Currently I am only thinking about adopting, but I can't seem to find an answer to this in my on-line research.
I am single and would like to adopt in the next few years.
I know about the cost of adopting internationally, but what I would like to know is how much (on average) a single woman has to make in order to be considered "financially stable". Does this vary agency to agency or country to country?
Currently I am considering Kazakhstan and Russia.
Once again I am not going to be adopting for a few years but I would like to get a general idea about this now because I am considering whether or not to continue working for my family's business or to take a higher paying job that wouldn't give me as much flexibility or allow me to work from home.
Thanks in advance for your help,
There are two entities that have income requirements: the first is USCIS (the US immigration department) and the second is the country you plan to adopt from.
The USCIS guidelines (from Reece's Rainbow website) state that "Based on the total number of people in your household, including yourself, your spouse, all of your dependent children, AND the child/children you hope to bring home, you must meet a minimum of 125% of the US Poverty Guideline for the total number of household members."
So whatever the US Poverty guideline states for a household of one single adult AND one child, your income must be 125% of that number. Also from Reece's Rainbow, the following:
The following are the 2009 Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia:
Size of Family Unit Poverty Guidelines 125 Percent
1 $10,830 $13,538
2 $14,570 $18,213
3 $18,310 $22,888
4 $22,050 $27,563
5 $25,790 $32,238
6 $29,530 $36,913
7 $33,270 $41,588
8 $37,010 $46,263
As far as I know, Russia and Kaz don't have set income requirements, but they are going to want to know that you have health insurance and the financial stability to pay for the adoption and to provide for a child. Proving this will be part of your home study and you will have to provide proof of employment and income in your dossier.
A close friend adopted from Russia in 2004 as a single. She was a teacher and her salary was about $40,000 a year. She also had no debt and was an excellent steward of her finances. I think those two traits went a long way towards helping her be approved and helping her afford the adoption of her precious little girl.
Since international adoption involves several sets of laws, you would have to be in compliance with all that are relevant to your situation.
To be approved in a homestudy, you would have to comply with the financial requirements of your homestudy agency and your home state. Each state, and each agency, will have different minimum requirements. To some extent, these minimums reflect the cost of living in your state. As an example, it is much more expensive to live in Los Angeles, California than it is to live in Jackson, Mississippi, so you would need to earn more to support a child.
You will find that it is common for agencies and states to require a minimum income of $30,000 plus $10,000 for each child in the home. But this income would probably not be enough in Manhattan, especially for a two-parent family, given the high cost of renting or buying a home.
However, there are often exceptions made in cases where income is below the required amount, but there are some other circumstances. As an example, some people own their home free and clear, or live rent-free in a parsonage or other employer-provided housing, but make less than the mandatory minimum that an agency specifies. Because they do not have to pay rent or a mortgage, they can live adequately on a lesser amount, and some agencies will be flexible, as a result.
Some agencies are much more flexible with adoptions from the domestic foster care system than they are for international adoptions. One reason is that some kids in state custody come with subsidies for medical care. Many adopted children have health issues, so having the children eligible for Medicaid or similar subsidized care is a big help to families. Internationally adopted children tend to have just as many, if not more, health issues than children coming out of foster care, but do not come with subsidies; the parents need to have not only a good income, but also access to high-quality group health insurance.
When you adopt internationally, you must also have income equal to or greater than 125% of the poverty line income in your state, to meet the requirements of the USCIS. This is probably the easiest requirement for anyone to meet; a single, for example, who lives in one of the 48 contiguous states (not Alaska or Hawaii), can easily meet USCIS requirements for adopting a first child with under $20,000 of income.
Some foreign countries set financial minimums and some do not. So you would have to know what the requirements are for the county you choose.
Some countries don't set minimums, because they realize that almost any number they see will seem princely to them, because their own people are so poor. They also realize that costs differ around the U.S., and that they cannot possibly become an expert on each state in our country. These countries rely on the determinations made by the homestudy agency and the USCIS, as to the financial qualifications of the parents.
Some countries, such as Korea, will simply say that a family must have "above average" income compared to others in their state. Others become more detailed, and some will look at factors besides income, such as net worth. China is one of those countries that looks at net worth, in addition to income; net worth is, essentially, the difference between your assets and your liabilities. My understanding is that China wants to see at least $80,000 of net worth, and that is a fairly easy target to meet. If you own a house and car, even if you are still paying them off, you probably qualify unless you are way overextended on these and other things.
All in all, what agencies and countries want to see is a prospective parent who is currently supporting himself/herself at a reasonable level, with manageable debt, and who has enough money to support a child at a reasonable level, without needing public assistance. They want to be sure that the parent will be able to cope with unexpected problems -- a child with an unforeseen medical need, temporary job loss, etc., without enormous difficulty.