How Much Does Adoption Cost?

Today is the 14th day of National Adoption Month!
See the rest of the Adoption Month posts here.

This week I am answering questions about the private domestic infant adoption process and our experience.
Today, I’m addressing the question that everyone seems to have but doesn’t want to ask:
“How much did your adoption cost?”

Let me start by reminding you that everything I say is just MY experience, and I’m not an expert (surprise!…don’t tell my husband!), and also give you a disclaimer that this question is one you really shouldn’t ask anyone unless you are very close with them or you are truly considering adoption.  Otherwise, it’s basically one of those questions like “how much money do you make?” that you want to know but shouldn’t ask.  I’m choosing to talk about it today because a) it’s on the internet for all to see on our agency’s webpage if you really were that interested anyways and b) the Adoption Tax Credit is a vital piece of the puzzle and needs support from both adoptive and non-adoptive families; the only way you will all know how important that credit is if you know how much families are already paying out. (See the info about the ATC further down the post).

Okay, so there’s a huge price range with adoption that goes from $0 to well over $50,000.  Your cost depends on several things:

  • Are you adopting from foster care, directly from the birth mom via lawyer, or through a private agency (foster care is the cheapest (often free), through a lawyer can be VERY expensive and a huge price range, and a private agency can be expensive too).
  • Are you adopting an infant or an older child (there are usually more fees for infant adoption)?
  • Are you adopting a typical child or one with special needs (there are usually grants that help out with the cost of a special needs adoption)?
  • Are you adopting domestically or internationally (the fees are similar but international has different requirements and often includes several weeks’ travel to the country)?

Also, there’s a few things to consider:

  • The initial actual cost (what are you being charged by the organization you’re adopting through).
  • The initial incidentals (home study fees like fingerprinting, background checks, profile books, etc.) and travel costs if you are adopting internationally.
  • The grants/stipends/tax credits you may qualify for.

Now you know why it’s such a complicated question!

So to answer the question of how much our adoption cost, we went through a private agency (Bethany Christian Services) and it was a domestic infant adoption.  In addition to incidentals like fingerprinting, home-study related stuff (for instance, we needed a fire ladder for each bedroom and a special kind of fire extinguisher (more on the home study process later this week???)), we paid our agency about $30,000.  Yes, that’s a LOT of money.  But, thankfully, we had been saving for a while since we knew even before we got married that this was something we wanted to do.  Plus, we were fortunate enough to be able to take advantage of the Adoption Tax Credit, which can provide a tax refund to adoptive families the tax year after their adoption is finalized.

Side note about the Adoption Tax Credit:  Every year it seems like the ATC is in danger of not making it onto congress’ budget.  Every year we have to call our senators, write letters, sign petitions, and share Facebook posts until it’s back on the budget.  The ATC was recently saved from being taken off the budget for next year; thanks in advance for joining us in helping keep it in the future!

Anyways, the ATC our year was about $13,000, which doesn’t give you the money unless you have receipts to show for it, so if you literally had only $100 in adoption-related expenses, you could only claim $100.  If you had $100,000 in adoption-related expenses, you could only claim $13,000.

One other thing helped us too, and that was a small stipend that Chris’ employer, Farmer’s Insurance, provides for adoptive families.  Truly, their adoption policy is awesome, providing a stipend and a really generous amount of paid time off for adoptive family bonding time (another post about bonding coming soon too!).  There are a lot of employers who offer an adoption benefit like this. A lot of times they go unused because people don’t know about them, sometimes people in HR don’t even know!  I know several local companies that offer similar programs, a little local computer shop called Microsoft, a teensy coffee shop I like called Starbucks, etc.  It never hurts to ask!  Every year the Dave Thomas Foundation (the adoption charity we raised money for on Halloween) releases a list of the Top 100 Adoption-Friendly Workplaces; is your workplace on it?

Where does the money go?  Well, the agency uses the money to complete the home study (a long and time-intensive step for the agency), advertising to let pregnant women looking for options know that this is an option, counseling for the pregnant women, meeting with them as often as they want to talk things through, explore their options, etc., pay for adoption-related things (like childbirth class, pregnancy pillows, and food and rent if necessary), doctor and hospital charges/copays for the birth mother, and lawyer and legal fees.  Needless to say, they aren’t pocketing tons of money and living the life of leisure – this is truly a labor of love!

One final thing: the main reason it’s not okay to ask people about how much their adoption cost isn’t just that it’s gauche to talk about money; it makes it seem like the child is a commodity to be purchased.  Is a child whose adoption had a low fee less valuable than a child whose parents traveled around the world and paid tons of money to adopt? Absolutely not!

We named our son Anthony, which means “priceless” because that’s exactly what he is – we would have moved Heaven and earth to make him our son. ♥

Thanks for reading!
Just a reminder that while I pre-write posts for the most part, this week I am writing in real time; if you have any questions you’d like me to address this week, I’d love to answer them.  Please fill out the contact form and let me know your question!  Please also specify if you’d like your name kept anonymous.

Filed under: Adoption, November 2017