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Often times we are asked what steps were involved for us to be placed on the wait list for our adoption. Being that we are visual thinkers, we decided to map out graphically all the steps involved in our out-of-state adoption. We hope that this is helpful in explaining the seemingly complicated application process.

 

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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.

Bank Loans:

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!

Credit Cards:

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.

Adoption Grants:

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!

Be Creative:

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!

For anyone considering adoption, the thought can be quite overwhelming. When you look online you are bombarded with websites leading to adoption agencies international and domestic, advertisements for adoption services, state agencies, and the list goes on. Where to begin? Our adoption journey began with an idea of international adoption. Fauzia’s father was traveling to his homeland and we asked for him to inquire about orphanages that we could work with. While her father inquired abroad, we inquired in the US about the logistics of an international adoption. Quickly we discovered the complexities of adopting from a country that is not a member of the Hague Convention, not to mention the longer wait times and longer travel times required for international adoption. So after much consideration, we decided to go forward with a domestic adoption.

Once this decision was made, we did some additional research to find out what state and what agency we wanted to work with. At this time my friend Carrie served as an invaluable resource. Having been through two adoptions, Carrie was excited for us and could not wait to help us with any questions we had. In the end we decided to use the same agency that she and her husband used for their second adoption.

Once we reached this point, the next big daunting task was getting through the stacks of paperwork required from both the adoption agency and the home study agency in our state, we also had to write a biography and assemble a photo album. Yes, on top of spending hours locating all types of records, from birth certificates, to previous addresses and tax records, we also had to write a bio describing our life and how we were raised. We asked ourselves why do they need this much information about us? Why do they need to know every single little detail about our life. The reasons did not become clear to us until we were compiling all the information and read all the descriptions as to why all this information was needed. So we decided this is what it is, they need all this information to formulate a profile of who we are, so they could make sure we will make a good family for a little baby. So we came up with a strategy to tackle this enormous task, Fauzia was in charge of compiling all the paperwork and I was in charge of putting together the photo album. This worked out great, because I got a chance to be creative and she is way more organized with paperwork than I am.

The next big task was the home inspection! Boy were we nervous, first they have to see if we are acceptable people, now they have to see if our house is suitable. The thought of someone coming to our house telling us whether our house was acceptable to bring a baby home really scared me. As an architect I have spent hours designing other people’s houses and evaluating their buildings for code compliance and safety, but the thought of having some “mean” lady (or man), come to my house and point out things that were unacceptable made me cringe. Preparing the house was the other part of my task, since Fauzia was still filling out paperwork and chasing down FBI clearances. So I went down the list, word for word making sure that all the items were covered. I bought a baby gate, an emergency ladder to escape from the upstairs bedroom, I moved all the cleaning supplies and medications, and even made sure the water temperature was set just right. We cleaned the house and made sure everything was perfect. Then the big day came and there was the knock at the door. We opened the door and the social worker stood there with a big smile. She was nothing like I imagined. It turns out we had nothing to fear, she is super nice and gave us recommendations on repairing a few items that needed correction. Needless to say we passed the inspection and a huge weight was lifted off our shoulders.

The next big step was the personal interview required as part of the home study. As we prepared ourselves for the interview, we looked online to see what type of questions we might have to answer and after reading some of the questions we became pretty nervous. What was she going to ask us? How long was this going to take. So we called the social worker to see how much time we should allow for the interview and she said one and a half hours. One and a half hours! What could she probably ask us that would take that long? The day finally came and I think we both had a hard time sleeping the night before, since we had no idea what to expect. The funny thing is that once we sat down with her at the table, she told us that she only had a few questions for us. She said, “Your bios were so carefully written and detailed, that I really don’t have too many things to ask”. Wow, guess all that time we spent answering each and every question on the bio was worth it. The interview only took 30 minutes and the only really awkward question she asked was, “How do you show affection?”

So there you go, five months later, our home study is complete, our interview is over, our album is printed, all our paperwork is signed, and we are on the wait list. Now comes the waiting period and the next task, securing the funds to complete the adoption (next topic of discussion). We are super excited and for us, this step is the equivalent of finding out you are pregnant.

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