There are a wealth of adoption articles and guides on how to pay for adoption that can be found on both the internet and in print. You will find multiple guides on this site and our sister sites that are invaluable. This information can give great information on where to start and provide unique ideas for fundraising opportunities. However, there is usually little information on how exactly adoptive families ended up paying for the adoption process. There is a big difference between what sounds like a good idea and what actually works. What actually works can vary based on the circumstances of the adoption. Here are the ways we paid for our adoption process including what worked, what didn’t, and what we would do differently.
The first time my husband and I adopted, it was an out-of-nowhere event resulting in us being wildly unprepared in many ways, including finances. Someone we knew asked us to adopt and we had a very short time frame in which to raise funds for the adoption. With the type of adoption we were entering, the process was not as expensive as traditional domestic adoption. Due to the circumstances and the shortened timeline, our daughter was being adopted from foster care. Therefore, our only costs were travel, home study, and attorney fees. Yet, even with this in our favor, we were nowhere near prepared to incur thousands of dollars worth of sudden expenses. We were in our late 20s and in the first few years of creating our family and life together.
Due to the immediacy of the situation and in an effort to get our daughter out of foster care as soon as possible, we needed money for our home study. The cost of a home study can vary by state, provider, and the type of adoption. For both of our adoptions, the home study fee was around $1,500. However, our second adoption was private and not from foster care. There were classes and other agency fees making the cost closer to $5,000. For the general cost of the home study, we depended on gifts from family and friends. We let them know the allowed information about the adoption and our immediate situation. With this, a family member started a GoFundMe.
While GoFundMe was a great way to raise some initial funds, we shut it down shortly after gaining enough money for the initial home study. Not everyone is supportive of adoption and there are some that feel that crowdsourcing is not ethical in this case. There is much to be said about using that money to support charities and the less fortunate. We did appreciate the idea of a GoFundMe, but also understood and felt uneasy about the negatives of its use. We wanted to avoid any drama and try to pay for as much of the adoption on our own to show that we could support another child. There were so many options available to fund adoption, but such a short amount of time. After carefully researching our options with the limited time available, we chose to reach out to our credit union for a loan.
We had already been established with a credit union through other large financial needs we had incurred through the years. This allowed us to get a fairly decent interest rate and payment. Not being in a place in life where we were close to anywhere set financially, a payment plan made the most sense. While there were grants and adoption loan providers, this was the quickest and most sensible way to get funds to ensure the process was not unnecessarily extended. As we were already patrons with a credit history, it was a fairly quick and streamlined process. We were able to get approved and get funding wired to our bank account within the week.
For our first adoption, the loan needed was not substantial. We only needed enough funds to pay for travel and attorney fees. For our second adoption, we needed over $10,000 to go through the domestic adoption process. Domestic adoptions are typically more expensive than this, but there were many factors that helped us to mitigate some of the costs. For our adoption expenses, we were able to draw from these funds each time and pay off the loan over a five-year time period. We did not have any stipulations on how we could spend the funds as it was a private loan. This was incredibly helpful as we could plan for any travel, food, or other expenses that might arise.
While we had this loan money to pay for the immediate costs, we did have to plan our finances in the long term to not only pay the loan, but to support the addition of a child to our family. With this, my husband got a part-time job in addition to his full-time job for a season. I was able to create some crafts and also find some various avenues like babysitting to gather additional funds. We also took the time to go through our monthly budget to see where we could cut costs. This often looked like meal prepping, limiting streaming services, and buckling down on unnecessary costs. We did everything possible to ensure that the loan payment could be made up through sacrificing the extras we could live without.
While we plan to adopt in the future, it will likely be from foster care. In foster care adoption, most costs are covered (though it may be advisable to hire an adoption attorney to assist). If we were to adopt either domestically or internationally in the future, our plan for paying for the process would likely depend on the circumstances. Given adequate time to prepare, we would focus on applying for grants and adoption loans. We also have assistance through our employers that we can apply for. It is important to check with your employer as these programs are not always largely advertised.