Folks are always going on about how expensive it is to have kids these days. They’re right.

There’s no getting away from money

When treading around the fringes of adoption, there may be a strong tendency to think in soft, cuddly terms, but there’s one barrage of cold calculations you must deal with: The Money.

It seems a thin line, the wobbly footbridge between buying a baby and paying for services related to adoption. Although it may seem fragile, it is stronger than titanium and does not take to manipulation.

State to state, laws clearly define what is and what is not to be paid. Whether your adoption is completed through an agency or done privately through an attorney, someone involved must thoroughly and completely understand everything that has anything to do with the process in your area, and any other state involved if you’re adopting across state lines. People with this skill and knowledge charge for their services, and often they charge a great deal.

Does it matter?

As in, “Does it matter how much money you have?”

Well, no.

And yes.

You don’t have to be rich to adopt a child, but as in most aspects of American life, it sure doesn’t hurt. Being in a position to throw money at your adoption might speed up the process, may jump you to the head of the queue, or could make you more attractive to placing parents.

This is not to say that folks on budgets won’t be matched quickly or chosen before others with more disposable income, so although you may be hoping your ship comes in, there’s no reason to wait until you’ve met it at the port to add to your family. If you are able to provide for a child adequately … food, shelter, clothing, education, health-related services, love, time … you have enough of the worldly goods to adopt a child.

Notice the key word is adequate. No one is requiring lavish or extravagant, so you should suffer no worries about space camp or Oxford, or having to upgrade your home computer every six months to keep Junior on the cutting edge, and although it may be trendy to dress tykes in $200 togs, it is most certainly not required.

Coming up with the cash

Very often, the most impressive splashing out of cold hard cash comes long before you start queuing up for the latest version of PlayStation. It’s the adoption itself that may cost the moon.

With US Domestic Infant adoption costs running between $5,000 and $40,000, and some even more, there are many families hoping to grow this way that do some deep and creative thinking over how to muster the finances to match the need.

Loans and second mortgages are one way to turn assets into a usable form, and if there’s a high limit on a credit card, that can work, too.

Taking on more work, contract jobs, or part-time positions may add enough to the coffers to fund an adoption– or perhaps simply cutting back on luxuries or holiday spending can do the trick.

Turning to friends and family is a tactic that works for some families, and aside from bringing in the needed resource,s this can also involve a wider loving circle in your process and have you walking your adoption journey with a large audience following each step and shouting encouragement from the sidelines.

You can even set up a special baby fund and have your loved ones contribute. There are some organizations that will set up an account for you that lets others make tax-deductible donations.

Special projects, artwork, books, and crafts can be sold to raise money for adoptions. One woman made beautiful baby-sized quilts and sold them on eBay, eventually ending up with so much more than her adoption required that she put the extra into an account that will go toward covering costs for a second child.

Benefits: Military and Employer

If you’re in the military and on active duty, you can be reimbursed to the tune of $2,000 for the adoption of one child if you’ve used a non-profit agency for the process. If both parents are military, you can get twice than amount.  There may be other benefits for children with special needs, and a program for medical coverage even before finalization. Check with your commanding officer for details.

Even if you don’t work for Uncle Sam, your employer may provide reimbursements, paid or unpaid leave, or other benefits.  Check with your Human Resources department.

And if your company doesn’t have adoption benefits, don’t give up quite yet.  The Dave Thomas Foundation For Adoption offers some tools that may help convince employers who aren’t offering adoption benefits to change policy. Their Adoption-Friendly Workplaces in America program has an employee toolkit that may get things moving in that direction in your company.

The Adoption Tax Credit

Yes, there is one, and it can save you money, but it’s one of the more convoluted tax laws so unless you have CPA blood running through your veins, and possibly even if you do, HIRE A PROFESSIONAL.

To start with, you’re going to need Form 8839 and your child’s Social Security or Tax ID number.  Check out the IRS website for more information.

In addition, some employers may offer a fringe benefit (Employer Provided Adoption Benefits) where they will reimburse certain amounts for qualifying adoption expenses and these can also be excluded from your gross income.   But bear in mind that the expenses claimed for cannot be the same as those applied for in the tax credit.

Check with your local state tax office and your own tax advisor to see if there are any local allowances for adoption expenses.

Some places to look for help

Affording Adoption has a “wealth of information on your road to affording adoption,” and has sections on grants, loans, and fundraisers.

The US Department of Labor has a site that explains the ins and outs of the Family and Medical Leave Act. You can find out here what how much adoption leave you’re entitled to.

The North American Council on Adoptable Children lists profiles on state subsidy programs and has fact sheets available.

The National Military Family Association gives adoption information for … you guessed it! … military families.

The Child Welfare Information Gateway is loaded with info, links and articles.

The Hebrew Free Loan Association provides interest free adoption loans to Jewish residents of Northern California.

The National Adoption Foundation provides ‘financial resources, information and services for adoptive and prospective adoptive families.”

The National Council for Adoption provides a list of resources for adoption grants.

The Gift of Adoption Fund awards grants to, “pre-approved adopting parents who demonstrate an unusual degree of financial hardship.”

God’s Grace Adoption Ministry: Serving Christian adoptive families with financial aid.