So what did we do when we got hit with that $25,000 adoption bill that was $10,000 more than I had estimated we would need once we were matched, and that was also due immediately? (See part 1 if you haven’t already.)
First, I wanted to know why it was so much more than last time.
I started pouring through the outline of all the expenses and eventually figured out that they were pre-billing us for some of the expenses (like the ASP and private attorney advising the birth mother) that we paid directly to those parties during our first adoption and who we paid later in the process. So they were all legit costs we would eventually incur either way; we were just paying them up front this time.
I asked the finance person at the agency if they’d changed the way they do things, and she said each case is different and it just depends how the caseworker sets it up. Had I known that, I might have asked for it to be set up differently, but it was what it was.
So after I shed a few tears, lamented to some friends and family, and got a pep talk from Jeff, I got to work figuring out how to make this work (I handle all the finances in our family, which is why this task fell to me).
Half a day later, I figured it out.
It took five different payment methods, dipping into funds that had been allocated for other things, moving money between accounts, and crossing my fingers that a couple credit cards would let me make charges approaching $10,000 each… and we got it all paid.
And now we’re living on ramen noodles for the foreseeable future.
Not really. But sometimes it feels like that’s the only option.
At the end of the day, if I include travel expenses, we spent just over $48,000 on adoption costs with our first son. So far, we are just under $39,000 into the second one.
I don’t mind sharing this, because people want to know, and that’s the reality of it.
Adoptive Families, a network for adoptive parents and those looking to a adopt, does an adoption cost and timing survey every year to give people an idea of what to expect. Our figures are above average, but they aren’t ridiculous.
Also, this is our story and our scenario. It doesn’t always have to be that expensive.
We’ve known people who adopted through a smaller agency or private attorney and paid figures closer to $20,000.
If you adopt out of the U.S. foster system, you can expect to pay little to nothing in adoption costs.
We deliberately chose the more expensive option that we did because of our agency’s national reach and their overall process. They have a shorter wait time and higher placement rate than on average, and I also like the way they take care of the birth mothers. Those were all important factors for us.
For those reading this who were considering private adoption and may suddenly be thinking it is cost prohibitive, let me offer a few suggestions for financial support that I’m aware of.
- First and foremost, there is a national adoption tax credit. In 2017, the amount was $13,570. We got to take advantage of this with our first adoption and assume (hope) it will still be around when we finalize our second. It should go without saying that I’m not a tax advisor and you’d want to talk to a tax professional about how best to take advantage of this.
- Many employers provide adoption assistance. It can include financial assistance, paid time off, or both. Check with your human resources department to see if your employer offers anything.
- There are adoption crowdfunding platforms like AdoptTogether, where you can raise money via friends and family to help fund your adoption costs.
- Or, go directly to friends and family or anyone you know who might be willing to be a benefactor of sorts in helping you grow your family. This was a means by which we got some financial help.
At the end of the day, expect a private adoption to be expensive. That doesn’t mean every penny has to come out of your wallet. Also, consider what you are getting.
For us… Yes, we used up funds we had intended to invest elsewhere. Yes, we will be paying off credit cards for a long time to come.
But what we are getting in return has no price.
We have a family.
And I can’t think of any greater investment.