How Much Is Adoption

You really need to understand, generally, the answer to this question before you start the adoption process.

Susan Kuligowski March 28, 2019
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“How much is adoption?” may be one of the most commonly asked questions by both families interested in adopting as well relatives and friends curious about the process and how it works. Answering this question is as complicated as is the process of adoption itself! While most everyone understands that adoption comes at a cost, not everyone understands that expenses are just one factor in the overall adoption cost equation.

Adoption requires time, love, learning, and lifelong commitment as well as money.

Timing Is Everything

In truth, the type of adoption you’re considering may also determine the wait time—everything from the state in which you’re adopting to the child’s age, to the determined level of special needs, as well as whether you are adopting domestically or internationally and/or private or foster care. For some, time is a large part of responding to the question “How much is adoption,” especially when you’ve already spent time dealing with infertility issues, have experienced complications due to agencies or failed matches, or are coming up against age constraints and restrictions surrounding adoptions.

No matter what path you choose, you must be prepared to invest your time. The adoption process includes wait times within wait times as potential families wade through paperwork and follow the trails to obtain notarizations, certifications, and apostilles—only to then wait while your completed documents sit on someone’s desk. Going through the home study process, meeting with financial advisors, completing doctor’s visits, and running around town for fingerprints all takes time.

If you’re adopting domestically, you may be required to prepare and circulate an adoption profile. This is not something to be taken lightly or completed in a hurry. And then you wait for an agency to help match you with a potential birth mom. According to Adopt USA Kids, “An increasing number of states view foster care and adoption as a continuum and are establishing policies that encourage parents who are considering adoption to be foster parents first. For example, some states require that families seeking to adopt also take foster parent training and get approved to foster.”

Families considering international adoption have additional hurdles to jump and additional government agencies from whom communications, permissions, and legal authority are required before, during, and even after an adoption is complete.

In the article “How Do I Overcome the Pain of Waiting for an Adoption Match” the author shares her experience and advice in dealing with the common feelings of loss, uncertainty, and helplessness many waiting families encounter.

Hopeful parents aren’t the only ones who wait. In the article, “Babies Waiting for Adoption,” the author discusses the reasons why between the years of 2007 and 2016 approximately 4,000-6,000 babies under the age of 1 waited for adoption in the U.S. from the foster care system. The article touches on the many reasons babies arrive in the system as well as reasons why birth moms may decide to make an adoption plan for their children.

Love Is All You Need?

“You may not have my eyes or my smile, but from that very first moment, you had my heart.” -Kathy R. Jeffards.

When considering the question of “How much is adoption,” hopeful parents must consider, among so many other things, whether or not they are open and able to love a child who is not biologically their own, may not look like them, or may need them to be strong in ways they may not yet understand. And while most understand that it takes more than love to be in an adoptive family, it is certainly a needed and important ingredient.

In the article “Open Adoption: It’s About Love,” the author discusses what led her to understand that adoption was not about her, but rather the child involved and how making decisions in the child’s best interest is the strongest kind of parental love.

The article “How I Loved A Child I Hadn’t Met Yet” talks about how love can transcend the time leading up to and the time long past becoming a family when it comes to an adoptive mother’s love for her child.

Further, in the thread, I Love My Adoptive Parents, BUT… grown adoptees discuss issues they have had in sharing their feelings and talking to their adoptive parents about their adoption experiences, including international adoptions and feelings of loss of identity and culture.

Additionally, there is a lingering misunderstanding of the birth family’s importance in an adopted child’s life as well as the sacrifice involved in adoption. The article “5 Stereotypes about Birth Parents That Need to Die Now” offers a look into the truth about birth parents and suggests ending old and incorrect stereotypes associated with them. By better understanding the many reasons birth parents choose adoption placement, we can help adoptees to accept that adoption does not mean unloved or unwanted. Remember that an adoptee’s life story begins not after his adoption but on the day of his birth.

Learning As You Go

Most people who wish to grow their family through adoption have no idea how deep and involved the learning process will become. Yes, there is guidance from adoption facilitators, the mandatory classes that must be completed, and a wealth of knowledge to be found online in the thousands of available website articles and blogs; however, until you’ve entered the ring, the vastness of what you’ll want or need to learn as you go is to be determined.

“How much is adoption” is very much related to how much we are willing to learn as members of the adoption community. Learning about adoption doesn’t begin and end with what you need to know about how to adopt, but rather all of the variables associated with what happens after you’ve adopted. Depending on your circumstance, you will find yourself needing to know more about everything from what to expect post-placement to how to find local adoption resources (such as pediatricians), learning about learning disabilities, embracing new cultures and how to incorporate these into your family’s life together, knowing how to support your child at different developmental ages and his understanding of his adoption, understanding what adoption means to you and your family and friends, and a plethora of adoption-related issues that impact all families created through adoption.

Adoption.com offers its readers many adoption guides which provide important information on a variety of issues relevant to the adoption journey, including how to adopt, finances, state information, international, foster care, adoption parenting, birth parent, general information, open adoption, transracial, adoptees, special needs, stepchild adoption, home study, search and reunion, religion, and many others—all of which include overviews, tips, and links to resources.

The article “What Education Is Necessary before Adopting” describes the importance of education in preparing hopeful parents in preparing for the next chapter in their lives.

