Monday, July 25, 2011

Why is adoption so expensive?

Things to think about if you’re considering adoption…

Our thoughts and experience with raising support for adoption…

Since I’m answering questions I’ve gotten about adoption, I thought I’d take one whole post for the #1 question we get – both from those who are actually considering adoption themselves, but also just from the curious.

Why is adoption so expensive?

I think this is a really valid question, but it’s complicated. And underneath it is the assumption that it’s so expensive because somebody, somewhere is greedy and taking advantage. While that’s not necessarily UNtrue, I also don’t think it’s usually the case.

Most international adoptions through agencies are going to run between $20 and $30 thousand, depending on where you’re adopting from and what is required. 

In many cases, an agency is going to be required for the process – either by law, or because having someone on the ground who speaks the language, knows the culture, and does all of the paperwork is necessary. That means people, and jobs, and I don’t think it’s wrong that those people are making a living. It’s awfully nice to have an expert on your side, but expertise costs money.

Going the route we are – independent adoption from our babies home (which doesn’t work with agencies) – we are doing a lot of the legwork. And since Ug*ndan government is English (U was a Britsh colony), we don’t need translation. But there are still many people doing work for us. Our US Social worker… Our U attorney… Our US attorney…

The biggest chunk of change required for international adoption is the airfare. That was the focus of our support raising – we figured if we can get the flights covered, that gets us so much closer to the end goal. We’re hoping and praying that our final cost would be $12,000 - $16,000. We’re expecting that our airfare would be $6,000, which is half/almost half of the total cost.

Other than airfare, the cost of adoption is mostly nickels and dimes – little things that add up (some not so little….)

In case anyone’s interested, here’s what we’ve paid so far:

$1200   Home Study (Done by a US Social worker, who meets with your family 3-4 times and does all kinds of background work and writes up a long and detailed report, which must meet US Government standards in order to be approved.) This varies – we ended up with one of the cheapest options available to us in Lincoln. And we LOVE our social worker, she was amazingly helpful in preparing us for adoption.

~$200ish Adoption Training Any home study agency is going to require you to do some training to prepare to be adoptive parents. We did online classes, but I’ve also checked out a ton of books from the library which have been very helpful.

$100 - 200 FBI Fingerprinting (I can’t remember how much this costs, but for your home study, you have to have a background check to make sure you don’t have a criminal record or any child abuse allegations in your history.)

~$100 each Passports

$200 Shipping our home study to U. Our Babies Home required that we send a copy of our paperwork to them ahead of time before we could be approved in their program. We sent it Fed Ex because we heard from many friends that it was the only reliable way to ship – and we didn’t want to risk it getting lost.

$960 USCIS Once our home study was complete, we had to file it with Homeland Security and be fingerprinted by them. This is for our approval to immigrate a child to the US. The fee covers the whole process, but we’ve only done one form. The other form will be filled out after we receive legal guardianship in U, when we file for little guy’s visa to bring him home.

?? Immunizations. The actual cost of these can be $200 or more… but mine were mostly covered by our insurance (praise the Lord!) We’ll see if Matt’s are covered when he has to get them in a month or so…

$2,000ish Airfare to U. We’re hoping that when we make the second trip (both of us), the prices will be significantly lower – I’m traveling at the most expensive time of year. We are praying we’ll have enough advance notice on our court date to be able to get a good deal. But there are no guarantees.

And our estimates of what’s coming…

$300 + $750 Guest House Our guest house will cost us $20/night and includes breakfast and dinner. It will be $300 for my upcoming trip, the second trip will be longer and both of us for at least part of the time. This money goes directly to our Babies Home. It’s a great deal and goes to a great cause.

$3,000 Airfare for second trip

$4-5,000 Ug*ndan attorney  I’m not sure yet how much our attorney will cost – it depends on how much background work our case requires. Our attorney is doing a LOT for us – she will investigate our boy’s background, run newspaper ads making sure there are no living relatives wishing to raise/claim him, prepare his passport, and file countless papers and affidavits (it’s really a LOT), in addition to appearing on our behalf in court. We are very thankful for our Ug*ndan attorney (and for the entire court system there, who have demonstrated a real desire to work in children’s best interests.)

???? US Attorney Our process will require us to finalize our adoption here in the states. In Nebraska, we can’t do that until little guy has been home for 6 months. We have had 3 friends who are attorneys offer to do this for us at cost (court fees only, which will be a couple hundred dollars), praise the Lord for that.

???? Post placement reports. Our social worker will come out and visit us 2 or 3 times after little guy is home. This is required by the US government, and also by Ug*anda, to make sure that little guy is adjusting well to our family and that being with us is really in his best interest. I can’t remember how much these reports cost, maybe $150-200?

We’ll also have costs involved with travel– food during the day, medical exams for little guy, cab/driver costs for getting around town, visas for all of us etc. We’re asked to do a going away party for the Babies Home on our last day there with Little Guy, and we’ll give gifts to all of the mamas and Babies Home workers.

Plus there is the stuff that’s not a part of adoption, just generally the cost of having another child… For us the biggest thing is bunk beds (which Matt’s planning to build for T & little guy) and some storage/furniture for the boys’ room. We have most everything clothes/toys-wise that we need – although we’ll probably get little guy a few new things so he doesn’t come home to only hand me downs (although if I know our family, the little guy will come home to more than enough gifts to call his own!)

So… the bottom line of all of this: Whether you’re going with an agency or not, I don’t think anyone is getting rich off of adoption. It’s just an expensive process – and in many ways, it should be. People should be CAREFUL, and anyone involved in adoption should know what they’re doing, and be paid a fair wage for it.