It can be intimidating to see the numbers add up when first looking at the cost of the adoption process.
Home studies can be as much as $2,000. Placement can reach between $4,000-$8,000 and beyond if it’s an international adoption. Necessary paperwork, background checks and documentation add up into the thousands.
In addition to those, parents may have to factor in court and legal fees and expenses, parent preparation and training, social work services to match parent and child, medical expenses, foreign travel and much more.
Any combination of these necessary tasks can start to feel like a burden on the process, rather than contribute to the happiness an adoption should bring.
Though adoptions can total anywhere from a minimal expense through the foster care system to more than $50,000 for intercountry adoptions, there are resources and programs to offset costs associated with the process.
“A lot of people, when they think of adoption, they’ll say it’s so costly. We say, think of other expenses you’ve bought lately,” Albion’s Hand in Hand International Adoptions Administrative Director Vickie Truelove said. “What are your priorities?”
Truelove said most of the families she works with have a middle-class income and rarely have the total amount of the process saved before starting with her agency, so she and her team work with them to receive grants, loans, tax credits and employee tax benefits to see their dream become a reality.
While Truelove works specifically with international adoptions, there are different avenues to adoption that come with different costs.
Adoption from foster care involves very little expense because of the assistance programs available to encourage placement of children, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway.
Title IV-E of the Social Security Act provides monetary assistance for eligible children either through a lump sum, which is set at a federal limit of $2,000 per placement, or with recurring monthly payments, which can’t exceed what the state would pay if the child were still in foster care, until the child turns 18.
The State of Indiana also has in place an adoption tax credit that provides $1,000 per placement.
For those choosing to adopt through a private agency, the cost increases because the services rendered by the organization incur costs for labor and time, and there are legal fees that need to be covered.
The total amount varies depending on the circumstances, but many lie in the range of $20,000-$45,000.
For an independent adoption — one completed by an attorney between adoptive parents and expectant parents — the costs are approximately the same, about $15,000-$40,000.
The highest costs are associated with international adoptions, as the magnitude of the work is much larger, moving the total to around $20,000-$50,000.
These adoptions come with translation fees, foreign attorney and agency fees, passport and visa processing fees and counseling and support for the family after the adoption process is complete.
Because of the amount of work that goes into such a process by a number of entities, Truelove said Hand in Hand outlines a fee agreement to list the expected costs before starting with any client.
“There shouldn’t be extraneous costs beyond what are listed there. We want to be as fully disclosing as we can so families can understand what the total cost will be,” Truelove said.
It also helps that families pay in installments as parts of the adoption process are completed, Truelove noted, with payments made at the time of application, home study and match with a child, and then when the dossier is sent overseas and the child is matched and accepted.
Offsetting the costs
It’s a lot to take in, but there are options to help offset the costs associated with adoption.
For Michael and Anna DiSanto of Kendallville, it was as simple as holding community fundraisers.
The couple adopted 5-year-old Natalie from Bulgaria in March, after raising $34,900 of the $35,000 they would need to pay the costs associated with the process.
“I remember being freaked out by the sales tag of $35,000 and thinking, ‘Where is this going to come from?’ Don’t let the finances hold you back from (adopting),” said Michael, who with his wife and his church sold pulled pork, chicken and laundry detergent to raise money for the adoption.
“There are a lot of things out there between grants and fundraising that can help,” Anna said.
Truelove has seen these kinds of stories, but warns those who are looking into public fundraising as a way to pay for the process to first research whether the country they’re adopting from, if it’s an international adoption, is comfortable with such practices.
She pointed to the Phillipines as an example, as they can be sensitive to the idea of public fundraising and can choose to deny an application based on that alone.
“It’s their citizen and that country has the right to determine who can adopt that child,” Truelove said.
Through Hand In Hand and other adoption agencies, prospective parents can learn a lot of the resources through a finance coach, who will help look at the costs and what they can do to finance their endeavor.
For some parents, looking to their employers can be helpful as more than 50 percent offer some sort of adoption benefit, such as financial assistance, counseling or leave policies, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway.
Normally though, the process is paid through a combination of donations from family and friends, as well as grants.
For those who think of the process as buying a child, Truelove said that couldn’t be more wrong.
“They think they’re buying a child, and that’s the furthest thing from the truth. That’s illegal and also immoral,” Truelove said. “The costs of adoption are for the process for them to work through a licensed agency.”