Our story: How one family covered the expenses associated with their adoption journey

Planning for a family almost always involves making some financial considerations.

Wooden sticks arranged to resemble a house.

According to statistics compiled by the Adoption Network, one out of every 25 U.S. families with children have an adopted child, and more than 1/3 of American families have considered it. Although the emotional aspect of adoption is one of the first things that most families consider when heading down this road, the financial aspects can’t be ignored. The costs associated with an adoption can vary greatly depending on whether you adopt from within the United States or internationally, what agency you go with, and other factors, but some estimates put private agency adoption costs anywhere from $20,000 to $45,000, independent adoptions between $15,000 and $40,000, and inter-country adoption between $20,000 and $50,000.

For Guadalupe and her husband, Michael, it took years before they were finally connected with the birth mother of their adoptive daughter. Although Guadalupe and Michael had planned on starting their own biological family immediately when they were married, seven years into their marriage that plan wasn’t panning out.

“At that time we really had to consider what would be most important to us,” Guadalupe said. “We both agreed that to us, having a family was most important, regardless of how we got there.”

Below, Guadalupe shares her story of her adoption journey in the hopes that it might help other families who are interested be better prepared for their own experience.

Q: What was your experience with adoption prior to going through it yourself? Had you watched friends or family go through the adoption process before?

Our family was very supportive of our decision to adopt, but we didn’t have anyone who had gone that route. I had some friends of mine who had either adopted or who had been adopted themselves, but we didn’t have anyone in our immediate family to rely on for support in terms of navigating the process, which meant a lot of unforeseen surprises.

Q: What did you do to prepare for the adoption process in advance? Were there any resources that were particularly helpful?

We ended up finding an adoption agency recommend through a friend of a friend. The agency had a good rating from the Better Business Bureau, and their staff was very friendly to work with, but in the end we were misguided as far as how involved they would be in the process. There were some things I expected that we would have more help navigating, but it ended up being a lot more work than I anticipated. Something I would advise from the very beginning is joining an adoption support group. I found a great one on Facebook. Having this group of people to bounce ideas off of, talk about different agencies and discuss good questions to ask can be very helpful.

Q: What was the financial process like for you in terms of adoption? How were you able to pay for the adoption process, and were there any things you were able to do to save?

We probably spent just shy of $30,000 on everything for the adoption process, which took about three years from start to finish. There’s the cost of the agency you use and, in our case, some of the services were ala carte, so we paid extra for things like attorneys. There’s paperwork that needs to be filed, interstate agreements (if you adopt a child who is born in a state other than your own), the cost of social worker visits and, sometimes, the costs of care for the birth mother prior to the birth of the baby, as well as potentially after. There’s also the cost of travel to consider, food and living expenses, which all add up, as well as being able to afford whatever the child needs once he or she is born. We had some savings that we used to help with the cost, as well as some help from my husband’s family, but we also cashed in on our retirement accounts to help with the cost. We got lucky when friends donated used items for the baby to use once she got home, and we set up a GoFundMe account in lieu of a shower so that people could contribute money to help with the adoption fees.

Q: What would be your main advice for families who are starting out on the adoption process, particularly as it relates to covering the costs?

Although we decided not to adopt through the foster care system, it can be cheaper to go that route, and there are a lot of children — newborn and otherwise — in need of loving homes. I would advise people to consider looking at both private and foster care adoptions and weigh the pros and cons of each.

We were also surprised to learn that our daughter’s healthcare was covered under her birth mother’s care in the beginning. Thankfully, the social worker we were working with helped the birth mother get on Medicaid in her state, which extended to the baby. It’s important to consider those costs, as well.

Planning for a family almost always involves making some financial considerations, but for families heading down a non-traditional path, expenses can add up more quickly than they might expect. Although Guadalupe and Michael relied on their retirement accounts, there are some additional ways to help cover the costs. The National Adoption Foundation is a good place to start looking for grants, you can check for state adoption assistance programs and look into adoption tax benefits (which Guadalupe and her husband ended up using to recoup some of their fees — she recommends holding onto all of your receipts to file with your taxes in order to qualify for this!) through things like tax credits and exclusions from income for employer-provided adoption assistance. Adoption-related loans, mortgage or home-equity loans might also be able to help you get the funding necessary to adopt.

Using the resources above can help you manage some of the costs that might crop up with an adoption journey. Despite whatever financial hurdles might occur, though, the journey hopefully ends with the love of a lifetime.

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