Over the next few weeks, we will be discussing hesitations that people have around adoption and be working through them in a way to show that your average family really can experience a successful adoption. This week, we are discussing the first concern of most adoptive parents; particularly the dads.
Adoption is expensive
Let’s eat the biggest elephant first, shall we? Adoption is expensive. Like really expensive. Like more than half of what I make in an entire year but I’m expected to cover all of the expenses within a 9 month-ish time frame expensive. I want to address this head on because it was THE primary reason I was hesitant to adopt at first.
Adoption is expensive… usually.
All told, including travel expenses, home study, immigration fees, and agency fees… everything, a typical international adoption costs in the neighborhood of $30,000 in 2018, give or take $3,000 to $4,000 depending on country, agency and other variables. Let’s call it $26,00 – $34,000. That puts you in the neighborhood of a reasonably priced minivan.
But let’s remember a few things:
First – The Adoption Tax Credit
The U.S. Federal Government, at the time of this writing, honors an adoption text credit for up to $13,580 of adoption-related expenses. That’s a credit, not a deduction. That means that the first $13,580 you spend out of your own pocket on your adoption (with very few restrictions) is effectively reimbursable to you on your tax return. You won’t get back more than you paid in throughout the year and the credit is only carried over for 5 years after your adoption is complete but here is what that means: Let’s say you have an average of $4,000 deducted from your paycheck each year for federal income taxes. And you spent the full $13,580 out of your own pocket on your adoption. You will effectively have a tax return of at least $4,000 your first year after the adoption, $4,000 the second, $4,000 the third, and $1,580 the fourth, ultimately reimbursing you, in the form of a tax return, the first $13,580 of expenses related to your adoption.
Second – There are ample grants and scholarships available.
There are several faith-based and philanthropic organizations set up to help families with financial needs during the adoption process. Most of them require you to have a completed home study to apply and many of them prefer to pay out in the form of a donation to your adoption agency. This means that if you are attempting an adoption without an agency you will run into speed bumps here and if you haven’t completed your home study yet, you may want to hold off on your application until it is complete and everyone has signed off. Jumping the gun there can lead to a lot of frustration.
Third – people want to help you out.
Here’s where the average family might start feeling a bit weird. Just because the vast majority of people in the world will never walk through an adoption of their own, it doesn’t mean they don’t care deeply about adoption in general; let alone your specific adoption. Don’t hesitate to let people know that you are walking through an adoption and that you have certain funding goals to meet. Everyone knows adoption is expensive and many will volunteer to help out in any way they can. If adoption funding has taught me one thing, it’s humility. I can’t tell you how many times someone has passed my wife or me a check and the only words that could come to mind at that moment were “thank you”. In fact, our second adoption has been largely funded by private donations and we never asked a single person to donate money even though we desperately needed it. We simply let people know what we were doing and what our financing goals were and they stepped forward in a big way. When people are asking you about this, remember that most adoption agencies are 501(c)(3) which means if a donation is made to your agency for the benefit of the child you are adopting, it is tax-deductible to the donor.
Fourth – You are spending money on things you don’t need.
Ouch. But seriously. I can look at my own bank account and find it without too much trouble. Cut the cable and save yourself $100 a month right off the bat. HD antennas carry tons of programming and family time beats the heck out of TV most days anyway. Eating out? Stop that. Make friends with your Crock Pot and always make sure you prepare enough for leftovers. Spend money on things that the whole family can enjoy over and over again. During our first adoption, we purchased an annual pass to the Nashville Zoo for $140 and visited almost weekly all Summer long. Get creative here, think about what you might be able to live without and give it a shot. You might be surprised.
Fifth – Adoption is not always expensive
I alluded to this a little earlier but while international adoption is typically pricey, there are other options. For instance, if you are open to a domestic adoption, fostering, and being an adoptive parent in an open adoption, many U.S. states offer a foster-to-adopt program. This is an option when a child is taken into state custody, and the custodial rights are terminated or surrendered by the biological parents and there are no other relatives available or qualified to adopt the child (sadly, this scenario is not nearly as rare as most people would think). In this case, once the child becomes eligible for adoption, if the foster family of the child chooses to adopt, the state will cover all adoption-related expenses on behalf of the family and the child to be adopted. Prospective families usually have to attend some foster-specific training and qualify via a home study to pursue this option. Contact your state’s Department of Child Services to see if this is an option for you.
Have you found a creative way to fund your own adoption? Leave a note in the comments below and share the wealth!