Posted by: fatherof11 | February 11, 2006

Financing Adoptions Part II

In the previous post I discussed the tax credit available for adoptions and showed how it can affect the overall cost of an adoption. In this post I want to discuss the costs involved in an adoption and show how they can vary greatly. This means that a wise person can greatly reduce the cost of adopting a child by choosing careful. Let’s talk first about foreign adoptions.

In a foreign adoption there are four basic costs:

1) Home study. Home studies are common to both foreign and domestic adoptions. The requirements for a home studies vary by state. This means that the cost varies per state anywhere from more than a thousand dollars down to a few hundred. Generally the couple hires a social worker to do the home study, so some reduction can be gained by shopping around. However, in general this cost is pretty well fixed in a given state.

2) Governmental fees. These are the fees required to get a visa for the child and for yourselves. They run a few hundred dollars for the processing. It’s the government, you cannot negotiate.

3) Travel costs. These will depend on the country the child is in and how many trips are required. In the case of some countries, there is no requirement to travel. However, in those cases, you are usually required to hire an escort to bring the child to you, which erases most of the benefit of not traveling. Another factor is that some countries do not give much notice on travel so that tickets must purchased on short notice and extra fees may be necessary to expedite visas for yourselves.

4) Agency fees. These are the fees used to hire the agency, they also pay for the in country facilitators and translators. These can vary from as little as $2,000 – $20,000. This varies by country, by how much work you are willing to do, by whether the agency is for profit or a non profit ministry, and a number of other factors. This is obviously where it is very important to shop around. Our Russian adoptions were done through a small agency that was run as a ministry by a doctor and his wife who had been medical missionaries in the area our kids are from. Their fee for each adoption was around $1,500, plus about $1,000 for the translator/facilitator, and $1,000 dontation to the orphanage in Russia. At the same time we have heard of a couple spending $20,000 just for the agency fee for adopting a single child. Depending on the nature of the agency, some will reduce fees for adopting multiple children, for special needs children, or older children because they are harder to adopt out. Some will also have grants available for some children.

For domestic adoptions the cost are basically the same, with some differences:

1) Home studies are pretty much the same. The requirements are slightly different so prices may vary, but not usually that much.

2) Governmental fees. These are usually court related costs and vary from state to state. In our domestic adoptions these have been minimal.

3) Travel costs. These can range from $0 for an adoption in the same city to the cost of a couple of week stay in a US city. In each of our three domestic adoptions, we were able to stay with friends of friends who reduced the cost to very little, except the one in Seattle where the cost of some plane tickets were involved.

4) Agency fees. We have never actually used an agency for our domestic adoptions, so I am not as familiar with the costs here. My understanding is that they are usually less than for a foreign adoption, though they can be rather large.

5) Lawyers fees. Depending on wether the adoption is in the same state or not, these generally run in the $2,000-$3,000 range based on our experience. There are probably some states where they are higher than this because of the number of regulations, but we have no experience with these.

So addiing all these together the cost of adoption can run anywhere from $40,000 to $2,500. Clearly a wise man can compelete an adoption for far less than the maximum. In our case our most expensive adoption was $17,000 for three children and, through God’s providence, our cheapest was under $500!

In the final post in this series, I will discuss how we and others have raised the funds for adoptions.

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