I am asked this question FREQUENTLY. So frequently, that I wanted to take the time to write a blog post about it and share exactly WHY adoption costs so much.
This information was taken from a pamphlet called "Adoption and the Orphan Crisis" produced by Show Hope: A Movement to Care for Orphans. You can find a link to this pamphlet at the bottom of this post.
If there are millions of waiting children in the world, why must it often cost tens of thousands of dollars to help bring them into the love and protection of a family? In an attempt to shed some light as to why adoption can be such a costly endeavor, we will focus on five main areas of financial expense that relate to adoption.
1. LEGAL: One of the major steps in the adoption process is to choose an adoption agency and/or attorney who will help to facilitate your adoption. Depending upon what type of adoptive placement you are seeking (private, international, domestic, etc.), your agency or attorney will be involved in navigating the referral process and will help you process your legal documents. Agencies and attorneys often have fees that vary based on the program you are pursuing and how much legal help is needed to move through the process.
Additionally, in the case of international adoptions, an attorney’s services are often needed in order to file “re-adoption” paperwork once your child is home. In all cases, your agency and/or attorney should be your best advocate as they guide you through extensive paperwork and necessary legal steps. The fees for this service can range broadly.
2. HOME STUDY: every adoptive family is required to complete a home study. home studies consist of multiple stages, starting with an orientation period. Initial information is recorded about the family and interviews are conducted to retrieve specific background information. Preparation training for adoptive parents is required along with home visits that ensure the home is safe and suitable for children.
In addition, health, income, and autobiographical information are required, as well as thorough background checks and fingerprinting. Lastly, personal references must be submitted in order to provide the most complete picture of the family.
After each stage of the home study, a report is created by the home study agency. These reports are combined to create the family’s portfolio which prospective agencies and birth parents can review based on the type of adoption
After placement, a home study agency will also complete post- placement visits. These visits focus on making sure the child is doing well and thriving within their new family. The entire home study/ post-placement process can span many months to years (depending on how quickly a waiting child is placed into the family) and the cost is often impacted accordingly.
3. COUNTRY: The hague Convention was enacted by the United Nations in an attempt to thwart corruption/trafficking and preserve the right of orphaned children to experience the love and protection of a family through adoption. Under the convention, each country has its own program to place children internationally and determines its own adoption fees. For families living in the Us and adopting abroad, they can expect to pay fees for processing federal forms and paperwork as well as adoption fees for the specific country they are adopting through. With each country determining different fees and program costs, this area of expense can vary widely.
4. DOCUMENTATION: Documentation is required for each step of the adoption process. These documents make up the dossier that most international programs require, including proof of eligibility. each document is processed locally, then by the agency, state and federal government, and finally by the international government of the child’s country of origin.
Many adoption agencies require the documents to be sealed and notarized, which authenticates the application and dossier. If a family decides to adopt internationally, they will also have to submit paperwork to the UsCIs (U.s. Citizen and Immigration services) in order to receive citizenship for their child. This element is vital to the adoption process but can also add thousands of dollars to the overall cost.
5. TRAVEL: Whether the adoption is domestic or international, travel expense can usually be expected. Undoubtedly, travel for an international adoption can be quite expensive. In most international adoption cases, the family will visit the country and the child first. Then, once that country’s waiting period is over and the process is complete, the family will return to their child’s country of origin to complete the process and travel home with their child. The cost for this element of adoption varies widely based on time of travel and country of origin.