written by Scott Caldwell
Adopting a child is one of the biggest and most life-changing decisions of your life. I should know, as I've gone through the adoption process twice – one through private adoption and one through the Foster-to-Adopt program. The emotional roller coaster is totally worth it, but what isn't really talked about is how expensive adoption can be. Continue reading for some information that I hope you'll find helpful in your adoption journey.
Financially preparing for the adoption process
Adoption types: Costs vary wildly
Adoption is not something you can easily pin to a specific dollar amount. The amount you'll pay for bringing a child into your family will vary tremendously depending on the type of adoption you choose to pursue.
The least expensive is through foster care, where children whose birth parents can no longer take care of them are placed temporarily in homes while waiting to be either reunited with their families or adopted. This method may require some training and time on your part, but very little money to save or pay out.
Private adoptions can range from $5,000 to $45,000 with factors such as agency, attorney fees, travel and birth mother expenses. International adoptions are typically the most expensive with fees from the country to which you try to adopt from, with many rules and regulations put on how hard it might become to adopt. We had tried to adopt from Ethiopia, but the country shut down all adoptions from their country as they were investigating if parents were selling their children to Orphanages to help them survive.
Know your finances
I kind of relate this to the safety speech the flight attendants give on airplanes- in the event of an emergency, secure your own air mask first. Financial planning is similar. As the adult who will be caring for your child(ren), you need to make sure you're stable so you can take care of them.
Evaluate how much money you need each month, and review your life insurance and retirement savings goals. While you may need to adjust some of your savings goals to allow for adoption expenses, make sure you have a plan in place and come back to your own long-term plans. It's not selfish to plan for your retirement- this is what will allow you to not be a burden to your children in the future, and to continue supporting them as you wish during their adult life, whether it's in financial ways or practical ways, like helping with grandkids.
Once you have a real clear idea of your current financial picture, you can estimate the additional cost of things like food, clothing, diapers, education, and medical expenses.
Start saving for the child early
This process can be a very long one, as it took us 2 ½ years to get my son and another year for my daughter. But I have also seen families get picked by birth mothers right away, so having adequate savings and a budget plan are important as you can be called upon right away and need money.
It's wise to have at least 3-6 months of savings for emergency purposes for any normal situation, but to save for an adoption (especially private adoption), you should plan on at least 30k-40k saved up beyond your general savings account.
Alternate adoption funding strategies
You can get creative finding ways to help pay for an adoption; we did three garage sales, with our own belongings and some from neighbors/friends who wanted to support us. I've also heard of doing a work party for friends to help you raise money or doing a special auction for items from local businesses to help raise money. Don't be afraid to ask for help, you'll be surprised how many people will be more than willing to help you!
There are other options to raise money for an adoption – you can take money out from your 401k program as a loan or take out $5k from an IRA (the new Secure Act effective in 2020 allows for a penalty free redemption for a qualified exemption for adoption purposes). You can also seek out a personal loan from a bank or seek out grants.
You can also get a Adoption Tax credit for your child in the year that they were adopted, which does not help pay for the adoption itself, but does give you a break on your taxes, which might lead to a refund after you file.
Benefits available to adopted children
I'm not going to lie, being a parent of an adopted child is incredibly challenging. However, it is also incredibly rewarding and will give you the opportunity to grow both as a parent and a human being.
If you'd like support in your process of planning for adoption, please get in touch- I'd be honored to be part of your journey.