Preparing to Adopt a Child: What You Need to Know

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Adopt a Child
It has been said that adopting one child won’t change the world: but for that child, the world will change. If you are considering or have decided to embark on the journey of bringing a child into your family, it will surely change your life too. Anytime a family grows, they are sure to experience changes, challenges, and expenses.

At SC Telco, we want to partner with you wherever your life’s journey leads. Being prepared for some of the financial costs of adopting a child can help you embrace the journey. The average cost of a domestic adoption is between $8000 and $40,000. With such a large window, an average number isn’t particularly helpful. The average cost probably doesn’t matter nearly as much to you as what your cost will be.

How to Plan Ahead for Adoption

By factoring in some of the basic categories of the costs associated with adoption, you can better plan ahead and make decisions that best suit your family’s situation:

First, consider what type of adoption you are pursuing.

There are essentially three distinct sources for adopting a child: Private/Domestic, International, and Foster Care. The costs of each of these is unique and the bottom lines can differ greatly.

Private Adoption

Private adoption is generally the most expensive option, whether as open adoption or closed. With a private adoption there will be fees for the agency, legal fees, and (optional) costs to support the birth mother. Often expenses can be unpredictable and can vary widely. Different agencies have different policies with regard to levels of financial support for the birth mother. Even when the expense categories are known, the exact number may not be knowable. For instance, you could know that you will pay medical expenses for the birth mother, but those expenses could change significantly if there are complications. So be sure to ask questions of the agency to determine how they predict and account for the associated costs. If you arrange for the adoption independently, and just hire an attorney to complete the legal process, your costs may be less, but there will likely also be less support for you and the birth mother.

International Adoption

If you are planning to adopt a child from another country, be sure to do your research. Adoption agencies typically have select countries they work in. In addition to travel costs and hotel and meal expenses, every country has different rules about adoptions fees and how long you must stay in country. Some airlines offer discounted fares for adoption travel, which is worth checking into. There is a lot of paperwork involved in international adoptions. Documents have to be gathered, verified, and in some cases translated. While you can take this on yourself, investing in an adoption professional will likely save you time by expediting the process as well as sparing you from headaches and heartaches. Errors on small details can result in disappointing delays.

Foster Care Adoption

Adopting through the foster care system is by far the least expensive option. It is often free and not likely to cost more than a few thousand dollars. In fact, there are even federal subsidies available to help with costs for many children if they are adopted through the foster care system. There are about 100,000 children in the foster care system who are eligible to be adopted—the need is great. The average age of children adopted through fostering is 8.5 years old, so if you have a heart for adopting an older child, this avenue may be an excellent and less costly choice for your family.

Next, remember that every adoptive family requires a home study.

Regardless of which adoption route you choose, you will need to successfully complete a home study. This ensures children will be brought into an environment that is healthy and safe. In addition to a physical inspection of the home, you will need to compile several documents. The list can vary depending on the agency you are working with, but it is typical to have to document proof of insurance, tax returns, pet shot records, marriage and birth certificates. There are often fees associated with your home study that are generally around a few thousand dollars, but here again, prices can vary significantly.

Don’t forget the costs all new parents must consider.

While this article focuses on costs specifically associated with adoption, there are of course other expenses that all parents must factor into their budget as their family grows. Fortunately, though the bottom-line costs of any given adoption can’t be completely nailed down or accurately predicted, agencies can coach families, outlining how various costs can be staged throughout the process. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average cost of raising a child from infancy to adulthood is in excess of $240,000. Briefly, you will need to prepare for increasing health insurance and medical expenses, potential child care needs, education, and general costs for things such as food, clothing, etc. You can also expect evolving housing and transportation needs.

There’s help available!

Some good news for adoptive families is that if you adopt a child and incur out-of-pocket expenses, you qualify for the Adoption Tax Credit, a federal tax credit for qualified adoption expenses paid to adopt an eligible child and an exclusion from income for employer-provided adoption assistance. The credit applies to public, or state, adoption through foster care, private adoption, and international adoption. For 2017, the adoption tax credit was just under $14,000 for families whose adjusted gross income was less than $207,580. While this credit is awarded upon completion of adoption, even domestic adoptions that were ultimately unsuccessful may qualify for the adoption tax credit.

In addition to a tax credit, there are grants available to adoptive families. Read each grant carefully to determine if you qualify for one or more of them. There are grants for domestic, international, foster care, and even embryo adoptions. Grants can be sourced through fundraising, matching grants, and direct awards.  

Many adoptive families are encouraged by the outpouring of support they receive from family and friends. Crowdfunding and other fundraising efforts are proving to be instrumental in helping families cover what can be exorbitant adoption costs and fees. There are a myriad of creative ideas and resources for fundraising–something for everyone.  Many families are surprised to learn that total strangers are excited and willing to help make their adoption dream a reality.

The adoption process is overwhelming enough even without considering the financial implications. Let SC Telco come alongside you and help your family with this critical piece of your important adoption endeavor. We can help you determine expenses for your specific adoption and then help you establish a budget and a savings plan to get you closer to your goal and lessen the financial stressors. Call us today and let us get you one step closer to welcoming your new child into the family.