I recently wrote on the taboo subject of the costs of infertility, specifically discussing in vitro fertilization (IVF). The expenses involved – including medications, time off work and family, and counseling costs – and other issues that go with them can be significant, even prohibitive. Add to that the polite secrecy around infertility issues, then the reluctance to talk about money in general, and the trip can be lonely.
I wanted to continue on this path, looking at the connection between finances and the journey to parenthood. Facing my own struggle through an ectopic pregnancy and salpingectomy, I was amazed at how many people shared their own stories – people I had known for years and had never spoken of before. .
Now let’s talk about adoption, a path that couples struggling with infertility sometimes take. Although adoption has been part of human history from the start, the process remains complex, lengthy and expensive, which can make it emotionally disorienting.
The contingency framework of “just adopting” if we cannot get pregnant does not fit perfectly with this intense and demanding journey. Adoption takes as much intention as anything else.
There are a few different approaches to adoption, each with their own costs and timelines. The common denominator is that they are all complex and high stakes – there is no such thing as an “easy” version, nor a free version. But the difference you can make in the life of a child and your family is untold.
Adoption through the foster system offers several financial aids, which can reduce costs to little or none at all. Government programs, tax deductions, and ongoing assistance with food and clothing help make this possible for families.
Finances don’t present the variables with this option, it is more about your vocation and your vision of parenthood. Additional help is available for children with special needs, such as mental and / or medical problems. It is also available for special circumstances, such as groups of siblings who need to stay together. But these are by no means easy paths, and you should clarify your parenting goal and hopes before making a decision.
Eric Phelps, an adoption attorney who has adopted two children himself, explains that one of the variables here is termination of parental rights. It could be a putative father (a person who claims to be the father without an established legal relationship with the child) coming out of the woods and challenging custody at the 11th hour. There may also be judges along the way who impact the process because they have different philosophies about parental rights and adoption precedents within the legal system. All of this could mean more expensive court time and even the possibility of the whole adoption collapsing.
On a purely financial level, much of the help available is in the form of reimbursements, which can lead to an expensive waiting period, and reimbursements are usually only available after the adoption is finalized. In addition, applying for grants and other programs can be deceptively complex.
Alliance Adoption, Adoptions Together, Adoption for all Nations, Nightlight Christian Adoptions – all adoption agencies have encouraging and beautiful names because they do mission-oriented work. These agencies connect potential parents with pregnant mothers, as well as children in need with families.
Costs vary, sometimes widely. They include medical costs for the birth mother, legal costs for the adoptive and biological parents, as well as assessments and fees for home social workers. The cost range is usually between $ 20,000 and $ 45,000, and the process can be lengthy, with social workers monitoring the family environment, criminal and psychological background checks, and other factors.
Agencies will often have financial requirements, although these vary. Some will check credit scores and debts, including student loans and credit card bills. The North Carolina Datz Foundation adoption agency says, “… the social worker will review your tax returns, examine your pay stubs, and review letters from your employer stating your current salary,” proving your ability to stay above the poverty guidelines based on family size.
There’s an expense here that we might not immediately think about: marketing. Yes, marketing. Finding a suitable birth mother is no guarantee, nor is it without its own costs. Advertising on websites and other places can be very expensive, depending on how much a potential couple wants to invest.
Independent adoption, also known as attorney-assisted adoption, takes place outside the agency system, independently with an adoption attorney. The total cost can be as low as “about half,” Phelps said, but can be higher depending on where you live.
In the case of an independent adoption, an adoptive couple will usually have a relationship with a pregnant woman and go through the legal and medical process with a lawyer. This is done without the advice and connections offered by an agency and is therefore generally cheaper. One specialist compares this to selling a house on your own versus using a real estate agent.
The legal process will be similar, using social workers and background checks on parents. There are strict laws regarding the finances involved to ensure that expectant parents only pay for the direct expenses and do not primarily pay for the child.
The regulations surrounding this process are understandably complex, and in the independent agency-less scenario, a greater part of the burden of due diligence falls on the parents. Costs may also be less certain than with an agency if there are protracted legal issues or other variables.
Finally, international adoption, a famous choice of Angelina Jolie, Julie Andrews and others, is usually the most expensive option. Weighing between $ 20,000 and $ 50,000, this process is the most complex and may have more pitfalls than others.
Fees and legal procedures vary widely depending on the countries and institutions involved – private agencies, orphanages and other places. America World Adoption, for example, outlines the requirements for adopting from China, including the fact that you must have at least $ 80,000 in assets, fewer than two divorces (per spouse), and even rules regarding your mass index. bodily.
Travel is another expense specific to intercountry adoption. Again, this varies greatly depending on the country and the case involved. A couple shared their story of staying in South Africa for six weeks while waiting to adopt their son. Yet even before this travel period, there is a longer application period which can take anywhere from one to five years. These waiting periods are costly, financially and emotionally.
The advantage of most intercountry adoption scenarios is reasonable certainty of the outcome. Phelps, who adopted her daughter in China, says, “There is a child at the end of the process. There is a certain level of financial certainty. All the others are entirely subordinate to the end of parental rights. Instead of depending on a family scenario, international adoptees are usually matched with families through the country’s orphanage system.
As you can see, the adoption process is neither easy nor cheap, but there are a few strategies you can adopt to help cover the costs and make the adoption dream more possible.
This applies to all methods of adoption and is similar to the child credit given for naturally born children. The credit is currently $ 14,440 and is adjusted annually for inflation. It is also subject to phase-out rates at certain income levels.
Organizations such as the National Adoption Foundation provide access to grants and special loans for the adoption process. You can also find help through a service such as Your Adoption Financial Coach, which can help you find financing and improve your financial situation for a home study as part of the adoption verification process.
Chances are, if you are in the adoption process, you are in your 30s or 40s. You probably don’t have $ 40,000 in reserve, but you may have enough in your 401 (k) or other account to take out a loan. This is by no means a preferred scenario, but you may be in a part of your life / career where you can reasonably expect to recoup those losses in the future.
Some employers offer assistance to parents in the form of financial assistance or reimbursement and paid / unpaid time off. Prospective parents should check out the benefits offered. Another benefit you might not think of is downtime from work. Just like parents on maternity and paternity leave, adoption leave gives you time to bond with the child and navigate this life-changing life – if you work for a covered employer, which includes public agencies and private sector employers of 50 or more people.
Anyone who has raised children will tell you that it is an incredible experience with immense joy and sometimes incredible pain. It is one of those life experiences so emotional and complex that it can only be called a “call”.
Adoption is its own calling. Far from being “just the next option” after battling infertility, adoption is a once-in-a-lifetime journey that not everyone can take. Having said that, this is a phenomenal opportunity to change a child’s life and yours forever.
As I have written this article, I am encouraged by the number of resources, coaches and supporters simply available to help through the adoption process. If you feel called to adopt, don’t let the complex price be your only consideration. There is a huge support network out there, it’s just a matter of where to look. Know your options, do your homework, and move forward with all your mind (and all your heart).