You Don’t Have to Be a Millionaire to Adopt

You may be surprised by the availability of resources around you when it comes to adoption.

Rebekah Yahoves August 06, 2018

I got used to it after awhile. Other moms and dads would comment on how cute my kids were and ask about their ages. “Wow!” they’d blurt out. “You had them close together!”

I would consult the sky for a second, then offer “Well…I didn’t actually give birth to them.” I would then divulge the story about how my husband and I had made an adoption plan, traveled to Poland, and became the legal parents of three school-aged siblings at the same time.

It was usually followed by the wide eyes and the “Whoa.” Most people were too polite to say what they were thinking, but some would let it slip. “How did you afford that?”

There is a stigma that adoption in general, and international adoption in particular, is only for the wealthy and the privileged. And it is not without foundation. The financial costs of agency fees, travel expenses, and lodging are sizeable, and there are always extras you may not have planned on along the way. Yet, you may be surprised to find that there are ways to recoup the expenditure almost entirely if you do a bit of research. Adoption is a privilege for middle-class families who want to provide a loving home to a child who doesn’t have one, and it is more affordable than most people think.

See If You Are Eligible for the Adoption Tax Credit
1. See If You Are Eligible for the Adoption Tax Credit

In 2017, the maximum dollar amount for the adoption tax credit was $13,570 per child. While this is not a “windfall,” it is money that you won’t have to pay in income taxes that you can recuperate for up to five years after the adoption is finalized. Expenses that may be reimbursed include necessary adoption fees, court costs and attorney fees, and travel expenses. You will want to save receipts during the adoption process, and some adoption agencies will supply you with a detailed account of your expenditures. If you adopt a child who is under 18, there is a good chance you are eligible for the credit if your combined income is under $243,540 a year.

Ask about Employer Assistance
2. Ask about Employer Assistance

A survey by Hewitt Associates in 2009 showed that more than half of the large employers they surveyed offered some type of adoption assistance. These include financial assistance, paid parental leave, and help with special situations. Some employers offer flat-fee financial assistance for infertility treatments, and they may offer the same for an adoption. Be sure to check your contract or human resources department for more information.

Apply for an Adoption Grant
3. Apply for an Adoption Grant

There are three main types of adoption grants:

1. Fundraising grants allow people to make tax-deductible contributions toward your adoption
2. Matching adoption grants involve organizations that will match the money you fundraise dollar-for-dollar
3. Direct grants, which give money to you outright.

Start by contacting sources such as the National Adoption Foundation or the Gift of Adoption Fund. Ask your agency or adoption lawyer about grants that other clients have had success with and call around to find an organization that supports families processing the type of adoption you are pursuing.

Consider a Foster Care Adoption
4. Consider a Foster Care Adoption

Not only is a home study free when you decide to foster a child, but there is a monthly stipend that parents are paid for caring for the child. If and when the child becomes available for adoption, legal fees may be covered by the state. Children adopted from foster care have health coverage under Medicaid until they are eighteen years old, and they may be eligible for free college tuition. Parents who adopt from foster care could also receive an adoption stipend. After you have completed your required foster parent training, your social worker should be able to tell you which children are more likely to become available for adoption.

Consider International Costs
5. Consider International Costs

If you are considering international adoption, the expense of living overseas for a period of time may seem immense. Yet, my husband and I were pleasantly surprised to discover that we could take our new family of five out to a nice dinner in Poland for what equated to less than 20 dollars, and our modest hotel room cost the Polish equivalent of less than 50 dollars a night. In many countries Americans adopt from, the cost of living is lower, and you can figure that into your financial equation when planning.

Ask Around
6. Ask Around

If you are beginning to get excited about using a particular domestic or international agency, ask if there are families you can speak to about financing the adoption. You may find that many couples are at the same income level as yours, and they were able to comfortably finance the adoption. Keep track of resources that sound helpful and begin looking for new ways to save money. The most important thing for an adoption agency to see is that you are a loving, stable, supportive home, and everything else will fall into place.

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Rebekah Yahoves

Rebekah Yahoves is a writer, mother, and music teacher from Long Island. In 2016, she adopted three school-aged siblings from Poland at the same time. When she isn't constructing casseroles or tuning violins, Rebekah likes to go on tea binges and read.

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