I was surprised when I kept hearing the phrase "Oh, we were considering adoption - but we know it's too expensive for us, so we decided not to." I also kept getting the feeling that people wanted to ask the cost - but felt like I might be uncomfortable or offended if they did. That's totally understandable, people tend to get a little weird when they talk about money.
This leads us to todays post. I'm going to tell you a little bit about the cost of adoption. Before I do - please know that this is not a cry for help, a fundraising attempt, or anything else in which the end result is you feeling like you owe something to someone. This is just an informative "things to think about and expect" post.
So! What costs are associated with adoption? Please keep in mind that all the information that I provide here is based off of my personal experience with the agencies that I have encountered and the experiences I have had.
There are two different categories in my mind. The first category is the adoption category. The second is the normal costs associated with having a baby (i.e. diapers, clothes, crib, formula, toys, bottles, etc.) I'm not going to talk about the second category much for two reasons. First, I don't have much knowledge of that area as of yet. Secondly - I'm assuming everybody is vaguely aware of those costs (and if not, a quick trip to Target will be able to inform you much quicker than I can explain).
The first cost you are likely to encounter with an adoption is going to be an application fee. Some agencies don't have one - but the majority do. This fee falls right around the $500 range in our area. Our agency categorizes application fees as part of the home study. So you can either say that we are paying a $500 application fee and a $1000 home study fee, or you can just say we're paying a $1500 home study fee. It's really six one way, half a dozen the other.
The next major cost is going to be the home study (as you may have guessed from above). The home study costs that I have seen in Virginia range from $750 - $2500. The fee ranges depending upon what the agency is including. Those are the two extremes with the average cost falling right about $1500. This fee covers the interviews that must be conducted with your social worker as well as the actual inspection of your home (to ensure that the child has enough room, that your home is safe, etc). This amount does not cover the fees that you'll encounter as you gather the information about yourself that the agency will need: birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce certificates, bank records, fingerprints, criminal history, driving records, physical examinations, etc. Each of these categories might have a cost associated with them.
The home study fee is generally a bit higher on two occasions: first, you are adopting internationally. Second, you need a rush home study fee. These two circumstances will typically raise the cost $500 for each.
The next step is the long wait. Around this time is typically when the second category of costs happens. A lot of adoptive parents spend the long wait preparing for their child. Then comes the placement!
Placement fees vary widely from agency to agency, and many agencies offer a sliding scale based on income of the expectant parents. Our agency fees are 10% of adjusted gross income with a minimum $10,000 and a maximum $25,000. Again, this is just our agency - and all agencies vary. I will say that of the agencies that I have investigated, this seems to be just about the average.
Our placement fee does not include any counseling (for us or for the birth mother at $100 an hour), updates (if we move, we'll have to update our home study at $500), post placement supervision (most agencies will need to check up on you at least three times at $325 each visit), any court reports (at $250 each), or an interstate compact fee (this is if you are adopting a child in a state other than your own, and is required. Our fee for this would be $1500).
Also associated with adoption is the fact that we will need to appear in court several times - and should have a lawyer to help represent us in obtaining legal custody of our child. Of course, this lawyer will have their own fees.
Also - if a birth mother chooses you while she's still pregnant, she may have some things that she can ask you to help her with such as food, rent, utilities, etc. This varies widely depending upon what state you live in. Some states don't have any rules regarding helping the birth mother, some set up guidelines, and some states forbid it.
So all of that (to the best of my knowledge) is the basic cost of adoption. Now, as Jonathan and I are in the very early stages of this process, I'm sure I am missing some information which can only be gained through experience. It'll be interesting to look back on this at the end of the process.
One final note, all of this can seem daunting and impossible. And at times I have been scared to death of all this. But there are resources out there for help. There are adoption grants, fundraisers, and tax credits. It breaks my heart that somebody would discount adoption in their lives simply because of the costs associated with the process.
As always, I look forward to any questions or conversations this may encourage,