Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Financial Impact of Adopting

Adopting isn't cheap, as we're learning along the way, but there's also a lot of ways to recoup fees that we have to pay. We thought it'd be interesting to write up a post about what the various costs are for adoption, based upon our experiences. (Of course anyone else's experience could vary greatly, depending on whether they use an agency or an attorney, which agency, the geographical location, etc.)

Adoption Costs

With our agency, we have the following standard costs for various parts of the process:

Service/Event Fee*
Pre-Adoption Seminar
Application and Intake Interview
Homestudy and Family Preparation
Pool Entry, Program and Marketing
Adoption Planning I
Adoption Planning II
*These amounts are based on what we were quoted, are subject to change, may not be valid for others, etc.

These fees are "standard" because every adoption through the agency will incur them. The total standard fees are then $25,085.

In addition to standard fees, there are some additional fees that can come up on a case-by-case basis:
  • Travel Costs for Counselors: If it's necessary for the counselor to travel during any part of the process, travel is billed at an hourly rate of $30-$55 per hour, depending on the situation. We'll assume $250 in travel costs for this post.
  • Agency Attorney Fees: For adoptions finalized in Washington (our agency can finalize either in Washington or Oregon), the law requires the agency to be represented in the termination of birthparents' rights. A retainer of up to $2,500 is required. For this post, we'll assume the adoption is in Washington and requires the retainer.
  • Attorney Fees for Finalization: Finalization of the adoption in court requires attorney involvement. We'll assume an average $500 attorney fee.
  • Twins/Siblings: In the event of a twin or sibling placement, an additional $1,000 fee is assessed. We will assume only a single placement.
  • Birthmother Expenses: The adoptive family can be expected to pay for reasonable pregnancy-related expenses, such as pre-natal care or maternity clothing. We will assume $2,000 for this post.
There will likely be other miscellaneous costs that I've missed, but hopefully they aren't large-ticket items. With these fees, the total expected amount for us will be $30,335.

Financial Assistance

There are two very large sources of financial aid that we can take advantage of when adoption. The first is from the federal Adoption Assistance Program. The program offers a $12,170 tax credit for all adoption-related expenses. It's important to note that this is a credit, and not a deduction, so it will literally be a dollar-for-dollar reimbursement of our adoption expenses.

Additionally, Brian and I each work for an employer that offers $5,000 towards adoption expenses for a child, which can be used in addition to the federal credit. (It turns out that a large number of employers offer similar programs in various amounts.)

Between these two sources, we hope to receive reimbursements for $22,170 of our adoption expenses. (The federal tax credit is set to expire after 2012, but is likely to be renewed as it has been for multiple years now.) That means we expect to pay approximately $8,165 out of pocket.

Why So Much?

Open Adopt as an agency focuses very much on providing a full range of free options counseling to pregnant women. Only about 20% of the women they work with end up making an adoption plan. To that extent, much of the fees we pay the agency goes towards their counseling program. They're a non-profit agency that receives donations as well, but that only makes up some of their operating expenses.

Additionally, each counselor spends a significant amount of time working with both pregnant women and waiting adoptive families, so fees also go towards paying for their salaries. To that extent, I'm actually surprised the fees aren't higher - the counselors have to take a large number of hours to complete our interviews and homestudy!

Any variable fees that directly benefit a birthmother (paying for pre-natal care, for example) must be approved by a court before they are paid. This step is designed to make sure that there is no coercion happening, and to ensure that even the appearance of buying or selling a child is avoided.

Where We're At

The agency operates on a "pay as you go" system: whenever we move forward from one stage to the next, we pay the fee for that stage. We've currently paid for the pre-adoption seminar and the application/intake interview; we'll have to pay for the homestudy and for pool entry before we actually go into the pool of waiting families. All the remaining expenses after that will not be paid until we're chosen by a birth mother.

So there you go! Adoption can be quite expensive, but there's also assistance available, and the costs seem manageable in the end. I'm curious how this compares to a pregnant woman's healthcare costs - anyone out there have anything to add about that in the comments?


  1. I couldn't pass up a post about numbers. :) I'm really enjoying following your story here- it's both eloquent and informative. Best of luck and congratulations!

  2. I enjoyed this post! I guess I like numbers too.
    I have a slightly different pregnancy experience then most, since I was on medically prescribed bedrest during my last trimester, a third of which was spent in the hospital. So, my cost breakdowns are:
    Before the hospital stay...
    Ultrasounds: $50 each time
    Doctor visits: $20 co-pay each time
    Hospital Stay...
    34 day stay in the hospital, including doctor consultations, ultrasounds and labwork: $2,500
    Baby's Arrival:
    Birthing costs: this has been about $1000, half of which was the one day hospital stay. The costs for staying in the birthing suite are ridiculous compared to the cost for a staying in the antepartum rooms!
    Other maternity costs (clothes, prenatal vitamins, so on): $100?

    The costs for this pregnancy were actually quite a bit more. I reached my annual out-of-pocket maximum, so there were a few hospital bills that I didn't have to pay.

    If I had no health insurance, this pregnancy would've cost me well over $200,000.

    Anyhoo, let's just say it will be several years before I (intentionally) try for another one. My bank account, and mental health, needs to recover. ^.^

    1. I wish I could edit my post. So many typos. *sigh*

    2. Yikes! Thank goodness for health insurance, I guess!

      And don't sweat the typos - did you see my post above? ;) I've already had to make 4 or 5 corrections...