Now that we are active on the wait list, the next big step, or should I say GIANT step, for us is to secure funding for our adoption. So how much does adoption cost, you might ask? Unfortunately there is no easy answer to this question, because depending on the type of adoption chosen, domestic vs. international; foster to adopt vs. private adoption, they all come with different associated costs both financial and emotional. In foster to adopt there is the possibility that you may be placed in a situation were you will be fostering many children before one is available to adopt by the state or you might be fostering a child in your house for years and then be told the child is being returned to their biological family. For those that feel comfortable handling this type of situation, this option, is the most affordable since there are many state subsidies which help to defray the costs often times making it virtually free to adopt. During the time you are fostering, the state provides monthly stipends and pays for many of the adoption related expenses. Additionally, in many states, the child will also receive free college tuition if they attend a state school. After we spoke to various state agencies; however, it became apparent that this was not the option we were looking for. What we were told was that if we wished to adopt an infant, it is often times more difficult to go through foster to adopt, since most children in the foster care system tend to be older. It is not impossible, but it may take years to be able to adopt an infant. Therefore we were advised that if we wanted to adopt an infant, we might have more success going with a private agency.
The cost of a private adoption is a pretty daunting amount: from application fees, home study fees, agency fees, legal fees, travel fees and finalization of the adoption, the cost can range anywhere between $30,000 to $50,000. Essentially the majority of the costs are used to pay for the birth mother’s medical expenses, counseling on their decision to give their child up for adoption, and marketing expenses incurred by the agency. The other expenses go toward the home study and application fee, multiple copies of a profile booklet, travel expenses, and legal fees, not to mention all the time spent filling out all the paper work, and running around getting finger printed by different agencies.
At this time it became crucial to create a plan to pay for all these expenses. With the application and home study fees already paid, the remainder of the cost proved to be the tricky part since this is the largest sum.
While doing research to find out how others pay for adoption, we have found many useful suggestions. From savings, home equity loans, employer benefits, bank loans, government tax credits, credit cards, to grants and possibly getting a second job. Yes, we have read many stories about people getting a second job to pay for their adoption.
We all know that the banks pretty much collapsed in 2008 and they are very strict now in lending money (even though we were forced to bail them out!) Before 2008, banks like MBNA and Bank of America used to provide adoption loans. However, banks no longer offer this type of loan. The only two options available are a home equity loan or a personal loan. Since we bought our house in 2008, around the time of the housing bubble burst, our house did not appraise for the percentage required for a home equity. Therefore, the only option for us is a personal loan. A personal loan has the highest interest rate from all loans since it is unsecured. Although, we quickly found out that due to the fact that we own a house and have student loans (yup, our education actually penalized us on this!), our debt to income ratio is too high to get the full amount needed for our adoption. Hmmm imagine that. Does not matter that we have no other debt (which took us years to accomplish), or that we have amazing credit scores, the banks were only concerned about the formulas. Luckily, we did manage to find a small bank and a credit union that were willing to work with us to lend us a partial amount of the adoption fee. I would recommend staying away from the large banks since they are a waste of time!
You can call around to all your credit cards to see what are the best rates for a balance transfer into your checking account or if they have any special promotions. This again would have been easier prior to the credit card reforms since interest rates spiked in 2009.
Employer Adoption Benefits:
Many companies offer employer adoption benefits, which include paid time off and a one time adoption bonus, sometimes up to $10,000! Unfortunately our field is not the field to be in if you are looking for these types of benefits and consider yourself lucky if you get any paid maternity or paternity leave these days. The Dave Thomas Foundation has information on adoption friendly workplaces as well as a tool kit to help you talk to your company about the benefits of promoting an adoption friendly environment.
There are many non-profits and religious based entities out there that offer grants that base the amount rewarded on need or a variety of other qualifications. However, you do need to have an approved home study before you apply for many of these grants and you also need to check ahead to see when the application deadlines are.
Federal Adoption Tax Credit:
Currently the tax credit is set to approximately $13,000 until 2011. This credit is applied for with your income tax return and is a full reimbursement for the amount allotted, which is a new and nice change from previous federal adoption credits. Hopefully, the government will continue this tax credit since it is invaluable to adoptive parents!
Many people also say just be creative, hold a bake sale, sponsor a run, or try selling your personal items on eBay. This is essentially where we are now, trying to use our creativity to raise some extra money by sharing our story with family and friends and by creating an online presence. If you can find something you are good at then do it! You will find the generosity in people’s hearts will go a long way!