The Cost of Adopting a Child

The Financial Side of Adoption
By Debra L. Karplus

Read any of the statistics that are frequently published in popular financial and news publications and you’ll quickly infer that the most obvious way to stretch the dollar is to not have children. Data shows that it costs several hundreds of thousands of dollars to raise and educate just one child. For most families, the expenses don’t end there; remember to add in those cute little grandchildren that you want to dote on. On and on it goes.

But this is where quantity of life and quality of life collide, as most people desire to have children. Simply stated, life seems fuller and richer and more satisfying for those who choose to parent, even during challenging times, which occur in virtually all families. Indeed, raising children isn’t cheap, but for most couples, being childless leaves a void.
Life is not always fair and for some couples, having a child doesn’t always happen when they are ready. Ironically, for some people, pregnancy comes easily, often too easily.

Consequently, there are a huge number of babies and young children who need the benefit of being wanted and raised by a loving and caring family. Adopting a child is the perfect way to become a family when nature doesn’t cooperate with you.

Using the foster care system is the least expensive way to adopt a child.

A great way to determine if raising a child, who is not biologically yours, is what you want and can manage, then try foster parenting first. This is regulated and managed at the state level. Some of the children who are part of this system are minority children, children in need of special education at school or other services because of some physical or mental disability, older children, or children who have been separated from their biological siblings. Many of these children have been removed from their families of origin because they were victims of neglect or abuse.

The Department of Children and Family Services or similar state agency will screen you first and do a home study before a child under their guardianship is allowed to live in your home, even if for a short stay. The agency typically provides training and support and mentoring to foster families. Many adoptions begin as a result of favorable foster child placements. These children need to be raised in a loving safe and secure home like yours.

Private adoption agencies provide more choices but are costlier.

Those who choose to adopt a child using a private adoption agency will typically have more choices. If you desire a younger child or an infant, then paying for a private adoption versus using a state agency may be your best choice. Additionally, you have the option of selecting a child of a specific ethnicity or religion. Open adoption, knowing the identity of the birth parents, is important to some adopting families. Many private adoption agencies offer this service, also.

A private adoption agency is a business not unlike your doctor’s office or child care center. Therefore it has expenses such as overhead, advertising, legal fees and other costs not unlike other enterprises. To remain profitable, it must pass the costs along to the consumer, namely you. Expect to pay between five thousand and forty thousand dollars if you adopt a child using a private adoption agency.

International adoption may be easier than you think.

Integrating a child of a very different cultural background has its obvious advantages and disadvantages. You don’t have to be a high profile celebrity like Angelina Jolie or Madonna to expand your family by going abroad. Often the children are healthy, but are simply unwanted. International or inter-country adoptions have gained popularity in the past couple decades. Many Americans adopt from China, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Korea, and Russia, the Ukraine or other courtiers for numerous reasons. The adoption process becomes final in the country of origin and places such as China have created an adoption system that is relatively simple.

Each country handles adoption very differently. But, expect to pay at least seven thousand dollars and as much as thirty thousand dollars for an international adoption. Many of the expenses unique to these adoptions are related to travel and visa costs. Like domestic adoptions you will still have some legal and other adoption-related expenses.
Families are families because of their offspring, whether biological or adopted. If you plan to adopt a child, explore the different methods for doing so. Talk to other families who have adopted and decide which option best suits your family.

This article by Debra L. Karplus first appeared on Debra Karplus, freelance writer and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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