Most of us know the feeling of wanting something that we can’t afford. But what if money stood in the way of becoming a parent? I talk to many couples who have decided they want to pursue adoption who feel overwhelmed with the potential costs.
It is true, adoption can be expensive. Every adoption is not created equally, however; the cost of adoptions vary widely. On one end of the spectrum is adoption through the state or foster-care. Foster-care is completely FREE! On the other end of the cost spectrum are adoptions that can cost upwards of $40,000, involving many third parties, including agencies, advertisers, attorneys and high living expenses for the birth mother. Most adoptions fall somewhere in between. Here are three things that I think everyone considering adoption on a budget should know:
1. You should network on your own.
The referral source of a birth mother, or how the adoptive family finds the birth mother, is the single most telling factor in the cost of an adoption. The referral source can be an adoption advertiser, adoption agency, an adoption attorney or a friend from church. A third party that pays to advertise to birth mothers passes that cost on to the adoptive couple. Thus, the most affordable adoptions do not involve a third-party professional that connected the birth mother and the adoptive couple.
I tell potential adoptive parents to tell everyone they know that they want to adopt, but not to stop there. Specific instructions are needed. The army of friends and family need to be bold when speaking to a woman who might be considering adoption. They need to tell her about YOU – this amazing family hoping to adopt!
This approach doesn’t work for everyone. Some couples find comfort in an arms-length match with a professional helping to navigate what can become a complex relationship. I certainly advise that an attorney is needed shortly after identifying a potential ‘match’ to vet the many pitfalls of an adoption but I want families to know finding a birth mother on your own is possible and more affordable. You have to figure out what is right for you on your adoption journey.
2. You should understand the risks.
Every adoption has emotional and financial risk. You have to determine what risks you can live with. No adoption is guaranteed. No matter how you fund your adoption and what team you decide to trust to help you navigate it, it is going to have some bumps and unfortunately, might not end in parenthood. It is vital to understand what funds will not be refunded in the event the adoption is not successful. The heartbreak of a failed adoption can turn into devastation if you haven’t considered what a failure means financially.
3. You should explore financial options.
Even the most affordable private adoptions are typically in the ballpark of $10,000-$15,000. Many of us don’t have that kind of money underneath our mattress, not to mention the funds for the more common more costly adoptions. Thankfully, there are resources available to help navigate and even offset the cost of adoption.
First and foremost, the Adoption Tax Credit is available to families that qualify (ask your tax preparer!) currently in the amount of $13,750. The Adoption Tax Credit is a huge help to so many families but is at risk of being eliminated with tax reform pending. Click here for more information.
I have also had clients apply and qualify for national grants. If you put in the research and work, it can really pay off. Some employers offer adoption assistance that would reimburse couples for costs spent on adoption. I have worked with families who have gotten loans from their local banks and even a couple who received $20,000 from their local church. Sometimes it just takes asking! You can even work with an adoption finance coach that will help navigate the financial piece of your adoption at Your Adoption Coach.
I got goosebumps when an adoptive mother sent me an email a few weeks ago announcing that she and her husband had started Mighty Families by Adoption a charity that will provide two families with $20,000 for an adoption every year!
Funding an adoption is within reach, especially if you are driven and creative. No two adoptions are the same, either emotionally or financially. Financially, the key is figuring out how to make the cost of adoption work for your family. Help is available. As for the cost of dance lessons, cars, and college…you are on your own there!
Megan Monsour is an attorney with Martin Pringle Law Firm. Her practice is devoted to adoption, assisted reproductive technology (ART) and child permanency litigation. She is committed to helping individuals and families realize their dreams of building a family. Megan represents both adoptive families and biological parents in their adoption journey and in a variety of other matters as well, including contested adoptions, foster care adoptions, step-parent adoptions, relative adoption, same sex and second parent adoptions. Additionally, she represents intended parents and carriers in surrogacy agreements. Megan is a Fellow of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and has been recognized by Kansas and Missouri Super Lawyers as a Rising Star since 2011.
If you have questions about adoption, please feel free to contact Megan directly, at [email protected], or 316-265-9311.
For more information on Martin Pringle’s adoption & surrogacy practice, please visit their website.