Still, despite the differences, there are some commonalities that run across the board, including legwork and home study, costs, and fees associated with the process, as well as post-adoption services.

The Center for Adoption Support and Education (CASE) is the national leader in mental health services for the adoption and foster care communities. The organization offers workshops, webinars, books, workbooks, and training manuals that provide users proven techniques to help teens, family members, school counselors, and mental health professionals deal with the challenges adoption brings. To learn more, visit this link.

Committing Is Forever

Providing a family to a child takes commitment from Day 1. No matter how you got here, your story and that of your adopted child is unique and will come with all of the ups and downs any family—adopted or biological—will face.

When Johnson & Johnson pitched that, “A baby changes everything,” they weren’t kidding! Life as you knew it is over. Say goodbye to sleep in Saturdays and after work happy hours. That orderly house that your mother-in-law and your friends with kids have always admired may be taken over by toys for the next 12 years. The car you wanted will soon be replaced with the SUV you desperately need. Quiet dinners become chaotic circuses. “Me time” becomes a vague memory.

That’s right, you are now officially responsible in every way for that bouncing baby boy or that toddler who loves to say, “No.” Or there’s that grade schooler who is absolutely adorbs at home but seems to be getting sad faces and notes about needing improvement from his teacher at school. Or what about your middle schooler who wants to fit in, but also wants to be an individual depending on the day. Not to mention that high schooler who seems to have shut you out of her room and her life for good, or that young adult who is making more and more choices that don’t seem to involve you. And what about that newlywed who is thinking about having children of his own and coming to you for advice, or that middle-ager who is asking to see paperwork in an attempt to trace her biological roots.

Alas, forever family is more than just a happy catchphrase, nor should anyone expect life will be rainbows and sunshine once the paperwork has been signed. Becoming a forever family is where the real work and commitment begins.

This story/video on Adoption.com titled the “Boy Who Begged to Be Adopted Now Thriving with His Forever Family” eventually found his family with his caseworker who encompasses the very meaning of giving a family to a child.

If you were to ask either the subject of the story, Davion, or his eventual adoptive mom, Connie, “How much is adoption?” they may respond that for them, adoption is worth all of the ups and downs the journey brings if it ends with the bond of a parent-child relationship.

There are countless forever family stories that end happily ever after. There are also those we read about in the paper that are not sad and in some cases horrifying. The difference between the success stories vs. the latter is that of commitment—that which stretches far beyond the initial understanding of what those involved expected adoption would be vs. the undertaking of what committing to a family really is. And it’s not always easy.

The article, “Bonding and Attachment: When It Goes Right,” provides the reader with a better understanding of the difference between bonding and attachment and how this is important to the well-being of the adoptive family from infancy through to toddlerhood. Adoption.com’s Attachment and Bonding Forum provides helpful threads and posts concerning adoption from infancy through teen years. While, the article “How to Know If Fostering Older Children Is Right for You,” poses clear and honest questions to potential parents considering adopting older children.

Finances

And finally, one of the most uncomfortable topics surrounding adoption, but one that is all too necessary before a hopeful parent can even consider adoption, is the expenses and fees involved in the process: the cost of adoption.

“How much is adoption” from the financial perspective depends on what sort of adoption is being considered. While agency adoption has a reputation for being expensive and has, at times, been accused of being more of a business to hopeful parents than a service to needy children, foster care continues to come at low or no cost at all. For years, the belief was that international adoption was another, less costly, alternative to domestic adoption, although in recent years, that is no longer the case.

The article, “Average Cost of Adoption,” presents the biggest financial hurdles as well as the resources available to help families manage the costs they will face throughout the adoption journey. The article discusses the various avenues to adoption including domestic, foster care, international, as well as the grants, reimbursements, crowdfunding, employment benefits, and tax credit that help to alleviate some of the financial burden, allowing the family to focus on what matters most while navigating the adoption process rather than spend time lost in red tape and debt.

This link provides several links to help readers better understand affording adoption as well as active steps to take in order to do so. The article, “Adopt a Child for Free,” introduces readers to the U.S. foster care system and will help interested families get started on this journey should it be a mission they are willing to accept.

That said, adoption expenses aside, raising children isn’t cheap. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the cost to raise a single child in most middle-class circles runs between 12K to 14K annually. Anyone considering starting or growing their family should keep that in mind.

So How Much Is Adoption, Really?

While timing, love, learning, commitment, and money are requirements for anyone considering adoption, depending who you ask, you will get a different answer as adoption impacts everyone differently.

Perhaps a better question to ask is this: “Is adoption worth it?” If you’re okay with learning to be patient and wait for what will be a life, game changer, prepare to love and be loved beyond your expectations, be ready to open your mind and heart larger than you’d ever imagined, and be willing to give of yourself until it hurts—only to wake up excited to do it all over again—adoption (and parenting in general) may be worth it to you.

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Susan Kuligowski

Sue Kuligowski is a staff storyteller at Adoption.com. The mother of two girls through adoption, she is a proposal coordinator, freelance writer/editor, and an adoption advocate. When she's not writing or editing, she can be found supervising sometimes successful glow-in-the-dark experiments, chasing down snails in the backyard, and attempting to make sure her girls are eating more vegetables than candy.


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