Adoption gives several individuals and families a practical means of starting or expanding their family. It offers hopeful parents the unique opportunity to raise a child they otherwise wouldn’t have.
It gives couples grappling with infertility the chance to grow their family without incurring the financial risk and emotional strain that comes with IVF treatments. It provides a stable, loving home to children who need them.
It is no doubt one of the most meaningful and fulfilling journeys you’ll ever embark on. But, as great as the experience may be, the cost of adoption is something many hopeful parents struggle with.
What most people are not aware of is the fact that it can be quite an expensive process. And, many aren’t exactly sure what that looks like.
How much does it cost to adopt a child? What’s the process like? Here’s everything you need to know about it.
Once you’ve decided that adoption is right for you, you’re now ready to begin the journey toward becoming an adoptive parent. Here’s an outline of the US adoption process.
Step 1: Choose the Type of Adoption
The first step involves choosing the adoption route you want to pursue. The process involved is different for each type of adoption, and largely depends on the following four factors.
- Do you plan to go through infant adoption, or would you prefer to adopt an older child?
- Are you looking toward a domestic or international adoption?
- Do you want to adopt through the foster care system or privately?
- Will you want to be in communication with the birth parents of your adoptive child, or would you prefer a closed adoption?
The answers to these questions will inform the best type of adoption for you.
Step 2: Research the Average Cost of Adoption
Once you’re clear on the adoption route you want to take, the next step involves understanding how much it will all cost. Keep in mind that the standard fees that apply in most addition processes include but are not limited to:
- Advertising costs to maximize your chances of reaching potential mothers
- All pregnancy-related expenses the birth mother incurs
- The adoption professional’s fees
- Adoption attorney fees and associated legal expenses
- Travel and accommodation expenses
- Home study costs
Ideally, you ought to work within your budget to ensure that you achieve your goal of becoming an adoptive parent, without blowing all your finances in the process. The average costs of domestic infant adoption are in the range of $40,000 and $50,000, according to a report from the Adoptive Families Magazine.
Step 3: Pick an Adoption Professional
When choosing an adoption professional to work with, it’s important to keep in mind that not all professionals work in the same way to provide their expert services in the same manner. Some work closely with you, holding your hand throughout the entire process, while others only step in to handle certain aspects of it.
When vetting an adoption professional, ensure that you ask all the right questions to get a clear picture of how much their services will cost. The last thing you need is to get shocking fee notes along the way. Some of the questions you want to ask include:
- How do they find the birth parents?
- What does their adoption process look like?
- What’s the average wait time for the prospective adoptive parents they’ve worked with in the past?
- Is there any financial protection they offer if the adoption plans fall through?
- How much will the adoption cost – both entirely and in part?
Based on the answers to these questions, you’ll be in a better position to make a more informed decision on whether or not to retain their services. From there, you’ll be able to work closely with the adoption entity in question to create an adoption plan that fits your preferences.
These include things like whether you’d be okay with an open adoption or prefer it to be closed or semi-closed, as well as what type and level of contact you would be comfortable with both before, during, and after the birth.
Step 4: Complete a Home Study
This is a requirement for every single US adoption. It is usually conducted by a state social worker to educate and prepare you before the child comes to live with you.
The purpose of the home study is for the social worker to gather information on adopting parents to ensure that they can provide a healthy and stable living environment for the child.
Step 5: Become an Active Waiting Family
All adoptive parents will usually have to prepare a print and video profile that allows prospective birth mothers to get to know you and why you would be the best fit for their unborn child.
If you’re selected, pre-placement contact is the next logical step. If the birth mother finds you to be a good fit, then you can start preparing for the arrival of your baby. Keep in mind that the adoption isn’t final until the finalization step.
Step 6: Finalize the Adoption Process
Once the baby is born, and the birth mother gives the official consent to adoption, you’re now ready to take your baby home with you. You will then begin the process of petitioning the court for your adoption.
Once all the necessary legal forms have been filled, adoption papers signed by all parties involved, and post-placement visits completed, the judge will grant you legal custody of the child in the finalization hearing. You’ll then be awarded an adoption decree.
Foster to Adopt
Unlike private adoptions, the costs associated with adopting a child from foster care is usually funded by the state. So, if you can’t afford a private adoption but desperately want to become a parent, this is the best option for you.
Keep in mind that the age limit to adopt in US for the child in question is capped at 18 years. To become an adoptive parent, you need to be at least 21 years and over.
Seek Legal Guidance
Adopting a child is a deeply fulfilling process. Although it can be long, complicated, and emotionally draining, most adoptive parents will tell you that it’s all worth it in the end once you bring your child home.
If the costs associated with going through a private adoption are restrictive, adoption from foster care is a better option since it is fully funded by the state. If this is something you’re looking to pursue, speak to an adoption attorney to help guide you through the process.
If you have any legal questions concerning adoption, chat online with a Laws101.com family law attorney who specializes in adoption matters.