Monday, January 24, 2011

Can't Afford to Adopt?

I received this question via FormSpring a few days ago:

What would you say to someone who is infertile and cannot afford to adopt?

First, I would give that person a hug because she would need it! I don’t know anyone who gets this kind of news who just happens to have $15,000 sitting around to adopt, so I think a lot of those wanting to adopt find themselves in this situation. I would talk to this person about some options that can help financially—the first being foster care. There are many, many beautiful, wonderful children waiting to find their forever homes and the government subsidizes a lot of the costs. Heck, I’ve even heard of people who come away with money (though, that’s not why you should do it!). I would direct this person to check out Matching Mondays on The R House blog. Every Monday, Mrs. R features waiting children—she’s even facilitated an adoption or two!

Secondly, I would talk to this person about ways to afford adoption. The government refunds up to $12,500 of adoption expenses. That lessens the burden a lot. But that refund only comes at tax time so you’d have to find a way to finance it up front. Here are some other financing ideas:

  • Would you be willing to try alternative medicine for fertility treatments if regular medicine isn’t working or you can’t afford them?
  • Ask your place of employment for assistance—even if they don’t offer it as a benefit, it doesn’t mean they won’t help
  • Adopting a child with special needs often comes with a lot of government aid and subsidies for the adoption itself and for care of the child. Look into this.
  • Fund raisers—have a garage sale, sell something at a craft fair, sale things on eBay or Craigslist. Places like Dominoes Pizza have fund raising options if you sell their coupon books…things like that.
  • Is it possible to get a second job?
  • Can you finance the adoption upfront and pay it off with the tax credit later? Have you looked into personal loans? 401(k) loans? Credit cards? By the way, I am not an accountant and cannot give financial advice. Be very careful in your decision to finance.
  • Grants—there are a lot of adoption grant programs available. Just do an internet search and see if you meet any of the requirements
  • Shop agencies. We worked with two different agencies—one had a placement fee of $10,000 while the other’s fee was $28,000.
  • Look into independent adoption. A homestudy is still required, which is several hundred dollars, but then you are on your own to find your own birth mom through pass-along cards, blogs, websites, letters sent hospitals, schools, etc. About half of all the adoptions in the US are independent adoptions, so it really can happen. You’ll also need to pay legal fees for a lawyer. But you may only end up paying $3,000 compared to $10,000-$20,000 for an agency.
  • Are you religious? Many religions have subsidized adoption programs.
I would remind her to never give up hope, because it can be so discouraging. When we adopted, it was probably the worst possible time financially for us in the past ten years of our marriage. But we survived. Things shouldn't have worked out, but they did and things going well for us now. Hopefully our next adoption won't bleed us the same way, but as they say, if you wait until everything is perfect, it will never happen. God has a plan for all of us. It requires sacrifice and faith, but doors will open. The best wisdom I could hope to impart is to stay positive.

Do any of you have any suggestions for someone in this situation?

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