Why is Adoption so Expensive? Here’s the Answer

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Adoption has been touted as one of the best ways to help children across the world avoid remaining in abusive homes, control the overall world population, and create a safe, socioeconomic environment for the less fortunate. There is a definite willingness of people, particularly in first world countries, to make the effort to adopt a child of any age but the problem largely lies in the expense necessary to go from a budding interest to a final adoption. One of the most overlooked realities of an adoption is that it is a process. It begins with an agency that is qualified to bring together children up for adoption and prospective parents. People need to get paid and the cost of those salaries and expenses will have to largely be borne by the prospective parents. But this first step is not like ordering a pizza. In order to prevent children from being placed in adoptive homes that make the problem worse by a lack of long term financial resources or people who do not have the necessary parenting skills, background checks need to be conducted. The background checking process can take a long time because a thorough investigation is necessary before the next step in the process.

Adoption Process

Once this initial, and possibly least expensive step is completed, the next financial hurdle to deal with is the type of adoption that is being sought. The two basic forms of adoption are domestic and international, with international almost always being the most expensive. Both will have a certain amount of legal and governmental paperwork to deal with along with the “processing fees” but with international adoptions the most obvious expense will come in the form of travel. The prospective adoptive couple will have to travel to the other country, often several times, and meet with the local agency that is handling the next step in the process. Often this requires the services of a translator. This is an expense that is often among the highest when dealing with international adoptions because the last things adoptive parents need is a legal problem (which will likely require additional travel) because of some misinterpretation of local laws.

Though in the United States insurance coverage is available for just about anything, adoptive parents have to include it as an expense during the adoption process. One of the necessary types of insurance will be liability, and it will require a special type of liability coverage. The number of unforeseen things that can go wrong and result either in a significant financial loss or a delay in the process are more than most people can imagine. There are also compliance issues based on the laws of the country being traveled to, which if overlooked can take a chunk out of your wallet.

Even if the adoption takes place domestically, it is still an expensive venture. Though a prospective couple may not have to worry about the travel expenses and jumping through international hoops, there are a number of fees that will rear up and increase the expense of the process. If you are planning on adopting a brand new baby that has yet to be born, the mother’s costs for hospitalization, medical care, housing, food, etc. will have to be paid. The domestic aspect of the adoption becomes much more personal as the birth mother will not only want to meet the adopting parents, but will likely be required to attend adoption counselling sessions to prepare everyone for the seismic shift in lifestyles.

We can now address the issue of how much a domestic adoption is likely to cost in real numbers. According to American Adoptions, the range is between $40,000 and $50,000. Naturally you can expect to double those costs or even more when considering international adoptions, perhaps by adding travel and local regulations alone. That brings the potential costs from beginning to end of between $50,000 and $100,000 per child. What is most important to realize is that is the kind of money needed to bring the child into the home. The cost of raising a child in the United States varies, but the annual cost of bringing up baby for their first few years is generally recognized in the area of $120,000.

Earlier it was mentioned that the adoption agency will be conducting a background check to insure the child will be placed in a proper home. What wasn’t mentioned was the fact that the background check includes the overall state of financial well-being. Just wanting to adopt a child, even from the poorest countries, requires that the adoptive parents have the ability to financially take care of the child for 18 years – and then some. This partly falls under the category of overhead expenses for the agency, but it also needs to be considered that local laws can also require additional fees for international adoption.

Final Thoughts

Interestingly, there are grants available to assist people with handling the expense of the adoption process. One such organization, the National Adoption Foundation makes both loans and grants available. They process awards for these monies four times a year after reviewing the many applications submitted. While the foundation performs a vital service in making the adoption process less expensive, it cannot be seen as a source of money that will significantly change the outcome of a final decision by the adoption agency.

This basic information not only demonstrates why the adoption process is so expensive, but also can be seen as a way to insure children are placed in homes that will be stable. Some may see the significant expense as a way to to keep children from falling through the cracks and making only those who are able to provide a proper environment for raising children available. If this is indeed the case, then the fact that adoptions are so expensive actually acts as a safeguard for children around the world.


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