If you are reading this and are considering adoption, please read this whole page before flipping out.
When Jude’s adoption is over the expenses will total just over $34,000.00
Cost Breakdown (please note: I can pretty much guarantee that no one will have the exact same costs I do; this is just intended to give a general idea)
Homestudy and Update fees: $2,449.00
Adoption Agency fees: $6,950.00
Bulgaria Agency fees: $13,030.00
FBI fees: $74.00
USCIS fees: $1,250.00
Medical/Psychological Clearance fees: $465.00
Fees for copies of Birth Certificate: $45.00
Apostilling fees: $203.00
USPS Postage: $58.54
FedEX Shipping: $439.28
Adoption Education: $99.00
Post-Placement Deposit: $2,000.00 (this was paid to Adoption Ark and since they closed, following a settlement in Late August 2013 less than $200 of this was returned)
Post-Placement Depost: $1,000.00 (this was paid to One World Adoption Services. Information from Bankruptcy in late 2014 indicates that none of this will be returned)
Airfare: $2,778.14 (2 round trip for me, 1 one-way for Jude)
Medical Exam: $185.00
Estimated Future Costs:
Post-Placement Visits: $150.00
Gabriel’s adoption costs look similar, although her adoption is estimated to cost around $24,300.00 when it is complete.
Adoption Education: $79.00
Homestudy fees: $250.00
Adoption Agency/Bulgarian Agency fees: $14,900.00
USCIS fees: $890.00
FBI Background Checks: $115.00
Postplacement Deposit/visits: $1,000.00
In-Country Travel: $117.00
In-Country Service Fee & Medical Exam: $351.00
Estimated Future Costs:Readoption: $131.00
Mileage for Social Worker for Postplacement Visits: $175.00
If someone told me when I started that this adoption would likely be this expensive. I would have said “There is no #$%&* way I will ever be able to afford that! Forget it!” I could write forever on my opinions about adoption costing this much, but I won’t. It does cost this much and there is nothing I can do about the cost.
I can do something about getting the money for it. I could never figure out how average everyday people could afford it. I don’t think I have all the answers but I do know what worked for me. Maybe it will work for you too.
I am not wealthy. Adoption is the 2nd most expensive endeavour I have undertaken in my life. Most expensive was buying my house. Total adoption expenses far exceed my annual income. It is four times more expensive than the total cost of my college education (I have a Nursing degree (R.N.)). It is very, very expensive. And yet, somehow, I will pull it off. Here is how.
#1 factor: Time. I am counting on time. Not that I want my adoption process to take a long time, but the fact is…it does. Time is important because it means that I didn’t have to come up with the total costs all at once. In fact the costs are spread (unevenly) over aprox. 5 years. We started Jude’s adoption in 2012 and we will wrap up final postplacements for Gabriel sometime in late 2017.
Loans: I was able to start my adoption process with little-no savings by taking out a loan against my 401K. The interest rate was low (4%) and I was able to spread out repayment over 3 years. Sometimes unexpected expenses come up quickly. I have been able to address these by taking out Unsecured/Personal Loans for smaller amounts.
What Didn’t Work: Refinancing my home when the interests rates were super-low didn’t work because I don’t have enough equity in my house.
What I thought about but didn’t try: 2nd Mortgage or HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit), “Adoption” Loans
Saving: This is a simple idea. Setting aside a certain amount every paycheck and putting it in a dedicated savings account. I always read that this is ideally how one should pay for adoption, but it is not a reality for most. In the end I estimate that I should be able to pay for 1/4 of the total adoption costs in this manner. I found it most helpful to pay for the smaller expenses this way. And yes the smaller expenses do add up.
Adoption Tax Credit: As you utilize the two options mentioned above keep in mind that the US Federal Government has a tax credit of $13,190.00 for each child. In international adoption you can start to claim it in the tax year your adoption is finalized. This may help pay back loans and replenish depleted savings accounts. For those looking to adopt again, you may be able to pay subsequent adoption costs with tax credit money received from previous adoptions.
