Saturday, June 30, 2012

Questions to ask...Adoption finances

Continuing with questions adoptive families should ask themselves...

How do you feel about the financial end of adoption?

Most people do not realize how expensive adoption is regardless of the program a family chooses.  If I had a dollar for every time I've read or heard "people should adopt babies in the U.S. instead of spending all this money in other countries!" I'd be rich.  However, this comment is based in a fallacy.  Depending on the situation, international and domestic adoptions often are similarly priced.  

Adoptive Families magazine (which has no ax to grind internationally or domestically) released the results for 2011 adoption costs.  The average cost of a US domestic adoption with an agency was over $33, 000.  The average cost of a US domestic adoption with an attorney was over $31, 000.  (I personally think these are pretty high averages.  They have aggregated the data into a different chart and it shows that about a quarter of domestic infant adoptions cost between $10, 000 and $20, 000, about 30% fall into the $20, 000 to $30, 000 category, and about 20% fall into the $30, 000 to $40, 000 range.  That arrangement of data is pretty interesting to me because I think it shows that the bulk of US infant adoptions, basically 75% cost between $10, 000 to $40, 000.)  

If you compare that to the international adoptions the magazine spotlighted, you will find that the average cost for a Chinese adoption was around $28, 000.  Ethiopia was similarly priced.  (All data taken from I do not think our China adoption will be quite that pricey but a lot depends on travel costs as they can vary depending on the time of year you fly.  I would also add that our Haitian adoptions were significantly less than that, probably closer to $15, 000 each.  

And while I think the US average is high, I can tell you I have researched domestic infant adoption programs within our state and across the country.  I think you would be hard pressed to find an agency that quotes you fees of less than $20, 000.  (To be fair, there are some low cost options out there.   In Nebraska, we have Nebraska Children's Home which is essentially free.  However, this agency has its drawbacks.  They have about twice as many potential families as they do placements and once they complete your homestudy, you have to agree to work only with them.  This means you cannot network your family's information with any other agency or placement group.)  

I also think I would be rich if I had money every time I heard someone say something about how we all ought to be adopting from foster care.  The reality is foster care to adoption situations are not for everyone.  Cost wise, they are very economical.  Often they are free and a family will be eligible to receive subsidies to cover their new child's medical expenses or therapy needs.  However, the goal of foster care is not adoption.  The goal is reunification with birth families.    About 50% of the case management goals in the system are for reunification and about 50% of kids leave foster care to be reunited with their families.  (   The average age of a child who is adopted from within foster care is approximately 5-7.    ( on the state, you are much more likely to become the adoptive parent of a child if you were first the child's foster parenting which means the idea of adopting from foster care without doing foster care is unlikely.  
( )  Lastly, parenting a child who has been in the foster care system make require a specific set of parenting skills or at the very least,  retraining so to speak in how one parents.  Almost every child in foster care is there because of abuse or neglect in their life; while those losses can be overcome, it take dedication and creativity on the part of the parents.  Foster parenting and adopting from foster care is a great way to grow a family but it is not for everyone.

Know I would be rich if I had a nickel for every time I've heard a comment about adoptions being free or low cost.  While I do think we could do some things in terms of reform that would help the cost of adoptions be less expensive, adoption is a business.  People are performing services and need to be compensated for those service.  It is unfair to expect them to do those things for free or reduced rates.

In terms of how a family feels about adoption expenses, I know all families set their own financial values and those values differ vastly.  And that is okay.  Some things I think one ought to consider before dismissing adoption as too costly include:

*Is the financial cost a good reason to disobey or disregard what God might be calling you to do?

*Would you balk at the thought of taking out a $20, 000 loan for a new or used vehicle?   How is an adoption loan different from this?

*What lesson about financial security might God desire to teach you through an adoption process?

We personally have never taken out a long term loan or received any grant money for our adoptions nor have we borrowed from our retirement funds or used our home equity.  We have not received huge monetary gifts from friends and have not done any fundraisers.  Know also that before we started our adoptions, we never had any money set aside, earmarked for adoption.  I don't know that this is the best strategy.  But I do know that we have always managed to make it work.  D picked up extra hours teaching summer school.  We sold items on Ebay (and did have a friend donate some items that way.)  We had a few people gift us some money but nothing that was huge and added together over 3 adoptions, I would guess we've received maybe $500 total from others.  I sold items in an etsy store.  In the case of Zeke's adoption, we were blessed by inheritance money.  Somehow it has all just worked out.  And I believe that God will make a way to put children in families, even when money seems to be an issue.

As I said before, we have not done fundraisers, taken out loans, or applied for grants.  So I cannot speak to those things.  People use all of those avenues as ways to fund an adoption.  If you google "adoption fundraisers" you'll see a plethora of current projects people have going.  There are many organizations who offer grant money and low interest loans specifically for the purpose of adoption.  I won't list them as again, you can google and get most of the information.

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