You are considering adoption! Maybe you have no children through infertility and are ready to start your family.
Or you may have homegrown children and know you are not finished. Or you may have an empty next with your grown children gone and want to give to another child. But where do you start?
Let’s begin with what kind of child do you want?
- A healthy Caucasian newborn?
- An infant of any race?
- An international baby or child?
- An older child in the foster care system?
- A special needs child?
Knowing what kind of child you are looking for will tell you where to begin.
Agencies can vary from $10,000-$35,000 for a newborn or infant. Caucasian infants will require the longest wait and highest fees.
Facilitators have fees from $1000-6000 for infants and newborns. They may also have other aged children available. Usually, you will have additional legal fees added to this. Facilitators/Referral Services are not legal in all states. Check out your states rules.
Attorneys can work independently to finalize an adoption that you bring to them for $500-2000 or some will advertise and find you a child too with fees up to $20,000.
Private adoption with your own networking will save you money and cost you time and advertising money. If you find your own birth mother with child, your costs will probably be $4000-10,000 for legal fees and travel and expenses. There are a number of online registries to help you network.
The state foster care system has many older and special needs children available with no fees at all. In fact, many of these kids may come with a medical card and a monthly subsidy.
International adoption varies greatly for each country. Some countries will allow you to adopt infants under 1 year. Some have older children in orphanages and others are in private foster homes. International fees and travel can vary from $15,000-$40,000. Some countries will escort the child here to you.
Once you have decided what kind of child you want, you can start to research your options. A home study is required for all adoption. It can be done by an agency, an independent social worker, or the state if you are going through the foster system. The state foster system home studies are usually free but are also not usually usable for private adoptions. A regular home study will run $1000-2500.
No matter which option you choose (except International) it is helpful to network and tells everyone you know that you want to adopt. Many successful adoptions come through word of mouth, a friend of a friend. Some adoptive families build web pages. I can help you with that. Some families have business cards and color photo profiles to hand out to prospective people. Use your imagination!
When we decided to adopt I told everyone I knew. I had photo profiles made to send out. I built a web page with our photos and a dear birth mom letter. We were listed on the registry. That is where our daughter’s birth mom found us. We talked online for a month or so until she chose us. Then we had an agency in her state handle her counseling and legal work. Her doctor sent her medical records to our pediatrician. We talked on the phone lots over the next 8 weeks. I prepared to breastfeed our baby. (See my article on adoptive breastfeeding) I had our lawyer handle the legal work for finalization.
We started looking in July 1999. She found us in November 1999 and chose us in December. Haley was born in March 2000. Our total costs including travel and our home study were $4000. We were able to receive all $4000 back in the form of a tax credit.