Scrimping: There is another aspect to saving. That is reducing your expenses. For me this was one of the bigger things I did. Here is a fairly inclusive list of the measures I took to reduce my household budget. I eliminated the home phone (cell phone only now) I also switched over to a less expensive cell plan. I eliminated cable TV. I thought I would never be able to go without it, but it is actually a really freeing thing to do. If there is something I REALLY want to watch on TV I can usually find it on Hulu. For Free. I cut down on utility bills. Electricity: I became very mindful about shutting lights off when the room was not in use. I also drastically cut down on the use of the electric dryer by utilizing an old-fashioned clothesline. By utilizing the clothsline I found that I was also able to elimiate dryer sheets and laundry additives to make my clothes smell “fresh”. Water: installed water saving shower head, used toilet tank displacement, turned off water when brusing my teeth. Heat: I would turn the heat down when I was away from the house and at night. We added space heaters in the winter. Although we would see a jump in the electric bill the savings on oil more than made up for it. I also started washing my clothes in cold water to reduce water heater costs. I started growing a small kitchen garden to reduce the grocery bill. I got a Sam’s Club membership and started buying groceries in bulk. I started sewing and shopping at Second-hand stores to cut down on how much I spent on clothes. I joined freecycle and was able to find some needed household items there. I started walking to work during nice weather and at the same time enrolled in Progressive’s Snapshot program to reduce my car insurance bill. In one of the most extreme ways of saving I switched my health insurance from my employer’s PPO plan to their HSA plan. All told I estimate that these things combined have left around $4,500 more in my annual budget.
Second Job: Prior to the finalization of Jude’s adoption I started offering myself as a babysitter. Sometimes I was paid for my time, sometimes it was done in a barter system. Also as part of babysitting I started offering respite care. If you are thinking about adopting an older or special needs child and have no experience caring for children with these needs I would highly encourage a potential adoptive parent to become a respite care provider. Typically you are paid for your time and you gain first-hand valuable knowledge about caring for the child you wish to parent.
What didn’t work: I also signed up for one of those “get paid to take surveys” things you see online. I made about $11 in one week. It was $11, but still not really a feasable option when trying to finance adoption.
Fundraising: I’ll admit that I found this one difficult to do. I sold some uneeded items on ebay and craigslist. I also held a lawn sale. All told I made about $300. This is as far as I ever got with fundraising. Many adoptive parents excel at this for finacing their adoption. It helped very little for me.
Grants: I am one of the very lucky people who was awarded a grant to cover a good chunk of my adoption costs. Over 1/3 of my total adoption costs for Jude’s adoption were covered by a grant from the helpusadopt organization. I would also however have to file grants under the “didn’t work” category as before being awarded a grant I was turned down by a different organization.
Lowering Your Adoption Costs: “What?” You say. Yes you can actually lower some of your adoption costs. This starts very early on in the process. Adoption Fees will vary greatly amongst agencies. I didn’t realize this the first time, thus the big difference in the 2 girls adoption expenses. Also by handling some of aspects of the adoption yourself you can also cut your costs. A friend did all my notary work at no cost. I did not hire a courier to handle my apostilling services in state, I took them to the Secretary of State’s office myself. I did not have my dossier professionally copied. I took my time and did it carefully at home with my own printer and scanner. When it wasn’t necessary to do so, I didn’t overnight documents…I would choose a lower-cost shipping method. In the future we also plan to save on travel costs by shopping around for best deal on airline tickets, arranging parts of the travel ourselves, and staying in apartments and cooking our own meals (vs. hotels and eating out). Also those who choose to adopt from the waiting child list and therefore reduce the total time spent in the actual adoption process will see savings from not having to update paperwork annually.
Not just saving money: My workplace offers (as do many others) an “earned time” system instead of vacation/sick/personal time it is all lumped into one and used as you see fit. I cut back on vacation time during my process and will be able to save this banked earned time for travel and a “maternity” leave.
Things not at my disposal: My workplace has no adoption benefits. I am not part of the military and therefore (naturally) cannot take advantage of adoption benefits there ( but they do exist). My state offers no adoption tax credit or adoption benefits but some do.
I never would have believed that I would be able to pull off funding such an expense, but by doing the above I did. Hopefully some of these ways will work for you as well.