When my husband and I were considering our options for family building, we were overwhelmed with choices to make. What helped the most during this time was reading firsthand accounts of families who had taken similar paths and learning from their experiences. Now that we have been through the process of adopting through foster care, I want to share what we have learned from our particular experience. The process and specifics of adoption through foster care will of course vary from state to state, but just knowing that other couples like us had been able to provide a family for a child through adoption was a huge comfort.

Foster Adoption Myth: Adoption is too expensive for most people

Adoption has developed a reputation for being outlandishly expensive.  In fact, as my husband and I started to consider our options for family building, I felt I knew that adoption would not be an option for us for many years because of the cost involved. I feared that we would raise the needed money and our adoption would fail in some way, leaving us without a child or the fees needed to start again. I worried that after the years I anticipated it taking to save the money to fund one adoption, we would never be able to adopt a second child once the expense of parenting was added to the mix. I worried that due to the cost, our family would be unable to provide one stay-at-home parent while our children were young as we had always planned.

I worried and worried, and worried some more.

Once we started talking to people who have been through the process, we realized a few things: that adoption overall was not as costly as I had thought; that even for the options with higher fees, there are many ways to offset the cost (such as fundraising, employer benefits, and adoption tax credits); and that adoption through foster care is usually free of cost.

Yes, free. I was blown away- I never considered that adoption could be free. In fact, I had bought into the perception that you had to be wealthy in order to choose adoption. Being financially stable and able to care for a child is crucial, but being wealthy is not.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the average cost for adoption from foster care varies. For our adoptions, the state paid our attorney directly for the minimal fees associated with filing the paperwork for the adoption and needed certificates.  See here for statistics on foster adoption by year.

Of course, it would be nice if the cost of adoption weren’t a factor, but the reality is that each family needs to decide what will work for them and go from there–and finances will need to be a part of that decision. The lesser cost of foster care adoption meant that we could build our family without the fear of being able to shoulder the cost of the adoption in addition to the cost of living and raising a family. It meant that we could have the big family we had dreamed of and provide a loving home for more children than we could have otherwise.

In addition to the lower cost of foster care adoption, many children also qualify for extended benefits after adoption, such as medical coverage, monthly stipends, and college tuition. For our family, this meant that we were able to say “yes” to children with special or particular needs without fear that we would be unable to meet those needs financially. We can focus fully on their healing with them, and that has been a huge blessing to our family.

If you have considered adoption but are concerned about the cost, please consider foster care adoption. There is a huge need for families to care for children of all ages!

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Adopting from Foster Care Guide

“There are over 400,000 foster care children in the United States currently in the foster care system. Of these foster care children, more than 100,000 are waiting to be adopted into a forever family. That’s 100,000 foster care children who need the support, stability, and unconditional love a family can provide.”

Foster to Adopt

“Many families looking to add to their family through adoption investigate foster to adopt as an option. Foster to adopt is a process where, as a licensed foster family, you take children into your home with your end goal being the adoption of one or more children. In many states, since there are so many children who are free for adoption and need homes, foster to adopt is a great option for families who are open to adopting an older child or adopting a sibling set. In some states, however, you must be open not only to foster to adopt as an option, but also be open to being a foster family for children with the understanding that reunification with their biological family is the end goal.”

Adoption and foster care laws and practices can vary from state to state. Check out Adoption.com’s local adoption page to learn more about resources in your area.