uncomfortable topic for everyone involved. For many people, the decision to adopt comes after thousands of dollars already spent on infertility treatments, and the cost seems insurmountable. It’s easy to get frustrated if you dwell on the fact that you’re paying a lot of money for something that most people get “for free.” The truth is, yes – it can be very expensive. But it is NOT impossible. (To put it in perspective, it can easily be less than the price of most new cars.) If you are considering adoption, please don’t let the cost be what stops you from pursuing it. Read on to find ways to help make adoption a little easier to afford.
Let me preface this by saying that I am by no means an expert, and the experience that I do have is based on an infant domestic adoption through a private adoption agency. I am just researching and learning as I go, in hopes of helping someone out there who doesn’t know who to ask or where to start. The cost of adoption varies GREATLY depending on lots of factors, such as whether you choose domestic or international, and which country if you choose international. It also varies based on the age of the child and the type of adoption you choose: adoption from foster care, independent adoption (where you advertise and find the birth mother on your own), or adoption through an agency. Even beyond that, it can depend on which agency you go through. It’s overwhelming! But – it also means there are options, and options are a good thing.
How Much Does Adoption Actually Cost?
It’s hard to say a definitive cost to be prepared for, as it generally varies from $10,000-$50,000 in expenses. According to this Adoptive Families article, “Whether the adoption takes place in the US or abroad, on average, most families must finance […] between $25,000 and $35,000.” In general, international adoption can be significantly more expensive, as it also requires traveling and lodging expenses, plus additional fees from the facilitator in the other country. However, adopting from foster care is on the opposite end of the spectrum, and can cost anywhere from next to nothing to a few thousand dollars. Independent adoption is usually less than an agency one, but you’ll likely be paying for at least some of the birth mother’s living and medical expenses, so the cost could vary a lot. Deciding for yourself which type of adoption you and your spouse will choose is a very personal decision, and should not be based on cost alone — it is just a factor that should be considered.
The good news is, most of these expenses don’t all hit at the same time. Although it would help, you don’t have to have all your financial ducks in a row just to begin the adoption process. Toward the beginning, there are fees for the application, dossier preparation, training classes, and the homestudy fee. The bulk of the expenses come later, usually once you have been matched with a specific child. (Your agency should provide you with a fee schedule — make sure to ask for one if they don’t.) Although you may not have as much time in between these events as Josh and I have, it should be at least enough to save a bit and do fundraisers, etc. or whatever you decide.
How To Help Make Adoption More Affordable
For many families, a lot of these costs can be recouped afterward. We are blessed (and thankful) that Josh’s employer, like many others, offers an adoption assistance reimbursement in their employee benefits. It doesn’t cover a ton, but every bit helps! Also, a HUGE help is the adoption tax credit! (A tax credit is more valuable than a tax deduction, as it is an amount that’s subtracted from your total liability.) This comes the year after your adoption is finalized, so you’ll still need the money to cover the adoption up front. Some families use assets or credit to finance the adoption, then pay back the money later with the tax credit. The adoption tax credit for 2016 is $13,460 per child!! Make sure to get receipts to prove what you spent. Another option is to apply for adoption grants (there are lots of these out there, many based on financial need).
In addition to the above, many people come up with fundraisers to help them reach their financial goal. Google and Pinterest are chock-full of fundraising ideas, but some of the most common that I’ve seen are: online sales/auctions, yard sales, designing and selling tshirts, bake sales, car wash, at-home sales parties, making crafts and selling them, or (my personal favorite) buying a puzzle and have people “buy” pieces and sign their names on the back. Once all of the pieces are sold, you can frame the puzzle so your child can see all the people who helped to bring them home. Also, there are some really great companies out there, like Just Love Coffee near me in Murfreesboro & Nashville, TN, who offer adoption fundraisers and view it as a mission of theirs to help adopting families.
Josh and I decided early on that it was important to us to try to save up as much as we could ourselves. While it’s been hard waiting almost a year, that time has helped give us more time to save, so it’s been a blessing in that way. There’s no right or wrong way to pay for your adoption. (Well, except for stealing, which would obviously be a wrong way. 🙂 ) I believe that God has a way of working through all situations, and can make the impossible possible. Please don’t let the fear of not being able to afford adoption stop you. There are ways. It will be worth it. If you have other ideas or suggestions for helping others afford adoption, please let me know in the comments!
P.S. A really great resource I’ve found on this and other important adoption topics is The Complete Adoption Book, by Laura Beauvais-Godwin and Raymond Godwin.