Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Adoption Question 1: How Much?

Because November is National Adoption Month, I'm going to answer any questions you care to ask me about my adoption experience. Please post questions in the comments area at the bottom of my original Taking Questions post. You can even post anonymously if you'd like.

Here's the first question. Sorry, I can get long-winded. :)

How much does adoption cost?

Foster adoptions are generally the least expensive and usually only cost legal fees on top of the home study, and the legal fees are usually reduced. Many of these adoptions end up costing less than $1,000.

International adoptions vary greatly based on the other country's requirements. According to Adoption.org, the averages are between $15,000 and $40,000. A good chunk of that is travel expenses.

We chose domestic adoption and we chose to go through an adoption agency. Basically, an adoption agency works as our marketers and promoters. Obviously people come to them, but they also go to medical facilities, schools, family planning centers, and they have a website and all kinds of advertising. Plus they offer resources to birth moms like counseling and sometimes help with baby-related expenses. When you don't go through an agency, it's called an independent adoption. It's often less expensive, but it can take a long time to find a birth mother on your own and it's a lot of hard work. Also, you're more likely to get scammed by a fake birth mother (sadly, this happens).

Here are our costs:
$600 for the homestudy
$150 for our agency application fee
$400 listing fee (this allowed the agency to give our info to other agencies in different states)
$160 in design/printing fees for our scrapbook that the agency shows to birth moms (I could've made one myself, but I work with a bunch of professional designers and I really feel our professional book gave us a huge edge)
$70 for our background checks
$40 for our physicals and AIDS tests (our copay rate)
$200 in home improvements necessary to bring our house up to code
$500 for birth mother expenses (this is the Idaho max. Some states have a much higher max.)
$10,000 for the agency's placement fee (our agency only charges this once a baby is placed in our home)
$280 in the baby's medical fees (before she could legally be on our insurance)
$500 in attorney's fees

We still haven't finalized yet, so there may be more legal expenses. And our dear lawyer is only charging us half his usual rate, bless his heart. So, all in all, our total expenses are around $14,900. The average cost of domestic infant adoptions are listed between $7,000 - $30,000 (the lower end would be those who didn't use an agency). So we didn't do too bad.

Also, adoptive parents are usually responsible for all medical bills. Our birth mother was on Medicaid so we didn't have to pay her fees (hallelujah!) but we had to pay for the baby's hospital fees (and the baby wasn't legally ours at the time of birth so insurance won't pay anything for this).

There was another agency out of Utah that we were considering going through. We were chosen by a birth mom the same day Joci's birth family chose us, so we actually had a choice. This other agency would've charged us around $18,000 plus all the hospital costs (around $6,000 for a normal, healthy birth). Plus we would've had to travel to Alabama. And part of their fee (around $4,000) would be "at risk" meaning that if the birth mother changed her mind, we were out that much money. And this would be on top of our home study, application, medical fees, etc.

It's rare to find an insurance plan that covers adoption expenses (ours doesn't, even after requesting an amount comparable to hospital delivery fees). But slowly more insurance plans are starting to offer some benefit. If you ever have the chance, tell your insurance company you'd like them to add adoption expenses to their coverage.

Also, there is currently a federal tax credit of $12,000 which can be spread over five years. In the past, we paid about $3k-$4k in taxes a year, so over the course of five years, we'd definitely the full amount of the tax credit. However, now having a dependent our tax bracket will be lower, so who knows if we'll be able to take full advantage of it. It doesn't all come right away, but it definitely helps!

So you can see how much it varies. Again, our total should be around $15k before the tax credit. And for this little smile, it's a bargain price!


Christy said...

so glad I came across your blog! We are at the end of a homestudy...can i ask what agency you used? If you want, i can email you.

Lara said...

Hi Christy.

The agency we used is called A New Beginning. They are located in Boise, Idaho and serve all of Idaho. They are licensed in three or four other states and then they network and contract with tons of other agencies.


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